How do CEOs stay calm?

– Xochielt Sanchez

Answer by Auren Hoffman:

Being a CEO is really hard, but it is not nearly as stressful as most people think.

CEOs, especially those running private companies, have much more control of their time than people that work directly for them.  They are the ones that set the meetings and others are often having to reschedule around them.  They are usually setting the tempo and the urgency around the projects.  And while they have perfect information around their life, they often have limited information around the lives of their subordinates.  

Stress at work is super correlated to how much of your time do you control.  A CEO might work 70 hours a week, but she can mostly plan around which 70 hours she works.

By contrast, many other high-impact jobs have less control over their time.  This is especially true in services industries.  Corporate lawyers and investment bankers are often at the whim of their clients and have many more incidences of having to cancel the family vacation, missing an important social engagement, etc. than CEOs do. 

Also — most CEOs feel (rightly or wrongly) that they are relatively good at their job and that they are the CEO for a reason.  This confidence reduces stress.  In fact, many CEOs are more stressed at home than at work.  At work they are an expert at what they do whereas they might not feel like they are an expert parent, neighbor, friend, etc.

For me personally, my most stressful work experiences have been when I was not CEO.  Being CEO is definitely not a cakewalk — it is hard and there is some stress, but there are many, many high-impact jobs which are more stressful.

How do CEOs stay calm?


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