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The First Thing Successful People Do Every Day

The First Thing Successful People Do Every Day

How do successful people cope with that first half hour of work? What they do in that crucial time can usually set the tone for the rest of the day. Many people are convinced that their early morning work routine is an important element in their success. Let’s look at what these successful people do every day, first thing, and maybe learn a few tricks from them along the way.

Tony Robbins practices gratitude and visualization

The famous life coach to the stars recommends starting each work day with being grateful for what you have. He says that you should spend up to 15 minutes thinking about being grateful for everything positive in your life. He also advocates that you then try to understand what you are committed to and what you want from life. This leads to the peak state which gives you the certainty to succeed.

“Take thoughts and turn them into actions, turn them into results, turn your dreams into reality.” —Tony Robbins

Tim Cook does his email at 4:30 a.m.

Many people advocate staying away from email until they get well into the day’s work. Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, firmly believes in getting them out of the way first. He says it leaves him time to concentrate on the top priorities when he gets to the office.

David Karp checks his email when he arrives at the office

The founder of Tumblr is against all kinds of scheduling and manages an enormously successful blogging platform which hosts about 17.5 million blogs. He never checks email at home but does it when he arrives at the office. He says that it helps him to prioritize tasks for the day.

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Setting up filters using Awayfind.com is one way of sorting out all unimportant mails if you feel you are overwhelmed. It will only deliver top priority emails and texts.

Julie Morgenstern, the author of Never Check E-mail in The Morning, takes a different approach and has put forward lots of different ways of becoming more efficient at work.

Mark Twain recommended doing the hardest task first

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”—Mark Twain

Mark Twain was a great advocate of getting the hardest and most daunting task (in other words, the frog) done first thing in the morning. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction will keep you on a high as you get through all the other jobs.

Howard Schultz believes in getting priorities established

The Starbucks CEO usually spends the first hour getting priorities sorted. But he has already done some cycling with his wife and still manages to arrive at his office by 6 a.m.

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Geraldine Laybourne believes in helping the next generation

The ex-CEO of Oxygen Channel is a great believer in offering advice to young people. She likes to do that by taking a walk with them in Central Park very early. She believes early risers deserve to be helped and she herself manages to get some exercise.

Laura Vanderkam recommends writing a challenging report or email

Laura is the author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. She says that writing needs concentration and the best time to do it is in the first hour of the day, when distractions, interruptions, and meetings are at a minimum. Willpower will be at its peak during that first half hour.

John Grisham believes in a strict routine

Writing, according to the great author, requires self-discipline. He always followed a set routine in getting going during the first hour when he was working as a lawyer. He got up at 5 a.m.and had to be in the office with a cup of coffee by 5:30 a.m. By that time the first words had to be written. He had to write a page a day, whether it took him 10 minutes or two hours. It was only then that he would start his law work.

Todd Smith always greets colleagues appropriately

Todd Smith has 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, and his book Little Things Matter is a manual on how to treat colleagues and peers. Naturally, he talks about how important greeting your co-workers is.

Nothing worse than people not saying “good morning,” or ignoring you altogether. It is very important to build teamwork, boost morale and also to bond with the people you work with by greeting them or exchanging a friendly word or two. This is especially important in the first half hour as people are feeling fragile or have low morale.

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Following email etiquette also helps. A good idea is not to overload the CC circuit and only copy in the people who are directly involved.

Benjamin Franklin always wanted to be helpful in the morning

“The Morning Question: What good shall I do this day?”—Benjamin Franklin

Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, shares Franklin’s views. He starts the day by doing good, too. He strongly believes that helping a co-worker solve a problem or introducing two contacts are ways to create positive karma, and you will always receive some in return. Building goodwill and support is the best way to start your day.

Steve Murphy devotes morning time to planning

The CEO of Rodale urges people to set aside the first hour or so to thinking time and jotting down ideas and priorities on a notepad. This makes his work much more strategic and proactive. It was William Blake’s quote that inspired him to start doing this.

“Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night.” —William Blake

Tim Armstrong recommends learning and listening

The CEO of AOL does a lot of his emails in his hour-long journey to work. As he has a driver, he can easily do that. He prefers to use his office time learning and listening to colleagues and networking.

As we have seen, a lot of successful people deal with emails the moment they get up and try to get them out of the way for more strategic work when they actually get to the office. Everybody has a different working style.

Do you do some of the things successful people do every day? Let us know in the comments how you cope with that dreaded first half hour.

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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