EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3109 - July 16, 2013     3 of 5

eBay CEO John Donahoe Takes Time Each Quarter to Think Undisturbed

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eBay CEO John Donahoe took to LinkedIn to share his advice on how to stay at peak performance. One practice he recommends is to take a thinking day - a pre-scheduled, uninterrupted time to "step away from the chaos, zero-base my time, and refocus on the issues that are most important." Every three months, he devotes a day to assess how eBay is doing, taking a holistic perspective away from interruptions by taking refuge in an empty office.

The CEO revealed he carries a personal priorities file with him everywhere he goes that includes a reminder of the insights he learns during these thinking days.

Another of his practices is to recalibrate and adjust his goals, priorities and calendar. "This makes me a better, more focused leader and ensures that I am driving my calendar, and not letting my calendar drive me. Sometimes, the changes are subtle. And sometimes, the changes are significant. But the important point is that I am not too proud to learn and adjust." He explained that when he makes a decision to guide the company in a different or new direction, he shares his thought process with his leadership team.

Donahoe also wrote, "As helpful as thinking days and re-calibrations are, there's still no substitute for taking a legitimate vacation." He revealed that every summer, he spends time at a beach house with his family and unplugs. "I am very connected 50 weeks of the year, but I try to completely disconnect for 2 weeks."

He also revealed that he took a sabbatical last year, during which, he wrote, "I had some pretty transformational thoughts about reconnecting to our company's purpose and setting ourselves on a good-to-great journey. I came back to work not just rested, but with more clarity and more conviction than I've had in years."

In writing about Donahoe's LinkedIn essay, the Wall Street Journal said his practices seem to be working. "Since taking over as CEO in March 2008, eBay shares have nearly doubled and are up 12% this year. And he is credited with turning around the company's moribund site by improving search results, kicking off poorly-rated sellers and promoting more fixed price items, instead of auctions."

See what online sellers think of the eBay CEO's essay and leave a comment on the Letters Blog.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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