People who know me outside my business circle, also know that am a devoted fitness fan and ardent runner, having run international trail marathons and a committed crusader for health and well-being of people trapped in desk-bound jobs.
My most recent sprint led me to think how other CEOs are committed to fitness, and how do they find the time and energy needed after all the grueling tasks, emails, meetings and traveling. It’s funny how your brain starts thinking on lateral issues while running.
This article is dedicated to all the CEOs who are finding time for health, sticking to their exercise regimens -- come hail or storm -- and are fit as a fiddle despite being in their 40s, 50s and even 60s!
1. Dick Costolo, Formerly of Twitter
If you didn’t know better, you would have mistaken Dick Costolo’s Twitter account for an athlete’s or a fitness professional’s at best. From biking with Dylan Casey (vice president of product management at Yahoo) to doing grueling CrossFit workouts, he tweets more about fitness than tech or business, unlike other CEOs.
2. Daniel Palmier, UC Funding
Daniel Palmier is the CEO of UC Funding, which closes deals worth hundreds of millions in a year, which means he is dead busy in the game, and yet he manages to take yoga lessons, box regularly and even go horse-riding. He has even bought Fitbits for family, friends and employees to create a wellness and fitness-inspired environment around him.
“It is a personal achievement to see my investment team, friends and family improve their quality of life, especially during the longest winter in Boston’s history,” says Daniel.
3. Padmasree Warrior, NextEV
Meet Padmasree Warrior, poster woman of the tech industry, one of the most inspiring leaders who has assumed leadership roles at Motorola, Cisco and now NextEV. She is a dedicated fitness practitioner. She wakes up at dawn every day and does cardio and resistance training for more than an hour and then she is in her office by 8.30 a.m.
When her son was born, Warrior was in charge of a factory, both of which are demanding and stressful 24 / 7 jobs. At one point, she moved her treadmill into her son's room, so she could exercise while looking after him. That’s the kind of commitment we are talking about.
Padmasree’s opinion on work-life balance is: “The important thing to remember is that it's not about balance, it's about integration... to really focus on making sure you're integrating all four aspects of your work, your family, your community and yourself.”
4. Craig Esrael, First South Financial
Growing up, I always believed mature, famous businessmen’s only workout would be teeing off at a golf course. But one look at Craig Esrael’s workout routine, and you would shake off that prejudice too. Craig is an early-riser like Padmasree. He walks and runs about four miles, does weights, push-ups and sit-ups and jumps ropes. He follows this regimen no matter what the weather, location or equipment.
Craig once said in an interview to a magazine, “When trying to meet the demands of a CEO’s schedule -- and mine involves a lot of traveling -- I may not be able to pack weights in my suitcase, but a jump rope and push-up bar fit just fine."
From sweating it at the office gyms and biking to work through to competitive games, these CEOs are literally walking the talk. Being a leader places immense responsibility on CEOs not only financially but also for the overall well-being and health of employees. These CEOs recognize this responsibility, and -- between all the conference calls, meetings, changing time zones and important business tasks -- they are finding time to take care of themselves and their employees.
In fact, a whole new industry is being formed that caters to employees and leaders’ fitness. Human resource consultants and wellness experts are being hired to ensure a stress-free, energetic and healthy environment at work.
Ted Kennedy, president of CEO Challenges, founded a company that organizes CEO challenges -- mountain biking, cycling, triathlon, running, etc. --between CEOs and C-suite executives that share common passion and interests. His goal is to provide a healthy competitive environment for CEOs to remain fit and, at the same time, network with business leaders from similar or varied industries.