Chris Phillips, CEO and Co-Founder of global investment company: Just Develop It
I’ve always believed you can be the best CEO in the world – but without the right people behind you, success can be hard to come by. One of the most important parts of my role is making sure everyone I work with feels encouraged, motivated and proud to be part of the team. Three key factors that stand out for me as a winning combination are trust in the talent around you, encouraging a bold mind-set and creating the right culture.
After dropping out of school at such an early age, I know that I don’t respond well to being controlled or overly disciplined, which is why I don’t believe in micro-managing. For me, I have good people around me who I trust completely and they will be able to make decisions if I can’t. They also know what we are looking for which is mainly about the people behind the business. You learn a lot from seeing the people who are behind the businesses and seeing if they are going to fit in with how we operate and if we would be able to trust them. That’s a big thing for me.
I believe my biggest strength is seeing the talent in other people and bringing them together to create magic, my job is to learn to trust them and then they take it from there. Technology is a huge driving force for this – I am constantly using Google Hangouts and Whatsapp Web to stay up-to-date with all of my employees and the various CEO’s of the brands we invest in, around the world.
In my opinion, British start-ups and employees in general can be perennially held back by their fear of failure. This can result in being content to tick over and plod along at a rate that keeps risk low, people’s need for control often encourages them to think about how small they can stay rather than how big they can get.
Rapid-growth is certainly not for the faint hearted, but it is something I personally have always been obsessed with; from saying yes to as many business opportunities as I can to investing as much money as I can, fast growth is my passion.
It’s important to me to encourage my colleagues to lose their fear of failure, everyone says no idea is a bad idea and my approach has always been that failure can be seen as a rite of passage – our failures have always led to rapid learning and greater long-term success.
At JDi we are about as far from corporate as it gets. We’ve always preferred shorts and flip-flops to suits and ties and that’s definitely a reflection of my attitude. I’ve always been very big on the ‘work-hard, play-hard’ motive, which I try to pass on to the employees as much as possible.
Employee benefits are important to me, I like to look after my work-family as best I can… for instance we like to ensure our team are well fed and ready to work, so we provide catered lunches every day, for free. We also provide full country club memberships, offer healthcare and have recently started investing in fitness apps.
Last year I went to visit Google and loved the layout of what they had for their employees – the open-plan layout meant you could see conversations happening everywhere. I can spend more time at work than I do at home, and wanted to bring this buzz and atmosphere to JDi.
We moved into our new offices earlier this summer and spared no expense when designing the building – it’s complete with glass office rooms for plenty of light, a small library, snooker table, ping pong tables and a basketball court. I want people to be proud of where they work, and most importantly, to enjoy where they work.