I recently had the chance to catch up with Shih for an interview, and she talked about how she maintains a high level of productivity, and keep a sense of prioritization at the same time.
Tell us a bit about your background
Clara Shih: I'm the founder and CEO of Hearsay. We are a predictive analytics company for financial advisors. I'm mostly focused on being an entrepreneur, but I also invest and advise in a few start-ups on the side and sit on a couple boards.
You've also written a couple of books. Can you tell us about both books and the one that came out recently?
CS: My first book, The Facebook Era, came out in 2009 and it was largely a prediction about the important role that social would play in our lives and in business. I came out with a sequel earlier this year called The Social Business Imperative, which is really talking about how companies can go from vision to execution.
How do you run a company, author books, and manage all of your other commitments?
CS: Keeping "Inbox Zero" is really important to me. I found that I was wasting a lot my time re-looking at and re-triaging emails over and over again. Fixing that problem became pretty key for me given the amount of email I receive.
If it's something quick, I'll take care of it right away and just get it off my plate. Otherwise if it takes longer, and it's very important, I'll red star it, and that's my highest priority to do list. If it's a non urgent priority I'll yellow star it, and that just becomes my regular to do list. If it's an email where I can't take action until someone else has done something, I'll blue star it and I'll re-visit it every few days in case I have to follow up and nudge people.
You get the general idea - use whatever tool works for you (Gmail + stars works for me), but triaging email right away is the key to getting your inbox to zero.
What other insights can you share with some inspiring entrepreneurs?
CS:"Only do what only you can do" is a quote I heard at a conference recently, and that's really inspired how I think about spending my time, which is everybody's most valuable asset. It's inspired me to think about how I spend my time at home and at work.
Don't take how you spend your time lightly.
Anything else you are working on at the moment that you want to share?
CS: I've gotten involved with Girls Inc. recently which is an amazing non profit that partners with girls starting at adolescence when lot of the self esteem and bullying issues come up. Girls Inc works with underprivileged girls, and provides them with mentorship, academic counseling, and eventually scholarship. Many who go through the program become first in their families to attend college. It's been life changing for me to get involved.