Netflix is so popular that it now accounts for 37 percent of all internet traffic from 9:00 pm to midnight in North America.
It should come as no surprise that CEO Reed Hastings is worth $1.39 billion. But oddly enough, he never saw himself as an entrepreneur when he was younger. He saw himself as many other things -- a marine, a Peace Corps volunteer, a teacher in Swaziland, even a developer of artificial intelligence -- all of which he did.
Yet Reed managed to grow the 1997 DVD delivery rental company into the $32.9 billion giant it is today, making it worth more than CBS.
History and work aside, what is this man about? What are his passions, his hobbies and his interests? Here are five things about the life of Reed Hastings outside of Netflix that you might not have known. He:
1. Changes the way our children learn.
Hastings recently made the announcement that he was creating a $100 million fund for public education. The statement on the Hastings Fund website reads “Currently, too many children do not have access to amazing schools. Our aim is to partner with communities to significantly increase the number of students who have access to rich and holistic educational experiences."
His goal is to create technologically driven charter schools, establishing computers as an integral part of everyday classrooms -- rather than just a one-off class twice a week, for example. Hastings believes education is about preparation, and he wants our children ready for this tech-filled world.
2. Maintains a work-life balance.
Marissa Mayer gives herself a week-long vacation every four months. Hastings doubles that. Taking six weeks of vacation a year, he makes a concerted effort to get away for from work for the sake of his physical and mental health. In fact, he thinks that taking breaks makes him better at work.
This isn’t one man’s wishful thinking. Psychologists are strong proponents of taking more vacation time, citing its benefits to productivity in the workplace.
3. Fails as a Renaissance man.
While entire articles are devoted to the unique hobbies of the rich and famous, Hastings defies the trend by being pretty vanilla. In a recent article published in The New Yorker, he admits to having no hobbies whatsoever. “I don’t sail, I don’t fish. I’m a pitiful failure as a Renaissance man.”
While this may seem odd in the west, Hastings is actually living the Japanese concept of Zanshin, or an intense focus to one’s work or passion. Perhaps his clear-minded concentration is what made Netflix the giant it is today.
4. Raises Nigerian dwarf goats.
Hastings, along with wife Patty Quillin and two kids, are animal lovers. Their house in Santa Cruz has no shortage of pets. Among them are five chickens, four shelter dogs and two Nigerian dwarf goats.
If you’ve never seen these bizarre-looking creatures, they don’t ever get taller than two feet in height and produce a high concentration of butterfat in their milk -- making them ideal for cheese production.
5. Enjoys a night of “Netflix and chill.”
In a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Hastings was probed with the question of whether or not he enjoys a little “Netflix and chill” time. Although Hastings was a bit tight-lipped, Colbert eventually got him to concede that he does, in fact, love it. “Whenever I can,” Hastings said.
It kind of makes sense, and perhaps that’s the secret to his success. Hastings has created a business that mirrors his lifestyle. It’s laid back and unpretentious. It’s educational and affordable to the masses. And it’s great for people with no real hobbies.
How can you not build an empire when your business is so in sync with who you are? Good advice for the rest of us -- when you build a business, make it something you can believe in. And don’t forget to take a little down time, too.