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What Can We Learn From the Desks of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg?

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How a person leaves their office desk can tell you a lot about them.

Is it organized chaos, bursting with new plans and ideas to take the world by storm? Do sentimental photos of family and moments adorn the area surrounding the workspace? Is the desk organized, meticulously cleaned, and orderly?

The structure of a person’s work environment, along with the routines they use for enhancing productivity while at the office, can help give us insight on how they work best – and this becomes especially interesting when we look at the strategies and tactics used by some of the world’s most extraordinary people.

Famous Desks and What We Can Learn

Today’s infographic comes from the Pens.com, and it highlights the work habits, routines, and desks from extraordinary people like Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Let’s see what we can take away from these examples:

What Can We Learn From the Desks of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg?

Each approach above is unique – and each set of tactics helps that extraordinary person in getting closer to reaching their objective.

Lessons from the Greats

Here are some of our favorite lessons that we thought were the most tangible:

Mark Zuckerberg
Consistent with his grey t-shirt and jeans approach to his wardrobe, Zucks also keeps his workspace simple. He doesn’t have an office, and instead works with the same desk setup as every other Facebook employee.

Lesson: As a leader, the way you dress and set up your work environment also communicates your values to the organization and the outside world. Mark Zuckerberg keeps his environment simple to help him focus on the bigger problems, and this vision shines through crystal clear to inspire the people around him.

Elon Musk
At the Tesla office, Elon Musk set his desk up at the end of the Model X assembly line so he could personally inspect each finished vehicle.

Lesson: When doing something bold and visionary, there must be constant attention to detail to ensure that the end product meshes with the vision. Elon could have put his desk somewhere with a nice view, or in a corner office. Instead, by setting up his desk in this strategic position, it gave him assurance that the vehicles coming off the line were going to meet his uncompromising quality standards.

Albert Einstein
Einstein believed that cluttered desks were the sign of a cluttered brain, with lots of things going on. As such, he wondered what was going on in the brains of people with perfectly tidy workspaces!

Einstein also thought that combining unrelated concepts to generate new, creative ideas was a secret of genius.

Lesson: Studies have shown that messy desks are linked to creativity – something that Einstein needed when solving “outside the box” physics problems like relativity.

Arianna Huffington
For anyone that has read her book, Sleep Revolution, it’s clear Arianna Huffington believes that people are generally quite sleep-deprived. For these reasons, she encourages naps to boost productivity in the workplace.

Lesson: Arianna Huffington has “owned” the discussion around sleep, and how proper habits can help with work productivity. It’s no surprise she walks the talk, as well.

Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway thought he did his best work standing up, and he also kept a tally of his daily word count in front of him.

Lesson: While studies show working while standing up can enhance productivity by 10% – more importantly, Hemingway did what works best for him, even though it was unconventional. He also knew that monitoring his most important KPI, and keeping that metric right in front of him, would allow him to best gauge his progress on achieving his vision.

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Economy

Visualizing Layoffs at Prominent Startups Triggered by COVID-19

As unemployment levels rise, we navigate the fallout of COVID-19 as layoffs ripple across the once-thriving startup ecosystem.

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Layoffs at Prominent Startups Triggered by COVID-19

As the pandemic reverberates through almost every industry imaginable, tech startups are also feeling the pain.

Since mid-March, countless startups and unicorns have undergone layoffs.

Today’s infographic pulls data from Layoffs.fyi, and navigates the cascading layoffs across 30 of the most recognizable startups in America. Each of the companies have slashed over 250 employees between March 11 and May 26, 2020—capturing a snapshot of the continuing fallout of COVID-19.

Silicon Valley Takes a Hit

Unsurprisingly, many of the hardest hit startups are related to the travel and mobility industry.

Closing 45 offices, Uber has laid off 6,700 employees since mid-March. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was granted a $45M earnings package in 2018, announced he will also waive his $1M base salary for the remainder of the year.

Company# Layoffs% of EmployeesIndustry
Uber6,70025%Transportation
Lyft98217%Transportation
Bird40630%Transportation
Airbnb1,90025%Travel
TripAdvisor90025%Travel
Sonder40033%Travel
TripActions30025%Travel
Magic Leap1,00050%Consumer
Yelp1,00017%Consumer
Juul90030%Consumer
Groupon2,80044%Retail
Deliv669100%Retail
B8ta25050%Retail
Toast1,30050%Food
ezCater40044%Food
Flywheel Sports78498%Fitness
MindBody70035%Fitness
Opendoor60035%Real Estate
WeWork550N/AReal Estate
Compass37515%Real Estate
ZipRecruiter40039%Recruiting
Glassdoor30030%Recruiting
Cvent40010%Marketing
Sojern30050%Marketing
KeepTruckin34918%Logistics
Samsara30018%Logistics
Eventbrite50045%Entertainment
Lending Club46030%Finance
Sage Therapeutics34053%Healthcare
Automation Anywhere26010%Other

*Layoffs reported between March 11-May 26, 2020

Meanwhile, as room bookings dropped by over 40% across several countries, Airbnb laid off a quarter of its workforce. The tech darling is anticipating a $2.4B revenue shortfall in 2020.

Like many other big names—including Lyft, Uber, and WeWork—Airbnb is struggling to achieve profitability. In the first nine months of 2019, it lost $322M at the height of the market cycle.

Until 2021, gig-economy revenues are projected to drop by at least 30%.

International Startups Struggling

Startups in the U.S. aren’t the only ones scrambling to conserve cash and cut costs.

Brazil-based unicorn Stone has let go of 20% of its workforce. The rapidly growing digital payments company includes Warren Buffett as a major stakeholder, holding an 8% share as of March 2020.

At the same time, India-based ride-hailing Ola has witnessed revenue declines of 95% since mid-March. It laid off 1,400 employees as bookings drastically declined.

Company# Layoffs% of EmployeesLocation
Swiggy1,10014%India
Agoda1,50025%Singapore
Ola1,40035%India
Stone1,30020%Brazil
CureFit80016%India
Uber India60023%India
Careem53631%U.A.E.
Zomato52013%India
Lendingkart50050%India
Gympass46733%Brazil
OneWeb45185%United Kingdom
Livspace45015%India
Oriente40020%Hong Kong
Renmoney39150%Nigeria
Deliveroo36715%United Kingdom

Similarly, Uber India has rivaled Ola in dominance across India’s $10B ride-hailing market since launching three years after Ola, in 2013. Now, almost 25% of the Uber India workforce have been laid off.

Of course, these reports do not fully take into account the growing impact of COVID-19, but help paint a picture as the cracks emerge.

Pandemic-Proof?

While the job market remains murky, what startups are looking to hire?

Coursera, an online education startup, listed 60 openings in May. By the end of the year, the company plans to hire 250 additional staff. Within the peak of widespread global lockdowns, the platform attracted 10M new users.

Meanwhile, Canva, an Australia-based graphic design unicorn, is seeking to fill 100 positions worldwide. In partnership with Google for Education, Canva offers project-based learning tools designed for classrooms, in addition to free graphic design resources.

At the same time, tech heavyweights Facebook and Amazon reported openings. Booming startups such as Plaid, Zoom, and Pinterest are also listing new positions as shifting consumer demand continues to shape unpredictable and historic hiring markets.

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Entrepreneurship

Navigating Uncertainty: Leadership Accountability in Times of Crisis

This infographic explores five key behaviors that CEOs and executives should adopt in order to demonstrate leadership accountability in times of crisis.

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In the face of adversity, leaders may struggle to manage their teams effectively.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, over half of all professionals globally worked remotely at least 2.5 days a week. This has since increased dramatically, with 88% of organizations now insisting their employees work from home and implement social distancing.

Leaders must adapt to a more flexible workplace and create a culture of accountability so that their organization can successfully weather the COVID-19 storm.

Leadership Accountability in Uncertain Times

Today’s infographic, from bestselling author Vince Molinaro, reveals the five behaviors that leaders can adopt in order to provide thoughtful navigation through uncertainty.

leadership accountability in times of crisis

>> Join Vince Molinaro’s Community of Accountable Leaders

The Impact of Leadership Accountability

As the workforce pivots to remote working arrangements, the benefits of flexible working policies are coming into sharper focus.

Research shows that these policies can lower overhead costs, reduce commuting times and increase employee satisfaction—in addition to attracting top talent. Moreover, the shift to working remotely could boost the U.S. economy by $4.5 trillion annually by 2030.

But achieving these benefits requires accountability from everyone in an organization, and in an increasingly virtual world, that can become difficult to manage.

Challenges Facing Leaders Today

Leaders are already subject to an array of challenges that they must overcome, such as:

  • The pressure to differentiate: Leaders feel an unrelenting pressure to innovate and help their organizations stand out in a sea of ruthless competitors.
  • Executing the strategy: Leaders must align the organization to ensure employees are clear about what needs to get done to execute priorities seamlessly.
  • Leading transformational change: With so many moving parts, constant change across several aspects of a business can be difficult for leaders to manage.
  • Creating enduring value: Customers, boards, and shareholders have high expectations for leaders in exchange for their loyalty.
  • Building future talent: Leaders must build and nurture the next generation of leaders in addition to managing the day-to-day.

These mounting pressures can have a detrimental impact on a business leader’s performance, so it is crucial that they get the support they need now, more than ever.

The Characteristics of Accountable Leaders

Truly accountable leadership is the only way an organization can weather uncertainty in a world that has been upended. Research reveals that among the strongest performing companies, accountable leaders consistently demonstrate five behaviors that set them apart from others.

  1. Hold others accountable for high standards of performance
    Good leaders make mutual expectations clear by consistently reinforcing what is important, and what employees should prioritize in their roles.
  2. Tackle tough issues and make difficult decisions
    Technology is hugely beneficial, but it should never replace the human element. Picking up the phone or having a Skype call is more immediate and personal, especially when it comes to problem solving and making tough decisions.
  3. Communicate the strategy across the organization
    Leaders must ensure that employees have complete clarity in terms of the company’s vision to do their jobs effectively. Creating a set of well-defined goals can help people stay engaged and decrease their stress levels.
  4. Express optimism about the company and its future
    Many employees can feel isolated and disconnected in the virtual world, so leaders must provide support, positive energy, and a sense of hope for the future.
  5. Display clarity about external trends in the business environment
    Finally, it is critical to help employees make sense of the current situation right now. Leaders must provide honest and transparent communication in a way that manages fear, stress, and anxiety. This encourages employees’s determination to help the organization succeed.

Leading The Future

As we embrace the unknown, it is clear that leadership accountability will become more important than ever.

In fact, it has become a crucial element for future-proofing organizations in times of crisis or drastic change. Perhaps more importantly, it is necessary for encouraging teams to emerge more connected and resilient than ever before.

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