• 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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  • Celebrate, Communicate and Meditate: Radek Sali, CEO at Swisse

    Radek Sali is CEO at Swisse Wellness. Over Radek’s nine years at the company, the company has grown from 30 people to 170. And they’re poised for major global growth, recently signing one of the largest Australian consumer licensing deals (ever) with global healthcare giants Procter & Gamble and Teva.

    In this interview we talk about:

    • Bringing culture to the forefront of the decision making process
    • Why Swisse has a meeting coach (to help everyone get more out of meetings )
    • Scaling up the business to partner with Procter & Gamble
    • Why the entire leadership team at Swisse takes 20 minutes out of their day to meditate
    • The “Celebrate Life Every Day” philosophy
    • The importance of unstructured meeting time
    • How the company is guided by People, Principles, Passion and Profit
    • The importance of LGIs (learn, grow, and improve moments)
    • Why the vision for Swisse has simplified as the business has grown

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


    Steve Pell: I’m here with Radek Sali, who’s CEO of Swisse Wellness to talk about your journey leading this business. Could you tell us a little about your story? How you came to lead the business?

    Radek Sali: Sure. I’ve been in the company for now nine and a half years, so it’s been a fair run. I’m a pretty loyal person and I like to give things a proper go.

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    Before that, I had 11 years of Village Roadshow. Village Roadshow was an exceptional apprenticeship. I started there shovelling popcorn out at Doncaster Twin Cinemas, and worked my way up to General Manager of Gold Class Cinemas, Europa Cinemas, as well as national operations management, as well as opening circuits in the Czech Republic, working on circuits in Switzerland, as well as Germany and the UK, and a little bit of work in the US, too. It was extraordinary.

    It was a big company, and I learned a lot of really great fundamentals about how a large organisation operates. I quickly realised that I was a cog in a very large machine, and started to look sideways, and felt that it was time to, I suppose, show that I could transcend to another industry, and show my wares.

    I put the network out and Dad, being a professor of surgery, had many contacts in health. And I’d always taken a great shining to the Managing Director’s style in running Swisse. So I reconnected with Michael Saba at the time and told him of my dilemma of wanting to change industries and find something right.

    I also told him about what was really important to me — culture — and how I really wanted to make sure that the next step was really something that fitted with who I am, as a person. Dad being a professor of surgery, Mum being a medical scientist, health is something that just was such a nice natural synergy — and it’s in natural health too. Hence, why I’m here today!

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  • 300 disruptive ideas

    This post collects all of my #10ideasaday notes from 2015.

    Some of these ideas are completely crazy, some are practical, and most sit somewhere in-between; i.e. focusing heavily on “undisruptable” airport retail was announced by Westfield this week as a key plank in their new corporate strategy.

    I’ve pulled out three of the ideas on each topic below (the original post with all 300ish ideas was nearly 10k words). On each of the topics you can click through to read the full post on Tumblr if you’re interested.

    – Steve

    10 ideas for WeWork corporate mashups

    WeWork was recently valued at $10bn with over 25,000 members – The company is set to be a big disrupter in the commercial property market over the next 10 years. Here’s 10 corporate mashups to generate some new business models and ideas for brand extensions:

    1. Meriton – For a workforce who’s increasingly freelance, the opportunity to rent a home based office / desk in the apartment building is attractive. It’s a study / library that starts by reimagining the old hotel business centre – that’s also revenue generating for Meriton on an ongoing basis

    2. Myer – Myer is already benefiting from moving to a concession model. But the next step is the store actually becomes a reseller and incubator for emerging fashion brands. Can resell logistics support, manufacturing facilities, websites and then even floor space to people trying to start up in the retail space. Myer has all the fixed cost investments, and then the brand founders go out and hustle for the marketing. Could even stack this up with an X-factor style model on top with a supporting TV series and equity stakes (say 40%) in performance of the brand if you’re featured in Myer main stores.

    3. Chandler Macleod – There’s big disincentives for small businesses in entering the property market, you’re working with much bigger partners, it takes just as long to negotiate 10 floors as one floor, and you’re up for big fixed costs like fitout. There’s a lot of similarities to the grad recruiting market – advertising, assessment centres, resume processing etc. So Chandler Macleod could aggregate / bundle companies together and run the grad recruiting program for a large array of medium sized businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford to participate in the space.

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