Q: What does it take to successfully manage two organizations simultaneously?
A: Many high-level executives have run organizations at the same time – think Elon Musk (Tesla/SpaceX), Jack Dorsey (Twitter/Square) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon/Blue Origin). Most of us will never have as many resources as these names, but there are certainly lessons we can learn from them.
Here are some of those lessons that I put to use while preparing the United States women’s hockey team for the Winter Olympics while simultaneously building the women’s program at the University of St. Thomas.
First, hire great people. More than that, avoid the temptation to micromanage, because your time is limited. Trust your team to delegate and let go.
Then do not allow either organization to consume your life. For those with a spouse or children, the opportunity must be at the right time; you need the support network of your loved ones to make it work. If there is not a healthy balance between the professional side and the personal side, there is a possibility of neither being successful.
Third, be where your feet are. Practice mindfulness; you must be present both physically and mentally. While there were certainly distractions, I struggled the most when my mind wasn’t where my feet were.
Also develop basic habits. These have a trickling effect over the day. Start your day by reading a devotional, a leadership book, or the Bible. To exercise. Listen to a podcast or encouraging music. Follow your basic habits and your day will be better.
Finally, learn to say no. Really good leaders know when they can’t sit on another board or accept another invitation.
Musk, Dorsey and Bezos have a passion for doing two things. They understood the implementation, but their success started with their passion. While Tesla and SpaceX may be different companies, Musk’s innovation and out-of-the-box thinking drives both companies.
Along with that passion, you have to believe that you can do it. For people running two successful businesses, the question isn’t “Do I have to?” It’s “I can’t wait to do it”.
Joel Johnson is the head coach of the University of St. Thomas women’s hockey team and served as the head coach of the USA women’s hockey team at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
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