How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business owners for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Craig Shull from Campaign Monitor.
Current gig: COO, Campaign Monitor
Location: San Francisco
Current mobile device: iPhone 6
Current computer: Samsung
One word that best describes how you work: Data-driven
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
The mobile apps open on my iPhone right now are Uber for getting around, Dropbox for sharing files and photos, HipChat for communicating with my team on the go, and Facebook for posting pictures of my dog.
At work, my role is a series of endless decision making of where to deploy our company’s resources – I love it. The basis to making all data-driven decisions is Excel. Call me old fashioned, but synthesising data and presenting it in a way that anyone can understand is nearly impossible without spreadsheets, pivot tables and line charts.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
We’re all in the business of prioritisation. For a growing company there is a never-ending flow of new opportunities. Opportunities to create new partnerships, introduce new products, address a new audience with a new message or a new feature. These opportunities are good in theory, (they’re ideas about how to make more money) but they can cause any company to lose focus. The only way to keep a business from trying to do a million different things is ruthless prioritisation.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
I’m a numbers nerd and never thought a career in operations and finance would be as much about communications as it is. Over communication is paramount for businesses of every size and it’s a behavior that comes from the top. Just because a management team understands why something is important, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone at the company does. Never underestimate the power of clearly articulating important messages and communicating them like crazy.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Not taking myself too seriously. Seriously.
What’s your sleep routine like?
The biggest challenge about my job is that I’m in bed by 10 p.m. With customers in every time zone, half of our team in Sydney, and a night owlish tech office culture, our busiest hours tend to be on the later side. I’ve always been a morning person and am most productive during earlier hours, so I focus on getting work done in the morning to free myself up for meetings in the afternoon when everyone is online.
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
Emphasising transparency in everything builds trust. Whether it’s building trust with your employees, customers or partners, do whatever you can to make sure that transparency runs deeply into every part of a business’ DNA.