Cody Miles is an Austin, TX-based entrepreneur and UX designer. After years of struggling to collaborate with his clients, Cody founded Ashore, an online proofing software for high-velocity creatives, and the behind-the-scenes collaboration software used by creative teams at Disney, Adidas, Uber, and Coca-Cola. Cody created Ashore because creatives speak a different language. After years of running a creative agency and struggling to collaborate with his clients, Cody developed the first iteration of Ashore. Since then, it has become a fully automated platform that manages the approval process for nearly 15,000 creatives. Today, Cody utilizes his background to run both Ashore and his digital marketing agency, Brandcave.
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Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Cody Miles: My story begins right after I graduated college. I was 21, had just gotten married, and was starting to realize my passion for technology – things were good. I worked as a marketing professional in the years following, and eventually, I found my way to creative director positions at top creative agencies and fortune 500 companies. I loved the work, so I decided to start my own creative agency, Brandcave. However, throughout my career as a creative, I faced the same challenges over and over again. That’s why I built my current venture, Ashore. It’s a passion project that ended up helping over 15,000 creatives worldwide.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Cody Miles: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the time and energy my first employer out of college, Jorge Sauri, invested in me. He was an early pioneer in finance cloud technology, and the wisdom and insights he offered were invaluable. He was an incredible guide as I entered into entrepreneurship, and I still turn to him for advice today. When I’m in a position to provide guidance for someone else, I almost always tell them something he’s told me.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons you learned from that?
Cody Miles: I’ve definitely made mistakes. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I once crafted an email ranting on and on about a client, then CC’d them by mistake. I guess the main takeaway would have something to do with my attitude, but since then I’ve made sure to keep negative comments to internal tools such as Slack.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Cody Miles: I think of resilience as the ability to fall down, get back up, and keep moving. In software, you end up falling a lot; features don’t work, apps crash, and sometimes your ideas fail. What matters is that those failures don’t stop you, or better yet, they fuel your forward momentum. We’ve all taken a hit the past few years, and I’ve seen incredible resilience; despite the circumstances, people are still trekking on.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision or values?
Cody Miles: Everything we do at Ashore revolves around our mission: to make collaboration accessible to everyone. This statement summarizes our company’s purpose, providing us guidance for our work; it informs how we build our app, how we communicate its benefits to others, and how we manage our day-to-day operations. When everyone at Ashore understands and champions this mission, decisions are much easier to make, and communicating to clients comes naturally. This isn’t to say that values and visions aren’t important, quite the contrary is true, but a strong mission reflects those values and visions.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Cody Miles: Ingenuity, kindness, friendship, and creativity were most instrumental, and I’ve adapted and applied those traits to Ashore. To build an innovative company, you have to think about it with ingenuity and creativity; if you can’t look at a problem from a unique perspective, you’ll end up solving it in a way that’s already been done. Keeping a business running, however, is all about building relationships, which requires kindness and friendship. Your clients need to know you care about their companies, and your employees need to know that you care about their success, wellbeing, and happiness.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Cody Miles: Absolutely. Your company brand is often an author surrogate. Good leaders make good companies; if the company brand is disconnected from the leader, there is a level of cognitive dissonance that cannot be sustained long term.
How do you monitor if the people in your department are performing at their best?
We monitor performance by output. I’ve found that people perform best when they feel a sense of ownership around their work and achievements, so we have each employee create their own quarterly performance goals that they can measure themselves against. My role as a leader is to empower people to meet those goals, whether it be by providing resources, guidance, or my personal time.
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
Cody Miles: It seems strange to say, but I think entrepreneurship is something you’re born with. There’s definitely a learning curve to getting it right. Running a business for the first time involves a lot of trial and error, but it takes a certain personality to be willing to try. At a minimum, it requires a self-starting nature
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
Cody Miles: I had a mentor once tell me to take my employees out, have two drinks with them, and then leave. It gives employees an opportunity to commiserate, to complain about you, and build trust between each other. I employed that method with my team today.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Cody Miles for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Cody Miles or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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