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Alexa Von Tobel
CEO, LearnVest, and author of Financially Fearless: The LearnVest Program for Taking Control of Your Money

How Eating The Same Thing Every Day Powers Alexa Von Tobel's Productivity

The CEO of LearnVest and author of Financially Fearless: The LearnVest Program for Taking Control of Your Money is creating "operating systems" to dispatch with silly daily decisions.

Alexa Von Tobel

CEO, LearnVest, and author of Financially Fearless: The LearnVest Program for Taking Control of Your Money

"I do my workouts in the morning, and often I'll take someone from my team. The person I'm meeting with can pick the class, whether it's a spin or barre class, or going for a power walk. It's hard to run and talk—I haven't mastered that yet.

Since the beginning of LearnVest, I've never left the office for food. I eat the same thing every single day [an apple, almonds, yogurt, a salad...], and I never sit still to eat a meal. My ultimate goal is to create operating systems for myself that allow me to think as little as possible about the silly decisions you can make all day long—like what to eat or where we should meet—so I can focus on making real decisions. Because mental energy is a finite quantity. You can only spend so much time on the really critical decisions that move your company forward. A lot of people default to 30 minutes or an hour for meetings, but sometimes you don't need that much time. I always have hour-long meetings that end 15 minutes early, so I have these weird blocks of time that aren't enough to do something that requires deep thought. So I'll typically schedule meetings in 15-minute increments. That's helped me immensely. I also don't worship my schedule. It's really easy to let your calendar start dictating what happens, as opposed to you dictating what's important for the company.

I don't worry about canceling meetings and moving things around. I wouldn't say you should rip apart your week every day, but just because you scheduled something three weeks ago doesn't mean it's the most important thing this week."


Time she gets up:

5:45 a.m.

First thing she does each morning:

"Grab my phone and look at my LearnVest inbox. You're awake in a millisecond. It's better than coffee."

Apps and other Assists:

"If I have one thing with me at all times, it's my FitBit. And I have volumes of Moleskines at this point—I'm often drawing an app or a design element or a system for planning. I like these, because when I'm 80 or 90, I'll be like, I met with Valerie Jarrett from Obama's staff and this is what we talked about."

Philosophy:

"Sometimes you have to do the harder things first."

Last thing she does each night:

Read customer-feedback emails. "That's why I get out of bed in the morning, to better and improve our users' lives. I know every CEO says that, but it's because they mean it."

Time she goes to bed:

Never before midnight.

[Photo by Peter Ash Lee]

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30 Comments

  • Spam Tester

    Very little of this article is work smart. If you look at the most successful people they always figure time in at the weekends for family and do something to relax. This article neglects daily exercise which is essential for a healthy body and mind. "I never sit still to eat a meal" which I guess means that she eats while working. "I like these, because when I'm 80 or 90.." sorry but with this lifestyle you'll be lucky to get to 80 or 90. The only thing that goes in her favour is that she eats small meals. 15% less food is thought to be one of the ingredients to long life but being a work-a-holic has been proven to give you an early death. Sleeping 6 hours or less reduces life-span and possibly causes heart failure and high blood pressure over prolonged periods. All I can say about her is that she appears very focused which is essential to success.

  • Maria

    I LOVE Learnvest. I've been an avid reader of them since 2010, and I've come to realize that Alexa is quite the inspirational, organized powerhouse who truly believes in her cause. I think she's nailed the mark on productivity by realizing that our decision making energy is finite. That said, I am always astounded by people who need such little amount of sleep. I am dying if I don't get more than 7.5.

  • kayumochi

    If any of you read FC in the 1990's before the bubble burst you would know that FC gets little or nothing right ...

  • Brian Jones

    No mom wears earrings like that...at least not after the first time her kid thinks "oooh, shiny - I yank!"

  • bzmama

    I am a mom and an entrepreneur and sometimes I wear long trendy earrings. In fact I design jewelry as a second business... not all business moms fit in the same box.

  • Neil

    Each to their own of course, but this woman's lifestyle and priorities sound pretty screwed up to me. Is she being held up here as some kind of role model?

  • Guest

    It's easy to work and focus on your company 24/7 without family or kids...assuming she does not have any. I can't imagine how much I could get done in a day if all I had to do was focus on myself and my business. (And not saying anything bad about her, sounds like she is doing great things - in fact, I know nothing of her life) I would just like to see articles like this on people (men or women) who truly have it all - a happy family, successful career, giving back to the community, health and balance. Now THAT would be productive!

  • Branflake

    I'm impressed! A sister leaning in and making a difference. Empowering people to make better and more informed decisions helps everyone.

    Hats off to Alexa for being a badass.

    M.S. Nielsen
    Los Angeles CA
    Branflake: approved

  • jimplymouth

    i think this is exactly what young people should be doing these days -- instead of the opposite-- working their tails off. love this and inspired. @learnvest is a brilliant company too!

  • Jenni Hollis Jacot

    Wow. It's sad how many people are complete HATERS. She's a successful and happy young woman. Let her be. Your negativity only makes you look weak and dumb. How do you know if she even has children? She's an extremely nice and compassionate person trying to make the world a better place. So she works hard? When did that become a bad thing?

  • Maria

    I don't think she has children. She's only recently engaged, I think and still in her 20s or early 30s.

  • Juliette

    LOVE that she takes the time to meet with people on her team outside of the office. A workout session with the CEO is definitely a twist on the typical 1:1

  • Sara Glakas

    Tough crowd around here. I like LearnVest a lot. Uncluttered, streamlined and helpful financial advice. The site reflects the CEO's vision, which is the mark of a strong leader.

  • David Ferrell Jackson

    Alexa Von Tobel doesn't mention how she fits her spouse and children into the mix. When do you find time for your family?