Habits…easy come, easy go…no more!

Last night, when I was doing exactly what I’d been telling myself all lockdown not to do – staying up later for no good reason once the kids had finally got to bed – checking emails, checking the news and getting a head start on today’s work until late into the night.  Why? What the heck was I doing? I know just how useless I am without good sleep.

The last thing I did was check here on Linked in and noticed that a mate had Liked a Post about exercise and the benefits, if you were to get Covid.

To be honest the info may or may not have been spot on. I’m not sure as I haven’t checked the facts myself, but there was a theme there that rang true for me.  

It’s a good thing to be fit and well. It’s a good thing just to move.

Before this current lockdown, I’d been on a good health and fitness streak.  I’ve always enjoyed exercise, sport and being outside doing something.  We’ve instilled that sense of keeping well into our children also.  Prior to Covid, like many parents it seems, we were pretty much a taxi service from sport to sport.  Tiring – yes, fulfilling – absolutely.  For everyone involved.

Then this lockdown happened.  I have to admit that it hit me.  Immediately.  My work front lethargy was one thing but actually my motivation to leap out of bed as usual and feel like I’d achieved something ‘exercise-wise’ before getting into the work stuff, the parenting stuff, the husband stuff, the life stuff – hit rock bottom for me from Day 1.

Last night’s Post was the kick that I needed. Thank you.

This morning I set the alarm just slightly earlier than I had been doing so.  Yep, thoughts flew through my mind when I woke up, “Argh, can I be bothered?  Just another half hour of sleep?”

Not this time!  I chucked some clothes on, grabbed the dog’s lead (man, was she excited!) and then the dog herself of course, before heading out the door.

Half an hour’s walk along the beach, taking in the sounds, the smells, the sensations, the sights and my thoughts.  

My own time. Yay!

Upon arriving home to wake up the kids in time for online school, there it was sitting there on my watch.  The Exercise Ring thingy was telling me that it had already closed for the day.

Tomorrow’s goal is to get the kids back into early morning exercise with me.  We’ve been a bit remiss with that and as a result, they’ve been a bit lethargic also, which is unlike them.

I need to be a better Dad and get them back into the good habits that they had prior to this lockdown.

It always amazes me just how long it can take to get into a good habit (no less than 18 days evidently?), yet it only seems to take us missing that habitual task just once and it can start to slip away from you again.

Stuff that.  I can’t let this lockdown malarkey make me someone else.  Someone that I don’t really enjoy being around as it’s clear that exercise for me, is food for my body, my mind and my soul.  Without it, I’m not the best Dad, Husband or person, so why would I want to let that happen just for the sake of an extra few minutes sleep a day?

As I finish typing this, the rain has started pelting down.  Good timing then!  So glad to have ticked something off the list that I’ve found so difficult throughout lockdown.

It’s made me realise also that there is a flow on effect.  This has given me a kick with writing.  I used to be so keen on that also.  Actually I can’t believe it’s been 366 days since I last wrote an article. Poor! But I’ve managed to tick & kick that off again also.  Boom!

The hardest thing is that first step.  The funny thing is that with exercise or really anything, it seems to be tougher to get going but we don’t tend to regret it once we cross the finish line.

Today has never been done before, so I’ve decided that I’m the only one who can determine whether I’ll succeed or not, even if not everything is within my control.

Thanks to the person that wrote the Post and thanks to my mate for Liking it.

I hope that you have a good one today too. What are you waiting for?

[Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash]

15 Books I’ve listened to so far during Covid and would recommend

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – by Dan Ariely

Simply one of the best books I’ve ever listened to.

This book is all about why we make illogical decisions.  You will laugh to/at yourself when you nod your head along to so many case studies or anecdotes that demonstrate that we’re not alone with how we think.

If you have a business and are keen to understand customers even better, then this book will be even more enjoyable, however regardless, it’s a fascinating insight into human nature.

Have you ever wondered why most online platforms’ pricing has three options?  Have a listen and find out more.

The Richest Man in Babylon – By George S Clason 

One of my favourites!  

I first read this book as a teenager and yet it still rings so true.  It’s described as ‘one of the greatest of all inspirational works on the subject of thrift, financial planning, and personal wealth’.

It’s just a great story, that has meaning.  It’s also super quick to listen to.

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams – By Matthew Walker

Whilst listening to this book helped my behaviour, it certainly didn’t make me fall asleep.

This is the most detailed study that I’ve read and it’s also very simple to understand.  Essentially, sleep is our powerhouse.  If we continue to deny ourselves good patterns, it has some fairly serious consequences.  Starting young.  I recommend this book to absolutely anyone who is keen to learn and think a little deeper.

The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch – By Dan Norris

A very quick listen, but it’s packed with great advice that helps us focus our general need to make things happen.  Essentially, as we all know (or at least continue to hear) plans are nothing without action…this books hopes to steer us all away from procrastination and just get you underway.

It’s one of those reference books to listen to again, when you feel yourself moving away from your target.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products – By Nir Eyal & Ryan Hoover 

It’s always nice to have a book narrated by the Author.  Nir Eyal takes us through his journey based on insights, actions, techniques and thoughts on how to not just ‘build it and they will come’, but keep them coming back.
I really enjoyed this book and you can use it like a manual.  Have a listen.

Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success – By Benjamin Hardy

This book was enjoyable although not a favourite.  It talks about how we need to shape our environment rather than let it shape us.

What is great is that it talks about incremental steps and being realistic.  Focus on what can be achieved in the short term vs worrying too much about the end goal, which is something which I think is worth emulating in order to keep things under control.

Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea That Drives 10x Growth – By John Doerr

One of my favourites of the year also.

Larry Page, a founder of Google provides the Foreward for this great book, with contributions from Bono and Bill Gates.

This book is all about metrics and ensuring that you are making progress, utilising the OKR system to measure how you’re tracking.  A must listen for any business owner, manager or person that has a project of any description.

A Short History of Nearly Everything – By Bill Bryson

The title and author say it all!  I learned so much from listening to this (rather long) book but it was so interesting and of course funny.

New Zealand, our pioneering spirit and many well-known names are mentioned in this, which only adds to the sense of just how much we have contributed to the world.

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World – By John Mark Comer

Although there is a religious bent to this book, which I was unaware of in terms of just how many references before downloading it, it has some fantastic life lessons to help focus our lives on what is actually important.

In particular, ensuring that we use our precious time better.  I like to think of it as more spiritual than religious as such, but the connection between ancient stories and today, is very well done.  You might surprise yourself and really enjoy this book.

Think and Grow Rich – By Napolean Hill

I didn’t realise that this book was first written in 1937, however it is very relevant to life today.

Over 20 years, Napolean Hill interviewed 504 people including household brandname founders like Ford, Wrigley, Eastman, Rockefeller, Edison, Woolworth, Morgan, Firestone as well as US presidents. It was inspired by Andrew Carnegie.

Enough said.

Bezonomics: How Amazon Is Changing Our Lives, and What the World’s Companies Are Learning from It – By Brian Dumaine

This isn’t the first book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon that I’ve listened to, however next to The Everything Store, it is one of the better ones.

Whether you love or can’t stand Amazon, the story and foundation behind the behemoth, is fascinating.  The learnings can be utilised by any company of any size, with customers.  Focus on providing what the customer really wants, although always maintain your values.

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons in Creative Leadership from the CEO of the Walt Disney Company – By Robert Iger

Wow!  Bob Iger has achieved a lot in life and seen a lot.  He admits that some of it has been luck, however also, he has been strategic and he has taken risks, even if it wasn’t with is own money!

This is a great story about Iger’s life and rise to the top of the largest entertainment group in the world and how he got them there.

I really enjoyed listening and took a lot of notes as I wandered along listening to it.

Compete to Create: An Approach to Living and Leading Authentically – By Dr Michael Gervais & Peter Carroll

What I love about this book is that it uses real life examples of athletes, entrepreneurs and psychology, mixed with stories from ‘the trenches’.  It’s teams based but as a solo business owner, I found it a really insightful book.

There is a lot of dialogue from an NFL coach and although it’s not a game that I know well, it just talks about getting the best from people.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb | Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review

This is a summary of a book that Jeff Bezos suggests that all of the Amazon staff read.  Covid is one of those Black Swan ‘highly improbable, high impact events that you seemingly can’t plan for but should’ events that this books talks about.

Jon Snow: Making the News – By Jon Snow

Featuring famous interviews by Jon Snow, a reputable journalist, which includes coverage of 9/11, The Fall of the Berlin wall and interviews with notable people like Margaret Thatcher.

Short and sweet, but interesting.

Please also see my previous articles on the other books that I’ve listened to over recent times.

18 more books…
17 more books…

Enjoy!

A tool to help make Progress

Like me, do you guys sometimes get to the end of the day, week or even weekend and think, “Jeepers, what have I actually achieved?” 

We tend to want to feel on track, a degree of success and fundamentally, we need to have Purpose. 

Rather than fixating on the future end goal, I think it boils down to the desire to feel that we are ‘Making Progress’. 

Evidently ‘Progress’ derives from the Latin ‘to walk forward’. So basically, taking steps. 

If you sometimes feel tired, doubt yourself and see yourself saying “Am I making progress?” when you look in the mirror, then like me, consider using a basic free online tool like Trello (amongst others) to make your lists, note some goals, check in & tick things off to make yourself feel better.

For me, this simple practice has definitely helped alleviate stress and also help me leap off what at times seems like the overwhelming business treadmill.

Use Trello as your Reset button. An ‘unblocker’, as a mate calls it.

When you doubt your progress, then you have a history to show just what you have been achieving.

My suggestion is to stop wondering and just make a start. Along with Trello, there is also Asana or Monday.

To get started with Trello

  • Simply go to Trello and follow the sign in screens
  • It’s a basic Kanban system of To Do, Doing & Done – however you can decide what works best for you
  • There are so many options for you over and above basic lists, which include creating Checklists, Due Dates, Reminders and the ability to Invite others to view your plans or actions. This makes it a great tool for you as an individual as well as your office space/team
  • It’s great on your laptop but I also find the App fairly straight forward to follow
  • Most of the additional features, can be found from following the Menu on the right hand side of the screen, once you’ve set up your first Board.

Follow this simple video guide, provided by Trello. There is also a general YouTube video that someone has put together, to help extend your knowledge and see if it’s for you.

Best wishes and enjoy that feeling of making progress today, rather than potentially worrying so much about the big end goal just yet.

Take care.

Procrastination: the handbrake of life

I’ll never forget my Dad receiving a particular Xmas gift sometime in the early ’80’s.

He was given this red, round plastic disc, called ‘a Round-Tuit’.  It looked similar to this pic and it sat there on his Study shelf for years, always seemed to get a laugh and also start a conversation.  

We’ve all heard ourselves say, at one time or another, “Yeah, yeah, when I get around to it.  Give me a break ok?”

However, sometimes, we really do need reminding.

It was only as I got older that I truly began recognising the (potentially debilitating) power of procrastination, the simplicity of what the word means and how to (try and) beat it or at least meet it.

Only last year, our son, who was um’ing and argh’ing about what to do for a school speech topic, had his (other) Granddad ultimately say, “How about doing it on Procrastination then?”.

So, some of the following content is credited to our son and his research, in order to put something coherent together.  I hope that it’s of interest to you.

The definition of Procrastination

“The action of delaying or postponing something, deriving from the Latin word ‘pro’ meaning forward and ‘crastinus’ meaning belonging to tomorrow.”

Therefore, procrastination means a putting off from day to day.

The 4 different types of procrastinators (as noted on alphaefficiency.com)

1) The Anxious Procrastinator: where you end up trying to fit in way too much work into your already busy day and never get around to having fun, rest and reflection.

2) The Fun Procrastinator: where you’d rather be doing anything that’s fun and excites you vs completing your task(s), so you put some of the ‘work stuff’ to the bottom of the list.

3) The Plenty of Time Procrastinator: where you wait until the very last minute to complete your task(s), because you feel that you need a time limit to truly motivate you.

4) The Perfectionist Procrastinator: where you never quite finish, as you feel that whatever you’re doing can always be done better – so you just keep at it, at the expense of other potentially more important things.

Do you recognise yourself in one or even a few of those loose descriptions?  
 

But is it always a bad thing to be a procrastinator?

Evidently, Mozart used to make changes to his music just before going on stage…however his music is still enjoyed hundreds of years later, around the world.

Furthermore, evidently Leonardo Da Vinci took 16 years to complete the Mona Lisa…not a bad end result for those millions of people who have viewed his 77cm x 53cm Masterpiece.

You could argue though….

At the same time, some historians believe that the 146m high x 230 m wide Pyramids of Giza took just 10 years to build block by block, so there was no mucking around there!

There is a tangible downside to us practising regular procrastination…


Not finishing or even not getting to the start line with what we need to (or should) get done, can create endless stress and a sense of feeling overwhelmed.  However, it’s something that we can all overcome to some degree, to allow us to move forward, closer to our goals and a sense of satisfaction, achievement and finally stepping off that hamster wheel.

Let’s be honest, we’d probably prefer not to procrastinate if we could.


Luckily it turns out that there are a couple of pretty simple solutions

To ensure that we do start making inroads to getting everything done that we need to within a reasonable timeframe and still ensure that we get to enjoy life and have fun, we simply need to summon the courage to act.


Online studies have shown that making a list is a great idea.  So, very simply, an Action Plan or To Do List which includes all the things you must or have to do.  

Start by writing down all of the things that you have to and want to do, by when. That way you have a helicopter view & plan, to then review what is possible and what simply has to get done. 

Going a step further think about those individual tactics and things that you need to do, to get those bigger things done.

Ticking things off that list is a great way to feel good.  

Personally, I use the free online tool Trello as much as possible.

The all-important second part to this…

If, like most people in the world, you need a bit of a nudge as ‘life’ gets in the way, then the second solution to the Action Plan I’d suggest, is adding some accountability.  

Who can you ask to monitor you to check in and ask, “So have you done ‘x’?  If not, why not and when are you going to?”.  

Better yet, if they can help you construct your Plan so that you don’t feel alone in this, then that’s a bonus.

The person can be a friend, family member, colleague or of course a professional coach, advisor or mentor.

Change your view of yourself…

So, instead of being a Procrastinator, consider being a Prioritisor, however whatever you decide, take action today and do it!  Don’t say that you’ll start tomorrow and don’t wait to receive your own ‘Round Tuit’.

As Martin Luther King Jr said “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.

Lastly and to be fair to my Dad, he’s always been a very proactive and organised guy, so whilst I’m not sure that it was a necessary gift for him, I’m keen to ensure that I don’t need that bright red circular piece of plastic hanging above my desk.

Credit of some content ideas: Alphaefficiency.com and of course, our son! Good on you for owning it.

Credit image from Google.

Selling or contemplating selling your business? How about a quick Audit?

We often get so buried in the day to day of running our businesses, that we don’t get the time to ‘check in’ across the myriad of essential building blocks that when added up, equate to our Asset Value. 

When it comes time to sell your business, you need to be in a position where these are clear, efficient, fit together cohesively, are under control and also well-documented, to the point where you are confident that you are maximising your business’s value and someone else will be keen to buy at a fair price.

Likewise, having everything in order is equally valuable when contemplating buying a business.  In essence, it’s your own DD Checklist to provide confidence and clarity.

Let’s be honest though, as a business owner it’s a real challenge to keep all of the plates spinning, regardless of the size of the plates and the business itself.  (notwithstanding whatever else is going on in life).

In an ideal situation, it’s a good idea to have your business ready for sale, on any given day. 

Here is a top-line overview of the key building blocks, with a basic selection of themes and questions to ask yourself, as an initial checklist, for both your business and business life, to see how ready you might be.

You (+ Life & Business Life balance)

e.g. How fundamental are you to the daily operations of the business?  How easily can you extract yourself so that an earn-out isn’t negotiated from the new owner?  What does life look like once you sell? 

Goals & Timeline

e.g. What’s your plan?  Do you have one?

Value Proposition & Market Need

e.g. What are you famous for?  Why? How are you unique? What pain points are you alleviating or could you alleviate given a changing, disruptive business environment? 

Competitors & Horizon

e.g. How are you placed compared with others?  What’s putting you in the driving seat for the foreseeable future that a new owner can be confident about simply picking up the reigns and continuing to grow?

Asset Creation

e.g. Are you clear about what your tangible and intangible assets are, together with what their value might be?  Is it our brand? Content? Are you the key Asset?

Relationships

e.g. Who is/are key?  Is there genuine loyalty?  Can the relationships be transferred easily to a new owner?  Could a current relationship be a potential buyer? 

Building Communities

e.g. Do you have a community or a database?

Technology & Systems

e.g. Is there a need to be up to date with your Systems?  What part does Data play? What’s the potential for Automation?  Are your systems secure?

Marketing & Communications

e.g. What’s the ROI?  Are your activities and channels working?  What research is currently underway or being analysed?  Are you looking at Marketing Automation to maximise revenue opportunities?  Do you have a single view of your customers? Do you segment? What’s the customer journey and user experience?

Processes

e.g. Do you have any and are they working?

Operations & People

e.g. Do you have any and are they working?

Pricing, Revenue, Budgets & Cashflow

e.g. Do you feel that you’re in good shape?  Have you got a good accountant?

Capital & Resources

e.g. Can we see where the business could go with further investment, that might entice a future owner?

Documentation, Governance vs Management, Legal & Risk

e.g. Is your IP on paper or in your head?  Do we need a Plan B and are we covered? How easy is it for a new owner to step in, without you?  Have you got a good lawyer?

Red Flags

e.g. What potential issues might a prospective buyer raise and how easily/quickly can you alleviate any downside?

Do you feel better now or can you see the opportunity? 

Once you have gone through this top-level checklist, it’s worth putting together a workable, affordable and realistic Action Plan based on your priorities, budget and also energy levels to close any gaps that you find.  You can either do this yourself or getting someone to assist you to extract this info and find a path forward. At the same time, being held accountable is often a good way to allow you to focus on the important stuff and to get things done.  Have you got a sound, experienced person who you can use as a Business Advisor?

When you feel like you’re in the best position that you’re likely to be in, then it’s time to offer your business to the market. 

If you’ve ticked off some important things and tweak your business, this should be reflected in a higher sale price and a shorter lead time as the business is more attractive to potential purchasers.  Ideally also, you will have extracted yourself enough that you aren’t required to go along with the sale and can simply hand over the keys.

Good luck. Co-Pilot is happy to help.

[From an Article written for ABC Business Sales]