I’ve read of one of Forbe’s Magazine’s South East Asia’s 40 Richest from the Philippines, John Gokongwei, Jr. In one of his comments in a local newspaper, he specifically mentioned about “not loosing sleep over a big business deal.” Talk about somebody who values sleep more than riches which is probably why he is one of South East Asia’s richest.
This reminded me of Steve Ballmer, CEO of the largest software company in the world, Microsoft Corporation. During the MVP Summit in Seattle, WA last month, the MVPs were given the opportunity to ask him all sorts of questions – from what’s Microsoft’s role in protecting the environment, his vision of the company similar to that of Bill Gates’, etc. A friend of mine – Amit Bansal (Twitter | Facebook) – got the opportunity to approach the microphone and ask him a question. A lot of people were expecting him to ask technical questions and stuff but were surprised to hear what he has to ask. The question was: “Do you get sound sleep?”
There was laughter in the crowd as most of them have not had good enough sleep during the course of the summit due to adjustments in time zone differences and activities which lasts until the morning. Steve Ballmer’s answer was pretty straight-forward.
“Yes. Excellent sleep. Seriously, I sleep extremely well, and long. I need seven to eight hours a night. I get seven to eight hours a night. And if the question is, are there things that worry me, the answer is sure. I worry about many things. I worry about our company, and keeping agile, and our desire to have all of the best and brightest people working for us, and partnering with us. I worry, and think, and wonder about how we’re going to come from behind where we’re behind, and stay ahead where we’re ahead. I worry and wonder about financials. But the day you don’t sleep well, I think it’s probably a day that you shouldn’t keep doing the kind of job I’m doing. You have to be realistic when you’re awake about where you are, and confident enough that you can go to sleep when it’s time to go to sleep.”
What a statement of confidence! People think that you have to work harder, sleep less in order to become successful. But these guys know better and their status tells it all. I guess I need to include this in my list of Ironies of Opposites for Success.
So the next time you feel that you cannot go to sleep at night, think about the guy who runs the biggest software company in the world. The transcript of Steve Ballmer’s keynote session at the MVP Summit is available on this site.