Cory Machado, Interview with Compt CEO Amy Spurling
What is your mindset everyday regarding business/ success?
There are two things that are always top of mind for me. The first is that I feel it's my responsibility to help people if I can. That obviously means our customers and our team, but it also means our broader community. I try to make sure I have time in my schedule to spend time with younger entrepreneurs or people earlier in their careers who want help finding their next role or funding or investor intros or whatever the ask is. If I can help, I want to! The second thing that is top of mind for me is that nothing will be handed to us. We need to work hard and have a relentless drive to accomplish our mission. Some days that is hard - but perseverance is a key to being successful.
What are your daily habits that make you successful?
I try to spend time every morning reading to ease into my day. I also think it is really important to not be "always on" so as a team we ensure that we create space for people to enjoy life outside of work as well. This means that we typically shut down laptops around 5 or 6 and spend time with our families, working out, having dinner with friends, etc.
Favorite sports team ?
I love Boston Bruins hockey.
Hobbies when you were a kid ?
We lived in the country in Northern California, so my hobbies revolved around playing with our goats and sheep. If I wasn't outside, then I was inside reading - my other favorite hobby.
When you were a kid what did you want to be?
Like any kid, I went through phases. At various times I wanted to be a medical researcher in the Amazon rainforest, an Airforce fighter pilot, and a professor.
What are your thoughts on money & investing?I've spent my whole career in start-up tech companies where I know every little detail of what is going well and what isn't from an insider perspective. Knowing that, and having worked with many public companies as customers - there is no way I'd personally focus my investing in the stock market. I don't feel like I'd ever have enough information on a particular company or sector to make an educated decision about what to buy and when to sell. I focus my personal investing (which is pretty limited, I'm not rolling in cash over here:) in real estate (my wife is the COO of a real estate development company so we know that market really well), and I do some angel investing. I find founders that I believe in and back them. So far that is paying off.
What’s the best advice you have been given?
Don't assume that anyone is going to read your mind or do the work [getting you to the next stage of your career] for you. This came early in my career. I was doing what many women have been accused of doing - keeping my head down, working hard, and assuming people would notice and give me a raise/promotion. My mentor saw me doing this and helped me realize that managing my career was my responsibility - that I needed to decide my own path - then make it happen. Sometimes that was in the same company, sometimes that meant going to another company. I found that by following her advice I was less frustrated (because I wasn't waiting for someone to recognize my hard work) and by speaking up I was able to take on bigger projects, learn more, and ultimately move my career the direction I wanted to go.
How do you go about goal setting ?
Personally? We have a tradition in our house where every year we develop a list of things we want to accomplish in the coming year. Some of this is personal goals (I want to read 45 books this year), some of it will be making sure we try new things (6 new restaurants in Boston in 2020), or house things we need to deal with (repainting our baseboards). If it's not on the list, we won't focus on it and it won't get done.
The same is true in business. Different process, but same concept. We run an OKR process at Compt (objectives and key results). Each quarter we set Company level goals (3-5) along with what a clear and measurable outcome will be. From there each team develops their OKRs to support those company goals. I love OKRs because they align the entire team around our goals and ensure we are all working on the most important things. You don't have to constantly have check-in meetings if everyone is on the same page.
How do you deal with criticism and how do you overcome obstacles?
Someone once said feedback is the breakfast of champions. If you aren't getting feedback (which may be criticism) then you aren't learning and growing. Sometimes it's hard to hear, sometimes I don't agree with it in that moment. I'm someone who may have an initial reaction, but then I'll go and think about it for a long time - depending on the feedback, maybe even months. I find that even if I don't agree or understand to begin with, if I sit with it for awhile, I learn something valuable. Obstacles are just mountains I haven't yet climbed:)