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7 Questions with David Tile
7 Questions with David Tile
Name: David Tile
Current title: Founder & Director
Current organisation: Nimble Media
David is a serial entrepreneur. He started his first small business online 10 years ago. And today it continues to grow with a team of 25.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Maintenance. Who are you? What do you do with your time? The more you grow, the more you need to be physically and mentally fit to take on the challenges that come with a growing company. The myth is that it gets easier as you grow. And while there is some truth to this if you have a smart team with good cash flows, the flip side is complex because the risks grow with each next level of your company. Dealing with the highs and lows is impossible if you aren't mentally and physically fit.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Half by accident, to be honest. I started a small auction website out of college that was DOA. Couldn't launch as we couldn't overcome technical challenges. Resigned to keep at it but needing some income, I started taking freelance writing jobs on the side. This market proved to be super interesting as I started to snowball clients from one-off into strong 6 figure annual revenue potential. It was no more than 2-3 more before I went from freelancing to pulling in $30-$40k / month in revenues from a couple big accounts.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I'm not great at this, to be honest. I know I have to accomplish a bunch of stuff each day. Meditate. Work out. Drink a smoothie (my fiance calls this my elixir - I just pack most of my daily nutrients in there so I don't feel guilty if I have a burger for dinner, haha). We have weekly meetings for marketing, sales, operations and accounts. And I have one on one meetings with each of our account executives each week. But otherwise I just go with the flow, addressing specific priorities on my to do list with the rest of my time.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Everybody is different. Especially in a service business where the team has to be working smoothly together. Raw talent is not the only indicator of successful integration.
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?
Rocket Fuel . Mark Winters breaks down that most successful firms have two key leaders, though mythology often develops around a single individual... The archetypes are labeled the 'visionary' and the 'integrator'. And the mythology often surrounds the visionary while ignoring the integrator. But the duo is the key.
Think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at Apple. Or Walt and Roy Disney at Disney. Henry Ford and James Couzens at Ford. and Ray Kroc and Fred Turner at McDonald’s.
The visionary is the interface between integrators (people / products / processes) and the market. They define the path and see all the angles. The integrator brings that to life. They are operationally focused. You could think of this duo as the introvert and the extrovert.
I look to reproduce this conceptual duo at all levels of my firm.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
This is an easy one. Give people the chance to lead. Mostly small businesses actually thrive on leadership. But the top brass are too afraid to give up control to others inside the firm, and the perfectionist slant hinders growth. Everyone makes mistakes and especially in hand off from founder to middle management, that can be a tricky game. But the only way to learn is through failure. Encourage your leaders to fail smart and you should have a winning formula.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
This is when push comes to shove for company leaders. Business and career is just a means to live your best life. And if the business isn't prepared to support its key people in the right way, it's not a healthy culture. And this was a key lesson for me >> you need to support your team beyond just motivating and coaching them to do their best work. You need to understand personal motivations and personal struggles. Participate as best you can in being a strong support for your team and they will be a strong team for the business.