Business Monday

Long hours at the office? CEOs say how they avoid burnout


This week’s question to the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: What kind of work hours do you keep? How do you avoid burnout?


My work hours and personal hours are, for the most part, molded together. The hours during which I am dressed and actively working in my office, meeting at a client’s office, or at a work-related event (i.e. business breakfast, client dinner, cocktail event, etc.) run approximately 10 to 14 hours a day, Monday through Friday, although some days may have exceptions. Once home at night, I check my phone for emails and respond throughout the evening and early morning, unless there is an exceptional circumstance. The same is true throughout the weekend. I absolutely love my work and thrive on it, so I can’t say I feel as if I’m working toward getting burnt out. With that said, I do carve out personal time for regular exercise, uninterrupted moments with my daughter or aging parents, and rest in general. I am a firm believer in that our minds generally need to be tuned off from business occasionally so we may rest, rejuvenate, and think creatively, which is imperative for all professionals in this competitive business environment.

Donna Abood, principal and managing director, Avison Young


I work anywhere from 50 hours to 70 hours a week, depending on the time of the year; and I’ve never suffered from burnout. I attribute that to loving what I do and keeping a sense of fun and diversity in my work. I am able to meet thousands of people, visit hundreds of places, experience the most amazing events and eat the most amazing food! All that being said, I also keep a healthy diet, drink at least a glass of wine every day, I exercise, I spend time getting inspired and I spend time traveling.

Adelee Cabrera, Regional Director, Starr Catering Group


I’m running a nonprofit, so our days are long. Top that off with the fact that I work remotely, with no rigid schedule, means I sometimes go from dusk till dawn and through the weekends, if I’m not careful. Disconnecting can be tough, but not doing so definitely leads to burnout. I am making sure to start my day with a workout, even if it’s a walking meeting with a board member. I’ve been testing out different mindfulness and meditation practices and am committed to doing a better job of sticking with it.

Laurie Kaye Davis, executive director, The Commonwealth Institute South Florida


Burnout must be avoided and there is no one answer to this question. I have learned how to create micro breaks during the day. I also find time to meditate. As for longer breaks and vacations, at present, I avoid the stress of over-programming my vacations. I also attempt to reduce stress by keeping things in perspective. The more intense the moment or issue, the more focused I am on finding a calm manner to communicate the resolution and/or handle the situation.

Albert E. Dotson Jr., partner, Bilzin Sumberg


As an administrator, my workday is not limited to a 9 to 5 schedule. Because I am accountable for the leadership and management of the Council for Educational Change, when necessary, I make myself available beyond business hours. Meetings and the delivery of Council programs and initiatives often take place before and after the standard work day. I feel that it is important to address consumer and constituent needs when they arise, if an organization is to be successful. I avoid burnout by purposefully scheduling family, recreation, and travel time. I am passionate about my work and believe that it makes a difference in the lives of children. I have two outstanding grandsons, and I want to leave a legacy of educational excellence for them. My vision for their bright futures keeps the flame alive for me, so I literally avoid burning out.

Elaine Liftin, president and executive director, Council for Educational Change


At Lionstone Development, we have a lot of exciting projects in the works so I am always on call, and my family has other business ventures abroad that need my attention as well. It’s a 24/7 job! However, I maximize my time as best as possible, such as conducting conference calls while in the car, and I have a great team around me to support all of our endeavors. It’s incredibly important to take personal time to avoid burnout, and to find hobbies or activities that take the stress of the day away. For me, my release is music, and I make a point to play guitar as much as I can and compose songs when inspiration strikes. I am also rehearsing and planning concerts with my band, Pampa y La Via. However, what really balances me out is spending time and exploring the far reaches of the world with my wife and children.

Diego Lowenstein, CEO, Lionstone Development


In a recent discussion with a group of my peers, we all concluded that the concept of a work/life balance is outmoded. It’s really more about managing a life where the personal and business overlap continuously. Business gets generated via personal relationships, which means you spend time getting to know each other. Business development occurs over meals and at social events where you’re able to foster a sincere interest in the well-being of your business partner. The easiest way to avoid burnout is by having fun every day. I’ve found you have more fun when you build upon common personal interests you have with clients and work colleagues.

Jay Pelham, president, TotalBank


Typically, I work an 11-12 hour day. In a university setting, we have student events occurring throughout the evenings and weekends, so I may attend those as well. I surround myself with a team of very capable and caring people that can represent me when I cannot be present and need to take the time off. However, I am grateful to be in higher education because I know when I need to take time off to be with family, I can take that time, especially the extended time off during the holidays. My personal commitment has been to reserve Sundays for family time and some Fridays as well, so I often say no to respect that time.

Larry Rice, president, Johnson & Wales University North Miami Campus


I usually work about 50 hours a week, and avoid burnout by developing the people under me at JAE Restaurant Group and giving them responsibility with the authority to make decisions on their own. Not micromanaging your business is a huge step to avoiding burnout and building a long-term organization for the future.

Eddie Rodriguez, CEO, JAE Restaurant Group


My hours vary, but I usually put in between 50 and 60 hours per week. Sometimes I’m in the office or sometimes I am at a contributor’s place. My favorite place to be is visiting one of the five Boys & Girls Clubs. Visiting the clubs and talking to the children helps me avoid burnout. They are always cheerful. They keep me focused and help me remember that all my hard work directly benefits them.

Alex Rodriguez-Roig, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade


I (along with my senior team) generally work six days a week. My family understands that sacrifices need to be made given my current role. Notwithstanding, I’ve found that starting work earlier on both weekdays and weekends preserves more time with my wife and kids.

Vincent Signorello, president and CEO, Florida East Coast Industries


When I’m not on an airplane or attending a conference, I try to keep my office hours to a 9 a.m.-6 p.m. day, but do find myself back online in the evenings and certainly over the weekends. An occasional three-day weekend holiday helps me rejuvenate and not burn out, as do playing tennis, watching movies and reading.

John Tanzella, president and CEO, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association


At Singer Xenos, we often like to see what is trending with world-wide equity markets. I’m generally up by 4:30 a.m. looking at markets around the world. Then start my day by 6 a.m. My day really doesn’t end due to client emails and investment research issues. We are very information/news driven. What I do to avoid burnout is exotic travel and focus on spending weekend time with my family. But burnout is very real, and I’ve experienced it. Last year, I took a sabbatical to India on the 25th anniversary at my firm. That was life-changing. I plan to do this more regularly in the future.

Faith Read Xenos, co-founding partner, Singer Xenos


The Miami Herald CEO Roundtable is a weekly feature that appears in Business Monday of the Miami Herald. Recent questions have included:

▪ When they travel for business or pleasure, do CEOS use Uber — or hail a cab?

▪ CEOs prefer balance when dealing with a defiant employee

▪ The most important issue facing South Florida this year? CEOs say it’s traffic

▪ Have you been to Cuba? CEOs discuss business and travel opportunities on the island

▪ CEOs discuss their resolutions for the New Year

▪ CEOs: Trump, ugly politics among the biggest surprises of 2016

▪ CEOs’ top request for Trump’s first 100 days: ‘Unity’

▪ CEOs won’t tolerate ugly comments in the workplace

▪ CEOs assess South Florida’s economy for 2017

▪ Did Obamacare hurt your business? South Florida CEOs respond