20 Questions With Copylab Founder Ross Hunter

To coincide with the forthcoming launch of Copylab Inc in the USA, our operations manager, Emma Whiting, sat down with Ross Hunter, Copylab’s founder, to get his thoughts on his past, his present and what his goals are for himself and Copylab’s future.

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  1. What was your first job? A copywriter with Scottish Amicable, writing and editing 32-page pension brochures and technical guides. It was a great training ground for me.
  2. Who has inspired you most in your career? Myself. That’s not meant to come across as conceited, but I can’t think of anyone that drives me on more than myself.
  3. What do you love most about your job? I love that, with the help of a great team, I’m building an agency that is creating interesting careers for our people and high-quality work for our clients.
  4. Downtime – what’s your number 1 hobby? Time with my wife Sam and our fast-growing kids Oliver and Marissa. And apart from playing tennis, squash and golf with the kids, I love international travel.
  5. How has the investment writing industry changed over the years? In one way, not at all – in that our job is still to communicate better with our readers. But it’s changed significantly in other ways – with a shift towards using analytics to understand what people want to read and measure how successful our writing has been.
  6. What are the biggest challenges the industry faces going forward?  For investment writing, it is the same as it has always been: explaining increasingly complex products and markets in a way that our readers understand. Engagement and trust levels among the general public with financial services in general are still too low.
  7. What’s on your desk? I like a clean desk…so there’s enough space for lots of tech: widescreen PC, a second widescreen monitor, my MacBook Air, my iPhone. But also a notebook – some things have to remain low-tech.
  8. What skill would you most like to have? Be fluent in Spanish so I can talk to my nephew and niece in Mexico – and understand when they’re talking about me behind my back!
  9. What book would you most liked to have written? Any of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series of detective novels. I love this genre and Chandler is the master of detective wordplay, in my humble opinion.
  10. What’s your pet hate in writing? Sloppy, careless grammar, spelling and punctuation. Not everyone can write creatively. And the odd typo is natural. But everyone should be able to write clearly and without leaving lots of errors.
  11. What did you want to be when you were a child? A professional cricketer. I was a fast-ish bowler.
  12. What can’t you live without? Excluding the basic necessities of life such as food, water, family and wifi, then I think it would have to be a cold beer.  I never thought that would be such a problem until I’d spent 10 days in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait last year!
  13. What’s your biggest fear? Ironically for someone who is 6’ 4”, I’m not great with heights!
  14. Where’s your favourite holiday destination? In the last decade or so, we’ve spent a lot of time as a family at Disney World in Florida – there have been many great times there. Otherwise, I would choose Italy for the food and drink. And Munich is probably my favourite city for a weekend away with the lads; going to Oktoberfest in 2014 was an amazing assault on the senses as well as the liver.
  15. What’s your favourite quote on leadership? I’m not a big fan of “inspirational” quotes. I think you should be yourself and trust your instincts, or people will see through you.
  16. What was your most significant year in business? 2012 – my decision to actively try and grow Copylab. That has led to us growing from one person (me) to more than 20 in less than four years, and having teams in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. Having said that, the coming year could be significant too, if our plans to move into overseas markets are anything like as successful as our efforts in the UK.
  17. How excited are you by Copylab’s expansion overseas this year? Less terrified than I thought I’d be. I know what I want us to do, and am just taking it one step at a time. Okay, maybe three steps at a time! First step is the USA – more news on that in the next few weeks. And on the heels of America, we’re aiming for the Middle East and Asia. The plan is there – it’s now just about delivering it.
  18. What was the worst piece of advice you ever received? “Stick to what you know.” If you’ve got a good idea and the ambition to bring it to life, why not try stepping out of your comfort zone?
  19. If you weren’t at Copylab what would you like to be doing? Travelling with the family, trying to become a scratch golfer, and having a go at some fiction writing.
  20. What question do you wish I’d asked you? Shall we do 10 questions or 20?