There's not such thing as a 'normal' day in the office when you're the CEO of a fast-growing startup.
Well, Collis probably isn’t your average CEO. When I first joined Envato, his to-do list included such tasks as “Set up new blog install for Inside.Envato” and “Make business cards for teams”. I don’t know many CEOs that get their hands dirty with Nameserver updates and printer die cuts!
I wanted to share with the community what Collis does day-to-day, so I sent him an email asking if I could follow him around with a camera for a day. His first reaction was hesitation, ranging from “people don’t care what I do during the day” to “you’d have to wake up pretty early, Josh. Maybe not”. In the end, I managed to convince him to let me follow him around for the day, whether he thought it was interesting or not.
Which brings me to 6:12am on Monday, November 18. With Collis’ calendar jotted down on a piece of paper and an address to a small coffee shop on the outskirts of the Melbourne CBD, I waited on a park bench for Collis to arrive. As the piece of paper said, Collis arrived at exactly 6:25am. Which is sort of funny, given that the coffee shop never opens before 6:30am.
“They’re meant to be open at 6:30am. I’m normally the first one to greet them when they arrive at around 6:35am”
Collis explained as we sat in anticipation for the barista to show up.
(… in theory, in practice I interrupted him continuously for an hour with my photo taking.)
Collis has weekly one on ones with all his direct reports, checking in on how they are travelling against their goals, what’s happening in the different business units, new plans, and talking through operational details.
Every two weeks we have an All Hands meeting which goes for a half hour. At the meetings new people are introduced, remote staff send in little videos of themselves, announcements are made, and team members make little presentations. At this particular All Hands, some of the Microlancer team presented as medieval lords telling a fairy tale (it was better than it sounds).
Shortly after people in suits arrived from one of the big accounting firms. Collis says this is an ongoing challenge for him – learning the ropes on big company work.
Collaboration on the big things (vision, values, goals) helps get the best ideas in and gets the team behind what we do as a company.
Being a bit of an introvert, Collis often escapes out of the office for ‘thinking’ over tea. Being a bit of a CEO, sitting in his office seems to attract lots of interruptions so this kind of makes sense.
With so many remote staff (over 90!) invariably many meetings include a Skype-in. On this occasion, Collis is checking in with Japh about his experiences running WordPress meetups so we can look at doing more Envato ones!
I asked Collis to let us take a look at his bag. He swears the colour coordination is an accident (I’m not so sure). Here’s Collis’ description of the contents of his bag:
This article and photography was originally produced by Josh Janssen.