This month marks a year since Ami Copeland became ICB CEO. In this latest blog, Ami reflects on things learnt along the way, and shares a killer family dinner recipe.
Most things worth doing are pretty scary.
I think a little bit of terror is a good indicator you're on the right path. There's never a right time and you'll never have all the answers - so, Do it. Now.
You’ve got to get your hands dirty.
Getting work done is really satisfying. If I spend too much time CEOing – with my head in spreadsheets, budgets and strategising, I can start to feel a bit untethered. I’m happiest when I’m actually working in the business, not just on the business. I’m sure many bookkeepers who run their own businesses can relate.
Just because everyone’s laughing at your jokes doesn’t mean you’re actually funny.
I once met Monica from Friends. She was gorgeous. Obviously. I surprised myself by giggling and fawning over her and then observed others doing the same. To an albeit lesser degree, I've noticed a similar sort of thing happening to me now I'm in the top job. People definitely agree with me too much and indulge my lame humour. On its own, I suppose this wouldn't be so concerning, except that it comes at a time when people expect me to talk a lot and always have the last word. All this means I have to consciously listen harder than ever and actively choose my words (and my jokes).
Being a CEO isn't so much about looking after a company as looking after a group of people, so they can look after the company.
Another way of saying this is, don't get a dog and bark yourself. I'm pretty sure that the most useful thing I've done over the past year is just getting out of people's way.
Employees, like kids, thrive when they feel safe, and when they know you believe in them. And, like kids, when they play nice together and do great work, they'll make you feel prouder than you ever felt about yourself, and all those sleepless nights will feel worthwhile.
Running a business and raising a family at the same time is hard
A few times last year I even declared it's IMPOSSIBLE to run a business and raise a family. Some parents make this look easy, while I make it look like an episode of Motherland. One empty-fridge day last year I made the kids what I called a 'banana burito' for dinner - (a banana wrapped in a tortilla) that they ate in front of the TV. Of course, they didn't see this as a Mum-Fail, they thought this was my finest work. Failure is in the eye of the beholder.
You are your most important direct-report
You can't manage your business or your people unless you can manage yourself. For me this means turning down meetings occasionally and grounding myself in routine. Unless I'm deliberate about what I'm trying to achieve with each day, I can all too easily get swept along on everyone else's mission and, before I know it, the day's done. Also, trees are good. I like to look at big things in nature and feel small. The sky and the ocean are also good here.
Being a CEO is a privilege
I often say to the team that at ICB we’re not selling T-Shirts we’re changing lives. This is a lofty way of saying how lucky we are to work in a purpose-driven organisation that helps people get the career of their dreams, be the best they can be and support business owners to do the same. I don’t take this purpose lightly, and recognise the enormous privilege of leading this organisation.