Ken Rona on What It Means to Be Productive at Work

In Chapter 13 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, digital media executive Ken Rona answers "How Do You Get Yourself into a Flow State of Productivity?"  Rona talks about what it means to be productive in his work and how it has changed as he has transitioned out of a developer and analyst role and into general management.  Part of this is understanding that "flow state" productivity is more relevant in individual contributor roles than in management roles. 

Ken Rona is a Vice President at Turner Broadcasting, where he leads teams across advertising sales, big data software development and business strategy.  Rona earned a BA and MA in Political Science from Stony Brook University and a PhD in Behavioral Economics from Duke University.


Erik Michielsen: How do you get yourself into a flow state of productivity?

Ken Rona: I don’t really need to be. My job is different. I think if you’re a developer then you need to be able to get into that flow. That’s an individual contributor kind of question, right? Or somebody who does individual contributor work, you know, analytics or programming or art, right? And then, you know, if you’re managing people, you kind of have to go back and forth. That’s not really what I do. 

My career has kind of taken a different turn in that I’m not an analyst anymore. I don’t do that. I can use our tools. So one of the things I’ve tried to do is make it so that I understand how our analytic tools work and I can get into data if I need to, if I’m curious about something. Or I want to role model something, which I’ve done. 

But in terms of like producing deliverables, my deliverables are not so much pieces of paper anymore, my deliverables are discussions, and giving advice, and taking advice, and doing internal PR or internal marketing or—so that kind of—that kind of state is less relevant, it’s less relevant for me now that I have to be a good—I actually believe this, I really believe—I’m very ample about this. I believe that you should have focus. You shouldn’t work on too many things at once. And I don’t but I work on many things over the course of a day, but I’m pretty kind of unified—pretty focused on the thing I’m doing at that moment. But as I say the things that I do at that moment aren’t the kind of things that require the kind of extreme focus that I needed when I was a developer and analyst