Sarah Parsonage is the founder of One Question - a multifaceted media business - including events, books, research and a podcast series - which focuses on answering a single question through the lens of different industry perspectives.
Her ambition - to challenge the way we think.
Past questions include: Can business make society better? Does purpose really drive profit? Has technology enhanced or damaged our personal experiences?
She believes that for leaders to truely understand the place their business occupies in the world, they need to look around and get a sense of what's going on outside their 'industry echo chamber'. ...and it's hard to argue with that.
Let's take a closer look at the brain behind the question. Hope you enjoy! DG x
What gets you out of bed on a morning?
One Question, exercise, sunshine and really good coffee. It sounds so cheesy but 90% of the time I love what I do and I find One Question fascinating. So that does the trick.
Failing that, coffee.
What is something that I could learn right now, that will be useful for the rest of my life?
The ability to see something from other people's point of view. Emotional intelligence.
That or how to cook, another passion of mine.
What is the most undervalued skill in marketing?
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Market research for a female hygiene company before the internet. It was horrendous but taught me a lot about how to talk to people that didn't have any interest in talking to me.
What one tip would you give someone looking to create their best work?
Patience. It sounds so obvious but time is so important and wildley undervalued in most organisations. People do their best work when they have the time and space to think about it properly, to understand the ask, the idea, the creative, the audience or customer, the commercial impact. We put so much pressure on ourselves to know the answer immediately and become very frustrated when we can't deliver in a particular time frame, yet as soon as we give it a bit of time, nine times out of ten, it falls into place. It is possible to be aggressively commercial and make time for phenomenal ideas. It is just not as fashionable or cool as the 'hustle' which is nonsense.
What topic/theme/issue do you think should be on every marketers radar at the moment?
Curiosity. I am not really a marketer so I am arguably a little bit of an interloper. However, every industry operates in a bubble, One Question has shown me that to the nth degree. Most people are naturally drawn to things they already think are interesting, or know they will like, or to people with points of views that are similar to that of their own. Rarely do people choose to make time for the things they don't know or won't like. We know what we know and we like what we know. Either because we have become too comfortable in that mindset or thanks to social media our world is now performative. We express opinions and share things because of the impact it will have, rather than because it is something we desperately want to share with the world
If you were guaranteed the correct answer to one question, what would you ask?
The lottery numbers. In all seriousness, there are far too many. But I think at the moment it would be political. Honest answers to some political decisions spanning the US and UK right now would be really interesting if not unnerving. Not to mention the decisions people make when voting. This would help to answer the reason we are so polarised as a globe and how we can be better.
What do you spend way too much money on?
Ha ha, vinyl and books. Sunglasses.
What is the single best realisation you’ve ever had?
Gosh, I am 38 so quite a few. Never settle. Life is too short. That, or never measure when making a cocktail, free pour is always better.
What is something that a lot of people like, that you just don’t ‘get’?
Game of Thrones.
I am going to be mobbed for saying this.
Favourite way to unwind?
Oooh, the end of the day glass of wine. Then cooking, reading, music, television, the new series of Succession and Line Of Duty can not come soon enough.
You visit your ten-year-old self and tell them about your life. What do they think?
Oh my god, you have made some really bad decisions and some really brilliant ones. And you love your curly hair now which is great.
There are 5 empty seats at your table - who are your dream dinner party guests, from any time or place?
Ok, you know this is my desert island discs but harder. So I have probably spent more time than is normal or healthy thinking about this, and I have 11 because you need 12 people to make a good dinner party. ;-)
Tea of coffee? Coffee
Early bird or night owl? Both
Book or boxset? Books
Call or text? Text
Introvert or Extrovert? Extrovert
Netflix or YouTube? Netflix
Library or museum? Museum
Classic or modern? Classic
Finally – who would you like to see answer these questions?
Nick Childs, Fred Bolza.
Talk us through your workspace.
What helps you get through the day and do what you need to do?
Yes, it is always this tidy. I can't work in clutter! I always have some sort of lip gloss in my vicinity and normally a coffee mug or water but not today.
I love Hoxton Press notebooks, they are simple and stunning and I have a thing about foxes.
I listen to music when I work so Sonos is nearby
My H is also broken on my laptop today which is driving me crazy and spot the elephant in my neighbour's garden. ;-)
This year we have had to ask our 2020 question via our brand new podcast series instead of our members event, for obvious reasons.
One Question is designed to challenge the way we think and break down industry echo chambers so we ask one question from many different perspectives, so far the podcast features, the political, the arts, the legal, the business, the corporate and this week, the community perspective.
I would love for people to listen, especially to this week's.