Founder & CEO of Order In
📍 San Francisco, CA
JJ Caffey is an entrepreneur specializing in the future of work. With a focus on community, connectedness, and efficiency, JJ’s mission is to revolutionize American work culture. JJ is also Co-Founder of Venture Foragers, a venture capital research firm enabling student teams to explore frontier tech sectors. JJ earned her MBA from Wharton in 2019, and also holds degrees in anthropology and luxury brand management.
Favorite farm animal: Goat!
Connect with JJ:
Coffee w/ a friend
User Acquisition Meeting
Prep for next day
I’m JJ Caffey, founder, and CEO of Order In. As a founder of an early-stage start-up, there’s an endless number of priorities that could use my attention, so I try to structure each day around a few key goals and prioritize, instead of letting myself be pulled in a bunch of different directions. I think I did pretty well at that today!
My favorite part of working from home is eliminating any morning commute, so I don’t have to rush in the morning. Today, I got started around eight o'clock. My favorite thing to do in the morning to start my day off really nicely is spending a couple of minutes just thinking about what I'm grateful for, what's gone well before, and what I'm excited about.
After that, I started digging into my email and things like that. Something I’m working on is that I’m a compulsive email-checker, and I have to be disciplined about checking it on purpose instead of automatically refreshing constantly. Then, something I've been trying to do, and I've been succeeding more lately, is to try to stack all my meetings together right in a row. I try to make this pretty early in the day so that I can focus without interruption later on.
I was in meetings from about 10:30 to 1:30. My 10:30 was great! It was just a coffee with a friend and a former colleague who’s working at a VC firm right now. It's just really exciting to share what I have coming up and get her perspectives on things. And then at 11, we had standup with our team. This is my holdover from working at a software startup, my Agile days. This is a super-valuable moment in the day and it only takes 15 minutes. Then our team worked through some decisions about the next version of our experience. Lastly, at 12:00, the team and I had a meeting with a user acquisition and growth marketing expert.
Being done with meetings for the day at 1:30 was a super-luxurious feeling. So I took a really indulgent lunch break, a bit by accident, but it was worth it. Today I got to spend this time outside on our roof deck, and I’m really grateful to have access to outdoor space like that during the pandemic. First, I called my mom! I try to make time to call family every day, especially since I can’t visit them like I normally would during the pandemic. After the call, I was super close to finishing the book I was reading (Station 11). You know that feeling when you're like 15 pages away from the end of your book and you're like, "I am not putting this down?" That was me, so I finished the book.
Finally, I got to the most magical part of my day: my deep work time. I usually take a few minutes to set up my workspace, make sure I'm comfortable, that the morning's coffee cup isn’t there, that I have water... things like that. Thankfully, I got even more done than I'd been hoping to! It was a lot of writing, and anything public-facing requires intense focus for me. Then I also did something that’s been on the back burner for a while, which is put together our onboarding process for new members. I intended to try to stop at 6:00, but I ended up working until 7:00. My two hardest moments of the day are always starting the day and ending it!
My evening is time that I normally would see friends if possible. But in lieu of that, given social distancing, I took a five and a half-mile walk as soon as I was done working. I was not fully intending to wander that far, but I’m new to SF and was enjoying exploring my new neighborhood.
It’s also such a great feeling: I got through the things I needed to get through, so I could just be spontaneous and do whatever I wanted. That’s the feeling of accomplishment and ownership over my own time that I’m always striving for, and hoping to support our members in achieving.
On my way home, my partner met me and we got to pick up empanadas and some unusual canned beer/wine from Woods in Russian Hill, which I super-recommend.
When I got back around 9:30, it was the time that I would generally do my second shift of work if needed. Today I met my goals, so I just spent a little more time getting back to people. I’ve been experimenting with tools (Kyber, Yesware) that let me schedule responses to go out the next day so that people don't see something from me in the evening and potentially feel pressured to respond. The culture I really want to cultivate is like, be a human being, live your life, don’t worry about answering me late at night.
Once I was done with that, I took a minute to clean up my space for tomorrow (I feel like every mug and lip balm I own ended up on my desk during the day!). I finally got to take a long, hot shower. And then I tried to relax and enjoy the rest of the night with my partner!
- As told to Order In. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed
I was a hostess at Chili’s Bar and Grill in high school. And I loved it! I was excited to have even a little responsibility for customers. I’ve always wanted to make people happy. As I built my career in tech years later, and got involved in VC, that was still a common thread for me: how can we make someone’s life a little happier with what we’re doing? Ultimately, it is always about people, for me.
I wish there were some kind of all-in-one email, Slack, Asana, Google Drive situation. The files are in drive, the discussions of what needs to be done are in Asana, the conversation's happening in Slack or sometimes in email, but the back and forth takes me extra time. The number one thing I don't want to do when I delegate as much as I do now is that I don't want to be in anyone else's way and be slowing them down.
My best advice I would give other people–and I learned this the hard way–do not work with assholes. Seriously. That’s my number one piece of advice to any person, at any stage in their career. I have calculated in my career a few times that "I can just put up with this for however long because I need to achieve XYZ before I move on." I've never looked back on it and said, "Yeah, that was worth it."
My path not taken was nuclear physics. I’d still like to become certified to operate a nuclear reactor.
Oh well, I think we all know my answer to this is a goat farm.