It’s become trendy to talk about “building workplace culture,” but a few months ago, Dan Price took it to a whole new level. Price, the founder and CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, announced that he was raising all employees’ salaries to $70,000 -- and slashing his to pay for it. Despite a backlash, Price, 31, is convinced he did the right thing. "If we're actually able to pay everybody enough that they can live a normal life … then to me, there is a moral imperative," he told CNN.
What do you actually do all day in your job?
I just like to have fun all day. I spend about a third of my time with our clients, brainstorming on how we can save them money on their credit card processing, eliminate headaches, or help them create a closer, more profitable relationship with their customers. I spend another third of my time working with our product team to translate what our clients are looking for into products or services. The final third of my day, I’m working with our customer service and internal operational team helping to remove obstacles, so they can do what they do best: helping our clients remain as successful as possible.
How many hours do you sleep?
Most of the time, I sleep between seven and eight hours a night. I tend to pass out on my bed with my computer on my lap around 11:30 p.m., and then wake up around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. Although if there is a lot going on, I sleep around three or four hours a night. When that happens (sometimes for a few weeks in a row), I make it up to myself by taking a Sunday morning off from work where I can sleep in, reset and refresh.
What do you eat for breakfast?
When possible, I enjoy making myself breakfast. I eat a lot of protein like eggs and avocado, but the most surprising meal I have every morning is a large portion of broccoli.
If you could pitch to one person, who would it be?
It used to be the Seattle Seahawks, but a few years ago we were honored to earn their business. So now, we are looking at another Seattle icon: the Space Needle. The CEO, Jeff, is a really nice guy, but we haven’t had the opportunity to connect. I’d love to be able to pitch to him because the Space Needle isn’t just a local independent business here in Seattle, but a very iconic one at that.
What’s on your home screen?
I love snowboarding and surfing, so my computer’s home screen is a picture of one particular fun time I had surfing huge waves. My iPhone home screen is a picture I took when I was snowboarding out of a helicopter in Alaska. On my third home screen is an image of artwork from a local Seattle glass artist named Dale Chihuly.
How often do you exercise?
I try to put in a dedicated workout at least two to three times a week, but I always find a way to do something active every single day. It could be as simple as biking to work, or running instead of walking between meetings. But whatever it is, I like to keep moving as much as possible. Some of my favorite types of exercise are lifting weights, running, swimming, playing soccer, surfing and snowboarding.
What app can’t you live without?
I could probably live without it, but I am fairly addicted to the Facebook app. It is something I use regularly to stay in touch with people who are engaging with Gravity and me on Facebook.
Another great app is actually from one of our clients, Smart Transactions. Their gift and loyalty app scans QR codes on the back of cards to easily process transactions. It has helped independent businesses shorten their lines during busy holiday seasons. Besides being a great app for small businesses, Smart Transactions is an all-around awesome company and is great to work with.
What's your favorite city?
I grew up in rural southwest Idaho, so I’ve always loved being out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nature. Any small town in the United States has unique things you can find if only you’d take the time and look hard enough. Small towns always have the best main streets with so much character. That is one of the many reasons I love working with independent businesses – they add so much value to our communities.
However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I love New York. It has such a dynamic, fun energy, and it is a city the whole world looks to in so many ways. Even with saying that, it’s still hard to pick one. I enjoy both atmospheres equally.
What’s the most important company we’ve never heard of?
At Gravity, we are continually looking for ways to grow and improve. To do that as successfully as possible, we put structures in place to keep all of us accountable. One of those is a one-question survey sent out weekly by a company called TINYpulse. They are doing great things to improve workplace culture and create thriving communities.
Their service lets everyone at Gravity provide anonymous feedback on how those in leadership positions are serving the company. It also allows us to recognize people who have gone above and beyond to create a special level of service for our clients. The combination of those two things is very powerful, and is an important part of our success and culture. TINYpulse has played a part in helping us achieve that.
Are there any social platforms you refuse to participate in?
I don’t think I could afford to not participate in any major social platforms. I want to do my absolute best to be accessible and transparent. A big part of how I am able to do that is staying engaged with people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I enjoy hearing ideas from people all over the world about how we can create a business based on values, serving others and always doing what’s right rather than focusing on short-term profits or greed.
What are you reading right now?
I am rereading a book called The Complete Leader. It is a phenomenal book. You can read it front to back, but every chapter is a quick ten-minute lesson on whatever challenge you are facing that day. In that way, I like to be able to use it as an encyclopedia. Full disclosure: I’m a little biased because it was written by my dad, Ron Price, who is one of the most influential people in my life in terms of teaching me about integrity and living out your values.
Do you think there’s a tech bubble?
We need to constantly push the boundaries on technology. Not only on how we can improve current technology, but by putting more of a focus on how to improve people’s lives. If there is a bubble, we could overcome it by focusing on adding more value to humanity and letting profits be an outcome of that mission rather than a primary goal.
Best piece of advice you've been given?
When Gravity had less than 1,000 clients, Bob Day, who at the time was the owner of a restaurant called 35th Street Bistro, told me, “Dan, if there’s ever an emergency, there should be a way to get ahold of you 24 hours a day. Not a call center person, but you as the CEO.”
I immediately implemented that, and to this day we still have somebody at an executive level who is on-call 24 hours a day for our clients in emergencies. That is something we hope we’ll never give up.
What keeps you up at night?
I have a strong sense of my mortality. I’ve had two close friends pass away at young ages, so whether I die tomorrow or 150 years from now, I know we are only here for a relatively short period. With the time I have left, I want to be as responsible as I can and use it in the best way possible. I am the happiest when I am living a meaningful life in service to others.
If you could tell your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be?
Put having fun higher up on the priority list and quit taking yourself so blanking seriously.