Block the Noise to Focus on People: Rob Wilson

The Gated Team
March 16, 2022

As Senior Engineering Manager at Calendly, Rob Wilson is responsible for the productivity and success of a lot of people: 22 engineers, 3 managers, and 6 ‘squads’ to be exact.  He oversees strategy and vision for the Ecosystem group, including evaluation of their tooling and platforms. But with great responsibility comes a great amount of unsolicited sales pitches.  

Engineering leaders often feel this pain acutely.  “We get bombarded with outreach emails trying to pitch us new tooling.  It’s legitimate email that we may or may not care about. We usually have solutions for most of what they’re selling.” 

Rob candidly acknowledges the challenge of a busy inbox. “I’m notoriously bad with my inbox. I used to use filters and rules to hide all of the mess. But I would miss a lot of important emails because there’s so much noise.” 

Like many busy leaders, he didn’t have time to sort through the mess.  He tried many solutions, including Hey.com. But most required him to spend time learning and training entirely new systems.  If it wasn’t simple, it wasn’t worth doing. 

“Honestly, I’d chosen to just accept the chaos, which is not great but that’s where I was at.  I craved a better solution. I’d not given up hope… but it was close to that point.”

What got Rob excited about Gated?  First, the ability to Allow senders at the domain level.  Second, the ability for well-meaning senders to get through to him if they care enough to make a small donation.  

Because Calendly is in the Saas industry, Rob has real respect for sales emails and cold outreach.  When he decided to try Gated, he enjoyed being in control of when and how they reached him. 

“I get to decide when and if I want to sift through those cold outreach emails.”    

Rob respects the sellers who are persistent and willing to donate.  “It’s like saying ‘I’ll buy you a beer for your time.’ But instead: ‘Let me donate to a charity of your choice.’ Now I don’t have time to listen to all of the pitches, but I’m willing to hear from someone who does that.”

As a technical leader, Rob has to trust the tools he uses.  Gated worked right away to reduce the noise, but he still appreciates the ability to check his Gated folder to look for any messages that he might want to Allow in the future.  

What does Gated enable him to do more of?  He’s free to focus on work.  In fact, that’s how he defines Gated.

"In one word: Focus.  Gated is the noise-canceling headphones of email.” 

With this ‘focus mode’ on, he can be responsive and effective in email.  “If I’m overwhelmed by the deluge of junk email, I’m slow to respond when I’m needed and that’s not adding value to anyone.”

“With Gated, I have more time to focus on serving my employees, the teams I’m working with, and our users. Which is huge.”

Plus, he’s seen an improvement in his mental health. “I don’t have that angst and those little hits of anxiety every time I open my email and see the mess. Now I’m less stressed and more valuable to my team, our users, and my family.”

Rob used to spend his lunchtime cleaning out his inbox.  Now?  He goes outside and exercises. 

Being happy and productive doesn’t just benefit Rob and his team, but his family as well.  The nonprofit he supports is the American Red Cross, an organization he credits with helping save his wife – a two-time cancer survivor.  “I have a huge respect for the Red Cross and what they do.”  

When people like Rob look for solutions to be more productive, it’s not just for their own success.  It’s so they can give the best of themselves to the colleagues and family they support.