December 18, 2017
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A-Game

How busy executives stay energized and focused
From top: Robert Keller, Linda White, and Mike Hinton

It’s no secret that in today’s fast-paced world we feel pressured to accomplish more in less time. So how do we manage our to-do lists in the daily 24 hours we all have? In 2011, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found those who exercise at least 2.5 hours per week feel more productive, accomplish more, and take fewer sick days. In an interview, Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson said running every day keeps his endorphins going and his brain functioning well. “I definitely can achieve twice as much in a day by keeping fit,” he said.

Another tip for higher productivity at work comes from the late Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, who suggests taking an unforgiving look at all commitments, projects, and goals, and deciding which ones are great and which ones are “crap.” It’s key, he told Nike CEO Mark Parker, to “get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.”

Closer to home, Evansville Business spoke with three local professionals, all of whose workweeks far exceed the traditional 40 hours, about how they tackle their demanding schedules.

With such a busy schedule, what do you do to stay on track?
Keller: Even on the weekends, Keller writes out a to-do list every morning in his little black book. “I have at least 10 filled up,” he says. Although he almost always has carry-overs from the day before, the list gives him something tangible to guide him.

White: Calendars and attitude. Keeping notes and dates is how White stays on target, but it’s the attitude she brings with her each day that gets the job done. “I had a very influential father. He inspired me to give work everything I had,” she says. “For him, it was never work, but just “I have a job to do.” Work never had a negative connotation — it was an honor.”

Hinton: Electronics have proved to be Hinton’s saving grace. “I always had assistants who were very good at keeping me organized,” he says, “and the worst thing they did was give me a calendar of my own to take with me.” Now, with a Blackberry, an iPad, and computer all linked, “I can’t possibly screw it up because it’s all right there in real time.”

How would you describe your leadership influence/style?
Keller: Throughout his time as CEO, Keller has had to prioritize. “One idea I have learned,” he says, “is that good leaders define what must be done, but great leaders also decide what must be given up to reach the goal.” He’s tried to incorporate that idea into the internal affairs at Escalade: eliminating unnecessary meetings and focusing on a smaller amount of key brands. Keller also is motivated by a 30-year-old promise he made as a Boy Scout: to keep himself “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” “Those words are more than just words to me,” he says. “They’re an oath.”

White: For White, successful leadership lies in the ability to delegate and empower others. “No one person can do it all,” she says. “It’s all about teamwork and relationship building and giving everyone opportunities to do their best.” White sees each person at Deaconess as key players and she knows nearly all of them by name — from housekeepers to executives.

Hinton: “I have been one of the most fortunate people,” says Hinton. “I don’t think I’ve ever been without a mentor.” From his father to his bosses, there’s always been somebody to look to. One lesson he’s learned is the proper treatment of others. As someone who enjoys a challenge when it comes to the freedom to use his own thoughts and ideas, Hinton strives to give those opportunities to his employees. “That’s the way I like to treat other people,” he says, “but I really like to get some consensus built around direction before we head off.”

As the face of the company, do you feel that physical image is important? 
Keller: As the face of Escalade, Keller strives to represent his company as a well-rounded leader. “That includes my physical image,” he says. “I believe in living your brand. Being that we are an active and fun brand, I try to exercise every week, eat healthy, and take care of myself.” The Escalade brand is sporting goods — to live it, Keller gets to play with it. Currently, the CEO is into bow hunting. “We’re making products that are exciting and fun — we should be engaged in them.” With his bow pulled back, he leads by example.

White: “I try to incorporate physical fitness into every day,” says White. “We (Deaconess) are a face of health to the community.” It’s important for her and the entire staff at Deaconess Health System to stay in tune with their health. To help them keep up, the hospital requires an annual wellness screening for each employee, which tracks blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking habits, BMI, body fat, and blood glucose. If someone falls outside of the standard, says White, they are then required to attend health coaching. “It’s not a perfect way,” she adds, “but it is an incentive.”

Hinton: Portraying a good, clean image to clients is something Hinton expects of all of his employees. “You certainly don’t have to look like Brad Pitt,” he says, “but it would be wrong to ignore how you come across and what you look like.” As for himself, Hinton still uses the same barber he’s used for years, and has been a longtime customer of Scott Osborne at Tom James Company, a manufacturer and retailer of custom clothing. As long as they’re performing, Hinton sticks with them. “That’s exactly what I hope my clients will do,” he says.

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