How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Prof. Michael J. Biercuk, CEO at Q-CTRL and Professor of Quantum Technology at University of Sydney.
Current gig: CEO, Q-CTRL and Professor of Quantum Physics and Quantum Technology, University of Sydney
Location: Sydney and in the air (aeroplanes)
Current mobile device: N/A
Current computer:2013 Macbook Pro – the GOAT.
One word that best describes how you work: Constantly
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
G-suite. It takes care of all of our business needs in a no-nonsense approach.
What social network do you find most useful?
Face-to-face meetings and dinners are by far the most effective. Social media is just a more efficient version of a rolodex and phonebook. True connection in business is built in person.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
First, that as an entrepreneur you should follow a path that’s right for you and maintain clarity about the tradeoffs you’ll have to make in your journey. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to success. There isn’t even an agreed definition of success.
A key topic where this appears frequently is “work-life-balance”. In my view people who are aggressive in dispensing advice pushing a particular view are likely executing an agenda that serves their interests, often at the expense of creating tremendous anxiety in others. If you’re happy and thriving keep doing what works well for you, even if it’s unconventional. Just keep in mind those tradeoffs because they are real.
Second, that there’s as much luck as talent and grit involved in achieving success.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
I’ve been stunned by the amount of effort expended by top-tier professional VCs on trying to teach new founders basic business sense. It really indicated there’s an enormous opportunity for established professionals like academics to make high value contributions as entrepreneurs with much less risk to investors.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Finding and attracting talented people who are much better than me in their specialised areas. And storytelling.
What's your sleep routine like?
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
My advice is to ignore most generalist advice you’ll read or receive because it is coloured heavily by survivorship bias. Yes I see the irony.