Lessons from the last 8 months

It’s been a while since I’ve written here…it’s not because I’ve stopped caring or anything. I’ve really just had that classic excuse — “I’m too busy.” The past 8 months have been filled with ups and downs for me. Here are the highlights:

  1. Cycle House opened its second location in Santa Monica
  2. We’ve been filming a reality show that just aired last night on E! called Hollywood Cycle
  3. I’ve gotten to advise some really cool LA startups like Foodie Shares
  4. I’ve gotten in the best shape of my life (#BodyByRambo)
  5. My dad had a stroke
  6. I’ve become actively engaged in two lawsuits for Cycle House where I haven’t had a choice but to defend myself
  7. I’m investing in some new startups that are in entirely untapped industries for me — I’ll announce them when I’m ready :)

I could go on and on but the point of what I’m writing today isn’t a summary of my life since December…it’s to talk about the fact that I’ve grown as a man, friend, businessperson, and husband more over the past few months than I have over the past 10 years. And, I want to share some of the biggest things I’ve learned…

Make time for what’s important

I haven’t been shy about the fact that I really struggle with workaholism. I wake up just about every day with a pit in my stomach about all the things I need to do in order to be “successful” that day. I haven’t entirely learned how to get entirely rid of that morning anxiety, but I have learned how to pull myself back from it. The key is to make time for what’s most important in my life. James Altucher wrote a great post recently that sums it up way better than I ever could. In a nutshell — focus on winning your morning and you’ll win your day. I make sure to start my day slow (away from my phone and email), to spend time with my wife and dog, and to take a few minutes to be grateful for what I have. I’m going to start adding writing back into the mix (hence the reason I’m finally making a post!).

Do what you love, everything else will work out

It’s really easy to be driven by money and security and it can be really terrifying to be in a position where that security goes away. I’ve been so terrified for the majority of my life that I didn’t feel “safe” unless I had two or more income streams and a constantly increasing savings account. Last year, I took the leap to go completely out on my own and focus on the projects I care about most and working with the people that I enjoyed the most. I’ve made less money (a lot less money) and have had less overall free time. But I’m waking up every day truly excited to live my life. I thought people that made those claims were always full of shit…now I’m one of them. Now, I don’t do anything unless I’m truly excited about it — I look at the content of the project first and the money I can make from it last. The result has been a much happier existence for me.

Feelings aren’t facts — don’t let fear or crisis drive you

I’ve made some big mistakes over the past few years out of fear. It’s amazing how much our minds can trick us into thinking something is real and needs to be acted upon. What I’ve learned is that when I’m afraid of something, I need to sit in it — no matter how painful it is. Because only after I take the time to really get to the bottom of why I’m scared or nervous can I understand what the problem is and make a rational decision. The old me would act fast to avoid feeling that anxiety — and the decisions I made were oftentimes the wrong ones.

Share your workload and trust people

I work my ass off and I have a hard time trusting people who don’t. But, I’ve learned that once you get to a certain point as an entrepreneur, you literally can’t shoulder things anymore. I used to get everything done by brute force — annoying people every 15 minutes and assuming they were doing things wrong. I’ve learned that if I focus on letting things transpire as they normally would, it works out for the best. Either I become pleasantly surprised by the person I entrusted the work to and can now delegate some of my responsibility or I can learn that if I don’t babysit that person, they’re going to fuck up. If you’re not willing to have some trust, you’ll never be able to build a team and you’ll likely have a nervous breakdown before you can accomplish anything meaningful.

Stop caring about everything and people pleasing (& don’t be afraid to fight)

I always wanted to be the coolest boss/co-worker/partner. I would obsess over people pleasing and making sure that everyone was happy with what I was doing and why. I’ve learned that this is undoubtedly a losing game for several reasons. First, you can’t please some people without pissing off some others. The more that you try to please everyone, the more that you end up letting everyone down. Second, when you’re the boss, people are going to complain no matter how “cool” you are to them. They simply don’t see things from your perspective and only have a limited view of the business as a whole. Trying to be the person that everyone always loves is a waste of time. But, being a great communicator and listener will ultimately get you respect, trust, and love from (most) of your team. Lastly, sometimes you have to fight. In the past, I’ve wanted everyone to agree with me and (even though I’m a good negotiator) I’ve been terrified of conflict. I would work tirelessly to find a compromise, even if that compromise wasn’t fair or a good business decision, because the fear of someone disliking me was larger than the fear of failure. But I’ve learned that there are certain moments where you have to be willing to fight back and start swinging like your life depends on it. Some people aren’t rational and never will be. With those people, you need to be willing to play their game and never give up on what you believe is right.

Fail fast is bullshit unless you know why you’re failing

Everybody talks about failing fast. I have too. It’s mostly bullshit. When you’ve got your life savings in a business, failing simply isn’t an option. You need to focus moreso on maximizing your opportunities and figuring out a threshold at which you can afford to take risks and fail. And, most importantly, you need to know why you failed when you take those risks and they don’t work out. There is NOTHING worse than a failure without explanation. If you make more than a few of them, you’ll never succeed.

Per usual, you can email me at adam at adamgillman dot com. You’ll be reading a lot more from me from now on. I’ve missed writing a lot and hope that I can continue to help people with my crazy diatribes.

PS — Don’t forget to watch Hollywood Cycle every Tuesday on E! at 10 PM EST.

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