How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: David Julia, Pivotal Labs.
Current gig: Director of Pivotal Labs
Current Location: Sydney, Australia
Current mobile device: iPhone X
Current computer: MacBook Pro 13 inch… with the touch bar 🙁
One word that best describes how you work: Deliberately
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google Calendar-- I plan and prioritize by carving out time in my calendar to work on particular initiatives. Excel/Google Sheets for forecasting, sharing common goals, etc. Trello to track progress of ongoing conversations and action items with teams.
What social network do you find the most useful?
LinkedIn and Twitter. I’ve made quite a few professional connections via Twitter that have led to great conversations and insights.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
If you identify an opportunity to improve things, even if no one else in your company is taking a similar approach, it’s often worth pursuing. Companies don’t improve by everyone doing what has already been done before. Rather than just complain about what’s tough or that no one is giving you the support you need, take it upon yourself to fix the problem as best you can.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
I had always assumed that by the time you reach a certain position, you’d have things figured out. It turns out that the best leaders that I’ve met actively acknowledge that they don’t know everything, and are really great at adapting to their circumstances aka “winging it”. They strike a balance between giving their teams space and trusting their own intuition and experience to set a vision and identify deficiencies.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Well, I’m not sure I’m better at it than anyone, but I pride myself on my ability to listen and ask questions to tailor my interactions with customers towards what they want to get out of the interaction. I find that many people in sales conversations or customer meetings don’t probe, ask, and deeply understand before opening their mouth or even worse, cut off their customers, and this is very detrimental. If you have to pick, it’s far better to have a customer come away from an interaction thinking “they really understand my situation” than “they seem like they are smart”.
What's your sleep routine like?
I’m usually quite strict with getting 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep. Any less than that, and I am not at 100% during the day.
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
To succeed, you need to start. And to start, all you need is an OK plan and a lot of drive and hustle.
As a consultant, two of the most common behaviours I see that limit the success of businesses across industries are 1) micromanaging people and 2) not setting clear goals and outcomes. If you hire good people, set clear goals and outcomes for them, support them in achieving those outcomes, and stay out of their way, I bet you’d do better than most!