I’m anal about productivity, so I do weird things. I listen to audiobooks during commutes. I employ a personal assistant to do low-value tasks
Zach Ferres is the CEO of Ciplex, a full-service interactive agency that helps clients succeed online by creating award-winning digital solutions for design, online marketing, e-commerce and content management systems, and social network platforms. Ciplex’s services start with a digital strategy that evolves into a complete solution including creativity, technology, and marketing.
Zach is also a runner, leader, and entrepreneur. He’s passionate about building great things with great people, having fun while doing it, and making real change. In his mind, we spend more than 15 percent of our lives working, so we should make that time enjoyable, motivating, and meaningful!
Where did the idea for Ciplex come from?
We saw an opportunity in the interactive agency world to do things differently and create great web applications and e-commerce sites by remembering the human element. Recently, we started the rebranding of Ciplex to Coplex. We decided it was time to say goodbye to “I” and hello to “Co.”
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
Each morning begins with a workout, breakfast, and my commute to the office. Then, Ciplex! A quick lunch. More Ciplex! The day winds down with the commute home, a run, and a short night shift with those in other time zones. If I’m lucky, maybe an episode of “Family Guy,” a beer, and some sleep ends the day.
I’m anal about productivity, so I do weird things. I listen to audiobooks during commutes. I employ a personal assistant to do low-value tasks. I used to use Zirtual, but we decided to bring it in-house to provide a shared personal assistant for all of our Ciplex employees as a perk.
I prepare my healthy breakfast ingredients every Sunday and put them in bags so I can make my breakfast in less than 15 minutes every day. I use my modified versions of GTD, Inbox Zero, and “The 4-Hour Workweek” tricks. I use Jing, Boomerang for Gmail, Spreeder, and MobileDay to increase my productivity.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Execution is essential. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and, quite frankly, I suck at coming up with them. I’m good at igniting things when the spark of a good idea is already there. Ciplex brings online business ideas to life. It actually brought some of my other companies, such as Huddlewoo, to life.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Semantic advertising/targeting excites me. With all of the content out there, we are moving into an era in which context is becoming increasingly important.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as a leader?
When I receive a negative email, I write a response, wait an hour, reread it, and then decide whether that’s the best response or the best channel for response. Most of the time, it’s not.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I was a paperboy. I learned that $50 per month was not worth waking up at 6 a.m. on the weekends to deliver papers with six inches of ice packed on the ground and no ice skates.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d reframe my perceived failures as learning experiences. I’ve let things put me in a rut that ended up being net positives in my career and personal life.
As a CEO, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make time to stay fit and healthy.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I implemented the Agile mindset in our agency. We shifted our production teams to Agile and shifted our internal way of thinking to Agile. We did this by slicing out hierarchies, putting together cross-discipline teams, focusing people on one project at a time, and training our own Scrum masters.
What is one failure you had as a CEO, and how did you overcome it?
I tried to work harder, not smarter. I’m a big believer in working as hard as you can while still being smart about it. “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance” by Tony Schwartz inspired some big changes in my life.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As I mentioned before, my ideas are usually terrible, but I think someone should turn the rental car business on its head. I want a Zappos-like experience with a rental car company.
Tell us something about you that very few people know.
I went to college at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. The factory that makes Wilson footballs is there, and that’s about all that is in Ada. (Trust me.)
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink. It addresses fundamental issues in the way we run our companies and nonprofits. It provides steps to take to bring happiness and motivation back to our team members.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I’d encourage others to seek out Daniel Pink, Simon Sinek, Dale Carnegie, Eric Ries, and Tony Schwartz.