What does a day in the life of a CEO look like? It's hectic. Really hectic. And when that CEO is also obsessed with living a healthy lifestyle and being a role model to his four children, hectic turns into downright madness.
But in Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena's case, there's a method to his madness.
Joe's day-to-day life is as manic — and wildly productive — as you would expect it to be. Somehow, some way, he manages to get everything done, from running and expanding his global events company to encouraging and teaching his kids to staying in peak shape.
This is how he does it, never wasting a moment from sunup to sundown.
A Day in the Life of Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena
4:30 A.M.: Wake Up
Joe wakes up as early at 2:30 a.m. on some days. Upon waking up, he promptly takes a Spartan Hydration Tablet and Spartan Energy Capsule, and then guzzles room-temperature water. (He drinks water nonstop throughout the day.)
4:40-4:55 A.M.: Knock Out Some Important Emails
Work starts early. There are always a few critical emails that require his immediate attention, and Joe busts these out right after waking up.
4:55 A.M.: First Workout of the Day
"I make myself sweat," Joe says of his early-morning training session. "I try to cover my entire body and do all kinds of bodyweight exercises. I try to stretch, and gain mobility and flexibility. At the same time, there's some strength and cardio."
Joe also experiments with different equipment from time to time, such as the Carol, an artificial intelligence-powered exercise bike.
5:30 A.M.: Wake Up the Kids
Joe has four wonderful, badass, hardworking kids: Jack, 15; Charlie, 13; Catherine, 12; and Alex, 8. If you want to see what these wake-ups generally look like, check out this clip from Unbreakable CEO.
5:45-6:30 A.M.: Early-Morning Kids Workout
The four kids run around the block to start — with the dog, of course — which ends up being between half a mile and three quarters of a mile. From there they do tire flips, rope climbs, burpees, other bodyweight movements, and ladder exercises to improve footwork.
8:00 A.M.: Arrive at the Office in Boston
8:00-8:15 A.M.: Meeting With an Executive Performance Coach
Joe takes great pride in being an effective leader and communicator, and he understands how critical these skills are to running a successful company. His executive performance coach helps him continue to develop and excel in these areas.
8:15-9:00 A.M.: Daily Global Call
Spartan is in 45 countries, and the company is continually expanding into new markets and creating new products. How can one person keep a handle on all of it? In this invaluable meeting, Joe gets a rapid-fire rundown of what he needs to know from the appropriate business unit owners, offering thoughts and solutions as needed.
9:00 A.M.: Breakfast
Finally, he eats. Joe tries not to eat before 9 a.m., and when he sits down for his first meal roughly four-and-a-half hours after he first wakes up, it's predictably simple: two eggs over easy with a green salad.
9:00 A.M.-12 P.M.: Meetings, Meetings, and More Meetings
Not surprisingly, much of Joe's day consists of meeting with members of his leadership team, department heads, and potential partners. Simultaneously, he's responding to hundreds and hundreds of important emails throughout the day. A CEO must master the art of multitasking to succeed, and Joe does that all day long, with the goal of moving the needle significantly in two or three business area by day's end.
"I want to be able, at the end of the day, to pat myself on the back and say, ‘Alright, you cleared your inbox,'" he says. 'You responded to all that s***. You handled all those meetings, and you got at least two or three big rocks up the hill that day, two or three big things that you had to do that really moved the needle on the business.'
"Because a lot of people say, ‘Oh, I worked so hard.' But you can’t really say that unless you did something. What did you do? Did you bring in revenue? Did you do something that matters?"
12:00 P.M.: Lunch
Lunch comes just three hours after breakfast, and it often consists of a salad with chickpeas and avocados.
12:00-3:00 P.M.: Head Down and Working
When Joe talks about "two or three big rocks up the hill," what does he mean? It might mean making an impactful decision about whether to hold a new event or venue, or closing a deal with a potential sponsor. Joe also spends significant time talking to customers, both on the phone and via email. He takes those relationships extremely seriously, and learns a great deal from the interactions, regardless of if they're positive or negative.
3:30 P.M.-4:00 P.M.: Depart the Office
4:30 P.M.: Spend Time With the Kids
Joe's kids are extraordinarily active, as one would expect. Quality time with the kids after work likely means attending one of their games, matches, or practices, offering support and guidance. It might also mean a second workout of the day.
5:00 P.M.-6:00 P.M.: Dinner
Joe eats breakfast relatively late, but dinner is early, between 5-6 p.m. He'll often eat vegetable stir-fry with rice, though he's trying to cut down on the rice.
7:00 P.M.: Evening Workout
The second workout of the day is a quick one, with some combination of burpees, pull-ups, the rope-climb machine, or bodyweight squats.
"Anything that’s going to get the blood flowing and can be digested," Joe says.
After the workout, he cools down with his second cold shower of the day.
7:00 P.M.-8:30 P.M.: Tying Up Loose Ends at Work
Joe doesn't believe in work-life balance. He believes in work-life integration. Growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Queens, Joe was surrounded by people who owned tow truck companies, cement businesses, and pizza parlors. They didn't work 9-5. They worked whenever they had to in order to get the job done. That's the only way Joe knows how to work, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"A business is like a baby that lasts forever," he says. "It's always gotta be taken care of. I don't see how, if you're a business owner — or a high-performing team that's running a business — I don't see how you ever shut it off."
8:30-8:50 P.M.: A Quick Netflix Session
"Don't tell anybody," he told me. Sorry, Joe. Secret's out. Even the busiest, most in-demand CEOs need a little Netflix time, and Spartan's head honcho is no different. Currently he's enjoying Peaky Blinders, a British crime drama starring Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill.
9:00 P.M.: Meditation and Sleep
Joe hits the pillow at 9:00 p.m. and meditates until he passes out.
"It’s silent," he says. "I close my eyes, look at my third eye, and I’m sleeping in no time.”
Seven or eight hours later, refreshed and recharged, he does it all again.