Last month I discussed the first 2 steps on breaking the time barrier and making the most out of your time. Firstly, conduct a time audit. Secondly, create time boundaries in your business. There was a key question asked, “What boundaries must you set up such that you keep focused on your main goals?”
What were your boundaries?
Step number 3: Time processes
Do you remember the first person who ever hired you?
For me it was 1999 when I joined a technology investment bank in San Francisco as an associate in their institutional equity sales department.
Recently I had coffee with the person who brought me in… it had been 14 years and it was great to see him again!
When I first met him, he was already very successful, earning a handsome 7-figure salary + bonus. He has gone on to do greater things since and I was lucky enough to soak in some of his wisdom during our hour-long meeting.
He spent the first 20 minutes of our conversation asking about my personal life and my business. He inquired about who my perfect customer is and then we brainstormed together to figure out whether he could refer any of his connections. In this brief interaction with me he gave me a masterclass on how to connect.
The intention and personal nature behind his questions made me feel terrific!
After he left the investment bank where we worked together in 2001, he started his own asset management company. We laughed about the ups and downs of being a start-up CEO – including having to clean your office toilets when you start out.
He then said: “When you’re in the trenches day after day, if feels like you’re growing at a glacial pace. But looking back the firm has grown 20% year over year for the last 12 years…since inception. In the moment it was very frustrating but it’s clear to see now that we were always moving forward.”
It’s an area I’ve been struggling with this year. It feels as though my company has been growing at a glacial pace. I feel the frustration and desire to have everything move faster and faster. I’ve even wished I could clone myself.
I now realise that since I’m bootstrapping the growth of my company to keep 100% equity in-house, this seemingly slow pace of growth is actually healthy… for now.
When you’re in the trenches day after day, it feels like you’re growing at a glacial pace
I’ve been subconsciously and erroneously comparing myself to the many angel and VC funded start-up companies I work with that are in a race to grow as quickly as possible. I’ve created frustration, annoyance, and at times a deep set feeling of anxiety for no good reason.
It’s taken me 14 years to reconnect with someone who’s interested in me and has deep connections in the local finance community. I feel like I’ve satisfactorily closed the circle of my full-time employment. I can now move forward as an entrepreneur and walk the path with someone who has been there before.
Key question: What steps can you take to prioritise the law of process over needing to have things done immediately? Only then can you let go of the anxiety that comes from comparing yourself to other non-parallel businesses.
Step number 4: Time transformation – how do I make the most of my time
I’m not a big fan of business travel.
I’ve done everything I can to minimise the time I spend at an airport. This includes getting a Global Entry pass to speed my way through immigration after international flights and having TSA Pre status to, in essence, walk through security in a matter of minutes.
It took time, money and an interview to secure this status and it’s been worth it.
Now the TSA Pre security line is much faster than the regular line because you don’t have to take off your shoes, belt or jacket. You don’t have to take out your laptop and other electronic devices. You just put your carry-on on the conveyor belt and walk through the metal detector. It’s fast, efficient, and I love it.
As I left from San Francisco airport for one trip, things were taking longer. I could hear the airport staff tell people: “Sir, you can leave your coat on. Madam, please put your laptop back in your bag. Excuse me, your children should put their shoes back on.” And on it went.
It reminded me that I had been somewhat lost the first time I used the TSA Pre line. I’d been pre-programmed to do everything the way I’d been told to for the regular security line.
Even though I knew that the TSA Pre line was supposed to move much faster, I didn’t exactly know why. Ultimately, I also had to rely on someone’s help to guide me through the process.
As I was standing in line laughing at how helpless I felt in this new process, I thought of the story of the baby elephant… as a baby the elephant is tied to a tree with a rope and no matter how hard it tries to get away it can’t pull the tree out of the ground or snap the rope. After failing many times, it stops trying. Years later as a full-grown elephant, the owners are able to tie it to a small tree with a thin rope without any risk of it escaping.
Just as everyone walking through security, we’ve been conditioned and programmed to think and perform a certain way. And so, it is in business as well.
I spend a lot of time meeting with clients and prospects explaining how important it is to combine my CFO work with coaching the business owner.
This little game has gained the hedge fund manager at least 10 great stock picks to use to make money… For free!
Why? Because I can analyse and tell you what your numbers are. I can provide you with the most important metrics to your business. I can show you the correct levers to pull to create the biggest immediate profit boost.
But only you, the business owner, can execute on your strategy. And to do this successfully, you have to choose to set aside the false boundaries and limitations created by your past.
Personally, and in business, we create limiting beliefs. In my industry, and I bet in yours too, there are a set of rules that the incumbent companies have put in place.
Here’s my favourite example of a “made-up” industry rule at work:
When I worked on Wall Street 10 years ago, there was a game that the hedge fund managers liked to play, and I’m sure it still goes on today. Here’s how it goes…
A hedge fund manager responds to a candidate’s inquiry to interview with her firm. She says, “We’re interested to interview you. Please come in fully prepared to pitch two great stock ideas.”
The candidate who is unemployed has been working very hard the last couple of months to stay in the loop with his industry of expertise and nails the interview, pitching 2 really strong ideas. In fact, 2 weeks later the stock prices of both of his ideas have each gone up 30%.
But he never hears back from the hedge fund manager. After 3 months the position has either been filled by one of 20 experienced candidates who were interviewed or remains unfilled because the manager had in fact no interest to hire anyone.
This little game has gained the hedge fund manager at least 10 great stock picks to use to make money…
All the candidates go along with this, because it’s an…
What if I tell you, that you’ll transform your income in direct proportion to how many industry rules you can break. Because each one will have an impact on either your money, or your time, or both.
Try this exercise: –
Write down on a piece of paper (or two) every industry rule in your business around time.
Now try to break as many of these as you can while remaining ethical and legal of course in your business dealings.
You’ll probably really upset your competition and many people you deal with. In fact, I hope you do. These are their rules that work supremely well for them. Remember, you must develop your own time boundaries. Don’t let others dictate your schedule
The more rules you break the more profit you’ll see.
Key question: How many rules did you manage to break and how will each help you become more effective with your time?
That’s my “breaking the time barrier” system consisting of the 4 different steps. Firstly, conduct a time audit. Secondly, create time boundaries in your business. Thirdly, time processes. Fourthly, time transformation.