Pete Cashmore’s 4 Secrets to Productivity

UPDATED: May 14, 2013
PUBLISHED: May 14, 2013

Pete Cashmore is probably just like you. Sure, he’s been called the Brad Pitt of the blogosphere, and he’s the founder and CEO of a website that’s valued at $200 million. But he also never attended college, finished high school two years late because of health reasons and went into several failed business ventures, including an eBay store. The secret sauce to Cashmore’s success? Some not-so-secret principles of business and productivity. 

Waste not, want not. 

When Pete Cashmore started Mashable in his parents’ house in Scotland, he found himself at a disadvantage blogging about tech when Silicon Valley was thousands of miles away. Unable to network or meet people in the industry, Cashmore learned to be resourceful. “When I was starting out, I had to do things very resourcefully,” explains Cashmore, “Once you’ve learned to work with nothing, it becomes easier to work with something and to be very efficient in the way you allocate resources.” If you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, don’t let anything– whether it’s a contact or a networking opportunity– go to waste.

Don’t be afraid to think like you’re young.

In his interview with SUCCESS, Pete Cashmore remarks, “What’s great about being young is you don’t know things, and what’s bad about being young is you don’t know things. And that can essentially be a big benefit or drawback.” For Cashmore, “being young” translated to a fresh, motivated perspective that paid out as a huge benefit. Since he worked remotely for Mashable’s first few years, 19-year-old Pete Cashmore made up for the distance drawback by getting little sleep and working long hours that he’s “not sure [he] could do again.” 

Learn from your mistakes.

If “thinking young” backfires and you’re stuck with a heap of mistakes and a feeling that you made the wrong choices, you’re in good company. Regarding the mistakes he’s made, Cashmore candidly explains how errors have only helped his productivity, “I spent a lot of time doing things the inefficient way only to do it the efficient way. I was prepared to put effort in where maybe others wouldn’t.” Making mistakes only gives you the wisdom on how to remedy that same mistake. It’s up to you to put in the effort to try it again.

It’s okay to have a life.

When it comes to work-life balance, Pete Cashmore is all for making “a healthy life socially acceptable.” Despite having put in long work hours during Mashable’s beginning years, Cashmore wrote an article for CNN last year supporting Facebook COO’s Sheryl Sandberg’s 9-5 office hours to be home with her kids at 6 p.m. “Ultimately, I think the measure of our work is in our productivity, not the number of hours we put in,” writes Cashmore. Work when it counts and leave when it matters.

Jennifer Chang is the former associate editor for SUCCESS. She has a corgi puppy who has more Instagram followers than a dog should have. Tweet or follow her thoughts and favorite links at @jenzchang.