How To Boss It Like… Guy Levin

By Oliver Smith 10 December 2015

Britain’s business leaders are changing the world. In our weekly series 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. Eileen Burbidge, Rytis Vitkauskas and Simon Belsham seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Guy Levin, Executive Director of startup policy group Coadec and Associate Editor of The Memo‘s policy section, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

In addition to spending his time talking with dozens of digital businesses across the UK, Levin is constantly darting between Westminster, Brussels and even further afield championing the work of British technology companies.

He was even named TechCityInsider’s 2015 ambassador of the year last month for his work representing UK tech and startups.

Levin is really changing the way politicians think of British technology, and The Memo sat down with him this morning to find out 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 not much of a morning person, so I usually get up around 7.30 or 8am, check Twitter (I’m a big addict), scan my emails, make some coffee (I subscribe to Pact’s great service) and then start the day.

I’m lucky to have the option to work from a few different workspaces, so depending on what my day looks like, I’ll go to either TechHub at Google Campus, the brilliant Second Home, or just a nice coffee shop near my other meetings.

I work on the new 12″ Macbook which is so portable it’s always in my backpack, and I really can work from anywhere (using 4G tethering to my phone).

A few ago I realised I needed to take better care of myself (failing to fit into an old pair of trousers was the final straw!), so am for the first time in my life trying to get fit.

I now go to the gym about four times a week (for a mixture of strength training and cardio). It seems to be working, and means I’m sleeping better and generally feel more alert and confident.

What apps or methods do you use to be more productive?

I rely mostly on Google Apps for email and calendar, and am increasingly using Google Docs for any documents that might require collaboration.

Even though I’m the only full-time staff member at Coadec, for projects like our recent immigration open letter, a Google Doc was the simplest way of allowing people to look at and comment on the proposed text.

I use Slack to keep in touch with other startup organisations, and to coordinate work with Coadec interns. I also use Buffer for scheduling social media; Dropbox for storing all Coadec’s documents; Eventbrite for organising events; and Mailchimp for our newsletter.

I’ve tried to get into Asana and Trello, but never quite managed it with either, so just use Notes on my iPhone and Mac to keep various to do lists. I also tag emails to create to-do lists from within Gmail.

I think that as the Coadec team grows, it will become more important to create better systems, but while it’s just me the benefits are limited.

What smartphone do you use?

I’ve got an iPhone 6, Space Grey, 64Gb.

I don’t miss at all the days when I had to use both a work phone and a personal one (especially as it was a government-issued Blackberry, completely locked down from using any apps). I have managed to smash the screen (twice), so have finally invested in a proper screen protector and case.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day? And who are they?

I usually meet about two or three people a day, and these will tend to be either members of the startup community (founders, investors, workspaces, accelerators, etc); potential allies (e.g. other advocacy groups, think tanks, sponsors); or those that we’re trying to influence (e.g. No.10, ministers, MPs, civil servants).

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night?

I’m lucky to largely be able to set my own hours and so will certainly work into the evenings if I’m on a project or there’s something urgent. But in quieter times, I’m happy to clock off early and perhaps go to an event or take it easy at home.

I get a little nervous when my phone battery is low, and do constantly check incoming notifications. I think this is something I need to work on, and have been trying to avoid checking my devices before bed, and reading more (albeit usually on a Kindle).

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