Jessica Powell is the co-founder of a music collaboration software that will be launched later this year. Jessica is a first-time founder after heading up PR at Google. She also just published The Big Disruption: A Totally Fictional but Essentially True Silicon Valley Story. She is based in San Francisco, CA.
Here’s a day in the life of Jessica:
6AM: Wake up. I have three small children and they are my alarm clock. On the off chance that I wake up before one of them, I pick up my phone and will scan the news and my email. Within 10 minutes, without fail, one of the kids will be up. I’ll be with them until 8am.
7:30AM: Tea with breakfast. I am the most boring and predictable breakfast person. All I want is to have oatmeal every day of my life. If I’m feeling really wild I’ll put some banana in there.
8AM: Ease into the workday by doing 30 minutes of administrative stuff–email, scheduling, easy tasks that don’t require much thought. I’m based in SF and our team is in NYC and Austin, so everyone else is well into their work day.
9:30AM: Check-in call to go through our plans for user testing. The main objective with our first phase of testing is to test a hypothesis around our core demographic and use cases. We talk through how we’re reaching out to these users and the kinds of analytics we’ll be tracking.
11AM: I catch up with one of our investors who has a lot of experience with B2B software and different approaches to monetization.
12PM: I have a smoothie for lunch, throwing in as much protein and veggies as I can into it while still keeping it edible. Unless I’m going out or cooking a big meal for family and friends, I have a pretty transactional relationship with food–I don’t get super excited about what I’m about to eat.
12:15PM: I debate whether to have caffeine right now. If I do it, it’ll give me a boost through the afternoon, but then I will have a harder time falling asleep. After much deliberation, and knowing I will regret it later, I opt for another tea.
1PM: I meet up with an editor from the NY Times. I occasionally do some writing for them (and Medium)–usually humorous or serious opinion pieces. I’m new to writing opinion pieces and essays, so it feels like my brain is being stretched. I like the form, though, because it’s short and concise and something I can fit in during the evenings. I don’t normally do writing things during the day–I try to keep my focus on the company.
2PM: Call with a record label about a potential partnership. One of the things I really enjoy about being in a start-up is how much contact you have with people outside of tech. You realize that you can’t assume that people know how certain tech works, and that you also have a lot to learn about their world.
3PM: Spend time building out a task list for user testing. Musicians will be getting our software as is, and they’ll do what they want with it. But we’re also going to use a platform where testers will work through a task list and tell us what they can and can’t complete. Writing a task list for them is super tedious but very necessary!
4PM: Slack and email time. When I was at Google, the majority of my time was spent on email. Now, I don’t have a ton of it. More happens on Slack, which is great but has its own problems (if a to-do item appears via Slack chat it’s too easy for it to get lost in the shuffle). It’s funny–at a big company you don’t have to handle a lot of boring admin work because they have software or specific experts tasked with solving those issues (like, say, expense reporting). But you also have a lot more meetings and committees and trainings. In a start-up, a lot of that bureaucracy goes away. The flip side is that you have to do a lot of that admin work yourself.
4:30PM: Remember I was supposed to tweet something to promote my book. I hate doing that kind of stuff, so it’s probably no coincidence that I forgot to do it. I feel guilty for a moment and move on. Plus, I just told you about it here, so that counts as promotion, right? Buy my book!
4-6PM: My East Coast co-workers are done with their work day, so I focus on more solitary stuff, like writing some marketing copy and thinking through product or content issues. Today, I’m trying to think through a problem around what gets uploaded to the cloud versus what is stored locally on a user’s computer. The path we take will affect usability, rights, and monetization, so it’s an important decision.
6PM: I’m back with the kids. In my old job, this time would have been interrupted by various fire-drills or calls. But now I’m much more in control of my life, and find it easier to carve out specific time with my family. That said, because my book just came out, this month I have the occasional reading or Q&A in the evening.
8PM: Get back online. If there’s anything I wanted to finish earlier in the day, I’ll do it now. But there are also plenty of nights when I don’t do anything company-related. I think there’s a romanticism in start-up culture about working non-stop, but I really don’t believe you have to drive yourself and your employees into the ground to build something (not to mention that at some point in a long day, people stop being productive). I’m not saying I have a 9-5 schedule (who does these days?) but I think it’s really important that you be able to have a job and also have time that is for your family and yourself. For me, it’s writing. My co-founder, Matt, is a professional bass player.
10PM: Tell myself I should go to bed. Instead decide this is a great moment to start a 1,000-piece puzzle.
11PM: Actually go to bed, then toss and turn for a bit and remember that I should never have caffeine in the afternoon.
2AM-4AM: One of the children wakes up almost every night.
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