Raymond Luk, CEO of Hockeystick on the Power of Learning to Ignore
In this series, we profile entrepreneurs approaching the top of their game, and ask them how they got there. This week, we speak to the Raymond Luk, the founder and CEO of Hockeystick — essentially its the Bloomberg for Private Markets.
As a believer in the power of new financial technologies to transform private capital markets, Luk founded Toronto-based Hockeystick with the hopes of improving the odds of success for funders and companies by providing them better data to make better decisions.
Here Luk talks learning to be ok with obsessing over things, the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship and his daily routine.
Q & A
What do you enjoy most about the industry you’re in?
I love working at the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship. Both are about limitless potential and exponential growth.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Ignore what others are doing (and ignore advice)! You have to fully understand how your business works from first principles.
What is one trait you have, that you find has attributed to your success?
I can switch easily between minute details and high-level strategy. I’m not bothered by the compromises between short-term and long-term thinking. You need both.
What is the lesson you took the longest to learn?
Focus. It took me a long time to learn to tune out the noise, ignore things (and people), and to be ok with obsessing over things until I had figured them out.
Who are your some of your role models?
My wife is a founder of a luxury fashion company called Zvelle and she is my greatest source of inspiration. I admire Bill Gates for demonstrating that the singular entrepreneurial mindset can be applied to any problem, not just business.
What makes it all worth it?
I value learning more than anything else and building a business is a lifelong license to learn. The successes along the way are wonderful milestones, but the journey is what gets me up in the morning.
What long term goals do you have?
I want to build something that has global impact. That was our motivation at Hockeystick from day one and we’ve never been afraid to have twenty-year plans. I love being a Canadian company that’s working around the world.
How do you balance your work and personal lives?
Luckily, I’m married to an entrepreneur who understands there is no balance! Balance implies the goal is peaceful equilibrium. We don’t mind rocking the boat.
I’m a coffee lover so I start with a carefully calibrated espresso or a French press for sipping. I always spend quiet time with my wife before starting the day. I’d like to start walking or doing yoga in the morning, especially in the winter.
Our office is open concept so when I need to focus I find a quiet room or go somewhere near a window. I turn all of my notifications off and only check email when I’m not working on something else. I don’t multi-task. As a founder I have to context switch a lot. But I tend to spend time meeting with people, working with my team or developing new ideas and strategies.
I meditate daily, during the afternoon which I highly recommend for managing one’s energy and focus. I don’t eat breakfast. For lunch I tend to have fish or salad or anything without too many carbs. For dinner I like anything fresh and a bit spicy or exotic! Thanks to podcasts, I look forward to my subway rides to and from the office. I’d hate to live across the street from the office!
My wife and I like to wind down with a good book, a nice Scotch and sometimes we’ll enjoy a sauna. We always have a lot of energy so we find things that make us focus on the moment, not the day.
I recently read “American Moonshot” by Douglas Brinkley which recounts the space race and the role JFK played. On the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, it’s a great time to learn (or re-learn) this story.
The book reminded me of how crazy ambitious it was to land on the moon. Very little was known, so much had to be invented and it could have collapsed so many times along the way, for political, financial and technical reasons. It reminds me how powerful it is to simply state a goal and find a way to achieve it, rather than the other way around.
Besides Google Calendar I don’t find apps are useful for organization. Ironically, the proliferation of apps and notifications is the biggest cause productivity loss. I’m very thoughtful before I allow any app to notify me, including phone and texts. 99.9% of notifications are irrelevant or not timely. But 100% kill your focus. Now I control when I want an update from something so I can control my time.