I’m Cale Johnston, The Founder & CEO Of ClickSWITCH, And This Is How I Work

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Thanks to Minnesota Tech Startup Supporter Fueled Collective for underwriting our entrepreneur-focused How I Work series.

 
Minneapolis-headquartered ClickSWITCH was formed in 2014 as a B2B technology for financial institutions to provide their account holders with an easy way to switch direct deposits and automatic payments.

At the helm as CEO is Cale Johnston, who founded the company and continues to lead the team of ~25 today after a fresh $3.5m Series A funding in August.

We spoke with Cale learn about work habits and the the way he operates ClickCWITCH on a typical day — inside and outside the office:

What one word best describes how you work?

Efficient.

What is your current device/hardware/office setup?

We are a Microsoft shop at ClickSWITCH. Microsoft provides good turnkey office solutions (Windows, Office 365, Azure, etc).

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I get major anxiety if my phone isn’t on me or within visual distance.

I need to be accessible 24/7 and my life is setup that way. My office line rolls over to my cell, emails are answered right away. Last winter, my wife encouraged us to go on a remote vacation where devices didn’t work and I could be “off the grid”.

I was more stressed on vacation not knowing what was going on at work, then I would’ve been at the office. Needless to say, the next vacation I will be completely accessible. Being involved in my business keeps me at peace.

What your sleep schedule like in terms of hours/wake-up and the morning routine?

When I was bootstrapping my startup, I didn’t sleep very well. There were many nights I would wake up at 3am and second guess decisions being made. I think that’s a normal feeling for entrepreneurs and I would be more concerned if I had been sleeping peacefully in the beginning. Now, I try to create a routine. I read to my kids before bed and try to decompress from the day by enjoying family. In the morning I drive my daughter to school and she usually has some wise advice on how to approach the day… she’s 7.

Is there a method to how you schedule your days?

I get pulled in a lot of different directions. I try to only put necessary meetings on my calendar, so I can be agile when the unknown occurs during the day. We meet with some large corporations who like to hold meetings to discuss the meeting they are about to go into… that’s not how we do things because there just aren’t enough hrs in the day. I try to be efficient during our internal meetings, so we can deliver more time to our clients.

How much time do you spend in vs. out of the office?

On average I travel 2 weeks out of the month. It’s important that your company has a face and identity when chasing the big deals that will impact your organization. I firmly believe in forming great relationships. People are so quick to cancel contracts or look for ways out in B2B product offerings. At ClickSWITCH, we have a niche in our industry and we are building/enhancing a solution that changes how Financial Institutions attract and retain their customers. It requires our clients to believe in us and attain our vision, I try to ensure this through face to face meetings with clients.

Where is the office?

We are located downtown at 244 1st Ave N (just look for the HUGE ClickSWITCH sign)

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

Picking up the phone and working through things verbally. I don’t have time to sit back and wait for people to reply to emails. I like to jump on the phone, get my questions answered, and move on to the next task. Also, I commute from the west suburbs, so MN Pass is a major time saver as well!

What is that one thing you have to do, no matter what, every day?

Coffee is my master.

What is your preferred form of communication and why?

I touched on it above; I prefer speaking with people. Often times, messages get crossed through IM or emails. I like to speak in person or over the phone so I can get the best read regarding each topic

On average, how many hours a day do you spend in meetings?

Half the day I will spend on the phone or in-person meeting.

When, where and what do you typically eat for lunch?

I typically eat in my office. We office next to Whole Foods so we walk over and grab something quick most days. It’s good to walk out and grab fresh air during your work day.

How many hour a week do you work on average and do you work in the evenings and/or weekends?

When I’m traveling I often work later because there are more events / dinners to attend. When I’m home in Minneapolis I try to spend my evenings with my family. Anytime an email or phone call comes through on the weekends or evenings I take it. You never want to miss an opportunity. Our clients are Financial Institutions and they are typically open Saturday mornings and there’s usually a request or something to address every weekend.

What is the best advice you ever received, accepted, and applied?

People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. I’m constantly looking at the leadership we have in place and making sure we are creating a great culture. If all of our employees are enthusiastic and happy, that’s contagious to our client base and will continue to drive success.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see Andrew Rice ( Founder/CEO Of DigitalParc and Goals.com) from Minnesota’s tech industry answer these same questions.

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