Why the CEOs of a billion-dollar brand schedule 90 minutes every day to do nothing

Warby parker dave gilboa neil blumenthalCourtesy Warby ParkerWarby Parker co-CEOs Neil Blumenthal (R) and Dave Gilboa realised meetings were taking over their work day.

Everyone wants to talk to the CEO.

At billion-dollar glasses brand Warby Parker, that meant co-CEOs Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa found themselves spending entire days in back-to-back meetings, “often 16 meetings in a row with no breaks.”

In “Success! How I Did It,” a Business Insider podcast that follows the career paths of some of today’s most accomplished people, Alyson Shontell, the editor in chief of Business Insider US, spoke with the co-CEOs, who are also two of the company’s four founders.

A series of meetings might sound productive at first, but in actuality, Gilboa told Business Insider, “It didn’t really leave us time to think or prepare for the meetings and sometimes we were forced to email while we’re in the meetings, trying to multi-task. It wasn’t good for anyone.”

For a solution, they borrowed a habit from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who told them he schedules 90 minutes of unstructured time every day.

“So I went back and grabbed our assistant and said, ‘OK, we need to do this,'” Gilboa said. “I’d say it worked for a while. More and more those 90 minutes tend to get scheduled over as things pop up, but we still try to leave some time in the day where we can think and not get bogged down, kind of the hamster wheel where there are always things that we could be doing, always meetings that we can be in.”

He said that to cut down on meetings, he and Blumenthal try to ask themselves: “Am I the only person in the company that needs to be in this meeting?”

“If not,” he continued, “maybe somebody will just send me notes afterward, or I’ll catch up with someone in a one-on-one and try to spend more and more time thinking about what we want this company to look like in 2020 and beyond and focus on bigger strategic initiatives.”

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