Canada’s Top Productivity Hacker: Will Richman



Name: Will Richman

Hometown: Vancouver

Born: April 28, 1989

Occupation: Co-founder of Growth Genius

Education: Western University, Richard Ivey School of Business

Can you give us a quick history of yourself?

Upon graduation, I went into finance. I worked in wealth management. My core tasks were in managing funds and tracking performance. I quickly realized that my true passion was in software, so I ended up starting a web development school known as Bitmaker Labs.


What kind of productivity tools that you use?

Slack & Trello

They help me focus on the most important things.


How would you describe yourself as an entrepreneur?

A problem solver.

I think that all successful entrepreneurs are good problem solvers. They find a problem that people have struggled with and find a creative and value-added solution to it.

Is there a specific person that you model your style off?

Elon Musk

After reading his biography, I gained a tremendous amount of insight from him.

I’ve read a lot of biographies before but this book struck a chord with me. He has an unprecedented ability to build things that are a lot bigger than himself.

As a leader, he always holds himself accountable for whatever goes on. There are too many entrepreneurs that want to take all the credit but pass off the blame.

What are your values when it comes to putting hours in?

Act like a great squash player.

A great squash player gets himself to move very little while getting his opponent to work as much as possible.

I think that translates into business, the goal is to work less and produce more.

How are you able to consistently produce high-quality work?

  • Lots of sleep
  • Lots of working out
  • Healthy diet
  • Having a team that compliments my skill set

What is your take on sleep?

Sleep is crucial.

I once listened to a podcast with Andre Iguodala and Andreessen Horowitz. He said that the Golden State Warriors are a metric based team. They wear tracking devices on their bodies. Results showed that they had increases in free throw percentages, field goal percentages, and won significantly more games simply from 8 hours of sleep.

Any less than 8 hours and they saw a decrease in all of the above categories.

Was there a time where you were blindsided?

Yes, there was.

We were running Bitmaker Labs at the time when two agents that looked like cops came in saying that they are seizing all of our data because they were under the assumption that we were not operating by the ministry standards. They threatened to shut us down.

We were facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and even looking at potential jail time.

We reached out to our support system: lawyers, students, stakeholders, and our community for help.

Our students were getting good jobs so we asked them to post on social media to show that we were doing a good job through a hashtag.

With enough support, we were able to pass through that situation.


What advice can you give to the entrepreneur who has just been blindsided?

Slow down. Take a deep breath.

Take 2 hours, to assess the situation. Take 2 hours to list all the possible solutions to the problem and prioritize them.

Reach out to the people in your network who are most adequately prepared to help you solve this problem.


Does coffee boost productivity?

Yes, it’s good.

Coffee can make you sharper and more decisive. It is double-edged sword though because that decisiveness can sometimes lead to irritability.

Overall, coffee helps me do what I do.

Would you take study drugs to boost your productivity?

I wouldn’t.

It’s not something you want to create a habit out of.

If you have ADD and you need it, that’s different. It’s part of your brain chemistry and the re-balancing of it.


Is there a book that you would recommend to someone looking to improve his/her productivity?

High Output Management – Andrew Grove (CEO of Intel)


What advice can you give to your 20-year-old self?

Two things:

  1. Find people who compliment your skill set and share your values.
  2. A team of 4 people can accomplish more than 20 individuals playing themselves.

If you stack your football team with only linemen, you won’t have an effective team.


How do you judge a person’s worth?

Based on how well they treat people who don’t matter to them.


Was it an “Aha Moment” or Iterations?

Every idea starts as a lump of coal and must be worked and re-worked until it becomes a diamond.


Did business school prepare you for the world of entrepreneurship?

In most ways, no.

In some ways, yes.

In the last two years of Western at Ivey, we went through this case study methodology where we had to come up with solutions on the fly. That was sort of useful.  I quickly realized that the bullshitters did well. In some ways that is a very valuable skill.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to this but in business, appearances are everything.

If you ask me, I believe that ideas and thought processes are everything.


Do you meditate?


Meditation is the airing out of the mind.

Being able to take your mind off everything that is going on around you is incredibly helpful and productive.

It’s hard to recognize how many things are going on in your head at once. So, by meditating, you are preventing emotional control.


Is there anything that you want to leave off with?

Relentlessly pursue your passions.


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