There seems to be a new hack, leak, or security exploit discovered every day, and only one piece of advice really remains consistent on how to protect yourself: Use a password manager. The most secure password is one that you don’t know yourself.
Dashlane has been protecting and managing passwords since 2012, led by Emmanuel Schalit. Back then he promised his staff that he’d get a tattoo—his first—when they reached a million users. Sure enough, he sat down in a tattoo parlor chair about a year later for his commemorative tat, a simple “1m”. He’s also worked for CBS, Vivendi Universal Games (now called Activision Blizzard), and has a background in computer science. We caught up with Schalit to learn a little about how he works.
Location: New York City, Flatiron District
Current Gig: Dashlane CEO
One word that best describes how you work: Fast
Current mobile device: iPhone 7 Plus
Current computer: Microsoft Surface Book, best laptop ever built
First of all, tell me a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I started my career with a PhD in computer science that focused on navigation algorithms for Mars exploration rovers. I spent a few years as a software engineer and then found my way into management of larger and larger teams, until one day at the age of 37 I found myself running a 10,000-person division in a large media conglomerate. There I realized I preferred smaller companies where I could be closer to the other members of the team, the customers and the product. All of this happened because I was fortunate to cross paths with the right people at the right time in my life so yes, mostly by chance.
What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?
Beyond the obvious ones everybody uses today (Twitter, Dashlane, LinkedIn, Uber, Slack…):
- Way of Life: The path to self-discipline.
- Lenka: A gorgeous B&W photo App.
- TrainingPeaks: To track training progress and avoid overtraining.
- Robin: Best meeting room management software for your office.
What’s your workspace setup like? Coffee shop with laptop and headphones? Home office with a standing desk?
A standing desk from ErgoDesktop, that moves up and down manually, with a dual monitor setup. Cheaper alternative than full electric motion standup desks. And a Philips goLITE blue light that I turn on in the morning to compensate for daylight deficit, very important if you want to sleep well at night.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Automation today is still very disappointing. The best receipt to save time remains the simplest one: decide what you are not going to do.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
Believe it or not I built my own task management framework (for me and my EA) in Jira using a Kanban board with a flow that somewhat replicates the flow of Asana. I like the notion of New, Later, Upcoming, and Today that came from Asana when I think about a simple prioritization framework. And using Jira makes it interoperable with the many things at Dashlane that are done using Atlassian’s tools (like Confluence).
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
Cameras. I am a photography enthusiast, I often carry one or more cameras with me at all times. With something like the new Sony RX100 V you have a camera that is small enough to fit in a small pocket and yet has the speed and the image quality of a good DSLR from not that long ago.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
Trying new things, living a fuller life.
What do you listen to while you work?
KCRW Eclectic 24… or Glen Gould Playing Bach (Goldberg Variations, English Suites, Toccatas, French Suites…). Any music can be sublime.
What are you currently reading? Or what might you recommend?
Dereliction of Duty by General H. R. Mc McMaster. McMaster was just appointed as the as National Security Adviser by the current U.S. president, with bipartisan support, and he is sometimes referred to as “one of the adults in the room.” This history book is his PhD dissertation which talks about how the chain of command broke down between the White House and the military commanders during the Vietnam War so you can understand why one would be curious to know what the new National Security Advisor thinks about how that chain of command should work, given the troubled times we are going through right now.
How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?
Two things: Exercise, exercise, and exercise more. I was into running a lot (easy near Central Park) but my knees could not take it any more so I moved to cycling. Now I can even cycle during the winter using an indoor trainer with programs like Zwift and TrainerRoad, so you can see me on my bike at 5AM in the morning recharging for the day.
Family. My wife and I are fortunate to have two young children (our son is 7 and our daughter is 2 months old). They are both a constant source of surprise and energy and they will not allow us to get old or get bored.
What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser?
I have learnt from a great sleep researcher called Dan Pardi that sleep deficit accumulates day after day and has been linked to things like likelihood of cancer or neurodegenerative disease. And since I wake up at 5AM to exercise on most days, I do not really have a choice and I go to bed early and try to fall asleep around 10pm. And by the way, having kids is great for sleep discipline because they will not allow staying in bed in the morning no matter what!
To wake up, I use the silent alarm on my Fitbit so I do not wake up my wife, son or daughter. But in an ideal world, with good sleep discipline, you do not need an alarm clock.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _______ answer these same questions.
Barack Obama. Probably has some free time now.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Take any advice you receive with a grain of salt. Every situation is different. So any advice you receive is only partly applicable. And it is your ability to recognize patterns as well as differences that allows you to listen to advice with an open but critical ear.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
Hack your life ‘cause you only got one and you’d better make the most of it.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. The How I Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Andy.