Master Class

Here's the mental trick this introverted Duolingo exec uses to lead effectively

Since its launch in 2011, language-learning app Duolingo has been busy.

The app, which provides free language education through games and interactive lessons, is the largest language learning platform and most downloaded education app worldwide, according to the company. In 2017, the company said revenue grew by 1,300 percent to $13 million, according to CNBC, and this year, it projects that revenue will hit between $30 million and $40 million. It's current valuation is $700 million, according to Pitchbook, and it has attracted high-profile investors like Ashton Kutcher and Tim Ferriss.

Helping lead the company to such success is vice president of product Jorge Mazal. As a leader at Duolingo, it's part of his job to interact with all kinds of people, but Mazal considers himself an introvert. So he has a mental trick he uses.

"I think there are unique challenges to being introverted as a leader, and what motivates me to get out of my shell, to talk to people, is I try to be a leader that serves," Mazal tells CNBC Make It.

"I think about what their needs are, what I can do to help them be successful in their job...it helps me knowing that I'm not thinking about myself or being selfish, helps me get out and be helpful to others.

"And that's my approach to leadership: Find a purpose or a mission that will inspire you enough to make you come out of your shell," he says.

Source: Jorge Mazal

Still, "I like to take time to think about myself, write down my own thoughts," he says.

Duolingo has over 300 million total users and games to help learn a variety of languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Turkish and Hebrew. And Mazal's job is to figure out the most pressing business objectives and user needs and then work with everyone from engineers to linguists to come up with solutions.

So Mazal also has a method he uses to transform the his thoughts into shareable information that the team as a whole can build upon.

"I have this process that I call 'barely better than stream of consciousness," he says. That "basically means, let's just start writing everything I think, and just try to edit it very, very briefly so that other people can understand it," Mazal explains.

"Then share that with a team of other creative people, whether it's designers, engineers or other product managers...then brainstorm together two takeaways from that."

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