Boss It Like...

How To Boss It Like… Nancy Tilbury, co-founder of XO

By Oliver Smith 27 October 2016
Nancy Tilbury, right, with XO co-founder Benjamin Males.

These leaders are changing our world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world. From Annette King to Federico Bolza and George Brasher, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Nancy Tilbury, the co-founder and executive creative director of high-tech fashion brand XO, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

One of the earliest visionaries in the space of wearable technology, Tilbury learnt the ropes as fashion innovation director of Philips’ Design Labs, partnering with the likes of Levi and Nike to launch some of the first ever integrations of tech in consumer clothing.

After leaving Philips in 2012 Tilbury founded XO, a fashion brand with technology at its core. To date the group has partnered with the likes of Pepsi, Disney, Arcade Fire, Lexus and Intel to bring wearable technology to the masses.

A busy woman, with big ideas, The Memo asked Tilbury how she gets it all done.

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I wake up between 6:45am and 7:30am.

Once the alarm goes our house kicks into gear as we have two boys, aged 9 and 11, who need to get to school.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

I use Trello, Slack and iMessage to communicate and share project data/info. We have recently started to use Wrike for our product launch.

I occasionally use Headspace to meditate during the day.

What smartphone do you have?

A Silver iPhone 6 with 64gb of storage.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

It really depends on the day, XO is in startup mode so no two days are the same, some are very quiet and others have masses of interactions.

I generally see my ‘boys’, Richard [Thornn] our Creative Assistant and Benjamin Males our CEO and my co-founder.


When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

Until lights go out.

I’m always juggling family and startup life, because sadly in startup mode we struggle to create routine, however with kids at least you are forced to stop work

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

I’ve just started reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari which looks to be extremely inspiring. And David Nicholls’ Us was my holiday read this year.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

Work hard, play hard.

Be motivated and learn your craft. Make sure you are a jack of all trades, and a master of one – I heard someone say this recently and was inspired.

Tilbury will be speaking next month at One Question on 2 November, a one-day conference seeking to explore how we successfully marry technology and humanity. Tickets are on sale now and The Memo’s readers can get a 15% discount with the code THEMEMO15.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.