Probably everyone has tried their hand at making New Year’s resolutions at some point. Few people, though, succeed in actually keeping them.
While I have set forth a few personal pledges this year, I’m also making 15 resolutions to target becoming a better CEO in 2015. By writing them down and sharing them here, I hope to make them stick. And maybe a few of them will inspire resolutions and results for others.
Without more stalling, here they are:
1. Send handwritten cards on birthdays. This involves more than good manners. Writing actual handprinted notes in the age of texting means practicing a dead art form. As someone who runs a college advisory company, I find my students are very important to me. So I’ll find 10 minutes to wish them a happy birthday.
2. Have one-on-one meetings with employees monthly. Keeping an open door is a great practice, but not all employees will walk in. So I plan to set aside time to go to them individually instead.
3. Eat lunch with the team (not at my desk) once a week. Breaking bread is great for team building and enlivening the day. Like most busy businesspeople, I usually eat at my desk, multitasking. I’ll do less of that and more chatting with the team over lunch-hour salads.
4. Launch fun-day Fridays. So Fridays can be fun days. Or at least they will be. Not only do I want to have fun. I want encourage members of my team to think out of the box. We’re all resolving to spend Friday afternoons working on surprise projects not necessarily on the product road map.
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5. Set up team rewards. This means inviting the 20-minute chair-massage company to make an office visit. I know the value in recognition and managers can do better than simply saying, “good job.” I plan to start showing as well as telling members of my team that they’re doing terrific work.
6. Stage lunch and learns. While eating with members of the crew, I will once in a while bring in someone or something interesting. It need not be work related, either. We can watch an online art lecture or debate the character arcs in Orange Is the New Black. Either way, we can fill more than our stomachs.
7. Bring clients into the office. There’s no need to be mysterious. Members of my team work in a fun, New York City co-working space with a ton of great, energetic and creative people. Clients and customers should see what staff members do and where.
8. Get a minimum of six hours sleep. I’m definitely someone who tends to stay up way later than I should. And while I don’t usually have trouble rising from bed in the morning, it's not a good idea for the long run.
I almost always end up becoming sick after a few weeks of late nights, and being out of the office does not set a good example for the team. So I plan to make a greater effort to stay healthy and get adequate amounts of shut-eye.
9. Set "no-email" hours. Even though I’m a night owl, I know a lot of my teammates are not. So rather than emailing them late at night for non-emergencies, I will start saving my emails as drafts and send them in the morning before heading to the gym. Everyone deserves time to disconnect from work in the evening.
10. Meditate. Running a New York City startup is not always conducive for taking a pause. But it’s definitely needed. Whether I incorporate a moment of reflection into my workout routine or find moments before bed, I'm going to take some time to intellectually disconnect and turn inward. I hope it will make me a better problem solver and leader.
11. Be on time. Everyone’s time is valuable. I’m not chronically late but I certainly can improve in this area. Since I appreciate when others respect my time, I will try much harder to respect theirs by making punctuality a priority.
12. Ask others. Not all good ideas come from the CEO. When I have ideas or there are obstacles to overcome, I will make a more conscious effort to ask members of my team for their input. Or I will do so "just because." I want to know what they think.
13. Clear my schedule. I'm definitely the type of person who overschedules my hours. Going from back-to-back meetings into back-to-back calls and then evening events followed by late-night email sessions leaves very little time for creative thinking, goal setting and adopting great habits. This year I’m pledging to clear more of my schedule to give myself time to think.
14. Remember why. All the little jobs, challenges and to-do lists can end up blocking out the overall mission. In 2015 I will remain more focused on why I started my company and whom I'm intending to help.
15. Build a family. I’m going to try to pull together everyone -- whether a workplace team member, a customer, an investor or another stakeholder -- as part of one family. All these players want the same thing and see one another more than most families. Establishing a unifying culture and climate is important and I’m making this an overall 2015 priority.