I’m not a morning person… really?

The way you start your day pretty much dictates how you will feel and act all throughout the day. Start it late and you will play catch up all day long. Start it mellow, power up and arrive fully energized and you will be far more productive. But how can you change and start the morning strong if you are not a “morning person”?

 

commute to work
If possible, commute using public transportation to reduce stress

I arrived at the offices of a company I work at one day, several weeks ago. The hour was quarter to ten in the morning. The office was all but empty. I drank coffee, made some calls and started working, and one by one the rest of the employees came in, looking somewhat tired and un-energetic (The one or two exception were working moms, who preferred getting to the office early since they had to leave early to pick the kids from kindergarten or school ). On the other hand, when I left around 6 PM people were looking like they were in the middle of the day (the empty Pizza boxes I found the next morning confirmed that someone was working later). Sure enough- the next day this pattern repeated itself. I’ve asked some of these guys (most in their late 20’s, single or without kids yet) why would they rather stay late in the office and the all replied they find it difficult to get to work early (as if 9 or even 10 am is considered early) and have to put in the long hours to meet their goals and deadlines.

Why would someone rather spend the only part of the day where they could be stress free at work is beyond me. But it seems that many people hang to the excuse of not being able to do what is needed early enough and so start their day late and slow.

For these poor souls I have the following tips:

  1. Leave nothing for the morning No tasks. No laundry. No dirty dishes in the sink. Nothing.I even shower the night before, not to mention choosing my attire.
  2. Everything takes longer in the morning, and will just slow down your departure from home. So next time when you look at the overflowing garbage bin and think- I will throw it tomorrow morning- think again.
  3. And especially, no decisions. Making in form of decision (what to wear, what to eat, which route to take) is mentally demanding. Our brains as well as our bodies need time to “warm up” and are adept to making difficult choice so early in the day.
  4. Commute less, and if possible, do so by public transportation
    If you can stay and work from home, even for 1 day, it will greatly reduce your stress level. Studies have shown that Commuting for more than 20 minutes makes you ‘stressed and cynical’ (See: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/commuting-for-more-than-20-minutes-makes-you-stressed-and-cynical-10278874.html). Researchers found a ‘significant link’ between travel and exhaustion, and recommend travelling by public transportation in stead of driving as a means to reduce stress.
  5. Stay offline as long as possible
    This is more difficult than it sounds- most of us reach for our device as soon as we open our eyes. But refraining from doing so will give your brains some time to relax before the digital onslaught of the day
  6. Go to bed early- seriously, if you want to disrupt this sleepy cycle, make an effort to hit the bed early, at least one night of the week. We are programmed to operate when there’s sunlight- only in the last 100 years or so there’s been enough lighting to actually do somethings at nights. Before that- people just went to bed early- and what do you know? They also woke up early with no problem. So do like your ancestors and get some sleep, get up early and get some quality time in the mornings.

It is guaranteed to change your entire day.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

An easy hack to come out as a winner out of every business meeting

meeting summary

Every business meeting is different- some are good, others are terrible. But there’s one simple thing you can do to make every meeting count.

Write and distribute a summary of the meeting to everyone who’s attended. And do it as soon as possible, even minutes after the meeting has ended.

It sounds silly, but it’s true.

Be the hero

No one likes to take notes. No one likes to be responsible for accurately capturing the meetings’ essence and action items. By doing so you position yourself as the go-to guy and as the authority. You will earn the immediate respect of everyone- here’s a responsible lad they will think. This one can be trusted with getting the job done.

Control the agenda

But the truth runs even deeper. It was said that history was written by the winner. Well- your’e not actually making history but you can tweak it to suit your needs- because whoever writes the summary also chooses what is left out (such as annoying tasks for yourself) and also what are the action items for everyone. Sure- sometimes people will try to shout back and say this isn’t what was decided, or “remind” you of an unpleasant task you need to perform. But more often than not, people will just appreciate you for taking the time and the effort (and secretly thank you for removing this burden) and would refrain from arguing in public about decisions and task allocation.

Speed trumps accuracy

Yes, you can send the summary about 24 hours later. People will still appreciate it, but the impact will be reduced, and someone might either beat you to it (taking your hard earned credit) or ask “where is the summary” (by which point it will seem very late to send this at all). The best is to distribute this within the hour, but several hours are also find. Given that today you can carry a laptop/ tablet/ smartphone to any meeting and takes notes during it’s course makes it a no brainer (in F2F meetings it is better to take hand written notes- no one likes to look at you typing).

Be consistent

In all my professional life I was only beat to a summary once, and that’s because I had a long drive from the meeting back to the office, which the other guy used to his advantage. But in all other cases I was the first, and I’ve always been surprised at how much people appreciate this small gesture.

 

Don’t be lazy. Take notes, organized them and send quickly. You will gain the respect of your peers, business associates and potential customers and would be able to extract some “Yey” points from even the lowliest of meetings.

 

 

 

 

 

Three things I’ve learned on my first week as a freelancer

Working Nights is a apparently a big part of freelancing…

20160108_000218 (3)

 

Exactly one week ago I’ve packer my stuff and said goodbye to my last employer, and also to organized employment world, which I’ve been part of for the last 17 years. This week I’ve started a new phase in my career as a self-employed, freelance consultant, providing marketing and business development services to growing startups without the knowhow, capacity or manpower to handle these areas of the business. Funny enough, without knowing so, I’m part of a much larger shift in the labor world from organized to self-employed labor (see this terrific article titled “The Freelancer Generation”

http://techcrunch.com/2015/12/27/the-freelancer-generation-why-startups-and-enterprises-need-to-pay-attention/

Unlike my previous post, which summed an experience I’ve gained over a decade (see https://owntrepreneurship.com/2016/01/04/what-a-decade-of-business-travel-has-taught-me/), this post will do the exact opposite- meaning provide my initial insights from this new form of employment. It would be interesting to see in prospect how these observation fare- meaning, would they hold true on the longer run. But since the prophecy was given to fools I dare not estimate how I will feel and thing in a month or a year from now. I will simply concentrate on my most immediate, uncut observations.

  1. Time moves faster
    This week has flown bye so quickly I can’t believe it’s nearly over. I don’t seem to recall what I’ve did yesterday, let alone two or three days ago. And that’s not to say I’ve had short work days- no, quite the opposite- I haven’t finished a day earlier than 2 am. Surely the excitement of doing something new contributed to this feeling, but I’m pretty sure I will feel this way for a very long time. There’s simply so much to do and not enough time to it, that you find yourself cramming 10 different activities in a time-span where until now (sitting comfortably at your desk) you would utilize to do one thing (if, you were doing anything at all. Corporate culture is full of idle moments- meetings, lunches, water-cooler discussions- all gone when you are your own boss)
  2. But you get so much more done…
    I’ve scarcely checked the news sites, the stock exchange or non-work related social media (Owntrepreneurship blog statistics being an exception). TV? Only to catch the weather forecast to decide in advance which clothes I’ll be wearing the next day. I’ve managed to be super productive and multi-task my way out of multiple work and domestic choirs this week. Most likely- it’s the sense of urgency and the need to please multiple customers (wife and kids included), but the result was unparalleled efficiency. Hope I can keep this up.
  3. Your Karma changes
    I don’t want to say that Karma is smiling upon me (although I feel like it). But for the last week I’ve been the center of attention of recruiters, headhunter and corporate talent acquisition professionals. Something must’ve drawn them all to me at THIS precise week. Funny thing is- for the first time in a very long period, I’m actually NOT looking for a job that they would offer! Nevertheless, I paid my respect, talked and met some of them because you really can never tell what the future will hold, and gaining and nurturing connections is even more important for a freelancer operating with the corporate safety net.

All in all it has been an amazing week, and I really hope this is a precursor of things to come. I will revisit this post in about 3 months’ time and let Y’all know how I feel then and what I’ve learned in the process.

What a decade of business travel has taught me

I remember my first business trip clearly, although it has taken place exactly a decade ago. It was late 2005 and we were heading for Singapore to deliver a project to the local Navy, and upon arrival I could not locate my luggage. What an annoying way to start my very first business trip abroad! Not only that I was tired after an excruciating trip ( 10 hours flight from Tel Aviv to Bangkok, a short 2 hours layover and then another 4 hours’ flight to Singapore) I knew I will not get much sleep that night and that the next day I will need cloths and other objects which were now lost. Lucky for me, this was Singapore- my luggage was located in exactly 5 minutes (plus many, many apologies ) and I was on my way. The trip was a great success- we deliver the system quickly and had 2 days off to enjoy shopping and sightseeing.

I did not occur to me until now, but almost all of my travels were like that- some anxiety, somewhat uncomfortable, but in the end successful and rewarding.

IMG_8432
Sometimes you travel with style, and have time for a cruise and a cold one

 

I did not stop there of course- over the next 10 years my various jobs took me to Australia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, India, Greece, Romania, Germany, Czech republic, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Switzerland, South Africa, France, the UK, US and Brazil. I’ve gone from no-status to Gold-status in multiple airlines and have tasted the sweet taste of business class food. I’ve flown with the worlds’ best and worse airlines, I’ve missed flights due to traffic blocks, storms and strikes, and slept in luxurious hotels as well as on cold concrete floors of the airport after a missed connecting flight (thank you for that, United !).

IMG_1603.JPG
Other times its a Rickshaw in India in the scorching heat

But what I’ve learnt seems to be universal “truths”, that I’m very glad to share with you here today:

  1. Preparation is everything- the better you are prepared, the more enjoyable the experience will be. If you know what you are to do professionally and travel –wise you are more likely to relax and enjoy (see https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/10/05/were-on-a-road-to-nowhere-travel-anxiety/)
  2. But no matter how prepared are you, things will screw up. Bad weather, aircraft malfunctions, customers who decided to bail in the last seconds are all realities of business travel. You can neither anticipate these nor you have any power to fix these. Accept the uncertainty, and enjoy whatever the road has to offer.
  3. The best travel companion is You- traveling with a group of colleagues can be fun, but also induces stress and tensions. But most times, you will travel alone. Learn how to pass the time and even enjoy it. If you are too bored- this is an excellent time to find new friends (for instance, during a trans-Atlantic flight after you’ve consumed all the books and movies but still can’t sleep
  4. It’s hard- yet rewarding. Seen to an outsider like a fantasy, business travel is more often than not a pain in the arse. Especially if you travel often to difficult locations, it can be grinding. Yet however difficult, it still has rewards nothing else can offer. Traveling in rural India is grueling, but you will taste nothing but original Indian food.
  5. And it’s the only real way to experience our magnificent world and get a sense of adventure. Stuck behind a desk, and the world turns into a mixture of Facebook posts and news articles.
  6. Your annual vacation to some cozy spot in the Mediterranean is fun yet unexciting. You will never see anything unusual going to a mall or sitting in a tourist bus. But traveling for business, even to fairly organized places will always offer some kind of adventure and a chance to try something new, which you probably wouldn’t dare trying if you were to visit the very same place with your significant other or family.

So, was it worth it? It sure was. I got to see and experience things I had never dreamt of (like escaping death by switching trains in India only to find the original train derailed and dozens dead), tasting exotic dishes in southern China and enjoying the chilly Ukrainian winter (minus 20 in February). Today I travel, albeit less often, but I’m always keen to board a plane which will take me to some place new, someplace I’ve never been to.