A Day in the Life: Link's Aaron Toresen

A Day in the Life: Link's Aaron Toresen

Established in Auckland in 1996, Link is New Zealand’s largest business brokerage and has grown rapidly to become the largest business brokerage firm in the world. Link currently has nearly 3000 businesses for sale in NZ and Australia with a combined value of $1.14 billion, and has sold over 600 businesses in the last year, with a combined value in excess of $300 million. In the last five years, LINK’s office locations have increased from 11 to 38, whilst broker numbers have increased from 72 to over 400. It now has offices in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, the Philippines and the United States (including the largest business brokerage office in California). Here's how managing director Aaron Toresen manages his time. 

What time do you wake up?  

What’s the ideal way to start your day? 
With a work out at the boxing gym.

Do you have any morning rituals?
Firstly, I check emails and then have a long black from my Nespresso machine. The day can’t start until I have one! 

How soon do you begin doing work-related things, i.e. checking phone or emails?
The second I wake up. Link has offices around the world so it’s important to hit any urgent items immediately. I have an office at home and everyday reply to emails and deal with overseas correspondence. I get to miss the worst of the traffic this way too.

What’s your media consumption or interaction like from the morning onwards – do you listen to podcasts, radio, watch videos, read books and magazines, visit news sites?
I check the news a couple of times a day and have feeds from BBC and CNN to make sure I don’t miss anything important happening off shore. My drive into work is over an hour every day so I have plenty of time to get the updates on the radio.

What kind of work do you do? 
I’m the CEO of the world’s largest business brokerage firm, Link. We facilitate the sale of privately owned businesses here in NZ and from our offices around the world.

What responsibility does that involve in a typical day? What takes up most of your time? 
A lot of my time is related to our growth management and our overseas operations. I spend a considerable amount of time looking at how we can do things better, discussing challenges and opportunities with our leaders and considering the best ways to grow our business and drive shareholder value.

Who do you see/talk to?
I have a management team that delivers amazing results, and 90% of my interactions are with them. I also work closely with my EA, who manages my time and priorities and keeps me on track!

What are your surroundings on a typical day?
I work from an open plan office like all of our team and am accessible at all times. We work very fluidly and with as little unnecessary bureaucracy as possible. 

Where do your best ideas come from? 
Usually from structured brainstorming or strategy sessions. The other times I have great ideas is after a glass or two of Pinot Noir.

I have little to no interest in repetitive or inane tasks with no obvious purpose. If it’s not a priority, it will probably not make it onto my radar, and if it does it won’t stay there long! If it’s business related I won’t procrastinate for the sake of it but will often take a long time to consider an opportunity or decision until I’m crystal clear on the right choice.

What are the most important tools or programmes you use for your work?  
Outlook – email has revolutionised communications for better and worse. When you have responsibility for a company, there is no ‘off’ button and the traditional concept of working a 50 or 60-hour week is no longer relevant. I am often working at home at 9 or 10 in the evening. Also Google. I couldn’t live without it. It’s like having the all knowing all seeing Oracle in the palm of your hand. Whether researching a competitor, completing background on a potential employee or getting the latest thinking and instruction on virtually any subject. It has been the most powerful development in the history of information sharing.

How do you juggle all your responsibilities? 
By keeping a good attitude, not sweating the little stuff, delegating to great people, staying focused on priorities, and not ever getting sucked into time sapping and energy wasting negativity.

Do you use social media?
I follow several interesting people on Twitter and Instagram and have a personal Facebook account as well as a business one. I don’t really generate much personal social media content but rather am a consumer! The business uses Facebook and LinkedIn extensively.

What kind of breaks do you take throughout the day?
Whenever they are needed from a concentration or energy point of view or to fit in eating, but there is really no structure to my breaks.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day? 
The morning is great for getting lots done before I get to the office. I run an open door policy, so I will spend at least an hour each morning at home getting priorities out of the way uninterrupted.

What about the least enjoyable?
Traffic. Living on 200 acres of land near Clevedon is a wonderful way to raise a family, but Auckland’s traffic reminds you everyday that it’s a compromise.

Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad? 
I have little to no interest in repetitive or inane tasks with no obvious purpose. If it’s not a priority, it will probably not make it onto my radar, and if it does it won’t stay there long! If it’s business related I won’t procrastinate for the sake of it but will often take a long time to consider an opportunity or decision until I’m crystal clear on the right choice.

Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how? 
Everything should be measured, and my focus is on growth and profitability. I have a responsibility to shareholders to deliver value creation and bottom line profitability and that is my benchmark.

Is there anything you think is unique about your day? 
Probably the fun we have in the office. We have tried really hard to create an environment where it’s normal to laugh, have fun and enjoy your experience at work.

What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day?
I speak to my kids everyday after school and often speak to my Dad and wife and other key people in my life. I think it’s way too easy to always say “I’m too busy”, and it can become a bad habit.

Can you be both a successful entrepreneur and a good mother/father/husband/wife? 
Definitely. I attend my kids school events, sports and other functions and make sure on my weekends that I focus on my family. Even if something important comes up, I don’t work until after my kids are in bed. I believe that the balance between family and business is very important for your well-being and productivity. With technology demanding that we are available 24 hours a day, it would be easy to never have time, so it simply has to be prioritised. Undoubtedly, there have been challenges as a father and as a husband, but it’s an area I choose to place great importance on and want to be the best I can be.

Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation? 
I have never really suffered from stress and have an attitude of gratitude and positivity. I smile more easily than frown. Even the greatest worry in the world tends to change with time and perspective.

Do you exercise? If so, what do you do?
Yes, I love my boxing and am at the gym three times a week including Friday sparring sessions, which are pretty full on.  I hate running, but do a couple of runs each week because it’s quick and effective.

What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off? 
Yes I switch off quite easily. I have a great deal of trust in the people I work with and that makes it a lot easier. I also have two amazing daughters and they are experts at readjusting your focus!

What time do you go to sleep? 
I really have no routine, and it can be anywhere from 9pm to 1am depending on what’s happening.

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