Plex is a great way to organise your media and stream it between devices wherever you are, and as it happens, co-founder Scott Olechowski applies a similar mindset in his workflow. With a distributed team that collaborates online, Scott and his team take on the development of the app wherever they are. We caught up with Scott to learn a little about his mobile workflow and how is team collaborates across timezones and platforms.
Location: Los Gatos, CA Current Gig: Chief Product Officer, Plex One word that best describes how you work: Scattershot (is that two words?) Current mobile device: iPhone 6. Not the +, that's just silly. Current computer: 15-inch Retina Macbook Pro
What apps/software/tools can't you live without? Why?
There are a few tools that are indispensable to me as they allow me to achieve what wasn't possible a year or two ago. Number one is Slack. It's the communications operating system Plex runs on. We have a remote and global team. Slack helps shrink the timezones and give us a productive, family-like feel most startups can only hope to achieve. We'll even force ourselves to use it even if we're sitting right next to each other so everyone on the team (regardless of location) feels included in conversations.
Google Docs is one of my favourite tools ever because of the collaboration features. PowerPoints are never fun so this makes it easier. We also use Hangouts all the time. It may sound mundane, but just like with Slack, it helps create this intimate team feeling even from all corners of the earth.
GitHub is invaluable to me, as well. We started using it at Plex because all of our developers were already living in that world to code, track issues, build milestones and such. Plex is a unique product in that it supports so many platforms. Tracking product development progress across all of these platforms can be pretty daunting. We've built on their API to create a dashboard of our own, which makes things even easier to manage.
What's your workspace setup like?
Extremely mobile. I'm rarely in the same place two days in a row, even within our workspace. I get bored easily so I need to change the scenery as much as possible. My "office" is any place with connectivity and some life in my laptop's battery.
What's your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Time boxing. I realised I used to do this naturally when I traveled by plane a lot. I'd be forced to get as much done as humanly possibly on a single laptop battery charge, with no internet. Now I force myself to do this for an hour a day to achieve something I am putting off. If I know it can't take more than Y minutes, I am X more likely to just tackle it — things like this questionnaire. :-)
What's your favourite to-do list manager?
I am decidedly low tech on this one: I use my inbox as a to-do list — if it's unread, I need to do something with it. I send myself emails with to-dos all the time.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without and why?
I read fairly voraciously, so it has to be an ebook reader, which is an iPad mini at the moment.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What's your secret?
Doing more things at once than most people do all day, and all of them poorly. I am an early MTV generation product and my attention span is proof.
What do you listen to while you work?
I'm a huge music lover but often find myself not listening to anything when I'm working — I simply forget to turn tunes on, I think. I'm either absentminded or lazy, not sure which. On the weekends, I've been listening more since we have been readying our new music product to be launched. New tech inspires me.
What are you currently reading?
I read some fiction as mind candy but largely gravitate toward non-fiction, and it tends to be books around periods of time in history where there were big changes. I'm currently reading The Innovators by Walter Isaacson and just finished Billy Joel by Fred Schruers. I'm interested in people who show grit and do something that most thought wasn't likely. It's fascinating to me to learn about the life stories of those that broke through on major innovation. I find it both inspirational and insightful.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I swing both ways, but veer harder towards extrovert if you were to ask those that have to deal with me.
What's your sleep routine like?
I would stay up all night if I could make it work with the schedule I need to keep.
But let's be realistic — I'm working long hours at a startup and am a father of five. So if it's dark and it's quiet, I'm sleeping. I probably would never wake up without the alarm on my phone.
Fill in the blank: I'd love to see _________ answer these same questions.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
"We only have a certain number of days here, make 'em all count." — an old friend.
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.