Working Geek: TINYpulse Chief Product Officer Matt Hulett’s 11 tips for running meetings and making time for family

TINYpulse Chief Product Officer Matt Hulett.

About a year ago, Seattle startup vet Matt Hulett returned from a two-year stint as CEO for ClickBank in Boise, Idaho.

When he arrived, he talked with 60 companies over 45 days before deciding TINYpulse was the best place to leverage his 20 years of experience in the tech industry.

“I previously used TINYpulse at my last two jobs,” he said. “In essence, I was one of the company’s earliest customers and it felt very natural to want to be part of our noble mission to make employees happier.”

Hulett is TINYpulse’s Chief Product Officer, where he oversees the company’s tools for gauging employee morale and conducting brief, weekly performance reviews. He also serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Voyager Capital.

In the past, Hulett held leadership roles at RealNetworks, AdXpose, Expedia, and others. During his career, he picked up a few tips for being an effective manager and keeping it all in balance.

He shared that advice with GeekWire as part of our Working Geek feature. Here’s some of his advice:

Current Location: “Our office is in Lower Queen Anne (right across the street from the Queen Anne Beerhall). I don’t like to sit still and our office is open. No offices! I like to walk for my one-on-ones and to nearly anywhere but my desk. The sculpture park is a great place to walk to from our office especially to clear your head.”

Computer types: “I am seemingly the only one that doesn’t have a Mac desktop or laptop these days. I have a new Microsoft Surface Book and I love it. At home, it’s typically second screen experiences with a couple of iPads that I use.”

Mobile devices: “Apple iPhone 6s. I have a couple a bunch of tablets that I use as well for work and personal use.”

Favorite app(s): “Evernote, HabitBull, Trello, Bleacher Report, Overcast, Slack, OfferUp, Etsy, GSuite, AND TINYpulse.

I love trying out new apps. I am always looking at AppAnnie to see what the latest apps are.

I know that Evernote gets a bad rap for being bloated but I live in it. I organize my goals, to-do’s, save all of my research, etc., in it. If they ever go out of business then I am really screwed. I am also big on using products that apply a minimalist (TINY) design aesthetic. Less is more and I am always looking for products that provide maximum benefit to me while providing minimal effort.”

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “Like I said earlier, I really don’t like to stay in one place. However, I need my headphones. I have a couple of pairs of LSTN headphones that have a very nice wood finish and feel great on my ears. I also like to have music playing while I work. I typically sing out loud which is just blissful to anyone lucky enough to hear me sing.  When I work at home, I like to work in my home office which I have nicknamed the ‘BatCave.’  Lots of cool stuff for me to look at — like my collection of Batman paraphernalia.”

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “Planning mixed with fun and serendipity. I think the trick is to build a plan for what you want to do and where you want to spend your time. And then be present and enjoy what you are doing.

I am constantly reviewing my personal and work balance. I do this every Sunday night. I review quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily tasks that I want to accomplish. I am constantly thinking about what to say ‘no’ to versus what I am accepting into my life. It’s easy to fill your time with to-dos that inevitably crowd out the most important things. From that perspective, I look and feel like every other type A person that you’ve interviewed.

However, I am a firm believer that humor is super important. I love to laugh and have fun. I also believe that you need to mix in people, events, interactions that are outside of your plan. I can’t tell you how many times something insanely interesting and cool has happened when you allow life to happen.

My family is so interesting to me and they give me so much joy. My kids are all different ages and I learn so many things from them.”

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “LinkedIn for work.  Facebook for personal use.”

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “6.”

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? “20, but, I keep a lot of these meetings to 15 minutes. One-on-ones are 45 minutes. I hate hour plus meetings.”

How do you run meetings? “I’ve gotten pretty good at being efficient. And jumping back into a startup, I think I’ve also gotten better at wasting less time.

I stick by these simple rules:

  1. Scrub the meeting attendee list to the only essential attendees and stakeholders.
  2. An agenda must be part of any meeting invite.
  3. If there is something to review (product, financials, whatever), send that ahead of time in the meeting invite. Do not spend time in the meeting reading information.
  4. Start the meeting reminding the attendees on the meeting objective and agenda.
  5. Recap what was decided at the end of the meeting.
  6. Always send meeting notes; Always make them available to the attendees in a shareable/cloud-based way (Confluence, Google Docs, etc).”

Everyday work uniform? “Untucked button down shirt, jeans, dress shoes (or sneakers).”

How do you make time for family? “Build in non-negotiable(s) around where work or anything else gets in the way of family time.

  1. Make it home for dinner.
  2. Don’t use my phone at the dinner table, use do not disturb mode to ensure that you are present with your family.
  3. Do shared things together (that especially do not involve screens). We do family art night, board games, golf driving range, etc.
  4. Try to make my crazy work schedule invisible (work when everyone is asleep).
  5. Minimize work on the weekends.”

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Read, listen to music, or exercise.  An occasional sensory deprivation tank is a good way to obtain a deep meditative state.”

What are you listening to? “My music tastes are very random and varied. I love alternative/indie rock, electronic, dance, jazz, R&B and Hip Hop/Rap. As an example, I am listening to: Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, A$AP Rocky, Khalid, Mura Masa, Bruno Mars, Sia, Alt J, Wilco, The Head and the Heart, and Goldlink.”

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “I am tech heavy. My typical daily reading: TechCrunch, ProductHunt, Hacker News, GeekWire, WSJ, Seeking Alpha, and Huffington Post.  Some other great newsletters especially for tech: Andrew Chen (Head of Growth at Uber), Tomasz Tungz (VC at RedPoint, very smart), and First Round Capital’s newsletter (First Round Review). I read a fair amount of comic books as well.”

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Work Rules By Laszlo Bock and Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike Book by Phil Knight.”

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “Night owl.  Bed by 1 a.m. Up by 7 a.m.”

Where do you get your best ideas? “In the shower.”

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “Napoleon Bonaparte combined with Benjamin Franklin.”