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Chess, baking and Segway polo: How 5 of the best minds in business relax and unwind

Whether playing sport, doing something creative or catching up on hobbies from their youth, some of the world’s most prominent executives find time for activities a world away from their working lives.

Sheryl Sandberg

Doing something relaxing and fun can help busy leaders reduce stress, improve their energy levels or just give them some much-needed time away from work.

Many CEOs have commented that what they do in their downtime actually helps their productivity at work. Marissa Mayer, for instance, has noted that her hobbies help her “come up with new and innovative ways of looking at things.”

Having an outlet away from the office can even help a CEO with recruitment. Daniel Abrams, CEO of Masslight, picked up ultimate frisbee to blow off some steam. He ended up meeting and hiring some of the company’s software engineers through the games.

Here’s how some of the best minds in business take a break:

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin


Branson has blurred the lines between work and fun more than most, with projects including signing punk bands, running nightclubs and founding an orbital space launch system. But even the tireless entrepreneur needs some downtime and he once wrote a blog where he opined that chess “may just be the best game in the world”.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, author

Watching TV

By day, she is one of the most influential business leaders on the planet. By night? According to this Quora post, Sandberg relaxes with some television. Her particular preference is what her husband terms “bad TV”.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple

Segway polo

Always something of an eccentric figure, the entrepreneur, scientist and programmer is partial to this little-known sport, even lending his name to a tournament in Germany that he also played in. “Segway polo is the one thing I will block off my calendar for,” he says.

Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo!


One of the most high-profile executives in digital, Mayer would break up her legendary work routine (she regularly logged 130-hour weeks) by making cupcakes. It wasn’t a case of her throwing a packet mix together and hoping for the best, however – Mayer would record every detail of the cupcakes she made on meticulous spreadsheets in search of the perfect recipe.

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Playing ukulele

Research suggests there are both physical and mental health benefits in playing a musical instrument, and the master investor has been playing since the 40s, when he would serenade dates with a ukulele tune.

Today, he still enjoys playing and even did a duet with Jon Bon Jovi at a charity event.

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