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20 Questions with Tony Nash, Founder & CEO of Booktopia
Tony Nash is no stranger to the e-commerce game. As CEO and Founder of Booktopia, he might just know it all, but do you know much about him? We asked him 20 questions to find out more about the book mogul, what drives him and if he has any secret talents.
What do you enjoy most about the e-commerce industry?
It is a vibrant industry where people that have had little capital or industry experience have emerged to be category killers or leaders. In particular, when traditional retailers were doing nothing to meet the future demands of customers they conquered.
2. What was the last book you read?
I listen to books on the Booktopia Audio Book platform. The last one was Brene Brown’s Rising Strong. I am currently listening to Peter FitzSimon’s Breaker Morant.
3. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember standing in the kitchen when I was about 14 and I said to my Mum, “One day I want to be famous.” She replied with something that I never forget, “Oh, I couldn’t think of anything worse”. When I did Year 10 work experience it was at The Black Stump Restaurants in their accounting division where my uncle was the boss and then at Bonds where my Dad was a manager. I went to uni to study Accounting and failed in the first six months because I was mastering in Space Invaders and Snooker. I dropped out and became the mailboy at the NRMA.
4. How do you define success?
Looking in the rear vision mirror and noticing that whatever milestone you recently hit is long gone.
5. What is one thing that can instantly make your day better?
I am always in a pretty positive mood. Spending quality time with my family is always grounding and that makes me feel good. I love my newsfeed on LinkedIn. There are always inspiring stories on there. It’s better than reading the news.
6. What was the last thing you bought online?
Funny you should ask. My stepdaughter is about to turn 16 and I bought a Kobo eReader and cover from the Booktopia website.
a. Did you add express shipping?
No. Amazingly it was ordered well in advance. Most likely that was because I received some critical prodding from my wife.
7. What are three words that best describe you?
Positive, courageous, determined (when it comes to business, that is).
8. Do you have any secret talents?
A fabulous question! I discovered four years ago that I have ADHD. My wife could see that something was going on with my son (her stepson) and he was diagnosed and it made a huge difference when he went on medication. A few months later she suggested that I might have it too. I never knew that I have been living with it all my life. I now know that ADHD is a superpower. In my experience, you really do want you want to do and you hate doing what you don’t want to do. When it comes to business, sport, travel, etc I have been successful because of that obsession with whatever I am pursuing at that time. This has come at the cost of physical health, relationships and mental health.
9. Did you have a childhood hero?
Probably not one specific. It would have been an eclectic collection of heroes.
10. What is the best joke you’ve heard?
That’s impossible to answer the ‘best’ one… I like one of Seinfeld’s. If public speaking is the number one fear in the world and death is number two. That means at a funeral you would prefer to be in the casket than delivering the eulogy yourself. Other than a joke, isn’t it better to have an absolute belly laugh with a friend or family member and you are crying so much with laughter it hurts? That’s 1,000 times better than a joke.
11. What was your first job?
I was the trolley boy at Franklin’s in Chatswood. That was on Thursday nights and Saturdays. As I said my first full-time job was the mail boy at the NRMA. You remember movies from the ’80s. I was the guy with the trolley picking up those yellow envelopes around the office after someone typed out a letter, crossed out the name of the previous person and then put the new person’s name on it. If you think about it, I was the human email system of the early ’80s.
12. What has been the proudest moment in your career?
Pride to me is like being in a pitch-black room where you cannot even see the hand in front of your face. With every step you take, you know within your mind, body and soul that you are on track or off track. There is not one moment. The whole journey has been exquisite. Perhaps having the courage or the ignorance to start my own business back in 1996. That was my Big Bang.
Do you have a favourite item from Booktopia?
We list six million items on our site. A tough one. My Dad wrote a book, Escape From Berlin. It is his story about how he and my grandparents fled the Holocaust as refugees and ended up in Shanghai, finally coming to Australia in 1949.
14. Do you have a favourite author?
a. If so, why are they your favourite?
Brene Brown. She calls leaders to stand to attention and be accountable.
Fiction – To Kill A Mockingbird.
15. Have you picked up any new hobbies in lockdown?
Not really. But my wife and I have watched a lot of shows on Netflix, Stan and Foxtel!
16. What is your most used App on your phone?
The Booktopia eBook and Audio App.
17. What is your favourite part about your job?
Answering surveys… just joking. Leading our awesome and talented team. It’s so inspiring.
18. What’s your favourite ad on TV right now?
I skip ads.
19. How do you unwind after a long day?
Spending time talking with my wife. Actually, I do a lot of listening. 🙂
20. Looking at where you are now, did you expect to be in this position when you were 25?
No way. I decided to travel around the world for 3.5 years and I was midway through that. Then again Tim Berners-Lee invented the Internet when I was 26. So if you expected me to imagine the Internet before him… I probably would’ve invented Amazon.
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