Mr & Mr: From lucky pants to hamster jam, find out how the co-founders of On The Tools succeed in both business and friendship

Mr & Mrs, there for one another and together forever. Or should that be Mr & Mr? We sat down Lee Wilcox, CEO of On The Tools, and fellow co-founder and Creative Director, Adam Barrie, to see how well they thought they knew each other, as well as delving in to what it’s really like to work and build a business with your best mate. Read more for some pearls of wisdom in work ethic, friendship and a taste of what it’s like to be part of the construction marketing giant, On The Tools, which now boasts over 2.5 million followers. To watch the full video click here.

Lee, Adam. You started the business together, back in 2014 famously over two bottles of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. Having known each other for so long, who do you think is the better leader between you both?

Answer: They both answer Adam

A: Lee leads me, to lead everyone else. I think I need to be the better leader!

L: Yeah I agree. I would say Adam is better at leading multiple people… I’m better at leading the few!

A: And you’re better at making me the leading I am.

L: Oh, that’s nice.

A: It’s true!

Off to a good start! Do you have a relationship outside of work?

Answer: They both answer yes

L: Yeah we do. We’ve been best mates since we were kids, and that’s how we started the business – also while drunk!

A: Yeah, I used to go on holiday with Lee’s parents when we were children, and he used to come on holiday with my parents as well.

L: One holiday we each had a pair of lucky pants, ‘cause we won the bingo twice. Mine were purple Simpsons ones.

A: I don’t remember what mine were… I think they were Aladdin.

L: Aladdin?!

Who is better at communicating?

Answer: Adam: Lee, Lee: Adam – later changed to Lee.

A: I think Lee is more aware of how the communication should work with the business than I am.

L: Yeah I’ve changed my mind actually, I agree! [Lee changes to himself].

A: I don’t tend to think things through about how something should be communicated, only after. Whereas you are more proactive about thinking things through beforehand, ‘how can we communicate this to everyone else?’

Who is the better decision maker?

Answer: Adam: Adam, Lee: Lee

L: I think I’m the better decision maker just because I have to make more of them. I don’t know – I guess because I don’t have to go to you for many decisions where you’ll come the other way round but that’s not a skillset that’s just the structure!

A: Yes, it is. I think I’m quicker to make decisions – which can be more risky.

L: Yeah I maybe do procrastinate on some decision making.

A: It’s a difficult question really because I think I make decisions quicker but that’s not necessarily a good thing because I don’t always give these things as much detail as they should.

What is your biggest achievement together?

L: Winning bingo twice on holiday?

A: Yes that’s definitely the first. I would say maintaining our relationship while running and growing a business, is probably the biggest achievement. A lot of people said, ‘don’t go into business with your friend, it will never work’, and they were wrong, so.

L: Yeah. Yeah, I like that.

A: Which is actually really fun to do.

L: Yeah.

A: It’s cause I know my place.

L: He does!

Could you give each other some critical feedback?

A: I think you take too long to make decisions!

L: Well I think you’re reckless at decision making!

A: Oh I’ve got one – I think when it comes to work, you’re fully focused and really on top of things, but when it comes to looking after yourself from a personal health, body and mind point of view, if you were to show that a bit more attention then overall you’d probably be a better person.

L: Wow. A better person.

Do you partners think that you spend too much time together?

A: Not so much anymore. There was a period of time where we were doing like, 16+ hour days, and we were spending 6 in the morning ‘til 12 at night together.

L: We had some good microwaves meals then didn’t we.

A: We did!

L: Yeah, but not anymore cause I think that Adam’s got a good balance now. We don’t tend to do as much outside of work at the minute, but that’s cause I don’t really do, anything, at the minute. You’ve got a far better balance.

Who is the most likely to come up with a crazy business idea?

Answer: Adam (both)

L: Because it doesn’t matter what it is, Adam thinks you can make money from it! But the thing is we come up with a lot of them together, but you are the instigator of it. And then we build on top of it. Like, you’ve got hamster jam.

A: Yep, hamster jam!

L: Jam made by the feet of hamsters.

A: So the fruits would be crushed by the feet of hamsters. Hamster jam.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to go in to business with a friend?

A: I would advise people to have self-awareness – that’s the main thing. I think the reason this [indicating to himself and Lee] works so well is that there was never a struggle for power. IT was never a struggle for two people to want to be in charge of a company. I never wanted to be in charge because I didn’t have the same abilities Lee has to be in charge. Even now, it would scare the hell out of me!

L: Yeah, I. think the other thing as well would be, because we know each other so well, you’ve got to be aligned on what the game is. And I guess for me that’s money, because we’ve never fought over money, we never will, we know that we’re fair, equal. What can happen with friends, is that they fall out over money and that’s the worst thing that can happen. If you’re not aligned on the overall game, it won‘t work.

L: Is that it? Great. Shall we have a cuddle mate? Pleasure doing business with you.

Catch the interview (plus bonus footage of Lee and Adam throwing some shapes) on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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