CEO Morning Routine
A CEOs Morning Routine Image Credit: Istock

CEOs usually need to have a certain level of perseverance and skill in order to climb the corporate ladder and reach the highest-ranking executive level position in the company. This person isn’t just the public face of the company, but they also oversee major corporate decisions, manage operations and generally run the company.

In order to achieve that level of success, whether in a small business or a large multinational corporation, it’s not just what the CEOs do at the office, it’s how they’ve tweaked their personal life to efficiently complement their careers.

“Waking up on the wrong side of the bed” can truly influence how the rest of your day takes shape. High level executives never risk waking up on the wrong side of the bed. They need to be focused and sharp in the morning. They’ve spent years tweaking their routines to become seamless and truly effective over time.

Sometimes it takes years to achieve an efficient morning routine. Waking up can be one of the most difficult parts of going to work, but for many successful people, rising early is an important reason for their success. Everyone has different types of morning rituals. Some start their days tackling emails, while others walk their dogs or indulge in a delicious breakfast.

But what most CEOs and top level execs don’t do is roll over, hit the alarm and say, “I’ll just sleep a little more.” They always get up early and hit the ground running.

So what are the morning habits of highly successful people?

Maximilian Büsser, Founder and CEO of MB&F and creator of the MB&F M.A.D.Gallery

I will usually wake up at around 6.30am every morning

- Maximilian Büsser

The first thing I do is unfortunately check my phone.

And it’s usually in this exact order: WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram messages, emails… good grief, I am a 52 year old millennial.

Then it’s time to get up and get dressed.

I usually wear a T-shirt and shorts (and that is because I take my elder daughter to school first – otherwise I am not sure I would even go to that length).

That is one of the many great advantages of working from home most of the time. When outside Dubai, I have simplified my working life by adopting a “uniform”: dark jeans, white T-shirt or shirt, dark jacket or sweater, and Onitsuka Tiger sneakers.

For breakfast I just eat whatever we whip up for the kids.

Then I commute to work. The commute to my desk lasts about 7 seconds.

Serg Lopez, (The Serg from Tom&Serg) CEO of the Pangolin Group and owner of Sanderson’s in Abu Dhabi

I never wake up later than 6am every day

- Serg Lopez

I jump out of bed and start my day with some exercise. I normally like to go for a morning bike ride followed by a run.

I then get home and look at my phone. I check how the restaurants performed the day before by looking at the online figures, then I look at the news and check a bit of Instagram afterwards as a guilty pleasure.

I work on a morning to do list, which changes every day because my days are just so different. I tend to check emails first thing and prioritize my day based on urgency.

I then take a shower and get dressed. I like to wear chinos and a polo shirts because they are very comfortable and I only need to worry about how to combine the right colors.

For breakfast I have a cup of coffee and either a smoothie, chia pudding, cereal or overnight oats, all with fresh fruit.

Then it’s time to get to the office. During my drive, I plan the day ahead, and while driving I make some phone calls to confirm meetings and to get updates on the previous day and what I need to follow up on for the day. I like to use the first few hours of the day to focus on finance and legal because the brain is fresher at that time.

Omar Qirem, CEO of Edelman Middle East

These days I inadvertently wake up at 5.30am

- Omar Qirem

It’s not on purpose! I would actually love to sleep in a little longer. But I seem to be waking up earlier and earlier as I get older.

Honestly the first thing I do, is check the time (realise it’s 5.30am). After that, I’ll get out of bed and jump straight into the shower.

Then I get dressed. I always wear a suit every day. Because with my job you never know what the day entails. I could be pulled into a last-minute client meeting, so I always want to look professional. It’s really important to look polished in my industry.

I head downstairs to see my three year old son. We sit down together and have a glass of orange juice. This is my favourite time of the day. We normally chat over a copy of Wheels magazine, he loves cars.

I generally skip breakfast.

Right before I leave the house, I check emails, my calendar and prepare myself mentally for the day ahead.

Then it’s time to drive to work. My commute takes about 15 minutes, so I usually listen to a Spotify playlist in the background and I mentally plan my day during my drive. I think about what the priorities are and make mental lists.

I try and get to the office at 8am. We have a café downstairs, where I’ll get a cup of coffee and read the business sections of the local newspapers. When I moved here. I was told to always read about how the local markets are doing and what’s going on in the region.

After my coffee, I’ll head up to the office and start my day.

Anna Skigin, CEO of Frank Porter, an Airbnb management services in dubai

I start my day by waking up at 7.30am daily

- Anna Skigin

The first thing I do is check my emails and messages. After that, I use Flipboard to catch up on my main news. I then go through upcoming bookings, deal with anything urgent needing my attention and set a To-Do list for when I reach the office.

Then I get dressed. I usually opt for something light and easygoing. I travel a lot to meetings around Dubai and prefer something comfortable that I can move in.

For breakfast I like to start my day with strong coffee and some fruit.

Then it’s time to get to work. I don’t drive - so on my commute I read more news, make some calls and take the time to set up for the day!

Ma Guolong, CEO of Oriental Pearls

I am a morning person, so I am usually up by 6.30am and ready for another exciting day in the real estate business

- Ma Guolong

I am very disciplined about my morning routine – this includes exercising, checking and responding to emails and conversations, and enjoying a good breakfast.

I find that exercise is a great way to start my day – it gives me a burst of energy and a sense of purpose.

I like to catch up on as much as I can, early on in the day – this includes checking emails and any important conversations on the go.

My work attire is an extension of my personality so I make sure I am always dressed smartly and comfortably. You will usually find me in a three piece suit.

Then I have my breakfast. To me it’s the most important meal of the day, I opt for some fruits, cereal, toast and juice.

Then it’s time to head to work. My morning commute is my private time to catch up on emails and review my daily agenda.

Alex Dubaldo, CEO of homegrown pizza brand "800 Pizza"

I usually wake up between 5am and 6am every day

- Alex Dubaldo

The first thing I do is start my day by thinking about my challenges and how I am going to overcome them.

Then I pick up my phone and look at my emails and business related social accounts, lastly I indulge for few minutes on personal social accounts.

Then it’s time to get dressed. I usually wear casual clothes because our office location is in a new developing area, which is rather dusty due to the ongoing construction. So causal clothes are just more practical in such environments.

For breakfast I enjoy a cup of oats with coconut almond milk, 4 egg whites with smoked salmon, a couple of olives, handful of greens and one orange or kiwi. I take breakfast very seriously.

Luckily, I don’t have set office hours, so I have the freedom to commute whenever I feel is the most beneficial time. I can be in the office at 7am or at 5pm, nobody knows, I am pretty unpredictable but make no mistake my mind is at work 24/7.

Kareem Fahmy is the Founder and CEO of Innovate Living, a Dubai-based boutique developer

I tend to wake up between 5.30am and 6am every day

- Kareem Fahmy

I like to start my day by running and training. This gives me energy and helps me channel my thoughts and start my day with a clear mind. I really try to not miss my morning training, because the rest of my day is usually quite unpredictable. My schedule changes day by day.

Then I head back home and check my email. After that I like to check the news to stay up to date with what is happening in the industry.

For breakfast, I like to keep it healthy. It’s usually oats and almond milk or omelets and spinach during the week.

Then I get ready for work. I like to dress depending on my day. When I have to attend meetings I usually wear something formal. If we’re going out for site visits and meeting with vendors I tend to dress more smart-casual.

I normally drive to work. But when I am not driving myself, I will reply to emails and plan my day. If I get a moment I like to read about upcoming developments.

Per Ekman, Vice President Middle East & North Africa HMD Global

I am an early riser – so I am usually up by 6.30am if I am in Dubai

- Per Ekman

I find that this gives me plenty of time to go through my morning routine and prepare for the day ahead.

I get out of bed and get ready for a morning swim. Nothing wakes me up better than an invigorating swim – so I hit the pool for about 30 minutes every morning. It’s a great way for me to go through my priorities for the day and mull any potential new ideas.

Then I sit for a little bit and go through my phone. My absolute first priority is my kids – so I begin by checking if I’ve gotten any Snaptchats from them. I find that this is one of the best ways to stay in touch when I’m on the road. I then skim through my Google news feed to check the latest updates from around world.

When I am meeting customers, I opt for a smart casual outfit but if I am in the office, I can be found in a comfortable pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

Then I have breakfast. When I am in Dubai, breakfast is sometimes just a quick cup of coffee, which is not ideal. I make up for this when I travel though – and settle for a good hearty hotel breakfast.

My commute in Dubai is a 7-10 minute drive so I am usually listening to the radio and preparing for another exciting day in the tech industry.

Samer S. Hamadeh Founder of Aegis Hospitality (Akiba Dori, Boom Room and Stereo Arcade)

I tend to wake up at around 6.15am every day

- Samer S. Hamadeh

I then fumble around in the dark, get dressed and take my dog Darwin for an hour long walk.

After his morning walk, I pick up my phone and check Twitter to see if anything crazy has gone down somewhere.

I occasionally will write a to-do list, but that changes depending on what I’m working on. So if I’m building a new concept, my morning to do list normally involves a call to my contractor to see if there’s anything major I need to be dealing with.

Then it’s time to get dressed. I’m pretty much almost always casual and dressed in black; I don’t like spending time deciding between 50 outfits in the morning. Efficiency is key here.

I skip breakfast. The reason I rarely have breakfast is because I like to hit the gym in the morning and I prefer working out on an empty stomach.

My “work day” technically starts at around 10am, so I use my commute to make important phone calls.

Dany Naaman, CEO of Havas Middle East

I usually wake up each morning at 6am

- Dany Naaman

The first thing I do, is wake my kids up (if they didn’t wake me up first) in order to spend some time with them while they’re getting ready to go to school. This is a really important part of my daily routine as I try to spend as much time with them as I can.

Before leaving for the office, I like to read the business news to catch up on any developments. I go through my emails and check my daily agenda as well before leaving home.

When I choose my clothes for the day, I usually go for something sporty-chic. It’s comfortable yet gets the job done.

After that I head downstairs and start my morning with a double espresso. I’m not really a breakfast person.

Then I leave to the office. My drive is less than 10 minutes from home, which is convenient for me. During the drive I usually just reflect on the upcoming tasks for that day.

The first thing that I work on when I get to the office each morning is a to-do list. I like to plan my day ahead and have a clear list, so that I can see what needs to be actioned and prioritized.

Mustafa Koita, Founder and CEO of the homegrown brand Koita, an organic milk company.

I always wake up at 6am when I’m in town

- Mustafa Koita

I always wake up at 6am when I’m in town. I like to get up early to make the most of the morning with my children and get my brain in gear before I set off for work.

The first thing I do in the morning is check my phone, yeah I’m not proud of this - but we live in such a fast-paced world that I want to see what’s been going on in while I’m asleep. I then like to look at Instagram and then my’s that for priorities?

At this point in the morning, I’ll go for a quick work out.

When it’s time to get dressed, I always gravitate towards a pair of Khakis, my worn out Converse All-Stars and one of five comfortable shirts that everyone has seen me wear 100 times. I’m a bit like Simon Cowell in that respect!

Then it’s time for breakfast. Depending on my workout I either have a protein shake or something with poached eggs. I always like to try any new milk products we’re looking at launching as well, so I can see how they would fit into a regular family's morning meal. We did this with our new Strawberry Milk for a few months and it really got me pumped to start talking about the product to our customers.

After breakfast, I drop my kids off at school. Then I jam in my car to some music.

In the office, I go through any customer feedback messages, go to war and then repeat. Then plot how to continue the organic milk revolution.

Anne Scott, the GM of the W Dubai the Palm.

I usually wake up at around 5.30am every morning

- Anne Scott

The first thing I do, is draw my curtains wide open and tell myself how lucky I am to live in a place with such an incredible view of the sea! The view gives me energy and inspiration for the day.

Then I look at my phone to check my emails and texts to see what happened at the hotel overnight – we live in a digital age, so I update myself quickly with messages on important matters across different time zones.

I then head out to my balcony for some exercise. It’s my favourite way to the start day. I stretch, rotate my shoulders to release the tension, take deep breaths of fresh air and listen to the sound of the waves.

Then I choose my outfit. I usually go for anything vibrant that compliments my pink hair! At the hotel, they are very welcoming of individual personalities and we like to dress to impress, so that’s what I do. Colours call out to me, plus anything sparkly like sneakers or high heels.

Now it’s time for breakfast. I make the most amazing homemade porridge with almond milk, cinnamon, maple syrup and sultanas. Yummy!

Then I leave my home to go to work. It’s a short 10 minute commute so I listen to the radio and sing along. My favorite part is just before you turn on the West Crescent of the Palm Jumeirah where you see the horizon over the sea - it’s just stunning!

Dr. Sameh El Khatib, CEO and Co-Founder of SmartWatt Consulting & Integrated Energy Solutions

I usually wake up at 6 am every morning

- Sameh El Khatib

I believe that the first few minutes when I wake up, are when my mind is at its clearest. So for the first 10 minutes, I stay in bed and acknowledge the first few thoughts that come to my mind. It’s in those 10 minutes that set the pace for my day.

After that, I check my phone. Usually the first thing I check is my email inbox. If there is anything urgent I reply to it. I also like to scan the news to get an update of what is going on around the world.

Then I go to the gym for about 45 minutes. If the weather is nice, I try to jog outdoors. During my workout I don't think of anything work related.

After my workout, I sit on a bench, take a rest, and only then do I actively tackle any issues with regards to the day. That is the time when I feel my mind is sharp, so I try my best to capitalize on that.

Then I go back home, and I try to spend around 15 minutes with my wife and daughter, followed a light breakfast. Those 15 minutes ground me and keep my priorities in check.

My breakfast is usually a smoothie prepared by my wife who is a dietician. She makes sure that my breakfast gives me the energy and nutrients I need for the day.

On my drive to work, which is a 30 minute commute, I usually plan my day, mentally prepare for my meetings, and touch base with my team to make sure the plan for the day is set.

I usually do not schedule any appointments during my first hour in the office. I use this hour to send out and reply to emails. From my perspective, emails are very important, whether internal or external. As such I make sure I dedicate enough peaceful time to send out clear and well-structured communications.

Sacha Christe CEO and Founder of Emirates Graphic

I wake up at 6.30am, and start the day by drinking a glass of water on an empty stomach.

- Sacha Christe

I then get out of bed and go for a quick run in the marina for about 20 minutes. After my morning workout I will head straight home and take a cold shower.

After that, I start getting ready. I will usually dress quite casual. Black jeans, and shirt, I barely wear suits.

Then I check my phone to see what meetings are scheduled for the day.

I usually make myself an omelet in the morning and watch the daily news on TV while I eat. I’ll usually watch BFM TV, it’s a French channel. I am Swiss, so I like to catch up on the news in French.

I’ll then head to my car and drive to the office, which is a 10 minute drive. I personally like to put the roof down and listen to music on my commute.

Once I reach the office, we have a daily 20 minute team meeting where we set the goals and tasks and officially kick off the day

Ahmed Kazim, Cofounder of Project Chaiwalla

My wake up time usually isn’t set in stone. I would say it ranges from 9am to 10.30am

- Ahmed Kazim

The first thing I do when I wake up is check if I have anything important to address, any last minute urgent matters, or any important calls I've missed during my sleep, given that I don't wake up so early.

I will usually get dressed as soon as I finish my urgent matters. I like to put on some sweat pants and basic t-shirt for comfort and ease. Unless I have a formal meeting, then I have to put my Kandoora and Ghitra on.

My breakfast typically consist of chai and toast, as well as cookies more often than not.

On my way to work, I listen to the radio and mentally prepare for what I have ahead for that day/week.

Simay Uras, founder and CEO of Huqqa, a Turkish restaurant in Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue

I usually wake up 8.30am every day.

The first thing I do is look at my phone. I check my emails and then my Instagram. I like to see what my restaurants are posting as well as my personal account.

After that I look at my daily schedule. It’s usually something different to do every day. Things are always changing in the F&B industry.

After I get out of bed, I take a shower and then wear whatever I feel like wearing in the morning. I love fashion so I experiment with many outfits. I don’t have strict rules about my clothes so I wear what I love and what makes me comfortable.

My breakfast usually consists of avocado and eggs. A healthy and filling start to my day.

Then it’s time for me to head to work.