5 Qualities NYT’s Adam Bryant Looks for in CEOs

By Sonia Su

It’s every entrepreneur’s dream. Adam Bryant, of Westchester County, N.Y., gets to speak to CEOs of Foursquare, JetBlue, The Onion, Zappos, Panera Bread and many more.

Event Program
The program for Bryant’s talk. / CREDIT: Sonia Su

Bryant, the deputy national editor of The New York Times, visited Boston University Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the School of Management Auditorium. As part of SMG’s Dean’s Speaker Series, Bryant and SMG Dean Freeman had a “living-room” style chat about what Bryant has learned from CEOs and, above all, the importance of self-awareness when it comes to not only job interviews, but also life, in general.

Bryant has been a journalist for more than two decades. In March 2009, Bryant started Corner Office in the Times’ Sunday Business section, and it quickly attracted a large and loyal audience for its insights about leadership and management from prominent leaders, according to his website. In his book published in 2011, The Corner Office, Bryant studied the transcripts from more than 70 interviews, and looked for patterns, broader themes and lessons.

Adam Bryant at BU SMG
Adam Bryant (right) at BU SMG Auditorium. / CREDIT: Sonia Su

During the talk, Bryant highlighted five qualities he looked for when selecting which CEOs to write about and use to compile advice in this book. They are:

  1. Passion and creativity: The most successful CEOs have “relentlessly inquisitive mind[s].” It’s not about always having the answers but having the questions.
  2. Battle-hardened confidence: CEOs have overcome many struggles and difficulties to get to where they are now.
  3. Simple mindset: CEOs know how to distill a lot of information into what are most important.
  4. Team (street) smarts: “Culture eats strategy for lunch,” Bryant said.
  5. Fearlessness: It’s not about being reckless, but it’s about being unafraid to try new things.

As for advice for students right now, Bryant suggests working on self-awareness: How well do you know yourself? Don’t ever let anyone tell you something you don’t already know about yourself, he said. Have honest conversations with yourself.

Be sure to check out Bryant’s interviews with CEOs of companies, including Foursquare, JetBlue, The Onion, Zappos, Panera Bread and many more.

Learn more about him on his NYT page and on his book’s website.