Leadership

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman on how martial arts can help with your role at work

Adena Friedman, president and chief executive officer of Nasdaq Inc
John Lamparski | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Adena Friedman, president and chief executive officer of Nasdaq Inc

She may be the first female chief executive of a major U.S. stock exchange operator, but it's not the only arena that Adena Friedman has managed to champion.

While many recognize Friedman for her work as president and CEO of Nasdaq, outside of the business world, the leading Wall Street figure takes on the world of Taekwondo, a Korean martial art that she's secured a black belt in.

Having watched her children take on the sport from an early age, the stock exchange CEO decided to get involved and make it a family activity — rather than just sit on the sidelines.

Yet, continuing the sport today not only helps Friedman stay active outside of work, but has the capability of influencing her role, when on the job.

"I do think that if you look at the lessons you learn from Taekwondo in terms of self-reliance — and we always say 'might for right', so you use your strength to do the right thing, you also use it for defense more than offense – I think there are a lot of lessons that you can apply to business," the Nasdaq CEO and president told CNBC last week at Slush 2017, a start-up event in Helsinki.

Tae Kwon Do, two women in mid-air jump kicking each other
Mike Powell | Allsport Concepts | Getty Images
Tae Kwon Do, two women in mid-air jump kicking each other

Speaking on an episode of CNBC's "Life Hacks Live," Friedman confirmed that she was a black belt in Taekwondo, and saw the benefits of the martial art sport when it comes to leadership.

"Definitely, this issue of self-reliance and learning to do things just because you know it's going to make you stronger and not to just please someone else — I think that that's a huge life lesson for everyone."

According to British Taekwondo, the U.K.'s governing body for the World Taekwondo Federation; there are a number of mental and physical benefits to Taekwondo, including the following:

  • Enhances self-esteem
  • Builds up confidence
  • Improves flexibility, agility and reflexes
  • Develops discipline
  • Reduces stress, while improving concentration
  • Improves leadership skills
  • Strengthens muscle tone and appearance
  • Elevates strength and stamina

Life Hacks Live is a series produced by CNBC International for Facebook, where tomorrow's leaders get to ask some of the world's biggest influencers for advice. You can watch the full interview here.