I’m DoorDash CEO Tony Xu and This Is How I Work
Tony Xu grew up in an immigrant family, worked at his mom’s restaurant, and then moved to Stanford and worked at McKinsey, eBay and Square. In 2013, he launched the DoorDash food delivery service, initially doing the delivery himself. Now his company employs 500 people, employs over 200,000 couriers and operates in 600 cities. We spoke with Tony about how he manages all of this.
Location: San Francisco Current place of work: CEO and co-founder of DoorDash One word that best describes how you work: Fast Current mobile device: iPhone Current computer: MacBook Air
First of all, tell us a little about your past and how you got where you are now.
My experience has taken me from the world of cancer research to business and now to technology. There is no linear way forward; I’m looking for challenging problems that have a measurable impact and potentially require ongoing learning. This is why I am so lucky to do what I do every day. Building a fast-growing company like DoorDash is like climbing a mountain.
Tell us about a recent work day.
My days are split between 1: 1, team meetings, client meetings, recruiting, and overall thinking time. I spend over 50% of my time recruiting because I believe they have the highest return to cost ratio. I work best in the morning, so I try to put my energy into solving the most difficult problems.
What apps, gadgets or tools can’t you live without?
iPhone. Apart from phone, my best apps are Gmail, Slack, iMessage / text, Lyft, and of course DoorDash.
How is your workplace arranged?
No desk, just my MacBook Air, iPhone and AirPods. This allows me to work as freely as possible, really feel the office and be a fly on the wall for many conversations between teams.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Place your phone in a room separate from your bedroom so you can sleep through the night.
Who are the people who help you achieve results, and how do you rely on them?
The best part of working at DoorDash is working with incredible teammates who share similar values. I can try to edit a few things here and there, but in general the teams work alone.
How do you keep track of what you need to do?
Google Calendar and Notes.
What do you enjoy doing the most and how do you deal with it?
My least favorite activity is washing. The only reason I have clean clothes is because I exchange housework with my wife: I wash the dishes (her least favorite thing to do) and she does.
How do you replenish? What do you do when you want to forget about work?
I go long distances in Golden Gate Park or Cape Marine. I also read non-technology literature, usually popular science. I am currently reading a book on Cities Gentrification, The Ray Dalio Principles , and a PhD in Automation.
What’s your favorite side project?
When I get involved in something, I go all-in, which is why I used to love to run marathons. But since the launch of DoorDash, it has been too strenuous an effort to keep up. So now I’m looking for a new hobby.
What are you reading now or what do you recommend?
I would recommend “ Play More: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate the Markets ” by al-Ramadan. This is a great reminder to be sincere with who you are and to define your work on your own terms.
Fill in the blank: I would like ______ to answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be the best version of yourself.
What else would you like to add that might be of interest to readers and fans?
Controlling your schedule and actively planning how to spend your time plays an important role in your work and happiness in life. Most people actually have more control over their time than they think.