How to think like a CEO

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If you’ve ever wondered how a CEO spends their time, you’re in luck. This blog post from Sam Corcos is a detailed account of what it’s like to be CEO at his venture-backed startup, Levels (they make wearable glucose monitors).

Sam’s post breaks down how he spent his time over the past two years (in 15 minute increments!) and has some amazing insights that we can all learn from.

It’s worth reading the whole thing, but I was especially struck by this passage on his main focus.

“Unblocking others is your top priority...as a CEO you’re responsible for the output of the entire organization. In my current role at the company, I think of myself as an information router, so my primary job is to unblock everyone else on the team to operate at peak efficiency... [as] primarily an information router, you need to make communication a top priority...Don’t treat communications as an afterthought. It’s your main job.”

As to how to make communications your main job? Sam’s method for managing this amidst all his other work is to block off time in his calendar to go through various tools they use at Levels (email, messages, etc). There’s some other great productivity ideas in the post, but for our purposes, let’s zero in on this idea that communications is a CEO’s main job. 

From my LinkedIn stalking, Levels is not a big company — they have 40 employees. But the CEO knows that communication is key to solving cross-team problems, setting company strategy, and helping teams get “unstuck”. 

He’s so focused on communicating well that he sets aside 3-4 hours a day to make sure no one is waiting for a response from him. 

This may sound excessive — after all you’re likely not responsible for the entire output of a company. But whatever team you’re on at work, you can benefit from this “CEO-mindset”. 

If you’re an individual contributor, this may take less time. If you’re in a leadership position, you already know most of your job is delegating to your team, so you may find you’re already spending this much time a day communicating with your team. 

But, whatever your position, consider: when was the last time someone was waiting on an answer from you for more than a day or two? Did it slow the team down? Could it have been more quickly resolved if you put “communication” on your to-do list every day and treated it as a core part of your job? 

You may not need hours to clear your emails or Slack messages every day, but it’s a useful exercise to think about how your communication style can speed up, rather than slow down, your team and colleagues. If you do this right, it is a superpower.