Episode 14 – Sam Huber
Samuel Huber is the founder and CEO of Admix, a VC-funded startup based in London that helps Virtual Reality and AR developers monetize their creations through native and non intrusive ads. He previously worked as an engineer in Formula 1, founded Kout.io, raised funds through an accelerator, made and grew his own app to over 8,000 daily players which he later sold, and raised close to a quarter million $$ for a gamified video sharing platform. He currently balances multiple projects under the vision of pushing the VR and AR industries forward. Let’s hear more from him in this episode of Productivity Masterminds.
- Have a vision: everything starts with having a vision. After knowing that vision, make sure that everything you do is always getting you a little bit closer to that goal.
- Step by step: when having your big vision, try to deconstruct it into tangible, workable goals. This makes it more manageable. Just take it step by step and every day try to work towards it.
- Urgency and importance. Work with that framework to say no to things that do not fit in. What’s important is very seldom urgent and what’s urgent is very seldom important.
- Communication. To get people helping you achieve your vision, you need to find good ways to communicate it so that people can actually understand it. Let them know that this is going to happen. With or without them.
Juan: You must know something about time that most professionals don’t, and that’s the whole point of the podcast, to highlight these experiences and these lessons learned. Can you share with us a little bit about how you’re actually thinking about time and maybe how you’re prioritizing different tasks?
Samuel Huber: [01:45] Sure, yeah. It’s funny you see it as different things and I think that’s really the key for me, is that I started with a goal. I have a vision and everything I do to get one step closer to that vision and, you know, even if it’s maybe multiple projects, one of it is the tech side of the development. The other is the sales, hiring, finding an office, expanding to San Francisco. All of that actually is just one step, a little tiny step closer to the goal. And so if, I think if you start, you know, taking a step back and looking at the macro, what do you want to achieve?
Think about what you want to achieve and then you just make sure that everything you do is always getting you a little bit closer. Every time you go to bed, you’re a little bit closer to your goal than when you woke up. I think that’s the best way to manage your time.
Juan: [02:31] That’s perfect. That’s such good advice. How did you come up with what that bigger picture vision was in the first place?
Samuel Huber: [02:39] I guess I’ve always been more of a kind of a creative kid and you know, even a teenager I always had big plans and thinking ‘it would be great to have this,’ and then trying to find a way to actually make it work. So instead of just, you know, getting to develop something and then eventually figuring out where it might be. I’ll always start with a big idea a big concept. And then some of them we pursue and some of them, you know, I would just leave I guess for other people to do. Yeah, it’s basically like I said, it started as an idea and then thinking, you know, ‘how big could this get?’ And eventually ended up working on it. And uh, you know, every vision is not like necessarily set in stone. It’s something that evolves with time as well. I guess when you walk on it, if you think that actually can get bigger, it’s getting even more exciting. That’s when you know that you’ve made something interesting.
Juan: [03:38] So the way that you think about it is you’re always, it’s basically giving yourself permission to pivot and change the bigger picture idea as new information comes in, new experiences and the opportunities come in. But basically, always going all-in on whatever the opportunity at hand is. And just trusting that as long as you’re going all-in on every opportunity, or on the opportunities that fit the bigger vision, that the bigger vision will eventually take shape. As long as you’re working towards that, you’re making that the measure for success, then everyday you’ll be successful because everyday you’re actually working towards that goal.
Samuel Huber: [04:13] Right, right. And I think more than pivot, it would be more refined. So you know, you have these kind of big idea like I really want to help VR developers make money. That’s like a super broad idea and then you start figuring out, ‘okay, well I need to develop a product that enables advertisers, for example, to place content.’ But then that’s still very broad. Right? And so as you work towards it, as you meet people, you actually refine it and then it becomes a very tangible goal that you can actually walk towards in a matter of weeks maybe. And so if you walk that way and really started the big vision and then try to deconstruct it into tangible, workable goals, I think it makes it a lot more manageable.
Sometimes it can feel very intimidating to have a big vision and you don’t really know where to take it, but you just take it step by step and everyday try to work towards it.
Juan: [05:07] So I guess it’s fair to say the Samuel Huber way of thinking about time and goals, you start by thinking of big goals, then you try to find the opportunities and the resources and the people that will actually make that vision a reality. And then you take those bigger goals and you chop them up into more bite size pieces. So, you’re basically working your way backwards, you’re reverse engineering the end result.
Samuel Huber: [05:32] That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. I’m not thinking, ‘okay, what is possible?’ And then you know, based on what’s available, where can we get to. It’s more like, ‘I really want to do this, let’s see how we can do it.’ Right?
It’s to some extent like, ‘let’s go to Mars, okay, well then we need to build a ship.’ It’s not like ‘let’s build a ship and see how far we can get,’ because it’s very unlikely that you would get to Mars if you were using that method.
Juan: [05:57] Do you have a framework on how you actually turn down opportunities that are fighting for your attention? Like, let’s meet for coffee, let’s talk. Let me pick your brain.
Samuel Huber: [06:07] Yeah. Yeah. I mean again, it’s the same framework which is, is it getting closer to my vision and that’s basically what it is and sometimes you don’t know and you have to allow for serendipity and you know, I love meeting people. You never know what’s going to happen, but you know, as you get more granular goals and you have to put in the time as well, it actually gets fairly easy to figure out if, okay, is this going to be helping me towards my vision or not? And I guess there’s two things, right? It can’t. It could help you maybe in five years’ time. So, you also have to prioritize based on the urgency of the situation. I think it’s not something I follow very religiously, but there’s an Eisenhower method or something, the president of the United States and he said that
What’s important is very seldom urgent and what’s urgent is very seldom important.
It’s very interesting to make the distinction between the two. because you always have stuff, especially in these days like emails and calls and, but that’s not necessarily urgent. So, I think urgency is something very interesting and actually one of the challenges I’ve always had a big feeling of urgency. I think, you know, every minute of the day we should be productive and do something. But it’s very hard to instigate that feeling with people that work for you. And that’s something that, you know, I’m, I’m still learning how, how can we make them understand that, you know, it should be done today, not tomorrow. And of course it’s very hard because it’s not their business, right? As much as I’m trying to communicate the vision at the end of the day, you know, it’s just a job for them and I have to be comfortable with that. So it’s been a challenge and I’m still trying to find the best ways to be able to communicate that sense of urgency.
Juan: [07:55] Do you have any kind of advice for that maybe you found it over the last few months or years of having that experience and actually instilling the urgency or right now you’re still testing out different things?
Samuel Huber: [08:05] No, I think, I mean, you know, obviously the best way is not shouting at people, it’s definitely to make them part of the vision as well. If they believe in the vision, they would want it to happen and they would want it to happen quickly.
My only tip of the day is find something big that you really want to work towards and find good ways to communicate it so that people can actually understand it and also want to help you achieve it.
Juan: [08:35] Right. Which just goes back to focus. If you don’t have focus on your bigger vision, then there’s no way that you can actually inspire a team of people, let alone other allies and partners to come onboard. You have to get people to a position where they believe that it’s going to happen with or without them, and that’s the kind of the best negotiation technique because they’re like, ‘okay, it’s going to happen. I want to jump on board’ and make this happen. But if you are unsure or your vision isn’t focused enough, then it’s understandable for people to be even less excited about it than you are. And so if you’re like a 4 out of a 10, then they’re going to be like a one out of a 10.. You know what I mean? Like unexcited and committed.
Samuel Huber: [09:13] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And what’s also important is the sense of urgency is not only created by my vision necessarily, but in my case, which is developing something for virtual and augmented reality, we’re talking about a market that is also exploding, right? So, with or without me, VR and AR would happen.
If you find an industry that is also on the verge of explosion, it makes it a lot easier to motivate people because they can see something happening, they want to be a part of it and they know that they have the opportunity to make it happen.
I used to work on like, you know, gaming or ecommerce which is a proven market. It’s not exploding, so it’s not as exciting to be working on because you’re not a pioneer and you know, if it’s not done today, we can do it tomorrow. You’re not worried about someone necessarily doing the same thing.
Juan: [10:07] One thing you lightly touched on in the last point you were saying, you just got to put in the time. I don’t know, Samuel, if you remember whenever I asked you to come on the show and I asked you about your tips for productivity. Do you remember what you told me?
Samuel Huber: [10:21] I think I do, yes. Yeah.
Juan: Well what did you say?
Samuel Huber: I basically said that I don’t have any, you know, time management techniques. I just kind of work all the time. And what I mean by that is like awesome advice.
Juan: Yeah. Can you, can you expand on that?
Samuel Huber: Yeah. It’s not that I don’t do anything else. It’s like I’m basically setting myself to, you know, at work, I don’t really have time to look at productivity tips, you know, it’s like I just do what I need to do and um, and I think if you need to kind of force yourself to like find ways to be more productive, um, you know, I think all of that, uh, tactics, right? I’m more talking about like the religion of getting towards my goal and that’s basically what it is.
I kind of plan at least my weekday life around work so that I don’t have many distractions during the week and I can just focus on what I need to do because at the end of the day, you can try any type of tools and productivity, but you know, you just got to get down to the email and pick up the phone and do whatever.
Juan: [11:29] Any productivity tool or tip is just kind of has to work in service of you already putting in the time. I think, you know, going, approaching this from the standpoint of ‘I want to be working less hours, I want to be putting in less time. How do I make sure that the time that I do put in is the most productive?’ You kind of have to graduate into that level of retirement mentality. That’s after you’re already in a really good position like either financially or professionally, but for most of us that are on the up and up, if we’re already thinking in terms of ‘how do I make sure that I’m already only working four hours a week,’ you know, Tim Ferriss’ book, the 4-hour work week, the four hour workweek, it really plays to people’s like they want to be sipping a Margarita on the beach way before they’ve actually put in the time to do that. And so what you’re saying is like, yeah, ‘I mean I love the tactics and the tips and the tools and everything, but it’s actually much more important to just putting like put in the time, have a focus, rally up a team and go all in and you can then start optimizing from that.’ But that has to be your starting point. Not ‘how do I work less hours.’
Samuel Huber: [12:37] I’m not trying to force anyone to work long hours. I’m talking as to what I’m interested in myself. I know that people, some people want lifestyle businesses and being able to work four hours a week and make, you know, whatever Tim ferris advocates that you can make, it’s amazing. It’s amazing. That’s just not really the way that I want to lead my company. I don’t think that, you know, I’m not here really for the lifestyle and so I cannot talk to people who like are really committed to making something happen and putting in long hours. Right? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I think tools are very important, but mostly to communicate that to the rest of the team as you start growing. So, like we use a lot of simple tools like Trello for example, we have like balls for everything and people can just follow on the progress and you can assign it to someone and you can take what has been done that’s just fantastic. Right? Or like slack, everyone can communicate on the same platform. So yeah, I mean we use a lot of tools but mostly sort of simple tools, trying to not overcomplicate what’s already complicated, and you don’t have to learn the platform and here it just makes sense.
Juan: [13:42] That’s perfect. What is the best way for people to stay in touch with you, what you’re up to and follow your career as you continue to grow?
Samuel Huber: [13:49] Uh, so I have a personal website, SamHuber.com, where you can see pretty much all the talks that I do about virtual reality advertising and all of that. And you can also check what the company does, which is admix.in and yeah, that’s about it.
Juan: [14:04] Perfect. Thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing this with us.
Samuel Huber: No problem. And thanks for having me.