Careers

The Jeff Bezos quote that Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman says keeps her competitive

Adena Friedman, chief executive officer of Nasdaq, speaks during an interview in New York.
Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Adena Friedman, chief executive officer of Nasdaq, speaks during an interview in New York.

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman knows what it takes to rise through the ranks of the financial services industry.

Friedman started her career as a Nasdaq intern in 1993. She was named CEO of the company last year, making her the first woman to oversee a major U.S. stock exchange. As a leader in her field, she says she looks to many other business titans for inspiration, including Jeff Bezos.

In an interview for the Boss Files with Poppy Harlow podcast, Friedman spoke about the Amazon CEO and explained why she lives by his saying, "Every day is day one."

"It means that you're never going to be complacent," she tells CNN's Harlow. "I honestly feel that every single day, I have to work for my job and work for my company."

Jeff Bezos
Getty Images
Jeff Bezos

In his annual letter to shareholders last year, Bezos explained why he treats every day like day one at his company. He says the philosophy helps to stay as alert as he needed to be in Amazon's early stages, when the company was constantly experimenting, failing and learning.

"Day 2 is stasis," he wrote. "Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1."

Friedman says that for her, personally, the quote helps her remember that each day she has to make progress towards a goal, or she'll lose the opportunity to move her business forward.

"I do believe that complacency is the killer of every great company," she says. "So I really ascribe to his message."

As one of very few women holding a CEO title, Friedman credits a lot of her success and boldness to attending an all-girls school for 10 years.

"I actually do think it made a difference," she said on an episode of CNBC's Life Hacks Live. "While I had a brother at home, I was able to go to a place where I could feel like I could ask any question I wanted."

The executive says that being educated in that environment made it comfortable for her to explore different areas of study confidently.

"I could feel that it was OK to be smart, and that I really loved math and science, and so I was able to really propel myself into those fields and not really have any of those sort of social pressures that sometimes co-ed environments can create," she explained. "I really actually loved being in an all-girls school."

Now, as a power player in a male-dominated industry, Friedman hopes that she'll be measured by her achievements.

"I don't feel any extra pressure, honestly, as a female CEO – I think that you should just look at it as just making sure that I'm performing properly for the shareholders and for the clients," she said.

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!

Don't miss: How attending an all-girls school helped prepare the CEO of Nasdaq for a career on Wall Street