The Thrive Questionnaire with Porter Braswell

This CEO discusses how he works hard and stays energized.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Porter Braswell: I check my phone, hit the gym, and then shower. I always feel better if I can get a workout in – this might be because sports were a big part of my life for so long, or because I’m getting ready for my wedding coming up in a few months!

TG: What gives you energy?
PB: New ideas, new initiatives, and seeking new opportunities. 

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
PB: The sprint week. I become obsessive with new ideas and work on them furiously for a short period of time, like a week. I make whatever that new idea is my priority and let other tasks move further down my list. This allows me to really get immersed in whatever it is I am working on and consider it from all sides. I usually do one of these every 7 – 8 weeks, or whenever inspiration strikes. The last example of this took place a few weeks ago when I developed a new enterprise offering that our sales and account management teams are now pitching to customers. 

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
PB: Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week totally shifted my mindset and changed the way I approach prioritizing my work day.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
PB: [Laughs.] Yes, definitely! I am glued to it, and on it all the time. For me, email is nearly as natural a form of communication as speaking out loud, and one I do almost as regularly. 

TG: How do you deal with email?
PB: I focus on it in buckets. I start my morning with a clean inbox before I get to work. Then, I don’t touch emails again til noon, and get back to a clean inbox around lunch time. I spend the afternoon on other projects, and then get back to clean inbox when I get home. To determine the order in which I should respond, I ask myself, “What’s going to move the business forward?” and answer those emails first. At any point, I don’t spend more than 30 minutes to an hour answering emails. 

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
PB: I use it to take a break and walk around the office. I chat with my coworkers and ask them what they’re working on. Hearing what everyone is working on keeps me involved in the day-to-day, helps me have a pulse on what’s happening, and also often results in some valuable problem solving sessions, or really good laughs.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
PB: When you’re leading a company and working on a problem as big as improving diversity and representation in the workforce, failures are inevitable. They happen every day! But you can’t let that bring you down, you have to just keep going and get through it. Tomorrow’s a new day. 

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
PB: I’ve always been inspired by “The Man in the Arena,” a passage from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship In A Republic” speech.” It’s a quote I keep in mind when I’m facing the challenges of building this business – it makes me appreciative of how far we’ve come and excited for the work ahead. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

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