Ever wonder what sets highly successful people apart? I've polled countless executives about the things they do every day that give them an edge, and there's no doubt high achievers share some common characteristics. Check out these tips from 19 executives on daily habits that help them get ahead in business and life.
1. Get your priorities straight.
"I am the wealthiest person I know, which has nothing to do with my bank account. I have been gifted with the best family and loved ones a man could ever hope for. Their support and love has given me the foundation I've needed to take on any challenge, in business or in life, with confidence. When you know you are truly loved, nothing else seems too hard, too challenging, or too important. When I keep my perspective focused on what matters most in my life--my people--I am calm, focused, and happy. In this state, my most creative ideas come to me and my business relationships soar."
--Cyril Assentio, CEO of global security company Bucker Groupe and founder of the security smartphone app My Panda
2. Stay in the know.
"It is very important to follow lots of people and the work they are doing. Save articles, screen capture, and check in. Knowledge is power."
--Dana Rae, founder of luxury cosmetics brand ABLE Cosmetics, which has been featured in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Seventeen Magazine, InStyle, W, and other national publications since its launch in August 2015
3. Find the quirky expertise of the people who cross your path.
"Whether staff or clients, I drill into people to find out how they nerd out. You can learn so much from asking people about details. It's easy to ask a person about their golf game if you are a golfer, but if you don't have patience for fishing, you may avoid talking to a fisherman about their passion. When I sense myself checking out because I'm not relating to someone, I try to drill down into their expertise. I ask the fisherman if he ties his own flies and where he gets his fabric and which colors are working best. You can learn so much about people and things when you find someone's quirky expertise, so I make it a daily mission, and it has changed my relationships."
--Dr. Michael Swann, board certified dermatologist and expert in Mohs Surgery in Springfield, Missouri
4. Handle most email at night.
"It lets me focus on my team and be present in the meetings I attend."
--Emily S. Culp, CMO for Keds
5. Give opinions when you want them heard and stay out of the way the rest of the time.
"If you're a good CEO, you spend much of your time hiring good people. Often times, though, being the boss makes everyone--including yourself--think you should offer an opinion about everything. If you really did hire good people, there is someone on your team who is simply better than you at most things that happen each day. Save your opinions for the ones that matter and stay out of the team's way the rest of the time. It lets others shine and produces better results."
--Chris Hale, founder and CEO at Kountable, a San Francisco-based platform connecting investors and entrepreneurs
6. Spend time with your spouse.
"I spend an hour with my spouse either early in the morning or in the evening and just talk. After the first 10 to 20 minutes, we are beyond the tactics of household management and what's going on with our kids, and conversation moves into what's going on in our lives and how we feel about things. I get great advice from her, mostly because nobody knows me better than she does. She's smart and over time she has gotten to know my work challenges very well."
--Eric Haller, executive vice president of Experian DataLabs, which helps businesses solve strategic marketing and risk-management problems through data analysis process, research and development
7. Exercise first.
"Getting the blood pumping first thing provides me with more energy for the day ahead. Fresh air helps, so if I can exercise outside, that's ideal and it means my two-month-old daughter can join me. If I don't do it in the morning, it probably won't happen. It's key I get it done before all the emails start flooding in."
--Jacqui Rosshandler, creator of Woofmints, all-natural doggie treats that keep Fido's breath fresh
"Don't try to do everything. Work with a list of five priorities, get these done, and move on. Put systems in place to stop you doing trivial or repeat items that other people can do for you. Use your skills to do what makes you special and what you enjoy."
--Cindy Luken, CEO, food scientist, and product designer for Luk Beautifood, an all-natural, toxin-free, and food-active makeup product line
9. Pack your work into the day.
"I prefer solid six-hour days as opposed to stretching it out with wasted time in between yapping and futzing. Once you look at your day, you'll realize you work about six hours solid anyway as you lunch, chat with co-workers, talk on the phone, etc., which fills those extra hours unnecessarily. Stay focused. Of course, make yourself available for time-sensitive emergencies. Our digital world makes that easy. I am always available, for the most part."
--Catherine Enright, founder and president of eXO, a skin care brand combining exosome biology with next-gen natural ingredients
10. Workout at work for seven minutes.
"One of our employees started a workout group at work because we make jokes about the 'DealsPlus 15.' Almost everyone gains weight due to our free lunches and snacks. We use a seven-minute workout app, which includes countless workouts like diamond pushups, squats, jumping jacks, sit-ups, and other strength/cardio moves over a span of 30 seconds each, totaling seven minutes. I love the idea of the company getting fit together, plus it's good for team building."
11. Visualize and plan the day.
"Identify the three must-dos for work, home, and self. It has to go beyond a list--actually schedule in when you are going to tackle each task to avoid a list of unchecked items. What gets scheduled gets done, so block off time for the most important things, including exercise and family time, and schedule time for things such as emails, calls, and meetings later in the day to preserve quality blocks of time."
--Lisa Skeete Tatum, co-founder of Landit, a New York City-based company offering a career platform for women looking to revitalize or advance their careers
12. Don't try to find a life-work balance.
"It is a myth that being an entrepreneur requires life-work balance. A life-work balance is a bad thing because a balance is precarious and unstable.... The solution is to merge life and work. Life and work for an entrepreneur cannot be separated into exclusive areas, each with different demands that can somehow be balanced. Mix it up. Find a way to do both life and work all the time. Promise your partner and kids that you will always be there and ask them to understand that sometimes you may need to answer that call, shoot off that mail, make a quick diversion. Little kids would rather have a distracted father with them than an absent father. Big kids won't want to be with you in any case. But if you merged properly when they were small, they will know who you are and know that you will be there for them when they need it."
--Jon Sumroy, CEO and inventor of the mifold booster seat
13. Walk and talk.
"I try and do most of my meetings while walking the streets by our office. People open up and focus when there's no email, texts, or others popping their heads.... Walking gives you time for those uncomfortable silent moments when two people are having a difficult conversation and allows people to think before they talk. It also helps creativity--when working in a groups, it creates a more equal playing field for ideas than the boardroom."
--Gregor Watson, chairman of Roofstock, an online marketplace for investing in leased, single-family rental homes
"During the hour-long ride from St. Pete to Hudson, I review the day's surgeries, plan each surgery and what should be the best solution for the patient, and pray, to be sure that God will guide me to correct the problems in a successful way."
--Dr. Alfred O. Bonati, chief orthopaedic surgeon and founder of The Bonati Spine Institute, in Hudson, Florida
15. Exercise yourself out of a rut.
"Whenever I'm feeling tired or 'blah,' I get on the StairMaster, elliptical, or treadmill and I'm feeling good within 20 minutes. That's natural endorphins at work."
--Patricia Trimble, founder and president of Suntegrity Skincare, a natural sunscreen line which has been featured on Dr. Oz and in such publications as The Good Life, Rodale's Organic Life, Prevention Magazine, Essence Magazine, and W Magazine, among other national media outlets
16. Demonstrate appreciation for your mate.
"We spend more time with our colleagues at work than we do with our families. So I make a concerted effort every day, even if I'm traveling abroad, to do something special, intimate, or creative for my wife, Patricia, to let her know that despite time constraints, she remains my center, my constellation, my greatest inspiration. I sometimes text her a link to a love song, buy a crazy costume and put it on before I Skype with her, or send her quart of gelato via Google Express. Seeing her smile and elation in response to these small acts grounds me."
--Calvin Sims, president and CEO of International House, a New York City residence and program center of graduate students from more than 100 countries
17. Communicate without using email.
"Instead of allowing myself to fall into the time warp that is Outlook, I only open my email about four times a day. Preferably, I choose to seek out other, more creative, routes of communication. For example, we use a Facebook secret group page to get information out fast to our franchisees. Internally, we use Slack to throw ideas around, transfer documents, and track projects. There's nothing more effective than a slew of emails to put your staffers to sleep. Keep communication fun and creative and you and your employees will be more engaged."
--Dr. Tina Bacon-DeFrece, president of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More
18. Recalibrate your mind.
"I take 15 to 30 minutes to immerse myself in reading something completely non-business related. Taking a few minutes to read an article or a few pages of a book about hobbies and passions of mine--fly fishing or golfing or any non-business-related topic--allows me to take a mental breather in my busy day."
--Kelly Jensen, senior vice president of cabinet and floor refinishing service N-Hance Wood Renewal
19. Drink green juice.
"It can be hard to eat healthy--or at all--when I'm running from meeting to meeting or on calls all day, so I make sure to bring a green juice to work with me every day. It keeps my energy up so I can stay focused and productive throughout the day, even the really long ones."