Mar 12 2018
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Jess Ruhfus, Founder of Collabosaurus, and chatting about how she built Collabosaurus to what it is today, the launch of their new website and tips on collaborating in business.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about you, your background and how Collabosaurus came to be?
I fell into a journalism course after starting a cinematography degree that wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned. After a music journalism, radio and management course I was exposed to Public Relations, which is what I ended up majoring in.
From there, I got my first job in a fashion and lifestyle boutique PR agency, which was so great! I was the showroom manager which was a proper grad job – really long hours – I think my salary at the time was $33k a year on 12 hour days, and the office was about an hour and a half from home. I was stressed-out and working a lot but found it really interesting and completely different to any work experience I’d had, expectations I’d conjured up or hospitality jobs I’d previously held.
Part of the job was coordinating launch events and media showings while keeping to a budget. We’d be sourcing venues, catering, photography, ‘goodie’ bag inclusions and sometimes booking talent. The brands we were representing were already paying us as an agency, and so additional event budget every season was extremely limited. So, we would scramble together contra deals and collaborations (that weren’t leveraged very well) through our networks and a publicity-industry newsletter / digital noticeboard called Social Diary. Being a graduate, I didn’t have an extensive network, so I found the whole process messy and time consuming.
After the PR job, I started working for a marketing education company aimed at small business. Here, I noticed hardly anyone was pursuing partnerships, which was astounding seeing as they’re one of the most cost-effective, impactful marketing strategies out there. I’d ask them “hey, why are aren’t you partnering? Is there a reason you’re not doing it?” Often it was because they had been rejected before and they didn’t have the confidence, or they heard ‘crickets’ after reaching out and didn’t receive a response. I found a lot of people dismissed it as a concept completely not worthwhile.
One day, I was pulling together some potential partnerships for an event and facing the usual time consuming struggles. Tinder was becoming really popular and that’s when the idea came up for Collabosaurus. I mean, how amazing to have a dating-style platform, but for brands to build great cross-promotional relationships? As a marketer, this was a no brainer. I thought I was a genius and started building out the idea in secret – which makes me snort with laughter, now.
How did Collabosaurus develop from your first idea to what it is today?
I built the initial product as a tool for publicists because that’s where I was predominantly experiencing frustrations myself, and all my PR friends had said, “absolutely, that’s what we need!” Then, of course, as soon as I launched it the publicists weren’t the ones hopping on board. Publicists and big brands wouldn’t hop on until we had a bigger user base or until we had some case studies to go off, which is totally fair enough. So, our first prototype, which I sank way too much money into, was attracting startups and small businesses, who were completely confused by the industry jargon and the way the site was structured.
From there, I was fortunate enough to meet my now-business partner, Nick, who helped flip the messaging and design to fit SME audiences. To save money, we put new designs on-top of old code and avoided rebuilding the website from scratch. Launching this version saw us quadruple in about a week which was absolutely amazing.
3 years on, we are set to release a brand new Collabosaurus, a site we have built fresh from the ground up. For this version, we’re moving into the digital advertising space with tracking & reporting, a significantly improved algorithm and a host of new features. Did you know that brand collaborations are up to 30x less expensive than other digital advertising? It’s incredible, and brands of all sizes have so much to gain from effective collaborations.
So for small businesses looking to collaborate, what can you offer them at Collabosaurus?
Collabosaurus is the matchmaker for brands. We’ll connect you with complementary businesses for clever marketing partnerships and cross-promotions in events, social media & products.
Not only will you be making use of a marketing tool up to 30x less expensive than other digital advertising, you’ll be growing your network at the same time.
In short – we’ll help you grow your audience! It’s free to start, too.
How long have you been going for now?
Almost 3 years! We kicked off in September 2014 as that publicity platform and in July 2016 we re-designed the website. Over the past 12 months we have been gathering data and a tonne of feedback ahead of our new website launch – It seems every year we have a new thing going on!
So you obviously would see some really good collaborations come through Collabosaurus, what have been some of your favourite ones you’ve seen come out of it?
There are so many! Collabosaurus has seen over 600 successful collaborations, so it’s really hard to pick one. I’m really emotionally tied to the early ones, simply because I worked hard on bringing those to life.
The collaboration between Printsea x Mickey Rose is a good one – Printsea do the most beautiful, illustrated print designs and Mickey Rose produce eco-friendly kidswear. For a product collaboration, they released a limited edition unisex harem pant for kids featuring a Printsea print. Micky Rose have said that this was one of their best-selling items yet! They both marketed to their unique audiences, which allowed them to effectively double their reach.
I also love the Topshop x Dessert Parlour event collaboration because it’s awesome when big brands and emerging brands collaborate. Topshop was running an event in Melbourne for 500 students, and their catering partner dropped out at the last minute. So, they hopped on Collabosaurus and sourced a collaboration with The Dessert Parlour, a local boutique patisserie. The Dessert Parlour produced around 1500 gorgeous, Instagram-worthy donuts for the event, saving Topshop approximately $2500 on catering.
In return, The Dessert Parlour was able to get in front of 500 locals at the event, plus exposure to over 300,000 people on Topshop’s Instagram, and then 30,000 people on Topshop’s email list. That was such a win/win because Topshop was stoked; they saved cash and the Dessert Parlour got awesome exposure.
Tell us about the name, Collabosaurus, how did that come about?
It was actually a joke to begin with! I love the idea of collaborations and I didn’t want to call it ‘partner up’ or anything like that, I thought that was boring. So, I nicknamed the business ‘Collabosaurus Rex’ while I was building the initial platform. Later, when we started exploring some potential names, nothing was singing to me as much as Collabosaurus. Everyone hated it, honestly, and now everyone loves it. People initially came at me with, “you can’t call it that because it’s hard to spell” and “it’s not memorable”. But, we have incredible SEO value – even if you grossly misspell it – because it’s so unique. I get a ridiculous amount of comments on how quirky and great it is and it’s proven memorable in time. I really love it, I have a bit of an attachment to it.
What be your ‘top tips’ for a really good collaboration?
My top tips are:
1. Make sure you have a specific goal in mind. Don’t just connect for connections sake. If you really want to grow your email list that month, for example, connect with brands that could help you grow your email list. Have that marketing goal in mind, because it’s less about the creative idea and more about achieving a specific growth goal. That leads to my second tip…
2. Don’t stress about having a big idea, or knowing who to partner with. That’s why we built Collabosaurus; we team you up with the right brand. If you don’t have a big idea in mind, it’s great! This gives you wiggle room to negotiate later. If your goal is to grow your email list and their goal is to grow their social media following, you can work on an idea that helps you both achieve that. Have a clear goal, but don’t get too stressed about having a big idea.
3. Know your target market. This is really, really important. Know exactly who you want to get in front of so that you can collaborate with someone who shares that same audience. For example, if your target market are men over 60 and my target market are female entrepreneurs under 40, it makes no sense for us to be collaborating because our audiences don’t line up.
What are some potential roadblocks that can occur when it comes to collaboration?
Absolutely! My top three are..
- “I’ve got nothing to offer” if you’re feeling like this, I PROMISE you have something to offer – even if you started your business yesterday. Think about time, skillset, services, products, and the community that you do have. Even if it’s 50 people, you have a community that another brand wouldn’t get in front of otherwise.
- “I’ve been rejected / taken advantage of in the past” that sucks. But this is one of the reasons we have build Collabosaurus in the first place. Our partnership with Law Squared means you get access to legal contracts & agreements to keep things legit. The Collabosaurus team will be there to hustle with you, avoid rejections & ensure collaborations run smoothly.
- “I don’t have a collaboration idea or know who I should partner with” great! Collabosaurus will find you awesome collaborators and ideas can be generated together with your collaborator (or with the Collabosaurus team inside the CollaboHub)
Have you had many mentors over the years and if so, what’s one piece of advice that’s stuck out for you?
It’s funny – I have never had an official mentor. I’ve found that a lot of the networking connections I’ve made along the way inspire me and have ended up in that mentoring role. I have my business partner, Nick, who has been on the Collabosaurus journey for the last 2 years. He has probably been the biggest mentor in terms of being constantly in contact and keeping me accountable. I also have a great network of friends in business who completely inspire me and help me along the way.
The best piece of advice that Nick has given me is that the growth and success of your company is your responsibility. I think we find it easy in the small business & start-up space to go ‘well this didn’t go to plan because this didn’t work’, or ‘this person didn’t do the right thing’. But, at the end of the day, it’s up to you. I think it’s really important to recognise that and invest time in ‘the hustle’ because it can be so easy to get stuck in the day to day. I have found that the best results and connections, partnerships and collaborations have come from when I really sat down and said to myself – ‘I’m going to do a bunch of pitches myself and I’m going to get out there and hustle.’
What motivates you?
I love people’s energy. That motivates me. I love networking and building collaboration partnerships; surrounding myself with people who have different views and skill-sets.
Nick is such a good motivator just because he sees things in a different way. He is an ex-finance guy so he sees the money side of things. He says things like, “cool, we can get to this if you can improve this, this and this number”, and that’s such a motivator for me because he can see the big picture and gets excited about it. I think being around other positive people is seriously important and motivating. It’s very easy to fall into the trap if you’re surrounded by people who are pessimistic or a little bit negative – that can really suck on your energy and has the complete opposite effect. It’s demotivating. So I think positivity is great curate around you.
What’s the most effective daily habit you possess?
That’s an interesting question (laughs) everyday is really different for me! But, the one thing I always do is get a morning coffee. It’s funny because my boyfriend said to me, ‘you could save thousands of dollars a year if you stopped drinking coffee’, and I told him ‘it’s so much more than a coffee to me.’ It’s a moment that I take to ‘check in’ a little, to take a breathe. That’s the ritual that I do, not just for the caffeine but also to get out of the office. I don’t look at my phone – I either flick through a magazine or the paper and it’s just so I can gather my thoughts for the day.
Lastly, goals for the future, yourself personally and Collabosaurus?
What’s next for us is changing the digital advertising landscape! Not an easy task, but we’re doing it already! We will be raising a round of capital to help us grow our organic pockets of users in the UK, Canada, the U.S and strengthen our presence in Australia. We want to make it easy and cost-effective, for any brand, of any size, to harness the power of brand collaborations and grow. Wish us luck!For the Collabosaurus podcast, check out:For android: They’re searchable on the Stitcher App, otherwise you can listen to the episodes straight through their pages at http://collabosaurus.com/
resources Jan 15 2018
It’s the start of a brand new year and I don’t know about you but we have been setting some pretty BIG goals for 2018… but how do we achieve them?
We chat to Adam Jelic, Founder and Managing Director of Mi Goals, on his journey from designing that first diary in Word to where Mi Goals is today. He gives us his top tips on goal setting and how progress is key to productivity.
Adam and the Mi Goals team are on a mission to empower you and unlock that potential to DREAM BIG, PLAN, and TAKE ACTION. Think BOLD co founders, Callum and Emma Stewart are a little bit obsessed with Mi Goals and would highly recommend any of their products, in particular, the new Goal Diggers planner!
P.s. If you think you need a little extra help in writing or achieving those goals, Adam is one of our Think BOLD mentors. Book in a 1:1 session with him today and start 2018 with your best foot forward!
Visit migoals.com for more on Adam and the team.
Dec 18 2017
We had the pleasure of sitting down with the Founder and Creative Director of Smack Bang Designs, Tess Robinson.
In this interview you’ll hear Tess’ top tips when it comes to branding, her do’s and don’t’s and some of the highlights of her journey with Smack Bang Designs!
(If you want to learn more about Smack Bang Designs and their new ‘Calling the Shots‘ ebook, click the link below the interview)Calling the Shots: A Practical Guide to Launching and Running Your Self-employed DreamAvailable at: https://smackbangdesigns.c
om/ebook-calling-the-shotsEbook + Accompanying Workbook available as a bundle or single purchaseAlso if you want to offer your audience 10% off your code is: ‘THINKBOLD10′More resources from Smack Bang Designs: How I built a branding agency in 6 not so simple steps Sep 10 2017
When we approached Emma for an interview she was heavily pregnant with her fifth, yes FIFTH child. Not only heavily pregnant, but overdue in fact! So we weren’t expecting an answer anytime soon. Much to our delight, Emma and her fab team came back to us straight away. Mother of five and CEO of Business Chicks, a global community for thousands upon thousands of entrepreneurial women, is there anything Emma Isaacs can’t do?!
With a growing family and as a member of Business Chicks myself, I have been seriously inspired by Emma and her team. Happy reading!
We had the BEST time exhibiting at Business Chicks’ 9 to Thrive last month. Can you tell us what first attracted you to the idea of taking on Business Chicks?
About 11 years ago, a friend invited me to attend a Business Chicks event and I loved it so much that I returned to their next event a few months later where I found out that the business was for sale. The engagement with the Business Chicks brand was off the scale. I thought ‘there are all these women that would walk over hot coals (me included) for this organisation, so surely we can harness that power and energy for even bigger opportunities.’ I saw thousands of switched on, successful women and knew I could really take it somewhere, so I bought it six months later and incorporated it as a company in 2006.
Back then it was a tiny group, but we’ve grown it into the expansive network it is today, spanning two continents and eleven cities. When I bought the business, there was really only one other women’s network in the country so I’d love to think that since then, we’ve played a big part on creating a category and serving women at scale.
What are you most passionate about when it comes to women in business?
I’m passionate about helping women remove the roadblocks that stand in the way of them getting anything they want from their lives. I’m also passionate about serving others and doing what I can to help people. I’m passionate about encouraging women to see that they can get what they want so that might be starting a company, growing their career, having a family, and so the list goes on
You’re currently living in LA where you launched Business Chicks USA. Can you tell us how that’s going and what are some of the challenges you’ve had to face?
From the time I bought Business Chicks, I’d always wanted to take our brand global, and by early 2015 I knew the time had come to shake things up. We’d become such a trusted and established brand here in Australia, and being a typical entrepreneur I’m never truly happy unless I’m experiencing some sort of discomfort or fear. We always knew our growth was going to come from new territories so the US felt like a good first step.
To be completely honest, I looked at where my largest networks were outside of Australia, and that happens to be the US. I have close friends and family in the States, and a great relationship with our past speakers from the US (people like Arianna Huffington and Rachel Zoe who went on to speak at our LA and NY launch events).
The biggest lesson I’ve learn so far is that whatever you budget for, it’ll cost you twice that amount and take you twice the amount of time to achieve!!
In your role as Global CEO, you get to meet with some incredible people. Who would you say has been most influential on your Business Chicks journey so far?
There’s too many to name! I’ve been blessed to meet some incredible people, most of whom have gone on to become friends. Some of my favourites include US fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg – she’s quirky, eccentric, a self-made billionaire and a tremendous philanthropist but what I love the most is that she didn’t have to work (she married a German prince at a young age) but she chose independence over an easy life. She’s a role model for all women and I really clicked with her when she spoke for Business Chicks. Another standout for me is Sir Bob Geldof – he has used his celebrity status to catalyse about $150 million worth of aid into Africa and he and I talked about our travels to Uganda and what we’d seen and experienced there. He’s witty, very Irish, very well read and expresses himself beautifully – I could talk with him for hours on end.
Have you had many mentors over the years? If so, what’s one piece of advice that has really stood out to you?
My first experience of having a mentor was through a structured mentoring program when I was in the early stages of my first business. I was a young entrepreneur and the woman I was paired with couldn’t have been any more different to me, which ultimately was the most effective matching I could have hoped for. She’d grown significant businesses with market caps of over $100m and was tough and strict. She lifted me to new levels of leadership and had me question my effectiveness and strengths, teaching me many important lessons, such as the need to develop delegation skills which I’ve taken throughout my entire career. Since then I’ve had mentors through other structured programs, and also through my own relationships – I’ve learned something different from each of the entrepreneurs and business leaders who I’ve worked with and make a point to keep in touch with them.
What are your top tips for ‘success’ in business?
Your mindset and belief system is far more important than any raw talent or skills you may have. As an entrepreneur you have to be able to master resilience and have to be prepared to ask the questions others are too scared to ask. You have to be prepared to bounce back quickly from the failures and continue to think positively!
What would you say is the best part of your job?
The opportunity to dream up crazy notions, and then find the people brave enough to come along with me for the ride as we actualise them. I’m driven to create experiences for our members within the Business Chicks community and I relish the opportunity to enrich their lives in any way I can. In the eleven years I’ve had the organisation, I still get a kick out of seeing women move out of their comfort zones and go on to achieve great things in their careers and businesses. I’ve met some of the world’s most successful business people and celebrities and visionaries, but what I enjoy the most hardly ever comes from those experiences. It’s usually a heart to heart conversation at one of our conferences or events, hearing about someone who has found the courage to leave a job, a business, or even a relationship that wasn’t serving them after something they learned through Business Chicks.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Funnily enough, all the Business Chicks team members have to describe themselves in three words on our website. My words are are ‘rule breaker,’ ‘master of surprise’ and ‘prankster’.
Finally, what are your hopes for the future?
At a surface level, my hope is to build the strongest global community for women, and to keep serving them in whatever ways we can.
It’s somewhat contentious to think a women’s network is still needed in in 2017 and indeed into the future, but all our research confirms it is. We still work in a world where unconscious bias exists and still have a long way to go in order to close the gender pay gap and equal the scales when it comes to executive and non-executive representation. We’ve found that by telling the stories of people who are achieving great heights of success we’ve been able to pave a way for our members to believe it’s also possible for them – so that’s what we’re going to keep doing and we’ll keep reinventing the ways we do it. We come from a place of solid education and content and also providing the inspiration and courage that women need to progress their careers or businesses.
I have a list of hopes as long as my arm though! I also want to make sure I’m a great mother, sister, wife and friend and want to make sure I pack as much living into every moment as I can. Another hope for my immediate future is to have my baby! I’m five days overdue with my fifth bubba and would really like some action!
To find out more about Emma and Business Chicks, head to businesschicks.com
Aug 18 2017
Last month we had the absolute privilege of chatting with speaker, author and educator, Phill Nosworthy. Phill, Co Founder of the latest learning and development program, Switch L+D, spoke with us about his passion to find meaning in business, some of his career highlights, the importance of impact and his top tips for long term success. We were left feeling inspired and I know you will be too! Happy reading!
We first saw you speak at a Kick Start Smart event and were captivated by your passion and energy to see change in the everyday workplace. Can you tell us about this thirst to find meaning in business and when this passion to help others do the same came about?
I’m not sure that there was a thunderous moment for me. Some people experience that, but for me, finding my way as a professional has been something of a constant evolution.
Personally, I think the idea of ‘finding your way as you go’ can be a real comfort to many people. It is true that for some people, ‘finding their thing’ is like getting hit with a bolt of lighting – but for most it will be a constant chipping away to find and reveal their deeper passions and purposes in life.
The point here is a willingness to constantly evolve. Muhammed Ali said that “the man who at 50 is the same man he was at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life!” This simply means that we SHOULD change. Imagine for a second that I was still running on the goals that I had for myself when I was 16! That would be crazy. It’s far better to constantly check in with yourself, and ask – who am I now? and who do I want to be now? and how have my experiences shaped me and changed me? and what does that mean for how I need to show up each day?
My dad is a Baptist preacher and pastor, and a really extraordinary one at that. So I grew up surrounded by people who were incredibly invested into the lives of others – and that obviously left a mark on my heart and on my mind.
I grew up with a deep drive to work in a way that married purpose and impact with the ability to build a beautiful quality of life for my family. And nothing has changed about that as I’ve grown older – I still obsess about helping people find meaning in what they do, and to get what they go to work for. You see, people spend so much time at work – and so whether by default or design, work is the biggest lever people have to pull on to create an incredible, fulfilling, and adventurous life that they are proud of.
What would you say are the key things to consider in the pursuit of finding fulfilment and enjoyment through what you do?
Funnily enough – one of the biggest challenges people have at work is trying to rationalise our collective obsession with happiness and the real life realities of going to work. Everybody wants to be happy – of course! And it’s a beautiful emotional state to find yourself in. But like the tides, happiness comes and goes. And some people are very confused about that – they think that they have to be happy ALL the time – and get really troubled when they aren’t. They think to themselves that something must be wrong.
I feel that people have been sold a bit of a lie that life is ALL about being happy. There is definitely more to it than that. Take for instance me and my role as a Dad – one that I love with all of my heart. My little girl is, quite frankly, THE best thing that has ever happened to humanity – in my opinion of course! But as much as I love her, it doesn’t make me happy to get out of bed at 2 in the morning when she is teething and needs a little help! There is NO happiness in that equation, but my god, you wouldn’t find me anywhere else.
Why? Because there is so much more to life than just being happy. The aspect of life that we are calling out here is the meaningful parts of life. And they sometimes overlap with what makes us happy – but not always. And it’s important for people to know that. In fact I think a great life is one that enjoys happiness when it comes, but vigorously chases meaning all the time.
My team and I have worked over the years to search out the science and arts of creating a meaningful life – one that we love living, and one that satisfies the deepest needs of our hearts. We took in a lot of academic literature and research along with looking at the core tenets of myth, and faith and inspiring movements over times and we found that through them all – seven core pillars of meaning started to show themselves time after time after time. Let me share them with you. If you want to create a deeply satisfying and meaningful life, you’ll want to double click on these areas:
Mastery: People want to get good at something. No one really likes not being good at something. So take the time to invest yourself and your attention into one thing. This is sometimes tough right now in the way that we work – but if you can adopt a ‘craftsman’ approach to your work, and not try to rush everything all the time, and take the time to grow your skills and your mastery of something – that’s very important to achieving that sense of meaning that you are after.
Second is Autonomy: You want to create a sense that you are the master of your own life and destiny. No ones likes being or feeling trapped. Make decisions as often as you can that create more freedom for you.
Purpose is the third pillar. People need to feel that what they do is for a reason. And whether your faith and beliefs give that to you, or whether it comes from a strong sense of determination and a decision you’ve made for yourself, having a sense of purpose – something that shapes your decisions and gets you out of bed in the morning is really important for living a life that counts.
Next are the three big C’s:
Connections: Do life with people you love and trust and constantly include more people into your world. We are a social species. So more time with real people and less time with screen people.
Contributions: Giving to things that you believe in and that matter to you is central to a meaning making life. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it does have to cost you something. Find something important to you and give to it – time or money or your expertise. A meaningful life always looks to give.
And Challenges: Happiness tends to rise out of times of ease, but meaning is manufactured in challenging times. So set goals that stretch you and enjoy the challenge of it all.
And the final pillar is Legacy: Legacy is about your work counting and leaving a lasting mark on the world. We want to be remembered for doing great things and being a great person. Big or small, it doesn’t matter, what does matter is whether you leave a mark.
Can you tell us a little more about Switch and why you started it?
Around 4 years ago now, I was the Head of Partnerships and Business Development for a very significant behaviour change firm, Change Labs. We designed large scale change programs for governments and large corporations that applied the engine of their business to big, embedded social challenges like health, and financial literacy. It was incredible work and I loved it. But one morning I woke up and felt something that I had not felt in the past 7 years that I had worked there – and it was this : ‘it’s time to leave’. And in the way that I see life, as an adventure, I had the guts to listen and finished up and stepped out on my own. I tell people I left my dream job for my dream job.
In February 2014 I got started in my own practice – Switch, and in the years since have been privileged to work with some incredible teams and organisations all around the world. Companies like Microsoft and Universal Music and ING Bank.
Our work is in advising the careers and leadership styles of people. We work to make sure that people are good at what they do and get what they to to work for. That takes the form of research and speaking to big and small groups on things like personal mastery, personal branding, knowing how to inspire and lead teams and how to be an effective communicator and coach.
We’ve worked in maybe 25 countries now, across 40 cities and are very proud of our work.
We really love what we get to do.
Through Switch Inc you’ve been able to speak into the lives and businesses of some incredible people. What have been some of the highlights?
Oh man, that’s tough. It’s all a highlight really, getting to work with such wonderful people. And for us, what matters most is that we are working with people who are hungry for growth. If I’m sitting with three people in a cafe in Istanbul or speaking to 3000 in a conference centre in Brisbane – what matters is that people are hungry for and chasing after their own version of greatness.
But of course there have been really cool moments too. We’ve hosted sessions at Soho House in LA and Barcelona with CEO’s and entertainers that I’m not allowed to name and athlete’s that earn more in a week than I have in my career.
We’ve held sponsored parties at The Standard in West Hollywood and at The Apollo in Sydney. I’ve been lucky enough to speak in 40 cities around the world – in places like London and Prague and New York. And from a coaching perspective, I have been able to coach award winning actors and entertainers and world champions.
But through it all, I would have to come back to our client Microsoft for whom we worked to support and advise their global talent program for early-in-career high-potentials. To be able to work with, what I consider, the world’s most significant organisation, and with their brightest young talent and help them understand HOW to build a career that matters, is a gift beyond measure.
For someone who is still in his early thirties you seem to hold so much wisdom. What life experiences would you say have developed you into the person you are today?
I know this; that I can’t give what I don’t have. And if I am going to be of any value to anyone, my biggest task in life is to be sucking in high quality insights so that there is a deep reservoir of knowledge and know-how to be able to connect with the challenges people are facing.
So for me that means I’m relentlessly curious. I’m always reading, always learning, always challenging myself and trying to be as divergent in my thought process as possible. It means deliberately seeking out world-views and books that are bigger and different than my own. And thats because I’m way more interested to in growing my mind and my worldview, than just confirming stuff that I already know.
For me, the best personal growth strategies are reading, having challenging conversations, listening and being able to share my opinion with people who will disagree and challenge me on my assumptions. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to listen, I mean really listen to somebody’s idea and not try and convince them of ours.
You touched on impact before, can you tell us why you are so passionate about ‘impact’?
Impact is the result of how you choose to show up each day. Talent and experience are beautiful things, but in contrast to impact…. well, I’m more interested in impact, because we all know smart and experienced people who leave trails of human destruction behind them.
Impact is hands down, and by far the most important thing to consider in building a life and career that matters. And the answer to the quality of your impact is found on the other side of the question; ‘what happened because I was here?’ – were people made to be better, or was the energy and life and potential of the people I spent time with negatively affected by me being there?
Impact obsesses with the HOW of getting things done as much as it does with WHAT gets done. And it is created every time you interact with someone, in big ways and small ways. It means not being a prick when you order a coffee, it means looking people in the eye when you’re talking to them, it means building other people up instead of having to prove to them that you are so much better than them in the workplace. In small, daily ways, a deeply meaningful and impactful life is created.
Have you had many mentors in life? If so, who were they and what’s one piece of advice from them that you’ll never forget?
100%. Isaac Newton said “If I have achieved anything, it’s because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton is probably one of the smartest people and one of the most extraordinary humans that has ever existed. So if Isaac Newton needs mentors, friends and help, the rest of us need twice as much. I think mentors are a really smart idea.
What i’ve learned as i’ve gotten older though is that I shouldn’t expect my mentors to be untouchable demigods of every subject area and challenge in life. That is utterly unreasonable. Instead, I’ve learned to seek out mentors for specific help and advice in something that they absolutely dominate. I mean, the very lifestyle of what makes an elite athlete so good at what they do, often makes them dysfunctional in other areas. So I’ll seek their help for health and peak performance, and not ask them about the stuff they’re no good at.
So for me, I unlocked the potential in my mentor relationships when I learned that I should have different mentors for different conversations.
We are big believers in learning from our mistakes in business. Can you remember any life/business lessons that you’ve had to learn the hard way?
Oh my god yes! I live in front of audiences! I have spoken in front of maybe 2000 audiences now. And there is literally not one session that I can look at and say I that I nailed it in every way possible. And that’s not hating on myself, as much as it is being growth minded and willing to do the work to get better.
Each day I’ve learned to ask myself three really simple questions that ensure constant development and growth: “What went well? What didn’t go well, and, What should I do differently tomorrow?”. Without those questions to drive personal reflection, I don’t stand a chance of growing.
Mastery comes from conscious reflection, and deliberate practice. So learning to love the passage of time, and using the experiences of our day to automate growth – that’s the thing that changes a regular day into an amazing opportunity for development.
Daily reflection can go along way to preventing year long ‘cock ups’ too. Monumental failures, i think often arise out of a failure to check in more regularly. It’s not a perfect technique! But god forbid that I would be habitualising a dumb decision for three months straight without ever asking myself the question ‘is this even working?’
Have there been failures? Of course! But I usually try and get them while they are still small. The bigger your feedback loop, the bigger the failure. So if I’m only checking in and asking my team, or even checking in with myself say once year or in an annual review – i’ll be doomed to fail! But if the ‘feedback loop’ is a daily , then the mistakes of today don’t have to be carried into tomorrow. I think people need very, very tight feedback loops.
For young entrepreneurs starting out, what would be your top tips for long term success?
One of the bigger challenges for entrepreneurs and anyone starting out in a new career is wanting success immediately. That inevitably leads to disappointment and frustration, because excellence, and the success that it triggers usually takes a little bit longer than you think at first.
Learning to think in slightly longer time frames, and giving yourself the ability to ride the ups and the downs of any meaningful quest will make the process far more satisfying and comfortable.
But people are impatient! They want it all now!
And they can have it – really, I mean that. I’ve found that most of the time, you will get what you are going for, if you are prepared to work for it and give it the time that it deserves to make it happen.
That, and actually taking the time to define what success means to you. So many people don’t. So they are paying a price – in the form of their time and attention to work and all the challenges and stresses that come along with it, but they don’t know what they are paying that price for.
And you know what the right price to pay for a mystery is?
Me neither! For most things in life, you know the right price to pay, only after you get your head around what it is that you are getting for that price. If you define what you are ‘paying the price’ for, then any price will be worth it to you, if you make it worthwhile.
But as it is, so many people have very little idea about WHY they are actually going to work.
So define success for yourself! Because only you can make the ‘price’ you are paying worth it.
We saw that you, your beautiful wife and daughter recently took a sabbatical in Barcelona. How important is finding that work / family life balance to you?
Balance is a great idea, but I personally don’t know the equation for it! And that is simply because if I was trying to balance the amount of hours I work with time with my family, then we’d all need to rewrite the calendar and fit more days in the week, because there aren’t enough hours in the day to equal things out.
For me, it is far more about understanding the seasons that we are in. Because as the old mystics would say – there is a time for everything under the sun. A time for working and a time for rest.
We all know people who when they are at work, can only ever think about holidays, and then when they are on holidays stress and think about work! So learning to be present – to work when you are at work, and being with your family when you are with your family is highly important if we are going to do life well. Because for most people, there is enough time, but perhaps the way we are using it is the issue.
But yes – for us, a month in Barcelona this year was amazing and important. For a couple of reasons. The first is alignment. Imagine me, travelling and teaching other people about meaning and living a life that matters, and not actually doing it for myself! As it is, I spend around 120 nights a year on the road internationally, and while that is soul satisfying work, if it came at the expense of my family and the people that I have committed my life to? Then I’d change it immediately.
As it is, people are sick and tired of hearing people who know the right stuff to say but aren’t the embodiment of their conversation. So it is about walking the talk.
And then, really, it is about getting huge amounts of time with the people I love most in the entire world. My daughter is 17 months old right now. And time with her is sacred, and it is flying past at the speed of light. There will be more time to write and speak and grow the business, but right now, every time I blink she changes and gets more awesome, and I don’t want to miss that. So for us to get 33 days in Spain together, sunrise to sunset, I know will be something that my 50 year old self would thank my 33 year old self for having done.
Finally, your hopes for the future?
What I see for myself when I’m 40, 50 and 60 – I have no idea how to achieve it. It’s so big and so audacious that it freaks me out to think about. And that’s how I know it is something worth chasing. Because life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all right?
For more information on Phill or to gain access to a decade’s worth of work advising leading brands around the planet through one of Switch L+D’s incredible online courses, visit: switchld.com – You won’t regret it!
Aug 11 2017
Earlier last month we had the incredible opportunity of speaking with the Managing Director of Xero, Trent Innes. I first heard Trent speak at Kick Start Smart last year and was so inspired by what he had to say and his passion for mentoring that we just had to get in touch. Trent has some great advice on nailing those numbers and turning obstacles into opportunity. Be inspired!
Can you start by telling us a little bit about you, your background and how you came to be the Managing Director for Xero?
I’ve been the MD at Xero for about a year and a half now but have been at Xero for 4 years. I have been here through tremendous and amazing growth going from when I first started we only had about 50,000 customers in Australia and we have now got over 446,000, so it has been an amazing ride. We have grown individually in people as well, when I started we were between 40-50 people, we now have well over 350 people. It’s been really good fun! My career before that? I started as an accountant in the early days but I quite often felt I wasn’t very good at it, which isn’t the truth, I sort of found a lot in technology at the sametime and I think when you combine accounting and technology together, you can do some really cool and amazing things. My career after that was very much always around technology but technology from a business sense, combining the business and technology worlds together. So I had a number of different roles during that phase. I did some consulting and technical based consulting and then I found my way into sales and marketing when I was at Microsoft. I was there for about 8 years and ended up running a division before making my across to Xero.
Why do you believe it is so important to get the numbers right when starting out in business?
I don’t know if it is just when you are starting out, I think you always need to be across your numbers. I think it’s really important throughout your career or throughout your journey to make sure you understand your numbers. I think one of the biggest failure rates we see in business is people having an amazing idea, but then when it comes to actually implementing that idea, they can’t quite get their head around the numbers. So if you’re not good at it, I think it’s really important to surround yourself with somebody that is very good at it. Whether that be in the early days, an accountant or a bookkeeper or even a friend that might understand numbers. You meet lots of great creative people who are awesome but you still need to make sure you have someone around you that can understand the numbers to make sure you understand where your opportunity is but equally you understand where the money is going as well.
Have there been any really tough obstacles that you’ve had to overcome or any lessons you’ve had to learn the hard way whilst being at Xero?
I think there are always massive obstacles. If I stopped having obstacles I’d do something else, it would be getting too boring. So I think the key is turning an obstacle into an opportunity and generally that’s an opportunity to actually learn or develop a new skill or alternatively to bring potentially someone else into the business who actually has those skills to get around that obstacle. To give you a specific example; the biggest obstacle I’ve faced during my time at Xero is managing high growth. Managing a high, fast growing company is not necessarily that easy. It’s a good problem to have but I’m always really conscious and aware that the things that were really, really special that got us to where we were in the early days; how do we maintain those when you go through growth. If you add more people or more customers, how do you make each one of them feel as special as when you had one person or one customer? I think that’s probably the biggest obstacle and opportunity we’ve had.
Why do you believe it’s so important to have mentors?
I think it’s very important to have mentors for a couple of different reasons. As you get more senior in your role it does actually potentially get a bit lonelier. As it gets lonelier I think it’s really good to get people around you that you can bounce things off. I don’t think its necessarily fair to take things home so you want to try and find people that can help you, that have experience in things that you may not have or can potentially give you a different point of view. I think we talk about diversity a lot, but the true diversity is actually diversity of thought. So having people around you that have a different thought can actually help you navigate things better. I think having external mentors is really important because they tend not to actually be involved in the day to day running of your business at all so they can give you a very independant view.
Have you had many mentors? If so, what’s one piece of advice that has stuck with you over the years?
I’ve had lots of mentors and I still have mentors today! There has been lots and lots of advice I’ve been given but one piece that does actually stick with me is, as you become more senior in your organisation and your profile builds, you have the opportunity to meet some amazing people who can be potentially intimidating to you if you haven’t actually met them before – I brought this to one of my mentors and what he said back to me was “Trent, they’re just people”. As soon as I got that on board and I got my head around that he’s actually completely right and I’ve gone with that mental view now every time I meet someone who could potentially be intimidating, whether that be a Federal Minister or someone senior in business. There is usually some common ground and they are just people when you get talking with them.
What would be your top tip for long lasting success for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?
I think you have to believe in yourself, you’ve got to back yourself. That’s it! I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing entrepreneurs and one very common theme amongst them is that they don’t see downsides, they are so driven by their purpose, they just keep going for it. So it’s generally a belief around your purpose.
What’s the most effective daily habit you possess?
My favourite habit is going for a run in the morning. My alarm goes off very early in the morning and almost everyday, unless I’m travelling, I get up and go for a run. I just clear my head and think about what I need to do that day. It’s all about prioritising and making sure that my mind is focused on the things that are really important.
Finally, what’s the best part of your role at Xero?
I think that there are so many great parts to my role but the best part and thing I love the most is being surrounded by so many smart, motivated and purposeful people.
We will be chatting more on Xero with Anneliese Urquhart, the Small Business Director at Xero and one of our very own Think BOLD mentors, towards the end of the month but if you want to find more information on Xero in the meantime, please visit: www.xero.com/au
Aug 02 2017
We were lucky Enough to chat to The Beach People Co-founder, Victoria Beattie, on her and her sister Emma’s journey to creating this beautifully recognisable brand, the ups and downs and what one piece of advice from a mentor has stuck with her over the years. enjoy!
We have absolutely loved following your journey with The Beach People starting from these beautiful round towels to now launching a whole range of new products. Can you tell us a little about the first moment you had the idea for The Beach People…
Thanks for your kind words. The Beach People began in the Summer of 2013. My sister Emma and I were sitting on the beach one day and she turned to me and said “I think I want to make round beach towels, in beautiful patterns, in soft luxe material… Do you want to do that with me?”… It was so simple. I said “yes” and the rest is history.
The Beach People brand obviously grew very quickly. Were you big dreamers when it came to the company or were you surprised at how quickly it all happened?
We absolutely love our product and have always believed in it, it’s a reflection of our life however, we were completely blown away and humbled by the public response to our brand. We are still delighted that we have this wonderful community of sea lovers all over that globe!
Where do you find inspiration for your products? Then and now? And has it changed much?
It hasn’t changed much. I am very much inspired by story telling, cultures and travel. Emma is more inspired by design, architecture and fashion.
Are there any lessons in business that you’ve really had to learn the hard way?
Absolutely! Almost every day, I don’t know where to start! The most recent one would be in product development. While most brands copy one another it’s been incredibly hard making brand new product. Thinking of something in your head and then trying to make it from scratch takes years. It’s hard to stay new and fresh and still maintain the integrity of the brand. We’re determined though to keep inventing new product that’s never been seen before.
The Beach People is very much a family affair. What do you feel are the different strengths that you and your sister Emma bring to the table?
We are polar opposites. We absolutely love working together because together we are like this super human. Ha. Emma is highly creative and I am more logical. Together we make a good team.
Are there ever times that you have differing ideas for the brand? If so, how do you overcome them?
To be completely honest, we have never disagreed on any business or branding decisions. Our team often laugh when they run things past us separately. We always have the same answer. We very clearly know where we are heading and we are on the same page.
Your branding is so strong and recognisable. What do you think helps to ‘make’ a brand when it comes to a brand and marketing strategies?
It’s taken me a while to put my finger on what it is that makes a strong brand, because truthfully Emma and I just started and were making it up as we go along. I think that when a brand is authentic, consistent, and clear that it naturally grows strong.
Are you big goal setters and how do you work to achieve those goals?
We are big dreamers. I think we just keep our eyes on our dreams and not let daily distractions get to you.
If you could speak to yourselves back at the very beginning of The Beach People journey, what advice would you give to yourself?
Hold on! Ha! It’s going to be incredibly tough, but you will make it through. Anndddd you are going to have a lot of fun!
Have you ever had any mentors? If so, who were they and what one piece of advice has really stuck with you?
We have a wonderfully supportive group of mentors, some family, others friends. One piece of advise I loved is “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can get done today” – I love that…
Finally, what are some of your dreams and hopes for The Beach People in the future?
That we would be able to keep doing what we are doing now… making beautiful products, enjoying our work and growing our community of like minded sea lovers all around the world. I personally would like a few more babies, another puppy and some chooks!
For more about The Beach People, visit: thebeachpeople.com.au
Photography By Laura Goodall.