Every business needs a Pete!

I got to know Margaret Heffernan’s work when she wrote the introduction to my book (I Want What She’s Having) in 2007. She very kindly wrote the forward for me.

When I was alerted to her recent Ted Talk ‘Dare to Disagree’ I saw that, in the few weeks since it was posted, 250,000 people have thought it worth a look.

The basic premise of her talk is that respectful conflict is a good thing inside businesses. “If you love someone, argue with them,” she claims. Challenge them to greatness.

On listening to Margaret speak, it struck me how fortunate both RedBalloon and I am.

Pete Simson has worked with me at RedBalloon since the day dot. I have jested in my book and in speaking, ‘oh, did I mention he is an accountant.’ And we all have a giggle. But, quite frankly, without someone rigorously asking the questions, watching the finances, challenging processes, looking at the details, any great entrepreneur’s vision can come to a grinding and embarrassing end without such skills.

So whilst I have shared a boardroom table with Pete, I no longer share the dining table. Our personal lives have taken different paths – we remain good friends and co-parents of our ever-growing teenage children, but the thing that I am most grateful for is that we remain great co-directors. For RedBalloon we have a shared vision, shared values and are completely aligned in our pursuit of growth.

Pete is not the easiest person to work with; he asks very challenging questions not just of me, but all the leaders in the business.

In fact, the husband of our employee experience manager Megan commented: “Every business needs a Pete”. Someone who does not take things at face value, who sees the world differently and is very commercial.

I don’t know if you can manufacture this level of agitation. But what I do know is that you do not want a board table filled with yes people or people just like you. We all need someone to challenge us to be bigger than we know ourselves to be.

Naomi Simson is considered to be one of Australia’s Best Bosses. An employee engagement advocate, she practises what she preaches in her own fast growth business. RedBalloon was named as one of only 13 BRW Best Employers in Australia in 2012 for four years in a row with an engagement scorecard of over 90% in each of those years – the average in Australian businesses is 54%.

One of Australia’s outstanding entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a passionate speaker, a blogger and a published author, most recently publishing Five Thanks a Day. She has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded, RedBalloon.com.au including the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year – Industry.





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