Ever wonder what sets highly successful people apart? I've polled countless executives and entrepreneurs about the things they're doing every day which give them an edge, and it's not rocket science. In fact, often they credit simple daily routines which have been proven over time to give them an edge. Check out these quotes from 25 high-achieving individuals who talk about some of the habits which help them get ahead in business and life.
1. Practice "no stinkin' thinkin.'"
"When you hear a negative thought come into your mind, replace it with a positive thought."
--Patricia Trimble, founder and president of Suntegrity Skincare, a natural sunscreen line which has been featured on Dr.Oz, The Good Life, Rodale's Organic Life, Prevention Magazine, Essence Magazine, W Magazine, and other national media outlets.
2. Take care of your body every day.
"When I don't move my body in a way that I enjoy, my business suffers, and I become less productive and a lot less creative. If I make sure I get some movement or exercise in every day, I am more focused, happy and engaged. This is non-negotiable time that I add to my calendar, and I don't schedule meetings on top of it. I travel a lot for my business, so I have a membership at a yoga studio that I can go to in other cities."
--Heather Nichols, entrepreneur, business expert, and transformational coach who helps other entrepreneurs create successful businesses.
3. Forget about yesterday.
"The past is for the history books. Before getting out of bed, I put everything that was said and done the day before in the history book and ask, 'Now what is available for me to choose today?' This way I can be the one who controls if and when the history book is opened. The choice is mine--move forward or go back. My experience has been that most people spend majority of their time focusing on yesterday instead of looking ahead and creating something new."
--Laleh Alemzadeh-Hancock, CEO of Belapemo, a professional services company specializing in operational excellence, change management and leadership development for individuals, Fortune 500 executives, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, athletes and veterans.
4. Ask questions to create more.
"I have learned that nothing ever shows up the way you think it will. Many days unexpected and interesting situations that arise and I have to choose not to panic, and instead to ask, "What is right about this I am not getting?" When you ask a question you open the door to more possibilities. It's the willingness to let go of control that allows room for more creation."
5. Train your brain.
"We live in a world where ideas are an important currency so I want to keep my brain fit. Every morning after a quick fifteen-minute meditation, I write down a list of ten to twenty ideas solving a specific problem or answering a question. The topic doesn't really matter, I just pick anything. This practice makes my brain work faster and smarter."
6. Envision a productive day.
"I focus in on the top three things I want to accomplish that day and imagine them already done before I start out. It helps me tune out to all the distractions and channel my attention to where I'm adding the most value and making the biggest impact."
7. Breathe with intention.
"Several years ago I realized that when I got up in the morning, I would immediately start getting anxious about the myriad of things that awaited me that day. Ongoing projects that were lagging, new fires that had to be put out and the errant curveball that would come in the form of a Google alert to my smartphone. On one particularly anxious morning, it just so happened that my mom had shared a method for relaxation and centering called 4-7-8 breathing. Inhale for a solid 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and exhale for a full, controlled 8 seconds. Something about the concentration and the specific time does have a significant effect on stress, heart rate and blood pressure. It's now part of a morning ritual of meditation for me. It's the first thing I do after I brush my teeth and start the coffee. It helps me organize my thoughts in a calm manner so I can face the day head on."
--Brendan T. McNamara, EVP of marketing, communications and product development for Dream Hotel Group, a global boutique hotel company which recently announced plans for new locations in Hollywood, Palm Springs, Nashville, New York, Dallas and Doha Qatar.
8. Relish your commute.
"I have a 45-minute commute to and from work. I use this time to mentally prepare for the day ahead and for the four exuberant kids who are waiting for me at home. It's my time to listen to NPR and find out how world events might be affecting our travel business, to mediate on the beauty of my drive down the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, to make a few personal calls, and to reflect on how grateful I am for what waits for me on the bookends of my drive. It's just enough time to enjoy a big mug of tea and get my head in the game for whatever awaits."
--Jennifer Tombaugh, president of privately-held travel tour operator Tauck, which was formed in 1925.
9. Clear your head with a musical break.
"I'm not a big fan of taking idle walks or leaving the office to grab coffee. I'm far too impatient. One way to clear my head is to practice an instrument like guitar, piano or--ideally--drums. This engages a whole different part of the brain, has a relaxing effect, and also involves some physical precision which requires concentration around your muscles. Who knows, you might actually get good at playing an instrument."
--Brent Sanders, founder and CEO at Fulton Works, a web and mobile development shop.
10. Listen to your Intuition.
"Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you. It can be hard to make decisions when you feel like there is always more research you could do or data you can analyze, but learning to listen to your gut when things are happening quickly makes you a stronger and more confident leader."
--Jeff Urban, president and cofounder of Whistle Sports Network, a global sports media company that creates, curates and delivers sports content from over 400 creators to 170 million fans across multiple social, digital and TV platforms.
11. Be present and available.
"Always make yourself available to your team, whether it be to solve a specific problem or to simply brainstorm fresh ideas. I make sure I am available to anyone in our organization to provide them the opportunity to tap into my experience in order to help guide them when making decisions rather than spelling out the solution for them. Making myself available also lets me learn from colleagues across various departments. Even at the CEO level I challenge myself to keep learning from those around me on a daily basis."
--Doug Clark, president and CEO of AmeriQuest, a technology-enabled provider of financial process automation, procurement and asset management solutions.
12. Talk to strangers.
"On a daily basis, I make it a point to communicate with total strangers. I like to hear about what's going on in their world--where they're from, what's important to them. The insight you can get from people is amazing when you listen closely to their stories. In fact, that's how I developed the idea for my company, RedZone. I was speaking to my driver about avoiding dangerous areas while driving and the idea to create a GPS-enabled crime app map popped into my head. Now, RedZone is an International mapping solution that people rely on to keep themselves safe."
--Ted Farnsworth, CEO of RedZone, a GPS-driven, real-time crime and navigation map app that uses proprietary geo-fencing technology to show users where recent crime has taken place in order to navigate through safer neighborhoods while avoiding risky crime areas deemed "red zones."
13. Get an early start.
"Every morning I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to work out, whether I'm traveling or at home. I've been doing this since sixth grade, when my figure skating practices had me starting my days early. I do my best thinking when on morning walks--just me, my tennis shoes and some good music. My contemplation is uninterrupted and my mind is free to wander and be inspired by my surroundings."
--Christine Robins, president and CEO of outdoor cooking brand Char-Broil.
14. Acknowledge that life is not fair.
"Things happen, often for no good or foreseeable reason. I prepare myself for disappointment because luck plays a factor in everything we do, realizing that more often than not that what really matters is not what should be done but what can be done and knowing the difference."
--Calvin Sims, president and CEO of International House, a New York City residence and program center of graduate students from more than 100 countries.
15. Recognize good work.
"Heartfelt, enthusiastic [praise] in daily emails, asides or call outs at group meetings make your team members and colleagues feel recognized, valued, and truly appreciated. It creates a wave of pass-it-on goodwill that they start extending to each other with shout-outs for jobs well done or stepping in to help out stressed colleagues. Everyone starts cheering one another on instead of competing internally, and you end up with a tremendous number of people looking to catch someone doing something good."
--Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central which connects brands to influencers.
16. Know when to jump in, and when to stay out of it.
"When I read an email that gets me steamed, I think to myself "lead, follow or get out of the way." If you seek perfection, often you see imperfection in things all around you. It's important to make choices and assess when you need to jump in and lead, jump in and support or just stay out of it and let things take their natural course. It's a good sentence I keep in my head because it forces me to make a decision and take an action in that moment."
--Eric Haller, EVP of Experian DataLabs, which helps businesses solve strategic marketing and risk-management problems through advanced data analysis process, research and development.
17. Make or buy a glowing green smoothie or juice.
"Pack in the greens--kale, spinach, mint, lemon, apple or pineapple--to get that boost of chlorophyll to oxygenate your blood and get your energy flowing. The vitamin C helps produce collagen for firm smooth skin and the fiber helps cleanse your gut to remove toxins. It also means you nearly consume your RDI for fruit and vegetables in one sitting and don't have to be so concerned about what you eat for lunch or dinner if you end up grabbing something on the run."
--Cindy Luken, CEO, food scientist and product designer for Luk Beautifood, an all-natural, toxin-free and food-active makeup product line.
18. Try to stay balanced.
"Often times, balancing family life and running a company can be exhausting. Every day, I give my son a pick-up hug, lifting him off the ground and squeezing him. It reenergizes my batteries and serves as reminder to my son how much he is loved even when mom gets distracted by work. To stay healthy, I fill four water bottles in the morning to force myself to drink water. I also do 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training daily. I rely on my Apple Watch to remind myself to stand during the day to avoid sitting too much. And I aim to read one chapter of a book daily, which I do while the house is quiet at 4:30 a.m. over my morning coffee."
--Michele Mehl, CEO of Excy, a portable total body exercise cycling system.
19. Eat properly and drink lots of water.
"It sounds obvious but nourishment and plenty of hydration is critical for me. I'm able to focus more and get more accomplished. I've found that following The "4-Hour Body" by Tim Ferriss' is the best way to keep my mind clear and ready for what comes at us day after day."
--James Cunningham, cofounder and CEO of the shopping search engine Yroo.
20. Use Followup.cc.
"On a daily basis, I use followup.cc as a reminder tool. I usually have four or five reminders sent to myself, which keeps me organized and highly productive throughout the day. I'd also say that Kathryn (Kabbage co-founder and COO) and I continue to spend a large part of our days in the office interviewing prospective recruits - regardless of the level of the position - to both maintain the office culture and to stay closely connected to the company."
--Rob Frohwein, cofounder and CEO of financial technology and data platform Kabbage.
21. Speak with customers.
"I make it a point to talk to at least one of our partners per day--partners are what we call our customers. Speaking with them is the best way to gauge the strength of the relationship and understand where their business is headed. It allows me to personally invest in building relationships with them. While I can't talk to every partner every day, getting direct, unfiltered feedback allows me to read the signals. Then I can take action quickly or filter the feedback back into our broader strategy. These calls help me to stay empathetic to our partners' challenges and pains and ensure that I continue to drive excellence within my team and the greater organization."
--Kurt Bilafer, VP of sales and customer success at WePay, payments partner to the platform economy.
22. Start each day with intention, gratitude and appreciation.
"It only takes a minute but makes a big difference in my day. Where you bring your attention determines how you feel, and how your brain performs. This is so important. My thoughts can help me feel great or they can make me sad, forgetful and irritated. As soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning I say to myself, "Today is going to be a great day." Then, I think about one thing I'm grateful for, and one person I appreciate. When I do this exercise it sets a positive tone for the rest of my day."
--Daniel Amen, M.D., clinical neuroscientist and brain imaging expert who heads Amen Clinics, which are located in Orange County, Calif., Atlanta, San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., and the Seattle area. He has written numerous books, including "The Brain Warrior's Way: Ignite Your Energy and Focus, Attack Illness and Aging, Transform Pain into Purpose,""The Amen Solution: The Secret to Being Thinner, Smarter, Happier" and "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life." Dr. Amen also has appeared as a guest on such TV shows as "The View" and was a consultant for the movie "Concussion."
23. Focus on the one thing.
"Business owners and entrepreneurs are constantly pulled in the direction of a zillion good ideas that can keep them from the effective execution of the best idea. Accomplishing something great needs a plan, and then execution of the plan. Most fail to succeed because of poor execution."
--Craig Wear, certified financial planner and founder of Q3 Advisors and Game Plan Advisors. He has more than 30 years experience in financial planning, and recently launched Active401k, which helps both financial advisors and 401(k) participants become more active in managing 401(k) accounts.
24. Unplug after work.
"When I get home I turn off all devices--smartphone, television and tablet. I want to enjoy my family, listen to my two kids and talk about their day, their dreams and their plans. It helps me reconnect with my own private dimension and I like to be surrounded by the things that are really important to me."
--Paolo Tramonti, founder and CEO of the hair color brand Bios Line.
25. Use a move as a reason to reach out to former clients.
"Once or twice per day, I pick one or two former clients. I verify the client's current address, and then I mail them a card with my current address and telephone number on it. During the Christmas Season, I will send a non-denominational Yuletide card. If it is other times of the year, I will send them a notice that I have moved. [This] 'moved' card can be used at any time. Even if you moved a year ago, it's still informative and truthful, you have moved, and the client apparently doesn't know it... With a daily habit of doing this, you can send 300-700 cards per year. This creates what the advertising profession calls 'Top of Mind Awareness.'"
--Oliver Harris, trial lawyer, prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He also is the author of Jojo.
26. List three things to accomplish each day.
"[I do this] via my phone or a sticky note. This way, as the day goes on and my schedule changes and emails flow, I can refocus my time and energy according to my three daily goals."
--Emily S. Culp, CMO for Keds.