Morning Habits, part 4: Robert Ettinger

This CEO gets more done before 9am than you likely do in an entire day.

Matthew Priest July 9, 2015

Part four means we are now over halfway through our Morning Habits series, where we offer a glimpse into the morning routines of seven leading men in their industries. 

So far, Berluti's creative director has told us of his morning fitness regime, the CEO of Ulysse Nardin of his strict time management and the founder of Tateossian of his hatred for breakfast meetings. So what useful knowledge will our fourth subject impart on us? Let's find out...

Robert Ettinger - CEO, Ettinger

Since being granted a Royal Warrant from Prince Charles in 1996, this third-generation family business has grown into a player on the global luxury leather goods market. For it’s London-based CEO, Robert, consistency is the key in both business and life.

What time do you wake up in the morning?

I’m an early riser, so I wake up at 5am on most mornings. From there I drive to the Hurlingham Club in Putney – where I am a member – and I swim for 40 minutes.

What do you do following your swim?

As it happens, my office overlooks the Hurlingham Club, but on the other side of the Thames, so I go to the office, sit at my desk and I have a bowl of fruit for breakfast and a coffee in the morning. Single shot, black. After that, I start to go through my emails.

I’m sure that the work my friends do between 5pm and 10pm only equates to about an hour that I do in the morning.

When do you send your first email?

I send my emails at about 6.45am, as I find the period between 6.45 and 9am very productive. My employees don’t start work until 9am so before that, there are few interruptions and it allows me time on my own where the phone doesn’t ring constantly and I can get a huge amount done. Working in the morning means that I don’t have to work until 10pm at night.

So, you are much more of a morning person…

Very much so. I have to be otherwise I would only get about three hours sleep and I would be a very grumpy person! It allows me more time to be spent in meetings and talking things through with people. We also work a lot with markets in Asia, it is in the afternoon for them so for that reason it is very beneficial. 

Do you like breakfast meetings?

A lot of meetings I have are at 8am. It is a good time of the day because they are normally over by 9am and there is plenty time to get the rest of the day off to a productive start. I find that everyone is good in the morning – they know that it is earlier than they should be starting so it makes them more relaxed and better in meetings.

I feel that I don’t make as good decisions when I am tired. I have many friends who work until 10pm and I’m sure that the work they do between 5pm and 10pm only equates to about an hour that I do in the morning, because your brain is tired after a long day – and things aren’t really thought through properly.

What are your morning media habits?

I listen to the news on the radio when I drive in. It’s amusing because the international news will play until 6am, which is when the Farmer’s World starts – so before I go swimming I hear about global problems and ones that farmers are facing. It’s quite a different mix of priorities!

Other than that, I read a lot of trade magazines. I read Monocle and I have a subscription to The Week – I think that is a very good publication as it gives you a snap shot of what is going on around the world.