A Day in the Life of the CEO, Collis Ta'eed

by Josh Janssen, Writer, Photographer, Social Guy.

Melbourne, Australia.

Meet our CEO, Collis Ta’eed. Collis co-founded Envato back in 2006 and was instrumental in taking the company from a garage-startup of four, to a global company with a team of over 200.

What does a day in the life of a CEO actually look like?

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 diecuts!

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.

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6:32am - Collis waiting for the local coffee shop to open.

“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.

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7:14am - Collis checking emails and working on Envato's vision for 2020.

(... in theory, in practice I interrupted him continuously for an hour with my photo taking.)

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8:36am - Collis takes a short drive to work with wife & co-founder, Cyan.

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8:45am - "The parking is cheap and the indecent graffiti aplenty".

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8:48am - Collis walking to work with Cyan.

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9:01am - Collis arrives to work at the new Envato office on King St.

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9:05am - Collis' first meeting for the day with Tuts+ GM, Jason.

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.

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10:04am - Collis speaking at the Envato fortnightly All Hands meeting.

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).

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10:45am - Collis meeting with the Finance Director and Legal Director.

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.

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12:18pm - Collis having lunch at a local foodcourt with Cyan.

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1:30pm - Collis meeting with some of the head office team to discuss the Envato Vision for 2020.

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.

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2:40pm - Collis sitting in the courtyard, writing down notes from the previous vision workshop.

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.

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3:38pm - Collis chatting with the Envato HR Director, James Law about the office facilities.

Apparently there was going to be an actual sensitive issue discussed, but with me hovering about taking photos, this meeting was redirected to discuss a leaky roof in one part of the office.

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4:06pm - Collis on a Skype call with WordPress Evangelist, Japh Thomson, about meetups.

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!

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4:43pm - Collis walking back to his car.

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4:46pm - Collis in the carpark elevator.

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4:55pm - Collis and Cyan talking about the day on their drive home.

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5:15pm - Collis playing with son, John.

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6:02pm - Collis having a sit down, before spending the next few hours on his laptop.

CEO Bag

What does Collis carry around?

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:

  1. 15” Apple Macbook Pro - "I’ve only had this notebook for a couple of months. My last MBP was ruined on a recent trip to Hawaii, when my son spilt coconut water on it. At least the disaster was in theme with the holiday."
  2. Apple iPad Mini - "The iPad Mini came in handy on that same trip! After the laptop died, I decided to embrace going mobile and started creating content using the iPad, a wireless keyboard, iA Writer and Paper (the app by Fifty Three). It was cool, but really not as productive as a laptop!"
  3. Telstra 4G HotSpot - "Public WiFi isn’t always safe or reliable. With this device, as long as I have phone reception, I have an internet connection. I use it constantly as I love working in cafes around Melbourne."
  4. The Classic BIC 4 Pen - "I love these pens. They are pretty popular around the office and I was constantly 'misplacing' mine. One day I went down to the stationery store and bought every pen they had (about seventy) and liberally sprinkled them around the office, my house and my backpack."
  5. Evernote Moleskine - "I have been a fan of Moleskine notebooks for a long time and have only recently signed up to Evernote. I bought this on my recent trip to Japan. Despite the fact that I actually do use Evernote, I have never tried taking photos of the pages and scanning them. I just thought the cover of the Moleskine looked cool. I'm shallow like that."
  6. Fitbit Flex - "I spend a lot of time on the computer, so I want to make sure that I am moving around enough in the day. I bought like four of them for my family and we have a competition to see who is most active. My dad —who also works at Envato— basically beats me every day. I think he may be deliberately pacing around his office just to show me up."
  7. Nixon Watch - "The watch is so heavy it actually used to bruise my hand where it would knock. But after buying it, I didn't want to feel like I'd wasted money so I wore it long enough that the bruising stopped. Buyer's remorse FTW!"
  8. READING: Anything You Want by Derek Sivers - "This book was lent to me by Sebastian from the Microlancer team. Derek Sivers was the guy behind CD Baby and he's both a great writer and has a talent for parcelling little gems of advice for entrepreneurs."
  9. Paper Folder - For a digital company, there still is a lot of papers to read. Contracts, business cases, proposals, and much more. In fact they seem to multiply with every passing year!
  10. Mission Workshop Bag: “The Fitzroy” - This bag was a present from Jun, one of the founders and owners of Envato. He was the Best Man at my wedding! And it's also an awesome bag :-)

How the day looked from the Fitbit

Fitbit day

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