FanDuel CEO Amy Howe numbers “grit and determination” among the most important of leadership characteristics and has no doubt about where she honed hers.
“Trust me. Growing up on a farm in Eden, NY and trying to make it through those Buffalo winters meant you had to develop some degree of grit,” she recently said.
Add to this circumstance the fact she is an identical twin and, as Howe notes, “there are few things in the world that make you more competitive than having an identical sister in a small town where everyone compares the two of you!”
Howe took that competitive spirit with her into gymnastics and cheerleading (her 1988 squad won the Varsity Squad Grand Champions title); to business degrees from Cornell and The Wharton School; and then to a career that has included McKinsey & Company, Ticketmaster and currently CEO of FanDuel.
Howe believes that part of being a gritty leader means recognizing that everyone has their ups and downs and using that awareness to be disciplined about using the low points to improve. For Howe, improvement comes through a dedication to preparation—mental, emotional and physical. “In our crowded days, with our schedules that seem to pile upon us continuously, we have to carve out time for preparing for the challenges ahead,” she explained.
“Most of our schedules happen to us,” she added. “Leaders need to be more intentional about taking control of their time.” In the podcast, Howe shares her techniques for maximizing her time and clearing her mind for higher-level problem solving. Lessons include:
• What leaders gain from making themselves “coachable” early on and staying that way.
• The power that comes from listening to learn what makes others tick.
• Why surrounding yourself with people just like you can hinder your growth.
Howe says there’s no template for preparation and includes vigorous exercise among the daily routines she counts on to maximize her productivity. “I truly believe that the mental, the physical, and the emotional preparation you need all contribute to making you a higher performing individual and executive.”