by Dan Muse

CIO Quick Takes: Tech execs learn to unplug

Jul 06, 2015
CIOIT Leadership

Unplugging from the day-to-day grind is great, in theory, but in practice how do you disconnect from a demanding leadership role? IT executives share advice on how they let go.

cio quick takes3
Credit: thinkstock

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. That expression works well in a song, but in the real world, living easy isn’t, well, so easy. In today’s agile, customer-centric technology environment, project lead times are short, sales cycles are even shorter. CIOs and other IT leaders find themselves at the intersection of technology and marketing, the crossroads of IT efficiency and business objectives, so it’s understandable that tech executives are not always great getting away and unplugging from the office.

len peters yale CIO

Len Peters, University CIO and Associate Vice President, Yale University: ‘Every morning and every evening I complete a meditation session in silence and quiet.’

nate lavigne

Nate Lavigne, Senior Manager, Information Technology, NACE Internationa: ‘Spend some time in an area where the option to be connected simply does not exist.’

larry bonfante

Larry Bonfante, CIO, United States Tennis Association: ‘Playing classic rock.’

Regardless how intense the demand seem, unplugging isn’t only good for your health, it necessary to stay energized for the long-term. While we can’t plan your getaway to a remote location, we can offer a little inspiration.

With the help of our colleagues at the CIO Executive Council ( and CIO Executive Council are both owned by IDG Communications) we reached out to five CIO to see how see they power down and unplug.

The answers include falling back on childhood lessons, three simple but power words, playing some power rock, a finding inner peace and making time off mandatory.

Len Peters – university CIO and associate vice president, Yale University

For some, staying motivated and energized requires a lot of stimulation. For me, unplugging comes through being still and quiet. For many years I have been a Transcendental Meditation (TM) practitioner. In addition, I spend one weekend a year in silent spiritual reflection.

Reenergizing and unplugging requires quiet reflection. Every morning and every evening I complete a meditation session in silence and quiet. During these meditation sessions I find balance by focusing on the important things in life, such as kindness and compassion. Being a leader and running a large organization requires a clear mind and openness.

Meditation and reflection helps motivate me to be the best person I can be.

Nate Lavigne, senior manager, Information Technology, NACE International

I grew up spending a fair amount of time in the outdoors and still look to the outdoors as a way to refresh and recharge. I find the best way to disconnect is to simply spend some time in an area where the option to be connected simply does not exist.

Rohinee Mohindroo, CIO Rakuten Marketing

Food and wine!

Larry Bonfante, CIO, United States Tennis Association.

I unplug by playing classic rock music with my band.

Sudhakar Gorti. CIO, Environmental Data Resources

Unplug – think of it carefully, this could be the biggest fear people from advanced /developed countries and urban population might have to face. Unplug from what? Work or Technology or Both? My preference – BOTH. I personally focus on unplugging by driving my motorbike, skydiving, or taking vacation with a simple goal – let your mind wander, there is no stress or sense of urgency on anything (personal or professional), can you find that time in your head when it is completely blank.

I reflect on such moments, which are rare. I also enforce with all my direct reports to ensure they take one week off each quarter, no exceptions, they miss taking time off, it affects their performance evaluation. It’s critical and essential that we all unplug so we can come back to personal/professional lives rejuvenated. “