Happy New Year! I hope you got off to a great start with your 2015 goals and habits. A few weeks ago, I connected with Kyle Richey right here on ASmithBlog.com after mentioning Strides in a post. We continued our conversation offline and Kyle agreed to do an interview. What you are going to LOVE in this interview is that Kyle brings his expertise as a goal and habit app developer and his own personal experiences, which led him to creating Strides. Kyle found a problem and created a solution. This interview is loaded with knowledge and experiences that you can use in 2015 for a more productive year. I hope you enjoy!
First, a little about Kyle.
Kyle Richey is the Founder and CEO of StridesApp.com. He is the owner of Conquer Apathy, LLC. Conquer Apathy makes, markets, and manages websites. Kyle attended Wright University and majored in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a minor in Operations Management.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and Strides.
A. Thanks Kirby! I have been obsessed with productivity and software designed to improve it for almost 10 years. I am that guy that has bought and used dozens of to-do list apps and project management tools, always on the lookout for the best one. Maybe you can relate?
About four years ago, I was thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and it dawned on me that there was nothing to set, track, manage, and see your progress on all your goals and habits in one place.
There are plenty of apps that let you track habits, but honestly I felt like they were just glorified task managers, some with charts to show you how often you did the “task”. But what if I want to get in the habit of drinking 6 glasses of water per day? If it is only checking one box, am I supposed to keep track of each glass somewhere else, then check it off the list? Plus, very few of them had flexible alerts and a way to hold myself accountable over time.
More importantly, I found that none of the apps out there let you track SMART Goals. So, I set out to create it myself, and after thousands of hours of behavioral science research, customer interviews, prototyping, designing and development, I am extremely proud to say that Strides is finally solving this problem for people in 107 countries.
Q. Do you have a productivity or personal growth quote that you can share?
A. There are many great quotes in this space, but this is one of my favorites.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Hemingway
My focus is on making it easier and more rewarding to make progress by seeing how far you have come, and that you are on pace to achieve your goal, so you do not have to wait until the end to be happy.
Q. Was there a goal or habit that caused you resistance and what strategy did you use overcome it?
A. Definitely. I would say the biggest was choosing the Important over the Urgent. I created a habit tracker with a goal of 5 times a week, and put it near the top of my dashboard, with an alert set to 8:00am so I would get the trigger right when I started working, reminding me to do the highest-impact tasks first. Once I got a streak going, I did not want to break it, so I formed the habit.
Q. Tell us when you figured out the importance of goal setting and habits.
A. Wow, great question. In 2006, I was in college, about to graduate in 2008, one of the worst times to look for a job in my field. On July 28th, I had one of the most important conversations of my life with my girlfriend (now wife) and realized that I could either work hard and hope to get a job doing something I was not that passionate about, or get serious about productivity to juggle finishing school and starting my own business. So, I focused intensely on habits designed to help me achieve my goals, and I was barely able to make ends meet by graduation. Fortunately, that was enough to let me keep at it full-time, and I am so glad I did.
Q. What would you do if a goal or plan was not working?
A. Typically, I find it is best to re-evaluate, paying close attention to “Why” you set the goal value and date. For example, if you picked an ambitious goal with a date that just made sense, it can be very helpful to think through how the date impacts the effort and stress required. Does the date actually matter, or is it just hurting productivity in the end? We had to push back the launch of Strides 3.0 (sync with iPad & Web apps) multiple times this year to make sure it is a well-developed release, but it is not worth getting stressed out about. In the end, the quality is what matters, so when things are not going as planned, consider changing the date or setting an achievable goal or milestone by that date to get momentum, then try to make up for it after that is done.
Q. How has your understanding of productivity changed over the years?
A. In short, a ton. I used to be focused on being “busy” rather than “productive”. I thought that as long as I was stressed and running around like crazy that I was being productive. There is no worse productivity mistake we can make. Productive is greater than busy.
Q. We all have had something in life that influenced us to grow, can you share a personal story?
A. My wife and I had our first baby last year, and it has been one of the best things that has ever happened to us, to me, and even my productivity. It is challenging at times, as any parent can attest to, but it also forces you to focus on what really matters, which means you have to prioritize. My patience has also grown tremendously since our son was born, and I am looking forward to having our second baby in May.
Q. Tell me what are some of the challenges you are facing today and how are you overcoming them.
A. The delays with this release have been my biggest challenges this year. It has been very difficult having to rewrite most of the app, all while coding the iPad app and a Web app that is catching up with 2+ years of iPhone development in a matter of months. We are overcoming it by improving our communication, tracking our progress, holding each other accountable, setting goals we can achieve quickly to build momentum, and pushing forward every day.
Q. Do you have a productivity tool or system that helps you get more done?
A. We use Trello for development tasks, Slack for communication, and Strides for our goals and habits.
Q. Can you give a piece of advice that would help us develop more focus.
A. It sounds funny because I realize not everyone is developing software, but one of the biggest things I have learned about focus is “build a business, not an app”. This can be applied to absolutely anything…I was originally trying to create an app company, building multiple $0.99 apps, throwing out a big net and seeing what I could catch. That strategy almost never works in the long term, partly because you are too spread thin, but mostly because you are never able to think big and focus on the highest-impact thing…the thing that will add the most value.
Q. What is the most influential personal growth or productivity book you have read?
A. I tried, but I can not pick one: “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown and “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday are both influential books I have read recently. “The Dip” by Seth Godin is one of my all-time favorites. For behavior change, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg is a classic.
A. Strides 3.0 is due out next month, so it will be available on iPhone, iPad and Web. The Web app is responsive, so it looks great on all smartphones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers. Beyond that, we have designed and prototyped about a year’s worth of awesome features, including Accountability & Collaboration, goal-oriented Tasks & Projects, and Integrations with popular services. Here is to a productive 2015!
Q. How can we connect with you?
A. The best place would be twitter.com/iMakeStrides. Thanks!