Nov 10, 2022 - Economy

Axios Finish Line: Performing under pressure

Illustration of a coffee mug with the Axios logo with steam forming a thought bubble

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

This article originally appeared in Axios Finish Line, our nightly newsletter on life, leadership and wellness. Sign up here.

Liz Jarvis-Shean lives, by choice, in pressure cookers — first at the White House, then Tesla, then Airbnb and now DoorDash, a high-growth, high-intensity startup.

  • Why it matters: Marinating in stress, chaos and wild unpredictability, Liz developed her own blueprint for leading through turbulence.

Call it the Liz Doctrine.

  • Here's my crack at distilling it, based on an interview we did this week for Axios HQ:

1. The 1% Rule: Push yourself to get 1% better each day, in good times and bad. No one changes radically overnight, but everyone can get a tiny bit better at something daily.

  • "Hold yourself accountable," Liz says. "Don't just throw up your hands and say it's not worth it." This rule is a core value at DoorDash, she tells us.

2. Find yourself: You can't guide others if you're lost yourself. Use tough moments to sharpen your core beliefs — the things that matter most — and then share them confidently.

3. Be real: "Nobody trusts a phony," Liz says. "People can smell insincerity a mile away."

  • In tough times, people crave clarity and directness. Deliver it.
  • "Don't try to be something you're not."

4. Don't hide: People too often let fear guide them to silence. Fear of screwing up. Fear of saying the wrong thing.

  • "A lot of people's natural instinct … is to be very, very guarded," Liz said. "I think there's enormous power in transparency."

5. Exploit crisis: When COVID hit, DoorDash could have collapsed. The company needed restaurants making meals — and drivers delivering them safely.

  • So everyone from the CEO on down had to phone relatives and friends to find enough masks and supplies to stay afloat. "Crisis focuses people if you handle it correctly."
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