Jason Norris is the man behind Dolly — an on-demand app for requesting a vehicle and a hand when moving big, heavy objects around town. A serial entrepreneur, he built the platform while he was in the process of selling his first startup, Applum.
As a senior software engineer, Norris is responsible for scaling the service and he’s the decision-maker when it comes to adding new features. But as co-founder, he also takes a leadership role in the business.
“Most of my time is spent adding features and fixing bugs, but as we’ve hired new developers I’ve been exploring more of a management role,” he said.
Norris co-founded Dolly with Mike Howell, Kelby Hawn, and Chad Wittman, three other Seattle entrepreneurs, in 2014. “I remember taking the prototype app on a cab ride and watching the map icon move, and realized it could actually be a real thing,” he said.
We caught up with Norris for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Current Location: “Dolly’s office is at 5th and Madison, and I try to work remotely a couple days a week from my home office in SLU.”
Computer types: “A sturdy 4-year-old Macbook Pro.”
Mobile devices: “iPhone 6s and a few iPads.”
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: “90 percent of my time is spent jumping between Spotify, Slack, Trello and Sublime.”
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “Everyone mainly works in a single large room that takes up a third of our office. My desk is in ‘product row’ surrounded by devs and designers. It’s a basic IKEA desk with a Cinema Display looking west out of a window. It works well when QA-ing or brainstorming, but when I need to focus I usually sneak off to our product room. There’s a comfy couch and a wall covered in Post-Its. Our Starbucks machine and I have a complicated relationship.”
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “I used to stress over things I couldn’t control until I figured out how to step back. Only concern yourself with things that matter right now and let the rest go, it will be much easier to remain calm in a crisis. Cultivate humor as a defense mechanism. And don’t be a jerk.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “Reddit, which is used to avoid business/work.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “Maybe one or two unanswered.”
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? “Only the absolute minimum. This week I have an ‘all-hands,’ a monthly accounting meeting and a 1:1 with one of our devs. One of our product team values is about avoiding meetings.”
How do you run meetings? “My preferred meeting style is to stay conscious of everyone’s time and avoid rabbit holes. End the meeting immediately if it stops being productive.”
Everyday work uniform? “Pretty nondescript. Jeans and button down shirt.”
How do you make time for family? “Most of my family is in Florida, but I don’t get to see them enough. I’m working on taking more vacation time.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “I picked the thing I like to do in my spare time as my job. Usually, I work on a side project or two.”
What are you listening to? “Having the TV on in the background helps me focus. I’m Netflixing some Louis CK stand-up currently.”
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “I get most of my news from Reddit for better or worse.”
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnerman.”
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “I would love my work day to be between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. My attempts to convince the company have been unsuccessful.”
Where do you get your best ideas? “When something breaks, or there is a forcing function like a deadline. A great solution usually jumps out.”
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “Elon Musk. I could see trying out his batching and feedback loop methods, but maybe not the 100 hour work week.”