Craig Attle

craig attle

Having first met Craig Attle at a BNI networking chapter we soon clicked and hired him to be our accountant. That was 18 years ago! Craig is a rare individual who is able to tune into the needs of his clients very quickly and offer them a high level of personalised service. He has helped us professionally survive turbulent times and always gives us advice that we need to hear, rather want to hear. With strong values and a keen interest in health, fitness and nutrition, Craig is an inspirational leader.


What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

I tend to recommend podcasts, rather than books.

State of Mind by Grace Kingswell. Is a great podcast on health and nutrition. My wife runs a nutrition business, which has certainly influenced me.  I think, within 15-20 years there will be a big revolution in the food industry and people will ask why we let companies profit from selling us food that ultimately makes us ill. 

I also like Joe Rogan. I’m not saying I align with his views, but he always has great guests and covers a variety of interesting topics.


What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? (Brand and model, where you found it?)

Subscriptions to Audible and Spotify. I have trouble getting to sleep and listening to audio books (with a headband with built-in headphones) takes my mind away from the pressures of the day and always sends me off.

Since I moved out of London, four years ago, I’ve been looking for a more balanced and healthier lifestyle and a good night’s sleep is an essential part of that!


How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

I’m not sure at the age of 18 you really know what you should do with your life, but originally I wanted to study law with accountancy at university, with the intention of becoming a lawyer.  However, I didn’t get the A level results I expected and as a result I didn’t get the university place for law and ended up doing pure accountancy. That then became my career and I have no regrets!


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it —metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

“Life is a marathon not a sprint.”

Life can be difficult to navigate and there is huge pressure to succeed in all areas of  it, but it’s important to try and find the middle ground. It’s tempting to chase the highs and that can inevitably lead to bad outcomes and disappointment. I think there’s a benefit in minimising the peaks and the troughs and fostering a stable mindset.


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

Having suffered quite a lot of back pain, I bought a standing desk. This has improved my posture and in combination with stretching and exercises, done a lot to alleviate that pain.


What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I’m a big fan of comics. I’ve got American relations and when I was young they always brought comics over when they visited. When I first saw Christopher Reeves as Superman it had a big impact on me. I have a replica Superman outfit from the 1979 movie, although I’ve only won it twice at fancy dress parties.


In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

Changing my approach to eating. I’ve cut out intensively farmed and processed foods and I try to eat grass-fed beef, organic chicken and high quality proteins instead. It’s more expensive but worth it. I also have less meat in my diet and more veg and I feel better for it.


What advice would you give to a smart, driven student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?”

Identify what your objective is, then work towards that goal. Don’t get lost doing work for its own sake. 

For example, when I took my final university exams, I hired a tutor, She didn’t teach me information, she taught me how to pass exams and that was the aim at that stage. She taught me how to work smarter. I wish someone had taught this to me at school level. 


What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

In my profession, there is a propensity for advice to be distinctly technical rather than really trying to understand what the business owner wants and giving advice that is commercially useful.


What frustrates you the most about your industry and the way companies are run in it?

Not looking forward. The industry is too absorbed in the way that things have always been and is not adapting quickly enough to change. I think technology is a huge opportunity in our industry enabling us to work smarter and it’s important to lean into it.


In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realisations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

I’m redefining my relationships with clients. Asking what value do they bring me and what value do I bring them? Particularly with my time and my knowledge. Having the confidence to approach clients and trying to rebalance each relationship. This may mean Increasing my fees where necessary, but might also entail a reduction in my offering where relevant or offering more services to others. It’s a difficult process but it’s worth it.


What does a balanced life look like to you? Has a work or a project you have been focused on caused you to neglect other areas of your life?

Gary Vaynerchuk says the concept of work/life balance has been mis-sold. It’s not really about perfecting a balance as such, it’s about being aware of what you need and what makes you happy as an individual and ensuring that you don’t neglect those things. The end result may look very different to each of us.

A balanced life is always a work-in-progress and will never be perfect, there will always be compromises and sacrifices involved.


When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

Lists, lists, lists. There’s something about writing stuff down that provokes action. It isn’t just raw lists of course,  I use tools such as the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritise and delegate.


What does leadership mean to you?

Too often business leaders look for the perfect employee but in reality this doesn’t exist (it’s more often a reflection of a leader’s unrealistic views of their own skill set). The key is to not write off an employee because they are not ticking every box. Support and engage them to develop their potential and identify where you can assist by filling the gaps. This may be in additional training or more guidance. In extreme cases it may even be by redefining the role to retain the best parts of their performance.


Which people have most inspired you in your life and why?

I have a friend who was in a bad car accident when he was young and he was very stoic about it. I suppose he first introduced me to the notion that ‘good brings good’ and that although life can have some pretty dark and intense moments, viewed over the longer term, if you live life well – there’s way more good than bad.


What do the words principles and values mean to you?

I think they are the Highway Code of life. There’s no route or map to life, so you need tools to employ to help you progress. If you can also surround yourself with like-minded others, with the same principles and values,  it means that you can be far more effective.


If you had a forum to speak to 50 leaders, what question would you pose to them, to get them thinking about and being better leaders?

What do they find scary or seek to avoid? 

We can all fall into the trap of doing repetitive, easy work and while there is a place for that, it’s normally the challenging stuff that yields the most value. Tackling work that is daunting is the key to achieving objectives.


What one thing could you do that you aren’t doing now, that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?  What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?

Socialising! Unfortunately, I don’t see my friends enough. I also think if I had more time to spend with my colleagues outside work this could strengthen relationships and maybe improve cohesion. So much time is spent delivering work that sometimes it takes over.


Have you ever engaged with self-help, mentoring or coaching? If so, how?

I have had a couple of mentors or coaches over the years. I have found that just being quizzed on the what, how and why of what I do can really unlock the answers to solving issues I have within my business and with my own development.

For accountancy advice and services you can reach Craig at

Topic: 50 in 50