Boss it like

How To Boss It Like… Charlie Pool, CEO Stowga

By Oliver Smith 19 December 2017

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

From Imogen Wethered at Qudini to Mandeep Singh at Trouva, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Charlie Pool, CEO of Stowga, whose logistics platform lets anyone find, book and manage warehouse space.

Meet Charlie Pool

A former associate at JP Morgan and startup investor-turned-founder, Pool is now on a mission to revolutionise the warehouse industry.

He founded Stowga in 2016 and last week closed a £1.5m funding round backed by real estate giant CBRE.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Pool 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 don’t have an alarm clock. I have two children so I wake up when they do – that tends to be around 7am but sometimes they surprise me!

I try to be in the office by 8.30am. It’s about 40 mins walk to work and I use that time to listen to an audiobook.

Walking to work is a massive luxury in London and does wonders for your headspace.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

In the office I ‘plug in’ – by that I mean put my headphones on, go to Soundcloud and then listen to unbelievably good music all day long.

Electronic music with no lyrics – it helps me concentrate and not get distracted by anything else. I love Soundcloud, if I could only access one website on the planet it would be Soundcloud!

I live my life by a thing called DIMO. It means Do It Move On. Never put off tough decisions, but instead prioritise them. An inverse relationship exists between ‘DIMO’ and procrastination: the latter only compounds problems, whilst the former fosters productivity, headspace and success.

Try it – it is game-changing.

I love that you asked to see my home screen! When I interview people to work for me I ask to look at their phones to see what apps they have, which ones they loved and why.

That gives me an indication of how ‘into’ tech they were. However, you’ll notice my screen is fairly sparse.

I was one of those people that when Product Hunt was still a Linkydink email would download every app and test it out. Not anymore. I do not use any productivity apps.

I have deleted my Facebook account permanently, removed any social apps from my phone and anything else that can distract me. I’m still addicted to my phone but now have a little less reason to check it.

What smartphone do you have?

I have an iPhone 6S with 128gb.

The biggest phone I could possibly get… what does that say about me?! Following my no distractions drive I am gearing myself up to buy a Punkt MP01.

It’s basically a dumb phone running on GSM so can only make and receive calls and SMS. No emails, WhatsApps, tweets… ahh peace…

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

Despite the no meetings rule I meet a lot of people.

We are based in Campus London, which is full of people starting businesses. I try to chat with as many people in the office as possible. Every startup faces the same basic problems and so it’s good to chat with others as you never know what’s going to come up, plus I love hearing about other people’s businesses.

Stowga is a B2B business that deals with very large companies so I meet a lot of C-Level professionals in finance, property and logistics.

My favourite is chatting with warehouse people – the banter is just phenomenal!

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

I read a lot, and when I am on the move I listen to audiobooks.

Favourite books in the past few months have been Civilisation by Roger Osborne – one of the best history books I’ve ever read.

It traces civilisation as a theme over the course of all recorded history and is so good I’ve read it 4 times now.

Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc is so inspiring – probably the best business book I have ever read.

Other mind blowers What We Cannot Know written by Marcus du Sautoy and Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith.

I like big ideas and anything that goes into fiendishly deep levels of detail!

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

Get yourself into a position where you feel you are comfortable to take a bit of a gamble. That alone will sort the wheat from the chaff.

You have to have a healthy appetite for risk and if you can’t get yourself into the position of taking a gamble then this isn’t for you. Once you are in that position just go for it and don’t ever look back.

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

I have to think about work all the time. For all the effort put into keeping your head clear, unfortunately, running a business never stops.

That means thinking about work all day every day. I actually find thinking in bed in the middle of the night is when I think most clearly and I sleep with a pen and paper by the bed to write down ideas so I don’t forget them in the morning.

My office hours are probably shorter than most people running a business.

I like to be done by 6pm, however most evenings I go out and that’s often work-related too – whether it be an event, drinks with colleagues or drinks with clients.

I wholeheartedly play by the work hard/play hard rule. I love it and going out is an important part of business and keeping yourself sane!

What was your favourite childhood toy?

Lego. Now my children are into it I get to play with it again. I find myself buying Lego ‘for the kids’ a lot!

Scalextric was a close second but my children probably aren’t quite old enough yet. As soon as they are though you know my house is going to be one big circuit!

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

I am amazed by people who write books and if you put me on the spot then right now I’d say I’d want to meet George R. R. Martin. The intricate layers of back stories in his books are Tolkien or Rowling-esque. All of those authors create different worlds that are so detailed and complex that I can’t quite get my head around how they could think on that scale.

I’d ask to meet George in a pub and the question I’d ask him is what his favourite drink is. Then I’d buy him loads and loads of those drinks, get him utterly legless and ask him how Game of Thrones turns out.

Then I’d go to the bookies.

Come back in 2018 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.