Popular Hobbies of Business Leaders

Popular Hobbies of Business Leaders

Being a business leader is extremely time-consuming. At C-suite level, the average working week consumes around 63 hours of work time, about 50% more than the average employee. This can be very stressful, placing a lot of pressure on CIOs and their colleagues.

It is, therefore, vital for business leaders to find hobbies to help them relieve their stress and take their minds away from work.

For a busy CIO, this may seem counter-intuitive, but spending time away from work can make you more effective and more productive. In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey described a concept he called “sharpening the saw”.

By this, he means spending time looking after yourself physically and mentally to ensure you’re at peak performance. He says we should do this in four areas: physical, social and emotional, mental, and spiritual. Having a hobby can help you sharpen your saw in all four of these areas.

Here are some of the most popular hobbies that business leaders use to sharpen their saws.


Golf is a stereotypical hobby among business leaders. The golf course is a place where, traditionally, many business deals were negotiated and agreed upon, though the practice has been falling out of favour in more recent years.

Regardless of your ability to sign multi-million dollar contracts in between a few holes, golf is a great hobby as it combines physical activity, nature and socialising, forcing you to concentrate on the game rather than work.

Part of the appeal is that golf can be enjoyed by people of any age, as its low intensity makes it suitable for people of all fitness levels. This low intensity also gives you plenty of time to chat with your golf buddies, as does the clubhouse that you can stop off at afterwards. Other sports like football and tennis don’t offer these benefits.

A study by Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona found that business people who play golf are paid 17% more, on average, than their non-golfing peers.

Examples of business leaders that enjoy playing a few holes include John T. Chambers of Cisco and Virginia Rometty of IBM, as well as all of the US presidents since Ronald Reagan.


Like golf, poker is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of any age and any physical ability. It’s also a great way to socialise with friends, which is why so many people organise regular poker nights.

Playing poker is an intellectual workout; it requires you to memorise all of the different hands and read the body language of your opponents. The latter could also be useful to you in your work when negotiating deals and managing other people.

Unlike golf, poker offers much more flexibility to players, since it’s possible to play it on the go through a smartphone or other handheld device. For example, PokerStars offers an app for Android and iOS that packs in all of the same features as its desktop version, allowing you to play during your morning commute or while relaxing at home.

Famous names such as hedge fund manager Bill Perkins and tech entrepreneur Tony Hseih are both regular poker players.


To many people, running is just an exercise, but to others, it’s a hobby. Jogging long distances requires you to slowly build up your stamina, which necessitates a strong will and plenty of discipline.

Physical exercise is a good way to relieve stress, and running is something that can be done anywhere and at any time, perfect for busy business people. As well as releasing endorphins, running requires you to clear your mind of other things so that you can focus on your breathing, making it a great way to sharpen your saw.

This is why many business people have running as one of their hobbies, including Dennis Woodside, the former COO of cloud storage company Dropbox, Jessica Herrin, the CEO of Stella & Dot, and even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

These are just some of the hobbies enjoyed by business leaders; there are many other popular choices. Regardless, they all have the same attributes: they’re fun, accessible, and help you to clear your mind of the stresses of work.