Surprising things the world’s most successful people do at work
Unorthodox workplace habits
Anything but conventional, the world's most dynamic people like to go against the grain and adopt their very own idiosyncratic workplace habits. From starting meetings in complete silence to brainstorming in a 24-carat gold room, we reveal the surprising things the planet's most successful people do at work.
Jeff Bezos starts meetings in complete silence
The Amazon boss expects senior execs to formulate six-page memos before meetings, and requires attendees to read these memos in complete silence during the first half hour. Bezos also adheres to the two-pizza rule and never organises meetings where two pizzas can't feed the entire group, in order to keep them small and intimate.
Mark Cuban keeps meetings to a bare minimum
Jeff Bezos prefers small-scale meetings, but billionaire entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban can't stand them at all and considers the vast majority of meetings a waste of his precious time – unless he's closing a deal. Cuban sums up his philosophy succinctly: “No meetings unless I'm picking up a check.”
Jack Dorsey themes his days
The Twitter co-founder and CEO of Square works ridiculously long hours but manages his time super-effectively by theming his days. Monday is Dorsey's management day for instance, while Tuesday is devoted to product development.
Warren Buffett reads and thinks
Legendary investor Warren Buffett spends 80% of his working day either in deep thought or reading voraciously. The Berkshire Hathaway boss once said: “I insist on a lot of time being spent... to just sit and think. This is very uncommon in American business. I read and think, so I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business.”
Oprah Winfrey practises transcendental meditation
The Queen of All Media and Harpo CEO is a strong believer in the power of transcendental meditation (TM). Winfrey sets aside at least 20 minutes of her working day to engage in the practice, and encourages her employees to do the same. Other famous bosses who practise TM include Rupert Murdoch, Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz and salesforce.com's Marc Benioff.
Anna Wintour pretends to know what she's talking about when she has no idea
Nicknamed 'Nuclear Wintour' on account of her icy demeanour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue is renowned for her steely decisiveness and will make a decision and wing it, even when she has no clue what she's talking about. “Even if I’m completely unsure,” she once said, "I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about and make a decision.”
Yoshiro Nakamatsu brainstorms in a 24-carat gold room
The inventor of the floppy disk, Yoshiro Nakamatsu retreats to his special 'calm room' to come up with ideas, which is clad in 24-carat gold tiles that block out TV and radio waves. The eccentric Japanese inventor also likes to brainstorm underwater and in the confines of his personal elevator, which he calls the 'vertical moving room'.
Mark Zuckerberg sets himself a new challenge every year
Always eager to challenge himself in and out of the workplace, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg sets himself a new task every year and embraces it with gusto. Over the past few years, the social media boss has sworn to learn Chinese, wear a tie to work every day, read a new book every fortnight and visit every state in America.
Michael Kors appears to wear the same clothes to work every day
Many top bosses choose to simplify their work day by opting for a 'uniform'. Fashion designer Michael Kors, for instance, likes to sport the same style of black crewneck sweater every day. Other successful people who appear to wear the same clothes to work every day include Mark Zuckerberg, Segway inventor Dean Kamen, Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld and director/producer Christopher Nolan.
Anna Akbari eats the same foods every day
The founder of sociologyofstyle.com, Anna Akbari keeps things simple by eating the exact same breakfast and lunch every day, which helps her free up time for more important decision-making. The late Steve Jobs had a similar approach and would often eat the same foods for weeks on end. At one time, the Apple CEO's skin even turned orange from eating too many carrots.
Mark Parker doodles
Mark Parker, the CEO of Nike, has a little trick to ensure he's using both sides of his brain during brainstorming sessions, meetings and so on. The sportswear boss uses a notebook in which he devotes pages on the left-hand side to formal business note-taking and the right-hand pages to sketch whimsical creative doodles.
Aaron Sorkin acts out his scripts in front of a mirror
One of the most successful screenwriters on the planet, the writer behind The West Wing and The Newsroom likes to act out his scripts in front of a mirror. Sorkin's writing sessions are famously animated and the seasoned screenwriter even managed to break his nose on one occasion during a particularly lively session.
Arianna Huffington gets eight hours of sleep a night
The former Huffington Post editor-in-chief and current CEO of Thrive Global always ensures she gets at least eight hours sleep a night, a luxury for a senior exec. In 2007, Huffington collapsed from over-work and exhaustion, and has since vowed to get as much shut-eye as possible. She encourages her staff to slumber too, by including nap rooms in her offices and offering employees freebie relaxation classes.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone cultivate panic in the office
The creators of South Park go out of their way to encourage panic in their office and like to do everything last minute, often meeting deadlines minutes before they are due. Parker and Stone believe this unconventional approach actually helps them get their work done quicker and more efficiently.
Sameer Dholakia puts his employees first
Flipping the conventional hierarchy on its head, SendGrid CEO Sameer Dholakia is an advocate of 'servant leadership'. Coined by business guru Robert K. Greenleaf, servant leadership is all about sharing power, being humble and putting the needs of others first. No wonder Dholakia is one of the tech world's most admired bosses with a 98% approval rating on Glassdoor.
Shigeru Miyamoto likes to guess the length of objects
One of the more bizarre workplace habits in our round-up, Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's co-representative director and the creator of iconic video games and franchises from Donkey Kong and Mario to The Legend of Zelda, spends an inordinate amount of time guessing the length of objects and carries a tape measure around at all times to check his accuracy.
Dan Brown comes up with ideas upside down
Bestselling author Dan Brown has a unique way of coming up with ideas when he's working on his novels. The Da Vinci Code writer hangs upside down. Brown is a big fan of inversion therapy and believes he comes up with his best story ideas while hanging precariously on his trusty inversion table.
Elon Musk 'nano manages'
The Tesla CEO freely calls himself a 'nano-manager', meaning he is far more hands-on and involved than the average company boss. "I have OCD on product-related issues," he told the Wall Street Journal. "I never see what's right," he said. "It's not a recipe for happiness."
Richard Branson paces around to generate ideas
Although many successful CEOs will mull over ideas while sitting comfortably at their desks, Virgin boss Richard Branson likes to walk around to generate his best ideas. Branson's way of working is actually backed up by science. A study conducted by Stanford University researchers in 2014 found that people's creative output increased by 60% when they were walking.