In His Office, There’s Always Cause for Celebration

Scott Painter,  founder and C.E.O. of TrueCar, an automotive pricing and information website based in Santa Monica, Calif.

Reluctant officeholder

I have my own office, though it wasn’t my choice. People put me here because they thought I needed some privacy. I have a meeting station in my office that can accommodate a lot of people, and I am adjacent to the main office conference room, separated by nothing but a glass wall with drapes.

My office is glassed in. This is a visual space. I see everybody come into the office. I see how they move through the office. I like all that input and data. The fact that I can be at my desk, in a meeting, seeing everything on my computer and what everyone is doing in the office is really valuable.

Credit...J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

The writing on the wall

There are dry-erase markers everywhere. I am a very visual thinker and even if the meeting seems like it is going to be about something mundane, I end up making pictures about it. I will write on the glass walls.

Making space

We have extraordinarily nice offices, but not everybody has their own cubicle or desk. We tend to work at communal tables, and we fit a lot of people in less space. We do the math on how much nicer we can make the overall space in exchange for a lack of personal space. I think the trade-off is quite nice. We get a lot of collaboration and energy.

1. Let’s celebrate

At TrueCar, we celebrate everything. My grandfather, who was an executive at Pan Am, taught me this. So at all times I have around not-cold bottles of champagne and cigars. I will walk around with Styrofoam cups and ice, pouring champagne to celebrate whatever. We celebrate a product release. We celebrate profitability. It might seem like I am an alcoholic, but I am always ready to toast.

2. Wide horizons

I have a telescope in my office. It’s partly because we are right on the beach. I have always loved to look at the horizon. It is the most calming thing of all. If I can’t see the horizon I am not calm.


I drink my coffee and tea in a Tesla mug. I was an early adviser and fan and customer of Tesla. Its C.E.O., Elon Musk, actually bought a house I owned 15 years ago. I believe in Tesla more because of the distribution model than the fact that its cars are electric. What appeals to me is that it has solved how to make car buying a great experience.

3. Seahawk pride

I grew up in Seattle, and I am thrilled to say I am a Seahawks fan. The Seahawks owner Paul Allen is both a hero of mine and an investor in It’s almost a childhood dream of mine to have someone like that validate what I am doing. The Seahawks cap was signed by players and coaches.

4. Child-diversion tactic

Credit...J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

I have a supersized ball of rare-earth magnets. That is for my kids. When they come in, they can make structures out of the magnets. Everyone who comes to the office wonders what that is. It is something only a child could understand.

I have two boys and two girls, ages 2 to 11. Invariably during the week, I have one of my four children in the office for almost the whole day. We have great snacks in the company kitchen. They work on the magnets. They have books. Going to my office is a good time.

Big-screen organization

I have two oversized monitors on my desk. One monitor is vertically oriented for the 1,500 emails a day that come in. I have to be really good about sorting through emails quickly. Then I have a second large screen that I can turn around on a swivel mount and use during meetings.

A sugar boost

On the See’s Candies website, you can order your own selection of chocolates. So I get these big boxes of chocolates with exactly the ones I like. That really is the start to any meeting after lunch in my office. It helps people get over the afternoon sag.

Making a list

I am a list maker and I have pages and pages of notes of things I have to get done. I will sit during meetings and just make lists and figure out how to get back through those lists later in the day or the evening.

No nonsense

I tend not to dillydally in the office. For me the office is work. I get it done and leave. I don’t get in until around 9:30 a.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays I am in the office until midnight. On Wednesdays and Thursdays I am home by 5:30 p.m. for family dinner and I am in for a couple of hours over the weekend.

Staying on schedule

I am so time crushed I am insistent people be prepared for their meeting. If I start late, my entire day is backed up. If I start on time, I am a drill sergeant and I will get through the day on time.

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