The 6 a.m. CFO: How Vacasa’s Jamie Cohen Starts Her Day

Cohen shares how she begins her day early with a two hour workout, the first dashboard she checks every day, and some of her favorite word puzzles.
August 11, 2022
The 6 a.m. CFO: How Vacasa’s Jamie Cohen Starts Her Day

Welcome to the 6.a.m CFO, where CFOs share how they jump start their days and engage with the tasks that are in front of them. In this series, CFOs share when they start their mornings, begin their workday, and, of course, their caffeine of choice. They also share best practices on how they structure their mornings for maximum productivity and lessons in leadership. (We also ask their favorite numbers because, why not?) If you’d like to be featured in a future post, please email us here.


Today, Vacasa’s CFO Jamie Cohen shares her rigorous early morning activities, her love of word puzzles, and how hiring smart people makes her a better leader. And if you’d like to learn more about Cohen’s perspective on leadership, you can tune into her keynote at CFO Live, or our post-event executive brief

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  • North American vacation rental management platform headquartered in Portland, Oregon. 

  • Founded: 2009 

  • Size: 8000 employees

  • Annual Revenue: $889 million (2021)

Weekday wake up time and first thing I like to do: I wake up at 4:15 a.m. because it’s important for my focus and growth mindset to start each day with movement. I take my dog, Zoey, a 6-year old French bulldog, outside and then I dedicate about 2 hours to working out: running on the treadmill and either rowing or lifting weights. It may sound like a lot, but I run 60+ miles each week and carve out that time for myself to reset. It’s almost meditative for me, and I think there’s so much value in finding—and committing to—a habit that provides that benefit, whether it’s a physical, spiritual or creative outlet.

Time I send out my first email:  I typically send my first email around 7am, but if important emails come in overnight, I’ll respond to those before I start my workout.

Workday start time: 7:45 a.m.

Coffee, tea, or other morning beverage choice?:  My go-to is Nuun immunity blueberry + tangerine with sparkling water, but I will mix it up depending on the season. In winter, you’ll find me with a mug of Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea.

First dashboard I review:  I start with reviewing our bookings pacing dashboard to get a pulse check on overall revenue performance.

How I usually spend the first hour of my day: I’m a big fan of word puzzles, Wordle, Waffle, Jumble, Spelling Bee, Crosswords, you name it. It’s a great way to get the brain fired up, before I dive into my inbox to catch up on email.

I also like to dedicate part of my early morning to reading business newsletters and articles, ensuring I’m up to speed on breaking news or macro-trend coverage.

How I structure my morning meetings:  I generally schedule my morning meeting block with one-on-one’s or, depending on where we are in the quarter, investor meetings, since many of our investors are on the east coast.

Mid-morning snack of choice:  Red grapes, because they are healthy and easy to grab a handful from the fridge between meetings.

Best advice for writing an effective email: 

  • Be concise and direct — don’t bury the purpose of the email
  • Format with bullets vs. sentences
  • Be clear about what you’re asking and the action requested of the recipient

Most noteworthy items in my workspace: The two most noteworthy items would have to be:

  1. Zoey’s bed and heating pad, which are right next to my desk and where she hangs out all day, often snoring.
  2. A beautiful, large painting called “Say Something” by Denver artist Deidre Adams, which doubles as my background on video calls.

Favorite quote or mantra: I have two favorites, which together have helped steer my personal and professional path: “Always be curious,” and “What made you successful today is not what will make you successful in the future.”

Something important to know about me that you wouldn’t know from my business bio:  I already confessed my love of puzzles, so this may not come as a big surprise, but I discovered wooden puzzles, made by Artifact Puzzles, during COVID and have been hooked ever since.

Favorite number (and why):  Five. I don’t have a specific reason, but it’s a significant number in math and the natural world.

Plus, I prefer to run in half-mile increments—you won’t find me running 8.2 miles, always 8.0 or 8.5.

Favorite leadership lesson:  Leaders can’t be intimidated by talent. If you hire people who are better or smarter than you in certain fields, it will make you a stronger leader. Also, always build your case and give the reason or “why” when you are asking something of — or something for — your team.

Favorite app on my phone that is not related to business:  While Apple watch + Strava is probably the app I use most frequently for heart rate and fitness tracking, I’m also an avid reader and love using Goodreads to track my “want to read” books.

When do you take time for learning/reading? For me, it depends on the type of content. At the beginning of the work day, I dedicate time to reading business articles and catching up on the newsletters I subscribe to. But, at the end of the day and while I’m working out, I like to read fiction books on my Kindle to clear my mind.


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