“The one thing I really love—and my true luxury—is wine,” van Raemdonck told Fortune.For the 51-year-old CEO, wine is more than just a beverage—it embodies “a social moment.” van Raemdonck never indulges alone, sharing the luxury with his husband and friends. And before uncorking a bottle, van Raemdonck goes into his wine cellar to explore the various options and expand his knowledge.
“We go on learnings in our cellar,” van Raemdonck explained. There, they learn about types of wines based on years and vintages. His all-time favorite wine is a red called Pontet-Canet from Pauillac.
Beyond his wine collection, the CEO embraces other hobbies such as swimming, skiing, boating, and horseback riding. van Raemdonck views the outdoors as two forces—his body and nature.
But on the days where van Raemdonck isn’t tasting wines or riding on horses, he is leading the $5 billion-a-year luxury retailer, Neiman Marcus Group. Prior to joining Neiman Marcus Group in 2018, van Raemdonck has held several other top positions at fashion companies such as Louis Vuitton, St. John Knits, and Ralph Lauren.
He gave Fortune a rundown of his daily routine that kicks off at 6:15 a.m. sharp.
Tea first, coffee later
6:15 a.m.: Residing on Long Island, van Raemdonck starts his day by dedicating the first hour to personal well-being. He meditates, stretches, and focuses on mindfulness before diving into plans for his family and his business.“Starting the day with a thank you is the best way for me to remind me that the day will be great,” he says.
7:00 a.m.: It’s family time. van Raemdonck, his husband, and their seven-year-old twin boys sit down for breakfast, and the chief executive is happy to consume the same meal every morning—avocado toast and “a little bit of cereal.”“I drink tea during breakfast, and it really tells me, ‘this is a moment to enjoy. Sip your tea,’” van Raemdonck said. “It’s something that is warm, it’s a really nice way to start the day.” After breakfast, van Raemdonck spends 20 minutes outside with his kids to do “something special,” like walking to the beach or a park.
8:00 a.m.: After his kids are at school, van Raemdonck seamlessly transitions to work with a very intense shot of espresso ristretto. The strong flavor helps him wake up and transition into work.The boost of caffeine is “a religion” for van Raemdonck: “If I don’t have that, and I’ve started a meeting, I say, ‘give me one minute.’” Neiman Marcus’ encourages employees to work in the best way for themselves, “wherever and whenever you can deliver the impact,” van Raemdonck explained. For van Raemdonck, this means working from home one or two days a week, with the other days spent in the office. Sometimes, he finds himself traveling to stores across the globe, from California to Europe.
“When I go to the office, it’s about collaborating and meeting people,” van Raemdonck shared. “The days I spend at home…are really the days where I try to get the most done and to be extremely productive through a lot of Zoom or Teams meetings.”
9:00 a.m.: The first half of van Raemdonck’s day consists of meetings.
“Most of my meetings are about making decisions or being on the path to make decisions,” van Raemdonck told Fortune.To stay productive, he splits up his day into 25-or 45- minute increments. For example, after a 25-minute meeting, van Raemdonck takes a five-minute break to “disconnect and reconnect” before his next engagement to fully prepare for a new conversation. “I tend to use those five minutes or so to send emails and get all the next steps from a prior conversation done so that the speed of information goes quickly and I can move on to the next topic,” van Raemdonck said.
12:45 p.m.: van Raemdonck takes a 15-minute lunch break and pairs it with a second shot of espresso, which marks the start of the afternoon.The caffeine break helps van Raemdonck get “really focused” for the second half of his day, which, unlike his morning grind, usually does not consist of meetings. Instead, he uses his time to prepare for his next big challenge: up to 10 more meetings the next day. “I try to balance the meetings in a healthy way,” van Raemdonck said. “Meetings are either 25 minutes or 45 minutes on my schedule.
6:30 p.m.: Once the clock hits 6:30 p.m., van Raemdonck’s kids chat with the CEO about their day. But if their dad can’t seem to pull himself away from work by 7 p.m., “they’re allowed to basically say ‘your day is over.’”
10:00 p.m.: Yet, van Raemdonck’s day isn’t quite over; the CEO goes back to work and focuses on tasks that “require some thinking.”“At the end of the day, when the house is really quiet, I tend to do my best thinking,” van Raemdonck said. “It’s more about allowing myself to have ideas sink in and formulate my vision.”
And whenever van Raemdonck has time, the CEO makes sure to send thank-you notes every single day. “I want to be a generous leader,” he said. “The way I remind myself is by recognizing the generosity of others.”