Trending: Microsoft to acquire machine learning startup Bonsai, fueling AI efforts

QuoteWizard CEO Scott Peyree.
QuoteWizard CEO Scott Peyree.

Scott Peyree isn’t afraid to unplug — and he doesn’t want his employees to be afraid, either. That commitment to work-life balance is striking, considering Peyree helped grow QuoteWizard from a small startup to a 200-person company that he says is on pace to do $100 million in revenue this year.

Ten years ago, Peyree co-founded QuoteWizard, a tool that allows consumers to compare insurance rates free of charge. Over the past decade, the platform has grown to include more than 8,000 agents in each of the 50 U.S. states.

“Along with my partners, I run the company and try to ensure that everything we do, ranging from our technology to our customer service, is properly aligned to serve consumers and our insurance industry clients,” said Peyree. “My role is balanced between forward-looking strategy and weighing in on day-to-day operations, hiring, the progress of our technology platform and managing our growth.”

Peyree shared his management strategy, productivity secrets, and tips for keeping it all in balance with GeekWire for this installment of Working Geek, a regular feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location: QuoteWizard is based in Pioneer Square and we have been here for the past decade.

Computer types: I am on a PC and have a Microsoft Surface, which are pretty popular here in the office.

Mobile devices: iPhone 6.

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: I regularly use iRobot and Ring at home, along with a few other things like Uber, Tune-in Radio, Sonos and Spotify. In terms of software, we’re mostly a Microsoft shop and use a ton of their software and services.

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? Our offices are located in four full floors of Pioneer Square’s Interurban Building. The workspace has a very open floorplan, with lots of sitting and gathering areas, in addition to more traditional conference rooms. We did this intentionally to encourage collaboration, open communication and an overall casual atmosphere. I like it because it allows for impromptu meetings and collaboration. It also enables us to easily embed key people into teams to foster productivity by putting them on the front lines rather than just sitting in their departments. For example, if I have a developer working regularly with my finance team, why not just put the developer on the finance team? If I have a data scientist working regularly with my search engine marketing team, why not have that person sit with the search team?

QuoteWizard's Pioneer Square office.
QuoteWizard’s Pioneer Square office.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? I cannot fathom working 60-70 hour weeks and don’t want my employees to either. Work hard but more importantly work smart. It’s easier to balance life if you’re not spending all of it working. Our culture is about working very hard and being focused when we’re here in the office, and not being afraid to unplug and enjoy life outside of the office when we’re not.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I only use LinkedIn. It’s great for building professional ties and new relationships with people in the broader community as well as getting relevant information pretty easily. Other than that, I’m not even on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the others. I am sure they have tremendous utility for others, but I just haven’t had the need to go there.

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Four.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? I have eight standing meetings per week; two per day, Monday through Thursday. I like having the flexibility to have impromptu meetings, so strive to not overbook my schedule with too many planned meetings. I also have found that leaving Fridays open makes sense.

How do you run meetings? First of all, it’s important to have a defined purpose for a meeting. I’m not super process-oriented when it comes to meetings, but do think a couple of basics are important: One, be sure to get ALL of the information on the table to enable open and complete discussion; and two, make sure you have decisions or defined next steps at the end. I also believe that just because you set aside an hour for a meeting, it doesn’t mean you have to fill that full hour. If you can get things done in 40 minutes, call it a day and move on to other things.

Everyday work uniform? Nothing fancy: You’ll usually find me in a pair of jeans, and short-sleeved button-up polo.

How do you make time for family? It comes back to the notion of working smart and not subscribing to the idea that a 60-70 hour work week is needed. All of us work very hard, but we’re not afraid to unplug. I rarely get home later than 6:30 and enjoy time with my family for dinner and hanging out before bedtime. If something arises, I can address it after the kids have gone to bed.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? I suppose this is pretty unusual, but I love making model airplanes, with a focus on modern military aircraft from all over the world. Of course, I also love spending time with my wife and kids, listening to music/playing the piano, skiing in the winter, watersports in the summer, and attending Mariners games in-person or watching them on TV.

What are you listening to? If I can’t download or stream it, I’m not listening to it (I don’t own CDs anymore). I love classic rock like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, as well as Foo Fighters and 90s music like Alice in Chains, Tool, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? Locally I check out GeekWire, Seattle Times, Puget Sound Business Journal. Nationally I enjoy sites like TechCrunch and check my Google news feeds pretty regularly.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? The 12th Planet” by Zecharia Sitchin and 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I’m really into Sci-Fi from authors like Iain Banks.

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? I am a night owl! I usually go to bed around midnight or 12:30 and am up around 7:00.

Where do you get your best ideas? There is so much information coming at us and for me, ideas are a culmination of getting and refining all of this. I don’t really have a special place for ideas; they happen in all settings, I guess. My own ideas aren’t about inventing the wheel; they’re about thinking of ways to do things better, to optimize efficiency of something that already exists.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? I’m not a big believer in emulating one person’s work style, but learning from many sources and through trial to develop your own style. I do spend a lot of time reading about leadership styles and strategic development techniques. So I just try to take it all in and use things that work for me. I’m a believer in leading by communicating ‘intent’ and letting great people do great things in the “Turn the Ship Around” style addressed by David Marquet’s book.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.