Billionaires’ morning routines are every bit as intense as you would believe them to be, but it’s that extreme routine that helps them be their most productive and run their billion-dollar empires.
Today, we’re breaking down five unbelievable morning routines from real-life billionaires. From Oprah Winfrey’s Idyllic routine to Jeff Bezos’ odd rituals, let’s get started!
The Miracle Morning
by Hal Elrod
⏱ 14 minutes reading time
🎧 Audio version available
Oprah Winfrey’s Idyllic Routine
“For me, a perfect day is not just one thing; it’s a series of small things. It’s the crisp air on your face when you open the door in the morning, the reflection of mountains and clouds in a crystal lake. It’s paying attention.”
Oprah Winfrey’s morning routine, as described by her, is somehow everything you expected and more, but what do you expect the routine to be like for the self-made billionaire who created her own television net worth, is the CEO of Harpo Production, gave away millions to charity, launched a program to help young women in Africa, was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama—and the list of accomplishments goes on.
The woman who’s considered the greatest black philanthropist in history starts her morning off at her 65-acre home in Montecito, California, surrounded by groves of trees and wildflowers.
She wakes up at seven o’clock, brushes her teeth, and then takes her five dogs for a walk. Following that, as she waits for her espresso to brew, she picks up a card from her 365 Gathered Truths’ box. According to Oprah, she reads “five of them each morning; it’s a beautiful way to start the day.”
Next, using an app on her phone, she gets her daily dose of Bowl of Saki for inspiration and positivity. A 20-minute meditation session followed by an hour-long workout and a 2-mile run in the hills of her backyard follow.
If the weather is nice, she’ll lay in her lawn chair with her eyes closed to reflect on the previous day and set her goals for the present day.
The reason behind this peaceful morning is that Oprah recognizes that the beginning of her day should be about slowly giving her mind a chance to wake up and become fully focused.
Elon Musk’s Intense Frenzied Morning
Running several companies, working on launching rockets into space, designing the world’s first self-driving car, Elon Musk is what Oprah’s morning routine would look like turned over its head.
The only similarity between the two’s habits is that they both wake up at seven. Unlike Oprah, Musk doesn’t read inspirational quotes or take his dogs out for a walk. He gets straight into business.
The first half-hour of his day is spent reading and replying to “critical emails” while drinking coffee. He’s too busy for breakfast. He then waves goodbye to his five sons and sends them off to school. He showers and then drives to work. The rest of his mornings are usually spent deep in engineering and design discussions.
This relentless morning routine makes sense for someone who works over 120 hours a week. Despite being a billionaire, Musk says he sometimes ends up sleeping on his desk. Elon Musk believes that this routine provides maximum productivity and recommends it to others.
Sara Blakely’s Wholesome Routine
Changing things up a bit, instead of dealing with one of the most extreme routines of the world’s richest billionaire, here is another billionaire who tackles mornings differently. For one thing, she’s never had a cup of coffee.
Meet Sara Blakely, the woman who founded and invented Spanx and is worth $1 billion.
Despite being the founder of a global company that annually pulls in $400 million and has over 750 people working under her, Blakely always tried to maintain boundaries between her work and life. Every Sunday morning, it’s a staple routine to make pancakes in strange shapes.
Instead of coffee, she starts off her day with a smoothie made of kale, dates, cinnamon, spinach, frozen wild berries, dark cherries, cilantro, fresh mint, lemon, water, chia, walnuts, and ice.
This is well before 6 a.m, as well. At 6:30, she tries to get in a yoga session before it’s time to take her kids to school. Sara Blakely is intense about her driving time. Driving is what she was doing when she got the idea to name her company “Spanx.”
Every day, she “carries a large spiral-bound Mead notebook, compulsively filling it with scribbles, notes, and inspirations.”
But the problem with her mornings is that she lives close to Spanx’s headquarters, so she created what she and friends call her “fake commute,” stretching out a 6 minutes ride into an hour-long drive. She drives around aimlessly in Atlanta with her commute so that she can have thoughts come to her.
Tim Cook’s 4 a.m Routine
As extreme as some morning routines go, Apple’s CEO and self-proclaimed “fitness nut” Tim Cook’s routine is pretty hardcore and strict.
Each day, he rises in the wee hours of the morning, just before 4 a.m. The first hour of every morning is spent reading user comments about Apple products. He works on emails, which sometimes can amount to over 700 to 800 emails per day.
What this does is help him “focus on the external people that are important to us.”
Next, a common theme with nearly all CEOs, Cook gets in some quality exercising time. He goes to the gym and works out for an hour because it “keeps his stress at bay.”
Then it’s off to work, designing the new iPhone and the newest Apple car.
Now, let’s take a moment to compare this routine to the previous Apple CEO: the legendary Steve Jobs. Apple’s founder had a profound yet incredibly simple routine. Every morning, after sleeping for around six hours, he would get up, make his bed, shower, and look at himself in the morning. He would ask, “If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?”
He was a good morning person. And every day, he put on the same outfit; an Issey Miyaki black mock turtleneck and blue jeans.
Another quirky billionaire habit he had so that he didn’t have to “waste” time picking out what to wear every morning. He liked to snack on whole and dried fruits, vegetables, mostly harvested from his home garden, and Odwalla juices.
At 8 or 9 a.m., he usually heads to work, but if he were lucky, he’d stay at home and work for an hour. By the time he arrives at work, he would have an hour or half or two hours of work already.
By 9:30 a.m., it’s time for meetings. Every Monday, he reviewed the whole business. He and his employees looked at what they sold the week before, at every product under development, products they’re having trouble with, and products where the demand is greater than they can make.
Steve Jobs had an agenda: 80% is the same as it was last week, and they could just walk down it every single week. According to him, Apple didn’t have many processes, but this way, he made sure everyone was on the same page. Wednesday mornings were reserved for the marketing team.
If you compare the leadership styles, personalities, and morning routine of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, the difference is obvious. Jobs was over the top and known to be hot-tempered. Cook is strict, analytical, process-driven, yet soft-spoken. But what they two shared are their early mornings and workaholic tendencies.
Jeff Bezos’ Mighty Morning
Sleep is a priority for Jeff Bezos. He wakes up on his own, well beyond dawn, no alarm needed. He credits his routine to being what helps him do his best work throughout the day.
According to him, he goes to bed early and then gets up early. Once he’s up, this time is for Bezos and Bezos alone. He likes to “putter in the morning.” His day starts slowly, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. Breakfast with his children follows before it’s time for them to go to school.
Several times, Bezos has proven his capability to make mighty breakfasts, including cooking up a blueberry-chocolate chip pancake feast for singer-songwriter Ciara and Seattle Seahawks player Russel Wilson.
His “puttering time is very important” to him. This “puttering” includes doing the dishes himself. The morning isn’t over yet. All of Bezos’ “high-IQ” meetings, the ones that require the most brainpower and those he believes are going to be “really mentally challenging,” are held in the morning, ideally at 10 a.m.
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