What would you do with your time if your self-indulgence was to run free, and money was no longer a consideration?
History is filled with tales of successful people who were a little… quirky. An entrepreneur’s ability to see brand new markets and opportunities takes a certain level of original thinking, and with that thinking comes unique habits and rituals. Your average everyday non-world-famous genius may allow only a few close friends to see their quirks, but when they’re catapulted into the public eye, their behaviours become a matter of public record — and interest.
Many people’s eccentricities are harmless, even charming behaviors. We all have our own preferences, and like things “just so”. It follows that given money, time and success, we’d all be enabled to have even more things just the way we like them. Sometimes powerful peoples’ preferences have been baffling, and sometimes outright dangerous, but they have always been fascinating.
Nowadays, the public spotlight shines even more brightly on geniuses and their lifestyle and, as always, we find a deep fascination with how they go about their days. What secrets do their routines hold? What would we do, given the resources these men and women have, to change our daily lives to suit our preferences? Learning about these successful, happily indulgent people allows both inspiration and imagination to flourish, and a sense that maybe our dream to buy –and live within– a fully-stocked sushi restaurant isn’t so odd after all (or maybe that one is just me).
Even though we may not all become super-genius billionaires able to indulge our grandest whims — and honestly, the odds are well-stacked against it — there is real value to be found in learning about thought leaders and their dreams. What seemed at first a shiny and perfect success story becomes something much more human and relatable, and a realization that for all their triumphs, they too like things in their lives to be “just so”.
Eccentric Habits of the Tech Elite
It’s often true that genius and madness are often two sides of the same coin, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the elite figures of the technology world all have their own eccentric habits and hobbies.
Here are a just a few of the ways that the tech elite keep themselves inspired:
- Who they are: Founder and technology advisor of Microsoft
- Habit: Generates high-tech ideas using an analogue whiteboard.
- Quote: “I always have nice color pens, and it’s great for brainstorming when I’m with other people, and even sometimes by myself.”
Yoshiiro Nakamatsu (“Dr. NakaMats”)
- Who they are: Inventor of the floppy disk.
- Habit: Relaxes each evening in his 24-karat gold-tiled “Calm Room”.
- Quote: “The gold blocks out radio waves and television signals that are harmful to imagination.”
- Who they are: CEO of Amazon
- Habit: Thinks ahead.
- Quote: “Working backwards… demands that we acquire new competencies and exercise new muscles, never mind how uncomfortable and awkward-feeling those first steps might be.”
- Who they are: Inventor of the AC electric system
- Habit: Practiced carefully- considered moderation in smoking, drinking and eating.
- Quote: “Most persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves.”
- Who they are: Founder of the H(app)athon Project
- Habit: Analyses data using gadgets and apps to better understand the mechanics of happiness.
- Quote: “Rather than guess at how you felt a week or a month ago, you can record aspects of your mood or health to help optimize your well-being in the future.”
- Who they are: Founder of sociologyofstyle.com
- Habit: Eats the same breakfast and lunch every day.
- Quote: “More choices require time and energy and shift our focus away from other things that matter. More choices also breed a sense of anxiety about making the “right” choice.”
- Who they are: Founder and CEO of Buffer
- Habit: Will make decisions without complete certainty.
- Quote: “One useful thing to do is remind yourself that whilst history has some rhythms, it never repeats itself. Even the most experienced entrepreneurs have to assess things with a fresh mind when they embark on a new venture.”
- Who they are: Co-founder of Instagram
- Habit: Still loves taking photos.
- Quote: “I grew up as a photo nut. Every Christmas I would get a new camera. It’s a huge part of my life.”
- Who they are: Founder and CEO of Facebook
- Habit: Takes up new challenge each year – from learning Chinese to only eating meat he personally killed.
- Quote: “I spend almost all of my time building Facebook, so these personal challenges are all things I wouldn’t normally have the chance to do if I didn’t take the time.”
- Who they are: Legendary games designer at Nintendo
- Habit: Measures things.
- Quote: “I’ve always enjoyed guessing the lengths of objects, which is why I carry a measuring tape around with me.”
- Who they are: Inventor, late CEO of Apple
- Habit: Listens to music.
- Quote: “If you’re trying to design a computer you will literally immerse yourself in the thousands of details necessary; all of a sudden, as the scaffolding gets set up high enough, it will all become clearer and clearer and that’s when the breakthrough starts.
It is a rhythmic experience, or it is an experience where everything’s related to everything else and it’s all intertwined. And it’s such a fragile, delicate experience that it’s very much like music.”
So there you have it, the eccentric habits of the tech elite. While we wouldn’t advise that you start carrying around a tape measure – or bankrupt yourself building a 24-karat gold-tiled ‘Calm Room’ – you can’t argue with the results.
- Dr. NakaMats, the Man with 3300 Patents to His Name – smithsonianmag.com
- Nikola Tesla Biography – biography.com
- John Havens – mashable.com
- Hacking Happiness: Using Technology for Self-Understanding – strategymagazine.com
- A Personal Guide to Digital Happiness – theatlantic.com
- Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change – escholarship.org
- Blissfully Wired:10 Rules for Digital Happiness – edition.cnn.com
- Acting with Incomplete Information in a Startup – joel.is
- Kevin Systrom Says Comparing Instagram to Photography Is like &Lsquo;Comparing Twitter to Microsoft Word&Rsquo; – techland.time.com
- Shigeru Miyamoto Loves to Measure Stuff – escapistmagazine.com
- The Jeff Bezos School of Long-Term Thinking – 99u.Com
- How I Work: Bill Gates – money.cnn.com
- Steve Jobs: 1984 Access Magazine Interview – thedailybeast.com
- The Information Dividend: Why IT Makes You ‘Happier’ – policy.bcs.org
- The International Day of Happiness – jetpac.com
- Conscious Computing: How to Take Control of Your Life Online – theguardian.com
- Definition of Zenware, BuzzWord from Macmillan Dictionary – macmillandictionary.com
- Tesla N (2007), the Essential Tesla, Wilder Publications – books.google.ca