On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
Alexa von Tobel still remembers when the website for her company, LearnVest, went live. She was on a ski vacation with her family after spending the past few weeks working non-stop on bringing her idea to life. The only problem? The website quickly crashed after too many people signed up.
“I was actually literally sitting on the top of a mountain trying to get down on skis. I am lucky I don’t have a concussion — because that’s how quickly I was going to try and get down and get a computer to see if I could fix it,” she said in a Spotlyte interview. “We had about 4,500 people sign up on that first day and in the first month, we had about 10,000 people sign up!”
After that, it was off to the races. In 2014, Tobel spoke to Observer about her hectic daily routine while trying to grow and lead LearnVest:
My days are pretty non-stop, and no two days are alike! I start with an early morning workout (whether a power walk with friends, barre class or spin class), which is critical to feeling energized for the whole day. My calendar is often scheduled down to 15-minute intervals, so I can (attempt to!) make time for everything — internal and external meetings, speaking events, interviews, etc. I try to put as much as possible on auto-pilot (ex: using shortcuts like eating basically the same thing for breakfast and lunch). Also, I like to tackle the hardest things first, so I think through my priorities the night before and make sure I have time for my most strategic work. Evenings are my downtime and time to refresh with my husband and friends.LearnVest Founder Alexa von Tobel on Her Daily Routine and Being Financially Fearless | Observer
Over 8 years, Tobel grew the company into a thriving tech startup, raising money from a number of noteworth investors, including Accel Partners and American Express Ventures. In 2015, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. acquired LearnVest, although the company continued to operate as a separate business unit, with Tobel remaining on as CEO until 2019.
Since moving on from LearnVest, Tobel founded Inspired Capital, a $200 million venture capital firm backing early-stage startups, where she’s now the Managing Partner. As a working mum — she’s married to Cliff Ryan, and they have three children — Tobel runs a regimented daily routine.
Being a working mom. It’s really hard. And the toughest part is that there are days where you just question whether you’re making the right decisions. You want to be in two places at once and it is not easy— it’s just that simple.Meet the Woman Who Makes Financial Planning Refreshingly Easy | Vogue
She wakes up at between 6-7am and jumps immediately into a workout; either a spin or barre class with her friends or onto the elliptical where she works through her emails. She also sticks to having the same meals for breakfast (Greek yoghurt and coffee) and lunch (fruit and a salad) as a way to preserve her decision-making power — similar to Jeff Bezos’s strategy for minimising decision fatigue.
“My ultimate goal is to create operating systems for myself that allow me to think as little as possible about the silly decisions you can make all day long — like what to eat or where we should meet — so I can focus on making real decisions,” she said in a Fast Company interview. “Because mental energy is a finite quantity. You can only spend so much time on the really critical decisions that move your company forward.”
With the amount of travelling she has to do at Inspired Capital, Tobel came up with a way to stay connected with her kids — writing letters about why she’s away from home. “It goes straight to an email address I set up for her for later; it serves as a journal of sorts,” she told Vogue. “This helps me stay connected to her in a bigger way, even when we are apart, as that is honestly the hardest part of being a working mom.”
In the interview with Vogue, Tobel described how becoming a mum changed her daily routine:
I’ve always worked smartly and efficiently, because I wanted to set the tone for the whole company. Probably the biggest thing that has changed how I work is that now, I sprint out the door at 6:15 p.m or 6:30 p.m. to put my daughter to sleep. Luckily I live a block away, so I can be there for bedtime and then get back on later. Barring work travel, that is the one thing that I am unbending on.MEET THE WOMAN WHO MAKES FINANCIAL PLANNING REFRESHINGLY EASY | VOGUE
Before you go…
Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.