The Productivity Hack: How to Get The Most Out of Your Day

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Appreciation for Hans Hegge

“Hans has a brilliant mind for business. He always seems to be thinking ahead of “what’s next” and helping look at the whole picture all along the way. His planning and processes are a huge time and cost saver and the way he approaches complex situations is remarkable.”  ~ Paul Chambers

Thinking Bigger: Double Your Success

entrepreneur, business, business ideas, think bigger

I recently went on a vacation during spring break to Florida with a friend and his business partner. They rented an amazing house on the ocean. The house was 8,000 square feet, had 8 bedrooms, 7 1/2 bathrooms, and an infinity pool. It was right on the ocean with surround sound speakers and climate control for every single room. It was an absolutely stunning place.

When we were there, the three women would go out and exercise in the morning. The three dads stayed back to fix breakfast for all the kids. When the ladies returned, it would be our turn to go exercise. We would start off with a run on the beach for two miles, which, if you’ve ever had a run on sand, is almost impossible to do. In between, we would do pushups.

Lesson Number One In Thinking Bigger

I dropped down to do pushups. I was going to do my normal set of 20. My friend ended up continuing his pushups even after I’d stood up. “How many are you doing?” I said. He answered, “40.” I said, “Okay. There we go. I gotta do more.”

We continue to run about another half mile down the beach, and then we make a left. We start running away from the water and I look over. It’s a gated community of all single-story ranch houses in a retirement community. I said, “How great would it have been in 2008 to have the extra capital to buy some of these?” He said, “You mean buy some of these subdivisions? Or the land to build a subdivision?” I said, “No. To buy one of these houses and rent it out.” There was lesson two in thinking bigger.

As we jogged up, we made a left on the main drag. We started heading back towards our compound, which was another two miles. In between there, we stopped and did three more sets of pushups, of which I still only did 20 and he did 40, until the last set, which he couldn’t do. I need to think bigger.

Think: When You Have An Idea, How Can You Double It?

I didn’t realize it at the time but what I thought was thinking big just got doubled. So I am going to start to think bigger and challenge myself that when I think I have an idea, how can I double that? What’s also funny is his wife, who when every time he brings up something, she always says, “Add a zero. Add a zero.” This makes total sense.

How could my other businesses in the past have been bigger and better? If I were able to double what we were doing and add a zero, we would’ve grown much bigger. Instead of a $79 a month subscription to the last company we had, what if it was $790 a month?

Going forward, I’m going to challenge myself to think bigger.

Who do you have in your life who challenges you to think bigger?

Learning About Stocks: My Nephews Stock Pics

Earning Money As A Child

Over the weekend, I had my family come in from out of town and they spent a week with us. My nephew made the Junior Olympics and was out in Colorado for two weeks before that. It costs a lot of money to ski, and so we sent him a check as a “donation” to help him get out there and to pay for the runs and the lift tickets and the entry fee and everything else.

His dad, my brother-in-law, said that he wanted Aiden to work off the money that we gave him. When he came down, Aiden thought I was going to give him physical labor to do. I said, “Nope. You’re coming to the office and we’re going to talk stocks.” To which he was totally confused by, which just made it all the more awesome.

Learning About Stocks

When I was younger, I think in sixth or seventh grade, my uncle gave me a little blue book that would come out monthly that had every single ticker symbol, volume of shares, price, yield, dividend, all the stats in the book. I would go through one by one and I would have to find certain companies based on the parameters he gave us. One of the parameters he gave us was to look for low PE ratio, that’s price-to-earnings ratio and a high yield.

The PE ratio is the ratio of a company’s stock price to the company’s earnings per share. The PE ratio is used in valuing companies. The average PE of the market varies in relation with the predicted growth in earnings, the expected stability of those rising (or falling) earnings, inflation, and yields of competitor investments. Yield is the quotient of earnings per share divided by the share price. It is the reciprocal of the PE ratio. This number can be used to compare the earnings of a stock, sector or the whole market.

He would then use our picks and evaluate them to see if he wanted to purchase the companies. We would find usually a dozen.

Teaching My Nephew The Way That I Learned

I thought, let’s do the exact same exercise with Aiden. I first instructed him to, “Go buy a Barron’s paper and a Wall Street Journal.” Come to find out, Wall Street Journals no longer put the ticker symbols in there on their, at least in this daily version. Maybe on the weekends they do. Luckily, he bought a Barron’s and it had the New York Stock Exchange in there along with the NASDAQ.

He went through and he picked out 24 companies that had high yields and low PE ratios. All the PE ratios had to be around 10 and all the yields were over 8%.  What we’re looking for here is not growth companies. We’re looking for was the opposite. Low-growth companies that pay out a large percentage of their earnings.


The Unexpected Outcome of My Nephews Research

My initial thought was we were going to get a lot of oil companies or finance companies or we close-end funds. Closed-end funds I want to stay away from. We were going to get energy companies and real estate companies too, that was my guess. Of the 24 he came back to me with, he decided to pick six of them and narrow it down. See the stocks that he picked here. The different colors represent the different industries.

Building Exposure For The Next Generation

To make it interesting, I said, “Aiden, what happens if we opened up an account, a brokerage account. We’re not going to mention any names. I wrote a check and we put money on each one of those. You could track it on a daily, weekly basis. It’s up to you to decide when to sell and when to buy. Oh, by the way, if you want to throw Nike and Under Armour and Snap Chat in there you can, some of these other companies that resonate with, please do that.” I told him we’d split the profits 50/50 but he has to manage the portfolio.

My goal with all of this is just to build exposure for him. I also turned around and recommended he read Rich Dad Poor Dad, which was, as you can see in some other blog posts, my jumping-off-the-cliff book that I read, but not until my senior year in high school.

Are You Pivoting On Technology Or The Market

Great Ideas Come From An Inflection Point In Technology

Andy Rachleff was a big hedge fund guy that helped start Benchmark Capital. If you’re in the startup scene, Benchmark Capital will not mean a lot to you. But Benchmark went on to fund Uber, Snap, Ebay, Juniper Networks, and many more. I felt compelled to write this post after I listened to the podcast. In fact I listened twice. He said something that I found very interesting. He was talking about startups and positioning and how most people do things backwards. That most people sit around and they look at an industry and try to find the holes or the problems in that industry and then build solutions around that. Andy says, “Great ideas come from an inflection point in technology.”

He says, “You should start with the technology or the product and then figure out people or industries or markets that need it. That crave it.” Once you think you found the market, he says, “Start with and define the value hypothesis before you define the growth hypothesis.

Three questions: What, Who, and How?

So what is a value hypothesis? Three questions: What, who, and how? So what are you going to build? Who is desperate for it? How will it be delivered? In other words, what is the business model? There are two key tests you may want to put your business through in order to ensure the greatest potential outcome of success. That is the value hypothesis and the growth hypothesis.

The value hypothesis tests how much value the product brings to customers. For example, if a products function is antiquated, the value of that product is diminished. This test should be performed early in the stages of the development of your business model.

The growth hypothesis tests how your customers find your product. These are your distribution channels and in some cases your advertising channels. This test should be performed frequently. Be sure to perform this test only after your value hypothesis.

Most people think to pivot or iterate on the product, not the market. So they say, “This is the market. We’re going into this market. But the product’s just not right. Keep iterating and pivoting on the product, the product, the product.” He says, “That is wrong. Stick with the product, stick with the technology. Find a different markets until you find a fit.”

Pivot On The Market: Make Your Big Bang

Now that I look back on that, one company that I did sell, when we started it, we only focused on the technology and we fell into the market. Which at that time was restaurants and bars that then expanded into salons. But when we were first developing it, we just focused on the technology. So we must’ve got that right by mistake.

He goes on to say that the number one question when you’re talking product market fit is this question. “What do you uniquely offer? What do you uniquely offer that people are desperate for? And if people are not desperate for it, it will not be or it will not have a big bang.”

I mainly wrote this post for myself so I can look back and stay focused on this and on some of the new projects we are working on. I will keep you guys posted on how it goes.

The Passionate Business Owner Vs. Cutting Corners

The Difference Between Cutting Corners & Streamlining Your Business

I have worked in the past with a lot of different business owners from the financial industry, to restaurants, and salons, to retail. You can really tell the difference between business owners that started because they’re passionate about the business. You can also spot business owners who go into it because they think that there’s money in it. I’ve met a lot of business owners that go into it because they think there’s money involved just to figure out how to cut corners and streamline their business.

There’s a huge difference between cutting corners and streamlining your business. I look at some of my current clients that I have and streamlining operations is critical to scaling and getting larger, but they do not cut corners then I look at some of them that are all about cutting corners and they call it streamlining. I think the big difference between cutting corners and streamlining is your client’s best interest, your own laziness, and productivity.

Don’t Cut Corners Unless You Want To Cut Customers

Let’s take each of those. If you look at laziness, there are people that say I just want to be as hands-off as much as possible. They’re even willing to cut corners to put less work on themselves, which does not get the end result for their client or customer. If we look at productivity, it is okay to dissect your operations to make them streamlined and more productive for yourself and also for your customer base.

Whether that’s your marketing, or that’s your ordering, or that’s your workflow for each individual client, that is a win-win for both sides. But you should do it without focusing so much on yourself and instead using the lens of investing more time in an effort to perfect the end product or service. You should make it with the lens that your customers will get a better outcome because of the changes that you can make. Don’t cut corners unless you want to cut customers.

Innovating A Non-Tech Industry: Brainstorming Business Ideas

The Right Idea For The Right Industry

I’ve been looking for my next business move and/or companies to start. I’ve brainstormed a few ideas. In fact, I was sitting down with a co-worker a few months ago and he asked why I had not made a move yet. He said, “Is it time? Is it money?” I said, “Nope. It’s the idea. I have not found the right idea. I’m much more cautious now after failing and having picked the wrong partners in the past.”

Innovating An Age Old Industry

I listen to a lot of podcasts and I read a lot of books through Audible. You know this from reading my blog. Finding a need has become more and more apparent in the success of innovating a market and revolutionizing an arena to which we are already accustomed. that I have or finding an industry that is old that has not had a lot of technology. I heard a podcast by Tim Ferriss. He spoke with a guest named Adam Robinson about the ball bearings industry. That got me thinking about other very old industries.

Take a look at Uber and Lyft. The taxi industry hasn’t been changed in 50 or 60 years. Then Uber and Lyft came in and just flipped them upside down. Even the music industry, you used to have to buy physical CDs or go to the concerts to hear the music. Now you have Pandora and you have YouTube. What industry is like that? I think about making pencils or making sewing machines or what other very industrial non-competitive markets are still open.

Fulfilling A Need Is Key

To summarize, it comes down to those two needs. Either the needs that I have, or what is very old school and in a non-tech industry and could be advanced by technology.

Going back to my co-worker, I just haven’t found the right idea and I’m much more cautious with the partners that I choose. That’s why I have not yet started a new company.

The Sharing Economy

The Sharing Economy Is Growing

I think we are in a really exciting time for all generations as the sharing economy is growing. In this post, let’s look at companies that allow you to work remotely instead of for one employer.

Traditionally, you would graduate from college and be at the same job for 30 years. Consequently, you would then retire at age 65. You would then go down to sit on the beach in Florida until you die. I think that is changing. I see both baby boomers and millennials getting remote, freelance jobs.

Uber: The ‘Work When You Want To’ Revolution

Look at Uber. The majority of my drivers are either split into two categories, one, retired and do it for extra money. In fact, in my hometown there’s a gentleman that used to be a dentist that is retired that Ubers and has the nicest Acura I have ever seen. It’s got to be an $80,000 or $100,000 four door sedan. I’m a very tall guy. I can sit in the back with no problem, leather interior, gorgeous car. He was a dentist and he does it because it forces him to get out of the house and it brings in extra income for his family in retirement.

The other group that I see in working with Uber are people who already have a 9 to 5. They are picking up extra ways to make money at night and in evenings and on weekends that can also bring in additional income. Hopefully they’re not using it to keep up with the Jones’s. Hopefully they’re using it to pay down debt or to increase their savings rates.

The Traditional Model is No More

But this idea that you can work when you want to, where you want to, is very fascinating. I think if you blend this to the tiny house movement and minimalist movement. You could live wherever you want.

You go back to the traditional model of getting a job at the same company for 30 years, a lot of our parents generation, the baby boomers, stayed within the same town for the majority of their life or were forced to move to towns that they didn’t find appealing only to continue to have that job. That does not sound like something I’m interested in at all.

You also have companies like Upwork and Freelancer.com that allow people to work from anywhere in order to make a living. They work on their own times. The job turns on when they want. They can accept a job when they want, and when they don’t, they can turn off their phone or the app on their phone and they do not need to go work.

Freelance Opportunities May Help Your Retirement Goals

I look at my dad who want to retire and I think that him and his wife could if they were willing to do some type of freelance work, but they didn’t make great savings choices during their working years  (not there fault, job changes and layoffs and low paying jobs), so now they are strapped for cash in retirement and they do not want to get a part time job at a physical location where they have to drive in.

I think the idea of working remote, being a freelancer, traveling to their grandkids’ house, they can turn on and off when their grandkids are at school, that flexibility is really appealing and I wonder why we don’t see more of this. To wrap this up, does anybody have any business ideas that would help the sharing economy? If they do, please contact me, I would love to explore these ideas with you.

Selling My First Startup: Lessons Learned

Creating My First Company

I started a company eight years ago. We grew sales for the first five years, and then it plateaued or I got bored. I kept hitting road blocks with partners, I should have been more adamant on my vision, lesson learned. It’s probably the first feeling I get when I know I need to change something or refocus on the vision. I get bored.

I started two more companies, one of which I still have. When I took my eye off the ball, it slowed sales quite a bit. What did I learn from selling my first company?

Three years ago, it was a very tough time. There was some government laws that changed, and it cut our revenue almost in half. We had to lay off a couple of people. We had to cut another person back to part-time. I started working 80 hours a week, six days a week, just like when I started the company.

We (my partner and I) also had to make up the difference between the revenue and our expenses, and so that came out of my pocket and my co-founder’s pocket. We took on a bunch of debt, in other words, we both held notes to the company.

There are many more lessons that I will be writing about soon.

Selling My Startup: What I Would Have Done Differently

When I sold the company, it was based on net income. Looking back on it, we spent the last two years before the sale paying off the debt which lowered the net income.

If I were to do it again, I would’ve left the debts on the book, financed it at 5% or 6% with a bank, taken our capital back out of the business, had an interest write-off, and would’ve had net income of four times what we had over the last two years, because of all the debt we paid down.

This was a SaaS company, software as a service. These type of companies usually sell for a multiple on revenue. During negotiations, I did not add back in, or think about, all the debt payments. These should’ve been added back in over the last two years. As a result, it would’ve accounted for “net income” or cashflow. Consequently, I should’ve taken a multiple on that, which I did not. So, another lesson is in the books.

Keeping Up With The Jones; Will Break The Bank

The Consumption Economy

I listened to a podcast that my friend made. It’s called Everyday is Saturday. Sam is out of Cincinnati, Ohio. He talked about how recently he watched a documentary called “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”. Sam had a large house, 3,000 square feet, four bedroom, four bath. He has four daughters so he does have a large enough family to justify that square footage, but he is putting his house on the market in order to downsize so that he can be more financially stable.

Keeping Up With The Jones’: Not Being Satisfied

I recently watched this documentary (Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things) with my wife and she thought I was absolutely crazy, which is true. The opposite of the minimalist idea is keeping up with the Jones’. The majority of our culture revolves around keeping up with the Jones’ and not being satisfied with what you have.

I liked the documentary because it explored how these guys were able to live on less money, be able to travel and be able to spend more time with family/friends and not be a slave to their jobs, or for that matter, to money.

I fantasize about the idea of moving into a tiny house and paying cash and not having a mortgage payment, starting a couple of new companies which I’m working on (more soon) and I’ll have to start writing about the new ventures, quitting my job and being able to have more time with the family to where I’m only working 30 hours a week instead of 80 hours a week.

The Most Important Thing: Spending Time With Family

I currently work for a large corporation where I’m on the road all the time in an industry that is very macho, egotistical, and loves to show off materialistic items. It’s in the finance industry. It is all about keeping up with the Jones’ and being better than the Jones’. It sometimes makes me sick. N o wait, all the time.

After watching that documentary I spend evenings after the kids and my wife go to bed thinking. I think about that tiny house and being able to move it all over the United States. I’d show the kids different cultures and raise the kids in different cities. They would learn how to start different businesses. My kids would understand how to look for certain opportunities and how to gauge the market. I’d teach them how to run and read a balance sheet. They’d even learn how to read a profit and loss statement. Those are the things that I think about.

Keeping Up With The Jones’ Will Get You Nowhere

As of right now in the spring of 2017 I am realizing and conscious of the fact that keeping up with the Jones’ will get you absolutely nowhere, in fact probably broke, and I’m refocused now on dialing it down and being more of a minimalist. How about you? Does anybody else struggle with this?

Saving Rates Are Decreasing

Younger people in the workforce are not saving as much as the baby boomer generation did. We, as young people, millennials, do not have a high enough emphasis on saving for the future. We live more for the right now and we have a huge issue with instant gratification.

I am at fault at this myself as right after we moved we already had one TV. It was big enough for our family. I needed to go out and buy an even larger TV for the new house. Now, the kids had one TV and we had another TV. Instead of investing $1,000, which is what I should’ve done, I turned around and bought a flat screen TV. Even worse, I put it on a Best Buy credit card for 0% for 18 months. I didn’t use my own money, which was probably smart. I put it on a credit card only at 0%. It was the only way I could reason with it and justify spending that kind of money.

Priorities Have Changed: Baby Boomers vs. Millennials

I don’t feel as bad as I should because there’s cash in the bank to pay for that, but if I get 0% why not use it? Although I still feel incredibly guilty because it is going backwards. It’s not helping our family move forward. I wonder what the baby boomer generation would’ve done if they had an opportunity to buy a $1,000 TV. Would they have done it or not? I would like to think that they would’ve passed on the opportunity to get a larger TV and saved the money for retirement.

If you read another article that I wrote on RMDs and the pressure that’s going to have on the market, you will see that the RMDs will be drawing down investible assets across the United States over the next 20 years. I am fearful that our younger generation and myself will not be able to backfill the amount of money needed to maintain the market.

Spending Habits Can Change: Lessons Are Learned

I read a blog on consumption in America called Mr. Money Mustache where he lays out how he only lives on $27,000 a year and rides his bike everywhere. They have one car. It sounds amazing.

I need to decrease this spending personally so I don’t make the mistake again of buying a large screen TV or the next toy that goes down in value. That money would’ve been much better spent going on a vacation with my three kids for three or four days and having quality family time instead of a TV that hangs on the wall. The lesson is starting to be learned.

What will you change as it relates to your spending habits and are you saving enough?