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What Do You Do All Day?

There's no set job description for the CEO of a fast-growth company. The leaders of the 2002 Inc 500 spend their time in a variety of ways. But no matter what they do, chances are, they do it a lot.
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Here's a no-brainer: When Inc 500 CEOs go to the beach, do they (a) pull out their cell phones to get a handle on sales, (b) plot a new marketing strategy in the margins of their trashy paperbacks, or (c) lie in the sand doing nothing?

The chances that the answer is c are about as likely as a beached whale's diving back into the surf unaided. Historically, Inc 500 CEOs have reported devoting a median of 60 hours a week to business: this year's company builders are no exception. And that's potentially dangerous, notes psychiatrist Jeffrey P. Kahn. Those who can't even contemplate downtime may not only be hardworking CEOs. They may -- like many entrepreneurs -- be workaholics.

What's the difference? According to Kahn, president of WorkPsych Associates, in New York City, and coeditor of Mental Health and Productivity in the Workplace, hard workers set goals, push themselves to reach those goals, and feel a sense of accomplishment once they pass certain milestones. Workaholics, by contrast, are driven: they start not with goals but with the need to strive; they then find goals at which to aim their striving. Often they experience mild anxiety or depression. (The striving is a way to keep those feelings under control.) They're also at greater risk for a meltdown. "Workaholics aren't any less successful than hard workers," says Kahn. "But it's harder for them to enjoy the process and to appreciate their accomplishments."

Hard workers may be indistinguishable from workaholics in a company's early years, when the founder -- often on his or her own -- needs to sustain maximum momentum for liftoff. A founder who is still putting in the same hours after the business has reached cruising altitude, however, may signify trouble. "It's important to be aware that a transition must be made," says Kahn. Once a company is successful, "entrepreneurs need to delegate more than in the past. They may even need to tolerate a healthy bureaucracy. If they're having trouble, they may need help in how to adjust their personality to do that."


Thea Singer is an associate editor at Inc.


Time ... Well ... Spent


L. Alex Staley
Analytical Management Services (#101), a project-management consulting company in Encinitas, Calif.

How I spend my time:
40% to 50% on managing day-to-day operations, including providing leadership and direction to accounts and overseeing deliverables; 20% on administration; 15% to 20% on business development; 5% to 10% on strategy development.

How I thought I'd be spending my time five years ago:
75% on business and strategy development.

How I should be spending my time:
50% to 75% on strategy and business development, 10% to 25% on operations, 10% on administration.


Robert McDermott
AXSA Document Solutions (#173), a provider of office equipment and software in Tampa.

How I spend my time:
75% on managing the sales force and interacting with customers (55% on riding with reps and giving demos at customer locations, 20% on training reps one-on-one in the office); 25% on administration, including managing sales managers' numbers, developing new sales tools, and interviewing.

How I thought I'd be spending my time five years ago:
50% minimum on managing the sales force and interacting with customers.

How I should be spending my time:
25% to 35% on building and developing the management team; 10% to 15% on opening new branches; 25% on managing the sales force and interacting with customers; 25% on administration.


Rich Harshaw
Y2Marketing (#42), a marketing and fulfillment consulting company in Desoto, Tex.

How I spend my time:
90% on strategizing -- in my office with the door shut -- about growing the company: how to sell more, how to reach new markets, how to support our field reps, how to attract top-notch consultants from across the country

How I thought I'd be spending my time five years ago:
90% on strategizing

How I should be spending my time:
95% on strategizing


Thea Singer is an associate editor at Inc.


Who's Running the 500?

Where Did You Learn How to Grow a Company?
What Do You Do All Day?
Are You Rich Yet?


Please e-mail your comments to editors@inc.com.

Last updated: Oct 15, 2002




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