- Name: Ashley Ringrose
- Age: 34
- Children: Two year old Mojo
- Where: Sydney, Austrailia
In 2002 Ashley founded Soap Creative a digital creative agency which creates advertising and experiences for companies like ING Direct, Disney and Unilever. He also owns a dedicated games studio called SMG, which produces its own IP for mobile, tablet and PC. He’s a frantic dad of one cuuuuuute two-year old, Mojo, and self-confessed digital geek up all hours working on “stuff”.
Saved interview for later
The whole world has recently gone social crazy, but in 2002 it was already your thing. Talk to me about those early days vs your current philosophy.
That’s right - we started the business in 2002 and the digital world was a lot different then. No iPhone, no YouTube, no Facebook! Our business now is nothing like it was 12 years ago and I expect it to continue to change. The trend that has carried across all these years is we've always been about gaming and play. People will always want to be entertained or distracted by gaming, and where a game isn’t suitable we take the elements of "play" and try to work them into the project. This is more than "gamification" which is about applying game mechanics to things. This is about making something playful that people can engage and interact with.
We love to play! You’re inspiring us already… Was there anyone that was an early influencer for you?
I’ll resist throwing in the wife into the first - and every! - answer! I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of great people over the years so I’d say my biggest influencers have been my colleagues. Rob – who I co-founded Soap with in 2002 – helped me a lot. My current technical partner Mark sold his first company in 2002 and has been a great friend and help running the technical team at Soap.
Aww, we love that you love your colleagues! So them aside, what gets you out of bed in the morning and inspires you on a day to day basis?
Right now it’s my family… and to get to a point where I won’t have to work 5 days a week so I can spend more time with them.
Sounds like a great plan! Being ahead of the digital game must mean you come under some stiff competition, how do you deal with that?
Even competitors in the industry have been inspiration. I remember when I ran a blog about online advertising and we posted both good and bad examples. Matt from a rival agency pulled me aside and said “no one wants to see bad examples of work, just focus on the good” and he was right. When I did that the site performed much better. Only a small minority want to gloat over bad work.
Any top career tips?
Always be honest and speak as if the person who you’re speaking about can hear. It saves a lot of awkwardness down the track.
So you set up SOAP before Mojo came along, how do you now manage your time owning a business and owning a child?!
Luckily I have a big team to support the business so it doesn’t just rest on me. But I don’t think I’ve found the right balance yet and I’m still working to reduce stress at work. I've worked for 12 years very long hours and to unlearn this bad habit has been tough. If my wife wasn’t as patient as she is I feel it would be a lot worse.
Ah-ha, another wife mention! Very often we place a lot of emphasis on being a working Mum, but let’s look at it from your point of view; what does it mean to be a working dad?
It means managing time much more vigilantly than before. It's very easy for me to slip back into old habits and work a lot, and I'm still struggling to balance the work life relationship. I'm slowly getting better. I’ve made sure I'm there for swimming class each week, and weekends now are 100% family. I hardly ever work the weekend and I’m never on my laptop at home at all now – that's been good because Mojo doesn’t see me hunched over a computer ignoring him at home.
Sounds like it’s a great balancing act. Do you have any stand out moments of being a Dad?
There’s so many and it’s always changing. Initially it was when Mojo first started to smile, then when he first laughed, then it was when he’d dance to the music at the entrance of fashion stores. Now it’s probably when he’s riding around on his balance bike pretending to crash all the time!!
Bless, it sounds like he has you wrapped round his little finger! If you had to pick one, what would be your top parenting tip?
Don’t be afraid to be the strict parent. I read about the potential impact on a child’s eyesight and brain development by letting them play videogames and watch TV.
Is that why – even with a digital guru as a Dad – Mojo hasn’t entered the digital world?
It’s only been since Mojo turned two that he has been allowed to watch a little bit of TV a night before bed… we watch Octonauts, Charlie & Lola and Thomas. It's his reward – but not every night – and only for a short period, like 30-40 minutes. He enjoys it, but he also turns into a zombie; He can’t chew food and watch TV at the same time!
And what about digital devices? They can often be a parents’ saving grace for long road trips…
He doesn’t play video games or go on a mobile or tablet, and we’re trying to keep that until he’s five years old. Until then he has lots of fun with trains and Mega Blocks so I don’t think he’s missing out on anything. I think Duplo, trains, cars and his bike are much better for him to develop. We hope this will help with his attention, mood, creativity, and – with both parents wearing glasses – his eyesight!
How refreshing! It’s so funny how anyone working in digital you’re often seen as a geek……
....but it’s better to be “weird” than “boring”.
Great tip! Are there any other messages you want to pass on to your great great-great grandchildren when they read this?
That life without hover boards was still OK. Seriously though, that working very hard isn’t always the right answer…....
We’ll drink to that! Our time is nearly up but before we wrap up I want to introduce you to The Up All Hours round… a quick fire round of questions so we can get to know a little more about what you are currently into! It might serve as some recommendations for others. So......
Up All Hours watching
(sheepishly) I like binging on a TV series
*Up All Hours reading
video game blogs (naturally!)
Up All Hours listening to
embarrassingly as I get older I like chill out electronic or classical
Up All Hours eating
Something I’ll regret like a bag of M&M's
Up All Hours wearing
trackie dacks (tracksuit pants)
And finally, if you had to be Up All Hours with anyone, who would it be and why?
My wife because then we can both sleep in together the next day. But if that’s a cop out answer maybe someone like Stephen Colbert or Stephen Spielberg. Note: having the name Stephen is not a prerequisite! Both would have some great stories to tell and the selfie with them alone would be worth the hassle of staying up all night.
Thanks Ash – ahhh to sleep in together all day with a spouse is more of a pipe dream, right? Interested in the world of gaming and digital? Check out projects that SOAP are currently working on at www.soapcreative.com/au, and maybe you could even be one of their SOAPERHEROS?