EVERY WEEK, FORA gets inside the heads of some of Ireland’s top entrepreneurs to gain insights into what got them to the top of their trade. This week we meet Andrew Lynch, co-founder of co-working space provider Huckletree.
Andrew Lynch tries not to let pressure get to him.
As the chief operations officer of fast-growing co-working hub provider Huckletree, not to mention having two young children at home, Lynch has his hands full.
Founded in 2017 by Lynch and Gabriela Herscham, Huckletree has offices in Dublin, the UK and Oslo - with plans for more in the pipeline. The company currently employs 72 people across its offices and had a turnover of more than €10 million last year. It’s opening its FinTech specialised hub in Ballsbridge early next year.
So to keep his eye on the ball and his stress levels manageable, Lynch puts on his running shoes and heads out onto the roads. Rather than a quick 10k, however, Lynch likes to challenge himself by running ultramarathons.
As part of our weekly Tools of the Trade series, Fora spoke to Lynch about running, confidence and dealing with investors.
Here’s what he had to say:
How would you describe your management style?
I have always given my direct reports quite a lot of space and autonomy – some people work really well in that scenario, other people find it a little bit loose.
The people that have done really well, certainly in Huckletree, are the ones who have taken that on and really gone for it, taking risks with decision making that I wouldn’t have perhaps given feedback on.
What makes you feel under pressure and how do you deal with it?
Pressure comes from lack of preparation. I’ve always been pretty calm in the face of what most people will expect to be pretty high pressure situations. That’s typically only because I probably thought about it quite a lot – perhaps over-thought about it.
The one thing that comes out of when people get really stressed and really pressured is that they don’t know what to do. What I’ve always done is try to think of plan A, plan B, plan C. It doesn’t always pan out of course – and you always have to think on the fly a bit.
How do you deal with stress?
One big thing that I’ve always tried to push to the forefront of stress management is spending as much time with my kids as I can.
I also do ultra marathons, it creates a lot of perspective, like having kids puts life in perspective.
I ran the Dublin marathon last year and thought that was the biggest thing ever. I’m currently training for the Marathon des Sables in April 2020 which is a 251 km ultramarathon across the desert Morocco. That’s over six days. It keeps your mind off the stressful things.
What is the key to managing up/dealing with your investors?
I think the biggest thing is transparent, open and frequent communication.
Our investors and our board members are on the same page – they’re there to help us and the company.
I think trouble starts when you’re less frequent with communication and when you’re a bit more reserved with being transparent and open – specifically around where the business is going, what your key priorities are, what are the key issues facing the business and asking them for feedback on how they can help.
Also, fundamentally delivering on the business plan. People will have much more trust in you as a founder and entrepreneur if you ensure that what you’re saying is what you’re delivering.
If you don’t deliver, be honest and put your hand up and say ‘we missed this target. However this is how we’re going to solve this.’
Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
Probably my dad, he’s a lawyer and has quite a logic based mindset.
I’ve always found myself being able to pull my head out of the weeds and figure out in certain scenarios what the goal is and what we’re trying to achieve. I think that’s probably something I got from him.
What is the most important skill you have learned?
What I learned quickly with Huckletree was that everyone has different goals and aspirations.
Clearly, we need all our team to be aligned behind the high level vision. But sometimes just not assuming that everyone is totally aligned behind you is really important.
Some people genuinely will go through a wall for you and all they want is to be able to come in, to be able to leave work behind and be able to go home and have fun with their kids or go to the gym.
Some of those people actually end up being your biggest friends and ambassadors in the business.
What’s the most important part of your daily routine?
My kids. I have a rule that either I have the morning with them or I have the evening with them – but I always try to make sure I have one.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen but one of my promises I made to myself is that I never let it happen twice.
Having kids forces you to make sure that you manage your calendar maybe a little bit better than you did before.
When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
One thing that we changed our minds about recently was the theme of our new Dublin hub for which is going to be in Ballsbridge.
At one point we were quite close to having our Dublin space be a little bit less themed and slightly more agnostic. (We) dug more into it and quickly realised that there was a glaringly obvious hole in the Dublin market where there was no specific FinTech hub.
There was a much bigger risk being in being more focused. We definitely think there’s a gap in the market. I think we can compete on a global stage.
What’s your worst intellectual habit?
I hate being wrong. I’m not a big fan of it. I do my best to learn from it.
What tool could you not do without?
My Apple watch.
It makes me feel good or bad about my day because I’m able to look at it at the end of each day and see exactly what I did – all numbers based, which is how I operate.
What quality has helped you stand out?
My confidence in speaking to new people. I’ve always been pretty comfortable in talking to groups.
Without confidence you won’t take any chances or risks. You won’t put yourself in any potentially awkward situations go out on a limb.
Without doing any of that you really don’t grow, you don’t learn new skills and you don’t reach your full potential really.
But likewise, you learn from mistakes. I try and embrace those mistakes and plan for the worst.