3 business books that changed my life: Collis Ta’eed, co-founder and CEO of Envato

Collis Ta'eed POST

Collis Ta'eed


Establishing and successfully running a business takes a great deal of effort, and in the early years at least, doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else.

But Collis Ta’eed, co-founder (along with his wife Cyan) and CEO of Envato, which is one of the world’s most successful digital marketplaces and creative educational networks, firmly believes it’s important to devote some of that leftover time to learning from other entrepreneurs who have gone before you.

He credits reading these business books as being instrumental, at least in part, in his business success, and we’re delighted he’s chosen to share the three business books that changed his life with us.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pink
As Envato has grown over the years from a couple of people working from home, to an office stacked with people, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand how people work. Before Envato I’d only ever worked in very small businesses. So learning about people stuff has been one of the biggest learning curves I’ve had as an entrepreneur.

I originally came across Dan Pink through an amazing TED talk (are there any other kind?) he had given in 2009. So when one of my team handed me a copy of Drive, my curiosity was already piqued.

Pink’s main thesis is that businesses should pay attention to, and encourage basic motivators for people to succeed at their jobs such as the need to achieve mastery over their roles, to have work that has purpose and to be given as much autonomy as possible. These ideas are intuitive in many ways, but contrary to a lot of conventional thinking.

The book has been very influential for me, particularly as we’ve worked to create a great work culture at Envato.


Drive Dan Pink POST


Managing Humans by Michael Lopp
While Dan Pink covers some really big picture human motivation and management stuff, Michael Lopp’s humorous compilation of tales from managing software engineers is the practical nitty gritty, nuts and bolts of management. Covering topics like how to give “The Mandate”, Managementese, “Tell Assertive vs Ask Assertive” and “Saying No”, this is a book which is unapologetically truthful and realistic.

The book is based on Lopp’s experiences over two decades of Silicon Valley management in big teams, small teams, middle management and every permutation thereof you can think of. He has a great, easy to read style, and it’s been invaluable in navigating the rewarding yet occasionally treacherous waters of managing teams!


Managing Humans by Michael Lopp POST


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
A favourite author of mine has long been Malcolm Gladwell. Whether it’s his books or his New Yorker pieces, he never fails to leave you with something to think about. His book Outliers is no exception. The main takeaway for me in this book was the idea of the 10,000 hours rule. That is, that if you want to be great at something, by far the most important factor in your success is going to be practice.

I do believe that talent and ability are important. But plain old hard work is too often underrated in a quest for easy answers. My experience with starting and running a company has been that above all else, it’s been a hard slog. There was luck, there was timing, and there were lots of other things. But there has also been a lot of hours of hard work.

And whenever I have a poor day in the office, I always remind myself that I’m still short of my 10,000 hours of being CEO of a company the size of Envato!


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell POST


* If you think you’d like to write your own business book, why not enrol in our half-day seminar, How to write a business book?

The next seminar will be held on Friday 15 February 2013.

About Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is founder and national director of the Australian Writers' Centre, the country's leading centre for writing courses. She is a journalist, blogger and author. Her latest book is "Power Stories: The 8 stories you MUST tell to build an epic business" (Wiley). Valerie is a keynote speaker, small business commentator, and investor and mentor to startups and businesses in Australia.