Self Care

Traditional New Year’s Resolutions are Bullshit: Here’s What I’m Doing Instead

On a recent article, I talked about the importance of having a business coach. Some of my (fantastic) email subscribers, asked me about specific activities that she and I work on together, so I wanted to share one with you. Coming into 2019, we decided it was important to identify the personal areas of development I wanted to work on (instead of traditional New Year’s resolutions) this year and have her keep me accountable and push me. She came up with her list, and I came up with mine; when combined, the result was five statements of “I choose to” –purposely indicating that they’re something I can control and determine and it’s about the person I want to be(come).

There are two reasons I want to share them with you:

One, I am selfishly looking for public accountability by putting them out in the open. In one year, I’ll be able to look back and see if I made any progress, and all my friends, family, and my network will too. And secondly, to inspire you to audit yourself and clearly define where and what you want to improve on. These are mine –and yours might completely differ, what matters is that they’re important to you and that you implement them.

But before we get started, I first wanted to note (like I did on my podcast) that I work backward from where do I want to be –my vision– and then define the specific actions –the KPI’s. Saying “I will go to the gym 4 times/week” in the traditional New Year’s resolution way is not enough and won’t keep you going. You have to first uncover your why –being a healthy person– to get to that end objective. That “why” will give you the long-term drive and motivation to actually implement on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. So, let’s get to it:

#1: I choose to lead fully and fearlessly.

It’s taken me years to truly step into being a leader, but this year I’m making it a priority. I am leaving my fear behind me, removing the filter, walking out of the shadows — and I am ready to fully embrace “being the CEO.

To make it even more specific –something I recommend when you’re doing your statements–, I broke it down in smaller blocks. First, I will put an emphasis on accountability in order to maintain a high performing culture. I’ve shied away from truly holding people accountable in the past because it can feel like I’m “encroaching” on people. However, I’m now understanding that high performers actually love being held accountable, it pushes them to be better and stops them from plateauing. Saying “that’s not good enough” will only make high performers rise to the challenge –and they’re the type of people I want alongside me.

Accountability and Culture

Similarly, I will also be ruthless about not tolerating ways of being that go against the culture I want to have in my companies. I’ve seen first hand how this can be very destructive, and it could have cost me the business had I not taken action –action that I should’ve taken much earlier than I did. While I’ve gotten better at it, I’m not going to make excuses for their behavior anymore –if someone isn’t a good fit (and they’re unwilling to change), I have to remove them for the betterment of the business (and my emotional and mental well-being).

As a leader, I also want to get better at communicating my vision to the team. In the early years, I was terrified to do it –”who am I to have this vision,” “what if we don’t get there,” “does this even make sense,” or “am I just crazy?”– so I never shared anything. Along the way, I’ve learned that high performers join teams because they’re inspired by something bigger than themselves. And I’ve also realized that I am enough and not a fraud. I have to share my vision and give people a direction and a goal we work towards.

And the final breakdown of the statement is being more appreciative –of myself and of others. Not being scared to say “yes, I’m special,” and fully embrace my strengths. Not in a cocky way, but in a truthful way so I am not limited by my own thinking and I can become more self-aware. But I also want to get better at showing my appreciation to other people –employees, girlfriend, friends, etc.

#2: I choose to surround myself with high performers in all domains.

Something I touched on before is the importance of being around high performers: A-players that don’t settle for low performance. The truth is, I haven’t put enough high performers in my life and that I’ve accepted being around low performers too much. It can feel like I’m stagnating at times. I recognize that part of the reason why I haven’t done that in the past was not being confident enough in myself and wanting to be the best in the room. It sucks, but it’s true. I no longer feel that way.

Now I’m craving high performers to help me. I don’t have to be better than them at something because, as long as I set a compelling, ambitious vision that gives them responsibility and freedom, they will want to be led. They love achieving great things and growing both personally and professionally –which is awesome.

But I want to surround myself with people like that in all domains, not just at work. I want to be pushed and feel uncomfortable —on the other side of discomfort is growth. I want to level up and, to do that, there are two things I have to take care of:

First, attract, retain, and foster high performers. My vision for the Polpo Group is to have multiple companies, and that can only be done with extremely top-notch people as I cannot run every company myself. And second, I want to create a space for high-performers to grow. It’s my job as the CEO of Jakt and head of the Polpo Group to provide a playground where they can grow because, if I don’t, they’ll leave in search of that.

#3 I choose to invest meaningful and regular time in domains outside of work.

So far, everything I’ve talked about has been mostly work-related. And the truth is that for the past 7 years, that’s pretty much all I’ve focused on: Jakt and its survival. That has obviously led to neglecting other areas of my life, and it’s time to begin investing in some of them –which I believe will even help improve my business performance.

There are endless things I’d like to work on, but here’s three I’d like to focus on:

Financial freedom, and how to get there.

I never took money out of Jakt until I made sure that it was good financially and every employee was taken care of –that was my priority. I’ve gone months without a salary, had to put back money in the business when we were struggling, etc, which meant I haven’t focused as much on designing my personal finance life –at least not how I want to. And yes, Jaky is tied to my personal finances, but let me explain more:

Right now, I have to work –and I love it, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a difference between having to work and wanting to work. I want the later, so I’ll be taking steps towards a future where my investments cover all my living expenses, and my active businesses are merely bonuses on top. Doing things because I want to and not because I have to  –that’s my definition of freedom.

Which leads me to real estate.

Loved it since I was a kid –looking at new houses, seeing the prices, figuring out why some were more expensive than others… It’s the only industry I ever seriously considered closing Jakt to go into. I’m interested in it from a long-term wealth and investment perspective, and this year I want to dive deeper. And, as of now, my plan is that my real estate investments that spit off cash each month and covers all my living expenses.

And lastly, self-care and relationships.

I am starting to be more deliberate about self-care: moving part-time to Miami, meditating, working out, eating right, and taking intentional breaks. I have to take care of myself first before I can take care of anyone else. But I am also focusing on my relationship with Sasha. She knew going in that Jakt was my first priority, but I wouldn’t be who I am without her –I am extremely lucky. This year I want to put more effort into our relationship and show her how much I value her.

#4 I choose to embrace the operational side of business, specifically how to create repeatability and predictability.

I know I am not the best at creating repeatable and predictable systems. It’s okay to admit that it’s been a blocker to the growth of my business. Operations, repeatability, and predictability will be key in all my future business ventures and, while I don’t need to be the one to actually execute it for each business, I do have to know how to lead it. So I have to get better at it myself too.

In uncovering why I’m not the best though, I’ve realized that it’s not so much that I’m not good at it, it’s actually something deeper. I have to rewire a belief that has been ingrained in me since I was a child: I have to work hard for every dollar and, if I didn’t work hard, I didn’t deserve the money.

What did that translate to? On the bright side, it made me extremely hardworking –first, in school and then, in business.  But anytime I would start putting in processes to make things more repeatable and predictable, I’d start to pull back and almost self-sabotage because I felt it was becoming too “easy” and I wasn’t working hard enough for the money. Which leads me to my next “goal”…

#5 I choose to allow money to flow to me easily and effortlessly.

Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day. Why is it that some people have more money than others? I think #5 is a big reason for it. Before I can truly master point number four above I believe I need to truly believe that money flows to me easily and effortlessly.

I’ve caught myself stepping away from highly-profitable economic opportunities because I perceived them as “easy” –so I thought I didn’t deserve them. Is some effort required for success? Yes–I don’t believe you can sit around on your couch and do nothing and magic will happen. Do I have to break my back, pull an all-nighter, do all the work myself and overwhelm myself with stress and anxiety though? No.

Unlocking this belief and feeling like I’m deserving of money has great potential in monetary terms but also on my day-to-day happiness.

#6 I choose to attract abundance in all aspects of my life.

While this is similar to the point above, I decided to separate them into two different areas because there are two important differences.

In point number five I specifically discuss money and “allowing” it in. In point number six I talk about abundance in all aspects of life and “attracting it”.

See, with money opportunities, I’ve found my biggest issue isn’t necessarily attracting it, but it’s allowing it. So that’s why in point number five I use that language. But in point number six, I talk about attracting abundance in all meaningful areas of my life (e.g., physical health, mental health, relationships, money etc).

My take on “traditional New Year’s resolutions”:

These are my six statements. You’ll see they cover everything: from work and mindset to relationships and leadership. These will be my focus for 2019, and I expect to move forward in every single one of them. They won’t be easy, but comfort only leads to a slow death.

What’s my next step? Just writing this won’t get me where I want to be –I have to take actions. Without losing sight from my “why”, I will now break this into quarters/months/weeks/and even days with specific actions that I want to take and measure that will lead me be(coming) the person I want.

And now a challenge for you.

I want to challenge you to write four/five statements of “I choose to” areas you want to develop in 2019. I want to know your goals, your expectations, and your ambitions coming into next year. That way we’ll be mutually accountable –a tad of pressure never killed anyone, right? Just opt-in below, and reply to my email with your own statements.

I’m serious. Opt-in, email me and I’ll help keep you accountable.

If you want to hear me talk through these six statements in more detail and exactly why I came up with them instead of more traditional New Year’s Resolutions, you can listen to it on a “Reflections of a CEO” podcast episode I recorded click here!

Building a Business

Firing Yourself: How To Make Your Business You-Independent

Back when I started Jakt (alongside a past business partner), we were able to find three decently sized clients rather quickly. I was excited: the money was good –no more wondering about how I’d cover rent or pay for food.I finally had some disposable income, and I was saving a big part of it.

But it was just him and I, which meant that we were each working a hundred hours per week. And when I say a hundred, I genuinely mean that. We had contracts signed that required us to spend 70-80 hours a week (each) on billable work. This means anytime we wanted to work “on the business” had to come outside of that time.

In hindsight, that was a mistake.

Instead, I should’ve hired two people to take 40 hours off both of our plates. Why? Because it would’ve freed up my time and given me leverage to grow and scale the business –more on this later. But I didn’t because I wanted to keep the money. I was broke when I started the business. So I wanted to stockpile it as much as I could. In retrospect, that was foolish. I just didn’t understand how hiring someone and giving up some money on the short-term would allow me to make much more on the long-term.

Yes, I would’ve made less money to start with. But short-term money should not be your main goal as a business owner or a CEO. And sure, you might even –and I did at time for sure– make less money than people that work for you –but…so what? You’re investing; you’re playing a different game. Trust me, if you do it right, you’ll reap 10x the benefits that you could by yourself.

Hiring people is just one part of transitioning from working IN the business to ON the business.

It’s a key distinction –one that slowed down my company’s growth.

So, what’s the difference?

The theory is fairly straightforward: working IN the business is doing the actual project work, while working ON the business focuses on designing the machine that is your business ie creating the systems, finding the right people, setting up processes, etc.

For example, let’s say you run a digital marketing agency: if you work in the business, you’ll be pitching to potential clients, onboarding them, running their FB ads, sending reports to them… If you were to reframe this and work “on the business,” you would be documenting each part of the process and then determining who you should hire, what roles you need, etc.

When should you start working ON the business?

I truly understand why some business owners and CEOs have a tough time transitioning from IN the business to ON the business –I did too! When you’re starting out, especially with no money, you’re just trying to keep your head above water and make enough money each month to cover living expenses

Then, you hire someone and you are responsible to make sure not only you can live, but that they can get paid every 2 weeks. With that kind of responsibility, it’s very easy to only be looking 2 weeks ahead (the way I lived my life for quite some time was by the 15th and 30th – payroll days – had 15 more days to get the money to pay people) and not take a step back to work on the business.

How can you work on the business when you feel you might not even be in business if you don’t make payroll right?

But looking back, I really think you have to start on Day 1, and for a couple of reasons: first, it gets harder as you grow. The bigger the business grows, the more complex it gets, so it’s much easier to start sooner and make gradual progress to not have “a holy shit, look at how much I need to do” moment. I personally started pretty early, but don’t think I prioritized it enough –I wish I blocked off even more time for it because the long-term impact and ROI is just so great.

And second, because working on the business has a compound effect. The truth is that you won’t see results on week one, or month one, or even year one. And I do get that when you are fighting to survive on the short-term, it’s hard to invest time and effort on something that doesn’t have an immediate ROI –but you just have to. I think it was Albert Einstein who said “Compound Interest is the 8th wonder of the wall,” and this works the same way.

Transitioning to working ON the business

Recently, a video of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet came up on my LinkedIn feed. In it, Buffet shows his (paper) calendar to the interviewer, and he’s surprised that there are days –even weeks– where Warren has nothing scheduled. Buffet and Gates then talk about how “sitting and thinking” is their highest priority.

And while it makes sense and it could be your ultimate goal, that’s simply unattainable in the short-term for most entrepreneurs, business owners, and CEOs that have a company to run. It needs to be a gradual process:

Stage 1: Generalist

In the very beginning, you’ll probably start by doing all, or a lot of, the work yourself. But in this early stage, you should already segment a percentage of your time fully dedicated to designing the machine: documenting workflows and processes used to run the business, setting up tools to make things more efficient, selling, etc

Sidenote: I consider “selling” as working ON the business when you are starting up, but IN the business later on. It’s something you have to step away from eventually too. In the early days, you’re doing something that helps keep the business alive and it doesn’t relate to doing the actual production work. You are ‘feeding” the business, and someone has to do it.

And when I say “segment time,” I mean to block off time in your calendar and treat it as important as any business meeting you might have. It’s easy to get caught up on the hype of project work, but this needs to be a priority second to none.  

Stage 2: Specialist

Then, figure out how much money you need (aka, keep your expenses as low as possible), and as soon as you can financially afford it, hire someone. You’ve now gained leverage, and you can progressively start firing yourself from doing the daily work.

There will usually still be something that only you can do –or at least you’ll think that. In my case, that was sales, so I combined working on the business with client acquisition. At that point, however, I had to move away from selling myself –”Anthony”– as the person who’d be working on the project, and I started selling the company, “Jakt.”

You have to set up that expectation from the jump, or you might lose clients because of it (here’s more on that). Eventually, however, you have to lay yourself off from that job of selling day-to-day too (you might still come in for the largest of deals, but hopefully you get my point).

Stage 3: Architect

Now that you do not operate in the business, you can take an even bigger step back (you should have been doing it from the very beginning) and look at your business like a machine comprised of different systems (article on this coming soon). You are now the architect –the Maestro of the symphony–, and you’ll see that your role has completely changed since you started the business.

Your current job is to design a machine comprised of a system that operates as efficient and precise as possible. You ’re also focused on designing the machine and systems such that they will achieve our near and long term goals –and then you’re constantly adjusting with the feedback you receive over time.

That’s the game: architecting systems that will work together to achieve your short term and long term goals. It’s the hardest part, a never-ending game –but (if you like that sort of thing) it’s also exhilarating, and I love it!

Stage 4: High-Level Architect / Active Owner

The idea is to, eventually, get to the stage where you are no longer the short-term architect of your business –instead, you are now the long-term architect. I am now only getting there with Jakt, but it has taken me over seven years (and many mistakes along the way).

Here’s the thing: you can’t design a business that operates and grows without you by yourself.

Business is a team sport and you need to find the right people. I have to ask myself –”where do I want Jakt to be in 1, 4, 5 years?” and then I put the people in place that will design the machine to get us there.

There will be some of them that will be mostly working in the business, and there will also be a few that should become “the new architect” of their arena or business segment. There’s not just one architect on top. There’s one that looks after the machine as a whole, and there are others that are responsible for the smaller pieces and systems the machine comprehends.

Work to foster a company culture where working ON the business is seen as important by everyone. Although not everyone does it to the same extent –depends on the role they play. They too should be adding compound value to your systems, which makes you a company that is able to make exponential growth instead of linear.

Everyone has a role to play in helping the company’s advancement, and some people are in positions where more of that is expected than others –that’s normal. But you, as the CEO, need to emphasize the importance of optimization and instill that in your culture or, more than likely, they won’t critically analyze if there are better ways to improve their operational systems. Everything starts at the top, and you have to set the example.

Stage 5: Passive / Non-Operating Owner

And the final stage is when you also turn over the reigns of the long-term strategy. The machine works for you in a completely independent manner, and you just receive your percentage of profits.

I do want to mention that these 5 steps are not necessarily the path you HAVE to take. They’re just, in my opinion, the natural progression if you are trying to become a Passive Owner.  But you can also stop at any stage you so choose or remain in them for a long period of time. At the end of the day, it is your business –and you should do with it as you please.

Firing Yourself the 3 Quick Takeaways:

  • Working IN the business is doing the actual project work, while working ON the business focuses on designing the machine – finding the right people, creating the systems, processes, etc
  • You should segment time to work on the business from day 1 (it gets harder later on), and find ways to streamline all processes. It will compound over time if you start day 1, and you’ll be able to move faster.
  • There are different stages to working on the business –and their level of involvement will vary accordingly: from doing all the work yourself to your business becoming independent from you.

[BONUS] I go very in-depth into this in the paid community I moderate for service-based business owners where I will personally help you and tailor my approach to your business. But if you are not ready or you don’t run a service business, I share more content like this with my email subscribers. Join us below!

Building a Business Entrepreneurship Finance

How Your Personal Finances Are Slowing Down Your Business’ Growth

I was recently talking with a friend who has a 9-5 job and also freelances on the side. To give you some context, his goal is to make enough money off the freelance work to cover his living expenses and, eventually, turn that into his full-time income –something that those of you with (or looking to start) a side-hustle or in the early stages of running a business might relate to.

We had previously discussed how important it was that he took control of his personal finances. He proudly told me he had been able to reduce his monthly expenses to only $2,500 –a long way from where he started. I congratulated him; he had done a great job and sacrifice. But I also challenged him to take one more step and get it to $2,000/month.

“Why? Isn’t this good enough?” he asked me. And don’t get me wrong, it is… but, that’s another $500 a month you can put in your pocket –that’s a whole extra month of runway after 4 months.

I then told him…

“You should NEVER have variable expenses”

When you are starting up, I’d argue that your focus needs to be on reducing your expenses as much as humanly possible.

You’ll then have an exact number that amounts to everything you need (not the same as want –more on that later), and you have to be sure that there is no imaginable way to go lower than that. That’s your expense baseline.

Your expense baseline has to be predictable –which means you can only have fixed expenses.

You need to personally forecast and budget: $X will go towards rent, $Y will go towards food, $Z will go towards gas, etc. There’s no place for variable expenses. You cannot drunkenly come back from the bar, pass out on the couch, and realize the next morning you spent $150.

[Sidenote: I’m obviously not accounting for out-of-the-norm incidents such as accidents, medical issues, natural causes, etc.]

Why am I so strict about this? Let’s go back to my friend for a second. His goal is to leave his job and work for himself –thus his income needs to cover his expenses. The lower his income, the faster this will happen, and the faster he will achieve his goal. Short term pain, but a much quicker path to his goal.

Having low expenses gives you freedom, and it lets you achieve your goals faster. But it does take self-discipline because, once you have a forecasted budget, it should not change –even if your income rises.

Throughout my first few months as a freelancer and then during Jakt’s very beginning, I knew exactly what was the minimum amount of money I needed to live –and I didn’t increase that for a long, long time. When I started making more of it, I didn’t run and spend it –I stockpiled it! Looking back, I should’ve hired more people earlier, but my living expenses didn’t change: I didn’t buy new clothes for almost three years, I didn’t move to a bigger apartment for a couple years, etc.

I just didn’t need it… which leads me to my next point.

Know the difference between “Wants” and “Needs”

Not all expenses are created equally.

People get very soft and permissive with themselves when it comes to what they need vs. what they want. Especially if you have just started running a business, you can’t be delusional:

You don’t “need” to go to SoulCycle –it’s $35/session. I used to go to a gym in NYC that cost me $20/month –less than one SoulCycle class. You don’t “need” that office, or that table, or that chair, etc. And, of course, there are things that you actually need like eating healthy. But, even then, you can find ways to eat healthy without dropping $40 for a meal.

Honestly, people’s relationship with money is one way I vet people that I could partner with through The Polpo Group. And I’ll tell you why:

Because it shows what’s really important to you –either your business (and the freedom that comes with it) or materialistic shit you don’t need. If you’re not willing to sacrifice yourself, this is probably not going to work out so well for either of us.

And if you don’t want it bad enough, that’s perfectly fine –but you have to be honest with yourself. It doesn’t really matter how many time you post #hustle on Twitter. You “kinda” want it –or you might have glorified the idea of calling yourself an entrepreneur–, but you’d rather go party at night. You still might get where you want to be, but it will definitely take longer.

It all comes down to priorities and knowing what you want. There’s no right or wrong answer –I’m just telling you what I believe is the fastest path to achieve the goal of having a business you can do full-time and get the freedom you desire.

It’s important to be self-aware enough to know your priorities but, once those are established, it’s time to make a plan, stick to it, and be laser-focused on executing it. To do that, however, you’ll have to get used to…

Telling people “no”

You can’t imagine how many times I had to do it:

“Anthony, do you want to go out to eat? Nope, I don’t have money” (even when I started making some money, my answer was still this –stockpiling, remember?).

“Anthony, do you want to go for drinks tonight? Nope, we can hang out, but I can’t buy drinks.

I said no to everything because I was extremely focused on growing and scaling Jakt. That was my one and only priority, and every step I took had to get me a bit closer to that. And, if it didn’t, I didn’t take it. It was that simple. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but I really didn’t give a damn. I was living month to month, barely scraping by…

But, honestly, I was so happy doing it. If I let my expenses bloat, I wouldn’t have been able to pay my rent, etc, and I probably would’ve had to end up on a 9-5 job I hated. To me, the freedom of having my business money cover my expenses (and staying away from corporate) was very much worth it.

I chose myself and what made me happy. If I had listened to what my friends or my parents said, I would’ve taken a job at a bank. Instead, I didn’t talk to my family for a couple of years (long story, I’ll cover it another time). I just knew that I had to follow my own path or I’d be terribly miserable —and I accepted the consequences.

Again, this is not for everyone, and you should do what makes you happy, but that’s what it takes to quickly build a business from a personal finance standpoint.

If you want to go full-time on your business as fast as possible

  1. Make your expenses fixable and predictable –and reduce them to the bare minimum. Keep them there for as long as you can. 
  2. There’s a difference between wanting something and needing something. But you already knew that. You just have to be honest with yourself. 
  3. Budgeting means prioritizing and saying no to things. Ask yourself if that’s what you want and, if it is, go all in.

Self Care

How To Get More Out Of Every Day: Productivity Myths and Optimized Habits

CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs often fall in love with the idea of productivity. And it’s clear why: running a company requires a seemingly endless time investment. There’s always another lead to close, or another fire to put out, or another client to serve.

In this article, I will share my thoughts on what productivity truly is, the importance of quality output, and the two elements that you need to control if you want to know how to get more out of every day.

“Are you productive –or are you just busy?”

Productivity is regularly misunderstood.

We all know someone that is extremely busy at all times, and it’s easy to think of them as hardworking, disciplined, or productive. But, are they really?

We have glorified that “grinding-hustling 24-7” culture, but the truth is, there’s a difference between being productive and just being, well…, busy. And don’t get me wrong, as the CEO of Jakt, there is an infinite stream of things I could be doing, and I’m sure you have them too.  

If you are busy one day, or a week, or even a month, that’s all good. Maybe you have a truckload of work that requires your attention, maybe you have on-boarded a few new clients, or maybe you have to make up for all the work that you missed during your vacation in the Bahamas.

But, if you are busy at all times –chaotically running from one thing to another–, then you’re just not being productive, and there are deeper underlying issues you need to address: your time management, your priorities, your ability to delegate, etc. if you want to know how to get more out of every day.

So, protip from someone who was “buried in work” for years and is just moving from working “in the business” to “on the business.” If you often catch yourself saying “I can’t, I’m busy, I don’t have time, etc.” really audit how you are investing in your most valuable asset: your time.

“What’s productivity, then?”

In short, I understand the idea of “being productive” as, given the same unit of time, how much can you get done (aka, what output can you generate) –while maintaining or increasing the quality standards. When you want to know how to get more out of every day it’s important to keep in mind. We all have the same 24 hours (even billionaires.) But, somehow, some people end up getting more accomplished than others. To fully get whether you are being productive or not, you have to carefully measure it:

If you have an hour of time, you can either get X-much done, or you can get 3X-much done. Again, as long as the quality levels are the same, 3x-much done is being more prolific. Or you can calculate it the other way around. If you have a certain task to complete, it can take you one fruitful hour or two hours of less efficient work.

For example, let’s say I have to send a business proposal to a new client. If the output is the same –sending a high-quality proposal–, reducing the amount of time it takes me to accomplish it will reflect an increase in my productivity.

“But, how can you become more productive?”

And how can you get the most bang for your time?

There are two main elements to it –distractions, and systems, and I want to share with you how to use them to your advantage.


The differential factor that will help you how to get more out of every day and get more things done in less time is your focus level. But to really produce focused work, you need to eliminate all (or, at least, reduce) distractions that can potentially hurt your concentration.

First, you have to be self-aware enough to acknowledge physiological states such as whether you’re hungry or well-fed, energized or drained, and awake or sleep-deprived. These can all determine if your body and mind are ready to perform or not.

I’m no doctor, and I will touch on the importance of rest by the end of this article, but it’s clear to me that having solid habits –sleeping well, eating healthy, living an active lifestyle– is an investment with high ROI.

And I could obviously not discuss distractions without mentioning social media.

Look, social media is great: it allows you to connect with people you’d otherwise have no chance of meeting, you can share your content (how did you find this article?), and consume other people’s.

But, either you use it, or it uses you.

And if you want to be productive and deliver focused work, you have to –boldly put– shut that shit off.

I have all notifications turned off on my phone and my desktop. Even email –something that most CEOs and business owners seem to be addicted to (including myself)– is deleted from my phone.

I even have a second phone with a number that no one knows. It’s completely empty: no apps, or anything. I take it with me when I go to the gym or for a run so that I can’t be reached and I can entirely be focused on what I’m doing.

And I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t have a horrid vice of checking Twitter. But I do try to make an active effort to prevent that as much as possible. There’s a lot of things you can do to help improve your focus. One that I’ve picked up over the last six months is Transcendental Meditation. It has helped me increase my energy and concentration while also reducing the stress and anxiety that comes with leading a company. But it’s not a one size fits all, so make sure you test out different things. Find one that works for you.


In conclusion, productivity increases by reducing your distractions and having a laser-focused concentration on one single task.


The second element to increase your time’s ROI is to understand and manage systems effectively. But what do I mean when I say “systems?”

Systems give you leverage on your time –therefore increasing your output, and they are comprised of: tools, technology, processes, and people. These are all ways that can help you organize, structure, and use your time better so that you maximize your output in the same period of time.

It’s ironic: at Jakt, we build digital products for our clients. You’d expect me to tell you to use as much technology and virtual tools as you can. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m actually very old-school when it comes to productivity.

Laugh at me if you want, but I still use pen and paper for most of my daily systems like to-do lists. I personally think it’s better than software. If you haven’t yet, give it a try. there’s something about scratching things off that’s incredibly satisfying.

And I’m not saying don’t you ever use technology, just don’t drown on it. Only use it if there is no better way –and simply the minimum amount of technology you need. It should help you get from point A to point B faster –and get things done. But it often just adds a bunch of time and distraction, so be mindful of that when adding some new pieces of tech to your workflow.

Like many others, I also get excited when I find a new app or online tool that I think can help me streamline a process. But, most of the time, it’s just too much –too many features, options, variables. I end up going back to the most minimalistic option I can find.

Tech can help you become more productive, but don’t turn the vast ocean of apps, tools, and software into mental masturbation. Make sure you are always getting tangible results out of everything you use.

Doing more by doing less.

I have talked before about how difficult it is to disconnect from business-related stuff for many entrepreneurs and CEOs like myself –not that we want to do it either. But giving your mind a break and recharging is an important step towards being more productive on the long-term.

And how to get more out of every day, and boost your productivity?

Stepping away needs to become an intentional activity that you treat just like an investment. It’s hard to do nothing. I’ve found that purposed breaks help my minder wander, marinate on things, and subconsciously connect the dots.

That’s why I can spend three hours sunbathing in Miami and don’t feel bad about it. Because I know I am not just “chilling” there –this is definitely not about being lazy. Instead, I know it’s where a lot of my higher thinking happens (e.g. thoughts about the future of my companies, working out a meaty problem, etc.), and it’s part of my recovery and training –just like any athlete does.

How to get more out of every day:

A few things that you can apply right away to stop yourself from asking how to get more out of every day:

  • Audit your time: are you always busy? If so, truly analyze where you are spending your time. Are there any wasteful areas? Cut them out.
  • Distractions come from a lack of focus. Are you listening to what your body is telling you? And are you using social media, or is it using you?
  • Technology, tools, and systems can help you plan and structure your time more efficiently. But make sure you don’t just fall in love with that idea: results matter.
  • And finally, intentionally stepping away will not only improve your recovery and focus. But also can be a great time to creatively come up with new solutions to problems. But there’s a difference between purposed breaks and being lazy.

If you want to read more about the things I’ve learned (and continue to learn) throughout this journey as the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, read the 5 Lessons I wish I’d Known That Would’ve Saved Me $100,000+

Building a Business

What I Look For in a Business Partner

Before I go through the characteristics of what I look for in a business partner that I personally consider most important, I want to first note that finding the right business partner has many nuances to it, and it should be analyzed on a case-by-case scenario.

Second, this is what I look for in a business partner or founding team who will be running a Polpo company alongside myself. I am specifically looking for CEOs and people who will run the business day-to-day, so it might be slightly different to what you need from a partnership.

And third, while it takes years to really know someone (and even then people might surprise you), this can be sped up by having deep, tough, and uncomfortable conversations early on  —so don’t shy away from them.

So, what I look for in a business partner can be broken up into two things: prerequisites –basic elements that I need to see before I even consider it — and, if they have those, then deal breakers.

Let’s start with the basics:

  • At least one person has to be an industry expert.

He or she has to know the ins-and-outs of the industry that the company operates in. They also need a track record –proof that they know what they’re talking about. For example, if I were to partner with a recruiting agency, I’d expect someone in the company’s leadership team to be experienced, knowledgeable, and well-versed on recruiting.

It’s hard enough to grow a company to also have to learn all the subtleties of the industry. It is much easier when you start with an existing network, reputation, and proven capabilities that you know what you’re talking about.  

  • There also needs to be someone that has a “killer instinct.”

Every company goes through times where shit hits the fan. We definitely did at Jakt. There’s always a critical point that puts your back against the wall –and you either come out swinging or fold like a house of cards.

Some people can step up when it really matters and some people can’t. This is an intangible ability, and it doesn’t depend on your hard, technical skills. It doesn’t matter how good you are at recruiting if you don’t show up when it’s life or death. Either you have that character trait, or you don’t –there’s not much more to it.

And I can’t be that go-to guy with Polpo because I’ll be running multiple businesses, so that’s a decisive quality that I look for in a business partner.

  • There has to be someone that is great at sales.

Sales are an essential element that all successful businesses need, and its importance cannot be understated. No business can survive without revenue, but there’s plenty of CEOs and Founders that could not sell ice-cold water on a Spanish beach.

Selling is a much-needed skill in business –and not just during your customer acquisition process. You are also selling your company to potential new hires, you are selling a culture to current employees, and you are selling yourself as the individual that can lead a team.

Honestly, it’s very straightforward: if you can sell, you’ll make money. If you can’t, you won’t –no matter how good your product or service is.

And then, there are the deal breakers:

  • The way they think about money.

The way your business partner thinks about money is a crucial element that can make or break your relationship (and your company with it).

For example, I have lived below my means for plenty of years to reduce my living expenses and reinvest all the profits into the business –and I still do it. I can (and did) not take a salary for a few months and only eat PB&Js while we ramp things up. If my partner cannot, well, we have a problem.

And living with low-expenses is easy to do when you are just starting out and you’re broke, but what will happen when you guys start growing and making profits? Will your priority be your business, or will you take your money and run the closest club in your city? What will your partner do?

You have to understand what your partner’s relationship with money is, and how that will affect you and the company going forward. Is he okay with investing in your company and scaling, or does he keep his cash under the mattress? Is he financially solid, or does he owe $100k to Russian mobsters? These are all the things that can (will) threaten your company’s livelihood if you don’t previously do your due diligence.

  • Where they want to take the company and themselves.

Similar to the point above, not everyone has the same expectations and ambitions about where they want to take the company and themselves –that’s actually one of the main reasons my partner and I parted ways.

Some people are happy with building a small company that covers their living expenses, while others want to keep on scaling and growing. Some people see themselves living in peace in the Bahamas, while others enjoy the daily work of running a business.

Now, I’m not saying one of these is necessarily wrong, but what’s important is that you and your partner’s expectations align. Both of you should have the same aspirations and the same goals –both personal and professional, or the relationship (and the company) will be in danger.

The rest of the stuff, i.e., how to be a good manager, the technicalities of cash-flow, or any other hard skill, can be developed, but these traits above are really hard to teach and change.

  • Who they are as human beings.

They say business is not personal –but I disagree. Who you do business with matters. If we don’t share a common set of values such as treating people fairly, being respectful, and caring, there is no way our business relationship will work.

You want to partner with people that have a similar way of being. Now, I’m not saying both of you see the world the exact same way, but you do have to share a basic sense of ethics, morals, and attitude towards the people around you.

What I look for in a business partner: The Takeaway

Getting into a business partnership is not just about liking the person. I shared with you my requirements when I look for someone –and yours might differ, which is totally ok–, but make sure you do your due diligence and truly get to know that person before you commit your business to them.

If you want to read more about the things I’ve learned (and continue to learn) throughout this journey as the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, read the 5 Lessons I Wish I’d Known That Would’ve Saved Me $100,00+