Daily Habits for Success

Jim Citrin of Yahoo Finance compiled research on 17 highly successful CEO’s to study their daily habits in an effort to pinpoint which ones lead to success. After gathering his findings, he wrote about the three most important ones.

Start Early

The earlier you start your day, the more you will get done. Of the 17 CEO’s surveyed, the latest any of them woke up was 6:00 am, while about 80% of them woke up at 5:30 or earlier. They check their email, catch up on the news, get some exercise in, and have a good breakfast. Then when they get to the office at 8:00 or 8:30, they are 100% ready to go.

Think about the advantages of this routine: you get much more done in your day, you are up to date on the news, and it increases your credibility. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I work with email me before 6:00am on a daily basis, which immediately signals to me that they are serious and passionate about their work. Although I work hard to help all of my clients with anything they need, as an outside CFO, I notice a big difference in people’s ability to get things done in those who get an early start.


Exercise can be one of the most difficult things to regularly fit into your schedule, but it is a significant differentiating factor. More than 70% of the respondents in the survey exercise in the morning, while 15% find a way to do it during the day. Only two admitted to not exercising on a daily basis, although one admitted that they knew they should.

Exercise makes you feel better and gives you much needed energy. It can be very easy to get complacent and put it off, telling yourself that you are too busy or it’s not worth your time. However, consider a carpenter who works with their tools all day. The carpenter knows that if their tools aren’t sharp and clean, their effectiveness will plunge. You can’t cut a 2×4 with a dull blade, just as you can’t be as effective in the office without energy and stamina.

Make Family and Social Time

Many of these CEO’s enjoy having breakfast with the family and spending time at home. CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between know how difficult maintaining a work-life balance can be, but these CEO’s understand its importance. Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media Corporation, says, “I try to talk one of my kids into going outside to get the paper, but end up getting it myself. I then have breakfast with my wife and kids, help the latter get dressed, and drive the older boys to the bus stop at 7:40 a.m.” Spending time with family and friends has a powerful ability to balance things out.

Looking back on my career, these three daily routines have been significant factors in my success as well. Getting an early start, daily exercise, and maintaining a work-life balance are crucial to being effective and working with others.