Yuriy Zaremba, AXDRAFT's CEO, on Avoiding Social Media, Note-Taking System & Favorite Books
AXDRAFT was born from Yuriy’s experience as a lawyer working for almost 8 years at one of the top law firms in Europe. Because there were a lot of routine tasks that he had to do in his legal activities, he wanted to create something that helped him and other lawyers who dealt with the same situation.
He reached out to his brother Oleg, who’s a software engineer (at that moment, he was a Senior Software Engineer at Booking.com, in Amsterdam), and together they built AXDRAFT at the end of 2017. They believe that early-stage startups don’t need tens of pages of an ironclad contract and weeks of negotiations. However, lawyers push founders to perceive contracts as unique and impossible to automate.
Their software now helps early-stage companies automate routine documents and spend more time focusing on doing real work.
This year, they were part of Y Combinator, the most popular American seed accelerator – this is how we discovered their work.
From our interview with Yuriy you’ll find out how the book ‘Tools of Titans‘ changed his life by helping him develop a set of routines, the impact that Paul Graham’s essays had on him (Paul is the co-founder of Y Combinator), why he avoids social media, and more.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
Non-business – Hyperion series, Foundation series (except the last book). Both of them are amazing, complex stories, which trigger a lot of thoughts and new ideas. I think what people miss sometimes is how many similar values and ideas both of these book series communicate.
Business – Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss – this is the most actionable book I have ever read. It’s packed with short, actionable advice and is 700+ pages long (there is a lot of good advice there). I read many business books, but way too often they have several ideas, which are mulled over in several hundred pages. This book is not like that.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell us about it?
After Tools of Titans I have developed a set of personal morning routines, which help me stay sharp all day and built up my discipline.
What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.
Tools of Titans made the biggest impact on me. It helped me become more disciplined, more healthy, fit and introduced routines into my life, which never existed before.
Second place goes to Paul Graham’s essays. They gave me a mental framework to think about startups and generate new ideas.
[TCL NOTE: if you prefer ink & paper, Paul Graham’s essays were compiled in a book titled “Hackers & Painters“]
What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?
- Tools of Titans – described above;
- Paul Graham’s essays (all of them) – described above;
- Predictable Revenue (if you have your business) – most straightforward and actionable book on building a sales process in a company;
- Zero to One – startup classic;
- The Three-Body Problem (trilogy) – gives great perspective on thinking out-of-box and the importance of science.
We’re interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How do you make time for reading? How often do you read? What format do you prefer?
I read every day for around an hour before I go to sleep and every time I travel (planes, trains, etc.). I always have my Kindle and read 90% of my books there.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I have a notebook, where I write down interesting ideas and observations, but I don’t do that very often (one notebook goes for 9-12 months on average). I also take notes and make clips in Notion. Generally, the thing I value the most in books is that they trigger new ideas in my mind, I don’t write down ideas from books that often.
I try to avoid news and social media, to control the relevance and importance of the information that I get.Book-talk with @YuriyZaremba, CEO and co-founder of @axdraft: 'I try to avoid news and social media, to control the relevance and importance of the information that I get.' Click To Tweet
How do you choose what books to read next? Do you prioritize books recommended by certain people?
I choose books to read, based on the recommendations of people, who I trust. If I see a recommendation, I add it to my read list and come back to it once I am done with my current reading. I have around 100 books on my read list now.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
Links where you can follow Yuriy Zaremba or find out more about his projects:
- Connect with Yuriy on Linkedin | Twitter
- AXDRAFT featured in Financial Times: Digital legal papers give greater access to justice
- AXDRAFT in TechCrunch: The 85+ startups that launched at YC’s W19 Demo Day 1
All books mentioned by Yuriy in our interview:
- Hyperion series, by Dan Simmons
- Foundation series, by Isaac Asimov
- Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss
- Hackers & Painters, by Paul Graham
- Predictable Revenue, by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler
- Zero to One, by Peter Thiel
- The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin
- The Challenger Sale, by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein