How To Achieve More By Doing Less with Michael Hyatt

On this week’s podcast I am interviewing the amazing Michael Hyatt. As a New York Bestselling author, we are talking all about his book ‘Free to Focus’. We’re going to be talking all about how we can become more productive without having to increase the time that we have. The episode is going to be sharing a mix of simple mindset practices and various different hacks to help you become more productive, because who doesn’t need to know how to do that? Filled with lots of incredible information, you’re going to want to grab a notebook for this one!

  • The Hustle Fallacy is the idea that you in order to achieve more you have to do more. In reality, not all tasks, not all meetings and not all opportunities are created equal. Focussing on the things that really matter is what will REALLY allow you to achieve more.
  • There is such thing as a double win, where you can win at work and succeed at life. You just need to have that balance.
  • You are the most important asset your company has and if you don’t look after your energy levels, your business is going to suffer. Because of this, nutrition is important. If you know a food is likely to slow you down, try to avoid it.
  • When you’re taking time off, whether it is for a vacation or a weekly break, make sure you’re not doing any work at all.
  • There are three steps to becoming more productive, the first one is to stop. Whilst it may seem counterproductive, you need to stop and see where your productivity lies. Ask yourself the hard questions. Has your smartphone made you less productive? Do productivity hacks give you the life you want?
  • Evaluate the tasks that you’re doing. Think about the tasks you have completed over the past two weeks and evaluate whether or not you were passionate about it and whether or not you were proficient.
  • Outsourcing your work is a great way to increase your productivity, as well as your income.
  • If you know you enjoy something, you need to do everything you can to ensure you’re doing more of it. If you’re not enjoying something, you need to eliminate it.
  • If you don’t want to say yes to something, you need to follow this simple hack. First of all, you need to affirm the person asking in your initial response. Once you have affirmed their work, you need to pivot. The best thing to say is ‘In order to be faithful to my other commitments, I have to say no’. This is the yes-no-yes formula.
  • If you find yourself responding to a lot of requests, consider setting up your yes-no-yes responses as an email signature.
  • The 3-by-3 System is where you have 3 goals for the quarter and 3 outcomes per week. Limiting yourself to 3 goals is important, because when your focus is dispersed across too many goals, you’re less likely to achieve any of them.
  • If you could only pick three things to do this week to help your business grow, what would they be?
  • When it comes to large projects, consider the 10-80-10 rule. This is where you are involved in the first and last 10% of a project to oversee it. You’re the architect, but you don’t have to be the builder.

The biggest tip when it comes to being focussed and driving results is to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. A well-rested mind will be your most productive mind.

Transcript below


Hello and welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. I am your host, Teresa Heath-Wareing. Welcome, welcome. If this the first episode you listen to, then I am very happy to have you here, and boy, have you chosen an amazing first episode to listen to, because I'm not even going to do hardly any intro, we're going to go straight in, because I am so excited about this episode, because on today's podcast I am interviewing the amazing Michael Hyatt.

Now this guy has been in business a very long time. He is a New York best-selling author, I'll give you his proper bio in a bit, but basically today we are talking all around his book, Free To Focus, which is all about how as business owners and CEOs we manage our time, how we become more productive without necessarily just pushing to do more within the time we've got, and honestly, it is full of so much good information. It's a mix of the mindset stuff alongside with some really practical, cool hacks how you can save more time and become more productive. And let's face it, who on earth does not need that?

The other thing that I love about this and about Michael is the fact that he talks about taking naps and how good they are for us, and how crucial they can be in business. So, I am a massive fan of taking naps. I love a nap, because let me just add the caveat of I don't sleep very well for whatever reason. I often wake up, my brain doesn't stop working, and it's like constantly giving me things to think about in the middle of the night. Anyway, I love a nap but I was always too fearful to ever say anything through embarrassment, because I thought it made me sound lazy and that it wasn't good that I was taking a nap in the day when I'm running this successful business, blah, blah, blah.

However, he has assured me that it's a very good thing. So anybody who tells me taking naps is good, I just think they're amazing straight off, anyway. But like I said, today's episode is jam-packed full of stuff. But if you haven't heard of Michael before, which I'm sure you have, then let me tell you a bit about him. Michael Hyatt is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Michael Hyatt & Company. He has scaled multiple companies over the years including $250 million publishing company with 700-plus employees, and his own Leadership Development Company that has grown over 60%, year-on-year, for the past four years. Under his leadership, Michael Hyatt & Company has been featured in Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America for two years in a row.

He's the author of several New York Times and Wall Street Journals and U.S. Today's best-selling books. His books include Platform, Living Forward, Your Best Year Ever, Free to Focus, and I have to say, having read some of his books, they are great. Really, really good books. He is also, and I say this on the episode, he's got a great voice so I do listen to him on Audible as well, and he comes across really well. But he enjoys what he calls the double win with his wife of 40 years, his five daughters and nine grandchildren. So he has got a busy, busy life, but you know what? As you're going to discover from this episode, he manages to get that balance with everything, so, honestly, I think you're going to learn a whole lot from him today. I was so very honoured to have him on. He's a very busy man and I'm very privileged that he agreed to come on to the podcast, so I hope you enjoy this one.

So, I am very honoured to welcome the amazing Michael Hyatt to the podcast. Welcome, Michael.

Thank you, Teresa. I'm delighted to be on with you.

Honestly, I am very, very grateful that you found the time. I know you're a very busy man and I know that my audience are going to love what you have to say, and get so many good takeaways from this episode, so I'm very excited. But, just in case, it is a just in case, because I'm sure my audience have heard of you, could you just briefly tell us how you got to do what you do today and have these amazing books and do this business that you have today?

Well, I spent most of my career in the book publishing world. Most recently as the CEO and the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers which began as a British company in Edinburgh in 1798. Now, I wasn't at the company quite that long, but when I was like the seventh CEO in the company, and so I decided in 2011, we sold the company to HarperCollins publishers, and I decided it was now or never. I was going to launch out and become an author and speaker which had been my dream thing for a long time, and I'd been in business for myself before, before I was at Thomas Nelson, and I said it was time to become an entrepreneur again, but I did that.

So I had started blogging, believe it or not, back in 2004. I broke my ankle, and I decided while I was laid up after I had surgery on it, that I would take on this thing called blogging, and so I was pretty consistent at it for years and years and years, and to this present day, but that had created enough of a platform that when I left Thomas Nelson I was able to write a book on it, which was my book Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World. That book went on to become a New York Times best seller and I was able to create a membership site called Platform University based on that, and everything else happened as a result of that.

So, today, we have 40 full-time employees. We're really focused at Michael Hyatt & Company on leadership development today, so we have that extensive coaching programme for entrepreneurs, we have some physical products like the Full Focus Planner, and just an array of suite of products.

I love that. And it's really interesting, that, one, you came from a job, if you like, and then obviously went into being an entrepreneur, and also, what I love about where you are now today, is the fact that you came from a fairly traditional corporate background. The stuff that you talk about today, for me, seems like you've taken a big leap in the sense of how you are and what you promote, and the life you lead and the balance that you have, because actually I don't know about you, but I worked in corporate world for quite a while, and actually some of the things that you now promote in terms of becoming a good leader, I don't think they were around, you know. I worked for Land Rover, I was in their head office in the U.K. and I don't think those things existed back when I was there maybe 10 years ago.

So, it's interesting that you have been a corporate, and now you're promoting all these amazing things. Did you get any of that from working in corporate? Was it a great corporate place to work, or…

Well, it was kind of mixed. I mean, you learn a lot from bad examples. In fact, I think sometimes you learn more from bad examples. I certainly worked for some leaders that weren't great, and I was inspired by that to try to find a different way. At Thomas Nelson, when I arrived there back in 1998, I wasn't really excited about the culture. I felt like the culture was toxic, and one of the things I did as a mid-level manager was, I said, “Well, I can't really change the world above me but I think I can change the world below me and have some impact on the culture.”

So I set out to be very intentional about creating a company culture for our division, and then it was kind of contagious because one of my contentions about culture is that it drives operating results, it's the unseen force that drives operating results, and so it started driving our operating results. The division I was running was the 14th division and out of 14 divisions in the company, we were the worst performing. We had zero revenue growth. We were losing money, terrible company morale. But in 18 months we went from number 14 to number one, and as a result of that people wanted to know, “Gosh, what are you doing over there?”

And so, a lot of it was having to do with the culture and leadership and some of the things actually I talked about in Free To Focus about productivity.

Yeah. And the other thing I must mention, I was very lucky, when I came over to Nashville, I actually went to your office and I put it on Insta story and I actually wrote, “This is better than my house.” Your office is phenomenal. It's so-

Thank you.

… beautiful, and it just… From where you're coming from and the talking about culture and things, you have created something where surely your team must be absolutely in heaven to go to work. It's such an amazing environment for them.

Well, I really see my team as a stewardship responsibility for me. I have a responsibility to take care of them and what really gets me excited is creating an awesome working environment where they can discover their strengths, where they can work in their zone of genius, we call it the desire zone in my book Free To Focus, but we try to say, “Okay, if we're going to build an amazing company that's going to grow and really scale sustainably, what kind of environment do we have to create to attract those A-level players? And so, I remember my daughter, Megan and I, I don't know that you met Megan, I know you met Mary-

Yes. No, I didn't meet Megan. No, I didn't. No. I met Marissa, I think.

Ah, she's my youngest.

Yes. That was it.

Megan's my oldest and she's also the COO of Michael Hyatt & Company, but she and I went away for a day and we said, “Okay, how can we create this amazing environment for our employees?” So, get this. This is where we started. We said, “Let's approach this like anything in marketing. So, let's create a sales page. So, if we're going to create a sales page that's going to really attract and convert the best employees, the best prospective employees to become employees, what kind of benefits would we have to have?”

I mean, we were thinking almost like when you sell a programme and you create bonuses, and we thought, “Okay, so what are the benefits have to be?” And so we came up with some crazy stuff on that page, and we give our employees a 30-day paid sabbatical after three years. We give them unlimited PTL, they can choose to be off whenever they want to be off, they can work from wherever. We have generous paternity leave provisions and all that, so that all just came out of that desire to create a place that would attract the right people.

And that's wonderful because, like you, I've worked in mixed places. Some places that were nice, some places that were just horrendous culture and terrible morale, and they treated their team like absolute dirt. They were terrible. And I remember, in this one company I worked for, I had a team under me and a bit like you, I thought, “There's nothing I can do about that, but this I can.” And I realised that my team who were doing the work, if we didn't look after them and treat them nice and appreciate them and focus our attention on them, then they wouldn't do a good job and we wouldn't have a service to sell.

So, for me, the onus of the business and the people who run it got it all completely wrong. It was like they treated those people like they were no one, and they treated the directors like they were everything, and it's like, “But what if tomorrow they all decide they're going to do a terrible job, because you haven't got a business left if that's the case.”

No. That's right. In fact, I often say to my people and when I'm out speaking to CEOs and business owners, I say, “Look, your first job is to take care of your people. If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers, and if they take care of your customers, the customers will take care of you. And don't ever get that backwards.”

Yes. No. You're right. That's awesome. Such good advice. So, I said today I want to talk about Free To Focus, your book that I've read. Well, I've read a few, but it's in this one, for me was a really good standout book that I think my audience are going to love hearing about, because when you start a business, and I made this huge mistake. So I started my business, and I go, “How hard can this be?” How naïve was I? And I thought, “I've been in marketing for 15 years. I know marketing like the back of my hands. I can do this. This bit's easy.” But what I didn't appreciate was what it's like to run a business because I'd never run a business, and how do I manage myself?

I could have all the best tools and hacks and everything in the world, but if I wake up in a day and I don't feel like doing that work, or if I get overwhelmed and then I can't focus on anything, the impact on my business that I have personally is obviously massive, and what was so great about the book is, it turns a lot of stuff on its head in terms of how we think we're trying to be productive, and how we think we're trying to manage our time effectively, and actually we're doing the complete opposite. So, can we start by just looking at, what are the myths that business owners and CEOs and people get wrong when they're trying to, or they think they're trying to, be super productive?

Yeah. I think one of the biggest one is, they fall prey to what I call the hustle fallacy. And this is the idea that if you want to achieve more you have work more. And the entire premise of the book, in fact, the subtitle of the book is A Total Productivity System for Achieving More by Doing Less.


And I think not all tasks, not all meetings, not all opportunities are created equal. And I think the sooner that we realise that, the more we can focus on those high leverage activities or meetings or opportunities that really drive the results, so that we can have a life and a business, because I've seen so many business owners burn out when they bought into the hustle fallacy. They're working 70, 80 hours a week, and there's so many people out there, so many business gurus that are out there teaching that, and what they don't see is when people have a health crisis or they blow out their most important relationships, they go through a crisis in their marriage or their kids aren't talking to them any more.

And I just think none of that has to happen. I'm after what I call the double win where you can win at work and succeed at life, so that “and” is very important. But that does require that we think about work differently and set as a goal, I think, that we're going to achieve more by actually doing less and focusing on the things that really matter and letting the rest go.

Yeah. And the other thing I love particularly about this, and you, generally, in terms of how you put yourself across on your message, is that balance, is that it's not just about all your focus is on work, all your focus is on building a business, all your focus is that… It's the fact that you talk about your wife and your children and your grandchildren, and you take a long holiday, you take a sabbatical, don't you, every year.

I do.

And how long are you away for, when you do that?

30 days, every year. I've done that since the very first year I started, because, part of that, Teresa, was because I didn't want to build a business that was so dependent upon me that it couldn't run without me.


And I've often thought that if the business can't run without me, I'm really not an owner, I'm just an operator and basically I have a job, and I'm probably working for the most onerous, most intense, most demanding boss I've ever worked for, and that's… That's me.

Yeah. Honestly. And like you said, that's the thing. We set up these businesses, and one of the first books or one of books I read very early on which really helped me shift a bit with this, I owe you big because I think you have to have lots of impact and different things, was the E-Myth Revisited. Is that-

Oh, I love that.


Yeah. Michael Gerber.

Yeah. And he talks about the fact of, we are basically just setting up our businesses to have a job, and if we're not in it, it doesn't exist. So, how do we set up the business, exactly what you said, in order to then come out of the business?

The other thing that you talk about, which I think is amazing in terms of this balance, because like you said, the hustle culture, and especially when you look at some of the more guru-esque type of people around social media, you just have to look at someone like Gary Vaynerchuk, and it's all hustle and it's working super hard and it's doing this and working these long days, and like you said, you've come completely away. And the other thing that I love is that you talk about taking time off, and I wasn't very good at that, and I love the fact of how you schedule that in as important as you schedule other stuff in.

Yeah. I really do and I talk about this, as you know, in Chapter 3 of the book, on rejuvenation. And all the science suggests that we are made to take breaks. Our life should consist of a rhythm, a rhythm between work and rest. Sometimes people say, “Well, if you could give me one tip so that I can be more productive and more focused, what would it be?” And I say, “Get a good night's sleep. There is nothing more foundational, nothing more fundamental to your productivity, to your focus, to driving the results you want in your business, than being well rested.”

You think, like late at night, maybe you're trying to write some copy for a website, or you're working on some other project, and it just feels like you're trying to run through a swimming pool. You can't get any momentum, all this resistance against you. Get a good night's sleep. Next morning, knock it out in 15 minutes. That's the difference between a well-rested mind and one that's not rested. So, we've got to take care of ourselves if we're going be our most productive selves.

And again, I love it because it's like you're stripping it right back. You're not sat there going, “Oh, here's a good hack. Do this particular thing, download this app, do this whatever.” You're literally saying, “Don't try and cheat this. You can't cheat. The amount of hours you have in a day or how productive you can be in a day, so let's go with it and work with it.”

The other thing that I absolutely love you talking about, and when I read it I was like, “Thank you for giving me permission,” is that you take naps. Now, I love a nap, and I used to be like, I couldn't tell anybody that I would have a nap, because I'd just be like, “What would they think of me? How lazy is this girl having a nap halfway through the day?” or whatever. But you talk about how positive it is.

Yeah. Totally. I've been taking naps, literally, since I was at university. And, it's not long. I take like 20 minutes is all I ever take, and the reason I do that is because I found that after lunch I'm usually a little bit groggy and unproductive. And I read the lives of famous people like Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, and the list could go on and on and on. Douglas MacArthur and others. They were all nappers. And Winston Churchill, in fact, said that it was a way that he got basically two days out of one because he was refreshed like it was at the beginning of the day in the second half of the day after he took a nap.

And get this. This is just a new study that I posted for my team, but taking a nap can cut your risk of heart attack in half. Even if you only do it two or three times a week.

That is amazing.

Isn't that crazy?

That is the best thing I've heard all week. You know what I mean? Because it's brilliant. Keep taking those naps. That's perfect. But, you're right, I think sometimes… And do you think this is because of an employee culture where you think you have to be at work for 9:00 and you have to finish at 5:00, and therefore you have to sit in that role all day without bringing up your time or taking it other than the normal breaks, and you feel like you have to be productive that entire day, and therefore, when I came out of my business, I felt like, if I wasn't sat at my desk between 9:00 and 5:00, I was not doing it properly, or I wasn't properly working, or whatever.

But it's completely wrong, because you talk about energy and it's more about how you manage your energy rather than the time, isn't it?

Totally. Yeah. I used to think when I first started studying productivity, and I was one of those guys that even in college I had a day planner and I scheduled everything out, and I was just a geek like that, but I used to think everything was about time management. If you want to be productive you've got to manage your time, and that was drilled into me as an employee and as a young executive. Then I just woke up one day and I said, “You know what? It's not about time management at all. It's about energy management.”

And so, if you can manage your energy, I mean, again, just to use my illustration a moment ago, when you're energetic first thing in the morning, if you happen to be a morning person, and not everybody is, but if you are, and you're a morning person, I mean, you're just going to cut through all the activity and get stuff done and you're checking stuff off the list and making progress. But when you're not energetic like that, then it's really a slog in order to get through things. So, it is about energy management which takes us back to, again, sleep, but also nutrition.

You know, certain kinds of foods, I've noticed this as an entrepreneur. I've got to be a steward of me, I'm the most important… I hate to say this, this sounds arrogant, I'm the most important asset my company has.

Yeah. Of course. We all are. Yeah.

We are. And if we don't take care of ourselves and manage the energy of that asset, we're going to be in trouble. So, nutrition is important. And I noticed that certain kind of foods energise me, other kind of foods slow me down, give me foggy thinking. I just don't do as well. Exercise. I mean, we know from the science that if you were to draw your blood after exercise, the chemical composition of your blood, the hormones that are released and circulating in your system, are different after you exercise.

So, we've got to be intelligent about this. We've got to be proactive, we've got to be intentional if we're going to manage our energy. Again, so we can achieve big things, and let me just give you one example, and not to brag, but I think it illustrates it.

So, my business grew 62% last year. Our company's been on the Inc. 5000, Inc. Magazine 500, listed the fastest growing privately held companies in the U.S. for the last three years in a row. But last year I took 162 days off, so that included every weekend and it included 11 weeks of vacation, the equivalent of 11 weeks of vacation. So it is possible to achieve more by doing less, as long as you maintain your energy.

You are the perfect example of practise what you preach, because, like you said, look how much time you had off. And it's almost… We got to a point, I think, especially in an employed status, where it was almost like a bragging right of how many hours we worked, or how many days you didn't take off, or how many emails you worked on a weekend, and it's not right, is it? We shouldn't be proud of the fact that we're having to work 12, 15 hour days.

Well, this is an interesting concept. It comes from the world of psychology, but it's the world of secondary gain. That's the term. The idea is, primary gain, you think, “Okay, I'm working because I need to make money or I need to service my clients,” or whatever there… But sometimes there's this secondary gain that comes from overworking and maybe it gives us a sense of significance, gives us a sense of importance. You know, I mean, “Gee, look how busy I am. I must be important if I'm this busy.” And so you hear people complaining about it, and it sounds like a complaint, but I really think it's bragging disguised as a complaint. That make sense?

Yeah. Totally. And you know what's really interesting? So, I just said I was up in Newcastle because I went to an event, and of course when you go to these events we see lots of people that we know, and of course the first question everybody asks is, “How's things?” And pretty much every answer I ever give and everyone else ever gives, is, “Yeah, good. Really busy. Good.” And it's like, imagine how it would be if I went up as like, “Great. I had like three days off this week.” Because of how we're brainwashed, people would literally be like, “Oh, so the business not doing very well, then.” Whereas actually I would love to be able to go, “Yeah, I only worked part-time this week. It's awesome.” It would just be so good.

Well, I was thinking, we ought to start a movement where the amount of time that you take off… And again, assuming you're getting the business results, right? But the amount of time you take off is like the new status symbol.

Yeah. Yeah. That I would manage to-

Then you know it's cool.

… totally, that, you know, “I'm now only working three days a week.” I wouldn't, like, I mean, that would just be lovely, wouldn't it? Well [crosstalk 00:24:52]

It would be.

You do it. This is the thing. You manage to take this time. The thing I want to quickly mention before we move on, because you have these three great steps that you talk about in your book, but the thing I want to mention is the fact that, when you talk about blocking your time off, as in not just a holiday time but weekend time, so, you say that you take two full days off for sure a week, and obviously yours happens on the weekend. I think most people's are generally the weekend, and depending on also their type of business.


But not only is it that you don't work, but, and this is interesting because this wasn't something I did, you don't listen to audio books. You don't read stuff. You don't write about work. You try not to think about work. And again, I wasn't doing that.

I would have a day off but I would get up and I'd listen to a podcast, and then I would always have my notebook with me and then my husband and I would go and sit in a country pub somewhere, lovely, in England, and we'd be sat there with a glass of wine, and I'd be like, “All right. So let's do this, and we could do this, and let's change that, and, oh, I need to think about doing this, and…” You know? And it's always there. I never feel like I get that break, and I love the fact that you say, “No, nothing. Not doing it.”

Yeah. I basically have four rules about my time off, and I call it off-stage time, but I have four rules. I'm not going to think about work to the best of my ability, and I'll tell you how I do that in a minute. I don't talk about work. I don't read or listen to podcasts about work. And I don't do any work. Now, obviously, I didn't do that my entire career because I spent a lot of time like a lot of people do where I drag work into vacations. I was dragging work home. And in fact, I would say, that for the first half of my career, my day looked like I was working 15-hour days, 12-hour days.

So I would work, I'd come home, I'd grab a quick meal with the kids, and then I'd plop my laptop, put it on my lap and start working in the recliner after work, and I'd work till 10:30, 11:00 o'clock at night, and then do it all the next day. And if I didn't get finished with my work during the week, I'd drag it into the weekend. So I'd go into the office on Saturday morning, maybe Sunday afternoon.

But, this is where I think we have to understand the power of constraints. And so, sometimes we think that the true freedom exists apart from constraint, but I would argue that constraints give us that freedom. If you think for a moment about the Friday at work, before you go on a one-week holiday. How productive are you? I mean, you're massively productive.

Yeah. Huge.

Right? Because you get like a week's worth of stuff done on that one day.


So, my executive coach challenged me, back in the year 2000, he said, “Look,” and this was after I had a big health crisis, I was working all the time, and he said, “Something's got to change.” So, he said, “I want to encourage you to set three boundaries.” And I did. And so the first boundary was, “I'm going to leave the office at 6:00 p.m. from work to go home, and I'm not going to work again until the next day.” So, leave work at 6:00 p.m. Second thing is, don't work on the weekends. And the third thing is, don't work on the vacations.

So then what happens, or on my holidays… And then the thing that happened to me is that, in the afternoon, when I might be tempted today, that we didn't have it back then, but today, I might be tempted to peruse Facebook or just mindlessly spend time on Twitter or whatever. Today I'm like, “… I don't have time for that. I've got to get stuff done because 6:00 o'clock is coming up,” and even in the office I'm standing in now, I have automated lighting, so the lights turn off and the computer shuts down at 6:00 p.m. So, bad things happen at 6:00 p.m. if I'm not done. And that's really helped me.

Yeah. And that's amazing. But there'd be so many people sat there and this is where the book comes in, that are going, “Yeah, but I'd love to do that. However, I've got this and this and this and this and this,” and they can list you three million things that they have to do, and therefore they just haven't got time to stop at 6:00. So, let's talk about those three steps that you look at in order to try and start to control this.

Okay. So, the book's organised around these three steps, and the first step is called Stop. And this sounds crazy because when you're talking about a book on productivity you want to think Go, let's make something happen. But I say, “No.” It's time to get off the hamster wheel to stop and to really evaluate and say, “Where is this productivity thing going?” Ask ourself the hard questions. Has this smartphone, for example, made me more productive or is it just consuming more of my time? Are all these productivity hacks giving me the life that I want?

And so what I argue in Chapter 1 is that we need to formulate a productivity vision, a clear vision of the kind of life that we want. And I argue in that chapter that I think what most entrepreneurs and business owners are after is freedom. That's why they wanted to stop working for the man, or the woman, why they wanted to leave the big, bad corporation and start their own thing, because they were tired of being told what to do. They were tired of working all the time. They wanted freedom. And yet their entrepreneurial dream has turned into an entrepreneurial nightmare where they're working nonstop.

So I talk about four different kinds of freedom there. First of all, the freedom to really focus, and I think, Teresa, this is a superpower in the 21st century. Everybody is so distracted. Nobody can focus on anything for more than a minute or two, but if you develop the ability to do deep work, to solve complex problems, to create amazing solutions and to really be an innovator, that's going to give you an edge on the competition. So, the freedom to focus is key.


The freedom to be fully present so that, when I'm at dinner with my wife Gail, I'm not thinking about something at work. I can be fully present with her and engaged with her. I've been married for 41 years, and I'm happily married, but that doesn't happen by accident. And at the same time, I want to be fully present at work. So when I'm at a meeting, like this morning I was recording three podcast episodes, I don't want to be thinking about home because one of the kids are out of control or I had a fight with my wife or whatever, but I want to be fully present with the people I'm with.

The third freedom is the freedom to be spontaneous. So, if the kids drop by, my grandkids drop by, I can stop what I'm doing, I'm no so over-programmed, but I can be spontaneous.


Finally, my favourite. The freedom to do nothing at all. I learned this from the Italians. Gail and I were there over there for 30 days two years ago, and they have a phrase, [foreign language 00:31:24], which means the sweetness of doing nothing.

Love it.

And it's a great cultural tradition. And so, just the freedom just to kind of hang, do nothing. Sometimes that's where the biggest breakthrough ideas come, and sometimes that's where the most meaningful conversations with the people we love happen. So, I'm after that freedom.

Mm. And I think you're right. It's interesting when you start your own business. I have to say, I never intended on starting my own business. This was a very happy accident that I fell into it. But one of the reasons where most people will, and one of the big advantages that is portrayed as having your own business is, you are the boss, you're in control, you get to choose. And Amy, I know your good friends they're the Porterfields, and Amy Porterfield sums up perfectly where she said that she did this and she went from having one boss to having like 18, because she got these clients on, and it just felt exactly the same.

And obviously that's what inspired her to then move over to the online space and do her online business. Because, like you said, when we have our own businesses, that's the whole point. The whole point is, tomorrow afternoon my daughter is having a… My daughter's nine and she has a meet-the-tutors afternoon where we can go and see her teacher, and I can go to that, and I don't have to ask a boss and I don't have to feel bad by taking time. And when she does a play or if there's a sports day, or… You know, I can do those things because that's what this is about, isn't it?


That's why we do what we do and we run our businesses.

Well, I know one of the concepts you're familiar with from the book. This is why I think the Freedom Compass is so important, too.


In Chapter 2, that same section of let's stop and evaluate, is to evaluate on the task we're doing. So I encourage people just to look over the last couple of weeks, write down every task, every meeting they ever went to, and then evaluate it based on two criteria. Whether you were passionate about that task and whether you were proficient at it. In other words, not all tasks are created equal. There's some things that we're just… almost like we're wired, we are created to do, and it's a place where we're going to have our greatest satisfaction and make our greatest contribution.

And so, I have a 2×2 matrix. And so, four quadrants, and it has two axes, one is passion, one is proficiency. So the place where you've got the most passion, the things that light you up, give you the most joy, and the things you love to do, the things where you're the most proficient, the things you're really good at and skilled, and more importantly, drive the business results, where those two things come together I call it your desire zone. That's your sweet spot. That's where you ought to spending, especially as an entrepreneur, the bulk of your activity.

If you want to scale in a sustainable way and create a business and a life that you love, that's where you need to be spending the bulk of your time. The opposite of that, and this is where so many of us get caught up and I've been there myself, is what I call the drudgery zone where you have no passion and you have no proficiency, and yet you keep doing these things. So, for me, it's going to be different for everybody. It will be different for you, Teresa, than it is for me. But for me, for example, processing my email, managing my calendar, booking my own travel, filing expense reports, all that stuff's in my drudgery zone.

So, if I want to really be able to achieve more by doing less, I've either got to eliminate, automate, or delegate the items in my drudgery zone, and there's two other zones that are important too that I talk about in the book. That will give you the idea, more time in the desire zone, less time in the drudgery zone, that's what's going to give you that freedom to actually achieve your vision.

And I think what's interesting is the desire zone, for one, like you said, that's the stuff you love doing, so it doesn't feel like work, your mindset is completely different at that point. So, if you've had a whole day doing the things that you love to do, you don't finish that day like, “Ugh.” You do finish that day like, “Yeah, that was an amazing day.” And also, the stuff in my drudgery zone is things like accounts. I hate doing accounts. I hate doing anything like that, and therefore, like you said, I take for ever. My energy about it and everything's very negative and it's just not best place for me to do. I'm not the best person to do it.

And it's interesting where the stuff that, for me, anyway, my business, I think probably most people, the stuff that you really love to do is the stuff that probably you need to be doing. I've just launched an online membership about a month-and-a-half ago and I did my first ever coaching call in the membership, and having never… I've been in lots of memberships, I've helped to launch lots of memberships, having never done one myself, I was like, “Okay. Let's see how this goes. I think I'm going to really like it.” And I was a bit tired of… It was an evening one, because I have quite a few people in the States, and I was a bit apprehensive beforehand, like, “Ah, can I do this? Is this right for me?” And I got on that call and honestly, Michael, I was like, fired up.

Oh, wow.

I [inaudible 00:36:20] off it. And I was like, “I could do that all day, every day.” And I promise, I would never get bored and I'd never get tired. And it's like, “So that's the stuff I should be doing.” And that's the stuff that, it's going to move me and the business forward because I'm going to help my audience and then they, in turn, are going to go, “That was brilliant, and Teresa's brilliant,” and come into the membership and that sort of thing. So, look, it's interesting.

You're totally right.

Because it's the stuff that you normally love doing. And suddenly it doesn't feel like work. It doesn't feel like I'm having to do these tasks that are horrible and I hate. And actually, as an entrepreneur, do you not find that, especially when they're starting, that they're very nervous to give anything away or they feel like they have to do everything, where, actually, in… that you talk about this in terms of their time and how much time they're spending on that. It's way more economical to get someone else, who that is-

It is. [crosstalk 00:37:10] Yeah, this is the reason people won't hire or won't delegate. They say, “Well, yeah, I'd love to get rid of that stuff, but who am I going to give it to?” And so, you say, “Well, you need to hire somebody to do it.” And so, I found that entrepreneurs typically have one of three responses. The first thing they often say is, “Well, if I want it done right, I have to do it myself.”


Right? Or they say, “It takes longer to explain how to do it, I might as well do it myself.” Or they say, “I can't afford it. I guess I'll have to do it myself.” As long as the answer to that problem is “myself,” you cannot scale your business because your business is going to hit a lid, it's going to hit the ceiling when you reach your capacity, and your capacity is 168 hours a week, and you've got to sleep some of that time, you've got to eat some of that time. There's some other things you've got to do, so it creates a lid on your business.

So, what happened for me was that I was doing all those drudgery zone activities but then I realised that I could hire a virtual executive assistant for five hours a week. Now, I wasn't really bringing that much money in initially and I thought, “But if I share some of that money that I have, it's going to be less for me and for my family to live on.” But I thought, “If I can hire somebody to do what I've been doing for…” and I don't know, you'll have to translate the currency to British pounds, but, in the States, if I could hire somebody for $20 an hour, and I can bill at $100 or $150 an hour, that's stupid for me to pay myself $100 to $150 an hour to do something I can hire out for $20 an hour.

So, I got convinced on the math, and then I said, “I'm going to hire a virtual executive assistant for five hours a week.” That lasted two weeks. And then I said, “This is unbelievable. Now I'm going to go to 10 hours a week,” and that was a couple more weeks. And then I went to 20 hours a week, and then eventually it's full-time because it allowed me to do, just like you were talking about with your membership, it allowed me to acquire more clients, more people that were going to help pay the bills, and my income went up. And for the first several people that I hired, I would say through the first ten, every time I hired somebody, my income went up because it freed me up to do more of what was in my desire zone. Does that make sense?

Absolute makes sense. And you know what I also find really interesting, is when I pull on my first team member, and it was a virtual assistant, and she said to me, “Right, we're going to do…” I think it was like 15 hours a month. And I thought, “What can you actually do in 15 hours a month? That is not a lot of time.” Oh, boy, what they can do in what seems like a very short amount of time, because that's in their desire zone, [crosstalk 00:39:48] so when you think you've got to do something and it's like, “That might take me an hour,” the chances are, because that's what they love and that's what they're good at, it takes them half the time.

So, actually, the stuff that she was able to take up, it wasn't like I had her for 15 hours a month, I got back 15 hours a month? Not at all. I got back way more time than that, because of the fact that she just managed to do things so much more efficiently than I did. And also, and I don't know whether you were like this, but, you'd have that thing on your to-do list for ever, and every time you looked at it, you'd see it and it would take up that bit of time when you'd think, “Oh, yeah, I really must do that.” And that mental space and whatever, and actually just going, “Can you do that?” Is just perfect.

Yeah. It really is. And as a natural segue to the second part of the book is about cutting. And so, it starts with elimination. Once you get clear on your Freedom Compass and you know what should be in your desire zone and everything that falls outside of that, that becomes a candidate to get rid of. And so, the first step, the first strategy, is to eliminate it, because we don't want to automate something that shouldn't be done in the first place, and we definitely don't want to delegate something that shouldn't be done in the first place, so we have to start with asking ourself the question, “Does everything that I've done over the last two weeks, does that really have to be done on a go-forward basis?”

In other words, is every meeting that was once important, still important? Is every task that I think is important or if somebody else thought it was important, is it really important in view of the vision that I'm trying to achieve with my life and my work? And so I think this is where we have to get really, really good at saying, “No.” Now, I'm a recovering people pleaser, so it's hard for me to say no. I hate to disappoint people. I hate to miss out on opportunities. I'm very conflict-avoidance, so I don't like to say no.

But, and this is what helped me, is I realised that with every no, there's a trade-off. There's a yes. So when I say no to something, I'm say yes to something more important. So, if you were to fly international again and you say, “Hey, Michael, can we have coffee one morning, or have breakfast one morning?” I would tell you no, and I would tell you no because I want to say yes to my workout because what I'm really yes to is living as long and healthy a life as I can to be here for my family.

So that happens every day, by making that decision, to honour my commitment to my workout. So it's easier for me to say no when I get focused on the yes that I'm saying yes to, or the person I'm saying yes to.

And I don't think we think about that, do we? We don't think about, in making all these commitments and saying we'll do all these things, that actually, by saying yes to that we're saying then no to something else. So-

That's it.

… I was having to do some work at the weekend because I had suggested something, and that meant I was saying no without even thinking about it to my daughter, who was like, “Right, for those few hours, you're going to have to entertain yourself or watch a film or play on your iPad,” or whatever it was, because of the fact that I had committed to do something, and like you said, and I'm a people pleaser as well, I hate saying no. But actually the other thing that was so good about the compasses that when you decided what is important to you, you can then shift out anything else that isn't.

That's right.

So you can really clearly… When someone comes to you and says, “Oh, could you do this? Or would you want to do this?” You go, “Do you know what? Actually, my areas of focus and where I'm really focusing is here, and that just doesn't kind of fall into that.” For me, it gives me that confidence, that kind of, “I'm happy to but unfortunately my goal is over here, and I've really got to focus on that.”

See? Teresa, that's the power of clarity. When you have clarity about how you're wired and what you were created to do, then all of a sudden it's easier to say no. Now I do have a hack in that chapter that I want to share, and it's the Yes-No-Yes formula.

Yes. Yes.

Okay. So, this really helped me. I don't like to say no, so here's what I do, and I learned this, I want to give credit where credit is due. I learned this from Doctor William Ury in his book The Power of a Positive No. So, if you're struggling with this I really recommend that book because it goes into depth in what I want to share here in about 60 seconds.

So, you begin, somebody gives you a request, you know you don't want to say yes to it, but you start with a yes or with an affirmation. So, affirming them in the request, affirming the relationship. So, here's how it might look. Because I came out of the world of book publishing, I get a lot of requests from people who want me to evaluate or to review their book proposal before they send it off to a publisher or an agent for consideration. So here's what I would say. I would say, “Hey, thanks so much for thinking of me. Congratulations, first of all, because very few aspiring authors ever get this far. You've completed a book proposal. Good for you.” So, that's an affirmation. I've said yes to them, and I said yes to the work they've done, so that's kind of a feel-good thing.


Now, I want to pivot, and I want to pivot to in a very direct, unambiguous no. Here's what I don't want to say. I don't want to say, “You know, it's kind of a busy time right now. Could you check back with me in a month?” Because what will they do? They'll check back within a month [crosstalk 00:45:08]

And then you've still got to go no.

… and you've still got to give them a no. You're right back where you started. So here's what I say, and these words are almost magical, but here's what I say. I say, “In order to be faithful to my other commitments, I'm afraid I have to say no to your request.” So, “In order to be faithful to my other commitments.” So what that tells them is I, like them, I live in the world of other commitments. I made a lot of other commitments. But I'm a person of integrity, I'm a person of honour, and I want to honour those commitments, and I just can't keep taking on commitments and be faithful to my other commitments. At some point the whole thing breaks down.

So, I've never, ever, had anybody say to me, “You know, like, well, you're a jerk, or that's kind of rude,” or whatever. People get that. What I also don't do, Teresa, is in that no part of the Yes-No-Yes formula, I don't go into a long explanation of what my commitment is. Sometimes we feel the need to rationalise or justify ourself, and we say, “You know, well, gosh, it's just… you know, it's a busy season in my job and I've got this going on, I made that commitment, I'm going to this thing.” But I don't say any of that. I just say, “To honour my other commitments, I'm afraid I have to say no.”

Then I leave it with a yes, so then I pivot again, and I might say something, if I can point them to some helpful resources that I have, and in my case I do have some things on publishing, I'll put into a blog post or a podcast, or maybe somebody else's resources, or maybe just affirm him and say, “Hey, this really does sound like an exciting project. I wish I could be involved, but best of luck in getting it published.” But leave them with something positive.


The thing I love about this is, sometimes when we have to say no, and if we're a people pleaser like we are, like we both admitted to, is that we procrastinate. We don't respond to that email. It languishes in our inbox. Then the other person really does get frustrated with us.


And I've had people write back to me and said, “Thank you so much for saying no. I can handle no. What I can't handle is somebody not responding to me. So thank you for getting back to me.”

You're right. And actually that's half the battle, is this, the fact of… You know what it's like yourself, when you put something out there to the world because you want something or you're asking for something or whatever and you don't hear, it's like, “Oh, where… What do I do with that now?” Or it's like you said, you're going back and you're saying no, but you're doing it quickly, which… I'm exactly the same, it would literally sit there while I think and think, and then I would probably do what you said. I'd probably go, “I'm really busy at the moment. Check back with me in six months,” or whatever, or, you know.


And I know what will happen. I don't want to do it. And funny enough, Brené Brown, in one of her books, she talked about this, and she was asked to speak at an event and she didn't want to, and instead of saying no, she felt that she had to say yes, and she did, and it was a disaster, and she hated it. And the whole thing was all about the fact of, “I just should have said no. I didn't want to do it. I had a good reason why I didn't want to do it, but I was too scared to say no.” And it proved the point by doing it because she ended up having to share this room with this not very nice person, and the event wasn't very good, and… Yeah, it was just a perfect kind of, “Really, we should say no.”

But like you said, the other thing is, if we're saying yes to that, you're saying no to getting home on time to have dinner with your wife, or seeing your grandchildren at the weekend, and actually, if you know where your priorities are of you've chosen where your priorities are, then you can focus on that.

So, that's step number two that we talked about, but that… Oh, sorry, just one more thing that's come to my head, actually, which is a great hack that you gave in the book, because you do, as well as talking about the real basics of these things, you also give some great productivity hacks, and one of them was that you save emails as, almost like templates, and I thought, and this is just, “Oh, this is a good idea. Yeah. I think I've seen this before.” But then you go on to say that you save them as email signatures, and that was just like, boom. And that's amazing.

Yeah. This gets into Chapter 5 of the book on automation. So, eliminate or automate, and then delegate, but this is automation. So this takes that Yes-No-Yes and, as we would say in the States, biggie sizes it, and what I do is, I realised probably about 15 years ago that I was responding to the same type of request over and over again. Like people would ask me, could I serve on their board of directors? Would I give to this charitable cause? Would I review their book proposal? Could they have coffee with me and pick my brain? So it was a finite number of requests that were continuously coming into my inbox.

So I thought, “Hm, what if, instead of responding to each one of these, and it takes five or 10 minutes for each one, what if the next time I get that request, I'm going to respond in a way that's thoughtful, in a way that's helpful, but in a way that fits this formula, and then I'm going to save it as an email signature and I'm going to title it whatever the request is.” So, I would title like, “Request to have coffee.” So, we think of an email signature, for example, as the thing that has our signature block, you know, our name, our address, our phone number, contact information, but you can actually save anything you want with most email clients, including paragraphs of information.

So what this did for me was, it radically reduced the amount of time it took me to process email, because when somebody asked me, could they have coffee and pick my brain, I would just pull down that email signature, bam, I've got the template in the email response, I would personalise it a little bit, warm it up on the front end and on the back end, send it off its way, I mean, like 10 seconds. Totally different thing.

Perfect. And it's funny, until we step back and look at it, the amount of things that we repeat. We get this with podcast requests, that people want to come on as guests. And again, I used to do the terrible thing like, “Oh, we don't have any slots right now,” but of course I'd just be putting them off instead of just being totally honest and going, “Do you know what? You're not the right fit.” It's, for whatever reason, it was a no. I just wouldn't say no. And now we have templates where we have a yes, obviously, if we want them on. We have a maybe, if actually they could be good but right now, we are, because obviously we batch content, and then we have a no.

So, literally, the responses will come in and it comes into me and one of my assistants, and we, I will literally ping her an email saying Yes-No-Maybe, and then she gets back to them. And like I said, it just speeds the whole process up because we know, we've got this template in place so we can just chuck that email back. So, that's awesome.

You also have to go through the angst of saying no every time.

Yeah. No, you're right. [crosstalk 00:51:41] Because it takes that away, doesn't it?

Yeah. It does.

And you don't have to feel that, like, “I'm writing this email again saying no,” because it's like pick that email, send it on. So, we get to the last of that act set. So talk us around that bit.

Yeah. I talk about a couple of concepts here, and let me drill down on one. So I talk about the concept of an ideal week, so, how would you organise your time if you were 100% in control of it? And, oh, by the way, if you're a business owner or an entrepreneur, you may not feel like you're 100% in control, but you are. Nobody's holding a gun to your head and telling you what you have to do. And so, to batch activities. For example, one of the things I realised is that I was a whole lot more productive if I had all my meetings, all my internal meetings with staff and so forth, on Mondays and I did all my external meetings, you know, when people fly into town or local people that want to have lunch or coffee with me or whatever, I do that on Friday, so that gives me those three days right in the middle to be my most productive, work on my desires on stuff that really is going to move the needle on my business.

So, the ideal week's one concept. But, if you don't mind, let me just talk about this idea of designing your day.

Yeah. Great.

Okay. So, we have a system called the 3×3 system, and it's basically, you're going to have three goals for the quarter, and I talk about this in another book, the book I wrote before this called Your Best Year Ever. Seven to 10 goals for the year, two to three goals for the quarter, and we limit it to three goals and I'm not going to take the time to get into the rationale for that, but it's critically important that you don't attempt too many goals because when you have your focus dispersed over too many goals, the likelihood of you achieving any one of them is dramatically reduced. So we say, two to three goals, meaningful goals, per quarter.

Then, three outcomes per week. We call this the weekly big three. So, there's a gazillion things that you could do during the week, but what are the three that if you could only pick three, that would really drive the results forward on your business this week, what would those be? And then, here's the big idea. Now this is going to sound deceptively simple to most people that hear it for the first time, so I'm just going to ask those of you listening to suspend disbelief for just a minute, let me explain it.

So, the idea is the daily big three. You're going to identify three and only three tasks as your daily big three. They have to be related to one of your goals, or they have to be related to an important project, but three important tasks for the day. Now, what we found based on a research when I was writing the book, we found that the average person has 15 tasks on their to-do list. Here's the psychology that that creates. They get up in the morning, they know they don't have a chance of achieving those 15 things, so they feel overwhelmed. Even if they accomplish eight of those, and they have seven left undone, they go to bed feeling defeated because they had so much undone. So, this is where we have to stop the madness and we have to say, “Let's create a game that we can win.”


So, what we say, and the Pareto principle, Pareto principle, the Italian economist, said that 20% of the effort creates 80% of the results. So, 20% of 15 is magically three. So, what are the three most important tasks out of those 15 that are going to drive the results and we're going to declare victory when we've achieved those three. My clients, I have an extensive coaching programme with about 450 coaching clients, they say this is the single biggest thing that has driven their business results forward. Doesn't happen the first day, don't happen the second day, but you do that day in and day out, that's 15 significant tasks a week. That's 60 a month. If you work 250 weeks a year, that's 750 per year. That will make a huge difference in your business.

Yeah. Massive. And I love that. There are days where I can manage that and days where I fail dismally, but I think it is one of these things that you have to work at doing. It's not like suddenly tomorrow I'm just brilliant at it. But what I find is, one, like you said, the overwhelm is not there because you're like, “If I just need to achieve three things, I need to do these.” The three most important things are normally the things that move the needle for the business, or a real key part of the business that you might think, “Oh, well, I'll get these other bits done, they're smaller and easier.” And then actually you spend the whole day doing absolutely nothing or not achieving anything.

And then, the other thing I find is I tell myself all the time, “Oh, this is going to take hours.” And then you do it, and it doesn't.


Like, if you literally think… and it's on your list, “Oh, that's a big thing and that's an important thing, and it's probably… I'm going to have block out a whole half-a-day,” or whatever. And the truth of the matter is, if you literally just focus on that and nothing else, it actually doesn't take that long. It takes way less time than I ever think it's going to take. So-

I've got to tell you a funny story about that. In one of my coaching sessions, we do these coaching intensives in Nashville where people come in and meet with me for a full day in groups of about 50, and so, one of the things that we always do at the end of every session is, we have them identify their three goals for the next quarter. Then we have them just brainstorm for a few minutes. We give them five minutes to brainstorm next steps, like what would move the ball down the field on each one of those goals? It might be a phone call, maybe a text message, maybe scheduling a meeting, or it could be doing a little research, ordering a book off Amazon, or whatever.

Then we give them 10 minutes to knock out as many of those next steps. Now, these are all related to their goals, so they're important. And then we create a contest. So we had one person, this was I think about six months ago, we had one person who completed 19 separate steps in 10 minutes.

10 minutes. Wow.

Just your point. And people are always jazzed because they feel momentum, but the thing feels big and hairy and difficult until they start.


And sometimes that's all it takes.

Yeah. For sure. Absolutely. Once you get going and you start it's just like done. So, I want to ask questions to finish, which is purely a personal interesting question for me. I joke and I'm half serious that I'm a terrible writer. I love speaking, I love being on stage, I love doing the podcast. I was told as a child for ever I talked too much, and now that seems to have really helped me, which is awesome. But I couldn't imagine writing, because you've got… How many books have you got now in total?

Nine in total. Yeah.

You've got another one due out soon-ish, haven't you? It's on [crosstalk 00:58:09] pre-order.

Yeah. So, the book that's coming out this next month is on hiring a world-class assistant.


And so, my next book is on vision, being a Vision-Driven Leader. That's coming out next spring in 2020. So I do about a book or two a year.

That, for me, it sounds like the biggest and scariest goal ever. Do you enjoy writing? Was that always your thing? Do you find it very easy, or do you have to be really strict with yourself?

Okay. I'm going to tell you a couple of things, and let's just pretend that it's you and me and there's not-

No one else.

… thousands, tens of thousands of people listening. So, first of all, it's an acquired taste. I sometimes say to people, “You know, the first time you taste beer you think, ‘Ugh, this is horrible. Why would anybody drink this?' And then you can acquire a taste for it.” I don't personally like beer, but a lot of people do. So, I think writing is one of those things that if you look at the Freedom Compass, it's in the development zone. So, initially I didn't have any passion, I didn't have any proficiency, but I sensed that it was probably going to be important for my business so I just started doing a little bit of it each day.

Now I actually love it and I think I'm pretty good at it. So I write every day. I try to write 500 words every day, but that's through a lot of practise. So I think journaling can be a way to get there. Just write something down, don't feel like it has to be perfect. Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination, so don't make perfect the standard. But here's the hack that I want to give to you, Teresa, and this is the secret part.


So, for the first seven books, I wrote every word. And then my life and my world changed, and so now what I teach, and I teach my clients this concept too and it works in a lot of areas but it especially works in writing, I call it a 10-80-10 rule, and that is, you're going to be involved in the first 10% and the last 10%, but somebody else is going to do the heavy lifting of the 80% in the middle. So this is how I do it now. When I do a book I get together with my team, we brainstorm it. It's my content. I've come up with the frameworks and all the rest. In your case, you could give people podcast transcripts, you could just sit down and do what you do best which is talk.

Talk. Yeah.

Then the writer, you're going to hire somebody that's a writer. They're going to take furious notes. They're going to interview you. They're going to pull it out of your head, and then they're going to put together a first draught, and I usually do this a couple of chapters at a time, and then I get a chance to review it. That's the last 10%. And so they can study how to get it in your voice so that it sounds just like you. And so, there used to be company, let me just… hang on, let me look at this up, but it's a book in a box-


… and this is a phenomenal service, that's what it used to be called but it has a brand new name now, and I think it will redirect me. No, it doesn't. We can look it up and put this on [crosstalk 01:01:03]

Yeah. We will. We'll add it to the show notes. Yeah.

But this is a service, basically, that does this. It will interview you, and then give you the first draught. I've had tonnes of clients go to them and end up with a phenomenal product. So, think of it this way. You're the architect, but you don't have to be the builder.


You create the blueprints, but you're not the one who has to drive the nails, put up the sheetrock, do the electrical and the plumbing. Somebody else can do that. And that's what I do today. So I've got a content team that manages that middle 80% and that's why I am able to be so productive with my writing.

And that is amazing, because, I think, there's so many people like that. And I know for me, because I speak a lot, I get such lovely feedback and good feedback about my content and my knowledge, but the thought of sitting down with a-

That's scary.

… blank sheet of paper, oh, my word, literally, would terrify me to death. Whereas, like you said, someone interview me, I could talk all day, all night. I can tell you everything, but the thought of trying to get that on paper would be really hard, so I love that. That is a great, great hack.

Well, I'm going to look forward to reading your next… or maybe your first book. You can totally do this.

Oh, no. I love that, honestly. I really, really do, that is brilliant. Michael, thank you so, so much. You have been such a phenomenal guest. I'm so very honoured to have you on. I know my audience are going to love it. If they haven't read any of your books, and especially Free To Focus, they definitely have to read it. The other thing I highly recommend is, I do or I listen to lots of books, Audible, and you are very good at reading your book, and-

Well, thank you.

… honestly you're brilliant and it makes a huge difference. There's been some books where, either the author's read it and they're not great, or they've had someone else read it and it hasn't quite worked. So I think you obviously have that perfect one. So, A) you read it, and B) you are very good at projecting that, and obviously how you're speaking things, anyway, but-

Thank you so much.

… it's wonderful, so if you haven't, definitely, definitely, go check them out. Michael, thank you so very much.

Well, thank you. It's an honour to be on, and next time you're in Nashville, let's get together.

Definitely. Thank you.

Wasn't that good? Oh, man. Don't get me wrong but there are people in this world who are young and super innovative, they don't have loads of experience but are still really, really good. But there is something about the fact that he's been in business a very long time, that he has seen good things and bad things and had experience of lots of stuff, that I think, personally, that's what adds to his knowledge and adds to making him such an expert. And, with myself, that's one of the things that I try and pat myself on the back for, the fact of actually, yeah, I might not be as young and as crazy and as out there as some of the people that are in my industry. However, I've had a huge amount of experience which obviously leads to hopefully some really, really good knowledge in our space.

But anyway, he was just a delight. Such a nice guy, so many good things, and it's funny as well because he's such a professional in terms of, it's so nice when I interview people and they're like… the way he came across, his sound was perfect, and all these kind of good stuff. He answered questions really well. His books are brilliant. I do highly suggest that you read them, especially the Free To Focus one, which is why we focused on that for this interview because of the fact that I think most of you could get something really, really good.

I love the fact that it's a mix of some mindset stuff and some stuff that you need to get your head round in terms of us running ourselves and looking after ourselves. I love the fact he addresses sleep and food and exercise and family, turning off, taking day and time, and it's not all about the hustle, but also, he gives some amazing, and he did in the interview, but he gives even more in his book, amazing cool hacks around some real productive stuff that has made him become much more productive, and some of the ideas are so, so cool.

So, honestly, really love this guy. I'm going to link up to everything. Also at the end of the interview, he mentioned a website where they would write your book for you but he couldn't remember the name, and literally seconds after the interview finished, as obviously would happen, he remembered. So it was called I've put the link to that in the show notes. I've put a link to all his stuff. Do go check him out. He's such an amazing guy, and like I said, I was totally honoured and privileged to have him on the podcast. So, I'd love to hear what you guys think, and go tag him in, because that would be ace, for me. I would love it if you were happy enough to go tag him in, tag me in, let me know what you thought. I would love that.