Lessons from 525 CEO Interviews

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Adam Bryant did 525 CEO interviews over the last decade as part of his Corner Office column. In this morning’s New York Times, he summarizes the lessons he learned.

It’s valuable piece and we won’t spoil it by citing too much. Read it (links are below). Then save it for future reference.

Here are a couple of points we really liked:

“[CEOs] share a habit of mind that is best described as “applied curiosity.” They tend to question everything. They want to know how things work, and wonder how they can be made to work better. They’re curious about people and their back stories.

“And rather than wondering if they are on the right career path, they make the most of whatever path they’re on, wringing lessons from all their experiences.”

Bryant writes that enjoying discomfort is a recurring pattern too.

“C.E.O.s seem to love a challenge. Discomfort is their comfort zone.”

And interestingly, they got to be CEO by concentrating on excellence in their current job at every step of the way.

“They focus on doing their current job well, and that earns them promotions.

“That may sound obvious. But many people can seem more concerned about the job they want than the job they’re doing.

“….[F]ocus on building a track record of success, and people will keep betting on you.”

It’s a wonderful article and there is much more than the tidbits we’ve cited here. It’s full of goodness. Go read it here. And you can find Bryant’s Corner Office interviews here. Bryant has published two business books, which you can see on Amazon here: The Corner Office and Quick and Nimble.


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