I’ve been known to skip a few meals, dump four shots of espresso into one cup and even drink a few of those five-hour energy bottles. I thrive on these adrenaline rushes, but no one can live like that for long periods of time.
So, every so often I retreat to my home in South Dakota for a respite from the fast pace of business (or New York City). If you’re like me and thrive on adrenaline, I’ll be the first to tell you it’s okay to hit the pause button: It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small business owner, an entrepreneur or a c-suite executive.
Life is just simply going to be stressful. The competition, the long work hours, the slashed budgets, deadlines and expectations for employees, customers and shareholders: These things, plus the high-risk decisions associated with them, take a toll.
This is hardly news, of course: According to a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 40 percent of workers surveyed reported that their jobs were very or extremely stressful; 25 percent viewed their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.
But what people should stay attuned to are the ways in which stress can manifest itself — mentally, physically and emotionally, — and the negative pesults, like edginess, impatience, anxiety and moodiness. The main sources for the problem? As measured by the American Institute of Stress, they’re : workload (46 percent), people issues (28 percent), the demands of juggling personal and professional life (20 percent) and lack of job security (6 percent).
For inspiration on managing all this stress, we can turn to the business greats — people who run multi-billion dollar corporations. If they can manage their stress levels, the rest of us can, too. Here are five lessons these icons have to teach:
1. Keep it simple.
When you have a couple of hundred emails in your inbox, a day full of meetings and calls and everyone asking you for your opinion, keeping it simple seems like the most complicated goal — or the last thing on your mind. But it’s something that must be done, to gain a little perspective on what’s most important at that moment.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has said, “The ability to boil things down, to just work on things that really count, to think through the basics . . . It’s a special form of genius.” At this point, we can all agree that the method to Gates’s madness has worked.
One of my own mottos that I try to impart to my team is, “Work smarter, not harder.” By working smarter, I keep things simple. I don’t need to be copied in every single email chain, or be a part of every conversation or decision; that’s why I have a team — to take care of the process. My team feels empowered to make decisions in my absence, so I can focus on what matters most — growing the business.
2. Focus on what matters.
One of the easiest things to do is become overwhelmed by all that needs to be done or isn’t getting done. When we’re overwhelmed, our tempers flare, and we take things out on those closest to us; things spiral downward.
But ask yourself, What’s really important? I have 20 things on my “to-do” list, but what will happen if, instead of taking care of all 20, I take care of only the top five? Will the world stop spinning?
No, Nothing will happen. Those worries are all in your head.
Richard Branson is synonymous with the Virgin brand, but he is someone who has his priorities straight. Said Branson: “If I lose the whole Virgin empire tomorrow, then I’d just go and live somewhere, like Bali. Now, if there was a problem with my family, healthwise . . . that’s a problem.”
It sounds trite sometimes, but prioritizing things that really matter can reduce stress levels considerably. If the big things are taken care of, or are going well, the business side of things will be okay, too. I’ve bought and sold over 250 businesses over the years, I’ve had my fair share of failures (one of them involved a failed pheasant farm).
But these failures are nothing compared to my family’s welfare.
3. Take control.
When we have looming deadlines, meetings with clients or investors, lists a mile long: Our brains can short-circuit. Being overwhelmed breeds inaction and confusion. How can we break the cycle? By taking control of the situation.
If you’re stressing about the million things that need to be done, the only number you need to focus on is the number “1.” What’s first on your list? Tackle that specific task, and only that task — forget the others. Being that laser-focused allows you to take control of the situation, which propels you into the next task and gives you a sense of accomplishment, thereby, lowering stress.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “Stress primarily comes from not taking action over something that you can have control over . . . I find that as soon as I identify it and make the first phone call, or send off the first email . . . it dramatically reduces any stress that might come from it.”
4. Take a break.
This sounds like an oxymoron at times, especially when you feel that the fate of the world is resting on your shoulders. But, if you’re saying, “Can’t take a break right now,” stop! After all, I’m saying it, and I’m the guy who flew from New York to Hawaii for a business meeting. I was in Hawaii for less than 48 hours.
Some entrepreneurs and executives have a higher tolerance for adrenaline rushes and a reputation for being workaholics — that comes with the territory. But what good are you to your family or your team if you burn out? Working nonstop leads to burnout and slows productivity. Recognizing the signs can save you and your business headaches. In fact, 90 percent of leaders in a survey by the Center for Creative Leadership reported that they managed stress by temporarily removing themselves, physically and mentally, from their source of stress.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki believes in stopping and smelling the roses. Wojcicki said, “I think it’s really important to take time off, and I’ve also found that sometimes you get really good insights by taking time off.” I agree; I find not just inspiration, but perspective, when I’m home at the ranch or going on vacation to Italy with my wife.
5. Plan ahead.
We all know what we’re doing every single day of the week, so planning ahead is key in managing stress levels. Every Sunday night, I look at my calendar for the week and prioritize meetings, phone calls, events and the duties around those tasks. Then, I print my daily calendar, streamlining my workload even more to stay on track at a granular level.
Organizing, planning and streamlining tasks are effective management strategies; having a good system in place helps things run smoothly, reducing everyone’s stress levels.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, said, “The more you can set a cadence around what you do, and the more ritual and the more consistency you can build into your schedule, the less stress you’re going to have.”
So, it’s not just grit, hard work and determination that separate the successful from the unsuccessful: It’s also how people manage their stress levels as they run their operations. We’re all stressed, after all; it’s a natural side effect of pushing to achieve our dreams. But how we manage it sets us apart. Don’t let stress be your downfall.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Having The Time Of Your Life
How can you avoid a To-Do list that never gets ticked off by the end of the week? Or maximise the number of hours you work on critical projects, to achieve your career goals? And why is it important to take time out?
Being an entrepreneur is a constant balancing act between the demands of your business needs and your personal life. The key to a work/life balance that ensures you achieving your work and personal goals for the year ahead, is effective time management.
Time is our greatest resource and there are many ways in which to maximise your ability to manage this precious commodity. But how can you avoid a To-Do list that never gets ticked off by the end of the week? Or maximise the number of hours you work on critical projects, to achieve your career goals? And why is it important to take time out?
Unfortunately, time does equal money
In the modern workplace and in most businesses, time is synonymous with money. Whether you bill by the hour, or bake by the truckload, time is essential in running a successful career and business. Just think of how important time is in the service industry, and how time influences purchasing decisions. Think of all the drive-through fast food chains in a city – all there to save time. Because time is indeed money, it is critical to prioritise your time effectively. Keep in mind your most pressing deadlines, plan ahead and prioritise clients and customers effectively.
Me-time with a twist
Self-management impacts on your personal effectiveness and includes managing yourself and your time, being responsible for your achievements and being accountable for your results and successes. In business, if you prioritise a company’s time more efficiently, it can lead to improved customer service, improved delivery, increased profits, and increased market shares.
Imagine what it could do for you if you made the mind shift to prioritise your time and self-regulate your time daily?
Visualise that empty inbox
Start by removing thoughts of procrastination and imagine yourself as a “doer.” Think of the benefits of becoming a doer. What would our work life be like if we organised our tasks in order of importance, and not in order of enjoyment? What would it feel like to be thought of as someone who “got things done” and was “reliable?” How would we handle our paperwork? Imagine having an empty in-tray.
Critically, managing your time and self-regulating the hours, minutes and seconds in a work day will free up time for the people that matter in your life. Go watch that ballet recital or cricket game you never have time for. Have a coffee with a fellow entrepreneur and see how these small acts of rewarding you for time well spent, with energise you in your daily tasks.
Ditch the time wasters
A Time Waster is anything (or anyone) that doesn’t contribute to your daily goals or your To-Do List. Many of these time wasters have become a natural part of our work style. Now is the time to change – to reverse the process. It will take time and effort to get rid of time-wasting habits. Research shows that it takes approximately 21 days to change a habit.
For example, at first, we will have to make a conscious effort to keep our meetings on track. If things are dragging on, we need to stand up and indicate that the meeting is over (if you are running it), or to be excused (if your input is no longer required). This applies to all the time-wasting habits we have acquired.
It may be uncomfortable at first to tell a colleague that you are busy and unable to chat – but as you get used to being assertive and as they get accustomed to the fact that you are not always available – then it will become easier.
More tips to deal with time wasters
- Fix a time for paperwork and admin;
- Have clear daily objectives;
- Delegate work as needed;
- Group your telephone calls;
- Be assertive with unannounced visitors.
The Secret To Living A Balanced Life As A CEO? Pick A Strong Second In Command
The key is to find a partner who is strong in areas where you are weak.
Entrepreneurs are not known for having work-life balance. In my experience, trying to find balance as a start-up founder is like looking for a real-life unicorn. If you’re looking to create something that is disrupting an industry, the path isn’t going to be easy.
Building out a new idea practically guarantees imbalance. This is especially true in the early stages of a start-up. Prior to joining LegalZoom, I would work 100 hours a week. It was a fast-paced start-up world. I had to make certain sacrifices. For example, I chose not to have a family right away, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be the present father I wanted to be. However, I was prepared to make those decisions. I believed in the work I was doing, and I knew it was going to take blood, sweat and tears.
So, what’s my advice to entrepreneurs on achieving balance? First, grow the company. Even in a company of 25 people, the burden of leadership generally falls on one person. It can take upwards of 100 people to really notice a shift in leadership. But, second, and most importantly, look for a co-partner that is just as strong as you are.
The one-two punch
Usually, when companies are founded, there is one individual who is celebrated. We forget there’s almost always another person behind the scenes helping to call the shots. Oftentimes, that person doesn’t want to share the spotlight. He or she is happy to have a non-public facing role and just want to get the work done.
We tend to talk about the visionaries, but there has to be a person in the company who helps turn that vision into reality. We all know Walt Disney, and maybe even the previous longtime CEO Michael Eisner, but what about Frank Wells? As the president and COO alongside Eisner, Wells helped lead the company through a 10-year period of unprecedented growth. Steve Jobs will forever be remembered as the visionary behind Apple, but Steve Wozniak provided the necessary engineering expertise to drive the company forward. Even today, many believe Elon Musk needs a strong second-in-command to help run Tesla.
I call this dynamic the “one-two punch” in leadership. As a CEO, you have to think critically about your second-in-command – whether it’s the COO, CTO or CFO.
We all want to be able to spend our time doing the things at which we excel. Excellence is what drives the company forward. At LegalZoom, I’ve been able to spend 80 percent of my working hours on tasks that leverage my strengths. The only way that I can do that is by having a partner who is strong in areas I may be weaker. In a strong one-two punch combination, both of us are spending 80 percent of our time on our strengths. The key is that those strengths don’t overlap.
How to find a great co-captain
The longer you wait to find your “two,” or if you make a mistake in selecting that person, you set yourself up for trouble. How do you find a second-in-command that can help you lead your company to success? It may seem obvious, but the first key is to understand where your weaknesses lie. It is essential that your co-leader make up for the skills that you lack, and vice versa.
It’s important to consider a person’s background as well, but don’t be afraid to look beyond the resume. I’ve judged candidates before based on raw talent and a gut feeling on their potential. Sometimes the best person for the role doesn’t necessarily have the strongest resume. Instead, he or she has a high level of motivation and a killer work ethic. These are the individuals that never hear “no.” They look for solutions rather than just identifying issues – and they are critical in the startup world.
Ultimately, while you bring different skill sets and career aspirations to the table, you and your co-partner must connect at a collegial level. At the end of the day, you have to appreciate what the other does. You have to share a common vision and mission.
Finding balance, after all
Any CEO with some semblance of balance in their life owes it to the small army of individuals behind them helping to make it happen. While you should prepare for imbalance early in your career and understand the sacrifices it takes to start a company, with the right “two,” you’ll have the support needed to succeed.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Travel At The Touch Of A Button
The revolutionary Travelit app has been developed for the global marketplace to meet your business travel needs.
Travelit has launched an easy-to-use mobile app that simplifies the trip approval process, provides a full trip itinerary and assists in management of travel expenses.
“The app is designed in South Africa, for the African and global marketplace,” says Wayne Muirhead Chief Sales Officer at Travelit. “We have developed the app locally with our own developers, and opted not to use a white labelling solution.”
The app interface enables the requirements of travellers, approvers, users, as well as finance and procurement role players to be met so each trip is seamlessly planned and executed.
Stress-free financial administration
“Expense management is an integral part of the complete travel cost; businesses want to understand their complete travel bill,” says Wayne. This is why the app incorporates features that facilitate:
- Capturing of photographs of receipts real-time
- Immediate allocation of expenses to the correct description
- Uploading expenses for workflow approval
- Attachment of an expense to a travel trip, or generating a non-travel related expense.
Simplified trip approval process
In addition, approvers’ features enable simple visibility into the trip’s cost and details:
- Approval of booking requests
- Trip confirmation once trip has been successfully approved
- Managing alerts — approval notifications, pre-trip notification as well as travel notifications
- Out of office activation for approvers.
Trip management made easy
With Travelit’s new app, travellers have the ability to update, create new profiles directly from their phones and update and store all their information, including:
- Updating of profile details
- Personal information
- Visas, passports, meal types, seating preferences
- Loyalty programmes.
As a traveller, when you are travelling, you require information, updates and access to your travel documentation in real time. The Trip Manager function provides you with this through the following functions:
- View current, pending and past trips
- Trip itinerary information
- View trips that are awaiting approval
- View supplier vouchers
- Locate properties via the Map option
- Boarding passes are available
- Real-time alerts to travellers.
Related: Save Up To 25% On Your Travel Costs
“We have done a soft launch with the app and offered it to strategic users and clients within our ecosystem,” says Wayne. These corporates have enjoyed the functions within the app, such as:
- Real time information for the traveller (itineraries, vouchers, boarding passes)
- Approval notifications and the approval capability
- Contact information for the consultants after-hours, and assistance
- Access to the traveller profile to ensure their data is updated and correct
- Check-in to the airline.
The Travelit app is available in the Google Play Store and iOS Store. Travelit will make monthly app releases by offering users ongoing functionality and features.
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