The Actual Habits: Andy Hamilton – CEO of The Icehouse

The Actual Habits

Profiling the core roots and minds of New Zealand’s most onto it leaders.

Andrew Hamilton has been CEO of business growth centre The Icehouse since it was founded back in 2001 to provide support and education to growing New Zealand businesses.

Since then The Icehouse has worked alongside over 2500 owner managers of successful New Zealand businesses and 70 start-up businesses and facilitated about $50 million in angel investment and start up funding to companies.

A few of the companies currently involved with The Icehouse include McKay Electrical, Future Products Group, M-Com and Nexus6  

As part of his role, Andrew participates in a number of activities to assist building out New Zealand’s innovation system including:

• Chair of Angel Association New Zealand which was founded in 2008 

• Board member of ANZATEC – the Australian New Zealand Technology Forum based in Silicon Valley, a group who is tasked with creating a better gateway for NZ and Australian technology companies to enter the US. 

• Deputy Chair, the Auckland Metro Project which is focused on making the region a more innovative place 

Prior to joining The Icehouse, Andrew was CEO and Director of Inventure, Fletcher Building’s venture capital arm which he established in 1998 and before that he did a range of different things from lawyer, to Executive Assistant, Retailer & Sales & Marketing Manager.

Frank lines up Andy Hamilton for the first in a series of interviews focused on profiling the core roots and minds of New Zealand’s most on to it leaders.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I’d say that it’s changed over time, it used to be bullish and aggressive – run up the mountain, now it’s less energetic.

I’m being more reflective and less about doing stuff and more about supporting people and enabling others to be successful. Instead of just giving advice, I’m listening.  Listening that’s the real big one for me in my leadership style no

What is your definition of success?

Outcomes, I love seeing outcomes, whether that’s getting the deal or helping someone realise that they haven’t quite got it right and how they can get right.

I used to run a retail business and success for me everyday was at 6 o’clock pushing the till tape and seeing how much we sold during the day and that measure has followed me.

I get a lot of joy from the outcomes of activities, and I think my paranoia drives me towards that.  There’s a great quote by Andy Groves “Only the paranoid survive” and I quite like that.

It’s not freaking out paranoia, it’s the paranoia that drives you to always do more.

What are the three best books you’ve read?

Rob Adams – Good Hard Kick in the Ass

Marshall Goldsmith – What got you here, won’t get you there

Basil Peters – Early Exits.

How do you generate your most creative thoughts?

With space, which can be on the golf-course, running, meeting with people over lunch’s and dinners. Good food and good conversation!

It definitely does not happen when you have 10 meetings a day.

What motivates you, and how do you stay motivated?

I’m really purpose driven, in setting up the Icehouse I think I’ve been given the best job and the best opportunity I could ever have, and that’s why I’ve stayed for years. 

I truly believe we’re making a difference for New Zealand and I define that by outcomes but mostly the things that happen to the companies we work with. 

There’s has to be a higher drive though, I love helping companies but ultimately I think we’re making a difference for New Zealand and New Zealanders, and that keeps me goin

How do you get things done? Are there any routines, habits or personal rules that you’ve used to help you get to success?

The things I have struggled most with is prioritisation, so I have this little matrix tool that I use every now and then when things get out of control.


You never want to be in the urgent and important quadrant, you want to be in the important but non-urgent box.

When I got really busy I put all my activities down for the next 3 months and try and get everything out of the urgent and important.

I’ve learnt, from getting feedback with the likes of 360 reviews, about the impact I have on other people and so, and I’m trying to be conscious that it’s not about me it’s about them, it’s not about me it’s about their activities.

I get things done by having a clear set of priorities, and holding other people accountable, and lists also work for me. I am poor at the accountability thing – need to work on that!

What three attributes were most important for getting you where you are today? 

Energy, self awareness, variety.

What attributes would you like to be renowned for?

Self awareness.

What do you do when things aren’t going your way?

What I used to do is throw my toys, and that’s linked to the paranoia “they’re all out for me”.

My personal coach that I’m working with now, we talk about staying the course. 

Just stop. Pause. Don’t do anything.... and don’t send an email saying ‘you’re a fuckwit’

Just relax calm down, pick up the phone, talk to people.

So when it’s not going my way it’s just a pause now. That’s the biggest thing just pause.

What’s getting your arse out of bed at the moment? 

Mostly for me it’s about what can make The Icehouse more successful, and how can we deliver value to our customers. Which sounds really tweed but that’s how you build successes

What is the most important piece of advice you'd give to an aspiring leader?

It’s not all about you.

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  • Peter T says
    Another great article about an inspirational person who encourages New Zealand businesses to succeed!!!
  • The Who!? says
    Awesome insight, cheers to that!
  • Chris says
    This will be a great series. Can't wait for more of Andy!
  • Richard says
    Well done on getting in front of someone with great insights. Looking forward to future 'leader profile' series.
  • Phil says
    Fantastic, looking forward to more.
  • barnes10 says
    great series....looking forward to it.

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