We’re work husbands and I would trust him with my kids’ lives’

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In Dynamic Duos, Mumbrella each week asks two colleagues with a professional and personal affiliation to share with readers the importance of workplace relationships in an increasingly hybridised world of work.


Nick Morgan:

I met Johan in 2015 when I was running my own digital agency and he was a senior executive at Dan Murphy’s. It was for a pitch but our first meeting was a precursor to the tight-knit bond we have today… In a sense, he’s like my ‘work husband’.

Looking back, we clicked so well because of our mutual understanding of one another. Johan was able to fully grasp what I was trying to deliver, and he knew what I had envisioned the product to be, even though it wasn’t up to scratch initially. Over the ensuing weeks and months, he provided valuable feedback on what it could and should be. In a sense, he contributed to Vudoo’s vision even before it was conceived.

Fast forward to 2016 – I decided to shutter my agency to develop the prototype that is Vudoo today just three days after my son was born. I told Johan to give me a year to come back with a more exceptional product. And exactly a year later, he became the first retailer to buy it.

In 2022, Vudoo’s growth skyrocketed in a single year, growing 400% year-on-year, and that was when I realised I needed someone to oversee product development to match the pace of growth. I wanted someone with deep retail knowledge and had the ability to drive the product, own it and commercialise it to their best ability. Knowing that it had to be someone that I could absolutely trust and feel safe leaving my baby with, it was clear Johan was the top choice. He took the plunge and the rest is history.

Since our first meeting, we’ve become mates at and outside of work. We have the same high degree of commitment and drive, coupled with a relaxed professionalism that keeps things laid back but also achieves exceptional results. And while we’re based in different cities, we’re very similar in our stage in life – we’ve both got young families, we’re similar in age and have both worked abroad. We also happen to share a passion for Lebanese food and a lot of inside jokes in German and Swedish. The best part is we complement each other – he’s big on details and grounds me when I need it. I’d say that we’ve gotten to the point where I would no doubt trust him with my children’s lives.

Johan Palsson:

My very first meeting with Nick was when I was running Dan Murphy’s digital as head of commerce. We had just bought a video platform. Nick heard about it and wanted to meet to showcase an interactive video offering. My first impression was that he was a subject matter expert on all things video – I trusted him almost immediately and said yes to the product.

About a year later, Nick told me he was quitting and would be in touch in 12 months. It’s really funny how life works, because true to his word exactly a year later – to the day – in 2018, he rocked up out of the blue to Surry Hills (a trendy suburb in my base Sydney) with his laptop and showed me what was the first look of Vudoo. Nick’s honesty with his ‘baby’ and our already established relationship drew me in without a second thought.

Our client-seller relationship blossomed into something more in 2020. During my stint at HMD Global (home of Nokia), Nick approached me and invited me to join Vudoo’s first advisory board. I was honoured and relished the opportunity, but crisis came shortly after that when Covid hit. For Vudoo as a startup, it was a really tough time, but it also created an opportunity for us to support one another on a more personal level as friends. I recall we would have hour long conversations, some of them consisted of me giving him really honest and raw feedback on how he was running the business.

When he finally asked me to work with them in 2022, and told me he was handing over his baby… it didn’t take much convincing.

Nick and I talk a lot about work but also personal matters. He doesn’t hesitate to deep dive into family life and what he’s going through, and vice versa. I sometimes even co-parent his kids when his wife’s away – the transition between work and family life is very smooth for us.

We can pick up the phone anytime and talk, even on Sundays. We’ve built a solid trust between us, knowing we’re driven by the same values. His ability to think miles ahead expands my thinking, while I reign him in when he gets too ‘crazy’.

Nick on Johan:

Most memorable moment with Johan: Joking around with Johan in German and Swedish every single day.

Best word to describe him: Pragmatic. Cool.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour he has: His attention to detail – it bugs me sometimes, but I also love him for that because I’m not as focused on the detail and know it’s something I need.

Johan on Nick:

Most memorable moment with Nick: Nick welcoming me into the Vudoo office as a prospective employee when I came in for an interview and having dinner with him and his wife afterwards at their house. I felt very welcomed, and on top of that, it felt like a milestone in our friendship and work relationship, and that all our interactions beforehand were for that moment.

Best word to describe him: Genuine. This word really sums up my relationship with Nick. From his genuineness when he came to pitch his product, to him inviting me to join the board, to hiring me as Vudoo’s CPO and COO, and to where we are today as best mates and partners in crime in the retail world, we’ve grown really close as a result of how down to earth he has been with me.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour he has: Sometimes he jumps to conclusions and decisions way too fast, but I’ve also learned to be measured in what I share and how I share it. We’ve really grown to complement each other this way.