How a great entrepreneur deals with complexity

I aksed Joe Cohen at Seatwave how he deals with the ongoing complexity and varied demands on his time that come from managing a hypergrowth company, and I thought I would share the thoughts he jotted down for me:

  1. Oversimplify and execute well.  If you make a mistake in strategy you can generally correct it by executing well even if you execute something else
  2. Only do what only you can do – this is really hard but if anyone in your company is able to do something the CEO should not, by defnition, do it
  3. Ignore the first request for everything.  If it’s really important then they will ask again
  4. Push your team beyond what you and they think they are capable of – they will be more empowered and will be able to complete more on their own if they are reaching for a high bar
  5. I have 0 emails in my in box when I leave the office each day.  Anything that I am cc’d on I will read on the weekend (separate folder) so I am only dealing with emails sent TO me each day
  6. At least once per week leave the office in the middle of the day and have lunch with my wife or go to my kids school – even if only for 30 minutes

Simple and sound advice.

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5 Responses to How a great entrepreneur deals with complexity

  1. Sean says:

    Good advice. He’s definitely right about 2, need to get better at this. Not sure about the email algo – most emails are “To:” me, so would need smarter filters…and 3 is something I’ve been using (I think with some success) for years. And 6 makes all the rest possible (and worth doing.)

  2. Elise Howes says:

    4 will yield incredible results – people step up when someone truly believes in them and paints a bigger picture/enlarges their vision and goals

    6 is great great great for making sure the foundation is solid. Having family to come home to, family that LIKES you and knows you like them (and show it by being there) is wonderful too. Great role modeling for priorities too.

    I aspire to 3…not there yet…

    Nicely done!

  3. alex says:

    No. 4 is a common one, but totally retarded. It shows little, real management experience. You don’t want to rule by exploiting people. That shows a miner’s mentality. The mark of a good manager is one that pushes within acceptable parameters, but makes people feel they themselves want it even more.

  4. Fred Destin says:

    @alex: I think he is making a slightly different point here. Very often you design a plan together (with the team) then you take the results and say, “what about gunning for X and Y more” and send everyone back to the drawing board to think about what it would take to achieve that stretch plan. I am with Joe that when you ask people to stretch (and that would include himself) you will often been surprised by the results. I think half the battle is projecting yourself and your team mentally into the outcome.

    By the way, one thing Joe Cohen does not lack is (successful) real world management experience. It seems to work for him the people who keep returning to work for and with him.

  5. Frank says:

    I really like what you have said here about time management. I really need to do something similar when it comes to my e-mails.
    Frank –