Even before Sam Hall worked for GrubHub, he ordered food through the delivery service a few times a week. As an existing fan of the company, which also owns Seamless, it was easy to convince the former Amazon and ClassPass executive to jump onboard as the chief product officer. Now, Hall is charged with helping them beat a growing cadre of competitors, including UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates, and his former employer, Amazon.
Here, Hall reveals his tips and tools for getting the most out of every day.
What’s your On Switch?
The Headspace meditation app and 25 minutes on the rowing machine.
What’s your Off Switch?
Taking our decrepit family whippet to the dog park in Union Square . . . and tequila.
What product are you currently in love with?
I am obsessed with Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce. It has great heat without masking the flavor of the underlying food. I use it on everything from eggs to guacamole to sushi.
What books are on your nightstand?
The World According to Garp: I snuck this book off my grandmother’s bookshelf when I was a kid. This was one of the first “grown up” books I read and it opened my eyes to how great reading could be once you escaped the confines of the Hardy Boys. It’s funny, profane, poignant, and still relevant.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: This book forever changed how I think about food and how I eat. You will never look at processed food the same way after reading this.
The Design of Everyday Things: A classic that taught me the impact of a well-designed product and the frustration created by a poorly designed one. A great gut-check on the importance of human empathy for everyone who builds things.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Done Right: This book is a great reminder that even smart, experienced, and well-trained people make mistakes. I still use the simple checklist method described in the book for any complicated process that I have to get right.
Me Talk Pretty One Day: Easily the funniest book I have ever read. While it probably didn’t change my life, it sure made me laugh.
What classic product do you believe nobody’s ever improved on?
The Bob Kramer carbon steel kitchen knife from Sur La Table. It feels great in your hand, can slice anything, and keeps an edge for months. The carbon steel has a matte finish that gets this gray, mottled patina, which I think adds to its beauty. It’s always the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Where do you go to retreat and recharge?
Skiing in Whistler, British Columbia. Skiing is a great mix of adrenaline and zen, social and solo. Whistler is also the perfect spot: two mountains to choose from, friendly vibe, expansive terrain, and great bars and restaurants.
What have you splurged on recently?
An Eames lounge chair. I have always thought they were beautiful, but have resisted for years because of the price. Someone I work with talked me into buying one, and it is easily my favorite spot in our apartment. If I am not eating or sleeping, chances are I am in that chair.
What travel tips do you swear by?
- Sign up for Clear. This gets you to the front of the TSA line line using a retina scan or your fingerprints–you don’t even need your ID. It also lets you skip the line at Yankee games.
- Invest in an airport lounge membership and get to the airport early. I get a lot of work done in the lounge, and it eliminates the stress of getting to the airport and through security on time.
- For a one-night trip, I use a Victorinox laptop backpack. It can fit my laptop, as well as change of clothes, and I can fit it underneath an airline seat.
- I try and take the first flight out in the morning to my destination. It seems like these flights are less likely to be delayed when airports are having a bad day due to weather (or if delayed, they’re the first to get out).
What song do you listen to . . .
When you’re waking up? Wilco, “One Sunday Morning”
When you’re driving? Kendrick Lamar, “A.D.H.D.”
When you’re working out? Digital Underground, “The Humpty Dance”
When you’re hard at work on a big project? Notorious B.I.G., “Hypnotize”
To get psyched for a big presentation? Lupe Fiasco, “Hip-Hop Saved My Life”
To mellow out at the end of the day? Led Zeppelin, “Tangerine”