What I Learned: Guy Cookson-Rabouhi, Marketing Director and Partner, Hotfoot Design


Guy Cookson-Rabouhi oversees marketing at Lancaster-based Hotfoot Design, an agency specializing in web design and branding.

Hotfoot was started in 2006 by Charlie Haywood and now works with clients including Rolls Royce, Citizens Advice and NHS Health & Wellbeing.

Before joining Hotfoot in 2015, Cookson-Rabouhi co-founded digital advertising company Azullo; led marketing and communications for Associated Northcliffe Digital (AND); and co-founded and edited Mosquito Magazine, an art and design title.

We discovered all the lessons that Guy learned…

What habit or daily practice could you not live without?

My wife, Louiza, and I get up around 5:30 most days and go to the gym. When we get back, I put the Bialetti on the stove for a strong coffee. It’s a great way to start the day.

What was your luckiest break?

I joined Hotfoot about seven years ago. I had spent half the week in London, but with a young family I wanted to do something closer to home. Together with my business partners, Charlie and Aidan, we’ve built something really special, and I’m thrilled with where things are headed.

What is your best failure?

Good question. I learned a lot while co-founding a design magazine in the early 2000s. We were as dependent on advertising as we were on subscribers, but we didn’t have a clear enough value proposition for brands and agencies. It was an invaluable lesson.

What’s the best investment you’ve ever made, money or time?

In financial terms, definitely ownership. In terms of time, it encouraged our children – Oscar, Mateo and Mimi – to try every type of food imaginable. Meal times used to be a battle. Now they are a joy.

What book would you recommend others read and why?

I love ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ by Alan Fletcher, one of Pentagram’s founding partners. You can randomly open it and get lost in it immediately.

What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

Don’t take yourself so seriously!

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your professional life?

My dad always went his own way and he taught me that I shouldn’t compromise and find a “safe” job doing something I didn’t like.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.

My grandfather, from an Irish family, was posted to India during World War II, where he met Nina Luschwitz, a widow with two children. They got married, came to England and had twins, including my mother. Many families have similar stories, but I love how unlikely it all is.

How will the COVID crisis change for the better?

Many brands have realized they can easily access talent across the country, and we have certainly taken advantage of this, with projects we have recently completed for Rolls Royce, DCC plc, the NHS and others.

Zoom is a great equalizer.

What does success look like to you?

It’s having the freedom to do great work with great people. There is nothing better. But it’s also not having to worry about keeping the wolf away from the door.

We have worked with Morecambe Bay Foodbank and the number of people struggling at the moment is deeply concerning. As a society, we need to change that.


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