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June 15, 2016
My new job in Australia - From Longmont to Adelaide in less than three months
The story of how I ended up in Australia begins almost 20 years ago. I was given a copy of a manuscript for a new book to be published called Leading at the Speed of Growth
. One of the authors was Dr. Jana Matthews and I knew she was a friend of Brad Feld
’s and had been a leader at the Kauffman Foundation
I read Leading at the Speed of Growth at a time when I was struggling as an entrepreneur. We had grown the company, hired a lot of employees, moved into new space and I was not having fun. Reading Jana’s book made me realise that I needed to change and grow as much as my company was changing and growing. I decided I had to go from being the hands-on startup techie guy who liked to code, to an actual leader of a company. Fortunately Jana lived in Boulder, and I was able to meet her and spend time talking about the concepts she had developed over the years working with high-growth companies.
We both still remember having breakfast together the day after the September 11th attacks. Like everyone else we were still in shock but I felt better after that breakfast because Jana inspired me to focus on being a good leader and to be there for my employees. After that, we got together regularly to talk about growing companies. Often we talked about culture, core values and the challenges of growing as a CEO. My assistant at the time sometimes suggested I get together with Jana whenever she noticed the stress of the job weighing on my shoulders - it was that obvious that Jana was helping me cope and learn.
Jana is often introduced as a “Global Thought Leader” and she earned that title by literally going all over the world to work with CEOs and their teams. She traveled to Australia to work with growth companies, and soon helped found an accelerator for startups with growth potential. I had been a mentor at the Boulder Technology Incubator and at Techstars, so Jana called me up and invited me to visit Adelaide
and be a mentor to their first cohort of entrepreneurs.
I fell in love with Adelaide, and as Jana likes to quote, I said, “How can you miss a place you didn’t even know existed until a few week ago?” I was fortunate to be invited back for the third cohort, and enjoyed working with Jana and being in Adelaide even more. When I heard that Jana had become the Director of the Centre for Business Growth
at the University of South Australia
, I wondered if I might be so lucky as to get a third visit back to Adelaide to work with her again.
In October of 2014, Jana invited me to come down and be a “Visiting Growth Entrepreneur” but I was in the midst of getting Launch Longmont started and I reluctantly declined. On March 5th, 2016 I emailed Jana to say that I was done with Launch Longmont and that Cindy and I were thinking about a trip to New Zealand. Instead of getting vacation tips back, Jana called me a few hours later to ask me to consider coming to Australia for a year (at least!) to be the “Growth Entrepreneur in Residence” at the Centre. I've now joined Jana, a growing group of researchers and managers, and other CEOs/mentors to help grow companies in South Australia and beyond.
In less than three months we went from thinking about “what’s next” to living in Adelaide, Australia. I am so grateful to Jana for making all of this possible and I’m honoured to be working with her and the team. When I first read Leading at the Speed of Growth, I never imagined how far it might take me!
June 15, 2016 in Australia, Entrepreneurship | Permalink