Thanks to CoCo for sponsoring our new How I Work series!
Equals 3 is an IBM Watson cognitive computing partner that develops solutions for marketers. Lucy carries out vital tasks quickly with her superpowered information-gathering and analytic capabilities.
In the driver’s seat of Equals 3 is Managing Partner is Scott Litman, who co-founded the company and continues to steer it. We spoke with Scott to learn about his work habits and the the way he operates Equals 3 on a typical day — inside and outside the office.
What one word best describes how you work?
What is your current device/hardware/office setup?
I’m all Mac – iPhone, iPad, I’ve got an iMac at the home office and a Macbook Pro that goes with me everywhere and connects to to whatever screens I have hooked up wherever I am. All of my data is also cloud-based, so whatever device I’m on and wherever I’m at, I’ve got everything I need. In addition, we use both Google Drive and Dropbox to share files and collaborate.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
We’re a national business that is co headquartered between Minneapolis and New York, so to help bridge that gap I’m constantly in meetings with UberConference. I live on it and it’s absolutely indispensable to our business. In addition, I’m a big fan of Evernote.
What your sleep schedule like in terms of hours/wake-up and what’s the morning routine?
I usually get between 5-6 hours of sleep and wake up around 6:30 a.m. I’m a zero inbox guy, so the first thing I do when I get up is check my email to see if there’s anything I need to act on right now. If there’s something that’s important that’s come in, that’s always the first thing I do. I don’t ever want anyone to have to put what they’re doing on hold because they’re waiting on an answer for me, so regardless of where I am or what I’m doing, I’m always keeping an eye on my inbox. If there’s nothing urgent, I usually have my laptop with my while I’m getting my kids ready for school and once they’re out the door, I head into the office.
Is there a method to how you schedule your days?
It’s very ad hoc – there are certain regularly scheduled meetings, but otherwise, I build my week around when clients and/or prospects are available or what I need to get done that week with the team.
How much time do you spend in vs. out of the office?
Depends on the day of the week, but inclusive of using my home office, I generally end up spending more time in the office than out.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
Being cognizant of drive times and being deliberate about where and when I work is probably the biggest thing – I won’t drive to the office in rush hour because I lose a half hour that way. Instead, I’ll stay working from my home office until traffic dies down.
What is that one thing you have to do, no matter what, every day?
Get to that zero inbox. To a degree, my email list becomes a bit of a to-do list as well, so it’s something I really make a priority.
What is your preferred form of communication and why?
For the efficiency aspect, definitely email.
On average, how many hours a day do you spend in meetings?
Average day will be 5-7 hours of actual meeting time. There are obviously exceptions that go much longer than that, but the average day falls into that 5-7 hour timeframe.
When, where and what do you typically eat for lunch?
Honestly, here are too many days where it’s a cliff bar and an orange because there’s no time for lunch. That said, when there are lunch meetings, we’re right in the West End, so we go to Crave and Raku Sushi a lot. There’s also an office cafe with a salad bar right across from our building, so you can walk there and back in about seven minutes and get a healthy meal.
How many hrs/week and do you work in the evenings and/or weekends?
Every night there’s work being done, whether that’s an hour of getting caught up on email or hours getting caught up on contract reviews, proposal reviews, reading/research, doing QA work on new features, etc.
What is the best advice you ever received, accepted, and applied?
Early, early in my career, with my first venture, we were a dealer for Apple and a dealer for NeXT (the company Steve Jobs founded during his first hiatus from Apple). During that time, I attended an event at NeXT headquarters where Jobs was speaking and he explained that if you’re going to sell something new, you have to either be 10 times better than what’s on the market or you need to cost a tenth of the cost of the status quo, otherwise people are just going to keep doing what they’ve been doing. The idea that if someone is going to adopt something truly new, the value proposition needs to speak dramatically better than what’s already on the market. Those insights are something that I’ve kept in mind with our product development with Lucy – we have to essentially convince the world that what we’re doing is so dramatically new and different that we’re truly a quantum leap forward, because if we’re not, people won’t try it.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see Chad Halvorson, CEO of When I Work from Minnesota’s tech industry answer these same questions.