What are your favourite things to do outside of work?
I’ve got a 12 and a 14 year old, so I spend most of my free time ferrying them around to sports events, matches and tournaments. And I have to say that netball mums are much more ferocious than anything I ever see at work!
Like most parents I don’t get huge amounts of time for myself, but I do like listening to podcasts. I always recommend Seth Godin’s Akimbo and The Tropical MBA podcasts. Also anything with Naval Ravikant, he’s a silicon valley dude and just the most zen guy ever who’s amazing to listen to.
What was the best career advice you’ve been given?
You can never please everyone. There’s a quote by Seth Godin on that that I really like – “You can spend your time on stage pleasing the heckler in the back, or you can devote it to the audience that came to see you.” Finding a niche and excelling within it is a much better strategy than building something to please everyone and ending up pleasing nobody.
What advice would you offer to others?
One thing I always say is, keep saying yes until you have to say no. I hear it so frequently – when talking to people, they’re desperately trying to find a reason to say no, just so they can move on to the next thing they’re going to say no to! Let an idea breathe and don’t shut it down until you have to. Often a great solution will fall out of a conversation even if you weren’t sold on the idea at the start.
The other thing I believe is that the only sure way to fail is not to start. Just try things, at least then you’ll know.
What emerging technology are you most excited about?
Not really an emerging technology but I have learned a lot recently about the initial moon landing. I think it was one of humanity’s most extraordinary achievements, and I genuinely believe it wouldn’t happen today. In 1961 Kennedy said, “We’re going to the moon” and all these people who didn’t have any technology – software hadn’t even been invented yet! – had to go, ‘right, so that’s what we’re doing now.’ And they just worked it out and they did it. Today there is just no way a government would say, ‘we’re going to spend whatever it takes to achieve this audacious goal for humanity’ and just do it. Which is a shame.
Where do you live and what do you like about it?
I live with my family near Manly on the northern beaches. I wander around in thongs and think it’s a very long way from where I was born in Cork, Ireland – there, if you don’t wear heavy boots, you get blown into the Atlantic! Like most northern beaches people I consider it to be God’s Country and if we had our way we’d put up the Spit Bridge on Friday night and lower it down again on Monday morning.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’d live here in Australia six months of the year, and the other six months I’d base myself in Ireland and go travelling around Europe. As much as I adore Australia it really is a very long way away from everywhere else.
What was the best holiday you’ve ever taken?
Last year we went to Paris en route to see my parents in Ireland, and it was so totally full on! Not the tranquil café, art and architecture scene from the movies AT ALL. We were there on Bastille Day and there was a full scale riot – tear gas, people running down the street, police sirens all day. The African Nations Championship (soccer) was on as well – not in France mind you, they were playing in Egypt – but every time Algeria or Morocco was playing you’d see people sitting on car roofs as they were driving down the Champs-Élysées, flying flags, screaming, blowing horns, getting chased by the gendarmerie – it was really something.
We did find some tranquillity by getting up early – nobody in Paris is out of bed before 9 it seems, so my daughter and I got up and rode Lime scooters all over Paris in the early morning and it was glorious, all that stunning Parisian scenery and just us there to enjoy it.
If you could wake up one day magically able to play any sport perfectly, which would you choose and why?
I used to play rugby when I was young and stupid enough to do that, and I loved it – the camaraderie of it and the fun. I’d need to grow another foot wide and high to do it now, plus grow some new cartilage, but that would be great to get back to. I think team sports are really important, I see my kids learning to back each other up, be a team, and show up even when you don’t feel like it so you’re not letting people down.