Sunday, May 4, 2008

The 4-Hour Sleepweek

Tim Ferriss, best selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, is a genuinely cool dude (that's me with Tim and two performers from Saturday's EOBerkshire party).  I had the pleasure of hosting him for a weekend visit of Omaha, NE surrounding the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting.  I invited Tim in for the weekend to speak to an entrepreneurs group I'm involved with, EO.  The concepts he teaches in his book are easily embraced by entrepreneurs, but can be applicable to anyone in any position anywhere.  Read the book or Listen to it as I did!

As I sit recovering from 3 nights of less than 4 hours of sleep each, I wanted to capture some of the lessons I learned from Tim over the weekend.  

Lesson 1 - True Friends vs False Friends

A guy like Tim has guys like me attempting to befriend him all the time.  Tim remarked in our Q&A event on Friday that he has to be very careful now that the book has been out to avoid what he called "False Friends".   People that go out of there way to be nice, offering him their hospitality, etc. only to get a request days, weeks, or months later that showed the true intent of their affection was to get something from him.  I had to ask myself, was I being a True Friend to Tim or a False Friend.  Did I have an underlying agenda, or did I simply want an opportunity to share a weekend without expectations in return.  My Answer -  I knew from reading his recent blogs that we shared a desire to give back to the community in unique ways.  Thus, I wanted him to know about Mortgage Pledge, a new Social Entrepreneurship company (shameless plug) I was launching; in hopes, when the time was right, I'd be able to get a post on his blog or something like that.  But, after hearing his discussion about False Friends, I told myself to be very sensitive to that issue and make the weekend about Tim and not about me.  In retrospect, this lesson is one I will continue to remind myself about.  It's not wrong to want to be friends with people that can help you, just as long as your a True Friend.

Lesson 2 - Be Aware of the Roller Coaster Curves

On Friday night, we had the pleasure of having Cameron Herold speak to our EO group at Frost Acres (shameless plug).  He spoke of the roller coaster of emotions an entrepreneur goes through.  From the top, to the bottom, back up to the top again.  This is a concept Cameron has shared with 1000s of 800-Got-Junk franchisees around the world.  What I took away from Cameron's talk was a reminder of how important Awareness of your emotional state is in all aspects of your life, not just business.  Awareness of whether you're up or down is more important many times than the emotional state itself.  Why, because you have a hard time controlling the ups and downs that life throws at you, but you can control your activities during those times.  Tim mentioned during this Q&A that when he finds himself stressed or getting down, he tends to write out everything that's contributing to the emotions at the time.  Then he asks himself what he can eliminate completely from his life that is on this list.  He then takes action to eliminate these things as long as the actions are reversible.  He doesn't want to eliminate anything without the ability to replace it if it wasn't the cause of the problem.  The earlier the awareness of the change of emotions, the more quickly and effective the identification and elimination can occur. 

Lesson 3 - Simplicity is Complex and a Life of Leisure is Hard Work

So, the contradictions in the title are obvious, but true nonetheless.  Watching Tim Ferriss operate over the weekend, interacting with different people, and listening to him intently, I am reminded of the above contradictions.  He lives a seamingly simple life.  During the entire weekend I saw him answer his cell phone once and that was a call he was expecting from his editor.  Meanwhile, I'm answering call after call, checking voicemail, trading texts, and running errands with him at my side.  Did he have any less going on with his business, his weekend, his upcoming events, than me?  NO, he just has put in a ton of complex and elaborate systems to take care of all the behind the scenes details for him.  And, he doesn't just hire out the tasks and be done with them like you might think.  Rather, he puts in the hard work up front, testing and retesting his complex systems, until they work together to allow him the Life of Leisure of the New Rich he talks about in his book. At one point he told me over the weekend that he really likes to work hard.  He gets excited about new projects and dives in and gets juiced up.  Simply put, his hard work to create complex and elaborate systems affords him his simple life of leisure.

Key Take Aways - Be a True Friend, Focus on Emotional Awareness and Elimination, and Work Hard to Simplify.

"China Man"
Joe Frost

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