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Schedule Like a CEO

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Editor’s Note: Sister publications Springfield Business Journal and Joplin Tri-State Business Journal teamed up to ask executives across southwest Missouri what it takes to get through hectic workweeks.  

Rise and Shine
How do you start your mornings, and what is the first thing you do every day when you get to work?
I do quite a bit of traveling, but when I’m in town I always set my alarm for 5:30 a.m., and it rarely goes off before I’m already up. After getting ready for work, I always stop by to have a cup of coffee with my mother, and then I try to get to the office by 7 or a little before. It’s a pretty quiet time here between 7 and 8. Chief Operating Officer Karl Glassman also comes in early, which is very helpful because that’s a good time to discuss any key issues before the day really gets going. The rest of the day is sort of a meeting fest, quite honestly. —David Haffner

Face Time
How do you decide who gets an in-person meeting versus a phone call?
I am fortunate to have an assistant I can hide behind. She knows the business well enough to make the appointments. She is an expert on time management and knows when to say yes and no. If they get by her and see me, I just say yes and mess everything up. —Jack Stack

How many meetings do you schedule/attend on an average day or week, and how do you prioritize them?
I might have up to seven meetings per day depending on the length of the meetings and the location. Many times, the meetings are ones I have asked to be scheduled for issues that must be addressed in a given timeframe. I try to be available for others (at City Utilities) or for meetings with others in the community when they are scheduled. —John Twitty

I try to return every one of my calls, if they’re legitimate calls. I think that’s common courtesy. … The old adage that I try to ascribe to is that you have to make yourself available. —David Haffner

I am a firm believer in empowerment. When you’re able to empower teammates throughout your organization to make decisions, your customers receive better service. I think at the end of the day, most people just want to talk to a decision maker who can help them. That’s not necessarily the CEO or manager. —Doug Doll, Arvest Bank

Break for Lunch
Are working lunches a regular part of your workweek? How often do you conduct business during the lunch hour?
On the average, two to three (working lunches) during the week and at least once during the weekend. I also try to go eat with students in the cafeteria when I do not have a working lunch planned. Two or three times a month, my wife and I will have a quiet lunch together at home, which is currently Sunvilla Tower. —James Cofer

Working lunches are essential, whether I’m working on a project at my desk during lunch, or enjoying lunch with the ADsmith staff. I frequently buy lunch for the staff, allowing us to brainstorm or simply build teamwork (during) lunch. Of course, client lunches are also important, and because most of my clients are also friends, I enjoy the time we spend discussing their businesses and their families. —Angela D. Smith

Yes, they are a pretty regular part of my week. Using a lunch or breakfast can be a good way to combine business with a meal. —John Twitty

Tied to Technology
How do you manage high volumes of e-mail amid other demands on your time? What technological gadgets or software do you use regularly?
My delete key gets a workout. I open nothing up that looks or smells like junk or spam, which the filters should catch for me but often don’t. Most of my time is spent on MacBook Pro for work related business, iPad for leisure power browsing on the run and an iPhone. (I use) mobile apps for fun, business and casual browsing. —Bob Noble

The high volume of e-mail I receive is one of my greatest challenges. … My iPhone is a crucial tool these days. I never stop thinking about my clients, so remaining in touch with them is always a priority. In recent years, I’ve added staff to assist me with scheduling my calendar, responding to e-mail, texts and calls in a timely manner. If I cannot personally respond to a legitimate request from a vendor, I make sure the appropriate ADsmith team member does. By forwarding messages to others who have more available time, we can determine the necessity and urgency of each e-mail. —Angela D. Smith

How much time do you spend with social media/blogging for work?
I spend about six hours a week writing a blog for The New York Times. —Jack Stack

I’m on the Internet in some form or another four to six hours a day – maybe a half hour in some form of social networking – posting to Facebook, Twitter and sometimes LinkedIn, and joining conversations through article comment sections. –Bob Noble

Keeping Up Connections
How do you stay connected to your front-line and midlevel employees?
Meetings, meetings, meetings – twice a month with executive staff, twice a month with all the subsidiary staffs and continuous plant tours with visitors and customers. —Jack Stack

I enjoy being in the factories. That happens more when I’m in Carthage because of logistics. I would say I visit the factories about 20 times a year. It used to be close to 100 times a year when I was (chief operating officer). There is no better feeling than being able to interact with your front-line employees and give them the opportunity to have them tell you what they like and don’t like in the company. I’ve had other CEOs ask why I put myself on the firing line, but I think that allows us to tighten the knit of the group and of the whole team. —David Haffner

How much time do you spend working with nonprofit or community groups?
I would estimate spending approximately three to four hours per week. It’s easy to become over-committed, so I try to have a meaningful participation with three or four nonprofit and/or community agencies. —Doug Doll

A fair amount – currently I serve on the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Board of Directors. In the past, I’ve served on the boards of local chambers of commerce, the United Way and other not-for-profit entities. —Bill Gipson

Ready to Unwind
How do you decompress after the workday?
Deborah and I like to attend a cultural, athletic or some other university event that includes MSU students. We like to just sit back and enjoy watching our students perform. —James Cofer

Tell us how you make sure to have family time during the workweek.
My parents, and my grandparents before them, owned and operated Central Printing Co. (and) my father – who celebrates his 81st birthday next month – is still an active minister, and has been in ministry my entire life. Serving others at all times of the day and night is something I’ve always understood and accepted. I cannot remember a point in my career that allowed me the luxury of a 40-hour workweek, and for my family, this is normal. Even so, family events are huge for us, and … can be a softball game, a concert, all birthdays and holidays, and definitely, travel. I spend time each morning creating a daily priority list that includes both business and family needs.  —Angela D. Smith

When does your workday end?
Most days by 5:30 or 6 p.m., sometimes evening meetings until 9 p.m. or so. I do attempt to not let work disrupt family life too much; balance is important to your mental well-being. —Doug Doll

How often do you try to take a day off?
I’ll take a day off here and there to spend time with my wife, Jean. I also schedule vacation time through the year, and we might travel somewhere or just be around the house. Time away is very refreshing. —John Twitty

Are you able to spend much down time reading? What do you most like to read?
I read a lot for work and not a lot otherwise, but when I do read for pleasure, I prefer fiction. John Grisham is my favorite author. I just finished his latest novel, “The Confession.” —Bill Gipson

I like to keep up on current events, particularly those that might affect health care. Therefore, much of my reading is done on my Blackberry or computer. I use Twitter to stay on top of newspaper headlines from across Missouri and around the nation. Twitter is also a great resource to learn about what other CEOs are thinking in terms of health care and general business. To keep track of local and national media, I subscribe to several services that monitor news updates. I frequently turn to my Kindle to stay on top of reading. Recreational reading, unfortunately, is limited mostly to travel times. When I get the chance, though, I enjoy John Grisham novels, any kind of  “whodunit,” futuristic-style fiction, and nonfiction. —Gary Duncan

Compiles by SBJ Features Editor Maria Hoover,, and JTBJ Editor Chris Roberts,[[In-content Ad]]


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