Are You Fit For Leadership? Tips From A Fortune 500 VP

This is a guest post by Jeff Popoff, a leading online health coach who specializes in helping business people lead stronger and lead longer. Previously he served as Vice President in a Fortune 500 company as well as several Silicon Valley startups. He is a LinkedIn Top 25 Executive Health Coach and a Contributor to the Men's Health Network. You can learn more at

Hola. My name is Jeff and I run my online business from a 50-foot sailboat somewhere in the East Pacific Ocean. I ran across Alex's blog one day and became an instant fan for life. He is the real deal who gets real results (unlike most people who just talk about it). As Alex points out in his story, you don't have to fall apart like I did before you can get it together.

A Fast-Easy-Way To A Better Life

There are two ways to live life: The slow. . . freakin'. . .hard. . .way. OR the fast-easy-way. The slow. . . freakin'. . .hard. . .way looks like this:

Good judgment comes from experience, Experience comes from bad judgment.

This way of learning takes TIME. Who the hell has that kind of time? It's painful for me to admit this but I wasted 20. . . 20#$%#@!!! . . .YEARS of my time.

Don't be a dumbass like me, and DON'T DO these things:

1. Follow the rules, study hard and get good grades:
I got 3 gold stars by my name in kindergarten. I was such a little tool.

2. Get a job, work hard, be a company man:
I bought into EVERY line of corporate initiative bullshit. Everyone but me could see I was an idiot.

3. Sacrifice everything to get to the top of the ladder:
Every promotion meant a little more pay for a LOT more hours. The higher I climbed, the LESS I made per hour.


The Consequences... 

My reward for learning the slow. . . freakin'. . .hard. . .way?

  • I gained 55 lbs due to neglecting my health. In India, being fat is a sign of prosperity. My Indian friends kept telling me "Mr Jeff, you are VERY VERY prosperous".
  • I was away from home 21 days a month...which led to divorce. I traveled the world closing multi-million dollar deals. My ex-wife got a 50% commission in the settlement.
  • I traveled so much for business I didn't want to travel for vacation. I was so BUSY making a living...that I had no time left over to live life.

I followed the conventional wisdom of slow. . . freakin'. . .hard. Eventually I made several million dollars in high-tech. And I was completely miserable.

There had to be a better way.

Let me cut right to the chase. The fast-easy-way is so simple I COMPLETELY missed it. It works like this:

Observe successful people and copy their habits. That is all.

This is key: pick heroes you personally admire and feel inspired to emulate.

Don't be a dumbass like me and fall into the trap of copying heroes that society says you "should".

Let me share one simple example of how this works in practice.


You Are Not A Brain In A Jar

Executive Brain In Jar

Remember Maslow's hierarchy?

I coach successful executives who are peak performers at the top of the business pyramid.

But often they suffer from "brain in a jar syndrome". Like I once did.

"Brain in the Jar" syndrome simply means pursuing the highest levels of Maslow's hierarchy at the expense of the foundational levels.

BUT, there is a fast-easy-way to over come brain in a jar syndrome!

Great business leaders routinely put it at the top of their list. So listen up and learn from their example and copy their habits:

  • Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle and ranked as the fifth wealthiest person on Earth, follows a disciplined gym routine to maintain his strength and stamina.[1]
  • Elon Musk, founder Tesla and SpaceX, co-founder PayPal and multi-billionaire businessman works out regularly and plays sports like tennis and swimming.[1]
  • Tim Cook, CEO Apple Inc. is known to be a fitness freak and loves cycling, hiking, and hits the gym on a regular basis.[1]

Clearly a foundation of solid-health plays a key role supporting the brains of these business leaders.

Why is this the case? Why do they do it? And how can you use this fast-easy-way in your business?

Consider the following reasons and tips:

  • Productivity
    • Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has stated that working out gives him at least four extra hours each day to be productive. Consider the other side of the coin: health-related productivity losses account for 77% of all employee productivity losses according to this .
    • Tip: Research shows that productivity falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours, so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours. Reinvest those non-productive office hours into your health by shifting your mindset and habits.
  • Leadership Strength
    • Your personal brand matters in your career and your health and fitness is a part of your brand. Did you know that men worry more about their appearance than their jobs? (according to a recent TODAY/AOL survey). A study in the Journal of Labor Research found workers who exercise regularly earn 9 percent more on average than employees who don't work out. Even those who work out just one to three times a week see a slight earning advantage over their sedentary peers, making slightly more than 5 percent in additional pay.
    • Tip: It pays to make fitness a part of your personal brand. Think of working out as giving your career a raise.
  • Travel Stamina
    • Increased success in your career often means increased business travel. Early morning flights and late evening client dinners disrupts normal sleeping, eating, and exercise routines. Many tired executives struggle with stress-eating on the road.
    • Tip: Healthy road warriors travel with energy bars to forgo airport food, and develop simple bodyweight routines they can do in their hotel rooms.
  • Networking
    • In the not so distant past, savvy career climbers knew how to to network with senior executives over a cigarette or a drink. Times have changed, and now a smart way to network is at the gym or playing sports. Workplace wellness challenges are becoming more popular because they are fun and also promote lots of networking and camaraderie.
    • Tip: Consider pedaconferencing. Like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg (FaceBook) and Jack Doresy (Square) are believers in walking meetings.
  • Appearance Bias
    • While it's not fair, experts agree that a person's appearance can affect the outcome of one's job search and potential for advancement in the workplace. Obese workers (those who have a Body Mass Index of more than 30) are paid less than normal-weight coworkers at a rate of $8,666 a year for obese women, and $4,772 a year for obese men, according to a George Washington University cited by
    • Tip: Besides being unhealthy, extra weight could be costing you money in your career. Many companies offer financial wellness incentives including discounts on health insurance, subsidized weight management programs, and health coaching.

So now you know two fast-easy-ways to a successful life:

  1. Emulate heros:
    • Pick people you admire -- copy their shit.
  2. Take care of your foundation (health):
    • If leading CEOs can find time for their health -- so can you.

PLEASE don't be like me and take 20 years of making mistakes to figure this out the slow. . . freakin'. . .hard. . .way

Jeff Popoff is a leading online health coach who specializes in helping business people lead stronger and lead longer. Previously he served as Vice President in a Fortune 500 company as well as several Silicon Valley startups. He is a LinkedIn Top 25 Executive Health Coach and a Contributor to the Men's Health Network.

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