There is quite literally endless literature on and offline about leadership, but beyond the buzzwords and abstract concepts, I had a chance to sit with Adam Singolda, CEO of Taboola, the web's leading content recomendation engine, and understand how he has built and continues to build a company with over a billion dollars in sales and partnerships with some of the largest and most successful online properties worldwide.
Here are some of my takeaways.
Ignore the hustle porn and find balance.
If I read one more article about how Gary Vaynerchuk works 25 hours a day... Here is the thing with productivity, it is not about working more, it is about working smarter. Taboola is closing deals faster than I can say "Market dominance," and somehow, Singolda's Instagram is full of pictures of his wife and kid.
I can tell you, while I am no Singolda, I am home every day to spend time with the family by 5 p.m. Of course, I work till all hours of the night, but the balance, the optimization of your time, the hacking of your day is the most important skill you need to develop as a CEO. There aren't 25 hours in a day no matter how hard you try, but if you are intelligent about your time and where you spend it, you might be able to squeeze 25 hours of work into 15.
Stay humble but set unattainable goals.
You will not find one employee of Taboola who doesn't look up to Singolda as a humble, yet great leader. Contrary to popular belief, those things are not mutually exclusive. In fact, most great leaders are extremely humble, with some obvious exceptions. While as a leader you need to remain grounded and modest, you have to set your goals aggressively enough that you are forced to stretch yourself beyond what is possible. You might not accomplish the goals, but you will have given it 200 percent, and you will have landed on the stars. "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
The thing is with setting unattainable goals? They might be within reach and you just didn't know it. Taboola, which Singolda started in his living room because he found himself frustrated by the time spent searching for relevant content to consume, is now partnering, acquiring, and collaborating with some of the most impressive companies in the world.
Don't take yourself too seriously.
Singolda recently sent me a video of him doing a company-wide presentation in a toga. While that is very Singolda, and maybe not your thing, it is important to remain grounded and embrace the growth and scaling process. After all, what are you doing this all for if not to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Smile, communicate calmness, confidence, and embrace humor.
The day you stop laughing in your company is the day your employees stop enjoying the work and let's be honest, what are you without your team?
Your company needs a face, and you should be it.
When it comes to building a brand, there are many necessary components including social media, PR, messaging, positioning, and so on. But as many people have said before me, people don't do business with businesses, people do business with other people.
It doesn't matter what field you are in, your company should have a face, a human face, something other people can relate to and connect with, and as the CEO, you should be it. Singolda is the perfect example, and his humor and personality makes him the ideal face to represent the company. Taboola operates in the content and advertising space, but Singolda speaks globally at the most prestigious events and on all social platforms about the importance of understanding consumer behavior, creating superb user experiences, and building large and successful businesses.
And remember, as you establish your face as the representation of your company, make sure that face has a smile on it.