Words to Live by: What These Successful CEOs Would Like You to Know About Reasonable Ambition

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Ambition can take you where you let it, but that’s not always a good thing. It’s great if you can envision yourself reaching great heights, but you shouldn’t sacrifice the other things that matter to you just to get there. This is why you’ll need all the guidance you can get.

Whether you’re already managing a small business or just in the troughs of brainstorming the ‘Next Best Thing’, you should try to gain valuable insights from those who have already been in your shoes. Read on to find out how these CEOs managed to build a successful business without giving up on everything else that’s just as, if not more, important.

Have enough time to manage your household

Gabriel Shaoolian, the founder and CEO of design services provider DesignRush, reiterated an easily overlooked point when it comes to managing your own business. He said that before you move on to bigger things, it’s important to establish a healthy balance between your work and home life first. This is especially true if you’re also the one managing your household and overseeing home care. In that case, you should be available to handle the most unexpected concerns that come with being a homeowner. For example, there needs to be an emergency roof repair. You have to be on top of something like that, which is also good practice for your management and leadership skills.

Be patient with yourself

“Success takes time,” said the CEO of Sageworks, Brian Hamilton. He pointed out how entrepreneurship is often falsely depicted in mainstream media. As a result, the notion that small businesses could either be an overnight success or an immediate failure is ingrained in the minds of aspiring business owners. Hamilton advised to let go of that expectation and just focus on improving your venture until it’s self-sustaining, whether that takes a month or three years.

Have a functional to-do list

It’s not easy to keep track of everything if you constantly have a lot of balls in the air. Being disorganized would not help matters much, as you could easily forget to accomplish a task in time. For this reason, Grainne Kelly is a big advocate of keeping an updated to-do list. As the founder and CEO of BubbleBum, which sells inflatable car booster seats, she understands that certain measures need to be done to ensure both efficiency and safety. Her big secret to achieving both? Microphone dictation! This helps her rattle off all the tasks she needs to accomplish in a time-saving yet effective way.

Hire the right people

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You have a long way to go as a leader if you can’t accept that you may not always be the best person in the room. Jennifer Tejada, the CEO of digital operations management platform PagerDuty could not have said it better: “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.” Hiring the right people will not only keep your company on the right track, but it will also help you be better at delegating tasks.

Be a good person to be a good leader

You shouldn’t sacrifice your morals and values just to come out on top. There’s some merit to that, no matter how conservative it sounds. The president of Lyft agrees. John Zimmer said that treating people with kindness is complementary to doing well in business. Aside from the intrinsic reason to be good, you would also need to build good relationships with partners and employees that are crucial to helping your business grow. You shouldn’t be selective with this, either; an entry-level employee deserves the same level of respect that one of your investors get.

Get the most out of your shuteye

Have a good night’s rest to have a great day of work. This is what Jason Patel, CEO of Transizion, a prep company for career and college, understands best. He knows that the quality of your rest must be up to par with the quality of your work. For him, that cliché of the CEO that never sleeps and is always in the office must be taken to the trash. It’s an ultimately destructive and unsustainable model.

When it comes to establishing a business, good ole hard work never goes out of style. Luckily, however, people have come to their senses and realized that there should be some limitations to pushing yourself to succeed. That’s good, but not if your home life, values, or health is sacrificed. Being a business owner, even on a small scale, is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be completely damaging.

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