“How I Work” is a periodic feature in which people share their daily routines and workflow secrets.
It’s a jungle in the creative employment market. Rick Myers (@RickM) is founder and CEO of Talent Zoo, an employment/recruitment website that serves the advertising, marketing, public relations, digital media, and social media markets. He has also co-founded Strongbox West, a co-working space for entrepreneurs and startup folks on Atlanta’s Westside. Now, he spends time advising startups and reviewing potential startups to invest in.
We caught up with Rick to learn some tricks from this veteran of the Atlanta startup and creative agency scenes.
What’s your current role?
I’m the Founder & CEO of Talent Zoo, the Co-Founder of Strongbox West, we also have a small real estate firm, and at home I’m in charge of taking out the trash.
What time do you wake up?
Right now, I wake up when I wake up. Some days it’s early, some days it’s slightly later. I’m experimenting a bit with letting go of a time schedule and trying more of an energy schedule. Some things are working, some aren’t.
Describe your typical morning routine:
Currently, I don’t have a typical morning routine. Some mornings I jump out of bed early and hit the office early. Other mornings, I exercise before heading in. Once I’m at the shop, I work off my index card of things to accomplish that day. I break the quarter down into monthly goals and then the month down into weekly goals, and that drives my days & weeks.
Is lunch a time for solace or socializing? Why?
Business lunches are overrated. I’d rather eat at my desk or step out for a quick bite with someone at the company and hear about their life. Today at lunch you’re interviewing me.
How often do you check email?
Too often. For many years my assistant answered my e-mails and it worked well for me. Recently though I decided to be assistant free. It’s been a good move in many ways but there are drawbacks and e-mail management is one of them. Frankly, I’d like to see something better than e-mail.
How often do you check social media?
I’ve been a big believer in social media but I check it infrequently and do so only when I have a break in the day. I also tend to use social media in waves. This summer, I tweeted infrequently. I have to be in the mindset and don’t like to force it for the sake of tweeting. Seems so many people just push posts out and I’ve been guilty of that, and then we’re all just adding to the noise. If I feel I have something worth tweeting, I tweet. Still, one man’s tweet is another man’s trash.
Describe your typical afternoon routine:
In addition to growing our current businesses I’m looking at and reviewing new opportunities and helping some younger companies launch, so my afternoons can be pretty different from quarter to quarter. It really depends on what we’re trying to accomplish at that time. Part of my goal is to build neat things, and in the process I’m usually trying to remove myself. I tend to hire very competent and capable people and if I do my job right they won’t need me so I can go onto the next thing, and of course I can come back if needed to discuss product, service, recruiting & retention, sales & marketing, etc.
What time do you go home?
It varies. I’d love to say when the work is done, but is the work ever done? You have to balance yourself. For years, I could have been the poster child for an unbalanced life. It took a great deal of work to launch and establish Talent Zoo. Many people who are launching businesses vastly underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes, and the sacrifices needed, if they want to build and sustain a business. Today, I’m very fortunate and live a pretty privileged and harmonious life.
Describe your typical evening routine:
Every evening is different. Some evenings there are functions, sometimes I’m out, and of course some evenings I’m home. I like to learn and accomplish things so I read and have personal projects I’m working on.
What daily habits fuel your success?
Showering & brushing my teeth. If I didn’t shower and brush my teeth I think things would be more difficult for me. You might think I’m being a wise-ass but think about it.
OK then, do you have a daily habit other than personal grooming that helps your success?
Discipline and creativity have helped me. So has working hard, but let’s just stay with discipline and creativity. Just showing up is half the battle, and doing so in a way where you are open and you apply yourself. I’ve always shown up and I’ve largely kept an open mind and been open to new ideas & ways of looking at and doing things. That’s the creative part. You can find creativity if you look, and if you can cultivate an environment that is both disciplined and creative you’re way ahead of the game.
What daily habits hinder your success?
Email, SMS, social media, interruptions. All the minor stuff that distracts us and takes focus off the things that really matter. So much of America is majoring in minor things and that battle is ever present in business.
What tools/tech are essential to you?
Pen, paper, a phone and a cup of coffee are all I really need. I have most of the latest “must have” gizmos, plus a few more. Most of them are bullshit. Sure they are fun and a bit of me certainly enjoys buying and playing with the latest technology, but it’s unnecessary. I justify some of it saying I need to stay on top of things, but that’s largely an excuse. I built Talent Zoo with far fewer tools and if I lost everything today I would start all over again with a pen, paper, a phone and a coffee.
What’s one piece of advice you wish you could go back in time and give to your younger self?
Aren’t we all besieged with advice these days? Listen, I would tell myself the same thing then as I would say to myself today. Have the courage and willpower to practice the advice, and isn’t that the real trick? On the most elementary levels we’ve all been advised to make healthy choices, save our pennies and be our own person but how often do we heed the advice? Following good advice and making smart daily decisions is the real challenge we’re all confronting.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yep. F*ck Fear! Follow your heart – it knows the way.