Advice

10 Philly Entrepreneurs Share Details of Their Morning Routines

From prayer to sun salutations, here’s how they gear up for the day.

seb_ra | iStock

We’re not sure there’s a formula for the perfect morning routine, but experts do agree that having some semblance of order in the early hours can lead to good things. If you carve out time to plan things out, you just might be more productive. We talked to 10 Philadelphia entrepreneurs to find out how they spend the first few moments of their day. From prayer to sun salutations, here’s how they get things started:

Bob Moul | CEO, Cloudamize
I’m up every day at 4:30 a.m. on average, including weekends. The first thing I do is feed the dogs – they love routine too. Then I check email quickly to make sure the world didn’t fall apart overnight. Sometimes I text people just to impress them. Then I meditate for 20 minutes (I love the headspace app) and pray. I then workout. I alternate weight training and cardio every other day. Sometimes I take Friday mornings off as a treat. Then I have a protein shake and vitamins. And lastly, I shave, shower and am off on the 7:00 a.m. SEPTA to the city – ready to face the day!

Atisha Patel | Health Tech entrepreneur, NotiCare
My morning routine starts from building my focus the night before. With two startups, NotiCare and Teenpreneur Inc, things can get pretty hectic. I plan out my weekly schedule every Sunday and tweek my daily schedule the night before depending on gym goals, last-minute meetings, etc. This particular planner forces me to reflect on the positives from the week, which is amazing because there’s an art to celebrating the small wins, which over time accumulate to huge accomplishments. Lastly, I have to meditate in bed since turning my mind off is a task all on its own!

My morning routine goes something like this:

  • I typically wake up without an alarm around 5:00 a.m. and “snooze” by skimming through the 11 different news applications I have on my phone.
  • Get moving. Go to the gym or do a quick workout at home. I like to listen to hip hop/rap while doing my sun salutations. This really gets me energized for the day.
  • While showering and getting ready, I listen to a podcast or an audiobook. Currently, I am on Principles by Ray Dalio. It was a great pick for the start of the year.
  • I am shamefully bad at eating breakfast. I might make a protein fruit smoothie or pick up coffee on my way to the office but most of the time I go without it.
  • Time to get down to business! When I take a look at my to-do list, I highlight the one thing I dread doing for both NotiCare and Teenpreneur Inc and get that over with first.
  • Once I have that off my plate, I can focus on the smaller tasks of the day.

I think it’s important to understand there is no perfect morning routine. You have to do what works for you. If you are a night owl, your morning routine will probably look different and that’s okay!

Beth Blinebury | founder, Blinebury Design
I am definitely a big believer in eating breakfast, but that’s not very unique. I do try to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes reading something other than the news before I start digging into my Twitter feed and emails. I may read a long essay or a chapter of whatever book I’m working my way through. But really, everyone should eat a smart breakfast.

Ofo Ezeugwu | founder, Whose Your Landlord
My days can vary pretty greatly but on my more “routine days,” I wake up between 6:45 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. I pray over the day and say my self-proclaimed daily affirmation aloud. I then take a shower, throw my clothes on and head to the subway.

While on the subway, I read whatever my monthly book is, play some music on my Beats headset, and skim my emails. After I arrive in the city, I head up to our office, grab a cup of coffee, water, and usually cereal or oatmeal. At 10:00 a.m. we have our daily team scrum meeting before really deep diving into the day’s work.

Every morning it’s imperative I take a shower (as a kid, I was an evening showerer) and listen to some chill music. Usually it’s smooth hip-hop, jazz, funk, or just general feel-good music. It puts my mind in a solid place. I also must pray (I’ve done this forever) and say my daily affirmation out loud (I started doing this towards the end of last year). By thinking positively and by claiming success early, it sets my mental state for the day.

I use a CRM or email scheduler during the evenings to arrange for my emails to go out between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. in the morning to increase the chance that they are read.

Archie Filshill | founder, Aero Aggregates
I am very much a creature of habit. I wake up between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. and follow the exact same routine every morning. Floss, brush my teeth, shave, shower and get dressed for the day.
Once dressed, I must have my first cup of coffee and breakfast. I make sure I eat something whether I am hungry or not and usually some type of whole grain like oatmeal, Cheerios or Weetabix. I then check emails while eating breakfast and review top stories from BBC online. The BBC online provides a great overview of news from around the world. If I have time, I watch 10 minutes of Channel 10 news for top stories in the local news. By the time I am finished my routine, the rest of the family is awake, and I get to say goodbye to everyone before I head out for the day.

Jumoke K. Dada | founder, Tech Women Network
I’ve been working on breaking the habit of reaching for my cell phone first in the morning. Before the hustle and bustle of the day begins and I’m bombarded with messaging and news, I’ve come to truly appreciate early morning quiet and devotional time. My day starts at 5/ 5:30 a.m. with me reading my Bible and praying for wisdom, direction and more. By 6:00 a.m. if I’m not heading to the gym, I’m reviewing my daily goals in my Passion Planner or I’m responding to emails. By 7:30 a.m. I’m getting ready to look my best and slay the day. I’m a former night owl turned early bird and I must say that I love my regimen. The only thing that I’ve yet to master is preparing my clothes the night before. That’s still a work in progress. The change is recent and it wasn’t easy. Before I was someone who didn’t reach my stride until late morning and often times, I did my most creative work at night. However, I started being intentional about shutting down earlier and going to sleep earlier. Gradually, I began to shift to where I am today – getting more done in the morning.

Morgan Berman | founder, MilkCrate
Well, for one, I’m naturally caffeinated. I drink water instead of coffee and this wakes me up and gets me going. Next is getting myself together aesthetically – and every day is different. I check my calendar to see what level of spiffy the day requires (rare are my favorite overall days!). In the winter I try and wash my hair less because it’s healthier and frankly I hate blow drying it because it takes too long! I had tried buying dry shampoo but hated the waste of the aerosol container and breathing in the chemicals so I made my own with cornstarch, cocoa powder (the brown color masks the white cornstarch, plus I smell like a brownie all day) and some essential oils. I apply it with a kabuki brush which makes me feel like a mix between a desert and a painting. Good way to start the day. I also train in brazilian jiu jitsu three nights a week so I have to make sure I pack a clean gi (jiu jitsu uniform) for later in the day. Now of course when I’m fight training with my teammates they are distracted because I smell like a brownie!

Nelly Arnold | founder, Personal Space
Since taking my business full time my mornings are very different and all about centering myself. Here’s what I do:

  • Get up at 5:30 a.m. and make hot water with ginger and lemon and get back in bed. I work with overseas vendors in India and China so I want to get email responses in before the end of their day. I read and write emails and write my three” absolutely no matter what have to do these things today” to-do list in my planner.
  • Feed and take a long walk with my dog.
  • Choose my outfit for the day.
  • Head to the gym (Bellevue sporting club), workout, and head to the steam room. Steaming is must to make me feel relaxed, well-circulated and mentally ready.
  • Then breakfast and head off to start my day.

Rachel Benyola | founder, AnneLondon
I start my day with thinking about a mantra over a cup of tea. The mantra changes from time to time. Lately, it has been, “I have all of the time and space I need to accomplish everything I want” or “Let me see the beauty around me today.” Setting an intention versus going right into emails and work shifts my mindset to enjoy the successes and take the setbacks in stride with each day. We are our own worst enemies and our own worst critics – so if we take better care of our thoughts, we have more energy to devote to what matters most in our business. I also must have a protein shake every morning with my vitamins. It is easy to make and drink when I am on the run. Mornings need to be simple and repeatable so I can focus on preparing for meetings. I like to make as many things in my routine predictable to offset the unpredictability of building a successful business.

Rakia Reynolds | founder & CEO, Skai Blue Media
In addition to being very busy entrepreneur, managing teams and a business, I am also a wife and mother of three. Because of this, I try to use my time as efficiently as possible. My daily routine begins when I first open my eyes immediately with positive thoughts and gratitude for all the things I am thankful for. Afterwards, I spend my mornings with my family, making breakfast and lunch, and getting the kids ready for their day. This time that I get to spend with my children gives me a sound mind that is ready to take on the day. I also visualize my day ahead and run through my meetings or to-dos, and I envision how I will perform. Whether it’s on stage giving a talk, or in a boardroom running a meeting, I always envision and manifest success for myself and those around me. My morning routine also consists of reflecting on all the successes of the past and manifesting successes for the future. No two days are ever the same, but starting the day this way has given me the power to do all that I do each day.

Andrew Turco is a research assistant at Philadelphia magazine. Additional reporting by Fabiola Cineas.