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AM I OLD?

Posted on 2nd September 2021 by Gilly Bain

AM I OLD?

A decade. I started YOURgb Events LTD a decade ago.

When I think about hearing other people talk about something being “a DECADE ago”, my subconscious quite honestly flags up the word ‘OLD’.

OLD. It’s a word in our industry that is surrounded by fear – not just because delivering live events absolutely does get harder the older you get (MY LIFE to be 25 again…), but because when a company, a toy, or even an idea… gets OLD… its days are numbered.

Old, in the sense of its alternative dictionary definition of being “boring or tiresome, especially as a result of repetition or overfamiliarity.” – is a fear-full line to read.

I think in this industry, the constant reinvention and the chasing of the rainbow is what keeps a company and its ethos young, regardless of how many years it has been going.

So really, in order to keep a company strong and allow it the privilege of growing OLD, you must first prioritise keeping it YOUNG. Not young in terms of the age of your team, but young in culture, in identity, in approach, and by that I mean ‘stay modern’. Keep up with tech. Invest. Evolve with new thinking, embrace new approaches and ways of working – and STOP clinging to the ‘this is how we have always done it’ attitude.

Over the course of the last 10 years, I think we have reinvented ourselves at least 5 or 6 times, and never more so than during our most recent and ‘dare or die’ evolution that the pandemic thrust upon us. Crikey it was difficult, and not one for the faint hearted, but we did it – and we did it well. I would go as far as to say who we, YOURgb, are now – and what we stand for, how we approach challenge, our confidence and bravery – is nothing short of a rebirth, and we have never felt so ‘young’.

On birthdays I think it’s fair to say we all enjoy a wee look back – I would love nothing more than to paint you the picture of me being 25 years old and deciding that I would run off to London to freelance in events, then waking up when I was 26 deciding that I could start a company to formalise my freelance offering. I would tell you all about the realisation that trying to do that in London was impossible with no money, and I would explain to you that I instead moved back to bonnie Scotland to live with my incredible (and now hugely missed) Grandma. With a £3k float I made the world’s most awful website and got going, then got too busy, needed help, hired and rented the world’s smallest office… got even busier, hired again, got a bigger office….

It’s been a journey of tall proportions for a very short girl with a punchy approach. YOURgb is 10 years old, with a team of 10 – so, instead of monologuing, I’ve chosen to frame this blog by tasking the ’dream team’ to ask me 10 questions that they are genuinely interested in hearing about from me. So here we go…

What inspired you to start YOURgb?

I think I was fed up of doing the same thing, over and over again – I needed the freedom to roll the dice and research, approach and pitch to clients and brands that EXCITED me. Everyone has different drivers in life, and for me it’s all experience based. Being passionate about events makes you strive to deliver exciting experiences – so I went from running very blue conferences to wearing leathers and creating large scale experiential events for the likes of Harley Davidson, just about overnight. In short, I was inspired to work with clients and brands that inspired me… so I could inspire them… it’s a two-way relationship.

Looking back to when you first started YOURgb, what is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself?

Trust your gut and learn to let go. I am very gut lead, and as time has gone on, I have leant into it massively, and it’s almost always right. Looking back, if I have found myself in a difficult situation, I had a gut instinct that I chose to ignore – so listen to yourself and know you know more than you think – even when you’re ‘young’. In terms of the ‘letting go’ advice, we hold on to SO much, and loosening the reigns, giving others freedom, relaxing past mistakes by learning from them, sighing out disagreements and empowering and trusting those around you… is a key to success. It gets the best out of people, including yourself.

What was your very first event as YOURgb?

The Eco Car Parade for the founder of Mulberry – Roger Saul in aid of the Prince’s Trust, working with Dragon’s Den stars and a flurry of celebrities, where we shut down the entirety of The Mall in London and raced electric vehicles with TV coverage from ITV & the BBC. It was absolute MADNESS. I won the event by being referred to Roger directly, he called me and said ‘Hello Gilly Bain, I’ve heard many things about you dear, and I have an idea, a big one, and from what I’ve heard you are just about mad enough to take it on…” The next thing I knew I was hosting a planning session at the Palace’s Clarence House, sitting in a huge chair, with my feet quite literally swinging above the floor like goldilocks in the chair that was not ‘just right’. I was being met with open mouthed wonderment around items lines stating that we may need a TTRO and over 40 public toilets and crowd control barriers, and security, and RAMS, and, and, and, and… We made it happen, and it was tremendous.

It’s that approach that has continued through everything we do at YOURgb. We will ALWAYS be mad enough ‘to take it on’.

In 10 years of running a business, what year has been the most challenging?

I think around 2014 when I took on my first full time employee, it’s SUCH a huge jump going from supporting yourself to supporting someone else in terms of monthly outgoings, it also meant an office, expenses etc… It was almost as tricky as starting up in some respects. Oh and 2020, that was fairly foul for obvious reasons…

What is your most memorable moment within the past 10 years of YOURgb?

It’s not the glitziest moment, we’ve had plenty of pinch me moments working on Pride of Britain, Harley Davidson, Netflix.… The Wanted afterparty was awesome… but, for me it was about 5 years ago, and I had just moved into a lovely new office. It was glass fronted, to me at the time it was HUGE (it was miniscule), and my mum and Grandma came to the ‘launch party’. It was the first time they had been ‘inside’ YOURgb, the first time they saw my logo on a wall, met the team etc. It was a big moment showing them where I now was, in comparison to the days of sitting on Grandma’s floor at the beginning of it all. It will stay with me forever. I wish Grandma could see our latest YOURgb home on Howe Street in Edinburgh, it’s pretty spink!

What are you most proud of?

This is a tricky one – I find it hard to be proud of myself as I’m always looking ahead rather than back… I think my pride comes mostly from positive client feedback, especially when they are talking about my team and it is nothing to do with me at all. I feel pride in seeing personal growth in others, I love to think that whoever works with me learns from me, and grows, and seeing progression in others and watching confidence grow fills me up.

What gives you the biggest buzz when working on the planning of an event or campaign?

The challenges. The impossibilities.

What advice would you give to people looking to find a career in events?

Get work experience, even if it’s initially printing labels, get a foot in the door and then dazzle. Also – personalise your approaches to the work that you seek. Find out about the person ‘in charge’ – address them directly in your emails. Call to follow up. I can’t tell you how many emails I get that say Dear Sir, and it kills me, it’s 2021!

Where do you see YOURgb in the next 10 years?  

I see us bigger, but not too big. I don’t want us to ever lose our boutique attitude towards each other and the clients we work with. It will never be a numbers game; we are all about making each client feel just as important as the other – and we will never stop personally caring about the work we produce. I see us evolving more confidently into other areas that work closely alongside events. I see us continuing as absolute specialists but being a bit louder about it – my team will be the pack of people that are regularly invited to speak at events when they talk about the industry and staying power, the benefits of a healthy culture and the journey towards business bravery.

If I think about what we’ve achieved in just 10 years, I’m seriously excited about the next 10!