When it comes to being productive, make sure you’re not overwhelming yourself with too much to do in one day. Always try to leave some open time in your schedule so you have the freedom to do things that are relevant in the day.
With a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Michigan, Scott Stevens began his career as an M&A investment banker, where he covered multiple industries including tech media, telecom, and consumer. Afterward, he became a senior analyst at a hedge fund called Coatue Capital, a firm that specializes in technology, media, telecom and consumer.
Scott Stevens then moved to California for eight years, where he worked at two firms running their technology investment portfolios.
Then in 2015, Scott Stevens decided to start a global international firm, Grays Peak Capital, in New York City. He brought together all the knowledge and experience he accumulated from his previous firms to create the template for his firm.
Scott Stevens’ enjoys travelling the world and capturing his experiences with photography.
Where did the idea for Grays Peak Capital come from?
To some extent, the idea to start my own came from having worked at different firms with different approaches. Everyone has their own ways on how they run their lives and their companies, and I had my own view based on my work experience. My goal was to take the key learnings and some of the foundation of working at other firms and create a structure that would incorporate a hybrid approach and improve on the overall process. Each place I worked had a different structure and culture, and I felt that I could build upon that and put something together that was a slightly different approach, and hopefully an improvement on the ways in which research had been performed previously.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
So typically, my day is me getting up and reading the news or going through emails and trying to see what’s going on in the world that day. Part of that is spent figuring out if there are any new developments or changes in the overall landscape or our portfolio. I try to read multiple aggregators of news and information that summarize trends and themes of the day, then try and follow up with any emails that I need to respond to.
Overall, I try to make sure that my day is productive in a couple of different ways. One is that I try to make sure that part of my day is spent trying to either meet with new companies or new people. Another is spent trying to evaluate current companies or our current portfolios. The third part is always trying to make sure that there’s some part of my day that is not booked up so that there is some capacity to address any key or relevant topics that need to be addressed that day. And part of the weight of being productive, is trying to make sure that I’m not doing too many things within the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think a lot of that is based on research. It’s a lot of reading, it’s numerous meetings with executives and companies who are leaders in their field, trying to understand how people do things, and trying to understand what are the key trends and themes. We are a firm that believes in data and analytics. So instead of listening to qualitative answers, we like to see data about what’s actually going on because sometimes the data will tell a very different story than what people believe is occurring. My father has a Ph.D. in computer science – and so, to me, a background of software, data, and data analysis has always been something that’s been a core part of our process.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend in general that we’ve looked at is data and data analytics, and there’s a lot of topics and sub-themes things that relate to that ecosystem. Today, we have more data today than ever before. How you think about data, how you analyze it to make decisions about how you’re marketing to people, how you’re following up with them, how you’re selling them the products, how you’re targeting them. Even artificial intelligence, to some extent, is really just a play on data and data analytics. However, to me, it’s about how do you take information, how do you process it, and then how do you come to conclusions to make them more valuable. I think every company is struggling with how much data they aggregate, how do they profit, and then how to make better, more informed decisions. It’s an area we make sure all of our companies are reviewing and incorporating into their business strategy.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think one is organization. Every company that we have met with or reviewed in the past, we have extremely detailed notes covering our questions and responses. We have the ability to access this on a real-time basis even as the meetings are occurring. Everything we look at is cataloged and kept in a central repository. So, every time we speak to someone, we know the last conversation we’ve had, we know what key elements of that conversation occurred, any follow-ups, and so on.
I think to some extent, being able to take information, put it into a repository, have access to it, and make sure that on a real-time basis you can view it, is something I think that differentiates us. So, regardless of myself or someone on my team, if they were or are currently in a meeting, I can see their notes in real time, and they can see my notes. I think that helps with communication and collaboration. It’s something that makes us more effective as a team and organization.
What advice would you give your younger self?
One of the things I would tell a younger Scott Stevens is to surround yourself with smart, hard-working people. It’s one of the key parts of what we have incorporated into our culture and within the company. I have also always tried to make sure that I’m working in places where I can continually learn. I believe people perform best when they are at a firm where they are challenged. You have to make sure that you’re working with people you like and trust and in an environment that makes you happy. Usually, that leads to better outcomes.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
In general, I would say I believe that CBD as a market and a consumer category will be much larger than people expect. I think some people would agree or not agree with that, but I believe that many people do not necessarily believe it and we are closing to an inflection point.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Reading is still key to continuing education and helping to learn more. I think reading today is as crucial as ever. There’s more information available and most of it is in short format. It’s one of the areas that we try to make sure that we’re digesting information from multiple sources to gain perspective. It’s very easy to get one or two sources, but you have to, in my opinion, look at various sources to make sure that you truly understand what’s going on. You can’t be narrowly focused. You have to be broad in your scope and keep an open mind. Some people can be too quick to judge or have uninformed opinions that lack research. Research and reading has always been something that we spent a significant amount of time on.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our ability to leverage technology has helped us to be more efficient with our time and monitor and assess data and opportunities in a dynamic fashion.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure that I had, and I think this is true for many people, is the first time that I started a fund with a partner, we did not raise as much capital as expected. Running a business yourself is significantly more difficult when you’re first starting out. And there were times where we did not execute the way that we expected. I think to some extent, that failure taught me a lot about working with partners, trying to run a business, and managing other people. It’s not an easy thing.
This wasn’t so much a failure, but I think there are certain parts about any business, both as an owner/operator and manager, that you’re not going to do perfectly. I think it’s important to make sure you acknowledge that. You never do anything perfectly, but you have to learn from your mistakes and make sure that you’re not repeating them. I also think it’s important to look back on your mistakes and failures and make sure that you understand why they occurred.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Organic health and wellness products that are focused on sustainability. I think if you look at the world today, there are a couple of themes, and that’s one of them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently purchased a subscription to Business Insider Prime. It allows me unlimited access to exclusive content, stories and their newsletter as well as industry analysis and interviews with key executives. The content helps me to monitor key trends and themes in real time.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use Microsoft OneNote. It allows us to organize a significant amount of data one central location. You can use it across your smartphone, tablet or desktop. It’s one of the crucial pieces of software that allows me and my team to remain organized, and it also allows us to share information in the cloud in real-time. It’s something I always show to people and they are surprised that it is a Microsoft product and free. I’ve yet to have someone who is not more productive after they see it and use it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Getting More by Stuart Diamond. Diamond is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and his background is in negotiation and conflict resolution. Each chapter is about how to understand and deal with different types of people in various scenarios in your life, and how to effectively get better outcomes to make sure that you’re accomplishing the goals that you set.
What is your favorite quote?
“The good news about building a company during times like this is that the companies that do succeed are going to be extremely strong and resilient.” – Marc Andreessen.
● When it comes to being productive, make sure you’re not overwhelming yourself with too much to do in one day. Always try to leave some open time in your schedule so you have the freedom to do things that are relevant in the day.
● The comprehension and knowledge of process of how to use data and data analytics are essential for every company.
● It’s important to look back on your mistakes and failures and to make sure that you understand why they happened so you can avoid repeating them.
● Reading and research today is as crucial as ever.