How I Work: Marc Benioff
The CEO of Salesforce.com leaves the BlackBerry behind, turns off the cell phone, and reserves nonwork time for himself.
Interview by David Kirkpatrick, FORTUNE senior editor

(FORTUNE Magazine) - My No. 1 job as CEO is to communicate and move information from one part of the organization to the other--or to and from customers. I have a phone in my car, but I don't carry a phone with me. I don't want people to be able to get me unless I want to be gotten. Otherwise I would be on it all the time.

Today I had a personal errand to run. Then I bought some bran muffins and drove home. When I'm in my car, it's fair game. But when I'm buying bran muffins, I don't really want my cellphone to ring. I do need some personal time.

Benioff makes time for the gym five times a week.
Benioff makes time for the gym five times a week.
Photo Gallery launchSee more photos
How I work
E-mail and voicemail; yoga and personal assistants; structure and grooving: A dozen accomplished people tell what works for them. (See the gallery.)

At Salesforce.com (Research) we have an e-mail culture. We're all constantly making decisions on e-mail. So it can become an addiction, and that has to be regulated. I was one of the first users of a BlackBerry, several years ago. But I felt connected all the time.

Even in the middle of my yoga class, I was leaving to check my BlackBerry. That's when I knew I had a problem. So I stopped using it. I do have one again now, to send an e-mail in an emergency.

Both of my assistants have access to my e-mail. They read it and clean it up. They keep only the messages that are important. I delegate a lot to them.

I approve all hires in the company. But sometimes I cannot get to everything. So my assistant Tim has the authority to approve hires as long as they meet certain criteria. It helps that Tim was my college roommate and has known me since 1982.

In my home I have a T1 line, which is unusual. It costs me about $600 a month. But I want to have the best level of communications quality possible. I'm talking to you on a Cisco (Research) IP phone. I also use a Polycom VSX 3000 that sits on my desk and allows me to videoconference with any of my executives worldwide. It's very cheap and all Internet-based.

Everybody needs a place and time to disconnect. My mornings are generally reserved for myself. I get up around 7 A.M., clear my e-mail, touch base with my assistant, and then work out. It's on my schedule, and my assistant is not allowed to change it unless I'm traveling.

Five times a week for an hour, plus yoga three times a week. It relieves stress and gets me into a nonwork environment on a regular basis. It's critical to my peace of mind and well-being.

-----------------

See Bill Gates: How I workTop of page

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS