How CEO’s Are Managing Their Time And What Startup Owners Should Learn From Them.

Business world has changed a lot, becoming more fast-paced than ever, and if you don’t join the lane with same pace, you will be kicked out. For a startup owner, it is both a blessing and a curse. A startup is just like a seed – unpredictable and could may be turn dormant.

If you step into a bookstore to find a book on time management, you will face a whirlwind of colors and sober fonts of all sizes thrown at you, knocking you out of breath. To master the skill of succeeding at business, startup owners need to learn the proper work ethic that can be derived out of standard textbook practices and by taking a leaf out of a successful CEO’s notebook. Jack Sweeney, CEO of his 7th company wishes he knew the tips of managing time with a business when he first became CEO in 1993.

“Looking back at my 22 years of setting management direction, building teams and analyzing markets, I’ve come to a rather obvious conclusion: The world has changed a heck of a lot since my first job as CEO, and so has my management style.”

What skills can a startup learn from Jack Ma and other successful CEOs to manage time and work more efficiently? Let’s take a look at some things these successful CEOs religiously follow in order to stay on top of their game:

Indra Nooyi – Prioritizing a day at a time

Indra Nooyi is the CEO of PepsiCo and a very cool one at that. Ranked #14 in Forbes list of power women, Nooyi believes that her immigrant mentality drives her to manage work by one day at a time.

 “I have an immigrant mentality, which is that the job can be taken away at any time, so make sure you earn it every day.” 

She focuses on daily schedules and doesn’t take her position for granted. She works tirelessly and doesn’t sleep more than four or five hours a day. She says that being a leader means you need to constantly improve yourself to be able to change the workforce.

Nooyi believes that no matter how close you are to being a CEO, serving as COO, CFO or president, you cannot actually understand the gravity of matters unless you become CEO. She also believes she drives her organization insane by doing detail checkups on stores every day and questioning everything from poor printing to less merchandising. Her day is divided between store visits and meetings, and she is known to be a perfectionist. It is because of her dedication that Pepsi’s market cap today is $111 billion. Read more about her time management practices here.

Alan Mulally – Be relentless

Alan Mulally is the CEO of the famous automobile company Ford. He is featured as a top CEO in Business Insider rankings and his organization loves his style. Mulally saved Ford from the brink of bankruptcy, and took it to profitability, recovering with a profit of $2.7 billion. Former executive Gerhard Geyer writes about Alan in his book:

“His Thursday business-plan review meetings, as well as the hundreds of performance charts (updated daily), constantly keep top executives abreast of Ford’s worldwide developments.”

Alan got a company that was about to go down, and he performed the biggest turnaround in the history of the US. His strategy is simple – he works relentlessly. According to Alan, he prioritizes things and then acts out. Alan devised the One Ford plan, and it became an institution in the company on the grounds of product development, manufacturing strategy and financial rehabilitation. Mulally says that he has a disciplined business review process and that he likes to implement it daily. He has been the kind of leader who has a positive aura around him that makes his employees work harder, just like their leader.

Ted Turner – Be outrageously disciplined

Ted Turner founded Turner Broadcasting System in 1969. In 1980, Turner changed the way news was reported by launching the Cable News Network (CNN). His career saw many companies but he held fast to one principle – he was always outrageously disciplined. From being a ‘problem child’ to a famous CEO, Turner explains that he always made plans and stuck with them no matter what. If he makes a plan, he involves his team in it to ensure success.

Turner told Time magazine, “I’m not going to rest until all the world’s problems are solved.”

His employees love him and think of him as “magical, really smart, really courageous.”


Rupert Murdoch – Be consistent despite the odds

Rupert Murdoch, 80, CEO of the News Corporation is a newsman at heart. His relationship with media is old and loyal and he doesn’t take chances. Startups should learn a thing or two from Murdoch and his cunning management skills. He was ethical enough to shut down his whole paper ‘News of The World’ when it hacked into a murdered girl’s phone during a controversy.

He is very consistent in business. It’s proved by the fact that long before media learned the term globalization, Murdoch was already working on his transnational print and broadcast network. His early business ventures didn’t earn him right because he always was misunderstood, but as his greater strategy unleashed, he alarmed the media world by his ‘shock and gall’ technique in business. That’s why many media scholars say that he is one of his kind and to mimic his skills is both unpredictable and fruitful in the long run.

 Eric Schmidt – Maintain a business culture

Eric Schmidt is the popular name who has been a CEO at Google and a revenue earner of $8.58 billion for Google at that. When he joined Google, Larry Paige and Sergey Brin knew that he had the expertise they didn’t. Google launched hundreds of products under his leadership and his time management skills are pretty straightforward – he stays true to his business.

Playing a key role in maintaining a culture at Google, collaborating with all his teams and giving space to creative employees made him a star. According to Business Insider:

“Schmidt and his team developed a set of meeting guidelines to turn “demoralizing time wasters” into opportunities for efficient organization and morale-boosting.”

Eric believes in holding meetings only when they are needed, and also implemented the rule of having not more than eight people at a time. Once a meeting ended and there was still time left, he would get up and call it off to save time that is otherwise wasted in lazying around. Check out these 8 things you shouldn’t do at investor meetings .

 Howard Schultz – Micromanaging

Howard Schultz is the CEO of the coffee empire Starbucks. With 191,000 employees, Schultz stresses on the ability to micromanage. He hired seasoned executives from companies like Microsoft and Disney to manage his business. He will chime in during a meeting if he doesn’t like the color of a product and also encourage his team members to give him some competition if he is propagating a weaker plan. He gets up at 4:30 am every morning, takes his three dogs for a walk, comes back at 530 and makes coffee for himself and his wife.

According to Forbes, in 2008 Schultz ordered that Starbucks stop selling melted-cheese breakfast sandwiches because the smell was masking the aroma of coffee, the company’s core offering.

Micromanaging as a CEO is often thought negative, but in Schultz’s case, he derives results out of it. He spends time listening to his employees and staffers when they are giving feedback. That’s why he ordered the cheese sandwich to be made again, but with less aroma.

Mark Zuckerberg- Making important decisions

The 31-year-old world famous creator of Facebook is also famous for one other thing. He wears a plain gray T-shirt almost every day. It’s not just about fashion, it’s about his time management strategy. Since his field requires a lot of brainwork, he says that choosing to dress like that allows him to make as few decisions as possible. He wakes up, picks his t-shirt, wears it and heads to work. According to a study by sleepypeople, Zuckerberg doesn’t sleep much and often skips sleep altogether, spending that time in talking to his Facebook employees.

To learn more about the CEO of a tech giant, watch this inspirational video.

Jeff Bezos – Enjoy the little things

Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon and ranks fourth on Business Insider’s list of top CEOs. There is one thing that makes this billionaire just like any of us startup owners – he is not a morning person. Although he puts a lot of emphasis on getting a good night’s sleep, as he told Wallstreet Journal, “I feel so much better all day long if I’ve had eight hours.”

He has also told many publications that he likes to skip early morning meetings to be able to have a leisurely breakfast with his wife Mackenzie and their four children. The one thing to take away from this is that CEOs are also humans like us, and face human problems, but what makes them successful is that they counter their difficulties to succeed.

 Bill Gates – Combative management skills

Cofounder of Microsoft, Bill Gates is known for his combative management skills. He tightly controlled the company’s product strategy and aggressively expanded its portfolio. He is one of the richest men in the world, but stays true to his field by never stopping to train his mind and body. He spends an hour on his treadmill doing cardio exercises and watches inspirational videos on Teaching Company while doing so. His dedication to improving his own self earned Microsoft much success. He has now stepped down as CEO and serves the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.


Being a startup is literally point 0 on the scale, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take it to the skies. Managing time and personal life is key, and dedicating those 1440 minutes every day to making a profit is tricky. Take help from these brilliant CEOs and try to implement a strategy that works for your own life. It involves getting out of your comfort zone. A startup can beat big companies for the best talent. Also read Jack Sweeney’s tips on what not to do when building a startup.


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