Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

August 2017

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While “executing” my morning routine, I realized my crack of dawn habit was messed up. Designed to fuel, energize, and sustain me, it did little to prepare me for the day ahead.

I run hard throughout the day. Besides being a business coach, I’m a business owner, wife, house and yard manager, chef, housekeeper, sister, aunt, grandma, godmother, and friend. It’s exhilarating…and exhausting.

My day begins at 5:30 am. It’s the time before the sun rises that my world is quiet. I have undisturbed, uninterrupted time for me and my rambling thoughts of the day ahead.

Needless to say, I’m a bit embarrassed to share my sacred morning routine with you. But, in the spirit of full transparency, here goes.

Feasting on Fruity Bears & Digital Delicacies

Up until the time of this writing, my break of day “me” time was filled with pouring over my iPad, caffeine in hand, curled up in my favorite corner of a well-worn couch. It was 90-minutes of sheer, unadulterated bliss before I hit the trail for the day’s adventure.

This morning was different.

Having read an article on fueling for the day, I set out to challenge my daily grind. The author suggested having breakfast within 30 minutes of rising followed by 1 cup of coffee. Say what?! My 90-minute escapade included 2-3 cups of that hot, rich caffeine-ladened elixir. Breakfast was an afterthought 2-3 hours into the day.

In an attempt to follow the expert’s idea, I launched into the new routine, albeit ridden with skepticism and forlorn. How I would miss my “old” routine. Much like disposing of my favorite pair of running shoes long-past their purpose and usefulness, it was tough to part with my old ways.

My well-worn morning routine consisting of games, social media, and news consumption. It was my way to energize and prepare myself for the day ahead — to gird my loins, if you will. Yet, it was very much like having a sugary donut and a handful of gummy bears before climbing Mt. Baldy.

A Hikers Guide to Peak Performance

As a hiker of Mt. Baldy, it didn’t take long to realize that such a morning start wouldn’t take me far up the trail. What if I peered down the eye of each day as if it were a trek across the Pacific or Appalachian trail? How would I fuel? How would I travel? Would I go all day without a break?

Heck, no!

Breaks would be pre-planned. Meals and snacks — affectionately called “fueling” — would be deliberate and calculated. Hydration would be projected and delivered with regularity to avoid the energy-crushing effects of dehydration. Rest — and lots of it — would be premeditated.

These would not be ad hoc activities. No “poking around on Facebook” until the wee hours of the morning only to have sleep interrupted by the blue light of digital devices. No! We would be much more reverent and respectful of our routines and habits knowing what the day ahead may bring.

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)

The job of an entrepreneur is exhilarating. It’s exciting and fun. And, it’s demanding — as taxing as the mountain trails with their dangerously steep inclines and rocky descents.

The views along the way are spectacular. The vistas inspiring. To reach the summit — the ultimate pinnacle of our labor — requires the utmost care in planning and preparation to ensure our readiness for the journey ahead.

Entrepreneurs do a crappy job of taking care of themselves — myself included. We need to do better to make certain we outperform each and every day along the trail. It is, after all, the only way to summit.

Working longer hours creates more work than it accomplishes.

There! I’ve said it and there’s no take backs.

It reminds me of a lecture I attended sometime in the early 80’s (likely before you were born). Judge Ziglar, Zig Ziglar’s brother, was speaking at an event in Fargo, ND. (Yes, people who hail from Fargo do sound like the movie.)

As an offspring of Industrial Age parents, imagine my shock and dismay when Judge unequivocally shared the following:

“Work 50 hours a week and you’ll be in the top 5% of your industry. Work 60 hours a week and you’ll be in the top 1% of your industry, and if you work 70 hours a week, you’re a F-O-O-L.”

What?*!# was my initial reaction given the 100-hour work weeks I was investing in my business. I had learned the lesson of hard-work to get ahead from my depression-born parents. This statement turned everything upside down!

Since then, technology makes it easier to do more in less time — or does it? From my vantage point, small business owners continue to work beyond the capacity that is wise or sensible — despite technology’s claim to make life easier.

Why Identifying Priorities Is a Priority

Is everything a priority in your world? If so, you’re not alone. It’s difficult to juggle the myriad of projects, tasks, goals, plans, and client demands to find one item that merits attention. Yet, our reluctance to invest time in sorting to uncover the priority leaves our mental and physical energy strained. Without that energy, performance suffers.

It’s the very reason we work 70+ hours weekly and are burning out at unprecedented rates. We claim we don’t have time for prioritizing and planning. Hence, we run through our days in full-on firefighter gear, carry a heavy water hose, and put out fires.

Yet, every minute spent planning, yields an additional 10 minutes for implementation. (Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s science.)

Instructions For Identifying What To Do When

Objective: provide you with tools to better sort through the endless things to do each day to identify your priority, reduce your stress, and have you delight in self-satisfaction at the end of the day. (Ta! Dah!)

Focus: solve the dilemma of “what to do when.”

Before you pull the trigger, there is a foundation on which the premise of prioritization is built. That is, deliver that which has the greatest value to the client first.

In order to respect this basis, we need to understand a few things, right?

  • Who is my client?
  • What do they value?

If you’re the business owner, you or your goals may be considered the client. If you’re an employee, the client may be the manager or CEO of the company.

If you deem that you and your goals are the client, what do you value most, small business owner? I don’t know about you but from my perspective, the ability to execute on the plans and tactics needed to achieve my goals is what is most valuable to me.

This is not to say my clients, who are reading this, aren’t important. They are! You are! However, as a business owner who works “on” and “in” her business, it’s about balance. Without the critical business development pieces needed to advance and grow my business, I quickly loose relevance and viability. Without that, there is no business for clients.

Get my point? Good. Let’s move on.

Now that you’ve identified your client, along with that which is most valuable, you’re ready to become a prioritization ninja.

  1. Create a master list. This is a catchall — a data dump, if you will — of items to complete by the end of the week. In my world, this happens Monday morning. You don’t need anything fancy other than the back of an envelope and a pen. For techno geeks, trello is an effective digital variation.
  2. Spell out your achievement. This is a crystal, clear picture of what you intend to achieve by the end of the week as it relates to your goals.
  3. Identify high value items. Based on what you determined to be the greatest value to your client, as defined by you, what activities from your master list have the greatest impact on your achievement? Place a “HV” next to them. (HV for high value.)
  4. Reorder your master list. Realizing that you likely won’t get to everything on the list, placing the high value activities at the top of your list. BAM! Your priorities are revealed. You are now able to quickly identify the top 20% of your activities that create 80% of the impact on your goals. (Dang you, Pareto Principle!)
  5. Begin execution and delivery of high value activities.

Sound simple? It is….sorta. Once you develop the habit of objectively identifying high value activities, it becomes easier.

Final thoughts: Your high value activities will continue to shift based on the needs of your “client.” Be willing and ready to swap out equally high-valued activities as needed. Plan with only enough detail to deliver the first increment of value. Then, rinse and repeat!

fit entrepreneur

Fit is a term that describes a variety of things.

It’s an acronym that stands for “federal income tax” or “free independent traveler.”

It’s a verb of the right shape and size. “My jeans still fit.”

Most commonly, fit describes a condition of good health, particularly due to regular physical exercise. “I walk daily to stay fit.”

Perhaps the most applicable definition of fit as it applies to entrepreneurs is of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose. The most important of these as it relates to entrepreneurship is “to meet the required purpose.”

Fit For The Job

The work of an entrepreneur is exciting and exhilarating. It’s like a scene from the 1969 cult classic, Easy Rider, where two Harley-riding hippies, complete a drug deal in California and decide to travel cross-country in search of spiritual truth…on the good days with the wind in their hair and the sun in their face.

The days of an entrepreneur, like the leather-clad motorcycle riders in Easy Rider, are filled with risk and rebellion against the establishment. Mention fit and entrepreneur in the same sentence and what image immediately comes to mind? Chiseled biceps and the speed of a gazelle achieved through sweating at the gym, throwing around a bunch of metal weights.

In this case, nothing is further from the truth.

5 Strategies to Raise Your Entrepreneurial Fitness Level

Just like any effective fitness program, there are several strategies that, when combined, enhance the results you’ll achieve. The road to becoming a fit entrepreneur is no different.

1) Get some zzzzz. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know the importance of an adequate amount of restful sleep. Despite what we continue to learn through the science of sleep, most entrepreneurs “burn the midnight oil” in an attempt to get ahead.

In the words of the great Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?”

Not well, apparently…and there’s a price to pay.

An inadequate amount and quality of sleep affect judgment, focus, decision-making, and the ability to practice self-discipline, just to mention a few things. Over the long-haul, a lack of adequate sleep affects one’s health. Just ask Arianna Huffington.

Strategy: Get 7 – 8 hours of quality sleep each night. And, no….you’re not special. You cannot survive on 4-6 hours a night. Just ask your spouse!

2) Unplug. Growing up, the “boogie man” under the bed haunted our sleep. Electronics, which are integrated into every aspect of our lives, are the modern-day “monster” interrupting our need for sleep.

The blue light emitted by the screens of our electronic gadgets slows the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our wake/sleep cycles. It tricks the brain into thinking we need to be alert. Plus, if you happen to read a piece of news or an email that triggers your brain, it becomes more challenging – if not impossible – to calm down and go to sleep.

Strategy: Turn off all screens – cell phone, ipad, and TV – at least 60 minutes before bedtime. Your brain will thank you.

3) Move it. If you’re like me, you’re really tired of people making this point. Ack! Who doesn’t want to be a slug? I do!

entrepreneur performance

In addition to the obvious physical benefits, exercise is a well-known stress reliever that sharpens our critical thinking ability. Not only that, studies show that entrepreneurs who run or bike have higher sales.

Improve my waistline and my bottom line? Count me in!

Strategy: Take the time to exercise 60 minutes every day. After all, you are the boss and have the power to make these important decisions.

4) Work in Cycles. “Keep your nose to the grindstone” was often the idiom used to describe a work style that consisted of continuous hard labor. A new age requires a different work style.

Enter “The Results Curve.”

Pierre Khawand, author of The Results Curve(TM): How to Manage Focused and Collaborative Time, determined that our best results are achieved after 40 minutes of focused work following by 20 minutes of collaboration.

Tony Schwartz, President of The Energy Project, uncovered scientific research revealing the human body’s natural 90/20 cycle. His 90-Minute Solution of focused work for 90 minutes followed by 20 minutes of rest dramatically influences performance.

Strategy: Call time out early and often throughout your day no matter what work cycle you choose to follow.

entrepreneur performance

5) Nosh for success. Although the brain makes up only 2% of our body weight, it consumes 20% of the calories. This explains why mental fatigue feels so physical. Using our brains all day is exhausting.

Blood glucose is a complicated subject. Just ask any diabetic. Too much and we have to peel you from the ceiling; too little and you’re being scraped off the floor.

Achieving a balanced blood sugar is a bit like “little Red Riding Hood” – not too much or too little but just the right amount of brain glucose keeps you breezing smoothly through the day.

Strategy: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” plus keep some healthy snacks close by for that midday brain glucose slump. Potato chips and licorice not allowed.

The yin/yang of entrepreneurship requires fitness on all levels – mental, emotional, and physical. Fit entrepreneurship affords the ability to remain clear thinking and focused – absent of distractions – so that you might move more easily and effortlessly through the demands of the day.

Are you ready to get your fit on?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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