When Dao Nguyen was hired at Buzzfeed two years ago, her mission was clear: Spur growth at the company through technology. By all accounts, she's done a bang-up job. According to BuzzFeed, unique visitors to the site have quintupled during Nguyen's tenure, to around 150 million. Inc. spoke with her about the productivity skills she brings to her job as vice president of growth and data at BuzzFeed.
1. Identify and separate the "urgent" stuff from the "important" stuff.
And keep a list of what's truly important.
"A mentor once told me, 'Dao, there are things that are urgent and things that are important. Keep your focus on the things that are important,'" she says. "That lesson has helped me in every job I've ever had." To ensure she doesn't get too distracted by the urgent matters of business she's chasing, she keeps a list of the important big things. "These are the five things that I think about even though no one is urging me to do them and there's no fire to put out," she says. "It's a technical strategy to help me focus."
2. Control your meetings by mastering this one skill.
Preparation, paired with brevity: That's the formula.
Nguyen has a reputation for holding short meetings, and speaking very quickly and directly in them. She says getting to the heart of the matter is something that actually takes more work before a meeting or important decision is made. "You have to prepare. If you're prepared, you will be more effective in both meetings and decisions," she says.
3. Learn this secret to getting stuff off your own plate.
Make the people around you aware that mistakes will happen. This is the first rule of delegating.
Nguyen started at Buzzfeed in mid-2012, when the staff was approximately 100 people. Now it's more than 500. "You have to delegate," she says. "You have to give people the chance to make mistakes and not get upset at them--as long as they learn from them." She says, as a manager, your job is to provide the objectives, guidelines, and resources for your reports to both do their jobs, and experiment along the way. So mistakes happen. If you can build an acceptance of that fact into your culture, you'll save not only time, but also wipe out a lot of stress.