David Solomon was recently tapped as Goldman Sachs' new CEO. While his business acumen in running one of the world's largest investment banks is well touted, one of the more eye-catching parts of his resume is his unique hobby: disc jockeying.
Using the stage name, "DJ D-Sol," he regularly spins records at some of the elite and trendy clubs and hot spots in the world, from New York to London to the Bahamas. (Many of his gigs are highlighted on his Instagram page.)
It may seem like a surprising side activity, but Solomon embraces what many other top executives already know: To be more creative, a greater problem solver, and a better leader, you need to take up a hobby. He believes that having a wide range of outside interests also helps you to lead a more balance life. It's a message he often preaches to his younger employees, according to a New York Times article.
Many top business luminaries also have committed outside activities that they feel are essential to their growth and work-life balance. Here's why.
Your hobby helps you deal with stress.
For many, a hobby's main attraction is as an outlet for work stress.
One study from San Francisco State University found that hobbies act as effective recovery from the daily grind of work, which can help drive greater job performance. The researchers discovered that learning a new creative hobby, such as art, music, gardening, cooking or a foreign language, can offer direct business-related benefits as they best stimulate your creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
People from the study who said they engaged in a creative activity on a regular basis scored 15-30 percent higher on performance rankings compared with those who participated less often.
I've experienced this myself: I play the bass guitar, and quickly found that the bass challenges me to use different skills while improving my existing ones.
When I play the bass guitar, I have to figure out tricky notes and riffs for myself. It's taught me that when a team member has a question, I need to avoid giving the answer right away.
For their learning process, it's important they go through the trial-and-error process in order to truly understand why one answer is correct. The experience offers me a fresh perspective on what they are going through, and helps me become a better leader.
It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do something.
Hobbies can improve other business skills, too. For example, they help with time management since you have to balance your activity with other aspects of your life.
They also keep your mind sharp by improving memory. A 2014 study from Psychological Science found that older adults who participated in a mentally-challenging hobby for about 17 hours per week, such as photography or quilting, developed faster memory processing speed and better episodic memory (recalling details of specific experiences like place, time, and emotion).
Maybe best of all, hobbies simply make you a happier person who can connect with others beyond business. People are often drawn to those with passions outside of work and look to them for inspiration and guidance--a key trait for any corporate leader. It makes you more authentic and real, which often can create new opportunities in business when you have a closer relationship with those who work for you, or even your existing customers and potential new ones.
Does it matter what hobby you take up? Not really. It can be anything from running to yoga to painting to stamp collecting. The best hobby is the one that you enjoy and offers the chance to mentally step away from the hustle of work and life for a while.
When you're more fulfilled as a person, you're happier at work and at home, which creates a better work environment for those around you. Who knows? It could even mean an improved bottom line when everyone is more engaged, connected, and fulfilled.