Successful people know they are what they read.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, for example, spends 80% of his day reading.
So what is the first source that highly influential people check when they wake up? We surveyed leaders across industries to find out more about their morning reading habits.
Alison Griswold and Max Nisen contributed to an earlier version of this article.
Warren Buffett starts his days with an assortment of national and local news.
The billionaire investor tells CNBC he reads the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Times, USA Today, the Omaha World-Herald, and the American Banker in the mornings. That’s a hefty list to get through.
Barack Obama reads the national papers, a blog or two, and some magazines.
The President of the United States told Rolling Stone he begins his day with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He’s a devoted reader of the Times’ columnists, and also likes Andrew Sullivan, the New Yorker, and The Atlantic.
Bill Gates reads the national papers and gets a daily news digest.
The Microsoft cofounder gets a daily news digest with a wide array of topics, and he gets alerts for stories on Berkshire Hathaway, where he sits on the board of directors. Gates also reads the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Economist cover-to-cover, according to an interview with Fox Business.
Jonah Peretti reads the business or sports section of the New York Times on his morning commute.
The Buzzfeed founder and CEO wakes up around 8:30 a.m. and heads into the office with the sports or business section of the New York Times, he tells The Wire. He also takes New York magazine. (Subscriptions to the New Yorker and Economist fell by the wayside after he had twins.)
Still, like many younger leaders, the principle way he discovers information is through Twitter and Facebook.
Cheryl Bachelder uses the mornings to read and write about leadership.
The CEO of fast-food chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen says “reading and quiet time to reflect are the most important part of my morning routine.” For example, one of her recent morning reads was the book “Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army” by Robert A. Watson and Ben Brown. Bachelder also says that the morning is her favorite time for writing on her blog, Serving Performs.
Jeffrey Immelt reads his papers in a very particular fashion.
“I typically read the Wall Street Journal, from the center section out,” the General Electric CEO told Fast Company. “Then I’ll go to the Financial Times and scan the FTIndex and the second section. I’ll read the New York Times business page and throw the rest away. I look at USA Today, the sports section first, business page second, and life third. I’ll turn to Page Six of the New York Post and then a little bit on business.”
Howard Schultz has kept his morning-reading routine intact for 25 years.
In 2006, the Starbucks CEO told CNNMoney that he gets up between 5 and 5:30 a.m., makes coffee, and then picks up three newspapers: the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. The habit must work, because he’s stuck with it for more than two decades.
Scott Adams reads business and political news to prime his brain for creativity.
The creator of syndicated comic “Dilbert” says he wakes up at 5 a.m., eats a protein bar, and reads Business Insider for inspiration.
“I prime my creative engine with external news, but I avoid the dreary and hyper-political stuff, because it would be a downer,” Adams says. “I am looking for patterns in life, not jokes. For example, a story about war in the Middle East might give me a joke idea about meeting etiquette.”
Kat Cole logs into social media first thing.
Cole, the group president of FOCUS Brands, the parent company of brands like Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, and Cinnabon, wakes up every morning at 5 a.m. and checks her calendar, all of her major social media platforms, news sites, blogs, emails, and any other messages that may have come in overnight.
“I’m looking for relevant news, urgent business and team needs, updates from startups I invest in, or anything awesome to get my brain going and know what’s going on in the world,” she says.
Charlie Munger is devoted to the Economist.
When Fox Business asked the Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman and right-hand man to Warren Buffett what he likes to read in the morning, Munger kept it simple. “The Economist,” he said.
Kevin O’Leary catches up on business news during his morning workout.
The “Shark Tank” investor says he wakes up every morning at 5:45 a.m., checks the Asian and European bond markets, and watches business television for 45 minutes while he works out. He then spends another hour from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m reading the latest business news.
“Knowledge is power,” O’Leary says, “and it’s important to have a 360-degree view of the financial climate all over the world.”
Gary Vaynerchuk devotes most of his attention to Twitter.
“I start my day by consuming quite a lot of information,” the entrepreneur and social-media guru says. He reads TechMeme, the email newsletter MediaREDEF, Business Insider, ESPN, and Nuzzel, an aggregator of headlines and links that his network is sharing. Next he heads to Twitter, where he spends “a significant amount of my morning responding to people and starting conversations.” Lastly, he checks Instagram to see what his friends are up to.
Fran Tarkenton reads local and national papers cover-to-cover.
The NFL Hall-of-Famer and entrepreneur has had the same morning-reading routine for decades. “First, I read the Atlanta Journal Constitution to get my local news,” he says. “Next, I go to the New York Times, which skews liberal, and then I read the Wall Street Journal, which is more conservative. I’ll read every part — domestic, foreign, business, sports, even the parts that might bore me a little — because feeding my brain is an absolutely essential part of my day.”