Good leadership doesn’t come in a one-size-fit-all shape. To be the leader of a company chosen by Forbes as one of America’s most innovative companies, you can be sure, takes a special kind of person.

Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit, a $36 billion finance and business software company behind products like TurboTax and QuickBooks, is such a person. The demands on the time of someone like Smith is full of pressure.

Is there a trick, a secret, or a genie in a box that can prevent you from succumbing to the pressure?

There is, and Smith shared his recently: Smith runs a tight daily schedule and apportions his time every day.

First, what is his attitude towards time?

Smith said the following:



“The three resources we have in our jobs are dollars, people, and time.  You can always ask for more money and volunteers, but you can never get any more time.

“So be really thoughtful about where is the highest impact place for you to spend your time. Treasure that. Be really clear about where you’re going to spend your time.”

And this he does to almost impossible perfection.

Take a look.

He rises at 5:30 a.m. every morning of the week and exercises for one hour, while watching CNBC.



And you think: I could never do that. I hate getting up early and I hate exercising even more. Well, surprise, surprise, Smith doesn’t exactly love rising early or exercising either. He told Business Insider that he does it because it makes him feel healthy and, wait for it, he likes to have something to tick off on his to-do list by the time he gets to the office, which is around 7.30 a.m. By then he has had a protein drink and caught up on The Wall Street Journal.

At the office things get interesting.

Smith organizes his office day around a “100-point plan”. He divides his time into 40%, 30%, 20%, and 10% slots:

  • 40% on product reviews
  • 30% on “meeting with large groups of employees to try to grow and develop and hear what’s on their minds.”
  • 20% on the boards of other companies, including SurveyMonkey and Nordstrom.
  • 10% on watching TED Talks and reading books

What stands out?

Smith is a corporate leader with his finger on the pulse of his company, keeping tabs on company products and the people responsible for developing the products. He leads with his ear close to the ground.

But not so close that he misses the other creatures in the wood or any changes in the weather conditions. He spends a full 40% of his day (including 10% in the morning before work) on staying abreast of what’s going on in the wider world around Intuit.

And the best?

The CEO heads home to a very ordinary evening with his family: dinner, TV and early to bed.

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