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RISE AND GRIND

How Tim Cook spends the first two hours of his workday

Tim Cook with both hands in the air in a victorious manner.
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Another milestone for Apple CEO Tim Cook.
By Simone Stolzoff
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Morning routines are hot.

The trend of sharing how the world’s most successful people spend their mornings has swept across the internet, as eager readers hope to glean insight into how they, too, can seize the day. Actor Mark Wahlberg wakes up at 2:30 am to pray. Comedian Melissa McCarthy wakes up at 4:30 am to watch reruns on TV. And Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at “a little before 4 am” to… read user feedback on Apple products.

It might be difficult for the CEO of a (nearlytrillion-dollar company to find time throughout the day to hear directly from his customers, but doing so at the crack of dawn seems a bit extreme. What humanizes the ritual is what he does afterward.

“I like to take the first hour and go through user comments and things like this that sort of focus on the external people that are so important to us,” Cook shared in a recent interview with Axios. “And then I go to the gym and work out for an hour because it keeps my stress at bay.”

It’s not exactly “hustle porn,” Reddit and Initialized Capital co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s brilliant term for the examples of leaders—especially in the tech industry—who never seem to stop pushing themselves. “This idea that unless you are suffering, grinding, working every hour of every day, you’re not working hard enough … this is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in tech right now,” Ohanian said at Web Summit, one of Europe’s largest tech conferences, last week.

Reading customer comments in the pre-dawn hours, followed by some stress-relieving exercise, isn’t the worst example to be setting for Apple’s employees. But it isn’t the best, either. Though morning rituals can help workers start the day on the right footing, it’s sleep that’s the ultimate productivity hack.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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