Scott King is the VP of Marketing at Krista Software. Krista Software builds, Krista, an intelligent automation platform. When Scott isn’t teaching enterprises how to automate processes, you can find him riding his bike.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in central Texas. As kids, we were into sports, bikes, and skateboards. The weather is nice in Texas most of the year, so you can be outside a lot.

My parents divorced when I was younger, and then my dad remarried. My step-mom had two sons close in age to my younger brother and me. My stepbrothers changed their last names to mine after combining families, so it was hard to tell we were not related. Some of our friends we met after combining families did not realize we weren’t biologically related because we always referred to each other as brothers. We are all still really close.

We all grew up together, and all of us eventually worked for my dad’s construction company in the summers. We were laborers or carpenter’s helpers on commercial construction projects. My first job started when my dad left me at a job site. He asked me to go with him to “visit” a new project. While there, he says, “OK. I have to go. This is James. He is your boss. Do what James says.” Then he left. I seriously had no idea he was going to leave me there in my Jams and high-tops. I was 15 years old.

James and I spent a lot of time together since he had to drive me to work. I was 15 and did not have a driver’s license. I learned many inappropriate life lessons and construction skills from James that summer. I learned rough carpentry and electrical when I wasn’t picking up rubble and trash. One of the best things about the job was to drive the dump truck to the landfill. It was fun because I didn’t have a drivers’ license and drove that truck 15 miles to the landfill and back. I often stopped at Dairy Queen on the way.

Having a real 40-hour job when I was 15 definitely helped put everything in perspective and helped shape who I am today.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I would have realized that I have to stick up for myself more. I stick up for myself now but realizing this earlier would have been valuable.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

The worst recommendations are those that use to work. If you are not constantly learning, then your knowledge may be out of date. I hear recommendations from those that aren’t current on how technology sales and marketing are evolving. They are smart people, but they may not be up to date. That’s fine. That is why we have role specialization and specific jobs.

Second to out-of-date recommendations is jargon. People will suggest copy changes to include jargon and buzzwords. We need to communicate with people in honest conversations. There is no place for buzzwords.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I have been fortunate to have some great bosses and leaders. However, one time I had a bad boss. He significantly cut my pay without explanation. I didn’t say anything, and this was a mistake. I then found out that he was taking credit for my and my peer’s work. We then started to blind copy others on emails containing content that we worked on to circumvent the problem. We apologized to the other leaders that we had to copy since we increased their email volume.

Weeks later, he again took credit for a piece of work that others had already seen. He was eventually fired.

Years later, a recruiter called me to perform a reference check on him for a job my bad boss was applying to. The recruiter asked me about him, his work, and what else I had to say. I told him, “If you can’t say anything nice, then you shouldn’t say anything at all.” The recruiter said my feedback was consistent with the others he had talked to.

That lesson taught me to speak up more and ask questions for greater context. I won’t let a bad boss do that again, nor would I ever do that to someone that reports to me. It also strengthened my habit of taking the “high road.” I don’t like contributing negativity out in the world. We have plenty already.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I am innately curious and a constant learner. I constantly look around and find analogies for whatever I am working on and try to learn new things. This is easily the most significant contributor to who I am today. I mostly read non-fiction books to learn from others. I also watch a lot of documentaries.

What is your morning routine?

I have an alarm clock that has two alarms on it. One is set for 5:10 a.m. and the other for 6:10 a.m. I wake up at 5:10 every other day to ride my bike. The ride leaves a corner near my house at 5:30 a.m. It takes me 20 minutes to wake up, drink some water, get dressed, and get to the corner. The others will leave you if you are not on time. I get back home at 7:25 after a 34-mile ride to shower and start the day.

On days I don’t ride in the morning, I wake up at 6:10. I make some coffee and start writing or editing before my family wakes up. I’ve tried waking at 5:10 every day but found my mental productivity suffered because I became exhausted.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Cycling is definitely the best habit that has most improved my life. Riding so early in the morning forces me to go to bed early. Therefore, I get good rest. It also forces me to eat healthily and drink less alcohol, so my body is efficient. The activity itself burns a lot of calories and helps me maintain heart health and body weight. I’ve maintained the 5:30 a.m. ride for 20 years. On weekends I go on longer rides or enter races.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

In supply chains, companies try and maintain a process for as long as possible to be efficient. Switching from task to task is a high cost. Your brain is no different. Switching from task to task costs precious thinking time. With this in mind, I block my time based on when I perform best at each task.

My brain is best in the morning. This is when I do my most important work. The first thing I do in the morning is writing or editing. I avoid unnecessary morning meetings and emails. I read emails after 10:00 to see who needs what and by when. I block lunchtime so take a break. I started doing this when working for a company that headquartered in Eastern time an hour ahead of me. People there would return from lunch and want to meet at 1 (noon my time). This never worked out, so several of us blocked 12-1 on our calendars. In the afternoons, I work on presentations, websites, perform research, and have external meetings. If I work late, I work on presentations or a website since it requires less concentration and is more about execution.

The best productivity habit is turning off all notifications. I have removed all notifications on my phone and have zero pop-ups on my laptop. Task switching has a high cost, so I limit this cost as much as possible. This has proven to be a great habit to increase my productivity and limit distractions.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I have read The Psychology of Persuasion: How To Persuade Others To Your Way Of Thinking by Kevin Hogan a couple of times. I found it helpful in sales situations and also how to help write sales training materials. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner, is my favorite book. I enjoy the short stories in the book on using data to understand a different point of view. I have talked about the stories so many times that my kids can quote the book.

By far, the most influential book I have read is The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt. This book was required reading at my first technology job. It’s help shape so many stories in my career. Understanding the theory of constraints and process improvement makes it much easier to see why your company does what it does for customers. Gene Kim wrote The Phoenix Project modeled after “The Goal.” It is an information technology story for software development and operations groups.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

Many quotes I refer to can’t be written here. You’ll have to join me on a bike ride to hear them. However, a couple that I do think of often are:

“If it’s not fun, stop doing it.” This is more of a personal philosophy. I am not sure if this quote can be attributed to anyone in any specific instance, but I think about it often.

“Hell yes or no.” I believe I got this from Jimmy Chin on Tim Ferriss’s podcast years ago. Jimmy’s time became more in demand as he became popular. He had to turn down a lot of offers and came up with how to decide. “Hell yes,” meant that he would do it because it sounded like something exciting. If it isn’t “hell yes,” then it is “no.” It’s incredibly binary and helpful when making decisions. I put this into practice years ago and found it extremely helpful in managing my time.