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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Trail Runner Magazine article, and inspiring others

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Trail Runner MagazineAs a small business owner, I hope my story inspires others to start their own business as well, or at the very least take a leap of faith and pursue doing something they love. It was people I viewed as mentors and other people’s success stories that inspired me to start Bearded Brothers.

I spent eight years in two different jobs that I hated. Not everything about the jobs as awful, but I never liked going into work. There was never a day where I woke up and said, “I’m excited about work today.”

Now, almost every day I wake up excited to go to work. Sure there are days that work is hard and you would rather be doing something else, but for the most part I look forward to Monday’s… and a small part of me is sad when my work week comes to an end.

As Bearded Brothers grows I hope my story will inspire others to great heights. I was recently interviewed by Trail Runner Magazine for a section called  ‘Entrepreneurial Endeavors: Lessons from those who had dreams and “ran” with them

The article talks a bit about how Bearded Brothers got its start, my training schedule as a runner, how I got into trail runner, and how rock climbing ultimately made me a runner.

Also I wanted to take a moment to point people to a few resources. I know there are a lot of people out there that are restless in their current job. Some of you flat out hate your job. Some of you might even think that, is just life and these were the cards I was dealt. Well, I’m here to tell you that is false. There is no reason you can’t have a job you truly love. Below are a few resources that helped me see my full potential, and inspired me to start my own business:

Dan Miller – 48 Days to the Work You Love
Dan Miller – No More Dreaded Mondays
Dan Miller 48 Days Podcast
Kent Julian Career Coaching (one of the smartest things I ever did)

Recent inspirational reads:
Dave Ramsey: Entreleadership
Entreleadership Podcast
Jim Collins: Good to Great
Jon Acuff: Start

 

Workaholism, the mythical badge of honor

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Time, late night working.

Some people think burning the midnight oil is a badge of honor. This is a huge myth.

A recently Business Insider article praised 12 tech executives that “woke up early.” There is no harm in waking up early. In fact, I typically wake up around 5 a.m. myself. Some days I go for a run, other mornings I read and/or pray, and others I spend writing blog posts and reading my RSS feed. I also use that time before 8 a.m. to get a jump-start on the day. It’s a great time of the day to be highly productive and pursue personal interests.

The main problem I had with the article is it went on to tell of many executives that worked long days, and got very little sleep. It was though badges of honor were being thrown out to individuals that only slept 4 hours a night, ran their company like a tyrant, and neglected their family. One executive only mentions two hours a day allotted to his family.

Okay, that may have sounded harsh, and may have been a bit of a stretch for some of the executives mentioned, but there really are people out there that will work extremely long days at the expense of their own personal health, as well as their family.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer boasts of only sleeping 4 hours a night; I’m sorry, but 4 hours of sleep a night isn’t healthy (for anybody), and only spending two hours a day with your family is hardly a healthy family life. It’s no wonder so many marriages in this country fail.

I’m here to tell you that workaholism is not a badge of honor. You can build a company from scratch on a modest schedule (40ish hours a week), without neglecting your family and friends. Working 50-70 hour workweeks should never be the norm, no matter how much you love your job. When I started Bearded Brothers my normal workweek was 40 hours, sure there were times I worked more, but it was never the norm.

You need to not only take time for yourself to pursue personal interests, but you also have to make it a point to spend quality time in the relationships that matter most to you. I’ve even heard some people say that the work life balance is a myth and that you should always enjoy what you do, and it should all blend together. Well that too is a farce; because if all you do is work you will eventual burn out yourself and those around you.

I firmly believe that a man or woman should enjoy the work they do. They should be proud and excited to wake up in the morning and work on something they love and enjoy, but at the same time we need rest! For me that is pursuing personal interests such as running and rock climbing, and spending time with my family. My business started out of a love for the outdoors and having healthy snacks to eat while climbing. So it only makes sense to continue doing those things that sparked drive to start Bearded Brothers.

 

Business is stressful, being a good leader is critical

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First Flatiron

Climbing the First Flatiron, Boulder Colorado.

In many ways being a business leader is like being a rock climber, specifically a lead climber. In rock climbing, the lead climber is responsible for protecting the climb as he ascends. Every 10 feet or so (if the rock allows) a piece of protection is placed into the rock (a cam, nut, or hex – usually into a crack) and in some cases the protection is pre-placed, then the climber clips his rope into the protection with a carabiner.

As he ascends the rock the climber gets higher and higher, and there are times when the last piece of gear is 10-15 feet below . This means that if the climber were to fall they would fall a minimum of 20-30 feet before the rope caught the fall. Needless to say, it takes a cool head to be a lead climber. It takes calculating moves and assessing risks.

I was once climbing the First Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado. I ended up finding myself about 20 feet above my last piece of gear, and on top of that the gear was considered “sketch”, meaning that If I took a fall on it, the piece likely would not have caught the fall. We were already on the second pitch of the climb, which meant we were about 200 feet off the ground. I had two choices, I could down climb back to my piece of gear, on easier terrain, or I could keep climbing and hope I found another crack to place gear.

The rock in front of me looked smooth with no places to protect with gear, it also appeared to get more difficult. So, assessing the risk I decided to climb back down to my last piece of gear. After doing this I realized we had gotten off the main route. I had ended up on more difficult terrain, but managed to keep a cool head and make good decisions. Once my climbing partner and I got back on the main route, we were cruising, and the rest of the day went fairly well.

Lead Climbing in Joshua Tree

Lead climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

“Business is stressful. A good leader remains composed, stays in the moment, focuses on one good move, then the next. No matter how radical the fall you face, keep your cool” – Gary Erickson (Cif Bar)

The quote by Gary reminded me about how important it is to keep your cool in business. At times it can seem like the odds are stacked against you; a vendor hasn’t delivered on time, and at the same time you are short staffed and can’t keep up with demand. All you can do in situations like that is make one move at a time, all while keeping a cool head, because the moment you panic, that is when you fall.

I’ve been tempted many times (and failed many times) to lose my cool during turbulent circumstances. But the truth is nothing you can do will solve the problem immediately, so there is no use in stressing over the situation. As Gary said, “no matter how radical the fall you face, keep your cool.” Failure to do so will surely result in a fall.

Your climbing partner (your team members) depends on you to continue on and finish the climb. You will also build trust and earn their confidence when you remain calm during difficult times. Somebody has to keep a cool head, and that should always be the leader (or leaders) or an organization.

 

 

 

#unplug being LESS connected is a good thing

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I recently read the article #unplug in Fast Company. I highly recommend it to anybody that is deeply connected to the Internet, social media, and email.  The article is about Baratunde Thurston (NY Times Best Selling Author), and his sabbatical from technology and benefits and results that followed.

Prior to reading the article I had already seen technology, social media, and push notifications as huge distractions. For the longest time now I have had push email notifications turned off on my phone, I even went as far as taking off the email badge icon. For one, I would know when I had new messages if I was just checking the time, and two, that inbox would never read zero and would just continue to climb because of unopened emails.

I even have the pop up notifications for email turned off on my computer so I don’t get sucked into an email while I’m working on reviewing the books or researching new suppliers. I don’t know where the need or desire for push notifications came from. To me they are nothing more than a big distraction from whatever you are currently working in.

As a business owner I’m not only seeking to build the brand of my business but my personal brand as well. Because of this I’m frequently engaged in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Even with those applications I have the banner notifications turned off on my phone, yet it’s always tempting to pull down the notification center to see if I have any new messages, follows, or likes.

So, this morning I took things a step further and removed all social media notifications from the phone. Now, the only way to know if I have new interactions is to open the app and check. The only thing I will see in my notification center now is my calendar, which is something I actually need to be reminded of, with so many distractions and all.

I think it’s smart to #unplug for short periods of time to rejuvenate and regain focus on real life. I also think it’s important for everybody to be a little less plugged into the matrix. In the article, Thurston mentions a group of people walking down the street glued to their phones; they see Thurston and ask if there was a diner near by. Had they not been glued to their phones they would have seen the glowing neon sign right across the street.

I feel that I have managed to be far less connected than I once was. When I had a traditional 9-5 job I was constantly glued to twitter. Like Thurston I probably tweeted 32 times a day. But during that time I was rarely uber-productive. I wasn’t doing work that truly mattered. Twitter and other social media networks were just a distraction from the real work.

Since I’ve become less connected I get way more stuff done! Social media definitely has value, but I believe that value is lost when it begins to distract you from real life. So, balance is key. Limit social media and you will be far more productive, and you will be a better friend, better husband or wife, and you will begin to appreciate your dinner without having to take a photo of it.