I subscribe to Fortune, but have not found many articles that interested me. They all seem so tired and obvious. This article called, Secrets of Greatness: How I Work, caught my attention. Fortune writers interviewed several senior leaders in diverse fields and asked them which daily habits or tools help them keep up with and manage their huge work loads. The article is in the March 20th issue (on stands now) and can also be found online here. Here are a few secrets of success that I found interesting:
Wynton Marsalis -Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center
I’ve never sent an e-mail. I have a computer but haven’t plugged it in.
I do have a cell phone. I just learned how to text on it. I do
everything longhand or talk it out with my staff, and then they type it.
John McCain – U.S. Senator (R-Arizona)
I read my e-mails, but I don’t write any. I’m a Neanderthal — I don’t
even type. I do have the rudimentary capability of calling up some Web
sites, like the New York Times online, that sort of stuff. No laptop. No PalmPilot. I prefer my schedule on notecards, which I keep in my jacket pocket.
Hank Paulson – Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
I’ve never used e-mail, but I’m a huge voicemail user. I do a
couple hundred voicemails a day. And I return every call right away,
whether it’s a client or someone in the firm. There are positives and
negatives to this. I don’t have a lot of time for small talk.
I find it amusing that these three busy leaders have not given their time to email (lots of time on the phone, it seems). Imagine all the "real work" or "real connecting" they do that the rest of us can’t get to! Yes, they have staff members to write their emails for them, but it is still interesting. There were an equal number of people who said they were addicted to email, but I did not think of this as news.
I also found these two examples interesting:
A.G. Lafley – Chairman, President, and CEO, Procter & Gamble
The other piece of the Corporate Athlete program is spiritual — things
you can do to calm the mind. I’ve tried to teach myself to meditate.
When I travel, which is 60 percent of the time, I find that meditating
for five, ten, or 15 minutes in a hotel room at night can be as good as
a workout. Generally, I think I know myself so much better than I used
to. And that has helped me stay calm and cool under fire.
Bill Gross – Chief Investment Officer, Pimco
The most important part of my day isn’t on the trading floor. Every day
at 8:30 A.M., I get up from my desk and walk to a health club across
the street. I do yoga and work out for probably an hour and a half,
between 8:30 and 10. There’s only been two or three times in the past
30 years when someone has come across the street and told me I should
get back to the office. One of them was the 1987 market crash.
Check out all the examples highlighted in this interesting Fortune cover story. Another theme I picked up is that they all have extraordinary right-hand men or women – talented people to help them out and make them look good. One leader mentioned that she had two assistants – one that worked 7am-4pm and one that worked 4pm to midnight.
This article offers good evidence that we all need to find the methods, tools, and habits that work for us and augment our weaknesses with talented partners and assistants.