Chris Thornhill: Co-Founder, CEO and resident whisky expert

7 min read

September 2, 2020

Introduction 

Hi, I’m Chris, Co-Founder & CEO of Growth Animals. I love to use my experience to help clients get to the route of what will help them grow and help them develop the strategy and tactics that will enable them to untap that growth potential. Ultimately my role and that of Growth Animals, is to help our clients sell more. I’m also a doting father, passionate foodie, petrol head and amateur whisky connoisseur…

Chris whiskey

How did Growth Animals come into fruition?

In truth, Growth Animals has been long in the making, but recently came into fruition thanks to the strange environment Covid-19 has thrown up. I’ve always had in the back of my mind that consulting would be a route well suited for me and on top of that, the fact that I’d like to run my own business, but it had never been more than a not particularly well formulated pipe dream. Then Covid struck and I asked my partner in crime, Jen, to help the charity that I’m a Trustee for, Dementia Support, as she was on furlough and had the spare capacity to provide some marketing consultancy to them. After playing back her work to me, the penny dropped that this might well be the enjoyable and rewarding work we’d been waiting for. So we chewed the idea over for a couple of months and then took the decision that we’d co-found a consultancy that could help other SME’s to grow and the rest as they say, is history. 

What is your proudest achievement personally?

As cheesy as it may sound, my proudest achievement personally is my daughter. She never fails to amaze me and at just three and a half years old, everyday is a new achievement or a new revelation. She is the best example of how important it is to lead by example, because if I slip up and don’t practice what I preach, she will notice immediately and months of good parenting will come crashing down. 

and professionally?

It has to be having successfully pulled together a dreamteam of marketing and PR professionals in my prior role at Goodwood, recruiting, developing and coaching a diverse group of individuals to really excel, learn and get the best out of each other, achieve great results and have a lot of fun in the process.

What does winning mean to you? 

Winning is enjoyable. That’s the crux of it. As our company value states, winning isn’t everything, but it’s pretty damn cool. There’s a real sense of achievement that comes with winning and that’s what makes it so addictive, whether it’s in one’s personal lives, playing sport, or in business. But as addictive as it is, it shouldn’t come at a cost, so hence it needs to be balanced out with fair play and a strong sense of integrity. The other thing I feel about winning, is that it feels that much more satisfying, when it’s achieved as a collective, rather than individually. I think it’s the same reason that people become so captivated by an England World Cup run, or any other team sport success. The sense of belonging and commarardary involved, makes the victories that much more enjoyable and meaningful. 

What BS business phrase(s) do you hate and why?

Millennials! Or to be more precise, any generalisations made upon completely arbitrary generational labels such as Millenials, Gen Z, etc. But to be fair, mostly Millennials. I’ve been in far too many meetings, or heard far too many talks where a supposed expert is extolling the virtues of targeting Millennials, while explaining how they are liberal yet conservative, frivolous yet money conscious, love avocado yet hate avocado, etc. Generational buckets are far too wide and varied to be of any use. Far too often the term is used off the cuff to effectively mean ‘young people’, despite the fact that all of those people in the photo below (yes, even including me) are technically Millennials. You might as well just say you want to target 18-35 year olds and have done with it. But don’t do that, target properly, based on passion points or specific demographic nuances that make sense. Rant over 🙂

What is your animal and what does it mean? 

My animal is a falcon which, according to the icloud Buzz quiz that is based upon the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, are imaginative and spontaneous problem-solvers who love learning new skills. I can certainly attest to that. I love a bit of problem solving and have always been a champion for continuing to learn, regardless of how old or experienced you are. Apparently falcons are also alert, outspoken and always interesting company, finding it very easy to communicate, making them natural negotiators, but they can also be accident-prone risk-takers who enjoy variety and action and who tend to leave things until the last minute. There’s certainly elements of truth in that too, which is also why it’s so important to build the right team around you, which I certainly have at Growth Animals with Jen (dolphin) and Jerin (teddy bear). I must say, I was also inspired to see that Barack Obama is a fellow falcon.