Nick Fordham is CEO of The Fordham Company, a talent management agency that his parents John and Veronica co-founded when he was a baby.
Now 36, he is father to daughters Maisie, 4, and Coco, 1 whilst taking on high profile clients including Mark Bouris, Lisa Wilkinson, Mark Taylor, and Nick’s brother, radio presenter Ben. Rachelle Unreich sits down with this week’s Man About Town to chat growing up with celebrities, show business and family.
“I’ve grown up with interesting people from all walks of life but you soon realise they’re all human.”
Rachelle Unreich: You joined the business in 1997. How did you know that this is what you wanted to do at 18?
Nick Fordham: I just knew. I had worked in my final two years at school at Channel Nine, and it always resonated with me, working in the family business. I love people, I love doing deals and travelling – there was no other option. I wasn’t the university type.
RU: You work with a lot of celebrities. Are you in awe of any?
NF: Not really. I’m fortunate each day to work with people who are high achievers and who are also good people, whether it’s Lisa Wilkinson, Mark Bouris or Ange Postecoglou. I’ve grown up with interesting people from all walks of life but [you soon realise] they’re all human.
RU: Who taught you the greatest life lesson?
NF: In terms of my work ethic, I suppose it’s my old man who has stuck out the most in terms of being trained by him and watching him do what he does and being a leader of industry and working hard and paying attention to detail. He always gave me the advice of: ‘Don’t want to make money – want to create money.’ I don’t stick to the norm, I think outside of the box, and that’s what’s happened with our company.
We’re a management agency with high profile people that’s diversified. I’m Executive Producer of a global series on National Geographic, which we created and own – Outback Wrangler – and I now own TV rights to rugby around NSW, and I own a health food company too. It’s my personality as well – I’m not the type to sit in a cubicle and tap away at one project. I like to do many things at once.
RU: What’s your one rule in your day-to-day life?
Early starts is my thing. It’s difficult in winter, but I love being up and first at it early in the day. I do a bit of exercise every day, but I don’t go over the top – it’s just about being active and moving. I think sleep is so important, and I try not to do anything social early in the week. I like to get to bed early, stay healthy.
RU: What do you do in your downtime?
NF: I’m a workaholic but I’ve got to the point of my career where I can pick and choose what I do. My weekends have become more sacred than anything else. I don’t do anything on the weekends, except to just try and go away with my family. I just shut down, which is good for the mind as well as the body. If it’s summer time, [I like] being in the ocean, and if it’s winter, it’s cooking and being in front of an open fire.
NF: I love cooking and food. Food is a pretty important part of my life – mainly Asian and Italian dishes. Cooking pasta and pizza from scratch, mixing it up – it’s something I do with my family and there’s a reward at the end of it, [unlike] if I played golf for six hours on a Saturday. I’m a bit of a time Nazi when it comes to my own time.
RU: The last memorable meal you had?
NF: On Friday, I went to Pretty Beach House, and Stefano Manfredi cooked me lunch, and I flew home in a seaplane after. That was memorable.
RU: How would you describe your personal style?
NF: It’s pretty simple. I am a big fan of good jeans, good boots, a white crisp shirt and sports jacket. I’ve got a million pairs of R.M. Williams boots – I love their suede boots and Cuban cowboy boots. I love watches. I’m not the biggest suit wearer these days; I think the whole culture of business has changed so quickly.
[But] I’m a big M.J. Bale fan – I love their shirts and jackets. You need to be comfortable with what you’re wearing; today, I was in trainers and jeans, because I had no meetings. I say to my staff, ‘I don’t mind you dressing casually as long as you put effort into what you’re wearing.’
RU: Did you have a bad fashion stage?
NF: I think we all did in the 80s. A white sports jacket with my sleeves rolled up – the Don Johnson look played a role in a few family holidays for sure. There were a lot of pastels.
RU: In terms of your personal spaces, what is your style?
NF: I like to be in interesting environments. My office has 40 foot palm trees and fish ponds and an industrial warehouse feel, with my sister’s art on the walls – it’s unique. I live in an old house with taxidermy above the fireplace. It’s not the norm. Living in a suburban house and working out of a shoebox doing the same thing every day scares the bejeezus out of me.
RU: What have you learned about storytelling from your work?
NF: My dad has always been a great raconteur. Being able to hold a room comes down to basic communication – being able to engage with a wide range of people is so important. But so is being a good listener as well.
It’s one thing to continually shoot from the hip, but listening is something I’ve had to work on. I don’t feel so comfortable doing public speaking myself – I like being behind the scenes. My brother Ben is better at doing it!
RU: What was the last indulgent purchase you made?
NF: My wife’s birthday present, which was two matching diamond rings. It was a belated push present. But I’m not an extravagant human being. I like spending money on travel.
RU: What are your favourite places in the world?
NF: I love San Francisco and London for long haul. I love California but I’m not the biggest fan of Los Angeles. I love the whole culture of San Francisco in terms of the whole start-up and Silicon Valley vibe. And my wife Liz is English so I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the UK.
I love the pace and the old school nature of London. My favourite hotel in the world is The Ritz in London at Christmas time. I love the old school nature and history of it.