Here’s What 8 Philly CEOs Really Do on the Weekends

Whether they see Friday to Sunday as a time to unplug or keep working, here are the routines that help these local leaders recharge, stay grounded, and get ahead. 

Here’s how 8 Philly CEOs and execs balance work, family and fun on the weekends. iStock | baona

Though there’s a lot of discussion about what goes into a perfect weekend, there really is no right or wrong way to do it. Some people treat the weekend as sacred time to connect with family and friends, while others catch up on emails and put in extra hours to gear up for the work week. We asked eight local CEOs and executives about their weekend philosophy. Here’s what they said about balancing work, family and fun from Friday to Sunday:

Tina Wells

CEO, Buzz Marketing Group
“My goal is to come into Monday supercharged.”

Weekends are for connecting with friends and family and enjoying some time at home. I normally indulge in longer workouts like hot yoga and pilates (with some cryotherapy) and spend a lot of time cooking for the week ahead. If it’s fall, I spend time in farmer’s markets trying to source local fruits and veggies for dishes. I also spend a lot of time on the weekends with my niece, Phoebe.

I started my company when I was 16, and didn’t have a weekend off for 10 years. Now, I hate the idea of any kind of work on the weekends. Of course I end up spending time on strategy or big picture, but weekends are not for follow-up emails.

Weekends are for getting lost in thought, long conversations with friends over brunch, figuring out new recipes, planning trips. Weekends are sacred.

Russ Starke

CEO, Think Company
“I really feel that having dedicated time to use my brain and even just exist in different ways than I do during the work week actually is preparation for the next one.”

A typical weekend would be running the kids around to various games and birthday parties, hopefully sneaking in some downtime at home with friends and family (though too often I fill in that downtime fixing and/or building things around the house), and whenever possible, sneaking out with my wife at night for dinner and a concert.

Time with family is my number one priority right now. My kids are in early grade school and still want to hang with their parents, so I’m soaking it up while that’s still the case. I’m fully aware that it’s time I’ll never get back, and nothing comes close to matching it in value. Finding some time to play some guitar (loudly) and get to church when we’re in town also work wonders for recharging my batteries.

I’ve always found that changing up routine and context tends to lead to novel ideas and solutions the next time I pick up where I left off [at work]. That said, I do try to keep a light pulse on business news (especially locally) over the weekends, and, of course, check in here and there over email and Slack just to make sure nothing is happening I should be aware of. However, whenever a response can wait until Monday, it will.

Karen Daroff

President, Daroff Design Inc. and DDI Architects PC
“I believe making the most of weekend time is vital to health and happiness.”

My work days are long with many weeknights devoted to supporting civic, cultural, and philanthropic events, so my weekends generally center around my emotional and physical health. I try to step back from my email, spend quality time with my family, and pack in some exercise.

My weekend routine usually starts with Friday night couple’s dinner out with close friends or relatives, either in the city or nearby suburbs. At least once a month, I look forward to special time with my “best friend,” my very cool 88-year-old Aunt Bette. Saturday mornings, I kickstart my day with a few hours at the gym and, weather permitting, hiking in Fairmount Park with my Weimaraner, Max.

Unless I am committed to a social obligation, Saturday night is movie night in my favorite theatre with reclining chairs and food service. Sunday morning is when I catch up on sleep for the whole week, and either do small errands and clothes shopping or splurge on Sunday brunch in Chestnut Hill or Rittenhouse Square. If we are going to be in town, we frequently enjoy visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a great cultural activity for the family to experience together.

As much as I try to take weekends off, Sunday night my mind is back in gear navigating the week ahead. I will often spend time catching up on email and sharing thoughts with team members. Especially on rainy or winter Sundays, I enjoy listening to music at home and working on planning and sketching ideas for our architectural and interior design projects. I find I am able to create some of my most inspired work in the relaxed setting of my home.

Even if you love your job and enjoy going to work every day, it is essential to take a break in your rigorous routine and allow yourself time to exercise and relax. Over my 45+ years in the highly competitive and demanding business of designing workplace, hotels, and airports, one thing has remained the same: a fresh mind matters. Having the opportunity to refresh and revitalize over the weekend and spending time to enjoy life, rather than working, helps me to be a more thoughtful, reliable, and happier team member. I am a strong advocate for using weekend time as “me time.”

Heseung Song

CEO, The Mighty Engine
“What doesn’t change over weekends are my priorities. They’re always the same.”

My ideal weekend begins with a great movie on Friday evening with my nine-year-old in a theatre with those lux seats watching a movie we rate at least an “8,” like Infinity War.

Saturday starts with the breakfast of champions: signature pancakes from scratch, crispy bacon and fried eggs, yolks intact. When there isn’t a Little League game and it’s nice outside, we go for a bike ride on Forbidden Drive and have a picnic.

Later, I head for Greene Street to consign shop, or to Starshine Salon, the best salon in Philadelphia run by the best stylist in the city, Su-Shan Lai. Saturday nights are reserved for friends. Sunday morning restarts my week. Which means I try to be more disciplined. I may get a run in, or just my Lululemons on.

I’m a warrior mom steadfast in showing my son that a meaningful existence is the best kind. That it is possible to do good and do well, and there’s nothing more precious in life than time.

Marc Brownstein

CEO, Brownstein Group
“Brownstein Group is a family-run business, so I work seven days a week. [I] take my laptop home and do my best thinking on weekends.”

Weekends are for resting but not in my house. We typically have one to two events per night, especially in October. There’s something about October that seems to be the epicenter of the annual social calendar!
Saturday mornings, I work out with my wife at Zarett Fitness (19th & South), followed by a massage and then lunch at Pizzeria Vetri. Exercise the calories off, then put them right back on! Sundays are for the Birds.

[Weekends are for] longer conversations with my wife and kids. Longer walks. Longer bike rides. Longer nights’ sleep. [My top priorities are often] not shaving! And checking out some new restaurants in the city.

Noah Ostroff

Founder and Chairman, PhillyLiving
“I take off from work so I can spend time with the most important people in my life and so I can recharge my batteries.”

A typical weekend includes Friday night movie and pizza night at home with the family. It’s a tradition. Saturdays include waking up early around 6 a.m. and going to breakfast by myself at 7 a.m. This is when I get a chance to reflect on the week and think without any distractions. No emails coming in, no phone ringing. Just me and my thoughts. I usually listen to an audio book for an hour or so then go to the gym and do a quick check of my properties that I have under construction.

By the time I get home, everyone in my house is just getting up. I usually hang out with the kids for a little, then drive them around to their activities whether it be gymnastics, acting, baseball, basketball or to one of their friend’s house or a party. Depending on the time of the year, I may be coaching my son’s baseball team or going to my daughter’s gymnastics tournament or play performances.

We like to get Pho as a family on Saturdays. If the Penn State football game is on, my son and I will watch together and scream at the TV. Saturday nights we usually get a babysitter and my wife and I will go out to dinner with friends.

On Sundays, I spend the day with the family and take them to do their activities. Right now, my son has football on Saturday mornings and my daughters have acting. If the Eagles game is on, my son and I will either go to the game or we will have people over to watch the Eagles game. At some point during the day, I catch up on emails and work that I didn’t finish from the previous week and prepare myself for the following week.

Sunday nights is family dinner with my parents, grandparents, brother and sister and their families. There are usually about 20 of us that get together for dinner on Sundays at one of our houses. We usually have a fun family activity on a Saturday or Sunday depending on the time of year. It could be pumpkin picking, ice skating, etc. This week we did a Spartan Race or some other fun activity that we can do as a family. During the summer time we go down the shore many weekends.

When I created my goals for the year they were solely based around creating experiences with my family and friends. I find that I am at my happiest when I’m outside of work and doing fun things and creating unique and exciting experiences with the people I enjoy spending time with. Anytime I get to travel and experience the world, I take advantage of it. There are so many distractions during the work week that I look forward to calm and quiet weekends without my phone ringing nonstop and without my text message notifications going off constantly.

Jim Wallace

CEO, Electrosoft Inc.
“For the first 10 years of my business, I came in on the weekends. Now after 30 years of business, I am able to enjoy the weekends.”

There is no such thing as a typical weekend because I never know what the weekend will hold. I have other demands on my time from family and social groups that I belong to like the American Legion, my old military unit, my friends, church and family.

For the first 10 years of my business, I came in on the weekends. Now after 30 years of business, I am able to enjoy the weekends and spend it the way I want. 90 [percent] of the time I take the weekends off. If I do go in, it is because something is due on Monday.

Jessica Sharp

Co-Founder and Principal, Maven Communications
“It’s important that my weekends, while still busy, are filled with activities and people that bring me joy.”

My weekends are typically pretty packed. Throughout the year I’m usually training for different races or events, so I get in my long workouts first thing on weekend mornings. After that, my focus is on family. I have young kids, so we attend a lot of their activities.

Family is my first priority on the weekends. I don’t get to spend much time with my husband and kids during the week, so I make sure I get in plenty of time on Saturday and Sunday. Then comes physical fitness, and time with friends (a bonus if I can make those two happen together).

If possible, I keep work to a minimum on the weekends. On Sunday nights, I’ll go through emails and address anything that needs my immediate attention. Otherwise, I try and use the weekends to recharge and refocus.

I find it’s important to find time every week to just check out for a bit. My weekdays are nonstop – I’m up early and am going nonstop until my head hits the pillow at night.