In our CEO wellness series, we ask executives about their day-to-day habits to gain insight into the tactics they use to minimize stress and maintain their well-being.
Mark Brooks is the co-founder and co-CEO of Brainiac Foods, a company dedicated to supporting the whole family’s brain development, performance, and health. A father of three, Brooks is passionate about the role of food and nutrition in enabling kids to reach their full potential.
Coffee or tea? And what do you put in it?
I was born in England, now loving it here in the U.S., so it has to be both. Coffee in the morning, double espresso, dash of steamed milk; English tea in the afternoon, a splash of whole milk in a big comforting mug.
What is your go-to breakfast?
At the weekends we get fresh eggs from my nine-year-old’s chicken coop (we caved during the pandemic), scramble them in a skillet with smoked salmon bits, mini broccoli florets, avocado, onions, garlic, and sourdough toast. It’s super-tasty and packed full of brain nutrients. To make sure the breakfast is balanced we follow with waffles and bourbon maple syrup!
Tell us about your workout routine.
We live on the foothills of Mt. Tamalpais, on a crazy-steep winding road. As a family, we took to walking down and back up each day during the pandemic. It’s no longer daily, but it’s still the best exercise— outdoors, intense, and only one way to get home!
How many hours do you sleep on a typical night?
Knowing how important sleep is for long-term health and the well-being of our brain, I try to get 8 hours a night. It doesn’t always happen, but putting the phone across the room, out of reach, has increased the chances.
How do you de-stress?
With three kids aged 6, 9, and 11, creating balance and space is critical. Working more from home there is less separation between the stress of the day and showing up fully present as Dad. Jumping straight into being creative works for me. Cooking for the family is a great transition. Having fun with flavor, colors, and texture brings me great joy when they love it—less when our six-year-old negotiates how many vegetables are required to earn dessert.
According to your phone, what’s your daily average screen time from last week?
4 hours 10 minutes. I feel that understates our relationship! While I’m conscious of putting it down and being in the moment, we have to be fair—it’s a wonderful way to stay connected with loved ones, to talk nonsense with friends scattered across the globe, to nurture community without boundaries.
What app do you use the most?
It’s likely a close run between the Apple mail app and FaceTime. I’d love to say it’s my app for listening to cool podcasts while tracking health vitals during my HIIT workout, but no, I like to chat.
When’s the last time you took a day off? What did you do?
Does taking a morning off count? We went to a favorite breakfast spot for my wife’s birthday, without kids, sat outside with a mimosa and coffee. It was lovely.
What’s one thing your company is doing to prioritize employee wellness?
As a company focused on brain health and wellness, we know that sleep, exercise, and nutrition are critical factors in the development, performance, and long-term health of our brain. We understand the destructive nature of stress and the mitigating benefit of creating balance. We are deliberate in supporting flexible working arrangements, and have hired incredible talent wherever they are. We empower individuals to manage their commitments their way, to truly focus on outcomes not input.
What’s your favorite treat?
I’m lucky, we make a bunch of tasty snacks so I get spoiled for a living. My favorite treat is our Chocolate Almond Brain Butter. It’s super indulgent, but packed with Omega-3s, choline, and it’s made from almonds. It’s all-around chocolatey goodness.
Do you have a 2023 intention or goal?
I’m conscious that the kids are at a very special age, delighting in the world that they are discovering, this year we are intent on creating more opportunities to share in their discovery and lift their horizons, weekend explorations of the coastline, national parks that we haven’t visited, and at the same time sprint towards the opportunities and challenges that no doubt 2023 will offer.
What’s your favorite wellness product?
One practice that has always seemed out of reach for me is meditation, specifically quieting the mind. I recently tried Muse’s brainwave sensing headband, and it works. They’ve gamified meditation in a way that busts through the awkwardness and unlocks benefits, and even makes it a little competitive.
Show us a photo of your happy place.
Learn how to navigate and strengthen trust in your business with The Trust Factor, a weekly newsletter examining what leaders need to succeed. Sign up here.