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A Typical Day In The Life Of Mark King? Sorry, That Doesn’t Exist.

How an early start and flexible routine make every day a great one for this CEO.

I had this side hustle as a kid.

I grew up in Green Bay, WI where it snows a third of the year. When I was younger, I'd shovel three or four houses on my sidewalk to make some money before school. I'd get up, start shoveling around 6:30 a.m. and head to school by 8:00 a.m. I quickly realized not a lot of kids liked getting up early. So, I got up even earlier. At 4:30 a.m. I started doing all the houses on the street and had money in my pocket, all because I decided to wake up early.

I think that's where it all began. From there, waking up early just became part of who I was.

If you want to be successful in life, those who get up the earliest, get the most. I was told that once as a kid, and it's been a guiding theme for me ever since. I really don't get up to relax, I get up to get going. I might have six phone calls in before 8:00 a.m.! I'm much more alert in the morning than at night, it's always been that way for me. That time of day, that head start mentality just kick starts something in me.

For example, I'm usually the first to calls. Somewhere down the road I told myself that if I get there first, something good will happen (that's not always the case, by the way). I just like being first! At a football game I'm the first one to start clapping after the national anthem…heck, I start in the middle.

Whether it was shoveling snow or showing up for a meeting, I'd get up, get going, and do my best to get ahead of everyone. The experience of getting there first gave me an advantage mentally, and it still drives me today.

These days I've traded in the snow shovels for coffee to kickstart my day. It's non-negotiable. I go to bed thinking about my first cup of coffee! I drink a lot of it throughout the day. Other than that, I'm flexible with my routine.

For me, it's not so much the routine that drives my day, but the attitude going into it.

When I'm rested and relaxed, I'm feeling my best and everything falls into place. Something I'll do is listen to sports radio on my drive into the office. It relaxes me and allows me to focus right when I get in. I've also found it very important to leave work at work. I don't take it home if I don't have to. Compartmentalizing my day to focus on working hours and non-working hours lets me be fully present wherever I am. That's a habit I've built overtime that now comes naturally to me and has allowed me to stick to those boundaries.

When you have massive jobs with massive stress, no day will go well. Even when business is great, the stressors of work can ruin you. One of the reasons I'm so full of energy after decades of grinding it out, is because I take a break. It's so important; otherwise, your work will exhaust you. For every job! Step away and put it down for a while.

What helps me step away is my communication style. Some may call it old school, but I prefer the term "relationship building."

I pick up the phone and call people; sometimes I text. I email, but only when it's truly necessary. I still believe that the core of business is relationships. Trust, understanding, the nuance of something that's better said in person than over an email. Relationships drive the business and help ensure the message is clear. Human interaction – whether in person or on the phone – is my go-to. I think everyone would benefit from just picking up the phone and calling people. It's a lot easier, a lot freer.

I will say, I've learned more about communicating than I thought possible being with Taco Bell. It's a big part of our culture here, especially how we communicate recognition.

For me, I don't celebrate birthdays and personal results very much. But being with Taco Bell, I've become more congratulatory. It's a huge part of who we are and has definitely rubbed off on me. We win and lose together. So I appreciate the ways we collectively recognize our efforts. I think it says a lot about what's important to our team.

Every person is part of the mission; JFK realized this during a trip to NASA. Legend has it, he asked a janitor why he was working so late. The man's reply? "Well Mr. President, I'm helping put a man on the moon.”

Whether you're on the Executive Team or one of our newest hires, everyone at Taco Bell is part of the mission. My role is to make sure everyone knows they're important. That's always my goal as a leader. That's the environment I want to build.

The purpose of this blog was to illustrate a typical day in my life. Truly, one doesn't exist. As long as I wake up early (with a cup or two of coffee) and focus on what's important, the day can really go in any direction. And I know it'll all work out just fine.