The Successful CEO’s Eight Days of Christmas

The Successful CEO’s Eight Days of Christmas

Christmas is, without question, the best time of year in our household. Family and friends gather, and I usually get some downtime. Over the years I’ve developed a regime of assessment, renewal, and recharging that I thought I’d share with other business leaders like you.

During this slower season, it might be nice to just shut down and recharge completely. But if you’re like me and you can never completely relax, having a set of activities you can do over eight days gives you a way to prepare for the coming year while helping you feel both recharged and reinvigorated.

Why eight? Most of us high-performing CEOs won’t take the proverbial twelve days for ourselves. Eight is a little more doable. So here are my eight suggestions to help CEOs feel ready for 2019!

Day 1: Take stock
Start the season off by stepping back and taking stock of your business. This could be a morning of looking at the forecast or scanning your competitors’ websites. Whether you choose to do an internal or external assessment, use this slower time to look at your business through a different lens. Resist the urge to take action. Instead, use this day as an opportunity to take in as much as you can about your business without operating at the usual frenetic pace.

Day 2: Read and read some more
As leaders, we have an insatiable appetite to learn. Christmas is my favorite time to read everything I haven’t had the time to get to. Be very specific in your approach. I start with the macro and work back to my business—I find this offers me the best context on my corporate strategy. For example, I start by reading the New York Times business section, articles from global business forums, and websites that have truly great content on trends and insights. Then I work back geographically into the broader local market and then to my specific industry.

Day 3: Take care of your body
My wife is Italian. Need I say more? The food and the traditions of Christmas on the plate and in the glass are spectacular, as I’m sure they are for you. The usual routine is out the window during this season, so go with the flow but remember to take care of your body. Over Christmas I typically ramp up my exercise to balance what I know is coming. Take this day to plan new physical activities you can incorporate into your lifestyle, either temporarily or into the new year.

Day 4: Set your personal goals for the year ahead
Every Christmas I revisit my goals for the past year and write new goals for the year ahead. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been doing this, but it is truly a fantastic exercise. I look forward to it as it usually involves my immediate family setting goals together for a family trip, an experience, or an activity we will all do together. When you’re setting your personal goals, include specific, tangible actions that will help you achieve them.

Day 5: Seek out other CEOs and connect
Because many workplaces slow down, Christmas is one of the best times to get together with other CEOs. I gather with a group of fellow leaders and plan specific one-on-ones with others to discuss areas of my business. This gives me different perspectives and valuable insights. I specifically target leaders that have very different leadership styles from my own. This provides me with the broadest view of the business and ensures my blind spots are covered.

Day 6: Celebrate your team’s success
You likely have a company Christmas party, a great opportunity to have everyone on the team come together. Why not go a step further to show your team how much you value them? For example, I handwrite a personal note to all senior leaders in the company, thanking them for all they’ve done over the past year and customizing it by mentioning a personal contribution that impacted the company.

Day 7: Optimize your Christmas networking
If you’ve had your head down in the business, this is a great time to network and see what’s going on around you. I’ve learned a great deal from the Christmas party circuit, getting insights on emerging trends, exciting startups, and the outlook for the year ahead. I try to be very strategic in balancing these work-related events with family priorities. If you plan carefully and attend the Christmas parties that will give you the most information, you’ll find there’s room for both.

Day 8: Rest and recharge
Lastly, take the time to rest and recharge. As leaders, we need this time to make sure we’re ready for the new year. Take this day to do things that you enjoy and find relaxing. For me, that’s long walks with the family and our dogs, some extended time sitting by the fireplace with a book I’ve been meaning to get to and reading the New York Times Sunday edition from cover to cover with good coffee and classical Christmas carols playing for ambience.

I hope you all have a memorable holiday season. On behalf of all of us at CEO Insights, my sincere best wishes for a safe and rejuvenating Christmas and a great 2019!

Larry Kaumeyer
CEO Insights

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