12 Apr 21 Executives Share the Daily Routines That Help Them Succeed
The most successful people I know make navigating business and life look easy, often because they have their crap together more than most people. They get up early, stay in front of health issues, and are smart about money. They know the value of a good night’s sleep, a restorative vacation, and a well-written book. And they stick to certain routines proven over time to work. Check out these quotes from 21 successful executives who credit simple daily habits for helping them get ahead in business and life.
1. Do more than is expected of you.
“This should apply to every part of your life. By always doing more than is expected, you will create a valuable personal brand of competency, excellence, and reliability. Over-delivering encourages ongoing next steps as people will always want to engage with you. Simply anticipate people’s needs and requests, then take them to the next level. If your boss asks you to think of a great gift for a client, don’t suggest only one–create a folder of several gifts with all the details. If your significant other asks you to vacuum the bedroom, vacuum the whole house. Give every request–no matter the investment it requires–the same level of attention because once you make over-delivering a habit, you’ll find yourself more motivated and more successful in every area of your life.” –Ric Militi, CEO of the technology think tank Crazy Raccoons, developers of Zip–The Question Answer App, which has garnered 10 million engagements since its launch six months ago.
2. Be the first one in the office.
“I love being the first person in the door in the morning. It gives me time to focus, draw up my priorities for the day ahead, connect with key reports in different time zones, and clear urgent emails. I feel ahead and on top of things if I get in early.” –James Thornton, managing director of Intrepid Travel, a global adventure travel company that offers more than a thousand trips in more than a hundred countries.
3. Connect with family every day.
“Staying connected to my family allows me to maintain a sense of balance at all times. I talk with my family daily at the same time no matter where I am in the world–7 a.m. Eastern with my youngest son and my wife. I talk with my wife again in the evening and text my other son and daughter throughout the day.” –Bill Linehan, EVP and CMO of RLHC, a hospitality company engaged in the franchising, management, and ownership of upscale, midscale, and economy hotels under the Hotel RL, Red Lion Hotel, Red Lion Inn and Suites, GuestHouse International, and Settle Inn brands.
4. Meander through the building several times a day.
“Having face time and genuine conversation with the team is where I generate inspiration. I walk the company floors multiple times a day to chat with the team and learn about the company’s activities. It helps keep me stay connected on every level of our business.” –Clayton Reid, president and CEO of MMGY Global, a global marketing firm specializing in the travel, hospitality, and entertainment industries.
5. Make time for family and health.
“When I started Rocketrip, I thought carefully about the things that are most important to me and keep me at my best: focusing attention on my family and on my health. I carve out time each day to spend with my wife and new baby, and I make sure to exercise several days a week, even if that means getting up earlier than I’d like. Whatever you need to keep yourself balanced, make sure you carve out time for it, even at your busiest times.” –Dan Ruch, CEO of Rocketrip, which helps companies reduce travel expenses by incentivizing employees to save on their business trips.
6. Compliment others.
“Once or twice a day, I make it a point to really thank someone in a sincere and meaningful way. Earlier I had a phone conversation with a representative and I told him how impressed I was with the calm manner in which he spoke, as well as the clarity of his voice. He said in return how nice that was to hear. It felt great.” –Evan Hackel, author of the book Ingaging Leadership and CEO of Tortal Training, which specializes in developing interactive eLearning solutions.
7. Make someone laugh.
“Perhaps it is the stand-up comedian in me, but every day I look for the funny side of something. Comedy, after all, is telling of the truth in a way people can hear it. If you want to challenge the status quo, finding a way to laugh about the crazy way we currently do things is a great place to start.” –Dan Gregory, speaker, author of Selfish, Scared and Stupid and co-founder of The Impossible Institute, an innovation think tank that has worked with big brands including Coca-Cola and the United Nations.
8. Make Connections.
“I try to meet someone new every day. Whether it’s a prospective client, a potential hire, a professional contact, or someone new in our neighborhood, I try to make a new connection and potential friend. It grows my personal and professional network while expanding my knowledge and perspective.” –Andrew Fischer, CEO and founder ofChoozle, a digital marketing platform that simplifies data and online advertising and in 2015 tripled its team and grew revenues 650 percent.
9. Show up.
“There are some things you just can’t phone in, and real-time direction in the execution phase of a project leads the list. I’m not telling you to micromanage. What I’m saying is that your physical or verbal presence in the middle of the action lends strength to the cause and brings focus to the direction. My business adaptation of Newton’s first law of physics is this: ‘People and objects in motion tend to remain in motion, and people and objects at rest tend to remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force.’ You, of course, are that force. Sometimes you can actually have impact by showing up and saying nothing. Sometimes, the silent power of your respected leadership presence will tend to organize the effort and pick up the pace.” –Bert Thornton, former president and COO of Waffle House, Inc., and author of Find an Old Gorilla.
10. Sort your company mail.
“I was advised by a client early in my career to spend a few minutes each day sorting through incoming mail. When I saw him do this, I found it extremely strange that the CEO of a large real estate brokerage firm was sorting postal deliveries, and now many of my employees find this unusual about me. He said, ‘I want to know what’s coming into our firm.’ As outdated as it may seem, keeping a close eye on the incoming mail helps keep me attuned to the inner workings of my office.” –Sarah Berman, president of The Berman Group, a corporate communications firm delivering business-to-business marketing, public relations, and special events services in New York City.
11. Keep reminders by your bedside.
“I always keep two things next to my bed: my cell phone and my workout shoes. As soon as I get up, I check my phone to see if there are any important messages that I need to reply back to. Since many of my remote teams work in different time zones, scanning my emails keeps me in the loop of what I can expect for the day. I also keep running shoes next to my bed to motivate me to start my morning workout, which helps me feel great and stay focused all through the day.” –Kishore Kumar, CEO of personal gadget assistant app AllThingsMine.
12. Turn crises into opportunities.
“A crisis can actually be good for you. During times of crisis you can motivate yourself and the people around you to make impactful, positive changes. This is exactly why the things that don’t kill you make you stronger. Crises are great times to get people on board to make permanent changes in your organization.” –Aytekin Tank, founder of JotForm, an online form builder with two million users.
13. Focus on your “done” list as much as your “to-do” list.
“A few years ago I worked with an executive coach who had helped astronauts, members of special forces, and high-altitude climbers deal with high levels of stress. One trick she gave me was both very simple and very powerful: At the end of each day, make a list of all the things you have actually done that day. Not just the ones that were on your to-do list but also all the ones you have done that you had not planned on doing. And at the end of each week add these lists together. You will be impressed by the amount of things you actually accomplish. The dopamine you will get out of it will somewhat help you balance all the cortisol your stress is producing.” –Emmanuel Schalit, CEO of password manager and secure digital wallet app Dashlane.
14. Map out your day.
“Start your day off by blocking out 30 minutes to game plan exactly what you need to get accomplished, and how you’re going to accomplish it. This has always helped me begin every morning with a sense of calm and focus because we all know it won’t stay that way. Keeping perspective on what’s important can help you end each day with a positive sense of accomplishment.” –Craig Howe, CEO of sports digital strategy and tech venture firm, Rebel Ventures.
15. Don’t just direct traffic–grow leaders.
“I operate under a single fundamental principle with everyone I work with: I will never ask anyone to do something that I would not do myself. In most instances, with a little guidance and some mentoring, almost every person will rise above your expectations regardless of the task requested. Taking the time to coach, mentor, and provide counsel to your people creates leaders for the future. For me, the best part of being a leader is watching the people you work with grow to become something more, as they prepare for the next big role in their career.” –Daniel Farrer, CEO of Switchfly, a global technology company that powers travel commerce.
16. Embrace change.
“Most C-level executives have a complete and utter fear of change. They are so fearful, in fact, that they are frozen, unable to make the tough decisions needed to successfully manage their companies. I start every day by focusing on the excitement and growth that can result from change. My advice to other managers: don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by nervousness and indecision. Embrace change!” –Tom Lounibos, co-founder and CEO of SOASTA, a digital performance management platform that delivers cloud-based, analytics-driven solutions for digital businesses.
17. Stop intimidating your prospects.
“Especially in technology, success depends on communicating consistently and frequently with prospects and customers, a personal priority for me every day. This is particularly vital when targeting traditional industries such as construction, agriculture, and education, where there is often resistance to the adoption of technical solutions because users can find them intimidating. My solution to overcoming this ‘intimidation factor’ is to focus on the many benefits technology can provide, not product features.” –Suri Suriyakumar, CEO of ARC Document Solutions, which provides technology and services focused on document and information management for the architectural, engineering, and construction industry.
18. Create thinking time.
“I carve out 30 minutes at the start of the day to just think through what the day will hold, and try to solve difficult issues. No pens or pencils or keyboards allowed. This private thinking time lets me really focus, without distractions, and helps me get mentally prepared for the day ahead.” –Tanya Candia, CMO of NSFOCUS, a global provider of network security and advanced analytics utilized by four of the world’s top five banks and major telecommunications companies.
19. Keep feedback constant and ongoing.
“Don’t wait for the annual or bi-annual review cycle–provide feedback to team members in real-time and as often as possible, and be open to feedback in real-time as well. This will foster a collaborative sentiment within the company and help people see that things are running smoothly and on-task. Additionally, employees are often more productive and happy when they’re being recognized for the good work they’re doing.” –Manish Sood, CEO and founder of data-driven applications company Reltio.
20. Always think strategically, even while operating tactically.
“Strategists must think about the operational implications of their recommendations, and front-line managers should build off of strategy. Sure, there are separate skills involved. But in this dynamic environment, where everything from market conditions to platform technologies can turn on a dime, it’s important for all executives to understand both sides of this shrinking divide.” –Eric Chiu, president and co-founder of cloud security and control company HyTrust, which saw revenues triple in 2015.
21. Speak to key employees every day.
“I make sure to speak with each key employee every day to find out what they’re working on, what issues have come up, and if they’re having any current struggles. By keeping it from being rote, it is eye-opening, rewarding, and helps eliminate problems before they arise.” –Craig Dunaway, president of Penn Station East Coast Subs, a sandwich franchise with almost 300 locations.