If you’re looking for ideas about how to jump-start your workday, who better to consult than a bunch of successful CEOs?
We asked nine such executives, all of whom live or work in New York City, how they spend the time between waking up and showing up at the office. Some meditate, some work out, and most check email.
Here’s how some of the busiest people you’ll meet set themselves up for success on a daily basis.
Ilir Sela, the founder and CEO of Slice, bounces ideas off his brother.
I’m an early bird, so I’m typically awake by 5:30 a.m., or at the latest 6.
Within the first five or 10 minutes of waking up, I’ll jump right to my phone and check to see how things are going with the business. Slice is a 24/7 operation and we cover all different time zones — there are people ordering pizza at all times of the night. I’m always excited to wake up and check on how things went while I was sleeping.
I live on Staten Island, and my office is in Manhattan. I commute in on a regular basis with my twin brother. Before 6:40 a.m., I’ll have my brother waiting outside for me, and we drive in together.
It takes 35 to 45 minutes to drive in. That’s when I’m usually checking all my email, reading some of the news, and at the same time chatting with my twin brother. He’s a business owner himself, so he helps me out with some of the challenges that we’re facing and vice versa. We’re secretly in this competition to see who’s going to find a way to be more successful that day.
Nadia Boujarwah, the cofounder and CEO of Dia&Co, clears her head and speed-dresses.
I’ve always been an early riser. If I’m going to an exercise class, I’m up by 6 a.m. If not, maybe 6:30.
I recently started using the meditation app Headspace. I use it for 10 minutes first thing in the morning. Carving out that time to help me get centered and clear my mind has proven to be incredibly valuable.
Two or three times a week I’ll start my day with an exercise class. It’s almost always spin classes.
Something I picked up while I was low on the totem pole in investment banking is getting ready very quickly in the morning. I’m usually ready in less than 15 minutes.
I live very close to the office, so I always walk to work. There’s something special about New York City in the morning — being out and about while everyone’s just starting their day has an energy that I really enjoy. I’m usually at the office by 8.
Kenny Dichter, the founder and CEO of Wheels Up, combines exercise, reading, and fueling up.
I wake up somewhere between 5 and 5:30 a.m. I have three devices, and I check all three devices for email and for texts and for any sort of communication.
Then I have my trainer meet me at my house, and he stretches me from 6 to 6:45 while I’m reading the newspaper.
From 6:45 to 7:30, I’m trying to do 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of anaerobic exercise. All the while, I’m drinking a Juice Press Mother Earth. I’m also drinking a black coffee at the same time.
At 7:30, I shower. While I’m showering, I turn on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” I have the TV on in my bathroom, so I turn the volume way up, and I’m listening through the shower door. I also might sneak in a little bit of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” while I’m drying off.
Elliot Weissbluth, founder and CEO at HighTower, outlines his goals for the day
I get up around 4 or 4:30 a.m. I make coffee and collect my head — where I am, what the plan is for the day, the things that are going on. I do a reshuffle of priorities of what’s important for that day vis a vis the kids, family, my obligations.
One of the things that helps is this little tool I found a while ago called Momentum. It’s a Chrome plugin. The best part of this tool is that it asks you to set an intention for the day.
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.
There’s always a workout early in the morning as well.
*Weissbluth is based in Chicago, but spends about 40% of his time in New York City, where HighTower has offices.
Alexi Nazem, cofounder and CEO at Nomad Health, uses his commute to mentally plan ahead
I wake up at 7 a.m. I try to catch up on the news. I’ll reach a bunch of newspapers online — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal. I read seven or eight daily digests.
Then I’ll try to whip through some emails and things that happened overnight through the Nomad platform.
I’ll take a shower, grab some breakfast, and walk up to the office. It’s a 15- to 20-minute walk, and I’m really just lost in my thoughts and trying to organize what I really want to accomplish during the day. Every morning we have an all-hands meeting, so I think about what I want to share with the team.
Debra Bednar-Clark, founder and CEO of DB+Co, wakes up with the sun
I’m a total morning person. I like to get up whenever the sunlight hits my bedroom window. But I always set my alarm for at least 7 a.m., just in case.
The first thing I do is I check my inbox, just to make sure that there aren’t any major needs or questions or outreach from clients. Then I scan the news. I read the top news, like the most popular for The New York Times and The New York Post, since I’m a New Yorker. I read The Skimm within the first 30 minutes of every day.
Then I’ll have breakfast, which is always the same thing: lemon water, cinnamon raisin toast, and a latte. Over breakfast, that’s my time for creative exploration. It might be looking at Pinterest; it could be things about design; it could be career tips and tricks.
Some days I work out; some days I don’t. It’s just how my body feels. I’ll either do a run in Central Park or my husband and I will do a walk. Sometimes we’ll do yoga at home or I’ll do Pilates.
Dan Reich, cofounder and CEO of Troops, catches up on current events
I wake up anywhere between 6 and 7:30 a.m., depending on what my night was like the night before.
On mornings where I work out, I get up and I go straight to the gym. Then I write down three things I’m grateful for.
I read on the way to the office. I like to read two pieces of content. First is the news. I’ll read The Wall Street Journal, articles that I saved throughout the previous day, and articles that colleagues, investors, and friends share with me. I’ll also read content related to our business.
I take the subway — the 4/5/6 lines. On the one hand, I love that it’s a relatively short commute. But on the other hand, it’s great to be locked up for a while because you get time to yourself to do nothing other than read or listen to music.
I try to be in the office before 8:30 a.m.
Ben Anderson, cofounder and CEO at Amino Apps, does some international correspondence
It all starts in the middle of the night. As a CEO, your mind is always going, so if anything stirs me, my mind goes directly to work and it takes me some time to get back to sleep.
When I wake up for real, at 8 a.m., I usually check my email from bed and check my schedule to see what I have going on that day. We have an office in Shanghai, so half my team is based there. I’ll respond to all the messages I missed while I was sleeping.
I shower and take my breakfast with me — yogurt and a protein shake — and head off to the office.
Our office is walking distance for me, but I tend to ride my electric skateboard. When we were deciding where to move our office, one of the criteria was that it’s in range of my electric skateboard.
Ryan Williams, cofounder and CEO of Cadre, gets his blood flowing
I wake up between 6 and 7 a.m. The first thing I do is make sure my alarm’s turned off so it doesn’t keep ringing. Then I jump into the shower.
After that I’ll start reading and seeing what’s happening in the world. I’ll generally scan The Journal and The Economist; sometimes I look at the industry-relevant publications.
I had shoulder surgery recently, but when I get my shoulder back in action I’ll get back into going for my runs in the morning. Right now I do some light cardio to get my blood flowing.
I find it’s good to get started early — that’s when I’m most focused — so I’ll generally try to get into the office before 8:30 a.m.
Samsung CEO embarrassed by the Galaxy Fold fiasco, he “pushed it through before it was ready”
The Samsung Galaxy Fold is perpetually coming soon. The Korean company issues a new press release or has an exec do an interview every few weeks reiterating in vague language that the launch is still on, and it will happen sooner rather than later. But time keeps passing and the Fold is still nowhere to be seen in stores.
Samsung co-CEO DJ Koh has now told The Independent that he admits he “missed something on the foldable phone”, but the company is in the process of recovery. At the moment more than 2,000 prototypes are being extensively tested so that no new issues will arise.
DJ Koh, Samsung Electronics co-CEO
Koh earnestly confesses that “it was embarrassing. I pushed it through before it was ready”. He didn’t go into more detail – like whether Huawei announcing the Mate X had anything to do with the rushing of the Fold to the market, but we can of course infer that. Then again, seeing what happened to the Fold, Huawei has also decided to push back the release of the Mate X by around three months, which should be coming in September.
Koh is adamant that the Galaxy Fold hasn’t been canceled and will indeed launch… at some point. He didn’t reveal a specific release date, only saying it will be out “in due course.” “Give us a bit more time,” he continued. “The last couple of weeks I think we defined all of the issues and all of the problems we couldn’t find [before sending to reviewers].”
Russian Gamer Brothers Are the Newest Hidden Billionaires
Russian-born Igor and Dmitry Bukhman are seeking growth to challenge Tencent and Activision.
Almost two decades ago, in a remote Russian city best known for its butter and linen, two brothers shared a bedroom and a Pentium 100-powered computer they used to code their first game.
Wall Street wants a piece of what they’ve built since.
Playrix has met with some of the biggest banks “and visited their skyscrapers,” said Dmitry Bukhman, 34, citing meetings with dealmakers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. For now, though, “we are focused on growing the business.”
He and Igor Bukhman, 37, are the brains behind Playrix Holding Ltd., the creator of popular games similar to Candy Crush, including Fishdom and Gardenscapes, with more than 30 million daily users from China to the U.S. and annual sales of $1.2 billion, according to Newzoo. That makes the company one of the top 10 iOS and Google Play app developers by revenue, data from researcher AppAnnie show, putting Playrix in the same league as Tencent Holdings Ltd., NetEase Inc. and Activision Blizzard Inc.
Today, each brother is worth about $1.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. They haven’t previously appeared in a global wealth ranking.
Their road to riches started in 2001 in the city of Vologda, almost 300 miles (483 kilometers) north of Moscow, where Igor learned from a university professor that he could sell software online. He decided to try with Dmitry, who was still in high school at the time.
“We had no experience, no business understanding whatsoever—everything we could imagine was writing games,” Igor said.
The U.S. is Playrix’s biggest market, followed by China and Japan, the brothers said in a recent interview in Tel Aviv, where they spend some of their time. The two remotely manage about 1,100 employees, including personnel at its Ireland headquarters and developers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
“For $3 billion we won’t sell”
The brothers’ first product was a game akin to Xonix in which players must use a cursor to open pieces of a hidden picture before being struck by flying balls. They wrote it during a summer break and generated $60 in the first month and later $100 a month, about half of the average salary in Vologda.
“We thought, ‘If one game makes $100, we can write several dozen of them and make a lot of money,”’ Igor said.
Their second game, featuring an animated character designed by an outsourced artist, brought in $200 a month. Their copycat of Tetris brought in $700 a month, but the brothers shut that down after learning that the game was protected by a license. In 2004, when the business reached $10,000 of monthly revenue, they registered a legal entity, rented space for an office in the basement of a book warehouse and hired other staff to accelerate production.
In the early years, they sold casual games through sites such as majorgeeks.com or download.com, before moving to bigger platforms like Yahoo! and AOL. Then, within the past decade, games started moving first to Facebook and then smartphones. Many of them were available for free, with users paying only for certain in-game features.
Playrix makes most of its money from in-app purchases and the brothers mostly shun advertising, which detracts from the user experience. Ads generate less than 3 percent of revenue, Dmitry said.
“It was a major challenge for us to switch to developing free-to-play games—that’s totally different DNA,” Dmitry said. “Free-to-play games aren’t games that you develop, release and move on to making another one. They are services that need to be supported constantly as users are waiting for regular updates.”
Playrix succeeded in this transition, achieving worldwide recognition over the past three years with Gardenscapes and its sequel, Homescapes, a new variety of match-3 puzzle in which a player completes rows of at least three elements to pass levels and progress through an animated storyline—in this case, helping a butler named Austin renovate a house with a garden.
“Austin engages in dialog with you, you help him to select ways to decorate the mansion, you dive into the history of this character and become related with him,” Dmitry said. “This genre variety we introduced—match-3 with meta game—became very successful, and other companies started copying us.”
“Playrix is certainly responsible for the first major innovation in the match-3 genre since King Digital Entertainment Plc seemingly had the market locked down with Candy Crush,” said Newzoo analyst Tom Wijman. “Playrix managed to add a layer of complexity and ‘meta game’ to the match-3 genre without driving away casual mobile players.”
The company employs several full-time script writers who work on Austin’s dialog, and it’s always improving the games, Dmitry said.
“It’s like apps, like Spotify—people can use them for years,” he said. “More and more people are getting accustomed that it’s perfectly normal. Why not pay $5 to get pleasure from playing a game on a smartphone rather than watching videos or listening to music?”
While Playrix hasn’t introduced a new title since 2017, the company recently acquired several gaming studios to expand into new genres, Igor said, declining to disclose which studios until it releases games developed by them later this year.
Successful titles attract whales. Activision Blizzard acquired King Digital in 2015 for $5.9 billion, and a year later Tencent led investors in an $8.6 billion deal to acquire a majority stake in “Clash of Clans” maker Supercell Oy.
Could Playrix be next? In February, the Information reported that it could be sold for $3 billion, citing Chinese firms iDreamSky Technology Holdings and FunPlus Game Co. as potential suitors.
The brothers dismissed the report.
“For $3 billion we won’t sell,” Dmitry said with a smile, while acknowledging that Playrix had been discussing strategic options as recently as last year, noting its meetings with Wall Street banks.
Their goal, for now, is to become a “top-tier gaming company,” that rivals Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts in the West, and NetEase Inc. and Tencent in China, Igor said.
“We want to grow as big as they are, using developer talent from our region—the former USSR and Eastern Europe,” he said.
There’s no magic number that would compel the Bukhmans to sell the company, because they say money is secondary to doing what they love.
“Some may think that when you have a lot of money, everything becomes different and more interesting, you start doing different things,” Dmitry said. “But no. We just keep working.”
Boeing working on software update to boost safety, says CEO
Boeing’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dennis Muilenburg said the aircraft manufacturer is taking actions to ensure the safety of its 737 Max jets in the wake of two crashes that killed 346 people.
In an open letter addressed to airlines, passengers and the aviation community, Muilenburg said Boeing will soon release a software update and offer related pilot training for the 737 Max to “address concerns” that arose in the aftermath of October’s Lion Air flight that plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189.The planes’ new flight-control software is suspected of playing a role in the crashes.
Muilenburg said Boeing representatives are supporting investigation into the cause of last week’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 that killed 157.The United States and many other countries have grounded the Max 8s and larger Max 9s as Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes in less than five months.
The letter reads: “We know lives depend on the work we do, and our teams embrace that responsibility with a deep sense of commitment every day.
“Our purpose at Boeing is to bring family, friends and loved ones together with our commercial airplanes—safely.
“The tragic losses of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 affect us all, uniting people and nations in shared grief for all those in mourning.
“Our hearts are heavy, and we continue to extend our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the passengers and crew on board.
“On safety measures, he said: “Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone.
“This overarching focus on safety spans and binds together our entire global aerospace industry and communities.
“We’re united with our airline customers, international regulators and government authorities in our efforts to support the most recent investigation, understand the facts of what happened and help prevent future tragedies.
“Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we’re taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX. We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet’s grounding.
“Work is progressing thoroughly and rapidly to learn more about the Ethiopian Airlines accident and understand the information from the airplane’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders.
“Our team is on-site with investigators to support the investigation and provide technical expertise. The Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau will determine when and how it’s appropriate to release additional details.
“Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years and we’ll continue providing the best products, training and support to our global airline customers and pilots.
“This is an ongoing and relentless commitment to make safe airplanes even safer. Soon we’ll release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident.
“We’ve been working in full cooperation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board on all issues relating to both the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines accidents since the Lion Air accident occurred in October last year.
“Our entire team is devoted to the quality and safety of the aircraft we design, produce and support. I’ve dedicated my entire career to Boeing, working shoulder to shoulder with our amazing people and customers for more than three decades, and I personally share their deep sense of commitment.
“Recently, I spent time with our team members at our 737 production facility in Renton, Wash., and once again saw first-hand the pride our people feel in their work and the pain we’re all experiencing in light of these tragedies.
“The importance of our work demands the utmost integrity and excellence—that’s what I see in our team, and we’ll never rest in pursuit of it.
“Our mission is to connect people and nations, protect freedom, explore our world and the vastness of space, and inspire the next generation of aerospace dreamers and doers—and we’ll fulfill that mission only by upholding and living our values. That’s what safety means to us.
“Together, we’ll keep working to earn and keep the trust people have placed in Boeing.”