Episode 18 – Cooper Harris
Cooper Harris is the CEO & Founder of Klickly.com – an award-winning e-commerce company that helps you make faster purchases on the Internet. She is based in Venice CA, was recently nominated for Google’s “Young Innovators Award” and named a “Top Thought-Leader” by Adobe. She’s also a contributor to a number of publications like Forbes, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur and has taken the stage as a speaker at conferences including SXSW, CES, and General Assembly. Let’s hear more from her on this episode of the podcast.
- Time is the number one thing you can’t get back. It’s really important if you want to build a business to be really diligent about how you allocate your time and where you allocate it.
- Go laser focus on one thing at a time. Find something that sticks and then once you’ve found that you can go all in because the truth is too many people are trying to boil the ocean all at the same time and that’s not gonna work. So if you can focus on one thing that matters at a time, then you can go all in 100 percent.
- Be diligent about your schedule. Do not waste time, not on Facebook, Instagram, or on Netflix, but just being diligent about your schedule and just being very aware of the things that matters.
- Make promises to your calendar. Once you find things that matter, you put them on a calendar and you make promises to yourself for you to just stick to the things that are on your calendar.
- The three steps of behavior change.
- Antecedents. Set antecedents which are basically triggers. So if it’s working out, you need to make sure that you’re successful to workout by setting up your clothes the day before.
- Doing it. Take action.
- Consequences. Whether they’re positive or negative that you actually feel in order to affect your behavior change..
Juan: Cooper Harris is the CEO and founder of quickly and award-winning e-commerce company that helps you make faster purchases on the internet. She is based in Venice, California was recently nominated for Google’s young innovators award and named a top thought leader by Adobe. She’s also a contributor to a number of publications like Forbes, Huffington Post and Entrepreneur, and it’s taken the stage as a speaker at conferences, including South by southwest CES and general assembly. Let’s hear more from her on this episode of the podcast.
Juan: Cooper, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Cooper Harris: Oh, I’m excited to be here.
Juan: Cooper. So you certainly know something about productivity and time management that most of us don’t. Can you tell us a little bit at a high level how you think about time?
Cooper Harris: Yes. I, uh, I,
I battle with time every day. It is the number one thing you can’t get back, right?
Um, it literally is the one, if you want to call it, like constraining element in a solution that is life. It is, it is that it’s a chemistry term. Some folks will get that super nerdy, and you can’t make more. So it’s really important if you want to build a business to be really diligent about how you allocate your time and where you allocate it. I, I think of things very much. Um, one thing at a time I kind of multitask, but I found just as a general tenant in my life, I have to go really laser focus on one thing at a time. And that’s actually how I get the most out of my time and my energy, if that makes sense.
Juan: So how do you know what thing you should laser focus on?
Cooper Harris: It’s a really good question and you don’t always know at the beginning of let’s say an early stage company, a startup, a burgeoning venture if you will. You don’t always know what’s going to work. So I would say, you know.
Do an iterative process so that you are focusing on tests one after another after another and when you find something that sticks, like go hard on that.
And once you’ve built that for let’s say as an example, maybe a year, to whatever KPI you’re, you’re, you’re saying whether it’s a time milestone a year or maybe a usership milestone, like 5,000 users, whatever that KPI that says to you, we’ve, we’ve accomplished this and we’ve had success. Then you can start like let’s say an ancillary business or similar in different revenue stream or whatever.
But I think it’s very important to establish what’s working. Get a solid foundation of revenue or daily active users and only when that’s very well oiled and really well established. Only then do you want to go onto that second thing, and that’s been kind of the ethos of everything I build is really finding what works. Doing it for a considerable amount of time to where it’s set steady and solid because I see, and again I’m rambling, but I’m passionate about this. I see so many startups and young companies fail because they’re trying to boil the ocean. They’re trying to be everything to everyone and they’re all over the place and it is insane. No one would win doing that and so
I think it’s very important for us to understand like we need to be disciplined, very disciplined and do what’s working. Set it up to a place where you can be successful.
Almost run itself perhaps an only then launch the second revenue stream or that ancillary business or whatever it is.
Juan: I love that because I think most of us in our professions, we try to find how we can be like really well rounded and we can tackle as many things as possible and that’s what’s so attractive about even content like this. We people want to know how they can get more done in less time and it sounds like what you’re saying, it’s actually about becoming more one dimensional and finding like the one thing that you’re going to go all in on. Yes, there is some testing behind it. You’re going to try three, four or five different things probably over the course of two months or a year. However much time you give yourself to reach those KPIs, but once you find that that one strategy, then you go all in on that and it’s actually in that focus that you’re able to accomplish more in less time as opposed to just trying to juggle too many things without letting plates at the floor. So that’s really interesting. So true way you approach it.
Cooper Harris: Yes, that’s exactly how I think of it and part of it too is we have to recognize when you switch tracks and when you switch your focus and in between everything you do in your day, when you go from one thing to another, you’re using valuable time, you’re wasting time because your brain and your everything about you and us as humans, we take a moment to adjust in between. Right? So there’s the opportunity cost of actually every time you switch gears so to speak, you will actually lose an amount of efficiency. In my mind, you actually want to do that as little as possible.
Juan: So Cooper, what kind of advice would you have for someone that maybe isn’t coming from the opportunity that maybe we may have as entrepreneurs where we can actually manage pretty much all of our time, but let’s say someone that works at a company and they’re thinking, cooper, I can’t just focus on one thing. I have like all these different stakeholders, all of these different tasks. What kind of advice would you have for someone like that that actually has to shift their attention between tasks? Every day and they have multiple KIPs they are trying to meet. How would they kind of apply your thesis into their life?
Cooper Harris: I would apply it by quitting your job. I say that literally. And I don’t mean to be disrespectful and I also have insanely high-risk tolerance and I’m a little bit delusional so, so I really actually somewhat believe that. I think if you’re really like gung-ho about starting something, like you should just start it because if you don’t have a plan B, you will make plan A work by and large most of the time. Now that’s a huge generalization and that definitely won’t be possible for a huge number of people. So you have to keep in mind if that’s actually like a safe thing to do. I don’t want to tell you to do something stupid, but I think if you’re really passionate you genuinely want to start something and you have somewhat of the resources or the ability to do it. I think you should just do it. I quit a TV show to start my first company, which actually, fortunately, worked out well. But yeah, just walked, so that was insane and I don’t want that anyone should do that, but that kind of idea, I think that’s the number one thing that will galvanize you. There are other ways that I do actually recommend that are tactical for people who have a lower risk tolerance or want to be more practical about it because that’s not for everyone. Um, and those would be:
Use your calendar. I’ve made a promise to my calendar that I will do what it says and therefore when something comes up on my calendar that I don’t want to do it, it doesn’t matter because I have to.
So if you can make that kind of a promise to your calendar and then be very diligent about putting those antecedents in. Antecedents are things that cause an outcome, right? So if you want to become a writer, your antecedent is a, you put in every single night at 7:00 PM. Once you get home and you eat and you eat quickly so you don’t waste time. You put in, I’m going to write for an hour and a half every single evening. Guess what? I mean? That’s a lot. But if you did that, you’d have a very good chance of just by virtue of them mount of content you were putting out there, you would have good chance of you would be a writer because you’d be writing. But then too, you’d have so much content out there that that it’s just a lot more likely that that thing would happen. And again, a better example would be like fitness. Fitness is a really good example because it’s not dependent on other people. If you worked out for an hour and a half every single night at seven, you would be the fittest mofo out there.
Juan: Yeah. Yeah. Cooper, I love that. I think this really helps me understand a lot about like what’s under what’s behind your success because honestly I think that the hardest promises for us to keep are the ones we make to ourselves. I think whenever it’s like a very real deadline, like you tell someone that your pitch deck is going to be done on a certain day or you tell someone that you’re going to have a dinner on Thursday at 6:00 PM and you’re going to present the 30, 60, 90 day growth plan, like whatever it is. Those are easier to keep. But whenever you promise yourself that you’re going to work out at 7:00 PM your way flakier to your own ambitions than you are with other people and if you can somehow crack that, if you can make promises and then you actually believe in yourself enough to know that you are going to uphold that promise, that’s when things really started locking. So I love hearing that. You’re like, I literally just like set up things on my calendar and then I do what I say I’m going to do and I take myself seriously enough to accomplish that. I think that’s like a major, major, major key.
Cooper Harris: Well that’s cool. I mean there is a way to crack that and I can tell it to you right now. It’s probably about behavioral therapy. Yeah.
When you want to change a behavior, there are three parts to that behavior change. The first part is an antecedent. It’s what do you put in place before to make it lately as an outcome?
Juan: So like triggers or. Okay.
Cooper Harris: Yeah. Antecedents, anything kind of the preliminary set up that makes it likely for you to do this thing. The second thing is you actually doing it. You have to do. If you set the time in your calendar to go to the gym, that’s an antecedent. Then the second thing is actually doing. You have to go to the gym, right, but then the third thing is the one that’s the most overlooked and this is the reason it is easier to skip the gym and not be accountable to ourselves than it is to let’s say skip a major deadline at work they actually don’t care about and here’s why and all comes down to this. It’s the third piece of the behavior change rule which says that there have to be consequences that we feel if we are to affect behavior change and if you don’t have consequences there, which you don’t really nothing urgent there. I’m like, but if you don’t turn in your work at work, you likely will be fired and we’re very keenly aware of that. But if, if literally, you would, I don’t know, some dreadful consequences from not going to the gym, we will be as accountable to ourselves or more and I think it’s so important to press to really understand that and I’m still just really trying to internalize it myself, but we, because of consequences they are the things that screw us up because there are natural consequences at work, we take work more seriously than we do the actual dreams and visions that we have for ourselves in our lives.
So you have to put in serious consequences for the things you actually want to make them happen or they won’t.
Juan: Got It. Okay. So just like we create the artificial carrot of delayed gratification, if we can somehow create artificial sticks that are actually negative consequences for us to not move towards the carrot, then that’s when we finally have the full circle,
Cooper Harris: Yes, negative or positive, negative or positive. So here’s the other thing you could after if you started working out and after every workout, let’s say you wanted to put in a consequence that wasn’t shaming or or you did both, you weighed yourself and then you also walked by like, I’m going to be really crude here, but like a yoga class full of hot women, if you’re a dude, the more you walk by that class and see their reaction, that’s an immediate consequence. So we, after you did that, after six weeks and then suddenly you’re looking buff and you’re getting tram or whatever, that’s a very primal consequence there that will trigger in your brain. So this the important thing is that it releases some chemical in your brain, either a positive or a negative consequence,
Juan: And then the key there is to make sure that the rewards you have are actually positive rewards and you’re not rewarding yourself with then grabbing in and out right afterwards. So as long as he can have good consequences or it could be like kind of punishments that you set for yourself, then that’s like a trigger. At the end of this amazing, Cooper. Okay. Do you have any like wrapping up thoughts about how you think about time or productivity time management tips here?
Cooper Harris: I do. I mean here, here’s what I use. You guys are gonna think I’m insane. I use slack for everything on my team of course, and then I integrate that into my personal trello board and have a really tight trello board that I’ve actually built in swim lanes too and I have a swim lane for every single element of my life, my investments, my health and actually beauty because my hair care is in there because if I’m spending $100 every, I mean the rough numbers every six weeks on my hair. Like I need to budget that out and you need to plan that out. It’s going to be two hours of my time. Right? So everything is in there.
Juan: Like nutrition, everything,…
Cooper Harris: Everything. Yep. Everything. So it all becomes this like machine that just kind of runs itself. Every single thing has a due date and then they just pop up and then you just do them and it becomes like if you pull yourself out of your feelings and your emotions and you program Trello as a, as a businessperson, it’s not actual programming, but if you program Trello to get the outcome you want and then you just follow it, you will actually do it.
Juan: Yeah, you need to put yourself in a position where it is paint by the dot success at that point yet, but that’s only gonna happen if you like. Actually zoom out long enough for you to look at it in that way.
And put in those consequences or discipline such that when it pops up and you don’t want to do it, you do it anyway.
Juan: There you have it. Productivity masterminds. Cooper Harris, battles with her time every day one, and she sees that as the one constraining element in life and the the one thing that you can’t get back. She kind of multitasks, but she’s found that you have to laser focus on one thing at a time to really do it well. In this comes from doing an iterative process to find something that sticks and then once you’ve found that you can go all in because the truth is too many people, like Cooper says, are trying to boil the ocean all at the same time and that’s not gonna work. So if you can focus on one thing that matters at a time, then you can go 100 percent of your time. Then you can go all in 100 percent. So this starts by being diligent about your schedule, not wasting time, not on facebook than on Instagram, not on Netflix, but just being diligent about your schedule and just being very aware of the things that matters.
Once you find things that matter, you put them on a calendar and you make promises to yourself for you to just stick to the things that are on your calendar. You can do this by first setting an antecedent which are basically triggers and preliminary setups, so if it’s working out, you need to make sure that you’re successful to workout by setting up your clothes the day before. Setting up your alarm, having those antecedents. Number two, you actually have to take action and then finally you have to have consequences, whether they’re positive or negative that you actually feel in order to affect your behavior change.
Cooper uses slack for everything on our team and has swim lanes on Trello so she can see items go from left to right on her screen and make sure that she’s actually holding herself accountable to getting things done and that she has specific expectations for what it means once something gets done and those are the consequences that she talked about.
Cooper, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all this with us as you continue to grow and take your career forward. Where’s the best place for people to stay in touch with you and learn more about what you’re doing?
Cooper Harris: Yeah, I think, I mean social, right? So I’m @cooperharris. Just one word. Um, I’m, I’m still very active on Twitter. I’m on Instagram and then, um, I think, you know, business wise at Linkedin is a great platform and I use it frequently.
Juan: Excellent. Cooper, thank you again for coming on the show and sharing all of this with us.
Cooper Harris: Thank you so much and for your amazingly succinct encapsulation of what I said there. I feel like I could listen to that again and again. You are brilliant.
Juan: Excellent. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Cooper Harris: Absolutely. Take care.