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15 Startup Founders Share Their Productivity Habits

15 Startup Founders Share Their Productivity Habits

We are all guilty of wondering how some individuals seem to be able to get so much more done in a day then we do.

As someone who studies the routines and habits successful individuals use each day, I’ve noticed the individuals in Silicon Valley seem to be constantly pushing boundaries forward. Who else is going to get your burrito delivered to your front door via a drone?

Wondering what keeps these folks going to achieve such a high output, I simply decided to ask.

I’ve spent the past month interviewing 15 startup founders to dive into the habits, tips and hacks they use that keeps them productive and motivated each day. Some have sold companies for over eight figures and many have had their products and services featured in top tier publications.

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    The interviewees and links to the amazing things they are working on:

    Will Bunker –Co-Founder @ Match.com, GrowthX Academy

    Sam Parr – Founder @ The Hustle.

    Neil Patel – Forbes Top 10 Online Marketer. Founder @ Quicksprout, KISSMetrics

    Luke Williams – Founder @ Blue Sea Studios, 2 minute revolution

    Dennis Yu – #1 Facebook Ad Expert in the world. Founder @ Blitzmetrics

    UJ Ramdas – Co-Founder @ Intelligent Change. (5 minute Journal).

    Ameer Rosic – Co-Founder @ BlockGeeks.

    Mike Brcic – Founder @ Sacred Rides, The Social Entrepreneur

    Sol Orwell – Co-Founder @ Examine.com, SJO.com

    Dave Burns –  Co-Founder @ Singularity Growth Accelerator

    Josh Fraser – Founder @ Torbit (Acquired by Walmart), Din, EventVue

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    Lea Von Bidder – Founder @ Ava

    Floyd Marinescu – Founder @ InfoQ, QCon Conferences

    Josh Fechter – Head of Growth @ GrowthX Academy

    Kumar Thangudu – Founder @ LinkTexting, GrowAmp

    Name your top 1 to 3 habits you have that help you stay highly productive and motivated each day.

    I use three specific tactics each day to prepare my body and mind. These are sitting meditation, regularly moving my body through working out, walking and yoga along with Bulletproof tea for sustained energy.

    Dave Burns

    Proper sleep pattern is critical to me. Everything you do is impacted by the quality of your sleep, why would you mess around with this? I also ensure I keep an avid curiosity by reading stimulating things and expressing gratitude by spending time with my family.

    Ameer Rosic

    I start and end each day writing down what I am grateful for in the Five Minute Journal. This helps keep everything in perspective. I also use the Productivity Planner to plan out my entire day and meditate regularly.

    UJ Ramdas

     Regularly going for walks helps clear my mind and push out noise.

    Will Bunker                  

    I use conscious focus and then relaxation. I do a block of 30-90 minutes of heads down work, and then I take a break of roughly 30 minutes. REAL focused work is incredibly powerful, and most people just never do that. I’m not a big fan of grinding, as your throughput and quality just suffers greatly.

    Sol Orwell

     I distill all tasks into a top 10 ranking of importance for the day. I then start at top and do just that task till completion before going on to the next.

    I also regularly review tasks and push them to a later date if they are less urgent. I have folders of pushed tasks that I never look at until that date, which takes those tasks totally out of my consciousness till then. This allows total focus on current top action items.

    Creating this back log of less important tasks also allows your staff to know exactly what they should work on when their time frees up. The question of them asking “what do I do?” doesn’t come up. Instead they always come to me with multiple options, and their recommendation. This exercises their judgment, and leads eventually to them being able to handle all decisions independently without consulting me.

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    Luke Williams

     For me it is critical to get a good night’s sleep. I threw away my alarm clock! Along with this I also emphasize getting regular exercise (using running or climbing) and reading regularly to always be improving my mind.

    Josh Fraser

    Gratitude to start the day; exercise sometime during the day, having a full breakfast.

    Dennis Yu

     I optimize my nutrition intake each day to avoid the energy crash that can happen. For me, this means I avoid carbs most of the time. Serotonin is a hormone secreted by carb intake and generally one you want to avoid that when you are trying to get things done.

    I also avoid alcohol. In my younger days, I abused this a little too much. However, I’ve since given up alcohol (about three years ago) because the hangover and side effects impacted my entire week.  I simply just wasn’t able to perform as effectively as I do now.

    Sam Parr

    I use meditation and then map our One-Page Strategic Plan. This informs and breaks down my daily schedule down to 1/2 hour chunks.

    Mike Brcic

    I start each day prioritizing fitness and meditation. I work out in one form or other every morning as well as meditate daily. My workouts alternate between several options so each morning feels interesting: kettle bells, weights, kungfu, a 1 hr walk, ecstatic dance, or a qi gong + pranayama set (for lazy mornings).

    Floyd Marinescu

     I walk 2-3 hours every day, write four hundred words each day and tell two people I appreciate them.

    Josh Fechter

     I use a ton of digital tools to stay hyper productive when I’m at the keyboard. My three favorite tools are Instapage.com for making marketing pages, TextExpander for speeding up any actions on the keyboard, and lastly FoxType for making sure I send emails that are polite.

    Kumar Thangudu

     I wake up in the morning, check my schedule for the day and make a specific to-do list of what I want to achieve that day. It ensures I stay focused.  I don’t only do this for each day but also for weeks and months. This is so I always have targets for a given week and a given month and work towards fulfilling them.

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    Sometimes stepping out of the office and working from a different place helps. A change of scenery keeps things fresh. I like sitting down in a nearby coffee shop to prepare for important meetings.

    Lea Von Bidder

     I approach the day with massive organization, knowing what myself and my assistant need to get accomplished. I work out every single morning before starting my day and then spend some time getting dressed up. We all feel more confident when we look good and it’s noticeable in how you approach the day.  I spend a large chunk of my day calling (actually calling with a phone) and connecting with other entrepreneurs and business partners. This helps me provide value where need be and build potential deals. I’ve made many close friends this way and I find it keeps things interesting and worthwhile.

    Neil Patel

      

    Do you have any specific morning routine you follow to prep you for your day?

    Hell yes. I wake up, make myself Bulletproof tea, meditate, do various weirdly effective journaling practices, and meet with my team. Dave Burns

    I wake up and drink 1 litter of filtered water to re-hydrate and kick start my digestion. I then turn on my espresso and sit underneath my infrared light while doing my Five Minute Journal. Ameer Rosic

    Here is the exact routine I follow each morning. Wake up. Five Minute Journal. Make bed. Cold shower. Supplements. Brush teeth. Do pullups. Stretch. Meditate. Plan out flow of the day. Eat breakfast. Head out to get some work done! UJ Ramdas

    Yes, it’s about 90-120 minutes starting at 5/5:30 am. In order: Vivid Vision review/affirmation, yoga, meditation, journaling, set daily schedule, read 20 pages, do 1/2 hour on a passion project. Mike Brcic

    Wake up, meditate in bed a bit, work out, shower, eat a healthy breakfast, read for 10-20 min and then go to work. Floyd Marinescu

    Check emails and Facebook mastermind groups I manage, eat oatmeal and peanut butter, drink coffee, and then walk for an hour and a half. Josh Fechter

    I do a serious of active stretches on my bed for a period of time. Can’t start a day with loose hips! Sam Parr

    I have a set routine to start the day. I read my favorite politics site (www.electoral-vote.com), then take a two-minute cold shower while blasting some Skrillex, take my meds (yay genetic disorders), and go for a little walk while sipping my can of coke zero. I get home, do the 5 Minute Journal, and am just rearing to crush it by then. Sol Orwell

    Setting my priorities for 20 minutes at start of day so I know exactly what to do. Dennis Yu

    I have a boot-up and shutdown list. Boot-up includes reflecting on the top item to move my company forward now or what’s been causing the most stress. The plan is then to address this immediately. I practice inbox zero and empty my inbox from top-to-bottom; clear any residual notes from yesterday; quick checks of Asana task system and Slack messages and pull top items from task folders and organize them. After this I turn on Do Not Disturb for Slack and my phone and start my focus block.  I prefer four continuous hours uninterrupted. Luke Williams

    Every morning, I wake up and do workouts with the Freeletics app on iPhone. Kumar Thangudu

     

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    Name one thing you couldn’t get through each day without.

     

    Mindfulness. Dave Burns

    Seeing my family. Ameer Rosic

    Meditation & Journaling. UJ Ramdas

    Reading. Mike Brcic

    Meditation. Floyd Marinescu

    Walking for at least 30 minutes. Josh Fechter

    Diet Root Beer. The Hustle

    The 5 Minute Journal. Sol Orwell

    Proper sleep. Dennis Yu

    Boomerang Extension for Gmail. Luke Williams

    1Pass – A tool for managing all my login info. Kumar Thangudu

    Chocolate. Ava

    Monster Energy. Will Bunker

    Purpose. Josh Fraser

    A Green juice. Neil Patel

     

    A number of tools were mentioned throughout the interview. To make it easy here they all are.

    Featured photo credit: Shutterstock 197404370 via shutterstock.com

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    Last Updated on April 9, 2020

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

    The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

    With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

    5 Types of Leadership Styles

    I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

    The Democratic Style

    The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

    The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

      The Autocratic Style

      The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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      The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

      While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

        The Transformational Style

        Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

        Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

        Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

          The Transactional Style

          Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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          The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

          The Laissez-Faire Style

          The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

          In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

          Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

          You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

          Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

          The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

          Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

          I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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          In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

          What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

          Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

          1. Context Matters

          Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

          2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

          When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

          As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

          “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

          The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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          As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

          When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

          The Way Forward

          To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

          As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

          “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

          The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

          If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

          Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

          Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

          More Leadership Tips

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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