This is the first installment of ‘Monday Routines’, in which software people like you recount their Monday rituals. The goal is to peer into their day-to-day patterns and habits as they lead teams, collaborate, and deliver great software. Hopefully you’ll discover a tidbit or two to help you with your routine.
Mike Baukes is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of UpGuard, a company that scores the security risks of companies across the world. Imagine a credit score, but for security. Mike has 15 years experience in software and has filled many different roles in the UK, Australia, and San Francisco.
UpGuard has offices in prime locations around the globe, including Australia, Portland, and California. And by the way, they’re hiring.
FAMILY MAN My wife and I have a couple of kids. It’s really good. I am very domesticated in that regard. I always spend time with them in the morning, just hanging out, because I may not see them until reasonably late that night.
For the first few years I wouldn’t see them in the morning or at night—I was working such long hours. But for the last two years I’ve been slowly moving my workload over to other, and frankly better, people. That has freed up time to make family check-ins part of the daily routine. Time to just hang out, to hear what they’re looking forward to, and what they’ve been thinking about. Time to enjoy my wife’s conversation. Family is a really powerful motivator for me.
Then, like most people, I am continuously looking at my phone, looking at what happened overnight, the stuff that I missed. I get dropped off by my wife along with the kids in the morning. Once at the office, I read the paper and start preparing for the day.
STRATEGIC MONDAY We do standups in the morning with Status Hero. The whole company is on it. It’s all publicly shared and the whole company can see everyone’s stand up activity. It’s really good to see what blockers are happening so you can address them quickly. Then it’s usually a few phone calls to discuss either something that we’re planning or already doing.
Around 10 a.m. we start the management meeting. The whole executive committee, in one group, talking about plans for the week. What are we going to do, what blockers are in the way, and how does it all relate to company strategies? I power through that and then most of my time now is consumed with interviewing, hiring people, and trying to find talent. That and looking at strategic components and dealing with those.
Towards the end of the day, it’s onto keeping abreast of what everyone’s up to related to customers. I get involved with that to reduce the break points that might happen naturally.
TRANSPARENCY The whole organization was built to be transparent so that teams can get the right information from each other, build the right stuff, get customer feedback, improve the product, and move on. A lot of technology that wasn’t available to us before in corporate life is abundantly available now, and that makes all of the above really easy. Stuff that would typically turn into an arduous three-hour session with a group of people who didn’t have the right answers can now be dealt with in under an hour. It’s really pleasant these days because it’s more about the tactics for the week and getting a view of where we’re heading strategically.
THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER Eighteen months ago there were five of us. Now we’re up to sixty people. We’ve been adding more management layers. Technically there are three: My co-founder and I and the COO. Then there’s a VP layer of about seven people. Under that are teams, generally with no more than three people to a team.
I look after the Sales, Marketing, and Success functions. My Co-founder and Co-CEO, Allen, has three teams assigned to him, as well as the COO. Everything is set up for threes. It’s very agile and fast. We get things done very quickly.
REMOVING IMPEDIMENTS One of our company philosophies is to remove all impediments, so for lunch we get Eatsa delivered for everyone. In the lunchroom there are usually people from all parts of the company scattered around. People playing video games, people eating lunch, and lately even people going on Pokemon walks. Sometimes there’s chaos on one side where they’re playing games. Sometimes there’s soothing music coming from someone with a guitar. It’s really cool like that.
Basically my day is focused on removing as many obstacles as I can for as many people as I can. We’re just focused on getting stuff out of their way, which is how it should be.
WINDING DOWN We’ve got a very strict time for when the kids go to bed, so I have to be home to have at least a half-hour window to tuck them into bed and read them a book. Then I spend an hour with my wife, usually watching something. Right now we’re watching “The Night Of” on HBO. Then she goes to bed and I go back to work. I spend most of my time awake.