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The Most-Read Leadership Stories Of 2012

Productivity. Passion. Connections. Here's what Fast Company's audience learned about being a success at work this year, based on the top Co.Lead stories of 2012.

  • <p>Apparently, the first hour can make or break your day--maybe even your career. <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3000619/what-successful-people-do-first-hour-their-work-day" target="_self">Writer Kevin Purdy turned to time-management gurus</a> and startup legends like Brian Tracy, Brian Karp, Julie Morgenstern, and Craig Newmark for advice on how they knock it out of the park day after day after day.</p>
  • <p>Laura Vanderkam. author of the book "What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast," <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/1839987/what-most-successful-people-do-breakfast" target="_self">breaks down her 5-step process</a> for getting the most out of your morning.</p>
  • <p>Ryan Holmes, the CEO of Hootsuite, examines <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3000908/13-trillion-price-not-tweeting-work" target="_self">the business case for social media</a>, and why we all need to stand up and take note (especially since at last count only 20 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had Twitter accounts).</p>
  • <p>Becoming and staying productive isn't about hard-to-follow programs or logging your every move in an app, <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3003586/6-simple-rituals-reach-your-potential-every-day" target="_self">says career coach Amber Rae</a>. It's about daily self-care that anyone can do.</p>
  • <p>Research by the London School of Economics and Political Science found that people with higher IQs are more likely to be night owls. <em>Fast Company</em> contributor Lydia Dishman digs up a few of them to <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3000732/what-successful-night-owls-get-done-bed" target="_self">share tips on how to best burn the midnight oil</a>.</p>
  • <p>HR expert Roberta Matuson makes a case for quiet, reflection--and vacation--as <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3000226/link-between-quietness-and-productivity" target="_self">productivity strategies</a>.</p>
  • <p>Wondering if the job you have now is "the one"--or just another stop on the way to something more fulfilling? Career coach Amber Rae's <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3002168/8-signs-youve-found-your-lifes-work" target="_self">8 tips for knowing whether it's time to settle in or keep moving</a>.</p>
  • <p>The performance review of yesterday was based on results like sales or goals met; <em>Fast Company</em> writer E.B. Boyd examines the concept of <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/1842019/measuring-employees-worth-consider-influence" target="_self">evaluating employees based on influence</a>.</p>
  • <p>Author <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3001441/do-steve-jobs-did-dont-follow-your-passion" target="_self">Cal Newport's controversial take</a> on the more nuanced backstory of Steve Jobs's career, and whether he truly got there just by loving what he did (discuss!).</p>
  • <p>Do you love going to events, but find yourself stranded during happy hour, tongue-tied and tucked in a corner? Author Allison Graham shares <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/1843752/hate-small-talk-these-5-questions-will-help-you-work-any-room" target="_self">5 unexpected questions</a> that will help break the ice in any situation.</p>
  • <p>Bonus material ahead: In December's breakout story, Content.ly founder Shane Snow teaches us how to formulate the types of questions that will <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3003945/one-conversational-tool-will-make-you-better-absolutely-everything" target="_self">yield priceless insights for your business</a>.</p>
  • 01 /11 | #1 What Successful People Do With The First Hour Of Their Work Day

    Apparently, the first hour can make or break your day--maybe even your career. Writer Kevin Purdy turned to time-management gurus and startup legends like Brian Tracy, Brian Karp, Julie Morgenstern, and Craig Newmark for advice on how they knock it out of the park day after day after day.

  • 02 /11 | #2 What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

    Laura Vanderkam. author of the book "What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast," breaks down her 5-step process for getting the most out of your morning.

  • 03 /11 | #3 The $1.3 Trillion Price Of Not Tweeting At Work

    Ryan Holmes, the CEO of Hootsuite, examines the business case for social media, and why we all need to stand up and take note (especially since at last count only 20 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had Twitter accounts).

  • 04 /11 | #4: 6 Simple Rituals To Reach Your Potential Every Day

    Becoming and staying productive isn't about hard-to-follow programs or logging your every move in an app, says career coach Amber Rae. It's about daily self-care that anyone can do.

  • 05 /11 | #5: What Successful Night Owls Get Done Before Bed

    Research by the London School of Economics and Political Science found that people with higher IQs are more likely to be night owls. Fast Company contributor Lydia Dishman digs up a few of them to share tips on how to best burn the midnight oil.

  • 06 /11 | #6: The Link Between Quietness And Productivity

    HR expert Roberta Matuson makes a case for quiet, reflection--and vacation--as productivity strategies.

  • 07 /11 | #7: 8 Signs You've Found Your Life's Work

    Wondering if the job you have now is "the one"--or just another stop on the way to something more fulfilling? Career coach Amber Rae's 8 tips for knowing whether it's time to settle in or keep moving.

  • 08 /11 | #8: Measuring An Employee's Worth? Consider Influence

    The performance review of yesterday was based on results like sales or goals met; Fast Company writer E.B. Boyd examines the concept of evaluating employees based on influence.

  • 09 /11 | #9: Do Like Steve Jobs Did: Don't Follow Your Passion

    Author Cal Newport's controversial take on the more nuanced backstory of Steve Jobs's career, and whether he truly got there just by loving what he did (discuss!).

  • 10 /11 | #10 Hate Small Talk? These 5 Questions Will Help You Work Any Room

    Do you love going to events, but find yourself stranded during happy hour, tongue-tied and tucked in a corner? Author Allison Graham shares 5 unexpected questions that will help break the ice in any situation.

  • 11 /11 | #11: The One Conversational Tool That Will Make You Better At Absolutely Everything

    Bonus material ahead: In December's breakout story, Content.ly founder Shane Snow teaches us how to formulate the types of questions that will yield priceless insights for your business.

Mom always said breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and apparently that's how Fast Company readers feel about their first hour at work—it's a make or break time not only for the day, but maybe for their careers.

In the most popular Co.Lead article of 2012, writer Kevin Purdy turned to time-management gurus and startup legends like Brian Tracy, Brian Karp, Julie Morgenstern, and Craig Newmark for advice on how they knock it out of the park day after day after day—and why what they choose to do (or not do) first matters as much as it does.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, examined a similar theme in her eponymous article, which broke down her surefire, can't-lose, 5-step process for getting the most out of your morning (hint: it starts the night before).

Don't worry, though, night owls—we haven't forgotten you. In our fifth most-read post of 2012, Lydia Dishman talks to some famously successful night owls who do their best work after everyone else is in bed, and their strategies for being productive post-sunset.

Click through the slideshow above to see the rest of Co.Lead's top 10 stories for 2012.

What career advice are you looking for in 2013? Tell us about it in the comments, and sign up for our Co.Lead newsletters for the best of our career advice delivered to your inbox.

—Erin Schulte is the editor of Co.Lead. Follow her on Twitter @erin719nyc.

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Image: Flickr user Thomas Hawk; 02 / Image: Flickr user Arvind Grover; 03 / Image: Flickr user Vincent van der Pas; 04 / Image: Flickr user Charlie Stinchcomb; 05 / Images: Flickr users Dan Dzurisin, Rick Leche, Martin Teschner; 06 / Flickr user Benson Kua; 07 / Image: Flickr user Rob; 08 / Image: Flickr user Snugg LePup; 09 / Image: Flickr user Kristian Bjornard; 10 / Image: Flickr user Aquila; 11 / Image: Flickr user Daniel Vucsko;

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