How successful CEOs start their mornings

Although they each have different businesses and approaches, successful CEOs often start the first hour of their days with these five value-adding activities.

How successful CEOs start their mornings
[Photo: Andrew Neel/Unsplash]

If you start your day by hitting the snooze button one too many times and then racing out the door to work, you may want to rethink your mornings. Having a routine in place will help you make the most of the rest of your day.


“The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day,” said 19th-century social reformer Henry Ward Beecher. Successful CEOs often start their first hour with these five value-adding activities:

[Photo: Kate Williams/Unsplash]

1. Meditate

Nadia Boujarwah, CEO of the clothing subscription service Dia & Co., gets up at 6:30 a.m., and her first task of the day is to meditate.

“I recently started using the meditation app Headspace. I use it for 10 minutes first thing in the morning,” she told Business Insider. “Carving out that time to help me get centered and clear my mind has proven to be incredibly valuable.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella practices meditation each morning, but just for 90 seconds. He gets up in the morning, puts his feet down, and pauses.

“It grounds you, it gets you in touch with yourself and the world around you, it’s fascinating,” he told Michael Gervais during his Finding Mastery podcast.

[Photo: Louis Hansel/Unsplash]

2. Exercise

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson wakes up at 5 a.m. and starts every day with some form of exercise, such as tennis, cycling, or kitesurfing around Necker Island.


“Exercise puts me in a great mind frame to get down to business, and also helps me to get the rest I need each night. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing I have applied myself both physically and mentally every day,” he writes on his blog.

Not surprisingly, Payal Kadakia, CEO and founder of the fitness studio membership ClassPass, starts her day with exercise after quickly checking email.

“As an entrepreneur, the first thing I do is check my email and quickly answer any urgent messages,” she told Refinery 29. “The next most important thing is my workout–I love going for a 30-minute run in the a.m., which helps me wake up as well as plan out my day. If I’m strapped on time, I do a 10-minute core workout in my room, instead. (I always have my yoga mat and weights laid out).”

Clique Brand’s Katherine Power is another CEO who starts the day with a workout.

“I can’t think as clearly without taking that hour at the beginning of the day to do it,” she said in an interview with Self. “I really figured out how much more productive I could be after exercising. I let go of thinking about exercise as something to just lose weight or tone up, and let it be more about finding time to concentrate and work hard on something. Exercise wakes me up and gets my juices flowing. I get my best ideas working out or on the drive back from the gym to the house.”

[Photo: Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash]

3. Set goals for the day

Elliot Weissbluth, founder and chairman of the financial services firm HighTower, starts his day between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. and makes a plan for his day, reshuffling priorities if needed.


“I make coffee and collect my head–where I am, what the plan is for the day, the things that are going on,” he told Business Insider. He also sets an intention for the day using the Chrome plugin Momentum.

“I’m pretty deliberate–usually in the middle of my first cup of coffee, I write out what my intention for the day is and what my focus is, and that really allows me to anchor myself in terms of what’s going to be important for that day and what I’m going to push off to the side,” he said.

[Photo: Jay Clark/Unsplash]

4. Catch up on news

Google CEO Sundar Pichai wakes up between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. and sits down with a print copy of the Wall Street Journal.

“Believe it or not, I read a physical paper every single morning,” he said in an interview with Recode. “I’m not a morning person, and I need my time with my paper and tea to wake up and get going.”

[Photo: Mark Solarski/Unsplash]

5. Check reviews

Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up just before 4 a.m. and starts his day by reading Apple user comments.

“I like to take the first hour and go through user comments and things like this that sort of focus on the external people that are so important to us,” he said in an interview with Axios.