Taking business lessons from Sylvester Stallone

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Sam Jones is the Managing Director of Manchester-based creative agency Tunafish Media.

Biggest fuck up?

This year I’ve learnt the hard way that I need to look after myself a bit better, and it’s an ongoing mistake that I’m still trying to sort out. I’m getting to that age where I just can’t get away with it anymore.

Like most people, I find the buzz term ‘work/life balance’ a bit tedious, but then I completely fell into this trap and spent so much time doing work that I let myself go a bit.

The only exercise I’ve ever really enjoyed has been playing football or cricket and running, and after having a bit of knee trouble, I fell out of the habit and stopped doing them all completely (although playing cricket is mainly just a lot of standing around). On top of that, my diet has always resembled that of a university student at best, which, when paired together, meant that I started to put on a fair bit of weight and was just tired in general.

One of my old University mates is a heavyweight professional cage fighter, and I went for lunch with him over the Easter period, and after a bit of gentle convincing, I agreed to train with him. Being punched in the face repeatedly by a man twice your size is great motivation to get your act together, and from there, I’ve started gentle running again and doing more general gym stuff for the first time. I’ve been trying to teach myself how to cook and have been less reliant on grabbing food on the move, which has seen my diet improve too.

I think when you have a business, and you love what you’re doing, the temptation is to work as much as possible, and other parts of life go by the wayside. Since I’ve started eating miles better and working out again, the impact it’s had on my energy levels and sleep has been great. I’m also going to New Zealand and Australia in six weeks, and as they’re both countries where people like going to the beach and walking about with their tops off, I’ve got a bit of added motivation to lose the gut.

Lightbulb moment

This was a bit of a strange place to find inspiration. We were three creatives who started an agency, and although we have grown nicely organically, we didn’t really have the natural knack for sales, and we struggled to find marketing salespeople. As a result, our sales function and processes were never quite where they needed to be.

I was watching an interview with Sylvester Stallone where he talked about how he always cast boxers in the Rocky films as it was easier to teach a boxer how to act than it was to teach an actor how to box.

Taking that as inspiration, we decided to change our recruitment process to focus on people outside of our industry who had a sales background, who we could then teach what we do. Our new sales manager has come from the recruitment industry and has really helped to build a structure which is going to support our growth plans over the next couple of years.

Useful advice

Start putting more content out there. Because of smartphones, we are all walking-talking media companies now, and by putting more content out there, if it’s interesting enough, you’re only going to create opportunities for yourself.


  1. Enjoyed the interview content direct questions and informative answers. I agree with hiring skilled people who may not have sector knowledge but have proven track record in their particular skill. The blog name is catching not a name you are likely to forget. Keep up the good work NWB


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