Five Habits Of Successful (And Famous) Men
Illustration by Mr David Doran
It scarcely seems possible, but rumours of President Barack Obama’s habit of eating just seven salted almonds as a late-night snack have been greatly exaggerated. The apocryphal anecdote was fed to a credulous New York Times reporter by FLOTUS as a jokey illustration of POTUS’ dietary discipline, and was swallowed hook, line and sinker. Cue “Nutgate” gags.
The commander-in-chief is not without his set behaviours, however: chiefly, wearing only navy or grey suits. “I’m trying to pare down decisions,” he famously told Vanity Fair. “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many decisions to make.” The one time he deviated from this policy by wearing an ill-advised beige two-piece for a press briefing on Syria, everybody was too busy tweeting puns such as “Yes we tan” and “the audacity of taupe” to pay any attention.
So-called “decision fatigue” is a very real and deleterious phenomenon. And because wearing exclusively navy and grey is not something MR PORTER can necessarily endorse, we’ve collated five other habits of highly effective people. That’s five, not seven, which would just be weird – and the title of a bestseller by Mr Stephen R Covey.
Mr Warren Buffett
To make more informed decisions, the canny US business magnate and investor has always devoured information: between 600 and 1,000 pages of a book a day early in his career, and 500 a day thereafter, a task that consumes about 80 per cent of his day. “That’s how knowledge works,” he says. “It builds up, like compound interest.” Mr Bill Gates averages a book a week, and Mark Zuckerberg encouraged us to join him in reading one every fortnight in his online book club A Year of Books in 2015; asked how he builds rockets, Mr Elon Musk replied, “I read books.” It’s not rocket science: eschew Mail Online in favour of educational and self-improvement tomes – or biographies of successful people.
Mr Tom Ford
Like many high achievers, the designer rises early – at 4.30am. Unusually, he then makes an iced espresso and gets into a hot bath for up to half an hour. (Beethoven was also a big bather). Many high achievers clear their minds for the day ahead, whether it’s by walking, running or actually meditating, perhaps using an app such as Headspace. Showers often precipitate good ideas, as the distraction enables your subconscious to creatively problem-solve; think how many more you might have during a languorous soak.
Mr Jonathan Franzen
The author of Great American Novels such as The Corrections and Freedom needs to be able to concentrate for extended periods in order to produce his 500-page doorstops. For that reason, he’s been known to write while wearing earplugs, earmuffs and even a blindfold. “You can always find the ‘home’ keys on your computer,” he said. “They have little raised bumps.” If you’ve tried turning off your email notifications and putting your phone on aeroplane mode to no avail, then it’s worth considering. Provided you can touch-type.
Mr Tim Ferriss
The writer of The 4-Hour Workweek/Body/Chef is the doyen of productivity hacking – his iTunes-topping podcast deconstructs the routines of “world-class performers”. Mr Ferriss himself journals for a total of five minutes daily – not in the Bridget Jones’s Diary sense, but rather jotting down his targets in the morning, and a couple of things he’s grateful for at night. (He uses something called The Five Minute Journal designed precisely for this purpose.) It’s highly effective for getting specific tasks done and feeling positive about life in general.
Mr Jack Dorsey
This is one way that the tech entrepreneur runs two companies – Twitter and Square – simultaneously. Monday is management; Tuesday, product; Wednesday, marketing, communication and growth; Thursday, developers and partnerships; Friday, company, culture and recruiting; Saturday, hiking; Sunday: reflection, feedback, strategy and getting ready for the week ahead. This helps him prioritise in the maelstrom. Set days for all your meetings (or to ban them), or to catch up on emails or admin, to hit your #goals.