What does your morning look like? Maybe it’s a whirlwind of showers, outfit changes, and lunchboxes as you get yourself and your little ones prepared for the day. Perhaps you start off on a soothing note — meditation, yoga, and tea. Or are you churning through your to-do list from the get-go, answering emails while you brush your teeth?
We asked five successful women how they start their day and set things in motion. And while there’s no “right” way, we did notice some commonalities. Namely, don’t skip breakfast and do at least one thing that makes you happy.
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Shama Hyder, CEO and Founder of Zen Media
Digital marketing maven Shama Hyder got hooked on technology as a teen. Her family emigrated from India to the U.S. when she was 9 and settled in Dallas, which she’s called home ever since.
At 23, she launched the Marketing Zen Group, a Web marketing and digital PR firm (now called Zen Media).
Much of the organization’s success is due directly to Hyder’s savvy. She was named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine, “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Fast Company, and one of Forbes’ and Inc.’s “30 Under 30.” She was also honored at both the White House and the United Nations for helming one of the top 100 U.S. companies run by a young entrepreneur. Her book, “The Zen of Social Media Marketing,” was a best seller.
Although it’s hard for her to stick to a set morning routine, since she’s rarely at home, Hyder maximizes her productivity during every waking hour. “I am constantly on the go — meeting clients, traveling internationally for speaking or media engagements — so every day looks a little different,” she says. “I live out of a suitcase.” When the jet-setter is in Dallas, here’s how her a.m. unfolds.
- 7:30: Wake up, immediately check email, and respond to any urgent issues that need addressing.
- 8: Get dressed. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a morning person, so I shower at night to make things easier.
- 8:30: Eat breakfast — scrambled eggs, toast, and tea. I never miss breakfast because, between meetings and shooting in the studio, I often end up skipping lunch entirely.
- 8:45: Drive to work.
- 9: Team meeting with my employees where we touch base and brainstorm strategies. The digital ecosystem moves so fast that our first question is always, “What changed while we were sleeping and how can we best utilize it for our clients?”
- 9:30: Have a cup of tea and create my list of priorities for the day.
Leesa Evans, Costume Designer and Celebrity Stylist
In Leesa Evans’ case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Her interest in couture was inspired by her successful mother (and mentor) — a fashion designer and manufacturer with a series of retail stores. While attending Parsons The New School for Design, she landed a brief stint working with a costume designer and fell in love with the practice.
Since then, Evans, has created costumes for more than two dozen movies — from “Bridesmaids,” for which she was nominated for a Costume Designer Guild Award for Excellence in Contemporary Film, to “22 Jump Street” to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” She’s also a personal stylist who has worked with stars like Claire Danes and Maya Rudolph.
Whether she’s working on set or assisting private clients, L.A.-based Evans’ life is beyond rushed, so she makes a point to prioritize tranquility in the mornings. “Since I usually work a minimum of 12 to 14 hours a day, in order to keep my stamina up it’s important that I start off with the greatest amount of calmness possible,” she says. “That way, I’m heading into the rest of my day with a relaxed and mindful tone.”
Here’s how she kicks things off at her Los Angeles home, along with her screenwriter husband and their Chihuahua, Matilda.
- 7: Wake up and meditate before I even get out of bed.
- 7:30: Take a bath. Even though it takes more time than showering, it keeps me centered.
- 7:45: Get dressed. As a costume designer, there is an expectation that I should always look put-together. But I’ve honed a “work uniform,” so I can get ready really fast. I always wear a dress and sandals in the summer, and a silk blouse with a blazer, jeans, and boots in the winter. My color palette is camel, beige, black, navy, gray, and chocolate brown, so everything goes together.
- 8: Have a cup of excellent coffee that my husband makes for me, and drink a green smoothie. The two of us talk about the day ahead, and I check my email for the first time. (I turn off my phone in the evening and don’t turn it back on until after my bath.)
- 8:30: Drive to work.
- 9: Morning meeting with my assistants to figure out a plan for the day.
- 9:15: Dive into work — which could mean going to the fabric store, laying out alterations for a private client, pulling reference material for a meeting, or heading to the shops to be there right when they open at 10.
Reem Rahim, Chief Brand Officer and Co-Founder of Numi Organic Teas
Reem Rahim had a roundabout path to becoming America’s tea queen. She was born in Baghdad in 1966, and moved to Ohio with her family at age 5, when her father received a residency at the Cleveland Clinic. After receiving a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering from Case Western, she studied art at the Museum School in Boston and Lorenzo di Medici Institute in Florence, then earned her MFA from John F. Kennedy University.
In 1999, while earning her art degree and working as a substitute teacher, Rahim went on a life-changing family trip to the Grand Canyon. There, she and her brother discussed importing a dry lime tea they used to drink in Iraq as children, and from that conversation emerged the idea of starting their own organic tea company. Rahim worked through her fears about taking such a big risk, and, later that year, Numi Organic Teas was born.
Since its launch, Numi has received tremendous recognition, as one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing companies, one of Greatist.com’s healthiest companies to work for in America, and the Specialty Food Association’s Leadership Award Winner for Citizenship, to name just a few. Rahim also participated in the White House Forum on Business Innovation.
She most recently has lived and worked on a 2-acre farm in Petaluma, California, with her husband, stepson, dog, two goats, six chickens, six ducks, and a rabbit. Despite being one of the country’s leading foodie entrepreneurs, her mornings are decidedly low-key.
- 6:30: Awakened either by our puppy whining to go out or my stepson crawling into bed and hugging me good morning. We talk about how we slept and the dreams we had, and sometimes he brings a book with him that he wants me to read.
- 7: Get him ready — breakfast, dress, prepare his snack, and help him with homework.
- 7:30: While my husband takes our son to school, I feed and play with the puppy, then prepare breakfast for the two of us. I make coffee (not tea!) and our farm-fresh eggs.
- 8: Eat breakfast with my husband, a freelance graphic designer who works on some projects for Numi. We chat about what we need to do that day — deliverables, timelines, and ideas. He helps me with sketches of things I’m working on and I help him on the administrative side.
- 9: In front of my laptop at my desk. I have a small journal where I keep track of my various projects, so I go through it and list things I want to accomplish on a sticky note, along with how much time it should take me to do each task. This prevents me from feeling overwhelmed, because I can scratch off the items as I go. Then I start checking email.
- 10: Make my first cup of tea.
Vicki Hoefle, Author, Professional Speaker, and Parenting Expert
She may be a mother of five, but keeping her ducklings in a row certainly didn’t hinder Vicki Hoefle from soaring in her career. That said, it did take her some time to find her footing. She was born in Southern California, moved to Seattle at age 10, and after high school spent a decade traveling the world, trying to tune in to her passion, before eventually landing a corporate job back in Seattle. Shortly thereafter, she got married, had a baby, and became a stay-at-home mother.
In need of extra income, Hoefle started watching a handful of other children along with her own. Her common-sense parenting philosophy — that if you invite children from a very young age to be contributing members of the family and give them positive encouragement, you’ll have a better chance of raising emotionally healthy, competent, respectful adults — struck a chord. Her in-home daycare soon ballooned into a full-time center with a complete staff and dozens of kids, ranging from infants to second graders.
In 1995, Hoefle and her family decided to escape the hectic city swirl and moved to an organic farm in rural Vermont. There, she got remarried to a man with two kids of his own. Together, they had five children within five years of age, which didn’t slow her down a bit. In between parenting classes, private parenting coaching sessions, and speaking gigs, Hoefle wrote four books and launched her award-winning Parenting on Track program.
So what’s her secret to staying sane amid the hustle and bustle? Hoefle designs her mornings to be in sync with her natural rhythms. “I work according to how I feel, instead of forcing myself to carry out a specific agenda each day,” she says. “I find this approach helps me get a lot done in a short period of time, while also stimulating my creativity.” Thanks to her go-with-the-flow style, she’s able to cruise through even the most frenetic days with a sense of serenity.
- 6: Wake up and write in my journal or read something spiritual, like Deepak Chopra. I set my intention for the day, and then I meditate. My kids are in college now, but I started my day this way even when they were all in the house.
- 7: Have a cup of tea and a light breakfast or juice.
- 7:30: Listen to a radio station on Pandora that captures my mood, because I find that helps me navigate my day.
- 9:30: Call my business partner and run through the schedule for the rest of the day — appointments, classes, interviews, and projects due.
Vermén Verallo-Rowell, MD, Dermatologist and Founder of VMV Hypoallergenics
Some people list mountain biking or travel as their passions; others love cooking or yoga. But Philippines-born Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell gets excited about more, well, unusual things: skin allergies; the effects of sun, indoor lights, and lasers on the skin; and conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and rosacea. A graduate of the University of the Philippines medical school who trained at the Cleveland Clinic and Wayne State University in Detroit, she finds skin endlessly fascinating.
Verallo-Rowell has published more than 150 articles in medical journals, written two books, and been recognized by the International League of Dermatological Societies, the American Dermatological Association, and the Philippine Dermatological Society. In the 1970s, she concocted a product in her private clinic to help her husband’s adult acne, which he’d struggled with for years. Within weeks of using the product, his skin cleared up. He encouraged her to market it, and with his help (he was a corporate business exec), she founded the skin care company VMV Hypoallergenics in 1979.
Today, Verallo-Rowell continues to have a thriving private practice and conduct extensive research. She lives on the beach in Kennebunkport, Maine, with her oldest daughter, son-in-law, and their two grandchildren (a five-year-old boy and nine-year-old girl), who call her Lola, the Filipino name for grandmother. “Habit and focus are what I live by and continue to always improve on,” says Verallo-Rowell, espousing a philosophy that her streamlined a.m. routine reflects.
Dr. Verallo-Rowell’s Morning
- 5: Wake up. Say a prayer of thanks for the night and the start of a new day.
- 5:30: Go to the gym, which is just minutes away from my house, where I do cardio and weight training.
- 7: Eat breakfast with my grandchildren — either yogurt and fruit or two very thin slices of wheat bread packed on the inside with seeds, nuts, and unsalted organic peanut butter.
- 7:30: Putter around. I read the news or a journal and prepare for my day. I might finish a presentation or make a work call, or talk with friends.
- 9:30: Leave for work.
- 10: Arrive at the hospital or clinic.
This piece originally appeared on DailyWorth on April 2, 2015.