Qualtrics' CEO Ryan Smith's Big Life Hack
[Source: Fortune] How do you juggle a growing family and a rocket-fueled tech company? If you’re Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith, it takes detailed self-analysis—and a whole lot of Mountain Dew.
Plenty of executives, especially parents, are hyper-prescriptive with their time as they organize their nonstop days. But few if any engineer their hours with Smith’s attention to detail. The Wednesday dinner routine is the fruit of regular, repeated meetings and think sessions in which Smith tracks and analyzes everything he can think of that could make him love better and work better. The dinner table? It’s circular, chosen by Ryan to make sure dinner facilitates as much conversation as possible. His poolside time and crack-of-dawn workout? Designed so he’s present for what he and Ashley think are the “nine most important minutes” of a kid’s day. And if it’s calm, it’s partly because it’s routine: Smith eats dinner at home almost every night that he’s in town.
It’s all part of the faith in constant analysis and self-improvement that shapes Smith’s fast-growing company. Qualtrics, which calls itself a customer-service experience management company, is built around the idea that immediate feedback makes for a better product. It’s one of the companies that enables seemingly every airline, retailer, and fast-food joint you patronize to send you an email afterward to ask how you liked your experience. But Smith applies that same faith to what other people call work-life balance and what he calls “hacking the integration.”
In Smith’s case, that often means choosing not to integrate with the round-the-clock culture of mainstream tech. Qualtrics is based in Provo, Utah, where Smith grew up. Rather than jumping ship to Silicon Valley, Smith started and scaled his company here, nestled below the craggy Wasatch Range.