21 Entrepreneurs Share How They Start Their Mornings

April 18, 2016

10:22 am

Mornings are often tough to get going for many workers, but it doesn't always have to be. Having a morning routine – a set amount of actions you take every morning, without fail – can help to boost your productivity and set the tone for the rest of your day, beyond just the workday. Here are some tips from entrepreneurs on how to start your day off on the right foot and maybe even becoming a morning person in the process:

1. Adam Lyons, Founder/CEO of The Zebra

At 5:45 a.m. every day, I wake up and do push-ups, sit-ups, and physical therapy exercises from an old ACL injury (no excuses, including injuries!), and then read the news of what’s happening in the world, the U.S., and the auto and tech industries. And of course, check email. It’s the best way to give context to what I need to do that day. I also often stop at Juiceland for an Originator smoothie — peanut butter, brown rice protein, banana, apple, blueberry, cherry, flax oil and spirulina — a delicious and healthy Austin original.

2.Thom O'Leary, Founder/CEO of Fixer Group

I call it my morning momentum. The role of the routine is to create enough momentum in my early day to carry me through the next 12-15 hours. This is what it looks like:

Wake and drink 12 ounces of water immediately. Standard hygiene. Coffee with Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil, Protein shake and Juice Plus Garden and Orchard blend supplements. Fitness: pushups, situps, squats. One set of each, same number of reps per day. Each week I add one more rep. The goal is not to make this my only healthy activity of the day, but to cover my bases.

30 minute walk while listening to podcasts or courses: Entrepreneur on Fire, Smart Passive Income, etc. Affirmations/incantations straight out of Tony Robbins and T. Harv Eker's books.

Energetically, this builds momentum and keeps me on track with a clear head. When I skip, I feel it.

3. Buffy Simoni, President of Paper Mart

It’s recommended to have at least 6 hours of sleep. To stay healthy and awake, I have to get my sleep. When I shortchange myself by working too late, I’m just not productive the next day. So I have a firm bedtime and, if my to do list is long, I just get up early and get started when I’m fresh the next day. I love spending time with my son and wouldn’t exchange it for anything. We have been devoted Lego builders for years but recently he’s started running with me. It’s wonderful to be enjoying nature, staying fit and productive with people you love.

4. Luvleen Sidhu, Cofounder and Chief Marketing Strategy Officer, BankMobile

For glowing skin and a healthy immune system I alternate between having warm water with lemon or warm water with fresh turmeric each morning. Twice a week I also do a DIY ayurvedic inspired face mask made of chickpea powder, yoghurt and small water. I also do a 30-minute session of yoga, followed by Buddhist chanting. Once I complete that I get ready for my day and make a healthy shake comprised of vegetables and fruits.

Throughout my day, I have warm water with chlorella during the day to boost my energy and supply me with some major nutrients.

5. Lisa Curtis, CEO and Founder of Kuli Kuli

I start every morning with meditation. I spend about 15 minutes in meditation to make my head clear. This is to me the ideal way to start my day. Next to that, I try to run almost every morning.

6. Aron Susman, Cofounder of The Square Foot

Being an entrepreneur can get really stressful, so starting the day with a clear and calm state of mind is one of the most important things to strive for. I start my mornings about half an hour earlier to gather myself and regain focus by taking that extra 30 minutes to meditate. That brief moment each day has become my sanctuary, the only time when business isn't on my mind. Taking the time to refresh the mind can do wonders considering that most people wake up rushed and scramble to get into the office, which often sets the tone for the rest of the day. It really helps me improve my mental and physical health.

7. Michelle Stansbury, Founder/CEO of Little Penguin PR

The first thing I do in the morning is check email in bed, before anything else. I'm on the West Coast so the East Coast has likely been up for a couple hours by that point, and I like to start the day with a clean inbox.

After 20-30 minute of email, I get up and get ready for the day. I brush my teeth, wash my face, stretch, and meditate. Meditation puts me in the best frame of mind for the day, helping me pay attention to what's important, not just what's urgent.

8. Maxine, Founder of BuddhiBoxes

1. Starts with getting sleep – at least 7 hours

2. Morning stretch and quick 2-3 minute read of an inspirational book (I have them all over my loft), so I can set my morning mantra. I usually share this with my community on SnapChat.

3. Pet my dogs

4. Big glass of water – .5L at least and a shot of ginger juice, ½ lemon and cayenne pepper

5. Quickly scanning my emails for any pressing issues

6. Yoga or some type of workout to get the blood flowing, with a great playlist

7. Breakfast – essential! Usually consists of egg whites plus yogurt or toast

9. Jason Aramburu, Founder and CEO of Edyn

To up productivity in the morning, I take a cup of coffee, mixes in a little coconut oil and takes an herbal supplement — L-theanine — one of the active ingredients in decaffeinated green tea, which he states helps him focus and is a great recipe for anything that requires concentration.

If I feel like I need a little more of an energy boost, I turn to my go-to power food, kale, which is packed with vitamins and b vitamins. I juice the kale, add minced ginger and lemon and is set for the day!

10. Sekou McHenry, CEO of DIRMCorp

7:00: Debate hitting the snooze button then grudgingly decide against it. Do daily ablutions.
7:15: Drink 2 large glasses of water. (Ironically most neglect this part of their care)
7:20: Exercise for 40 – 45 minutes using the Body For Life Routine by EAS for weight training or Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred on days when I need a bit of a change.
8:20: Shower and dress, drink a protein shake or a light breakfast.
9:00: Create my list of 3 must complete items for the day and 4 extras.
9:20: Work until roughly noon.
12:00: Check e-mail and reply when applicable.

11. Tara Tiger, Cofounder of KitHub

My bedroom has Philips lights and they are configured using to turn from orange to blue light between 5:30am and 6:30am – this allows me to wake up gradually. I get up and head to my sitting area to practice mindfulness meditation for at least 15 minutes, using the Calm app. I enjoy breakfast with my family. I check my email and Slack messages for urgent issues. I drive my son to school and then go to the gym for 45 minutes. I sit down at my desk and review my top tasks for the day which I track in GitHub

12. Han Chang, Cofounder of InvestmentZen

The first thing I do every morning is brew a cup of tea and while I wait for it to steep, I meditate to clear my mind for the day.

When the tea timer goes off, I then start on my Most Important Task for the day (that I decided upon and wrote out the previous night) while I'm fresh to make sure I spend my time working on things that will move the needle before diving into the more mundane administrative stuff that needs to be done but won't be high impact.

I also have a pullup bar attached to my office door that I use whenever I'm stuck on a problem; I do 10 pullups which really helps reset my mind and refocus on the problem after a set.

13. Jessica Mehta, Author and Founder of MehtaFor

Here are a few key ways I start my morning to optimize health, happiness and productivity:

* No electronics are allowed in the bedroom. I'm fortunate to be a morning person, and never set an alarm (I wake up naturally between 5-6:30 am). The tiny amount of blue light from electronics, the urge to check your phone right away, and the faint sounds electronics can make fly in the face of good sleep hygiene.

* I immediately drink a cup of warm water with a freshly squeezed lemon, then wait one hour before brushing my teeth, having tea, or anything else. This concoction kickstarts your metabolism, is great for oral hygiene, and for those with caffeine dependency it's a great way to start weaning yourself.

* Every other day, I lift weights at home for 30-45 minutes before opening my laptop. I prefer to lift in a fasted state, so within 30 minutes of waking is ideal. I'm also a big supporter of consuming protein as soon after lifting as possible to heal, sustain and grow muscles. This is a lot easier to do if you have a free weight set at home where the kitchen is a few steps away.

14. Venu Gooty, Founder of GenieLabs

Wake up at 4 in the morning. Morning chores, read news, check emails & clear up my inbox are all before 5:00. From there, I work on high priority tasks (which I marked for the morning hours) for the next 1.5 hours (till 6:30) I also work with international teams – so this work works best for them – have call with them (6:30 – 7:30) Then, I take a break with a light 15min workout & then go to shower. I have oatmeal breakfast every weekday. Drop my kid at school and go to office – Generally, I get there around 9:30 and the rest of the day continues…

15. Sieva Kozinsky, Cofounder of StudySoup

I like to start my day at 5:45, and go to the gym as soon as possible. Staying fit, both mentally and physically, is an important factor for decreasing stress levels.. Most mornings, I ride my bike through Golden Gate park to get to our office in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco. This clears my head of any extraneous thoughts as I start to focus on today's opportunities. Once I arrive I eat some yogurt and granola while I prepare for our morning goal-setting meeting with the team. After we meet in the morning we generally break out into teams for the rest of the day.

16. Jonathan Spier, CEO and Cofounder of PLAE

I get up early and play with my son. Even if it's just eating a quick breakfast together, I remind myself to put aside my device, be present, and simply enjoy seeing life the way a 7 year old does. What's for lunch today? How about them Warriors? What's going on in our worlds? It's the best reminder to stay real, and of what I'm working hard for at the end of the day, which is to have a great life with my family. Plus, it's a much healthier way to start the day than by plugging straight into email!

17. Cate Stillman, YogaHealer

I’m strict about my daily self-care. I’m in bed before 10 and up at 5. I workout before I work. Always. I drink water adding lemon.or lime depending on the season. I treat work like any high performance activity. That way, when I’m not working, I feel great and have a great time with my family.. We eat at least 2 meals a day together and always play after school and after dinner, usually outside. My daily routine always begin at bedtime not in the the morning. Which means — getting good nights sleep and just before bed I love using my app to help me meditate and fall asleep. So my mornings start off great from a restful sleep.

When I wake up, I scrape my tongue with a stainless steel scraper. I heat the kettle and drink a quart of hot water with lemon. Then, I poop, and start a yoga or crossfit workout or jump on my trampoline in the back yard. After, I meditate, briefly, shower, get my kid ready for school while making our food for the day ahead.

18. Robin Smith, Cofounder and CEO of WeGoLook

It's a challenge, but I definitely try to get plenty of sleep and stick to the following routine as much as possible. As a mother of a high schooler, co-founder and CEO – time management and making the time to start my day right are extremely important to me.

– Get up early! This varies based on my travel schedule but I work to get acclimated to whatever time zone I'm currently in as soon as possible.
– Meditation. Then I take 10-20 minutes to exercise mindfulness (meditate) on the day ahead and what I want to accomplish
– Journaling. I make it a point to keep my phone or journal handy so that I can jot down specific goals, thoughts, ideas or even funny observations that pop in my head throughout the day.
– The Day's To-Do List! As a CEO there's no such thing as an end to this list – but there is the list of what needs to be prioritized for THAT day. Like anyone else, I get both satisfaction (and relief) when I can mark something off my list. It makes it easier to focus on the next priority.
– Breakfast! A must-have. Of course, there are the obvious health benefits such as metabolism, energy and mental focus – but it's super important as “the boss.” No one wants to have a morning meeting with a “hangry CEO!”
– Exercise. The road-warrior life of an entrepreneur can take its toll. Due to the travel my workout regime and routine is designed to be flexible but I commit to 3x/week of focused activity. I count the steps traveled around airports, meetings, etc. as a bonus!

19. Anthony Soohoo, CEO and Founder DotAndBo

The first thing I do each morning is drink two tall glasses of water to hydrate and refresh myself. I typically wake up around 5:00am and spend an hour doing yoga or going on a light run. I find that exercising in the morning cleanses my mind and helps me to focus throughout the rest of the day. For me, the benefits of getting the body moving are immeasurable.

I recently started using the Calm wellness app on my iPhone and it has helped me to briefly “escape” before starting my workday. I try to avoid responding to emails in the early morning. This can put you on the daily treadmill and potentially set your focus on the wrong priorities. Being intentional about email and calls frees me from getting bogged down by non-urgent matters. Designating uninterrupted time to work is precious.

20. Chad Hetherington, CEO of The Stable

A morning routine that I try to fit in as much as I can (even when travelling) is a very early morning walk. In addition to it being a great exercise (that I can actually enjoy), for me its a great way to get ahead of the day and to think up new and creative ideas to improve either my business or my clients’ business.

When I finish my morning walks I always have a handful of great new ideas ready to go.

21. Elisette Carlson, Founder of SmackMedia

Wake up Early, before the kids, before anyone else. You just get more done and do not have distractions.

Workout right away. Don’t read email, don’t read the paper, just get up and go. It’s the perfect kickstart to the day and no excuses can be made.

Aside from working out almost every morning, I wake up and write down the names of 5 people I want to call that day. Everyone is so into email and texting these days and we all get behind, forget to answer that “flagged” email or work in silence. Picking up the phone and speaking to a person is “personal, efficient and it grows the relationship that you have with them.” Be it to discuss a proposal, call someone to let them know you were thinking about them or a quick rundown of priorities with a colleague, picking up the phone before you hit the morning email will add a lot of productivity to your day.

Post workout, eat something healthy such as a smoothie bowl made with avocado and greens or a breakfast salad. Who would have thought? A big bowl of greens topped with greens and veggies is awesome and keeps energy levels high.

Image via Flickr / Greg Williams.

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Cameron is a tech and culture journalist, comic book enthusiast, and lives near New York City. A graduate of Stockton University, she's using her words to shift the world of online journalism, one byline at a time. When she's not writing, she can be found reading sci-fi novels, collecting succulents, and planning her next obnoxious hair color. Cameron is an editorial fellow at Tech.Co. Send your tips to or tweet @BlkGirlManifest.