Have you ever had one of those days where you just can’t seem to get it together?
You drink your coffee, go on your run, or perhaps your moment of zen. Yet that doesn’t get you out of your rut. What do you do about it?
I am in a stage of life where I am building.
I am building my sales practice, building my family (up to five now), and building my wealth. I have found that those all keep me busy and I have little time for me. When I compare myself to my friends, though, they are in similar circumstances.
The ebb and flow of emotions is normal. Low points happen and should not be feared. However, if we allow ourselves to dwell too long, it can become more than a rut, it can be a lifestyle.
I have a new little girl at home and she is amazing. She also is a night owl and I have found that sleep deprivation and feeling down are directly correlated. My wife and I are walking around in a fog and I am not at my best.
I have started to become aware of this in the past week and have actively worked out ways to overcome it.
Currently my little one likes to wake around 5:30 in the morning. I have found if I just get up to go for a run I get the added bonus of watching the sun rise. That’s an amazing feeling.
I have also found that she likes to cry a bit so we stay up rocking her. This has led to my wife and I having genuine conversations because our phones aren’t attached to our faces. This has also been amazing as I actually like my wife. (To be clear I love her as well).
I say all of this because it’s on my mind. I know I am a bit low and I know others are too on occasion.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here.
Back in the distant 1980s, when startups were valued for what they did, as opposed to the cash they raised, a founder made a casual comment that has stuck with me all these years.
He said, “There will be times when my team has to pull all-nighters, but if it happens often it is a failure of management to correctly schedule the work and set viable deadlines, as opposed to an unexpected emergency.”
Boy, has that changed. These days founders brag about their 80-120-always-on-hour-weeks and expect their team to do the same.
“You eat a coffee for lunch,” the [Fiverr] ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”
Doer? Or exploitee?
Or, more accurately, stupid, with a capital S.
“A culture of overwork is damaging because it turns brief binges of hard work into a long-term strategy, and, worse still, an expectation. When managers start measuring the worth of their employees according to how quickly they return emails at 3 a.m., that particular work culture is broken,” Adam Alter, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, told Business Insider in an email. (He wrote a book about how technology keeps us “always on.”)
Stupid because 80-100+ hour weeks lowers creativity and productivity, while increasing coding and other errors. Not to mention lost sales and misunderstandings.
Founders take note. Not of me, but of the research, crunch the numbers, and analyze the data.
Then think twice, send your team home and go yourself and get some sleep.
Even Uber is planning on that.
“Uber is a data-driven company, and the data shows unequivocally that when you work longer, you are not working smarter,” Uber board member Arianna Huffington told the company’s employees during an all-hands meeting last week, according to leaked audio obtained by Yahoo.
Huffington also added that employees won’t have to be “always on” and responsive to whatever is going on at the office, no matter where they are. Because “when you’re always on you’re depleted, you are distracted,” and “not as creative” as you are when you’re well-rested, Huffington also said, channeling the thesis of her new pro-sleep startup Thrive.
It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.
Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.
In the three years since I wrote this the situation hasn’t improved — in fact it’s gotten much worse. Worse because it encompasses what seems like the majority of people from every country around the globe and all ages.
Something else happened during those three years — mental health practitioners recognized the addictive qualities of social media and formalized several conditions, such as FOMO (fear of missing out).
As with any addiction there are two sides, addicts and suppliers. Join me tomorrow for a look at the supply side.
Studies show that American college students spend, on average, three hours texting and an hour and 40 minutes on Facebook every day. One of the more recent studies centers on the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale: Norwegian researchers have observed that excessive Facebook use leads to higher rates of anxiety and social insecurity.
The proof is in what happens when they’re in public and you take that screen away.
“I gathered my things and bolted out the door,” one student wrote about her reaction once she finished her meal. “I was glad that I could feel like I belong somewhere again. . . . What I hated most was being alone and feeling like I was being judged for it.” Another student echoed this experience. “By not having my phone or laptop to hide behind, it was amazing how self-conscious I felt.”
How sad is that?
In short, no screen equals no confidence
“I realized something disturbing after doing this. If I don’t feel connected with others, I automatically feel alone, unpopular, less confident.”
The feedback of online connections may provide instant gratification, but that’s cold comfort when what you’re longing for is warmth, intimacy and a hug.
Capacity for boredom is at the root of observation. Observation inspires science, art, change, and opportunity. Have we become afraid of our inner lives? I think that we will find ourselves much happier when we are able to look forward to boredom, and to actually aspire for it, instead of being afraid of it.
But apparently there’s actually a market for a solution to providing the first two and reducing the dangers of the third.
Founders have a new, or should I say, back to the future, attitude regarding the success of their companies.
It can be summed up in one word: revenue.
While there are great examples and plenty of advice on generating revenue, as opposed to just growing users, I think these four lessons that Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora, the eleventh hire at Salesforce.Com and its first CMO, learned from Marc Benioff are worth keeping front and center in your mind (details are at the link.).
Pitching is Listening.
Run towards big ideas, not away.
Never lose sight of your first principles.
Tear Up the Master Plan.
Based on my experience, founders, especially younger founders, will have the most trouble with the first and the third in the list.
Pitching is Listening: whether driven by passion, nervousness or fear, most founders want to push their vision, their product, their ideas to potential customers.
Marc is always testing his ideas, testing his strategy, testing his vision. Marc is always in a mindset to listen, to observe, to understand, and it’s this discipline that allows him to always be in touch with the marketplace. It’s easy for people in his position to get disconnected and fall prey to myopic thinking.
Never lose sight of your first principles: it takes thought and a solid knowledge of oneself to identify core principles. Unfortunately, taking the time and spending the energy on such an ostensibly esoteric goal seems to happen less and less these days.
Try searching “invest in yourself” and you’ll find that most talk about adding skills, exploring/developing your creativity and maximizing physical and mental health.
That’s all good, but if you truly want to invest in yourself then set aside time to know yourself, i.e., your values and basic principles; the intangibles that make you you.
It’s amazing to me, but looking back at more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.
Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.
A couple of years ago I cited research that showed how the vagus nerve connects your brain to your heart and that, like muscles, it needs exercise to stay strong; screen time weakens that connection. I also predicted that the research would fall on deaf ears if it fell at all. Sometimes I hate when I’m right, so here it is again. Read it carefully, share it with all your friends and then plan your own vagus exercise routine.
New parents may need to worry less about genetic testing and more about how their own actions — like texting while breast-feeding or otherwise paying more attention to their phone than their child — leave life-limiting fingerprints on their and their children’s gene expression.
It’s not just a case of being distracted.
Your vagus nerve connects your brain to your heart and how you handle your social connections affects the vagal tone, which, like muscle tone, can improve with exercise and that, in turn, increases the capacity for connection, friendship and empathy.
In short, the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa. This mutual influence also explains how a lack of positive social contact diminishes people. Your heart’s capacity for friendship also obeys the biological law of “use it or lose it.” If you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so.
Do I think this research will actually make a difference in people’s actions?
Even if the information becomes widespread I don’t think people would give up the instant gratification of being mentioned or conquer their FOMO and focus instead on quality face time.
It doesn’t seem a big deal right now, but look into the future at a world that doesn’t just lack connection and empathy, but is filled with people who aren’t even capable of it.
“Pancake people – spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button”.
Psychologist and behavioral neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of the upcoming book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, recommends retraining your brain.
“Our brains are equipped to deal with the world the way it was many thousands of years ago when we were hunter-gatherers. Back then the amount of information that was coming at us was much less and it came at us much more slowly.”
“I deleted my Facebook account completely. I found it was just overwhelming me. I’m only on Twitter, I’m on SalesforceOne, which is my internal one for work, I’m on email, and that’s it. And I’m limited to that. I’m trying not to take on more stuff. I was with a friend this weekend, he’s got his Twitter, his Facebook, he has his Snapchat, he’s got all these – too much.”
Of course, part of the overload is work-related, but it’s amazing how much is pure trivia driven by FoMO and/or the need to impress by sounding knowledgeable about a twist in Game of Thrones.
You are the only person who can evaluate just how necessary your various information streams are sooner rather than later.
Because even the smallest stream adds to the river in which it is oh, so easy to drown.
Then you need gather your courage, follow Benioff’s lead and shut down the unnecessary streams.
If you’re old enough, like me, you remember when open offices for knowledge workers/professionals, i.e., cubicles, happened.
I dodged that bullet in 1980 when my company moved into new space and I got a private office, but only because of my hearing.
In those days, recruiters spent the day on the phone and, even with an amplifier, I needed quiet to hear my clients and candidates.
Everybody complained; nobody liked the bullpen/open office concept. It did not increase productivity.
Originally, the idea that noise equals energy was sold by restaurant designers.
Trendy places started using smaller tables and packing them more closely together. They eliminated sound absorbing items, such as carpeting, and adding more hard surfaces and louder music, which forced customers to talk louder, thus upping the decibel level even more.
The myth that eliminating walls boosted collaboration and creativity was sold by consultants, architects and office designers and eagerly bought into by management, primarily because it saved money — it’s a lot cheaper to build out no-wall office space.
And it became almost holy writ when discussing Millennials.
More than half of the employees complained about noise. The researchers found that Millennials were especially likely to voice concern about rising decibels, and to wear headphones to drown out the sound or leave their desks in search of quieter corners. Among the supervisors, 69 percent reported that their spaces had been laid out with noise reduction in mind; 64 percent had engineered the workplace to mute noise intruding from outside of the office, too.