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Convoy co-founder and CTO Grant Goodale.
Convoy co-founder and CTO Grant Goodale.

A few years ago, Convoy co-founder and CTO Grant Goodale took up running after a close friend suffered a coronary incident. The sport helps Goodale de-stress from his responsibilities running technology for the on-demand trucking startup. He also gets his best ideas during his runs, which he says help his brain go into “free-association mode.”

Goodale, a veteran of the Seattle tech community, leads the engineering team at Convoy, “working closely with our product and operations teams to ensure that we’re building the right products and tools as quickly and efficiently as possible,” as he explains.

We caught up with Goodale for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature.

Current Location: Seattle

Computer types: “Anything and everything. I spend most of my day on a MacBook (yes, the tiny one), but also use Windows and Linux machines on a regular basis.”

Mobile devices: “My daily driver is an iPhone 6 running iOS10. Convoy’s mobile app supports both iOS and Android, so I also carry a Nexus 5X.”

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: “Convoy, of course! Our dev process is cloud-based — we use AWS, Github, CircleCI, and TargetProcess to stay productive, organized, and on track as an engineering team. I also live in Slack most days.”

Personally, I use RunKeeper to track and train for running events — I’ve found their half-marathon and marathon training programs are excellent.”

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “I sit with the product and engineering teams, at the same boring IKEA sitting desk I’ve had since we moved into our first office a little over a year ago. We have an open plan office, so I get to keep in touch with the team’s day-to-day — their drive and enthusiasm keep me energized. I have good headphones for when I need to go heads down and focus.”

grant-goodale

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “Startups are intense, demanding things. I leave for work before my family wakes up, so I’m very protective of what little time I get with them when I get home. My general rule is to automate anything that can be automated and hire or build process around the things that can’t. Be ruthless in eliminating distraction.”

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “I don’t spend much time on social media these days. I use Twitter to stay current with what’s happening in the tech sector. I post on Facebook periodically to reassure family and friends that I’m still alive.

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “75. I set aside time for email daily, but most of the credit goes to an ever-increasing set of automated email rules.”

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? “Around 30, though much of that is time set aside for recruiting and interviewing. (Did I mention we’re hiring?) We try to minimize standing meetings at Convoy in favor of quick, five- to fifteen-minute syncs. We’re still small enough for that to work.

Don’t ask me about last week. Science hasn’t invented a number that big.”

How do you run meetings? “Every meeting has to have a goal and a set of next steps. If it’s a recurring meeting, the agenda for each week is kept in the same Google Doc, so it’s easy to see what to follow up on and when themes emerge.”

Everyday work uniform? “Jeans and a plaid button-down shirt. Hey, if it’s different from everyone else it’s not really a uniform, is it?”

How do you make time for family? “I work hard to make sure there’s a bright line between work time and family time, and that the people I work with understand where that line is. I’m not great at this — part of the job is being available when something comes up that needs my attention. I have an extremely understanding spouse who should probably be nominated for some sort of startup-related sainthood.”

I have an extremely understanding spouse who should probably be nominated for some sort of startup-related sainthood.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Running. I took up the sport a couple of years ago when a good friend (who happened to be a couple of years younger than me) had a sudden coronary. It was a wake-up call that I needed to start taking better care of myself and managing my stress levels more effectively.  Since then I’ve done several half-marathons and a couple of Ragnar events, including the Ragnar Trail Cascades event this past weekend. (Go team Convoy!)”

What are you listening to? “‘Paper Airplane‘ by Alison Krauss and Union Station, ‘Spiritoso‘ by Calexico and ‘Kakusei by DJ Krush. I’m probably not the guy you want in charge of your car radio on a road trip.”

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “I have a set of RSS feeds that I’ve been curating for the last decade for general and tech news, but in the last year that’s condensed down to Twitter and Ben Evans’ excellent newsletter for tech and mobile. I also occasionally read Hacker News (but not the comments).”

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu and The Box by Marc Levinson. I prefer real books to e-readers unless I’m traveling.”

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “Both. I get four to five hours’ sleep a night, a recent development that I’m still trying to figure out. I’m usually up before 6 a.m. and fall asleep somewhere between 12 to 1a.m. I find the more I run, the less I sleep.”

Where do you get your best ideas? “While running. I run while listening to music — I’ve actually listened to the same running mix over and over for the last three years, so it’s essentially background noise at this point. Between the music and the simple mechanics of breathing and putting one foot in front of the other, my mind goes into free association mode and good things happen.”

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “My co-founder, Dan Lewis. He’s the most driven, always-on person I know and, simultaneously, exceptionally good at carving out time for family.”

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