Ask the most successful chief executive officers (CEOs) the secret to success, and you might just find that it all starts with the morning routine. The way you get ready in the morning sets the stage for the day and can completely alter its outcome, laying the foundation for productivity, creativity or whatever intention you set. Let’s take a look at some of the morning routines of some of the most powerful business leaders to see how the a.m. grind affects their success.
- They Get Up Early—What’s one thing all successful members of the C-suite tend to have in common? They get up early. In fact, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg reportedly gets to work by 7 a.m. every day. The amazing thing? Despite the fact that she runs one of the world’s biggest tech companies, she still manages to leave work every day by 5:30 p.m. It’s all about work-life balance! Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla) and Tim Cook (Apple) all rise before 5:30 a.m., and Cook reportedly gets up each day at 4:00 a.m.!
- They Check Their E-Mails and Read the Paper—Just about all the biggest figureheads tend to wake up with their face in their phone, including Sandberg, Cook and Musk. Others like to get their mind going the old-fashioned way, by reading a book, magazine or newspaper. It may not surprise you to learn that the octogenarian CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet, reportedly opens up each day by reading a physical newspaper, but it may come as a shock to learn that Google’s 47-year-old CEO, Sundar Pichai, does the same thing to get the brain in motion.
- They Do a Morning Workout—Even 87-year-old Warren Buffet makes time to work out every morning. In fact, he reportedly gets his sweat on after a breakfast of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola (seriously). On the other end of the spectrum, Jesse Moeinifar, the CEO and founder of the audience development platform Viafoura, says he blocks off three hours each morning, between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m., for physical fitness. He follows up his daily morning workout with a mix of ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, lime and honey, which he says, “has enabled me to ward off any sickness for 13 years straight now.” Packing your gym bag with a men’s toiletry bag full of the basics is a great way to emerge from your morning workout energized and look amazing when you get to the office.
- They Outline Their Goals for the Day—Whether via a peek at their Google Cal or a mental rundown of what the day will look like, almost all successful business leaders begin each day evaluating what’s on their plate. In fact, the founder and CEO of HighTower, Elliot Weissbluth, says that (after waking up at 4 or 4:30 a.m.) he goes over his goals for the day and reshuffles any priorities with regard to his work and his family. He says he uses the Chrome plugin Momentum, which allows him to set a daily intention and helps to eliminate distractions throughout the day.
- They Put Effort into the Way They Look—Don’t look to Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg for advice here (the guy is known for wearing the same outfit every day, which he says gives him “one less decision to make.”) But, contrary to what Zuckerberg would have you believe, what you wear to the office and how put-together you appear does matter when it comes to how people perceive you. By using some top-notch men’s grooming tools and products and selecting well-tailored outfits, you can look like a super-polished CEO without putting in much effort at all.
- They Eat Breakfast—Yup, even the busiest people in the world somehow find the time to eat breakfast. And, barring Buffet—whom we all know gets his day going with a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit from McDonald’s—they pretty much all start their day with something healthy to eat. Oprah reportedly enjoys egg, toast and avocado with a chai tea, while Shark Tank investor and Dallas Mavericks co-owner Mark Cuban says he lives off Alyssa’s Cookies, which are low in calories but high in protein and fiber.
- They Check in with Themselves—The late head of Apple, Steve Jobs, was known for infusing some mindfulness into his morning routine. He reportedly asked himself each day, “If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?” According to Jobs, if the answer was “no” too often, that was his signal that he needed to make some big changes in his life. Oprah, Arianna Huffington and Tony Robbins also say they start out each day with mindfulness by way of an energizing 20- or 30-minute meditation sesh.
- They Listen to Audiobooks—The CEO of Twitter and Square, Jack Dorsey, gets his morning exercise by walking the five miles from his home to Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. On the way, he reportedly listens to audiobooks and podcasts. Sriram Sridhar, the co-founder and CEO of the website LateShipment.com, does the same, saying he spends the half-hour drive to work listening to audiobooks rather than music, which allows him to listen to more than 30 books a year.
They Maintain a Routine
Regardless of if they meditate, listen to audiobooks or read the newspaper, all successful CEOs have one thing in common: they do the same thing every morning. Settling into a routine is one of the best things you can do to hold yourself accountable and get into good practices for a lifetime. No matter what gets you going in the morning, doing it at the same time every day is a great way to hold yourself accountable and to build positive habits that set you up for success.