"My life is my work. My work is my life."
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So says Damola Adamolekun, former Wall Street whiz-turned-CEO-of casual-dining restaurant chain P.F. Chang's. In the midst of the remote work revolution, employees worldwide have been fighting for a better work-life balance, pushing back against employer mandates to return to office and advocating for four-day workweeks. Even global superstar Rihanna recently expressed that finding "balance is almost impossible."
But for Adamolekun, work and life have never been separate. "I never really have been a person that separated work and life,” he tells Fortune. “It mixes.”
That might be because the 34-year-old has a lot on his plate. He’s one of the few Black CEOs leading a major U.S. company; there are only six black CEOs in the Fortune 500, and only 8% of C-Suite executives are Black, according to a 2021 Washington Post analysis of the 50 most valuable companies. And Adamolekun balances running the helm with his job as a partner at Paulson & Co., the hedge fund that acquired the Asian-inspired restaurant chain in 2019.
It follows a successful career in private equity, where Adamolekun worked at top companies, including Goldman Sachs and TPG Capital. He says he dedicated his finance era to "working all the time," even on the weekends.
"I thought it was fun. So it wasn't like I had to go in on a Saturday," Adamolekun said. "It was like ‘I got stuff to do, and I want to knock it out, or I want to look at something.’"
It’s not unlike the life of many financiers and CEOs, who are known for logging after work hours to get the job done. He says he still works on the weekends and can sometimes be found checking emails by the pool.
Although Adamolekun has never prioritized finding a work-life balance, he acknowledges that work impacts people differently. "It's an individual thing,” he says, adding that you should separate the two if work is stressful. That’s why he encourages employees to build in "buffers," taking a day off on a Tuesday or Wednesday since weekends are usually busy at the restaurant due to higher demand.
But for him, despite all the pressures of being a chief executive, "work doesn't stress [him] out.”
Adamolekun gave Fortune a sneak peak into his daily routine, which kicks off at 4 a.m. sharp.
From a.m. runs to p.m. cigarsAdamolekun's view on his morning runAdamolekun's home officeAdamolekun's view on his drive to workAdamolekun's P.F. Chang's officeAdamolekun finishes his day with a cigar on the patio4:30 a.m.: Adamolekun’s motto: "Early to bed, early up."
He begins his day with a seven to eight-mile run, which he says helps him feel less stressed and more relaxed. The aerobic exercise routine stimulates his "calm, relaxed, autonomous nervous system,” Adamolekun says, unlike the sympathetic nervous system, which trigger's your body's fight or flight reaction.
There’s a reason you feel good when you workout, he adds: "You'll feel better the whole day; you'll be smarter, you'll be sharper, you'll be more energetic."
6:00 a.m.: After his run, Adamolekun showers and prepares to head to P.F. Chang's headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Before hitting the road, he takes a few minutes to review the chain's performance numbers from the previous day in his home office, checking to see if they aligned with the company’s expectations.
7:00 a.m.: Adamolekun arrives at the headquarters, a 20-minute drive from his house, and casually meets with the COO and CFO before jumping into a day full of meetings. His schedule is packed with internal and external meetings.
In between meetings, Adamolekun manages emails, prioritizing the most essential tasks to ensure employees are being met with timely approvals to move forward with their work.
6:00 p.m.: When the day's meetings are over, Adamolekun clears his inbox and heads home. But, his work day doesn't exactly stop there.
As the CEO of a major restaurant chain, Adamolekun is no stranger to mixing business with dinner, often meeting with colleagues and connections after the traditional nine-to-five workday ends.
As he puts it, "It's a hospitality business, so a lot of dinners are involved."
On the occasions when Adamolekun can go straight home without any post-work affairs, he relaxes with a cigar on the patio, ending his day the same way he starts by activating his parasympathetic nervous system.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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