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.
Each week we feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become our 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 Dave Schappell, Director of Marketing Operations at MyPerfectColor.com. Dave is an investor (and also runs marketing) in MyPerfectColor, where they make Exact Match Spray Paint; in addition, he’s an active angel investor in several Seattle startups including Skilljar, Downstream, Gamesight and Tomorrow.me. He was formerly a Director of Business Development at Amazon Web Services, focused on the early-stage startup community. Prior to that, he was the Founder of TeachStreet.com, led marketing and product development at JibJab and Unitus, and also worked with Amazon from ’98 to ’04. He has a B.S. in Accounting from the Pennsylvania State University and attended the MBA program at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Here in his own words is how he gets everything done.
Location: I’ve lived all over during the last 20+ years (Seattle, LA, London), but currently live on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, NH.
Number of unread emails right now? I’m not normal. I have 4 in my personal gmail and 19 in my work gmail. I archive quickly, and move things to Wunderlist, my calendar, or my urgent “to do today” list that’s captured either in a Word doc or on post-its. The multiple lists can be a mess, but each serves a short-term vs. longer-term purpose.
First app checked in the morning? Probably email, just to see if anything interesting landed. After that, I’ll check to see if the Dodgers won (again); since the west coast games start so late, I generally don’t see more than a few innings before falling asleep.
First thing you do when you come into work? I work from home, so my day usually starts with turning on the coffee maker and taking Buddy the Dog out for his morning rituals. I then park myself in front of the laptop and get at the gmail & prioritization of the day’s work.
What is your email management strategy? I love gmail. I try to quickly archive anything that doesn’t have action items. And if it’s something that I’d like to review, but don’t need front & center, I’ll leave myself a to-do to check it later (maybe on my Saturday morning calendar). Then if I don’t feel like doing that reading on Saturday, I never see those emails gain. With that said, I do have a bad habit of leaving important tasks in my inbox and having time lapses occur. I just do my best to scan it every day/week/month, and finish off the archiving once something is past its likely-to-do date.
Most essential app when traveling? That’s a toss-up between TripIt and Expensify — they both do one thing very well, and have done a great job of balancing the free vs. paid features. With that said, TripIt’s paid features are becoming less valuable, as it seems like their Point Tracker functionality is getting worse by the month. So if I had to pick one, it’d be Expensify.
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? I don’t! I’d love to say that I do daily meditation and yoga, but those are more aspirational. Probably my most calming activity/hobby is cigars. I know they’re pretty bad for me, but I like that I’m parked away from my laptop for an hour or so, often just staring at the lake. It’s pretty refreshing and allows my brain to wander over ideas and problems.
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? Again, I’m probably not the person to ask here. I do my best, but seem to always skew way too much toward work once I’ve taken the plunge. For instance, I was semi-retired from Aug 2016 until Oct 2018, and during that time I exercised 6 days per week. Since diving back in with MyPerfectColor, I don’t think I’ve jogged more than a few times. That needs to change, but it’s been on my to-do list for quite a while 🙂
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? I do a summary of my work week, every week, and circulate it to key team members. While it takes 20-30 minutes each week, I find that it does a really good job of sharing information with colleagues, while also giving me a chance to review where I spent my time, so that I can think about changes for the coming days/weeks/months. When I worked in corporate America (primarily at Amazon), I also found that it made ‘review time’ pretty easy, as I could quickly scan thru my weekly updates so as to not miss high-impact activities that may have faded from memory.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? I love everything GSuite (Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, Contacts, Drive, Docs) and also use LinkedIn several times per day. I also really like Wunderlist for my to-do app, although it seems like I have to change to-do list providers every 1-2 years. Since Microsoft bought Wunderlist a few years ago, I’m sure they’ll be messing it up any day now 😉
What’s your workspace like? I work out of my home, so it’s just me, my MacBook, and a big Samsung monitor. Everything’s backed up in the cloud, so when my laptop eventually stops working, I can be back online in a few hours, after a trip to swap in a new MacBook.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? I think my use of several to-do lists (for varying urgency — today vs. in-the-next-month) makes me very effective, balancing longer-term high-impact with the ability to get a lot of urgent tasks done, so as to not be a bottleneck for others. I’m also a really fast typist 😉
What are you currently reading? I always have to go look on my Kindle, because I don’t have the book cover to see as I go past the bed every day. I really wish Amazon would make the book cover the default screen image when you power up the Kindle. But after running upstairs, I can confirm that I’m currently reading “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice”. I have no idea how that book was chosen.
Last thing you do before leaving work? Usually the last thing I do before leaving work is to scan my inbox, reprioritize to-dos for the next day, and check our company’s performance dashboard.
Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? I learned a lot from Andy Jassy, who is now the CEO of Amazon Web Services, but who was a Product Manager when Amazon.com originally hired me as a Summer MBA Intern in May 1998. He taught me the importance of both diving deep into the details, while also pulling way back to make sure we were headed in the right direction. Also, my former TeachStreet attorney and investor, Chris Hurley, taught me a massive amount about company fundraising, managing my board, risk vs. opportunity, and more.
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? There have been so many people who have believed in me, even when I doubted myself. My wife (Karen Janosky) has supported me as I have made wild changes in my career, startup investments, locations, and more. Scott Jacobson at Madrona Venture Group backed me, and what we were trying to build at TeachStreet, and led our Series A financing and dealt with my many highs and lows. Dave McClure has probably been my earliest and most consistent startup supporter, and Mike George and Jeff Blackburn helped in myriad ways. Finally, Bob Van Nortwick (he runs AWS Startup BD) has been a tireless backer of my every move. There are just so many people who positively impact your career and opportunities, and I’ve been fortunate to have so many who have positively affected my work career and opportunities.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? It’s easy to be a critic — what’s impossibly difficult is to try to create something and positively impact those around you. So, what are you going to do?
Name a guilty pleasure TV show: I’ve enjoyed all the normal shows (Game of Thrones, Chernobyl, The Wire, The Sopranos), but my guilty pleasure is probably watching the Tour de France, Seahawks and/or Dodgers games. They allow me time to just zone out, and it’s also nice to not feel like you have to see every stage/game.
Anything else you want to add? For younger people, just know that YOU own your career. It’s YOUR responsibility to carve out time every week to meet new people (in and out of your company), learn new things and help those around you to succeed. That investment of time and energy comes back to you many times over during your life, in ways you can not predict. So don’t be the person who’s waiting for everyone else to do things for you. Go out and make your boss’s and co-workers’ lives easier, and look for ways to challenge yourself and grow.
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. I’d love to see Dave Hanley (Tomorrow.me), Sandi Lin (Skilljar) and/or Connor Folley (Downstream) answer these question