Here’s how these 14 Australian executives use their time spent commuting to work

The approach business people take to their spare time can be often divided into two categories:

  1. They use their time to relax, unwind and mentality prepare
  2. They keep working, to stay up to date and ahead of the curve

Neither is right or wrong.

We asked some successful Australian executives how they utilise time spent on their commute.

For some work is just a short bike ride away, for others it was constant plane trips. Interestingly the length of the commute didn’t impact their decision – for most it was a conscious choice as to how they thought these moments were best spent.

Here are their responses.

Daniel Flynn, CEO of Thankyou Group.

How do you get to work?
Most mornings I drive into our offices in Collingwood with my wife Justine, a fellow co-founder of Thankyou Group. It usually takes us between 30-45 minutes to get from home to the office.

What do you do during this time?
We talk, and listen to the news.

Why?
We work together so using one car makes sense, and it also gives us some quality time together in the morning.

When did you start doing this?
A few years back when we both began working full-time at Thankyou Group. Prior to that, we were both working different part-time jobs and studying (and using what was left of our time to build the organisation) so having a set routine was a little difficult.

How has it changed your day at work?
For us, spending time together in the morning before we get into business mode is important - it helps prepare us for the day ahead.

Shaun Greenblo, CEO of Cuzin.

How do you get to work?
I ride my motorbike to work each day from the beach to the city. It’s the only way to avoid the traffic and parking is a breeze.

What do you do during this time?
Whilst on the bike I tune into my favourite podcasts (I know a bit naughty - but in only one ear, promise!). My favourite podcasts are business, tech and entrepreneurial focussed… Startup, Reply All, Exponent, HBR Ideacast to name a few. I also really enjoy Serial for times I need to relax a little before a big meeting.

Why?
These days my days are full and focussed. I barely get a minute to stop and breathe. The time on my motorbike is fun, it is my small window to enjoy the fresh air, relax and allow myself to get ready for the day ahead.

How has it changed your day at work?
When it’s raining and I catch the bus in, the day never turns out the same.

Taichi Hoshino, CEO of Monetise.

How do you get to work?
I work in a former artist's studio on the third level of a building in Surry Hills. I ride my bike to and from work everyday and it takes me about 10 minutes. It's only since I've been riding my bike to work that I've realised that Surry Hills is a very descriptive name for the suburb.

What do you do during this time?
I focus pretty hard on not getting clothes-lined by the sudden opening of a car-door or slipping dangerously into a blind spot or getting my wheels caught in the perfectly sized grates. Other than that the adrenalin kick and fresh breeze usually serves as my wake up sequence pre-coffee.

Why?
I see my bike ride as my bookends to the day - the physical breaks between productive time and resting time.

When did you start doing this?
I rode my bike into work on day 1 and haven't missed a single day since. I look forward to it every day.

How has it changed your day at work?
As a management consultant in my previous life, I used to catch a plane to work every Monday. I would commute from a hotel room to a client's office Tuesday to Thursday and fly back on Thursday night. Flying was approached as casually as catching a bus or a train. A 6am flight is a dreadful way to get to work.
Since swapping the corporate world for a FinTech startup, I find the routine of riding a bike into work everyday much more wholesome and I feel ready and refreshed for a day of productive work every morning. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance.

Aaron Smith, CEO of KX Pilates.

How do you get to work?
My offices include the KX Pilates HQ in Surry Hills, multiple cafes for meetings or at my office at home. Unless I'm travelling to Melbourne for meetings, then the airport becomes my office! My mode of transport ranges from car to walking / running and takes between 15-30 minutes.

What do you do during this time?
Usually listen to music and an audio book or sometimes just sit in silence and think about what the day is set to bring.

Why?
Again it either allows me to switch on and get focused for the day or if things get stressful then music helps me think more clearly.

When did you start doing this?
Probably for the past 10 years.

How has it changed your day at work?
It has completely changed my state of mind to put me in a positive place where I can tackle anything... and sets me up for the day ahead.

Martin Lam, co-founder of Australian Credit and Finance.

How do you get to work?
Work on Pitt St, Circular Quay. I take the express ferry from Manly and its 18 minutes wharf to wharf.

What do you do during this time?
In the mornings I'll usually sit on the back of the ferry enjoy the breeze, listen to some music and go through last nights reports and emails from my phone.
In the afternoons the ferry is less crowded, I'll have a seat inside with my laptop open and catch up on missed calls from the day (sometimes with a beer from the kiosk).

Why?
It's one of the few distraction-free times in the days and a great way to plan/close up for the day.

When did you start doing this?
I've only recently moved to the beaches and this is a much better way to start/finish the day then in driving Sydney traffic listening to FM Radio.

How has it changed your day at work?
I find I have a much more organised day and I'm able to give more face time and guidance to our staff for the issues that pop up day to day.

Jason Kibsgaard, CEO of Private Media.

How do you get to work?
Work in the Melbourne CBD and commute via the Train and walk to the office. It takes approximately 45 minutes door to door.

What do you do during this time?
Often answer or read emails, read our publications and daily newsletters.

Why?
It’s a good distraction free period of the day to clear up any backlog and either prepare for the day ahead or tidy up loose ends that you weren’t able to get to during the day.

When did you start doing this?
I have been in this habit since I began catching public transport and before my time as a CEO.

How has it changed your day at work?
Simply means I can set up the day a little better and be more prepared to start the day. During the day I can set aside lengthier readings etc for the commute home when I have some more head space to read and absorb.

Finn Kelly, CEO of Wealth Enhancers.

How do you get to work?
We have head offices in Sydney, Melbourne and the Philippines so I spend a fair bit of time on planes and public transport.

What do you do during this time?
I listen to leadership or entrepreneur podcasts or meditate.

Why?
Your mind is most responsive to learning first thing in the morning so I want to ensure that I put positive thoughts in my head first thing so I come into work focused and motivated to dominate.

When did you start doing this?
About 3 years ago when I realised that it is a lot more enjoyable way to start the day than checking emails.

How has it changed your day at work?
It has made me a lot more productive and, I think, more enjoyable to be around. The only part of the day you can control is your morning so it is important that you start positively and do something useful for yourself.

Eytan Lenko, co-founder and director of Outware Mobile.

How do you get to work?
The Outware Mobile office is in Richmond, Melbourne, so I bike to work every day which takes me about 20 minutes.

What do you do during this time?
I concentrate on the road and cycling clears my mind.

Why?
Cycling is faster and more enjoyable than driving or public transport and I get exercise thrown in for free.

When did you start doing this?
For the last 10 years.

How has it changed your day at work?
When I ride in I start work more relaxed and generally have better energy throughout the day. The ride home is a great way to end a busy day and let my mind settle before seeing my family.

Eddie Gellar, CEO of Tinybeans.

How do you get to work?
I work in New York City but live in Westchester, which is north of the city. After driving to the station I get a train into Grand Central Station, which takes around 30-35 mins. Grand Central Station is always special.

What do you do during this time?
Given it's nighttime back in Sydney, I use the time to catch up on the team’s progress overnight, check in on any news for the day ahead, and then plan my day.

When did you start doing this?
I moved from Sydney to New York in December, so this has been my routine since then. I leave home between 7-8am most days.

How has it changed your day at work?
In Sydney, it was a 20 minute drive to work. Now I have the time to wait at the station (usually in sub-zero temperatures), and get on a 35 minute train to work. The extra time has certainly given me a more relaxed and clearer head than before.

Cyndi O’Meara, founder of Changing Habits.

How do you get to work?
I drive my hybrid vehicle to work. It takes me about 15 minutes, but I travel often as part of my work and going to the airport takes over one hour.

What do you do during this time?
I listen to Podcasts and Summits on topics around health and digestion as well as lectures from researchers in these fields.

Why?
The science of the gut, digestion, health and nutrition is growing exponentially. It’s hard to keep up with it, so I use my time in the car for education!

When did you start doing this?
I’ve been doing this for about 30 years. At first it was with audios, then CD’s, then podcasts and now summits.

How has it changed your day at work?
Nutrition is my passion; the more I learn the more I realise I how much don’t know, so when I learn more, it charges me up to teach it to the people who follow Changing Habits.

John Winning, CEO of Winning Group.

How do you get to work?
Our office is on Danks Street in Sydney - just up the street from Winning Appliances Flagship Redfern Showroom. I generally drive to work however it's not a very long commute.

What do you do during this time?
I tend to always end up on the phone! My days are always jam packed with meetings so I try to cover off anything pressing before I even get to the office.

When did you start doing this?
I've been doing it for years. Obviously there are lots of laws around using your phone in the car so I had a hands free device installed.

How has it changed your day at work?
I've always done this so it hasn't really changed much however it sets me up for my day and helps me action important priorities.

Christian Mischler, CEO of Hotel Quickly.

How do you get to work?
I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for a while, where it’s usually hot and humid, making you commute motorised as otherwise it’s too hot and sweaty. Hence, now that I’m in Sydney, I love to walk to the office on foot, taking in the flavours and the sounds of the city, stopping at a cafe to pick up a flat white and watch people rush to work. My morning stroll takes me about 20 minutes, sometimes I take new routes or detours, which then might add another 10 minutes to the walk. Usually I work from Fishburners (Sydney co-working space), infrequently from Regus offices, cafes, or hotels.

What do you do during this time?
I usually think about the day ahead and mentally prepare myself for the first meeting in the morning. I’m not going through emails on my smartphone while walking, as then I couldn’t pay attention to the ever-changing environment in Sydney. Sometimes I take some pictures for Instagram, but really just enjoy the walk.

Why?
Life in a high-growth tech startup is extremely fast paced, due to coverage of 15 countries and timezone differences, the company never really sleeps. While being ever-busy on our smartphones and computers it’s easy to miss the world around us. I use my morning commute to take a deep breath and energise for the day ahead.

When did you start doing this?
I used to live in Zurich, where the climate is comparable to Sydney, just with shorter Summers. I never really valued the opportunity to be able to walk to work, so I commuted by tram. My years in Asia taught me differently, so once I arrived in Sydney I started this habit and love it.

How has it changed your day at work?
I fee l more fresh and energised when I arrive at work. It’s like a mini workout, gets the body moving and oxygen into my blood streams. I am less tired, and coffee would not be as tasty as it is here in Australia, I would probably drink less of it, too.

Andre Eikmeier, co-CEO of Vinomofo.

How do you get to work?
I'm in the office in Adelaide 3 days/week and it's is 5 km from home so I cycle to work which takes 10-15 minutes. When I'm working in the Melbourne office (2 days/week), I drive to airport, fly Virgin, then skybus and tram to the office. Takes about 3 hours all up.

What do you do during this time?
When I'm riding, I listen to music. It's awesome. Feels like Kevin Bacon in Quicksilver. When I'm flying/etc. I either read a book, or do some work, depending on how under the pump I am.

When did you start doing this?
I started flying every week two years ago, while I started cycling this year. It's my new year's resolution. Love it!

How has it changed your day at work?
The cycling is awesome. I feel charged, and I feel like I'm doing something positive for the environment.

Kalman Polak, GM of GroceryRun.com.au

How do you get to work?
I work at the Catch Group's headquarters in the Melbourne suburb of Mulgrave. I drive and it typically takes me 20-30 minutes to get there depending on whether the boom gate gods are on my side or not.

What do you do during this time?
During the drive I like to get my day started by wheeling and dealing on the hands-free with some key suppliers. Nothing better than scoring a great deal before I arrive at my desk!

When did you start doing this?
I've always driven to work because my days are often different and involve going to meetings across town to meet with various suppliers. GroceryRun works closely with all the major grocery suppliers around the country, so any given day typically involves a lot of travel and meetings.

How has it changed your day at work?
A benefit of my commute is that it allows me to get a head start on the day before meetings start. It also can be beneficial on a bad day. Having my car as a sound proof mobile office means when I'm yelling like Ari Gold no one can hear me.

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