Business Insider Edition

The CEO of Spotify is 'ruthless' about his schedule, and tells his friends that he likes to be invited — but he probably won't come

Áine Cain , Business Insider US
 Aug 15, 2018, 12:35 PM

The Spotify CEO said he was "pretty ruthless in prioritizing."
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

  • Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told Fast Company that he's "ruthless" about his daily schedule. 
  • He said he typically blows off social events in order to stay on task.
  • According to Ek, the most creative people in the world are also the most rigidly organised.


Spotify CEO Daniel Ek doesn't have time for your "social thing". 

In a recent interview with Fast Company, the CEO described how he takes a "ruthless" approach toward staying organised and on task.

His secret?

"I don't do social calls," Ek told Fast Company. "For so many people, you're beholden to this social thing, if I don't show up, someone is going to be sad. I'm just pretty ruthless in prioritising."

When it comes alleviating hurt feelings, the Spotify CEO added that "transparency helps". He said that he typically tells people ahead of time that, while he likes to be invited, he "probably won't come".

"It's not a personal thing," Ek said. "It doesn't mean that I don't enjoy your company. It's just means that I'm focusing on something."

Ek said this strict approach ties back to his personal philosophy around creativity.

"People think that creativity is this free spirit that has no boundaries," Ek told Fast Company. "No, actually the most creative people in the world schedule their creativity. That's the irony. So I try to do the same."

Ek's time management practices also include eschewing most meetings, scheduling time to just think, and going without sleep for days at a time in order to ponder a specific issue.

Ek isn't the only billionaire tech CEO to come out with a unique view on work-life balance. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly told his employees to view their work and their personal lives holistically. Rather than balance and compartmentalise the two, Bezos advocated for viewing them as "reciprocal".

"If I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy," Bezos said. "And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy."

Other top execs like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff, and Google SVP of platforms and ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer make sure to leave work at a certain time, in order to make time for family and personal pursuits.

Ek's approach certainly isn't for everyone. But if you're tempted to take up after the Spotify CEO, there are ways you can go about being "harsh" about your scheduling without coming across like a "mirage friend".

Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz reported that when you're cancelling plans, it's better to forgo making an excuse and just let the person down with a simple message like: "It's not going to work out tonight. I'm so sorry."

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