Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Erik Fairbairn, CEO and founder of POD Point

By Oliver Smith 29 September 2016
Summary

These leaders are changing our world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world. From Sheryl Connelly to David Parkinson and Tracy De Groose, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Erik Fairbairn, the CEO and founder of POD Point, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.


Since founding POD Point in 2009 Fairbairn’s company has rolled out over 1,300 public electric vehicle charging bays across the UK, has shipped over 20,000 charge points for homes and private properties.

It was also named one of The Sunday Times Tech Track list of the 100 fastest growing tech companies in the UK.

A Cambridge engineering graduate, Fairbairn started off as an engineer at Ford before founding Ecurie25, a membership club to borrow supercars, in the mid-2000s and then finally launching POD Point.

 

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Fairbairn how he gets it all done.

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I’m an early starter – 6am or 6:30am start, then check slack, quick shower and out of the door within 20 minutes.

Work starts in earnest as soon as I’m on the train on my way to work. My aim is to clear the email before I get to the office, then I can avoid sitting staring at my email all day!

I struggle to find time for exercise in the week, but I try and get out on my bike (with or without some of my children) on the weekend to keep fit.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

Slack and Trello.

Slack keeps me up to date, it’s the main way we all communicate at POD Point.

If I ever want to cheer myself up, I look at the #customer_feedback channel which aggregates the (generally extremely positive) feedback from our customers – Happy Customers = Happy Erik!

Trello keeps my tasks under control.

I have a backlog, which contains a pile of stuff I need to do. I have a ‘Today’ column, where each morning I put the key tasks I need to complete today in, and a ‘Done this week’ column which gives me some indication that I’ve got stuff done!

Oh, and I have a custom performance stats dashboard which I use to track the sales performance of POD Point.

With those three things, I’m a happy guy!

What smartphone do you have?

Google Nexus 5 (2015) 32Gb in Black.

I’m 100% google, and 0% Apple. Nexus Phone, Pixel C Tablet, Chromebits and Chromecast all over the office.

Google all the way.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

I try to say hello to everyone in the POD Point team each day, but I often fail – some I just manage a cheerful “Morning!” as I arrive!

My day is typically packed with meetings. I perhaps see 4 or 5 external people a day.

It is probably 60% external meetings, customers, influencers, interviewees and investors, in that order, and 40% internal meetings.

I also reserve a little time each month for left field meetings – meeting with someone who runs a completely unrelated business, or does something completely different to me. I think it is important to get a perspective from outside your industry / area of knowledge!

I also try to give a few hours a month to support entrepreneurs who are earlier in their journey than I am.

Various experienced entrepreneurs help me when I need a bit of advice, and in turn I try to do my bit to help the next generation build their business.

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

I love books – there is so much amazing knowledge stashed in books – everything you need to know is in books, you just need to read.

In POD Point we have a scheme called ‘Leaders are Readers’ – if any of the staff read a book from the POD Point library, and write a 1-page report on what they learned from the book, we pay them £50. Why?

Well, because the books do no good sat on the shelf – it is the knowledge from them in the staffs heads which is useful!

Anyway onto the question:

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance – Elon Musk knows how to get stuff done!

Start With Why by Simon Sinek – If you can’t read the book, watch the TED talk with the same name, it is awesome.

Getting Real by the 37Signals Team – The basics of developing great software

Lean Startup by Eric Ries – The bible for entrepreneurs.

Venture Deals by Brad Feld – if you are dealing with investors, read this book.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

Think about why: Why are you heading into this industry? Don’t enter industries for money, or for growth, or for prestige. Enter an industry because you think that industry is important and is doing some good for society.

The other things should be secondary.

Make sure that the output of your career makes a positive contribution towards something important at a society level.

At POD Point we believe that ‘Travel Should not Damage the Earth’, and that by building a network of charge points we will enable the transition to electric vehicles and hence decarbonise transport and fix air quality.

This is important stuff.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

I rarely stop working during the week – I am out of the house and working before 7am and often not home until 9pm and then I’ll happily carry on a bit when I get home.

Work isn’t a chore for me, I enjoy every minute of it.

My rule has always been, whatever happens to my business, it will not have occurred due to lack of effort on my part!

To relax, I will happily watch a box set like Mr Robot, or House of Cards.

My other bit of down time is on my bike, but then I often think about work while I’m cycling too…

I try not to work too much at weekends so I can be with my family.

If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I’d ask Elon Musk: What is the single most significant part of your character which allowed you to achieve what you have?

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.