We are back for Season 2 of our series This Is How I Get It DONE, where we take a moment to interview members of the PR In Canada & Profectio community members to find out more about the person behind the desk, how they got their start, their current role (and everything in between). For our ninth episode of Season 2 we talked to Nick Cowling, President Of Citizen Relations Canada And Head Of Innovation.
The Zookeeper and Citizen’s Chief Satisfaction Officer
One word to describe your work style:
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today:
Like most people, I had no idea what public relations was, but had a coffee with a dear friend (who was in the business) and I was instantly hooked. I switched my studies from Marketing to public relations that afternoon… I feel lucky to have worked at some great agencies over the years as well as 5.5 years on the client side. Those experience have shaped the agency I run today. I remember when I was put ‘in charge’ about 10 years ago. I made two lists: What I loved and What I despised about my experiences with agencies (as an employee and as a client). Ever since, I’ve been striving to maximize the great stuff and minimize the other.
What is a typical work day like for you?
While many would say there’s no typical day, I would argue the
constant variety is what’s typical. There’s many things I do every day: coach team members, advise and/or listen to clients, consider how we can continuously improve, analyze opportunities and I usually whiteboard some kind of messy diagram to map out some experiment I’m debating in my head.
You have been running Citizen since (2009), when did you know the agency was ready to compete and win:
In late 2009, (we were still Optimum PR then) we had many changes to make (based on the list I mentioned earlier). However, I realized the strategy was working in the spring of 2010 because every piston was firing: the team was fiercely talented and working like a well-oiled machine, our client satisfaction was through the roof, we were winning a strong majority of pitches we pursued and our work was flawless. At the time, it felt like a long road, but in hindsight it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought. Goes to show how perseverance toward a good strategy can pay off. Reminiscing about that moment makes me think if I should map that list out again today and see if it would be different – I bet I could add or or delete something.
9-5 is LONG gone, what is one shortcut or life hack that works for you?
I don’t have a hack. Personally, and it may sound counter-intuitive, but I am a creature of routine. I’m an early bird and like to hit the gym by 6 and meditate when I get to the office (I highly recommend Headspace). On my way home, I listen to my latest download on Audible just finished two great books Dare to Lead by Brene Brown and Right Here, Right Now by Stephen Harper – it helps me satisfy my passion for reading (which I gladly sacrifice to spend time with my family) and let’s me unwind. Every second between those two moments is totally pliable!