Business Travel

Why successful CEOs never take vacation?

Elon Musk
  • It is true that CEOs work long hours and don’t have much free time.
  • Harvard University conducted a survey some years ago concluding that CEOs work almost 9.7 hours per day, which totals 48.5 hours per workweek. The majority of them also work on weekends.
  • On average most CEOs work 3.9 hours a day at weekends or 2.4 hours a day while on vacation.

But do CEOs have time for vacation? Examples of successful CEOs prove that they are so dedicated to their work that they don’t take a vacation.

Another survey has shown that the majority of executives are many times obliged to postpone or cancel vacation plans due to demands at work. At the same time, half of them (if they manage to go on vacation) have to connect to work multiple times a day.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk, who is too busy solving the world’s problems definitely deserves a vacation. However, about one or two times he tried to go on vacation it did not work out for him. While he was on honeymoon with his first wife, he got some bad news as soon as they landed at Sydney airport. The board at the precursor to Paypal, decided to fire him as a CEO putting at the position someone else.

He immediately flew back to California to fight for getting his job back. Three months later he tried to go on honeymoon again but unfortunately, he came very close to dying as he was infected with malaria in South Africa. Musk said in an interview “that’s my lesson for taking a vacation: vacations will kill you”. Then came a few more similar incidents which made him realize that vacation is not for him. After all, he is obsessed with his job and extreme success comes at the cost of many other things.

Bill Gates

At the same time, Bill Gates said in an interview that when he was younger he did not believe in weekends and in vacation. He states that when a business is at it’s early years the founder and his team, must make sacrifices. This is what he did in the early days of Microsoft.

Once he achieved success he started to like weekends and vacations. In other words, he relaxed a little. However, he still believes that working through weekends and don’t take vacation is a necessary sacrifice when launching a company.

Amancio Ortega, the Spanish billionaire behind Inditex, is one of those businessmen that he rarely goes on vacation. He says he loves working too much to take time off. His net worth is almost US$84.1 billion.

Maria Gourtsilidou
Maria Gourtsilidou is Senior Editor of Research and Data Analytics at the CEOWORLD magazine. She is responsible for driving thought leadership, using data analytics to showcase the company’s products and services, and fostering knowledge sharing between CEOWORLD magazine and client organizations. She studied Public Administration (Economics Of The Public Sector) in Greece and holds a Bachelor’s in Public Administration from the Panteion University of Political & Social Studies. Follow Maria Gourtsilidou on Twitter. Write at