How I Succeeded: IE’s John Chambers

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How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: John Chambers, IE.

Current gig: Managing Partner, IE. Deputy Chair, Smiling Mind. Founder and Director, Moorup Technology (circular economy startup for refurbished devices)

Current location: Melbourne

Current mobile device: iPhone 8

Current computer: Samsung Galaxy Boom 12, iPad Pro

One word that best describes how you work: Expansive

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

Goodnotes for iPad, Gmail, Keeper, Slack.

What social network do you find the most useful?

I struggle with utility in most, but LinkedIn helps me stay close to work colleagues and FB/IG with the family.

What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?

There have been a few versions of this.

In growing businesses at Telstra it was all about alignment to overall strategy, clarity of proposition and ensuring we invented the channel correctly. Everything really came down to 'Does the channel want to sell your product over other options available?'

For Fresh Ventures (my consultancy I sold to IE), relationships were everything to build business pipelines so it was a matter of being deeply curious about how companies were approaching innovation and growth and understanding what problems they had that we could uniquely help them solve.

At Moorup, a growing tech startup, we are working to maintain short term cashflow while building a globally relevant platform - bringing the right talent to the team with creative remuneration / reward structure has been pivotal, and we will need to do the same as we move into overseas markets.

Now at IE, a digital services business, growth comes from what we call Systematic Adaptability - staying ahead of what our customers need. 4 years ago we moved to full agile and design-thinking led - larger corporates are largely moving to that now. So we are adopting new innovation methods to stay ahead of the curve and ensure we are always providing new thinking and value.

What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?

I think the shift from corporate to startup/small consultancy. I had always wanted to back myself as an entrepreneur but felt caught in the corporate world of high salaries and privilege. To step away from this we all made choices and sacrifices in the short term - it has been easier and more exciting than I imagined, and I ended up being OK at this entrepreneurship thing.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

My superpower is seeing opportunity and bringing energy to it, connecting people and technology to go after it. Especially people. I have found that being genuine and kind means people want to work with you. That dynamic works in all environments.

What's your sleep routine like?

Much better these days. I usually do gym (love F45!) at 6am so I’m up at 5:45am. I aim for a minimum of 7 hours a night, and try to keep it the same on weekends. At the Space conference recently, Amantha Imber taught me about sleep debt - if you sleep later on weekends you mess up your rhythms and have to repay the debt on weekdays.

What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?

Hustle and Hack. Whatever business you are growing, find product/market fit for as little investment (yours or others) as possible. Too much money can make bad products worse. Be ruthless with yourself on this and find someone to be accountable to.


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