Most Productive People: Steve Yankovich

VP of innovation and new ventures, eBay

Most Productive People: Steve Yankovich
[Photo by Robyn Twomey]

Steve Yankovich

VP of innovation and new ventures, eBay

“In a lot of companies eBay’s size, there are a lot of people you’re compelled to get buy-in from. I try to create an environment where we don’t do that. One thing I do is use a venture-capital model to run [our] group. I say, ‘We all have the same goal: to make the firm worth more money. So let’s act like shareholders. I want each of you to enable one another to be successful.’ That thinking helps make better choices, which is at the root of productivity. My role becomes parachuting in occasionally and knocking down the barriers.

“Because we’re trying to do things as rapidly as we can, hours matter. I actually use social networks. I’ll be on Facebook and notice someone is there and use Facebook chat to keep triaging the business. It’s about super-tiny bursts to keep everything going the right way, having a constant pulse on everything happening. When people email me, it’s like a text. They know I’m looking at it and responding right when I get it. And I like for my inner circle to do the same. If I have a quick dialogue with someone at a weird hour and we solve a problem, I get a charge out of that.

“It’s also about having passions outside of work. People make better decisions and solve problems when they spend time doing things they’re passionate about. For me, it’s cooking and cars. Cooking is a version of my job in innovation. I never make recipes as written, even the first time.”

Time he gets up:

“I barely sleep. I’m up between 4:30 and 5. Sometimes earlier.”

First thing he does each morning:

“Email. At the same time, I’ll have several news sites up.”

Apps and other assists:

“Airline apps, Uber, and I try to read a book a week, so I use Kindle, iBooks, and Goodreads.”


“Constant, real-time communication. I want people to be concise. A small screen and less-efficient keyboard force people to get the point across. You’re not going to type four paragraphs on your phone.”

Last thing he does each night:


Time he goes to bed:

Between 10 p.m. and midnight.


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