Hi! My name is John Zeratsky. Apart from my life as an ocean sailor—and everything that entails—I’ve built a fairly unconventional career as a writer and designer.
For nearly 15 years, I worked in the technology industry. In 2007, I was thrown in the deep end when Google bought the company where I worked. For the next four years, I worked on advertising software for Google and helped redesign YouTube. In 2011, I became a design partner at GV (the venture capital arm of Alphabet, Google’s parent company), where I worked with nearly 200 startups during my five-year tenure.
Collaborating with so many different teams gave me an incredible opportunity to study how people work. I saw smart, ambitious people struggling to make good use of their time at the office. Too often, they would suffer through unproductive meetings, spend their days reacting to incoming emails and requests, then take on unnecessary risk by launching untested products.
My colleagues and I developed a “design sprint” process intended to fix some of these problems. In a sprint, teams go from ideas to prototype to customer testing in five days of focus and structure. We began to share our process via a series of blog posts, and the idea really caught on. So in 2016, we published a book describing the sprint process (cleverly titled Sprint). It became a bestseller and has been translated into more than 20 languages. Nowadays, teams around the world are running design sprints, and we’re collecting their stories on a website called Sprint Stories (again, cleverly titled, I know).
Meanwhile, I became obsessed with how these ideas might apply to individual, everyday life. I wondered: Why is it so hard to make time for things that matter? Why does modern life always feel so busy? Why do the days, weeks, and months seem to fly past in a blur?
To try answering these questions, Jake Knapp and I started a newsletter called Time Dorks, where we share—you guessed it—dorky experiments in making time for what matters. Our writing must have struck a chord, because more than 30,000 people are following our work, experimenting along with us, and sharing stories of their triumphs and failures.
This work is really important to me, and I hope it’s making a difference for others as well. I plan to continue these projects as we cruise aboard Pineapple. If you’re interested in following along, please follow me on Twitter or sign up for Time Dorks or the Sprint newsletter.
And as always, thanks for reading!