What does a CEO do on the weekend to stay productive? The answer may surprise you.

Liz Warren

What’s a normal weekend like for CEOs in New York City? The answer might surprise you. While you might imagine hours spent on strategy sessions or tying up some loose ends, it’s actually a lot more tame for some executives. We talked to five local CEOs who lead very different lives during the week, but all agree on one thing: Weekends are for rest.   


Teampay enables companies to request, approve and track employee spending in real-time. There’s always work to be done when you’re the founder of a startup, and that’s especially the case with a company as new as Team Labs (it started in November 2016). Founder and CEO Andrew Hoag explained how he’s able to keep a work/life balance.

What’s your weekend routine like?

My weekend routine consists of one day of catching up on emails and work — usually Saturday. As a CEO, this is the only time I really get to myself without (many) meetings, and allows me more space to focus on tasks that need deep attention. On Sunday, I completely turn off. I don't open emails, check Slack notifications or try to respond to anything. I find it's really important to have a day completely away, and even the smallest peek at your inbox can interrupt that recuperation.

Why is it helpful for you to keep that routine?

Because I don't get enough time during the week to step back and think, I enjoy having some time on the weekends when my schedule isn't driven by a calendar. But I also think shutting that part of your brain completely off for at least a day is incredibly critical and allows you to recharge before the start of the week. This is my second time as CEO (sold my first company) and I can say I didn't honor the boundaries enough the first time around, so it was a hard lesson learned. Like working out a muscle, you need to avoid overtraining. By not having a part of me constantly attuned to work, it actually makes me more effective and better when I am focused.


Fig Loans is a fintech startup that helps consumers through financial emergencies. Last year was a busy one for the company, which graduated Techstars in May and Village Capital in September. CEO Jeff Zhou explains how he’s been able to use his weekends to stay balanced.

What's your weekend routine like?

Between Friday and Saturday, I take 24 hours off from work. I spend three hours each day at the gym not only to work out but also to roll stress spots and stretch. On Sunday, I write and review code because I need a dedicated block of uninterrupted time to do my best work, which never happens during the week.

Why is it helpful for you to keep that routine?

It’s important to take a break on weekends because, similar to exercise, rest and recovery is important for progress. However, if you’re looking for large, beautiful blocks of uninterrupted time to do activities that require deeper engagement (like development), the weekend is the perfect time.


You know Coveteur as a digital publication that’s covered exclusive, luxury content on celebrities and the fashion elite since 2011. President and CEO Warren Webster told us exactly what he does on the weekends to keep the site successful after all these years. 

What’s your weekend routine like?

Most weekends, you'll find me with friends or family escaping the city. I like to keep moving, and in the summer I might be sailing in Maine. In the winter, I head up to Stowe, VT, for skiing. When spending a weekend in the city, my friends and I like to explore new restaurants and maybe see a band. And I really try to get some exercise (sorry gym, I'll see you again soon I promise!).

Why is it helpful for you to keep that routine?

More often than not, our business doesn't necessarily slow down on the weekends that much, so I'm in regular contact with our team. That said, taking time for yourself and for fun is going to pay off in the long-run. I make a point to take vacation and be off-duty. Sometimes it’s not easy to do, and I love what I do, so fun and work aren't mutually exclusive.


Butterfly.ai is a web platform that offers real-time leadership coaching to continuously develop managers based on their team’s feedback. As a company that’s based on management improvement, it’s especially important for CEO and co-founder David Mendlewicz to make sure there’s always a good balance between work and play.

What’s your weekend routine like?

Working in tech, I'm a strong believer that unplugging from technology can give a different and fresher perspective to the problems we're solving on behalf of our clients. On the weekends, I like to catch up on my sleep, take in art and enjoy meals with friends. A few times a year I also like to book a couple of days away in a cabin. My co-founders and I put in long hours at the office during the week, but we scale back on the weekends. We always check in on Slack and email at least once a day over the weekend, but we don't expect our team members to do so. Downtime is important at a fast-growing company where things move fast and the stakes are high.

Why is it helpful for you to keep that routine?

As an employee intelligence software company, we know better than most that work/life balance is super important to keeping teams healthy, happy and productive. In fact, we published some research earlier this year that showed that the factor that most correlates to overall employee happiness, above things like work environment and team dynamics, is work/life balance!


Betterment is the fintech company that recently raised a $70 million funding round — so you know there must be a lot going on in their office lately. CEO Jon Stein talked to us about how his weekends are a chance for him to regroup and start the week ready to take on anything that comes his way.

What’s your weekend routine like?

I have two daughters, ages one and three, so the weekends are a great opportunity for me to bond with the family. Summer weekends are always great too as we love to host and entertain friends, the Betterment team and family on our deck. When Sunday night rolls around, I often go through my emails from the weekend and get my schedule set for Monday. I also read whenever I get the chance — usually a biography.

Why is it helpful for you to keep that routine?

It’s about finding the right balance. It’s productive to take a step back and refresh on the weekends rather than using all of your energy on work.


Images via Shutterstock.

Know more companies that deserve coverage? Let us know or tweet us @builtinnewyork.

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