My Media Week: Richard Townsend

Richard Townsend, MD and co-founder, Circus Street, visits new premises and joins the IPA in celebrating media legend (and talented artist) Jim Marshall.

Richard Townsend: MD and co-founder, Circus Street
Richard Townsend: MD and co-founder, Circus Street

Monday

I'm usually up at around 5.30am, not because I'm a fast moving media exec, but because my wife has a proper job as a teacher and she travels from Blackheath (where we live) to Tottenham (where she teaches) every morning and when she gets up, we all get up.

I smile at the friends of Jesus near Lewisham DLR and they offer me their magazine. This week’s title is something typically propagandist such as "Why science is wrong". So I wave politely and pick up The Metro instead.

I normally pick up City AM but it's a bit serious for a Monday morning. I spend the time moving between the paper and Twitter because it’s a better way to not only find out what’s going on, but to get a sense of what’s important to everyone else as well.

The animation team start filtering in by about 8.30am and we discuss Google Cardboard (similar to the Oculus Rift but made out of cardboard, would you believe?).

We have decided to build a lesson that can be viewed through the device. The team need to learn some new programming skills and they are also working with a specialist on getting it live and tested so we discuss how it's all going. 

Most week nights are about Netflix at the moment and tonight is no different. We are discovering box sets of programmes we should have watched by now. Luther is the latest obsession. It's 11pm and we consider a triple drop of episodes.

Tuesday

The 5.30am start is a little harder than normal. This morning I pass the famous Big Issue seller near Liverpool St Station – the one who continuously says "good morning, have a nice day" in a hypnotic loop.

I buy a copy this morning, partly because I found a fiver on the weekend and I promised my wife I would give it to charity. It's a really good read since Dennis Publishing took it over and gave it a bit more focus.

I go for a walk with Jonny (my brother, my business partner and our COO) when I get in and we discuss recruitment.

We try not to recruit people only when we need them - we’re growing quickly so we like to take on interesting people all the time.

He tells me that he has found a recruitment business that focuses on securing the best talent from the top universities and we agree we should see as many of the talent on the books as we can.

The afternoon is spent reappraising our mobile presence with the tech team. Some of our clients use surprisingly old versions of software so we spend a lot of time discussing accessibility. For instance we still need to use some Flash for clients that use the Firefox browser because it doesn't support HTML5.

We decide that now is the time to convert to an exclusively HTML 5 front end because it will ensure a consistent experience across all devices.

I get back around 7.30pm and immediately go back out again for a run around the heath with Jonny. He makes me do it. If I don’t go I receive incessant gibes about how weak I am.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning is our monthly board meeting in the Deloitte building near Chancery Lane. We raised investment last year to help scale the business more quickly and the largest investor has a seat on the board.

It's a single point agenda - how big is our addressable market and how do we structure ourselves to realise our potential as effectively and efficiently as possible?

I leave the Deloitte building and visit our new office on the Charing Cross Road. We are having it renovated before we move in so I have a look around and chat to the builders about when it might be finished.

It’s really exciting for the whole team because we will have a lot more space than our cramped office in Shoreditch. The fact that our PR agency and one of our most significant faculty members are both directly above us in the same building is an added bonus.

Wednesday night is a dinner hosted by the IPA in its penthouse suite in Belgravia for Jim Marshall, my old CEO at MediaVest.

Jim is a media legend and a true gentleman.  He is also an incredibly talented artist and he presents each of us with a print of one of his paintings of a different blues and jazz artist that reminds him of us.

Mine is a guy called Magic Slim. I take it as a compliment, although knowing Jim as I do, I'm sure it isn’t. I jump in a taxi and fall into bed at about 12.30am.

Thursday

Thursday night I go out to a monthly event made up of my mates who run their own businesses. We call it Business Club. The first rule (and only rule to be honest) is that you are only allowed to talk about work.

Tonight we talk about Sophie Rochester's business - The Literary Platform, which educates the book publishing industry about technology

Her business is doing really well and she has been exploring new revenue streams. We try and help before we get too drunk. I do some middle-aged dancing until 1.30am and then get an Uber home. I love Uber, it's just a much better service than other cab firm in London.

Friday

The 5.30am start is getting hard now.  My cat Wesley Snipes (long story) is standing on my chest demanding breakfast.

The friends of Jesus treat me as a lost cause today. They don’t even make eye contact. I need the iPod and Beats speakers my wife bought me for my birthday to get me through the train journey. I close my eyes and fight the urge to buy a bacon sandwich from Pret on the way to work.

The morning is all about the sales team. People have access to our courses in over 100 countries and this means we need to think of ourselves as a global business.

We discuss the best ways to service our customers internationally and we talk about exploratory trips to Australia, Singapore and the US. 

I spend the afternoon talking to the content team. If the animation team is the beating heart of the business then the content team is the blood that runs around the body (does that sound a bit Partridge?).

Content is being created for every area of the business from our off site SEO efforts, our social media channels, through to the actual lessons themselves. We discuss the topics that are most important to us right now and we try and predict what is coming up.

We leave early and go for a quick drink in our local pub. I am itching to get home to another three episodes of Luther but my wife reminds me that it’s her friend’s 40th birthday party tonight and we need to do more middle aged dancing - this time in a basement in 30 degree heat. One last big push...

The lowdown

Age: 43
Favourite media: At home, Netflix. At work, Twitter
My biggest inspiration: from a work perspective, Steve Jobs
Dream job: bit cheesy but I love what I'm doing now
One thing not a lot of people know about me... I like watching theology debates online. I've watched most videos Christopher Hitchens has ever been in
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