A la Trump, how Philly CEOs spend their 'executive time'

Trump
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, right, listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

News broke this week about President Trump’s “executive time,” where he spends 8 to 11 a.m. in his residence, watching TV, making phone calls, and tweeting.

So we decided to ask Philadelphia executives how they spend their time. When does their day begin and end? How often do they take breaks during the day and what do they do during those breaks? What are their suggestions for being most productive?

Here are their e-mailed responses, edited for clarity:

Jack Chidester, CEO, Delaware Valley Floral Group

“I usually arrive at 8 a.m. and stay to about 6 p.m. Now that I’m getting old that seems to be my optimal stamina window. In general, 50 to 60 percent of my time is spent communicating, which includes one-on-one with my leaders each week, and interfacing with colleagues throughout the company. We place a lot of emphasis on culture and communication, engagement, and listening that supports our philosophy that ‘none of us are as smart as all of us.’ I don’t have a fixed time each day for email, but generally try to empty my inbox daily, even if some have to go into an action file. We try not to use email to attempt complex problem-solving or emotional issues. Good old-fashioned face-to-face works best. Personally, I head to a local gym every day during lunch to spend 40 minutes exercising.”

Judith von Seldeneck, CEO, Diversified Search

“My day usually begins around 6 a.m. when my brain gets into full gear and ‘ready-to-go mode.’ I love early morning when no one is around, it’s quiet to read the papers, get my to-do list organized and deal with anything that requires focused or creative thinking. To me, time management is a huge key to people’s success and it can’t happen without the to-do list every day, including weekends. I don’t really take breaks during the day. I am ready for a glass of buttery-oaky Chardonnay by 7 p.m., but the iPhone is never far away for viewing. I think I am pretty boring when it comes to ‘executive time’ as I am still a happy, grateful workaholic.”

Joyce Russell, Helen and William O’Toole Dean, Professor of Management, Villanova School of Business

“People have always told me that I display tremendous energy and passion at work. I subscribe to the model espoused by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in The Power of Full Engagement — it’s not about having time; instead, it’s about having energy. I strongly believe that all of us, especially executives, need to get enough exercise, sleep, and eat right in order to have the positive outlook and energy we need to be successful and to excite our colleagues to reach our company’s goals and vision. We also need to have purpose (spiritual energy).

For me personally, I try to start each day (generally around 6:30 to 7 a.m.) with exercise, although that might vary if I’m traveling. I eat right (for the most part, although chocolate is a weakness for me!), and I build in short reflective periods before big events in order to mentally prepare and to focus on that particular event (similar to mindfulness). I also try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night to ensure I will be at my best each day. One thing I have found particularly helpful is to read something relaxing as well as something spiritual at night so that I can easily fall asleep and rest well. I have learned that watching TV, getting on social media, answering emails or texts, is not a good way for me to easily fall asleep or stay asleep, so it shouldn’t be the last thing you do at night.”

Jim Samaha, senior vice president, Comcast Freedom

“My day varies depending on the realities of whom I need to meet with, when, and where. But I control my calendar to a reasonable extent. I typically arrive to work around 7 a.m. and either prepare and organize myself for the day’s meetings or around two to three times per week I exercise. Time for exercise is very important to me and if I cannot do it in the morning I typically schedule it during the day (I do this about two weeks ahead of time before my calendar fills up). While more difficult to schedule, exercising in the middle of the day is productive in that it becomes my break during the day. Otherwise, I take breaks by walking around the office and dropping in on folks to chat (that also serves to keep me connected with the organization). At the end of the day, I try to leave by 5:15 p.m., because we have three young children who all seem to need to be in different places at the same time. So I need to commit to being home in time for that. Of course, I do spend time on email when I get home because it helps de-stress me, believe it or not, because it keeps things from piling up. My only executive time seems to be spent doing dishes or taking the dog out at night!”

Donna L. Torrisi, network executive director, Family Practice & Counseling Network

“My alarm goes off at 6 a.m. to the theme song from Rocky. That gets me revved up to start my day. I am then, generally, in the pool at LA Fitness by 6:30 a.m. for a mile swim, which I do seven days a week. I’m in the office between 8 and 9 a.m. for meetings, a clinical session with patients, or sometimes for early meetings downtown. I leave the office by 6 p.m. and try to put work away until the following morning to, as my son says, ‘chill.’ ”

David Wolk, CEO, Goodway Group

“I work out every morning and get in the office around 9 a.m. I wake up early, which gives me a window to work out. It gives me energy to work till at least 7 p.m. I bring a packed lunch to work so I don’t leave my office all day. In other words, the workout time is my full allocation of no-work activities. I do walk around all day with wireless headsets so I’m active. During the day, I am 100 percent either on the phone or handling priority emails (trading urgent docs).”