But all the top executives interviewed by Fortune have idiosyncrasies — secrets, if you will — for making sure that they lead the pack. What’s remarkable is how much their work habits vary.
- Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience for Google, reads all her e-mail (up to 800 a day), as does HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman. In it, they find hidden gems.
Example: Friedman read an e-mail from a 12-year-old Chinese girl that sounded so wonderful she sent it to her editors. They agreed and published the girl’s book.
- Federal judge Richard Posner takes his laptop practically everywhere, for reading or writing legal opinions, a book or a blog.
- Bill Gross, chief investment officer at bond fund Pimco, practices yoga every morning.
- Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault in France and Nissan in Japan, follows a rigid schedule. His assistants screen every bit of his reading material. One-topic meetings never run longer than 90 minutes unless they’re operational: half for presentation, half for discussion.
- Thomas Edison did his best work at night and boasted that he never had a clock in his workroom.