The high achievers in your life likely didn't get where they are by lucky accident. Among other things, success usually involves hard work, perseverance as well as a supportive and loving network of friends and family. But another ingredient often goes into the mix: Discipline. Take it from these executives who share the daily habits which help them get on top, and stay there.
1. Drink water before coffee.
"Even before I start the coffee machine in the morning, I drink a large glass of water to start my day off right. It's a great way to wake up your senses, put your metabolism in gear, and I also notice it sets the bar for healthier snack choices throughout the work day."
--Patrick HomeToGo, a search engine for holiday rentals worldwide.Andrae, CEO of
2. Don't try to fix problems thinking it's easier if you do it yourself.
Give feedback so that you're training people to be smarter, self-sufficient, and uphold your standards. On the flip side, give positive feedback. If you saw something spectacular, say it to the person who impressed you. It'll go a long way."
--Keren Kang, CEO of e-commerce and marketing company Native Commerce.
3. Work out every morning.
"[It] keeps me fit both mentally and physically. Because I take a data-driven approach at home and at work, I apply the same principles to fitness as well: I track things like how much weight and how many reps I do for each exercise and my bike splits for different ride segments, and then I set goals."
--Mike Talend, which became the fifth tech IPO of the year in July.Tuchen, CEO of big data and cloud integration software company
4. Meditate for 25 minutes.
"I started meditating because I was feeling flustered even before I would arrive at the office every day. Seeing my calendar fill up with meetings from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. made my mind race. And I realized that sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. Dedicating 25 minutes every morning to my meditation practice allows me to build stress tolerance and prioritize more effectively. Meditation has helped me bring a curious mind to more situations instead of jumping to a resolution. I've found that taking time for myself helps me be the person I want to be and sets the tone to help others succeed."
--Peter Prezi.Arvai, cofounder and CEO of online presentation software company
5. Get connected first thing.
"The first thing I do every morning is pick up my iPhone and read through six channels of information: 1) business emails that came in overnight, 2) what my friends and family are doing (Facebook), 3) what my professional community is doing (LinkedIn), 4) a cursory glance at the leading tech channels I follow (Twitter) and headlines from two news apps - 5) one that leans right and 6) another that leans left... It takes 10 minutes to start the day with a broad view of all the areas likely to affect my day. The wheels are in motion on priorities before I even hit the shower."
--Scott Anderson, CMO of customer experience management company Sitecore.
6. Practice what you preach.
"I believe that having the right energy and actively listening to our customers and team has been a key to our success, so I've made it part of my daily ritual. Rather than standing behind my desk, I like to move. I meet daily with our customer service team members to understand what our fans are saying and to find new product insights. We've embraced the active office culture so you'll regularly find me in our on-site gym participating in our company-wide boot camp or yoga training."
--Jason McCann, CEO of standing desk company VARIDESK.
7. Prioritize the next day's tasks.
"Each night I dedicate a few moments to identifying the initiatives or activities that are most important to moving the company forward the following day. I divide them by category such as fundraising, operations, resource development, negotiation or strategic planning in my 'black book' which is always with me. I tackle the hardest or most complex things first. I try to keep the critical list capped at five and revisit the list throughout the day, avoiding distractions such as email. Prioritization is the key to managing my time and working on initiatives that will have the most impact on the business. On any given day, I may re-prioritize my list two to three times.
--Jaclyn Boatsetter.Baumgarten, cofounder and CEO of boat sharing tech startup
8. Meet people where they are.
"When leading important initiatives, invest the time to understand the current perspective of each stakeholder. Every person will have a different start point, based on their experience and role. Discussing individual roadmaps, directed toward arriving at the same destination, will broaden your understanding of the challenges and will elicit more engaged and willing participants."
--Michael A. Perry, president of prescription benefit facilitator Benecard PBF.
9. 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 of Women's Bean Project, a women-run social which puts women to work learning transferable skills producing gourmet packaged foods.
10. Greet your employees, every day.
"Your company is only as strong as your team. Maintaining a friendly, cooperative, productive work environment is so important, especially for startups and companies in high-growth periods. Walk into your office with a smile--even if you're stressed and it's feigned--ask how your coworkers are doing, and keep the channels of communication open. Your employees will work harder, smarter and better when they feel invested and care about the work they are doing and the people they are doing it with."
--Yakir Gola, cofounder of on-demand convenience store delivery service goPuff.
11. Maintain evening rituals.
"I work very globally, so I've adopted a routine that fits in well with that. I leave the office around 7 p.m., have a meal with my family and talk about the day. After my son is in bed, I usually check in on emails and plan out the following day before going to bed. We also have rituals like date night every week and Friday Shabbat dinner to create time for my husband and I."
--Bethany Koby, cofounder and CEO of Technology Will Save Us, a company which sells award-winning make-it-yourself kits and digital tools to help kids make, play, code and invent using technology.
12. Stick to a schedule that makes room for the unexpected.
"I think that the most important habit a business leader must have is the discipline to keep an accurate to-do list for the day, and stick to a schedule--but that schedule must allow for unexpected changes. Every morning I plot out my day and allocate the appropriate time for the things I know I must get done that day, whether it is a meeting or a task. However, while it covers pre-planned tasks, I also allocate times along the way for returning calls and emails that come up unplanned or unexpectedly. Without this type of planning, it's very easy to become overwhelmed and neglect or overlook important tasks."
--Jon Loew, founder and CEO of video messaging company KeepTree.
13. Connect with your non-work people.
"Your most important investors are the ones that didn't give you a check. Whether it's my family or roommate, I make sure to spend at least a few minutes each day talking with them about life. They will always have your best interest heart, speak to you about problems purely objectively, and will sincerely stick with you through thick and thin. It's important to have people you can talk to about anything without any business repercussions. It helps free up my mind and come into work much more relaxed and calm."
--Akash Nigam, Blend.cofounder and CEO of messaging app
14. Go for a walk.
"My daily habit is taking a walk to get coffee--the long way--to take the time to think, resolve problems and brainstorm ways to stay ahead of the competition. Some of my best ideas for solving consumers issues, introducing new products and even minute details like design and UI have come from getting outside and stretching my legs."
--Chris Giordano, CEO of consumer cloud company MiMedia.
15. Mountain bike before work.
"There's nothing quite like a good workout to stimulate body and mind. I gravitate to mountain bike rides in the early morning before work. I am fortunate to live near many excellent trails, and in the winter months the biking must be done with lights in the dark before the sun rises. Mountain biking on single-track offers enough technical complexity to effectively clear my mind from other thoughts. And it's a great substitute for coffee. Setting aside a small slice of my morning to stay healthy goes a long way, especially when it leaves me more time to spend with my family in the evenings."
--David Baszucki, founder and CEO of massively multiplayer online game ROBLOX, which is marketed toward children and teenagers aged 8 to 18.
16. Focus on breathing exercises.
"Being up at 5 a.m., your day can seem very long and sometimes it's hard to stay aware throughout the day. The easiest way I've found to recharge my batteries midday is 15 minutes of relaxing through breathing exercises. I just close my eyes and breath in slowly through the nose, hold my breath for a second of two and exhale using my stomach, [letting] the air come out naturally. If you concentrate on the air coming in and going out, you'll essentially be in a meditating situation and will be ready to tackle the second part of the day just as if you had slept a couple of hours."
--Arnaud Dumas de Rauly, president of Gaïatrend USA, e-liquid manufacturer for Alfaliquid.
17. Listen to new music.
"I am allotting myself 15 minutes each day to listen to new music. I found music is an amazing way to focus, express feeling and clear the mind, find peacefulness and get motivated. Having the right tune at the right time can make a true difference. I read somewhere that the songs and bands that were your favorite when you were 27 would be the core of your musical taste, for the rest of your life, and that after that age it is rare to adopt new songs to your repertoire. As an addict to innovation and new technologies, I decided to set aside 15 minutes a day to listen to new music: popular, world, new trends. That way I am keeping my repertoire open to new tunes, new culture, beats, excitement and feelings, actually refreshing the soundtrack of my life. While sitting in traffic on your way to work, during your 15 minute break, while you exercise--open your ears and mind and listen to new sounds that make your day so much better."
--Guy Aharon, cofounder and CEO of virtual paddling coach company Motionize Inc.
18. Set your goals.
"I believe what separates the men from the boys is not necessarily the size of their toys. Instead, I believe that success comes with lots of hard work, endless hours and a relentless pursuit of any given goal. The entrepreneurial personality is one who might stumble and fall, maybe even more than once but they have an ability to quickly shrug the dust off themselves, get back up and try it one more time. Most successful individuals have experienced great failures and gained a tremendous education every time they have stumbled and fallen. Set your goal and no matter how zig zag of a line to arrive at the goal you make, just make it."
--Ata Gonzalez, founder of G FarmaLabs, a producer of cannabis and manufacturer of a full line of cannabis infused products.
19. Shut your phone off.
"Business is more of a marathon so the one daily habit that I try my best to abide me is to get some 'me time' away from the business. This is can be as simple as having dinner with my fiancée or making sure I turn my phone off before I go to sleep. Having some downtime away from emails and business creates a level of balance and unwinding that makes the entire journey sustainable."
--Dipra Ray, CEO of 3D body mapping company mPort.
20. Reflect on what you're thankful for.
"It is very easy to get caught up in the daily grind and hassle of working on big problems in a small team and it has always helped me to pause and remind myself that I live in one of the best countries in the world, have an incredible family that supports me, have the opportunity to work on world-changing problems and am surrounded by some of the smartest people in the world. Remembering this puts everything in perspective and allows me to make better decisions and get through stressful times."
--Mark Pavlyukovskyy, CEO of DIY computer programming kit Play Piper.
21. Hold a daily huddle.
"Due the nature of our mission, lives depend on how efficiently we operate as an organization. Each morning, our senior leadership team meets by phone or in person for a quick huddle about their daily schedule. Although it only lasts about five minutes, it has been critical in breaking down silos, building trust and preventing future miscommunication in our fast-paced work environment. It has also made our meetings more productive because we can focus on the issues with little need to bring everyone up to speed."
--Joseph S. Roth, president and CEO of NJ Sharing Network, a nonprofit, federally designated organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue in New Jersey.
22. Don't talk about work at the dinner table.
"Spending time with your family, spouse and others eating dinner is an important way to end each day. Don't spend it talking about work. Take a break from the grind, laugh, and unwind the best you can."
--Sue Greenphire, a global provider of clinical payment solutions.Vestri, CFO of
23. Remember, it's not about you.
"I sometimes meet founder-entrepreneurs that seem to focus more on building their own personal brand than that of their company. Whether it's tweeting or speaking, the focus tends to be more on themselves and not necessarily their startup. In today's social media world, it's easy to lose that perspective, your focus, but that focus should be on building the company, including its brand. [The] fact is that if you do that well, then good things will come--including your personal brand, if you still think that is even important."
--Scott Moody, K4Connect, a technology company that creates solutions that serve and empower older adults and individuals living with disabilities.cofounder and CEO of