How (We)Work: Ryan Paugh of YEC

This post was written by Boston Content committee member Lauren Landry, a digital content specialist at Northeastern University. Follow her, @laurlandry

Boston Content is proud to host its events at WeWork South Station, a coworking office space teeming with creators who are as inspirational as they are innovative. "How (We)Work" is a series dedicated to highlighting how those creators stay productive, creative and innovative. Prepare to start rethinking how you plan your day.

Ryan Paugh knows “being ambitious in your career can be a lonely place” — it’s because of that he helped found Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization for top entrepreneurs 40 and under, and CommunityCo, a company that helps other young professionals build personalized, invite-only communities.

“I love the idea that, everyday, I not only get to work on meeting my business goals,” Paugh said, “but also get to have a small role in helping our members meet their business goals, as well.”

Being someone who “builds epic communities for ambitious professionals” requires innovative thinking, however. Here’s a look at how Paugh stays creative.

Boston Content: What is your morning routine?

Ryan Paugh: I wake up around 6 a.m. and have breakfast with my daughter. I use my drip coffee maker and brew fresh coffee. (I'm a BeanGenius subscriber and they send me fresh beans every month.) After that, I put on my LSTN headphones and listen to music on my walk to the T.

What kind of content can you not start your day without?

I check my emails, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate with any of our community members that need support. Then, I switch my focus over to Slack to see if anyone on my team needs immediate assistance. If everything is stable, I read news and business publications to stay current. I sometimes indulge in a guilty pleasure and read some geeky blogs about what comic book movies they are going to make next.

What does your work station look like? 

My desk area is really simple. I have a photo of my daughter and an ultrasound picture of my second child on the way. I also have a picture of a small dune shack in Cape Cod I dream about buying someday as an escape. I work best in motion, which is why I love that our team works out of WeWork South Station. There are loads of great little nooks to travel to when I need a new setting.

How do you stay creative?

We buy a lot of books for our office. Every quarter, I send out a survey to everyone on our team asking what new books they want to read and why. The books don't need to be 100 percent work-focused; they can be about anything that interests them. I think some of my best ideas come to me when I'm immersed in something else, and I hope providing my team members with the same access to non-work-related content will create the same effect for them.

I also introduced a benefit called Work-From-Wherever Fridays. The team can work from literally anywhere in the world as long as they have their MacBook and reliable Wi-Fi. I know that, for myself, working in a different environment once a week helps me access different parts of my brain and accomplish work differently than I would in the office.

How do you stay productive?

First and foremost, I have to thank my assistant, Kiri, for keeping me on track. Every morning, we meet and run through a task list in Basecamp she has for me. We divide up the tasks amongst each other and delegate anything we can afford to delegate to other members of our team. She also helps me with everything from scheduling meetings to paying my bills, so I can stay focused on my work.

In terms of project management, we try to take an agile approach to our work from tech development to community management. As we grow our team and our family of professional organizations, we are using Pivotal Tracker as our project management tool of choice and SCRUM philosophies to guide in our decision making. It's a big leap for a lot of companies to dive into this way of thinking and I'd be lying if I said we haven't hit roadblocks along the way. That said, it has been a huge benefit to our overall productivity.

What’s your favorite time of day to get stuff done, and why?

Nighttime. However, that has become more difficult now that I'm a dad and more evening time is devoted to family. I love it, but it means less time is spent doing work that's best done in solitude, like strategic planning.

Where do you go for inspiration?

I like to drive my Jeep on the beach and hike in the dunes. Being an entrepreneur is chaotic and overstimulating in many ways. I love that, but I also think it's important to find quiet time to reconnect with yourself and the natural world around you. Sounds very crunchy when I say it out loud, but it's an important part of my life.

Are there any quotes you live by?

I love this quote by fellow YEC member Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite. I'm not the smartest guy in the world, and I wasn't born into wealth, but I believe I have a strong work ethic — which has been the backbone of my success thus far.

Follow Paugh, @ryanpaugh and @YEC.