Being a CEO requires the ability to innovate while still managing a team, and for many successful entrepreneurs, striking a balance between product and administration doesn't come easy. Over time, however, exceptional entrepreneurs are able to learn from their failures and help their teams avoid the pitfalls they themselves once encountered.
We spoke with five CEOs about their challenges, inspiration and how they run their business.
Jeff Schumacher on whom he looks to for inspiration:
"I am most inspired by my kids, who happen to be six-year-old twins — a boy and a girl. What's fascinating to me is that they look at life completely differently even though they've been brought up in the same household. It shows that you can put two people in the same environment and get two completely different outputs. Neither is wrong; just different.
Children don't have to be taught how to innovate. Before they even enter the school system they have an innate desire to experiment and explore in whatever conditions they are in, asking nothing of it other than the enjoyment. This is true innovation, and watching it happen at the rock face is very interesting. We could all learn more if we looked at life from our kids' eyes."
Anderee Berengian on changing careers:
"Reinventing my path. I graduated with a biochemistry degree from UCLA and worked in research labs. Even though I had a clear path of where I was going, I decided to take a step back and challenge myself to transition into business by getting my MBA at USC. I wanted to be in a fast-paced environment where I could see immediate results from my hard work and I was willing to take that step back to get onto a sharper career growth trajectory in the long run."
Matthias Kurwig on his biggest challenge as a professional:
"The biggest challenge was missing a large IPO with a previous startup back in 2001 (the market tanked), and as a result having to lay off more than 100 employees over the course of the following year. These were fantastic people, deeply committed to the company's success. You want to cry — and I did — but eventually, you realize that your own emotions have no place in a situation like that. You need to worry about the team members and their families losing their income, and then figuring out how you can keep as many on board as possible. It makes you look and think twice when hiring again."
Chuck Davis on his morning routine:
"No day is ever the same. When I get into the office, I usually review my calendar to determine top priorities for the day and readjust my schedule to finish any remaining items from the previous day. From there I make my initial touch points with staff where we are at with pressing items, what problems we’re encountering and how we can resolve them. I also like to browse the latest trending articles in real estate, mortgage or finance and deliver relevant news to the team about shifts in technology or in the industry."
Nathan Burba on learning to trust his colleagues:
"I've gotten better at trusting the smart people I work with and not sweating the details. I'm also comfortable with a large amount of complexity and uncertainty. At this point, it doesn't really bother me anymore. I've also learned to see both sides of most issues. Most people are trying hard and are working in good faith."
Images via participating companies