December 14, 2021

How David Selinger Went From 20 Lies Per Day, Down To Zero

This week Dave ‘Selly’ Selinger, co-founder of Redfin and founder of Deep Sentinel, joins The Winning Zone Podcast to discuss his practice of never lying and how he came to that as a tool for running his companies.

Optimize Your Time

At 01:24 Dave talks about some of the other companies he has started over the years that have not necessarily had the financial outcome that Redfin experienced, and even though they were not as financially successful, they have still greatly contributed to the routine he has developed in order to run successful businesses. Dave further explains that his routine comes from a mix of things- his OCD, being on the autism spectrum, and his background in engineering- but that essentially it boils down to how to get optimal with your time.

Tabs versus Spaces

Dave begins to speak about the age-old debate of tabs versus spaces. When he started out in coding, he was in tabs, for many years. However, as he moved into scripting languages, he began to use Linux, and so he moved to using spaces. The main reason he did this is because the tab is a specialty in the text editors, and by using it you could actually end up implementing a command, instead of just adding the actual spaces that you wanted to add, which could mess everything up. So, using spaces became more time-optimal because he did not have to worry about what could go wrong if he used a tab instead. Learn more about this at 03:19.

Why lie?

This debate of tabs versus spaces led Dave to his next point. He realizes that he has/could receive a lot of slack from the coding world regarding his use of spaces over tabs, but his point is: Why lie? If he begins the lie now, then he has to spend his brain cells and his time tracking who he has lied to about it and why. If he doesn’t lie, then he doesn’t have to exude his mental energy to keep up with where the lie has been and where it is going. In fact, in the spirit of optimizing his time and energy, Dave began to count his daily lies, and he was blown away by the result. These were not even big lies that he was telling, just little white lies, but they were still using up his mental energy. But what was the point? Learn more about this at 04:04.

Continued Optimization

In the spirit of continuing to be optimal with his time, Dave speaks of his time at Stanford, where his classmates started out miles ahead of him because they had access to higher learning while still in high school, whereas he did not. Dave did not accept that his classmates were ahead of him, as he wanted to be the best, so he made some changes. He gave up TV. Cold-turkey. Just stopped watching it. Giving up television allowed him all the time he needed to study harder and close the educational gap that stood between him and his classmates. Learn more about how Dave set the bar so high at 06:01.

Is Being on Automation a Joy-Sucker?

With spending so much time setting the bar and optimizing time and productivity, some may wonder: Where is the joy? Where is the balance? For Dave, it is simple. He sees everything as a mathematical equation. He uses time optimization and automation to his advantage to get more done in less time. He removes the things that are not a top priority so that he can spend more time doing the things he likes to do, such as spending time with his children, putting them to bed every night. He chooses to live a life that is as fulfilling to him as possible, and being on automation in order to optimize his time is how he makes that possible. Learn more about his view on this at 07:48.

Stop the Lies

When Dave decided to do his lie exercise- where he counted how many lies he told in a day- he started it and completed it within 10 days or so. It was something that was hanging over his shoulders, so he completed it and was able to cross it off of his to-do list. And from that moment on he made the decision to minimize that behavior of telling lies. And it was painless. At first, Dave describes it as a rush of endorphins because you are so used to doing it that you begin to wonder “Is my life going to catastrophically change tomorrow if I tell the truth today?” And when you realize that the answer is NO, you just move on from there, and it becomes quite a positive experience to lose that fear and just be truthful. And you are no longer using the brainpower associated with having to internally rationalize the lies you told after the fact, no matter how small they may have been. Learn more about this at 10:32.

Candor Within the Company

At 14:13 Dave talks about how he makes it a point to be open and honest within his company. He goes as far as to disclose the bank balance every week at the weekly meeting. Being this open and honest allows for an open discussion. It allows for questions to be asked sooner, rather than when it’s too late. It allows for solutions to be generated. It allows for trust to be built.

And all of this starts with him. At 17:48 Dave continues on to say that he built this culture within his company that he was always going to be open and honest, and he was always going to be available to his team. Anytime they needed to talk, he was going to be available 100% of the time and he was going to actively listen. He was going to let them speak when they needed to and then he was going to acknowledge what they were saying without interrupting. And finally, he was going to thank and engage them for having the conversation, because this is what makes him the best leader he can be- by being open, honest, available, by listening to his team and actually hearing what they are saying, and by letting them know he is grateful that they brought it up.

Gathering the Truth

Having open and direct conversations with team members is imperative, and Dave does this, almost to a fault. However, gathering 100% of the information and learning someone’s truth is “...way more important than anyone’s perceived perception of the truth.” This is especially important when it comes to performance and having to make the hard decisions. If you don’t have 100% of the information, then you cannot make any decisions. It is your job as a leader to inspire your people and have a better understanding of what is happening within your company so that you can handle any situation based on facts. Learn more about this at 24:50.

Deep Sentinel

Dave’s latest venture is his company Deep Sentinel. It is a security company that offers 24-hour guard service through real-time cameras at a fraction of the price that people would pay to have a guard standing outside of their home. It offers invaluable peace of mind to its subscribers. Deep Sentinel stops crimes before they happen. And with Dave’s routine of how he runs his business, through honesty and candor, and the passion he has for Deep Sentinel, he is fundamentally changing the way security happens. Learn more about Deep Sentinel at 30:08 and check out their YouTube channel.

Key Snippets

01:24 Optimize Your Time

03:19 Tabs versus Spaces

04:04 Why Lie?

06:01 Continued Optimization

07:48 Is Being On Automation a Joy-Sucker?

10:32 Stop the Lies

14:13 Candor Within the Company

24:50 Gathering the Truth

30:08 Deep Sentinel

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