Yoga. Meditation. Reflection. Writing. Exercise. You name it, it's been folded into the morning routines of countless C-levels over the years in untold variations. Indeed, morning routines are an individual practice, as variable as the companies American CEOs helm. Still, there are common threads -- most of which deal with personal wellbeing and productivity.

For example, Sundar Pichai reads the paper -- both to inform himself and to spark mental engagement before his harrying schedule kicks in.

Others, like Bill Gates, focus on Zen-like activities during their wellness routines.

Tim Cook folds in some of these, to be sure. He's up at 4 a.m. to ensure productivity starts early. He works out. He intentionally limits screen time.

But he also spends time reading user comments about Apple products. Why? While I have not consulted him directly, I can imagine there are two primary reasons:

  • It helps shape strategy and development, and
  • it connects him daily with real users who are engaging with Apple products.

Sometimes, he even responds -- as in this recently famous case of an Indian man who avoided a possible heart attack thanks to the warnings of his Apple Watch.

This customer engagement is seldom seen as central to a morning routine, however. Quite the opposite, actually. Typically, busy execs use their morning routine to focus on their own to-dos (if productivity is priority No. 1), or they carve out time for intentional wellbeing. Both, of course, are laudable. But Cook's focus grounds him in purpose, aligned well with his vision. Yes, this is collectively established as Apple, but it's also deeply personal. As he once noted in a conference hosted by The Wall Street Journal, "Our culture is to leave the world better than we found it."

That's not abstract. It's decidedly real -- and it begins not with strategy discussions in corner offices or investor meetings in finance meccas. It starts with the customers. Are their lives better because of Apple products?

Or, if I can intuit a little from Cook's own words, is Cook himself making lives better -- by being a strong, ethical leader; by delivering what's needed instead of innovating for innovation's sake; by paying attention to shifts in customer interest so that product development can pivot accordingly?

Many would see this as a contaminant of proper morning routine activity. After all, aren't these supposed to frame wellbeing and productivity in such a way that C-levels can then step into their work? Work shouldn't be a part of it.

And yet, when company vision and mission are central to personal drive and purpose, why separate them? Why not, instead, embrace them as a leveler, setting us straight so that the minutiae of our day to day work is conducted with the right mindset?

This approach might not be for everyone, but it's worth consideration -- especially for entrepreneurs newly establishing themselves, their companies, and their impact.