David Koch, Chairman of Pinstripe Media and Former Co-host of Sunrise Breakfast Show

In Episode 06 of the Work, its Personal Podcast, Athena Blue Global Director, Rowan Hamman caught up with David Koch, Chairman Pinstripe Media, Ausbiz streaming service, Port Adelaide Football Club, and recently retired Seven Network Sunrise co-host, Australia. David shares his insights about the importance of failure, the mark of a great leader and the best piece of business advice he ever received. Read the recap of this insightful conversation below and check out the full episode now.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role in all the different organisations you are involved in.

I’ve always been a finance nerd, finance journo, and I was doing finance reports for Sunrise. The host originally got sick, and they asked me to fill in for three months and that’s coming up to 20 years ago. So, it’s the longest filling job, I think in history. And it’s been terrific.

But my passion is small business and personal finance. That’s what I have been all my journalistic life. I’ve had my own family business in different ideations for 30 to 35 years. Now my children run the business and do it better than I did. I also invest in startups and the Osbi business and Investment streaming channel. I co-founded that two years ago. At the end of Sunrise every day I come to the offices, my business offices and work the rest of the day there.

I am also still involved in Port Adelaide Football. That’s my community job; President of the Port Adelaide AFL Club. Although I live in Sydney my dad used to play for them. I was born in Adelaide, grew up in Port Adelaide. At the end of 2012, the AFL asked me to be involved.. and we rebuilt the club and built a sustainable business model. It’s a wonderful club, 151 years old, one of the oldest professional sporting clubs in the world. It has an incredible heritage of connection with community, which is what I love the most.

You are the leader of your organisation. As you were coming through with your career, were there leaders that you looked up to?

My father was the best leader I’ve ever known. A lot of leadership is judged around success and that’s quite right. But for me, great leadership is success and balance…leaders who inspire and respect no matter who you are. I admire the ones that respect their employees no matter what position they’re in that can relate to them. Have a curiosity about what people do. For me, that’s the mark of a great leader and building great values. And there isn’t a huge amount of those around.

Every successful leader has gone to the brink and learned from it in my mind. Leaders I admire are the ones that built their own business, leaders who have gone up the ranks of massive institutions.

How would you describe your own personal leadership style?

It’s hard to describe your own leadership because like every leader you suffer from imposter syndrome. But I like to be inclusive. I like to be respectful to everyone no matter what they do. I’m not a details person, I’m more a big picture person. I like a leadership style that surrounds myself with detailed people and give them the responsibility.

“Great leadership is success and balance…leaders who inspire and respect no matter who you are.”

— David Koch

Where is the future heading for your organisation and the workplace that it has?

It depends on your industry. Some that say ‘everyone’s got to be remote working from home all the time’ are usually middle aged or old white males and females who have a study at home or a nice place to live. In talking on behalf of perhaps younger employees who are in a share house that would have to work out their bedroom, this model would drive them nuts.

In my organisation, we have greater flexibility now and it works well. We’ve learnt from the pandemic how everyone would like to approach remote working. We know to use Slack, Harvest and Asana – all the tools to be accountable and to communicate with each other.

However, we’re in the people business. We’re in the relationship business. You can’t replace the buzz of the office. We have an open plan so no one has an office. I love the buzz with people discussing problems, they yell out and everyone solves it together. So, but that’s our industry which is different to many others.

In terms of flexibility, I don’t think the pendulum will swing back. We all like building relationships and workplace environment. We socialise together in your own friendship group – that’s just how we operate. So, I think there’s a hybrid and flexible approach depending on your industry and your staff, what works best for you.

Thank you for your time, David. Before we wrap up, just leave us with some of the best piece of advice you have received in your career.

Best piece of advice I’ve ever received was from my father who always brought us kids up with a saying, ‘always have enough confidence in yourself to give anything a go, but then have enough confidence in yourself that if it doesn’t work out, go and do something else. And that’s basically around people are too scared to take up an opportunity for fear of failure, give it your best go. But if it doesn’t work out, then don’t be held hostage by it. You may have switched jobs because the grass is greener. It hasn’t turned out to be greener, but you think, oh, I can’t leave here now because it will be too hard to do something else. Or I’m a bit too scared. Don’t be scared. Always do something that you love. And I’ve always lived by that and hopefully my kids do as well.

Want to find out more? Listen to full episode here, where David shares more on his leadership style, his startups and more.

At Athena Blue Global, we help leaders shape best places to work for their people. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you define your future way of working or make sense of your workplace needs, please get in touch with us here.


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