Photo from Martin Steinthaler/Getty Images.
Successful people are the ones you should want to emulate. They understand that doing things like everyone else only leads to mediocrity. Want ideas on how to live a better life? Here are nearly two dozen daily habits practiced by high-achieving executives.
1. Biohack your body.
"Biohacking is the use of self-experimentation to upgrade your mind, body, and life. I'm a big believer in biohacking, and self-experiment daily to ensure I have the energy I need to run not only my business but to also have the energy I need to be active with my family every night. I believe in taking care of myself through exercise, nutrition, and proper supplements, and biohacking has allowed me to find the right formula for myself and my life."
—Russell Brunson, co-founder and CEO of ClickFunnels, an online sales and marketing software which in three years has helped over 300 business owners cross over the $1 million mark, with 18 of them continuing to scale to $10 million and beyond
2. Know when to say no.
"When running a small business, you must be purposeful. You have to change your mindset and realize that while it's easier to say yes, it's not a bad thing to say no. Each time you say yes, you're also saying no to something else."
—Will Holsworth, CEO of SAFE + FAIR, an allergy-friendly food company which has quadrupled its website traffic in the four months since launching its new platform
3. Get 30 minutes of quiet every morning.
"I set two alarms every morning. The first one isn't to create a window of time to snooze, but to allow me 30 minutes of quiet time every morning. It's the calm before the action. During this time, I tackle my confidence level and insecurities. I meditate, pray, or give myself a pep talk. I take a moment to be mentally aware of the thoughts in my mind that could potentially hold me back from my accomplishments for the day, and I work on tucking them far away. By the time the next alarm goes off, I usually feel less fragmented and very centered. Thirty minutes later, the second alarm goes off, usually playing a song—a positive, upbeat song which signals that it's go time! Time to conquer the day!"
—Andréa Richardson, leader of multicultural and diversity engagement across Hilton's portfolio of more than 5,000 properties
4. Work out, then focus on family and work.
"I wake up by 5 a.m. to work out with a trainer before my boys wake up. Working out reduces stress and makes me a better mom and boss. I have breakfast with my kids and drive them to school to start our days together, and nearly every evening I make them a home-cooked dinner. I also find it's important to make time for a one-hour clarity break during my work day to focus on the business."
—Shelly Sun, founder and CEO of BrightStar Care, a national private duty home care and medical staffing franchise with more than 300 locations in 38 states
5. Set goals the night before.
"Every evening, I spend a few minutes planning my goals for the following day. More than just a to-do list, I think about what I accomplished that day and what I need to get accomplished in the next few days. I then write out, by hand, all the people, processes, and programs in which I want to invest time improving in the following day. The list doesn't always get accomplished the next day, as a good leader needs to be flexible, but by committing them to paper, I'm able to prioritize my time and my goals."
—Paul Koulogeorge, CMO of Goddard Systems, franchisor of The Goddard School, which is on track to open its 500th school in 2018
6. Unplug and work out first thing.
"I like to start my mornings at the gym. It is helpful for me to get up, be active, and disconnect first thing when I wake up. It's a rare moment that I am not on my iPhone, checking emails, calling franchise partners, or making notes about new ideas for our guests to play at our parks. I learned early that missing my morning workouts left me with a lack of focus for the day ahead, so I've made it a daily practice to start my day off at the gym."
—Jeff Platt, CEO of Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline and aerial park with over 200 franchises across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait
7. Take the time to be personal.
"I start my day early, which means I'll usually catch one or two employees before the work day technically ever starts. They'll usually come in my office and we will talk about work, but it quickly turns into conversations about what's going on in their lives and things much bigger than work. I really enjoy those talks and I think having a pulse on people's personal lives helps me be a better boss, too. One habit I've gotten into and really held myself to is making rounds to say hi to everyone every morning. It's a small gesture, but I think everyone enjoys the engagement and I want to feel as accessible as possible.
—Bart Silvestro, CEO of Chef's Cut Real Jerky Co., a jerky brand with profits which rose from more than $460,000 to $47.5 million in four years
8. Determine your workday rhythm.
"I get my best work done in the morning. After my husband, Ted, takes our boys to school or camp, I sit at my desk with a large mug of coffee and don't stop working until 1 p.m. I keep meetings, calls, errands for afternoons, when my brain is less focused. And of course, evenings are family time, dinner with friends, and oft-needed rest. Determining a workday rhythm that gives energy (vs. depletes energy) is a worthwhile exercise for everyone."
—Molly Fienning, co-founder of Babiators, maker of sunglasses for babies and kids which has sold more than 2 million pairs worldwide
9. Utilize your calendar as a daily to-do list.
"I prefer to use my calendar as my to-do list. I not only have my conference calls and meetings on my calendar but I also put three to five of my top items on the calendar each day that I want and need to get done. I also schedule some sort of workout or yoga class because it's a necessity for my mental wellbeing and keeps me performing at the top of my game. Each evening, I look back at my calendar for the day and feel very accomplished. This technique helps me keep moving forward throughout the day, otherwise I'd get bogged down with mini fires and items that keep me in the weeds."
—Danielle Dietz-LiVolsi, founder and CEO of NuttZo, a multi-nut and seed butter brand sold in more than 16 retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods, Costco, and Sprouts
10. Build relationships with colleagues.
"One of the best habits I've gotten into is making sure that I walk around to connect with each member of our team as often as possible. I try to do it daily, and especially in the morning, because it's a really nice way to start the day. It's so important to me because our team is our greatest asset, and the best way I've found to show appreciation and gratitude is to take time to build relationships with my colleagues. Even though sometimes it might not feel productive to be talking about things outside of business, I think it's some of the most valuable time I spend every day because it aligns us as a team and strengthens our culture."
—Alex Bingham, president and CEO of The Little Gym International, a children's enrichment and development franchise with 400 locations worldwide
11. Stop overthinking it.
"Once you make a decision, take action that moment. Write the letter, make the call, send the email. Show up in a bigger way than you ever have before, but don't wait for the planets to align. Take action now, and by next week, your anxiety will start to dissipate because you are going for it. I am always so impressed by persistent people, whether they are getting the results they want or not. No matter what, if they keep pushing forward, the big break they are waiting for is just one step away. Why would you ever want to miss that opportunity?"
—Allison Maslan, serial entrepreneur who built 10 companies to seven-figure success and author of Blast Off!: The Surefire Success Plan to Launch Your Dreams into Reality and Scale or Fail: How to Build Your Dream Team, Explode Your Growth, and Let Your Business Soar
12. Don't sit too long.
"It is so easy to immerse yourself in work that you forget to stand, stretch, and reset. Believe it or not, this enables you to be more productive. I often get up to check in with staff and take a lap around the office or the building if the weather permits. Also, I started wearing wrist and ankle weights. This helps keep me alert and ready for the day-to-day challenges, not to mention the additional calorie burning."
—Julia Biancella Au, co-founder and CEO of removable wallpaper company Tempaper, which has seen average annual growth of about 34 percent each year since launching in 2008
13. Talk to people and get to know them.
"Unengaged employees are a company's biggest liability. People will feel more positively about coming to work if they feel they can engage with the business and those around them. Therefore, take time out of your day to physically get up and start conversation with those around you. Each day, engage with employees and co-workers on a personal and professional level. This makes them feel valued, heard, and understood, leading to that constructive engagement."
—Mike Whalen, founder of Heart of American Group, which employs more than 3,500 people across more than 40 restaurants, hotels, and other retail; and CEO of Johnny's Italian Steakhouse, an expanding restaurant franchise with 15 locations across nine states
14. Look for inspiration.
"I work very hard to do things every day that inspire me. This includes walks in cities, architecture, restaurants, bars, cars, stores, magazines, and mostly just working. I love the process—I am always excited to start new projects and investigate the next idea. People always ask how I come up with so many designs, but in fact it is hard for me not to because everything I see and experience excites me. Because I am driven by what's next, I am very fortunate to be so engaged by the challenge and its process."
—Robert Sonneman, founder and chief creative officer of award-winning Sonneman—A Way of Light, with a product line which includes 1,800 SKUs, with over 100 new introductions annually, and has experienced over 40 percent revenue growth in 2016, and 20 percent growth month-over-month in 2017
15. Mark up your to-do list.
"Every morning, I go through my entire to-do list (ranging from 10 to 30 items), and I highlight high versus low priorities, so that at the end of the day, the mission-critical tasks are guaranteed to be completed."
—Lex Corwin, founder of Stone Road Farms, a premium cannabis company which has done over $100,000 in sales since obtaining its license earlier this year and secured large-scale manufacturing and multi-state distribution deals
16. Take time for silence each morning.
"For more than 25 years now, I begin my day with an hour-long practice I refer to as the Sphere of Silence (SOS). It is not meditation, and it is not a religious practice of any kind. It's derived from the art of silence I learnt from my grandfather at a very young age. My grandfather believed that abstaining from speaking brought him inner peace and made him a better listener. I have been practicing the Sphere of Silence for most of my life now and attribute my success to it. I find that practicing the SOS is the ultimate weapon against the assault on our senses and the insanity that prevails around us today. To many, it may seem that no quiet could exist amidst the din and racket of an ever-blaring world. Practice it for 21 days and it becomes a habit. The silence and introspection make you a better you, because it helps you channel your energies to maximum effect. And being a better you makes you better at everything you do."
—Vijay Eswaran, one of Forbes's top 50 wealthiest Malaysians, one of Forbes Asia's Heroes of Philanthropy, best-selling author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist and founder and executive chairman of the QI Group of Companies, a multi-business conglomerate with headquarters in Hong Kong, offices in more than 25 countries, and customers in over 100 countries
17. Write down all the good and bad every day.
"One of the easiest ways that has proven to increase my effectiveness is the habit I have created to write in my journal every day. I put pen to paper and write down the things which are important to me, the things that were both good and bad during my day, and ideas on how I can improve. I write lists, goals, gratitude, and sometimes write to simply vent my frustrations. Writing requires engagement from both sides of my brain, making the brainstorming or problem-solving process more complete and innovative. Further, writing is crucial when it comes to settling emotional reactivity. It unwinds emotions caused by stress or conflict by providing a much needed disconnect from the daily grind of consistent talking, emailing, taking calls, and other distractions, which come along with electronic devices. I deeply value the process of writing because it puts me in touch with the more existential aspects of life, reminding me of the bigger picture I am striving for."
—Dr. Sherrie Campbell, a nationally recognized expert in clinical psychology; speaker; former radio host of the Dr. Sherrie Show for the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio; with over two decades of clinical training experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services to residents of Orange County, California; and author of Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life
18. Use flora and fauna for energization.
"I always have fresh flowers and green life in my office and at home, in order to keep the air in these spaces fresh and have an inspiring atmosphere. On the fauna front, I bring my three fur-babies—my dogs—to the office every day. I find that the research stands true—pets in the office reduce stress and increase collaboration!"
—Terry Eaton, founder, president, and chief curator of Eaton Fine Art, a firm that last year marked its 25th anniversary, with recent projects including the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and Holston House in Nashville
19. Take care of yourself.
"I recently saw a survey that said 80 percent of Americans have tension headaches or feel overwhelmed or depressed at least one day during the month. Those are sad symptoms of living in our society. At its worst, stress is making us sick, but it's also sapping our productivity and stealing our success. The irony is that what's causing our stress—the pace of life and the never-ending demands—are the very things that keep us from doing something about it. We're busy taking care of business, and for many of us, self-care is one of the first things that come off our list. I think that's a big mistake and comes with a heavy cost, which is why I dedicate time every day, to taking care of myself no matter what's going on. That might be a massage, but it can also be a run outdoors or a walk on the beach, talking to my kids, or just taking a few minutes to close my eyes and take some deep breaths. The point is to make it a daily habit."
—Joe Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy, a provider of therapeutic massage and skincare services, with a franchise system that collectively employs over 35,000 wellness professionals across 1,180 locations nationwide, servicing more than 1.65 million members
20. Read every day.
"[I read] at least 10 pages from each of the books I'm reading (prayer, professional and enjoyment). Always have three books open and I personally prefer physical books over e-readers."
—Ellie Johnson, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New York Properties, which has $375 million in sales inventory and has grown its agent population five-fold since launching in January 2017
21. Seize your downtime.
"I'm a huge proponent of rest. I take the weekends off and I believe in regular, relaxing vacations. Once a year, I go back home to pick olives with my family. It's amazing how this time away from the office re-energizes my body and spirit. My downtime is essential."
—Aytekin Tank, CEO of JotForm, an online form builder used by more than 3.5 million people
22. Lead a life with grace (in and out of the office).
"When I was younger, my father worked during the day and took classes at night to earn his college degree to make a better life for himself and our family. He taught me from an early age that no matter what life throws your way, it's important to earn the respect of others by working hard and being honest, fair, and trustworthy. I apply this advice to both my career and my personal life. No matter how difficult a situation may be or how frustrated I may be with someone, it is so important that I always keep my composure, lead with grace, and give others the respect that they deserve. If you don't respect others, you cannot expect to earn their respect in return!"
—Lisa A. Haude, founder and president of Paradigm Design Group, an award-winning luxury-lifestyle hospitality interior design firm with offices in Houston, San Francisco, and Chicago, and ranked as one of the top design firms in the United States since 2006