When I started my career I was astounded by how superhuman some Fortune 500 executives were. It seemed they were magicians. Every time they answered an impromptu question, the response was refined. Every email they sent was worded perfectly, every decision they made based on deep market knowledge and up-to-date information. How did they do it?
Sure, they’re smart people, but they also have a secret weapon: their support staff. They have marketing teams that can pull research together in hours. They have chiefs of staff who give them carefully crafted agendas for every day, along with dossiers on everyone they are going to meet. They have sales and operations executives who ensure they have up-to-the-minute overviews of every relevant aspect of their company’s operations. These teams give Fortune 500 executives what appears to be super-human knowledge.
Fortunately for those of us who don’t have Fortune 500 budgets at our disposal, it’s getting easier and easier to build your own secret support staff. Within five years, most executives at any size company — and, indeed, most knowledge workers — will have tools that do much of the work of a CEO’s private coterie.