I was reading this article by Jackie MacMullan on the ESPN site – on how elite athletes cope or learn to cope with high stress linked to split second (guaranteed) performance. What makes them falter (mostly overthinking that disconnects their instinctive muscle memory from the last at hand) and how they make a come back from defeat. The article is a must read to see how the top athletes develop regimes to tackle stress under pressure. And it should give Founders a lot of clarity about how to deal with stress in our own play fields.
There is no denying that we are living online. And we are just about waking up to its fallout in our lives. The loneliness, the attack on privacy, the temptation and the habit of instant gratification. It’s all there. Ashesh Mukherjee, McGill University Associate Professor of Marketing, wrote one of the early insights into five noticeable trends that are shaping our lives – “too much temptation, too much information, too much customization, too many comparisons and too little privacy.” These costs come in two categories – commercial costs we pay as consumers in the form of overspending for instant gratification with very little actual value and social costs we are paying as individuals in terms of exposure to unverified opinions, fake news and increasing loss of privacy which will further erode as we integrate our lives with IOT devices.
It is Wednesday. My date with finding life hacks that help us be more productive, be a better version of yourself. I do not think that anyone needs to really read this stuff if you are content with what and where you are. But the compelling reason to examine that is this: The time each one of us have is limited and doing useful productive work that contributes to better society and world will make you a happier and content human being. While looking around for clues I found Darius Foroux. He made it his life mission to focus on 4 areas – Productivity,Habits, Decision Making and Personal Finance.
All of us, founders and flounderers look for ways to maximize our output. Then we focus on the quality. We discuss distractions that are coming at us with alarming speed and volume and try to make sense of work life balance. There is something innately good about all these discussions. If you think about it, it is but the evolutionary process at work. I often have discussions about how so many of us are buried in our smartphones. We talk about lovers in restaurants having a meal in silence while looking at thier respective phones. The calls (including cold ones from folks trying to sell you something), messages, meme’s, forwards, mails, more calls….you get the drift. But as civilization we have had only 15 years to deal with this rapidity and change. Give us some time and we will figure it out. How do you get work done and still have time to be with your daughter when she gives her first recital? Or ballet performance? Or with your wife when she is feeling low. Or happy. Or worried? How does this impact teams and their productivity?
If you Google time management you will get a million results. Apparently a lot of people are searching for a way to manage time and a lot are writing about it. A lot revolves around a To Do list and thus ways of managing those. Some others talk of managing your energy and not time. Jeremiah Dillon, now head of Insights and Strategy at Google Cloud Marketing had a take that is easy to understand and apply. Think of yourself as a Maker and not a manager. According to him Managers typically divide their days in to 30 min chunks while the maker designs his work in half or full day chunks. Working without disruption is one of the most referred method for productive output. Deep Work by Cal Newport, the seminal book on working in a highly distracting world shows that shutting off the noise for prolonged period helps you think and do. The key in all this is an uninterrupted block of time that helps thoughts flow.
Undoubtedly our life is a sum total of the decisions we make. In the exact same place with exact same inputs two human beings make two completely different decisions. One turns out to be more right than the other. Charlie Munger, part of the Buffet Munger duo, extolled the power of identifying and applying mental models across disciplines in his 1995 speech, ‘The Psychology of Human Misjudgement’.
In his latest letter to shareholders Jeff Bezos spoke about the essential DNA that drives the growth of Amazon. Key amongst them is the power of wandering. That was in my mind and led me to the wonder about the power of laziness with relation to work. The counter view to what we call laziness could be getting more done in a given timeframe, reducing low value work from your schedule or simply prioritizing life over work.
James Clear runs his enormously popular site (over half a million subscribers) jamesclear.com. He stumbled upon the fact that his writings around habits got great response and decided to keep exploring the ideas around formation of habits. The result is his book Atomic Habits that released to rave reviews late last year.
Guy Kawasaki. One of the most prolific business book writers of our times. Dispenser of native wisdom. One of the original straight talkers. Wonderful storyteller. I read all his books and found them easy to read and simple to digest. The simplicity was from his time at Apple. As the evangelist for the Mac (software ecosystem) and the author of the book The Macintosh Way, he imbibed the ability to simplify.
Only 3% startups will make it to their 5th year. Zeifmans put out their top 3 reasons startups struggle. They should know. They look at a lot of startups.
No. 1 is Balancing Capital and Growth Needs. CB Insights found that 30% startups fail because they run out of cash. ( I wrote about that a few posts back ). The key is to understand cash flow, plan ahead and manage your burn rates.