Everyday Rituals of Top Tech Executives
What do you do every day? If you're billionaire Warren Buffett, you eat one of three breakfasts from McDonald's every day - choosing based on how prosperous you feel that morning. If you're businessman Mark Cuban, you read three hours daily. What about the rest of us? How do we stay in a routine that is productive, a mindset that is healthy or a daily rhythm that is balanced?
Website Magazine asked top executives from the tech industry to share their everyday rituals and, as you might imagine, there were some interesting and inspiring responses.
Tom Kulzer, Founder and CEO of AWeber - Email Marketing
"I start each day by looking at a Post-it note that's taped to the top of my computer monitor. It says, ‘Expect to do routinely what others think is impossible.’ This is what I use to set the tone for the day."
Mark Zablan, CRO at Sitecore
“I really value my early-morning rituals. With no alarm clock, my eyes are open at 4:45 a.m. every single day, no matter what time I go to bed, whether it’s a weekend or a weekday, and even more surprising what time zone I’m in. From there and with no deviation I do three things - enjoy a cup of coffee, head to the gym and finish off with a nutritious smoothie. Why? As someone who oversees many projects with multiple deadlines, it’s important to stay disciplined, and my strict morning routine really helps me keep my mental tasks in check for the rest of the day.”
Patric Palm, Co-Founder and CEO of Favro
“I travel a lot and have about 200 hotel nights per year worldwide. To fight insomnia from jetlag I always pack my spike mat. The thousands of plastic spikes hurt a bit in the beginning but after a few minutes it gives the right sensation of relaxation needed to sleep.”
Jim Barnett, CEO of Glint
“For the past 26 years, meditation has served as my outlet to slow down, focus and achieve a strong level of mindfulness. The practice of simply letting a thinking mind rest allows me to step back from the big picture and emerge with a heightened cognition and a clear mind, ready to tackle whatever the day may bring.”
EJ McGowan, General Manager of Campaigner
“Every morning, before I even dig into the pile of email that has accumulated in the overnight hours, I look at three critical reports to our business so that I know what my priorities should be for the day. I can see how the technology is performing for our clients, review new client acquisition information and monitor how well our advertising efforts are working. Once I have a firm handle on these three areas, I can jump into the day with assurance. But first, coffee.”
Arjen van den Akker, Product Marketing Director at SDL
“Come rain or sunshine, nothing beats a brisk, 30-minute early morning walk with my dog in the forest near my house. It gives me a chance to collect my thoughts, and run through my priorities for the day. The same goes for the evening. A walk to cap the day off is the best antidote for a desk-bound lifestyle.”
Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT
“In 2009, I moved into a small one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. After unpacking, my first order of business was to tape a list of my goals inside my closet. Every morning while buttoning my shirt, I read it aloud to myself, and I’ve kept at it for over seven years. These daily reminders have guided me through some of the most rewarding and challenging times. They’ve influenced IFTTT’s culture and created massive change in how I live my life. I’ve learned that if you have trouble saying your goals with conviction, maybe they aren't the right ones.”
Navin Nagiah, CEO of DNN Software
“I try not to do any work at home in the evenings. I have dinner with my wife, then watch whatever she is watching on TV. Then comes the best part of the evening: bedtime reading with my daughter. The conversation, the silliness (she is 6), and the laughter, is easily the most enjoyable part of my day. This nightly ritual gives me the energy to do my own reading for another hour before I go to sleep. It gives me a perspective on what is truly important in life, something that can get lost in the day-to-day stress of managing and growing a technology company in Silicon Valley.”
Cody Winton, CEO and Co-Founder of Credntia
"My wife and I wake up before our son each morning to make coffee and talk for 20-30 minutes before we both start our day. We like be ahead of schedule each morning to give us some one-on-one time before our son wakes up. Doing so also helps us connect at the beginning of the each morning before any distractions throughout the day get in the way."
Jimmy Duvall, Chief Product Officer at BigCommerce
"For me, family dinner has become a staple in my hectic schedule. Working at a rapidly growing company, there's always something more to do and it's easy to get lost in the chaos of meetings, to-do lists and normal day-to-day minutiae, so prioritizing time with my family each evening really helps center my priorities, and has the added bonus of helping to clear my mind for the following day. As my girls get older, it gets increasingly hard to schedule around their after-school activities, but I cherish these opportunities to sit down and connect with my family over a meal."
Zach Holmquist, CTO of Teem
“Each morning after I meditate, I set goals on how and where to invest my energy for the day. I ask myself, “How will I spend my time, thoughts, money, service, etc., today?” When I break things down in terms of energy, I really start to reconsider how I operate throughout the day. Personally, I have found that if I don’t invest in myself, everything else begins to unravel. I've found that when I practice Scholé Yoga multiple times a week, I am given an hour to work on my mental and physical states which then filters out into all my other endeavors and relationships. It's this heightened awareness of self that I find critical to my daily operations and it is something I haven’t found in any other exercise or yoga practice.”
Graham Cooke, CEO and Co-Founder of Qubit
“One of my key productivity rituals is to make a to-do list first thing in the morning. I don't look at emails until I've checked-off everything I want to achieve. This allows me to be led by ideas and be proactive rather than reactive. It also helps me to maintain control of my day. I also drink exactly 590ml of filtered water every morning. I picked this tip up from Japan, where it's part of a cleansing ritual for your organs.”
Tomas Gorny, CEO of Nextiva
“I have a specific, repetitive routine in the morning that helps me prepare for the day, like prepping info and making a mental list of the day’s priorities. I try not to procrastinate things I don’t want to do, including workouts and business projects. Instead, I take care of those things first. I also use mental tricks that help me focus on the task at hand, like staying at my desk, even if I want coffee, until a high-priority task is done. I always strive to have mental discipline and follow through on my commitments.”
Shaun Ritchie, CEO of Teem
“I've found that when I set expectations and fulfill those expectations appropriately on a daily basis, things run much better for myself and everyone else as well. Usually, these are relatively small or easy tasks like showing up for meetings on time, arriving home at the time I tell my wife, or even making sure I follow up on an item that may not be critical for me, but could be critical for someone else. While I'm not a perfect example 100 percent of the time, when I do follow this pattern of setting and fulfilling expectations on a daily basis, I'm successful that day.”
Russell Ure, CEO of Klashwerks
“One of the most important parts of my day is usually the last thing I do right before bed, and that’s meditation. Doing this every night helps me let go of the stresses of the day so that I don’t wake up at 2 in the morning. It takes a lot of discipline but pays off big time, especially as you age, because otherwise you just can’t regulate your stress.”