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!



What do you collect?

I’ve met collectors of shoes, cars, houses and recipes! I simply or crazily collect questions.

Great questions can: transform a superficial conversation into an extraordinary relationship; unlock the real you … someone whom you thought you really knew and questions can elevate your happiness (think: Will you marry me?)

I glean questions at every opportunity. I record them, highlight them in a book, send myself recorded messages when I hear questions and their answers – quite alarming when I think of it!

So, it was very exciting to be handed a book which was filled with questions. That’s a Great Question, written or should I say, collated by Greg Bustin, provides on a platter, hundreds of tried and tested provacative questions, categorized into themed chapters – handy if you’re coaching others or as I found myself, using it as a self-help coaching book. Don’t be fooled thinking it’s a one hour read!

This book is your ideal, end of year practical exercise to prepare for 2017. As Greg suggests, take yourself away from your normal space; go hiking, block out a day to work through this book. Surprisingly, I am still reading this book today (Sunday) as I have found myself continually stopping in search on the answers.

In my business this week, we completed a mini-skills session with a client – exploring a couple of models to coach staff. I am always amazed how people come to realise how powerful a conversation becomes by using great questions to dig and discover.

Greg says that using questions effectively is like a dance. I agree. It’s not a checklist. It’s a conversation which you can exercise your lead but it’s about two people committed to working together. Whilst it might not look like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers on the dancefloor, it should feel like a performance (of achievement).

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - Courtesy of DHC Treasures

I couldn’t decide on a favourite question to share; so I’ve selected a few from a few of the thoughtfully categorised sections of the book. Use these on yourself and be surprised how time consuming it can be truthfully respond.


If our company did not exist, what would the world be missing?What gives me a sense of certainty?


What’s one principle I wished everyone practised?

Goal Setting

If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?


What am I kidding myself about?

How do I respond when I place my trust in someone and they let me down?


If a stranger walked in and asked any employee about our vision, mission and strategy, what would they hear?


Do I behave differently in the office than at home? If so, in what ways? If so, what causes my behaviour to differ from place to place?

Time Management

If I tracked my time in 30 minute increments for a month, what would I find? Is this how I should spend my time?

Talent + Teamwork

Who are five people I spend most of my time with? Are they helping me or holding me back?

What am I doing to help make this job the best job my people have ever had?

Customer + Prospects

What memorable experience are we creating with our customers?

Making Things Happen

Do we measure the things that are important to us?

Are we having fun? Am I having fun?


Whose job am I doing today? (I do like this question.)

Blue Sky

What would I do if I didn’t work?

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein


The book provides tips to help you coach others effectively, how to structure your questions, which words to never use and rules to abide by to establish a trusting relationship where private information is shared.

My greatest tip for you is to use the book on yourself first. Leadership works well when there is authentic self-awareness. Let this book be your gift to others by getting yourself ready for an awesome 2017. Alternatively, gift yourself a Coach for 2017 and get in contact with me to discover your best self.


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!

Do People Buy You?


As far back as we can remember, we have been focused on wanting people to ‘work’ with us, to do things with us and for us, to help us and to get on board with our ideas. I try every day to get my kids to do what I want them to do! And I’m still trying to get that approach right.

And as we look into the future, nothing appears to be changing. As adults, our ability to negotiate, communicate effectively, read peoples’ minds and their body language continues to be a challenge and a goal in our lives. God help me as my kids get older!

Maslow’s Theory indicates that our desire for safety which includes working and seeking people to work with us, is a fundamental motivation in our life; and we are yet to conquer dealing with humans; unpredictable at times, even though we know these basic motivations are in every human being.

Simon Dowling, a reformed Lawyer has produced a piece of work, this week’s book, to guide people to influence others to get on board with their ideas, AND it’s not restricted for your time in the rat race. It’s related to working with our kids, people in the community (think community committees) and yes, those who help us make money.

Complete with maps, models, methods and a good choice of historical quotes, you’re in for a good dose of planning for your next trip to get people to buy into your ideas.

As Simon suggests, use this book as your personal GPS to help you decide the route you want to take … it’s so easy to drift off track and we all need some guidance. As Alert Einstein said: “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”

A substantial component of the book gets you ready – too often we launch into pitching our ideas without preparing ourselves and practicing how to persuade others. Whilst we read about organisations who proclaim to listen to all ideas … it may not be that easy.

So, I have 20 iridescent tabs reminding me of the pockets of gold found on these pages … let me share a few ounces!

Let’s start with:

Conviction Up – how intense is your conviction? By looking at you can we see how passionate you are about your idea and how committed you are … are you infectious? But it’s more than that – you need to be totally sold on your own idea.

Courier or Catalyst – confession time – are you delivering the message of change or are you instrumental in the outcome which the change promises? Be the Catalyst.

Nemawashi – (I like anyone who uses some Japanese culture to express a concept!) The informal gentle practice of taking the time to prepare the groundwork for an initiative by talking to the relevant people, listening to their input, feedback and support.

Wide Angled Lens – think wide while acting narrow (Bloody brilliant metaphor.) Keep an eye on the broader social landscape while you have your one-on-one conversations.

Social Map – create a map of the people relevant to turning your idea into a reality; tag them, label them, rate their influence and highlight your allies. The result is a page of circles and arrows connecting people. Then create your plan of attack … move it from paper to action.

Thin Slicing – Psychologists version of ‘judging a book by its cover’ – we do this every day and every hour. More Japanese wisdom – A reputation of a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single hour. People will buy you before your idea. Think how you want people to judge you and importantly feel about you – project your authentic self.

Be careful what you don’t say – this could be your body language which isn’t in sync with your intent. Grab a mate, an ally or a coach to observe you and ask them to identify what’s working for you and against you.

Pomodoro Technique – (this is a little gem) a time management technique which requires you to work for a 25 minute burst of energy with a five minute break in between the next 25 minutes.

3M Model – The second half of the book explores how you create the mood and give reason to people to say “yes” followed by assigning accountability and action . The Mood, Mind and Movement Model helps you create your map to navigate your territory to get people to buy into your ideas.

I believe you could treat this book as a ‘go to guide’, to help you get to more “yeses”. Rather than treat your business approaches and proposals as a numbers game, go for the quality and well planned, researched and rehearsed approach; practise the practice of getting people to buy into your ideas.

Check out Simon Dowling, he looks like a guy who can help you grow your business. Likewise, get in contact with me if you’re looking for a specialist in leadership development, in particular if you want to increase your performance in developing successful leadership behaviours.

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!