Personal Productivity and Time Management

Coach in Your Pocket

I’ve discovered a way to scale one-on-one coaching.

Do you know what word I hate these days?

Gamechanger. No, actually it’s two words. Gamechanger and resonate. That one also really bugs me.

The problem is I’ve been conducting my latest venture in a way that is really, what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, right, game-changing. Damn.

Honestly, I initially structured my private coaching business around what was most convenient for me. Asynchronous communication. It gives me massive amounts of control. It allows me to respond when I have something to contribute. It is efficient and precise.

It turns out this kind of communication is so much more effective than any other coaching I’ve ever done. Happily, my clients are saying the same thing.

Several of them contact me three, four times a day for about a minute with a tactical micro problem I can address quickly. It’s like being a coach in their pocket. I look at it as the next incarnation of my Idea Capture methodology because now there’s a feedback loop.

It’s akin to reading someone’s diary, then someone else (me) critiques and comments on the passages. So the communication takes on a intimate problem-solving component I hadn’t anticipated. I love when that happens.

And while clients see the benefit of unburdening themselves of ideas or issues in a quick Voxer message, they are also finding that the platform works well with circumspection. I’ve been getting 12-minute messages when they are in the car on the way home.

There is no “real-life” situation where somebody will talk for 12 minutes straight — no coaching session, no therapy session, no phone call with a friend. Even if the other person lets you ramble on, you’re not able to do it. You’re going to react to facial reactions. You’re going to lose your train of thought. You’re going to get interrupted.

There’s something empowering about this odd vacuum chamber of Voxer that enables people to share some deep private stuff. It gives me so many insights into the entrepreneurs I’m coaching; profound observations and self-appraisals that help me be a better coach to my clients.

Now people say tech makes things less human, but that’s not what I’m finding.

For example, I’m conducting all my sales over Voxer. The platform allows me to answer my Voxes myself. You know it’s me because it’s my voice. It’s not an assistant. It’s not a salesperson.

The cool part is if somebody is not willing to have a sales conversation with me over Voxer, then they’re not going to want to be coached over Voxer. It’s a solid, wheat from the chaff litmus test.

Also, somebody doesn’t have to book a call three days from now that they either won’t show up for or sit through a 45-minute pitch that’s supposed to convince them that I’m the right person.

The platform is the pitch.

I have 12 clients right now, and we’re working at an incredibly intense level. Our conversations are deep and daily, and I don’t have a single call scheduled on my calendar. Clients are getting my attention, and we are solving problems quickly and well.

Now, after many years of experimenting with all kinds of coaching systems and methods, I landed on a perfect fit for me. It will not work for everyone, but I’m stoked; it works equally well for me and the entrepreneurs I help.

Would You Like To Know When You Are Most Productive?

Ever notice how there are parts of the day where you feel significantly more in “flow” than other times? When your productivity doesn’t seem to take any effort? When there’s a rhythm and momentum to your work that feels less like a slog and more like a symphony?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s probably because you’re not taking advantage of your Biological Peak Time.

Among the many reasons remote work is exploding in popularity, it’s adherents consistently report higher levels of productivity and efficiency. A big reason for this is that they aren’t hamstrung to the arbitrary 9-to-5 schedule of the post-industrial age — their biological clock naturally guides them towards working in the hours they’re most productive.

These hours are known as biological peak time, and they’re different for everyone.

On a fundamental level, humans have a distinct “energy curve” that’s dictated by our circadian rhythms. There’s a large body of research outlining a pattern for the average human:

To start the day it takes a few hours to reach peak levels of alertness and energy

After lunch/noon, those levels begin to decline, plateauing at 3pm

Alertness starts increasing again until hitting a second peak at 6pm

Alertness declines again for the rest of the evening all the way until 3:30am.

Energy levels start rising again for the rest of the morning until noon again the next day

Before even getting into individual differences, it’s painfully obvious why the modern 9-to-5 is so unproductive — some of our most productive hours are spent either sleeping or commuting home from work.

These are general trends, however — they’re rather high level, and represent the average. On an individual, day-to-day basis, your energy levels might be diametrically opposite to the norm. Your own biological peak time is affected by circadian rhythms, but it’s also influenced by your environment — your diet, your exposure to different types of light at different parts of the day, the level of stress in your work, etc.

Needless to say, one of the most important “biohacks” you can do to improve your productivity is to identify the periods of the day where your body and mind and truly ticking and schedule your most important work around those times.

The Content Machine — Upgraded for 2020

I produce a staggering amount of content. But I don’t do it alone.

Automation and outsourcing have enabled me to get my message “out there” in myriad ways, and on most digital platforms you can imagine.

It’s not mysterious or expensive.

It’s an optimized process that only really requires a four-minute Voxer rant to get the process going. The rest is up to someone or something else.

Here’s how I do it:

I record my thoughts on a particular topic on Voxer in a private channel I share with my writing partner, Amy. She takes that message, downloads it on her laptop and uploads it to It’s an AI-powered transcription service that costs 10 cents a minute. In five minutes, the transcript comes through to our Intercom account and Amy makes a Google doc of the monologue.

She then either outsources it to to craft it into a blog post, or she does it herself, depending upon how many I’ve sent her in a given week.

Once it’s done it gets uploaded to and our automations disseminate it across every social media platform.

All this from a 4-minute Voxer message.

Still, one of the biggest sticking points for entrepreneurs who are desperate to cement their place in a very crowded content world is an inability to nail down their distinct voice. Authenticity sells. If you are not projecting your true self, especially through the written word, it’s as obvious and cringe-worthy to the reader as a 60-year-old saying his coffee is LIT AF.


A lot of folks I work with come to me and say, “I sent this out to a respected copywriter, but when it came back, it just didn’t sound like me.”

My answer has always been the same, “Well, what does ‘me’ sound like?” and that’s where most people glaze over. They haven’t first taken the time to analyze their communication style.

Analyzing Your Communication Style

And no, there’s not an app for that. But there is a terrific two-person exercise you can do that will solidify not only how you communicate, but how that message is received. The importance of working through these steps with another person is simple. The sweet spot for content lies where your intention and its reception live.

For example, you may think you are one funny guy, but maybe your comedic arsenal is overstocked with Dad Jokes. Dad jokes your audience has heard a million times. Perhaps you love to cite other thought leaders to bolster your observations or arguments. But your audience wants to hear from you and what you think. We’ve all become quite adept at sniffing out BS, so don’t waste your time pretending to be something you are not. Your story is enough. Your point-of-view is unique.

Margaret Atwood, the author of “The Handmaids Tale,” among other fantastic reads, said something worth remembering when embarking on the journey to find your voice. “The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read.”

Next, it’s imperative to work through not just your style and tone, but to do an audit of existing content, (to use it as samples for a prospective writer), and then prioritize the intent of your content.

Setting a Content Intention

Do you want to entertain? Inform? Educate?

Who is your audience? The one you have and the one you want. Describe them with words that give texture. Don’t just say, “Financial Advisors,” say, “People who are fully committed to protecting the financial future of their clients through cutting edge technology and the human touch.”

Commit to writing the foundational principles of your business. These are big concepts, like Integrity, Expertise, Empathy, Experience. If you have trouble coming up with these pillars, and many people do, it’s time to take a moment to think back to why you started your business in the first place. What was that moment of inspiration like? Describe that.

Working With The VoicePrint

The rest of the exercise is relatively self-explanatory. Make two copies of the VoicePrint attached below. Fill one out yourself and have a trusted ally fill out one as well. Then get together and compare notes. Where both points of view collide, is where you should focus your messaging.

Next, comes the outsourcing part.

It’s been my experience that asking writers to send samples of their work is a big old waste of time. You have no idea how long it took them to write that masterful 500-word blog post. You don’t know if they even wrote it or who edited it for them. I prefer to send them a piece of copy and ask them to fix it using the VoicePrint as their guide. It can be a raw transcription of a part of a speech, interview, Facebook Live or a rant I voiced into my phone when something inspirational struck me while I was driving.

Obviously, pay the scribe’s hourly rate. No one should work for free. But give the writer a limited amount of time to fix it and then see if he or she was able to mimic your VoicePrint.

It’s like owning a burger place and interviewing new cooks. You wouldn’t say, “Tell me more about all the great hamburgers you’ve cooked.” You would send them into the kitchen and ask them to make you a burger.

I’ve found that this process works for just about every business and it has the added benefit of really crystalizing your Marketing Strategy and Customer Journey. Because once you have developed an identity, it’s clear to see what works and what doesn’t, who you can help and who you can’t.

Don’t Procrastinate, Delegate

“I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Those four simple words will absolutely devastate your productivity.

The average person’s life is littered with projects that never get finished simply because they were never actually started. Procrastination is to blame.

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, seasoned CEO, or stay-at-home parent — procrastination is going to be your #1 hurdle to success.

In order to make the absolute MOST out of your day, you’re going to need to do one very important thing.


Delegate everything you don’t truly need to do yourself — trust me, more things fit under that umbrella than you realize…no less than 90% of your day can be delegated to someone else.

Is delegation without its flaws? Absolutely not. But those flaws are far and few between compared to the stress, disorganization, and overwhelm associated with procrastination.

Delegation can come in a variety of forms depending upon your situation. For me, delegation comes almost exclusively in the form of my team here at Less Doing. They help me navigate around the common triggers of procrastination

  • Boredom
  • Lack of motivation
  • Distraction
  • Overwhelm
  • Uncertainty of success

…and help me get things done. Are those completed tasks always perfect? Not always, but at least they’re a step in the right direction, a building block to something better.

If you refer to the above graphic, you’ll get a good visual sense of the levels of delegation. There is not one optimal approach and the level at which you delegate will depend on the task. A good way to begin using this strategy is by applying it to your inbox. Ask yourself, “Do I need to do this now? Can it wait? Can someone else handle it? Once you have determined those parameters, you can figure out how involved you need to be in the process. If your work environment is built on mutual respect, and you’re willing to give your ego a rest, you’ll be amazed at how little you actually have to oversee.

More importantly, when delegating all excess in my day, I’m creating the mental and physical space necessary to work on what I’m fantastic at — being a husband, father, and helping other people improve their lives.

As you start to get more comfortable with delegation, you’ll slowly notice your schedule freeing up as your day becomes less mired in the tasks other people can do. You’ll also notice that, as you prepare tasks for delegation, your focus will sharpen — you’ll start thinking and working ON your business, rather than IN it.

You’ll enjoy the headspace to honestly evaluate the state of your business (or your life) and where you want to go next. When you’re ready to make the leap from delegation amateur to delegation aficionado, be sure to employ tools that will increase your efficiency, including:

  • Trello — the best workflow and project management tool out there
  • Slack — a bastion of highly-effective asynchronous communication
  • Evernote and Dropbox — cloud-based tools that allow you to store and share anything and everything surrounding your delegation
  • Voxer — The greatest way to communicate with your team

When you start investing in delegation you’ll begin to find the focus, flexibility, and freedom that may have eluded you until now. Yay!

Productivity Routines Debunked

I came across this article the other day. “22 Power Routines that will Boost your Productivity.” Well, that got my attention. And away we go…

1. Wake up when it’s right for you.

I think we can train ourselves to do pretty much anything, and yes, some of us are not morning people, some of us have different circadian rhythms. But you can hack your wake up time by picking a time to go to sleep. The easiest way to do that is you take the average number of REM cycles, which for most people is about 90 minutes and add those up.

The average person takes 14 minutes to fall asleep. So if you get four cycles, that’s six hours plus 14 minutes. So you want to go to sleep, six hours and 14 minutes before you want to wake up. While that sounds very nitpicky or trivial, it actually does work.

It’s also not reasonable. If I’m really motivated, I’ll wake up at 5:00 AM and I’ll start doing things. Otherwise I’m gonna wake up when a kid wakes me up. I don’t really have a morning routine because I have my kids. Now people with kids certainly can have morning routines, but I think that it makes it significantly more difficult.

2. Stay away from your phone when you first wake up.

No. No. No. No. It’s akin to the idea that if you’re an alcoholic and you lock up your liquor, you’ll stop drinking. It doesn’t solve the problem. Preventing ourselves from looking at our phones doesn’t necessarily fix anything. I believe that if you’re in control of your communications and you know what you’re doing and you have a good system set up, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t or wouldn’t want to look at your phone first thing in the morning.

I look at it first thing and it takes me about a minute and a half, two minutes to catch up on anything that might’ve come in overnight, maybe a couple of emails, maybe a couple of Slack messages if that, and that’s it.

3. Eat breakfast.

Don’t agree with that one either. I have been doing intermittent fasting for the past four months now. I’ve lost 13 pounds. I’ve had significant increases in my cognitive functioning. I’m not snacking or eating all day. My first meal is typically around 11 o’clock or 12. So one thing is you could say that breakfast is just your first meal of the day and you want to make that really great, but I don’t think that you have to eat breakfast to get your day going.

4. Move Your Body

I think that it’s a good idea to get your body moving. But that can mean different things to different people. That could mean a good little five-minute yoga stretch when you get out of bed. It could mean doing 10 pushups and 10 jumping jacks when you get out of bed in the morning. Movement gets things going and it helps shake off the nighttime heaviness,

5. Meditation and Stillness

I do agree with this one. I don’t necessarily agree that you have to meditate. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t meditate. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to do traditional meditation for this to be effective. Stillness I think is more interesting. On those mornings when I wake up early, like 5:00 AM, I will definitely spend five or 10 minutes just sitting with my own thoughts, not looking at my phone, not doing anything else and just sitting. It’s very, very difficult for most people, myself included.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

6. Make your bed.

I think that making your bed is the key to a good morning. It sets you up for the day and there’s nothing better than getting into a made bed in the evening.

7. Recite affirmations.

I would love to tell you that if you stood in the morning in the mirror every morning and said, “Hey, I’m going to be so productive today.” “You are a productive person.”, ou would magically become more productive. I know that there’s research that shows that it works, but I don’t think that they’re quite as exacting or linear. It can’t hurt, but It’s not a guarantee. Productivity takes action, not just affirmations.

8. Get Your Brain Going

This is the movement version of your brain. I usually read one of two newsletters that come in in the morning; Morning Brew and Next Draft. I get a quick overview of what’s coming up in terms of the world and politics and news. Both help me think about something outside of myself.

9. Schedule your time.

So this is a very personal choice, but I think scheduling your time is something that should be done at night. In fact, it should happen on Sunday night. You should be looking at both the week ahead and the day ahead. One of the goals that you should have is to CANCEL at least one thing that you have planned for that week. Saying no more is a good habit to get into. Don’t do it rudely or superficially, have a good reason, but pick something on your calendar that just doesn’t need to be there and cancel it. I think that doing it in the morning is not as efficient and effective as doing it at night. I think it gives you more time to really digest what you’re gonna be doing the next day.

10. Pare down your decisions.

I live and die by the calendar. If it’s not in the calendar, it’s not happening. Reduce the number of things upon which you decide. And as always, implement the three DS that we teach here at Less Doing. Do. Delete. Defer.

11. Dress for Success.

I think that dressing for comfort is far more important. Of course, it depends on what you’re doing, but generally, dress for the mode that you want to be in is going to drastically improve your productivity. Dressing in a suit is not going to make you more productive. Dressing in something that hinders your ability to get things done is pretty counterproductive.

12. Put pen to paper.

There is a lot of really great research that says that putting a pen to paper is neurologically more effective. It’s all about strengthening the connection between our brains and our hands. My handwriting is terrible. I think I should work on this.

13. Eat that damn frog.

They say, “eat the frog.” In other words, do the most difficult thing first and everything else gets easier. Wrong. The difficult thing may not match up with the timing of your day. Let’s say the most difficult thing of your day may be writing a blog post. But let’s say your writing time is best done between 2:00 and 4:00 PM. So if you try to do it first thing in the morning, you’re not going to be able to be as effective at it. What you should be doing first thing in the morning is getting rid of the thing which is slowing you down the most. Identify the places where you are a bottleneck in your business or in a task where you’re holding other people up That should be your number one priority, not the hardest thing.

14. Focus on yourself.

If you don’t schedule your time, your time will be scheduled for you. So you do need to make time for yourself. Pretty much, 80% of your time should be spent on active recovery and 20% should be spent on work. So you work super effectively in that smaller amount of time, the rest of the time is spent on rest, recovery, learning, and improvement. It’s active recovery, not in the athletic sense, but in the sense of doing things that really enrich you, spending time with your family, or working on a hobby.

15. Practice Gratitude.

Practicing gratitude and being more cognizant of the things that are happening in our lives affects everything. Oftentimes as human beings we tend to focus on the negative and we don’t even recognize the positive.

16. Celebrate

We need to celebrate our successes and socialize with our teammates. There’s actually some really interesting research that shows that virtual teams are more socialized than non-virtual teams because they make more of an effort. It’s like when you never see those friends that live right next door, but you see the friends that live out of town more often.

17.Set hard time limits on certain activities.

Yes, 100%. If you set artificially restrictive limits on yourself, you will get more done. It’s quite simply the way it will work. Parkinson’s law says that work expands to fill the time allotted to complete it. Give yourself less time to complete things.

There was this great study done on the finishing times of marathons. It took the finishing times of over a million people. What they found was that there was a huge uptick every half hour, because everyone wanted to get in under that time marker. It just shows you the arbitrary nature of most goals that we set. We can set any goals that we want so we might as well set more restrictive ones.

18. Organize your workspace.

Having an organized workspace is really important. Your environment plays a big role in how productive you’re going to be. So organize it for the work you need to do and keep in mind anything that we make 20 seconds more difficult to do will be easier to break up a habit. So if you want to drink more water, have more water at your workstation, if you don’t want to eat junk food, don’t have junk food in your house, organize your workspace,

19. Leave work at work.

This one is a little bit more difficult for entrepreneurs particularly, and also those who work remotely or work at home. It’s a little bit hard sometimes to have that separation and compartmentalize. It helps to have your environment set up for work only. So I wouldn’t recommend that you sometimes do work in the kitchen and sometimes do work in the dining room. You want to have one place where you do at least the same kind of work. Maybe you always write in one place and you always read one place. What this compartmentalization does is create a signal for your brain that this is the place where you’re doing that kind of work. It will make it a lot easier to switch activities.

20. Check-in with a coach or mentor.

This may sound self-serving. I am a coach. Still, accountability is often best done outside of ourselves. Checking in with a coach or mentor takes the thoughts out of your head and allows someone with experience to help.

21.Reflect on the day’s achievements.

We don’t put enough importance on the good things that we get done. And there’s this great tool called [inaudible] this, which sends you an email at the end of the day and it says, what’d you get done today? And you write back and it creates a journal from it. And oftentimes when I would get that at six o’clock at night, I would have to look at my calendar for the day to figure out and remember the things that I had done over the past eight or nine hours because there’s just so much happening and it’s so easy again, for us to focus on the negative that sometimes we really need to celebrate those successes.

22. Disengage.

At some point in the day, you need to “close the kitchen”. Like right now. I’ve been writing for a long time. I can feel my productivity waning. So I’m going to disengage.

Make it an effective day!

My Five All-Time Favorite Conversations from The Less Doing Podcast.

I’ve now done 400 episodes of The Less Doing Podcast.

It’s been downloaded 1 million times.

So, it was pretty freakin’ hard to come up with my top five favorites. But I did it and here they are. In no particular order. Links to the original podcast are included.

The Importance of Strategic Coaching for Entrepreneurial Success — A Conversation with Dan Sullivan

Raise your hand if you’re an entrepreneur and you can’t focus.

Here’s the thing: the majority of us are finding ourselves in situations where we have so much going on, but we’re losing our footing.

From meetings to product development, we’ve got to be everywhere. We have to do everything.


No, if you’re asking Dan Sullivan, one of the most experienced business coaches.

With over 35 years of experience, Dan is focused on one thing only: stopping the overworked entrepreneur syndrome.

How Strategic Coaching Helps

Let’s be real: entrepreneurs don’t really need help with management. A tool can help with that.

What entrepreneurs really need is strategic coaching.

We need to get our priorities straight. We need to know what to focus on.

However, we’re surrounded by the buzz.

You know what I’m talking about; all those articles telling you what your next direction should be, team members with their input, your family.

Everyone has something to say.

And you have to stay sane and show up for your business.

It’s easier said than done, which is exactly why strategic coaching helps.

Entrepreneurs have great ideas and skills, plenty of healthy ambition. But they can’t quite focus — there is too much going on. A strategic coach is there to simplify things and help entrepreneurs define their priorities.

If you’re not in a place to get a strategic coach, you can learn from their strategies. Dan was kind enough to share a few lessons:

Strategic Lesson №1: Positive Focus Matters

Whenever you’re meeting with two or more people, start with a positive focus.

Spend two to three minutes talking about things you’re excited about.

This can be previous achievements, future plans — something that can hype everyone. It doesn’t even have to be related to work, as long as it gives everyone in the room a bolt of energy.

Then, start the meeting.

When you’re done, go back to positive focus.

Cheer on everyone for how well they’ve handled the issues you’ve discussed.

According to Dan, positive focus is incredibly important for morning meetings.

Everyone’s coming from different things in their lives, and half of their attention is still focused on them.

By starting off the meeting with positive things, you’ll help everyone reach the same page.

The biggest skill in life is to be where you really are.

Positive focus ensures you and your team are present in the moment.

Strategic Lesson №2: You Have to Neutralize the Critic

Strategic coaches don’t have to be hard on entrepreneurs. No one can be harder on them than they are.

Think about it; chances are, you’re probably the worst boss you’ve ever had.

Dan wants to change that, as well.

Strategic coaching is the art of asking the right questions, not providing the right answers.

In strategic coaching, no one’s going to give you the formula for success. However, coaches will help you pose the right questions.

The crucial thing is to be clear about the area you’re actually good at.

When you, as an entrepreneur, know what your strengths and your weaknesses are, you won’t be exposed to your inner critic as much.

Instead, you’ll focus on doing the work that only you can do.

You’ll have no problem delegating the rest of the work to the people on your team who are more skilled.

Or, as Dan puts it…

Do what you are really, really great at. Everybody else’s job is to free you up in some way.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know it’s hard to let go and delegate. You feel an immense sense of responsibility.

But if you shift your perspective, you’ll have a lot more time for the things that truly matter.

Strategic Lesson №3: Entrepreneurs Need Rest

Entrepreneurs often wear their burnout syndromes like badges of pride.

Dan Sullivan, who has been a strategic coach for over 30 years, has a problem with that.

You need more free time so you’re operating strategically, not tactically.

A lot of entrepreneurs are perpetually stuck in survival mode.

They’re working so hard that they don’t have an hour of quality free time. This leads to quite literally being unable to think.

You’re adding 25 important things to think about to your plate, and you’re fighting to make it through the day.

And then, Dan says, he asks his clients to take two weeks away and there’s a change:

Two weeks away, and you no longer think about twenty-five different things. You’ve got 3 things on your plate at most, and they’re all strategic.

And the more rest you take, the more will you be able to identify the truly important things.

As an entrepreneur, taking time away isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.

Do it, and you’ll become your own strategic coach.

Do You Know How To Sleep Well? — A Conversation with Dr. Michael Breus

I know what you’re thinking: what kind of question is that?

Do you know how to sleep well?

Ari, we were born with the ability to sleep. It ain’t a skill you can pick up!

Well, it turns out, your sleep quality can be poor, and it’s interfering with the way you think, work, and live.

How to Get Better Sleep: Crash Course

You’re an entrepreneur, you’re in a rush and you needed answers yesterday — I get it.

That’s why I’ve talked to Dr. Michael Breus, AKA the Sleep Doctor.

If we’ve hacked productivity, then Dr. Breus certainly hacked sleep.

An activity we don’t think of as an activity, sleep is crucial to thinking and operating productively. And the right answer to getting more rest isn’t just popping a melatonin pill and calling it a day.

Instead, here’s what you have to know to get better rest tonight:

1. Melatonin won’t help

The first problem with melatonin is the dosage.

Because of a royalty/patent feud, the majority of companies are selling too much melatonin. A single pill doesn’t contain the perfect amount (1/3–1 mg).

It contains a lot more than you need.

And whenever you introduce an exotic hormone to your body, it’s going to impair your body’s natural ability to produce the hormone it needs.

Melatonin isn’t a sleeping pill. It’s a regulator.

It can help your body realign circadian rhythms, but it’s not going to knock you out and push you into the REM phase.

Melatonin is only really useful if you’re naturally a night owl who needs to realign their circadian rhythm.

Otherwise, there are much better methods of improving the sleep you’re getting.

2. Mattress matters

With companies like Casper popping up to promise you better sleep if you invest in a mattress (for possibly the first time in your life), I couldn’t wait to talk about mattresses with dr. Breus.

The main benefit of mattresses is the support they’re giving you.

When I was twenty, I could fall asleep on literally any flat surface. Heck, I could curl into a bus seat and get my daily dose of energy.

But as you grow older, you start needing specific support.

When you’re thinking about purchasing a mattress, don’t think about the price point. Think about the support.

If you have torn discs, get memory foam mattresses that stop you from twisting in the night. Similarly, if you have shoulder or lower back issues, get mattresses that provide specific support for that.

A $10,000 mattress doesn’t have to be more effective than a $500 one. There’s no data to back that up.

Understand the position you sleep in.

If you sleep on your stomach, avoid soft mattresses. They’ll push your lower back in a way that could damage it.

3. Pillow Talk

Similarly to mattresses, your pillows matter because of your sleep position.

If your pillow is too full, it can squish your nose forward, giving you respiratory issues.

The ideal is to have your nose in line with your sternum as you sleep.

If you sleep on your side and you need extra space between your head and your shoulder, you should factor that into your pillow decision.

The goal is to get all the support your body needs for a good night’s sleep.

In fact, the majority of head, neck and shoulder problems come from the wrong pillow.

Dr. Braus advocates buying a new pillow every 18 months since the material quality degrades over time.

You ultimately end up with a pillow that’s not the pillow you bought, or the pillow that can support you.

(Talk about metaphors, huh?)

4. The Perfect Position

Sleeping on your back is actually the perfect sleeping position, even if 70% of people sleep on their side.

When you lie back, all of your weight is evenly distributed. Your limbs aren’t going numb, you’re not crushing your capillaries or moving around during the night. And yet, why can’t we sleep on our backs?

It’s actually a spinal thing.

As we use our bodies throughout the day, we wear down our spinal discs.

When we sleep, they’re rehydrated and grow apart, making us effectively taller when we wake up.

The easiest way to help them rehydrate is by sleeping in a fetal position.

A good way around it is by putting a pillow underneath your knees.

This way, you’re removing the pressure off your pelvis and allowing the discs to recuperate even as you’re sleeping on your back.

5. Banana tea

Finally, dr. Braus recommends brewing a banana tea to get some shuteye:

  • Get an organically grown banana
  • Leave the peel on and wash it
  • Cut off the tips
  • Cut the banana (with the peel on) in half
  • Put the banana in 3–4 cups of boiling water
  • Wait a few minutes
  • Presto! You’ve got your banana tea!

Bananas have a lot more magnesium than any other fruit.

And, it turns out, magnesium works wonders for getting you the rest you need to keep doing amazing things!

Phil McKernan — Dealing with Emotions as an Entrepreneur

We talk about skills. We talk about goals and meeting targets. Heck, sometimes when we’re feeling really wild, we talk about doing more by doing less.

But entrepreneurs talk about their emotions the least.

That’s why my conversation with Phil McKernan, a speaker and a coach who brings clarity to entrepreneurs struggling to go forward, brought me so much joy.

It turns out, we don’t just need strategy.

We need emotional clarity in order to make the best decisions for our businesses.

Emotional Alignment

In addition to strategical alignment, you as an entrepreneur need emotional alignment.

If you want to become a brilliant entrepreneur, you can’t avoid raw conversations.

Phil has worked with so many entrepreneurs who thought they needed business coaches who could tell them how to make the most out of their businesses.

It turned out, they were facing obstacles in other areas of their lives.

Their struggles with being better parents or spouses were translating into their business struggles. One area you’re struggling with has the ability to turn everything into one long road overflowing with obstacles.

One client told Phil that the timing wasn’t right to sell their business. Another told him there weren’t any right buyers to sell their business to.

He called bullshit and personally, I think we should be calling our own bullshit a little more often.

What we truly are is scared shitless.

Again, this is normal. This is what it means to be an entrepreneur.

We’re facing the unknown constantly, but we’ve managed to let ourselves define our journeys by the things we’ve accomplished in business.

It’s completely obscuring our view.

Our perception is giving us brain fog.

And our goal is to cut through it.

You Are Replaceable (but that’s good!)

Phil and I agree on one thing: we’re replaceable.

A lot of people — especially entrepreneurs — don’t allow themselves to consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, the world would go on without them.

You hold on tight to your business because there’s nothing else that fulfills you and gives you the meaning you need.

In the long term, it turns you into a person who has trouble letting go of what no longer serves you or helps you grow.

If you have depth in other areas of your life, you won’t be putting all of your meaning-eggs in one basket.

You’ll be fine even if you are the replaceable founder.

Otherwise, you won’t be in emotional alignment.

You’ll reach the top, achieve all you’ve set out to achieve, but you won’t get the sense of satisfaction you’ve been craving all along.

Now, the majority of entrepreneurs face that obstacle and they don’t think about it.

All they do is push themselves into more work.

It’s not a good coping strategy, so Phil goes beyond that when he works with his clients.

Accessing Your Truth

Ultimately, as an entrepreneur who wants to feel happy about their success, you have to understand your emotions and your truth.

So many people have built empires out of a simple need to avoid poverty. They grew up in poverty and they knew they didn’t want to go back there.

However, the pendulum swings the other way around, and it’s another extreme stopping you from accessing your truth.

Once you do examine your emotions and understand what truly drives you to succeed, you will be able to create a life that gives you meaning.

You won’t postpone difficult conversations or add more tasks to your to-do list.

When you’re in emotional alignment, you’ll accept all of who you are. The good, the bad, the ugly. And when you talk about it, you’ll make someone in your audience go: “Holy shit, I am not alone in this.”

Building a Relationship with Yourself

According to Phil (and this is something I can vouch for too), there are three most important relationships that can bring you meaning and help you live in alignment with your truth:

  1. Your relationship with yourself
  2. Your relationship with your loved ones
  3. Your relationship with the work you do

Your relationship with yourself gives you confidence and self-esteem.

Your relationship with the people you love allows you to come home at the end of the day and say: “You know what? I love what I have. I love my family.”

And your relationship with the work you do ultimately helps you do meaningful things and have an impact on your community.

It helps you perceive your work as a true extension of yourself.

Not just something you spend time on to feel as though you’re worthy.

Over time, you’ll see how these relationships compound to help you live a more meaningful life.

Forget about being irreplaceable.

Forget about overworking yourself and experiencing burnout every damn week.

Instead, go out there and find your meaning.

It will tell you everything you need to know.

Jordan Belfort — Sales Lessons from the Original Wolf of Wall Street

You can say whatever you want about Jordan Belfort, but you can’t deny the man knows how to sell.

A natural-born salesman, Jordan Belfort has had his ups and downs, but he’s back and wiser than ever.

In my recent conversation with him, we’ve discussed his ethical persuasion sales system, and how entrepreneurs like us can use it.

Sales Are Natural

Most people fear sales, but they’re everything in life and business.

Sales happens everywhere.

If you’re a parent and you want to convince your kid to do their homework before bed, you’ve got to sell them on the idea.

If you want to share your ideas with the world, you need to sell them to everyone.

Teachers sell constantly; how else are you going to convince your students that learning about ancient emperors is applicable to modern-day situations?

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is that they think about sales only in terms of closing deals.

Sales are a process of empowering people with the information you’re giving them.

Closed deals come naturally. You first have to convince them.

For Jordan Belfort, that’s a skill he naturally has.

But for the rest of us, he has a few lessons to share…

1. Persuasion is a linchpin skill

If you want to sell effectively and close deals quicker, you need to become more persuasive.

You can have the world’s best pitch, but unless you’re addressing customers’ objections and selling them on your idea before you sell them on the price, you’re not going to be able to close deals quickly and effectively.

Additionally, persuasion goes further than closing a single deal.

Persuasion helps you turn your customers into raving fans who will go out there and sell your products for you.

In the current situation, getting leads is expensive.

Your marketing program could be costing you so much per every customer you acquire that you may be barely breaking even.

The best way to get new customers and retain your revenue is by getting evangelists on board.

And you can’t do that without being persuasive.

Jordan advocates the oldest trick in the book, which he claims still works: giving away free samples.

You can offer bits of your wisdom through blog posts, or literally offer free samples of your products like they do in grocery stores.

There’s a reason why they’re so persuasive and translate to more sales.

2. “I have to ask my spouse”

One of the objections I hear often is definitely “I have to ask my husband/wife.”

According to Jordan, this is only a valid argument if your prospect is making a significant investment like buying a house.

Everything else is only a way to say: “I’m not convinced by what you’re telling me.”

There are a few ways to overcome those objections and turn your product into the best thing since sliced bread for your customers:

  • Don’t address leads’ objections. Instead, deflect them and loop back around to benefits.
  • If you’re asking your prospect to make a decision that requires other stakeholders’ input, make sure they’re present at your meeting.
  • The key is to make yourself a trustworthy salesperson. Speak about your experience, and relate to your prospect on a human level. For example, Belfort mentions one situation related to the “I need to ask my wife” objection. He approached his prospect by saying: “Of course, John, but I’ve been in this business for a long time, and I can guarantee she doesn’t ask you every time she wants to buy a pair of shoes.
  • Make your company and your product trustworthy. Ideally, the prospect will have already reviewed testimonials from people just like them.

Finally, bring back the conversation to the prospect. Ask them: “Well John, does the idea make sense to you?”

Deflect the objection. Then, go back and emphasize the benefits again. Convince the prospect of what you’re telling them.

You’ll see the objection smokescreen melt before your very eyes.

3. Forget your goals, and focus on your vision

Finally, Jordan has advice for entrepreneurs that’s not strictly related to sales, but it can help you understand your life’s work and your products better.

We’re all obsessed with our goals and getting there.

Jordan says: Transcend your goal setting and focus on your vision.

You have to create a detailed vision of your life.

Imagine where you want to be in five years personally, and imagine where you want your business to be in five years.

Then, understand your vision.

Know why you want your life to look like that.

It’ll help you understand your values and your motivations.

Ultimately, knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing will help you not only believe in your products so you can be more persuasive, but you’ll also overcome obstacles with ease.

After that, the actual selling becomes a piece of cake.

Peter Shallard — How to Be the Entrepreneur You Want to Be

For the majority of entrepreneurs, there is a huge gap between what you should be doing and the kind of entrepreneur you want to be, and the kind of entrepreneur you actually are.

We all have different images of ourselves in our heads.

But come Monday, we open up our laptops and we’re no longer the people we want to be.

So how do we change that?

How do we become the entrepreneurs we’ve always dreamt of being?

According to Peter Shallard, the shrink for entrepreneurs, accountability is key.

How Accountability Improves Your Efficiency

The one thing that Shallard brings into his Commit Action program are principles taken from therapy.

One thing that works with good and bad therapy alike is accountability.

A lot of entrepreneurs today are operating in a vacuum of isolation.

No one knows what they’re doing, no one knows that they’re showing up, day in and day out.

And more importantly: no one is celebrating their success.


Because no one knows what’s happening.

That’s one of the guiding principles behind Commit Action, where entrepreneurs get a coach who can help them feel accountable and positive about the actions they’re taking.

Shallard and his team, including psychology professors from NYU, actually conducted research to back that approach.

It turns out, entrepreneurs who were consistently successful had one thing others did not: people who held them accountable.

And despite all the technology that makes it easier than ever to start and run a profitable company, it’s actually depriving us of the positive psychological environment in which human beings thrive.

Everybody Wants to Hang out with the World

We can blame our ape ancestors for needing environments from which we get recognition and acceptance.

The part of our brain that needs social acceptance and appreciation directly influences our ability to focus.

Being entrepreneurs in our PJs isn’t working for us. We’re lonelier than ever.

The more and more time passes, the less can we focus.

It ultimately creates a state that Shallard calls mental-like schizophrenia. His clients describe feeling like they live with mental sock puppets.

At one point, the puppets cheer them on to stay hyped and efficient. Then the puppets turn on them, criticizing them for not doing enough.

And despite the events and talks that are supposed to make you feel on top of the world and push you into hyper productivity, that’s impossible to maintain without a mental game plan.

It Takes a Village to Organize a Human Brain

We need socialization, and it’s striking that a lot of businesses in the US are actually one-person companies.

Yes, you may outsource your work to freelancers, but if you’re the only one responsible for your activities and your success, and you don’t have anyone to turn to at the end of the day for accountability and recognition, it’ll get lonely soon.

And when it gets lonely, your ability to focus suffers.

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have entire support nets; teams, boards of directors, coaches, and mentors.

Celebrating wins stops being a monologue, and turns into an accountability dialogue.

It’s why Commit Action works so well.

Shallard offers the minimum viable dose of accountability, perfect for busy entrepreneurs. You just get on the phone with your coach and tell them what you did.

It’s a small step for you, but an immense one for your future.

It’s Okay Not to Be a Powerhouse

Shallard does a lot of work with burnt out entrepreneurs who are at the point where even performing a simple task like making 10 cold calls is too much.

So what does he recommend doing in that kind of situation?

Break down the task.

Is 10 cold calls too much? Make it five.

Is 5 too much? Make a list of people you’re going to call.

Is making a list too much? Dial the first digit.

It’s something, and when you have someone holding you accountable for completing these small goals, it’ll start off a positive reinforcement chain.

In the long term, you’ll be able to commit to greater and greater actions.

Even if the initial actions you’re committing to are barely moving the needle, they’ll compound.

The Key: Implementation Granularity

So, how do you become the entrepreneur you want to be?

By taking action, consistently, and having a healthy environment to do it in.

If your goals are overwhelming you (and you know how the saying goes — if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough), there’s a simple trick you can use:

Break down the big goal into small tasks.

Climbing Mount Everest is a huge, hairy goal to swallow.

But if you visualize it as taking thirty thousand steps, it’ll become much more achievable.

And if you also have someone to hold you accountable all the while, you’ll improve your productivity and your head game.