I have always been a late night creature until I discovered the magic of morning routine myself in my late twenties. No doubt, I had to push myself hard, get my a** out of the bed and do something more productive when most of the world is still sleeping.
Since I introduced my Interview section, I was strongly recommended to interview Dan Luca. I was instantly ready when I got to see it was about Morning Routine. Though I confess, I didn’t know him. I sent an email to Dan, he happily accepted and totally surprised me with his Interview answers. Each answer was beyond words, complete, extremely useful, insightful, challenging and satisfactory enough to make someone TRY morning routine religiously.
A quick introduction for Dan
Cutting the long story short, let’s hear Dan answering some of the successful morning routine questions and doubts most of us have.
Again, you’d love it!
Question 1: Dan, thanks for your time and availability for this interview. Our readers are very excited (rather say; all set to be kicked and be a morning person). I wanted to ask several questions before I scanned your website 5amhacks.com. It is such a well laid out page with all the details. Your tools, routine, achievements and more. My question is, what exactly happens in the 5 am coaching you do for entrepreneurs?
Answer: We all know that you can get great results in business with a lot of work. But putting in a lot of time and effort comes at a cost: might be your health, your family or even a sense of selling your soul for money.
I worked for 3 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a financial auditor and I had countless 18 hour days, 7 days a week work schedule. At one point I had a client in a different city that required me to leave home Monday morning at 6 am by plane and come back home on Friday night at 11 pm for 5 months in a row! I also had two colleagues that actually died of exhaustion! So, I know very well what unbalance and excess looks like!
So, for the past 10 years I have dedicated my life to helping people become more productive so they get better results, in a shorter period of time and with fewer resources (and this is important!) while keeping their balance between their professional and personal life.
More specific[Tweet “I work with the 4 intelligences: mind, body, heart and soul and bring them all in harmony and balance. #danluca”]
Question 2: What’s your backstory? I was surprised to see a subject like morning routine coaching as a business model and you’re rocking with this. What was the kick that made you make and take this as business?
Answer: Actually this is very interesting… My grandfather was a milkman and he used to be up at 4:30 am to collect the milk from the surrounding villages. So he was an early riser.
Then, my father was a design engineer but he worked the early shift and he would wake up at 5 am to be in the factory at 6:30 am. So, he was an early riser too.
You might say that I had it in my genes, but actually it’s not true because they both HAD to wake up early to go to work and provide for their family. It was not their choice.
On the other hand, when I decided to wake up at 5 am in October 2009, I didn’t know anyone (personally) that had chosen to wake up early without any form on strings attached. My inspiration was Robin Sharma and his 5am Club. I had to hear and ponder this idea for at least 7-8 times in a 4-5 year period to actually put it into practice.
So it wasn’t easy but I had a feeling that this shift in my lifestyle will start a domino effect that will change my life forever.
The timing of my decision was interesting too: we just had our first son and I was working from home in the next room to my wife and the baby. Needless to say that being so close (and presumably available) I was constantly asked to help with small stuff. My work was a mess.
I then realised that the only change I got is to wake up earlier and really work hard the hours before 7 or 8 am when my wife and son would wake up and derail me.
So, I started waking up at 5 am and getting done more than 50% of my daily schedule before 8 am.
I often say that “If don’t have a choice… it’s easy!”
After seeing my productivity exploding and putting some habits in place, I combined my new acquired skills with my natural passion and expertise in coaching and this is the way 5AM Coaching was born.
Question 3: Were you always a morning person?
Answer: I wasn’t always a morning person, but I could easily wake up at 7 am to go to my football/soccer practice. I think this applies to all ages and to all contexts: if you are passionate about something, waking up is the easiest thing to do.[Tweet “I really like a photo of a t-shirt that says: “I don’t need an alarm clock. My passion wakes me up!”” #danluca]
So, it’s not about the behaviour, it’s about the reason that drives you to wake up.
I think it’s obvious that almost any person will wake up at 4 am (if needed) to catch a plane to a dream holiday. So, it’s not a question of being able… it’s a question of having a passion that wakes up in the morning.
Question 4: You’ve been dealing with all kinds of entrepreneurs and personalities. What do you think why people fail adopting a morning routine? Few main reasons.
Answer: The most important one: Not a strong enough “WHY”. If you only have a “HOW” you will not wake up, or, best case scenario, you will wake up a few times but at some point you will give up.
Another reason: Staying up late for some ME-TIME. You didn’t have time to yourself all day, so you indulge in some Facebook, movies, TV, or anything else.
Another reason that stems from the previous one: Going to bed late will make the early wake-up impossible because 98% of people can’t function well with less than 7 hours of sleep on average. You can go on for a few days with fewer hours of sleep but you will succumb to the lack of regeneration time.
Another one: People don’t know what to do in the morning and they don’t have a proper sequence of habits or they keep changing the routine from one day to the next and eventually give up because “it’s too hard”.
Another one: Some start a routine but drop it eventually because they receive a lot of resistance time from family members or friends. They may look crazy and they will be put to shame so that the others won’t feel the need to adopt changes to their messed up daily schedule.
Question 5: What’s your say about different lifestyles? I have heard many people find themselves more productive at night. Some latest researches (not sure how true) have shown that people who stay up late night are more intelligent and productive.
Answer: I do know some people that are inhuman – such as Elon Musk that sleeps 5-6 hours a night and runs 3 of the most successful companies in the world. He is only 44 years old and this will eventually have a toll on his health. I really hope to be wrong on this because I like him very much.
So, apart from the 1 in a million, as I said in the beginning, we need a minimum of 7 hours of good quality rest. As a result, you can sleep from 10 pm to 5am, from 12 am to 7 am or from 2 am to 9 am. The same 7 hours are not of the same quality.
As a general rule: “Each hour slept before 12 am equals two hours slept after midnight” because our body regenerates mostly between 10 pm and 3 am but only if it is in recovery mode and not fully active.
I don’t debate that there are 10-15% people that have a preference for burning the midnight oil but doing stuff for yourself after 10 pm has some serious disadvantages:
1. You have way less willpower than in the morning. Decision making tends to burn willpower throughout the day leaving you with little or none by the evening.
2. Very ofter you’ll be too busy or tired to read, learn or work on your projects, so you’ll go straight to bed and skip your quality time.
3. The evening/night energy is one of settling down, finishing off or as I call it “landing the plane”. You will be less inclined to start new and demanding projects. As opposed to this, the morning energy is a proactive kind that supports new beginnings, new challenges and is a “taking off” kind of energy.
4. Your self esteem will be lowered with each unkept promise that you made to yourself. If you plan on finishing the day with some ME-TIME and you don’t do it, you will be disappointed. As opposed to this, if you start each day with yourself, you will elevate your self esteem and become a more resourceful person.
Question 6: Is there any specific night routine that helps more to encourage a good morning routine?
Answer: There are many possibilities here, I will refer to the most important principles.
1. First of all decide what time you want to be in bed asleep. Take into account the time that you want to wake up and make sure you sleep for at least 7 straight hours.
2. Don’t eat or do sports 3 hours prior to that time
3. Set an alarm on your phone with 30 minutes before that time
4. Use this 30 minutes to finish whatever you have unfinished and make sure that at the end of the half hour you will have your eyes closed.
5. Activities that you can do in these 30 minutes: preparing your clothes for the next day, drinking a jasmine tea, brushing and flossing the teeth, a self relaxation session with breathing exercises, a short gratitude session and so on.
6. First thing after closing your eyes, visualise a clock as big as a wall in your bedroom showing the time that you want to wake up and see yourself waking up easily and being fully rested and refreshed.
Question 7: Can you share one of your most difficult client experience where change was more of a serious challenge and how did you (and your client) make it happen? (if it happened at all)
Answer: One of the most difficult challenge was with a female client that went through a divorce, while having a 4 year old child and while being the owner of a multi-million fashion business. On top of that she was having health issues.
These type of circumstances are very hard because there few or none resources that can be build upon.
If you have energy, you can build on that.
If you have clarity, you can build on that.
If you are calm and balanced, you can build on that.
So, I helped her install habits that would build her foundations. The morning routines allowed her to have personal time and in this time she gained energy and clarity. These two resources are essential for anyone who wants to make changes.
Once she had good energy from the first hour of the day and got the time to clear her mind, we then could implement strategies to address all the areas in her life that needed improving.
Right now, she remarried and just had her second child, while her energy is better than ever and her business doubled in revenues.
Question 8: Is it true that people have different sleep cycles and need? Some are good with 4 hours and some need even 9-10 hours. What are your thoughts about it? How does one know and figure it out?
Answer: Some people are good with 4 hours a night but they usually don’t make it past 60 years old. The brain doesn’t clears itself of the toxins in such a short time and eventually it builds up the neuro-toxins that will trigger neurodegenerative illnesses. Another thing is that those with less than 7 hours of sleep per night tend to overcompensate with mind stimulants as huge amounts of coffee, coca-cola or even pills called nootropics. So, it’s not something I would recommend. It can work for short periods of time (like a one month college exams) but doing this for years will result in irreversible damage to the brain & body.
Usually if someone needs more than 8 hours of sleep for a prolonged period of time, this tells me:
– this person gets his/her energy only from sleep and should consider changing to a healthier diet, exercising more, getting more opportunities to relax, start frequent breathing exercises
– this person has a life that is very unfulfilling and he/she withdraws in sleeping as a way of avoiding the pain of living. I call sleep the most cheap, convenient and socially acceptable drug used to avoid reality.
I have researched more than 30 studies and all of them placed the right amount of sleep at 7-8 hours. If you go to sleep at 10 pm and wake up at 5:30 am you are doing the best possible for your body.
In this way you are using the circadian sleep patterns that vary from 90 to 110 minutes. As a result you sleep 5 cycles of 90-110 minutes and wake up at the end of a full cycle.
The wrong way would be to wake up in the middle of a circadian cycle when your body is filled with analgesic substances that keep the body in a rest state. If you do this, you’ll feel sleepy for another 1-3 hours until you body clears all analgesics from your system.
Question 9: Would you like to share your 3 favorite tools that helps you maintain a great morning and day routine?
Answer: 1. I can’t start my day without my 0.5 L of hot lemon water with turmeric at about 50 degrees Celsius
2. I consider the shower to be my first wake up coffee. I can start the morning without coffee but not without my shower. I get energised by water and by the gratitude routine that I have during the shower.
3. I set my priorities with an app that I developed called Only One > here it is: http://onlyone.io/#/add
10. How does Dan’s regular day looks like? We are curious.
> So here it is:
At 5 am Wake up & LIVE!
5 – 7 am Morning Ritual
7 – 8 am Coaching or Mastermind Session
8 – 9 am Breakfast with my family
9 – 12 pm Study, writing, brainstorming with my business partner
12 – 2 pm Lunch break, chill out, power nap (20 min)
2 – 5 pm Coaching sessions
5 – 6 pm Taking the kids from kindergarten
6 – 9 pm Family time and dinner
9 – 10 pm Evening routine and Daily Review
10 pm – Good night!
Question 10: Other than waking up at 5am, what’s your second noteable habit that contributed to what you’re today.
Answer: I have to say that it’s the idea of starting off the day with myself. ME-TIME is such a big thing in today’s world. People are connected to the outside stimuli and switched off to the internal ones.
I start the day with myself and practice what I call “enlightened self-interest”. Basically it means that I give myself first so that I can give to others more.
I give myself the gift of having great energy so that I inspire the people that I work with afterwards.
I give myself the gift of self reflection so that I can be a clear mirror afterwards to my clients.
I give myself the gift of clarity so that I can guide my clients afterwards to a laser focused vision.
I give myself the gift of calm and balance so that I can help the people I work with to calm down, centre and become balanced.
And so on…
This is my mantra:[Tweet “You can’t teach others what you know You can only teach them what you are. #danluca”]
Question 11: Everybody has some inspiration and ideals. Who is yours, Dan?
Answer: My ideal is to influence millions of people to wake up an hour earlier each morning and to start the day by doing things for themselves. To be more specific, to practice good habits that increase their level of energy, of clarity, of confidence and of meaning.
I am convinced that if a lot of people will adopt this habit, the world will become a peaceful, enlightened place because a lot of conflicts stem from unresolved personal issues and from thoughts of “there is not enough”…
People need to be right for all the wrong reasons. I don’t want to be right because this forces you to be wrong. It’s a win-lose situation that generates conflict.
I believe that this 1 hour change in the individual lifestyle has the potential of transforming the entire world!
Question 12: Here is a question that one of your huge fans has sent to me for you, unedited [The asker seems to be quite upset].
I have tried successfully so many time to wakeup at 5 am.
But my events, sometimes long trips, sometimes we have to network with people at long night, then how we keep up with this schedule?
I feel too times, WHY we should stick with this routine, we are humans not robots or atleast we are not in warzone… I know the answer,, but sometime I do not feel satisfy. Need help, answer anything?
Answer: Waking at 5 am is not the most important thing.
The most important thing is to wake up earlier (1 hour is ideal) and use that time to do some habits that will generate resources in the 4 most important areas of one person’s life:
1. Energy in the body (hydrate, sleep, exercise, eat right, relax)
2. Clarity in the mind (plan, prioritise, increase the productivity, take regular breaks, find mentors)
3. Confidence in the heart (journal your emotions, find partners for the road, do a daily review of the day)
4. Significance in the soul (ask yourself “why”, find your passion, find ways to help others, be grateful)
Sleep 7 hours per night and get to bed as early as possible. Do your best and don’t judge yourself if you are not perfect… nobody is. Do your best and make small changes and you won’t recognise yourself in a few months.
Question 13: Last question, if someone has to do just one thing to make the first move and be a morning person, what that would be?
Answer: 1. Find your reason WHY you want to make a change. If this is not strong enough, no strategy will work for you.
2. HOW: Go to bed earlier! Go to bed immediately after you put your kids to sleep (if you have any).
Sleep 7-7.5 hours and make small increments of 10 minutes per week – go to bed earlier and get up earlier. This is the big secret. Just do it!
And we’re done with Dan’s interview to kickstart a new beginning in 2016. Wasn’t it amazing?