• Strategy, context and clarity: Collis Ta’eed, CEO at Envato

    Collis Ta'eed - Envato

    Collis Ta’eed is CEO and co-founder of Envato. The business operates a number of global platforms where designers, developers and the general public can buy templates, stock footage and stock photos.

    Envato was founded in 2006, and has grown to a profitable 300 person organisation with fantastic fundamentals. As Collis talks about, the business: “just grew and grew and you didn’t really have to do very much. It meant that sometimes you’d have a year where you did a lot of dumb stuff and you’d grow, and another year where you’d be really smart and on the ball and you’d still grow.” [See 17:30 in the video] 

    As you’ll see in this interview, Collis and his management team have made some incredibly smart strategic decisions to establish an environment where this kind of growth is possible.

    This is a fun interview to watch, and there’s a lot to learn. Some of the highlights of the interview:

    • Collis’ role in the culture “I’m patient zero so to speak… the problem starts with you, whatever the problem is” [See 8:26 in the video]
    • The importance of the little signals in management: Why Collis holds the door open for everyone [See 9:55 in the video]
    • How Envato does ‘express strategy’ [See 16:50 in the video]
    • Why smart people do dumb things, and the importance of context [See 19:00 in the video]
    • How Envato built a remote friendly workforce, where employees can choose to work from anywhere in the world for three months [See 21:15 in the video]
    • What Collis wishes he knew on day one: “I wish I understood, especially around managing, how important it was just to be clear with people. Clear about goals, clear about feedback and clear about expectations” [See 27:35 in the video]

    The video:

    The transcript:

    Steve Pell: Hi, I’m Steve Pell. I’m here with Collis Ta’eed from Envato. Today we’re going to talk about your journey, some of the lessons along the way. If I could just start by getting you to tell us about what you do and where you’ve come from?

    Collis Ta’eed: Sure. Envato is a company that makes a platform, a global platform, where people get creative projects done. Mostly we cater to professionals, designers, developers, animators.

    They come to Envato for templates or for stock footage, stock photos, that kind of thing. We also have website creation tools for small business users and sort of more general audience. My own background is that I was a designer. I studied math once upon a time, then became a designer, then founded Envato in 2006.

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  • Panic less, think more: Martin Hosking, CEO at Redbubble

    Martin Hosking 2016

    To kick off the 2016 series of CEO interviews on Management Disrupted, I’m excited to introduce Martin Hosking from Redbubble.

    Redbubble is a global marketplace for independent artists and designers. The company successfully listed on the ASX earlier in 2016, and recently celebrated a great first set of results (beating forecasts across the board).

    Martin is a deep thinker on the practice of management for growth companies. Prior to founding Redbubble, Martin spent seven years as Chairman of Aconex and was part of the LookSmart management team.

    Some of the highlights of the interview:

    • Why servant leadership must be the model for management of knowledge workers: “It’s not an abrogation of responsibility… there is actually a job which the senior leadership has to do but that job is not to make decisions for people” [see 6:12 in the video]
    • Martin’s views on holacracy: “I think the jury is out” [see 8:24 in the video]
    • The period two or three years ago where there was “too much freedom” at Redbubble, and the actions the management team have taken to bring things back into balance [see 9:20 in the video]
    • Why “It’s all specific”. The risks of taking management advice from “the specific and making it general” [see 13:25 in the video]
    • The worst management mistake Martin ever made [see 17:05 in the video]
    • The importance that Martin places on reflection and consideration: “I think a lot of my role as trying not to panic and panic less/think more.” [see 19:20 in the video]
    • How having long-term purpose makes Redbubble more enduring and less fragile as an organisation (and a great general discussion about the connection between purpose and antifragility) [see 24:24 in the video]

    The video:

    The transcript:

    Steve Pell: I’m Steve Pell. I’m here with Martin Hosking from Redbubble. Today we’re going to talk about Martin’s journey and some of his lessons along the way. Martin, can I just get you to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you’re doing at Redbubble?

    Martin Hosking: Thanks Steve. I’m Martin Hosking. I’m the CEO and cofounder of Redbubble. Redbubble is a marketplace for independent artists and designers. The way in which it works is an artist or designer uploads a work, and image such as this one I’ve got on my t-shirt, then when a customer comes along, we can produce that on 54 different product types, through our outsource partners, and that happens all over the world.

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  • Productivity in professional services: Anthony Bell, CEO at Bell Partners

    Anthony Bell is CEO at Bell Partners. Anthony has taken a very different view of building a professional services business – focusing on building a high productivity single partner firm. And he’s clearly doing something right, with the business winning a bunch of awards including BRW’s most productive accounting firm every year since 2003.

    In this interview we talk about:

    • Leading for high productivity
    • Why “good enough is old enough” at Bell Partners
    • How Bell Partners is structured to have “a whole bunch of little CEOs running around”
    • Why induction has to be indoctrination
    • The importance of transparency in the performance review process
    • How Anthony got over the fear of employee retention

    As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments on this interview.

    Steve Pell: I’m here with Anthony Bell who is CEO of Bell Partners. Can you give us the elevator pitch on what you do here at Bell Partners?

    Anthony Bell: We’re basically a multi-discipline firm. We don’t just do people’s taxes or accounting. We try and look forward and do their financial planning, take care of their insurance, legal work, anything else that’s involved with money. We take care of all that as a one-stop shop.

    Anthony Bell 4

    Steve: Fantastic, and how big is the firm now?

    Anthony: There’s just over a hundred staff working in the group. We’re a corporate modelled accounting firm, so we have offices in Queensland, Norwest, Newcastle and our head office here at King Street Wharf.

    Steve: It’s a reasonably fast growing business?

    Anthony: We incorporated in October 1997 and we’ve had great growth since then. In the last two to three years our focus has been on sustain and maintain, rather than just pure growth. So we’ve tried to really focus on having an A-grade client base and making sure that we’re meeting their needs first… rather than continually chasing growth.

    Steve: Has the way that you’ve led the organisation changed as you’ve gone from the growth phase to sustain-and-maintain phase?

    Anthony: Absolutely. The one thing that we needed when we were a really small firm was productivity. We had no funding… it was purely just me. So we learned some lessons back then that we still employ today. Those were around productivity and efficiency. Even though the organisation is a lot bigger now we still employ those same tactics.

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