I’ve followed the career of Professor Aswath Damodaran because he seems to be a master of teaching without boundaries, i.e., in classrooms, through books and articles, and across various platforms made possible by technology. In a recent interview with Elm Partners, an investment firm, he answered a question about productivity in a manner that was especially resonant for me. Being too “lazy” to compartmentalize his output seems to give him a distinct advantage in terms of distributing his ideas to as many people as possible.
VH: [I’ve] got to ask you: how you have been so prolific? Eleven books, I lost count of all the articles you’ve had published, a massive online presence, trying to get ideas and valuation techniques democratized, and hundreds of thousands of people reading and watching your teaching. And then on top of it, being a professor and getting all these awards for best professor at NYU, best business school professor in the whole country. It’s really remarkable, can you give any tips for people that are trying to be more productive?
AD: I have to tell you, I’m a pretty lazy person, I don’t work more than 40 hours per week. What I’ve discovered helps me is to not compartmentalize – because if I thought of my life as, “there’s teaching, there’s research, there’s writing on my blog, there’s X, Y and Z…” then you very quickly run out of hours in the day. But almost everything I do spills over into almost everything else I do. So I’m constantly looking for ways to take whatever I do and get it to serve three or four or five purposes.
I’ll give you an example: about five years ago I read The Wall Street Journal post on Uber. It was a Thursday afternoon, and I said, “This will be an interesting company to value.” I did a very rudimentary valuation, because I knew very little about ride sharing; it took me about three hours to do the valuation, about three hours to write the blog post. I put it up on Friday afternoon. That blog post took a day and a half of work, but it essentially became part of my classes, it became an entire seminar that I do on valuing young and startup companies, it became a book called “Narrative in Numbers.”
H/T to @morganhousel