The Best Of 2016 – #LifeAtZeal

December 20th, 2016 in Inspiration 11 minute read

2016 has been one incredibly busy year! Not only has our team expanded to welcome 7 new wonderful members to the team, we also opened our first London office!

As always our social events were in full swing, from our murder mystery 6th birthday, the Otley Run, York Races and endless Pub Quizzes there was always something happening. Of course, we did also managed to fit lots of work in! We built and grew 17 websites, ran 11 blogger events, held 30 video shoots and shared over 1,629 Instagrams plus much more!

So as we get ready to welcome 2017 and start making to do lists, we thought it would be nice to first look back at some of our favourite Zeal moments from 2016…


My favourite 2016 moment was the day we launched our London office in September. Opening a second office is something Jane and I had always talked about over the years, so to get to that day where we’re picking up our keys felt a huge milestone and achievement – both personally and for Zeal.


My favourite Zeal moment was the Apprentice Challenge.  I bloody loved this. To have Team Zeal running round Leeds, buying weird objects and doing good deeds was great. It was also great for me and Mike who were the judges and had to wait in the pub for everyone. It was a really good team challenge and the way the guys responded to it was brilliant – we still have a Zeal branded dog bowl and a giant poster in the office! Or the ‘Oh So Cheesy Primula Ball’. We went to Newcastle in September for Primula’s charity ball and it was the best fun! Enough cheese-related puns to last a lifetime! It was great to see how pleased people were with our work and meet the wider team.


My favourite Zeal moment of 2016 has to be seeing Emmanuel wearing a vintage dress and wig during the Murder Mystery Evening.


My favourite Zeal moment was going to York races with everyone! Although we didn’t win anything it was still a really fun day 🙂


As is the way at Zeal, there have been plenty of standout moments to choose from. Going to the races was great fun, and as always our birthday celebration this year was amazing – Zorb Football followed by murder mystery. These, amongst others, would seem like obvious choices!

Surprisingly though, one of my favourite things this year was actually moving to our new office – a new space designed by us, for us. Walking into the new space for the first time after everything was finished was a great feeling. That, and finding out we’re going skiing for the second year in a row. Hard not to mention that!


This year has been crazy busy for the Outreach team and with one of our team moving down to London its not been without its trials, but we’ve had our best year yet! We’ve ran more events than ever before and had plenty of them trending on twitter! My favourite Zeal moment would have to be the Benefit cosmetics #RaiseYourBrowGame event we ran back in May.

Not only was it a huge success and brought in some great results for the client but it was a real team effort, with even the boys braving it and sacrificing their leg hair in the name of client satisfaction. It was fun from start to finish and I was so proud of everyone in the agency who played a part in the day, no matter how small.

This event was a true testament to the work we produce when we all cooperate and work together, big love to team Zeal for this one!


Although I’ve not been here long I’d have to say that my favourite moment has been the German Market drinks in my first week. It can be quite daunting starting a new job, but having a team outing to the market certainly made it less daunting and helped me feel part of the Zeal family. Watching Jane get carried away after a few drinks and slapping Sam on his leg with a wooden spoon was the funniest moment of the evening. The shock on his face when she did it again and the spoon broke and then Jane trying her hardest to put the spoon back in its pot and make it look fine was hilarious!


It’ll have to be the ridiculous Knaresborough Bed Race, purely because we survived against all odds. Think I signed up for it in my first month at Zeal (y’know, to prove I’m a team player), and boy, was that a mistake. Something about pushing a fully grown woman up and down Yorkshire hills (nay, mountains) and through the River Nidd, makes everything else seem possible. No training, no nothing. Ben set the pace, but we were powered by Bratwurst, team spirit and utter fear alone.


Picking a favourite Zeal moment is always so hard! One of my favourite moments of 2016 was attending the Northern Digital Awards. We were nominated in the ‘Best Digital Marketing Campaign’ in the Entertainment/Sports category for our work with This Girl Can Leeds. Although we didn’t win it was great to be recognised for our hard work. This Girl Can was a campaign which we all worked really hard on and came together as an agency (a number of us even appeared in the website photography) to produce work we are all really proud of! Another favourite moment was our annual Learning Day, seeing the Content team present to the rest of the agency and coming joint first for their presentation was a great moment!


My favourite zeal moment had to be the Zeal Apprentice Challenge. We were given 10 tasks to carry out throughout the day and each team would be awarded with points for their performance in each task.

Tasks included:

– Best Team photo – we took a photo of our team in the rain, photoshopped us on a beach and sourced an printing company to print an A1 banner.

– Travel as far away from the office as possible (we went to Otley Town Centre).

– Proof of a completed favour – I went to Leeds City Market and helped a dude unload crates of fruit from a lorry.

Our team smashed it and won in style! We communicated via WhatsApp and assigned each task based on experience and location.

The prize for the Apprentice Challenge was lunch at a venue of our choice (Restaurant Bar Grill), and a whole extra days holiday


I think my favourite Zeal moment was my second interview which took place in the pub. Jane turned up slightly tipsy and I had horrific hayfever and was pretty much crying out of both my eyes and nose. After four hours (yes, FOUR hours) and a few missed calls from my partner, I figured I should go home in case I embarrassed myself further in front of my potential future bosses. The next morning, a slightly worse for wear Nick called to say I got the job, I was convinced he must have still been squiffy from the night before!


It has to be finding out about our Christmas do/Snowboarding holiday in January. Whilst on holiday. I was literally climbing a hill after visiting some stunning castle and a lake in the middle of rural Italy. I’d be away a couple of days and in all honesty when my phone rang and I saw it was Jane calling I feared the worst and assumed that everything was on fire.

BUT, after deafening Jane with elation I realised that I am the luckiest man alive and I’ll be enjoying 5 days on the slopes next year, all thanks to Jane’s insane generosity


For me it was hosting Zeal Digital’s first learning event and workshop.

I think it was an important step for Zeal to make as it showed that we know our stuff and to teach people our ways of working and seeing people make notes was a very surreal and excellent feeling.
We certainly have a lot to take away from the event but hopefully we can see this being a more regular activity for Digital as well as the wider team.

If I had to chuck a favourite social in there it would be our trip up the Shard in London where we missed pretty much all of it and had questionable banter with the staff.


My favourite memory of Zeal 2016 must be Zeal’s 6th Birthday. It was a fun filled day of Zorb football which really showed the competitive nature of the team followed by a slap up meal and Murder Mystery in the evening. We all got our glad rags on and had a hilarious evening of detective work culminating in a loooooooong game of ‘I can see the moon’, which drove a few people to the edge or beyond. Good times!


This year at Zeal has been a huge one for me both professionally and socially – looking back at our Instagram feed I can’t believe how much we’ve packed in.

Professionally, I’m always looking to improve my skill set and add more strings to my bow – so I’m chuffed that I’ve been able to prove myself as an account manager. With that in mind my highlight is probably the day that I was handed the reigns on that account.

Work aside, my top moment of the year has to be the bungee jump with Fenetic Wellbeing for #ANDYSMANCLUB – a top charity who are shining a light on an underappreciated cause. I have actually no idea how I ended up jumping off that platform, but I’m glad I did it.


My favourite Zeal moment of 2016 had to be York Races.

The sun was shining, the booze was flowing, and the team looked fresher than a mint on a pillow.

Which was a good job because I won sweet F all.


Even though I only joined Zeal in September, so much has happened between now and then! From a job point of view, it’s been great working in the London office with Kristina and getting things really motoring (2017 – we’re coming for you!). On the social side the YPA Ball was so much fun. Even though I started the evening off with something of a wardrobe malfunction and my suit not fitting, I still managed to laugh, drink and dance (I use that term loosely [which is the opposite to the fit of my suit]) the night away. I’m already looking forward to 2017 with Zeal and the adventures over the next 12 months!


One of my fondest memories from 2016 was definitely the Zeal birthday bash. It was so much fun to run around in those Zorbs, albeit quite tiring. As if that wasn’t enough exercise, we then went to hit a few balls at Oulton Hall’s driving range, where I managed to snap two golf clubs. This proud moment was captured by Ben – in slow motion of course…


The first day in the London office definitely stands out as one of the best days of 2016 for me. We arrived at WeWork Chancery Lane and got our keys, key cards, and welcome pack including a WeWork T shirt saying “love what you do”. At that moment I definitely felt like I really love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for the world.


My favourite memory is the Benefit #RaiseYourBrowGame blogger event.

As this was my first ever blogger event, I really didn’t know what to expect! However, with a champagne reception, an interactive mirror photo booth and our very own magic man – it definitely didn’t feel like work! Even for a Sunday!


We’ve had some great moments, however bungee jumping has got to be one of the best moments from this year. Leaping from a crane is definitely one way to a conquer a fear of heights!


To say I only joined Zeal in August I already have far too many moments to pick from!

From a professional prospective, my job role as Online Communities Executive, didn’t really exist at Zeal before I came along and so to log onto Facebook and Twitter analytics and repeatedly see positive results for all the clients I work with is an incredibly satisfying feeling.

From a social point of view, both the YPA Summer BBQ and York Races are up there at the top. Both happened within my first week on the job and I really didn’t know what to expect, you could say it was one hell of an initiation! Coming into work the day after the BBQ, just two days after I had joined was definitely an experience to Zeal life.

But my ultimate favourite moment has to be the YPA Christmas ball. I LOVE Christmas and despite the amount of Scrooges I sit in an office with, the YPA to me was the start of my first Zeal Christmas. I spent the day in the office decorating and putting up our tree (which has become almost like my child with the amount of stress it caused me!) and then ended the day celebrating at the ball with good food, great laughs and the best company!

Working at Zeal is like nothing else, in such a short space of time it’s wonderful to feel so welcomed and walking into the office every morning really feels like coming home.

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