CEO: At what cost? Corporate well-being.

CEO: At what cost?


Hi, it’s Jef again. I hope you enjoyed the last article on fasting. This article was going to be about the power of organ meats in your diet. While researching, I came accross an article on corporate well-being from the INSIDER and changed my mind. It also supports my views on the effects of stress on high performance individuals. Hence, I found it compelling to share this information.

The information is based on the research of a group of researchers from Yale, Harvard, University of California, Berkley and a few other prestigious American universities, published in March of this year. The long-term effects of experiencing high levels of stress at work on the mortality and aging of CEOs has been estimated, by collecting a sample of 3086 photos of CEOs from Fortune 500. They used AI to analyze the images of the before and after, through industry crisis or situations of takeover protection. In the first case it suggests exposure to a distress shock would visibly age them 1 up to 3 years over a 10 year period. In the latter “”For a typical CEO, the effect of the anti-takeover laws is equivalent to making the CEO two years younger,” essentially increasing their lifespan by two years, it concluded”. Harvard states on their paper “distress exposure significantly increases a CEO’s mortality-risk”

This evidence, makes me strongly believe that corporate well-being should have a more solid approach towards our CEOs more than ever. Even if CEOs seem privileged at first glance. In reality, they are over-worked, stressed,carrying the weight of failure (as much as success).  It can get lonely at the top.

According to Mayo Clinic data, CEO’s are at greater risk for:

  • Sleep depravation (which can impair performance, judgement, memory and mood),
  • Heart disease (those working 55hs/week have 16% higher risk of it than those working 45hs/week),
  • Depression – mood swings (40% or more of CEOs may suffer depression which is double the rate of general public),
  • Stroke (higher levels of stress correlate with stroke, and increased travel increases risk) and
  • Diabetes / obesity (closely related to sedentary lifestyle and diet).

Leaders should be “fit to lead”. What does this mean exactly? We are not merely referring to their general level of fitness, we are talking from a holistic approach. Thus, readiness is a key element of corporate well-being and of any smart health plan. You achieve readiness when you train to carry out an activity at your highest performance, at a given time, with the lowest biological cost. And that, is the secret of sustainable long-term performance (that, and not having a preventable premature death!).

The aforementioned, brings us to biological cost. Let’s say you are 45, making 6 figures, healthy, happy… Tomorrow you recieve an offer for a job that will make you wealthy enough for the next 2 generations. Suddenly your dreams of retiring in a beach in Brazil, while your spouse sips on a coconut, leaving your kids settled, don’t seem farfetched. Because of the new job, you will also be seeing your family 30% less, travel 20% more, sleep less etc… So what is the health (mental and physical) impact of the new lifestyle you are about to embark on really?.

Undoubtly, many variables are at play here. But if you don’t make a smart plan, chances are your relationships will start suffering and your health might become weaker. By the time you had planned to buy your pousada in Brazil you could be taking beta-blockers, overweight and trying to save your marriage… All of these, become your biological cost.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take the job. I’m saying PLAN, know the risks, learn the tricks, get into biohacking and build on your fitness, immunity and spirit so you can enjoy the fruit of your efforts! Have a great week.

JEF, Herculean Alliance partner in Corporate Wellbeing