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Faith Russell is one of the founders of leading podcast production and promotion agency Mags Creative which brings a number of UK voices to the podcast space including Laura Whitmore, Deliciously Ella, Alice Liveing, Amy Lane and Clemmie Telford. In a world of mindless scrolling, Mags Creative believes that the power of the spoken word brings us all a little closer together.  Their shows have been downloaded over 12.4 million times to date.

Here Faith tells us about being an introvert and being pushed out of her comfort zone, letting go of the urge to plan right now, and why listening to podcasts and talks of vulnerability has got her through this year.

Tell us about your work

“I started a podcast production and promotion agency called Mags Creative with my sister Hannah 18 months ago and we’ve grown to a creative team of producers, sound engineers, brand experts and researchers. We actually named the company Mags Creative after our unsurpassable grandma, Margaret –  known to the many that loved her as Mags or Maggie. I think of her every day and I love that her name lives on in this company.”

Where do you physically work currently?

“I work at my home in Camberwell and I somehow manage to work in every room in the house during the working day. I tend to change my background for every call to keep things fresh in my own mind..!”

What is the best thing about your work?

“It’s such an incredible feeling to be creating content that has a meaningful impact in showcasing stories that wouldn’t have previously been heard or progressing important conversations. This month, for example, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Lily Cole on the release of her podcast Who Cares Wins: an ancillary audio supplement to her Penguin released book earlier in the year.

The podcast series holds a series of divergent opinions that ‘solve for climate change’ with insights from the likes of Elon Musk, Patti Smith, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir David Attenborough to name a few. It’s such a buzz to work on a podcast that is rooted in a sense of mission and purpose.”

Faith has found podcasts particularly therapeutic throughout COVID 19
What is the worst?

“Hopefully a lot of business owners can relate to this one, but when you really love what you do and have real ambitions for growth, I think it can be a challenge to give yourself permission to switch off without guilt. Guilt is such a useless emotion, isn’t it? I’m working on this one because I know that my most creative moments have come from the unexpected – when I’ve given myself space and freedom to think inventively rather than being bogged down in the minutiae and consistently staring at a laptop 12 hours a day.”

What has been the most pivotal point of your career so far?

“When we first launched Mags Creative, we were a marketing agency that supported brands across podcasts, events, social media and influencer campaigns. Twelve months in, we saw the growth of podcasts and made the (daunting) decision to relaunch solely as a podcast agency. We had to turn down other work along the way but we’ve stayed true to our belief in the podcasts we were producing – and thankfully we haven’t looked back.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever had?

“My mum is great at advice and my sounding board when I can’t quite get perspective on something. As we’re hitting growth goals, I naturally have an ‘onto the next’ approach but my mum always encourages me to appreciate the wins in real time. It’s so easy to be waiting for the end destination and end up missing the journey of getting there. 

Another thing I learnt really early on is that mistakes are inevitable – I’ve made many mistakes in my career and no doubt I’ll continue to get things wrong in the future. I love any insight around reframing failures as opportunities for growth and try to instil this in my team. 

Ultimately, my biggest challenges have taught me so much more than any successes and I’m now the first person to hold my hands up and say ‘this is really hard, isn’t it?’ It feels like this takes more courage than ‘faking it till I make it’.”

What’s your context outside of work?

“Hannah gave birth to the most beautiful little girl called Alba in the middle of lockdown and I fell in love with her instantly. When work is overwhelming, I’ll message Hannah ask her for some ‘Alba-therapy’. Babies are great at keeping us present as Alba will never let me look at my phone and get distracted with work emails!”

What was your ‘normal ‘day to day life like pre COVID?

“I’ve always been a morning person – it’s the only time of day I feel free to be slow — whether that’s taking my time to enjoy (rather than inhale) a cup of tea, an online yoga class or a long walk before the rest of the world has woken up. When the pandemic hit, my mornings became more sacred than ever – it’s the time I feel most centred and set up for the day ahead.”

Who Cares Wins is one of Mags Creatives podcasts by Lily Cole following the launch of her book of the same name this year

How has the Corona crisis impacted you personally and professionally?

“Personally, I feel that the crisis has made my relationships more meaningful and helped me find happiness in the simplest of things. 

Professionally, lockdown happened at the same point as Hannah went on maternity leave, which means that there was a whole new set of business challenges during this time. Hannah would usually oversee new business pitches whilst I manage our existing clients but this year, I’ve had to step into her (very large) shoes and take on the role of being more outward facing for the brand. I have to admit that, as a natural introvert, there have been moments of imposter syndrome and doubting my pitching abilities, but ultimately it’s built my confidence and made me feel empowered to grow the business.”

What are you now finding challenging right now?

“An ongoing challenge is releasing the urge to plan. When the world has no idea of where we’ll be in 1 month, I have to sit with the discomfort of holding off on planning the next 12 months of Mags Creative, but trusting that with my team (who are awesome) we will continue to be reactive and adapt to the situation in real time.”

What has got you through?

“A predictable answer from me, but podcasts! Listening to honest conversations of vulnerability make me feel so much less alone. Some of the podcasts that saw me through lockdown include Mo Gawdat’s podcast Slo Mo for perspective on happiness, The Squiggly Careers podcast for career advice during a very uncertain time for so many people and Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place (the episodes with Glennon Doyle and Russell Brand were particularly incredible).”

Do you feel that Lockdown has changed your outlook and if so how?

“I am embracing the knowledge that there is so much that happens that is outside of our control.  Sometimes we just have to sit in the not knowing. (I know, it’s uncomfortable just typing it…!) No hypotheticals or no future plans to hide behind. Also, realising that we actually pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things which can either be a scary thought or a liberating one – and I choose to take the latter approach.”

Personally how have you managed your mind and wellbeing throughout Lockdown?

“From the start of lockdown, I’ve tried to keep checking in with myself, my friends and family and my team to encourage a dialogue about how we are all coping through such an uncertain time. We have a team check-in everyday to not only touch base on what we’re working on but to share how we’re feeling and to voice if we’re struggling. There will undoubtedly be low moments but having a support system is so important and something I don’t ever want to take for granted.

I realised this when I started volunteering with Independent Age where I call the elderly once a week who don’t have any relatives to support them through this time – it can be heart-breaking but also incredibly rewarding to be doing something to help. Practically, I try to bring some consistency to my wellness routine with yoga videos or walks in nature, cooking healthy and delicious food and enjoying boxset Sundays with my boyfriend.”

What are your thoughts on travel right now?

“I had no idea how much I value travel until we were told we couldn’t go anywhere. For me, the act of physically removing myself from my day-to-day routine and setting gives me so much perspective. I usually do one big trip a year and often I go alone (solo travel is the best kind in my opinion). Last year I went to India on a solo yoga retreat, and I had plans to go to Bali this December to do the same.

This isn’t happening in the current climate, so it’s definitely encouraged me to appreciate the escapes closer to home. Instead, I’ll be going to St Mawes this December for cold, wet walks, warming soups and box set days. Dreamy.”

What are your current handbag essentials?

“I’ve never really been into lots of ‘stuff’ apart from the usual keys, wallet, phone but one thing I’ve always done since I was little was carry around a snack stash wherever I go. (It used to be Wagon Wheels and as an adult, I’ve upgraded to Deliciously Ella bars).”

What gets you through Working from Home?

“I’m a creature of habit and my lunchtime scrambled eggs made my boyfriend is always a highlight. I also love the ritual of making a matcha latte in the morning and drinking it really mindfully.”

What is your work wardrobe like now from what it used to be? 

“I’ve always been into the less is more approach when it comes to my wardrobe – I’d rather buy quality pieces that I wear again and again. One benefit of lockdown was that it prompted me to reorganise my wardrobe and re-wear items that haven’t been worn for years. 

When we started Mags Creative from our kitchen table, I would get fully dressed in my work outfit to help get me into the mindset of productivity. When lockdown happened, I started dressing for work as if I was leaving the house – but as it’s getting colder and darker outside, I’ve gone for comfort instead (think comfortable leggings and warming jumpers).”

Faith has a collection of Anthropologie headbands for quickly adding glamour to her look
What are your current 5 essential items of clothing?

Denim dungarees 

Not really an item of clothing but I love an Anthropologie headband 

A colourful print shirt to brighten up winter days  

A cosy cashmere jumper 

Sweaty Betty leggings  

What is your vision for the future of your business?

“We want to keep creating content that brings important conversations to light and reaches audiences in a meaningful way. The big vision that we’d like to become the largest independent podcast company in the UK – and the exciting thing is that I truly believe that we can do that.”

If you loved this article then you will love our other How She Carries On articles. See journalist Sarah Vine’s here

One of the toughest things you can ever do (besides parenting) is start a business. Unfortunately (like parenting) ,there’s no manual for a new business, and whilst one of the best things you can do is listen to the advice of other inspiring businessmen and women,  very few people have a mentor who can be their guide or know where to find one.

Thankfully, there are now a host of podcasts that focus on entrepreneurs and their real life experiences. Starting a business isn’t just about a good idea, and there are so many factors that come into play, from choosing a team, to leadership skills, to resilience, to managing workload, people and suppliers. 

Here are our favourite podcasts, that feature some of the best business people on the planet.  Not just for entrepreneurs, they are also helpful for anyone anywhere in the workspace whether freelance, part of a bigger company, in creative or more corporate industries.

How I Built This

Podcast duration: 30mins to 1 hour

Probably one of the most well-known podcasts on the planet, How I Built this with Guy Raz, delves into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies and entrepreneurs. Creating a narrative story in every interview, Raz speaks to innovators, founders and idealists about their personal start-up journeys and the movements they have built. From Andi Puddicombe, the monk who created the app Headspace, to Emily Weiss founder of cosmetics brand Glossier, to John Foley creator of Peloton, Jen Rubio co-founder of Away Luggage, and Anthony Caselena whose website tool business Squarespace is now valued at $1.7 billion.  Hear how Joe Gebbia of Air BnB started his business thanks to a chance encounter with  friend as a way to pay his rent, and how Sara Bakely, founder of Spanx was selling fax machines before she started her seamless underwear brand that is now a household name or how Michael McKelvey started WeWork when he convinced a friend to share an office space in Brooklyn. Fascinating listening.

Build Your Tribe

Podcast duration: 15mins to 1 hour

Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or desperate to quit your day job, this show by New York Times bestselling author, business coach and TV presenter Chalene Johnson and her son Brock will have something for you. Each straight-talking podcast drills down into the a subject related to business building such as ‘My personal strategy for content promotion’ to ‘How to manage young kids and build a business’ and ‘The difference between a mentor and coach.’ Whether you’re looking for top tips to build your social media, want to know how to grow your email list, how to build your following on Instagram, how to work on a budget or need to develop digital marketing strategies but don’t know where to start, then Build your Tribe can help. With lots of practical tips, back-to-basics advice to take away and fascinating interviews, one of our favourite sections is Quick Tip Tuesday where they give lots of practical in-depth tips on a particular topic in under 15 minutes.

Monocle 24: The Entrepreneurs 

Podcast duration: 30 minutes and under (some are just 9 minutes)

Monocle magazine was launched in 2007 to provide an intelligent briefing on global affairs, business, design, culture and much more. Their podcast, The Entrepreneurs is aimed at anyone who is starting up or is running a business. Short and succinct, each podcast is under 30 minutes long and consists of insightful interviews with entrepreneurs that you may not always have heard of but who always have a fascinating and inspiring story to tell.  Those companies include AllPlants, a vegan delivery service in the UK, Vivobarefoot the lightweight running shoe brand, Dishoom who have modernised the Indian restaurant in the UK, the beauty entrepreneur Jo Malone,  and the wonders of streetwear label Folk. In each interview you learn as much about running a business and their reasons for being, as we do about a fascinating new subject you didn’t know about before.

EntreLeadership

Podcast duration: 40 minutes to 1 hour

Hosted by business coach Alex Judd, the Entreleadership podcast features lively discussions and tips on leadership and business by some of the cleverest minds in the world. Every week is a different subject matter with a different interviewee such as ‘Are you Indispensible?’ with Seth Goldin, ‘How to celebrate your team’ with Chris Hogan and ‘Studying Failure’ with Jon Erwin. Whether you want to scale your business, manage your team better or sort out your finances, there is a podcast here that can guide you through it.

The School of Greatness

Podcast duration: 5 minute Friday sessions to 1.5 hours for longer interviews

Lewis Howes is a NYT bestselling author, former pro athlete and world record holder in football. His career as an athlete was stopped short by a devastating injury. Howes’ aim in the School of Greatness is to share inspiring stories from the most brilliant business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities on the planet and to therefore discover what makes the great people great. With awe inspiring interviews from the likes of the late Kobe Bryant on ‘Life, Love and Legacy’, Gabby Bernstein on ‘Healing Trauma and Spiritual Freedom’ and hypnotherapist Derren Brown on ‘Mindset and Persuasion’ Howe has also created an amazing library of podcasts where he anchors each chapter with a lesson he learnt from his own teachers. This podcast is life enhancing for anyone in business but is packed with life lessons for outside of the office too.

The Tim Ferriss Show

Podcast duration: 30 minutes to 3 hours

The Tim Ferriss podcast is often the number one podcast on all apple podcasts and it is the first business/ interview podcasts to succeed 100,000,000 downloads. Ferriss himself is an early stage tech investor/ adviser and the author of 5 bestselling books including The Four Hour Work Week and Tools of Titans which documents the tactics, routines and habits of billionaires, icons and world-class performers. Selected as the best of Apple podcasts for 3 years running, in each episode, Ferriss interviews world-class success stories from various eclectic areas including sports, investing, business or art.  Ferriss is a master at extracting the tools, tactics and routines they use to make themselves successful . These could be morning routines, books they read, exercise, time management tricks and so much more. With past guests including actor Edward Norton, burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese, former CEO of Google Eric Schmidt and athlete LeBron James, it is a fascinating deep dive into what makes people tick. There are also business targeted podcasts such as ‘Two Questions every entrepreneur should answer’ and Howard Marks on ‘How to invest with Clear thinking’ is unmissable.

Startup Microdose

Podcast duration: 50 minutes to 1hr 20

Start-up Microdose is a hugely inspiring podcast that focusses solely on entrepreneurs, giving us a chance to learn from some of the brightest brains in the business. Set up by Ed Stephens who is Global Head of Brokerage and Partnerships at Angel Investment Network who has helped some of the UK’s best entrepreneurs raise money for their businesses, and host Oliver Jones who is Head of Marketing at the Angel Investment Group, this is the world in which both inhabit daily. Each episode focusses on a new entrepreneur from the likes of Julien Callade, co-founder of interiors company Made.com who gives a meticulous account of the Made.com journey from concept to success, to Will Harris founder of Entale Media on revolutionising the podcast industry and Lord Karan Bilimoria who is CEO of Cobra Beer. Split into chapters, it gives the listener a chance to skip sections or go to the chapters they want. Each episode is also filmed and added to the Start-up Microdose YouTube channel if you want to put a face to the names behind the interviews.