Interview with Carlos Iglesias, CEO of Runroom
Carlos is a man of change. Just a few months ago, he described himself as follows: "I am a multimedia engineer by training, a sailboat navigator whenever I can, and inherently restless. You'll see me running barefoot in the park, biking up to Montserrat, organizing events for Agile-Barcelona, or conducting a programming and robotics workshop for kids with Vailets HackLab..." Today, we know him as the CEO of Runroom, who has just launched his podcast on Customer Experience and Digital Business called "En el Mundo Real" and a few more projects to keep himself from getting bored. Let's see what he has to tell us...
Now playing: "Mediterráneo" by Joan Manuel Serrat.
Would you like a coffee, tea...?
Just a short black coffee, no sugar, please.
Let's start from the beginning: What did you want to be when you were a child, and how did you end up becoming what you are now, professionally speaking?
A clown. When I was a child, my idol was Charlie Rivel. My mother always tells the story that at the age of 3 or 4, I imitated him by standing on a chair and howling: «Auuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!» I was a big fan. And I think that's still there. I suppose you have to have the nerve to get on stage to try to make the audience laugh, and also to give a talk in an auditorium or to stand in front of 40 executives giving a master class on digital strategy. I studied engineering because I wanted to be a video game programmer. I had achieved it before finishing college. I was lucky and bold.
What advice would you give to your child or a mentee in this regard?
I wish my children never lose their thirst for learning. We are born with it, but the education system is quite efficient at demotivating us because it is designed to homogenize minds. We educate children to obey. There is nothing more stifling than obedience. Nothing more narcotic. And I'm not saying that there shouldn't be limits. Of course, there should be. But there is an abyss between that and indoctrination. I will only ask my children to take responsibility for finding themselves. What I will try to do for them is to find mentors. I don't think a father can be a good mentor. But I will try to connect them with people who will influence them, break their patterns, inspire them, encourage them to make mistakes, confront their frustration, make them expose themselves, discover their vulnerabilities. In that sense, I am fortunate to know a lot of people more interesting than me.
There is nothing more stifling than obedience. Nothing more narcotic.
What mistakes would you not make again?
Not getting on a train or a plane, with nothing but a backpack, to make a life for myself in an English-speaking country right after finishing college. Or even before.
How did the idea of starting something on your own come about?
What I learned in my gamer days was that programming a video game, a mobile app, or an online store is essentially the same. The important thing is the team, the people. What really matters is being able to grow, develop, in an atmosphere of respect, fun, and fulfillment. Achieving mastery supported by your colleagues. And well, the challenge of having no limits, of assuming 100% responsibility for my future, of changing the world! Fortunately, I am an idealist and an optimist.
What aspects of your work are the ones that excite you the most?
Constantly challenging myself. Never stopping learning and growing. Having the certainty that we are in an incredibly disruptive moment in history for humanity, and that Runroom has the opportunity to contribute its bit.
Of the emotional moments you've experienced at Runroom, which one would you choose?
I think there was a magical moment in 2013, during the celebration of the 10 years. Some team members prepared a surprise video with the best moments. The lights went out, the music stopped, the video was projected, and when it ended, I could see many faces full of tears, literally moved. And I'll keep private a conversation I had later with Xavi Gost, one of the people I admire and respect the most. I once read somewhere that success is feeling that you have gained the recognition of your own references. I couldn't agree more.
Is there something you feel particularly proud of on this journey?
I am proud to still count my partners among my best friends, 15 years later. And to feel the love and respect from everyone who has been part of Runroom. From those who are here and those who are not. An example: Riki left Runroom almost 3 years ago. This Christmas, he sent us this card:
These things brighten up a Monday. And the week. And the month. And the year. And life. @_ricardo_felix, forgive me for making it public, but such a beautiful gesture cannot stay on a desk. ❤️
How do you know someone is a runroomer?
I would say there are two things I see in common among all runroomers: the smile and the enthusiasm. Beyond this, I increasingly value diversity. Cultural, gender, specialization, race, political ideology, and even religious orientation differences give us perspective, wisdom, and maturity. Diversity enriches us. A few years ago, blinded by my own ignorance and biases, I looked for traits of my own personality in the people we hired. I think it's a clumsy mistake and too common in management.
What is your day-to-day like at Runroom? You arrive at the office and...
... park the bike, make a coffee, greet everyone, and dive straight into managing the inbox. From there, each day is different and always comes with surprises.
The future will belong to those who adapt quickly and find the opportunities for value contribution that arise.
What tools/services make your daily work easier?
Lately, I've been using Hubspot a lot. It's really amazing. Before working with it seriously, I found it interesting, but its true power has surprised me.
How do you see your work in 5-10 years? Is there life without the internet?
There is no life without the internet. Not anymore. In 5 years, Artificial Intelligence will change everything, and I don't think we are fully aware of to what extent. We find it easy to understand automation in repetitive jobs, but deep learning will seriously challenge more than one cognitive profession in one or two years. From the profession of a performance media campaign trafficker to that of a taxi driver. Not even creativity is a safe refuge. We will have to learn to use AI in our common trades, as a tool to extend our capabilities. The future will belong to those who adapt quickly and find the opportunities for value contribution that arise.
What projects do you have in sight?
Here is a good summary: carlosiglesias.info/objetivos-para-2018/
How do you disconnect from work?
What helps me disconnect the most is sailing. When you sail, time stops. There is only the wind, the waves, and the shape of the sail. Nothing else. It is so magically simple and at the same time so difficult to master...
Sailing with the family
What is your geekiest side?
I am a textbook early innovator. I try everything as soon as it appears. From mining cryptos (in 2013) to Snapchat, through Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or wearables. I'm interested in everything. I can also lose interest quickly once I understand what it's about.
If your smartphone could only have three apps, what would they be?
Twitter, Whatsapp, Gmail.
Is there something few people know about you...?
I can't skate.
Faced with difficulty...
... I prefer to go after the difficulty.
Your top choices:
A dish: Salmon and avocado uramaki. A series: Six Feet Under left its mark on me. A place: N 40º 34’, E 2º 27’