At Drift, we like to bring the realness.
So let’s dive right in: As the CEO of Drift, there are two key things I’ve been doing to get an edge.
- I’ve been starting each day earlier and earlier. So I get up at 5 or 5:30 (I’ve talked about that before) because it gives me more time in the morning.
- I live by my schedule. I can’t tell you anything that’s happening tomorrow, I barely remember yesterday, and I’m focused on just the stuff that’s on my schedule. If it’s not on my schedule, it doesn’t exist.
For the full breakdown of how I approach time management as a CEO at a high-growth company, keep reading (or check out the latest episode of my Seeking Wisdom podcast below).
Prioritization: Where I Invest My Time as a CEO
Each day, I divide my time into three or four big buckets. And the way I determine what those buckets are is simply by asking, “What’s a priority for me?”
While priorities can always shift, here’s a snapshot of what a typical day might look like.
Marketing & Product (30% of my time)
Marketing and product are priorities for what we do here at Drift. That’s why I get involved so much in marketing details and product details — because those two things represent who we are as our company and a brand. So I try to prioritize work that’s going on there that can help us move forward, and I help move big rocks for other people.
The Team (40% of my time)
The first 20% of my time here is focused on recruiting, while the other 20% is focused on team management and 1-on-1s. Always remember to prioritize the people, which is usually the thing that CEOs give up the quickest — interviewing, 1-on-1s, progression of people on the team — they give up there, and they run toward process or something else.
Customers & Prospects (20% of my time)
Then there’s the customer bucket, which includes customers I’m talking to, prospects I’m talking to, people who should be customers. An that includes giving talks as well (like the one I’ll be giving at HYPERGROWTH this September).
Investors (10% of my time)
You need fuel to achieve hypergrowth. So you need to dedicate time to honing your pitch, making sure you’re delivering on your value proposition, and ensuring you have the cash you need to grow at lightning speed.
Learning to Let Go
One area where I was way more hands-on than I am today:
I always used to put myself in the middle of budget decisions.
I would put myself in the middle of buying anything at Drift. Pencil being bought? I was in the middle of that. Because I was trying keep us lean and preserve cash for as long as possible.
But now I’m crying uncle on that stuff and saying: Dave (who runs Marketing) and Armen (who runs Sales), you guys have to define budgets. We need to talk about it, but I can’t be involved in the day-to-day stuff on that anymore, whether it’s an event or whatever it is.
Building New Campfires
So that was an example of something where I used to be monitoring every purchase and every hire and everything that was going on from a dollar standpoint, and I’m not anymore. Because now we have leaders in the company so I don’t have to do that anymore.
And part of those leaders growing — and those organizations growing — is that they need to grow into their own campfires.
So the way I think about it: We had one big campfire before. So one centralized campfire.
Now each of the functional areas need to be its own little campfire.
Investing in Your Team
I raised my hand and said I wanted to do an in-person interview with every candidate.
For a long time I did all of them, and then there was a little gap where I wasn’t and now I need to re-focus and spend more time there.
Because the rate at which we’re adding people is going through the roof right now. So we need to make sure we’re keeping the culture alive across all the teams.
CEO Forum & Projecting Your Time Spend
The CEO Forum is a two-day offsite every quarter that happens between myself and roughly 8 other CEOs of different-sized companies.
We talk about key discoveries (that’s one area), and those are discoveries that we learn from our peer CEOs who have beaten on us for two days. Then we write our final advice for each of those individuals, we record that, and we talk about business milestones and personal milestones that we want to get done for the next quarter.
Then we go into this area of projected time spend. And everyone has to come up with how they’re going to spend time over the next quarter.
The first time I did this, my forecast for 2016 for marketing and product was 20% of my time. But the actual time that I spent ended up being 50%.
So at the end of the quarter we have our projected time spend and then we come back and say how we actually spent our time, and then those are areas to discuss.
So the discussion for me was around why I spent 50% of my time on marketing and product. And that answer was that this was an area that we needed to get good at. It was the first year, we needed to invest more energy into that area, so I dove deeper into that area.
The takeaway from that was that we needed to build up our marketing team at that point so I didn’t have to spend 50% of my time there.
This is a good exercise for anyone, whether you’re a CEO or not.
Look at your projected time spend at the end of the month, or quarterly, and ask, “How did I actually spend my time?
Then learn from it.