This is the first installment in Protocol’s new calendar series, where we take you deep into a day in the life of the world’s top tech leaders: the meetings on their agenda, the way they manage their time, their best productivity hacks and what they prioritize in a busy day.
Doug Hirsch is the co-CEO of healthcare company GoodRx alongside his business partner Trevor Bezdek. He defines himself as a “product entrepreneur” and he and Bezdek shared CEO duties, with Hirsch acting more as the “public face” of the company and Bezdek responsible for much of the business development. Before co-founding the healthcare company with Bezdek and Scott Marlette in 2011, Hirsch was vice president of product at Facebook, where he helped found Facebook Photos.
The Santa Monica-based company has been busy. Just this month, it acquired vitaCare Prescription Services for $150 million to expand its solutions business for pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Hirsch and I got together last week on Zoom to talk about what’s on his schedule today, March 22.
His schedule has been changed for brevity and clarity.
8h-8h45 | Platoon
I’m celebrating my 500th ride tomorrow, so I’m very excited. I’m an Emma Lovewell fan. I do a sports activity every morning before leaving. Sometimes I take a long enough morning walk, weightlifting, something every day so I don’t sit at the computer eating.
10am-10.30am | Interns: Cecily and Cassie
I usually meet all interns at some point, either when they start or towards the end of their tenure with the company. On this particular day, I sit down with interns to talk about how to work in technology and healthcare, welcome them to the company, and hopefully encourage them to keep up the good work. This particular internship program is intended to prepare women and gender-wide adults to become software developers. We really try to create diversity in our workforce, especially in software development.
10:30-11:30 a.m. | Policy Verification
We have two different executive registrations. One is a small group of around five people and the other is around 20 people. We check in every two weeks to make sure we’re on the same page. It’s quite fast and it doesn’t always last all the hour, because why take time if you don’t need it?
11.30am-1.30pm | Doug’s Thinking Time
I really need to set aside some time because otherwise my whole schedule is full. Although I love interacting with people, I really have to do what I love to do best and think I’m the best, which is creating great products and thinking about the future of the industry. ‘company. I have six hours a week where no meetings are scheduled, where I just have to dig deeper, write a little, and use a whiteboard. I’d like to tell you that no one is bothering me, and that’s fine. In practice, especially as a public company, I’m not going to say I get a full six hours of that quality time.
An example of something I used this time around was December 2020. My son wanted a new PlayStation for Christmas, and I went online and searched for “PlayStation” and quickly found that there was no PlayStation anywhere unless you scalped one from StockX for around a billion dollars. And then I thought to myself – and remember, this is the end of 2020 just on the cusp of FDA vaccine approval – “Wait a second, this exact problem I’m facing getting a PlayStation is going to happen across America and the world as everyone frantically tries to find these vaccines. So it was at one of those times that I thought, “What if we build a vaccine detector? The data is there, but people don’t know where to look. I think within two hours of thinking about it, I called the guy who has the data who was working for the government and basically started this project. And we launched it about three months later.
2-2:30 p.m. | Iced Tea Walk with Kraig A.
Kraig is an employee of GoodRx. I try to walk with every employee and do it two or three times a week. It’s funny because sometimes people show up at my office, and they have a PowerPoint ready, and I’m like, “No, we’re going for a walk with iced tea. We walk to the nearest cafe down the street, about 10 minutes. When you’re sitting in a conference room or if they walk into my office, it’s like, “I’m in the boss’s office, so I have to behave accordingly.” And the relationship between the two of us is clear: boss here, and employee here. Those are two words I hate, by the way. But the minute we hit the street, we’re just two people going for a drink together.
I think they are a little shocked. Because then I ask them, “What do you do for fun?” Do you have children? and that kind of stuff. And all they want to do is talk about work. But I think the way to have a closer working relationship is to start by getting to know each other. It is also a way of transmitting our values. I spent a few hours this morning working on our values. And at the end of the day, if I send you a PowerPoint with values on it, you put it in your trash, right? I think you have to eat, sleep and breathe. And that’s kind of the point of the iced tea march.
3-3:30 p.m. | In-depth overview of the GoodRx supplier
One of the most important things for GoodRx is that people consider us to be the place consumers come to find prescription savings information. But actually, a big part of our operations here is working with providers, healthcare professionals, and looking for ways to improve their experience. And if we can give them the tools, they can help more people more effectively. Because there are a lot of doctors who say, “I’d like to sit down with someone and talk for 20 minutes about the price of the drug you’re trying to get from 19 different pharmacies.” Some people may have time to do this, and others are just like, “I want to be able to move on to the next patient, but know that my patient got the best price.” So that’s what it’s all about.
4-4:30 p.m. | To research
We have a product called GoodRx Health and we publish amazing content. Think about the perspective we have: a significant amount of prescriptions written in this country are direct, so we know what people are prescribing. We know when people are depressed in Minneapolis compared to San Francisco or whatever. So that’s actually me working with Thomas Goetz, our head of research and director of communications, to look at trends to understand what content we can write that’s better than the normal junk you get on the internet if you look for a condition, drug or side effect. We strive to provide best-in-class content, often written by doctors and healthcare professionals.
4:30 p.m.-5 p.m. | Trevor
Trevor is my co-founder, the guy I keep talking about. Trevor and I, surprisingly, even though we share an office, you’d be surprised how rarely we talk. He’s on the phone, I can hear him on the phone right now. So we try to set aside time to catch up and make sure we’re aligned with the business and our priorities.
We usually schedule two walks on our calendars per week. We never have both. We usually put in an hour, and it usually ends up being half an hour. But the purpose of this is, again, for us to come out of the chaos. Otherwise, we’re in our office, someone knocks on the door, Slack leaves. Being truly able to talk about the future of the company in an uninterrupted setting often just means walking around the block. I’m a big fan of going out. We cover everything from hiring and human resource and business development issues, to mergers and acquisitions, to “Where is the health going in this country?” »
Rapid Fire with Doug Hirsch
Outlook or Gmail?
Definitely Gmail. I have a lot of issues with Gmail, which I was about to post on Twitter. When I mark something as spam, why does Gmail always let it pass? It’s like the button when you cross the street that does nothing.
Phone calls or Zoom?
Definitely phone calls. I actually started going the old-fashioned way and lecturing on my iPhone. There’s all kinds of research that Zoom is stressful. By the way, plastic surgeons make a ton of money on this, because people look at each other and say, “Oh, I have to fix this. I’m fine with Zoom for more than three people, but when it’s one on one, getting on Zoom is a major pet peeve.
Optimal meeting length?
Depends. If this is a verification meeting, it should last 25 minutes. If it’s a real brainteaser, I’ll go for days.
Do you ever have focus days without meetings?
I do them a lot, actually. I am ultimately a product entrepreneur. I don’t consider myself the CEO of a company. And my job is to stay in touch with the pain points that American consumers are experiencing. So I’m going to spend time hanging around pharmacies. I was at the doctor’s this morning, and spent another hour after leaving my appointment asking the front desk about what was going on. So no meetings, except to interact with real people with real health issues, if that makes sense.
Do you keep a separate calendar for your personal life?
I keep a separate one, but it’s visible so people know if I’m busy.
Is there something you will take time for no matter what?
My son is on the tennis team right now, and I won’t miss any of his matches. I’m lucky they usually start at 4:30 or 5pm [p.m.], so I’m leaving just half an hour early. I’m not going to sacrifice the little time I spent with my children for work.
Your favorite productivity hack?
I know it sounds so old school, but nothing beats a whiteboard and a small group of people, like under six, preferably under four, just to solve a problem. Put a bunch of people in a room and don’t leave until we fix the problem. I know we live in a distributed Zoom world, but there’s a chemistry that comes from being able to work together in a room and design products together. The perfect mode is: Everyone is in the room together. The second option is to make another zoom.