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David Cote reveals what it takes to be CEO of a $90 billion company

Honeywell International’s (HON) long-time CEO David Cote has great advice for any sitting or aspiring executive.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance’s Editor-In-Chief Andy Serwer at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Cote shared three key takeaways from his 15 years at the helm of the technology and industrials giant.

Stay connected no matter what

“If you do the job right, the intensity of it is just astounding. It truly is 24/7 and whenever anybody says, ‘You need to find a way to unplug.’ Yeah, your company probably is not going to do well if you’re unplugging that much. It’s got to be constant. It’s got to always be on your mind. So I stay connected no matter what I’m doing, no matter where I am in the world,” Cote said.

It can be lonely, but incredibly rewarding

Cote continued: “The other one is that while yeah you could argue it’s a lonely position sometimes and not expecting sympathy from anybody, it is incredibly rewarding. If things end up working well it is incredibly rewarding.”

David Cote, the CEO and chairman of Honeywell International (Credit: Reuters)
David Cote, the CEO and chairman of Honeywell International (Credit: Reuters)

Be right at the end of the meeting

He concluded: “The third one, and I use this line a lot, is that I learned this coming in about fifteen years ago as I was trying to figure out my way around because I couldn’t trust my staff and I couldn’t trust my board so I was trying to figure stuff out a lot but I came up with this line that I use in a lot of leadership classes… ‘It’s your job to be right at the end of the meeting, not at the beginning of the meeting.'”

Cote will be succeeded as CEO by Darius Adamczyk on March 31, 2017. Cote will remain on as executive chairman through 2018.

Cote added that he sometimes wishes that he’ll be running the company for another 15 years because it’s going to be a “really exciting time” given all the changes taking place in the digital revolution.