Over the last few months, I've made it a habit to read one life changing/extremely relatable article per day. Most days, I read more than one interesting article and tweet the link or post it to Facebook. Each of these articles teaches me something new, exposing me to schools of thought that I was previously unaware of. But as I read and assimilate new knowledge, older learnings fade away (I'm getting old & not liking it). And I feel there is a need to capture my learnings and thoughts and save them for the future :)
I've been reading Seth Godin's blog for a while now (thanks to the husband). While his daily posts are short and simple, they do have much knowledge enclosed in them and always make for very pleasant reading. I've always wondered how a busy man like him could find the time to blog (meaningfully) everyday, write so many books, speak at so many events. His recent interview posted at Pro Blogger answered some of my questions and also gave me a glimpse into his lifestyle and motivations. I love such articles in which life lessons are intertwined with business lessons and I do have quite a few take-aways from this one that I'd like to jot down. Here are the points that really stuck with me -
How he finds time to do all the things he does:
I guess you make decisions about how you want to spend your time. What you didn’t mention is that I’m America’s worst watcher of television, cause I don’t spend any time doing that, zero. And I’m America’s worst attender of meetings, cause I don’t do any of that, zero. So I know people who do five hours of each every day. So right there I save myself ten hours a day.
Strike this balance between doing some things at an insanely quick, prolific rate and doing other things not at all.
This was an important point for me. Working from home means that I'm constantly presented with multiple distractions - TV, Netflix, Internet, Chat...the list goes on. Being able to steer clear of these distractions that add no value to my work and filling the time wasted with meaningful, productive work is something I already know I have to do, but such reminders are always welcome.
On the importance of execution:
It doesn’t count unless you ship it - that planning it and noodling it and refining it and thinking about it and keeping it in a drawer doesn't count. You might as well do nothing.
Execution has never been my strongest skill (unfortunately!). I've come up with ideas, thought about them in great detail and even come to a point where I'm ready to translate them into a "product"; but more often than not, by the time I reach this stage the idea is either obsolete or someone else has executed upon it. This has been one of my biggest pain-points. Seth's blunt, no-nonsense attitude about the importance of execution is what every entrepreneur needs to have. I think this also relates closely to "fail-fast" thinking. And I hope that someday I'll be able to put this into practice.
On blogging & writer's blog:
Write like you talk.
Well, I notice things. That’s what I do. If I see something that I don’t understand I try to figure it out. If I see something that’s broken, I try to understand why it’s broken. And then you say either in writing or out loud what you noticed, and if it sticks with you for ten or fifteen or twenty minutes, maybe it’s worth writing down. And then you look at the ones that you wrote down and sometimes they’re worth sharing.
This is good advice. Most times, we struggle to put our thoughts into words, but Seth talks about how this should not be the case. If we never suffer from a "talker's block", why should we suffer from a writer's block? If we are able to understand a subject and talk at length about it, without struggling to find words for it, it should be easily translatable to writing. If we are able to form coherent thoughts around an idea and are clear about it in our head, it shouldn't be difficult to convert that idea into a business plan. The trick is to be crystal clear about what you want to say. And such clarity comes from writing down your thoughts. Quite the paradox.
On being the best at what you do:
I think that being the best at what you do is far more important than most people think. Which means that you need to make the thing you do small, so that you can be the best at it.
This was something new to me. In an age where everything is done on a much grander scale, thinking of doing something small, better than everyone else, feels extremely intuitive and also contradictory at the same time. I've always been a non-believer of multitasking, I never do more than one thing at once (except for maybe eating and watching television!). But I've always had grand ideas. I've always wanted to do more than I can. I've always tested my limits, challenged myself. This was my way of making myself better. I've had a "If I set big goals, at least I will achieve parts of them" sort of an attitude. But I never thought about it the other way round. Setting smaller goals for myself, so that I can achieve them fully and in the best way possible was never a possibility in my mind, but I'll have to think about this a bit more.
On how relationships are more important than money (in life and in blogging):
If you do care about cash, sooner or later enough people who admire your work and trust you, it’ll turn into cash. But in the long run, we never ever keep track of how much cash someone has. We always keep track of what their reputation is.
This is something I've always believed in. My priority from a very young age has been "people" and my relationships with them. And this advice resonates deeply with me. Valuing people and their trust in you is far more fruitful than translating it into money (in blogging, it's like trading in the trust of your readers by endorsing something that you don't truly believe in, but are being monetarily compensated for!).