Connect with us


The Power of Mornings: Why Successful Entrepreneurs Wake Up Early



When running a business, it may seem like there are never enough hours in the day. Tapping into the power of mornings, a time of day when there are less demands, might be the key to increasing your productivity.

For 15 years, Starbucks President Michelle Gaas has set her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to go running. Gretchen Ruben, popular author of The Happiness Project (Harper Perennial, 2011) wakes up at 6 a.m. and works for an hour before her family rises. Time-management expert Laura Vanderkam highlights what makes mornings special and how we can use them more efficiently in her book What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio Trade, 2013). Here are a few benefits to getting out of bed earlier.

You are less likely to get distracted in the morning. An entrepreneur’s day fills up fast. If you wait until the afternoon or evening to do something meaningful for yourself such as exercising or reading, you’re likely to push it off the to-do list altogether. “There are going to be reasons why you can’t tackle a personal priority at 4 p.m. — things have a lot less likelihood of coming up at 6 a.m.,” says Vanderkam.

You have more willpower early in the day. Even if you aren’t a morning person, you may have more willpower in the early hours than later in the day. “Willpower is like a muscle [that] becomes fatigued with over-use,” says Vanderkam. During the course of the day as you’re dealing with difficult people, making decisions and battling traffic, you use up your willpower, leaving you feeling depleted toward the end of the day.

Mornings give you the opportunity to set a positive tone for the day. If you’ve ever slept in past your alarm clock or forgotten your kids’ lunches on the counter, you know that starting off the day with a failure can bring down your mood and affect your productivity at work. Vanderkam says waking up earlier allows you to start the day with a victory and set the tone for a happier and more productive day.

If the thought of waking up at sunrise makes you cringe, Vanderkam recommends these four steps to transform even a habitual night owl into a morning person.

1. Keep a time journal. Vanderkam says one of the reasons people say they don’t like mornings is that they stay up too late. She recommends keeping a time journal for a week to show where you may be using your time inefficiently. Vanderkam finds when many self-professed night owls look at their time journals, they often find they aren’t spending their evening hours productively or doing anything particularly enjoyable.

2. Imagine your perfect morning. Imagine what you would do if you had an extra hour in the day. Would you exercise? Read the newspaper rather than simply skimming the headlines? “[Getting up earlier] isn’t about punishing yourself. You will not get out of bed if you don’t have a good reason to do it,” says Vanderkam.

3. Plan your morning. Once you have decided what you want to do with your extra time, plan how to execute it, and set as much up as possible the night before. For example, if you want to exercise in the morning, lay out your clothes the night before, or gather the ingredients for your breakfast.

4. Build the habit slowly. Vanderkam says you will likely hit the snooze button and sleep in if you try to switch your habits drastically. So instead of setting your alarm for 5 a.m. when you normally get up at 7: 30 a.m. set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier each day. To make sure you don’t lose sleep, go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night. If you have trouble hitting the sack on time, set a bedtime alarm.

Callum Connects

Bryan Choo, Founder of



Bryan Choo gets excited by executing great digital campaigns for his clients.

What’s your story?
Inspired by TripAdvisor and then later Buzzfeed, I created a hyper-local portal in Singapore 4 years ago. now reaches over half the population each month and we have over 100 employees.

What excites you most about your industry?
There’s a certain thrill that goes along with content creation because results are sometimes impossible to predict. Those with strong ideation skills tend to do well and on digital media. How well your campaign did is known to everyone through the public engagements the posts get. So executing great campaigns for brands brings me a lot of satisfaction.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore; a very modern country that offers the best of both worlds. In Singapore, we have access to the latest in technology and very competitive prices. We can tap into skilled labour such as IT from Myanmar and design/videography from the Philippines. Should we venture into production or E-comm, we have access to extremely cheap raw materials. We’re just a 5 hour flight away from China.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Most APAC regional offices are located here, making it easier to get approval since we deal directly with the decision makers.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To think of ourselves more as a publisher and not a review website.

Who inspires you?
Oliver Emberton, Mark Manson, Charlie Houpert and Tim Urban. They are all amazing content creators.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I discovered a franchise that used an amazing way of growing content regionally through user-generated content and hashtags.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
To focus on content geared to social audiences from day one. The biggest mistake of most traditional players is just focusing on SEO-driven content, which does not do well on Facebook. We started off like that but we adapted quickly and that’s when our business took off.

How do you unwind?
I used to play computer games, now I exercise and get lots of satisfaction looking at my fitbit results.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
South Korea. I love the food and weather there.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Shameless plug for your business:
Apart from TSL, we also run three other websites. which focuses on news, which focuses on food and which focuses on female-centric content.

How can people connect with you?
Drop me an email at [email protected]

Twitter handle?

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

Continue Reading


Is International Women’s Day just another Tokenism?



Yearly on 8th March around the world, we celebrate a day for women. This year that was 2 weeks ago, before this article was published.

A Question for You:

Did we change for the better after that day? or

Did we just all go back just to Business as Usual?

And if so, why?

As a psychologist and conscious leadership coach, I work to change mindsets to do more good in the world. We all know bad habits are hard to change. Ignoring Women talent and needs is a bad habit. Calling attention to it once in a while is simply not just not enough, it also assuages leadership guilt. The guilt alone does not lead to sustainable efforts to transformation.

We all know one International Women’s Day yearly is simply not enough.

One women’s group in your company is not enough.

One women’s breakfast in the technology conference is not enough.

One Women’s March is not enough.

But it is the start.

It is the start and we need to join forces to truly take it beyond tokenism.

Join forces with leaders who read #MeToo and ask themselves what we must do today to reduce and end such harassment. Join forces with tech leaders who are aware of the power of money and resources lying in the hands of a few heightens potential bullying and unwanted sexual advances. Join forces with leaders who actively act to counter or stop abuses and want to create new workplace cultures. Join forces with Leaders who promote women on merit, but who also look to sponsor, mentor, and support more women to the senior leadership tracks.

We need a critical mass to tip Gender Parity to become the new norm. We need to dialogue and language new ways of being and leading in the world. We need daily, weekly, monthly habits to make gender parity the daily actionable. What is your daily actionable to not just gender parity, but inclusion and diversity in all aspects of our work and life? Let’s build the momentum by increasing connections across companies, countries, and communities. This article brings insight to what we can do next and communities you can support.

On March 8th, at 1880 ( , a private club which believes that conversations can inspire change and a better world , the Salon discussion was on “Undressing Feminism”. Participants spoke frankly about unwanted sexual advances and what both men and women can do to stop work and national or religious cultures where such actions are deemed normal. One husband joked about how he told his wife he was attending the event and she told him to shut up and listen carefully. We were all listening carefully and we spoke as a group with a transparency that is rarely found in conservative Asian culture and even in rather Westernized Singapore.

Who we heard from:

Matthew Spacie at Magic Bus

He spoke of his work in the non-profit and called out the terrifying statistics that should not be hidden or ignored.

This is an average Indian girl’s gender based obstacles throughout her lifetime

There are about 600 million women in India. They have the highest rate of infanticide of girls. Women are 56 times more likely to die before the age of 5 years as compared to boys.  If a girl does get to go to school; up to 53 percent drop out and only 1 percent graduate. 40 % of the women are married off as children.  If she gets to have a job, 40% are in unregulated work which means they can be bullied, paid less, and anything else without any external regulatory bodies to assist.

Aware’s Executive Director, Corinna Lim:

If the vision is – a society where there is true gender equality – where women and men are valued as individuals free to make informed and responsible choices about their lives. Then we look towards Aware, Singapore (  as a resource – for their mission is to remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes.

In fact, after the #MeToo movement came out, there were 80% more calls to sexual harassment center in Singapore. And Corrina shared how one in ten women in Singapore has been physically abused by a man. Do know that AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (, the only centre that supports victims of sexual assault and harassment  can be reached at  +656779 0282.

Survivor of War, Human Trafficking, and Sexual Assault, Lurata Lyon:

Forgiveness is what is needed to heal and also to take the lessons and give ourselves strength. She shared how she was molested in Singapore by a British expat and she immediately grabbed his phone to keep him there while she called the police. Her two children were with her and thankfully a local pregnant woman came and stood by her as the man tried to force her hand to let go of his phone. She reminded the audience that this could not have been the first time this man acted in this unacceptable manner, yet how many others had let his behavior slip through our silence.

Asian Feminist Role Model, Activist, and Burlesque Artist, Sukki Singapora:

“Someone has got to be brave. If it is not you, it’ll have to be someone else. So make it you.”

Sukki braved her family’s strict culture and Singapore’s public indecency laws to fully express herself in her choice of art and profession, burlesque. She left us wondering why should sensuality be repressed? What is the world so afraid of? Her choice of expression was initially considered a crime in the public decency act of Singapore. Now she is a champion and face of freedom of expression for women in socially restrictive countries.

These conversations can evoke small changes in public consensus which will bring about swift changes in the societal consensus, that’s why we have political debates during the elections.  We are part of that dialogue, debate, and actionable steps and accountability. It’s our call to not let International Women’s Day fall on deaf ears. Let’s not just have one token discussion on one day set aside, but make such discussions a daily act.

Thanking Matthew, Corinna, Lurata, Sukki, and Marc Nicholson panel moderator and co-founder, 1880 for allowing their stories to inspire and confront us all again with the unknowing discrimination and bullying we may be supporting under our own roofs.

Like this piece?

See my article on International Women’s Day

Continue Reading