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Steven Sinofsky - GeekWire Startup Day 2016
Steven Sinofsky at GeekWire Startup Day. (GeekWire File Photo)

When emailing or texting with Steven Sinofsky, one sometimes gets the impression that he has a team working on his behalf, responding to inbound messages with substance and speed. And then there’s another team writing his blog posts, right?

Nope, it’s all Sinofsky, the Andreessen Horowitz board partner, who is a director at Product Hunt, Tanium and Everlaw, and an adviser to Box. A former Microsoft executive, Sinofsky oversaw Office development before serving as Windows president, so he knows productivity technology from the inside.

typing
Gif by Niv Dror @Nivo0o0

“I permit myself to make a lot of typos and mistakes and just correct them,” Sinofsky explained in a recent Q&A on Product Hunt, when asked how he gets so much done. (The GIF at right was posted as part of that Q&A.)

Sinofsky shares more details in the latest installment of our Working Geek feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location: Bay Area

Preferred computer: iPad Pro 9.7″ or alternatively Surface Book, MacBook, Lenovo Yoga.

Current mobile devices/smartphone: iPhone 6S Plus or Nexus 6P.

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Most used include: Slack, Evernote, Messenger, LinkedIn, Google Maps, Twitter, Mindbody, Outlook.

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? I work best where the founders work so I find myself “on location” as much as possible. If the company doesn’t have offices yet (or a meeting space) then the nearby Philz, Moz, or (my favorite) a diner will do. It works for me because a huge part of doing my best to assist startups is immersing myself in their context. I write a lot and do most of that at breakfast hours just like I did up in Seattle at Planet Java.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Respect other people’s time by staying on time and on schedule. Don’t move things or people around as easily as Outlook lets you. Don’t let the urgent become important. Don’t book a day of meetings back to back—no one can really be effective that way. Leave time to go from place to place.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? Twitter for work.

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Zero.

At PH
Steven Sinofsky at Product Hunt. Credit: Niv Dror.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 12 — never more than 50% of the time. [Note: This is one of the tips from One Strategy, Sinofsky’s 2009 book with Harvard Business School professor Marco Iansiti.]

How do you run meetings? In this role, founders and CEOs run the meetings and so I follow their lead! I do have the opportunity to share my lessons in leading meetings which I’m always happy to do.

Everyday work uniform? Jeans, t-shirt, solid v-neck sweater, sneakers.

How do you make time for family? You just do.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Yoga, ? ॐ

What are you listening to? CNN or CNBC (streaming, in the car, or on tv) during work hours, otherwise binging on something on Netflix.

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? I love newsletters. A few would be Owen Williams’ Charged WeeklyMattermark Dailya16z Weekly NewsletterBenedict Evans’ weekly newsletter, and Kenny Chen UX Weekly.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Re-reading “Selected Writings On Computing: A Personal Perspective” by Edsger W. Dijkstra

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? Night owl. I sleep well!

Where do you get your best ideas? Well assuming I have best ideas, listening to founders and the challenges they face and reflecting on my own experience and then writing down my best “answer.” Second best place is immersing myself in a new product or service.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? I want to key off the word “emulate.” I am a big fan in all pursuits of creating your own style and not trying too much to emulate someone else. Everyone has a unique set or combinations of skills and approaches to build upon. The challenge with emulating is that we naturally pick up on the specifics or artifacts that we can most easily integrate. That doesn’t really lead to success in the same way because it is most often the things that are most difficult to do that make for a successful person. So I try to just be the best me I can be. Of course I’m always watching other people and learning but it is more subtle than emulating.

When I think of people to learn more about, I just sometimes wonder what an amazing person like Elon Musk thinks about in the morning. I can’t even imagine!

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