Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Ayman Hariri, CEO of Vero

By Alex Wood 30 November 2017
Ayman Hariri, CEO of Vero. Image: Clay Enos
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 Trint CEO Jeff Kofman to Maplin’s Oliver Meakin, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Ayman Hariri, CEO of Vero, the new social app that looks to shake up how we socialise online.

Meet Ayman Hariri

Hariri’s father was the former prime minister of Lebanon, and he later attended Georgetown University in Washington DC, where he studied computer science.

He’s long had an interest in social media, but found the privacy options lacking on existing platforms. Thus, he decided to start his own social media network that boasts zero ads, and clear privacy settings.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Hariri, 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 always have an alarm set for Fajr (the sunrise prayer) so I usually just carry on my day from there.

I’ve gotten into the habit of watching an episode of whatever TV show I’m following at the time while checking in with the team on Slack. I find it’s the best way to get my brain warmed up – that and a good cup of coffee! – but I’ve learnt to keep my show selection on the lighter side as you don’t want to start your day with anything too violent or sad.

Then it’s time for the gym. John Frieh, my trainer, has an endless supply of ways to torture me. As he says, his heart is as black as his coffee. But as much as the gym is a great way to keep the body fit and healthy, our focus is more on the mind.

We train to learn to push beyond the limits we inadvertently put on ourselves. Quitting is habit forming, but so is learning to endure and to get through it.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

The main app I like to use is Apple Notes. I especially like that I can share a note with other members of the team and we can keep track of what needs to get done.

Slack also has this concept of ‘rooms’ which, if named correctly, allows you to keep track of separate tasks and see how things are going.

What smartphone do you have?

I’m currently using a Space Grey iPhone X with 64GB storage. I usually go for the 256GB, but found I no longer needed anywhere near that amount of space thanks to iCloud storing so much of my data for me.

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

Most of my meetings occur when I travel to London and the US where I meet with partners and content creators.

Since I’m mostly there for business, I usually meet with about 10-20 people per day to keep it productive whilst still giving each person the right amount of time so meetings aren’t rushed.

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

Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber by Mark Twight. I only started reading it after I met Mark on the set of Batman v Superman where he was in charge of the cast’s fitness.

I was already being trained by John Frieh, who is a student of Mark’s, so I was familiar with his approach to training and ruthless self-assessment, but it was great to read about some of the real world experiences that shaped his approach.

When I’m suffering through a workout and feeling unsure if I can finish, I always think of some of the experiences Mark describes in his book and remind myself that choosing to give up on the side of the mountain because things got hard, would have meant the end. So I had no excuse given that in my case I was in the comfort of a gym!

Applying this approach in my everyday life has helped me deal with countless situations.

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

Unless you can summon the requisite patience, don’t! That’s my first bit of advice.

We all hear about the breakthrough apps and services that make them seem like overnight successes, but the reality is that it takes time to build something. The second bit of advice is set yourself up in a way that allows you to be patient.

I’ve seen so many companies get too many resources too quickly, which often leads to their burn rate becoming unsustainable. Don’t be too quick to spend the money you’re given – the longer you can make it last, the easier it is to come up with a plan.

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

I pretty much work all of the time. It’s just the nature of things I suppose. But given that I work from home a lot, I get to spend quality time with my wife and kids on a daily basis.

Between school and friends though, I’d say they’re busier than I am, but we always get to do something together every day.

My wife and I are big fans of movies, and we almost always have friends over to watch the latest releases on Apple TV.

What was your favourite childhood toy?

Like many people, I went through phases (Grendizer, Transformers, Thundercats, GI Joe, etc.), but the ones that stood out the most were the Super Powers Collections which included all of the DC superheroes.

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

It would be my father, but it wouldn’t be a question.

I’d thank him for teaching me the power of honesty and I’d tell him that I missed him every moment of every day.

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.