A recent survey looked at how almost 300 C-level execs from leading companies spent their days.
As expected, a lot of time is devoted to meetings, emails and teamwork. What you might not have expected is the amount of time spent on personal development (30 minutes per day, or 2.5 hours per week not counting weekends) and social interaction (8 hours per week).
Success leaves clues, and these are very telling. How much time do people who aspire to be in those positions spend on personal development or career-driven social interaction? Probably not as much, when they should likely be doing even more.
Here are two habits I have found that, when done consistently, can take anyone to the next level no matter what their goals are.
Personal Development: I do an orientation session for every group of new hires at my company, Undertone. Last week someone asked me for a tip of how they can accelerate their own development. I said this: create a daily habit of reading your industry’s trade publications, every day. This is easy to do if you have a commute and can come in many forms - newsletters, twitter, feeds or the old fashioned way, going to each site one by one (this is what I do). In digital media we are fortunate to have many dedicated trade publications like Ad Age, Adweek, Mediapost, Adexchanger, Digiday and others, as well as big mainstream publications like WSJ’s CMO today and Business Insider. Daily reading is the single best way to speed understanding of an industry, develop an eye for trends and provide intelligence to your coworkers & clients (email them some of the most relevant stories with your point of view). I do this every single morning and it takes, ironically, about 30 minutes.
Social Interaction: I’ll assume that most social interaction time will go to family and friends. as it should. However, finding just one hour per week to go towards development of key relationships can be a game changer. Grab lunch or coffee with an industry peer, or better yet, someone who is where you want to be in the future. Find out what makes them tick, what you have in common and a challenge they might be facing. Then figure out how you can help this person, ideally by connecting them with someone in your close network who can. This creates a stronger, more valuable network for you and adds immediate value to both friends. And do it again and again. I can’t say enough about how this has helped my own career and life in general. One thing that is important here is to be very selective over those who you spend this time with. One of my favorite sayings (I think I first heard this from Tim Ferriss) is that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Cultivate a circle of positive people that make you better.
Done over time, the compounded gains from these two habits of top performers can make an incredible difference in one’s career.
As of yesterday (September 6, 2014) I am down 30 pounds total. My body fat as measured using calipers and the 9-site Parillo method is 10.3%, which is in an excellent range no matter what methodology is used.
The last 10 pounds are notoriously difficult for most to lose. Here are the things that I did that I believe made the most difference. They key for me is creating a system that can be used for the long term rather than a “diet”.
That’s really it. Meat and vegetables, high intensity training a few times a week and most importantly, a template that can be followed over a long period of time.
The inventor of the Internet pop-up ad wrote a long post this week decrying the state of the ad-supported web. In it, he said he was sorry about creating the pop-up and tells the story of how and why it came to be (a very interesting story by the way).
It’s been a long time since the days of the pop-up (circa 2001-2004) but many remember them. Those newer to the space may not realize that the pop-up ad was actually far less relevant to the world of digital media than its cousin, the pop-under.
The pop-up ad acted exactly as it is named. A new browser would “pop-up” and over the content that the user was viewing. It was very intrusive and therefore used mostly across the long tail of websites and as a tool for adware firms.
The pop-under was different. It would be launched under or actually behind the browser. The user would only see it when they closed the browser down.
Being fairly large in size (720x300 pixels), and not having to compete with anything else for the user’s attention, the pop-under was very effective, much more effective than pop-ups. It was not uncommon to see click-through rates from 2%-5%, sometimes even higher.
And because it was less intrusive to the user experience than the pop-up, it was embraced by almost every publisher at the time. Keep in mind that this was post dot-com bust and post 9/11. The digital advertising economy was quite depressed. Standard banner ads were, in many cases, being bought on clicks (not even on a CPM) so pop-unders were one of the most reliable revenue sources a publisher could adopt. Check out some of the names in this CNET article from 2004.
Advertisers like Netflix, Lower My Bills and Orbitz (example below) ran a lot of pop-unders because they worked so well.
A few firms (including Undertone) focused on pop-unders and it was a very competitive market for supply for a few years.
The IAB even created a task force around it. Pop-unders were a hot topic.
This all changed around 2004. An improved economy drove ad dollars back into digital media. Google launched AdSense which helped publishers drive better yield for standard banner ads. And finally toolbars by Google, Yahoo and ultimately Microsoft’s IE browser (this was when Microsoft had 90%+ market share in the browser market) implemented pop-up blockers. The market eventually moved on.
But for a time, it was one of the most important ad formats in digital media.
This week Pando ran a post from an anonymous angel investor who apparently did not invest in a group of cofounders because they drove up to the pitch meeting in luxury cars. And luxury cars, to this investor, signals that an entrepreneur is not ready to “suffer” for the business.
While I understand this view, I completely disagree with it.*
On this basis, the angel would have turned away Evan Williams (supposedly drives/drove a Porsche) or Jack Dorsey (drives a M3). I don’t know about you, but those are guys I would bet on almost without hesitation.
Investing is an inexact science and it’s important to have a list of criteria and stick to it, but trust fund babies aside, the car the entrepreneur drives is one I would not include.
Personally I think the idea, the market, early traction and yes, certain traits of the founder trump appearances and artifacts of past success.
In fact, you could flip this around and say that betting on a previous winner – your serial entrepreneurs like a Williams or Dorsey - can be a very good idea. Success and winning can create a burning desire to to do it again. And do it bigger.
This post somewhat glamourizes the stereotype of the startup founder – broke or barely scraping by and spends every waking hour working on the company to the detriment of his own personal interests, relationships and health.
From experience I can tell you that while first time founders almost always go through this, being so imbalanced becomes counterproductive at some point. But that’s a topic for another post.
*By the way, my daily driver is a 2006 Subaru Outback, lest you think I’m being defensive :)
Date: May 31, 2014
Race: 4.5 miles, 21+ obstacles
Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Place: 2117 out of 5631 overall (top 38% ranking)
This will be the third and final update on my experiment with the Slow Carb Diet (SCD).
This month, I lost only one pound. And I’m totally fine with that. Scratch that, I’m happy about it. Two reasons why:
For the month of March I was on the road literally half the month. 15 out of the first 28 days. Or as Sara who helps me with my travel commented, no more than 4 consecutive days in the same time zone. And they were the kind of trips that were not conducive to dieting… Think SXSW for five days, followed by 3 more conferences. I’m more than happy to have maintained and even dropped a pound after all that.
Second, I am happy with the results. I lost 23 pounds. Enough to make me feel great all the time and have to update my entire wardrobe, amongst other things. So it basically took 2 months for the SCD to help me drop most of my excess body fat, and is flexible enough to adapt to the most adverse travel schedule, which are just a few reasons that I continue to be a believer in it for anyone.
So what’s next?
I still want to drop a few pounds. And since I haven’t changed any variables besides diet, the next step is to experiment with changes in exercise. I feel ready to use my new, lighter body for some athletic purpose. Finally, I want to have another goal to shoot for that’s not just about the scale or body fat reading.
So… I signed up for a Spartan Race (learn more at www.spartanrace.com). I have 2 months to go.
I have begun to ramp up the volume of my usual HIT workouts, which I believe is the best way train for anything, and have begun running and testing some movements like burpees, box jumps and tire flips. I continue to eat SCD. So far I’m having a lot of fun and feeling very motivated. Nothing like a date to put it on the line to get you going!
Further updates to come on my training and progress. Until then, it’s time to #STFU (Spartan The F- Up!)
Month 2 on the slow carb diet (SCD) experiment is now in the books (here is my post after the first month). I lost an additional 6.8 pounds of bodyfat in February, bringing the total to 21.4 pounds.
I have made no changes in exercise or supplements (I’m not taking any), so all results continue to be from diet alone. It’s also been a fairly busy month at work for me, including travel, dinners, TV appearances, cocktail parties, etc. And I continue to progress as long as I stick to the program.
Fat loss is a relative thing. 20 pounds is a lot to some, not so much to others. For me 20 pounds means I dropped a pants size, my suits are much looser, I feel much better throughout the day and there is a very visible difference in my appearance. These pics are about a month apart:
Here is a typical day of eating:
Meal 1: 20g whey protein in water, coffee
Meal 2: Egg white, spinach, tomato and feta scramble (from a place near my office)
Meal 3: Burrito Bowl from Chipotle (chicken, black beans, vegetables, salsa, guacamole… no rice, no cheese)
Meal 4: Some kind of protein (steak, fish or chicken) and vegetable (easy to stick to if you are eating out)
I’ll drink espresso, black coffee and water throughout the day, have a coke zero at lunch and a glass or two of red wine at dinner at least a few times a week.
That’s it. Cheat days are Saturday and they seem to have no ill effect (other than making me sick and not want to look at non-SCD food for another week).
Generally I’m able to get 2 workouts a week in, one being focused on conditioning (lately it has been Tabata intervals on the Air Dyne) and core stability, the other a high-intensity strength workout where I use hammer strength and nautilus machines at a very slow repetition speed to muscular failure. Both of them are very intense but require little time.
There are three key reasons for why this has worked so well:
I still have some bodyfat to lose, but since the program continues to work I am not going to change anything (although I am tempted to in an effort to get there faster. But I know that there’s a good chance I will screw something up such as overtrain and lost muscle, so I am able to resist). When/if I do plateau, it will be easy to modify things.
Lots of travel next month, so it will be interesting to see what happens!
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