How to be awesome and get shit done
I am known for being disciplined and getting stuff done. If you throw shit at me, I’ll sort it out. While I’m officially the CEO at Wiredcraft, I usually refer to myself as the CJO: Chief Janitor Officer.
There’s no real secret to it. It’s a boring mix of habits, behaviors and rules that I’ve adopted over the years. But since I often get asked how I do it, here is my 2 cents…
- I do not consider myself successful (yet) or perfect in any way. With that being said, I do have strong opinions about a few things that I think help me be less clueless.
- Most of what I’m about to tell you will probably be lost on you. It’s very likely that my advices are misguided, inadequate or biased. But more importantly, you’ll most likely disregard them and do whatever you want.
Eat your greens, go to bed early and exercise
Your mom told you this since you were a kid and yet you don’t do it. Just eat your damn veggies and go to bed early. It makes a world of difference.
I started leaning towards a much cleaner lifestyle about 4 or 5 years ago: no processed crap or heavy carbs. That means no pasta, no rice, no bread, no cakes (I’ve never liked them anyway).
I go to bed at 10:30 PM most days, and wake up around 5:30 or 6:00 AM. I hit the “gym” (aka the pull up bars at Jing’an park surrounded by a horde of old Chinese folks) around 6:30 or 7:00.
I do calisthenics, with lots of HIIT and some cardio. I usually wrap it up in 30 to 40 minutes, after which I run back home and get ready for work.
You’re not gonna like this one. Just so you know, I never had a problem with alcohol, I just lost interest.
I actually also quit coffee and tea last year.
Not drinking has had a tremendously positive impact on my physical and mental health. I furiously enjoy never waking up at noon with a headache and clothes reeking of cigarette smoke.
One of the things that consistently surprises me are my reflexes. And this extends to many other brain functions. I think faster and with more clarity than I have ever had in years.
My lifestyle is pretty much that of a grandpa: wake up early, working out, eat healthy and avoid drinking…
For all the positive aspects it had on my life, it did radically change my social interactions. People react in the weirdest way when they learn about it.
In the best case, people treat you as if you were handicapped or depriving yourself of life’s pleasures.
But more often than not, they simply feel uncomfortable. Especially about booze. Folks regularly try to pressure me into having “just one drink”.
Less is more
You only have so much focus. Don’t spread yourself thing by maintaining too many relations, working on too many things at the same or trying to make too many changes altogether.
For example, the best sales people aren’t the ones who cold email a hundreds folks. The best friggin’ sales folks are the ones who drive half of the revenue for the team by focusing on a tenth of that number.
Less stuff, less people in your life, less noise… All these things that you think you need and you’re encouraged to pile up end up making you weaker. I wrote about that before.
One step at a time
Lots of folks just do one of two things;
- See a big task and get discouraged, or procrastinate a ton because they know it will be challenging.
- Try and chew on it all, and burn down in flames.
The best way to get started (and done) with something is to start small.
Wanna get healthy? Don’t try and start switching to paleo, work out 5 times a week and going cold turkey on booze. Start by slowly reducing your portions and eliminating soda until you feel almost comfortable. Then take it up a notch.
Look at the few small things you can get started on now and focus on that.
Most importantly, build a routine. You want to be consistent until you do things without having to think too much about it.
Fuck the noise.
Install this fucking extension and block sites you tend to procrastinate on (for me: Hacker News & Wikipedia…): https://www.gofuckingwork.com/
You will try and procrastinate. It will creep on you really insidiously. Your jerk of a brain will try and wander around on Wikipedia for 30 minutes before it lets you realize that you’re fucking around.
Focus is a conscious effort you’ll need to be consistently applying against your unconscious tendency to seek distraction (whether it’s the new shiny thing you saw popping up on Twitter or yet another cool project you should totally get started on right this second).
Don’t multitask and don’t deviate. Pick one thing, work on it until it’s good enough and move on.
Everything is a goddam pipeline
Most processes can be modeled as pipelines. I could write an entire post just on this topic (and I may just do that).
Once you have your pipeline, decide of a way to measure things and start optimizing one step after another. Don’t overdo it; in most cases “good enough” is what you’re shooting for. You’ll get to come back to it later on once the conditions (scale, objectives…) have changed.
While doing that, you’ll want to have a certain scientific rigor to it. Every time you want to change or improve something:
- List your assumptions about the problem or opportunity,
- Describe how you want to validate or invalidate things,
- Run the experiment and figure it out.
Remove yourself from the equation
You. Don’t. Have. A. Fucking. Choice.
Remember that when it’s cold as fuck outside, you only have running shorts and it’s cardio day. Because this run will happen, whether you like it or not.
It’s Thursday evening and you’re exhausted, yet you promised to talk at that event? Tough shit: it will happen anyway, better get on with it.
There are some dubious claims that it takes a certain amount of time to form a habit; some say 21 days, some say it’s 66, others say it’s all bonkers. Maybe, maybe not.
What I do know from personal experience is that things get a bit easier with time. But when things get tough you’ll need to be resolute and power through it.
And things will get tough (anything worth doing is).
So, just remove yourself from the decision process.
You are not here to decide: your opinion or feelings don’t matter. You just have the task at hand and the expectation that it will happen. That reality has been decided and will be acted upon, whether you like it or not.
That may sound borderline crazy, but it works wonders.
Don’t be a wuss… seriously.
If you want to get shit done, just do it and don’t complain about how hard it is. Focus on what you’ve accomplished and start taking joy in tackling tough stuff.
One of the things that being a CJO is about is to be the ultimate snowplow for your team. You are here to get the shit out of their way so that they can do their work.
It often is ungrateful work. And that’s fine. You’re a catalyst for the team’s success.
And this applies to pretty much everything else…
Wanna get a six-pack? No amount of “beach body in 3 weeks” articles in GQ will give it to you. Wanna build a great company? Well buckle up, kiddo, cause it will take a lot of time, effort and cringe-inducing work. And even then you will most likely fail.
So don’t be a wuss. Cause wusses don’t get shit done. Wusses don’t get to be awesome.
One big caveat
I actually think that last point (don’t be a wuss) is the most important one. It takes grit and discipline to get shit done.
Along the way, you will fail.
Let this sink for a minute. YOU. WILL. FAIL.
You’ll take the wrong turn. You’ll drop the ball. You’ll underperform. You’ll get lost.
Heck, I spent two years building products and disregarding all the things I read for years about how to build SaaS products. And I failed several times.
I spent 30 years not understanding how to properly taking care of my body.
And I’m most likely far from done. In 10 years, I’ll probably smile at how moronic some of my habits and expectations are nowadays.
You can get better, but for this you’ll need grit. If you don’t have it in you, I honestly would recommend you pick your battles (and avoid starting your own company, for example).
Keep in mind that like many other things in life, luck plays a major part in things (and luck ain’t known to be particularly fair).
To sum it up
- Take care of your body first,
- Take it one step at a time,
- Be consistent,
- Focus (goddam it),
- Apply the scientific dialectic (bouncing between theory and experiments),
- Remove yourself from the decision process,
- Don’t be a wuss (seriously),
- Cultivate grit.
In a nutshell: Don’t be a wuss. Be awesomeTM.
Now go out there and kick some ass.