A Day in the Life of Four Differently Styled Fortune 500 CEOs

Across the world, people follow the same routines, day-in and day-out. They get up, go to work, come home, have something to eat, and then sleep before doing it all over again the next day. However, there are some variations of this general routine, depending on the role and responsibilities of the person in question. Fortune 500 CEOs usually have a lot of work-related responsibilities that can take up a lot of time. They also have large salaries that give them the privilege to do the things that they enjoy. So, how do these factors affect what they do daily and how they manage the balance between their working life and their personal life? Here is a general overview of an average day in the life of a Fortune 500 CEO along with some specific examples of Fortune 500 CEOs and how they spend their days.

What is a Fortune 500 CEO?

A Fortune 500 CEO is the Chief Executive Officer of one of the businesses listed on the annual Fortune 500 list. This is a list of the largest industrial corporations in the United States. This is based on a measurement of their gross annual income. Therefore, Fortune 500 CEOs are leaders in the business world. This means they are professionally and financially successful, but these positions come with many responsibilities. Some of the companies currently included in the top 10 on the Fortune 500 list include Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, General Motors, and Amazon.com.

What is a Typical Daily Routine of a Fortune 500 CEO?

Clearly, there are huge differences in the daily routines of different CEOs depending on the industry in which they work. This is because they will have different tasks to complete and the responsibilities will also vary. However, there are many similarities in terms of the time they spend on specific types of activities. In order to get a general overview of how a CEO spends a typical day, you can consider the average lengths of time they spend on different tasks.

This is something that Entrepreneur did to find out more about the role of a CEO. To learn about the typical day of Fortune 500 CEOs and how their time is divided into different types of tasks, Entrepreneur conducted an email survey. This gave them a breakdown of the average CEO’s day. They discovered that executives typically get up at around 6.15 am, spend some time exercising, and then spend 25 minutes commuting to work. They spend the same time commuting home at the end of the working day. Obviously, this will vary from one CEO to the next depending on how far they live from their place of work and the mode of transport they use.

It is interesting to note that many Fortune 500 CEOs make the most of their commute to work. If they did not have time for breakfast but need fuel to get them going for the day, it is common for them to grab something to go and to eat this during the commute. According to Zirtual, they may also use the time to listen to business audiobooks, catch up on a podcast, or to get an early start on the calls they need to make using the hands-free system in their car. Utilizing their time to the best is a theme that continues throughout the day for many CEOs.

During their time at work, a CEO will divide their time differently depending on the type of business and the different duties. However, on average, a CEO will spend one hour and 45 minutes on tasks and projects in which they are personally involved, almost an hour and a half in meetings or on conference calls, and a whopping two hours and 45 minutes on emails and texting. Other aspects of their working day included their lunch break, strategic planning, and teamwork.

Most CEOs also find some time for themselves at the end of the day. The survey showed that they spent an average of 30 minutes on personal development daily. The results also showed that three hours of a CEO’s day is unaccounted for, so this is probably when they spend time relaxing or enjoying personal interests. Another statistic from the survey is that a CEO can spend as little as eight hours in a week socializing.

Many CEOs try to include exercise into their routine as fitness is something many consider important to fulfill their role to the best of their ability. Other reasons why CEOs exercise is to maintain focus or to relieve stress. Some enjoy a run or workout before work, while others prefer to leave this until the end of the day. The average CEO goes to bed at 11.40 pm to make sure they get a good night’s sleep.

A Day in the Life of Warren Buffet

Of course, not all CEOs follow this exact daily routine. A great example of a CEO who has his own unique routine is Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. According to Business Insider, Buffett takes a rather different approach to his working day. Unlike many CEOs who like to get into work at the crack of dawn, Buffet says that he has no interest in this. He gets up at 6.45 am and starts his day reading the newspapers. He usually gets his breakfast at McDonald’s on the way to work. Buffet claims that he spends 80 percent of his working day reading and the rest in meetings. He often takes his lunch with colleagues. When he heads home, he likes to enjoy his favorite hobbies, which include sports and playing bridge. He also likes to play the ukulele. Buffett usually goes to bed at 10.45 pm and says he likes to get a lot of sleep.

A Day in the Life of Tim Cook

A direct contrast to a day in the life of Warren Buffett is a day in the life of Tim Cook. The CEO of Apple says that he is a workaholic, according to Business Insider. His workaholic attitude to his career is evident because he gets up for work at 3.45 am. As soon as he is out of bed, he starts reading his emails, of which he sometimes gets up to 800 in a day. At around 5 am, he hits the gym for a workout. Cook usually grabs a healthy breakfast to eat on the way to work.

During his working day, Tim Cook heads long meetings, emails his employees, and spends every second of the day working efficiently to get as much done as possible. Despite usually being the first in the office, he is also usually one of the last to leave at the end of the working day, which proves his commitment to the success of Apple. Although he has a hectic working life with long days in the office and lots of responsibilities, Tim Cook likes to spend a portion of his day doing activities he enjoys. He is fond of spending time outdoors and his favorite hobbies include cycling and hiking. To make sure he gets enough sleep, Cook tries to go to bed at 8.45 pm.

A Day in the Life of Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is the founder, chairman, president, and CEO of Amazon. Com, a global company that led to Jeff Bozer becoming the richest man in the United States. Business Insider reviewed a day in the life of Jeff Bezos following his divorce. One of the focuses of his day is to stay healthy. Bezos doesn’t like to get up too early as he thinks that getting plenty of sleep is important to optimal function. He then likes to take his time getting ready for his day at work by reading the newspaper and then eating a healthy breakfast. Prior to his divorce, he always ate breakfast with his wife and children, and he refused to hold early morning meetings so that they didn’t interfere with his family time. Following his divorce, he still likes to relax a little during this part of the day.

On arriving at work, he tries to get any intense meetings out of the way before lunch, although he doesn’t enjoy meetings and avoids them whenever possible. He often eats dinner form a food truck he loves outside his headquarters. In the afternoons, Bezos focuses on less intense tasks and if something intense crops up, he defers it until the next day. In the evenings, Bezos likes to relax over dinner. Despite his wealth, he is a down-to-earth man that is happy to take on domestic responsibilities, so he usually does the washing up after dinner. Bezos keeps his personal life private, so it is not known if he exercises during the day. However, his muscular physique indicates that he must fit a workout somewhere into his daily routine.

A Day in the Life of Mary Barra

Mary Barra is the CEO of General Motors, which is tenth on the Fortune 500 list. She has held this position since 2014. Mary Barra is also the top-ranking female CEO on the list. Wall Street Journal Magazine took a look at a day in the life of Mary Barra. So, does the daily life of a female CEO differ in any way to her male counterparts? WSJ Magazine discovered that Mary Barra has a very hands-on approach at General Motors, and she can visit many departments in one day. On the day they spent time with her, she began the day with a visit to GM’s Technical Campus before taking a Bolt EV out on the track for a test drive in her pantsuit and heels. She then led a council meeting for minority GM leaders that included a question and answer session.

Bara then enjoyed a lunch she was hosting with female employees, which included both junior and senior staff. Later in the afternoon, she attended an awards ceremony for General Motor’s global suppliers and delivered a speech. Barra then ended the day with her husband Tony. The couple went to watch a match between the Red Wings and the Winnipeg Jets. Barra and her husband have two children together, so she also finds time for a family life alongside her career.

The Verdict on the Daily Life of a CEO

These examples show that although there is an average day in the life of a CEO, there are no two CEOs spend their day in exactly the same way. Buffet and Cook are the perfect examples to use of CEOs who have working days at different ends of the spectrum. While Cook is a self-confessed workaholic, Buffet prefers to take a more relaxed approach to leading his company. Despite their different approaches to their work-life balance, both men have managed to reach the top of their field in their respective industries and enjoy personal, professional, and financial success.

Bezos is an example of the middle ground between Cook and Buffett. This CEO clearly strives hard to get a good balance between his working life and spending time with his family. As the richest man in business in the United States, it is clearly a strategy that is working well for the businessman.

Barra shows a day in the life from a woman’s perspective. However, her daily activities show that there is very little difference in the daily lives of either male or female CEOs. Therefore, gender seems to have very little impact on what a CEO can expect from their day.

Overall, there are both similarities and differences in the daily lives of CEOs. The factors that affect exactly how a typical day will go for each chief executive officer include the type of business, the daily operations of the company, specific events or problems, and the personality of the leader.


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