The Guatemala-born tech founder takes five Duolingolanguage lessons each day—before 6:30 a.m. Here’s how he optimizes the rest ofhis time.
In the morning, I take five Duolingo lessons. I dothree French lessons, one Portuguese lesson, and, of late, a Japanese lesson.It’s mostly to test out the product: My teams get reports from me at 6:30 a.m.every day, saying, “You should fix this” or “You should improve this.” Then Iwork out. I do some weight training, followed by 16 minutes of running as fastas I can, which is like 9 miles an hour. When I do it, I look like I’m having aheart attack. I do it to optimize my time—I burn about 360 calories. I hate it,but it’s over fast.
早晨6点半之前，Luis von Ahn会学习五门语言课程：三门法语课，一门葡萄牙语课，一门日语课。他学这么多，是为了帮助测试产品。
Then I head to the office. I believe in everyonebeing in the office together, so we are getting back to that [with employeescoming in three days a week, starting in January]. It’s important to haveserendipitous interactions to generate good ideas. I try to break for lunchwith my employees at least a couple of times a week. I like to hear about theirlives outside of work.
[At Carnegie Mellon, in 2005], I taught a largemath class, about 300 people, and I would mess with students. The whole firstweek was a huge scavenger hunt, where students had to solve math puzzlesrelated to the class. It’s kind of a similar idea to Duolingo. We want to makelearning into a game.
I get my best ideas in the shower, so on weekends Itry to take long ones. Sometimes I think I have a good idea in the middle ofthe night, write it down, and then in the morning I realize it makes no sense.
Early on, a lot of the ideas at Duolingo came fromme or my cofounder [CTO Severin Hacker]. That’s no longer true. At this point,less than 1% of the ideas come from me. Most of what I do is review otherpeople’s ideas and work. I’ve had to learn how to be clear in my communication, because what ends up happening is if I say something, I usually say it tosomebody who says it to somebody else who says it to somebody else who actuallydoes the work. If you’re not super clear, it’s like a game of broken telephone.Now I even ask people to repeat [what I say] back to me to make sure it’sclear.
Earlier this year we became a public company, soleading up to the IPO I was working on weekends, because investment bankerswork on weekends. I tell my employees, “Just get your work done.” At Duolingo,we’ve hired a lot of overachievers. The main message we give people is don’twork so hard, because people really burn themselves out. It’s a marathon, not asprint.
TIME HEWAKES UP
Between 5:30 and 6 a.m.
FIRST THINGHE DOES IN THE MORNING
“Check my email and Slack—I stay in bed for thefirst 30 or 40 minutes and just do that. We have an office in Beijing and onein Europe, so between the time I go to sleep and the time I wake up, all kindsof things have happened. After that, I take my Duolingo lessons.”
HISRELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
“I don’t post about my personal life. I tweet agood amount because I’m from Guatemala, and I think our government is corrupt.I tweet against our government.”
WHAT HEDOES WITH 15 MINUTES OF FREE TIME
“Usually check my Slack.”
LAST THINGHE DOES AT NIGHT
“After dinner, I work in front of the TV, watchingsomething like The White Lotus. I’m about 40% less efficient, but I canstill get stuff done while I do it. [The very last thing I do is] make sure Ihaven’t left anything unanswered at work.”
TIME HEGOES TO BED
Between 10:30 and 11 p.m. “But I don’t sleepthrough the night. I wake up for an hour randomly in the middle of the night.”