Monthly Archives: December 2012
Becoming and staying productive isn’t about hard-to-follow programs or logging your every move in an app. It’s about self-care. Here are daily to-dos to get you started.
It’s Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Two San Francisco entrepreneurs are pitching their ventures to potential investors today. They’d both agree that this is one of the most important days of their lives. This is the story of Jane and Joe…
Jane was up until 4 a.m. putting the final touches on her deck. In fact, she spent the entire weekend fixed in her apartment, preparing the presentation. This morning, she woke up late and rushed putting together her most “investor-worthy” attire. She slammed a shot of espresso, grabbed her computer, and ran out the door feeling hungry and tired. She arrived right on time but felt anxious and flustered about the events of the morning.
Joe, on the other hand, went to sleep last night at 11 p.m., as he does most nights of the week. His presentation was ready Friday afternoon, after seven revisions thanks to feedback from advisors. He spent the weekend in nature connecting with friends. This morning, he woke up at 7 a.m., had a glass of water, ran two miles, meditated for 15 minutes, and drank a smoothie. He put on the outfit he picked out the evening before, grabbed his bag, and walked out the door. He arrived 10 minutes early, feeling confident, calm, and eager to share his vision with potential investors.
Which entrepreneur would you bet on?
And, which entrepreneur most closely resembles you?
Jane and Joe are fictional characters but having been immersed in the world of startups in both New York and San Francisco, I see a lot of Janes. They work 16-hour days, seven days per week, and wonder why they aren’t getting the results they’re looking for. The truth is, results don’t come through hours spent. Great results often come by doing less and working smarter.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak with my friend Mike Del Ponte, who resembles the character of Joe. Today he launches a Kickstarter campaign for his company Soma, which aims to revolutionize the water industry using sustainable design. (It’s awesome. Check it out.) Surprised by how cool, calm, and collected Mike was so close to launch, I asked him what his secret is.
“Every day I need physical energy, mental clarity, and emotional balance to tackle everything that comes my way,” Mike said. “Self-care is the secret to performing at the highest level.”
Here are the six simple rituals he uses to perform at his highest, which you too can begin implementing right away:
1. Drink a glass of water when you wake up. Your body loses water while you sleep, so you’re naturally dehydrated in the morning. A glass of water when you wake helps start your day fresh. When do you drink your first glass of water each day?
2. Define your top 3. Every morning Mike asks himself, “What are the top three most important tasks that I will complete today?” He prioritizes his day accordingly and doesn’t sleep until the Top 3 are complete. What’s your “Top 3” today?
3. The 50/10 Rule. Solo-task and do more faster by working in 50/10 increments. Use a timer to work for 50 minutes on only one important task with 10 minute breaks in between. Mike spends his 10 minutes getting away from his desk, going outside, calling friends, meditating, or grabbing a glass of water. What’s your most important task for the next 50 minutes?
4. Move and sweat daily. Regular movement keeps us healthy and alert. It boosts energy and mood, and relieves stress. Most mornings you’ll find Mike in a Cross Fit or a yoga class. How will you sweat today?
5. Express gratitude. Gratitude fosters happiness, which is why Mike keeps a gratitude journal. Every morning, he writes out at least five things he’s thankful for. In times of stress, he’ll pause and reflect on 10 things he’s grateful for. What are you grateful for today?
6. Reflect daily. Bring closure to your day through 10 minutes of reflection. Mike asks himself, “What went well?” and “What needs improvement?” So… what went well today? How can you do more of it?
Whether you more strongly resemble Jane or Joe, these six rituals will help you up your game, taking your performance to the next level.
I would absolutely love to know the rituals that are most valuable for you! Leave your tips in the comments below.
With you in mind I have put together a list of the 10 essential resolutions that you need to make this year to get a firm grip on your finances, work out a cost-effective way of managing your debt, and make the most of any savings.
1. Get your finances sorted
Spend time getting details of every bank account, savings account, vehicle loan, mortgage/rent, credit card agreement, insurance policy, and pension that are in your name. To help with tracking missing assets down you can use the Unclaimed Assets Register (http://www.unclaimed.com/ in the united states and governing countries) or (www.uar.co.uk for a fee of £25 per search.)
List all your assets and liabilities, ideally using a basic spreadsheet as this will not only enable you to see at a glance whether your finances are healthy or in crisis, but also assess the potential impact of any changes made to your income or expenses.
This exercise will give you a detailed insight into your finances and could highlight discrepancies such as being double insured. For example, your mobile phone might already be covered on your home contents policy so a separate dedicated policy will be a waste of money.
2. Reorganize your debt
How much do you owe on credit cards and what rate of interest are you paying? Do you have any other outstanding loans? Have you been sweet-talked into opening up store cards that are charging eye-watering high sums for the privilege?
Clearing your debts, especially credit cards and overdrafts, should always be a priority and be willing to ask for interest reduction because more often than not companies will accommodate you for various reasons such as to make payments easier on you, to keep you as a loyal client or both. “Check that any debt you have is as inexpensive as possible by checking and comparing APRs and potentially consolidating various debts into a cost saving personal loan from a bank.
Existing credit card debts, for example, can be moved to rival providers offering 0 per cent on balance transactions. However, you’ll need to bear in mind that you’ll be charged a handling fee, a percentage of the existing debt, to take advantage of such an offer.
3. Analyze your expenditure
Every organization needs a balance sheet and a household is not any different. Using the spreadsheet you made for your first resolution, start by analyzing how much you are spending each month, including noting what happens to cash withdrawals, says Justin Modray, founder of website Candid Money.
“If you’re consistently spending less than you earn, that’s a good start,” he says. “If you’re spending more than you earn you’ll definitely need to make some cutbacks or seek out better deals. There’s no magic solution so agree where to cut back and be disciplined.”
Divide your monthly expenditure into essentials, such as mortgage repayments, and non-essentials, including meals out, and make cuts wherever possible without completely depriving yourself. Always pay yourself first by placing a minimum of 20.00 or 20% whichever is greater into a CD or money market account where the investment earns slow and steady.
Also, identify agreements, such as direct debits for magazines you no longer read, and cancel them, paying attention to notice periods.
4. Become a smart shopper
For those items you still need the answer is to shop around for less expensive deals. Bargain hard with retailers if you need to buy big-ticket items, such as televisions, and use online comparison sites to find the best prices on everything from cars to pairs of shoes.
There are plenty of other ways to save money. For example, it is worth picking up loyalty cards in favorite stores on which you can earn and later redeem points for buying certain products. Pay particular attention to buy-one-get-one-free deals on favorite items.
Such attention to detail can be applied to other products, such as insurance policies. You can save a lot of money by researching the market to see what’s available well in advance of the renewal date of various policies. Check comparison sites and individual firms for the best deals.
5. Establish your financial goals
Before deciding what investments will meet your needs you will need to establish how much money you need to make and what aspirations you have for the future, according to Jason Witcombe, a director of Evolve Financial Planning.
Think about what you want from your life, not just next year but in the decades to come, and what is important to you and your family. Few people actually do this and without taking time to prioritize it’s very easy to get stuck in the daily grind in which you will find yourself right in the same financial stranglehold until you take action and make the decision to begin income-producing activities.
Knowing what you want out of your life and, perhaps even more importantly, what it’s likely to cost will help you establish how much risk you are willing to take with your money and which investments are likely to best meet your needs.
6. Set up an emergency fund
You never know when a crisis will happen, anything from your boiler breaking down to a member of your family needing an operation, so it’s best to be financially prepared to avoid plunging into debt to solve the problem.
Everyone should build up cash savings before looking at higher-risk options such as investing in shares. It is sensible to try and get a good return on your cash savings and you can do this by looking for accounts that are paying competitive rates of interest and holding the money in a money market account (if you live in Europe a cash ISA,) where all interest generated is free of tax.
Look for the account that gives you a competitive rate of interest and lets you get your hands on the money quickly. If you have used your MMA or ISA allowances then consider an instant-access savings account with a high street bank or building society.
7. Plan for the longer term
While 30 percent of people quizzed in a recent study for Financial Planning Week were planning to reduce their monthly spending next year and 20 percent to increase the amount they put away, only a small four percent were planning to contribute more towards, or start, a pension.
It’s not a surprise to John Ions, chief executive of Liontrust.
It is not difficult to understand why so many people who are struggling to make ends meet today have little focus on tomorrow. This is why it is so important to communicate the message that doing something now is vital to provide more security in later years.
The fact is that the earlier you start saving for your future the greater the opportunity you are giving the funds to grow in value. At the very least start building up a pot of money in a MMA or an ISA and other accounts, even if you distrust investments and don’t want to tie up every last penny.
8. Make sure you’re tax efficient
Many people are paying too much income tax, which is dictated by which tax code they have been assigned. Check to see if you’re paying the right amount by contacting the IRS (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15.pdf) or HM Revenue & Customs (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/incometax/check-right-tax.htm).
Once you have done this you can turn your attention to making sure your money is in tax-efficient wrappers, such as the aforementioned MMA’S and/or ISA’s.
There are other tax planning techniques too, For example, husbands and wives (as well as civil partners) are taxed independently so each will have their own personal allowances. If they are on different tax rates then consider moving assets to the one paying a lower rate.
9. Keep track of your investments
It’s important to regularly review the performance of your investments, with the most important factors being whether they’ve made you money and how well they have done in comparison with rivals. Keep track of them and learn to understand what has caused the outperformance or underperformance. Jason Hollands, a managing director at Bestinvest, said a study the firm recently carried out with YouGov revealed that one in five people have never re-examined their investments. “Review your portfolio before putting any new cash into the market,” he insists.
10. Revisit your decisions
If you’ve reached this stage then congratulate yourself on beginning your financial makeover. Stand vigilant, revisit your investment decisions at least once a week and keep an eye on your expenses. Review your finances and enjoy the year ahead.
It takes less than an hour a week to remain on top of your assets, which will prove time very well spent because of what you gain.
All the greats Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg have these 7 things in common, and this list is what makes them better than all the rest.
Silicon Valley has billions of successful entrepreneurs and brilliant innovators. You can’t walk down the street in Palo Alto or Mt. View without bumping into two or three top executives who started out in a little garage shop, research lab, or college dorm room.
Funny thing is, they all seem to have unique outward qualities, some more eccentric than others. Marissa Mayer is a high-fashion workaholic. Mark Zuckerberg is obsessed with the product. Larry Page is a geeky introvert. Larry Ellison is an adrenaline freak that races yachts, flies planes, and buys entire islands.
All that may be true, but it’s a big mistake to think that defines them.
You see, everyone gets so caught up in the public personae and the hype that it’s easy to forget just how much these folks have going on under the hood. I’ve worked with loads of them and one thing I can say for sure, they will surprise you.
One minute you’re getting grilled about your crazy idea and the next minute the guy’s not only on board but asking why you can’t get it done sooner. It can really freak you out if you’re not used to it. Not only that, but it’s dangerous to take everything they say and do verbatim. They’re not infallible. They don’t walk on water, you know.
In any case, if you want to know more about what makes these people tick, what makes them the way they are, here are seven things that, in my observation, successful entrepreneurs seem to have in common.
They all have their own process. It’s the strangest thing but every single one of them seems to have their own process for thinking things through, making decisions, whatever. They’re very process-oriented. Sometimes they don’t even know it. Also they definitely do not want you inside their heads so mum’s the word, if you know what I mean.
They trust their instinct. It seems they’ve spent their entire lives being self-absorbed or self-sufficient. As a result, they’re extremely self-confident when it comes to trusting their own instincts and following whatever it is that inspires them. They will listen to others — a trusted few — but they’ll still make the final call in the end.
They are passionate about what they do. That’s why they do it. Whether it’s writing software code or coming up with the next hot gadget, they love it. It inspires them. It makes them feel safe, comfortable. It draws them like a powerful magnet. They feel at home doing it. And there’s nothing else they’d rather do. Nothing.
They’re unusually quick on the uptake. They can assimilate data, come to grips with a situation, or grasp something that took you two hours to understand in what seems like a heartbeat. It goes without saying that they’re unusually smart.
They’re born problem solvers. To them, problem solving is a fantastic game. They get off on it. They live for it. And they’re the best at it. Once they understand the problem, they revel in bringing their intellect, inspiration, and observations to bear in coming up with the right solution, plan, decision, whatever’s appropriate for the situation.
They’ve got something to prove. It’s not usually clear to you or to them who they need to prove it to, but I really don’t think it matters. They all just seem to have this relentless need to achieve, to make things happen, to do great things. It drives them and motivates them.
They work their tails off. Their work is, to a great extent, their life. That’s sort of an obvious result when you consider how passionate they are about what they do and how driven they are to accomplish great things. And you won’t always see them working, either. Day or night, at work or at home, they usually have a hard time turning it off.
One more thing, if you end up working with some of these folks, the worst thing you can do is be in awe of them. They don’t generally like yes-men and are quite impatient with folks who don’t add value. They have you around for a reason. Do what you do best and be straight with them. That’s the only way to go to ensure success.
To YOUR Continued Success,