Achieving success in business in life typically isn't a lucky accident. It involves hard work, perseverance as well as a supportive and loving network of friends and family. But another ingredient often goes into the mix: A disciplined existence which fosters an ability to accomplish great things. Take it from these high achievers who share the daily habits which they've stuck to over time which have helped them succeed.
1. Write things down (by hand).
"As the head of a collaboration software company, I fully know and understand the benefits of technology in the workplace. However, when I go into meetings--whether over web conferencing or in-person--I like to carry a notebook with me so I can write down the important items. Writing things down keeps me organized and helps me prioritize my daily tasks. It also keeps me engaged and focused on the person in front of me."
--Ted PGi.Schrafft, president and CEO of web conferencing and collaboration technology company
2. Read at least two pages a night.
"Too many people tell me they don't have time to read. I think that's ridiculous. Reading inspires, changes the brain in positive ways, delivers new ideas, gives you something to talk about and helps you grow professionally and personally. At my busiest, and I mean 16-hour-days-busy, I will always read two pages a night. It takes no more than six minutes and I will often do it while I brush my teeth and floss. Saying you don't have time to read is like saying there is nothing more you want to learn and there will always be more to learn."
--Heather Kernahan, president of Hotwire PR North America.
3. Sing a prayer every night.
"My family immigrated to the U.S. from Bombay, India, in the 60s and growing up, my mother, brother and I would sing a prayer in Sanskrit every night before bed. I now sing this prayer every night with my kids to remind them of our heritage. I am more spiritual than religious, but I believe the underpinnings of all religions and prayers like these are universal and a message that is important to reflect upon both personally and in business."
--SendGrid which boasts customers including Airbnb, Spotify, Pandora, Uber and Costco.Sameer Dholakia, CEO of cloud-based email platform provider
4. Do the opposite of shooting down ideas.
"Before anyone is allowed to shoot down an idea during brainstorming, I find it helpful to ask everyone to provide one reason it could work, or why it should be pursued. It's far easier to kill ideas than to nurture them. Often one negative comment can silence the room and lead people back to safe suggestions discouraging creativity and innovation. Once people see strong support for bold ideas, they are more likely to offer their own suggestions, or help cultivate the ideas of others."
--Adam Wilson, CEO of data wrangling software provider, Trifacta.
5. Draw a line in the sand when it comes to spending time with family.
"No matter how many times you do it, running a startup is always chaotic. Over the years, I've learned that being open about prioritizing quality time with my family makes an incredible difference in my own productivity and elevating employee morale. For me, it's as simple as scheduling my nights to cook dinner for the week or arranging my meetings so that I can pick up my kids from school in the afternoons. I've started to see my employees do this as well, and open communication and mutual respect ensures we're still operating at the level a startup demands. At the end of the day, company culture is an example set by leadership. By making personal and work appointments visible to the company, I don't only assure my own uninterrupted family time, but also encourage employees to prioritize quality time with their own loved ones.
--Tony Gauda, CEO of the enterprise security solution ThinAir.
6. Give wisely.
"As corny as it is to say, I believe in the goodness of human nature to return favors, and you'll never know when you need help. So give wisely, whether it's advice, support, charity or love. We're lucky to work in the organic products sector where love does go around more easily, but I think it still goes for any industry or aspect of life."
--Abi Weeds, founder of Odylique Skin Care, which was founded in 2003 and now produces one of Europe's largest range of certified organic skin care lines.
7. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
"There is no guaranteed success in life, and entrepreneurship is a path rife with uncertainty. Successful people mitigate risk by investing in product and technology, making the right decisions on go-to-market, and surrounding themselves with the right team. Dealing with risk is a genuine hurdle and I believe some of the coping skills can certainly be learned and practiced along the way."
--Drawbridge, a cross-device identity company.Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, founder and CEO of
8. Get tutored by a junior employee.
"Whether it's about the nitty-gritty of your own technology or the latest-greatest new social media fad, this is a great way to learn something new while connecting with the most important driver of enterprise value in your company--your team."
--Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast, an enterprise platform for monetizing mobile location and user data at scale.
9. Eliminate routine decisions whenever possible.
"I face many decisions each day, ranging from the routine (what to wear and eat) to operational (scheduling calls, adjusting meetings) to more strategic (business growth topics). I have found it helpful to reserve most of my mental energy for the most strategic decisions whenever possible. I eat the relatively same breakfast four to five times a week and switch things up every quarter. I outsource operational decisions, empowering others to schedule meetings or take the lead on other operation decisions, which allows me to devote most of my mental energy to the more strategic decisions. I also like to set up my priorities for the day the night before and then focus on delivering to those priorities, as opposed to thinking about what to do next on the fly."
--Mark Ellis, CEO of performance-driven mobile user acquisition company Liftoff.
10. Get a good night's sleep.
"Sleep is precious when building a business. At the end of every day your mind is full of reflections about decisions that you've made and thoughts about the day to come. However, it is important to put your worries aside when bedtime arrives. It is time for your brain neurons to connect. I know it is hard to implement, so here are two tips: Move your phone to airplane mode, and tell yourself that by waking fresh and clear-headed you will be able to see decisions in a clearer light, and that there is nothing to worry about at the moment."
--Assaf Glazer, cofounder and CEO of Nanit, a baby-safe smart monitor that uses machine learning to provide sleep insights through camera vision.
11. Introspect and iterate every night.
"Every night at bed time I take 15 minutes to go over the decisions I made that day. For each key decision made, I re-look at the context, the data that went into the decision and the decision made. I recalibrate if I would make the same call now, without the time pressure and with a clear mind. I find it very helpful to learn how I make decisions. By exposing natural biases, I gain useful pointers to iterate on and to improve my decision making process."
--Harish Abbott, cofounder and CEO of commerce-as-a-service company Symphony Commerce.
12. Don't overthink stuff.
"And try to be practical about the situation you're facing. Whether it's a problem or an opportunity, instead of just diving into it and getting busy, a lot of people spend far too much time assessing. And by the time they're done assessing, the opportunity is gone or the problem escalated into a crisis."
--Ola Sars, CEO of Soundtrack Your Brand, a Spotify-backed company which brings businesses music streaming and playlist curation.
13. Be honest about your productivity.
"In our connected world, I find myself just staring at my phone or computer screen but too exhausted to actually be moving through tasks efficiently. I'm always checking myself: 'Am I doing this as efficiently as possible or can I shelf this for later today or tomorrow?'"
--Michael Provenzano, cofounder and CEO of Vistar Media, an advertising platform that enables brands to reach consumers based on their behavior in the physical world.
14. Use meditation, exercise, diet and sleep to maximize your energy.
"I call it 'MEDS.' While it seems obvious, maximizing my personal energy by eating right (avoiding carbs and alcohol in the evening), exercising (30 mins cardio), avoiding unnecessary stress (meditate for 10 mins) and getting enough sleep (seven hours), helps me manage my other priorities."
--Kalpesh Kapadia, cofounder and CEO of SelfScore, a fintech company using data analytics and machine learning to measure credit potential.
15. Practice meditation every day.
"I meditate for at least an hour each night. Meditation trains your attention, giving you far clearer perception of your true purpose, intuition about decisions big and small, resilience to life's inevitable setbacks, healthier relationships, and much more. It may inspire you to spend 100-plus hours a week on your true passion, or make it clear that time with your kids is your first priority. In that sense, meditation rewires your brain, changing how you view the world and to decide what is best for you in any situation. Start small. Do a 20-minute practice every day. Don't ask whether it's having an impact until after 180 days. Then ask yourself whether it was worth the effort. I asked that of myself six years ago and haven't looked back."
--Ajay Kapur, cofounder and CEO of Moovweb, a company that powers engaging mobile experiences.
16. Spend face time with customers.
"Customers are children of your startup. They are the best inspiration and investors in the future of any movement. I greedily spend as much face time with them as I can, listening. I fill my day with as many customer conversations as possible and then share the stories of their joy, pain and dreams with rest of my creative team. It's amazing how much innovation comes from the desire to build a loving community and nurturing beautiful customer experiences."
--SriSatish Ambati, cofounder and CEO of H2O.ai, a company bringing artificial intelligence to businesses.
17. Unplug and focus on what matters.
"I like to find at least 15 minutes every day to unplug from the constant stream of inputs at work and life at large. This time allows me to focus on my own thoughts and the things I think are most important to accomplish in the future. I often turn the radio off on my drive to work and use that time to think or I'll put on headphones without music just to create a meditative state."
--Skye Spear, VP of business development and partnerships at Signifyd, which provides fraud prevention for e-commerce businesses.
18. Make your commute invigorating.
"I have 1.5 hours of commute each way: 25 minutes cycling, a 55-minute train ride and a 10-minute walk twice daily. My commute is the cornerstone of my day. Cycling is getting the exercise I need. Trains are rare enough so I can't afford to miss it and keep me honest. It also provides an uninterrupted, quiet time to get things done. I then spend the day collaborating. At 4 p.m., people at the office famously say "Jerome, train!" So I consistently get home before 6 p.m. for quality family time."
--Jérôme Scholler, cofounder of Osmo, a hardware tech device for kids which was named one of the best inventions of 2014 by Time Magazine.
19. Work out at work.
"I stop what I'm doing at 2 p.m. every day and join the rest of the Moov team for a three-minute bodyweight workout. It not only refreshes my mind and body, but fosters a good sense of culture around something we all love: fitness."
--Meng Li, cofounder and CEO of Moov, an artificial intelligence-powered wearable that coaches users through a variety of workouts based on form.
20. Speak another language.
"I make it a point to spend at least 20 minutes every day speaking a different language, whether it's a human language or a programming language. This may mean having a conversation about politics with my Spanish-speaking employees, or talking through a sequel query with my engineers. Being fluent in multiple languages gives you the kind of broad perspective that makes you a better team player and a better problem solver."
--Julia Collins, cofounder and co-CEO of Zume Pizza, a company where robots and pizza nerds join forces to make and deliver America's favorite food.
21. Hire an external consultant to do 360-reviews of you and your executive team.
"They'll gather frank, anonymized feedback from direct reports and colleagues and provide you with a sense of how your team really feels about you, your work, and the dynamics at play in the workplace and affecting your business. It's a good way to know how people are really feeling and it lets your team know you're committed to growing something beyond the bottom line--yourself."
--Daniela Perdomo, cofounder and CEO of goTenna, a company which has commercialized off-grid, mobile, long-range mesh communication.
22. Embrace the daily huddle.
"I've established a daily 15-minute huddle with my executive team where we discuss only our customers--what have been the biggest successes and where we need to address issues. Regardless of how busy the day gets, that quick sync is invaluable to both myself and my team in order to stay connected, power through challenges and keep focused on our biggest priority: our customers."
-- Tom Goodmanson, president and CEO, contact center workforce optimization company Calabrio.