The one question Zoom CEO Eric Yuan asks himself every morning and evening for business success

Zoom founder Eric Yuan speaks before the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City.
Kena Betancur | Getty Images

Few organizations have had as meteoric a rise in 2020 as Zoom, the videoconference company that became a fixture in how people stay connected while living and working during a global pandemic.

Originally designed as an enterprise tool, Zoom this year became a go-to platform not just for business meetings, but also for classroom instruction, happy hours, birthdays, workout sessions and weddings.

For Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan, this skyrocketing demand has meant logging longer hours to meet consumer needs, he said in an interview with Business Insider's co-editor in chief Alyson Shontell at the Web Summit Conference this week. He also has more meetings — up to 19 in one day — but said he makes an effort to find the bright side of having a more demanding schedule.

"I do enjoy that because I have more responsibility, because we are helping people stay connected during the pandemic crisis," he said.

And despite the longer hours, he still keeps a few daily rituals: "When I wake up, I always think about, 'Hey, what can I do differently today?'" Yuan said.

Then, "in the evening I also have 15 minutes — I call that 'thinking meditation,' I carve out 15 minutes in my calendar — when I think about, 'If I could start over today, what would I do differently?'"

These moments of reflection are crucial for Yuan to focus on how to continually become a better leader and build a better product, he said. Maintaining the company mission of "delivering happiness" begins with ensuring his employees are happy and proud of the work they're doing.

With that said, bringing in new hires and maintaining company culture during a time of massive growth is something that keeps him up at night. Zoom began the year with around 2,400 employees and scaled up to roughly 3,400 today, Business Insider reports.

"With no social interaction, it's pretty challenging," he said of onboarding new Zoom employees. "So that's why every day we talk about how to make sure our newly hired employees are fully engaged with existing employees, how to make sure that when we have Zoom calls we can try to get to know those new employees and also talk about company culture and values. Again, we are also learning: It's not easy."

One key thing he looks for in a hire or promotion is the person's potential to grow into the role, which he said requires constantly reflecting on ways they can improve: "At Zoom, our philosophy that we always talk about is that, for every employee, myself included, the No. 1 goal is: What can we do differently to become a better version of ourselves?"

The same applies to how employees make improvements to Zoom's video services, Yuan added. He said this outlook — going above and beyond what other video tools are doing to support users — is key to Zoom's success.

"[We] really tried to understand, what's the difference? What are the thoughts from the end-user perspective: What do they think about our service? What can we do differently?"

These days, Zoom says it regularly sees 300 million daily meeting participants, compared with about 10 million daily users a year ago. With new sets of customers and use cases, Yuan said the company has had to learn the unique needs of everyday users rather than how a business uses the platform. For example, companies generally have enterprise IT teams who work to strengthen user privacy and security. General consumers don't have those resources, which means Zoom must provide them.

As Zoom's user base ballooned in March during the early days of the pandemic, the company had to address privacy concerns and increase security measures due to a surge in hacks that became known as "zoombombing."

"We're learning quickly," Yuan said of working to address these issues. "That's why we've had to change our internal practices and processes to embrace those new use cases and new consumers."

According to its latest earnings report, Zoom's total revenue for the third quarter was $777.2 million, up 367% year-over-year, and puts Yuan's stake in the company at $17.9 billion, Forbes calculates.

Despite the massive success he's seen this year, Yuan contends that his general outlook on leadership remains the same: "For me, as the CEO at Zoom, my No. 1 priority is to think about how to make sure every employee is happy. Together we make our customers happy. Every day I think about that. I think nothing has changed."

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