June 15, 2020

Wide-Ranging Interview With Entrepreneur Robert Reeves

3rd + Lamar
Robert Reeves Downtown Austin

For anyone who runs a company, manages a team, or aspires to start a business, Austin entrepreneur Robert Reeves shares some indispensable advice in the below interview excerpts.

Reeves is the co-founder and CTO of Liquibase (formerly Datical), and he previously sold his software company Phurnace to BMC Software in 2012. He doesn’t fit the typical software startup founder archetype, though.

An avid punk rock music fan, Reeves used to drive around Austin in a Land Cruiser with the windshield down and his dyed-green hair blowing in the wind. He holds strong views on a wide variety of topics, and he isn’t shy about sharing them.

Previously, we published segments of our discussion with Reeves explaining why he won’t tone down his personality, what “Keep Austin Weird” means from a business standpoint, and his perspective on Austin’s growth.

Scroll down to hear him reflect on business, management, and more. This interview was recorded in January 2020.

Punk Rock and Business

Reeves credits punk rock “at a formative age” for giving him the curiosity and initiative to start his own business. If you’ve ever taken issue with people at work telling you what to do, this may sound familiar.


Anxiety and the Butthole Surfers

How does Reeves handle the anxiety that goes along with operating a startup? He explains by telling the story of his favorite band, Butthole Surfers, and their frontman Gibby Haynes. Lyrics from the song, “Sweet Loaf,” from Butthole Surfers’ album Locust Abortion Technician, continue to inspire Reeves.

Reacting vs. Responding

The hardest lesson that Reeves has learned in business relates to organizational behavior. Specifically, he’s discovered that reacting is less productive than listening and responding to colleagues. This is applicable to people who work at any level inside an organization.

Compartmentalizing and Prioritization

Nearly everyone deals with work spilling over into their personal lives. Reeves avoids this by following a strict “inbox zero” email process that maximizes his productivity. Also, he doesn’t believe that people need 40 hours each week to get all of their work done.

Delegating Work and Knowing Your Strengths

Per Reeves, it doesn’t matter where the best ideas come from inside a company as long as the ideas are the best and the whole company supports them. He didn’t always realize this, though.