On Being an Early Riser

“The Early Bird Catches the Worm”. This is just one of the many sayings about the importance of being early. If there’s one thing that studies commonly show about “successful people” it is that they tend to rise early.

Myself, I am a wannabe morning person. I’m not the one to sleep away the whole mornings, but I am also not the one to naturally get up really early. But I want to be.

Why is this you ask? It’s actually quite simple. You get ahead. Quickly. Just think about it. If you are up and start your day at 5am, you will have had time to catch up on the news, do some important work and be ready to tackle the rest of the world as it wakes up around 8-9am. It works because most people do not get up early, but if you do, you are already at an advantage to everyone else.

As uncomfortable as it may feel, a personal goal of mine is trying to be an early riser. At least a 6am start is where I want to end up. I also know that I am much more effective in the morning hours compared to late at night in general.

I’ll be the first to admit that it is a bit of a challenge, but improving is never easy and we all like a bit of a challenge once in a while, right? So we’ll just have to see in a few months: Have I become the early riser that I want to be?

I’m sure you have also been to one of these parties where someone is schmoozing their way through, deciding instantly if you are someone who could be valuable to them. Sadly, this has become known as networking.

Generally, speaking about networking, people tend to be too business focused and naive. See, it isn’t all about immediate business, it is about building a network with fun, interesting and kind people. Instead of thinking about what this person can do for you right now, be human and make friends.

Networking with the goal of building long-term relationships are what builds up a good network with people. Plus, just as with traveling and meeting people, it is much more fun.

I make it a point to actively keep growing my network. Reaching out to people. Connecting. Talking. If you feel that you don’t have a good enough network—and you should!—make it a point to try and connect with someone new every week. Just think about what a great network you will have in just a few short years.

Let me tell you the real key though. It is being genuinely interested in people, what they do and who they are. This is how you build long-term relationships that are worth something both personally and in your career or business.

All the craze nowadays is about how you can manage your entire business online and build virtual teams. Last week I wrote about how important I think in-person meetings are, and that I don’t think they can be completely replaced. I do however completely believe in online and remote teams.

Putting it in another way, how could I not? I built most of my customer base in the United States while being based in Sweden, having never set foot in the US, that before I even had local clients. What a different world we live in today and am I not grateful for being able to have these opportunities!

The thing is, for a remote team to work, all parties need to believe in it. If it is us with a client, the client also needs to believe that geography isn’t an obstacle. Not all clients do. It is the same with a more typical team. Everyone needs to be on board with the idea.

I have worked in projects, both us with clients, and in other positions that failed miserably because not everyone believed it could be done and would take responsibility for making it work.

You see, the key, I believe, to remote teams is to use a lot of text based communications in an open chatroom kind of format as possible. This creates the office atmosphere and what I think is most important, creates a transparent environment that you have in an office.

Email is a very closed system that ideally is just between a couple of people. In an open chatroom, your team can read up on conversations between other team members, may jump in with an insight, and at the very least just be aware of what is going on in the organization.

All projects with remote teams that I have worked with that have failed, have lacked this transparency and openness. Consider this a key to a successful remote team. And remember the two golden rules of communication: Nobody has ever been blamed for communicating too much, and, communication is what the listener does.

I’ll be honest and say it right up front. I like traveling. As a matter of fact, I am writing this post in the air. I also travel more than most people do, but nowhere near as much as others I know. I hold my Star Alliance Gold Card proudly and I get to enjoy my lounges at the airport (a godsend when you travel for work). I also mostly fly in business class on long haul flights. And I am very thankful and humble for being able to do this.

Many ask me why I spend a good deal of money traveling to meet people and for meetings, when you can just as well hold them online. Simple answer: It really is not a replacement.

Here’s the deal. Meeting new people and having those first meetings is best done in person. The difference in the quality of the relationships that you develop are astounding and I owe a lot of my business success to traveling.

While regular project meetings can (and should!) definitely be done online, being able to meet customers face to face and talking to them once in a while makes all the difference in your relationships. It’s a human thing. Plus, when traveling you always meet new and interesting people.

Going to conferences is another topic which in general is very worthwhile, even though I try limiting my conferences to ones that I speak at nowadays.

Simply put: Connecting with people, meeting new people and building relationships is crucial to the success of my business. I gladly spend the money and time on travel because in the long run, it undoubtedly comes back.

I enjoy doing a lot of things. From simply being a businessman, teaching web and media, doing consulting work, developing websites for clients to being a great guy and helping people with their web and tech related problems.

What I’ve found, would you believe it, is that it really is time to focus. This is no business driven decision. This is a health decision. You see, there comes a time when you have to realize that despite all of these things without a problem being doable in the amount of time you are given each day, each comes with its own sets of accountability and pressure.

The problem is that as this pressure on you builds up, it quickly becomes too much, as each area explodes at, interestingly enough, the very same time.

There is a rule as much in business as in life known as the 80/20 rule. 80% of the results comes from 20% of the efforts. Realizing that this holds true in most situations, you also realize when it is time to focus.

Unfortunately, giving up things you love doing is not an easy task. The jury is still out on exactly how I am going to tackle this, but trust me, there is a limit to how much you want to do, long term.