“Focusing on the ninety-nine things that you can’t do that day or mentally jumping ahead to tasks that require multiple days is wasted time and effort.” with Michael Dermer and Ashley Graber

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One Hundred Hours of Work and Ten Hours of Time: Every entrepreneur, at some point, will face some pretty harsh math. You have one hundred hours of work and ten hours of time to get it done. It is not surprising then that entrepreneurs come to work, and instead of focusing on the tasks of the day, they worry about what is not getting done. This is counterproductive. Focusing on the ninety-nine things that you can’t do that day or mentally jumping ahead to tasks that require multiple days is wasted time and effort.

As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down to Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Michael Dermer, the founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur. Michael’s journey to The Lonely Entrepreneur is fascinating. Michael left a corporate law job after only three years to start the first company in the United States to reward people for being healthy. After building that company from scratch over ten years, he watched it almost get destroyed in 10 days by the financial crisis of 2008. Not only did they survive, but sold his company and is known as the founder of the health rewards industry. And Michael took all of those learnings and created The Lonely Entrepreneur whose mission is to help entrepreneurs unlock their potential by turning their passion into success. You can find his story here. Michael is also the author of a critically acclaimed book, The Lonely Entrepreneur (Amazon http://goo.gl/Xevm8C)


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

Today, I am the founder and CEO of The Lonely Entrepreneur. Our mission is to unlock the potential of entrepreneurs worldwide by turning their passion into success. But my journey here was a harrowing one.

I was a corporate lawyer in New York City but always wanted to start a business. But I was only interested in big ideas — ideas that could help society, help people and had “whitespace.” Then it hit me out of the blue. I left my law job and started the first company in the US to reward people for being healthy. We basically invented the industry and many in the healthcare industry said, “we will never pay people to do the things they should be doing.” We fought for almost ten years and by 2008 we had growth to 500 people. We had “made it” and then the world came crashing down around us. We nearly got destroyed overnight by the 2008 financial crisis. Our clients were the largest companies in America and as they went down, we almost went with them.

What took us 10 years to build was nearly destroyed in ten days. Investors were angry. Employees were worried. Family was concerned. We battled through 20-hour days for two years to save what it took us ten years to build. Fortunately, not only did we save the company, we were acquired by an industry innovator and today are considered the pioneer of the health rewards industry. And after the wild journey, I have dedicated myself to helping entrepreneurs through The Lonely Entrepreneur.

During the financial crisis of 2008, we — like many others during that time — had to figure out how to slow down and do more. The pressures were the perfect storm — angry investors, scared employees, concerned family — all with the world crashing around us. Doing more was a matter of survival for all the people that had put their hearts and souls into creating not only a business but an industry. So today, I spend every waking hour thinking about how to help entrepreneurs “do more.”

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

We all have more to do than we have time. Especially entrepreneurs. But the pace has changed. I started my career as a New York mergers and acquisitions lawyer. For anyone that knows that profession, it is constantly “always rushed” when there are billions of dollars at stake. A partner in my firm said to me one time, I need you to be in Paris in 3 hours. I said, “the flight is 6 hours,” He said, “Figure it out.”

While this was standard operating procedure for the mergers and acquisitions world, it was not for the rest of the world. That has all changed. In today’s environment, it is not just that it is “fast-paced” — it is that the sources of stimuli are present all the time, everywhere. Social media. Text messages. Emails. Imagine if there was a holiday called “Phone Day” where everyone was forced use a phone call as the only means of communication. We would hardly feel rushed. The integration of social media and real time interactions has added a layer of participation that always makes us feel rushed. There is always another social media interaction, picture to take, text to respond to and email to answer. So even if we didn’t have a job or a family or interests, we would feel rushed.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness? On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

When I sold my company in 2013, the next day I woke up in New York City and it felt like my brain had “space.” It almost seemed liked that in the ten years I was running my company I never actually “thought” because of always feeling rushed. I’m sure that was a little of an exaggeration but it certainly felt different. When we feel rushed we sacrifice many things that undermine our ability to achieve personally and professionally. But if we are able to slow it all down, and take it all in, we reap great rewards. My lens tends to be from the perspective of the entrepreneur but many of these impacts affect us in our daily lives. Some examples:

· Doing and Not Thinking: there are so many times that we “do” and don’t really give the proper thought about what we are doing. Or more importantly, why we are doing something. So many times, we rush to act and cause more harm than good. A college professor told us that the stock market crash of 1987 was exacerbated by the fact that the markets felt they had to “do” something. The markets decided to shut down — and the result was to make it worse by causing more selling and more widespread panic instead of letting market mechanisms work.

· Lack of Focus: feeling rushed all the time prevents us from performing at a level that meets our standards. We fail to focus on things with the depth it takes to do things really well.

· Undermining Good Management: experienced entrepreneurs understand that if they are going to grow, they need to put in place management processes to run each department or initiative. When we feel rushed, we abandon those processes and say that everything has to be done “right now.” This not only undermines the goal we are trying to achieve, but alienates your team that will function much better with a clear structure versus rushing to the flavor of the day.

· Tactics and Not Strategy: in business, we feel rushed all the time to do the things that we need to do. This prevents us from us actually saying to ourselves, “do we have a strategy that will win?” After all, every business uses social media so why does one win and another struggle? Because of the strategy. When we rush, we go immediately to the how instead of the why.

· Not Being a Thoughtful, Unemotional and Deliberate Leader: entrepreneurs are constantly worried about not having enough cash or resources. They are overwhelmed and the pressure makes them react to whatever crisis comes across their desk that day. They don’t feel like they have the time or emotional energy to think things through. They just react to problems as they arrive. Rushed is an understatement. And when they are rushed, they risk making poor decisions and alienating their team, as well as vendors, investors, and cli­ents — and if that weren’t enough — having others question their leadership potential and the potential their business can succeed.

· Enjoying Where You Are: when we rush, we don’t take the time to appreciate where we are. So much of life is running to get somewhere. The least we can do is to appreciate it when we get there. If we don’t, life simply seems like a race from one activity to another. If we went for a run in Florence, Italy and ended the run on the Ponte Vecchio, would we really not stop for ten minutes to take in that amazing scene?

· We Don’t Appreciate Success: when we feel rushed to immediately go on to the next thing, we fail to appreciate what we have accomplished. This makes it hard to feel as if all the effort that it takes to drive success is worth it — because we never take the time to celebrate.

· Relationships: so many interactions we have in our relationships lack the depth and consistency that they deserve when we rush. The way we communicate, how often we communicate and what we say often feels “rushed” and doesn’t make the people we are communicating with feel the way they should. We rush and don’t put the right amount of emotional intelligence into emails and texts we send and interactions we have. In the end, many relationships aren’t nurtured in the way they deserve and fail to realize the potential they have.

Put another way — rushing prevents us from thinking, digesting, breathing, enjoying and experiencing the journey.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

As an entrepreneur, we often think of sales, marketing, finance etc. as the parts of the business that we need to improve. What we fail to realize is that us improving our own skills is just as important as improving product development. Think of yourself as part of the product or service you are delivering. If the diamond in your jewelry wasn’t holding, wouldn’t you change the set­ting? If your consulting services were too expensive, wouldn’t you change the price? If your wearable device didn’t transmit the right data, wouldn’t you change the technology? It is no different with you. Especially with the strain you are under and the constant presence of the Four Ps (passion, pressure, pleasure and pain), you need to be better, faster and stronger.

Teaching ourselves how to slow down to do more requires a series of techniques that not only prevents us from feeling rushed, but that enables us to see and feel the progress that drives consistent success. And while there are many ways for each of us as individuals to slow down, here are a few techniques that can bring a sense of calm and progress to the entrepreneurial journey:

· Implement a Management Structure with a Regular Meeting Schedule: sounds boring, right? It works and helps us slow down. Every company has the same basic functions — sales, marketing, product, operations, finance, etc. Organize regular meetings for each department or for each major issue that require attention (e.g., pricing, customer rela­tions). This becomes the process through which you manage the business. These meetings should be held at regular intervals (e.g., weekly) with a set agenda. If possible, these meetings should be held at the same time each week. These meetings have multiple purposes:

o Provide a consistent process for topics, updates and addressing issues.

o Create a consistent mechanism for communication.

o Remove ad hoc conversations about topics that distract you during the day.

o Provide a forum for negotiating and solving challenges, especially when a trend develops.

o Provide a forum for new issues and dialogue about where the com­pany is headed.

By having these meetings at regular intervals, you ensure that issues are addressed without harmful lag time. Tinker with the length and frequency to suit your business. I tend to err on the side of frequent meetings that pro­vide a rhythm to the flow of information. As your process implementation improves, you may find that you can decrease the frequency. Similarly, you may find that some departments or topic areas, require an additional weekly meeting. You can further increase your efficiency by combining meetings for different departments or topics if the inclusion is appropriate. Your goal is to keep at least eighty percent of your communication within the organized process of established meetings, and not allow the black hole of spontaneous emails and impromptu conversations swallow your time.

Build Process: For many entrepreneurs, the concept of “slowing down” to put process and structure in place seems absurd — at least initially. First and foremost, you must recognize and understand that process is an enabler that accelerates not decelerates your activity and is not a dirty word. You are going slow — but you are going slow so you can go fast. Think about it. When a fledgling business has no structure in place to manage common business issues and conflicts, the entrepreneur is left to plug the holes in the dam with whatever is on hand. Your “go to” strategy is to plug your fingers and toes into as many holes as you can, as fast as you can. If the day’s crises are particularly bad, you might need your tongue or an elbow. After all, we entrepreneurs are pretty resourceful. You may slow the tide for a day, but it’s very likely that more holes will show up tomorrow — more than you can manage with your extremities.

Process also allows you to be productive, efficient and to focus on the substance of your business. What if you had a sales presentation that could be used in a variety of customer meetings by changing just one slide? Or a clear structure for determining pricing that all your managers share? Or even if you’re running a solo business, having a process set-up for shipping — labeling software, postage meter, scale, FedEx materials and scheduled pick-ups — is much more efficient than digging for supplies and running to the post office every time you need to ship your product. Process is not a dirty word — it’s a secret password that gets you into club of successful businesses.

· Simplify Communication: Entrepreneurs live and breathe their business every minute of every day. Entrepreneurs adopt the perspective, which is normally wrong (and not usually appreciated) that their audience must know all the details of a particular issue to fully comprehend it. Most of your constituents — advisers, board members, existing or potential investors, employees or consultants — step in and out of your world. You are the only lunatic who thinks about this twenty-four-hours per day.

Colin Powell said, “Leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” Whether you are speaking with a customer, employee, investor or advisor, you must be able to quickly and succinctly convey the element of your business to them. Simple. Comprehensible. Clear.

Try these techniques:

o Weekly One Page Business Summary: When entrepreneurs neglect to establish means for regular company dialogue, communication ends up in a tangle of email replies, forwards, cc’s, and bcc’s from multiple parties. This swirl of email can take longer to unravel than to reply, and quickly uses up hours, if not days. Try this. Distribute a one-page Business Summary at the same time each week that updates company constituents on the business. This will allow you to communicate with all relevant constituents and eliminate repetitive conversations ad hoc summaries.

o One Paragraph Emails. Keep your emails to one paragraph — and that paragraph can’t be 1000 words. Most people will not read five or ten paragraph emails. Don’t risk your audience reading nothing at all.

o The One Pager. When an issue requires more detail, the communication should not exceed one page. Assume no one is reading more than one page. If you create something greater than a page, pare it down to one page — and not with font selection or size. An entrepreneur was asked by a potential investor “Can you provide me a high-level summary of the business?” She asked me to review it before she sent it. It was four pages of single-spaced content. She asked what I thought and I said, “Not sure because I would never read something that long and neither will your investor.” If you can’t communicate something in one page, you aren’t bringing clarity to the content.

o Pretend You Are on Twitter. Tailor your communications like you do when you Tweet. Distill messages to key phrases. With Twitter, you may start with 200 characters but you pare it down to 140.

Anyone can write a five-page paper on a given topic. Good leaders can distill five pages into a single, comprehensible page that everyone will read. Start training your organization and clients to expect the one paragraph and the one pager. Hopefully they will respond with the same economy.

· One Hundred Hours of Work and Ten Hours of Time: Every entrepreneur, at some point, will face some pretty harsh math. You have one hundred hours of work and ten hours of time to get it done. It is not surprising then that entrepreneurs come to work, and instead of focusing on the tasks of the day, they worry about what is not getting done. This is counterproductive. Focusing on the ninety-nine things that you can’t do that day or mentally jumping ahead to tasks that require multiple days is wasted time and effort.
 
 Once you have decided on your tasks for the day, stop worrying about other tasks and finish the ones in front of you. In the movie Apollo 13, the spacecraft suffers damage and the astronauts move through a series of procedures to prepare the spacecraft for reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Given the damage, success is hardly assured. While they are working, Bill Paxton (who plays astronaut Fred Haise, Sr.) questions whether Mission Control in Houston is giving the astronauts accurate information. Tom Hanks (who plays captain Jim Lovell) says:

“All right, there’s a thousand things that have to happen in order. We are on number eight. You’re talking about number six hundred and ninety-two… We’re not going to go bouncing off the walls for ten minutes, because we’re just going to end up back here with the same problems!”

Work the problem. Focus on the items you have determined require your attention that day. The entrepreneur’s path to success is rarely built with “giant leaps for mankind” but steadily won with, determined, daily progress. When we chip away at today’s “to do” list, we build powerful momentum for our business.

· Do the hardest thing first thing in morning. Do the most important or difficult task of the day first thing in the morning, when you are most rested and least distracted. Unfortunately, ninety per­cent of people check their email as soon as they get to work. That turns their agenda over to someone else. They do it because it’s easy and you feel more effective in a shorter time by answering emails. Focus first on the hardest task of the day. This will allow you to apply your best to the most important jobs. Resist the temptation to do mind­less or easy things to gain a brief sense of accomplishment.

· Silence your technology. When you are working on something, turn off your email and put your devices across the room with the sound off. Shifting your attention from one task to another, as we do when we’re monitoring email while also reading a report and answering text messages, disrupts our concentration and saps our focus. Each time we return to our initial task, we use up valuable cognitive resources reorienting ourselves. Research shows that when we are deeply engrossed in an activity, even minor distractions can have a profound effect. The trouble, of course, is that multitasking is enjoyable. It’s fun to indulge your curiosity. Who knows what that next email, tweet or text message holds in store? Finding out provides immediate gratification. In contrast, resisting distraction and staying on-task requires discipline and mental effort. It’s up to you to protect your cognitive resources. The more you do to minimize task-switching over the day, the more mental bandwidth you’ll have for activities that matter.

Doing more is not just about slowing down, it is about applying techniques like this that allow you to improve your skills to help you do more.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

Mindfulness is being fully aware — experiencing and engaging with all that is going on around you. Here is a good example of not exemplifying mindfulness:

I was driving to a meeting with ADP with one of our female sales reps and we were late. I’ve been known to put the pedal to the metal and we were buzzing through the streets of New Jersey trying to get to there on time. I was also talking on my phone. In the midst of casual conversation with her, she said, “Can you pull over for a second?” She opened the door, stuck her head out the window and threw up. She leaned back in the car with a look of horror on her face. This is when the ridiculousness of an entrepreneurial mind takes over. My first reaction should have been “Oh my god are you okay? Can I get you something to drink?” I looked at her for two seconds and said, “Are you okay?” She said, “I’ll be fine.” I slammed the car into drive and started speeding back towards ADP. We ran into the building and she went into the bathroom and collected herself. I remember thinking, “I wonder if we are going to blow this meeting because she smells like puke.” What I should have been thinking is that I should have planned better, left more time, driven slower and been more sensitive to the person in my car.

For us entrepreneurs, one of the greatest achievements we can aspire to is to really be in tune with all of the things going on around us and to have the emotional intelligence to understand how it affects the people around us.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives? Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

In the entrepreneurial world, employing mindfulness is a daily challenge. How do you stay present and focus on what is in front of you? Here are some ways to be more mindful during the entrepreneurial journey:

· Don’t be at work when you are not at work. Time is our most valuable asset. We take little time away from work. When you do, don’t think about work. When you do something social, or attend an event, or go to a family function, or watch a movie, be present and get engrossed in where you are. It does you no good to go and think about the business. The worst thing you can do is to take time away, go to a non-business function and spend the time thinking about the business. If you are going to take the rare time away from work to enjoy, make sure you are present. If not, don’t go. Your mind also needs to clear and your brain will appreciate different stimulus. Your mind is working twenty-four hours a day thinking about the business and it needs a break. When you let yourself experience something unrelated to work, it helps settle your mind. It doesn’t only need a break to let it rest. It needs a break to think about other things. This will help to unlock the creativity you need to advance your business. When we think about your business all the time, our perspective becomes too limited. We fail to be exposed to solutions that might come from a more balanced existence. Reading the newspaper, discussing current events, talking about fashion, discussing someone else’s business or job — all of these introduce new perspectives about the world that not only help free your mind, but might have application to your business.

· You Need a Release: Entrepreneurs will say, “Who has time to relax? The only people who can afford to go to yoga at 6 p.m. are people who have never been entrepreneurs.” While some may think that this affords you superhero status, it actually is very shortsighted. Think of a runner that runs the 100-meter dash and sprints the whole way. Now ask that same runner to run at the same speed but maintain it for a mile. It is in the DNA of many entrepreneurs to do just that. We take on all challenges, and figure the work and the stress are just part of the deal.

Of course, we should work less. Of course, we should sleep more. Of course, we should spend time having fun. Seems obvious, yet none of this makes sense to the entrepreneur who needs customers or investors, or is worrying about payroll. But if you fail to recognize what this can do to your mental and physical wellbeing, and fail to act on it, it will eventually (or very sud­denly) affect you and the organization.

You need a release — probably more than one. These were my two big ones:

o Working Out. To me, there is nothing like a good sweat. When you are kicking the crap out of yourself, it’s hard to think about your balance sheet. During the most difficult of days of my company, in early 2009, I would arrive at my office at 5 a.m. and jump on the Stairmaster we had in the gym in our office. Every day I would set it to the highest level and sweat my ass off. Sometimes after my day, I would go to the 8:45 p.m. Bikram Yoga class at 83rd and 3rd in Manhattan. Ninety minutes. One hundred and five degrees. It was cathartic. Some of the best workouts I had were during the toughest times because my mind was completely elsewhere. Breaking a sweat every day was a huge release.

o Reyna and Brendan. The time I spent with my brother’s kids, Reyna and Brendan, was magical. My brother and his wife lived on 52nd Street and Lexington in New York and I would go there Saturdays around 3 p.m. to watch them until about 7 p.m. Seeing their young faces allowed me to take a step back and get lost in their smiles. Seeing them take joy in the basics of life left me with energy to take on the challenges of being an entrepreneur. My brother and sister-in-law thought I was helping them by giving them a few hours to themselves. They were helping me a lot more by allowing me an opportunity to reorient my perspective.

The pressures of being an entrepreneur can be overwhelming. You must have outlets and even guilty pleasure you turn to for a release. This is not contrary to the idea of being an entrepreneur. This is actually a way to be a healthier, happier, more productive and more efficient entrepreneur.

· Don’t Evaluate Your Life in The Middle of The Fight: At the end of every boxing match, Jim Lampley, the famous boxing announcer, interviews the winner and asks, “Do you think this is your last fight?” More often than not, the seasoned pugilist who has just spent ten rounds in the ring replies, “I’m seriously considering it.” Wouldn’t you retire if you just got hit in the face for two hours? But two weeks later, with some rest, TLC, and the threat of another contender closing in, this same fighter is on television assuring the boxing community that his retirement is far in the future.

You absolutely must find time to evaluate your life. Being an entrepreneur can be a stressful and all-encompassing endeavor. Many entrepreneurs have started their venture only to look back and say “where did my life go?” There must be time (often with a glass or two of bourbon) for you to reflect, think about the big picture and evaluate your personal goals. Not having this time to reflect can be damaging. The problem is, entrepreneurs often feel compelled to investigate their personal life only when things go wrong — at the busiest, most inopportune moments in the middle of the busi­ness day. This is precisely the time not to do it.

When entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed, the gears come to a stop. Running in quicksand becomes walking in quicksand, and then sinking in quick­sand. When this happens, for some reason it causes many of us to use this as an opportunity to evaluate our lives. Maybe because we’ve come to a grinding halt, we think it is time to ask:

What am I doing? I have no life. I never sleep. I don’t talk about anything but this busi­ness. Everyone thinks I am crazy. I never go out. I haven’t been on a date in months, my wife/husband/children are going to forget my name soon, I’ve forgotten what the outside my office looks like. My friends have given up on me.

Meanwhile, work piles up like a multiple vehicle car crash and your employees or your cat (if you’re working solo) begin to wonder what’s going on.

While you shouldn’t evaluate the meaning of your life every day, you must put aside time to do it on a regular basis. To check in with yourself, set aside a time for two hours every other week­end either alone, or with someone you trust who is not involved in the business. You want to reflect when no one is watching. This is a time not to be on stage and to be candid with yourself about where you are.

Taking the time to check in with yourself is critical. But you can’t fight the fight and evaluate your life at the same time. Set a time for yourself every two weeks to check in and take stock of yourself. When the thought creeps into your head in the middle of the day, resist the temptation to address it and wait until your designated time. Put it on your calendar and never miss it.

· Celebrate Wins: A day in the life of the entrepreneur is like a boxing match. Win or lose, you get hit in the face a lot. Each time you take a step forward, you get energized and at almost the same time, you are exposed to new challenges. Your day is a series of ups and down. When you don’t have the resources or the capital you need, there are often more losses than wins. When you do get wins, they are energizing and reinforcing, but they always seem to raise other issues. I remember when we won our first big customer:

We were high fiving in the parking lot. We had won the health incentive business of a large national health plan and just signed the contract at their offices. It was a two-year process and winning a national health plan would likely ripple throughout the health community. The ride from Connecticut down Route 95back to New York City was packed with traffic. Who cared at this point? The team was on cloud nine. Then it hit me. Did we have the resources to support them? What if this one health plan went poorly? Were the account people we had sophisticated enough to manage a complex health plan? Would we end up customizing our technology and throwing our technology roadmap off course?

Celebrate your wins. There are many times during the meeting, the hour, the day, the week, and the month that you will get punched in the face. At early stages, wins tend to be small and incremental. Nonetheless, cele­brate them.

· Sleep: You must sleep. It is impossible to maximize your time, potential and brain power unless you sleep. I know what you are saying to yourself, “Who has time to sleep?” Not sleeping is the same as not protecting an asset of the company. If your vision was to make widgets, and you had a killer widget machine, wouldn’t you make sure it had fuel and was properly oiled? It is hard to get sleep every day when you are the entrepreneur but you must. Here are a few suggestions.

o Eight hours once per week. One day per week — preferably in the middle of the week — get eight hours of sleep. After the financial crisis of 2008, I was working twenty hours per day, but every Wednesday I went to bed at 10 p.m. and got eight hours. Made a world of difference.

o Take daily naps. Each day close your eyes for thirty minutes. No more than thirty minutes. Any longer and you run the risk of developing “sleep inertia” — that groggy feeling that takes a considerable amount of time to shake off. Power naps not only alleviate sleep deficits, but they boost our brains, including creative problem solving, verbal memory, and perceptual object and statistical learning. “Where am I going to nap, you ask? Be creative. Under your desk, in your car, in the park, on your lunch break. You’ll feel the improvement in everything you do.

o Hitting the pillow means sleep. When you put your head on the pillow at night, don’t waste time thinking about problems you can’t fix at that moment. When you are lying in bed, there is nothing you can do about your company’s issues. Once you decide to sleep, don’t think about the business. Find your version of counting sheep. I used to let my mind wander to a college baseball game or to a childhood memory. Regardless of your version of the strategy, make the commitment that once you put your head on the pillow, you are not going to waste time on things you can’t impact.

Introducing mindfulness into your day — especially when you are an entrepreneur — can be challenging. But hopefully some of these ideas will help you be more mindful in the chaos of the entrepreneurial venture.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices.

To me, it is music. There is nothing that makes me more present than a beat that gets you to close your eyes and sing. Whether it is hip-hop, Prince or an old Bruce Springsteen song, anything with a funk and a beat takes me to a different place. I would be lying if I said I have never closed my eyes and been singing along on an airplane when no one wanted to hear my voice.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Being an entrepreneur is not a job. It is an identity. It is not about starting a business. It is about living a more fulfilling life. There would be nothing more rewarding than to help people throughout the world take their passion and give them the opportunity to realize their hopes and dreams through entrepreneurship.

As I was finishing The Lonely Entrepreneur book, I spent days and nights in the hospital with my father as he was nearing the end of his life. My Dad lived a great life. But he had one regret. He had a deep belief in one idea that he never did anything about. Imagine looking back on your life and regretting the idea you never pursued. I would do anything to give him that chance. As entrepreneurs, we owe it to each other to never, never, never let that happen. We can’t let the nagging voice of our insecurity taunt us — “Am I really cut out for this?” “Can I really make this happen?” It isn’t a choice, it’s who we are. We must find a way to be better entrepreneurs so that we never look back and say to ourselves, “I wish I had.”

We must embrace our identity — and this means committing to a lifelong journey to bring ideas to life and to be the arbiters of our own visions. My father will not have that chance. But you and I can do something about it right now. If you are an entrepreneur, do not allow the ideas you have today, and the ones you will find tomorrow, to sit idle inside you. Become a stronger entrepreneur, develop empowering perspectives and give your ideas a life of their own. Give your visions all the oxygen they need, not just to breathe, but to thrive and flourish as they should.

And if I could put one more hour in their day, one more arrow in their quiver, or one more tool in their toolbox. But perhaps more importantly, I hope it has started you on a lifelong quest to be the best entrepreneur you can be, to be the innovator and leader you want to be.

Thank you so much for joining us!