Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and 12 more successful people reveal their favorite places to ‘think big’

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

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Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
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  • Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and 12 other successful entrepreneurs revealed their favorite places to “think big” on the podcast “Masters of Scale.”
  • Host Reid Hoffman, who founded LinkedIn, said it’s one of the questions he asks every guest on the show.
  • Their answers ranged from the treadmill and a dance studio to the Golden Gate Bridge.

What is your favorite place to think big?

That’s the question LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman said he asks every one of his guests on his podcast “Masters of Scale,” from Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates.

On a “Masters of Scale” episode from earlier this year, Hoffman revealed several of the responses he’s gathered over the years. He learned that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg does her best thinking on the treadmill, for example, while Netflix CEO Reed Hastings thinks best while sitting in his living room.

Then there’s Spanx CEO Sara Blakely, who said she wakes up an hour early every morning so she can drive around Atlanta aimlessly, all because she does her best thinking in the car.

Here’s what Zuckerberg, Gates, and 12 other successful entrepreneurs said when asked about their favorite places to think big.


Airbnb CEO and cofounder Brian Chesky said his favorite place to think big was the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it was “my lawn, pacing around in circles.”

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
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Minted CEO and founder Mariam Naficy chose “running by the Golden Gate Bridge.”

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Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, chose the living room of his home in Santa Cruz.

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Venture capitalist Peter Thiel said he thinks best “somewhere beautiful in nature.”

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Evan Williams, founder of Blogger and Medium, said he could think big as long as he was moving: “Walking anywhere,” he told Hoffman.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said she did her best thinking on the treadmill.

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates said that “taking walks and driving, are for me, a good time to think about things.”

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ClassPass founder and CEO Payal Kadakia chose “a dance studio.”

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Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga, said he was best at thinking big on his surfboard or his bike.

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Flickr cofounder Caterina Fake didn’t have a where, but a when: “I keep very strange hours. I have this span of time between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., usually, in which I do a lot of thinking and a lot of work,” she said.

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John Elkann, chairman of Fiat Chrysler, said he liked to do his thinking in nature. “On one side, it really grounds you to see how incredibly extraordinary nature is,” he told Hoffman. “On the other, it really stimulates you to think big, to dream, and be ambitious.”

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Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx, said she does her best thinking in her car on the commute to work. She even wakes up an hour early to get more commuting time, she said.

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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for The Belly Art Project

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LinkedIn cofounder and ‘Masters of Scale’ host Reid Hoffman said he did his best thinking in places that are brand new to him, like a cafe he’s never been to before.

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Steve Jennings/Getty Images

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