CEO Health Warnings

CEO health warnings and burnout - what can be done?

Every day that I meet CEOs there is one stand out concern for me - there is always one CEO I notice with a health warning. This is a topic that more people are picking up on now, especially with the pressure Elon Musk has been under recently and the worrying behaviours the media have picked up on. With the stress that many CEOs bear, I think the CEO's job should actually come with a health warning sometimes.

Just in the last week previous interviews I've given on the health dangers that CEOs face have been mentioned in several articles (links to these below).

It’s a topic we at Xinfu are passionate to educate CEOs on, and it’s part of what we cover in our CEO Masterclass.

One of the articles I was quoted in focuses on Elon Musk who, of course, is well-known for being at the top end of CEO-workaholic-extremism... I would say he’s working at what we would refer to as “140%” of his capacity; in other words, close to burnout. It’s an example we should look at as a warning to all CEOs and high-flying execs who forget to look after their most valuable possessions and gifts - their minds and bodies.

Elon Musk - close to burnout?

Musk has admitted that there are times where he has not left his factory for 3-4 days at a time, sometimes without even going outside, in an attempt to work 120 hours per week, consistently.

Musk has also displayed concerning behaviours in recent interviews and podcasts, having been seen smoking marijuana on the Joe Rogan podcast and also having told the New York Times that ‘from a personal standpoint, the worst is yet to come’.

Arianna Huffington personally wrote and tweeted to Musk to ask him to change his work behaviours to be more in line with the science of how humans can be more effective. Musk tweeted back “Ford and Tesla are the only 2 American car companies not to avoid bankruptcy. I just got home from the factory. You think this is an option. It is not”.

Elon Musk is a prime example of a CEO working at over-capacity resulting in poor health. Musk’s lack of sleep alone for instance is a serious problem, as research has suggested that getting less than 7 hours sleep a night can cause high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, frequent mental distress, and even death. It is essential that CEOs begin to take more care of their health.

How can CEOs take care of their health?

I have used several methods to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst keeping up with the demands of being a CEO. These include going to the gym, meditating, using positive psychology, and going for walks in beautiful places. Aetna CEO, Mark Bertolini, has used similar methods such as yoga and mindfulness to take care of his own health.

One of the things that we focus on at Xinfu is helping CEOs go from working at over-capacity, back to 80% capacity, 100% of the time. This can help CEOs feel fresh and allow them to seize new opportunities and become an inspiring leader, instead of feeling drained and emotionally exhausted.

At Xinfu we have created a 4 day work-week plan. This challenges CEOs to work 8 hours a day, for a 32 hour working week. We know that this will prevent CEOs from working at over-capacity and be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst having time for family, passions, and other areas of life.


CEO health warnings are becoming a more and more prolific problem in today’s business world, Elon Musk being a prime example of this. The job role of a CEO is a marathon, not a sprint, and therefore it is essential that CEOs do not work at over-capacity and instead take more care with their health to be truly inspirational leaders to their people.

We want to be seeing CEOs who are truly inspiring in business and who are successful in their personal lives too. The extreme pressure that Elon Musk is facing could potentially jeopardise Tesla and his image. Therefore it is essential that CEOs begin to take better care of their health so that they can turn up to work fresh, inspiring, and ready to lead by example.

Stacey Williams