HR & Leadership

Celery, Sweat and Sleep—SaaS Execs on Maintaining the Energy to Lead

November 24, 2020

Early mornings, late nights and back-to-back meetings—the amount of time an executive needs to be “on” every day is nothing short of exhausting.

We’re firm believers that you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself, but we realize sometimes that’s much easier said than done. To help, we asked some of the top executives in our network to share their advice for maintaining enough energy to not just make it through busy day after busy day, but to be able to show up as strong leaders all day long. Here’s what they had to say:

“I’ve been experimenting with the Pomodoro Technique and short time intervals. It promotes a state of flow, and I get energy from checking items off my list. But when a long week calls for an extra boost, it’s hard to beat the rejuvenating properties of Haagen-Dazs chocolate-chocolate chip.”
–Jason Garoutte, VP Growth & Marketing Operations at Twilio

“Depending on how much time I have before my first meeting, I start my day by filling my own cup first. Either through exercise, meditation, making a nutritious smoothie, etc. This small act of self-care gives me the fuel to power through the day with a positive energy boost that I can pass along to my team and customers.”
–Leandra Fishman, VP Growth Sales, Twilio

“Celery juice for breakfast, break a sweat every day, and shut off notifications at the end of the day.”
–Ben Jabbawy, CEO at Privy

“In recent times, it’s become even more important to put work blocks on your calendar so you can focus on what matters. You also need to find the time to get fresh air and exercise on a regular basis.

In the age of remote working, it’s also vital not just to maintain your own energy, but to distribute energy across your team. If I put a little thought into icebreaker questions in virtual meetings, or kick off my monthly all-hands with the right entry music, it creates positive energy for all. If I call someone out for their amazing effort and performance, or check in with someone I don’t usually have one-on-one time with, they feel connected and appreciated which leads them to put more of their energy into the system.”
–Leela Srinivasan, CMO at SurveyMonkey

“Set boundaries and stick to them. Empower your partner to hold you accountable.”
–David Apple, Head of Customer Success at Notion

“1. Stay active. I take walking calls/meetings. 2. Actively drive a good mix of things that give me energy (customer calls, teammate interactions) and things that don’t give me energy (forecasting, process related stuff) that need to happen. 3. Schedule 60–90 min blocks for deep work.”
–Ashvin Vaidyanathan, Chief Customer Officer at Gainsight

“Prioritize your time on the most important things, allocate time to refill your energy tank with something you love to do whenever you can either in the morning, mid-day or at night. I start every day with my internal motto, which is ‘Make a difference.’”
–Lisa Campbell, CMO at Autodesk

“I exercise (running, biking, weights, etc.) almost every morning. It charges me up and clears my mind.”
–Peter McKay, CEO at Snyk

“Start the day with a workout to get my energy up; find windows to take a walk during the day; smile and have fun with the people I work with.”
–Carol Meyers, Board Director at Zipwhip

“2020 has really put my approach to the test! Two things that help me: 1. A daily note of gratitude to someone on my team or my family. Daily gratitude helps me maintain perspective and look outside myself. 2. Daily walks outside to let my subconscious process everything that is going on. An added energy boost for me comes from enjoying the mountain views in Utah on those walks.”
–Brandon Peay, EVP and GM of Skills at Pluralsight

“Leadership can be exhausting, and I find it’s best done when you have a purpose that provides focus to your work, that energizes you on the hard days, and that in the long run brings you a level of satisfaction well above the investment it requires. For me, this type of purpose goes well beyond having a certain type of exit or making a certain amount of money. This is the type of purpose that becomes your higher calling. It is the type of purpose that gets you out of bed. It’s something you are proud to share with everyone you’re engaged with personally and professionally. When you have this type of purpose, you are able to better enjoy the journey (all of its ups and downs) versus being overly focused on an event or outcome.

My personal purpose is to empower people to achieve their true potential. I get very energized pulling together, creating space and inspiring amazing human beings to take risks, be vulnerable, reach for new levels and achieve great impact.

At Puppet our company purpose is to empower people to digitally innovate safely and at scale. While infrastructure isn’t the most-talked-about thing in technology, it is critical. The world is increasingly being digitized and software is being integrated into all aspects of our lives. We have an important and growing role in helping ensure the safety and scalability of that software by enabling infrastructure that is actionable, scalable and intelligent in an increasingly hybrid, multi-cloud, and cloud-native world. While not always easy, what gets me out of bed every day is that I know I am making an important difference in people’s lives.”
–Yvonne Wassenaar, CEO at Puppet

“Seven hours of sleep per night, exercise regularly, take mental breaks throughout the day and enjoy a two-week vacation twice per year!”
–Rashida Hodge, VP, North America Global Markets at IBM

“I have a very strict wind-down routine before bed that I rarely deviate from. A solid night of sleep is the ultimate endurance and productivity hack.”
–Jesse Miller, Head of Growth at Dropbox

More leadership advice

Partner at OpenView

Casey leads the end-to-end strategy & programming for OpenView’s network of industry experts, advisors & corporate partners. Her role is focused on creating connections between founders & their teams and the partners, advisors, board members & events they need to reach their goals. Additionally, she manages the OpenView portfolio peer networks and hosts the #WeeklyWalk series.