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How to Work Smarter

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HOW TO EMPATHIZE WITH YOUR BOSS: A peek into the top-down approach

Having a better attitude toward the person who sits in the corner office can sometimes change your outlook on work. We polled some prominent Chicago CEOs and top execs, who gave us the view from the top:


It turns out, it isn’t possible to have it all. Our sample reported that sacrifices are necessary to reach the upper echelon of success. Are you ready to give up your addiction to Lost? Consider these five things local top execs don’t do:

1. Play golf. “It takes too much time.”

2. Watch television.

3. Spend time with the family. “Every job has travel.”

4. Enjoy the weekends. “If a client calls me on a Saturday, I do not care. It is not like I think my work is horrible. It is fun. I want to be here.”

5. Sleep in. Early to rise is the mantra of Chicago CEOs, many of whom reported starting the day before sunup, with alarm clocks ringing at 4:30 or 5 a.m. But that doesn’t mean they’re sleep deprived. Most say they get at least six hours of sleep.


1. “There is a tendency to overdiscuss an issue. If, in 120 words, I can tell you what my opinion is, I do not need to fill anymore time,” says Dan McGowan, president of Lettuce Entertain You restaurants Big Bowl and L. Woods.

2. “We are in a customer relationship business . . . I would like to see my colleagues spend more time in the marketplace and less time at their desks,” says Scott C. Swanson, president and chief executive officer of Charter One Bank.

3. “Coming to my desk with the problem, but with no possible solutions,” says Dolores A. Kunda, president and CEO of Lápiz Hispanic Marketing. “It annoys me when people are not able to envision a few steps ahead. I love what Wayne Gretzky said about why he was great at playing hockey: He didn’t go where the puck was; he went to where the puck was going to be.”

4. MySpace and instant-messaging at the office

5. “Meetings where no decision is reached. If we aren’t going to do something different as a result of the meeting, then let’s not have it,” says Joe Mansueto, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Morningstar Inc.

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