Productivity tips: How to run one or multiple companies without going crazy

I run a small portfolio of companies and people often ask me how am I pulling it off without going crazy.

TLDR šŸ™‚ -> Limit the number of decisions you have to make – Save your decision power

A big part of successfully running one or multiple businesses is that I’m doing my best to limit the number of decisions I have to make on daily basis. This allows me to put my focus and decision-making power onto the stuff that matters.

A quick background about me: I’m a 43-year-old entrepreneur with a small portfolio of businesses, a 7-year-old daughter, an amazing wife who I have been sharing my life with for over 20+ years, and eight dogs. I just had to stop and look at this number again.. 43-year-old wow.. feels ancient when I write this down. I still feel like I’m 20.

Anyhow, I want to share with you how I limit the number of business decisions I have to make and what kind of filters I use to make the right choices.

Business productivity tips

Use Frameworks!

Get a grip on your business by Gino Wickman is the business book that had the most significant impact on me. It teaches the EOS – Entrepreneurial Operating System, which allows you to systematize your business. Everything from how to define your Mission, Vision, Values, to figuring out if you have the right people in the right seats. From identifying which KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure to how to run proper meetings and planning sessions.

I WISH I had known about the EOS 10 years ago. Everything we learned, while growing my previous business – MaxCDN (we had to learn the hard way, through blood, sweat, and tears) is perfectly described and battle-tested in this book.

Mission, Vision Values

I always thought that VMV is unnecessary thing you only put into a presentation for investors, and then you bury it somewhere on the website and never look at it again.

But what I found out over the years, VMV is the best management tool there is.

We started implementing VMV monthly calls for all new employees in all my businesses. When people are introduced to the concept from the beginning they understand better what is required of them. In this case it’s being in line with company’s Mission, Vision and Core Values.

We also ask new employees to put their signature next to each of the values and that way acknowledge that they understand what values we are nurturing.

BTW follow this link to another blog post of mine if you want to learn more about how to come up with your companies vision statement

Error log

In all of my businesses, we have an error log. The idea is that we log every mess up, customer complaint, and error so we can talk about them in our weekly management meeting to see which process we can improve to make sure this error will not repeat.

By doing this, you are building a self-healing and continually improving machine.

The template we use is not pretty but effective. You can make a copy here.

Hire strong team leads!

After StackPath acquired MaxCDN (a company I co-founded 2009.) I became the CMO, taking care of marketing activities, preparing progress reports and so on. While I was working on putting together the StackPath brand I ask Lance Crosby, CEO of Softlayer, to join a couple of meetings and give me his feedback. He didn’t say much on those meetings, just an occasional “looks good”. After one meeting I pulled him aside and asked him:

Am I messing up? Don’t you care? What’s going on???

That is when he told me this: As a CEO he only has 3 roles.

  1. Making sure there is enough money to run the biz (Fundraising / Sales)
  2. Preaching the Mission and the Vision of the Company like a parrot to the outside world (PR) and inside world (the team)
  3. Hiring a strong team leads / department heads and let them do their thing.

Especially the 3rd one was a big eye-opener for me.

Now I just hire people who are really good at what they do and let them run with the ball. I just check if they deliver via KPIs, act as a sounding board, and remove roadblocks for them.

Solution-oriented team culture

When your team members have a problem or they are criticizing something, you should encourage them to always provide two possible solutions or at least some thoughts on how to improve the situation. This way, you only act as a sounding board, and they use their own heads, experience and skills to find the solution for the problem and actively participate in decision making process.

Personal productivity tips

I am a strong advocate of the saying “How you do one thing, is how you do everything”. So, implementing hacks and tricks to boost “productivity” in my personal life and reduce the number of decisions I had to make, was a no brainer.

Mental Models

You most likely know the Pareto Principle (80/20). There are a lot of other mental models that are just as useful.

mental model is an explanation of how something works. The phrase ā€œmental modelā€ is an overarching term for any sort of concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind. Mental models help you understand life.

Gabriel Weinberg wrote an amazing medium post on the topic and later a book called Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models which I can highly recommend.

Only black

I only wear black clothing. It always matches, and picking out what to wear today or packing a suitcase is much faster. Buying clothing is also much faster, I only have to check out the black items šŸ™‚

Lunch and Dinner

We hired a housekeeper who cooks, so she decides on what we are having on the menu for lunch and dinner. So, neither my wife nor I have to think about the groceries. When we eat out, I usually skip looking at the menu and just ask the server what his or her favorite vegan dish is. And I order that.

No junk food at home

We only buy healthy stuff – fruits, nuts. If we have chips at home there is a high likelyhood that I will eat them. Especially late at night when my decision making and will power is drained.

Staying in shape

I have a personal trainer who comes to my house at least three times per week. There is no way around it. At 6 am, he shows up at my house, and we start. He is the perfect accountability buddy.

If you want to get results and not think about it, get a personal trainer if you can.

I went to the gym for years 3 x per week, but only after I started working out with a trainer, working out the same amount of time as I did before, I actually started seeing my body transform. It feels like I just wasted all that time at the gym before.

$10, $100, $1000, $10000 per hour tasks

Every evening I have a ritual of planning the next day. This is one of the most important things for my personal productivity.

I write down all my tasks in my bullet journal (link to bullet journal video)

And I also do the following:

I circle the frog – the task I want to do the least is the task I do first.

Then I add monetary value to the rest of the tasks: $10, $100, $1000, and $10000 per hour.

I only keep the expensive ones ($1k and $10k tasks) and do my best to delegate, automate, or ignore the ones that I rated $10 and $100.

There you have it, simple yet very efficient tips that you can use today to boost your personal productivity and I promise that will reflect on your business as well.

Let me know your experience and what is your favorite productivity hack. I’d love to hear it.

Iā€™m a serial entrepreneur and I write about things I have learned along the way. Iā€™m passionate about helping entrepreneurs and executives to find success and harmony in business and in life.

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