DAY IN A LIFE … Vann Vogstad, Founder of COHO
What does a day in the life mean?
Definition (expr.) a typical day; a normal day. Examples I wonder what a day in the life of a Rock star is like?
Today we begin the 2021 series of daily insights with: –
Vann Vogstad, Founder of COHO, an HMO and Coliving management platform, which provides all of the services you might need to fully manage a property, from the start of the process to find and onboard a tenant through to the day-to-day services that will keep your property licensed, compliant and tenant friendly. Recognising that every property is different and that our customers will want to use COHO in different ways, which is why every service is optional to use.
A Day In The Life Of A Tech Start-up CEO
When running a fast-moving tech startup and juggling a number of roles, whilst no two days are ever the same, each day contains many of the same tasks, from development, to marketing. I find there is one constant when you’re trying to push the barriers of innovation, and trying to balance all of the moving pieces out of your control – chaos. But I operate well in chaos, especially as COHO officially launches in just three days on the 7th of January 2021.
This is how a normal day might look for me.
7:00am – My alarm goes off
My morning starts off almost always the same. I lie in bed and check my phone, firstly reading anything that happened within the business on our Discord server, then I check my business Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to reply to anything needed. I then catch up on the latest news (Economist), before scrolling social media. I’ve stopped checking my personal social media, but I find it very important to keep an understanding of what is happening in the industry, so my social media is for that.
After that I try to get down my email inbox which generally fills quicker than I can respond. Once I think I’ve been as productive as I can in bed, I’ll get up.
8:30am – Get to the computer
I try to book early meetings so I can block out time during the day. I’ll often have a call at 9am, so I’ll get to the computer and prepare for that. This could be anything from strategic partnerships, sales, or meetings. I love having just “hello” conversations, with neither party going in with any expectations, and having a happy serendipity moment if in future there is some crossover. I find that this crossover probably happens 80% of the time – because the kind of person who recognises the benefit of meeting without expectation is often the kind of person I want to work with later.
10:00am – Team “standup”
Around 10am Team COHO usually jumps on a group call to discuss our plans and challenges we’ve faced. This isn’t just a Covid thing, we’ve worked remotely together for about 7 years now. This will usually set the direction for the day across the whole team.
10:30am – Get outside
I usually walk the dog whilst listening to podcasts or audiobooks. I credit a specific set of podcasts with really broadening and sharpening my understanding of business. If you ask me, I might share it some time. I listen on about 1.8x, which is what I find comfortable to balance getting through enough whilst still understanding.
I’m fortunate to live in an area that is quite near woodland, so I can stay away from roads and ramble along dirt paths and between trees, which I really enjoy.
11:00am – Development
I do quite a lot of development myself. My strength is in the architecture and vision, but my co-founder Liam picks up when things start to get deeply technical. I get most excited when I hear a problem a customer has in their business, and I can envision how we can build a solution. I can usually picture the solution in seconds, and have it drawn up and modelled shortly after. At that point we decide as a team when we schedule it for full development.
I believe keeping close to development is important for a tech company CEO. Things can get tricky if you’re running a company based around tech you only understand at the high level. It enables me to make very quick decisions, as I can effectively weigh up cost and time against needs.
1:00pm – Distractions
I’m pretty good with distractions. I have 4 children that we home-school (aged 7, 5, 5, 4) and have worked from home for 8 years. So whilst I’ve called this 1pm, it’s actually all day, but I love it. Throughout the day the kids will come in and ask me questions, or just sit on my lap.
Even if they’re out, which they often are during the day, I’ll generally keep my email and LinkedIn open. I find personal connections extremely important in business, so I like to respond to people promptly. I know this would be a problem, but 90% of the time I find the distractions a great way to have a “quick reset”. Many developers will know that if you’re stuck on a task for too long, it can often help to look away for a while.
2:00pm – Calls
We get a lot of people messaging to ask about https://coho.life/ COHO, and at the moment I like personally taking every call so I can really understand the problems people face, and how we can help them. There’s only so much guessing it is safe to do when managing a startup, and it’s much better to have a smaller group of really loyal customers than a huge group who don’t really care.
With our business model we’re embracing partnerships, so often I’m talking with similar companies about how we can help each other. I’m a huge strategist, and believe that if you’re doing a triathlon and you’re a weak swimmer, you don’t just practice swimming, but look to see if you can get the route swapped to somewhere where the current is on your side. This often means I’m working on things that may, on the surface, appear fairly unconnected, but will later lead to something which will have an onlooker say, “well that was a strike of luck”.
4pm – Admin
There’s a lot of stuff that goes into running a business. This can vary from accounting, problem solving, or discussing any technical issues that have arisen during the day. If I’m lucky and it’s gone quite smooth, depending on my mood and the need I’ll use the time to progress the business through marketing, development, or partnerships.
6:00pm – Wind down
At this point I am trying to get away from the computer and trying to avoid the “last minute” bits. I’ll take time out now for dinner, go for a walk with the family, play with the kids, etc.
7:00pm – “Bedtime routine”
… Not for me, but we start telling the kids they need to start brushing their teeth and getting in to bed. Really, this is just so I can have some down time, as I know they’ll stay up playing until about 10 or 11pm. This is actually my favourite time of the day, as I’ll read them a bedtime book for about an hour. In the past 6 months we’ve got through some great ones (Harry Potter 1-4, Heidi, Little House in the Big Woods, and many others).
8:00pm – Down time!
Sometimes I’ll jump back on to carry on coding, but I try to avoid this if I can. My team and any business partners who share Discord servers know quite well that on an evening my wife and I play computer games with our friends. Or watch TV, we go in phases, depending on if there are good shows out.
11:00pm – Bed
Some last-minute checking messages, emails, before “not” watching TikTok for too long.
Do you work at weekends, if so, how many hours?
I would like not to, but I will when necessary. Burnout is a real thing, and it’s not good for anyone if it gets to that point, so I’m conscious of keeping a good balance. I’m always thinking about the business though, on a strategy and ideas side.
And typically how many hours a week do you work on average?
I don’t track the hours, but my aim is to work about 30-35 hours. I’ve missed this many years running, and currently work about 50 hours a week, but I absolutely don’t say that with any weirdly-placed pride. When I’m working 30-35 hours, I’ll know that things are running smoothly and that I’m a cog that can be replaced.
Do you work from home yes/no? if so what %
This year has been a breath of fresh air. I’ve worked from home for years now and have had to apologise about the sound of kids or a dog in the background. Now people laugh with knowing empathy. I do like to get out to a coworking space at least once a week though, because there’s a huge benefit being around forward-thinking creative people.
How did you get your job?
By constantly working out where my weaknesses are, and either improving them, or accepting, embracing, and finding a solution. That has allowed me to create a company with people that work great together.
Rock Star Rating 1 to 10 – How much do you like your job
10. If I got, the sought after “multi-million-pound life changing money’, I would still be doing what I’m doing… just maybe with a touch less frugality, and at a faster pace. I am driven by making positive change, which I believe we are.
If you would like to share your ‘day in the life’ with the Estate Agent Networking community – scaling to over 100,000 now – just drop me a line – whether you are an EPC assessor, surveyor, corporate CEO, COO, CTO, Lettings manager, Inventory Clerk, Solicitor, in fact any vertical in the industry, what is your day like?
Please make sure you look in tomorrow to see who we have in the hot seat.
Want to feature my ‘Day in the Life’ series? Reach me via [email protected]