If you want to feel like a frail weakling next to superhuman overachievers, then just read the parade of stories out there documenting CEOs' morning routines. It's like they're trying to outdo each other with eye-watering wakeup times.
"I'm up at 5am for a jog," announces one.
"Wimp!" replies another, "I set my alarm for 4:30am to study Chinese and bathe in ice water."
And just in case you've missed the message that business success requires a truly punishing morning routine, plenty of pundits will spell it out for you in articles with titles like "The Power of Mornings: Why Successful Entrepreneurs Get up Early" and "11 Reasons Why Early Birds Are Exceptionally Successful."
But here's the thing most of these peppy, night-owl-shaming articles fail to mention: our biorhythms are largely inborn and out of our control. Some people are simply programmed to wake cheerfully at ungodly hours, while others (including Winston Churchill and President Obama) naturally do their best work late in the day. Waking up early is great, in other words, but it's definitely not for everyone.
So if you've always been inclined to be productive in the evening, science actually suggests you stop fighting that impulse and instead adapt your schedule to take advantage of your most energetic hours. And though you read about it less, there are plenty of wildly successful founders who've done just that. (Hat tip to Business Insider for the pointer to many of these examples).
1. Buzzfeed CEO and Huffington Post co-founder Jonah Peretti
Sleeping in until 8:30 hardly constitutes a nocturnal rock 'n' roll lifestyle, but it's certainly far more relaxed than the punishingly early wakeup times recommended by many CEOs. And apparently it works for Peretti.
"I usually sleep in to about 8:30. Before I leave home, I separate the business or sports section from The New York Times for the subway ride - the only two sections my wife lets me take. I'll also take New York magazine with me on the train, which is the only magazine I subscribe to. (After I had twins, that put an end to my New Yorker and Economist subscriptions and my ability to read long-form articles in general.)" he told The Atlantic.
2. Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie
Are you inclined to sleep in even later than Peretti and Fishkin? Then don't worry, you have successful entrepreneurial role models too. Box CEO Aaron Levie told Fast Company he generally sleeps until 10:00 and, in contrast to productivity orthodoxy, spends this bit of his day in bed dealing with email.
"I'm in bed for 30 minutes swiping, replying, and deleting. I try to make sure I have no unread messages by the time I get into the office," he reports.
3. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian
Ohanian is another self-proclaimed night owl who is rarely out of bed before mid-morning. "I'm usually up pretty late, so I try to be up by 10 a.m." he told Fast Company. "The first thing I do is use the bathroom, then I make some coffee. No, the absolute first thing I do is feed my cat because he usually wakes me up."
4. Genius co-founder Tom Lehman
Lehman is definitely not a morning person, but he likes to occasionally pretend he is (maybe because he too feels guilted by all those 'early bird always gets the worm!' articles). "I'm generally a 3:00 AM-10:30 AM kind of guy, but if I do happen to wake up early - and especially if I go to the gym first thing - I make sure to tell everyone about it," he reveals in a Lifehacker interview.
5. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
While fatherhood has reportedly forced Zuckerberg to start getting up earlier, "I was never a morning person," the Facebook boss told a Q&A earlier this year. Unsurprisingly, he also reports that the very first thing he does in the morning - from bed - is look at Facebook. Earlier in his career he was famed for keeping "hacker hours" by staying up into the small hours and getting a very slow start to the day.