Online success is not all it’s cracked up to be. With it comes the biggest burden of all: requests for your time.
“You can have my freaking money; you know what, you can have my art; you can have my advice for free (I don’t care) but what I realized is you can’t have my time”
When I had this epiphany, I made the decision to start saying no to meetings. Meetings come disguised like the Big Bad Wolf out of Red Riding Hood as the following:
· Podcast interviews
· Coffee Catch ups
· Phone calls
· Product demonstrations
· Joining Slack/Messenger/WhatsApp groups
· I’m in town and don’t know you, but we should catch up”
All of these demands of my time started to add up. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. Before I knew it, my dream to inspire the world through entrepreneurship and personal development looked dead as a dodo.
The 4-hour meeting request.
Okay, this is not the name of Tim Ferriss’s upcoming book — it’s a coincidence. The other day, this dude at work sent me a 4-hour meeting request with 24-hour’s notice.
When I saw the invitation, I instantly declined. Meetings that don’t respect my time or my colleagues’ time are declined — always.
This meeting request was the trigger for the title of this article. It made me take a forced “Meeting Vacation” for one month.
I said no to meetings for an entire month.
It wasn’t easy and I thought it was going to be almost impossible to deliver on this promise I made to myself. Meetings have become a part of everyday life. Many meetings happen without us realizing through realtime message apps.
None the less, I tried this meeting detox experiment.
Before I tell you the result, here’s some thoughts to begin with:
Thought 1: Just because everyone else is doing meetings, doesn’t mean you need to.
Meetings are hip and cool. People say yes to meetings all day long without thinking why.
When you challenge people to explain why they need a meeting, you figure out that often they don’t know.
This means they scratch their own itch and talk themselves out of their own meeting. The meeting gets cancelled, I celebrate and fist punch the air, and everyone wins.
Asking why messes up every unconscious thought.
It’s the one question that can kill any preconceived idea or habit. ‘Why’ requires the meeting requester to go deep down inside their own skull and answer the question “What’s the meeting for and is it important?”
Thought 2: When faced with the need to make a decision, many of us want to have a meeting instead.
This problem occurs because we’re not trained to make decisions. We spend all of our decision-making energy on dumb stuff like “What am I going to have for lunch?” or “What should I wear today?”
Meetings are a way to defer a decision to some point in the future when maybe we’ll all think differently, drive a Ferrari and have enough money that this problem won’t freaking matter anymore.
I challenge everyone to make more decisions instead of having more meetings that don’t lead to decisions (okay calm down Tim, breathe).
Thought 3: Meetings always take longer.
· You’ve got the commute to the meeting.
· The setup to the meeting.
· The niceties like “How was your weekend?” at the start of the meeting.
· Preparation for the meeting.
I could go on for ages, but you get my point. Meetings are like a giant build-up that often leads to disappointment. If you think about the real time it takes to have a meeting, you realize why they are a productivity killer.
The work that needs to be done to achieve a goal or set of goals requires time.
“The time you need is in the meetings you say no to”
Count the real cost of time that a meeting entails, and you too may decide to do a meeting detox for a month.
Here’s what happened when I said no to meetings for a month:
I expected people to be pissed.
I thought that the biggest challenge of no meetings for a month would be how pissed off I’d make people. I realized this was a nightmare that wasn’t true in reality.
When you explain in detail why you’re saying no to a meeting, and you do it with respect, people understand.
I even started saying things like:
“Hey thanks for the invite, I’m trialing a month of no meetings to achieve some pretty audacious goals. Appreciate the invite but I’ll have to respectfully decline at this stage. Hope the meeting goes well.”
So many meetings get declined for various reasons that the meeting organizer almost never takes it to heart. It’s standard practice that if you invite 30 people to a meeting, not all of them will show up.
I decided to become a no-show statistic for a month where I was permanently on the didn’t attend list which was one person longer because I wasn’t attending — no biggie.
The big moment for me was when I realized people don’t really care that much if you show up to a meeting. I thought they did care. I was wrong and so are you. Sorry.
Blank space feels so good.
Ever had a nice warm latte first thing in the morning? That’s what it feels like to start the day with no meetings in your calendar. All I saw for a month was my Outlook Calendar full of white space.
The feeling was so freeing and I didn’t realize how good it felt until I did it.
There’s nothing worse than waking up at 5 am (Australian time) to jump on a podcast at 6 am (USA time) when all you want to do is sit down and write or edit another blog post.
Have a meeting with blank space instead and you’ll feel a whole lot better.
You get to do things that really matter.
Because I had less of other people’s meetings, it gave me time to tick off tasks that I had been putting off. I did the following:
- Sold a bunch of junk on eBay
- Wrote twice the number of blog posts
- Spent more time with my girlfriend
- Spent time sitting on the couch and thinking about the future
These types of activities add meaning to my life and make me happy. Without the giant boulder covering the road that led to my goals, I was able to do things that matter.
Executing on meaningful tasks is so much better than any meeting ever will be.
The blocker to all business became apparent.
When I divorced meetings for a month, I sat back and thought about business. I thought about all the meetings I attended in my career to date.
During this wild west thought exploration I discovered that the cliché of “Meetings cost business so much” started to sink in.
Most of the problems in business that need solving don’t ever seem to get resolved in meetings.
Meetings from this point on started to appear as a blocker to creativity. Creativity, I’ve learned, is one of the best ways to solve a problem and unblock the flow of business.
There was time to nap.
I know what you’re thinking: “Tim, you lazy son of a gun. As if you have time to nap.”
I normally wouldn’t have time to nap, but after taking a meeting detox, I was able to squeeze in a 15-minute nap.
Doesn’t sound like much but it gave me an energy increase in the afternoon, when most people’s energy levels fall off a cliff (rescuing yourself with sugar doesn’t work either, tried that).
The research on napping has been around for a while, so I’m not going to throw that dirt in your face again and expect you to swallow it.
My only advice would be to trial it and then write me a nasty comment saying “Tim you A-HOLE you’re wrong again.” P.S — I probably won’t reply 🙂
There was less gossip and office politics.
Meetings can easily turn into a whinge session or a “Let’s complain about someone because they’re not here and can’t hear us.”
By doing fewer meetings, there was less gossip. I didn’t have to fight the temptation to talk nice (we all face this) because I wasn’t there.
I was politely declining and aiming for goals and outcomes instead. And other times I was doing things that really matter (like I said before).
Meetings are a breeding ground for toxicity if you overdose on them. Somewhere along the way, that meeting you know you should have opted out of but didn’t, comes back to bite you on your well-toned gym ass and fill you with regret.
Meetings often involve tea or coffee also known as caffeine. Many of us overdose on this addiction because it feels good (even me the Mr 4 am Habits Guy that’s supposed to be super disciplined).
By doing no meetings, the decision to ingest caffeine became my choice. It was far easier to be disciplined because I didn’t have to fall into society’s standard of rolling up to a meeting and drinking what everyone else is drinking because “that’s just how we do things in Australia, mate.”
I may be a descendant of Captain Cook and I may have worked next to Kangaroos (lots of them) for two years, but I’ll be damned, this no meeting thing certainly helped with the coffee/tea obsession that we have in this great country.
Stress levels reduced.
I’m very aware of my stress levels and no matter how hard I try, more meetings equal greater stress.
Stress gives me brain fog (according to my doctor) and only makes the already huge problem I have with stress even worse.
See, I have twice the amount of cortisol in my body than you’re supposed to have. I’m doing the best I can to reduce it and it’s working, but I found an overdose of meetings was definitely not helping the situation.
Removing meetings for a month made me feel good.
Published twice the number of blog posts.
I mentioned this one already, but it was such a big win that I want to mention it again in more detail.
By saying no to meetings for a month, I did more of the one thing that makes me endlessly happy: inspiring the world through personal development and entrepreneurship.
In its physical, non-mystical, touchable form (if consumed on a ‘not so smartphone’) this looks like blog posts.
I went on a freaking frenzy and wrote as much inspiration and life/career lessons as I could. Upping the number of blog posts allowed me to help more people and I got more messages of thanks and gratitude for doing it.
This small feat may seem like total BS, but to me, it matters. You too have that one thing that has the same meaning in your life. It may not be blogging, but you have it — trust me.
By quitting meetings, throwing them out the window, punching the air and charging forward without them, you too can do the work you were born to do.
I’m not saying you should never attend another meeting again; what I’m saying is a meeting detox will help you see what time is being wasted and you’ll get better at saying no to the unimportant ones in the future.
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net
9 Reasons Why Attending Networking Events is Crucial for Entrepreneurial Success
No matter how big or small your business is, as an entrepreneur, you must attend as many industry-relevant networking events and conferences as possible. Communicating with other like-minded and motivated people can take your business to the next level and lead to startup success.
Shockingly, 30% of new businesses don’t make it past the first 24 months. By attending networking events and conferences, you can acquire the tools required to ensure your business doesn’t fall into this percentage. Essentially, attending events could save your business. What’s more, most networking events and conferences are free or incredibly low budget.
If you’re still on the fence about attending events, here are 9 of the most notable benefits for your startup:
1. To learn from the best
No entrepreneur, no matter how talented they are, can possibly know everything about everything. Attending networking and conference events is a chance to learn from other entrepreneurs who have been in similar positions and learn from their gains and their loses.
2. To create contacts
In today’s digital world, where most communication happens online, there’s nothing more valuable than face-to-face interaction. Networking events allow for these valuable interactions and to create contacts. The good thing about networking events is that they often allow for speed networking, allowing for multiple interactions in a set period of time. By partaking, you can massively extend your network base.
3. To generate customers
Depending on the type of networking or conference event, and the services you offer, you may find customers. A good way to generate customers at an event is by engaging in discussions about your services and by presenting in front of the crowds.
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye
4. To learn about the industry
Often, entrepreneurs are too busy growing their business that they forget to see the wider industry and disruption can come as a major surprise. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be prepared and attending events can shine a light on any industry changes, giving you time to plan and prepare ahead.
5. To find partners
Networking and conference events often have a specific topic and theme. Therefore, the people that attend the event are usually in a similar industry and have much in common. These events are perfect for finding new business partners by finding people that complement the services you offer. It can be useful talking to competitors too as you can potentially work together for an optimised version of a project.
6. To meet investors
The best way to engage the attention of an investor is by speaking directly to them. Face-to-face conversations can build trust and begin the foundation for a future relationship. Investors often attend networking and conference events to get to know the up-and-coming businesses in the industry.
7. To be inspired
Once you start networking with like-minded people it’s easy to find creativity, be inspired and come up with new ways to advance your business. You will come away from the event with new ideas and a new lease of life on your business.
8. To build recognition
Recognition can be one of the biggest obstacles for a start-up. Online marketing may not have the desired outcome if you don’t spread the word effectively. Networking is a great opportunity to meet potential customers and build recognition by engaging on your product or services. Most networking events allow for startups to stand or pitch in front of attendees which is a great opportunity to build recognition around your product or service.
9. Because you’ve got nothing to lose
No matter what industry you’re in, you’re guaranteed to pick up something when attending a networking or conference event. From making valuable connections to finding out what customers think of your product, there are many benefits to events.
“Behind every successful person there are many successful relationships.” – Joe Apfelbaum
From gaining inspiration to learning about the industry, building recognition to generating valuable connections, networking and conference events are crucial for event success. However, turning up to an event is simply not enough. You must put as much effort in as possible by talking to as many people as you can.
When networking, get out of your comfort zone and engage with people of all job levels and all industries. When it comes to business, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.
Once the event has ended, always follow up with your new connections via an email, phone call or LinkedIn message. It’s important to get in touch while you’re fresh in the mind of your connection to lay the foundation of future cooperation. Lastly, always remember events are fun and never take them too seriously.
6 Creative Ways to Hype Up a New Product on Social Media
It’s the week before the big product launch, and you’ve been asked to help with a big marketing splash. The problem is despite brainstorming for a few weeks and pushing out a few tweets to build the pre-launch buzz, you’re out of ideas. But merely wondering how to help the new product capture the minds of prospects and customers doesn’t really help.
Here are 6 creative things you should consider to generate excitement for your product in the target market:
1. Create a goal
Don’t limit your awareness program to merely “make people aware” of the product. Go beyond the ideal definition and expand it. There has to be a goal that assists you to measure the success of your program.
This goal can be the number of followers you drive to your webpage, or probably the ones who sign up for more updates. Find out what other options work best for you and let them guide you through the awareness campaign. The key is to make it measurable and ensure if your website is any good; it is fully geared to be not much more than a giant lead magnet.
2. Sell smart, not hard
No matter how much effort you put in, if you don’t do it smart, they’ll lead you to failure. Just because you are leveraging social media, doesn’t imply you can aim in the dark and wait for the arrow to hit the target miraculously. Make sure you very well know the problems that you are trying to solve.
Analyze the people affected by those issues and what attracts them. Leverage social media, but target your buyer personas. New products are often a great time to reconnect with existing clients and prospects. A fantastic way to do this is by getting your sales team to share the content and measure the engagements and click-through rate. Once you have the comparative view handy, you can make the most of social platforms.
“Working hard is very important. You are not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.” – George Lucas
3. Strike a chord
Personalization is the key to hit the sweet spot in the hearts of buyers. Have the sales team personalize the message. Give your employees the chance to explain the value to their networks.
Write high-level social copy for the various vertical markets you serve and then set the team lose in honing the conversation online. Done effectively, the click-through rate can go through the roof!
4. Build engaging content
Consider buyer personas while drafting the social copy of your content. And take note, we are referring to buyer personas, not a persona. It includes more than one streak of your ideal buyers.
Invest time in understanding the critical aspect of each of them. Make sure you know what your product has to offer to each of them and translate that understanding to explain this value proposition. The better you do at segmenting the message, the more clicks and engagements your content will produce.
5. Don’t reveal too much
Sometimes, marketers get carried away and unveil too much of the information in the pre-launch phase itself. What is left for the final big reveal? Apparently nothing but the product itself. And mind you, dear friend, curiosity killed the cat because she could not withhold it. Why not leverage this mentality for your product marketing as well?
Build anticipation and create mystery around the product. Drop hints, create hype but make sure you have some excitement reserved for the actual launch. Don’t disclose every significant twist.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis
6. Narrate a story
Compelling narratives are a powerful way to engage people with your product even before it hits the shelves. Let the existing buyers talk about their experience with your current products. Not only will it talk about your offerings, but it’ll also highlight the positive relationship with existing clients. That’s something that can pay dividends when building a bond with the new ones. Additionally, you receive attention from followers of the customers you are showcasing.
Is your product launch is just a few days ahead, and you need to create product hype on social media? Well, it is quite a task to make the pre-launch ripples. But these six creative strategies can help you get the job done effectively. Use these ideas to showcase the hard work your product team has done and ensure a successful product launch.
Which one of the above 6 ways to market a product do you believe is most important and why? Share your thoughts below!
5 Skills I Learned in the Military That Helped Me Become a Successful Entrepreneur
The moves I’ve made in my career from the military, to the mining industry, to running a multinational business in Latin America, aren’t linear. It’s not every day an ex-Australian military officer finds their niche in Latin American business.
Graduating from Australia’s Royal Military College and Defense Force Academy, I served as a commissioned officer in the Australian Army for nearly 11 years, completing operational tours to Central Asia and the Middle East.
The transition from various Army engineering and infantry roles through to managing a team of legal and financial executives was neither quick nor painless. But, as I entered the company formation process, I found my military service played a significant role in shaping my entrepreneurial fitness. The skills I developed in the Australian Defense Force supported me through several commercial iterations more than once.
Here are some of the key connections I drew between core military values and those I apply to the boardroom environment:
1. Be calculated and decisive
Unsurprisingly, a crucial requisite of military functionality is working quickly and effectively under pressure. This rings especially true for the strategic planners of operations: the commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
My military role made tough demands on me to decide on the best course of action for myself and my team. When deployed overseas, making the wrong decision or not making a decision fast enough could mean failing our mission, and putting people in danger.
In business, it’s vital to understand, analyze and communicate the risks involved in the options laid out before you at various stages. Making offers to clients, moving into a new market, investing large amounts of money into projects. And decisions need to be made based on this analysis before these opportunities pass by.
I can confidently draw on my experiences in service to act fast and capitalize on opportunities as they become available, and make tough decisions in high-pressure situations.
“You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn
2. Resilience is key
Resilience is fundamental to success in any military career. In training and on operations, one soldier’s spiralling morale could put an entire section in danger. Military personnel are vetted for their adaptability and mental strength from day one, using tried-and-true techniques to push people to their limits.
Having a high level of resilience allows you to cope when things don’t go to plan in business. Investments might not show returns as quickly as hoped, a competitor snatches up an important client, or a difficult situation arises between staff that needs careful management.
I can confidently draw on military-learned techniques to support my own and others’ resilience in the office. Being able to maintain a high level of morale among teams fosters productivity and a willingness to ‘soldier on’ in challenging situations.
3. Leadership and cooperation
People in leadership positions are those that others turn to for advice and support. As a leader, you have to be prepared to make tough decisions that others can’t or won’t. A high-performing team has a courageous, empowering, and communicative leader at its helm.
This is as true in the military as it is in business. Building the right team and driving them to success is both challenging and rewarding – whether the outcome is securing a key logistical foothold to allow aid and other supplies to travel into a war-torn area, or seeing a newly-opened office secure its first major client.
Not every soldier has an easy time appreciating the ubiquity of drills in their military workplace, nor their role in underpinning the success of a smooth operation. But a lack of discipline is tantamount to putting oneself and others at risk. Ignoring lawful orders, or not applying proper first-aid to a fellow soldier, are a couple of examples of this.
To me, commercial discipline means being professional always, even in stressful or frustrating situations. Maintain integrity in everything you do, and don’t cut corners. Carrying out proper legal and financial procedures means staying compliant under local law, and avoiding complications with authorities.
Staying committed to an objective and refusing to drop standards enables you to build a credible reputation for your business that clients hold in high regard.
“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest, we have to be more disciplined than the rest.” – Warren Buffett
5. Cultural awareness
Finally, but no less importantly, showing respect for cultural customs in business is essential for cultivating strong professional relationships. Being aware of your cultural background, and sensitive to those of others, will help build social connections, and make you more relatable to others.
Foreign militaries operating in troubled parts of the world understand that building trust with local individuals and communities is imperative. Without that trust, moving around becomes difficult and more dangerous. To gain trust, soldiers must show respect for people’s culture and way of life.
The same is true in business. A small hiccup such as not shaking hands, or giving an air-kiss to a new acquaintance here in Latin America could start an entire working relationship off on the wrong foot. Cultural sensitivity shows a willingness to embrace people and their society. Never underestimate the significance people place on this element when evaluating your suitability as a professional partner.
It’s no secret that commercial success requires passion, hard work, and dedication. Don’t be afraid to call upon your own and others’ previous experiences to find solutions to problems or forge ahead with complex projects. For military personnel considering testing out their business acumen, be confident that your years of service to your country have also set you up for success in the world of business.
3 Scientifically Proven Things Entrepreneurs Should Be Doing to Increase Overall Performance
Many of us know that becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Most are working very long hours, seven days a week, and are making tremendous sacrifices to ensure their businesses are increasing in all areas. They are actually building empires right?
While this type of mindset is okay for a season, many get stuck in the vicious cycle of working non-stop and not taking care of themselves. We all know working hard definitely has its rewards and benefits, but overworking can lead to many unnecessary and unhealthy developments.
Below are 3 things entrepreneurs should be taking advantage of, in order to develop a proper work-life balance and still stay ahead of the eight ball:
1. Get enough sleep
Many of us have been programmed to think that you have to work hard and long in order to be successful in life. While working hard is very important to becoming successful, recent studies have shown that getting the proper amount of sleep is even more important. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of stress and burnout in the lives of many people.
Arianna Huffington is a huge advocate for getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep per day, in order to improve our decision-making, well-being, creativity, and productivity. Those bragging about only getting four to five hours of sleep are actually admitting that they are not functioning or performing at their maximum potential.
Researchers have also shown that when you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep, your brain signals your body to release hormones and compounds that assist in brain memory, maintaining your immune system, and decreasing risks in health conditions. Therefore, getting enough quality sleep is key for a healthy lifestyle.
2. Take vacations
Studies show that there are multiple health benefits of vacationing. A few of them consist of less stress, decreased depression, improved productivity, and improved mental health. Who wouldn’t want to experience that right? The ones who break away from the day-to-day functions of working, to go on vacation usually come back on fire and ready to keep crushing their goals.
Vacationing allows you to really put things into perspective, not only for yourself, but for your business as well. Taking vacations gives you the opportunity to unplug and spend that much needed quality time with yourself and your loved ones.
It also gives you time to relax, reflect, and recharge. In doing so, research shows that you come back refreshed and ready to function at peak performance. You also get to have fun, visit really cool places and check off destinations on your bucket list.
3. Take breaks
No matter how much you love your work, you can’t continue to be a driving force while running on empty. CEO Chris Cavallini, of the multi million dollar company Nutrition Solutions, believes in this principal one hundred percent and stands firm on the idea that taking a 60 second break every hour will reboot, recharge, and refocus your mind, body and spirit.
It makes the team more efficient and productive, says Chris. Many times a quick mental or physical shift is all you need, to come back to work with more creativity and more energy for your next breakthrough.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.” – Anne Lamott
Recent studies have shown that those who experience constant stimulation of the same thing, is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that our brain erases it from our awareness.
They also show that taking a two-minute break can increase productivity by as much as 11.15%. Since entrepreneurs are constantly on the go, several short breaks through out the day should definitely be included due to all of the amazing benefits they provide.
Some of the things you could do on your breaks that will increase performance and productivity include, standing and stretching, resting your eyes, quick exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, or pull ups and even checking your social media.
The next time you feel like you don’t have time to take a break, think about all the benefits you’ll miss out on by not taking one.
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