Spend Your Time More Effectively!

Not doing something not worth doing is a great way to spend your time.

David Heinemeier Hansson

Here’s a guy who’s succeeded in business by not doing more. But…he’s done important things. And…he’s enjoyed it. To learn about how he’s pulled this off, listen as Alex Sanfilippo interviews David Heinemeier Hansson.

David is a co-founder of Basecamp, and author of It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work. He’s also a race car driver and enjoyer of life. Links to David’s business, his book, and other resources are linked on the interview page.

With first-hand experience in the startup software business, David is unique. He and his partner eschewed the accepted features of that culture. They didn’t risk everything they owned, work 80 hours/week, or take no time off.

David has lived most of his life in Denmark. He learned a different work/life balance perspective than what’s common in the U.S.

David and his partner started Basecamp (then 37 Signals) as a side gig. The kept their established sources of income. They failed at an earlier venture and learned from the experience.

Calm vs. crazy is a concept that defines these guys’ approach to business. David discusses the quality of an hour vs. the quantity of hours he works. As people “fragment” their time, they never get into “flow”. Flow is what can make us intensely productive.

In today’s world, we’re bombarded by inputs that distract us:

  • Social media
  • Email
  • Phone calls
  • Meetings
  • Etc., etc. etc.

To be productive, we must never put our schedule at the mercy of others’ whims. His advice: Turn off all notifications.

“Enough” is another concept David and Alex discuss. Goals can put us in the mindset of never having enough. We’re always striving for “more” As Basecamp started to grow very well, they got a point of 50 employees. They had several other products and found they couldn’t do them all with 50 people. Did they hire more? No – they stopped doing some of the other things. Basecamp was rewarding, and it was enough! As Basecamp grew, they’ve expanded to about 60, no more.

David asks himself one of my favorite questions: Why am I Here? His answer has 3 parts:

  • He wants to make great software.
  • He wants to make it with awesome people.
  • He wants to treat customers right.

Nothing more, nothing less!

Here, I’ve hit on the high points of David’s ideas. I recommend you listen to the interview to get the depth of his ideas.

Marketing On A Budget!

Some people line up big investors and/or large savings accounts to start businesses.

The guy highlighted in this article did it without big money. Without a huge marketing budget.

The power of an idea that resonates in the market is huge. When people benefit from something they bought, they tell their friends about it. 

Mike Doehla, quite by accident, discovered the power in this human tendency. Leveraging it, he built Stronger U, a $ multi-million online nutrition coaching business.

As Doehla’new business was starting to get traction, he lacked the self-confidence to quit his corporate job. His then-girlfriend, whom he later married, convinced him to take the plunge.

Think about the last time you had something to eat you liked a lot. Or maybe you watched a movie you enjoyed.

When you talk with your family or friends, you can’t wait to share that experience. Right?

The same works when someone provides a service that helps you accomplish a desired goal. That’s exactly what Stronger U does for people who want to improve their health. Read about it here. If you’re interested in more information about how they can help you, go to the company’s website.

Surf Dude And Life Lessons That Go With It

My good friend and fellow Estanciero David Galland recently published Surf DudeLike everything David writes, it’s a riveting story. As with much good writing, there’s a lot more here than an entertaining narrative.

The story is of a group of airliner crash survivors on a small island, struggling for survival. Two examples of extreme antisocial behavior emerge. What follows is the rest of the fascinating story.

This book brings to light the value of respect for others and their opinions and beliefs. And of course, the folly of prejudice and a closed mind.

If someone has different ideas than you have, what of it? If you both are open to discussing your differences, it can make an interesting conversation. If either of you doesn’t want to do that, it’s better left alone.

“Convince a man against his will, He’s of the same opinion still.”

– Dale Carnegie

Suppose they believe differently from you in some area, say religion or politics. They aren’t harming you with their different views. They could, of course, become a nuisance if they insist on proselytizing. You may, or may not, choose to include them in your circle of friends. I have several friends who are of opinions quite different from mine.

Naturally, if they believe in stealing, or harming other people, you want nothing to do with them. You may even need to take action to protect yourself and your assets from them.

The libertarian (notice that’s with a small “l” – it’s not a political party) view is:

  • Live and let live.
  • I’ll respect you and your opinions as long as you respect me and mine.
  • I’ll treat you fairly as long as you treat me fairly.

Solid sustainable businesses add wealth to the economy. They flourish by producing something of value to their customers. When a customer buys from them:

  • The customer sees more value in the product or service than the price he/she pays for it.
  • The company sees more value in the money paid to them than the product or service they delivered.

This is a win-win transaction. It’s how wealth is built in a healthy economy. People who do business this way are usually open to all comers without prejudice. It’s just the way they think. Rarely are they prejudiced in anything. David discusses the concept of trading at will in some of the interactions among the survivor group.

So… with this discussion, I’ve drifted a bit from the original topic, that of David’s book. If you look carefully at my flow of ruminations, you may (I hope) find a thread of related ideas.

Perhaps it will encourage you to pick up David’s book and let it stimulate your thinking. It’s a pretty quick read, and I think you’ll find it entertaining. (You might not if you believe in physical and psychological domination and/or religious fanaticism. These two, domination and forcing religious beliefs on others are really two forms of the same thing.)

New Year, New Habits!

Which of your habits (we all have many!) are serving you well? Which are detrimental for you? What new habits would you like to establish?

Want to :

  • Quit smoking?
  • Lose weight?
  • Make your bed every morning?
  • Eat a small amount of healthy chocolate each day?

Last week I got a recommendation for a book which I’m pretty sure will change my life.

What causes habits to form, or disappear? This book, by B.J. Fogg, can probably help you make some worthwhile adjustments as well. Fogg analyzes habits. What causes them to form, disappear, or change.

He analyzes what makes it possible to adopt habits without difficulty. His core principle is B=M+A+P.

Behavior results from

  • Motivation to do something – what makes you want to do it. You want to lose weight.
  • Ability – how easy it is to do. Often that’s one ridiculously easy step. You put half a teaspoon less sugar in your coffee. A new behavior is easier if you reduce the practice to a tiny fraction of your full intent.
  • Prompt – a natural, easy key to remind yourself to do it. Tie a ribbon on the handle of the sugar spoon, or on the handle of your coffee cup. It’s actually better if the reminder is something already in your routine. E. g. you sit down at the breakfast table, or you pour your coffee.

At times when motivation is low (happens for all of us!) doing the easy minimum meets your obligation. You can still congratulate yourself on accomplishing your new habit.

Fogg has many more nuances to refine the process of establishing new habits.

Do you aspire to building new habits or eliminating others, to change your life? I recommend you explore BJ Fogg’s recommendations.

They provide a great alternative to “resolutions” which are often forgotten after a few weeks or months.