By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

“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 now for the last few years we’ve had our own series featuring B2B sales, marketing or business leaders!  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 Sims, founder and CEO of Fikes Products.  A former collegiate football player and past president of the Entrepreneurs Organization Seattle chapter, in addition to running his business Mark is active with the YMCA and helping new entrepreneurs worldwide.  Here in his own words is how he gets stuff done.

Location: My main distribution center in Kent, WA mostly but also Portland and Denver offices or wherever I travel I’m pretty good at making do.

Number of unread emails right now? Zero, but I am on a 15 hour flight so we’ll see what it looks like when I land?

First app checked in the morning? It’s a tossup between my e-mail to see anything of priority first thing where I could make a phone call on my way to the office. If not e-mail Yahoo Finance to see the day’s market trends.

First thing you do when you come into work? I come in and pop my laptop in it’s docking station. I then begin cracking on my to do list that I left on my desk the day before.  My ritual is 30 minutes of time at my desk working on activities that involve anything but e-mail. I never do coffee if I’m in my main office. I instead have a drink comprised of 1 healthy teaspoon of turmeric, 1 cup of warm water, 1 whole lemon juiced and a pinch of black pepper for quicker absorption into my system.

What is your email management strategy? I do e-mail in a couple select segments throughout the day (late morning, right after lunch and late in the day) and don’t work on it continually.  I quickly delete what I don’t need, archive or file away what I want to save and immediately respond to what’s urgent or draft an e-mail (so I don’t forget) that are important but not time sensitive.

Most essential app when traveling?  In terms of most essential I’d have to say Google Maps because whether it’s domestically or internationally I find it crazy accurate to get me from point A to B!

How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? I get up at 5 a.m. three to four mornings per week for a solid cross fit workout in my garage or a nearby neighbor’s garage.  The workouts are intense and intentional to be done in 45 minutes or less.  In addition to exercise I take a minimum of 10 minutes to recite various things in my life I’m grateful for as well as numerous positive affirmations.  I do most of this in the morning time but sometimes throughout the day depending upon what may come but either way these rituals help keep me centered. If I’m really wound up during a day and I have a private space I’ll do a quick 4 minute Tabata to take the edge off.

What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? I believe balance ebbs and flows depending upon what you’re in the midst of.  My perspective is to live life intensely in everything I do. It’s not a daily clock or weekly checklist. I believe life has different seasons and varying needs based upon them.  Whether that’s my family, my businesses, travel, personal development, key relationships or my community I put in as much time, energy and attention I believe each requires to deliver an optimal outcome.

Are there any work rituals critical to your success?  I’ve become a very strong optimizer of time. I look to account for all my time throughout the day. That may be drive time where I could be speaking to someone or listening to a book on audio.  If I’m waiting in line for an extra 5 minutes, I hadn’t planned on I’ll beginning the drafting an e-mail never choosing any idle time. I never waste a lunch time frame whatever I choose to do, it’s always productive.  My days are happily spent challenged to get the most out of them but never looked at leisurely. I save most of my leisure approach for times spent with my wife and two boys or vacations.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? I love Zoom Meetings and Doodle scheduler.

What’s your workspace like? Spacious, tidy, warm and welcoming with touches of personal, family and business references in the form of art, quotes, pictures and memorabilia. I also have bookshelves with various books I’ve read, have yet to read and extra’s I have on the shelves which I loan out as a part of my company’s’ learning library culture.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? It may seem benign but on my office focus days I never order lunch, go get it or even think about it really. My assistant has a rolling rotation of choices that appear at a set time. I crank away at planned projects at my desk while obtaining healthy sustenance automatically ensuring lunch itself is never a project.

What are you currently reading? I’m re-reading Jack Dalys Hyper Sales Growth.

Last thing you do before leaving work? In the final 10 minutes before I leave the office I cross out and update my task list from the day and quickly prepare my checklist for tomorrow.

Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? A couple high school and college football coaches of mine, a few college professors at Montana State that I’m grateful left their previous corporate careers to enjoy the Rocky Mountain outdoors and impart their invaluable business wisdom and failures.  Last but not least the amazing mentors and peers I’ve encountered along the way from my beloved local chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO Seattle).

Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? My wonderful wife Susie who let’s me do my thing almost without question trusting me all the way.  My leadership team at Fikes who believes in my vision along with my trust and confidence in them to be their best.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?  If you know your WHY you can endure any how!  Tap into what motivates you first to find your purpose and also take the time to understand what motivates those who matter around you.

Name a guilty pleasure TV show  Game of Thrones & Ozark.

Anything else you want to add? In my experience if you reach a point in life where you have all or most of the material essentials required for you and your loved ones please take a moment and recognize that. I hope you don’t do what I did and constantly disregard it and expect you should’ve been there earlier than you actually arrived. All I did for too long was discount my work ethic and efforts to such an extent it almost sabotaged my motivation toward future accomplishments.  Although my realization was later than it should’ve been on my qualification as a strong provider, I finally took some moments to celebrate.  Later, through the help and encouragement of fellow entrepreneurs I finally began feeling the power of creating unique experiences.  I found pure joy and energy curating special vacations with family, flying out of town to that away football game, generously giving to worthy causes, going on that epoch fly fishing trip with friends or getting way out of my comfort zone climbing mountains.  In the end I have found nothing in life has motivated me more than delivering memorable experiences for my family, my friends and myself.

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions.  Russell Wilson


You can Nominate someone here.