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.