Akta: Ali Abdaal has a creative business that is projected to turn over 5 million this year. But how exactly has he scaled from making YouTube videos as a student to building a thriving business?
Angus: Don't be afraid to hire, but hire in a way which leverages your time most effectively. Work out where you're spending your time that isn't where you're most effective and hire in those positions first.
And for most YouTube creators, that's editing. For other creators it might be managing the business side of things, managing the finances. But I think that's one key bit of advice: don't be afraid to hire, but don't just hire randomly.Hire in a way that is effective, systematic, and strategic.
Akta: Angus is the CEO behind Ali's business.
He joined me to talk about what's moved the business forward, building a team, how to make key decisions to scale and mistakes the business has had to learn from.
Angus: It's quite diverse. One thing that Ali and I have always been quite keen on is to make sure that we're not completely dependent on YouTube, which is obviously the original foundation of the business.
So currently, obviously we've got, we kind of broadly split the team into and the business into two parts. We've got sort of the content side and the commercial side, uh, which is mainly sort of the courses at the moment. And the content side of things, um, we've got six or seven employees working across YouTube, podcast, social media, website, and the book.
And for the most part, the main revenue coming in on that side of things is AdSense on YouTube, but also sponsors and all told with sponsors and AdSense, um, that brings in between 1.5 and 2 million a year, um, across the content side of the business. I mean, on the commercial side, that's sort of where our courses lie.
Um, and PTYA, the parts of the academy. One of the main successes of the past few years, which should have kickstarted the growth of the whole business and allowed us to hire people, allowed us to expand. And that's something which we are, it's kind of a big driver of the business, essentially that counts for between, you know, 55% of the revenue at the moment.
Um, and we've recently changed from cohorts to, um, self paced version of the course, plus a kind of service based model and products as well. And yeah, as I said, that accounts for about 55 to 65%.
So between two and 3 million, depending on, um, how the rest of the year goes. So in total, we're projected to do between four to five million, probably near the five million mark and about 60 percent from commercial and 40 percent from content.
Um, but the general model is we're trying to sort of increase the commercial side of things to be able to fund the content so that we can produce as much sort of free stuff as possible. And then at the moment, the aim is to move more towards productivity. That's kind of what Ali's known for.
And he's got a book coming out at the end of this year, which is available for pre order now, but we, yeah, we're now thinking about how we can really lean into that because fundamentally Ali's more known for productivity than sort of helping people create YouTube channels, even though PTYA has been very successful, like on a broader level, he's much more well known for productivity.
So we're just trying to think about how we can effectively leverage that moving forward.
Akta: And I feel like Ali's channel and the business as a whole has grown significantly recently. So I know PTYA, but I feel like a lot of creators saw a drop off after COVID, but you guys have managed to keep the growth up.
What do you think has contributed to that?
Angus: Good question. Um, I think there's a couple of things. I think one thing is diversifying, as I mentioned before.
I think as well, we kind of decided to pivot away from cohorts just at the right moment, to be honest, um, potentially a bit too late. Um, we did eight cohorts in total and cohort six and cohort seven were definitely sort of our weakest cohorts. And I think that was coming out of the pandemic. Uh, we saw the reaction to that and that did lead us to make changes internally in terms of team structure and team size.
We kind of reduced the team down from, we were at 19 at one point. We moved back down to sort of 12, 13 people. And so we did restructure a bit. So I can't say we weren't hit at all by it, but we kind of pivoted at the right moment, I think, and really leant into the fact that cohort eight was the last cohort and ended up being our most successful one, because I think obviously, yeah, adding in the word last to a lot of things like this does tend to sort of initiate action on most people's parts.
So yeah, I think that was, that was one thing that helped us, but also then just looking towards the future as well, like with, with the book and how we can, you know, start to think about creating products in and around that. And with, I mean, fundamentally, I think one thing which, you know, a lot of people don't do is just like, it's just a consistency with, with YouTube.
And that's always been there, the beating heart of the company. It's the overall foundation of everything. And that's just never stopped. Um, and the, the biggest drop off we've ever had on my channel was like last month - when I say biggest drop off, it wasn't massive, but when I didn't film for six weeks and that's when kind of, we started to see it.
But I think one of the reasons we haven't seen anything up until that point is just because we had never missed a week without uploading for three or four years. I think that genuinely does, has helped kind of just keep things ticking along. And when you've got five, six, seven different sources of income, it means that when in any one month, if any of them aren't really performing, you're generally held up by the others.
Um, and so even last year, when we were technically sort of by the middle of last year, we were sort of producing less content, making less money, and our expenses were three times higher. We were still kind of doing relatively well because you know, the evergreen content on platforms like Skillshare and things like that will still bring in money.
And so that did allow us to kind of support ourselves through a period where, uh, we were sort of, you know, there was a couple of months where it was sort of more or less break even, but that was mainly because there were just a couple of expenses that were quite high, but yeah, no, we managed to get through it and, um, yeah, still, still growing.
Akta: And with so much going on within the business, how often do you guys as a team take a step back, see what's working, see what's not working, decide when to make these like key decisions, like changing the course or adding a new income stream? Like how, how does that work?
Angus: I mean, I meet every week with Ali, on a one to one basis.
And then every month we'll have like, probably like an afternoon. We did it earlier today, actually. Uh, where we just discuss what's going on kind of on a broader level, just him and I. But then the way we're working now as a team, um, which we've started to do since October last year is in five week sprints.
And that's actually really completely changed the way that we operate, um, as, as a business, as a team, um, both in terms of efficiency and in terms of culture. And so every six weeks we get together in person for a whole week and like to plan out the next five weeks. That doesn't just mean the next set of five weeks.
It also means thinking about, you know, what are the next big things to work on and what are the most needle moving things we can be doing over the next five weeks to, to move us towards those other bigger things that we might be deciding to work on. So for example, this sprint we'd started to work on, which is ending today, started to work on like the productivity products that I mentioned earlier.
It's like, what does that actually look like? And so it's a combination of the, in terms of planning, it's a combination of sort of Ali and I thinking about it on a, on a high level, but then also as a team getting together every six weeks and working out what are the next key things to be, to be working on.
And that's actually been a system that's worked very, very effectively for us. Um, and allowed us to move at such a pace. An example, like we were planning on launching the last cohort of PTOA in Q1 and using the whole of Q1 to sort of plan that. Um, but given our new sort of five week structure, we decided to try to get it launched by the end of January.
So we gave ourselves sort of four weeks as opposed to 12, and we ended up launching it in five weeks, at the start of February. Didn't quite hit the end of January, but we like giving ourselves that deadline that allowed us to sort of overcome the Parkinson's law effect, um, with sort of work expanding to fill the time, which I think we'd succumb to in the past.
So yeah, that's sort of how we managed to operate kind of quite quickly and also iterate on a lot of things and yeah, get stuff out the door quite quickly.
Akta: And so as CEO, how involved are you in everything? Like, do you focus more on the business side or are you also involved in like, you know, the content side of things? What does your day to day kind of look like?
Angus: Yeah, it's an interesting question. Um, Ali wants me to be less involved in the business in the day to day operations. I think that's one of the things I need to kind of get used to as I transition into this new role.
So, like, we don't really do titles here, but like, essentially kind of just helping keep the trains running. There is a lot of involvement. We were looking yesterday actually at sort of my Slack messages, and Slack have like analytics on their admin page. And I was just looking at that. I've sent nearly a hundred thousand messages over the last like three years.
I'm clearly kind of far too involved in just making sure everyone's kind of on track and helping unblock people and things. Um, but yeah, so essentially, um, I kind of am currently overseeing everyone, so I manage 10 people. They say usually like six, seven people is the max that people can manage.
And I appreciate that. I think one of the fortunate things that I have, and in terms of the people that I manage is that everyone's been here for over a year, um, at least. And so there isn't any need to sort of handhold people. They know what they're doing. Everyone's quite sort of autonomous and therefore they get on with their stuff without needing too much direction.
So there's a, there's sort of management of that and just overseeing everything and making sure people know what they're doing, have clarity on their goals. And also just checking in on like, you know, if there are any blockers, any obstacles on a day to day basis, making sure those are unblocked. And then the other main thing that I'm kind of responsible for as well, we don't have a CFO or anything, obviously we have accounts and some things, but it means I've got to sort of look after the finances as well.
And so overseeing all of those requires a degree of, you know, hours every week, just making sure that everything's on track, but also like educating myself on it. Cause I didn't take an accounting degree. Like I'm, I'm reasonable with numbers, pretty good at math at school, but two years ago, I'd never heard of a PnL.
I didn't know how to read one. Um, so it's that aspect as well, which I need to keep across. And then obviously the high level stuff as well, which has been the past been very much in conversation with Ali.
The role is keeping everything running as well as I guess the other part of it is dealing with, with third parties and being the external kind of face of the company as well, especially in terms of partnerships and sponsorships and things like that, which I'm also currently overseeing, but hoping to hand that off to someone because that does take a lot of time as well.
Akta: Yeah, I think that's crazy that you started off writing scripts, doing research to like doing all of this. That's crazy. What's one thing that you've learned about hiring and managing a team that has really changed the business?
Angus: One thing I've learned about... I'll tell you this is two different things. So like hiring, one thing I learned about hiring is CVs and cover letters are more or less pointless.
Um, when we're hiring now, like we sometimes ask for CVs and never really ask for cover letters anymore. One thing that's kind of really changed, changed it for us is like actually asking for Looms and getting people to actually record one, two minute Looms, not necessarily answering standard questions, but more just sort of sometimes giving an introduction to themselves and keeping it brief
That kind of thing, like that gives a far better insight into who someone is and what they're kind of passionate about and whether there'd be a good cultural fit.
Obviously there's a degree to which stuff on CVs can help in terms of giving a bit more knowledge about their experience and that sort of thing. But yeah, getting to record a Loom and also getting to add references and actually contacting those references is a lot more effective than getting people to submit CVs and stuff like that.
So for hiring, that would be one thing. Managing is an interesting one. Um, I've learned so much and I've read so many very, very good books on management, but I think one of the key lessons, which it sounds so obvious when you say it, but like actually until you've kind of managed to select a selection of people, you don't really realize it: Everyone is different.
I know that's like a really sort of obvious thing to say, but you say the same, but the same bit of feedback to two different people in the same way. And you'll get two different responses. Like you need to sort of cater everything to every single person's individual best interests.
And I don't think I properly realized that until I started managing different people. And now I know that if I give a bit of feedback in a certain way to somebody, it will be received completely differently if I gave it in the same tone to someone else and I know what tone somebody needs like this person needs over here to get them going and motivate them as opposed to over here where I actually need to just take a softer approach to get the same out.
I was like, Oh God, yeah, actually people are different. I need to speak to them differently.
Um, so yeah, those are probably the two, the two main things, I think. I feel like that makes a lot of sense.
Akta: Even though I don't really manage people, just communicating with people in general, I feel like that's like it applies there as well.
So when it comes to hiring, how do you guys figure out, you know, what you need and whether you'll employ someone or find a contractor, like how do you actually go about that process of hiring?
Angus: Yeah, this has changed a lot over the last like couple of years to be honest and it's actually something which is constantly under review slash we're iterating on.
In fact, earlier this afternoon, one of the things that I was talking about was, you know, the hiring process and whether we should sort of, because we've been through a phase over the past six months where we've been very sort of relatively firm on like not hiring anyone full time, mainly because we didn't really want to expand the team any further.
And we were keen to just sort of keep the team as a core group of sort of 13 plus alley and then have sort of contractors and freelancers helping on a per project basis. And that was sort of a season of the company where we weren't doing that, where we weren't hiring full time. And now I think we're moving more into a season where we probably will be hiring full time.
And the basic kind of criteria for that is sort of: Do we think this is an ongoing capacity issue that we will need support for on an ongoing basis beyond three months? Essentially, like if it's something that's sort of relatively short term, that might just need a sort of certain gap, or we're not actually sure whether we'll need someone for that long.
And we'll probably still hire freelancers and do it on a per project basis. But if we need something that's going to be longer than three months, we would look to sort of hire someone full time. Potentially part time but like part time on a sort of 30 hour a week basis rather than sort of 10 or 20. So it's kind of that that was the sort of philosophy moving forward in the past.
We have sort of, we made the mistake in 2021 of hiring far too quickly, um, and hiring full timers far too quickly. And we expanded to. You know, 18, 19 people, which then led to all the complications around, um, things slowing down lines of communication, which just leads to inefficiencies and that kind of thing.
It's a whole different ball game. And we realized then that actually we did think, think harder around, like if we want to, if we have a gap in the business and we have a spare seat in the business that we need to fill, is that actually a seat that needs to be filled one for more than three months, but two, like every single day.
And those are kind of the questions that we didn't necessarily ask ourselves about this time, two years ago, when we went on our hiring spree and that kind of ended up backfiring for us when we had to get rid of some people like last year. Um, not for any fault of theirs, just because it was just simply a case of we had to restructure the company.
Akta: And what about how much you pay? So even like the salary or the freelance rates, like how do you decide that? Especially when you've, you know, maybe not hired for that role before.
Angus: Yeah. So, um, it really does. It's partly informed by market rates and getting input from people who have hired for that role and just getting an idea of that.
It is sometimes quite difficult to really assess what is correct. And I, to be honest, I don't think that ever is like a correct answer. I think you can definitely kind of be wrong and underpay. Like, I think there's probably a wrong answer, but like the actual correct answer of what is the right amount to pay, I think it somewhat varies depending on location, like length of employment, like deliverables and things like that.
So it really does vary for people who are hired full time. Um, like our core team at the moment, we have a system where we have everyone on the same salary. If you've been here for longer than a year. So for everyone, anyone who's full time, who’s been here less than a year is in one band.
Anyone who's been here for more than a year is on a second band and everyone's on the same thing. And we have just a flat rate like that. We didn't have that up until like about this time last year, but we decided to implement that. And since then that's had a really positive effect on the culture. I have to say, like everyone knows that they're kind of all getting paid.
That's the same, which is a good compensation. And we have noticed a significant shift in sort of like just the culture since like September, October last year, in terms of how people kind of behave towards each other. And that kind of thing, which has been really, really positive.
Um, and then in terms of contractors and freelancers, again, it's partly a case of sort of iteration and working out what actually works best, but also making sure that we are appropriately compensating freelancers. Like we don't, it's not, it's not just a race to the bottom for us, like at all.
We want to make sure that we're kind of getting value for money, but at the same time, we reward our freelancers, um, and make sure that they are, they feel like they're part of the team as well.
So yeah, it really does vary. It's not really something which I can have a specific answer to, but yeah, it kind of does. There's just so many factors that go into it, really.
Akta: I'm actually really intrigued by this, like, flat rate salary, because I've never really heard of that before. What was the motivating factor to change it to that kind of model?
Angus: Yeah, I think one of the reasons was because we had got ourselves into a position where we did have multiple different salary bands and we had sort of five or six people on different rates and it’s one of the things that we just thought after downsizing the team slightly and getting down to the 12.
We wanted to create a culture that was more inclusive, not that it wasn't inclusive before, but like everyone around the same table, everyone feeling like they were part of one, one team. And given that everyone's responsibilities were quite similar, um, obviously everyone has different roles and different jobs and contributes to the business in different ways.
But we, one of our core values is like being a team player and again, sounds quite obvious, but ultimately for us, it's a really, really important part of being part of our team is hopping into help with someone else's work. If they need support, getting involved with other areas of the business, if it happens to be, um, you know, on fire or whatever, like there's, there's various different things that we want to sort of encourage within our team members.
And that led us to thinking around, you know, how can we actually make this a place where everyone feels like they are working towards the same aim and on the same level and don't feel like they're in any way sort of either high above or below anyone else in the team based on pay?
Um, and even if we had a flat strike, I think the mistake sometimes that's made is like when companies adopt flat structures, there's still not a flat structure in pay. And I think that's one of the issues that flat structures often fail is because there's still a degree of hierarchy.
And so at the moment we've taken the approach of, I'm not saying it will continue forever, but certainly for now it's very, it's very effective for us. It's like, it's a completely flat structure, at least for like the core, you know, team members of, of 12 or 13.
And as a result of that, as I said, the pay is exactly the same as well. And we also have our bonus system. It's a, um, collective profit share - a certain percentage above like the operating profit at the end of the year gets divvied out equally amongst all 13 employees on a pro rata basis.
So everyone gets the same bonus as well. And that just kind of, it's, it's all moving towards this sort of all trying to encourage, you know, this team effort and making sure we're all pulling in the same direction. And if anyone, not that this has happened so far, but if anyone, if I kind of got the impression that anyone was either free riding or had any objection to that, then it would probably be like, this wouldn't be a good fit for the team, essentially.
Like it's, it's not something that we would want to sort of tolerate necessarily. And so everyone knows that that's the vibe and that's the culture. And that's what we want to kind of move towards and having that flat structure and the flat pay, it's just a really good way of doing that.
As I said, it's not something that we won't like to revisit, um, in the future, especially if we end up expanding further, then there's a degree to which, and a point at which this, uh, approach breaks naturally.
Because, you know, at some point there's gonna need to be more management and more layers and hierarchies introduced, which we wanna kind of hold off as long as we can on that.
But when that happens, then there will be a need to discuss pay again. But for now, it's actually something which yeah, has worked really well. And as I said, like there, I don't think the culture's been as good as it has been for the past six months, like ever in the past three years. So it definitely had a positive effect on team cohesiveness, um, and overall kind of company vibes.
Akta: Yeah, I love that. I love that team is such a core of your business. I mean, I'm surprised at how big the team is even still, even though you've kind of cut it down a little bit, but with so many people wearing so many different hats and so many different moving parts of the business, and you're all happy to kind of like chip in here and there with each other when you're falling behind, how do you make sure that everyone, you know, stays on the same page and everyone's kind of focused on that same vision and core values?
Angus: Yeah, so, um, part of it is the sprints that I talked about and actually getting together every six weeks in person for a whole week. And as part of that, we really kind of go deep on and reiterate the values, the vision, the mission of the company, and then really dive into what we're working on over the next five weeks.
And as part of that five week cycle, every sort of Friday people need to give an update on where they're at with their quest and, you know, give an update in Notion and we, we track everything in, in Notion kind of quite in a lot of detail, um, which does provide not only accountability for people, but also clarity and visibility for Ali and I, and it's when we don't have clarity where we start to sort of get worried and concerned about something.
And that does allow us to maintain that, because everyone can see publicly where everyone's at with different projects and that kind of thing, which is a really, really good way of, as I said, encouraging accountability, um, but also, you know, getting performance as well from people because they can see what they're doing and how it contributes towards the overall objectives of the team.
I mean, what I explained is the main thing really. Um, and then we also have a very, very detailed scorecard that people manually update. We probably could automate it.
It’s updated every Monday. So it's like there's regular touch points on a given week and these are kind of business as usual activities, but they're kind of, and although people get used to doing them, they still are those touch points that allow us to sort of keep focused on what we want to do and keep reminding people of the general kind of direction that we're trying to have, the targets that we're trying to get to.
We do have goals, we do have targets, but they're very much directional rather than necessarily the sort of targets that we must hit. And if we don't hit it, you know, the world's not going to end. We don't really have to take that approach to it. It's very much, this is what we want to get to. And these are the kinds of metrics that we need to hit.
And, you know. Let's use them as guiding, guiding pointers kind of thing to, to get there. But yeah, over the past sort of probably six to eight months, we've definitely taken sort of OKRs more seriously, and that's definitely helped give us more direction on what we're doing and making sure that everything kind of rolls up into the overall objectives for the, for the company, which up until that point, I think we had definitely sort of drifted to a certain extent on the whims of what Ali wanted to do, uh, which often weren't, uh, consistent, uh, and would change, um, based on the day, the week, the month.
Sincewe sort of implemented, uh, a stronger system of sort of objectives, key results, and then those sort of fold down into the projects for each sprint, which we call quests like internally, but it's basically just the projects that people work on every single sprint.
Now we've got that kind of three tiered system that's really helped sort of align everyone and make sure that we're moving in the right direction ultimately towards the vision of what we have for the company.
Akta: So what are those metrics? What are the things that you're measuring?
Angus: You know, to measure the growth of the company I mean, there's five key metrics: new followers, net new email subscribers and operating profit, book sales, and customer satisfaction. And then a kind of internal team happiness as well.
Um, because we recognize that actually it's all well and good measuring the external metrics and that kind of thing, but if we're not actually keeping track of how the internal team are doing, then we could be sort of just blindly walking into a number of issues. And so we have an internal metric of happiness, how people are doing every, every week we have, we send out a survey. We use information in Slack, which just allows us to keep a pulse on how people are doing.
And I think that's just probably something that's missed by a lot of companies and they might review them every course or whatever, but we do it every week. Um, and in fact, we have a daily kind of automation on Slack, which is just how, how are you doing? And you react with a green, amber or red kind of circle.
And that alone gives us a good insight as to just if there's anyone having any particular issues on any particular day. And that's also helping us just keep us aligned basically. So yeah, those are kind of the five key metrics, but beyond that, like our scorecard has about 10 different metrics per department.
So YouTube, Ali’s deep dive podcast, different social media platforms. So we track everything, but those are kind of the key, the five key ones, because ultimately for us, our email list is our most important asset and the kind of new follower gain and kind of net views over all the platforms. Those are the kind of the two content key metrics that we need to track.
They kind of lead down into the new email subscribers and then the operating profit and then sort of customer satisfaction is sort of product delivery. And as long as those are all fairly, um, you know pop green, uh, or in any, any other way green would be represented by, you know, customer satisfaction kind of thing.
As long as they're all positive, then we, uh, we know the company's going in the right direction. If any of them start to turn negative, then we know there's going to be issues and we dig deeper.
Akta: I feel like, especially with things like subscriber growth, does that not ebb and flow?
So how do you know when to look into it?
Angus: Yeah, it's more based on trends, really. Like if we see there's a trend for like two or three weeks of negative subscriber growth or not negative, but you know, slowed growth or plateauing or that kind of thing. It's then that we kind of look into it.
Same with views because subscribers, we've gone back and forth on whether views or subscribers are more important, um, or subscribers slash followers, whatever. Um, because ultimately subscribers are a bit of a vanity metric, but the way that sort of we have broken it down now is like a view is someone paying you with their time subscriber is someone paying you with their like, click of the button and email is someone paying you with their data, i.e. they're giving you their email, you know, phone number or whatever it might be in that particular kind of email capture page.
And then the operating profit is obviously people paying you with money. And then the final one, customer satisfaction is just more like how you deliver on that.
So that's not really related to that, but like that kind of flow of how people are paying us with either time or kind of effort in terms of like subscribing, that's like another effort beyond just paying, just watching your video. Those are kind of the key indicators for as people move along the, the whole sort of, uh, the flow of the process.
And so they do give us an indication, but we do, we also obviously recognize that, especially on the upper end of that, like content does ebb and flow. Um, and so it is important to make sure that we're not making drastic, taking drastic action because one week we happen to be down 50 percent on followers.
It's like, if we were down two weeks in a row like that, then we'd probably think about taking action. But if it's just like one week, then no. It's all about taking a bit of a more holistic picture, but we still are tracking everything week by week just to make sure that we don't miss anything.
Akta: I like the approach. I like how you think about it more than just like attention and views and actually think about it in a deeper way. Has the business ever made any mistakes that were really important to learn from, that have changed the trajectory of the business?
Angus: Yes, definitely. Um, the overhiring spree that I mentioned like two years ago was probably the biggest mistake we've made.
And essentially that came out of, as we were growing in 2021, we were four people at the start of 2021. We went to 19 by the end as we were growing through sort of six to seven to eight in the sort of spring/ summer of that year.
We were starting to move the business more from like a scrappy startup towards like a business and trying to implement basically business principles onto what we were doing.
And that meant going from not making it up as we go along, but you know, actually trying to get through the days and produce videos and, you know, create cohorts and that kind of thing to how can we create a structured business out of this?
And when we started to think about all org design and, uh, how that would look. It was then that we were like: Oh, you know, Angus is sitting in 10 seats.
Therefore we need to hire nine different people. Um, and the mistake we made , especially of a company this size and any, and any startup, it's like, it's kind of fine. If people are sitting in three or four, even five seats, it depends on what they are to be fair. Like if it's a really specialized seat and it's lots of work, then maybe one is enough, but like generally two, three, four seats, it's kind of fine.
And I think the mistake we made was like, we need to hire for every single role. So everyone is only in one seat and actually that wasn't necessary. And we also added in seats there that probably also weren't necessary.
Like for example, getting a full time videographer, um, obviously the person we got was great, but actually thinking about it, we probably didn't need someone full time every single day doing videography, like one day a week may have been fine.
But I think we were thinking too much in terms of, you know, filling out that old chart and creating a business and not actually having a good idea of where we were going. And I think coupled with that was the fact that up until six, eight months ago, as I mentioned, we weren't really taking OKRs seriously.
We weren't really taking metrics seriously. I'd always had a bit of a, not an aversion to using metrics at all, but certainly aversion to sort of necessarily using them to sort of assess performance, even though that's very, you know, standard. Um, I think Ali was wary of becoming too corporate about things.
And I think that led us to potentially delaying things like really getting stringent on metrics and really going hard on OKRs, uh, for longer than we should have done. Um, and now we've done it with a lot of clarity here and we still, we've still taken it in a way, which. allows us to maintain that sort of startup vibe and veer away from being too corporate.
But I think we've taken the lessons that actually are useful for us and incorporated those into how we work as a business, which has been really useful for us and helped us to get clarity. Um, and as I said, probably be more efficient and effective than we ever have been. Um, with a team that's still sizable, but it's smaller than we once were.
Um, and I feel like we're getting more done than we've been able to with a team of sort of 19 people given our position like two years ago.
Akta: Yeah, definitely. I feel like you guys are definitely in a good place with where you are, both in terms of business, content and everything that's going on at the team.
I'm going to end with a quick fire round now. So I ask every creator that comes on air five questions. I'm going to modify them a little bit just because I don't know whether to call you a creator or not. I feel like you're more on the business side. So I'm going to modify them a little bit.
So what's your favorite thing about working in the creative economy?
Angus: Um, the fact it's never, ever felt like a job.
Akta: Oh, I like that. And what's one piece of advice that has changed the way that you are as a manager or CEO?
Angus: Uh, yeah. Okay. There, there is, there is one thing that sticks out. So in the, um, there's a book called Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. And in there she talks about, um, obviously multipliers, but also the opposite multipliers, which is a diminisher, um, but also acts how you can easily become an accidental diminisher.
And there's like seven different categories for that. Some of which include, like, a rescuer. And I identify quite strongly with this, because I do tend to sort of, you know, jump in when I'm not needed and, you know, not let people get on with certain stuff and that kind of thing.
And so I think probably that concept of the accidental diminisher and thinking about how I might be inadvertently doing that with some of my practices as a manager definitely changed how I approached managing certain people.
And I think the other bit of advice, which is less advice from anyone in particular, but more something which I've heard from multiple people is what I talked about earlier in terms of treating everyone in a unique way and making sure that you adopt different approaches for different people depending on their personality and how they work best and making sure that you are getting the most out of them by identifying their like unique native geniuses.
Akta: And what's one tool that either helps you the most or helps the team in general that you just couldn't live without?
Angus: Slack. I mean I use it all the time. Slack, Slack and Slack: that's essentially our tech stack as a team.
Akta: And what's something that helps with your work life balance?
Angus: What's something that helps my work life balance? In terms of a tool or just in general?
Akta: Just in general. If it doesn't have to be too related to work.
Angus: One thing that I definitely find helpful in terms of just general energy levels and that kind of thing is, and I'm going to be one of those, those people, but like, waking up early is a massive unlock for me.
I've always done it since I was really, really young. I've never, not, not woken up early, but that for me, maintains my energy and allows me to have that time before work every single day where I'm not actually thinking about work.
It's probably the only time where I'm not. And yeah, that's just been a massive kind of, uh, it is kind of a, a sacred time for me in the morning.
Like I need to wake up early, otherwise I will be miserable for the whole day.
Akta: I like that. And what's one piece of advice that you'd give to other creators who want to scale their business?
Good question. Um, don't be afraid to hire, but hire in a way which leverages your time most effectively. Work out where you're spending your time that isn't where you're most effective and hire in those positions first.
Um, and for most YouTube creators, that's editing. For other creators, it might be managing the business side of things, managing the finances, but I think that one key bit of advice is don't be afraid to hire, but don't just randomly hire in a way that is effective, systematic, and strategic.
Akta: That's great advice. Thank you so much, Angus. This has been such an amazing conversation. I feel like we've got such a good behind the scenes of what a creative business is like, and I really appreciate it.
Angus: No worries at all. Thank you for having me.
Akta: If you're a creator working with sponsors, check out Passionfroot. We help you to streamline your entire workflow. I'll see you in the next one.