The 26th Inc. 500 Conference, held in Chicago in September, attracted a record crowd of founders and CEOs of America's fastest-growing companies. In between speeches, we asked a random sampling of 30 CEOs to describe their businesses back home, their love lives, and their political sensibilities. Here are the results of our completely unscientific poll.
What did you read on the plane ride out here?
"Sudoku.""A cookbook.""The Inner Reaches of Outer Space by Joseph Campbell.""Actually, I slept for the first time all week."
Who is taking care of the business while you're here?
My staff 77%
My partner 10%
"My small children.""My staff is thrilled I'm gone.""Hopefully my wife--she's a VP."
How many times have you checked your BlackBerry?
Not at all 10%
Once or twice 27%
Every 20 minutes 30%
Every five minutes 27%
""It's not f---ing working."
"Just a couple times--I'm in a 12-step program."
Did you bring a date?
"You asking?""No, I'm married.""Not yet."
What's the hardest aspect of running your own business?
"Not having a sense of how we're doing.""Getting away for more than seven days.""Balancing business with personal life--my husband is my CFO.""Firing people. They are, after all, people."
What do you do to relax?
Do you support the concept of universal health care?
"It's the single most important issue today.""Please! Sign me up!""I embrace it but I'd like it to be more business-friendly.""We come from India, which is a blend of capitalism and socialism. That's what it should be here."
Who do you think is the greatest American businessperson alive today?
Bill Gates 27%
Jack Stack 7%
Jack Welch 7%
"Donald Trump.""My father.""Scott Cook.""Steve Jobs."
Who do you think is the best presidential candidate for entrepreneurs?
Hillary Clinton 40%
Rudy Giuliani 13%
Barack Obama 10%
Fred Thompson 7%
Mitt Romney 3%
Joe Biden 3%
"Clinton, Bill.""Fred Thompson--I love Law & Order."