“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including Anthony Iannarino, Dave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.
Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions. You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.
This week I’m excited to feature Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer – HubSpot Sales Division. Their incredible growth, recently successful IPO, and fast-moving sales team are all indicators of how much Mark gets done. His sales team is viewed within the industry as a benchmark and role model for others to emulate. And he’s also quite generous and open about what’s working (and what’s not) on the speaking circuit for sales & marketing conferences around the country. He’s also the instructor in HubSpot Academy’s sales training course and certification with more than 15,000 salespeople enrolled so far.
Suffice it to say, Mark gets stuff done. Here, in his own words, is how he does it (editor’s note: this version of “How I Work” is longer and more conversational than most. We did it via phone during Mark’s commute home a couple weeks ago, so this is an edited transcript of that recorded conversation).
Location: Boston, Mass.
Current computers: IBM, PC.
Current mobile devices: iPhone 5S
What apps/software or tools can’t you live without? Run Keeper. I’m an avid runner. I like Skitcher because I do a lot of commuting and it’s a way for me to get up-to-speed with the news without having to read. I can just listen. I’m a pretty traditional Gmail calendar guy. Another one I’ve been using is a contact management system out of the UK, Ever Contact. Every day it crawls your email and it adds contacts directly to your Gmail and iPhone from the email signature. It’s beautiful because I get a flurry of stuff. How many times have you emailed me? And I’ve never updated you as a contact. But now I have your mobile phone; I just called you because of Ever Contact because at some point you emailed me … it’s beautiful. “Hey Mark, you should meet Ralph, he does work at so and so.” And Ralph writes back, “Yeah, sure Ralph. Can you schedule a call with Violetta?” And two days later when I have my call with Ralph I have his cell phone in my phone because he sent me an email with his signature. Plus you’re automatically building all those contacts, so that’s great. Obviously my mobile Gmail and mobile calendar is key for me, and then HubSpot I do all my social media through the mobile app. And then Side Kick, which is our former signals product for emails.
What is your work environment like?: I don’t have a desk–which I don’t want. For me a desk means maintenance. If I had a desk I’d need to have one of those digital photo things of my kids which means I’d have to update every three months so my kids actually look updated. And I’d need one of those little calendar blocks with the day and the date and the month and I’ve have to turn it every day just to say I’m updated. I keep my laptop and my notebook in a corner. I walk in. I grab it if I need it and I go to my meetings and if I have alone time or independent time where I’m just going to crank, we have plenty of individual space where I can crank on things. So my workspace at HubSpot is our 30,000 square foot office. I use a big chunk of it and probably all the coffee shops and restaurants around it. Very virtual.
What are some unique things you’ve done from a time management or productivity standpoint?: Yeah, so let me just give you my rant. When I was in 10th grade I read a biography on Ben Franklin and there was one thing that stuck with me that I never knew I’d do for my life, but I have. Before he went to bed at night he wrote down everything he did that day, hour by hour, and everything he planned to do tomorrow, hour by hour and I’ve done that my entire life since. Literally, whenever that was (the 80’s), I had a literally had a little pad on my bed and I’d write it all down– did that straight through college. At some point through the years I stopped writing down what I did–Even though it was very interesting to reflect on was I productive that day? I was able to process the day and think about what I learned. But I’ve never given up on what I’m going to do the next day. It’s so valuable to be able to plan out that time and it relieves stress to know you have these four things to do and you’ve actually visualized and analyzed that you have time to do it. And then at 10 AM you know if you’re on pace to get done what you need to get done in a day. It’s just comforting. I’ve transitioned that to a monster Excel document. I should probably try to upgrade it to an EverNote or a Google doc spreadsheet or something else but I just can’t. I can’t get over putting it in the cloud right now because God forbid I don’t have access. I need access to this thing. That’s why I call it My To Do’s Excel Document. And literally there’s 150 things there. Everything from strategically what I’m trying to get done at work tomorrow to my wife’s birthday to sending out the email for my kids’ football coaching thing. It’s got everything. My life is in there. I go into this document probably three times a day and definitely every night before I shut down and ask myself what was I supposed to get done today? and did I do it?. And all my one-on-ones with my guys are in there so if I’m in one meeting with a guy and something comes up with another person who reports to me, I just go into My To-Do’s list for that person and read the comments on what I should be reviewing. And every night I just update what I did today and what do I have to do tomorrow? and push tasks off or finish them. So that’s a pretty regimented process.
I’ve extended it out to be done on a monthly basis so what I do on the 20th of every month is I look at the next month and I think a little bit more long term at this point. I block out everything I need to get done in that next month on the 20th of the prior month. I’ll have a goal, like working on the positioning of this new product, so I want to have a weekly meeting and film review with that team, all week, all month because that’s such a critical piece right now. So I’ll block that in. And then I’ll have my weekly one-on-one’s on my direct reports and I block those in. Whatever strategically I’m doing, I’m blocking out time. We’re doing annual planning so I have a big presentation in three weeks to the whole senior management team so I want to have three, four blocks plus reviews with different people and I’ll just visualize it and block it all out and everyone complains at HubSpot that it’s so hard to get in my calendar and I’m just like yeah, it is, because I’m working on the stuff that’s important to me and my role and my contribution to the company. I’ll ask them, “What ’you got?” And if it’s mission critical, great I will move it around. I don’t need to do that one-on-one tomorrow. I’ll move it. Listen, I’ll stay up till 11 PM and do my strategy review then because what you have is mission critical. But if it’s not, then hey, fine. I’m free in two weeks. Let’s throw something on the calendar. So that process makes sure I’m proactively managing my role and my day and my month and not just reacting to whatever the haphazard demands of the company and the outside world are on my time.
I’d just be lost, man. I wouldn’t know what to do. Seriously if my To-Do document got deleted, which is almost impossible because obviously I rely on Dropbox and I’ve got it on three different computers. I would be fucked dude. I really don’t know when my parents’ anniversary is. You know what I’m saying? I would be screwed. I would be so screwed. I think that’s really what it does is buy you memory capacity and frees up brain CPU in a way. A lot of people have to expend general brainpower remembering all this stuff. I put it in place and it maximizes CPU like what I’m thinking about and what I need to be focused on.
Do you listen to anything at work? No, not at work. And really, I’m just easily distracted. So, even when I’m doing work at home going through e-mails I don’t listen to music unless I’m driving. I just took up the guitar the last year so I’ve just been listening to a bunch of different things and I listen to AC/DC when I’m running religiously but not when I’m just cranking away.
What are you currently reading? I spent a lot of time writing a book this summer. I wrote, The Sales Acceleration Formula: Building a HubSpot Sales Team. That consumed a lot of my literary free time. I’m about to read Jill Konrath’s new book, Agile Selling. I’ve got a vacation coming up in a few weeks and I want to read the new book on how Google works by the founders.
What’s your sleep routine look like? Not enough. I’m a night owl so I rarely go to bed before 1 AM. Some mornings I’m up at 6:30 and other mornings I sleep in ‘till like 8 or so to miss the traffic. I can survive many days in a row on four or five hours of sleep as long as I can get a seven or eight-hour in once or twice a week.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? That’s a tough one. I don’t know where I picked it up. But one of the philosophies, wherever it was, I think I read it in a book or it was a combination of different things is– Just appreciating who I am as a unique individual; really trying to reflect on that and using that to drive making the world a better place. I think all too often people are obsessed with society’s perception of them or the hot thing of the week.
I always think about going through business school and it was like five years before I was doing it everyone was starting companies and then when I was going through everyone was going into banking and consulting because start-ups dried up. And then five years because dried up later banking died so everyone was doing like these jobs. When you follow the herd it’s an uphill battle and you don’t stand out versus if you can really just understand why you’re unique and turn over rocks that aren’t being turned over. I think amazing things happen. So that’s just a philosophy I live by.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these questions. Richard Branson. I’m a passion entrepreneur and his style resonates the most with me. I like the way he does things.