The habits of 5 successful Colorado CEOs

by Jess Ryan
November 10, 2016

From the time we were young, we’ve had the value of good habits impressed upon us. You know the drill: make your bed, eat well, exercise regularly, send thank you notes, and so on. Those habits are certainly helpful — if we keep up with them — but their bearing on our professional lives is often understated.

We caught up with five Colorado CEOs whose strong habits have led them to their present-day success.

 

Doug Standley, President and CEO

Habit: Setting aside “my time.”

Early in the morning before checking Slack, email, text, voicemail, social media or my calendar, I habitually take “my time” to read, learn, exercise, meditate or just take a few quiet moments for deep breathing and thinking.

If you're in a constant state of stress, you're useless to your team, family and friends. As a founder and CEO, the demands on your energy will be overwhelming unless you place a very high value on your time and proactively control what demands it. I started this habit many years ago based on the advice of a sage personal coach. In a moment of radical candor, he suggested (in more colorful language), "Douglas, as a leader, your team feeds off of your energy. You need to invest in yourself and create the habit of 'my time' to be sure you've got energy to give.

 

Tom Dibble, CEO and founder

Habit: Get up early and start ranking items in to-do lists.

We all have our to-do lists, and yes, checking items off feels good for the psyche, and everything seems important at the time they get added to the list. But how much thought do you actually afford in assessing the level of impact a single task can have versus merely dealing with them in chronological order? Re-assessing, grouping and ranking your to-do lists might sound simple, but it takes practice. Your day never works out the way you think it will and as such, your action items need to constantly adapt. Assess and rank your entire to-do list and take three of the items that will have the greatest impact on the business at that time. Commit to getting them done that day, because tomorrow, there will be more to add to the list. As for getting up early, that’s simple. You’re far more likely to get those three things done while dealing with everything the new day brings.

 

Lawrence Hester, CEO

Habit: Get outside for a minimum of an hour every day

I find that I can recharge my batteries by being outside for an hour. Some days are so packed with travel and calls that it’s difficult to find the time. So, I create the time by taking the majority of my calls while on walks. Not only does that allow me to get some fresh air, but it also eliminates the distraction of clicking around the internet while on the phone. I’m a lot more attentive on a walk than at my desk!

 

Elisabeth Vezzani, CEO and co-founder

Habit: I start every day in a very old school way. I make a handwritten "to do" list each morning.

Taking time to sit down and write out a list really helps me focus on what needs to get done, versus what I want to be working on — which is not always the same thing. As soon as I finish my list, it's like the starting gun going off at the beginning of a race with myself. I work as hard as I can to see what I can get crossed off. I feel like it sets a pace that makes me twice as productive. The funny thing is that I do everything else on my laptop or phone... but there is something about hand-writing it — I am not really sure what that’s about. I just know that it works.

 

Melissa Risteff, CEO and co-founder

Habit: Continuously seek the opinions of others and be willing to accept the input to refine and improve your value proposition and your business.

Early in my career, I didn’t readily ask for help or seek the opinions of others. As a Six Sigma Black Belt at GE, I learned the critical importance of the Voice of the Customer — and that customer takes on many dimensions as a leader. You might be serving someone who is paying you, a peer inside a larger organization or a small team at your startup. Now it’s just part of how I operate.

 

Photos via featured individuals.

What habits have helped you succeed? Tweet us @builtincolorado

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