Get to Know Us: Colin Flynn

by Jess Nolte-Cerchio

Interested in digital products? Want to get a feel for what a day in the life looks like on the Di team? You’ve come to the right place. Every quarter, we will be interviewing a member of our cohort for your reading pleasure. This time around, we are chatting with Colin Flynn. You can follow Colin on Twitter at @colinpflynn and GitHub at cfly15.

J: Hi there! Why don’t we start off by delving into what your role is at Differential.

C: Great question! I feel like it changes everyday. I am an owner and partner of the business. I lead our operations at Differential. My primary responsibility is hiring all these amazing people and making sure that our finances are in order. My work is to make sure all the different parts of our business (from sales to development to employee growth) work together seamlessly and then to step in when things aren’t working. I like to be a part of special projects, new initiatives, and don’t mind jumping in to put out a fire or two when they come up.

J: How and when did you become interested in the kind of work you do?

C: I have always had an interest in problem solving, I really like games and puzzles, and I had a natural inclination towards technology, so this position is a great fit!

In school, I actually studied electrical engineering and I was always debating between going the business or engineering route. I convinced myself that it was easier to transition from engineering to a business role versus transitioning from a business to an engineering role, so I stayed in engineering. Now that I am pretty firmly in a business seat, I don’t know what that says about me.

J: How did your career path lead you to Differential?

C: I was actually one of the earliest partners of Differential and I joined right after we finished up working with our first client, Cladwell. Before I joined Differential, I was a founder of a startup that couldn’t find a profitable business model and we decided to shut it down - read: it failed! Before that, I was in the corporate world at P&G’s corporate entrepreneurial group New Business Creation.

My path was a path of entrepreneurial curiosity, a willingness to jump into the unknown, hoping that I could figure things out along the way. It’s been a wild and bumpy ride, but I have loved every minute of it.

J: Differential hires entrepreneurial minds to help solve the problems of intrapreneurs – what is your first memory of being entrepreneurial?

C: Before business, my passion was sports. I was good enough to play on a traveling club basketball team in grade school but my family didn’t always have the extra money to send me on the trips every weekend. So in grade school, I convinced my teacher that giving kids candy at the beginning of class would help keep their attention, and that I could supply her with the inventory… full size Reese’s, Snickers, and Milky Ways… to sell to the class. Then I took those “profits” - we bought the candy from a bulk wholesaler - and used them to help fund my basketball trips.

J: What do you like (or love) about working here?

C: As a leader of the organization, I love being able to see problems, diagnose the root cause, and then just change things to experiment. We are constantly trying new approaches, tweaking things for the better, and overall not being satisfied with the status quo. I love that the people we work with want to create a better company and are willing to put the work in to do it.

J: Part of the Differential team is remote - in your experience, are there advantages and/or difficulties to remote teamwork?

C: Two summers ago, I followed my wife out to California to work from there for four months. I wanted to experience what about ½ of our team experiences everyday. I got to see both the advantages and difficulties of being remote.

The biggest advantage of being remote is the focus it allows you to have. When I was remote, I felt my productivity went through the roof! I could get deeper into tasks much faster and I could work for longer periods of time uninterrupted. I think when people don’t see you, they only reach out when they really need something…  which leads to the biggest difficulty. The biggest difficulty is how much more proactive you need to be to build relationships with your co-workers. You need to be proactive to work with others, proactive in reaching out and following up, and proactive in conversations on Slack. Otherwise, if you’re not, your teammates will leave you to your own blissful productive remote life assuming you didn’t want to have a random side conversation.

J: What’s streaming through your earbuds while you are working?

C: I actually don’t listen to music that often. I think I get distracted too easily or get lost in the song. And then there’s the fact that I have zero musical talent, so I just try and keep my distance. It’s better for all of us.

J: And last, but certainly not least - favorite coffee or lunch spot near the office?

C: I really like picking up a morning coffee from Silverglades. It’s just a local deli, but they have a southern pecan brew that just hits the spot for me in the morning.

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