Health and Wellness

Microsoft CEO's 2 morning rituals to help 'orient yourself for the day'

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, speaks with Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG (not pictured), about a joint project between the two companies called the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud in Berlin on Feb. 27, 2019.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella considers himself a morning person, and he has two rituals with which he starts the day: exercise and reflection.

The very first thing that Nadella does in the morning is ask himself what he's thankful for, he said on the LinkedIn podcast, "Hello Monday."

"It gives you the ability to get up in the morning and orient yourself for the day," he said.

It's a habit that Nadella picked up five years ago from Michael Gervais, a performance psychologist who's worked with Microsoft employees and the Seattle Seahawks.

Oprah Winfrey has a similar gratitude practice: She says "thank you," when she wakes up every morning. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey ends the day by asking himself what he's grateful for. And research shows gratitude can have a significant positive effect on your mental and physical health.

Another health-centric habit that's part of Nadella's routine is running.

"For me, the daily ritual is just a half-hour of hitting the gym every day," Nadella told "Hello Monday." "It doesn't matter where I am, what time zone, how late I got in, I get up and get to the gym."

"It's just 30 minutes of running, and it just makes a huge difference."

Research suggests that exercising regularly is a great way to cope with stress (as little as five minutes of aerobic exercise can provide benefits), that fitter people have healthier brains and better cognitive abilities.

Other surveys suggest that exercise helps people feel like they have better control over their work-life balance.

To that end, Nadella has a unique approach: He prefers to think of work-life "harmony" rather than "balance," he told NowThis in May, because passion is what drives people to pursue work, he said.

"I think the key is to be able to not overdo the connection to the thing that's burning you out, but to somehow keep that flame, which is the core passion you have persist," Nadella told NowThis. "That's the art form."

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