The Co-Founder of Glassdoor Shares How To Stop Other People From Controlling Your Time
CEO Robert Hohman believes it all comes down to planning.
Editor's Note: Entrepreneur's "20 Questions" series features both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs and asks them a number of questions about what makes them tick, their everyday success strategies and advice for aspiring founders.
When you’re looking for job or to hire someone for your team, the more information you have at your disposal, the better.
When Robert Hohman co-founded careers site Glassdoor with Rich Barton in 2008, their main goal was making a difficult and draining process as transparent as possible, with employees sharing their salaries and experiences at their employers.
The company launched with 3,000 reviews for 250 companies. Today, it hosts more than 5 million open job listings in the United States and has 38 million reviews from employees from 740,000 companies in 190 countries.
With the review aspect of the site fully established, Hohman, who is also the CEO, says that the company’s central goal is to cement itself as a major player in the recruiting space.
We caught up with him to ask him 20 questions and find out what makes him tick.Related: This Successful Entrepreneur Explains Why You Don't Need Billions to Build a Brand That Hits Home
1. How do you start your day?
I start every day by exercising. I find that as the stress begins to climb, that hard exercise helps to really keep it at bay and let me think clearly.
2. How do you end your day?
I always read before I go to bed, and I never read the things related to work -- usually science fiction. It has nothing to do with startups or technology, so it lets my brain to completely disconnect.
3. What’s a book that changed your mind and why?
The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton. It's a story of a young man who enters a Trappist monastery and goes on this long journey to figure out who he is. It drives home that no matter what your work is, you're going to go on a journey that is your life. It's important to make sure that you enjoy the journey; it's not about reaching an end.
4. What’s a book you always recommend and why?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. As you build bigger teams or a company, it's important to get good at managing yourself. I think that book is a good first foundational primer on managing yourself.
5. What’s a strategy to keep focused?
Put first things first. I start every day by thinking, What does the company need from me today? Or, What can I do to help the company today? Today it’s a bit metaphorical, because often, what I'll do is a decision that could affect a month or six months or a year.
6. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was really inspired by Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and this whole idea of building or creating something from nothing was just absolutely inspirational.
7. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
What I learned is how important grace and courtesy is in leadership. You can be a strong leader and still be gracious and courteous. The worst boss I ever had treated people very badly. He may have been right about what he was arguing about, but it was the way he treated people that was completely demoralizing.
8. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
My grandparents. They were dairy farmers in Ohio. What I learned from them is no matter what you do, you do your absolute best at it and just trust that things will work out. That has been kind of a guiding principle of my career and my work life. Whatever is put in front of me, I just go through it like an ox and let things work themselves out.
9. What’s a trip that changed you?
I went to Europe at around age 20. It was the first time I ever left North America. It was the first time I palpably understood how global and interconnected the world was becoming.
10. What inspires you?
Building things. Finding a new and better way. I find that when I'm the most energized and fired up or inspired is when we are on the precipice of building something new that is going to improve or change the way people do something.
11. What was your first business idea, and what did you do with it?
I was a computer programmer in high school. I wrote this football tracking software, and I sat in the press box during the high school football games and ran it. At key points in the game, I would run the stat sheet over to the radio guys. [I liked the job because] I was around grown-ups, I was providing value.
12. What was an early job that taught you something important or useful?
A local seed company [in my hometown] had bought a computer accounting system. They didn't know how to run the software, so they asked around the local high schools for somebody that was good at computers, and my name came up. I found myself shortly thereafter running and modifying their accounting system. At age 16. At age 16, this company turned their books over to me -- which was absurd -- but I learned all about accounting.
13. What’s the best advice you ever took?
Say “yes” to opportunities, especially early in your career. As you begin your career, don’t be too picky. Grab whatever opportunity comes your way, and then do the absolute best you can. Doors will open.
14. What's the worst piece of advice you ever got?
Ignoring risk when evaluating financial decisions. It's easy when you're making a financial decision to focus only on the upside and not fully assess the risk. I was given some advice to just ignore this risk, and sure enough, it was a bad decision.
15. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
I plan my week on Sundays to figure out the important things I want to get done that week or what the company needs, and then I plan my day when I get up. If you don't do that, especially in this role, you can be interrupted. Other people really control your time. I think the more senior you are, the more susceptible you are to having your time controlled by others. There's so many people that need something or can make a claim on your time.
16. Is there an app or tool you use in a surprising way to get things done or stay on track?
I use Gmail and Google Tasks to get things done and more or less to try and manage and organize myself.
17. What does work-life balance mean to you?
To me, it means being a good CEO but also a good dad, brother and son. It means figuring out what is important in all those other relationships, and then making time to do that.
18. How do you prevent burnout?
Surrounding yourself with great people, so you can focus on the things that refresh you and inspire you. High-performing people can force themselves to do stuff that they don't like to do -- but they can't do that for long periods of time. So, surrounding yourself with others who can take help.
19. When you’re faced with a creativity block, what’s your strategy to get innovating?
I go cycling in the woods. I think when you're doing hard, physical activity, everything else seems small suddenly. It sounds kind of trite, but if you want to get perspective, go put yourself in [that space]. You will be reminded that your problems aren't that big of a deal.
20. What are you learning now?
I am learning League of Legends, which is a video game that I have been playing for about a year. It's important to me because it's a good way to clear my mind. But also, I find it fascinating, because the game at its core is like high-speed chess, and it's about real-time risk analysis at a pace that we don't get in the business world.
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