Interview with Charlie Rawstron, Co-Founder of 3Search

Charlie Rawstronis

Charlie Rawstron is co-founder of 3Search, a leading marketing and digital recruitment agency that puts its people and customers at the heart of everything they do. 3Search was born from the desire to create a better customer experience in marketing and digital recruitment. With over 600 Google reviews and a 5-star average, they're driven to deliver the best recruitment experience our customers will ever have.


1. Can you provide a quick overview of what has been guiding your career path to-date and what led you to co-found 3Search?

It's hard to highlight one guiding principle as I have several different motivators. I love what I do, which certainly helps, but I also thrive off working with others, and I have a deep drive to be successful, which I think is an essential attribute of anyone building a business. 

Before we founded 3Search, I was in a large corporate recruiter company, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t influence the direction of the business. I also felt that we had the energy, the ideas, and the ambition to build a business that had the best reputation in the market, both as a company to work for and one to work with. 


2. On that journey, what would you say has been the most significant moment or milestone that has shaped your approach to business?

Realising how important kindness is for two reasons. Firstly, work is such a central part of people's lives, so treating each other kindly is key to people's well-being and happiness. Secondly, there is also a commercial power to kindness; if you treat people in the right way, they tend to reciprocate it by creating a great work culture and performing to the best of their ability. 


3. As a recruitment specialist, you’ll be aware that every year, it seems the pace of change gets ever faster. Against this backdrop, how do you ensure you stay adaptable and open to change?

Recruitment is a fiercely competitive market, so it’s very important to stay open to change to survive and grow. We’ve seen many successful businesses in the industry take their eye off the ball and fall by the wayside, so we’re acutely aware that we need to keep adapting, and a constant fear of failure certainly helps! We also make decisions very quickly. There are three of us who founded the business, which helps as we put all contentious decisions to a vote, and it can never be a stalemate. 


4. Leading a business often involves taking risks. But what role do you believe risk-taking plays in achieving success?

Risk-taking plays a huge part, and I don’t think UK culture is very supportive of entrepreneurs. We are very quick to deride those who take risks and fail, especially when compared to the US, where there is a big appetite for risk-taking and failure is celebrated as a learning experience. There's just a huge cultural difference, and I think it’s really important in this country, particularly for the younger generations, that we encourage risk-taking and failure. 

At 3Search, I believe we've always found a nice balance of trying new things while making sure any financial commitments don't impact our ability to run the core business day to day.


5. What is your leadership philosophy, and how do you use this to inspire and motivate those around you?

I remember listening to an interview with a US general called Stanley McCrystal, who was a leader during the Iraq war, and he said that your team will forgive you for making mistakes as long as you are honest, reliable, and consistent, and that's stuck with me. I’m certainly not the perfect leader or manager, but I focus on being honest with people, treating them fairly, and delivering a consistent message, because if you do that as a leader, then I believe people will respect you and do their best work.


6. Overcoming challenges and displaying resilience are increasingly important. Can you share any setbacks you’ve encountered and how you use that experience to learn and grow?

Rejection is a daily part of any sales job, so yes, the levels of resilience you need to build up are incredibly high. I don't know when the tipping point was, but as I've matured, I've realised rejection is part of the learning process, and I've lost the fear of it. I believe you can learn from all setbacks, and we talk at work about adopting a growth mindset where you can consistently improve. I also realise that setbacks are a part of life and, as much as I hate losing, it does happen from time to time, so it's how you deal with it that's important. 


7. Uncovering, supporting and backing ideas can often make a difference in business. What do you believe is important when seeking to foster a culture of innovation and creativity?

You have to give people the space and the time to think. It’s very easy just to always be actioning stuff (which I certainly fall into), so making sure people take time away from the day job, which allows them the time to think creatively, is important. You then need to empower them. You need to give them a voice and the confidence that they will be listened to and any good ideas will be considered.


8. Business leaders often face challenges in balancing work and personal life. How do you manage this balance, and what strategies do you use to prevent burnout?

I’ve certainly got it wrong at times, but I've recently landed on a good formula. I book all my holidays at the beginning of the year and then plan work around them. During some of those holidays, I totally switch off and then during the normal working week, I’ll make sure there are a couple of evenings where I give myself some downtime. It’s become easier as years have gone on because we’ve employed people who I trust and I’ve given them the autonomy to own parts of the business, which certainly takes some of the pressure off. 


9. What advice do you have for individuals aspiring to be the business leaders of the future? Are there key principles or lessons you wish you had known when starting your journey?

I wish I'd read more! There is so much that can be learned by reading the stories of other entrepreneurs; the access to information nowadays is amazing. I think we all learn and develop differently though. I learned by doing, so I could have had all the advice in the world, but I needed to make the mistakes myself. Perhaps if we'd had mentors early on or employed advisors, then we could have got to where we are now quicker, but the journey wouldn’t have been as much fun. 


10. Are there any resources, such as podcasts, blogs or books you’d recommend others consider that you have found particularly influential in shaping your thinking?

I love an old-fashioned paperback! A book called 4,000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman is a mix of a self-help manual and a philosophical quest in the pursuit of happiness. It certainly helped when I was struggling to balance my work and personal life, so I’d highly recommend reading that. I've also recently read a book called 'Belonging' by Owen Eastwood, which is well worth reading if you're looking to build a long-term high-performance team, and a lot of its guiding principles are things we implement at 3Search.


The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not constitute advice or a recommendation. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Enness and are not intended to indicate any market or industry viewpoints, or those of other industry professionals.