Context-switching is a given, when you’re leading a fast-growing company. CEO and Cofounder of TestBox, Sam Senior, touches a multitude of different topics every day - evaluating product experiments, giving feedback on marketing initiatives, shepherding operational must-dos for the business.
An experienced leader, Sam has clear systems to ensure he stays productive and focused. He sets aside half a day, twice a week, for deep work time. He facilitates his team’s ongoing improvements in productivity, diving into concepts such as focused vs. diffused thinking. He’s a stickler for setting boundaries and clearly communicating your areas of focus.
But like many startup CEOs, TestBox is innovating at a rapid pace. It’s no small task to completely change how software is bought and sold.
So Sam is continuously fighting to maintain focus amid the chaos. And his email inbox remained a problem space, no matter how many solutions he tried.
“As a small company, we don’t have dedicated people in each role… so I see 100% of everything instead of 100% of what’s relevant for me.”
In the past, when his company announced a funding round, Sam’s inbox was immediately swamped with inbound emails. But recently, when TestBox announced their $10M round led by Felicis, things looked a little different.
“Within 60-90 seconds of announcing our recent round, I got my first related email. I was waiting for the flood but it stayed quiet. My inbox was only letting in mission-critical emails.”
Where were all those sales pitches and ‘congratulations’ messages from unknown people?
Sam uses Gated, so all of those non-priority emails were set aside in a separate Gated folder for him to look at later - or not at all.
“I was watching the flood of emails pour into my Gated folder with a sense of amusement rather than annoyance. Knowing I was getting all of those emails, but being free from having to do anything with them.”
“Having Gated meant I could focus on engaging with users and having valuable conversations on LinkedIn, rather than drowning in emails. It enabled me to be more focused on the things that mattered, that day of our fundraise announcement.”
On an ongoing basis, it’s not just about avoiding irrelevant emails. It’s about finding the mental space to live a calm focused life.
When he needs a trigger to calm and refocus, Sam actually goes out on his driveway and soaks in the sun. His inbox may not be quite that peaceful, but it’s getting close.
“My inbox is now almost exclusively only important stuff. Whereas previously it was: this is garbage, this is garbage, this is garbage. The delete button was the most used button on my keyboard for a while there. I no longer have to have that experience.”
Instead, Sam is now free to spend his time on building his business and driving go-to-market strategy. He’s also cultivating a values-driven organization, with DEIB as a major focus.
That commitment is reflected in the cause he supports with Gated - Planned Parenthood. A resolute commitment to supporting vulnerable populations and a family history of medical professionals means he’s proud to align his personal brand with an organization that some might consider controversial.
Productivity and focus are more than just a work issue for Sam. They’re a human issue. In his words: “The absence of something can be remarkable… suddenly there’s just this additional space.”
Published July 2022
Updated December 2022