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7 weird habits of highly successful people

Hack Reactor

goal notebook with a cup of coffee

By Brittany Anas for Hack Reactor

Many habits of highly successful people fall into the “predictable” category. They are said to wake up before the sun and commit to rigorous workout schedules. If we’ve got this persona down to a science, these CEOs, entrepreneurs, and inventors also tend to be voracious readers who keep their desks clutter-free. While these are all noble habits (and perhaps some that data science bootcamp and coding bootcamp grads can incorporate as they launch their careers), there are also some lesser-known, somewhat strange habits that successful people swear by. 

Here are seven habits of highly successful people that we find to be quite amusing or interesting. Some you may want to try; others are a tad dangerous.

rocking chair

Rocking Back and Forth in a Chair

Remember when your teacher told you to stop rocking in your chair? As it turns out, doing so (although with the chair legs stationed on the ground) can help you concentrate.

When you hit a roadblock, and, say, your code is throwing up an error, take a page from Bill Gates’ book. The Microsoft co-founder apparently developed a habit of rocking back and forth in his chair when he was deep in concentration. In fact, a Fortune article from 1990 says that even some Microsoft managers adopted the weird habit. “As discussions get animated, they hunch forward, prop their elbows on their knees, and start rocking back and forth in their seats, just like Chairman Bill.” Now, are you convinced you need a rocking chair in your office to help jostle your creativity?

Having a Uniform 

When you’re a CEO or make it to the upper echelons of your company, you probably don’t need a uniform. Still, throughout history, some of the most successful entrepreneurs opt to wear the same thing every day. Steve Jobs was known for his black turtlenecks, jeans, and New Balance shoes. Albert Einstein gravitated towards grey suits. Dr. Dre is almost always in Nike Air Force 1 shoes. And Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wears simple designer T-shirts. Inc. explains if you’re trying to cut down on brainpower, cut down on the number of decisions you need to make. Throughout the day, we make up to 3,500 decisions so it helps to have some things set on autopilot. As it turns out, decision fatigue is a real thing and that’s why it’s best not to make big decisions in the final hour of your workday.

Taking ‘Air Baths’

It’s no secret that some of the world’s best minds love sticking to a good exercise routine. Endorphins keep you mentally sharp! You may even know that Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was quite into exercise. He was a long-distance swimmer (at 11 years old he even invented swim fins) and he was known to get cardio by walking up his home’s steep stairs. But after working up a sweat, he didn’t always shower with water. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the famous inventor was a fan of “air baths.” Prior to work, he would sit  “without any clothes whatever, half an hour or an hour, according to the season,” at his open, first-floor window, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Air bath, we believe, is a creative way to say “sitting naked.”

Going for Lengthy Underwater Swims to Brainstorm

Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the Japanese inventor who has thousands of patents and claims to have invented the floppy disk, has some quirky habits that are a part of his creative process. He eats just a single meal of 700 calories and only sleeps for four hours each day. He has a “Calm Room” which is a bathroom that’s tiled in 24-karat gold, because, he told Smithsonian Magazine the “gold blocks out radio waves and television signals that are harmful to imagination.” Also, the room contains no nails, because he believes they reflect thinking. He also told the Smithsonian that he comes up with some of his best ideas while on long underwater swims. He does this to deprive his brain of oxygen. “Zero-point-five seconds before death, I visualize an invention,” he says. He jots the ideas down on a waterproof notepad.

Schedule Time to Worry

Huffington Post co-founder Ariana Huffington has been transparent about the severe workplace burnout that caused her to do a major reset. Back in 2007, Huffington had collapsed from exhaustion and woke up with a broken cheekbone and needed stitches over her eyes. She’s since founded Thrive Global, a company that’s focused on people’s well-being and performance. Her company promotes a behavior change system that’s built on the idea of micro steps and forming a slate of healthy habits. Some you’ve probably heard before: Set an alarm 30 minutes prior to your bedtime to ensure you wind down and treat your bedtime as an important appointment or instead of sit-down meetings try walking ones. One of the more novel habits she has is setting aside time to worry. In an essay for The New York Times, she writes: “Write down or reflect on your worries and concerns. Don’t set any expectations about solving your worries or generating solutions, though you might find that solutions come naturally once you start reflecting.” In our productivity-obsessed culture, it also might seem odd that Huffington recommends that you “declare an end of day” even if your to-do list isn’t completely done.


One way to keep your mind, well, sharp? Take up the medieval sport of jousting. Sandy Lerner, the co-founder of Cisco Systems, is such a fan of jousting that she bought a 793-acre farm in Virginia, has bred her own horses, and even created her own medieval jousting outfit and read Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” more than five dozen times.

Make Up Creative Stories with Your Household Objects 

To get your creative juices flowing in the morning, try picking out three items in your home and making up stories that you link to these items. What kind of persona does your favorite household plant have? What’s the backstory of that antique mirror? This is a tactic that professional certified coach Julia Ng suggested to Bustle

Do you have any of your own quirky habits that you swear by?