Daily Routines

Tony Xu: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

Back in the early days, when DoorDash was founded in 2013 by Stanford students Tony Xu, Stanley Tang, Andy Fang and Evan Moore, they were often responsible for picking up the food from restaurants and delivering it to customers themselves. At the time, the food delivery company was just another startup in the Silicon Valley ecosystem trying to make a name for itself.

Now, as CEO of a company which recently held its initial public offering, giving him an estimate net worth of over $3.1 billion, Xu doesn’t have to do deliveries himself anymore, although his connection to the restaurant industry remains intimate, having worked as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant alongside his mother.

“My mom, you know, she worked three jobs a day for 12 years because that was the only way we could put food on the table,” Xu told Fast Company. “Her story is true in so many of the businesses we serve, and in the Dasher community. For me, it’s personal.”

As you would expect from most billionaire startup founders, Xu’s working hours are long. One of DoorDash’s first full-time employees, Andrew Munday, who headed up operations at the company described Xu’s leadership style as “ruthless” in an interview with The Financial Times.

“Ruthless doesn’t mean demeaning people or disrespecting them,” Munday clarified. “It just means a really, really high standard .  If you don’t know your numbers, [Tony is] going to ask you the same question five times in a row.”

In an interview with Lifehacker, Xu described a typical day in his life: “My days are split between 1:1s, team meetings, customer meetings, recruiting, and general thinking time. I spend 50%+ of my time in recruiting, as I find it has the highest output to input ratio. I work best in the mornings so I try to spend my efforts on the hardest problems then.”

Xu expanded on his daily routine in an internal interview with the DoorDash design team:

It changes day-to-day but I would say there are a few categories that I’m spending most of my time in. The first category is the operating reviews, and it probably takes the largest portion of my days. It’s about reviewing and tracking the health of our major audiences (consumers, merchants, and dashers) on the top 5–6 priorities of the company.

The second is spending time with customers, which is usually done in two forms: one is spending time in merchant calls. My calls with merchants range from larger national merchants all the way down to mom-and-pop businesses. In fact, I was just on the phone today with one of the original mom-and-pop merchants I signed up 6–7 years ago! The other form of connecting with customers is actually doing customer support for 15–30 minutes daily. I get dozens of emails per day from all sides of the audience and support some select cases myself.

The third would be in recruiting. I believe that recruiting is one of the most leveraged uses of any manager’s time. I recruit for all roles across the company, not necessarily limited to the roles on my direct team. The fourth is in talent development through 1:1s with not only my directs but also many others on various levels. I like to give them a sense of what’s going on in the company, what can we be doing better, as well as anything that might be top of mind for them that I can help clarify. And then, of course, there’s time spent with external teams occasionally, such as investors, the Board, and the press.

Interview with Tony Xu. Chief Executive Officer at DoorDash | by Helena Seo | Design @ DoorDash | Medium

Xu told Lifehacker that he doesn’t have an office at DoorDash, preferring to be mobile with just his MacBook Air, iPhone and AirPods as this allows him to “work most freely, truly feel the office, and be a fly on the wall for many conversations among teams.”

To recharge from his role as DoorDash’s CEO, Xu likes to go for runs a few times during the week, and over the weekend. “I’ll usually go to the Marin Headlands or somewhere in nature,” he said in an interview. “It helps me regulate my mind and body, which I think is why the habit stuck. I feel noticeably better when I run.” He also enjoys reading books outside of his field of work, in 2017 it was “a book on city gentrification, Ray Dalio’s Principles, and a PhD thesis on automation.”

Before he goes to sleep, Xu will put his phone in a separate room. “I’m not doing this consistently quite yet, but I’ve started putting my phone in another room at night,” he said. “I sleep better, and if I do wake up, it definitely minimizes the temptation to check in on work. It’s a good hack.”

Being in control of your schedule and actively planning how to spend your time plays a significant role in your work and life happiness. Most people actually have more control over their time than they believe.

I’m DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, and This Is How I Work | Lifehacker

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.