We took 10 minutes out to learn more about our former aspiring breadman and CTO, Sean O'Sullivan.
1. CAN YOU TELL ME HOW YOU GOT TO YOUR CURRENT ROLE TODAY?
I've worked in software and technology companies all my working life to date, and had various roles along the way. I even co-founded some technology startups, most recently a company in the mobile / proximity area. When that company failed, I was looking around to figure out what to do next, and I was introduced to Darragh at Effective. Several detailed and enjoyable discussions later, I joined the team at Effective as CTO, and am helping grow the new product team here and plan our future product offerings.
2. WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP AND WHY?
Depending on the day of the week, it included the usual stuff, such as Astronaut, and perhaps the less usual, such as Breadman. For the young folk out there, once upon a time, people used to call to your house every day, to deliver things like milk, for example. And bread. Our breadman was a sound bloke and looked like he enjoyed himself, plus he had a new van. So for quite a while, my plan was to do that. Might be an option again some day. Meanwhile I got in to computers at a young age, both at home and at school. Once I discovered programming, I always wanted to work in and with software. Looking at the RKO back lot in Hollywood, Orson Welles said, "This is the biggest electric train set a boy ever had!". I feel the same about software.
3. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT WORKING IN THE SAAS INDUSTRY?
The SaaS model has a number of great things about it: it rewards scale, it's metrics-driven, and it can offer an excellent customer feedback cycle for product innovation. At the business level, if you get it right you can build a defensible global business. There are many areas where technology is now "eating" older processes and procedures in business and changing how they work: Effective's focus on transforming Health and Safety is one such area. Stay tuned 😊
4. WHO’S YOUR GO TO INDUSTRY MOGUL/MENTOR AND WHY?
I don't have one go-to mogul, but there are a few writers and bloggers on technology, startups and more that I read or listen to fairly regularly. Number one for me is Jason Calacanis (https://twitter.com/Jason on twitter) : he keeps up a fairly prodigious output between his blog/vlog This Week in Startups (http://thisweekinstartups.com), his tweets and his excellent Launch Festval (https://www.launchfestival.com). Plus he's non-PC and has a marmite effect - people love him or hate him. Closer to home, I love all the Intercom blog work and resources (https://blog.intercom.com) - they've set the bar incredibly high for how a tech company should communicate as it grows, plus have delivered a really useful set of resources to others in the ecosystem. Oh, and Ben Evans' email newsletter and regular slidesets are fantastic : http://ben-evans.com
5. HOW MANY MESSAGES ARE IN YOUR INBOX RIGHT NOW?
Do I have to answer that? Ok then: 34. And yes, answering this question forced me to go off and reduce it somewhat 😊. Email is a necessary curse nowadays, that has got somewhat out of hand. Diverting different types of communication to other formats is helping, as is the age-old "walk over and talk to someone instead of emailing them".
6. HAVE YOU EVER STOLEN A PEN FROM WORK?
A pen? How quaint. Of course. I draw the line at toilet paper, that's just not cricket.
7. ON A SCALE OF 1-10, HOW LUCKY ARE YOU AND WHY?
Very lucky. So perhaps a 9 or 10? Context is everything. If you work at something you actually enjoy and give a toss about, you're lucky. If you work with good people who aren't assholes, you're lucky. If you and your wider family are currently not all suffering from either illness, trauma or some other random crap - you're lucky. I'm lucky.
8. WHAT SONG BEST DESCRIBES YOUR WORK ETHIC?
You're kidding me, right? OK then. "I shall be released", by Dylan. Only joking. Great song though. Prefer The Band's version, not Dylan's. Where was I? Oh yes. Let's go with Maxwell's Silver Hammer, for absolutely no reason at all.
9. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING YOU HAVE EVER DONE?
Two quite different things come to mind. About 15 years ago I made a number of people redundant, and let them go from our startup at the time. That's the hardest thing I have done work-wise, mostly because, when you're making people redundant, your own plan has failed, but on that day, others are losing their job. Right thing to do, but that doesn't make it easy. Quite the opposite.
On a different note: I used to become paralysed by fear when speaking in public. The very first time I realised this was when I had flown to Korea to present a paper at a conference, and came within about 20 seconds of doing a no-show, such was my level of anxiety about speaking. That was followed by my first stint as Best Man, where I had to give a speech. A speech which I thought about every day from the day I was invited to do it, until the day of the Wedding. After that, I kinda got over the fear of public speaking through practise and preparation.
10. TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW?
I already told you I was thinking of being a breadman, what more do you want!!??