Bob Parsons Has Left GoDaddy for Good. Here’s How He Runs His 14 Other Companies
The founder of Web hosting company GoDaddy shares his best advice for delegating, hiring managers, and keeping meetings short.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Bob Parsons is happy running 14 different businesses--but not 15.
Last month, Parsons resigned from the board of GoDaddy, the Web hosting company he founded 21 years ago, to focus on his other ventures. The billionaire and 12-time Inc. 5000 honoree now oversees businesses in industries ranging from sports and advertising to music and video production. One of his newest companies is Parsons Xtreme Golf, which sells high-performance golf clubs that cost around twice the price of most of the competitors' products. Founded in 2014, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company is close to becoming cash flow-positive and is on track to grow annual revenue more than 60 percent year-over-year, according to Parsons.
"I'd say the other companies in the industry know we're here," Parsons says, adding that he's never had to fold a startup. "I think this one is gonna be one of our gems."
Though Parsons will turn 68 later this month, he has no plans to slow down anytime soon. Here, he talks about delegating, hiring the best managers, and keeping meetings short. (This interview has been condensed and lightly edited.)
What's your daily routine?
On a typical day, I'm up at about 6 a.m. The first thing I look at is the national news. Then I have two or three cups of coffee. Then I have breakfast--usually sausage patties with scrambled eggs. Quite often, I'll go walk a mile, then I'll lift weights. I shower, get dressed, and I'm on my way. I have a golf simulator in my office, so I may hit about 50 to 100 golf balls, and then I'm into my day.
Does hitting golf balls help give you energy for the rest of the day?
I don't do it to get energy. I was born with real high energy. As a matter of fact, I don't drink coffee to get going. I drink coffee because I like it.
How do you stay up to date on 14 different businesses?
Because I delegate everything, I don't get jammed up with lots of stuff to do. If I did, I wouldn't be able to run my businesses.
What's your secret for delegating effectively?
The individual you're delegating to has to be a good manager themselves. The second thing is, you need to allow them to operate based on their own decisions, and this includes making errors. If you jump down the throat of your managers for making mistakes, they're never going to do anything because they're going to be afraid to make a decision. So you've got to be willing and supportive to allow that to happen.
What do you look for in a good manager?
There are two types of managers. One is a disaster and is never going to amount to anything. They will make this statement: "If I want it done right, I've got to do it myself." That person is telling you they don't know how to manage. The manager that you want is the manager who says, "I can get away anytime." That's a manager who knows what he or she is doing. And that's me. I can get away anytime. It doesn't matter how long I'm gone. Things just run. Problems come up. My people tell me about it. They've already handled it.
Are you on your phone a lot as a result?
A lot of times, I just turn it off, because if something's really important, the troops will handle it. My staff is never impotent. They will always act, and if it's something significant, I will never get on them for doing something and making a mistake. I will get on them for not doing something. So you're either all in or you're not.
Do you unplug on weekends?
Usually, other than looking at revenue numbers and stuff, I don't work on Saturdays and Sundays. I usually play golf and ride motorcycles.
Why was now the time to step down from GoDaddy's board?
I sold the last of my stock and I just don't need another clock cycle. Could I make time to be on a board? Yeah. I'd just as soon lie down and let someone drive a spike in me than sit in a board meeting. My complaint at board meetings is, the company often thinks that they have to have a lot of stuff to talk about. A board meeting should never last more than two hours--at the most.
How do you run your meetings?
There's no meeting that I have that is ever more than an hour. Never. If a meeting is more than an hour, you're talking about stuff you don't need to, you're being redundant, or somebody can't make a decision. Certain people--and I get it--just want to hear themselves talk. They feel like if they do a download of their knowledge they're going to impress somebody. That doesn't impress me.
GoDaddy took some heat in the past for its controversial and often sexist commercials. Has the #MeToo era changed any of the company's policies?
No, not at all. GoDaddy got a bad rap because people said our commercials were a little edgy, that we weren't #MeToo-friendly or -compliant back then. That's bullshit. Those commercials were done mostly by a female. The people who were always paid the most were our female executives. #MeToo exists to expose inappropriate transgressions and I agree with that, but the company always handled that stuff quickly. Our general counsel was a woman named Christine Jones and she didn't tolerate anything even remotely suggesting that there was harassment or abuse. There weren't any severance packages. The company was always that way and my companies now are always that way.
Do you have any retirement plans?
My exit plan is cremation. I'll be working until I physically can't. As you get older, if you sit back and you quit working and quit having challenges that you have to think through, your brain will turn to Jell-O. My recommendation to anybody is work as long as you can. Inactivity is what kills you. We were meant to be active and we were meant to be focused. It's like trying to stay on a bicycle without pedaling it. You've got to pedal it or it tips from one side to the other.