Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Life in Israel

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Israeli commercial life and society

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

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The CEO, the business mentor, and time management

The cliché logic runs as follows. “I am the CEO. Therefore, I am important. Therefore, I know everything. And thus I am busy all the time and have to be busy all the time.”

This phrase seems to be particularly true in Jerusalem, where I have many clients. And as their business mentor and coach, I constantly strive to fight the false links in their thinking and actions. However, this begs the questions: What is the optimum amount of time that a CEO should be pouring into his / her business and in what manner?

I want to use three anecdotes that I have picked up just recently that together make a very powerful generic point for us all.

First, let me recall an interview featuring both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Watch it here, as Buffet reveals a half-empty diary. And he makes the point that he can buy almost anything he wants. However, he cannot buy time!

Next and unusually for me, I find myself quoting the actor Ashton Kutcher. No longer just a star of sit-com, he has made several successful investments in the world of high-tech. This is his secret as to why he has time for most things:

When I wake up…I spend the first hour of my work not looking at email, and actually just writing out what it is that I want to accomplish in a given day. And then before I go through my emails, I’ll do all my outgoing, outbound stuff, which is what I want everyone else to do for me. And then I’ll go and get reactive to whatever’s going on.

Finally, I was totally struck by an article in the Harvard Business Review, which surmarised the research of 1,000 successful CEOs from six different countries.

On average, about one-quarter of CEOs’ days are spent alone, including sending emails. Another 10% is spent on personal matters, and 8% is spent traveling. The remainder (56%) is spent with at least one other person, which mostly involves meetings, most of which are planned ahead of time. About one-third of the time CEOs spend with others is one-on-one; two-thirds is with more than one other person. (This data includes a CEO’s entire workday, not just time in the office.)

For me, the takeaway message is that just because you are a CEO does not mean you have to be 120% busy, 130% of the time. Thinking and strategizing are just as paramount. These create leadership and management skills that are to be valued, even more than an ability to be a road runner.

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