As CEO and president of StrataCore, Aaron Loehr manages a team of about 20 IT professionals dedicated to helping enterprise clients identify and implement best practices in the cloud. But he does things a little differently than other tech CEOs.
For one, he isn’t drinking the open floor plan kool-aid. StrataCore has a big open space for collaboration but employees also have offices, which Loehr believes improves productivity.
He also believes in maintaining a steady, sustainable pace rather than the 24/7 sprint that many startup founders run. It gives him more time to spend with his 7-year-old twins, traveling around in the 1978 Volkswagen camper he refurbished.
My primary job is to make StrataCore the best place to be an employee,” Loehr said. “Second, it’s to make StrataCore the very best place to be a client. This is what motivates and drives me every day.”
We caught up with Loehr for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Current Location: Belltown, Seattle
Computer types: Surface Pro
Mobile devices: iPhone 6 Plus
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Waze, GoogleDocs, Sonos, Spotify, Shazam, LinkedIn
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “Despite the hype around the open office floor plan, I believe private offices are the best environment to get actual work done. Open floor plans have too much noise and too many distractions. Plus, I believe top professionals have earned and need private offices.
That said, we do have a large open area designed to inspire creativity where people play and collaborate – complete with game tables and even a swing set!
But that’s not where our desks are. It costs more to have the extra square feet in the office, but I believe private offices are better. We have over 300 square feet per person, while the typical office is closer to 125-150 square feet per person.”
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “Surround yourself with great people. At work that means hiring very smart, experienced professionals. They make far fewer mistakes, drop less balls and solve problems proactively. Earlier in our company’s history, I felt I had to choose between hiring really smart or really experienced. Since I couldn’t afford both, I choose really smart. Now that we’re more established, I hire people who are both. Talented people have countless choices so I work hard to create an environment where people want to work.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “I’m on LinkedIn all the time. Prior to all meetings and conference calls, I review the person’s profile.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “Thousands! However, I respond quickly to all of those directed directly to me.”
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 19
How do you run meetings? “Typically, one of my exec team members runs the meeting and I chime in as needed. The best part about hiring smart and experienced people is that I can trust them to do a great job.”
Everyday work uniform? Jeans, a dress shirt, and flip-flops.
How do you make time for family? “I have a refurbished 1978 VW bus camper with the license plate: ‘SLOW GO.’ It’s a great way to escape the city with my 7-year-old twins. When not on land, you’ll find me captaining a boat in the Puget Sound or on Lake Washington.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “It used to be with a whiskey on the rocks. But I no longer use alcohol to de-stress. My best stress reliever is experiencing life at a pace I can maintain over the long haul. I no longer try to sprint hard, then rest, then sprint hard again. I believe finding a sustainable groove is better for myself and everyone around me.”
What are you listening to? “Devin the Dude.”
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “I’m a news junkie. Aside from tech trades, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are some of my favorites.”
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.”
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “Night owl. My Fitbit tells me I’m a restless sleeper.”
Where do you get your best ideas? “I believe the best ideas come from other people. I only have one brain. If I can access the 20 smartest brains around me then I just greatly increased my compute capacity.”
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “Pete Carroll. His ability to stay positive is amazing.”