How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Ivan Seselj from Promapp.
Current gig: CEO of Promapp
Location: Auckland, New Zealand based with a week a month in San Francisco
Current mobile device: Apple iPhone 6+
Current computer: Apple MacBook Air
One word that best describes how you work: Passionate
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
My life is run from an Outlook calendar – if it’s not in there it doesn’t happen. Trello sorts my creative side into doable actions. Promapp runs our business – it’s literally how we do our stuff. Dropbox is really simple and safe for work and personal stuff too.
What social network do you find the most useful?
LinkedIn for work. Likeminded people talking about common challenges.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business? It’s not just about ‘the idea’, it’s about the team you build and the hundreds of small decisions you make every day. The second one – board meetings. Even if they are in a coffee shop with one other person, it holds you accountable to strategic thinking and big picture goals that can easily disappear under a pile of busyness.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
The difference a good culture and values can make. I really thought that was just woolly stuff that was a waste of time, but it’s made a massive difference for us as we’ve grown. It’s good to talk about what’s important to us as a team, how we operate, what makes us special and where some of the boundaries lie. A team with a good culture, trust, who are all in it together – often feels like it’s unstoppable!
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I’m good at ideas & curve balls, looking at things in different ways. I think there’s no such thing as a dumb idea, just many that we don’t end up progressing. I still record all of my ideas in a list, both Promapp related and others. I’ve got the entrepreneurial bug and would love to set up additional ventures after this one.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I like to read every night (fiction) for about half an hour, and usually in bed by 10pm. Thankfully I’ve finally grown out of my big weekends cycle which used to play havoc with my sleep.
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
Only recruit brilliant people! Take your time to get the best person. They may be with you for years and transform your business. Make the wrong hiring decision and you have a big distraction on your hands until you resolve things.