How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Peter Phillips, Cover Genius.
Current gig: Chief Technology Officer, Cover Genius
Current location: Sydney, Australia
Current mobile device: Samsung S8
Current computer: 13″ MacBook Pro
One word that best describes how you work: Efficiently
What apps/software/tools ca’t you live without?
Google Maps is a service I can’t live without. No matter where in the world I am I can trust it to find where I need to go — especially useful as I travel quite a lot. According to my phone usage stats, Gmail, Reddit, Slack and Spotify are also at the top of the list.
Which social network do you find the most useful?
In a personal setting, I don’t actively use social media platforms. Professionally, I rely on LinkedIn to connect and network.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
Invest in your team. Build a culture of trust and inclusivity — one that rewards people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved. As Ben Horowitz states “one of the great things about building a tech company is the amazing people that you can hire.”
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
The most surprising aspect was just how outdated some traditional insurers are — both in terms of interacting with customers and their technology platforms. When you put customers in the center of insurance, the obstacles get much smaller. So we write policies that don’t require a doctorate. And when claims are approved, instant payments kick-in, offering the flexibility to get paid in whatever currency the customers like.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I’ve been told that I’m particularly adept at staying calm and finding solutions in trying circumstances. I believe this has helped me throughout my career — keeping calm as a leader helps everybody else stay calm and contribute to the team with rational and objective input.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I truly believe that getting quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. I’m lucky in that I’m able to sleep nearly anywhere — cramped long haul flights, brightly lit rooms, weird timezones all don’t faze me. I typically try to get 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep a night.
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
Trust your team — you hired them for a reason, so let them do what they are skilled at. Delegate and outsource tasks to the right people so you can focus on what’s really important for your business. Embody the old saying “trust but verify”; make sure everyone confirms they understand what’s required.