Yossi Hasson on Mastering the Art of Productivity

Yossi Hasson on Mastering the Art of Productivity


Vital Stats

  • Company: Synaq
  • Player: Yossi Hasson, co-founder
  • CLAIM TO FAME: Synaq is listed as one of Forbes’ Top 20 Tech Start-ups for 2012 and Hasson is president of Entrepreneur’s Organisation.
  • Visit: synaq.com

Yossi Hasson launched Synaq, a Linux service provider and messaging company, with his business partner David Jacobson, in 2004.

Related: How Curve Concepts Gets Customer Satisfaction Right

At just 22 he had no tertiary education and no business experience, but that didn’t stop him from chasing entrepreneurship. Now Synaq is a world-class business that was listed on Forbes’ Top 20 Tech Start-ups in 2012, and recently sold a majority stake to Internet Solutions. He’s the president of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation (EO) for 2015, and holds an MBA from GIBS.

How do you prepare yourself for a productive day before office hours?

I follow Tony Robbins’ teaching of setting aside the first hour in the morning for myself. Things have a way of ending the way they started so I set myself up for success by waking up at 7am and going for a 15 to 20 minute walk during which I spend ten to 15 minutes practising gratitude, doing breathing techniques, and visualising my day and week. From there I exercise for 30 to 45 minutes before going into work.

How do you prioritise your tasks?

We use a system called ‘Top one and five’ and a task management tool called Wunderlist to action it. Every day and week list your top five tasks, and one top task from that list.

With five things you don’t get overwhelmed, and by identifying your single most important task you’re able to prioritise. To keep momentum I work in 25 minute sprints, and then go for a short break before returning to the task or starting a new one.

How do you ensure your teams are completing their tasks without micro-managing them?

About half our staff work remotely so we’re painfully slow at hiring to ensure we get the right people who are passionate and motivated. To manage teams we’ve got a report back system called ‘15-5.’

It takes 15 minutes to write and five minutes to read and contains each manager’s ‘Top one and five’, as well as what they’re working on, stuck on, or been successful with. Every Monday I take 20 minutes to read my managers’ reports and have follow up conversations if necessary.

What’s the secret to managing teams?

It’s essential that everyone’s on the same page and that comes down to communication. I use a technique of repeating back to ensure we’re in sync and back it up with a 15-5.

Then we have a daily seven-minute huddle, run by different people who brief the company on what’s going on in their department. It helps us all focus on the bigger picture.

Yossi-Hasson_SynaqSounds like a lot gets done in minutes – how has your team mastered that?

I’ve learnt that a fortune can be done in a small space of time, and that a task will extend to the time allocated to it. Seven-minutes can cover a lifetime of information if the structure is there.

Applying time constraints isn’t about being obsessive, but rather forcing people to be more concise and structured in their thinking.

What tactics do you use to ensure meetings are productive?

We use advice from Cameron Herold’s book Double Double. First is ‘No agenda, no attender’ so only key people are present. Then the agenda is structured so the purpose is identified in the request, and the outcomes are listed.

Purpose always falls into one of three categories: Decision-making, information sharing, or brainstorming. People then know beforehand what to prepare. Meetings generally aren’t longer than an hour, and there are always three key roles assigned: A chairperson, time monitor, and a sweeper to move things along.

How do you avoid falling down the email rabbit hole?

I use Adrian Gore’s one-touch policy in which you only touch an email once – no browsing. Then and there you must do something, delegate it, or dump it.

Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.