The most successful executives and entrepreneurs likely didn't get where they are by lucky accident. Typically, achieving great things involves hard work and perseverance, as well as a supportive network of friends and family. But another ingredient typically goes into the mix: discipline. Take it from these executives who share the daily habits that propelled them to the top and help them stay there.
1. Keep a gratitude book.
"Having a gratitude diary of things in your life you are grateful reminds you and focuses you on being thankful for all the good in your life. This is important to wake up and take charge of your state and focus [while] keeping your mind off of negative thoughts."
--Bryan Slovon, founder and CEO of Stuart Financial Group, a financial planning firm that specializes in retirement and estate planning.
2. Begin the day with a brain and body work out.
"I practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu which engages both your brain and body. It's not just lifting weights--it's an activity that involves strategy. I train for an hour each day on average. After my workout I read a great book or article and then write about it as if I would have to teach the content to someone else. The most important thing I am above all else is a student. The most important thing I can do in the morning is to get my body and brain into high gear. I find that when I am super-charged everything in my day seems to follow."
--Douglas Vermeeren, CEO and creator of Personal Power Mastery, a program for personal change and achievement.
3. Stay in tune with social media trends in real-time.
"First, I have four boys between ages 10 and 18, and they pay no attention to traditional media. Their use of social media and how ahead of the curve they are on news, information and trends amazes me, and it informs me. I make it a habit to get a 'daily download' from my sons to stay on top of fast moving trends. Second, I Google-search key phrases and names important to my business and industry every morning when I sit at my desk. I take some time to see what kind of market intelligence I can gather, and I monitor how my own company is trending over a cup of coffee as a smart way to start my day."
4. Do 10 by 10.
"I like to get 10 things done by 10 a.m. Not just any 10, the most important 10 things of the day. Prioritize, tackle the big one first, then go down the list."
--Marco entrepreneur, author, real estate investment training and CEO strategist.Kozlowski,
5. Keep track of what gets done.
"Throughout the day I jot down in my six inch spiral note pad all of my daily activities, phone calls, meetings, related notes, and to-dos and check them off if there is no further action required. In that way, I have a handy reference of what happened or didn't happen during the day. Any open items can be moved to the next day's to-dos. It's a great reference tool for phone numbers, commitments, and data needed elsewhere."
--Paul Thriving in a Stakeholder World, Purpose as the New Competitive Advantage" and CEO of Strategy Development Group, Inc.Ratoff, author of "
6. Don't waste too much time playing with social media.
"Use it as it properly suits your business needs and move on."
--Benjamin Kensington A.M.I., a company which educates the public about the virtues of the Blue-Chip-based dividend driven investment process.Lupu, certified financial planner at
7. Get eight hours of sleep.
"There are many hard-working individuals who stay up late and get up early but I believe this actually reduces productivity and increases ineffectiveness. When I pay attention to getting eight full hours of sleep and going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time each day, my energy improves, I have more focus, and am more productive. [It]eems counter-intuitive, but I absolutely wouldn't give up my eight hours of rest for anything."
--Ann Vanderslice, president and CEO of Retirement Planning Strategies, which helps federal employees understand their benefits, maximize the value of their benefits, and plan for retirement, as well as organize income planning and IRA distributions.
8. Get up early.
"I get up by 4 a.m. every day even if I go to sleep at 1 a.m., even when I am on vacation. This helps me a lot as mornings are very relaxing and that's when I have my best ideas. I can refocus on my thoughts and always find new solutions to the existing problems.''
--Mayur Ramgir, founder of Zonopact, a software development firm which specializes in cloud computing and software as a service.
9. Check the pulse of the company.
"Even when backed up on emails, I always sit down every day to check that day's reservations for future moves, that day's revenues, and that day's total labor costs. Now that doesn't encompass a lot of reporting metrics. That doesn't get me a net profit margin nor take into account any of our overhead. It certainly doesn't get me a return on equity nor a return on assets. But I'm a typical entrepreneur that does a few million dollars a year in revenue. I have great support staff, but I don't have the luxury of a team of consultants to tell me what next quarter's revenues are likely to be. So that's why I review my company's pulse on a daily basis. It's not meant to break down the latest advertising campaign on Google, tell me how many new hires I've made, nor tell me our customer's satisfaction rating... But if those latter things were to become an issue, the canary in the coal mine is 'The Pulse' of my company. So reviewing those key numbers daily helps me to take decisive and almost real-time action, compared to my competitors who have executives waiting for last quarter's report. And because it's near real-time, my staff and I can go back to make adjustments with a quick turnaround. You can always figure out what went wrong the day prior, but at the end of the month... "Wait, who was in the office? Didn't we have an extra three people working that special event? And what was the name of that customer?" But everyone can piece together the day prior."
--Nick Baucom, founder and owner of Two Marines Moving, a moving company that has operations in the Washington, D.C., area and Miami. He also is author of "On the Move: A Marine's Guide to Entrepreneurial Success."
10. Prioritize your to-do list.
"Each evening, I write a to-do list, organized by order of importance, and I make sure to accomplish the first two items at the start of the next day. Another daily habit is prioritizing social media. I set aside an hour for social and/or blogging each day, allowing me time to connect with others and share something of value."
11. Find a positive outlet.
"Work can be stressful and keeping your cool is always a challenge. Finding a positive outlet to keep you motivated and maintain your confidence--and sanity--is so important. For some, that could be listening to a certain pump-up song. For me, it is fitness and exercise. I have been so fortunate to find the SoulCycle community and take Akin's Army Bootcamp classes at Bandier. I attend daily--sometimes twice--and use it as an opportunity to center myself and think of new ideas and solutions for any issues that may have come up at the office. Being part of that community has contributed to my success as it has taught me to stay strong, to never give up, and that I have the power to overcome any hardship."
--Casey Cohen, cofounder of Salido, a New York tech startup which provides a single platform for restaurant management.
12. Schedule all of your calls after lunch, and back to back.
"This allows you to get them out of the way and focus on the office and actual internal work in the morning when the coffee is working."
--Eddie Meehan, CEO of fan engagement agency Wonderful Union servicing celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Drake.
13. Maintain a personal connection with each employee.
"I try to make it a point to engage with as many employees daily as my schedule will permit... from a quick 'hello' to an in-depth meeting, and I meet with every new hire that joins us. Great companies are only as good as the people that power it, so I encourage open dialogue and input."
--Ron Dick, founder and CEO of Cedato, a digital video advertising company with offices in Tel Aviv and New York.
14. Ask "I wonder" questions several times a day.
"I wonder if we could...I wonder what would happen if...I wonder if it might help to...Starting with 'I wonder' assumes I don't know the answer, and pushes those around me to think differently about a problem, open their minds to another approach, and leads to innovation."
--Tamra Ryan CEO, Women's Bean Project which packages and sells bean soup mixes and other dry food products to stores across the U.S. and online while teaching impoverished women basic life skills and job readiness skills to help them succeed in an entry-level job.