Quotes That Tackle Work Life Balance and Leadership From CEO Dads

by Mike Petrusky on April 17, 2023

Women are consistently asked how they maintain a healthy work-life balance while holding such high leadership positions at work. However, the same question is rarely asked of men. These male CEOs are also learning how to successfully dedicate enough time to two of the highest priorities in their life. Here are some tips from successful CEOs and their take on fatherhood, work-life balance, and how they keep everything in check when their time is valued by so many.

Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin

Branson is known for his outspoken views on employee engagement, that all employers should provide a healthy office environment and paid leave. He prefers to label the discussion as “work-life integration” as opposed to “balance”. By working from home, and allowing his employees the option to do the same, he has found success on both fronts.

He was recently quoted in an Entrepreneur article, “…rather than thinking of these two aspects of your life as antagonistic, why not combine them? As I’ve often said, I don’t divide work and play: It’s all living.”

The CEO also mentions how members of the C-Suite can learn from their dual roles as both parent to a company and as a parent in their own family. He said, “you can and must make time for both family and business. It is important to build a strong family life: It helps to give you a better perspective and balance in business.”

Kevin Cleary, CEO of Clif Bar

An active individual, Cleary has spoken openly about how he expects his employees to take care of themselves and their families first.

He recently began paying employees to complete 2.5 hours of exercise during work. While training for a marathon himself, Cleary includes his young boys in on the activities.

Cleary also carves out time each weekend to coach their baseball teams. He takes what he called the “lean-in” approach, and leaves work early every Thursday to have time to coach practice.

On how technology is making it easier for us to manage our daily responsibilities, “It’s about how we stay connected to the things that really matter to us,” he says. “The people who are staying connected to their lives are much happier, and happier people are way more effective in the work that they do.”

Ryan Smith, co-founder of Qualtrics

The challenge Smith faces is being totally present in a world full of distractions, which is something every father, CEO or not, can relate to. To gain a better understanding of where his time was going, he broke it down each day to see exactly where he could improve.

Smith realized he was having trouble leaving work at work, so he came up with a solution to have better quality time with the people he cares about most – by eliminating screen usage when he’s spending time with his children.

He was quoted in a Fatherhood article saying, “I sometimes ask myself: “How do I save the best part of myself for my kids?” When I’m home, it’s crucial that I’m totally present, and the no screen rule helps me do this.”

Don Traweek, CEO of iOFFICE, Inc.

Since co-founding iOFFICE in 2002 with, Elizabeth Dukes, Traweek has found the key to protecting time with his family is to provide for his family while maintaining a level of accountability and a lot selected time to both. He believes the type of business he operates has a substantial impact on his children, and the way they will handle their own success.

“I’ve always told my kids from their earliest years to their adult life is to be accountable and responsible and to take care of your business.  In return your personal and professional life along with your family will benefit and be the better.  I learned this from my parents and it has worked for me.  I believe it will work even better for my children.”

Steve Hafner, CEO of Kayak Software

The CEO of Kayak Software takes a “work smarter, not harder” approach to his schedule. While he used to struggle through 80-hour work weeks, he has whittled them down to 65, leaving time for him to spend with his four children and time for keeping himself healthy. Hafner also marks important events on his company Google calendar, considering recitals and vacations and lacrosse before anything else.

“Work-life balance is working as little as you can to get the important stuff done and then taking all the other time and putting it against your family or your interests.”

What do all of these superhero CEO’s have in common? Every one of them understands that the role of being a successful CEO is important, but that the role of being a father to their children is precious – and is only around for a short while. Hug the dads in your life and wish them a Happy Father’s Day this weekend!


Mike Petrusky

Mike Petrusky is host of the “Workplace Innovator Podcast” and Director of Events and Growth Marketing at iOFFICE. He joined iOFFICE in March of 2018 with a mission to energize the company’s live events. He is a dynamic speaker, podcaster, and seasoned marketer who has a passion for sharing iOFFICE’s unique brand of thought leadership to CRE & FM leaders in the digital workplace.

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