A Top Executive Explains How She Starts Her Day With Mental Clarity

Plus, the Campbell’s Soup Company president and CEO shares how she prevents burnout.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What's the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Denise Morrison: Every day, I wake up at 5:15 and walk outside for 45 minutes. It’s a great way to stay healthy and helps to clear my head so I can focus on the most important things I need to accomplish for the day.

TG: What gives you energy?
DM: As rudimentary as it may sound, a balanced diet and plenty of rest. After starting a personalized nutrition program through Habit – a Campbell-funded startup – I completely changed my diet to plant-based foods. (In the process, I lost 23 pounds a year ago and kept the weight off!) By eating more vegetables and whole grains, and getting eight hours of sleep a night, I can keep up with a demanding schedule and have plenty of energy left for my family at the end of the day.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
DM: The "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" by Steven Covey helped me realize there’s no such thing as work-life balance. This notion of perfect balance sets a false expectation. Instead, I live by the concept of work-life integration. It’s a balancing act – to be successful, you have to be able to set clear priorities in the moment as life happens.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
DM: Sleep is a way for me to recharge. Every night, I put my phone on the charger downstairs, away from me, to also be recharged. We both work better in the morning!

TG: How do you deal with email?
DM: I sort email by “focused” and “other.” I only read and answer “focused” which helps me respond in real time and streamlines the volume.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
DM: Call my kids or my mom.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
DM: To maintain peak performance, I focus on three aspects of life – physical, academic and spiritual. The physical aspect requires proper sleep, diet and exercise. Academic keeps my mind sharp and helps me grow as a continuous learner. And, for me, spiritual is about prayer and giving in service to others. I try hard to keep these aspects in synch, which I believe prevents burn out.

Denise Morrison is President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company. She became CEO in August 2011 and is the 12th leader in the company’s 149-year history.

Under her leadership, Campbell is realizing the potential of its Purpose, Real food that matters for life's moments. The company is a leader in soup, fresh carrots, refrigerated juice, and organic baby food, with brands such as Campbell's, Bolthouse Farms, Plum Organics, and Pacific Foods. It is also a leader in global biscuits and snacks with trusted brands including Pepperidge Farm, Arnott's, Royal Dansk, Kjeldsens, and the pending acquisition of Synder’s-Lance. Campbell is committed to strengthening its core business while expanding into faster-growing spaces to become the leading health and well-being food company.

She serves as a board member for The Consumer Goods Forum, MetLife, Inc., Catalyst, the Food Marketing Institute, and her alma mater, Boston College, and served on President Obama’s Export Council. She is consistently ranked among Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. 

Work Smarter, Thrive Library, Technology, Sleep, Health and Wellness

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!