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Why the co-founder of PayPal sits where he sits

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Max Levchin runs HVF, a company he founded in 2012 to invest in promising technology startups. Levchin, 39, previously co-founded the company that became PayPal. He has a net worth of $300 million.

Thanks to an em­­ployee survey, Levchin learned that his workforce viewed him as in­­accessible. They wanted more opportunities to chat with him during the day.

Levchin has addressed their concern by spending most of his time sitting in the cafeteria opposite the restrooms. Employees now realize that they can reliably find him there, eager and willing to talk with them.

“Sitting across from the bathroom was a strategic choice, because everybody has to go at some point,” he says. “There’s always someone passing by who can say, ‘Oh, yeah! I wanted to ask you this.’”

Making himself more available has an added bonus: fewer emails. He finds that a quick conversation with an employee eliminates the need for four or five back-and-forth online exchanges.

A self-described introvert, Levchin sometimes needs to set aside chunks of time to work alone. He prefers to engage in solitary, creative activity in a coffee shop.

The surrounding hustle-and-bustle energizes him. Plus, he likes coffee.

“Every day, I dedicate a couple of two-hour time slots to cutting myself off from everyone else—to do whatever needs to be done,” he says.

Like many leaders, Levchin also tracks his productivity. For example, measuring the length of meetings and the number of topics he covers in each one helps him determine the best way to facilitate groups without wasting time.

— Adapted from “The way I work,” Liz Welch, www.inc.com.

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