Minneapolis e-commerce company Irish Titan is only closed two days each year — St. Patrick’s Day and, wisely, the day after St. Patrick’s Day. Aside from that, it’s all systems go for CEO and founder Darin Lynch and his crew of “Titans.” How does he stay fueled up enough to keep the fire burning the other 363 days (or 364 for this wonky year)? Weekly “reset rituals,” KISS jams, and a steampunk desk seem to do the trick, among other things.
This is A Workday With Darin Lynch, CEO and founder of Irish Titan.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a long-haired, Iowa farm boy who somehow navigated from a successful corporate career to founding Irish Titan, an e-commerce agency closed only two days a year (St. Patrick’s Day and the day after) where everything green is a write-off.
I grew up in Nashua, Iowa, a small-town whose roots I’m proud of. My dad was a farmer, starting his farm from scratch and building it, and my mom was a teacher and part-time professor. I went to the University of Iowa (go Hawkeyes), before starting my career at Principal Financial Group and moving to increasingly focused e-commerce roles at Wilsons Leather and then 2nd Swing Golf.
I arrived where I am today through some good luck, surrounding myself with smart people, and learning from people who were kind enough to share wisdom with me along the way, from my mom and dad to former bosses (shout out to Jeff Wiley, Bob Bundy, Scott Christiansen and Randy Kirsch). I try to learn from our Titans every day, as I owe it to them to be as good as I possibly can be. But most importantly, I’ve learned from and been motivated by my daughters Zoe and Fiona, as there’s nobody I’m more responsible for or invested in.
What time do you rise and shine?
I usually roll up around 5 a.m.
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
I love breakfast food but rarely eat it unless I have a breakfast meeting somewhere, which is usually Good Day Café. Then it’s some eggs and some potatoes.
What’s the first work-related task you tackle each morning?
I have a VERY specific Monday routine where I go through a “reset ritual.” It consists of reading a list of leadership/management/entrepreneurial sayings and principles that I’ve compiled over the years, re-reading some articles of that same nature, and doing a specific mental-reset routine. I find that this helps me get the week started right and helps me at least try to work ON the business instead of IN the business, avoiding getting caught up in weeds.
Beyond that, I usually wake up THINKING about what I want to accomplish during the day, but the first tangible task I tackle every day is checking my calendar and scrubbing emails.
What is your workspace setup?
At work, my workspace is pretty tight. My desk itself has a second monitor (I’m not a Neanderthal), Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and some cord organizers, speakers, and file folders (green, of course). I have a shelf with pictures of people important to me (and my dog). I have a lightbulb lamp with a green lightbulb (that sentence sounds weird, but if you re-read it, it’s perfectly descriptive). And, of course, I have a shelf full of Irish whiskey. I like my workspace to be organized because it’s one of those things that I can control, which leaves me to be as chaotic as I’m naturally wired in the things I can’t control.
Surprisingly, I don’t really have a home-office workspace setup. It’s my kitchen counter, living room, or den. Usually with my giant Great Dane sidled up next to me.
What’s the most interesting/fun/meaningful thing on your desk?
I would say that the most interesting/fun/meaningful item on my desk is my desk itself. It’s a custom steampunk-type sit-stand desk that has a black steel version of our icon inlaid in it and a giant green steel crank to raise or lower it.
What’s one piece of tech you can’t live without?
My phone is too obvious, and for better or worse, it’s like oxygen for all of us now. So, I’m going with my green AirPods. Or TitanPods, as I have them named in my settings.
What do you need to get done before lunch to feel like you had a productive morning?
1) Scrub my inbox of all the daily emails I receive.
2) Talk to some Titans to check the temperature on things like projects, strategic priorities, etc.
I have a wide variety of music — 25,137 songs in my iTunes library. My all-time go-to is KISS (31 concerts) and my current/not-geriatric go-to is Whiskey Myers.
What is your current TV obsession?
“Yellowstone” and “Mindhunter” are my current obsessions. Waiting for “Yellowstone” season 3.
What’s the last movie you saw and what would you rate it (out of five stars)?
“1917” and I’d give it a 5 out of 5. I’d give “Parasite” a 4.5 out of 5. “Joker” would be my Oscar winner.
What book would we find on your nightstand?
“Start With Why” and “The Dark Knight Returns.”
Cats or dogs?
What are you currently rockin’ as your phone background?
An Irish Titan background, of course.
The best part about living in Minnesota is…
Our city is clean, well educated, and kind. There’s a lot of opportunity here, and we should be proud of what we’ve accomplished.
How do you fend off the post-lunch lull?
I don’t really suffer from that, unless it’s our monthly birthday luncheon and we had tacos (and queso) brought in.
What do you use to stay organized during a hectic day?
The best thing I’ve done in years was start to file all calendaring requests into a calendaring folder out of my inbox. That helped my inbox stay cleaner and helped me avoid LIFO calendaring so I could instead calendar with intention and care.
Beyond that, I use Slack, Todoist, Trello, and Captio the most. And also, I use Cs Music Player on my iPhone because [the stock app] doesn’t allow you to thumb to playlists by letter, which is dumb.
What’s a recent work-related challenge you had to conquer? Walk us through your process.
We’re working really hard to better connect, in as automated a fashion as possible, our people/project/sales planning. As a technology company, we’re biased towards technology solutions for situations like this, but we’re holding ourselves accountable to better defining our expectations of people and process before investing in a technology tool.
What’s one thing everyone could do to be more productive?
What’s the last work-related thing you do every day?
Watch/read inspiring articles/videos/books. Read comic books (DC all the way, no Marvel). Spend time with family and important people. Half of the year, I mow my lawn far too frequently, but I find it to be decompressing.
How do you decompress at the end of a long workday?
Do people decompress at the end of the day? I love what I do. I’m always thinking about what needs to be done next. I’ll decompress when I retire. I know this is not the current popular opinion of how to live, but it works for me.
What time do you usually hit the hay?
I’m usually asleep sometime between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m.
Photos courtesy of Darin Lynch and Irish Titan.
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