Paul Hershenson, co-founder of software development company Art+Logic, is one of the pioneers of the concept of remote work environments, which Art+Logic implemented over 27 years ago, in the early stages of the tech world’s development.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m a Co-Founder of Art+Logic, a 29 year old software innovation firm. We develop software for a wide range of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to early stage startups.
I’m a musician and became interested in developing music and audio software in college. After school, I went to work for a startup in the music software space and started Art+Logic with 2 colleagues when that startup failed.
I was the President of Art+Logic for the better part of 15 years, but stepped aside when my children were young to be more available as a parent. My day to day role at Art+Logic currently centers on working with and advising clients and potential clients, many of whom are early stage companies.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
After dropping the kids at school, I start my workday at a nearby coffee shop that has a comfortable atmosphere and is remote-work friendly. I focus on individual work early and move on to scheduled meetings and phone calls mid-day. That often involves driving to client locations throughout Southern California.
Yesterday, a fairly typical day, I spoke with a strategic partner in London while driving from San Diego to Orange County to kickoff a project with a new client. I spent the drive home discussing a potential project with a startup client in Okinawa. If I’m not meeting with clients, I’ll often pick up the kids from school and drive them to activities.
It’s not uncommon for me to finish my workday at a gym or horse ranch waiting for my kids’ activities to end.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Every role at Art+Logic is flexible enough to allow remote work. We’ve been a remote first company from the very beginning. My particular role affords a great deal of flexibility to work when and where I choose, so I can weave personal and family responsibilities into the fabric of my daily
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
My work is important to me. I’m passionate about helping other entrepreneurs find success in their software-based endeavors. My wife and children are also important to me and I have personal goals outside of work and family.
Any of those three buckets – work, family, and self – can run dry if you can’t refill them on a fairly regular basis.
Art+Logic’s remote first work environment has made it possible for me to do that in a potent way that would be impossible if I worked 9 to 5 in an office.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?
When I turned 50, I started hiking regularly. Every Friday, I spend the entire day alone hiking in the mountains. The solitude, exercise, and fresh air recharges my batteries and gives me the energy (both emotional and physical) to keep up with the fast pace of the rest of my life.
This particular routine works well for me, but might not for others. I think what’s most important is to have a regular cadence of activities that “sharpen the saw” as Stephen Covey calls it.
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
I’m sure I’m not alone in pointing to David Allen’s classic Getting Things Done. We all have so many open loops in our lives, having the skills to manage them is utterly essential to sanity and survival.
The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Toy Schwartz also made a lasting impact in teaching me to focus on managing my energy as much as my time.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Routine. I am a creature of habit and most of my habits are designed to maximize my productivity over time (though when I say “productivity”, I’m not just talking about work – I’m talking about productivity in all aspects of my life).
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d like to learn more about how Barack Obama managed to raise two daughters and have a connected family life while holding the most demanding job in America for 8 years.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
As an employer, I think it’s in your best interest to encourage your workers to find balance in their lives. You may sacrifice some short term output, but you’ll get more productivity from them in the long run.
Workers who know their employers care about them as people, will work harder for the company and stay longer.