Doug Suttles believes in wearing many hats. As CEO and co-founder of Seattle-based Ookla, he prefers a hands-on strategy for managing the decade-old company.
“My approach to steering the ship means having my hands in all facets of the business, including maintaining the core of who we are as a team,” he said.
Ookla is the company behind Speedtest, a widely-used app for testing Internet connectivity. Speedtest’s millions of users worldwide produce “a massive and unique enterprise data platform,” Suttles says.
He shared his leadership and productivity tips for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Current Location: Seattle, WA.
Computer types: Mac Pro and MacBook Air.
Mobile devices: iPhone 6 Plus.
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: “I use Clear to keep track of the things I need to get done, and we rely heavily on Slack as our virtual office. I also listen to music whenever possible and use Spotify a ton.”
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “I am a firm believer in a hybrid office environment where working from home half of the time is the norm. Some types of work are just easier to get done from home or another non-office space. All of our employees are encouraged to work from the space that’s best for them. Ookla spent many years as an entirely virtual company, and that it is still baked into our DNA.
With that said, we’ve worked hard to make our recently remodeled downtown Seattle office a fun and inspiring space that people love spending time in. As a team, we come together in the office every Wednesday and have our big meetings, company-provided lunch, pinball and monthly team outings. I personally love spending time in our office.”
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “Make sure you enjoy what you do. If work is fun, then stress is minimized. Your time away from work becomes less about distraction and more about the pure enjoyment of life.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “Likely the most common answer to this one — Facebook for personal and LinkedIn for business.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “Less than five — keeping up with my email is how I stay focused and on top of everything. It allows me to relax much more easily. My wife has accepted that I am much more fun to be around during vacations when I keep my email organized.”
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? “Around 20.”
How do you run meetings? “I am a big fan of efficiency. We only meet when necessary, and if a meeting only needs 10 minutes then it ends at 10 minutes. Brainstorming and collaboration are key to making the most of meetings. While I’ll often play the role of moderator to keep things focused on the topic at hand, I encourage participation from everyone.”
Everyday work uniform? “Jeans or shorts with a t-shirt, but I’ll put on a suit when it is called for.”
How do you make time for family? “Having a fairly flexible work schedule means having a very accommodating family schedule. It is a benefit of the semi-virtual office environment at Ookla.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Socializing with family and friends tops the list for me. I also like to binge on television shows with my wife when we can.”
What are you listening to? “Voyager from Australia tops my current list, but I listen to all sorts of metal and classic synth pop.”
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “Bleacher Report and Digg are my two primary daily sources.”
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “After starting Ookla and having kids — this is something that I unfortunately left behind. I don’t read many books these days.”
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “I try to get eight hours of sleep per night when possible. My kids don’t let me sleep in, so I am usually in bed before midnight.”
Where do you get your best ideas? “Definitely the shower.”
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “I can’t say I pay much attention to the work styles of specific people outside of Ookla, but I tend to admire those who don’t preach from a pedestal and embrace wearing many hats. The very best teams are full of individuals that help each other achieve goals — no matter how menial a task may seem.”