On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, business executives and athletes to explore their routines, habits and rituals.
In her role as the vice chair of General Electric (GE), Beth Comstock was a corporate powerhouse. Running the company’s Business Innovations unit, Comstock’s responsibilities spanned Lighting, Ventures & Licensing, sales and marketing & communications; which she also juggled with serving on the Nike Board of Directors.
On any given day during her GE career, Comstock would be up at 5am and at the office by 7.30am where she’ll sit in back to back meetings and conference calls, often until 6-7pm.
The portfolio she ran included marketing, sales, a Silicon Valley–based innovation group, and lighting. Her job was so powerful that it came with a chief of staff, her reputation so established that she gave speeches and hosted panels everywhere from Davos to SXSW, her schedule so packed that she’d hold 6:30 a.m. meetings in her car.Beth Comstock on How to Survive Losing Your Job | Marie Claire
In 2017, after the CEO at the time, Jeff Immelt — who was also Comstock’s mentor, was replaced by John L. Flannery, she was pushed out of her position. For someone who was used to her position of power, and navigating the busy schedules of executive life, Comstock was lost. In 2019 she admitted to Marie Clarie’s Stephanie Clifford that she tried to fight off panic attacks and “had no idea how to fill her days.”
That feeling didn’t last long. In September 2018, Comstock published her book, Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change, went on a book promotion tour and reimagined her life as an author.
These days, Comstock mainly works from home. She sticks to her 5am wake up time, but instead of the usual morning rush to get to GE’s offices, Comstock’s mornings are now calm and slow. “I’m pretty religious about getting up at 5 a.m. It’s my favorite time of day,” she told The Cut. “I get a cup of tea and I sit on the sofa and spend an hour writing longhand in a journal.”
She’s also given up coffee (“When I gave it up, I found that I could focus a lot better. I miss it every day, but now I have caffeinated tea instead”), and is more health conscious with her diet. “I’m so boring and healthy with my breakfast,” she revealed to The Cut. “I have the same thing every day: avocado toast with kale and pumpkin seeds. I do gluten-free bread, and I get fresh organic kale at the Union Square farmers market.”
For exercise, Comstock might do some yoga on the weekends when she has time, or go for a walk to clear her mind. “Taking a walk in whatever location I’m in — city or nature — helps my brain “dual process,” she told Shane Snow. “I’m clearing my brain, getting new stimulation and ruminating at once.”
While Comstock may not be the vice chair at GE anymore, she is still in demand for the corporate world; balancing her writing speaking and consulting gigs as well as board meetings.
Since I left GE, a lot of my work has involved meeting with entrepreneurs and helping them with business challenges. Also, I’ve basically had to spin up a mini company to get this book launched, with different people helping me with PR and social media. This evening, I’m doing a dinner with a group of people to talk about innovation, which is pretty typical. And I’ll squeeze some writing in if I can, and emails. I also do a lot of traveling. I’ve got a National Geographic board meeting soon, and then I’m off to Nike for another board meeting the week after that.How I Get It Done: Beth Comstock, Former Vice Chair of GE | The Cut
Comstock wraps up her day with an evening catch up with her husband, final scan of social media, skincare routine, some late night talk shows (“I’m big on Colbert and Fallon”), and then she’s off to sleep at around 10pm.
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