Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Rebels, misfits and innovators: 50over50 – Jim Brigden

We think it’s time to recognise and celebrate the true talent in our industry, the creatives, technologists, founders and leaders that are really driving our industry and shaping society, who just happen to be over 50. 50over50 is a series of interviews, shortly to become a podcast, with our most influential and inspiring industry leaders aged 50 and over.  

Jim Brigden is a digital titan. Currently Chairman at digital media auditor Percept, MD at Brainlabs and an investor and advisor at a swathe of digital companies, he previously held founding and senior roles at pivotal digital companies including TradeDoubler, I Spy Marketing and The Search Works.

What creative heights are you now capable of that you wouldn’t have been able to achieve at the early or mid-point of your career?

I have always been pretty confident and would give anything a go. No new client, country launch or sales target scared me. I had confidence that the companies that I fronted up were brilliant.

I hope that doesn’t change as I get older – I really believe in learning and pushing yourself and your teams as hard as you can – with the right plan pretty much anything is achievable. 

I think what’s different now is if I don’t want to do something it’s pretty hard to make me or persuade me.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role today?

I really enjoy helping at Brainlabs and working with Dan Gilbert and the rest of the Brainlabs team. 

I’m also really excited by some of the businesses I’ve invested in such as Percept and The Happiness Index – being an investor is a very different challenge and coaching businesses that you are not actively involved in the day-to-day running of is something I’m enjoying learning – it doesn’t come naturally.

What one thing are you proudest of in your career?

I can’t quite believe how lucky I’ve been in terms of the people and clients I’ve worked with and the way that the businesses I’ve been with have scaled. I’m proud of the teams I worked with and the growth we experienced at Overture, The Search Works/BidBuddy, I Spy/Upcast and now at Brainlabs.

I’m really proud that so many of my teams have gone on to have really illustrious careers and that I’m still so close with so many of them.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?

Work Hard and Be Nice to People. Keep learning. Sell and Negotiate hard. Surround yourself with smart people. 

And if you ever find yourself in the right place at the right time don’t fuck it up.

What advice would you give your 25-year old self?

I was working in the photographic industry in New York City when I was 25. I would have been having too much fun to listen to any advice from a boring old git.

What is the biggest mistake companies are making in their attitude to age today? 

Not really a mistake but they are complicit in the political and economic situation we are in; If I was a young person at the start of my career I would be enraged at the state of Britain in 2019, and the unfairness of the situation versus the circumstances their parents’ generation had.

The Housing Crisis, The Brexit Shambles, the student debts they are saddled with and the fact that global companies aren’t paying their fair share of taxes in the UK. Investment money is a commodity in the city and yet the majority of people in Britain are struggling and getting poorer. Things need to change for the young and quickly.

What are you most excited about in your industry over the next 10 years?

The way that companies can scale very quickly due to the transformative power of digital marketing, the ubiquitous mobile phone and the relatively low costs of technology build.

I’ve worked with some exceptional businesses that have grown very quickly over the last 20 years. 

What is your biggest regret about the industry today?

That there are too few enormous British technology companies that are transforming the world.

As a nation we are too busy looking backwards rather than thinking about where we could be heading and how to grasp that opportunity.