How to Start not Caring What Others Think of You

I care what others think. Sometimes when I know someone is not happy with me I go bonkers. I think about it all the time. It drives me crazy. Makes me less creative.

It’s amazing what my mind will do. This is especially bad with business partners or clients. I want everyone to think I’m amazing. It’s terrible.

This often happens in partnerships. There is often tension between partners. Is the other partner/s doing enough? If I feel like a partner thinks I’m letting them down, it hurts. I’ve talked about this in a previous post. Expectations need to be set clearly in writing at the beginning and updated throughout. Just recently I asked a partner about the equity split for a new venture. I forgot that 4 months ago we emailed about it. Problem solved.

We’ve all heard that when you worry about what others think you’re in their prison. I visit prison too often. Less than I used to.

How can you stay and get out of worry-what-others-think prison? For me, the only thing is centering and meditating. You can’t think you’re way out of it. You can for a bit but it comes back and hits you harder. Sometimes in the middle of the night I’ll wake up worrying about what people think. Did I say something dumb? Probably.

Then I’ll make an elaborate mental model of why everything will be OK. I’ll convince myself. Sometimes it works sometimes not.

The only surefire way is to center myself, all the time. Centering always me to let negative emotions and comments from others pass through me. See them from a centered perspective. It’s just negative energy. Don’t fall for it. Don’t grab onto it. It’ll pass. As it passes through me it hurts. It burns. It brings about strong energy, some good, some uncomfortable. But this seems to be the way through.

After being uncomfortable, the negative feeling passes. Don’t hold onto those negative feeling. It only prevents love and creativity to flow from you.

When we push back these negative feelings, they come back, only stronger. And most important we put up more walls. More walls means less love. That’s not good.

So stop being a wimp. I know. I’m a wimp often. Instead, let’s breathe through these negative feelings. Face our worries and fears. Try to enjoy them. They’ll pass.

Then we can get back to love and creativity. Deep breath.

Continue Reading

Why Do We Need to Meditate?

It makes no sense to meditate. We just sit there and observe. What?

It does seem insane. I often think about why is it necessary for humans to meditate. It seems like something in evolution got screwed up.

There is very little written about this. Here’s my theory. Humans didn’t need to meditate when they spent all their time with nature as hunters and gatherers. Nature brings natural focus and calm. Nature takes away stress. And nature makes us step our of our mind and into the now. It just does.

When nature and humans were intertwined, meditation wasn’t as necessary. Life was more one long fluid meditation.

But then we started farming and settling. We started to tame and worry about nature. We started to worry about the crop, our animals. We became separate from nature.

Many of the major religions came about 1,000-4,000 years ago. This could be partly due to people feeling depressed after a few thousand years after the agriculture age started. Who knows.

Now we are very far removed from nature. Some days I barely step outside. That’s sad. We spend time in front of screens not trees. We try to understand events and patterns across the world. That just sounds stressful.

We need meditation to step back into nature. This can be done in your office, or bedroom or car, anywhere. It sometimes feels like a waste of time. But after it’s done I feel closer to the world and love.

That’s something.

Continue Reading

The Afternoon Fog

I get exhausted most afternoons. I eat a light lunch. I don’t think my exhaustion has to do with food.

In the morning I’m humming along. I swear I’m 5x more productive at 9am than 3pm. Try to schedule a meeting in the morning and I fight back. That’s my time to make stuff happen. Build presentations. Craft emails that people might actually respond to. Work on strategy for a project. Work on ideas for better marketing for one of our products. Although I often have to meetings in the morning.

So in the afternoon I get stressed because my energy and focus and productivity plummet. Then I worry about it and my energy drops even more probably. I try to take more breaks in the afternoon. That helps. I try to meditate a couple of times then. I also reserve that time for reading. I can read in the afternoon. I just can’t produce. I can also lead and attend meetings.

The reason I’m writing this is that I’m embarrassed by my lazy afternoons. But life ebbs and flows, so do years, so do days, so do hours. Either I can resist the flows. And suffer. Or I can embrace them.

I wish my mind was a robot. Then I could work for the Jetsons. I could also get more done. But robots are super uncreative. And they lack a conscious. Although those autonomous vehicle companies have some tough decisions to make around who to crash into, almost embedding a conscious into a robot.

I’m going to try to enjoy the afternoon brain drain. Take more breaks.

And maybe the afternoon is the best time to stay centered. That could help my tired mind. And let me connect to the world better.

Here’s to less productive afternoons.

Continue Reading

It’s Up to You

No is going to save you. No one will take you under their wing and make you rich or make you happy.

OK. They might. If it’s a close relative, they might help make you rich. Or famous. Can you believe the number of Hollywood folks with older relatives in the business. Amazing. That’s how the world works though.

For about 10 years, I always thought that if I partner with right person I’d get rich. There were about 4-5 people I partnered with over the years in commercial real estate that I thought would make my life easier. That never happened. Some of the partners weren’t better off than me I realized. And others had issues. We all have issues.

There was one when I was 23 who helped out us kids a ton. I should’ve learned more from our investor/benefactor. But I was too young and stupid to understand the opportunity we were given. Regret. I have a post on this one coming out soon.

Then when I was about 34 I realized I just have to do this myself. I got put the pieces together. I have to figure out how to add value. So I did and still am.

I’ve always worked a lot each week. So the number of hours didn’t matter. Instead I had to put together processes so I could add value to future partnerships.

By this time I had helped a lot of startups with financing and sales. I was only OK. I did realize all of them were bad at b2b lead generation. So I figured out how to build a team so we could scale lead generation. More on that later.

I also realized most companies need software. About four years ago I ran into Sajan, my Augment partner, and I realized that his Indian offshoring experience could be amazing. So we decided to start a software services company. I had no idea how to sell services (still I’m pretty bad).

I can go on about other stuff. It’s not that I’m so great. Far from it. I just want to show to others that if you want to make things happen in this world, you just need to do it yourself. Don’t wait for others. If you have a well connected or rich family, then you have a leg up. It still won’t be easy.

Our crazy minds make sure nothing is ever easy.

Continue Reading

What to Focus on?

Each day it’s hard to know what to focus on. It’s stressful. I want to optimize my time, be super efficient. What should I work on this minute? I have no one to tell me what to do, which is a blessing and curse.

Should I focus on sales for Augment? Should I focus on building a presentation for a new startup? Should I focus on testing out the Slydes platform? Should I train on a new subject like Angular or new drug discovery? Should I spend time following up with our existing clients or check-in on our current projects? Should I review our finances?

It’s endless. I love the freedom to make my own choices. But I often get stressed trying to focus on the highest priority.

I like to be strategic about using my time instead of just battling fires.

I enjoy hearing how others spend their day. I picture everyone else having perfectly planned days. In reality most people waste a lot of time. Or they spend time on the wrong priority.

I wonder if people’s success can be attributed somewhat to what they prioritize in their days. They make wiser decisions on how to spend their time.

A podcast on how people allocate their time each day would be interesting. 5 minute podcast. How a Fortune 500 CEO spends their days is very different than a CEO of a small startup. But I think they could still learn from each other.

For reducing my stress around time allocation, I’m not sure what I need to do. Of course I can breathe and center myself. That helps make wiser decisions. I can also decide based on what I like to do. It’s easer to succeed doing things you love. Sounds obvious. It is.

Everyday is different for me. I try to check-in with any issues in our India office first thing in the morning. Sajan, my CTO/partner, does a nice job taking care of a lot of issues over there. Then I try to read emails and articles. I also like to meditate first thing, if time/kids allow for it. Then I send emails and follow-ups to people around projects and sales. I try to schedule all of my meetings/calls in the afternoon. By then my brain is mushier and not as effective writing emails or posts like this. I’m writing this at 858am CT.

In between the morning and afternoon each day is different. Above I listed some of the things I work on.

Time to center and figure what to work on now. Deep breath.

Continue Reading

Chief of Staff

I was talking to someone who works at American Family, a large insurance company. They employ a ton of people in the Madison area.

When business and life doesn’t go as expected on days, I sometimes get jealous of people working at large companies. They appear to have more security. They have a more narrowly defined focus at their job. It’s easier to leave their work at home.

The politics would drive me crazy. I admire people who can make that all work.

One thing I do know is that managers and VPs at large companies are stressed. I get stressed too, but working at a large company seems more stressful. Many people want to do good work. They also have to monitor the environment for politics, people taking credit foe their work, being passed over for promotion. What a mess.

How can VPs and managers relax more at large companies? Here’s some suggestions from an outsider.

1. You have a ton of meetings. Notice how you feel during these meetings. Are you relaxed all over? Feel like you’re at the spa? You should. That’s your natural state.

If you’re not, like most of us, get centered. Take some deep breaths and watch your mind and the meeting from a centered position. You can even talk and engage while being centered.

Notice when you’re feeling negative about something, like that guy who loves to talk but does nothing. Take a deep breath.

You center and meditate all day long.

2. If you’re senior enough, bring on a chief of staff. I think it’s crazy that VPs at large companies often share an admin person. And then under them they might have 100 people. That makes no sense. The VP is the one moving the parts, creating the vision for everyone. That person needs time to think, write and reflect.

Take one of those 100 people, a talented driven person, and make them your chief of staff. They should be your right hand person. They can attend meetings on your behalf, make decisions on your behalf (yes, you don’t need to decide everything) and help execute a plan.

That will free up the VPs time to work on higher value higher priority stuff. They will also not burn out. They will also not spend their entire days answering email with any free moment.

For the company, more chief of staffs will let your senior executives focus on high value work. It will also allow you to evaluate your senior executives faster because they will have more time to work on stuff that will impact the organization. They will chase fewer fires. Their impact should be felt faster. If not, something is wrong.

That’s my advice from an outsider. Have fun.

Continue Reading

Never Enough

Check out this song. Never enough.

I often feel like what I’m doing is Never Enough. I don’t come up with enough brilliant ideas. I don’t send enough emails. I don’t make enough money. It’s never enough.

This is a sad way to live. If I always perceive that whatever I do is Never Enough, then I’ll always be struggling against relaxing and enjoying the moment.

Then someday I’ll die. Then I’ll realize how much time I wasted worrying about having Enough. What a waste. So much time is wasted on being tense about not having Enough.

What does it feel like when you feel like you have enough? Peace. I’m relaxed all over. That doesn’t happen much, but it’s happening more.

It feels good. It feels right. And when it happens, I’m always like why in the world don’t I just relax all the time.

I can still strive to be a great business person, father, husband and friend. I’ll just do it with a smile on my face.

I get into this peaceful zone and then every time something disturbs the peace. It could be an email from a partner asking for information I already provided. It could be a client saying they’re going to reduce their work with us, or they don’t have money to pay us. It could be anything.

And then I’m thrown out of this peaceful bubble. That’s ridiculous. Am I so fragile that any little thing causes a the bubble to break. Yes. Our minds make us all fragile. The difference between me and those who are super enlightened, is that they feel the same pain and uncomfortable feelings, but they process and let go of those feelings right away.

Uncomfortable feeling comes in, uncomfortable feeling goes out. I can do this by staying centered, by watching these feelings and just relaxing with them and life.

It’s insanity if I don’t relax almost all the time. Time to relax.

Continue Reading

Letting People Down

I’m letting people down on a team

Do you ever feel you’re letting people down? I do. It sucks. It stresses me out. I want everyone to like me and think I’m superman all the time.

I have one project right now where I know the team wants more of my time. It’s tough for all parties. I know what I’m working on isn’t in my wheelhouse, but there is no one else. It’s detailed financial analysis. I’m OK at it, but not amazing.

When I’m letting people down, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. That doesn’t help anything except maybe I’ll develop some complex strategy in my mind to make it all better. Craziness.

So what do I do when I wake up in the middle of the night like this? I try to sleep. That doesn’t work. Then I try to meditate while in bed. I’m too lazy and tired to sit up. Meditating helps. Just watching my crazy brain. It puts things in perspective. I try to enjoy my crazy mind.

But it really doesn’t help me fall back asleep. I’ve learned that I have to wait out that negative adrenaline rush. It usually takes about an hour. Then I’m back to sleep until one of my kids wakes me up.

So how can I make this better?

Set expectations with the team. Here’s an example: I’ll connect with these potential clients (compensation could be based on sales closed). My software team will build the logo and website. And I’ll help create the pitch deck.

This is what I’ll do. This is the timeline. For this contribution, this will be our compensation (equity, cash).

Put it in writing. And keep repeating this throughout the project. People forget. I do too.

Setting expectations to me feels awkward. Everyone wants more of you. So you will disappoint the team upfront. But like meditation and facing your fears, a little pain upfront greatly reduces pain in the future. Just rip off that band aid.

With expectations set, and assuming you try your best to fufill those expectations, we can all sleep a little better.

Continue Reading

Stay Centered at Your Desk

That sounds crazy. How would I get anything done staying centered while I work?

It’s easier to stay centered while meditating. You have no distractions. You can just watch your mind and breath and be aware of your awareness. Of course it’s not easy. My crazy mind makes sure of that.

My mind at work with in a 30 second period: “I should’ve said something different to that person, next second “I wonder what Tim from high school is doing now”, next second “I’m nervous for my meeting in one hour.” That’s our mind at work.

With meditation, this noise becomes less. And you just relax with particular uncomfortable feelings.

So what about at your desk? Staying centered is similar except you’re just aware of your awareness.That part of you that is your essence. There are many words for this in different religions. One way I find my center is to feel yourself dying. What’s left? Your essence.

When centered your entire body should be relaxed. If you’re not sure what centering is, don’t despair. It’s super confusing, hard to explain and often I’m not sure I’m doing it right after many many years.

So just relax. Relax your muscles and most important, your mind. Watch your mind.

You can do better work while centered. It’s now your essence doing the work along with your mind when needed. Your essence, true self, is much wiser than your mind. It’s also much less fearful so you can work fast and smart. You won’t worry what everyone is thinking of you when you work with your true self. You also won’t get as tired.

The difficult part is to remember to be centered. It’s almost impossible to remember. I remember by reading spiritual books on a regular basis. And when I feel tension coming up like in a meeting, I remember to breathe, relax and center.

I’m far from perfect. But makes me a little less insane.

Continue Reading

Regrets Hurt

I have regrets. Lots of them. I have regrets from one hour ago. “I should’ve said this on the sales call”. I have regrets from growing up. “I should’ve asked this girl out”. Shoot.

Regrets limit our thinking. When we’re regretting, we’re living in the past. Punishing ourselves for things not done to our expectations.

I’ll write future posts on regrets. I’ll share regrets around business. Other posts will be how I try to deal with regrets.

Let’s talk about a business one. About 5 or 6 years ago I was partners with two other people in a firm. We were called Iconos. I loved the two other partners. We were trying to put together deals, mainly helping raise money. We never put one deal together. We were all part-time and probably not aggressive enough.

We did come across three deals where we could’ve done well. One of them would’ve been a competitor to Peloton. Peloton let’s you workout on your bike with other people across the world. You can race together virtually. They’re now worth north of $1 billion.

The competing company was based in Madison. The owner is a pretty brilliant inventor. He had bought the technology and continued to develop and enhance it. It was cool. It worked. It might’ve been ahead of Peloton at the time.

I feel like this was one of those I missed big time. The best thing about regrets is what you can learn from them, both from a practical and spiritual standpoint. Spiritually they let you practice letting go and relaxing with the regrets. Freeing you up to live now. Thank you regrets:)

Practically, I learned a couple of things from this:

1. I should’ve pushed the owner a little harder to raise money, clean up the operations. I was too nice. You can always be nice. But I wasn’t direct enough. You can be direct yet still do it with love.

2. This technology worked on pretty much any stationary bike. Peloton only works on their own bikes (or at least did at the time). I thought that limited their potential market. I was wrong. By integrating their technology into their own bikes they could control the hardware and software and the experience. We would’ve depended on third party companies to work with us. That would’ve been more of the Windows way. Peloton chose the Apple way.

If possible, I would’ve chose both ways and see which one gathered steam faster. We could’ve worked with a third party bike manufacturer to brand our own bikes.

This all seems easy in hindsight. But I know at the time the company was stressed to the max.

Regrets. Thank you and good bye until next time.

Continue Reading
Close Menu