CEOs at technology firms seem to have the ability to see the future and somehow have the time to take advantage of that knowledge. Take Elon Musk, who started Zip2 city guides, built PayPal into a $1.5 billion company, built the first private rockets that delivered payloads to the International Space Station, made electric cars desirable with Tesla Motors and proposed a high speed monorail from LA to San Francisco called the Hyperloop that runs on solar energy. In his spare time, he managed a cameo in the movie Iron Man. How is that possible?
Musk on doing things better
For those who think he quietly invented a device for adding time to his day, Musk explained his simple method for becoming more effective:
“I think its very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
Costolo on team building
Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter for the past three years, suggest the best way you can build a more productive team is by thinking about what's best, not focusing on being liked. Speaking to potential CEOs he offered his advice on success through team building:
“Managing by trying to be liked is the path to ruin…. If you are yourself and you manage by deeply caring about your people by not worrying about what they think about you, you will be as successful as you can possibly be.”
Moskovitz on putting a stop to meetings
Everyone needs a break from being social, even one of the founders of Facebook. Dustin Moskovitz, now CEO of Asana, brought to his new company one of Facebooks management commandments: No Meeting Wednesdays.
“The high level goal of NMW is to ensure that everyone gets a large block of time each week to do focused, heads-down work….The gist is that employees suffer greatly from interrupts in their flow time. Managers are generally used to having a schedule-driven day, so its easy for them to throw a disruption into somebody else's calendar.”
Mayer on looking forward
Even while you are keeping your head down, though, don’t forget to keep your eyes on the horizon. Marissa Mayer took over Yahoo at a time when it seemed as though the portal was quietly going the way of its fellow founding Internet sites like Netscape and Lycos. Over the past year, she has implemented some highly controversial rules – such as “No telecommuting” – but she has also brought Yahoo back to life with aggressive growth strategies including the takeover of Tumblr. In her recent Vogue interview, Mayer explained that she is adjusting her company to go where the customers are heading, specifically in the world of mobile:
“Close your eyes and listen to this list,” she says….“E-mail, maps, weather, news, stock quotes, share photos, group communication, sports scores, games. You're listening to what people do on their mobile phones and it sounds like a list of what Yahoo does.”
While its true that technology CEOs often look more prescient than they are because they really do have inside information on what is coming next, the best make the time to plan for the future by continually improving their productivity. Their combined advice is simple but brilliant: Do it better, dont worry about what anyone else is doing, do it without interruption and never lose sight of the evolving nature of what matters most to your customers.