A view from Simon Labbett

Lessons from the ladder: Not all battles are worth fighting

Simon Labbett, the founder of Hometown London, draws inspiration from the talented minds he meets. Here are his ten commandments.

Faces to Watch in the year 2000. A point when the industry finally woke up to the significance of the internet.

That feature in Campaign also marked a milestone in our career. I say "our" because I’ve always shared my career with my creative partner, Dave.

That article, accompanied by a photo of myself and Mr Gamble perched on the bonnet of a Capri, gained the attention of some great agencies. It led to a colourful career. From having a breakfast in Los Angeles with Pamela Anderson to launching a successful digital agency, Saint. We’ve seen and done some great things, none of which I regret.

Sixteen years later and I finally have my own agency, Hometown. It’s certainly the most rewarding but stressful part of my career thus far. Along the way, I’ve learned from some talented minds who have helped me shape the way I behave, think and craft the work I do. Here are ten commandments I hold true.

Know what's important

The CIA has a checklist called Phoenix: questions designed to understand the root cause of a problem. When you face a problem, interrogate the question. Often, it’s not the question that needs answering.

Find the ultimate question – every brief has one.

Don't try to understand it all

Try and make sense of everything and you will drown. Technology changes but human nature doesn’t. Focus on the end and then figure out the means.

Pick your battles

Being creative means defending what you believe in. That said, not all battles are worth fighting. So be happy to lose the battle if it means winning the war. You’ll gain more trust that way.

Embrace tech, don't fight it

There are so many wonderful tools out there to help us. Use them.

Be a fixer

When I worked in big agencies, problems were all too often someone else’s problem. Take responsibility. Fix things. It’s a rare skill that will make you invaluable.

Talk in plain English

Articulate complexity in such a manner that even your grandparents would understand. It’s a good tonic in a world where everyone strives to outsmart the next.

Be noisy

There’s no point creating great work if the world doesn’t see it. There’s no point having great opinions if you don’t share them.

It's never too late

If you’re not happy, change it – regardless of where you are in a process.

Look at everything as a consumer

Ask yourself: would I pay for that, spend time with that or share that? If you wouldn’t, why would anyone else give a shit?

Don't be a martyr

Your wife, husband, kids, boyfriend and girlfriend are more important than any brief. One day, you’ll be made redundant or fired, so make sure they’re still around.

Simon Labbett is the founder of Hometown London and featured in Campaign's Faces to Watch in 2000