Real-World Tips from the Top: Steve Streit, Indra Nooyi, and More

It’s natural to want to succeed in your career, to dream of riches and personal achievement. Maybe you’ve wondered what’s really behind the success of world-famous founders like Jeff Bezos. Is it that they are more intelligent than others? Is it based on a non-stop devotion to work? Or is it something else entirely? 

If you were to examine the habits of successful CEOs and compare them with your own, it’s likely you might see a few differences. Here are a few insights gleaned from interviews with notable CEOs and executives.

  • They Put Self-Care Near the Top of the List

It’s long been said that people who set aside time for exercise, healthy habits, and a time-out from work perform better in the long run than those who don’t. 

In a world that has become dominated by long workweeks, fast food, and a never-ending to-do list, self-care may seem to be a luxury. However, maybe we should be looking at it as a necessity. 

Steve Streit, the founder of Green Dot Corporation and SWS Venture Capital, makes sure to leave one day per week unscheduled for creative thinking and a better work-life balance. He also tries to begin each day with a structured exercise regimen to keep both body and mind healthy. 

  • They Don’t Say No to Networking

It can be tempting (especially if you’re naturally introverted) to decline invitations to events in favor of a night with Netflix and a bottle of wine. However, being open to meeting new people and expanding your horizons can lead to creative ways of thinking. It can also improve your communication skills.

Think back to the last time you watched a show on Netflix. Did you gain anything from it? Did your movie leave you with a brilliant new insight or friend? Now, recall the last event that you attended. Perhaps it was meeting a group of friends for dinner or a work party. 

The chances are that the social event left you with more to think about than watching the movie on Netflix did. You may have met a few new people or learned something you didn’t know before. 

While watching a movie can be a great way to unwind (especially after a long day), it shouldn’t be a constant. Getting out of your house and meeting new people can lead to great things — you just have to give it a chance!

Guy Kawasaki, the serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist, noted that the mark of a good conversationalist is that you can get others to talk a lot, not that you talk a lot. Work on your own skills to learn more about others and apply their strategies to your own career!

  • They Never Stop Learning

People who are open to new ideas and concepts generally lead happier and more fulfilled lives. 

They have a tendency to earn more in their careers, be involved within their community, and feel more socially connected. These people realize that the only constant in life is change, and being willing to adapt to modern technologies and theories allows them to grow.

Learning should be looked at as an opportunity, not a chore. It’s a chance to expand your mind and pick up new ideas. If you seek to move up the career ladder, earning a certification or advanced degree in your field can be of great assistance.

You can also seek to learn new things outside of your career. Perhaps you have a hobby outside of work that you may want to develop further, such as investing or painting. You can join clubs or meetups for people who have the same hobby to further master it.

  • They’re Willing to Accept Criticism

Those who realize that they are not infallible or perfect stand to gain a lot. While no one likes to hear what they did wrong, encouraging others to give you feedback — whether positive or negative — can assist in self-improvement. 

This approach is useful in all areas of life — both work and personal. For example, in a career setting, perhaps your boss tells you that you are a bit quiet in meetings. While you may initially feel bad, it can inspire you to be more proactive and ask questions or give input in group settings.

It’s also okay to get mad. Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of Pepsi, said she didn’t allow herself to be too nice. If something in the company was important enough to force change, she would let her feelings show. 

On a personal level, perhaps you are married with two children. You love your family but spend a lot of time away at work. Your spouse begins to resent this and asks you to be more available, especially in the evenings or on the weekends. 

You could become angry and feel torn between both sets of responsibilities, or you could seek to reach a compromise that meets everyone’s needs.

  • They Stay Competitive

If you are seeking to achieve something, or have a specific goal in mind, make sure to take steps designed to work toward it. Maybe your work and home responsibilities don’t allow you a lot of extra time, but you could set aside a short period each day toward achieving your goal. 

A great example of this is someone who wishes to create their own website. Developing a website can take time, especially if you don’t know where to start. However, if you spend an hour each day on building it, within a few weeks, you should have a site that you are happy with. 

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has a great tip for sticking with a project. He recommends pretending that someone is in a race with you. You want to win the event, so you put in the effort to finish your project. 

The opposite of this approach would be putting in time toward your goal only when you have nothing else to do. If you don’t establish a pattern of working toward something, it can be awfully difficult to accomplish it. In fact, several months could pass by with no further action on your website.

  • They Keep Up with New Technology

People who continue to stay on top of new technology are likely to see more success. The pandemic is an example of this; when lockdowns occurred around the world and employees moved their work online, many companies struggled with adopting a remote workforce. 

Eric Anderholm, CEO of Sergeant Laboratories, says that staying abreast of technological changes can be very helpful as the world continues to evolve and technology trumps tradition. 

You may be interested in: Four Simple Ways to Practice Financial Self-Care