Profile of a Highly Effective Person

by Site Author

I am not a sports fan, and so I had never before heard of Sam Hinkie, the former general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. But perhaps I should have—this recent profile of him, by Chris Ballard, is fascinating. If nothing else, we learn about the man’s habits.

For instance, Hinkie takes decision fatigue seriously.

He owned 25 blue blazers, all size 40 regular. The goal: reduce decision fatigue, the psychological phenomenon in which the more choices we make in any given day, the worse we are at making them. So, like Steve Jobs (black turtleneck, jeans) and Barack Obama (blue or gray suit), Hinkie settled on a uniform and ran with it. Boom! Decades of choices, eliminated in one fell swoop.

And he is someone who attacks each day deliberately.

Every hour between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., his Fitbit watch vibrates. Not to remind him to exercise; as Hinkie says, “I do not feel compelled to impress it.” Rather, it’s a cue to consider the previous hour. Was he productive? Did he achieve his goals? He then spends the following 60 seconds considering the hour to come. Once properly centered, Hinkie proceeds with his day.

If that day is a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, it rarely includes email. Similarly, he doesn’t check his texts in the mornings because, “You can’t let someone else’s agenda hijack your day.” If his wife, Ali, needs him, she calls twice in a row. Otherwise, he rarely takes out his phone. “If you don’t create structure, your time will get eaten up pretty quickly,” warns Hinkie. “And the alternative is harsher than you think, because the world will suck it up.”

Mornings are reserved for creative tasks when his brain is fresh. Afternoons for meetings. Built in throughout are “opportunities for serendipity.” […]

When he and Ali flew out to Palo Alto this summer to house-hunt, Sam used the Wi-Fi on the plane to rent route optimization software from a trucking company. His logic: a percentage of the 24 houses they’d targeted from afar could be eliminated just by driving by them, because sometimes you just know. So Sam designed an optimal driving route, and the next morning, before meeting with the real estate agent, he and Ali cut their list from 24 to 12 in two hours. This in turn spared a second day of house-hunting, which they used for a rare, kid-free date.