Successful Morning Practices

Book Review: What the most successful people do before breakfast

Do books need to be two, three, four or five hundred pages long? Is there a prerequisite?

I know that the ‘thud factor’ gives credibility – lots of pages equates to lots of knowledge printed on lots of pages. However, I fear that a big book scares off potential readers. As I near my halfway mark of reading 52 books in 52 weeks, I’ve identified how to read quickly and how to create the time and space to read.

So, I was totally surprised to find that my choice of reading this week was completed in one night. A quick purchase on my Kindle based on the title was only 50 swipes. Complete with a few key lessons – enough to reflect on for the week.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People do before Breakfast presents her findings of what others do to make the most of their day.

My daughter Jennifer was perplexed with the cover of the book, a cup of coffee. She doesn’t like the smell of coffee and concerned that she’ll be unable to be successful! So, let's get beyond the cover and I’ll share what I learnt … very quickly!

Depending on what time you rise, and the time you have breakfast, there is a space to fill with activities which some say enables them to be successful.

We all have our own routines, rituals, quirky habits and a mindful of thoughts in the morning, so here’s your opportunity to TICK off if you’re aiding or hindering your successfulness:

·        Wake at 5am – or at a time which gives you an extra 60 to 90 minutes to use wisely

·        Reflect and or Pray on a daily basis

·        Prioritise items to tackle for the day

·        Avoid social media and especially email until you’ve completed a ‘chunk’ of real work

·        Journal your thoughts

·        Exercise - Run, walk, yoga or gym work

How many ticks do you have?

We all have 168 hours in our week and ‘successful’ people use a proportion of these hours a day to nurture their career, relationships and their self.

New research (prior to 2012) identified that self-discipline is in abundance after a good night’s sleep and depletes during the day. I think we’ve already worked that out – I know I can kick off with a healthy breakfast and then arrive at the evening snacking on potato chips while I cook dinner …. 12 hours later! We lapse as the day progresses and whilst some can squeeze in exercise after work or during their lunch break … the research tells us that morning is best; we are fresh and our internal motivation is in abundance to tackle tasks which the outside world isn’t demanding.

The best morning rituals are activities that don’t have to happen and certainly don’t have to happen at a specific hour. These are activities that require internal motivation. These are generally activities which have long term benefits.

So, if you had minimal ticks a few suggestions were offered to change:

·        Tracking your time – identify what you’re doing with your 168 hours a week

·        Picture your perfect morning – visualise what it would look like to be effective in the morning

·        Think through the logistics – what can you change around you to make it work

·        Build the habit – it’s like a muscle … keep practising

·        Tune up as necessary – keep correcting and get your early morning working

This is a seriously short book, however, it’s straight to the point and very implementable. I’ve already adopted the practice of ‘no social media’ in the morning until I’m having a coffee at 10.30am. (Let me tell you, when I do it, it's magic, however, it’s very difficult to change your habits!)

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!



Here I am, at my 21st book, reviewing its content using my leadership lens. To be honest, the lens fell off at times and I found myself shifting in my seat with the discomfort of truth.  Powerful questions made me stop and ponder, thinking about my current life, causing more discomfort.

My new discomfort is still being experienced as I am yet to complete the many exercises I commenced (they could take some time which I don’t have at the moment) which all appeared so very worthwhile. (I hope I get back to them.)

The Unlimited Self by Jonathan Heston was a free download onto my Kindle. I was dubious … as they say ‘you get what you pay for’ so I was pleasantly surprised that I was onto something great.

Jonathan has produced a useful ‘self-help’ book which I believe is a crucial read for those who are either looking for the next best thing in life or on the extreme end of the life continuum, experiencing doubt in their life and need support; in particular, guidance with a path or map to follow.

From a leadership perspective, The Unlimited Self offers a new communication style and language to help the leader understand how to help people who are in their comfort zone and need to be pushed to their edge – to feel some vulnerability or at least feel a need for change.

I highlighted these particular statements which I’ve reread a few times:

·        Accept the reality of your weakness – its feedback where you can grow.

·        Perceptions hold you back – from where you are and where you want to be

·        Limiting beliefs are stories our mind feeds us which limit who we are and where we want to go. They disempower instead of empowering us.

·        We need to love and respect ourselves or everything disintegrates. We are the only filter between the world and ourselves.

·        Authenticity is you being the best you that you can possibly be.

·        Work harder on who you are, more than what you do.

·        How we view others is often a mirror of how we view ourselves.

·        Vulnerability is one of the most difficult habits to practice and develop. But it’s also incredibly rewarding

Like many of the books I have been reading, it is crowded with quotes … here’s a powerful one which: 


To destroy our limiting beliefs, and uncover the inner greatness, Jonathon suggests we need to reprogram our future self by:

·        Practising forgiveness as it is fundamental to free your perspective – even if you forgive yourself first. Try writing a forgiveness letter (you don’t have to send it).

·        Talking to our self! Try talking to yourself in the mirror (without giggling), out loud with meaning. Make powerful statements about your identity.

·        Meditating to be comfortable with yourself – 15-30 minutes a day (Yikes – this is my discomfort)

·        Use a journal morning and evening – writing questions that you seek to be answered by your subconscious mind and using it to write what you appreciate in life (I’ve changed from gratitude to appreciation.)

·        Find a group of people who allow you to be your future self – who are also wanting to live on the edge.

Reading books like this one make you pause from your busy hectic life. They make you ask questions of yourself and hopefully you’ll make time to answer them truthfully. Powerfully simple questions such as “Am I happy?”

To be an effective authentic leader, I suggest you read this book as it’s a great little tool to help you to help your team of followers be authentic. You could read it together!

Note: I also felt a level of discomfort with the references to ‘God’ in the second half of the book. I found it evoked my cynicism (very unlike me) and I am yet to understand why. I almost stopped reading the book because of this, however, I soldiered on, thankfully.


I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!




I’m yet to fill out the ‘1-page plan’, however, I have already started implementing this book’s processes which promise to get new customers, potentially make more money and stand out from the crowd. Watch this space!

This book was a random purchase selection on Kindle ($4!) however you know that there are times when things are meant to happen. In particular, receiving pearls of wisdom which Allan shares throughout the book has already made great sense to me (refer to my last book review) as a business operator.

An important read for business operators.

An important read for business operators.

Its target reading client is anyone who owns a business – any size, any sector and it doesn’t matter what is sold.

I was still reading, The 1-Page Marketing Plan yesterday when I applied an ‘OMG, that’s such a great idea’ to some marketing of my own and fingers crossed it pays off. The lesson was: don’t discount (ever) just offer more value. This has been my key take-away from Allan’s book, and there are many many other lessons – so many that I highlighted half the book on my Kindle!

Here are my top 25 lessons:

¯  While no one can guarantee your success, having a plan dramatically increases your probability of success.

¯  Understanding the difference between strategy and tactics is absolutely key to marketing success.

¯  To be a successful small business marketer you need laser-like focus on a narrow target, sometimes called a niche. (This is so challenging for me.)

¯  When you know your niche consider what is the ONE thing they crave above all else?

¯  Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Why should I buy from you rather than from your nearest competitor? What positions you differently, so that prospects are forced to make an apples-to-oranges comparison.

¯  We live in a sound bite, we’re living in the MTV generation – craft your message so that it’s immediately understandable, impactful and important.

¯  Can you explain your product and unique benefit it offers in a single short sentence? E.g. Apple’s iPod – 1000 songs in your pocket

¯  What can you do in your business that’s remarkable? Your clarity around this will have a huge impact on the success of your business.

¯  Fear, especially the fear of loss is one of the most powerful emotional hot buttons you can push. (Talk to the Amygdala part of the brain. If you’re not familiar with this … that will be another book I read for us!)

¯  Make your business name understood – if you confuse them, you lose them. Choose clarity over cleverness.

¯  Exchange value, not products. Become a welcome guest when you communicate, don’t become a pest. (E.g. constant email activity with no value.)

¯  Stop selling and start educating, consulting and advising prospects about the benefits your products and services deliver.

¯  Customer Relationship Management system – got one? Must be more than a spreadsheet or filing system. (I’ve already starting looking into this system.)

¯  Your pricing strategy should be simple: Standard and premium – don’t confuse people.

¯  Close down your Sales Prevention Department – do you have this department?! Make it easy for people to buy from you. (One of my pet annoyances … a handwritten sign “Only cash sales”)

¯  Build a tribe of raving fans – sell people what they want and give them what they need – help customers all the way through to achieving results from what you’ve sold them.

¯  Seek out or become a Voice of Value – you need to have valuable ideas and these can be founds from Thought Leaders, Mentors, Coaches and successful peers.

¯  Products make you money, systems make you a fortune – this is taken from Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth (I must re-read this book.)

¯  Business systems start with documented procedures and processes that allow your business to run with-out you.

¯  Customers can be divided into four categories:

o   The Tribe – raving fans, supporters, and cheerleaders – they help you achieve growth

o   The Churners – they can’t afford you and you spend too much time trying to attract them which can turn ugly if they leave you when they realise they’ve made a mistake.

o   The Vampires – you can’t afford them, they consume all your resources and terrorize your team and suck the blood out of your business!

o   The Snow Leopard – whilst you make most of your money from them, they are rare and don’t create growth.

¯  A more formal metric is the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which is based on one question “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” (There are books and courses on managing the responses to this questions!)

¯  Fire customers who consume your time and don’t pay on time! In other words, ensure you have a strategy for your different types of customers. If you only have a limited supply you can be selective.

¯  Think of your business as a person – consider its attributes and describe its personality - create an avatar to bring it alive.

¯  A small business must focus on sales and then turn them into a tribe of raving fans which will enable you to establish your brand.

¯  Marketing is a process which needs attention daily to deliver massive value to your customers.

¯  Time is not money, value is money. Time is just one of the inputs it takes to deliver value to the market.

Leading my boutique consultancy practice, I found this read so worthwhile. With my one minute of notes, I feel more organised to get my marketing process into a daily system. Whilst I’ve shared my notes, I suggest you read this pleasurable commentary by a local Melbourne guy who’s written his book out of passion for marketing success.

Here's the 1-Page Marketing Plan

Allan also offers numerous tools on his website which is of course, his value add and encourages you to receive his newsletter to help you become a raving fan … that might well be me! (

I’m almost a quarter way through my reading challenge and I’ve gained so many insights in many areas of personal and professional development. If you’re looking to increase your performance, let me help you achieve your goals I have so many experiments for you to complete. Let’s connect.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!