How a 'Shark Tank' billionaire runs meetings — and why he's OK with letting discussion go off topic
- Shark Tank investor Daniel Lubetzky is the founder of
Kind snacksand the Mexican food brand Somos.
- As he's balancing multiple companies, he breaks up his day into percentages to stay productive.
Serial entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky, 53, started his first company, PeaceWorks, which connected Israelites and Palestinians so they could build businesses together, in 1994 after graduating from Stanford Law School. He then wanted a healthy snack to match his on-the-go lifestyle, and the idea for his billion-dollar business
Lubetzky told Insider he prefers to communicate with his teams face-to-face, whether that's around the same table or virtually. He views
While Lubetzky will hold meetings every day of the week, he said he asks his team to block time on his calendar to answer emails. His personal assistant and executive assistant also know that the last meeting they can schedule for him is late afternoon, as Lubetzky makes it a priority each day to have dinner with his wife and children. His team also can't schedule any meetings on the weekend.
Here's how Lubetzky likes to run meetings.
He dedicates his time by percentages
Lubetzky's personal assistant and executive assistant manage his diary and make sure he dedicates his time to the right meetings by using a percentage-based system.
"My assistants know that 25% of my time has to be on Kind, 35% of my time has to be on Equilibra, and 40% of my time has to be on philanthropy and Starts With Us in particular," Lubetzky said. "They'll structure my calendar and allocate meetings based on this. They'll also push back and tell me or my team if anything looks as if it might affect this."
He makes sure it's not all business
Lubetzky's companies embraced the hybrid and remote models long before COVID-19, so he's keenly aware of the need to build bonds when holding virtual meetings with his teams. For him, it's not a case of glibly ticking a box and going back to the agenda.
"You need to talk about values, you need to connect with each other, you need to be there for each other," Lubetzky said. "We try to make sure that our meetings are not just about what's on the agenda." To get the conversation going, he'll ask team members about their family and what life is like in their part of the world.
He deescalates tension by not making it personal
Lubetzky's first company PeaceWorks taught him how to handle difficult conversations. "These meetings involved talking with Palestinians and Israelis until one in the morning in East Jerusalem about a product we wanted to create jointly. It was like fireworks," Lubetzky said. "I learnt you can heartedly disagree without ever making it personal."
Lubetzky still faces tough meetings. "I was recently at a retreat with some well-known business leaders, and one guy, who I was sitting at a table with, was very loud, aggressive, and rigid in his point of view," Lubetzky said. "I leaned in, listened, and said, 'Okay I believe that you're saying a, b, and c.' I acknowledged his valid points, then I built in some hypotheticals to create a little friction in his assumptions. I didn't change his mind, but I did change his approach to the conversation. It showed him how he could be equally passionate while not being so aggressive."
He always leaves room for creativity and redirection
Lubetzky believes creativity is a precious commodity and always pays attention to new ideas and encourages brainstorming. "If we're talking about finance and an unrelated idea comes to somebody and they say: 'What about this for our plant-brand Somos?' We're very comfortable going in other directions," he said.
But if he thinks the meeting is being hijacked, he turns to a couple of simple phrases to make sure the conversation remains productive. "If, for example, a team member is telling too many jokes, I may say, 'Okay, let's just get going' or, 'Okay guys, what's our agenda?'" he said.
He wraps up with deliverables
While Lubetzky is willing to break away from the agenda at the beginning of a meeting, he said he always makes sure each meeting ends in the same way: with a focus on growth, timetables, and goals. "Toward the end of the meeting, it should be very clear what the deliverables are, who is responsible for the deliverables, when they need to deliver them, and if there are any milestones along the way," he said. "In the wrap-up, it's very important to have ownership."
How each team stays in the loop differs — the Start With Us team uses Asana to organize action items and for project management, while other teams prefer Slack. Lubetzky is not part of the Asana or Slack conversations, he said, as he wants to empower his team members to oversee the finer details. He'll give his input during meetings or by email.
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