I’m not going to beat about the bush here: I think Julian is great. If I had to hold up someone as a role model for other wannabe tycoons to follow, the founder of the Richer Sounds hi-fi chain would be that person. Let me be clear: for all I know, he could be another Rev Paul Flowers, formerly of the Co-op Bank, and spend his dosh on crystal meth and crack. But if there are such horrors in his cupboard, I don’t know what they are.
So what earns him this accolade? The way he treats his staff, the fact that in surveys 95 per cent of them say they love working for him. And then the way his approach translates into tangible results: 52 stores that produced profits of £6.9m from sales of £144.3m last year in an austerity-hit economy, and helped him to build a personal fortune estimated at £115m.
Of all the cool work cultures we’ve ever heard of, none is more impressive than Automattic, the company responsible for the popular blogging platform, WordPress. Automattic is so unusual, it’s the subject of a new book “The Year Without Pants” by its employee Scott Berkun. Berkun is a former Microsoft employee who documented how Automattic grew into a 190-employee company with a $1 billion valuation, while nearly all employees work from home. Even though the company has a gorgeous San Francisco office, Automattic doesn’t consider location when hiring employees. Workers are scattered across 141 cities and 28 countries and get a $2,000 stipend to decorate or improve their home offices (in addition to a new Mac and other tech equipment), WordPress creator and Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg told Business Insider. The company also has a huge travel budget. Any team can meet whenever they want for a “hack week” in any location in the world like Tokyo, Athens, Kauai, San Francisco, Amsterdam, or Sydney. As for daily work, the company uses chat rooms, Google Hangout video, and its own blogging tools instead of email and conference-room meetings. In this way, they update and support WordPress, which is open source software. Open source is a way of writing software in a community. Anyone in any location who uses the software can write code for it, employee or not.
Read the full article here.
One thing is for sure – I wish Miki Agrawal’s book DO COOL SH*T was around four years ago, before I quit my day job and started my own business (I’m still working on the Live Happily Ever After part of the book’s subtitle). A masterful mix of personal stories, chapter summary takeaways and workbook-like questions aimed at encouraging readers to identify their passions and take an entrepreneurial path, it’s packed with experience-based advice and inspiration – and a lot less expensive than business school. Agrawal was working around-the-clock for Deutsche Bank after graduating from Cornell University when the terrorist attacks of 9/11 crumbled skyscrapers that she would have been in, if not for late night drinks with friends causing her to uncharacteristically sleep through her alarm. Acknowledging her good fortune in the weeks that followed, she realized finance was not what she was put on this planet to do and made a “passion pivot,” shifting her life trajectory to courageously pursue opportunities that better aligned with her personal passions. She is now the founder of WILD – a highly acclaimed farm-to-table pizza restaurant, THINX – a stain resistant line of sustainable underwear for women, and a partner in Super Sprowtz – a children’s multimedia company she started with her twin sister Radha that teaches kids about healthy eating. Oh, and did I mention she’s in her mid-thirties, gorgeous, and has an attitude that would give Tony Robbins a run for his money?
By Drew Mattison
Change is not a four-letter word. But it may as well be. No one likes to change, and those who say they do, as in, “I’m looking for some change in my life,” or “we really need a change here,” are really running to or away from something. Real change – a purpose-driven goal of improvement requiring an investment in time, resources and money – is difficult. That being said, one would think that after so many years of organizational change, transformation, shift, entering-a-new-era, etc., that there would be a recipe for success – a formula that would make all change initiatives as easy as pie.
Not so much.
Read the full article here.
Illustration from Xplane visual capture artist, Nitya Wakhlu, showcases what it means to build a powerful, synergistic team. The original presentation was given at the Association of Change Management Professionals conference by Orin Davis, principal investigator at Quality of Life Laboratory.
By Mads-Jakob Vad Kristensen
Well a great Chief Digital Officer (CDO) is not necessarily a brilliant Chief Information Officer (CIO) already on staff as some clever people would suggest. Why? Because it takes more than insight into technology matters to transform or build an organization into becoming inherently digital.
It takes a great understanding of processes and ways that different changes in digital culture can help move the desired changes along. It’s fluffy puffy stuff and far from technical but applied in the right way the results can be stellar.
It takes a great understanding of people. Both of what makes the organizations own people tick in the way that they want to work and get most creative and/or productive for the company but also and especially of the customers digital habits, dreams, needs and wants. Stuff which again is not very technical but where technology certainly is the tool to make it happen.
Compare a great digital vision and game plan to building a house. You need an architect to draw up the plans and make sure that the vision of the end result is crystal clear and doable. You would never ask the carpenter or the mason to do that part of the work although they are the ones who will actually be building the house.
The second – and great question – is whether you need a CDO at all?
Maybe not forever but for the transition period you will. Because while making the transformation and establishing a new digital culture, you will need someone with his or her hands firmly on the wheel guiding you through the challenged waters ahead. Once the transformation is done and you’re in calm seas, you may consider whether you want to apply a different model, but until then you should give the matter the attention it deserves due to the size and complexity of the task. Everything else is – IMHO – madness.
(Photo: Deborah Austin)
First published on Tumblr here.
By Shane Snow
When I left journalism school, I and half of the grad students in my class entered the job market as freelancers. (It’s a tough market for journalists, even today). And then a peculiar thing happened: all of these amazing, Columbia-educated journalists who’d written for The New York Times and NBC and Time Magazine started approaching me for help—despite the fact that they were far better writers than me. In the past, I had run a website consultancy, so my friends asked my advice on building a website, promoting themselves online, getting clients, managing invoices and taxes, and so on. Essentially, they needed help becoming entrepreneurs, which required an entirely different skillset than the journalist’s craft. While some of what we freelancers needed was practical (sales skills, websites, etc.), what we really had to do was start thinking of ourselves as startups.
But truthfully, startup skills are not just useful to the self-employed app developer or forced-into-freelance journalist. The habits—and the mindset—of successful entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly valuable in every 21st century workplace.
Having spent most of my life around entrepreneurs—and having attempted to mimic their best moves in my work as a business owner, then freelancer, and now startup founder—I’m convinced that the following habits will make anyone twice as successful, not to mention employable.
Read the full article on LinkedIn here.