Entrepreneurs

You don’t have to get up super early to be successful. Just ask billionaires Warren Buffett and Elon Musk

Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett
Rick Wilking | Reuters
Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett

Powerful people love to espouse the virtues of waking up ridiculously early: Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up at 3:45 a.m. each morning and Ellevest founder Sallie Krawcheck gets up at 4 a.m. But don't worry if you're not a morning person. There are billionaires who don't rise before the sun.

Warren Buffett is worth more than $75 billion, is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished investors of all time, and is the second richest man alive behind his billionaire friend and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, according to Forbes.

And Buffett does not do early mornings. "I have no desire to get to work at four in the morning," says Buffett, in an interview with PBS NewsHour. "I get quite a bit of sleep. I like to sleep," he says. "So I will usually sleep eight hours a night."

Buffett gets up at 6:45 a.m. and reads the paper at home. It's not unlikely for him to get in after the market opens, according to investing information site ValueWalk.

Elon Musk, the tech entrepreneur CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla is worth more than $15 billion according to Forbes, and he gets up around 7 a.m. after about six hours of sleep.

As soon as Musk wakes up, he addresses critical emails for half an hour, has coffee (he says he's usually too busy for breakfast), gets his kids off to school and drives to work.

In the early days of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg used to get to the office around 10:30 a.m. "I was never a morning person," he says during a Facebook Q&A, though he admits his young daughter Max is turning him into one.

Of course, there are many successful types who insist on being early risers. Tim Cook usually gets up at 3:45 a.m. and took to Twitter to brag when he woke up at 4:30 a.m.

And billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson wakes up at 5 a.m. no matter where he is in the world.

"I have always been an early riser. Like keeping a positive outlook, or keeping fit, waking up early is a habit, which you must work on to maintain. Over my 50 years in business I have learned that if I rise early I can achieve so much more in a day, and therefore in life," he says in his blog.

Former Wall Street titan and co-founder and CEO of Ellevest says she gets up at four in the morning. "I work when others sleep. I am never more productive than at 4 a.m.," she says in a LinkedIn post about her habit.

Entrepreneur Peter Shankman, who gets up at 3:30 a.m. sums up the thinking: "It's simply ingrained into us – if we want to be successful, we need to be working when others are not. To do that, we embrace the early – we wake up early, and we're better for it. It's like the classic running quote: 'Somewhere, right now, someone is training while you are not. When you race him, he will win.'"

See also:

Here's Elon Musk's morning routine—and his top productivity tip

The e-mail, workout and sleep habits of highly successful billionaire Mark Cuban

Warren Buffett is worth $75 billion but says he would be 'very happy' with $100,000 a year