When Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal launched Warby Parker in 2010, their goal was to shake up the eyewear industry. Tired of expensive, generic frames, they came up with a plan: cut out the middlemen and offer inexpensive, high-design, boutique-quality glasses.
The company is on track to ship 300,000 pairs by the end of the year and is planning a brick-and-mortar store in New York City. We caught up with Dave and Neil to find out how they manage it all — from the apps that keep them organised to the advice that keeps them inspired.
Names: Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa
Occupation: Warby Parker co-founders and co-CEOs
Location: New York, NY
Current computers: MacBook Air
Current mobile devices: iPhone 5
One word that best describes how I work: Dave: Purposeful; Neil: Hard
What’s apps/tools/software can’t you live without?
Neil: An extra battery for my iPhone, Instapaper, and my Nike Air Max 1s because I’m always racing from meeting to meeting. I tend to run late. Without the shoes, I’d run later.
What’s your best time-saving trick/life hack?
Dave: I started using IFTTT to email or text me an alert if there’s a rain or snow forecast for the next day or two. It’s a good way to avoid getting caught in a storm without an umbrella or the right shoes.
Pictured above: IFTTT’s Weather Channel.
Neil: My favourite life hack so far [is] convincing my wife to run her business from the Warby Parker office. No matter how late I stay at work, I get to see her throughout the day. It’s a harmonious overlap of business and pleasure for both of us. Another shortcut I’ve discovered is to stop caring about punctuation, capitalisation, and proper grammar. I’m proud to say that I no longer sweat the small stuff, such as comma placement.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
Dave: Evernote. I love that it syncs between all my devices.
What’s your workspace like?
Dave: Laptop docked to a keyboard and second screen. My desk has a split personality. Sometimes it’s passably organised. Most of the time it’s a cyclone of piled-up papers.
Neil: On top of my desk is a laptop and a massive amount of papers that I should read but inevitably end up tossing after my office manager yells at me. There’s also a land line which I never use, but it’s still there. Having a land line is like having a quill and ink on my desk. It’s the start of my antique collection.
Pictured above: Warby Parker’s office in NYC.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else? What’s your secret?
Dave: I can squeeze a full workout in at the gym in 30 minutes with zero downtime.
Neil: Ordering in Chinese food and giving motivational speeches. These skills do not necessarily correlate, but I can do both at the same time if necessary.
What do you listen to while you work?
Dave: No headphones, but no silence either. We have an open office plan and I enjoy soaking up the constant buzz of activity from our team.
Neil: In general, silence. When it’s really late and nobody’s around to bear witness, I’ll throw on “Maneater” (the Hall & Oates version, not the Nelly Furtado song) or Kool and the Gang’s “Get Down on It” (best single of the ’80s’).
Pictured above: The Warby Parker showroom.
What’s your sleep routine?
Dave: I’m definitely not a morning person, and I tend to use late night hours to catch up on emails. I’ve been interested in recent studies indicating that humans naturally sleep in 3-4 hour chunks with a period of lucid activity in between. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I will often find myself cranking out a couple hours of productive work. Otherwise, I try to work from home for 2-3 hours before coming into the office — a habit that helps me accomplish tasks requiring my full concentration. These are often my most productive periods in the day. In the office it is virtually impossible to eke out more than 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time. That’s the nature of the beast!
Neil: I’m an early morning guy by circumstance. My eighteen-month old son is my alarm clock.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dave: What got you here won’t get you there.
Neil: You’re going to be dead a lot longer than you’re going to be alive.
Top image by Elizabeth Lippman. Other photos by Rasmus Keger.
We’ve asked a handful of heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Every week we’ll feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips and tricks that keep them going. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? Let us know.
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