Episode 211 – Tim Campos: Personal Productivity Intelligence Tools
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you may be in the world today! This is your host, Steve Shallenberger, and we are delighted to have you join us. We have a special guest with us today! He’s the former Chief Information Officer at Facebook, where he doubled overall productivity to 1.8 million in revenues per employee, making it the most productive company in the world. He took those lessons learned and used them to create Woven – a company working to reimage how people use their calendars so they can spend time on what matters most to them. As you know, for our Becoming Your Best listeners, doing what matters most is one of our favorite topics! We welcome Tim Campos!
Tim Campos: Thank you! Thank you for having me here today!
Steve Shallenberger: We’re excited to have you and get some great productivity ideas. Before we get started, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about Tim – I’ve shared a little bit and he’s going to share some as well. Tim is the CEO of Woven – an intelligent calendar that helps busy professionals maximize the most valuable asset they have, which is time. And so, Tim, tell us about your background, especially including any points in your life that were transformational, that have had a big impact and maybe led to what you’re doing today. What’s your background?
Tim Campos: Thank you for that invitation! I’ll start with some easy stuff – I’ve always been a technologist. I was fortunate enough that my father always had computers and other things available, and at a very early age, my fancy was taking things apart. Sometimes I wasn’t very good at putting them back together, so that led to a few choice words between my father and me, which created an incentive to get good at putting them back together.
Steve Shallenberger: Good idea!
Tim Campos: That became my passion for technology and that followed me all the way through college. I was an engineer at UC Berkeley and I started my career as a software engineer, and I have always been building software ever since. But I’d say one of the defining aspects of my life was, my first job, professionally, was at a company called Sybase. I was hired to do something that was incredibly boring – I was hired to make bug fixes for customers, and I had to do initially tens of these a day, and eventually, that grew to hundreds of these a day. It was kind of a mindless task, so I’ve spent a lot of time automating it. Within a few weeks, I had taken what would take an entire day to do and automated it to the point where I could do it in about 15 minutes. That gave me lots of extra time to do other stuff, so they kept giving me more and more work and I found that there’s really a career in productivity, and I have this passion, in part because I’m a little lazy, I don’t like to do the same thing over and over again, that led to just a lot more opportunity because I just became very good at finding the things that are easy to get computers to do for you and getting them to do more of that, and that sort of evolved throughout my career.
Tim Campos: I’ll give you one other defining moment. A lot of people ask me how I ended up getting at Facebook. My career had gone very well prior to coming to Facebook, but the company I was at before, I just wasn’t passionate about it. It’s a fantastic company – it’s in the semiconductor industry – but I just didn’t have much interest in the semiconductor industry. After a few years of being there, I found myself kind of stuck and I made the decision to do something really crazy – I call it career skydiving – I quit my job without any idea what I was going to do next. That turned out to be quite fortuitous because it was that space that gave me the opportunity to really think about what I wanted to do and what helped create the path that led me to Facebook. That was definitely one of the defining moments of my life. I’ve had a few of those career skydiving moments, the most recent one being when I left Facebook to start Woven, but I found that sometimes the best path forward is not the obvious one, and it requires you to have a little bit of courage and do something that maybe in the short term seems a little crazy, but in the long term pays out for you.
Steve Shallenberger: Right! Oh, that’s a great background! Tim, tell us how you ended up with Facebook, then. You got us going on it – let’s make it happen here!
Tim Campos: Yeah. So, one of the things I had done between my job before Facebook and Facebook, is I went back to business school. I was in business school studying entrepreneurship and the case study was Facebook. Simultaneous to that, I was starting to think about what I wanted to do next, and I’d heard that Facebook was looking for a CIO. I wasn’t really that interested in doing another CIO role, but I figured I’d interview with them just for fun, especially since we were studying them. And I got this opportunity to come into the company and I was really enthralled by it. I was just amazed by the culture and how the company operated and it ended up going very well. The last interview was with Mark Zuckerberg himself and I’ll never forget the conversations I had with him. One of the things that I was very interested in if I was going to do this job again, I wanted to make sure the company knew what they wanted from it. For the CIO role – and I’d say this probably is a challenge for many roles – sometimes the company doesn’t always know what they want from the role. They often know what they don’t want from the role, which is what the previous person was doing. In this case, Mark Zuckerberg was quite clear about it. When I asked him this question he was like, “The number one thing I care about is the productivity of the workforce here, both engineers and everybody else. So, my task for this role is to make sure that people can get as much done as they can during the day and are not encumbered by technology problems or issues.” I took that to mean, implicitly, also, to include that technology is helping them to get their jobs done, and that’s something that I took quite seriously, and it was a major focus for me during my time at Facebook.
Steve Shallenberger: Well, fantastic! That’s a great story! How long were you at Facebook, Tim?
Tim Campos: About six and a half years, so from 2010 until the end of 2016.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, that’s quite a ride then, isn’t it?
Tim Campos: I joined Facebook when it was, I like to say it was kind of like a teenager – it was not a properly formed adult company just yet, and still had a lot of mistakes in front of it, but also growing quite a bit. When I joined, there were maybe 1500 people, and when I left there were 20,000 employees and another 15,000 contractors – about 35,000 people total. I mean, that was just an incredible period of growth and a really exciting time for the company.
Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, well, what a fun front-row seat to see all that happen and be involved in it. Great going!
Tim Campos: Thank you! Yeah, definitely. I mean, the two things that I would say are incredible about Facebook – and this is still true to the company today – one is that they have always been focused on hiring the best people. And so, each person who runs their department is a world expert in that field, and they’re just exceptional. I’ve never had an opportunity to work with such a concentration of amazing people as I had at Facebook. And then, the second thing is culture. They say in business school, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and it’s true that when you have everybody rowing in the same direction, you can really accomplish amazing things! One of the things that Zuck and Cheryl have been really amazing at, is culture. They’ve done a phenomenal job of getting people aligned around the mission and what the company is trying to do, and there’s not a lot of internal politics and stuff, considering the size of the company. At least it wasn’t when I was there, and it’s really an amazing, amazing group of individuals.
Steve Shallenberger: Thanks for sharing that insight! That’s really terrific! And then, you went skydiving again.
Tim Campos: That’s right! I love Facebook, and I was really passionate about what I was doing there, but I have also always had the itch to start my own company, and after a while at Facebook, it became clear to me that if I didn’t take the time to do that, it wasn’t going to happen, and I wasn’t getting any younger. So, I decided to start thinking about things and let the company know that I was planning to leave. They were very gracious and gave me several months to work on the ideas that became Woven, while simultaneously we sourced for a replacement for me. When all that was in place, I left the company in November, and my co-founder and I – who was also a Facebook employee – we started fundraising immediately after leaving; we were able to get funding very quickly to start the company, and that began our journey with Woven, which is a whole other story and challenge in and of itself.
Steve Shallenberger: Great! Well, tell us about Woven.
Tim Campos: One of the things that I was very interested in and focusing on when I left Facebook was something really meaningful, and when I was looking at problems that exist, one of the problems that I saw as a major challenge for us at Facebook – and I saw this at my previous companies – was just the whole issue of time. In today’s day and age, a much larger percentage of the workforce are knowledge workers and the difference of a knowledge worker than, say, like a manufacturer, is that their success is based on the ideas and creativity that come from their minds. And that is a function of their time – how they choose to spend and allocate their time. So you can dramatically impact the productivity of a knowledge worker by optimizing how they spend their time. If, for example, you take a manager or a salesperson and you give them tons and tons of paperwork and emails to respond to, they’re not going to be very effective; they’re going to spend a lot of time dealing with that and not talking to people. On the other hand, if you give them the optimum amount of time to deal with customers, in the case of sales or to deal with their employees, in the case of a manager they can be highly effective. And the only difference there is the choice of time allocation.
Tim Campos: So this space seemed really, really interesting to me. On top of that, most of us don’t really have very good tools for managing time. The tool that’s the most commonly used is the calendar. The calendar is very good for telling us, “I’ve got something to do today at 10 am. Great! Let’s make sure that we don’t do something else at the same time.” But it’s not really good for much else. And if you think about, if you have a staff meeting, the calendar will tell you when the staff meeting is, but it doesn’t tell you what the agenda is and it doesn’t tell you what the previous follow-up actions were; it also won’t tell you if your staff meetings are particularly effective or not. If you’re a salesperson or a recruiter and you’re spending time with candidates, the calendar will tell you the people that you’ve coordinated time to meet with, but it doesn’t tell you whether those people were effective hires or whether you were sufficiently prepared to meet with them.
Tim Campos: And so, these are the problems that we are focused on addressing with Woven – how do we take the calendar, which is a decent product as it is, but make it much, much more integrated into our lives so that it can help us spend time on the things that matter most? And we do that starting with some basic things. The first part of that sentence is to help you spend time. In the case of the calendar, we help you schedule and we teach the calendar all the different kinds of events that you have, the difference between a personal date night with your spouse, and a customer meeting or a board meeting; we teach the calendar how to make those different kinds of events – who needs to go, when they should occur, what information should be associated with them – and then, we help the calendar make you spend less time on scheduling those events. We do things to help make those events more effective, so make the time that you are spending more effective so that you can spend that time on what really matters most – and we do that by making sure that all the information that’s associated with an event can easily be included, whether that’s the conferencing bridge or the soon-to-be-things like agenda, or the previous action items from a previous meeting or things like the information, the documents. In the case of this podcast, I have briefing notes that were provided to me – how do we make that a more core part of the calendaring experience.
Tim Campos: So, those are the things that we do to help people spend time on what matters most. And the thing that we find with our customers, our users is, it’s working – it’s helping people to save time. We’re actually working on a report for our busiest users to help them understand how much time we helped them save this year. And, for some of them, it’s literally hundreds and hundreds of hours, and if we’re all working 2000 hours a year, to save even just a few dozen is a huge game for our productivity, so we’re very excited about some of the things that we’re able to do for our users.
Steve Shallenberger: Great! Well, that was great information, wasn’t it? That was terrific! So, it’s all about productivity, right? How do we become more productive?
Tim Campos: Yes. How do we become more productive? Productivity is quite simply how much output are you able to produce for the amount of input that you provide? We’re pretty focused on the knowledge worker today, but, for the knowledge worker, it’s how much work can you get done in the amount of time that you choose to spend to work; and for some people, that’s, “Let’s try to minimize the amount of time that I need to spend for other people and let’s try to maximize what I’m able to get done.” In both cases, that’s productivity growth.
Steve Shallenberger: Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s see, Tim, do you mind if we talk a little bit about some of the comments you just made? That sounds great!
Tim Campos: Absolutely!
Steve Shallenberger: I’m sure that listeners would like to know more about it. So, there are really three things: One is you talked about, let’s say, salespeople being able to have a tool or a process that allows them to spend more time talking with customers. How does that work?
Tim Campos: A lot of the issues for salespeople is, first and foremost, how do they get time on their customers’ calendar? Usually, when a salesperson is doing a reach-out to a customer, they work at different companies, so there’s not an easy way to solve the problem of what’s the coincidence of time that works for both parties – this is something that Woven does exceptionally well. So, for a salesperson, he or she can just say, “Okay, let me select the meeting type” – that is a customer meeting, which already has built into it when the salesperson wants to work with customers – for some salespeople, it might be morning meetings, in other cases, it could be evening meetings and in some cases, it could be both. They press a button and it quite literally produces a link that they can send out in an email and say, “Hey, here’s a gift of my time. Here is my availability. What would work for you?” Which is what normally happens. Normally, we will write an email and we’ll say, “Hey, I’m free next week. What day would be a good day for you?” Unfortunately, that just leads to a bunch of back and forth: “Well, how about Tuesday?” “Great! What time Tuesday?” “Tuesday morning?” “Well, I can’t do Tuesday morning, but I could do Tuesday afternoon.” We eliminate all that, because this link has all the availability that the salesperson wants to give – whether that’s their entire calendar or just a tiny piece of it – and the customer on the other side only has to press one button, which is which of those times works best for them. And what’s really, really cool is that if that customer is also a Woven user, Woven will just automatically find the times that work for both people, so that it’s just so simple, like, “Of the 10 slots that were made available, here are the two that work” and it just dramatically reduces the amount of time. We see that for most people, just using a scheduling link to schedule an event can save as much as 20 minutes per event, to get a meeting scheduled.
Steve Shallenberger: Awesome. Yeah, and I went online and looked at some of the resources that you have, and it looks like you also have some type of group scheduling tool. Did I read that right?
Tim Campos: Yeah! So, one of the things that Woven will allow you to do when you’re scheduling a meeting with several people, in that case, the problem is a little bit different. It’s not just as simple as, “I want to meet with you, you want to meet with me, we need to find that coincidence of time.” We’ve got several different people. We need to get feedback from them on all of their options and find the best option that fits for everybody. So, if you have five different people and five different dates, some people may be only able to meet for two of those days and other people might be able to meet for two different days, so how you figure that out? And so, we’ve taken this concept of the scheduling link, and we’ve made it even smarter so that for groups, those groups can just provide… It’s like a vote. You hear the options that will work for you or the times that will work for you. Woven will collect those things and the organizer will automatically highlight the time that best works for everybody. In this case, the time savings can be even greater because a large meeting, like a board meeting, can be an incredibly difficult event to coordinate. So, with this polling technology, we’ve found that we can save even more than 20 minutes per event – it can be as much as twice that – just in all the time coordination that gets consumed, trying to find out when people are available.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay. Wow, that’s great! It sounds like one of the capabilities that are built into the productivity mindset here is that when you set a meeting you take some of the repetitive things, such as the agenda or follow-through items and bundle those all together. Is that kind of what I’m understanding?
Tim Campos: Yeah, that’s right. So, one of the things that we found when we were researching how people use the calendar is that most people have a small number of the same type of events on their calendars. For example, for me, it’s meetings with my team, meetings with customers, meetings with investors, meetings with candidates. For my wife, for example, it’s driving my kids around, it’s doctor’s appointments. For a recruiter, it could be a candidate reach out, the first interview, the second interview. So, each person, each role, has a small number of the events that they have over and over again. What we do is we allow them to teach Woven how to create those events, so they don’t have to do all the administrative work, they don’t have to do all the mouse-clicking and type the event title and add the right participants – the whole thing is automated. And that can also include things like, what’s your standing agenda or other information that is associated with the event. And so, we get a huge time saving here just from the creation of the event. Even if you already know when it should occur, we can help create some of these things significantly faster. And since the typical calendar person can be administering their calendar a dozen times a week in terms of new events that they create, or events that they schedule, just saving 30 to 60 seconds per event is another source of productivity – we can help give to you each month tens of minutes, maybe even an hour of time back.
Steve Shallenberger: Great! All right, thank you for the overview. And then, the last one that’s intriguing, is you are able to measure or calculate the savings somehow and say, “Well, here’s what this saves for us.” How do you do that?
Tim Campos: Yeah, it’s a little bit new for us. So, we’ve been doing a lot of research on how much time is saved for the usage of different features and we’re working on a report right now that we can push out, that will tell you, “Hey, over your last month, here’s how you chose to spend your time – here’s how many events you had, here’s how many events you created, and here’s how much you used the features that will help save you time.” And it helps to give people ideas of new ways that they can save time. So, for example, if you’re not using templates enough, that can be a quick opportunity to save a few minutes for each meeting that you create; if you’re not using scheduling links, that can save a lot more time. So we help provide some guidance on how to save time with the features that our Woven provides, based on how you’re already choosing to spend your time.
Steve Shallenberger: I’m always blown away by how quick these podcasts go, and we’re at the end of the podcast. Let’s just wrap up with any final tips of the best productivity advice that you may have, Tim.
Tim Campos: One of the things that I’ve definitely found – and this is not just a recent finding, this is just absolutely true in life – we are what we choose to spend our time on. If you’re someone who’s very much about philanthropy and giving, that isn’t just defined by you deciding that that’s who you are, that’s how you spend your time; or, if you’re someone who’s very much passionate about your family or your friends or your job. We are how we choose to spend our time, so the number one thing that I have found that is the most valuable gift people can give themselves is to save that time, reserve the time for the things that they feel like they’re not doing enough of. Put it on your calendar, schedule it, so that you don’t put anything else during that time, and then honor that time, so when it comes the time for that time that you scheduled on your calendar for yourself, spend it on the things that you said that you would, and it’s amazing how just in a few weeks – sometimes even less than that – it can have a dramatic impact on the outcomes of the things that you’re focused on.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, well, that is fascinating! Great thought! Tim, how can people find out about what you’re doing?
Tim Campos: Well, there are some easy ways: Woven – you can search for us on Google, go to woven.com. We are also in many application stores on the Windows, Mac and iOS App Stores. Once again, just search for Woven. And then, if people are interested in following some of the tips and tricks that I have, they can follow me on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @tcampos.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, well, fantastic! Thank you, Tim, for being part of this show today!
Tim Campos: Thank you for having me! This has been a great use of time! I really enjoyed your questions.
Steve Shallenberger: Oh, you bet! We talk a lot about becoming your best – well, learning how to be highly productive and using time well is one of the things that can really supercharge that! This has been a great visit for me, and I’m sure for our listeners as well! So, we wish you the best in making a difference in the world!
Tim Campos: Well, thank you very much! I appreciate that!
Steve Shallenberger: You bet! And to all of our listeners, never forget that you’re making a difference every single day, that as you work on becoming your best, as you work on increasing your productivity, literally, you’re making the world a better place, your life a better place, and you’re making a better place for those that you work with. So, it’s been a privilege having you with us today on the show. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership, wishing you a great day!