Habits that Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson do daily to become successful


“Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.” Wise words from the Godfather of Waste Management (not that kind), Wayne Huizenga, a man who made his first billion by seeing the value in rubbish.

But what sets people like Huizenga apart from the rest? We spoke to some of the world’s most successful, connected and wealthy business people to suss out their secrets.

Morning Glory

There’s no getting away from it – the early bird really does catch the worm. Bob Iger, chief executive of Disney, gets up at 4.30am, seven days a week; Yahoo! boss Marissa Mayer at 4.45am; followed by Richard Branson at 5am.

“I find the period of quiet, before most of the world logs on, to be a great time to catch up on news and reply to emails,” Branson explains. “These early hours give me the opportunity to start each day with a fresh and organized slate.”

It’s not a myth, either. According to Harvard sleep experts, the brain is sharpest two-and-a-half to four hours after waking up.

10 Habits of Successful People - Early Morning

Dive Deeper

Multitasking may look effective, but in reality, it reduces efficiency. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Nela Canovic says successful people reserve time for ‘deep work’, a method that Bill Gates also credits with fueling his success.

Block out an hour or two to get in the zone of the task at hand rather than attempting to half-complete a to-do list.

Get Up & Go

Don’t have time to exercise? Richard Branson is a fitness fanatic, Barack Obama exercises for 45-minutes a day and Mark Zuckerberg slots in three high-intensity sessions a week.

Studies have shown that getting the heart pumping boosts creativity, brain function and can hold off mental deterioration. If these guys can run businesses (and countries) and still pump iron, there’s no excuse.

10 Habits of Successful People - Exercise

Get Your Priorities Straight

Steve Jobs’ motto was: “Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” Meaning, making bank doesn’t have to impact on work/life balance.

Tom Hardy still writes comedy sketches, Will Smith fences and Leonardo DiCaprio is an expert video gamer. Feeling stressed and inefficient? Take time to do something fun. It’ll clear your mind, and you’ll return feeling much more prepared.

10 Habits of Successful People - Priorities

Fail Well

Walt Disney was fired for a ‘lack of imagination’, Stephen Spielberg was rejected from film school three times and James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes (and his entire savings) before hitting the vacuum jackpot.

There’s no shame in not succeeding first time round. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, suggests starting a ‘one sentence diary’. “This encourages daily reflection, which you can read through on a Sunday night to see where you can better yourself next week.”

10 Habits of Successful People - Reflecting

Share The Wealth

As author of Wealthy Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, Tom Corley spent five years studying the mega rich. He found that 73 per cent of wealthy people volunteer for five or more hours per month.

Richard Branson’s part of the charity club. “Focusing the mind on issues like health, poverty, conservation and climate change can help re-energize thinking in other areas.”

Thank Me Now

Taking the time to thank those who’ve helped you out can pay dividends when it comes to reaching the pinnacle of success.

Case in point: when Doug Conant took the reins at Campbell Soup in 2001, stock price was plummeting. Conant sent 30,000 hand-written thank-you notes to staff and clients who did him favors or helped the company progress and ensured that everyone felt their contribution was valued. It paid off. By 2009, the company was booming once more.

10 Habits of Successful People - Thanking Others

Divide And Conquer

Self-made millionaires rarely get there via one source of income. Developing a side hustle is a way of managing risks and weathering any downturns that might occur.

“Sixty-five percent of the wealthy folk had at least three streams of income before making their first million,” says Corley.

Weekend Warriors

Time is the most important resource for successful people, so opt for high-quality family and friends time over hours scrolling through Instagram.

Swap Sunday blues for planning the week ahead. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey splits his weekend accordingly: “Saturday I take off. I hike. Then Sunday is reflections, feedback, strategy and getting ready for the rest of the week.”

10 Habits of Successful People - Time Off

No Thank You

Drowning in commitments and saying ‘yes’ to things you should be turning down?

Warren Buffett’s suggests writing a list of 25 major things you want to do and picking five to devote your attention to. If the things you’re saying yes to don’t push you towards these, then feel no guilt in turning them down.

10 Habits of Successful People - Saying No

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