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Want to be a high achiever? Learn from these top CEOs

Last updated on: April 3, 2013 09:34 IST

Want to be a high achiever? Learn from these top CEOs

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Up at the crack of dawn to be a high achiever -- that's the message from top business people.

To find out the secret of success, The Guardian investigated the bedtimes of seven top business people -- including the bosses of AOL and Ericsson.

Most CEOs claim to leap out of bed in the morning (even though it's basically still night) and more than one said that "life is too exciting" for sleep.

For many of them business and domestic life are hopelessly blurred. Leisure activities are as rigidly organised as the office diary -- nobody lies in on Saturdays; they get up early and exercise -- and everybody seems happy to let work follow them home, the paper said.

Quality time with children is time-tabled and the working week starts again on Sunday evening for most of these company heads.

Tim Armstrong, CEO, AOL, said he usually get up at 5 or 5:15 am. He says he used to start sending e-mails as soon as he gets up, but as not everyone is on his time schedule, he now waits until 7 am.

Armstrong who claims he's not a big sleeper insisted life is too exciting to sleep.

His desk starts the minute he leaves home. He does most e-mails in the morning, during the commute, and late at night.

Most days he returns home at 8 or just after and usually goes to bed around 11.


Image: Chairman and CEO of Aol Tim Armstrong attends the red carpet premiere of MAKERS: Women Who Make America, a documentary proudly presented by Simple(r) Facial Skincare, on February 6, 2013 in New York City.
Photographs: Andrew H Walker/Getty Images
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Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO, Virgin Money, says she gets up every day at 6.20 am without any alarm, that also weekends.

First thing she does is look at her e-mails and answer any outstanding. Then she looks at the BBC news website, then Twitter.

Gadhia says she starts early because she always likes to be on top of work so she can enjoy the non-work stuff, like having breakfast with the family and talking to her daughter on the way to school, rather than being distracted by work.

All these things, Gadhia says, help her have a normal life.

And she always tries to be home by 7 pm. She said she does work from home in the evening, but usually only in a multi-tasking sort of way.

Her bedtime is 10.30 pm.


Image: Virgin Money Chief Executive Officer Jayne-Anne Gadhia poses for a photograph at the London Stock Exchange November 26, 2007.
Photographs: Luke MacGregor/Reuters
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Karen Blackett, CEO, MediaCom UK, wakes up at 5.45 am three times a week to spend 45 minutes in her garage, which she has turned into a gym.

Otherwise, she wakes up when her son comes into her room -- any time between 6.30 and 7 am.

She starts scanning e-mails while her son takes over her bed and have his milk.

Blackett says her early start is due to the need to exercise more to keep fit as she gets older.

She says she e-mails throughout the day as she receives an average of 500 e-mails a day.

She tries to be home for 6.30 pm so that she can spend time with her son before he goes to sleep, read him his bedtime story and put him to bed at 7.30 pm.

But she'll clock on again once her son is settled after 8 pm, and reply to e-mails or take calls. She finally goes to bed at 11.30 pm and sleep for six to seven hours.


Image: Karen Blackett, CEO, MediaCom UK
Photographs: theblacketts.com
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Waking time for Hans Vestberg, CEO, Ericsson, varies, but he's usually an early bird.

He says he reads mails throughout the day but answer mails more in the morning and evening.


Image: Ericsson's President and CEO Hans Vestberg gestures during a news conference at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona, February 25, 2013.
Photographs: Albert Gea/Reuters
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Helena Morrissey, CEO, Newton Investment, usually gets up at 5 am, sometimes earlier.

"I gets out of bed straight away and go downstairs to check and send e-mails on computer and BlackBerry," she said.

She says she sleeps five to six hours every night.

She's at her desk at about eight and stays glued to her BlackBerry all the time.

She tries to get to bed around 10 pm, and aim to be asleep by 11 pm.


Image: Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management talks to the media during a Oxford v Cambridge University Boat Race announcement at Somerset House on February 8, 2012 in London, United Kingdom.
Photographs: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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Heather Rabbatts, non-executive director of the Football Association, says he's usually up by 6 am.

He starts sending e-mails by 8 am -- sometimes earlier, depending on what is on his mind.

His day often begins with breakfast meetings, before he heads to his desk.

Rabbatts says he usually send e-mails throughout the day and into the evening.

He says he doesn't have a regular bedtime.

Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone, gets up at 6 am, exercises for 40 minutes then works continuously through the day with constant e-mails and meetings.

He works through until about 10.45 pm -- with a brief pause for dinner with his family -- before going to sleep by 11.30 pm.


Image: Vittorio Colao the Chief Executive of Vodafone Group listens during The Times CEO summit at the Savoy Hotel on June 21, 2011 in London, England.
Photographs: Ben Gurr - WPA Pool/ Getty Images
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