The Fast Track is a column focused on leadership and healthy living by Strauss Zelnick, the co-founder of ZMC, a leading media-focused investment firm; and the chairman and CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software, one of the world’s largest video game companies. Zelnick is also an avid participant in #TheProgram, a New York-based fitness group. If you have any questions for him, Tweet them at @BestLifeOnline—or send us a message on Facebook—using the hashtag #AskStrauss.
What is your personal secret for multitasking—and how would you advise others to handle a big workload with multiple demands?
Parallel processing, also known as pretending to focus on one thing while actually doing another, is not only a great way to do both things badly, but it’s a super awesome way to irritate your family and friends. How about this: when you’re talking to others, put your device away. When you’re in the gym, put your device away. When you’re having a meal with others, put your device away. Are we clear? If you have a lot to do, break down tasks into small chunks, set priorities, and focus on one thing at one time.
How do you think President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement will affect American businesses and the economy (in the short or long run)?
It’s not clear that in practice it will matter that much, if at all, in the near term. That said, words matter and our president’s words matter a lot. We all need to be concerned about climate change, huge multilateral agreements are hard to come by, and at some point, just saying no has to be followed by proactive and positive action.
What’s your personal tactic for fighting the urge to procrastinate?
I’m going to answer that question next week. All right, fine. I set priorities and focus on the important things. If I’m truly not up for the job at hand, I try to give myself permission to take a break and come back to the task when I’m refreshed. Sometimes powering though has a paradoxical result.
We recently read a study saying that valedictorians don’t go on to have ultra-successsful careers. They’re never millionaires, heads of state, or titans of industry. As a hirer and a manager and a business leader, do you care how well your employees—or job applicants—performed in school?
I think you’ve confused correlation with causation. It is true that doing well in traditional education does not always lead to career success. Einstein famously did poorly in math class, for example. It is not true, however, that those who do well in school do not go on to have successful careers. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. The point is that how we do in structured educational environments is not the only—nor necessarily the most important—indicator of future success.
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