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Nvidia’s billionaire founder: The No. 1 thing I believe today that my younger self wouldn’t understand

Nvidia’s billionaire founder: The No. 1 thing I believe today that my younger self wouldn’t understand
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Jensen Huang used to worry about not having enough time to accomplish everything he wanted.

These days, the billionaire Nvidia CEO and co-founder wishes he hadn’t worried so much. “There’s plenty of time. If you prioritize yourself properly and you make sure that you don’t let [Microsoft] Outlook be the controller of your time, there’s plenty of time,” Huang told the “Acquired” podcast last year.

Huang’s younger self would probably disagree with him, he added — but you should be able to do everything you want if you “prioritize your time really carefully.” Be strategic about identifying and focusing on the most important things that need your attention at work and at home, Huang advised.

“Just don’t do everything,” said Huang. “Prioritize your life. Make sacrifices. Don’t let Outlook control what you do every day.”

Learning how to prioritize your most important responsibilities, both at work and in your free time, can make you more productive and create a more fulfilling work-life balance, research shows.

Huang expects his employees to follow suit: Nvidia employees are reportedly told to write down their top priorities in emails to their managers and Huang each week to improve their focus and productivity, according to Business Insider. 

The Nvidia CEO, who built his nearly $2.7 trillion tech giant after launching it from a Denny’s booth in 1993, has described himself as a “perfectionist” and a “demanding” boss who is “not easy to work for.” So, it’s perhaps unsurprising to hear him say he once worried about not having enough time in the day.

Still, his younger self probably could’ve used the advice. Huang joked about skipping out on sleep in order to find more time in a 2003 speech at Stanford University.

“That’s always a good option: It creates more time when you don’t sleep,” he said at the time.

‘Your time is not always yours’

Sleep or no, Huang understood the importance of taking control of his own time. “As a CEO, your time is not always yours, and so you need to have the discipline to make it yours,” he said in 2003. “I’ll often come into the office and tell my admin to clear my calendar so that I can have that time back.”

Huang isn’t the only successful person who operates that way. “You have to be maniacally focused on owning your calendar,” Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of J.P. Morgan’s Asset & Wealth Management division, told CNBC Make It in 2016.

“Unless you can stay on top of that religiously, it will end up owning you, and that’s not a way to go about staying organized and being on top of things,” she said.

In Huang’s case, he starts his days at 4 a.m. to exercise and spend time with family before beginning a typically 14-hour workday, the Financial Times reported in 2020. At work, he’s said he focuses on wherever he can have the greatest positive impact on Nvidia and his employees, including “product-planning and strategy” and getting product feedback from customers. 

Huang also likes to meet with his employees, sometimes while eating in the Nvidia cafeteria, so he can prioritize what he sees as his “No. 1 job function, and what I believe is the most important responsibility I have, which is to be the custodian of the culture,” he said in 2003.

“I try to spend my time, as much as I can, on the things that I believe will have a long-lasting influence on our company,” Huang said.

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