For 16 years, LegalZoom has filled in the gap between free internet advice and hiring a lawyer in the US; its services have become standard for many American small businesses, entrepreneurs, and solo contractors and freelancers. For the last 13 years, John Suh has led the company as Executive Chairman and CEO. We talked to him about how he runs the company and handles his own work.
Location: Glendale, CA
Current Gig: CEO LegalZoom
One word that best describes how you work: Quickly
Current mobile device: iPhone X
Current computer: My brain
First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a serial internet entrepreneur with two decades of experience. Prior to LegalZoom I served as CEO of StudioDirect, the internet division of publicly traded Li and Fung. Previous to that, as co-founder and CEO of Castling Group, we helped offline companies create their internet divisions and launched category leaders such as jcrew.com, hifi.com and barneysny.com.
I joined LegalZoom as Executive Chairman/CEO in 2005, drawn by its mission to democratise law. I recognised that small business owners want to focus on their products, customers and teams rather than the “necessary evils” of law and tax. As a supply-chain guy fascinated by how technology would transform industries… the application to a services industry was interesting.
Take us through a recent workday.
I split my workday into parts. The first part is spent at the office where I hold meetings that are best taken in-person. The second part, from 5PM to 8:30PM, is time I dedicate to my children: Talking about their day, helping them with homework, having family dinner. From 8:30PM to 2AM, I get back to work on projects from my home office. Any business dinners only happen from 9PM or later so I always have time to read to my kids before bedtime and put them to sleep.
Instead of trying to blend everything together into one workday, I find this separation gives me more time for both work and family and lets me be completely present for both.
What apps, gadgets or tools can’t you live without?
My set of PXG irons and the Callaway sub-zero Epic driver.
What’s your workspace setup like?
I haven’t had an office in 20 years… we all have open workstations, and I spend most of my time in groups standing or pacing.
What’s your best shortcut or life hack?
Napping on the road. I love naps.
Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them?
I’m blessed with being surrounded by everyone whose greatest talent/skill is something that I suck at. Therefore, I spend 80 per cent of my time on the few things that I do well.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
I try to focus on a handful of important things, and delegate everything else. There’s less to track when you simplify.
What’s your least favourite thing to do, and how do you deal with it?
I hate bad food. I’d rather starve and save the time.
How do you recharge or take a break from work?
My three boys give me energy. Golf, food and the Lakers help me recharge.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My dad once told me exactly the opposite of what I thought he would say, but it turned out to be the best piece of career advice I ever received. He said, “Passions are hobbies. You can be passionate about your hobbies, but you’re going to like your career if you’re good at that job. So find out what you’re good at, and you’ll start to like that career. Eventually, that career will become your passion. Listen to the people who tell you what you don’t want to hear.”
And what’s the best legal advice you’ve ever received?
You can eliminate a lot of issues with a bit of preventative legal care. Start early and start right.
We’ve asked heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? [contact text=”Let us know.”]
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