For all the talk about the carefree lives of entrepreneurs, they tend to be a pretty disciplined bunch. After all, when you're your own boss, not having a set routine can quickly lead to chaos.
A few months ago, we asked our Board of Directors a simple, personal question -- "What's the first thing you do every day?" From coffee with their spouses to exercising to 100-mile motorcycle rides, their responses were very telling and offered a window into their personalities and how they approach their lives as business leaders. As it turns out, they all have some kind of regular routine, even if the substance of their individual routines varies greatly. Could the morning habits of these very successful entrepreneurs help others reach their own success, we wondered?
The answer, it seems, is yes. This particular feature struck a chord with you, our readers -- generating dozens and dozens of comments from those eager to weigh in and share their own morning routines.
So, with that in mind, we've decided to revisit the topic, from a slightly different perspective. Now that we know how these busy CEOs get fired up for their busy days, we asked them about the last things they do every day -- how they unwind, relax and prepare for another day in the trenches. As before, we think their answers will intrigue you, and maybe make you laugh. (We're looking at you, Sir Richard!)
Sir Richard BransonFounder and President, Virgin Group
"I think I drag my wife to bed, still! I can't think of anything better to do at the end of the day."
President, Dyrdek Enterprises
"I watch the History Channel. That is an actual fact. I really feel like nothing decompresses me more than watching random television. No matter what, I go to bed each night watching something obscure, from catacombs in France -- just the most random shit -- and fall asleep to it every night. I try to go to bed without thinking of any of the madness that I'm involved in."
Co-Founder And Chief Brand Architect, Method
"I have two traditions that I typically end my day with and they both involve the iPad. First, I'll check my calendar and to-do list to help put the next day in perspective and hopefully make it a little easier to sleep. I then read The Wall Street Journal on the iPad, which allows me to finally read in the dark without waking up my wife. It reminds me of reading under the covers with a flashlight as a kid, but with a really slick interface instead of a comic book."
Jennifer HillStartup Advisory And Venture Lawyer, Gunderson Dettmer LLP
"Take two minutes to stretch, align my posture and think of the three things that I am grateful for and proud of today. (Yes, I really do this.) It sends me off to sleep peacefully and with positive thoughts."
Bob ParsonsFounder And CEO, The Go Daddy Group
"Actually, I do two things. I give my wife a hug and kiss goodnight, and tell her how much I love her. Then, just before I close my eyes, I think about how I can improve my golf swing."
Warren BrownFounder, CakeLove and Love Cafe
"Workday? Check my mobile for any bomb-like e-mails and texts. I don't like to reply to heavy stuff too late in the day. On workdays, I listen to Marketplace on the radio. Weekends are for family if I'm at home and not at the bakery -- only big problems get me moving."
Gary WhitehillFounder, The Relentless Foundation And New York Entrepreneur Week
"Stream through the days tweets for inspiring stories and quotes to re-tweet, as well as acknowledge the followers who've re-tweeted the content I've streamed throughout the day."
Julie JumonvilleCo-Founder And Chief Innovation Officer, UpSpring Baby
"I make a task list of the things that need to carry over and be accomplished the following day. By making this list, I can go home, cook dinner, put the electronic gadgets down and enjoy my family."
Steve StraussColumnist And Author Of The Small Business Bible
"The last work thing I do is check on the last few e-mails. The last thing I do is tell my girls goodnight with an old Yiddish saying that my mom used to say to us -- 'Zagezent, Shlufgazent, Stayfgazent.' Roughly translated, it means, 'Sleep well, dream well, be well.'"
Founder And CEO, Nfinity
"The last thing I do is make a list of the top six things I am going to get done tomorrow (because five is too few and I will never get to eight), then I set down and pray to God. I thank Him for the wonderful life I have and for wisdom and courage (never patience). Wisdom to know what to do tomorrow and the courage to do it. Then I kiss my wife goodnight and thank her for being so fantastic. And then it's lights out."
Lawrence GelburdLecturer, The Wharton School
"Put out my exercise clothes for the morning."
Phil TownInvestor And Author Of Rule #1 And Payback Time
"I read Melissa to sleep. Lately, it's been my umpteenth time through 'Atlas Shrugged.' She makes it through about one page a night before my monotone knocks her out cold. It's a gift."
Tom SzakyFounder, TerraCycle
"Try to put everything into perspective, as that never seems to happen during the day."
Rob AdamsDirector, Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas
"Try to unwind -- read, watch a DVRed TV show, do something artistic -- something to decompress from the day."
Clint GreenleafFounder And CEO, Greenleaf Book Group
"It's all about family time. I have to, at some point, put work aside and focus on my wife and daughters."
The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 12/13/10.