Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Tori Colls, Co-Founder & General Manager at Atlas Property Group

Tori Colls is the co-founder and general manager at Atlas Property Group, an exclusive buyer’s agency that connects home buyers and investors with quality property.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I began my career in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as an Intelligence Officer. After I graduated with a Bachelor of Business and completed my Intelligence Officer training, I was posted to the Defence Intelligence Organisation – one of Australia’s strategic intelligence agencies.

My time at the agency was incredible – I was responsible for generating time-critical intelligence assessments for the Government to base their decisions regarding international policy and military operations on. 

I always knew RAAF would be a stepping stone in my career, and I always had an interest in business, property and personal finance.  I decided to follow my business passions which led me towards Defence consulting.

When I met my partner, we realised that we both shared a strong passion for real estate and financial independence.

Whilst I was working full time consulting to Defence at Accenture, we co-founded our buyer’s agency, Atlas Property Group. Soon after we opened our doors, we decided to write our own book A Military Guide to Property Investing for avid property investors around the country.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

The daily life of a Defence consultant is always busy! I’m a bit of an early bird, so I like to be sitting behind my desk by 7:30am most mornings.

As a consultant, I’m often busy liaising with military and industry stakeholders so we can develop reliable, technologically advanced capability for our Defence Force. This consists of writing strategic-level documentation for the Project Management Office and for the Government.

Between meetings and working groups with our team, I’m often writing out project plans, analysing project budgets, revising schedules and thinking of ways that we can optimise and improve our internal processes. 

I wish that my workday stopped once I finished my 9-5 consultant role! As a co-founder of Atlas Property Group, I’m often coming home at night and doing another few hours of work to support the business. I help plan our business’s social media strategy, post copies of our book A Military Guide to Property Investing to our readers, and anything else that needs my attention.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Yes! The majority of my project team is in Canberra which is where I initially joined Accenture. But when our buyer’s agency began growing exponentially and our latest book was just about to hit the stores, my partner and I made the decision to move to the capital of real estate – Sydney!

I now work remotely for a client in Canberra and travel down to the ACT once a month, which gives me the opportunity to attend important meetings and get some face-to-face time with my team and the clients. 

Remote work has been an amazing opportunity that has truly enabled my partner and I to live the lifestyle that we always dreamed of here in Sydney. Being able to travel back to Canberra on a regular basis ensures that I’m maintaining a strong connection with my team and my clients.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work life balance means the world to me. I’ve never been an advocate of the concept that we must work +9-10 hours a day (or more) to be truly effective in our work.

My most productive hours are between 0700-1200, which is where I do a majority of my ‘deep work’. I feel like I can often punch out 8+ hour’s worth of tasks during these hours – so I make sure to use them wisely! 

I treasure my work life balance so I can pursue other passions in my downtime. These passions include catching up with family, maintaining my gym routine, completing Reserve work for the RAAF, staying up to date with property news, and assisting my partner in running our buyer’s agency.

I know it doesn’t sound like ‘down-time’ – but I absolutely love having ‘lots on the go’ at all times! It makes me feel productive and accomplished.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

In the past 12 months, I have navigated a complete career change, co-authored a best-selling property investing book, co-founded an investment buyer’s agency, managed a project as an Engagement Lead, worked part-time as a Reservist for Defence, and finished my second tertiary degree – a Master of Project Management.

If I’ve learned anything in those 12 months, it’s that you are only as effective as your own time management. Maintaining my strict personal routine and planning out my days has proven to me that the limits of your success are endless if you set clear and concise goals. 

Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day – how you use them is what matters. This is a core military lesson that will stick with me throughout my professional career forever.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

As a military officer, I have read my fair share of inspirational, motivating and moving books from other inspiring military professionals!

My favourite leadership-based book would have to be Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. The book explains the criticality of exercising leadership at every level of the battlespace, from the tactical level on the ground all the way up to the strategic headquarters.

Willink and Babin explain how this concept, as well as their broader Navy SEAL training program, can be directly interpreted and applied in a business sense. It’s one of those books that will change your perspective on effective leadership forever. A 5/5 star read for anyone who’s looking to develop their own leadership skills!

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Quite a few! I use AirPods so I can effectively multi-task during online meetings, my Apple watch for using at the gym, a Google Home for playing music in the kitchen, and a second monitor for my WFH set-up.

As an avid investor, I’m also so grateful for my banking apps! It helps me keep track of my personal accounts and shares – I can’t imagine how complicated it must have been to be an active investor before banking apps!

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

It would absolutely have to be Melanie Perkins, co-founder of another app that I am incredibly thankful for – Canva!

I find Melanie incredibly inspirational since she is a young, Australian-based, female entrepreneur who has made an international name for herself and her company in only a few years.

Melanie believed strongly in her ideas, and I’d be incredibly interested to see how she managed to balance her life as a student and entrepreneur! No matter how young you are – if you have an idea, I believe you have to chase it!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

You’ll very rarely be criticised by someone who is doing more than you. Be wise in who you take advice from, and always be the hardest (or most efficient) worker in the room!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.