Life after IT

Boss, IT Business, Rant
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Every now and then I have what I like to call existential crisis conversations with my partners: I don’t know what I’m going to do next?!?!

And to an extent, I understand why some people get into this frenzy – you’re being fed a steady diet of “what’s next” usually by people who flame out and are back at doing the exact same thing a year later. Folks… I’ll say this slowly: that’s not success. For every guy that loads up on debt, gets lucky, sells his business and makes a killing there are millions of those that don’t. And like I said, if that were a winning strategy those folks would be out on a yacht, not in a job. Or worse, same or lower job.

So now that we’ve clarified that bit of fantasy..

Success in IT business is no different than success in any other business – you learn to benefit from change, you learn how to hire and train people to manage a business and you pursue the next idea.

Not all ideas will be winners.

But once you know how to build, manage and scale a winning idea you start to diversify, you start to invest and you begin to invest in ideas and people – not in the process and perfection. I’ve seen so many people fail trying to be perfect operators of a business and end up failing to deal with the change.

This is why it hurts me so much when I see CEOs of companies out going to trade shows that double down on sales, process and marketing. No. No. No. No. You’ve already proven you know how to sell, market and implement stuff enough that someone paid you to get you to the point of having employees and enough time away from clients to attend that show – now is not the time to invest in yourself – unless you intend to never get ahead. This is where you invest in your people, send them to these conferences, give them ownership of tasks, projects and services. It’s hard to give up being a control freak but nobody is coming to take away the CEO job – so move on.

So the answer – what are you doing next? First, what else are you doing? What sorts of investments do you have? What other side businesses do you have? What does your portfolio look like? You can run more than one business effectively at a time – and if you can’t then you have the wrong people working for you. If you can’t trust your team then you need to work on that first.

Perfection is not the be all end all of business. Selling your business is not the goal. Entrepreneurship isn’t about finding a greater fool (because if you’re selling you’re admitting you don’t know how to have it make any more profits than it’s currently making) it’s about creating multiple profit streams.

Surfacebook First Impression

Beta, Gadgets
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First overall impression: It’s feels significantly heavier than Macbook Air, other than that it looks and feels very similar.

IMG_4305

Packaging is impressive, looks very modern and comes with a typical PC 2-piece charger that is quite slim.

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The lean angle on the Surfacebook is a little disappointing compared to the Macbook Air. The keyboard itself looks pretty awesome.

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Compared to Macbook Air it feels noticeably heavier. If you’re used to walking around with your laptop it might be a challenge doing so with the Surfacebook – the screen is detachable though and doubles as a tablet so as far as “walking around office and meetings” mobility is concerned there are options.

First impression: It’s bulkier and heavier than MBA but it has far more flexibility and features that ought to make up for the bulk/weight.

I just need a million–why people who start small do better

IT Business
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When you’re in my position you get to hear a lot of pitches, ideas and schemes that could learn to great riches.. if only they had a ton of money. You’ve all heard it before “You need to spend money to make money” and it was probably told to you by a person that either had none or sold advertising for a living.

To make money.. you need to learn from your mistakes, make fewer of them and above all else understand that elbow grease is more powerful than anything else.

Here are some things to ponder:

Mistakes are not fatal

When you start with something small and are just building things up, even if the marketing campaign or business model or target client base doesn’t work out you didn’t gamble a lot on it and the biggest hit is to your time and your ego. Consider the alternative: loading up on debt, credit cards or third party loans – you might still be on hook for some of that stuff if you fail. And god forbid you actually succeed then you’re really up for a disaster down the road as it puts you into a gambler mentality instead of a risk manager.

You become more conservative with risk taking

When you start small you will naturally have fewer options. Which means you will probably give them a whole lot more thought and due diligence than “let’s see what happens and how things work out” – when you have fewer decisions to make, the outcomes of those few decisions are far more important than just having a single big one work out.

You know everything won’t work out every time

Inevitably, you will fail. But when you aren’t distracted with a ton of other stuff going on, and you aren’t funding your dreams with your imagined proceeds from things hopefully working out.. you take the emotion of winning or losing out of the process. While emotion and passion do drive and motivate entrepreneurs, our ability to handle risk and defeat and quickly move on is the learning experience that makes us better with each new venture.

Fundamentally, you will be far better off starting small and learning and perfecting what you’re trying to do. And by starting small and learning along the way the better off you will perform. The more work that goes into making things work the more you will appreciate what you’re built and more conservative you’ll become when making decisions that could lead to you losing.

When I started Own Web Now it was with less than $1,000. When I opened my first Datek account it was with less than $4,000. My biggest victories started small and ended up getting built into something really great. My biggest hardships and difficulties came from growing and moving too fast – but live and learn.

All these conversations, where people have unrealistic expectations of what they need to get something done, are usually summed up like this: There is a reason why people with money have it and why those that need it don’t. You need to act and manage your strategy the same way someone with money would. That is the only way they will hand you money – if they see you as an extension of themselves and feel secure that you will make decisions the same way they do.

That’s the zen zone: Once you do start acting and behaving in such a way, you won’t need anyone else’s money. Which is usually when everyone wants to throw money at you.

Cloud is a commodity, but are you?

Cloud, IT Business
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Over the past year that I’ve been off the road I’ve been working very intensely with my partners on getting them rocking in the cloud. As you may have noticed here, I have for the most part given up on the general IT provider population and have declined a very large number of invites for presentation and training because.. quite simply.. the easy cloud money will put enough people out of business in very short order as they let that v in VAR become largely minimized. So be that as it may, I have no real agenda here beyond just stating my opinion.

Let me just sum this whole thing up by saying that I’ve seen this movie before. I know how it ends. I know what happened to IT staffers that didn’t keep their skills up, what happened with massively vertical-focused shops that dealt with Y2K and cars and real estate/builders when the economy collapsed, what happened to people that were system builders and many of my fellow SBSers through the years. Cloud is a commodity and a transactional business, if you are not making a moat around it then you’ll soon find yourself out of the castle along with all your “services” the client could really do without. So let’s get started:

For most people, the migration to the commodity cloud will be the last large project of their career or business.

Cloud is a commodity, no argument there. But if you’re one of those VARs, MSPs, etc and treat it as such you’re pretty much putting up your tombstone.

There are many great reasons for someone to “sell” a client Office 365 hosting or Gmail, who can beat the appeal of a cheap mailbox. It’s what the clients are asking for: Vlad, I need the $4 mailbox. Convince me why I should pay double or triple? Hypothetical question of course, I’d hang up on someone that was that clueless. But we do get to compete against Gmail or Office 365 often so here is how we do it:

Case: Client needs Office 365. They want it. It’s $4.

Vlad: Not a problem, I can have that contract for you by the end of the day. There are some terms but let me ask you a few questions…

Few questions later, the person sort of realizes just what a crappy deal they are getting and how many compromises they are about to accept. While on the surface everything looks the same, people that run businesses or are responsible for IT departments don’t buy the bottom shelf Dell hardware specials for a reason.

And to be honest, we have not had an issue selling anything from our Exchange at $4 to the full “Office 365” stuff at over $25/month (I use the quotes around the office because it’s the same software/features that Microsoft offers it just runs off the network and the servers we control).

How Much Is Your Expertise A Commodity

I ask my partners this all the time.

Another one (credit to Lee Evans): Should your expertise save them money?

One of the misconceptions about small business is that in small business we all have each others back and we try to save one another a ton of money. Guys that thought that went out of work/business last decade.

There are two kinds of business models that are thriving today:

Cloud transactional – people selling a ton of different cloud services due to the demand and their ability to roll them out quickly.

Project and legacy models – from web design to hardware maintenance to hybrid of MSP / project based solutions.

Only one of these will survive. And if you think I’m on the side of the cloud… you haven’t been paying attention.

For the past few years we have been at an inflection point between buying stuff and buying services. The moment people buy a service (and get on it) the need for an IT person is eliminated. Smart people are partnering with companies that enable them to be the sole provider of that service – folks that don’t pay much attention are simply connecting the dots and facilitating the sale and effectively removing themselves from the IT channel. Yes, they delude themselves into thinking that their MSP contract means they are tied to the client but I hear from more and more people each day that are dismayed that their client decided to give up the office, the hardware, the infrastructure that was being managed.

Imagine offering your clients a great phone system and managing their PBX and providing service with their phones, etc. Then one day you saved them some money by moving all that stuff to the cloud but they kept their gadgets on their desks and everything was the same. Well, new release came out and there was no real need for the desk phone, their cell could do the same thing and thanks for the years of business but it doesn’t seem we need these cables, phones, contracts or warranty. Replace the phones with computers and the PBX with the cloud services and there you have what I’m seeing more and more out there.

The inflection point – preparing you for which I’ve made endless blog posts over the years – was to help you create your own plans, your own support, your own backoffice (hopefully powered by ExchangeDefender and Own Web Now). You either built it or decided it didn’t matter because you had all these other gadgets that needed to go in play. All I can hope for is that either you gave us (or similar) a shot and that your luck is different from the hordes of people that are suddenly knocking on my door.

The notion that that cloud.. is just a computer that is in some other office.. is a gross oversimplification that eliminates experience, skill set, training, investment and a common goal of providing an excellent service. But suppose all of that was indeed worth nothing, how would you explain your client what you are charging them for stuff every month?

Something to ponder as you think what your business is actually worth when put up against a commodity.

diggingyourowngraveSo I’ll say it very simply and succinctly: If you are rolling out a cloud solution where you are not in control of the account, not in control of the data, not in control of the backup and disaster recovery… You are outsourcing the part of IT the business actually cares about. I know you think your service is important, I know your tools are sophisticated, I know your knowhow is earned and your relationships are strong. But you are digging your own grave. Good luck with that.

P.S. The really ugly thing, for folks that aren’t naive, is the aspect of the cheapness and liability. In the past when clients decided to go cheap and make mistakes you at least had billable hours and projects to help them roll out of their mess. When those mistakes happen to services, and trust me cloud is far beyond flawless, who really has your back? Your clients? What sort of control do you have over the situation? How about that data? Folks consumed with the dizzying array of Azure and Amazon Web Services options and services are running around trying to do their best to sell more, find more clients, get more leads, specialize in a more lucrative vertical – but all they are doing to themselves in the process is cutting away client dependence and future profit prospects. While the liability explodes because there is no way to throw money at fixing a problem after the lawsuits start to fly. Again, something to ponder. Cause if you think you have a simple and easy answer to this.. it’s going to hurt.

Why I came back

Boss, IT Business
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Earlier this summer I decided to take over two months off of work and really had the minimal contact with the office and with most of the employees. What I had to figure out is whether I am done with ExchangeDefender, Shockey Monkey and indeed with the rest of IT world.

This is a tough business. When you’re in the technology part of it, your motivation and your reward is the man triumphing over the machine and making that underlying technology work better for the business that invested in it. You know what to do. If you’re any good at that and happen to like people you’re on the business side, helping people not waste their money and productivity. Then you make money. You know why you’re doing it. Lot’s of money. Really, rather obscene amounts of money.

So there I was.

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When you’re making so much money that you don’t know how to spend it, but still have responsibilities, things get rather monotone and boring. It’s just a number. You go through the daily motions but the process itself kills you. You want to put the pedal to the metal and get a new feature rolled out but that takes time. New marketing agenda – needs to be researched, sold to partners on which benefits work and where, designed, tested. New business lines – ditto, starting it from scratch. I’m not going to lie, it bent me.

So I went on a vacation. Around the world. Did all the things I love to do. No, still didn’t sleep, I’ve come to peace with the fact that it’s just who I am. Ate a camel burger. Rode camels in multiple countries. Hey, it’s Wednesday! Hi Andy.

It wasn’t a soul searching expedition.
I wasn’t trying to ask myself what’s next.
I wasn’t making plans in my head or hoping and wishing.
I just enjoyed my life.

And then it hit me

All my adult life I wanted to make $100,000 a year. Then somehow that changed to wanting a million dollar business. As I got more successful the obsessions added zeros but the bank balances never really did much for me other than giving me the confidence. What I got out of ExchangeDefender, when it’s all said and done some day, won’t be the money. It’s the relationships I’ve built, people I’ve trained and made into professionals, companies we’ve helped build and seen each other (and our kids) grow up.

So I did no work this summer. But I kept on chatting with partners who are actually more my friends at this point rather than the people I work for. And that in the end is my value – in seeing that people like myself beat the odds. I founded my company on the promise that we will not screw or exploit people, staff or customers. Over the past 18 years lot’s of people worked very hard for it. Don’t get me wrong – we’ve done great – but it’s been an effort that is more than a paycheck. When someone wakes up at 3AM to deal with an issue that could be handled by someone that just got hired that’s no longer a “I need this job” mentality.

I cringe when people tell me they are building their business on top of a partnership with a giant company who is accountable to it’s shareholders and barely even to their employees, much less you. And then what do you tell your staff? Your clients – your family?

To me, Own Web Now has been and will be a company that helps small business succeed. And we have a lot of cool things we are working very hard on – with a management team that has rendered me completely useless and replaceable. I can’t tell you how liberating that feels. And just how awesome that is going to make the next 5 years that I’m mapping out for us right now.

As always, thank you for all your money and your confidence in us. I appreciate it.

I feel like my job in IT is done

Boss, IT Business
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I got an interesting email (excerpt):

… so it’s just a matter of time till my job is outsourced or just dismissed.

If you were in my shoes what would you do because I like the place I work at. I just don’t see it lasting.

I hear this from a lot of people. You fall into a job where you happen to be good at a few tasks and your boss piles your plate sky high in the same task until they move on to something else and you cease to serve a purpose.

I often get criticized for writing in a brutal tone that cuts very deep and today will be no exception. I am not trying to sell you anything, I am not your buddy, I am not writing this for the sake of getting you signed up for a seminar or a book tour – I do this as repaying a debt to the community that has made me a very wealthy and successful guy. And this is an important part: I hear this very same “getting stale; I think I’m done” sob story from my MSP partners who are feeling like their days are numbered.

I’m going to say this only once and very slowly, read it as many times as you need to and chant it away until it sinks in.

People hire people.

People buy services.

Got it? Good.

When something doesn’t matter but is necessary for the operation of busines, it is handed off to a temp employee or the cheapest licensed vendor available. It’s temporary, necessary and finite.

When a business is spending money on personnel it’s not looking for a cheapest person barely capable of doing the job. Those jobs are in China now. If you were invited for an interview it was because the company felt you were capable and qualified of doing the job.  If you were offered the job it is because the employer thought you would be a valuable addition to the team and could grow to be more than what they needed right then and there. Why else would they go through the hassle, it’s so much easier to deal with a vendor than to train, manage and motivate an employee.

You are here because you are valuable

Most employees forget that. Most employers and managers forget this over time as well but that’s the truth – we fall into a rut and into a process and the longer we do the same thing the longer we don’t feel we are making progress or a difference.

It is critical for employees, and their managers, to come up with tasks and projects that staff can work on somewhat independently of their core responsibilities (and this is where most people that were gonna forward this to their employees just stopped reading because nobody wants more work) that give some meaning, purpose and independent creativity to an employee.

The best employees see what needs to be done and manage their projects on their own. The ones that just wait for stuff to be handed to them on a platter are sort of missing out because odds are you’re going to be handed stuff you really don’t want to be doing. So take some initiative, talk to your boss, point out stuff that needs to be done.

Remember, people hire people. You got hired for a reason – if you do nothing in the face of becoming obsolete then yes, you will inevitably find yourself without a job. But if you reinforce why you’re there, if you excel at your core responsibilities while proving that you’re worth and capable of more.. They’ll find something to keep you to do.

Doing this an hour a day will drastically improve your business

Boss, Humor
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Managing a business, from people to products to process, is an enormous effort that for successful business managers becomes a matter of lifestyle where your work life and home life become indistinguishable: the more successful you become the less you’ll be able to define hours during which you work and which you won’t.

At this point you will have money but you won’t be happy – a perfect mark client for a unemployed fraud consultant to exploit assist on your way to perfectly enhancing your business. As a matter of community service I will offer you this path to solving any business problem you need to solve or any part of your business or personal life you would like to improve:

Just dedicate an hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes every single day towards working on the problem. Here is an egg timer to keep you accountable to yourself.

eggtimerBam. Think about the compound returns – an hour a day dedicated to marketing is equivalent to spending over 9 weeks working on it full time! And who can’t find a single hour a day that will absolutely guarantee you solve your marketing issues, launch a huge sales process, implement that new tool that will transform your business and then more!

Everything in life and business that has been holding you back can be solved with this piece of advice and this egg timer. Don’t think of it as a cheap gimmick that mocks your inability to manage time and focus, think of it as an accountability supertool (note to self: Brand the said egg timer with my logo so I can give it away at my seminars) that will finally get you on track.

Life and Work Comes At You Fast

Here is what unemployed people don’t know about real work: It’s hardly a linear progression of tasks, perfectly structured periods of uninterrupted time, with clear deliverables and agendas that always work out. We all deal with the exact opposite and those challenges lead to burnout, frustration, stress and a overwhelming feeling that we’re never going to get ahead.

Congratulations. You’re just like the rest of us, like every single one of us. Quit your bitching and whining because that’s just the part of corporate work and here is the egg timer, throw it against the wall or smash it against the table, take a deep breath and a Diet Coke and get back to it because the pile is just getting bigger.

But what about stress? What about things I could do every day to move my business forward? Do work. When you feel stressed out about it close your eyes for a second, take a deep breath and thank whichever deity you believe in that you don’t have to earn a living trying to sell people business optimization tricks that involve egg timers.

In Defense of Trump

IT Business, IT Culture
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A lot of people seem to like Trump, despite or in spite of the seemingly idiotic stuff he says. As I try to explain this to my friends abroad, it has more to do with the general disgust most sane people have for the media and for the climate of political correctness that is slowly crushing our ability to say anything negative about truly insane stuff that is going on.

Here is the thing with Trump – he is direct, he is visceral, he is everything you need to actually succeed in business dominated by lawyers, committees, boards and people put in place to keep things from moving forward. We’ve all had those clients.

I don’t find Trump to be mean spirited. Someone with that much power and that much money wouldn’t stay in business or in the media long, who wants to fight all that backlash when you can buy an island?

I recently had a conversation with a friend about relating to Trump and how being an asshole is not a bad thing people always make it out to be.

Not being an asshole, not being critical, not being able to raise your head above group think is perhaps the worst thing you can do when you realize that far too many politically correct super networkers around you are perfectly polite but also working their own agenda that is actually damaging and actually mean spirited. Folks that are really out in complete self interest and screwing others do not want to have difficult things discussed because it sheds light on their behavior.

I can relate – here is a personal story without naming names. I feel like the biggest problem MSPs (who are a decent size of my client base) face today is lack of education. So I get invited to donate my time to a non-profit to help design stuff for folks to get a better handle on the cloud and how to do so profitably. Sounds like a win win right? But when that non-profit is generating 50 million a year in a certificate business and decides to waste the groups time on generating one more worthless commercial certification track who is the asshole there – the guy who doesn’t have the time for that or the guy that is pushing for it with both hands and suddenly ends up with a part time job with the non-profit?

When activity like that goes without comment and without criticism, many people get actually hurt. Not in sense of hurt feelings, which people get over with quickly, but actual value destruction. And folks like that want an environment where nobody ever says anything stupid or offensive or critical – because negativity is a bad thing and we need to focus on good and positive and forward and up (and let them get away with it)? Bullshit.

This is why guys like Trump are always called out for the stupid, ignorant, negative and critical stuff they say – somewhat because it’s easy to get the people to think you’re an asshole with snippets and sound bites and be angry about it (so you tune in more often) – and it’s far more difficult to get the people to rationally consider all the fuckery and swindling going on. People overreact when they are confronted by such crude or honest behavior because they have become disaffected and sterilized by the cordial, polite and friendly interactions that they deep down know do nothing but screw them. And it’s easy to point to it and say “My god, what is wrong with them!!!” because that shifts the conversation away from the ACTUAL problem. 

So every now and then I work with people who after a while feel comfortable saying “Man, I heard you’re such an asshole” and I look at them wondering why they thought that was such a bad thing. Sometimes being an asshole is a good thing, particularly when the “normal” is the insanity we’ve given up to take for granted because that’s just the way things are.

For the record, as many of you may have been offended by this blog (and if you haven’t been yet, stick around), keep in mind that none of it was mean spirited to tear something down. Visceral as it may be, you can probably count on your fingers the number of folks that have been hurt by me – wish I could say the same for those that live to criticize it as they fail from one job to the next.

Travel Murse

Leisure
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I always often get picked on about my murse (“male purse”), being gay, whether I’m keeping my testicles in it and so forth. But all jokes aside, which are quite warranted, there just aren’t enough belts, holsters, pockets and hands to hold and carry all the junk I typically use when I’m away from the desk for a few hours.

Skinny jeans are getting tighter and glocks are getting bigger. Gotta compromise.

murse

So I had an interesting conversation while traveling with folks that are carrying around backpacks about the contents of the murse so here is what I have in mine when I’m traveling:

  • Paper copy of all my travel documents – drivers license, passport, one or two credit cards. I don’t like lugging around original documents because they are both bulky and I don’t want to lose them so they stay in the hotel safe.
  • Address and map of the hotel I’m staying at. Cause Google Maps will kill your iPhone battery faster than you can drop the phone on the ground.
  • Backup iPhone… or two. See above comment about dropping it.
  • Portable battery, cables.
  • iPod Shuffle and headphones. Because sometimes it gets boring.
  • Snack ziplock bag. For change. Because if you keep your iPhone and your change in the pocket you may as well just put your screen into a blender.
  • Foreign language cheat sheet. Emergency contact information.
  • Baby wipes. Cause third world.
  • Tic tacs.
  • Tickets, passes, etc. Nothing will get you robbed faster than fumbling around with your wallet full of cash while trying to find a ticket, bus pass, etc. I keep my $ in a belt and ID/tickets/passes in my wallet.

It deters pickpockets more than walking out of an all you can eat buffet in skinny jeans – when you have stuff in front and back pockets and go into a crowded bus/line/market you’ve got a lot of places someone can hit. With a murse, you just need to keep a good grip on one thing. Cause you no longer have to worry about your manhood. If you’re really paranoid, you can just loop it into your shirt.

To a life well traveled.

Timehop Getting Things Done

Boss, GTD
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vanillaFor the record, I hate the posts where someone successful tries to lecture people on how things should be done when you haven’t reached your potential yet, it’s condescending and I hope this isn’t seen in such a way.

I was asked recently how my work habits have changed over the years, how does getting stuff done evolve (or does it) – so here are just 3 tips that I wish I had back in the day.

1. Manage Your Agenda, Delegate Away

As many of you have seen here, I have a physical paper agenda. It never leaves my sight. It will never, ever, ever be digital – I like the idea of writing things out because for the most part I stops me from thinking of anything else – while computer activity is prone to multitasking.

I only deal with one thing a day. Everything else I get done in a day is an awesome bonus but as a human, I can seemingly only give my full and undivided attention to one thing at a time. I also tend to do so away from the PC. There is a joke around the office that you don’t open the door to my office if you see me sitting at the desk with a pen in my hand or going over a pile of papers.

The biggest change over the years.. is that I have a lot of great people around me. And I can’t be involved in everything or participate in everything. So some ideas just go to others for implementation.

Do this: Find out what you shouldn’t be doing. Even if you have 0 employees, there are many things you may be doing that could be outsourced. Yes, even if they cost money. If you can focus on more revenue generating things that only you can do and give up things that anyone else can do you’re taking the first step in independence from your business.

2. Eliminate Distractions

When you’re trying to make it in business your attitude has to be never say no. This inevitably leads to you being taken advantage of, dragged into endless meetings and focus groups and non-profit action committees, dinners, events, fundraisers, conferences, Facebook groups, mailing lists, even usenet for some of you dinosaurs.

Then you have internal and external “drama” that others like to bring to you as a matter of small talk that will drown your productivity – nothing like grown ass men and women gossiping like teenagers at lunch break. I had an employee where every meeting seemingly started with wasted time discussing people and topics that don’t matter – and I’d find myself repeatedly saying “Focus! What are we working on?”

The most significant bit of relief for me was the day I simply deleted v@vladville.com email account that received thousands of messages each day. Think of your Twitter on steroids – long discussion threads, even longer messages, even more at stake – for everyone except me. I didn’t bother unsubscribing, I just nuked the mailbox.

Do this: Track yourself throughout the day. How much time do you spend on actual work that matters? How much of what you do is actually getting you to (quantifiably) move forward – and start chopping.

3. Compress The Clock, Find Another Challenge

I don’t want to mince words, people that own companies and talk about work life balance should be shot. Dead. If you don’t have passion for your business or live to fulfill your vision and enrich not just your life but that of your employees and your clients – without compromise – you should get the fuck out of the way any let someone else do it. Believed it than, believe it now, anything less than the best is a felony. Hat tip to Vanilla Ice.

But what I wish I knew back then, and the way my life has changed significantly, is in finding other sources of passion and excitement in my life that compress the clock and allow me to get things done faster. Because I have other shit to do. I can’t spend 22 hours working on a project today, going over it a million times and looking at it a thousand different ways because today is my kids last day of first grade and I promised I’d take him somewhere special for dinner to celebrate. I also want to get a run in today because it’s National Run Day. I have inlaws staying with us tonight, we ran out of ovaltine, I have a few phone calls – you get the idea, I can’t stay at work till 11PM to move us one inch closer to the finish line.

If you think work life balance is about trading one thing for another you’re buying pipe dreams from people that failed at life. Unless you’re a sadistic bastard that likes to feel like he is failing one group of folks after another. That’s not what it’s about, you will NEVER be happy if you’re constantly feeling unhappy about striking a harmony between your career and your life. Your career is your life. Your life is your career.

You just need to have your career feed your life and have your life make you more productive in your career.

For me, it’s the realization that things just aren’t going to be perfect. There will never be enough Vlad to go around to please everyone but whatever mode I’m in CEO/dad/husband… I’m at it 100%. And I feel absolutely fantastic while I’m in one role after another because I get the ultimate satisfaction in each moment. There isn’t “fuck, I don’t want to go to work” day or “Wish I never had kids” day in my life.

As my wife recently remarked… “You don’t do anything small. You wanted to ride a bike so you bought a Ducati. Fine. But now you have 5. Wanted to do a triathlon – you’re now doing 9 of them this year and we have such a thing as a spare triathlon bike? You don’t do things modestly”

Do this: Find things that you love to do. Appreciate every moment you get to do things that make you happy. If they don’t make you happy, change them. Live to fill your life with things you want to do so no one thing ends up sucking the life out of you. When you’ve got other fun shit to do you’ll find yourself getting things done a LOT faster than when you’ve got the whole day to willow in the misery of a problem that won’t solve itself.