Archives For Staff

The word “entrepreneur” actually sucks. Being an entrepreneur is not cool. Building something successful is cool.” — Alex Louey

Being an entrepreneur is hard. You have no money and it’s a struggle. It’s hard but if you continue, and you persevere, and you keep on pushing to find different angles, you will succeed. With your ideas, don’t be precious about them. The reason why my business partner, Nick, and I work together well is because we are not precious about our ideas. In business, there is no place for egos.” — Alex Louey

Culture and values are actually the most important part of our hiring process. If we have two candidates and Candidate B is less skilled but has an awesome personality, will be a benefit to the culture and there is drive, we’ll go with Candidate B, even if Candidate A is a superstar. The team doesn’t win with one person.” — Alex Louey

Just because a customer says, “I want this done,” or “I want it by then,” doesn’t mean we say “yes”. If we can’t achieve what the customer wants, then we can’t create the desired experience, and so we need to make our expectations clear. The hardest thing to do is to actually say “no”. For too long I was surrounded by people who said, “Yes, Shan,” and that didn’t help. It may stroke your ego temporarily but it won’t help. I now look for people who say, “You know what? It’s not gonna fly. Not today. Maybe next week but not today.”” — Shan Manickham

Putting together a bunch of core values, that’s a piece of cake. Get a whiteboard, get everyone to put up their concepts and ideas, pick the most popular, put a few emojis up, and bang you’re done. That’s easy. The next thing you need to do is believe in them and get them instilled so that they are being used on a daily basis to make a decision within your business. And once that happens, things become a lot easier.” — Shan Manickham

A key thing is believing in the people that work for you. If you’ve selected the right people, you got to believe in them. You’ve got to be able to hand over reigns. It probably feels like you don’t want to hand over the reigns and you probably feel like you can do a better job but at some point, you have got to be able to say, “I’m gonna hand this over. I’m gonna believe in you. I’m gonna put the right measures in place.” So you’re going to trust and verify, but you’ve got to start with the trust first. Verifications come later.” — Shan Manickham

I don’t think you will ever know if it’s the right move, but I think you can make it the right move. You can sit there and do a lot of research, it all tells you the right stuff but if you can’t execute on it, all that research means nothing. Did I know the moment? Absolutely, not.” — Alex Louey

With thanks to

Alex Louey is the founder of Appscore, the team behind Yarra Tram’s famous Tram Tracker app. Alex knew nothing about building apps when he went into business, but he knew all about project management. He recommends working with your strengths and surrounding yourself with people who can do things that you can’t.

Shan Manickam is the MD and owner of warehouse solutions business Cross Docks Australia. Shan tried to go into the business through a management buyout which failed, but it pushed up the price for the buyer, so they sacked him. That was enough to put a fire in his belly to form his own company. He recommends hiring for culture rather than skills.

About Masters Series by WeTeachMe

Masters Series is a show about inspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and visionary dreamers, and the stories behind how they built their companies.

Subscribe to show

Show brought to you by

Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe.

Our strategic alliance partners: MYOB, SitePoint, and Entrepreneur’s Organization.

Our media partners: Startup Victoria and Digital Marketers Australia.

Our content partners: Written & Recorded.

The views expressed by the contributors on this show are linked websites that are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

Question of the day

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

It’s very really important that you feel your business, that you have an understanding of [yourself], your community, and network, and that you create your own network. For me, I’m a media person and I come from an events background, and that’s why I talk about my promoting; it’s because I learned how to hustle doing events. And then whilst studying media I learned the value of an audience and of a community, and how to commercialise that.” — Francesco Nazzari

[On decision making and the fear of the regret of making a wrong decision], we’re always going to have regrets; I have heaps! But the commitment to a decision, and the making of a decision in itself is really powerful. Whether the decision is right or wrong, to learn from the decision is what’s really important. Don’t sit and stew or get stuck. Make the decision.” — Francesco Nazzari

I failed accounting twice in university, and now I am responsible for all the finance in the business. Numbers drive the business’ action and strategy. I look at the numbers every single day; it’s what I need to look at to determine how the business performs, and my job is to decipher the numbers so that it tells a story. For example: Your cost of goods are running at 35%; what does that tell you? There is an inefficiency somewhere and you then start to dig deeper into those problems to answer questions like: (1) where are the inefficiencies?; (2) what is happening here?; and (3) could it be a problem caused by a supplier? Numbers drive everything.” — Thin Neu

Pay for good advice early on. Sometimes you cheap out on advice, and it costs you more mistakes and more money in the future. For example: If I didn’t have a good lawyer helping me at the very beginning (who happens to be my best mate now), I’d be paying 10–20% more on my leases, and I would not know about fit-out contributions (where shopping centres give you money to help you build stores). Other examples include: (1) how do you reduce bank guarantees; and (2) how do you get your employment contracts right. Get good advice early on even if you need to pay a little bit more for it because it will save you more in the long run.” — Thin Neu

One of my biggest personal drivers was borrowing that money from my parents. Once I did this, there was no possibility of failure in my head because there was no way I was going to lose the money. If you have to wake up at 4 am to do your job, you go do it. If you have to find innovative ways to draw more markets into your business, you go do that. Work on that higher purpose; it helps motivates you to get out of bed every single day, helps you take that next step, and helps take away the fear.” — Thin Neu

I spend a lot of time with staff. Having a business is challenging in so many areas, but you have to dedicate time to work with the people in your business. You have to sit down and invest your time in your people because they are the one who help you run your business. I spend a lot of time with my staff and finding out what it is that they want, and what it is that they want to achieve, and then I find a way to help them achieve their goals and dreams. Hopefully those goals and dreams align with Cupcake Central.” — Thin Neu

With thanks to

Francesco Nazzari is the founder of Rooftop Cinema on the top of Curtin House in Melbourne’s CBD. Since 2003 Rooftop has been showing movies under the stars with the best views in town. Frunch shudders when he thinks about the moment in his mid-twenties that he called the city council to get a permit to show movies on the roof.

Thin Neu is the Co-Director of Cupcake Central, building a business is a bit like following a recipe. His advice is to have the right people in place to help you and never cheap out on getting good advice.

About Masters Series by WeTeachMe

Masters Series is a show about inspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and visionary dreamers, and the stories behind how they built their companies.

Subscribe to show

Show brought to you by

Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe.

Our strategic alliance partners: MYOB, SitePoint, and Entrepreneur’s Organization.

Our media partners: Startup Victoria and Digital Marketers Australia.

Our content partners: Written & Recorded.

The views expressed by the contributors on this show are linked websites that are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

Question of the day

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


One thing I have learned is that for the most part, people express the same idea but they express it in many different ways and with many different words. It is the details in the expression, the words, and combination of words used, that give a story its colour, its texture, and brings it–and its lessons–to life.

We are unique combinations of our beliefs, values and life experiences. Differences notwithstanding, we, and our experiences, are important. Therefore, there is value in compiling and sharing these stories and the multitude of ways in which ideas are expressed. Combined, these stories weave a wonderful tapestry that exemplifies just how rich and beautiful life can be.

And who knows? An inadvertent remark or detail in the retelling of a story can stand to attention and have an impact in the world of a reader. And with that exciting possibility, perhaps the most valuable thing I can do is create the space where the stories of those whom I admire and respect can be shared.

Below are people that I have come across on my own life journey whom I deeply admire and respect. Whether it be their tenacity or courage, or relentless drive or passion, each individual generously reveals a different lens in response to the questions I regularly pepper them with.

As we continue on our sharing over this anthology, I will share tidbits and anecdotes as to why I hold them in such high esteem, and what I love most about them. In turn, I hope that you do too.

Knowing what you know now, how would you have better prepared for COVID-19?

Declutter. Declutter. Declutter.

Andrea Grisdale, Founder and CEO at IC Bellagio, Board Member at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Bellagio, Lake Como.

Had I known back then what I know today, I would:

  1. Declutter all aspects of my life and lead a much leaner life both professionally and personally
  2. Appreciate the simple things in life and appreciate the difference they can make to the day
  3. Take more time to fully think things through
  4. Juggle less balls
  5. Remove the “fat” from all aspects of my business

Ensure that your cash position is not skinny

Daniel Dickson, Managing Director at Amarco Enterprises. Sydney, Australia.

Ensure the balance sheet is in good condition, and the cashflow and cash reserves can support the business closing for X period of time (without the assistance of government subsidies and laying off staff). Ensuring that your cash position is not skinny going into a pandemic is the greatest business relief.

Also ensure that supplier agreements allow special dispensation in times of a pandemic.

Ensure your staff stay informed. It’s an enormous advantageous for people to not have uncertainty as to what is next.

Have a plan for the worst-case scenario

David Fastuca. Founder at Ambisie, Founder at Locomote. Melbourne, Australia.

Have a plan for the worst-case scenario. For example, what if your business had no revenue for 12 months?

Some questions to consider are:

  • If my business had no revenue for 12 months, what does this reality look like?
  • What actions need to take place so that my business survives?
  • How fast do I need to act?
  • What does my business need to look like so that it can survive 12 months without revenue

Embrace remote teams and cloud-based technology

Jamie Skella. Chief Operating and Product Officer at Mogul, Former Chief Product Officer at Horizon State. Melbourne, Australia.

I’ve had the privilege of building distributed teams and working almost exclusively with cloud-based systems for about a decade now; often with no office, no on-premise IT infrastructure, and have been a user of Zoom for more than half of that period.

The picture looks very similar within my current business, which has left me — let alone the entire company — in the fortunate position of frictionless transition into a COVID-19 world.

You could call this lucky; no one could have predicted this pandemic (although Bill Gates came close), but I’ve long been a believer in the stark benefits that flexible working environments enable. It felt inevitable that the world would follow suit.

However I did not expect that our hands would be forced in this manner, leading to an incredible acceleration of decentralised workforces and processes.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, summarised this new reality with a startling yet unsurprising remark on the company’s recent quarterly earnings call: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

Transition completely to virtual and focus on profit vs. revenue

Keith Roberts. Founder, Author and Speaker at OAKJournal, Board Member at Entrepreneurs’ Organization, President at Entrepreneur’s Organization, Founder and Creative Director at Zenman. Denver, Colorado.

There are two main things I would have focused on:

(1) Transition completely to a virtual workplace. COVID-19 has shown us that we can be productive and can collaborate effectively in a remote environment.

(2) Have laser-focus on profit vs. revenue. Put more in the coffers for rainy days, and operate as lean as possible whilst still producing exceptional work.

It’s what you do before the storm comes that most determines how you look after the storm passes

Kym Huynh. Founder at WeTeachMe, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Melbourne, Australia.

I subscribe to the adage “fortune favours the prepared” (and the disciplined). The application of this idea in my life reveals itself in the strategic decision that I only enter battles that have been won before the fighting starts.

On being prepared, the main question I ask myself is: “Have we built disciplines in our personal, family and business that we live and breathe during both times of good and bad?”

On discipline, the questions I ask myself are:

  1. Business: Are the meeting rhythms set in stone, diarised, communicated and running like clockwork? (Daily huddle/weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly.) Personal: Have I scheduled in regular check-ins with myself? Family: Have I scheduled in regularly touch-points with my family?
  2. Business: Do we have a regular communications cadence? (During bad times, increase the communications cadence.)
  3. Business/Personal/Family: Do we have cash buffers and reserves? (How long can my business/myself/my family survive without external assistance? How many months/years do we/I need so that we/I feel safe?) Is my business, my family and I maintaining the discipline of regularly setting aside a portion of the income in a difficult-to-access savings account?
  4. Are my key relationships strong? Cash and capital is oxygen, but the best kind of capital are my relationships. Business: Do I regularly check-in and cultivate the relationships with people and businesses that have a vested interest in my/my businesses’ survival and success? Personal/Family: Am I cultivating the relationships with the people most important in my life?

COVID-19 is not the first global pandemic and it won’t be the last global pandemic. We know with 100% certainty that there will be more, we just don’t know what they will look like and when they will appear. So when the inevitable storm hits, maintaining my discipline, and protecting the things that keep me disciplined, keeps me in good form.

The importance of time, and the importance of people

Raymond Chou. Founder and CEO at Infront Consulting APAC. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Time is a resource that once taken, cannot be returned. However, how many of us really shape our lives around this? COVID-19 taught me that there may not be a tomorrow so I like to do things now.

I also look into who I invest my time with, who I invite to join me on my life journey, and what I need to engineer in my environment so that I achieve my goals in structured and date-stamped manner (rest and relaxation included).

On people, I have taken the time given back to me during COVID-19 to be more honest with myself and really consider the people around me as they have an indelible influence on the shape of my life.

What do you think?

Do you agree or violently disagree with anything shared in this article? Or do you have any of your own stories that you want to share? Pop them in the comments and I will personally reply.

Call to action 

My goal is to help 1,000,000 people. My wish is to have these articles shared 1,000,000 times through the various social networks. For this reason, I provide this collection online for free and all I ask of you is this: If any of these articles have helped you in any way, please take a moment to share on social media, email to someone you think will find benefit, or print and leave it on the desk of someone whom you believe has the motivation, but lacks the tools to take themselves to the next level.

Don’t miss out on any new articles. Subscribe via email using the form at the bottom of this post and I’ll have the articles delivered straight to your inbox. Alternatively, you can also follow me on my various social media accounts: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.