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7 Questions with Andy Andrija Colak
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7 Questions with Andy Andrija Colak
Name: Andy Andrija Colak
Current title: CEO
Current organisation: Surf'n'Fries
An entrepreneur for more than 18 years. Started first company in college, made exit 5 years later by selling to a multinational corporation. Pioneer of franchising in Croatia, co-founder of Surf'n'Fries brand that grows globally in more than 20 countries. Co-founder of a few other projects such as PortHop - Berth Booking app, KISHA - smart umbrella, etc. Passionate sailor, music lover.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Depending on the growth stage of the company and my experience/age. I would say challenges are dynamic and stand static. But if I would pick one it would be to learn how to say "No" and to be patient when wanting to grow.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Well, I build all my business from scratch basically. Thus, I never had an opportunity to take a CEO role of an existing developed company. My path was always building from the ground up and for the most part, being the first employee of the company. With Surf'n'Fries it was a very simple idea..."Let's reinvent fries" and build the number one fries brand in the world.". Thus, you start from building the concept, opening the first store, frying the fries yourself, next you are managing an international franchise chain.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up earlier, check emails, messages etc. Sometimes I have a call at 5 AM because of different time zones. Then take care of family chores like taking my daughter to school, getting to the office and starting to work on different things, mostly emails and calls. I try not to work later than 5 PM and spend time with my family. But I am always available again because of the different time zones we operate in. Also, pre-Covid there was a lot of traveling, for example in 2019 I had more than 60 flights.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
"Don't step into solutions too quickly." I was always extremely fast with making decisions or coming up with solutions. But when operations become large or if you are in an uncharted area it is wise to stop and listen to others involved in the process and then hit the sweet spot when providing a solution. Obviously not to wait for too long and stall and process.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
... I would say Jack Welch's "Straight from the gut" autobiography. I loved the story of him and his team running GE, a truly huge enterprise, as they were running a small business. I also loved small details while looking forward to having their small bag of peanuts when flying with a corporate jet :-)
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Same as in anything else, it can be sports or whatever you can think of. You need to take it step by step, overdoing it will break you, not challenging yourself enough will not give you enough strength and skill to overcome the next challenge. Furthermore, educating yourself constantly is very important, giving yourself enough time to adapt to the new complexity, and being a part of the process 24-7 basically being synchronized with the company growth, then all challenges come naturally.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
Coming from a very small country, growing up in a war zone, and building a business from scratch to an international level actually proves that there is so much more potential in the world. Becoming "large" is a matter of perspective, but also the biggest obstacle for the most is just mental barrier, nothing else.