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Ryan McMillan from Atlas Digital
Ryan McMillan

#007 Leadership lessons for time poor founders, with author Tim Duggan

This week, we welcome our first Australian guest, Tim Duggan. Tim’s new book, Work Backwards, explores how anyone can take advantage of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink how and why we work. As an entrepreneur himself, and having interviewed dozens of fellow founders while researching his books, it was a privilege to hear firsthand Tim’s lessons on entrepreneurship, creativity, and work. We’ve bundled these lessons together, so you can use them now, or bank them for later.

Date Published:
Ryan McMillan from Atlas Digital
Ryan McMillan

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Tim Duggan has co-founded several digital media ventures, most notably Junkee Media, one of the leading independent publishers in Australia.

While on earn-out after he sold Junkee Media, Tim rediscovered writing. “I love taking these big, complicated topics and trying to make sense of them for other people.”

Cult Status, was awarded the Best Entrepreneurship and Small Business Book at the 2021 Australian Business Book Awards, and his second book on creativity, Killer Thinking, was named one of the Best Books of 2022 by Apple Books.


Fuel up on Tim's insights by watching the full interview.


In this week’s longform article, we’ve collated some of Tim’s key lessons from his years of writing about how entrepreneurs work, live, and grow.

Lesson 1 - Launch into a rising tide: Success often comes by aligning with movements larger than oneself.

Lesson 2 - Humanise B2B interactions: Treat B2B engagements with the same principles as B2C. Businesses, at their core, are collections of individual people. Embrace this human element to make meaningful connections

Lesson 3 - Chasing bigger isn’t always better: “I actually think that some businesses can build phenomenal businesses with a team that gets to a certain size and then it's just all about refining the business model in order to increase the margin or in order to impact more people, or in order to make it a great lifestyle for the people in the business and the founders of the business.”

Lesson 4 - Centre your customer: If I had to choose just one of the creativity exercises in Killer Thinking, I would choose a really simple exercise that I love to do at the start of every big meeting called Centering the User. The whole point of centering the user is making sure that the customer who we're trying to reach, who we're trying to have impact with, is at the centre of what we're thinking about.”

Lesson 6 - Dive headfirst into new technologies: “The only way to address technology when it is super innovative and has the ability to completely upend entire industries, is to dive headfirst into it.”

Lesson 7 - Seek out investors aligned with your values (and if you don’t know your values, uncover them using Tim’s MAP method): MAP stands for Meaning, Anchors, Priorities. Taking time to write these down in the context of your personal life, work life, and to make sure you're aligned with potential partners, like new hires, channel partners or investors.

Lesson 8 - Make small adjustments that will change your course over a long horizon: “The most important thing is just knowing where you want to get to, because then you can make a small tiny change in your life to get you there, that can be one inch closer than you were yesterday. And that is all that matters.”

Tim’s overall message - Dare to look within: Have the courage to turn inward and align your deepest motivations with your entrepreneurial journey.

Spot a disconnect? Tweak your course in a small but meaningful way.


Leadership Lessons Continued - 5 Years as a Founder

Time flies is certainly a cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’ve been a founder for five years now. 5 years simply floated by, with me realising that I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for five wonderful, challenging and mostly successful years. It’s been a great honour to start my own company.

I’ve compiled a few of my key reflections on being a founder over the past 5 years. I hope that the founders reading this that are yet to hit the 5 year mark can take lessons or inspiration from it, that the founders ahead of me can relate to my journey, and those who aren’t founders can enjoy the ride. Hey, you might even decide to start a company yourself.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  2. Outsized impacts
  3. Luck plays a big part
  4. You can do a heck of a lot more than you think
  5. Pay it forward and everyone is willing to help you

Read my full take here.

SaaS Spotlight: NZ Hi-Tech Awards

As always, SaaS companies were prominent at this year’s Hi-Tech awards.

More than 80 local and international judges contributed to the judging of the Hi-Tech Awards which continues to see a year-on-year increase in submissions with an increasingly high calibre to match. The achievement of the Tech sector is a pride that all of Aotearoa can share in.

“We’re witnessing an industry that is continuing exceptional growth as well as innovation.”

Entries for the 2025 awards open later this year and usually remain open until early March.

Starboard Maritime Intelligence won two awards
Tracksuit won Emerging Company of the Year

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