Jim Stengel On The Book That Changed His Life
The President and CEO of The Jim Stengel Company shares his email strategy and explains why cardio tennis is his secret life hack.
When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Jim Stengel: Double shot of Nespresso Ristretto, download the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and get in my workout clothes.
TG: What gives you energy?
JS: Nature. Beach, mountains, desert, all of it.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
JS: Cardio tennis class a few times a week. It is totally consuming and I feel renewed and recharged after every class.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
JS: North Toward Home by Willie Morris. Willie Morris was the youngest-ever editor of Harper’s when he published his autobiography, which chronicles his life from small-town Mississippi to the top of the literary world in New York. I was in my early teens when I read it, and after that, I knew I wanted to work in a creative field.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
JS: I love my phone. I also love my wife. That is why I don’t sleep with my phone.
TG: How do you deal with email?
JS: Family and friends first, my team second, clients third, the rest can wait.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
JS: I do a lap around the office or house, and text, Snapchat, or call someone I love with something completely silly.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
JS: I run two academies every year at the week-long Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, one for young marketing stars and one for CMOs. I am always totally burned out by the end of it. I need a few days of recovery and being an introvert before returning to full energy.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
JS: In my most recent book, Unleashing the Innovators, I got one important chapter really wrong. I was telling the story of a partnership between two companies, and I simply made the wrong assumptions. The key company wanted to pull out of the book, so I got on a plane and visited them personally. I rewrote the chapter, and it is now one of the best stories in the book.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
JS: I cannot share it — it is my mantra from my immersion 40 years ago into Transcendental Meditation, and it still gives me peace and strength.
Jim Stengel is President/CEO of The Jim Stengel Company. A prolific writer, speaker and advisor, Jim is the author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, and Unleashing the Innovators: How Mature Companies Find New Life with Startups.
Jim is widely known for leading innovation and for his commitment to building purpose-inspired leadership capabilities. In 2011, he was named to the first-ever Fortune® Executive Dream Team, has been named multiple times by Advertising Age as the number one “Power Player” in marketing, and is a 2017 American Marketing Association Hall of Fame inductee. In 2017, Jim was appointed Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor within Northwestern’s Kellogg Markets & Customers Initiative program. Jim has served as Dean of the Young Marketers Academy at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity since 2011. In 2013, he pioneered the CMO Accelerator program at the Cannes Lions Festival, and continues to serve as Dean. Jim is the former Global Marketing Officer of Procter & Gamble, and a former member of the Board of Directors for AOL and Motorola.