How this CEO used a simple system to nail his work-life balance and build a company that just sold for $8 billion (SAP)

ryan smith qualtrics CEO

When a company
offered to buy Ryan Smith’s startup Qualtrics for more than $500
million in the early 2010’s
, he asked his wife to take a

The deal, and the amount of money it would net his family, was a
lot to process. But after just 30 minutes of driving south, the
couple decided to turn it down.

They felt earning so much money at once could negatively impact
the way they were raising their children. And although Smith had
been running his business for nearly a decade, he had gotten good
at balancing both work and his personal life, so being an
entrepreneur wasn’t a major strain on his family.

Together, the Smiths decided to keep Ryan’s 800-person survey
company private — at least until now, as SAP
announced it was buying Qualtrics in an all-cash deal for $8
, just days before the company was set to IPO. 

It wasn’t always easy for Smith to feel successful at both home
and work. He, like many executives, uses a CEO coach to help him
keep things balanced. He likens work-life balance to a plane that
can easily go lopsided and constantly needs to be stabilized. One
wing represents his family’s needs, the other the needs of his
work. When he’s on a business trip, for example, one side of the
plane tilts down. When he returns to his family and clears out the
weekend for his children, it’s tilted back up.

Smith’s CEO coach taught him a way to plan for success that can
be implemented every week. He described it to a group of fellow
CEOs at a conference in Ireland in 2014. 

The coach asked him which jobs he was responsible for. Smith
replied that he was:

  1. A husband
  2. A father
  3. A son
  4. A CEO
  5. A boss
  6. A sibling
  7. A grandson
  8. A friend

The CEO coach then asked him what he could do for each job that
week to make him feel successful. He noted that if he took his
wife on a date and bought her a surprise bouquet of flowers, that
might make him feel like a good husband. And if he taught his
daughter to ride a bike, he would feel like a better dad.

tilt plane golden gate san francisco flightHe also found
that he could combine tasks on his list to achieve everything
quickly. If he was really productive, every task written on Sunday
could be accomplished by Tuesday.

For example, if he took his daughter to his parent’s house and
taught her to ride a bike in their cul-de-sac, he could be both a
good father and son. 

So Smith’s weekly job list began to look something like

  1. A husband – Take wife to dinner and buy her flowers
  2. A father – Teach daughter to ride a bike
  3. A son – Visit parents. Combine tasks 2 & 3.

Smith learned that people often plan for one phase of life (“I’m
going to sell my company by the time I turn 30.”) But they either
don’t know which steps to take to achieve that goal, or they don’t
plan what to do after the goal has been achieved.

His CEO coach’s plan breaks daunting life goals into weekly
tasks, so people don’t wake up one day and realized they’ve let
major priorities slip.

Shortly after Smith explained this success tactic on Friday
evening, he left the conference. Others stayed out late and partied
at a local pub, but Smith drove 3 hours to Dublin and booked an
early flight home to Utah. That way, when his children woke up on
Sunday morning, they’d be able to spend all day with their

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Source: FS – All – Economy – News
How this CEO used a simple system to nail his work-life balance and build a company that just sold for billion (SAP)