14 Minutes of SaaS

14 Minutes of SaaS

E23 – Andrew Mullaney, Ex Co-Founder & CTO NewsWhip – Embrace the Now, Forget Legacy – 3 of 3

Stephen Cummins talks with Andrew Mullaney on 14 Minutes of SaaS - part 3

E23 – Andrew Mullaney, Ex Co-Founder & CTO NewsWhip – Embrace the Now, Forget Legacy – 3 of 3

This is the final part of a 3 part mini-series with Andrew Mullaney, former CTO & Co-founder of NewsWhip, a service that tracks how billions of people engage with stories. Navigating a sea of distractions, the busyness of Slack, and bringing the phone to heel. Balance, and why yoga and rugby are yin and yang. Not starting the day by being screamed at by a device. And the importance of understanding whether someone is motivated by finances, legacy or having a rich life experience …. “I think you should always be trying to find out what truly motivates you and what’s the right thing for you. And then trying to set up a situation like that where you’ll flourish … and those around you will flourish. I think it’s important to understand what intrinsically motivates. As an entrepreneur when you start out – and you’re the early founding team and you’re picking a co-founder and you’re picking investors you, you need to understand what makes these people tick!”

Transcript

part 3 of 3 with Andrew Mullaney

Andrew Mullaney

I think you should always be trying to find out what truly motivates you and what’s the right thing for you. And then trying to set up a situation like that where you’ll flourish … and those around you will flourish. I’m not a big legacy person. I’ll be honest. I know most people kind of probably find that it’s a bit weird.  So, yeah, I think it’s important to understand what intrinsically motivates. As an entrepreneur when you start out – and you’re the early founding team and you’re picking a co-founder and you’re picking investors you, you need to understand what makes these people tick!

Stephen Cummins

Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS scale-ups.

This is the final part of a three part mini series with Andrew Mullaney, former CTO and founder of NewsWhip. He discusses his day routine, the importance of sleep and starting the day by doing something you love. He discusses how he navigates a sea of distractions. Why yoga and rugby are yin and yang. And the importance of understanding whether someone is motivated by finances, legacy or having a rich life experience.

I’m interested to know what a typical day in your life is …And I’m also interested to know if you think that last 20 minutes before you sign off from work at the end of the day … or those early morning hours … What period of time is crucial for you to set this up.

Andrew Mullaney

 I think the morning is like a golf swing? I think you start it – it needs to be formulaic – it needs to be something you like and enjoy – and it needs to be something that doesn’t test you. The Tim ferriss questions – it’s great … I’ve listened to so many people start and how they do it. I alter it. I do the same thing, but I also alter it. My breakfast is really important. I’m a believer that you need to eat a good breakfast. I pick very carefully one with natural healthy proteins and fats, in a milk shake that I absolutely love and it’s easy and quick.

I don’t think any caffeine and that’s a personal thing. I drink the odd bit, but I don’t drink coffee or anything like that. So I don’t start with that. I don’t like to be rushed in the morning and I don’t set an alarm. So I nearly always wake up naturally. I don’t realize think you should start the day by being screamed at by a device. And once you kind of get into a sync with your sleep, you don’t need to set my alarm.

Stephen Cummins

And what times is that usually?

Andrew Mullaney

It can vary … anytime between half seven and half eight. You know, it just depends how tired I am. Like today I was pretty stiff so it was a little bit later. I mean obviously if you’ve got a meeting at half seven then you’ve gotta be up early … but on a general operation of things. I’m a big proponent for balance. Even when I’m setting up startups, people say ‘you must be working so hard!’ Firstly, if you do, it can cloud your judgment – which is dangerous. But secondly, you’re not respecting yourself.

You know, at the end of the day your career is career – your health is important, your activity is important, your communities important, your sleep is important. You have to respect all these things. And if you do actually, they’ll all work together for you. Whereas, if you work 18 hours a day for, you know …. I did actually make one mistake in my first startup, which was I just didn’t take a holiday. And it’s not that I wasn’t working crazy hard …. I didn’t take a holiday for I think about two and a half years and my decision making was just gone to bits. And my Dad says ‘listen – we’re going on a family holiday’. I couldn’t afford one. And he goes ‘We’re going on a family holiday and I think you should come. And I said, ‘oh, I don’t have time.’ And he said ‘You just gotta come’. And I went away for two weeks with them …and when I came back and I went ‘What a I doing?’ And I was able to see it .. you know.

Stephen Cummins

And did you switch off your devices completely for the two weeks – or did you kinda restrict yourself to two hours a day or something.

Andrew Mullaney

I switched them off. Certainly from a work perspective? And I’ve changed my relationship with my phone now, my phone never notifies me … good luck to you if you’re trying to ring me. I don’t answer my phone and that’s important, because that means I decide when I give it my time. And I do it when I want to do it. So, I actually decide when I want to check Whatsapp apps now. Rather than Whatsapp annoys me and gets my time. And I think that’s a huge difference. It’s a big psychological difference.

Stephen Cummins

Do you do anything to with e-mail? Do you have like 2 set times during the day when you’ll sit down and do e-mail. Are you that disciplined? Or is that the one thing you check on an ongoing basis that’s?

Andrew Mullaney

That’s a good question …. I’ve varied. I used to block all e-mail – so I use Outlook – I’m old school, I just like it. I’m like a weird apple user – I like the interface. What I used to do is go off line and on the hour do the emails because that’s more efficient. So on top of each hour. Now what I generally do is I just kinda do them when I have the time. Usually I’m kind of in and out – or I might be working on something and then, you know, there might be a natural lull and I’ll go into it. But yeah, you know, how many distractions do we have today? You know, if… if you’re in our office, you’ve got your own social which is like Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, whatever. Then you’ve got your work, which is your emails. You’ve got Slack. I mean Slack is very busy in here. And we talk about developers staying in context  … context switching has a cost. I think around 45 seconds. And you’re just switching in and out of this stuff. You can never get anything done.

Stephen Cummins

It’s been proven that switch tasking is …. there’s no such thing as multitasking other than the unconscious stuff we do … that switch tasking is a big problem today, Isn’t it?

Andrew Mullaney

Yeah. And then it gives this feeling of being overwhelmed. Yeah. And I think that’s really one of the challenges is that people just feel like they’re just swamped with all this crap. And then they also feel the expectation is that they have to get back to somebody. I mean when did it become an expectation that you have to answer someone on WhatsApp by a certain period of time? WhatsApp didn’t exist 10 years ago. 20 years ago you couldn’t get me on a mobile phone. We are cluttering ourselves up a lot.

Stephen Cummins

Absolutely. And do you do what a lot of people in Silicon Valley do? Do you meditate?

Andrew Mullaney

I do yoga. Yeah. Well I started it because of the rugby issues. Yeah, I just had back problems. And then I got more out of it than I expected …. like the mind and breathing and yeah, just a different perspective. I would definitely advise it. I don’t do meditation specifically. But you do get quite a lot of it in yoga. So, yeah, you gotta respect your mind. You gotta respect your body again. It’s like all the balance stuff. You know.

Stephen Cummins

And to finish up. If I was sitting here and I was just about to join a startup for the first time or create my own thing or co-create it, what advice would you give me?

Andrew Mullaney

Obviously, I wanna say do it! So like startups versus big companies. You know, you can get exposure in a startup that, you’ll never get in a big company. And if you look at your career as a title and a paycheck, then a big company is a place for you and you can navigate through that. And that again is totally fine.

If you look at your career as a combination of experiences and learnings, and how you navigated through certain situations … which I believe in the long run has a lot more return on investment … both, tangibly and intangibly ….  then a startup is a great place to go. Either founding it if you really want to get into the deep water, or get into the early founding team. I think particularly youngsters coming out of college. It’s a great time -startups will take a chance on you… you can take a chance on them. They’ve got time with their career and, you know, even if the startup doesn’t work out, but you’re like a head of engineering over like five or seven people – which you can easily do – like that’s what happened to here – you know … you can walk into whatever job you want. But if you climb the career ladder, it’ll take longer.

Some people like the methodical side of it. So that’s an exception. If you’re a methodical person who is like ‘I want to know what my career is’, and ‘I want to know the security’, then that’s it …. but if that’s not your thing, then definitely go for it.

People question themselves so much. ‘Why would I do this?’ I remember when I was thinking of what people would think about me. You know, ‘Oh I’m this big shot going at a start a company!’ Who cares? Just go out and do it. And you know … like what’s the worst that can happen?

Stephen Cummins

I can’t help but ask one more question actually related to that. I’ve talked to a lot of great entrepreneurs like yourself – and I’m going through the process myself for a few years now. Do you think … of those people that are kind of wired to be entrepreneurs – and are out there already … Do you see a difference between those who are focused on their legacy and those who actually take the time to be more conscious of the experience? To want to live that experience. Do you see those 2 types sometimes? And which do you think is healthiest?

Andrew Mullaney

Oh, yeah. Well, this is interesting. You know, what motivates people and it’s something I absolutely love and I trying to study it. We’re all flawed. Yeah, I don’t think we can have an answer there to say there’s one. I think you should always be trying to find out what truly motivates you and what’s the right thing for you. And then trying to set up a situation like that where you’ll flourish and those around you will flourish? I’m not a big legacy person … I’ll be honest. I know most people kind of probably find that’s a bit weird.

Stephen Cummins

I don’t think it’s weird at all. I think it’s wise.

Andrew Mullaney

Yeah, but some people want to be remembered in a certain mindframe or whatever … and that’s totally cool, like probably some of the greatest things have been achieved by people who are motivated like that. And I wouldn’t Judge them for one second. For me .. I think it’s kinda like a team sport … like you know, winning the world cup. It’s kinda nothing, but it’s the biggest thing in the world as well if it’s for you. I get a real pleasure out of overcoming a challenge with a team of people. I find that exciting to just be involved in areas that I’m kind of passionate about – like engineering and software. So, yeah, I think it’s important to understand what intrinsically motivates. As an entrepreneur when you start out – and you’re the early founding team and you’re picking a co-founder and you’re picking investors, you need to understand what makes these people tick! If you’ve got an investor who just wants to pay out and you guys are trying to do something that’s much more socially aware …. this won’t work. And if your co-founder is a legacy person and that makes you sick, it won’t work. Or you have to figure out a way to go round it.

But I, think sometimes maybe people just to have a conversation – like I remember me and Paul had a conversation – it’s funny actually – in the early days. And I think he posed the question to me ‘How much would it cost for you to retire for life?’ … which I would have interpreted as kind of an economic question, which is another one of my passions and hobbies. But it was kinda good because we both levelled on like ‘What was your walk away money?’ Paul’s was kind of in the millions, and mine was like 70 million. I’m not even financially motivated. I was kinda like … if we’re going to have a high quality of life, it’s going to be high quality of life. You know, it’s just like any relationship. If you want to go out with someone and get married – you probably will would want to trash out a few of these things.

Like who are you deep to the core? Like why are we doing this? If you match on those levels, everything else can work out.

Stephen Cummins

Ah that’s a great thing to finish on Andrew. Thanks a million for your time.

Andrew Mullaney

Great. Thank you!

Stephen Cummin

We change tech event for the next episode, but stay in the same city of Dublin. We interview Garry Tan, co-founder and managing partner of Initialized, a VC he created with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Gary, co-founded the financial analysis platform at Palantir Technologies. And founded and sold Posterous, a blogging platform, to Twitter. And he was a partner at Y-Combinator for five years.

You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thank you to Ketsu for music provided under a creative commons license. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating.

 

14 Minutes of SaaS