They say the early bird catches the worm, and research suggests there might be some truth to the old adage.
Waking up with (or before) the sun allows executives like Apple CEO Tim Cook and “Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary to get a head start on the day, knocking out tasks before the rest of the world has rolled out of bed.
Those “extra” hours with less distractions and fresh energy also give them a chance to do some creative thinking, fit in a workout, and spend time with family. And it should be noted that waking up early doesn’t necessarily mean losing sleep — some of the smartest leaders understand that being effective means getting a full night’s sleep.
Here are 14 early risers who may convince you never to hit snooze again.
Max Nisen, Aaron Taube, and Rachel Sugar contributed to earlier versions of this article.
While the president is known for getting very little sleep, he's got nothing on the first lady, who tells Oprah she starts her days with a 4:30 a.m. workout before her kids wake up.
'If I don't exercise, I won't feel good. I'll get depressed,' she says, noting that it's easier to pull that off at the White House, where she has 'much more support' than the average person.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong starts his day at 5:00 a.m. but tries not to send too many early-morning emails.
The former Google executive tells The Guardian that he's 'not a big sleeper' and wakes up at 5 a.m. or 5:15 a.m. every day to work out, read, tinker with the site, and hang out with his middle daughter, who is also an early riser.
Armstrong says he tries to hold off on sending emails until around 7:00 a.m.
Burns uses early morning hours to get caught up on emails, getting up at 5:15 a.m. and sometimes working until midnight, according to Yahoo Finance.
She also uses the time to fit in a workout, according to Laura Vanderkam's 'What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.' Burns schedules an hour of personal training at 6 a.m. twice a week.
Immelt tells Fortune that he gets up at 5:30 in the morning every day for a cardio workout, during which he reads the papers and watches CNBC. He claims to have worked 100-hour weeks for 24 straight years.
The standing desk company leader tells Tech Insider he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. 'It's not for everyone,' he says.
The first thing Lee does when he wakes up is drink two litres of water followed by two cups of coffee and a smoothie. Then he spends 30 minutes with his dog followed by an hour of reading time.
By 5:15 a.m., Lee is at the gym, where he works out until 6:15 a.m. He spends the next hour showering, shaving, and travelling to his office, and by 7:15 a.m., he's ready to start the workday.
Marchionne wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to deal with the European market, according to a '60 Minutes' profile on his turnaround of Chrysler.
Referring to his schedule and work ethic, one exec is quoted in the FT as saying: 'Sergio invented an eighth day, and we work it.' In that '60 Minutes' special, another exec says: 'When it was a holiday in Italy he'd come to America to work. When it's a holiday in America he goes to Italy to work.'
'Shark Tank' investor Kevin O'Leary wakes up at 5:45 a.m. and checks the Asian and European bond markets.
'Good investors don't stay in bed in North America with strings untied overseas, because if something happens in London or Tokyo while they're sleeping, everything can change,' the investor writes in a post for Business Insider.
After checking the bond markets, O'Leary gets on the elliptical or exercise bike and watches business television for 45 minutes while he works out. This is followed by an hour of reading and business research, and then he heads to work by market open at 9:30 a.m.
Iger told Fortune he gets up at 4:30 every morning.
'It's a time of day when I can be very productive without too much interruption. I ride a bike and use aerobic equipment twice a week, and work out with a trainer, lifting weights. It's a good time to think. I believe that exercise relieves stress and contributes to an improvement in stamina, which in a job like this you absolutely need.'
In another article for Fortune, Harvard Business School professor and former Medtronic CEO Bill George observes that mindful practices such as Iger's help leaders be more creative and open to new ideas.
Like her predecessor, Daniel Akerson, GM's current chief executive is an early riser. According to a New York Times profile, she was regularly at the office by 6 a.m. before she even became CEO.
In a post for Business Insider, the Hint Water founder says she's up at 5:30 a.m. 'on the dot,' to look over her calendar, catch up on unread emails, and make sure nothing urgent has popped up over night.
Once that's done, she sips a double latte and takes a morning hike with her husband and dogs before making her first work-related call at 7:15.
The online-only retail company for kids kicks off every morning with a 6 a.m. (Pacific Time) sale.
That's when its chief executive gets a notification on his phone, which serves as his alarm.
'Part of my night routine is to look at a preview of what the site's going to look like the next day -- so the very first thing I do is pull up the site on my phone to make sure they match,' he tells Inc.
'Project Runway' cohost and fashion consultant Tim Gunn begins his day at 5:30 a.m. with an espresso.
The fashion icon starts his days at 5:30 a.m. with an espresso, which he sips while reading the newspaper, he tells the New York Post.
He's a big fan of those early morning hours. 'I love getting up before the sun's up,' he explains, telling The Times that he starts even his Sundays with '50 sit-ups, in bed.'
'I usually meditate for a few minutes to quiet my mind before I get out of bed,' he says. 'I get up around 6 every morning. After I check email on my BlackBerry, I go exercise. I've been practicing yoga for about 10 years. I built a meditative room in my house.'
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