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Rover CTO Scott Porad with his dog Oscar.
Rover CTO Scott Porad with his dog Oscar.

Scott Porad leads the technology team at Rover, a Seattle startup that connects dog owners with boarders and walkers. So it should come as no surprise that he gets his best ideas when walking his dog, Oscar.

“On a day-to-day basis, I mostly spend my time working to remove obstacles so that the team of developers, designers and planners we have at Rover can do what they do best — create the website and mobile apps that connect pet parents with dog boarding and dog walkers in their neighborhood,” he said.

Porad is also a partner of Do206.com, a guide for events and giveaways in Seattle. Before Rover, he served as CTO of Cheezburger, a network of comedy sites.

We caught up with Porad for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location: Seattle, Washington.

Computer types: MacBook Pro

Mobile devices: Like all the cool kids, I have an iPhone 6 with a cracked screen.

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Are there other apps besides Words with Friends? Yes, Rover and Do206.com have amazing apps! All the other apps are dead to me.

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? I sit at an ordinary desk on the open floor like all the other people on my team. I’m sort of fickle when it comes to sitting versus standing — every few months I’ll convert to a standing desk, then a few months later back again.  I’d like to try a treadmill desk, but haven’t been brave enough to make that commitment just yet.

scott porad

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? My overall strategy for managing life is to create less things to manage. I make systems and processes and schemes in my life, so that I have fewer things to stay on top of. The systems just take care of it for me. I keep lists, use checklists and put reminders on my calendar for far out in the future. I do many things the same way each time, so I don’t have to think about what I’m doing. A little, teeny example would be that I put my car keys in a specific spot at home, so I don’t have to think about where I left them.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? Facebook. In general, I don’t use it for business or work — to me, Facebook is for connecting with friends and family. I use LinkedIn for work. Occasionally, I’ll share posts on Facebook about a business I’m involved with, or a friends’ business, but only if it’s something I genuinely think my friends would like to know about.”

scott poradCurrent number of unanswered emails in your inbox? 17. I’m pretty good at staying on top of email. I wrote a blog post a few years ago about how I deal with email, which can be summed up as “filter aggressively to focus on the important messages.” My process has changed slightly since I wrote the post (for example, I now read the “to me” first instead of last), but overall it’s the same strategy.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 40. I wish I had fewer meetings and larger blocks of uninterrupted time, but the nature of my role involves connecting with people, so what are you gonna do?

How do you run meetings? First, keep it short — I schedule meetings for 25 or 45 minutes. Usually, you can get done in 20 or 45 minutes the same amount of stuff you can get done in 30 or 60 minutes.  Second, I try to be clear at the start about the purpose of the meeting. Third, I have repeatable agendas for recurring meetings — following the same pattern each time presents opportunities for optimization.  Fourth, I take notes — I’m terribly forgetful, so I write stuff down.

Everyday work uniform? I once read that every grown man should have a uniform. In the summer my uniform is a short-sleeve Penguin button-down. In the winter, I add a wool sweater.

How do you make time for family? I make time for family by having clear boundaries — working when I’m working, and letting go of the work when I’m not.  My experience has been that the 24/7-sort-of-working-all-the-time-but-not-really-working-or-recharging wasn’t very effective for either work for family. So, for me, one thing at a time is better.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Best stress reliever is a tough question — I’m sort of a stress-wad all the time. But, I enjoy reading quite a bit, and I also enjoy plucking at the guitar or piano, so those are ways I unplug. I recently learned how to play the ukulele, which is a fun little instrument!

What are you listening to? Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka, But You Caint Use My Phone by Erykah Badu, Fresh Jams Summer ’16 by Do206, What Went Down by Foals.

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? Read the Seattle Times’ Morning Brief email to keep up on what’s going on in my city. Then, skim the New York Times homepage to get a general overview of what’s going on in the world, and check out the most e-mailed to see what’s popular.  Of course, I check GeekWire daily to keep on top of the tech scene. I get the Do206 newsletter to keep up on arts and entertainment. For longer reads, the Brain Pickings and Wait But Why newsletters are excellent.  I’m fairly religious about reading The New Yorker magazine on the weekend.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Funny Girl by Nick Hornby and Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  I figure that I have enough screens in my life, so I read real books, not an e-reader.

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? In my imagination, I’m an early riser, but in reality, I’m a night owl. I wake up naturally around 7 a.m., and get a second wind around 10 p.m.

Where do you get your best ideas? When I’m walking my dog, Oscar. Seriously…I’m not just saying that because of Rover. Being out and about gives my mind time to wander.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? I admire Brent Turner, Rover’s COO, for his focus and intensity, and Joe Heitzeberg because he makes “just doing it” look effortless.

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