But, “compared to some leaders,” Ek said in an interview this year with The Observer Effect, his routine “will sound incredibly lazy.”
“I wake up at around 6:30 in the morning and spend some time with my kids and wife,” he told The Observer Effect. “At 7:30 [a.m.], I go work out. At 8:30 [a.m.], I go for a walk — even in the winter. I’ve found this is often where I do my best thinking.”
At 9:30 a.m., after a one-hour walk, Ek reads for 30 minutes to an hour before starting his work.
“Sometimes I read the news, but you’ll also find an ever-rotating stack of books in my office, next to my bed, on tables around the house. Books on history, leadership, biographies. It’s a pretty eclectic mix — much like my taste in music,” he said. (If you’re curious about Ek’s taste in music, here’s his Spotify playlist.)
“[…] my ‘work’ day really starts at 10:30. Many people make big decisions early on in the day, I make them later in the day — at least later in the day here in Europe,” said Ek. “Ironically, it’s not actually because I’m more productive then, rather because we have so many of our staff in the U.S., and as a result, I’ve kind of primed myself to work that way.” (Spotify’s main headquarters is based in Stockholm, Sweden.)
A 10:30 a.m. workday has turned out to be a success for Ek. Spotify is currently valued at about $47 billion. As of June, the international streaming service had 138 million subscribers and 299 million monthly active users. Ek himself is worth about $4 billion, according to Forbes.
Similarly, Bezos also has a special liking for doing things at 10:30 a.m.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in August, fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli shared some helpful advice he once received from the Amazon co-founder: “He said, ‘Normally, I make important decisions around 10:30 a.m. I’ll discuss it the day before, I’ll sleep on it, and in the morning I’ll actually make the decision.'”
The rest of Ek’s day is split: “The earlier part of my day is focused on coaching, one-on-ones, and planning. Then, I typically tackle one topic a day which takes a lot of my time. That’s my big thing for the day.”
Ek also spends a lot of time preparing for meetings — “reading and talking to members of the team who are either part of the decision-making process or who have insights and context. I sometimes even get external perspectives,” he said.
All in all, the Spotify CEO tries to be “intentional” with his time.
“There is never enough time — for work, for family and friends — and it takes work to make the best use of it,” he said. “It’s all about fostering a holistic perspective in life.”