Richard Moross, Founder and CEO of MOO, weighs in on disrupting the trillion-dollar print and design industry. After a false start with an initial brand concept, he went back to the drawing board and created MOO, Inc., a global company that combines the values of professional design with the accessibility and reach of the web. Originally known for its note-worthy business cards, MOO has expanded to help businesses of all sizes create, share and promote their professional identity through a wide range of premium, customizable products, including stationary, notebooks and water bottles. But how does this CEO and Founder tackle his day to day? In a bonus Q&A, Moross talks about his work habits, time management, and favorite activities out of the office. Watch the full Office Hours interview, hosted by Suneel Gupta, for more of Richard’s insights.
Workspace & Routine
If you’ve spent more time than usual at home this year…
Do you have a workspace or office at home? Tell us about it. Did you have this space before the pandemic?
Richard: I did have a workspace, but I didn’t use it much, perhaps one day a week and in the evenings. I’ve upgraded it significantly since, with an AV switcher, professional mic and SLT camera. I also added a second, larger screen with a Facebook Portal for more informal video chats that I can do from the sofa.
Are you someone who needs an organized workspace, or are you comfortable with a little clutter?
Richard: There must be order! Tidy desk, tidy mind.
What bad work habits (if any) are you guilty of & how have you overcome them?
Richard: I go down rabbit holes, occasionally. I usually have more to work on than I can possibly get done so, from time to time, I move off the immediate thing and pick off other smaller things, drilling down one by one until they’re done.
Do you consider yourself more of an introvert or extrovert, and how does that affect the way you work?
Richard: I’m an INTJ according to Myers Briggs, and I skew strongly towards introverted. Being a CEO, there are many times that require you to be extroverted - to be very outgoing, social and the center of attention - it can be exhausting, but so crucial to leading a company like MOO.
Time & Organization
How do you approach time management for a workday? Is it one solid block of time that’s over at 6 p.m.? Or is a workday a few blocks of scheduled tasks with personal time interspersed?
Richard: I live by the motto, “If you don’t prioritize your time, someone else will.” I try to create as much dependable structure in my day as possible and am defensive about my diary to ensure I can get things done. I keep my mornings mostly blocked for task work, and my afternoons and early evenings free for meetings, since I’m in the UK and half the company is in the US. I try to have an hour of transition between desk work and the end of the work day by using it for work-related reading on an iPad, but that time is often stolen for urgent things.
What are three things you do to gear up for your workday?
Richard: I either walk or run with the dog every morning - getting out of the house, especially during lockdown has been vital. My first half an hour of work is always focused on admin - I organize my Trello Board by allocating the relevant tasks for the week by deadline, along with the emails that are urgent, and I get all the quick ones out of the way immediately. That first half hour sets me up for the rest of my day. What happens next depends on which day of the week it is - Monday tends to be more freeform, Tuesday, I do one-on-one’s with my direct reports, Wednesday, we have our Senior Leadership Team meeting, Thursday, I meet with the Chair (or have a board meeting, or other staff meetings) and Friday is my comms day when I ensure I provide a transparent (and authentic) update to the entire company.
What’s one thing that motivates you to get to work?
Richard: I am extremely lucky that I love what I do and care deeply about the people I work with. No other motivation needed.
Can you name a few ways that you keep yourself organized during the day—an app, a planner, a physical to-do list?
Richard: Trello, Google Docs, Apple Notes, Slack and Notion underpin my OS.
How do (or don’t) you separate business tasks from personal ones?
Richard: I don’t. A day has 24 hours, 8 of which I use for sleep. The rest is flexible. I obviously block significant amounts of time to be available for meetings, perhaps 5-6 hours a day, the rest is for work and personal tasks, exercise, eating, socializing, etc. There are always things to do - and every day, I make the call on what takes priority.
Many business entrepreneurs say hard work and luck are the main ingredients for success. Can you tell us about a time when things didn’t go your way, and how you responded?
Richard: COVID has provided the biggest test we have ever had at MOO.
We went from 14 consecutive years of growth into a steep decline - all of a sudden and completely out of our control. The short answer to how we responded (because I could probably write a book about the detailed response) is that we fell back on our core values and our purpose as a business. We communicated A LOT. We were honest and transparent with people about our situation and our plans … and we got through it. It was extremely hard, but we are building a better and stronger business as a result.
Are you a goal-setter, and if so, what are some goals you’ve set for yourself lately?
Richard: Sure. We obviously set goals regularly for the business, and it’s a very motivating exercise. Most of my personal goals are about wellbeing, balance and ensuring that work and life happen in harmony. It’s easy to get sucked into a snowball of work commitments, but I am also acutely aware of my responsibilities outside of work, which are just as (if not more) important.
Just for Fun: Out of Office
We business professionals devote much of our lives to our careers. But what we do with our time off from work can tell us a lot about who we are as people. Please tell us…
In your spare time, do you prefer winding down – meditation and movie nights – or gearing up, e.g. rock climbing, traveling, etc.?
Richard: I love to travel. I’ve been extremely lucky to go to 72 countries so far, but none in the last 18 months. I miss the variety and being in new places. I hope I can get away with loved ones sometime next year. I miss Italy, where we would go every summer before COVID.
What does an ideal vacation look like to you? What activities are you most likely to engage in?
Richard: Holidays are for eating, swimming, reading and sleeping.
What’s one thing you’ve done in your time off that has stuck with you as a defining moment for you?
Richard: I’ve been fortunate to visit some incredible places. It would be impossible to pick just one moment or place. Just being away and recharging - space to think and reflect about work, and life in general, is extremely healthy.
What’s one place – a country, vacation spot, landmark, etc. – that’s high on your bucket list?
Richard: I suppose somewhere like Bhutan if I was picking somewhere new, but in reality I would prefer to visit places I’ve been before but for longer. I’d love to live in Rome, Copenhagen, Cape Town, or Tokyo for a month or two and really get to know the cities well - you just skim the surface as a week-long tourist.
This interview is part of Office Hours, a series that connects you with entrepreneurs and experts with tips for running and growing a business right now. Find other can’t-miss conversations by visiting our Events page.