Beyond

Tools for Action

Understanding yourself and others is only the start.

You will not go anywhere without understanding how to mobilise yourself and others into taking action. Yehudi Menuhin said about music that “Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.”.

A quote that describes innovation as well as it does music. For us taking action is like playing the symphony of business.

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Chaos to Order

Balancing the tightrope between chaos and order is what makes innovation work. Swaying too far one way or the other might inhibit or disrupt innovation.

The two polar opposites are equally important to the innovation process. At the start of the innovation process, involving ideation and exploration, chaos needs to be embraced. As solutions become real, mature and need to be implemented in BAU structures and processes, chaos needs to make place for order.

This shift in focus and ways of working requires the right people to be involved at specific moments in the process, at the chaotic start you want flexible, open-minded people that handle change well, while further down the process you want structure-driven individuals to take over implementation.

Use this tool when...

You need to come up with and implement a new solution. Make sure to provide the freedom for disorder at the beginning of the process, and create order as the solution proves its value and gets integrated into BAU.

The Innovation Portfolio

Hop-Step-Jump, innovation is like child’s play once you get it. This helpful lens helps you analyse what you currently do, and plan the portfolio you need to survive and thrive. It all starts with BAU (business as usual), the processes and structures you need to keep the wheels turning.

A hop describes the smallest movement towards doing things in new and better ways; basic process improvement. The step takes things one step further.

A step will look at what is on the horizon and starting to show potential and explore what this might mean to the business. For instance, an experiment to test how core processes will function on blockchain.

The jump is the most daring. What does our industry look like when technology has turned us into cyborgs and we live on Mars?

A healthy and balanced portfolio looks different for each organisation and is shaped by internal and external pressure, and how flexible and open to change the people are.

Remember....

This tool is as relevant to your organisation as it is to your teams and you as an individual. Use it to analyse and plan a healthy portfolio of activities.

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Breaking it Down

It all starts with thinking big. What is the biggest, most positive outcome of a challenge you face? Thinking this through should inspire you but at the same time it is scary, how would you achieve such a lofty goal and where to even start!?

This overwhelming phase generates avoidance behaviours. You break out of this by Thinking Down, reducing complexity and scale. You know you have simplified things enough when you know what you can do this afternoon to make the first step towards achieving your lofty goal. And then it’s time for Acting Up! By learning through action you add complexity and scale through execution. You might not end up where you thought you would, but you will end up where you should.

Remember....

Move from too much, too big and later to less, smaller and now. If you can't get started this afternoon, it is too big.

Early Bird Gets the Worm

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So today marks one week of starting work at 5am, and holy shit - I hope I can keep this going.

Like many of us trying to optimise how we work through everything from food, supplements, lifestyle and wacky experiments we often look at thought leaders for tips. And I am no different, I first started learning about nootropics from listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast and now take “Total Human” pills from Onnit everyday and I haven’t looked back.

But, you’re totally tripping if you think you can just pop some pills and expect to begin smashing life. its all about creating habits. This became super obvious for me when training for The Speed Project 4.0 (a 550km ultra relay from LA to Vegas). Without creating a habit of putting your running shoes on as soon as you got home from work to guilt-trick your ass out the door you simply will not get the Km’s in to ensure you are ready for the long roads of Death Valley.

So when I saw this video of Casey Neistat and Jocko talking the importance of waking up at 4am for productivity it made total sense for me. Even if at first I hated the idea of leaving a warm comfortable bed hours before the sun rises. Ugggh.

Anyway, I decided to commit to the early rise for 7 days to see what happens. And boy am I pumped with the result.

Here is what I learnt from this.

  • A routine needs to be planned.
    Just walking up before 5 doesn’t mean your going to smash out work. To make this time work you need to have a plan before you go to bed. I set up my work station before I go to bed and make a list of things I need to get done first thing in the morning. This was super lame things like “reply to that email” or “have a coffee” all the way through to “finish sales forecast for 2019-2020”. By having this list ready before bed I found that I slept better because I wasn’t thinking out the things I need to do, and then when I’m still half asleep I don’t procrastinate and blame the early rise on it.

  • Get Cold.
    This one sucks if you’re not used to it. But I love (and sometimes hate) a cold shower. So as soon as my alarm goes off at 4.55am I go straight to the shower for a 4-minute warm shower followed by a 1-minute cold shower to end on. Old mate Wim Hoff, is one of the global leaders in research and experimentation in this area alongside his breathing techniques to maximise oxygenation of your blood. So to kick-start the day this is what I do.

  • Don’t sit on the couch.
    It’s just too comfortable. Don’t do it. Trust me with this one.

  • Plan the whole day for maximum output.
    I realised pretty early on that I needed to schedule the whole day to really make the most of this 7 day experiment. So I cracked open illustrator and made this wallpaper for my iPhone to keep me on track. This way I can’t forget what I need to be doing or get distracted.

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This is what worked for me - so feel free to use it too or make your own. This worked so well. I end up having 7 hours of sleep, 14hrs for work, 2 hours to go run and 2 hours for food including the lunch meeting (I use this time to catch up with mates over a meal). So the simplicity of this worked really well for me.

A super interesting thing I found was that in the block between 5am and 9am. I get 4 hours of really good work done which then made my whole day free to have meetings, explore ideas with 100% intent as I didn’t need to rush off back to the screen to do some work. I work from anywhere so my day is pretty fun, the profile picture for this post is me working from Barossa valley (I was literally sending emails back and forth with Nike for a project in that photo - Ha!)

Then if from these conversations during the day I then had planned in another 2 hour block after dinner to either explore an idea creatively (most of my work is experience design or conceptual works for clients so when inspiration hits I need to take advantage of it) but often I was so up to date I used this block to make my list for the next day or tidy up anything that happened during the day like little emails or tweaks to past work, nothing too crazy. Or if I didn’t need to get anything done I just used this time to sit on the couch and draw while watching TV to ensure I don’t loose touch with the tools.

  • The Math.

    Now I need to confess, I love numbers so this really excited me. When I had the shops, the bar and the co-working space working an 18hr day wasn’t a rare occasion -But it nearly killed me.

    After a few solid years of this kind of work day become the norm so I never really thought there was another way to do it. But now I realise I was super busy, but I wasn’t super productive. In hindsight I also struggled to find a balance that worked to ensure I still had time to spend with those I love.

    So this new way of working is rad for me because the time in the morning I have no distractions and I am not stealing hours away from my girlfriend or friends or family. And at the same time I’m getting the hours in to achieve my goals.

    Here’s the Math.
    With this way of working I can get 14hrs of work in a day and still go run for 2 hours and spend time socialising and just hanging out.

    14hrs x 7dpw = 98hr work week.
    98h x 52 weeks + 5096 hrs per year
    5096 Div by 8 hr days = 637 work days per year
    637 - 240 (average workdays people work PY)
    = 397 extra days of work per year.

    THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY SEVEN. EXTRA.

I’ve done similar math to this before but it just wasn’t sustainable before, this routine feels completely different.

So next time someone gives me that bullshit “I just don’t have enough time” statement, they are going to get this math right to the face. We all have 24hrs in a day, it’s how you use it.

Disclaimer*
I’m not saying everyone should do this, but your ambition needs to match you actions. You can’t say you want to achieve huge goals without doing huge work and putting the hours in.

So I think I’m going to stick to this plan to see how it goes. But I am not going to stick to it religiously, if I have a blow out on the beers I’m totally sleeping in. But this plan is my new north star. Let me know if you have any tips or questions for this. I would love to hear what you’re experiencing or experimenting with.

Does surfing make you better at business?

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I haven’t been able shake this idea for the last few days, and the more i think about it more sense it makes to me. Now, i realise that this might only resonate with those of you who surf, and for the rest of you - you’ll just have to take my word for it. But here’s the punch line;

Surfers make better business people.

Whoa - big statement, I know. Let me tell you why - Surfing is almost 100% about feeling.

Firstly, let me paint a picture of what a pretty normal surf looks like.

1 - Decide you feel like surfing.
2 - Check the conditions by reading a bunch of graphs that mean absolutely nothing to you for the first 5 years until you start to recognise patterns.
3 - Decide its going to be worth going, So you need to convince a friend to come too.
4 - The negotiations with that person start. Finally, you convince them. Yay!
5 - Prepare the equipment, the car, the coffee machine and get some rest.
6 - Wake up before everyone else, acting irrationally optimistic that today is going to be the day.
7 - Get to the beach to either find great wave (success) or average waves that you convince yourself and the mate (who is now hating you) its still going to be worth it.
8 - Put on a rubber suit ~ Normally that is wet and gross.
9 - Paddle out, dodging rocks, rips, waves and anything else that’s out there to ruin your day.
10 - Suss out the other surfers to find your place in the line up.
11 - Sit in the line up for 2+ hours constantly reading the conditions waiting for a wave.
12 - Spot a wave, commit 100% to making it yours.
13 - Ride the wave for 2-10 seconds… If you’re lucky.
14 - Totally fuck up the wave and go back to step 9. Or have the wave of your life and then return to step 9.

For me this follows exactly not only the daily struggles of working for yourself, but also reflects the past 10 years of business I have experienced. Let me elaborate.

In comparison, this is what starting a business looks like.

1 - Decide you feel like surfing.
Decide you want to open a business or work for yourself - because you love what you do, not for solely for money.

2 - Check the conditions by reading a bunch of graphs that mean absolutely nothing to you for the first 5 years until you start to recognise patterns.
Look at some kind of analytics of the industry you want to enter. Then everything your accountant sends you for the next 5 years looks like hieroglyphics. The same as a swell chart.

3 - Decide its going to be worth going, So you need to convince a friend to come too.
'“
Fuck, this could be epic man” but I don’t know if I want to do this by myself.

4 - The negotiations with that person start, finally convince them. Yay!
Wanna open X with me? This is normally the start of co-founder conversations. And its also your first real pitch.

5 - Prepare the equipment, the car, the coffee machine and get some rest.
Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance.

6 - Wake up before everyone else, acting irrationally optimistic that today is going to be the day.
Commitment. This is when you’re getting the wheels spinning, late nights - early mornings and nearly every conversation is about your new thing. All you do is eat, sleep, talk this business idea. Just like an obsessive surfer.

7 - Get to the beach to either find great wave (success) or average waves that you convince yourself and the mate (who is now hating you) its still going to be worth it.
Get your product to market. And either validate your assumptions - or find you need to start over.

8 - Put on a weird rubber suit ~ Normally that is wet and gross.
Put on a weird fabric suit. That normally feels just as foreign as a wetsuit. Pro-tip: Don’t wear a suit if you dont like suits. Simple.

9 - Paddle out, dodging rocks, rips, waves and anything else thats out there to ruin your day.
Stay in the market, dodging sketchy emails, slimy SEO people, false leads and any other snake in the grass. You’ll make heaps of mistakes here, I sure have. But you’ll get better at spotting it - just like surfing.

10 - Suss out the other surfers to find your place in the line up.
Suss out the competition again. and again. and again.

11 - Sit in the line up for 2+ hours constantly reading the conditions waiting for a wave.
”Holy shit, we’ve been open for 2 years now? where did that time go?!”

12 - Spot a wave, commit 100% to making it yours.
After sometime you get really good at reading the play and seeing when opportunities arise. this is when being a surfer has its advantages. Because once you commit - you’re committed.

13 - Ride the wave for 2-10 seconds… If you’re lucky.
You’re in the market. Now it’s all about becoming sustainable so you can keep this going. If it works and you can continue to evolve and adapt you might be able to stay around for the rest of you life. But if you’re shit at adapting then you’ll be around for 2 seconds.

14 - Totally fuck up the wave and go back to step 9. Or have the wave of your life and then return to step 9.
As per above. Get it right and keep the dream alive and repeat process from step 9. Or get it wrong and go back to step 9.


Aside from the literal steps (that aren’t always so literal) there is a certain skill that isn’t as obvious. And thats the ability to feel the direction that the market is heading without any proof or obvious evidence. Some call this intuition - but I call it catching a vibe.

Growing up surfing you become hyper attentive to the small things like ripples on the surface of the water to indicate a changing wind direction. You become extremely observant of the subtle movements on your feet on a board or a style of a surfer you admire. From here the ability to be slightly ahead of the curve is no longer a feat to strive for as it becomes the norm. And all of this equates to free expression and the ability to express yourself creatively without the fear of judgement as there is no measuring stick of “stoke” for surfing. Meaning Kelly Slater can go have the best surf of his life, and a beginner can go out and just stand up once and have the same amount of excitement regardless of their contrasting abilities.

This is because people surf because they love the feeling of gliding on a wave and expressing themselves, not because there is a clear path to becoming the next Kelly Slater. Unlike other sports that are built around a financial system that relies on fans and money, people surf because they love to surf. Just like business, you shouldn’t start something because you want to be the next Warren Buffett or Jeff Bezos, you should start something because you’re curious and you love solving the problem your customer is experiencing.

You should start a business because you love creating what ever you create.

So if you want your kids to be creative, and become advantageous of opportunities, Let them go surfing.