The DIY Approach
The conventional wisdom is that as a CEO, your time is so valuable you should hand off every administrative task you can to your team. In theory, that’ll free you up for big-picture strategic thinking and activities where you’re the public face of your firm.
That’s true, to a point, but here at Marcum, there are some small tasks I never delegate. It just doesn’t make sense.
My rule of thumb is that anytime I’d have to email someone else to take on a small task, I usually just do it myself. Most times, it’s faster – and it saves all of our inboxes.
I feel the same way about my calendar. You might think I’d have an assistant field meeting requests and stay on top of my “datebook” (now there’s a blast from the past), so I don’t get overbooked or get pulled into the wrong meetings. In reality I’d rather keep my own calendar, and I do.
One reason is I don’t want to miss opportunities. Given our entrepreneurial culture here at Marcum, I’m always ready to change course, and if my day doesn’t turn out the way I planned when I woke up, so be it. If I’m in our New York City office and someone on Long Island wants to have lunch, I don’t want my assistant to tell them I can’t because I’m in New York City that day. I might decide it’s worth it to go, but I won’t be able to make that decision if I don’t know about it. The 30-seconds it takes to work out the details are well worth it.
I feel the same way about meeting requests from clients. I can’t always clear my schedule when a client is in town unexpectedly and invites me to lunch, but I definitely want the chance to decide for myself if I can make it work. I might be able to switch things around so I can make it happen. There are some clients I rarely get a chance to see, and I’d be disappointed to hear they couldn’t reach me to extend the invitation because a gatekeeper decided I couldn’t make it. We’re in a people business, so face time with clients is one of my top priorities.
I also make my own calls and answer my phone myself if I happen to be at my desk. Truth be told, no one actually calls my desk anymore – well not anyone who knows me. Today, it’s either calls or texts on my cell phone. Sure, you could argue that every minute counts and as CEO I have more important things to do, but I don’t stand on formality and neither does Marcum. We do what needs to get done with minimum fuss. And in this age of digital everything, dialing a phone from time to time is hardly taxing (pun intended).
There’s a method to my madness. As a leader, it’s easy to get out of touch if all you’re doing is sitting in conference rooms in the C-suite (not that we have C-suite conference rooms at Marcum – we don’t). The exchanges I have with our team and clients about seemingly small things, like where and when we’re meeting, often open the door to bigger, more important discussions. As CEO, it’s important for me to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on, and any conversations I have with the people who are important to our Firm are well worth my time.
Hence, this column.
As it turns out, this week had me on the road, keeping my finger on the pulse. Tuesday and Wednesday I was in LA and yesterday San Francisco. As luck would have it, the Air Force Blue Angels were practicing in SF all afternoon, literally outside the windows of our SF office. It was a nice perk to enjoy on this trip. As this posts, I’m in the air on my way back to NY.
Have a great weekend, everybody!