My good friend, a bamboo farmer in North Carolina, went on a morning run recently and by the time he got back, he realized he wanted to go to Taiwan. He flew out the next day. Asheville to O’Hare to Shanghai to Taoyuan International in Taipei. A 30 hour commute.

The bamboo industry, I’ve since learned, is booming in Taiwan, where the plant is an environmentally friendly alternative to products made from plastic or other materials. And while there has been much written about how a good run can clear the mind; even make you feel like a brand new person, this post isn’t about a runner’s high. It’s about a traveler’s high. Ironically, a traveler’s high inspired by a few runners.

I recently finished Shoe Dog, a memoir by the founder of NIKE, Phil Knight. He got his start as a member of the track team at the University of Oregon, but really began to mature as an entrepreneur after a trip around the world in 1962. The passion with which he writes about his international travels really stuck with me, moreso than the business lessons one can learn from Nike’s tremendous ascent.

I’ve been curious about world geography since I was a kid. My grandparents were born in Europe, my mother in the U.S., my father in the Middle East. I moved from Israel to the U.S. as a kid. I collect maps. A vivid memory of my childhood was sitting at the kitchen table with my brother and sister waiting for dinner to be served (my favorite was chicken schnitzel) and reading our world capitals placemats. My preferred MS-DOS computer game in the early ’90s was Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? We started off each game as “gumshoes” (rookie detectives). The more experience we acquired, the more we advanced up the ladder from our gumshoe status to investigator, detective, or super sleuth.

And Shoe Dog reminded me about the power of the gumshoe. The power of the curious international explorer. One who sets out humbly to acquire new perspective, new knowledge.

Knight visited Asia frequently in Nike’s formative years, and every time he came back from a trip abroad, he brought with him some inspiration, knowledge, self-clarity. For Knight, the progress was both personal and professional.

In comparison with other developed nations, Americans don’t travel abroad that much. Part of it surely has to do with our woeful vacation policies, workaholic culture, and geography/expense.

We’re missing out on the humility of being the gumshoe.

On her first trip to Israel over a decade ago, my then girlfriend (and now wife) landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv after a 12 hour journey and joined the long passport control queue. When it was finally her turn to get her passport stamped, she was “welcomed” to the country by a blunt border agent who told her, “Your last name, ‘Musika,’ is quite beautiful. Your first name, Jennifer, not so much.” Welcome to Israel. Israelis love the hashtag #nofilter. They’re honest. Perhaps rude. But at least sincere. There is no better “welcome to Israel,” than that interaction. You can’t get that cultural context from your Duolingo mobile app.

Every day we are living our autobiography, whether we write it out like Phil Knight did or not. And we can’t fill our pages without curiosity and adventure. We can’t advance from gumshoe status without venturing into the real world and scuffing our sneakers a bit, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first.

So, if you’re a manager, encourage your people to embrace their gumshoe status. Regardless of budget, there are always travel deals to be had. Bamboo factories in Taiwan to visit, surfing trips in Nicaragua to take, Shanghai hotels to experience, Moroccan leather handbags to acquire, and border agents in the Middle East to be rebuffed by.

We’ll come back a bit more seasoned, a bit more inspired, and a bit more humble. Gumshoe graduates.

You’re the Chief Revenue Officer and you just hit your sales quota for the month. You’re the CTO and your team just built an extremely fast middle-out compression algorithm. Or you’re the CFO and you just implemented a complex version of Great Plains Accounting Software and rolled it out to your entire finance department, all the while helping your company raise a Series B round.

Congrats, you’re fired.

These were the scenes in London last night: Manchester United’s manager, Louis van Gaal, led his team to their first FA Cup triumph since 2004. And despite the win, within hours it had been leaked reported that Van Gaal was set to be terminated.

I feel for Van Gaal. To rob him of his moment in the sun, for the news to break of his imminent departure within hours of his triumph, certainly seems a bit disrespectful at worst, or unfortunate at best.

The thing is, despite the awkward timing, it’s the correct decision. Yes, Van Gaal led Manchester United to FA Cup glory. The emotion of winning such a massive game, in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, can surely go a long way in helping a man’s job security, legacy, or both. But the executives at Manchester United weren’t concerned with emotion, they were concerned with data.

Productive people and companies force themselves to make choices most other people are content to ignore. Productivity emerges when people push themselves to think differently. – Charles Duhigg

Van Gaal won a (very important) match, but his results over two years were underwhelming. Keeping him on the job due to the win would have masked Manchester United’s larger issues. So they cut the CTO after he deployed the solid code. Sacked the CFO after he closed the Series B round.

In Van Gaal’s place, they’ll bring in Jose Mourinho, the manager with statistically the best win percentage in Premier League history. They’re choosing data over emotion. Manchester United didn’t let winning mask their problems.

If Van Gaal and Mourinho aren’t your cup of tea, and the other football is your sport – run it back to the New England Patriots in 2001. Starting QB Drew Bledsoe went out injured early in the season. At 29, he was in the prime of his career, he had led the team to a Super Bowl five years prior. Unlike Van Gaal, he was universally loved by Boston sports fans, the media, and his teammates. By the time Bledsoe was healthy again, this unknown kid Tom Brady had come in and led the team to an 11-3 record. Coach Bill Belichick looked at the data and stuck with Brady. He made the choice that most other people would be content to ignore.

The emotion would have said – stick with Bledsoe – it’s “how we’ve always done it,” but the data showed that Brady, despite being newdifferent, and unknown, despite being the uncomfortable choice, was playing better.

Fifteen years and four Super Bowl championships later, it worked out just fine in New England. Data won.

Van Gaal may have been good enough but Mourinho, likely, will be better. Bledsoe was more than serviceable, but Brady had another gear, and took a franchise to another level.

You may be winning – through skill, through luck, through both. But if a difficult or complex change is necessary to take that winning performance to another level, to push out better code with fewer flaws, to make your sales process, and thus hitting your quota even more predictable, to run a tighter financial ship, don’t sit idly by. Make the tough choice and go for the win.

Avi Bryant, an engineering lead at the technology company Stripe, recently published a blog post titled, “BYOT,” where he encouraged groups of 2 to 5 people to apply to work together at the company. They call it “Bring Your Own Team.”

What an interesting concept. And a dream scenario for those engineers who do manage to successfully navigate the application and interview process and end up together at Stripe.

I’m not sure if Avi or his Stripe colleagues recently read NY Times columnist Charles Duhigg’s new book Smarter Faster Better, but even if they didn’t, they’re on to something here. In it Duhigg tells the fascinating story of a team of data scientists at Google spending nearly half a decade studying what makes teams productive and successful. They found that how a group interacts is more important than who is in the group. That a team of “B” players with high emotional intelligence, who allow each other to speak freely, safely and evenly, can outperform a team of supposed “A” players – superstars on paper.

We’ve all experienced or witnessed this phenomenon. It’s all around us. In England, Leicester’s rise to the top of the Premier League this season – the world’s richest soccer league, is a victory for teamwork. Leicester’s players play for each other – just watch their high tempo, organized style. Each member of the team is accountable, and they’re winning against all odds. 5,000 to 1 odds, to be exact.

Or take a fictional example – like HBO’s tremendous comedy Silicon Valley. Pied Piper’s two engineers, Dinesh and Gilfoyle, need each other. They make each other (and the show) better – if not for their coding collaboration, than at least for the friendly competition they inspire in each other. It’s unorthodox, but it works.

Much has been written about the rise of contingent workers in our new “gigging economy” – economists predict that 40% of America’s workforce will be comprised of freelancers and temps by 2020. And while 2 out of every 5 workers in less than five years may just be freelancers –out for themselves, in teams of “one,” at the end of the day, success in business rarely comes from individual pursuits.

Which is why Stripe’s call for job seekers to apply together as a team has such potential. As Avi describes it, “the industry has always focused on hiring atoms; we’d like to try hiring molecules.” As with any science experiment – Stripe will have to test the hypothesis they’ve constructed and go out and hire these teams of engineers. Some will work out, others may not. There are certainly challenges that will arise and require thinking through related to performance, retention, and advancement of the individuals that make up these teams.

Finding an amazing teammate, or a group of teammates that you work well with, that make you better, that you enjoy being around, is so rare. If you’re lucky enough to have experienced this, you wake up inspired and motivated to succeed.

These are the types of groups that stick together and can change industries and the planet through innovations like PayPal, Tesla, LinkedIn, and SpaceX. The kind of teams that can win the Premier League against all odds because the “how” outweighed the “who.”

The best basketball player in all the land is not named LeBron James. His name is Stephen Curry. It’s pronounced “STEFF-in,” not “Steven,” or “Steph-on.” If you ever meet the Warriors sharpshooter in person, you could probably stick to “nice to meet you, Steph,” and be just fine…

I thought a lot about Steph this week, not only because one of my colleagues is a diehard Warriors fan who grew up in Berkeley but because another one of my friends told me the almost unbelievable story of how Nike lost Steph to Under Armour:

“The pitch meeting, according to Steph’s father Dell, who was present, kicked off with one Nike official accidentally addressing Stephen as “Steph-on.” “I heard some people pronounce his name wrong before,” says Dell Curry. “I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised that I didn’t get a correction.”

It got worse from there. A PowerPoint slide featured Kevin Durant’s name, presumably left on by accident, presumably residue from repurposed materials. “I stopped paying attention after that,” Dell says.”

If the above passage is in fact true, it surely must go down as one of the greatest PowerPoint failures in business history. And mispronouncing Steph’s name? What a shitty first impression.

Even more surprising is the offender: Nike – one of the world’s greatest brand and content machines. With a world class team of marketers, graphic designers, and communicators, you’d think Nike would have put a process in place to avoid the above embarrassment.

Here’s the thing. Smart people don’t wing it. They double check their work. They use “Find and Replace” in PowerPoint to make sure they remove Kevin Durant and replace it with Steph Curry. They practice their pitch over and over (and over) again. They seek out a second pair of eyes before they hand in their assignment. Those TED Speakers who impress and inspire us with their thoughts on the science of happiness or motivation don’t just take the stage and wing it. They put in the hours. That’s what the greats do.

But preparation and persistence aren’t the only ingredients for greatness. The secret ingredient is actually a strong support system. Surrounding yourself with the right team to provide that feedback and help us improve. Every strong writer has a strong editor.

In software development, we have QA. Imagine deploying code to a production environment without first simulating what may happen in a staging environment?

Non-technical professionals should approach their work in the same way. Don’t just hang out alone on an island with your latest case study, white paper, or pitch deck – waking up super early, skipping the trip to the gym, and rushing to the office to finish your slides and practice your transitions. Rely on your teammates. Bring them into the fold. Walk them through your thoughts and ideas. You may just find a new wrinkle that will catapult your work from “good enough” to excellent. Or you may just find a typo to fix. Either way, you’re ahead.

A Nike executive presenting a PowerPoint to Steph Curry with Kevin Durant’s name on a slide isn’t just a “sloppy mistake,” it’s a credibility hit in my opinion. And I think it’s (almost always) avoidable with a strong team around you.

Not detail oriented by nature? That’s OK – trust in your teammates. Share your work with them. Ask for feedback. That’s the whole point of a team. Steph may be the best basketball player in the world, but he didn’t get there on his own. His Warriors teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have his back.

Before submitting that final presentation, make sure somebody has yours.

 

One of the nicest guys in venture capital, Jonathon Triest, recently hired a new associate, Blake Robbins. It’s clear from Jonathon’s tweet above that Blake has already hit the ground running.

But let’s flashback about two years… Here’s the backstory to Blake landing his new gig. He reached out to Jonathon while an undergraduate at Michigan State, asking for an internship. He got the internship. Less than two years later, it turned into a full-time job.

For those of you who know my background, you’re thinking this is going to be another “power of experiential education,” sermon. Nope, though it could be. While data suggests that seven out of ten internships turn into a full-time job, Blake is where he is today through hustle. Chutzpah. Relentlessness.

It’s pretty simple, really. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. 

I wrote a blog post in 2014 on leveraging social media to get hired which Blake executed to perfection:

One of the benefits of social media is the access it has afforded those ‘on their way up’ to those with greater experience. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help… You may not receive a response a majority of the time, but when you do, it could lead to career guidance and growth.

Raising your hand is what separates the special ones from the normal ones. Blake may (or may not) be the most talented VC associate in all the land. But he hustled. He asked, he got.

And now, a month into his new role, he’s showing that same hustle and speed on the job as he did landing the job – 30 days later, his firm is already closing on a deal he sourced. Even if hustling doesn’t coarse through your veins like it does through Blake’s, asking is an important skill to practice and implement, specifically if you work in an entrepreneurial or startup role where bandwidth and other resources may be constrained.

Attending a SXSW panel in Austin where you really admire one of the speakers? Don’t just mention their advice on your Twitter account mid-panel to gain a few likes and retweets, queue up in a physical line at the end of their speech and introduce yourself. Authentically. Articulately. Humbly. Lunch at the food trucks can wait. Make that connection. Say hi, shake a hand. Offer something valuable. Get inspired further.

I’ve seen dozens of aspiring entrepreneurs who connected with legendary VC Fred Wilson through the comments section of his blog. They were authentic. They were articulate. They communicated well. They, like Blake, evidently had the talent.

Think outside the box, like Blake did. LA’s top VC, Mark Suster, recently responded to several entrepreneurs from Israel, Ghana, South Africa, and New Zealand on Snapchat. [Sidenote: It’s a blue ocean for Suster on Snapchat at the moment, there aren’t any other VCs that I am aware of that have the same love affair he does with the platform, and thus provide the same access that he has.]

And it’s not just the power of networking. We can ask more frequently in our personal lives as well. In line for an expensive root canal with your oral surgeon but don’t have great dental insurance? Ask for a discount – (almost) everything in life is negotiable. You just have to ask.

Of course, you will get turned down pretty frequently. Suster and Wilson are busy guys after all, and your oral surgeon has a family to feed. But what will surprise you is that your hit rate will be better than nil – which is what it would have been if you never asked at all.

The thing I love about entrepreneurship is that there is no shame in saying, “well that didn’t work out, let’s try something else.” The same is true when it comes to the ask.

Netflix’s original (and acquired) programming has reached an unprecedented quality level over the past few years – House of Cards, Master of None, Narcos, Bloodline, Peaky Blinders, Making a Murderer – if you don’t know, now you know. And I’m fiercely loyal to the streaming service. But if you live in LA, you press the pause button on Netflix during the winter, and you hit the play button on awards season screeners. That’s what I did over the past month, anyway.

And though it certainly wasn’t as gripping as say Spotlight or as entertaining as say, The Martian, I keep thinking about one scene from Steven Spielberg’s Cold War era historical drama Bridge of Spies.

A Soviet spy sits in an American jail. His lawyer asks him, “Are you worried?” about the possibility of being executed. The spy Rudolf Abel calmly replies, “Would that help?”

And Abel’s line just keeps resonating with me. He’s so spot on. It may benefit him to strategize with his lawyer, put himself in the best position to make the most out of his situation, but worrying likely won’t benefit him much at all.

We all worry. I asked my wife if she was worried this week when we had to take our sick dog to the vet. “Would it help?” she Abel-ly replied. Fair enough. So when my colleague expressed his worry this week that he hadn’t heard back from a large prospective client, I told him about Rudolf Abel. He ended up hearing back a few days later – turns out that digging your car out after a blizzard took precedence over finalizing the deal. Snowstorm > SaaS dealmaking. Who knew?

So at work, I’m going to try not to worry too much about what my competitors are doing – at least about what I can’t control. Worrying distracts me from getting done the shit I need to get done, and I suspect the concept works the same way for others. I think it’s hard to win when you’re worrying.

Startups move fast: decision making is incessant, there isn’t often a ton of data to back up gut instincts, especially when you are pioneering in the early-stage, so worrying is just another unnecessary impediment that slows down progress.

We’re human, we have feelings, so of course it’s unlikely we’ll be able to reduce our worrying to nil. But perhaps we can get close. I doubt the world’s greats spend too much of their time worrying, they’re too focused, too motivated, too driven. I’d bet Serena Williams is more warrior than worrier.

I’m not sure what Serena is like of course, but I won’t dwell on it. It certainly won’t help.

Oh, and I think my dog will be OK too.

I’ve spoken passionately about the value and power of internships for many years. If you know my background, I’m obviously a bit biased, but there are few more important tasks for undergraduates looking to gain a competitive advantage than participating in internship experiences.

So I was intrigued when a colleague of mine approached me to ask about organizing an “externship” experience for a local LA-based college freshman interested in learning more about the marketing function at a startup. “What the hell is an externship?” I asked. Turns out it’s part internship, part informational interview, part take an adult to work day. Essentially, a training program or “day in the life,” to give students a glimpse of what an industry / job / career track is all about without formally making a commitment.

So this proactive college freshman showed up this past week during her winter break, and learned the ins and outs (or basics, at least) of marketing at a B2B SaaS startup. She also received a free lunch at Poquito Mas. Decent externship, this. She was green but asked brilliant questions.

And she forced us, as marketers, to do what we’re supposed to do: be succinct and clear. Explain what we do. How we do it. Why we do it. You’d be surprised by how much you can gain in describing what you do to an outsider. It helps you clarify your messaging, forces you to communicate outside of modern business bullshit jargon. A great exercise for any executive, entrepreneur, or group leader.

Two birds with one stone, then, as not only was our visiting student impacted (she confirmed her pre-externship hunch that working in marketing, and at a startup, is something she hopes to achieve in the future) but we benefited as a host company too.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life, a day spent mentoring an aspiring young marketer in this case, that make you realize you truly can make a difference in the community, in someone’s life. This was one of those moments. So I was frustrated when I took a look at Google Trends expecting to find “externship” searches on the rise over the past decade. Instead I found this flatline:

Externship_Google_Trends

It’s early January and many college students in the US are in this weird “in between” time – after the holidays but before the second semester begins. So if you’ve got a friend or family member in college tell them about this unique, under the radar concept, this “externship,” thing. They’ll thank you.

And if you’re in school yourself, consider using this winter break, or an upcoming short school break to schedule one of these experiences too- explore your desired career track, develop networking skills, and experience workplace culture.

The benefits are clear, for both the host employer and the visiting student. And that’s not always the case in business. When one wins, the other often loses. In this case, both can emerge winners.

Sharing economy startup Instacart working on their Net Promoter Score.

Sharing economy startup Instacart working on their Net Promoter Score.

I used Instacart for the first time last week. I had just returned home from a grueling travel schedule that included six flights in one week- a trip that ended with me suffering from your typical flight-induced common cold. Despite a precautionary purchase of two overpriced bottles of Dasani Water at the Hudson News store at each airport I visited, as well as constant hand sanitizer application, I couldn’t escape the wrath of that dry, recycled, Airbus air.

So instead of making the trek to my local grocer for the requisite cold remedies, I downloaded Instacart.

Instacart, as you are probably well aware, is the leading grocery delivery service in the U.S., valued at around $2 billion. A darling in the sexy on-demand economy.

Using the Instacart app for the first time was phenomenal – a great mobile onboarding experience, sleek design, and smooth UI. Within ten minutes, I had ordered a grocery load of overpriced fruits and vegetables from my local Ralph’s grocery store. An avocado at Ralph’s usually costs me about $0.79, but I gladly paid the $1.19 on Instacart while hydrating with some herbal tea and spooning a box of tissues on my couch. The groceries were at my front door within an hour. The next day, Instacart emailed me and asked me to rate my order. I gave the experience 5-stars.

I don’t know if my 5-star review triggered a follow-up email from Instacart, or if this is part of their normal email marketing cadence after someone completes their first order, but within hours of receiving the first request for feedback, I received a second email: “How likely are you to recommend Instacart to a friend?”

I couldn’t stop thinking about that second email this past week – that Instacart knew they were in a strong position (I had rated the service 5-for-5) so they sent an additional customer loyalty email, and got me, at my most excitable (and vulnerable) moment to contribute to their quest for a high net promoter score (NPS).

Companies, specifically consumer tech startups, are enamored with achieving a high NPS. And they should be. In business due diligence, it is one of the sexiest metrics around.  A strong NPS score, and the customer loyalty that comes with it, is a big-time value driver for VC firms, PE firms, or potential acquirers.

Don’t expect to raise a massive round of funding at a favorable valuation or be acquired for top dollar (or anything at all) with a poor NPS score. If your customers proactively go out and scream about your business from the mountain tops, then surely you must have a good product, a good service, and what is perceived to be a good business – in the eyes of the diligent.

Instacart asked me to contribute to their NPS research while they felt strong – their app was still a shiny new object in my life. Smart. When are people taught to ask for a raise? When they’re strong. Right after a huge milestone they’ve achieved. Right after the company crushed it’s quarterly revenue projections and their bosses aren’t stressed. Not after three straight missed quarters with the stock in the gutter. Instacart got the basics just right.

And while I don’t expect to use their service any time soon (strangely enough I enjoy grocery shopping at my local Ralph’s: the music reminds me of middle school, I get a kick from handpicking a perfectly ripe tomato, and as a creature of habit, its become part of my weekend morning routine) I would recommend Instacart to a friend.

It’s a nice reminder that you can create customer loyalty moments, close the loop, receive feedback, and get what you want (like NPS feedback), if your timing is right and you’re in a position of strength.

A positive customer experience and an inherently strong product or service can be the difference between a brand advocate for life or a missed opportunity. And with fourteen mentions of their company name in this post alone, looks like Instacart did more than just land one new user and NPS survey respondent. Who knew grocery shopping could be so magical.

When my wife was a little kid, she would frequently exclaim, “I’m enough!” at the dinner table. Her parents never insisted that she ‘clean’ her plate. They’d say, “Stop eating when you’ve had enough,” and she heeded that advice. It’s a pretty straightforward concept, not eating when you’re full, but a difficult one to adhere to when you’re an adult.

I was thinking a lot about the concept this week – that we know we should stop eating, we know we’re full, but we still order the bread pudding regardless. I’m not as interested in why we do it (obviously, we derive pleasure from eating bread pudding), as I am in just how frequently we set ourselves up for failure in business and in life by not stopping when we’re enough.

Take poker or blackjack, for example. We rarely get up and leave the table when we’re ahead. We just sit there like a bunch of fryerim, or ‘suckers’ in Modern Hebrew, and eventually lose it all back to our opponents / the casino. Entrepreneurs are hard-wired as optimists, but we should still know better. If you have that mindset that screams “I’m in command of my situation,” and you’ve planned for this moment; if you know your strengths and weaknesses, and are honest with yourself, you’re much more likely to be able to walk away while you’re ahead. To win the cash. That’s discipline.

And we have to resist the same pull towards indiscipline to be successful in business as well, specifically in sales. After you close the deal, stop talking. If a prospect is turning into a customer right before your eyes, it’s time to yell “I’m enough!” internally, just as my wife did as a four year-old when she could only finish half of her corn on the cob. When your work is done, it’s done – have the discipline to know when you’ve accomplished what you set out to achieve.

If you’re already a great poker player, I can guarantee that you’re disciplined – you know your strengths, and your weaknesses. If you’re already a great negotiator or sales professional, your close rates are superb in part because you know when to exercise verbal self-discipline.

But for most of us, those still on the path to greatness, we can’t always rely on our incessant optimism (“my stomach won’t hurt this time, surely it will be OK,”). Most of the time, we’re better off being honest with ourselves, knowing our limitations, and exercising a bit of self-discipline. For me, that means passing on the bread pudding more often than not.

YogaMy wife convinced me to attend a yoga class with her recently. I hadn’t practiced yoga in a few years, and right from the off I knew I’d have to pay close attention to my Lululemon-clad classmates, and mimic their movements, just to keep up.

A few minutes into the session, I felt OK doing the basic bridge pose to stretch out my back – until I sensed that some around me were executing a much more demanding wheel pose. And just as I’m thinking, maybe what I’m doing isn’t good enough, the teacher dropped some serious life knowledge on us. She said, “More isn’t better. More is just more.” 

The financial lens, of course, is the traditional one by which many may approach my yoga instructor’s advice. “More (money) isn’t always better. More (money) is just more (money).” Certainly not a novel concept, and one that has been covered extensively with data from Stanford’s GSB, Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona on The Price of Abundance and others. Besides, the Notorious B.I.G. already taught us all that we need to know on the concept of money and happiness 20 years ago.

But I think the point can be applied elsewhere – specifically when it comes to personal bandwidth.

We’re doing “more” at work than ever before – more projects, more tasks, more meetings, more ‘initiatives.’ The same is going on outside of work: I see peers joining Toastmasters Clubs, “advising” or “mentoring” startups as alumni of their universities, attending networking events. Not core, but more. It’s amazing we can squeeze in an episode or two of Narcos each night with these overflowing plates.

Everyone has their strengths, priorities, and KPIs to aim for: the core DNA that will make them (and their companies) a success. Sometimes we can achieve those core priorities with an overflowing plate, but I don’t think we can if it becomes the steady state: over-stimulated, complex, too much, too fast. Why deviate from our strengths? If your success is measured in client retention rate, then be extremely strong when it comes to customer success, client feedback, product usage, or any of the other factors that will drive retention for your product. De-prioritize other ancillary initiatives. Do less and be great.

Prioritization is crucial for success in business. Bandwidth is limited. Focus is key. It’s difficult but it almost always doesn’t include doing “more.” The startup founder who mentions during his first VC pitch meeting that he’s still working as a contract programmer on the side, is rarely given a serious look. Savvy investors aren’t impressed. “He’s not all in,” they’ll say afterwards at their partner meeting. “Just trying to do too much,” another will judge correctly.

We all know that our personal bandwidth is extremely limited, but if we’re honest and stick to our core DNA – we may just end up getting more from less. It’s worth a thought. And that certainly makes me feel much better about sticking to, and perfecting, that basic bridge pose.