Work Life Balance

What Work-Life Balance Looks Like for 15 CEOs

Early mornings, late nights. Weekend work and all nighters. Conference calls, management catch ups, investor meetings. Welcome to a typical day in the life of a CEO.

Balance the Grind spoke to 15 CEOs about a typical day in their life and what work-life balance looks like as the leader of an organisation.

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Aaron McDonald // CEO & Founder at Centrality, a decentralised eco-system that connects different applications together using Blockchain powered technology

Like anyone in management, my days are varied. But a typical day starts with reading and research, checking the markets and the news, etc. I use Twitter and news aggregators to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the tech industry and around the world.

Then I’m off to the gym, I use exercise to give myself some space in my own head, it helps with creativity and getting my mind straight for the day. It’s hard for me to keep this routine when I travel – and I admit I often fail. No one’s perfect!

When I head into the office and catch up with my exec team, it’s casual. I keep time open for people in case there is anything urgent or critical they need. Then it’s meetings with our ventures, potential investors, partners or clients. I also have weekly one on ones with personnel to talk through priorities, development goals, and issues.

Evenings are often spent with founders and overseas team members, but I do like to break that up by cooking dinner with my wife and watching some Netflix or playing games with my son.

Cortina McCurry // CEO & Co-Founder of Caia, Australia’s first online on demand health and wellness clinic for women and their families in the workplace

A typical day for me begins quite early around dawn with a walk along the river to wake up. I will usually listen to a podcast during this time, followed by a bit of meditation or yoga back at home.

I then have about an hour to review my inbox, respond to emails and check off any to dos in Asana before I hear the footsteps of my daughter pitter pattering into my office and the morning whirlwind begins.

At this point work gets put to the side as she usually climbs into my lap for a cuddle, we catch up on how we slept and our plans for the day, and then eat breakfast together, get dressed and she is off to school with her Dad.

By 8:30 am I am usually in meetings or on calls with either the team, a potential investor, customer, or partner and it is full steam ahead into the work day and ensuring both our users and practitioners are happy and supported.

Charlotte Lockhart // Chief Executive Officer at The 4 Day Week, a company she founded with her partner, Andrew Barnes, the Architect of the 4 Day Week Global Movement

I spend the bulk of my day building the 4 Day Week initiative. This involves talking with businesses around the world, helping them answer their questions and designing their trials. Part of my day is working with media and the content we need to provide for them and also our website and social media.

We are launching the book Andrew has written on the subject in January in New York and so there is a fair amount of work to do with the publishers for this. I am on the board of a number of connected initiatives, the Irish and US 4 Day Week campaigns, and the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University.

I try to get some exercise and time to think and write. Through our philanthropy work, I spend a few hours each week engaging with charities and attending events.

I travel a lot in my role, and spend about 3 – 4 months out of New Zealand, engaging with business and speaking at events. I love my garden and spending time with our family and friends.

Dave Macli // Founder & CEO of artist-first music streaming platform Audiomack and DJBooth, a digital music magazine which publishes original editorial and video content daily

The first hour of the day is the most important. I used to spend the first hour of the day doing “easy work” like checking reports or reading some articles of interest to me.

I spend the first hour of the day setting the priorities for that day and tackling the most important item first.

I try to get to the office an hour earlier than my direct reports so I have time to do this without any distractions. Once the office is full I start to get pulled into various different situations that need my attention which can make it hard to think strategically.

Juggling tactical and strategic initiatives is something I’m trying to get better at but the first step is surrounding yourself with a competent team of individuals and empowering them to solve problems and make decisions themselves.

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Adrian Przelozny // Founder & CEO of Independent Reserve, one of Australia’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges

In a nutshell: Exercise, emails, meetings, fun, repeat.

In my work life, emails and meetings dominate the day. Last week I spent my days interviewing people via Skype in Singapore as part of our expansion overseas. It was quickly followed up by a three day trip to Singapore to meet the shortlisted candidates.

During those three days we also had back-to-back meetings with local regulators, lawyers, accountants, potential partners and other individuals.

However it’s not always serious in the office! We take the time to have some fun as well. We have a crokinole board (a Canadian board game that’s proved to be good fun, especially with a couple of beers in the afternoon), Frisbee, darts, business card throwing, etc. There’s regular laughs in the office.

Lorena Sumich // CEO and co-founder of KIXXFIT, a new health and fitness app that has recently just launched in Australia

Every day is different, but there are two things that remain the same – hustling hard and thinking big.

To keep it simple, let’s go with a typical Monday.

My co-founder Jahney and I always start the week with “Golden Hour” at the beach, where we have a swim, a coffee and talk through our priorities; tasks; and blockers for the week ahead.

By 9am, we are back in the office making ourselves presentable for the meetings we have ahead, whether that be with new coaches, business partners, or investors.

Throughout the day we try to live and breath our company values of ‘family’, ‘bravery’ and ‘impact’. We have huge ambitions with KIXXFIT so it’s important we are always pushing our goals, and thinking big.

Once it hits the late afternoon, It’s time to head home and take my toddler to the park before getting him ready for dinner and bed. This is always a nice break in the day and allows me to recharge before finishing off any work that is still to be done after he has gone to sleep.

Kyle Ladewig // Founder & CEO of Out Of Office, a company with a mission to help remote workers get out of the house and meet people while they work

I’m an early riser, at least by most tech startup standards. I’m usually up by 6:30AM and in a workout class by 7AM. I know if I don’t workout in the morning, I’ll never get around to it.

Plus it’s nice to start my day focusing on something other than work, and exercise gives me an energy boost going into the workday. Most days I’m hosting a Work Club in San Francisco, so that’s usually my second stop.

As CEO, it’s my job to do the stuff that doesn’t clearly fall under anyone else’s job description, and to remove blockers so our team can do what they’re really good at. So I’m constantly context switching throughout the day, which is one reason I love being at Work Club.

Having a crew of coworkers helps me stay focused and avoid feeling stressed about all the priorities I’m juggling.

Dr. Martin Timchur // Co-Founder and CEO of Esencia Healthcare, one of Australia’s newest and most exciting disruptor in the Allied Health Sector

Each day presents a multitude of complex situations and decision making that varies in topic from minute to minute.

I’m often switching between strategic planning, financial forecasts, growth opportunities, operational management, clinical matters with vendors, risk and compliance, legal contracts, due diligence, auditing and presentations to brokers.

The role requires an absolute commitment to the process whilst not losing sight of the overall vision and mission in front of us. Most days usually consist of an early rise before the phone starts ringing.

I begin with phone calls in the car, before attending to the days meetings which last anywhere from 3-8 hours. Averaging 30+ calls per day and over 100 emails from people all requiring an urgent answer, time is very precious and needs to be well managed.

Often I will only make it back to the hotel room at around 11:30pm before starting to review the emails and listening to the missed call messages.

Last weekend I only arrived home Saturday afternoon and was able to enjoy 2-3 hours with the family before another meeting started at 5:30pm and went until 9:30pm.

The next day (Sunday) I was in a strategic planning meeting from 9:0am to 4:00pm before we visited a site for an IT integration assessment.

Vlado Bosanac // CEO & Founder of MyFiziq, a body scanning app which allows users to measure and track their fitness without scales and body fat calipers

I normally rise around 5.30am depending on which part of the world I am in. I like to first deal with any emails and communications that need immediate attention.

I am a little fussy with my suits and shirts so I always re-press my own clothes from the cleaners (OCD I know!). I’m a firm believer in having all of my dominos in a straight line, white shirt starched and a crisp, pressed suit, crease free, and shoes polished every time you wear them.

I apply the same discipline to my work environment and surroundings. I like to be in the office by 7am.

I think it is important to set a good example for my staff whom are a big part of our success to say the least. I engage with every staff member every morning when I walk around the office as they are all important. I want them to feel I am part of the team with them.

The rest of the day will be a mix of interactions between me and my key management on the outcomes they are driving, as well as understanding where I can be part of the solution.

I don’t micromanage as my team are very capable and I give them ownership of their deliverables.

Then onto the follow up: we currently have over 200 companies engaged with our company on multiple fronts and keeping everything moving and current is in itself a complex part of each day.

There is a very fine line between keeping people engaged and annoying them. This is a skill in itself! Most days I would leave the office around 6-6.30pm subject to doing my duties as a father and keeping a work life-balance.

Luke Cook // Founder and CEO of FUNLOCKA, an employee engagement app fuelling businesses with new ways to reward staff, entertain clients

As a founder your day is like a heartbeat. One minute you riding the high’s and then next you are experiencing the lows.

My day starts with me and my family. I get up around 6am and do a bit of meditation before getting ready. I then wake up my little daughter Tilly (13 months) and see the massive smile that greets me which is the best part of my day.

From there the day see’s me take on multiple roles as CFO, Head of Sales, Admin Assistant, CEO and Marketer. I plan my day down to the minute but still see things fall off due to the nature of being an early stage company.

I try and finish up at 5pm to support my wife and spend time with my daughter. Once Tilly is asleep I am usually back working till late to catch up on emails and get actions ready to go for the next day.

Jane Sydenham-Clarke // Chief Executive Officer of Skyline Education Foundation, an organisation which provides support to gifted and talented students, from socially and financially disadvantaged backgrounds

I am awake early to reflect, build my list for the day, catch up with emails, check my schedule, have breakfast and take my little dog Arnold for a walk.

Some days I am out and about in meetings with stakeholders to move the business forward.

Other days I am in the office engaging with my team, talking with donors and keeping on top of our annual planning, evaluation and reporting cycle.

Regularly we are in the field with students in residential programs and masterclasses. In the evening I am walking Arnold, spending time with my son Lochie around his university commitments and trying to create lovely vegan meals!

I do try to contain my work hours, but to be honest, this can be difficult, but I work a four day week and that allows flexibility for balance and prioritising friendships.

Stacey Bedford // CEO of Bandzoogle, a platform that helps independent and DIY musicians build websites and manage direct-to-fan marketing and sales

My routine is what you would call agile, I waste no time. Since I work from home, I really hit the ground running and make time for my personal life throughout the day.

This is an important part of my balance, and the personal space mixed in with work time helps me to reflect and tackle complex issues.

Every morning I get up and make my bed. My partner gets our kids fed and dressed and heads to work, and I start work at 7am. For the first hour I scan and organize emails and get up to date on Basecamp (our project management tool).

At 8am I put my three young children on the bus for school and take my dog for a walk. I get back to work with a coffee and check in with my managers for about an hour. The next 2 hours are project specific meetings or check ins, where I act as product owner.

On my lunch hour every day either do HIIT, kickboxing or I go for a run. Once a week I will do beekeeping on my lunch hour.

Afternoons at Bandzoogle are free of internal meetings, so I spend an hour going over our metrics and adjusting our plans, read through member and staff feedback, plan out ways to enhance our staff happiness and support our workplace culture, and meet with other businesses.

At 3:45pm I get my kids from the bus, we play outside and then I make dinner and pack lunches for the next day. My partner and I put the kids to bed.

Every night me and my 3 kids pile into one of their beds and listen to 3 songs and talk about them. That is the best part of my day. Then, I always read for at least 2 hours; I don’t watch TV. I go to sleep around 10pm and start over.

Natalie Nguyen // Co-Founder and CEO of startup Hyper Anna; an Australian data analysis software that taps into business intelligence and delivers real-time insights from natural language requests

I will wake up around 6am. I have a seven-year-old Frenchie, who provides an unlimited amount of cuddles, while I catch up on what’s happening on my phone.

If there’s no external meeting in the morning, I will get to the office around 9am, otherwise it really depends where my meeting takes me.

Throughout the day it does get quite hectic as I’m usually in and out of meetings, from discussing a new product feature to meeting a potential new client. It really varies.

Louisa Dahl // Founder & CEO of Interactive Minds, a company which runs regular events and programs to keep marketers informed of the latest industry trends, changes and opportunities

I start most days by taking my three kids (aged 6, 8 & 10) to school. This can involve up to three separate drop offs and once they are out of the car I’m straight into listening to a business related podcast. I am usually at my desk around 9am and each morning I have a stand-up meeting at 9:30am with my team.

After that, today I recorded a live Q&A session with marketing leaders which involved me interviewing them in a session for our members.

Following that I had about 2 hours of back to back phone calls booked in with a potential speaker for an upcoming event, a trainer for one of our sessions, a sponsor and a team member. Then I recorded my weekly Facebook live video.

I grabbed a quick lunch which I ate at my desk reading some articles on LinkedIn and I had a quick internal meeting and then an hour to action some work before I setup for a podcast interview – today I interviewed someone for my show and they interviewed me for theirs, back to back.

Then I drove home (listening to more podcasts) to organise my kids and get them fed, showered and to bed and pack lunch boxes! I then got back online around 8:30pm to finalise a few other action points from the day and to respond to this interview and I. will get to bed around 11pm.

Whilst I had a long day at work today, this year I made the decision to only have 1-2 of these long days a week and the other days will pick my kids up from school at 2:30/3pm. Due to my short days, I’m frequently back online for a few hours each night to do some more work and make sure I’m ready for the next day.

Yanir Yakutiel // Founder & CEO at Lumi, a fintech start-up launched in 2018 and Australia’s fastest growing small business lender

I’m quite an early riser – my day starts at around 4:30am/5am, which is when I start catching up on emails. At 6am, when my wife wakes up I make her a coffee and some breakfast before she heads off to work.

Roughly when she leaves, I wake my son up so I can get him ready for school – it’s the best part of my day. I’ll make sure he’s fed then I do the school drop-off. Dropping my son off and picking him up from school is so important to me.

Whenever I’ve looked at office spaces and where to base the company, I’d always take into consideration the logistics of the school drop-off to ensure it’s close by and I can still do it.

When I arrive at the office at 8am, the sales team usually will have already started working, then it gets crazy and I’m in back to back meetings until about lunchtime.

At around 6:00pm, I’ll pop over to my son’s school, pick him up, and depending on whether I need to be in the office or not he will either come back with me (he has his own designated desk area for him to do his homework), or we will head home. I’ll then continue working until around dinner time.

In the evenings after dinner, I spend more quality time with my son before I put him to bed. Since my wife is an anaesthetist, we’re on conflicting schedules most of the time so if there’s an evening she’s not rostered on for work, we make sure we make the most of our time together.

Corrie McLeod // CEO of Hello Espresso, a group of companies which includes InnovationAus, a think-tank and public policy advocacy group, Espresso Communications, a full service consultancy, and One Part Idea, a content development agency

I wake up, get a coffee and proof the InnovationAus stories that may have been posted overnight. I’ll then review emails from clients and partners that have come through overnight and have a look at the meetings scheduled for the day to make sure that I am prepared.

I’ll do a news sweep of media reports in our sector, and jump on Slack to make sure that the team have what they need from me to crack on with their day.

I switch into family mode for an hour and a half or so while listening to Radio National. Once the kids are off to school I jump in the shower and make my way to work.

The day is a mix of meetings (internal and external) and I will often try and find a quiet place to get some work done without distraction. Lunch is at my desk, as I don’t work a particularly long day – so need to make every minute count.

I finish close to 5.30pm – 6pm and head home to make dinner and get kids sorted.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.