How do you increase your productivity so you could get more free time? That’s what this interview is about.
As the founder of SET Consulting, Jared Goralnick helped hundreds of companies make real productivity gains. After selling that business, he went on to launch AwayFind, which lets you stop checking your inbox every 5 minutes but still allows urgent emails to find you quickly by pushing them right to you with alerts.
Jared Goralnick, AwayFind
Jared Goralnick is the founder of AwayFind.com, a web application that lets you stop checking your inbox every 5 minutes but still allows urgent emails to find you quickly by pushing them right to you with alerts.
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Hey, everyone, my name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How do you increase your productivity so you can get more free time? As the founder of SET Consulting, Jared Goralnick helped hundreds of companies make real productivity gains. After selling that business, he went on to launch awayfind.com, which lets you stop checking your inbox every five minutes, but still allows urgent emails to find you quickly by pushing them right to you with alerts.
I invited him here, not because necessarily you want to find free time or I want to find free time to sit on a beach somewhere, but so that, sometimes, we could just free up a little bit of space to sit and think about our future, think about what we started our businesses for, think about where we want to take our lives, our companies, in the future. I want us to just not spend time getting bogged down in the minutia of business and I invited Jared here to help us do that.
Jared, first question, the most important question, of course I’m asking it as the first question, how much did you sell your company for?
Jared: How much did I sell SET for? Actually, I’m not able to disclose that since it was a private sale, but I appreciate you’re asking. I will say that it changed a bit of my life though.
Andrew: It did?
Jared: For the better, for certain.
Andrew: How did it change your life?
Jared: Well, in particular, it was more the moving on than just the finances, but I was able to move to San Francisco. I was able to focus on a product and on a dream and bring on some people that I really enjoy working with. So some of that was the financials, and a lot of it was the ability to have closure. So selling a business, in addition to all the, you know, being able to say, you sold a company, and some of the financials around it, it’s real closure and that’s a great thing.
Andrew: OK. I said it, of course, in a kidding way. It’s not the most important question, but it is a question that I like to ask guests and sometimes they give me the answer and surprise everyone, including themselves. AwayFind we’ll find out a little bit more about that. This interview isn’t about your companies, it’s about our audience and about how we can make them more productive, but they’re, I’m sure, wondering, “Who is this guy? And why is he here to tell us about productivity?” So let’s get to know you just a little bit and then jump into productivity. AwayFind, how much money did you raise for that business?
Jared: I raised about $800,000 for AwayFind.
Andrew: $800,000. All right. One of the things that I found out about you as I was setting this interview up is, I asked you about, like, “How great a productivity person are you? Are you able to organize everything so that it fits into four minutes a week and the rest of the week you’re able to hang out and drink tea?” And you confessed something to me, which, I’d like you to tell the audience. You said, “Hey, I’ve struggled with productivity my whole life.” How do you mean?
Jared: Well, you know, I was always the guy that was continually distracted. You know, and interestingly, I did all right in high school because I was able to have, you know, eight classes, followed by stuff after school and, you know, everything was so structured. But then all of the sudden, you get into the real world, especially if you want to work for yourself, and, you know, things aren’t laid out for you and you have to make decisions. That’s the biggest challenge for working independently, for starting your own thing is, is that no one is going to tell you what to do. Even if they give you money, you still are on your own.
So I was the most distracted. I made a decision early on to step away from games because I knew that I could just get totally immersed in them. I don’t watch television. Those are some of the basic things. Over time, I kept reading and learning about ways to build habits for myself or enforce discipline for myself because it just did not come easy to me to stay focused and to stay on task and to do things that I wasn’t told to do.
Andrew: All right. Despite that, you were able to become productive. You were able to teach others how to increase their productivity and you’ve given talks about productivity. Did you talk to the FBI about productivity? You helped them increase their productivity?
Jared: We worked with the FBI, the U.S. Marshal Service, HP, NTT DoCoMo, hundreds of clients at my last company as well as lots of groups and so forth. That’s always been my thing. If I can learn something that can help me, I want to help others with it too.
Andrew: All right. You and I have spent about an hour, in fact longer, you in addition to it spent even more time prepping for this interview and the reason is that I want to give the audience something that they can use right now and for the next week because if we give them tactics that they can use quickly, then we’re going to open up their minds to big ideas that will carry them for the rest of their lives. So what’s the first tactic that that person that is listening to us right now can implement?
Jared: Something that they can do right away is they can turn off all notifications. As a matter of fact, it’s funny, you were asking about an example when we were chatting about this before, when I was raising money I was actually doing a video conference like this and I was explaining my company to someone who was a younger VC and he wasn’t completely familiar with the problem my product solves, which is helping people to get away from interruptions. Then all of a sudden he’s like, could you repeat that? Wait, I think I understand your product Jared. He basically got an email and went down this little rabbit hole and completely lost his train of thought.
We’re all familiar with the idea that when we’re in a conversation that something comes up and then we completely lose our train of thought with people, but we don’t often notice that all day long we’re trying to focus on various things and when those interruptions come at us it completely sends us down these rabbit holes. People lose about one-third of their day to interruptions and the time it takes to get back on track.
The tactic, the very specific thing everybody should do right now, is to go onto their mobile device and turn off all the sounds and notifications for things like their email, their Facebook. We’ll talk later about other alerts you might want to keep, but generally speaking for Twitter and certainly also to go to things like your Netflix cue or your Amazon and your Amazon receipts and things and set it up so those things are not coming to your inbox, whether it be because they’re interrupting you or they’re overwhelming you. There’s just all kinds of things that are completely transactional and we’re going to find out about them later, so there’s no reason for us to get additional alerts that sends us down rabbit holes right now.
Andrew: You know what? It feels to me like winning now in the software game and the apps game and the social networking game means sending more and more notifications. I signed up to chime.in just to see what it was about. Within, I think it was an hour, I started getting alerts about which of my friends joined Chime, which of my friends added something to Chime. I don’t even know what Chime is, I’m not sure I like them, but I definitely don’t need them interrupting me.
Then there are things that I just don’t expect to cause notifications like chess.com. I installed the app on my phone because I love playing chess. The middle of my day I get an alert, the person you’re playing with made a move. I’d say, well you know, I could leave that on and I could hold off until later in the day.
I couldn’t. I got the notification, I felt the need to either respond to it or think about it and I went in and I turned off those notifications. What other notifications like chess, like things that we wouldn’t necessarily expect to send us notifications are there out there? Help me think of what else I should shut off. Now as I’m talking to you on Skype I’m thinking I’d better turn off the Skype notifications. People pop up all the time with messages. In fact, I am on do not disturb, which is good, which means that I won’t get messages while we’re talking.
Jared: And I am as well. On Skype it’s up to you whether you do the do not disturb, but if you really don’t want people to bug you while you’re on Skype for things you haven’t scheduled, I think there’s an invisible mode or something. Social networks are the main culprit of the actual notifications and of course social games being tied in with that, anything with the word social in front of it.
The other side of it is not necessarily notifications, but it’s kind of the volume of things that come into email. It’s anything that’s going to come in duplicate. Do you really need to know when Netflix receives your DVD in the mail? Do you need to get a receipt from Amazon? You’ve probably been using the site for ten years. You get the idea that after you’ve checked out that it’s going to send you a receipt.
So it’s turning all those things either off or hiding them and in Facebook, they’ve changed the notification structure a lot, but everybody should go to their Facebook.com and go to their notifications area. And there’s like 500 boxes still and you should uncheck all of them, except for the direct messages. The direct, you know, like when someone is contacting you specifically. You shouldn’t get an email for stuff that you’re going to see anyway, because you’re never going to forget to check your email and you’re never going to forget, probably, to log into Facebook, so why do you need those things in duplicate.
Andrew: Alright, what’s the next tactic?
Jared: The next tactic is not to leave anything in your inbox. What I mean by that, is actually first off, picture. What I mean by that is to picture an actual physical mail box and consider the idea that when you got mail in the old days you would take your mail out so you wouldn’t just leave stuff in it. Why is it that we’re leaving stuff in our email inbox or other inboxes? It should behave the same way.
I was actually working with someone, actually a Google product manager recently, and he had over ten thousand messages in his inbox and I’m going to actually talk to you about some of the strategies about how to process things in your inbox, but he like many of your listeners, had that initial problem of there’s just so much stuff already there so even if I create this system for how to process email, how do I start.
For him, what we actually did was we took all of the existing messages that were in there that he wasn’t sure whether they were processed or not, put it into another folder and it was sort of like the to process folder from the old stuff that he dealt with Jared and then from there on he used a good process for going through all of his inbox and then he used, he applied that same process to a hundred or so, hundred and fifty messages from the other inbox, you know every day.
Also, just searching for things and just getting rid of them. But the idea is that, first of, a week later he was just, the amount of emails I’ve received back from this person, it makes me want to get back out of the product space and go back into training and doing things like this because I’ve never gotten so many thank yous within a few weeks, because this person who is in charge of hundreds of people at Google now has some peace. When things are in your inbox, the challenge with an inbox is that it’s organize based on the stuff you received most recently, and that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, like, there’s no, just because something is newer doesn’t mean that it’s more important than the thing you received two hours ago which you still haven’t dealt with.
And similarly, the subjects don’t give you any context as to what’s actually going on because oftentimes, it’s like Intro: Jared/Andrew Warner. It’s like, who is this Andrew Warner guy, maybe I know him but does this have to do with an interview or was this, it’s likely that a week after this you’re asking me for some software product I mentioned during this interview and all I have to do is send you the link to the software product, but I don’t know that from the subject. I don’t know that that’s the actual discreet task.
So, what we should be doing is, we should be using our inbox as a place that we temporarily, like a hot potato, just hold onto and just pass on to something appropriate and what I’m about to share with you isn’t new, it’s very similar to Inbox Zero, or to Getting Things Done. There’s basically three or four tactics you should do, three of four specific things you should do when you’re going through your email. One is if you can deal with that message right now, then, in other words if it can take you two or three minutes or less just process it right now, just reply, just get it out of the way. If it’s something that’s going to take longer, then create a task.
Everybody that’s listening to this, really should have a task list because a task list you can put in a certain order, you can give actually titles to it and it just so happens that if you use Gmail there is a task feature in Gmail, you can just add to tasks, there’s even keyboard shortcuts. So, what’s nice about the Gmail’s task feature is it links it back to the email so that even though it’s in your task list and you can give it a new name, with one click, you’re then back at the actual contact. So create a task, reply to it right away, archive or delete.
Those are the kinds of things that you should be doing within two minutes or as soon as you get to every single message. There’s also the possibility you might create a read later kind of thing, but oftentimes I’ll just put that on the task list. If you’re thinking what I just described is sort of a lot to take in, you could just Google the two minute rule. I’ve written articles about it on TechnoTheory.com and many other people like Merlin Mann and David Allen have written articles about that, so this isn’t new.
And the beauty is, that when your inbox is empty, and you have to trust me on this, the very first time that you have an empty inbox, there’s literally something that goes on in your head, there’s this feeling, you know, it’s like when I described the closure for selling my company, only it’s every day, it’s like, OK, now I can do what I want to do. Now I can make a decision as opposed to letting the world decide for me. That happens every time your inbox is empty.
Andrew: It really is. I got Inbox Zero and I lived at Inbox Zero fro weeks and felt that sense of freedom and then I got caught up with a bunch of email and I’m still working down that list. I think I’m going to do what you suggested to the Google product manager who came to you for advice. I think I’m going to tag them all as bankruptcy, mark them all as read and get back to them later on, but go back to having a free inbox, because my mind does get freer. All right, respond, add to ask, archive, or delete. Great. What’s the next tactic?
Jared: Another one is to get stuff out of your head. Along the same lines of getting that mental freedom. This is straight out of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, he has this really interesting metaphor. He calls it ‘Mind Like Water,’ which is the idea that you have a lake and you picture a rock falling into the lake and there’s ripples that come around and how many ripples come when you drop a rock in? Well the exactly the appropriate number of ripples based on the size of the rock, how you threw it, other little factors, but essentially it’s an exactly appropriate response and that’s how we should be.
When something happens to us, we should respond appropriately to that situation. We shouldn’t be responding based on the fact that we’re thinking about other stuff and it’s bothering us or there’s something else that we have to remember. Let’s say you’re spec-ing out a project. If you’re working with your team and you have this really long list of things and you need to put it together. You want to focus on that. You shouldn’t also be thinking about the fact that you have to pick up something after work or you might have a meeting in 15 minutes and you don’t want to forget that you have that meeting.
Again, this is going to be another one of those two step things where there’s the what you should do on a day to day basis and there’s the what you should do to start and the starting thing is really wonderful. I’ve done these in workshops so you all could pause this video if you wanted and do this right now. Take a blank sheet of paper and just start writing whatever is on your mind. Don’t look at your task list first if you have one. You can do that in the second part, but first, just write out everything that’s on your mind. It’s sort of cathartic. You just write it all out and then if you’d like you can go to your task list and your email and see if there’s other stuff you need to capture, but the idea is first just get it out of your head. I like actually writing it, some people type, but whatever it is, just get it out of your head. That is the catharsis part.
The second part is start having a system you rely on. I mentioned a task list before. The most classic example of having something you rely on is, of course, a calendar, where everybody has a calendar on their phone and now it hopefully syncs to their Google calendar or their exchange calendar. Everybody should at least rely on their calendar reminders. I shouldn’t be thinking at 8:45 a.m. Pacific time that I have a call with Andrew in 45 minutes and then keep thinking every ten minutes that I might miss it.
No, I should get a reminder five minutes before that thing and I should trust it. If I have something that requires me to be somewhere in 45 minutes, I should put something on my calendar that says, “You’re going to be driving during this time.” I don’t mean you have to always be that thorough, but if you can rely on, for starters, a calendar. I mean really rely on that, then it means that it’s not in your head, ever, and that’s the very first thing.
Time based things are the most bothersome in terms of weighing us down. The next part is whenever you have that idea, really find a way to immediately get it into something that’s organized and even if you never come back to it because a lot of people say I don’t have a system for going back to my task list. Well you what, you don’t have a system for going back through your mind. That doesn’t really work. Even if it’s on paper, preferably if the final task list is somewhere organized and synchronized so it’s backed up and all that. Get it there and then when you do decide to review, which you will eventually have even if it’s a few months from now and you’re on a plane and you have extra time. You’ll go through those ideas, but don’t keep it in your head or it’s so hard to be present.
Andrew: What do you use as a notebook to keep track of all these ideas?
Jared: I use a few different things. For the most part actually it’s Google tasks and the main reason for that, well for a long time I did training and I wanted to use tools that everybody had access to rather than cost money or Mac or PC specific and things like that. Partly because it integrates right in with Gmail and many people that are listening to this, almost everything starts with email. Not necessarily the things that I think of, but the other stuff. So something that just brings all that together and is right in the email interface is very convenient for me and then I use Chrome and using the Chrome task extension. I have my browser open right here, I can press Alt-D, which brings me to the tasks, the area where I can type in the URL and type T space and whatever happens to be and then press enter and that will immediately create a task for whatever it was I thought of.
Similarly, either the Google tasks synchronize with either my Android or my iPhone, so I mean any of those kind of things. It’s just everywhere, it’s even on my Windows phone. I use all these things for our development and it just works. So, I’d rather be electronic, but at the same time when I have a really long thought, I do like writing. Often times I’ll have a journal near me and paper.
Andrew: One thing that I found when I did that is, suddenly the to-do list becomes overwhelming. At least if my inbox is overwhelming I’m forced to go into that inbox every day and I kind of want to see what new surprise will be in the inbox when it pulls in the emails. But if it’s on a task list, it just disappears and it becomes this big burdensome hidden thing that I never get to but still feels like an obligation that gets bigger and bigger with each task. So, what do you do about clearing out the task list?
Jared: So a couple of things, one of the reasons that people aren’t effective with their task list is because they’re not effective with getting their inbox to zero. What I mean by that is, during this interview emails are accumulating for you and for me. At the end of this interview, I could go to my tasks list or I could go to me email. Now my email is, I know that somehow or another I have to get through stuff in there because it’s necessary for my, or not even that I have to get through it, like even if I didn’t have a system, like I’m going to hit my inbox because it is still the source of things.
I’m always going to look at my inbox just like I’m always going to go at some point to Facebook. Whereas there’s no rule in a book that says, I’m always going to go to my task list. No, there isn’t. So, you need to make sure that you either empty your inbox or completely close your inbox if you want your task list to do something, because if your inbox is the only thing you pay attention to, you’re always going to have enough stuff there to dissuade you from ever getting to your task list. So, there needs to be a certain shift if in your mind from, this is where stuff is that matters, you know from the inbox to, this is where stuff matters has to shift from the inbox to the task list. And once you recognize that that’s really the most important place. There really shouldn’t be too many destinations in your day and by that I mean things you really, really check all the time.
The calendar should come to you for notifications, you should create things in your calendar when you need appointments with people and you need to coordinate. You shouldn’t otherwise just like be in your calendar, there’s no, I mean yes you need to look at what your day is, but generally speaking, like the calendar is notifications and you’re email should be when you decide that you kind of want more. When you’re like, what’s next? Your task list should be the main place where you’re looking and the tactical way to make sure that the whole, to solve the whole too long problem, is that to make sure that you have a list that’s for today, and a list that’s just capturing.
So, I end up having sort of three lists that relate to, like generally I have three lists, I have quite a few more if you want to talk specific, but generally I have the list of stuff that’s coming up, the list of stuff that’s now and the list that’s sort of someday, maybe. I give them different names for it, but that’s generally what it is. The today list I really do my best to get through and if nothing else there’s always at least one thing that is the most important that I will get through and ideally, and this isn’t always the case, but ideally I won’t be doing anything with my email in the morning and I’ll be instead doing that one thing that’s really at the top of my task list.
And if you, the GTD answer to this, the Getting Things Done answer to this, is to have a weekly review where you look through stuff, you delete things, you move them around and whether you do it weekly or not, the key is that again, the inbox isn’t your main concern, the task list will become your main concern. And then at that point, you won’t have that much trouble moving things around and deleting things and then you’ll probably create some buckets like blog posts, or movies to watch, or things at the grocery store, things to do at home. So, I end up having some of those buckets as well. The list that matters most ends up being the today list.
Andrew: All right, next tactic, what else do we need to know to do?
Jared: This one’s, it’s not as much a day to day thing, it’s a measure the right thing. Because this I feel like sends us, just overwhelms us in our head as well. I used to be really, really into social media. I paid attention to my Twitter followers, my Facebook friends, page views, RSS, all that kind of stuff and it wasn’t good for anything. It ended up, it basically, it was, it basically ended up replacing the end with the means, or the other way around in this particular case.
It certainly wasn’t about the voyage. It wasn’t about the value of actually either getting relationships from people or making money off of my product or things like that. I think there are all different signals in our life that indicate our various popularity or success in the eyes of some computer, but more importantly there are ones that actually matter to us and much like the idea that you don’t need to constantly, I’ll get into more things you shouldn’t be doing all day long, but the email being one of them.
Similarly, you don’t need to know how many followers you have fifteen times a day. So anything you can do to just sort of just start thinking about what are the things that really, really matter and focusing on those numbers and then trying to just get the other ones out of your head. If you’re running a start-up, you will very quickly realize that in the process of the funnel, there’s about 500 things you can track and most of them are incidental, most of them don’t really, really matter to your success. If you spend all your time focused on the thing that’s right at the bottom of the funnel, like some little like box that people aren’t checking, when in reality everybody is like disappearing much higher on then you’re just wasting your time.
So, it’s important to recognize sort of three different categories. There are the things that really matter in terms of your business. There’s the things that really matter in terms of yourself and then there’s things for your business that really aren’t making a big impact right now and then there’s things for yourself that more are just sort of congratulatory or just make yourself feel good but don’t actually at the end of the day, you know, affect who you are as a person. And getting past those things makes it a lot easier to focus on the right stuff. And I think it is something that people actually have to think about at least once. I think I may have lost your audio, Andrew, I’m sorry.
Andrew: Sorry. I get carried away with the, so while we’re talking, by the way, people pop in, give me packages, like this, talk about notifications, talk outside here so I hit the mute button while they were doing that.
Jared: No problem.
Andrew: What I was saying was, I get notifications all the time, not notifications but numbers all the time in front of me. Things like Twitter followers like you said and Facebook and it’s real easy to get carried away with that, even traffic numbers are easy. But they’re not really significant, as you said, but how do you find what is the right number for you to look at. Like, for us even here at Mixergy, we for awhile were thinking, why don’t we look at the revenue numbers, right? If revenue is going up that means more people are paying for our stuff here.
If more people are paying for the courses it means that the courses are improving, right? But, first of all, revenue is a lagging indicator. You have to do a whole lot of things right in order for the revenue to go up. And secondly, that’s not a clear indication of our impact, it’s more audience revenue that really matters, our audience growth that really matters. So, it’s not that easy to find the right number. What have you done at AwayFind to figure out what your right number is?
Jared: It’s tough when you’re looking for then to figure out this. Because ultimately you want to figure out what is the variable that affects revenue because you can’t just be like, give me money, you know, like, yes, if you are, I suppose if you’re raising money you know then give me, there’s very little. If all you are asking for then maybe that’s the end. But for us, it’s, I mean maybe this sounds cliché but it’s all about paying attention to the funnel and which parts to focus on. So, the numbers actually are different at different times, you know.
We just recently had a team meeting with sort of the business side of my team. There are nine of us at the company and three of us that are a little bit more on the business side, and we were, you know it was the first big meeting in a while. You know, a couple days kind of thing and I asked my Director of Marketing, Brian, kind of you know, what he was interested in focusing on and he was talking about improving a lot of the stuff. Oh, we need to improve this so that we end up getting you know, high conversions down here and then we’ll focus on the top of the funnel.
I was like, this is our runway, or actually, more like this is our runway and we’ve actually spent much of the company’s history improving the conversion rate and our conversions are pretty good. You go to our homepage, there’s a chance you’ll sign up, a good chance. And, you know, we ended up refocusing the team to think, you know, for the first time, like, you know, we’re now going to start talking about the top of the funnel. How do we get people in the door, you know?
And, that led to discussions around focusing on, industries to focus on and partnerships to focus on and resellers. And of course, there’s order to this, you don’t just get a reseller, you don’t just get an enterprise customer, and you don’t just go out on a big list. You know, these are all, these all have an order to them. But I did know that we didn’t need to focus on, you know, a particular like place on the homepage. Like, we didn’t need to move buttons around or anything.
Essentially, it’s very easy with the lean start-up stuff, or in other words, we didn’t need to do as much of the measurable stuff. We needed to just dump shit on the top, pardon my language. You have to know, in our case it was like we don’t need to think about the numbers as much. Yeah, we have to pay attention to the revenue with the ad, but the idea is that if a hundred people enter the funnel and ten of them come out paying, or is the problem that ten isn’t a good enough number, or is the problem that that hundred is just way too small?
So, that’s the whole thing is that it isn’t about numbers, it’s about what you’re trying to accomplish. And that’s how we think about things. At what point do we need to focus on which part?
Andrew: I actually did a course with Juan Martitegui about this, and it was so impactful for me that we’re going to change the whole business around this, this idea that he says, “Look, every company has a funnel as you described in your company”, and he goes, “Here are the four critical points in the funnel, the place where people come to the top and the orders. I don’t want to get into the details of it because I’m not going to do it justice right now. But he says, “Focus on each of those four.”
I’m not going to do it justice. First, I want to spend a little more time on it internally and then talk about it, but it was just so frickin’ impactful. To organize all of our thinking internally, we’ve setting up measurement so that we can make sure to focus one each of those four sections and measure the results. Then, I’ll talk about it with the audience later, and then, of course, they’ll see in on the site when it launches.
Jared: Sure. I want to just point out one thing which is that everybody that I hire at my company, I tell them to watch Startup Metrics for Dave McClure’s video, and I know that gets around a lot, probably amongst your readers are watchers, or purists, but every discussion we have at our company we always talk about: is it about acquisition, activation or referral revenue, as Dave calls it, RRRs. When we’re clear on what we’re trying to improve, we make a lot better decisions about whether a decision is worthwhile.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s essentially what we’re talking about, just figure out where those key moments are in your funnel and focus the hell out of those four or whatever number you decide to break it down into.
Before we go to the next one, I’ve got to ask you about your chair. The back of it’s different. What kind of chair are you sitting in?
Jared: It’s just an orange IKEA chair.
Andrew: It’s an IKEA chair, but it looks like the back is free, like . . .
Jared: Oh, the back is all mesh.
Andrew: To give your back some breathing?
Jared: Yeah. I’m just kind of into orange, like my logo of my company, a lot of little things. It’s funny, at my office space here, everybody else has standard desks, but I was like, I want a more comfortable . . . I want an orange chair. It’s fun. It’s good to be in the corner with an orange chair. It’s easy to tell people where to come.
Andrew: We’ve talked for a while now, and I’ve been looking at all the little things that happen to pop up on the camera, like the tea cup that you have, for example. It’s not an ordinary tea cup. The things that you have around you, people can help, from the few minutes we’ve spent together, but the things you have around you are different than most people.
What’s with the tea cup? The tea cup looks like two different layers. I don’t want to get too side tracked here, but what is that?
Jared: It’s just insulation. This is a tea cup from Teavana, teavana.com, I think. Well, first off it keeps it warm. You might argue that the down side of it is there’s a large surface area on the top which means the tea is going to get cooler quickly, but this means a) it’s not going to be hot on my hands, and b) it means that it stays a little bit more insulated. Some might also argue that this is pure decorative because why do you need an arm when you already have it insulated. So, my espresso cups look the same and don’t have this, and that’s a little more functional.
But, nonetheless I don’t know, you only get so much of a chance to make an impression. It’s usually not on video. It’s usually more the people that are coming here, but I don’t know. Doing things a little bit differently means that people see that you put care into things, and then hopefully they’re going to think we put into my company, into my customers. That’s what I want to get out of people that meet with me in person.
Andrew: That makes sense. Next tactic.
Andrew: What else should we need to do?
Jared: Well, this one is the opposite way. Know when to take a break. So, there’s a couple of ways to think of this one. I’m going to give an example first of for me how I apply this. In my last company I spent a lot of time abroad. Well, initially I worked too much, and eventually I realized, well, gosh, this isn’t the point of it all. So, in my last company I started spending my summers in Barcelona, my favorite city in the world. San Francisco now is where I am, but I love Barcelona.
One of the things they do in Spain is, no, not everybody takes that two hours and goes to sleep or something, the siesta you may have heard of, but they do tend to take longer lunches than we do here in the U.S. It really stuck with me what it was like to be going out with two, three, four people almost every day and have what they call on the menu, del Dia, which is a pre-fixed menu where you’ve got multiple courses. You pay ten dollars, and you get four courses.
The point was you take your time. You do things a little slower, and you get a little bit of depth of relationship but also kind of a change. It’s the fact that there is a pause and a restart to your day. And I loved that. And now I take much longer lunches in the USA, almost never, ever eat at my desk. I hate doing that. I try to . . . Even if I am eating alone, I’ll try to eat in, like, an area that is separate. And that’s an example of how I like to apply this.
One of the ways that I would recommend to users . . . Excuse me, not your users, to your viewers is what is called the Pomodoro Technique, which is the idea of fifty-ten, which is you work for fifty minutes and you take a ten minute pause. This isn’t something I do, but this is something a ton of people that I’ve worked with do and it’s something that a lot of people have written me back and said, “Thank you for suggesting this to me.” And it’s that, if you’re in that zone of focus, you know, it’s impossible to really maintain that forever. Especially as we get older.
And, a really good approach to that is to give yourself fifty minutes to really, really focus on one thing, and a lot of people actually set a timer, a kitchen timer, and then at the end of that 50 minutes they’ll literally time a break. They’ll walk outside. They’ll have air. And they’ll maybe talk to other people, or read a magazine that doesn’t relate. But that transition of your mind, that sort of getting yourself back reset is great.
And I don’t mean the idea of every ten minutes looking at Facebook while you’re at work and thinking that the fact that you do it for one minute ten times an hour or six times in an hour, whatever, adds up to the same thing. It does not have the same value. It’s putting yourself fully present in something completely different. That’s what makes the difference. For me, I tend to do it more once in the day for an extended period, and usually I’ll take a walk at some point in the afternoon as well. But, you know, for other people it’s that ten minutes.
Andrew: I should take a break. I don’t know if you caught that, but my stomach was making hungry noises right there.
Jared: I did not.
Andrew: I look at the mic levels throughout the interview to make sure that side noises don’t come on, and I don’t think when my stomach growls that it comes on camera, or that the mic picks it up, but, man, that happens so much in these interviews. Next, what is the next thing that we need to know to do?
Jared: To do social media and then leave, or to think of it as I like to call it get in the stream and get out of the stream. And that is that you should use social media either for . . . you know, essentially for maintaining relationships, but also for maintaining relationship with your users. In other words, like, it’s either relationships for the purpose of something with your product or it’s relationships for something, you know, for yourself. Just like everything we’ve talked about, there are both sides. It’s always you and your company or where you work. And, I think that social media is important. I think that these things that are going on, I mean we are in such a wonderful world.
But, I’ll give you an example of something where social media was really, really valuable to me. But I wasn’t actually [??]. So, actually, Dave McCourt, to go back to him, I mentioned a minute ago. At one point he tweeted that he . . .Well, I had tweeted that I was looking for a roommate for the Web, which is a conference in Paris that I went to for the first time probably in 2008. And I tweeted about that and Dave McCourt responded that he was looking for someone to share a room with at the same time. We ended up sharing that room together and that was the beginning of our relationship, our friendship. [??] And lots of other things came from that, many, many things.
And I got that as a notification, you know? My phone just went off and said so-and-so commented on blah, blah, blah. And that’s a good notification. I like to know when people are explicitly talking about me or my company. And maybe it’s because I’m not super ridiculously popular in the sense that it’s not happening every ten minutes. If that were the case, no question I would turn it off and I would batch them. But when it’s happening, you know, once every few hours, it is very useful to be able to respond to things quickly; however, I’m not going to be there all the time.
I’m definitely not going to be there all the time and I don’t see any reason to check for things when there are, in fact, notifications that can be really useful. You almost see here that I’ve just pointed out that turn off notifications, but then rely on notifications. The reason for that is because this way you don’t fall into the whole cry wolf thing. In other words, if you actually rely on the notifications, then you’ll pay attention to them when they happen, and then they become valuable.
Whereas, if most of the notifications are just, like, you know, someone on Foursquare checked in nearby, then you’re not going to really pay attention to what they are. And that has to be the way notifications work in your life. Otherwise, they just become someone crying wolf all the time. For me with social media, I’d like to say that, in addition to those notifications, spend five to ten minutes, focus on it, make it your thing. Just like you should do with emails. Spend five, thirty, sixty minutes at a certain time. Focus on it. Get all in. Do it like it’s your job, not like it’s this thing that happens to be there. And write, like, the best tweet. Or respond to the right customer with thought.
Whereas, with anyone who ever responded to something quickly, you probably know that on an emotional case it can be dangerous or even just not thinking a lot, it can be, you know, you might not say what you would have said had you really thought through it. So, instead really give yourself that same focus when you’re doing social media, but then get the heck out there because it’s really just going to pull you in and it’s not going to help the rest of the things you’re working on.
Andrew: All right, I’ve learned to do that. It’s so hard to and I don’t understand when people have, say, tweaked back on their computer the whole day and they get alerts whenever anyone says anything related to them. But I’ve learned, if I spend maybe even five solid minutes just pounding through all those responses, I can feel like, I can give people the impression that I’m there all the time and that I’m very aware of what’s going on and very in the conversation when really, all I want to do is spend, to me, five minutes a day tops. And I do look at different messages that come in for both Mixergy and for me, and, it’s a rare, we often have over a hundred messages a day come in about Mixergy or about me because, because I encourage it, but I still don’t respond more than five minutes a day, maybe ten minutes on Sunday if I decide in the evening, but screw that. That’s not my job.
Andrew: My job is to take care of the people who are coming in for these courses, for the interviews and that’s where I should be spending most of my time.
Jared: So there.
Andrew: All right, I’m looking at the next item here on the list, what is it?
Jared: The next two do relate so I’ll sort of tie them in, but the first one is, to unplug, unplug the internet. I was, interestingly I was actually just at a coffee house in San Francisco in Napa, this past weekend and you know I sat next to this girl and it’s always a good conversation starter to ask them for Wi-Fi key, right, you men that are listening? But I asked, I said, what the Wi-Fi key here is? And she said, I actually don’t know it because I don’t want to know it. And I said, well you should cover your ears because I’m probably going to ask somebody soon what that password is.
We ended up talking a bit about that and she’s writing her thesis and she finds that as soon as she gets online that, you know, the thesis isn’t going to happen, or at least nowhere near to the level of effectiveness. You know, you’ve all probably been in a situation where you’re on a plane and you get a lot done because you’re not able to go into Facebook, you’re not able to receive more email, so one of the tactics that relate to that is to literally unplug. I mean, something I actually do, I’ll since you’re seeing things over there, oh, that’s I’m failing at my camera navigation. Over there you see there’s a couch.
Jared: I like to spend my mornings over there as opposed to at my desk. So, I actually go to a different spot, I use a different laptop and I don’t turn on the internet and I actually bring up a program called Q-Ten, it’s the same thing as White Room on the Mac, and I just completely unplug and I focus on one thing and it’s amazing. So, unplugging ties in with the next tactic, which is batching, or cone of silence. The idea, how do you create an environment for yourself where you’re doing only one thing?
A lot of people say, the next generation is all about and maybe this generation has all been multi-tasking all their life, but there are lots and lots of studies that support that we are not more productive by doing multiple things. Yes, it’s true that if we get interrupted we’re able to get back on task because we’re sort of, you know, we’re in a world where that has happened, you know. But that doesn’t make it any better, it just means we’re a little bit better at it.
So, it’s like it being ten times bad versus five times bad, it’s still bad, there’s no question that it’s not helpful for us and you need to find opportunities, preferably daily, not just, or at least weekly, but not once in a month or the one time you’re on a plane where you create the opportunity to be either off-line or in some other way completely disconnected and just focused on one thing.
As I mentioned before, with social media, same thing with email, really, really treat it likes it’s your job. People just check email all the time and then they accumulate stuff and they actually never get through it, which is, you think that by checking it more you’re actually better at it, no, you’re actually, if you make it your job and you make it your job to go through every single one of them, like you literally say I’m going to go through all of these, then that’s great.
I mean, email game which is email.ga.me which is the website product by Baden, that’s a product that I use sometimes to go through my email, the one thing that it really does right, it does a lot of cool things, but the real thing I like is that it only shows one message at a time. Which means, and it does it in order, which means that you’re not, you know, picking and choosing which person to respond to because that’s a good way to never get through everything is to not have an order.
Andrew: And the cool thing about the email.ga.me, I believe is also it has a timer which keeps track of how long you’re spending on each message and it gives you points based on how quickly you respond and handle messages and when you respond and handle messages and when you respond, there’s a little message on the bottom that says, ‘Forgive the short response, I’m playing the email game,’ or something like that which keeps people, hopefully, from feeling hurt. Apparently some people feel hurt when they send you a long email and they get just a two word response. I feel blessed when someone does that to me.
Jared: I’m glad to hear that first off all those components that are working for you. I’m all in it for the productivity side of it. You’re using all the little pieces of it that make it fun. So yes, hopefully, whatever it takes to incentivize you to use it. I think it’s a great tool.
Andrew: You know I actually gave up on the email game. The few features that it didn’t have that I relied on and I forget what they were.
Jared: They just added them last week.
Andrew: Oh did they?
Jared: Auto-complete, they just added support for attachments. It’s funny because if there’s one company that’s in the exact same space as what I do for a living, it’s them. So you could argue they’re a competitor, but I love their product, they’re great and their product plus ours, I believe, is the solution. The two go together really well, but I do really love what they’re doing. The email game, all those little things that probably bugged you were, for the most part, recently fixed and they’re a great group of guys.
Andrew: And David Coors [SP] is an investor in both companies?
Andrew: All right. Next one. I’ll let you say this one, it’s got an interesting title.
Jared: Know Your Body. There’s different ways to be productive. One way is things that are process. There are the things you do. There’s the person you are and then there’s just the chemicals. There’s the fact that there’s a huge role in what you consume or how you spend your day that plays a big role in what you accomplish. So for me, for example, for years I had no energy after lunch. It’s funny because I used to work from home. I no longer do.
One of the things you’ll find that is a downside of working from home and maybe some other people can relate to this, is that you actually can go to bed. I mean you can actually go to your bed and lie down on it for an hour. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take a break, but preferably at 2:30 in the afternoon, you don’t want to do that. That’s the ideal, right? At least for me, I prefer to work during, not necessarily during normal hours, but ideally during business hours I’m awake.
What made a big difference for me was to recognize that when I eat carbs during lunch, I got tired afterwards. Whereas when I ate more protein during lunch, I was a lot better off. Another thing that I realized is in the mornings I have a lot more energy just naturally. That doesn’t mean I like getting up. I hate getting up in the morning, but once I do I’m on. Whereas in the afternoons, I was really tired.
So there are two things that I do about knowing my body. One is considering what I eat and when I exercise. So I try to run every day and I try not to eat carbs before or during lunch. In the evenings I often will, but in general I try to do a lot more with protein for breakfast and lunch. Also if you eat more protein for breakfast you’ll find that you’re not hungry at 11:00 at all. Whereas if you have cereal or a bagel, there’s a good chance you’re going to be hungry in a few hours. So those are two of the things.
The other thing I do is that I try to schedule my day around that rhythm. I mentioned that I head over to that couch in the morning and I try to do something creative or thought intensive. That’s because that’s when I’m best able to do it. Whereas the things that are just pushing stuff forward, like responding to things that my team needs or having meetings with people. If I’m in a meeting, I’m going to be awake. That’s not that hard. If I have to write a blog post, I’m going to find other things to do if I’m tired because it does take concentration, at least for me. I schedule my day around that.
If you were to go to my tumble page, which I use for scheduling, calendar stuff, you would see that almost universally the mornings are not available. I put a little spot in there occasionally for people that are in different time zones, but generally speaking right off the bat, my mornings are not available for scheduling meetings, ever, and it’s because that time is for myself. Will I occasionally schedule something there? Sure, but I’d like to start off by applying the heuristic of I don’t schedule meetings before lunch.
So that’s all about knowing your body and your rhythm.
Andrew: You know what I almost hate to admit that I have a body. I like to think that the whole thing is just like a machine that I don’t have to think about what I feed it or how I feed it. That I could almost ignore it. Just feed it anything and let it be a conduit for moving, acting out my brain’s wishes, but it’s true. My thing is I go and I get potato chips sometimes. Well I’m going to go and get some potato chips. It’s going to make me feel better and some soda and I’ll do it and I just feel exhausted afterwards. I just have to accept it doesn’t work for me. On the other hand, running into work really does. I’ve been running into work and you and I share an interest in running. I run into work, I have a membership at a gym nearby. I shower at the gym and then I walk into work and it just feels great and it takes me just a little bit longer than the metro here.
Jared: That’s wonderful. What happens, how much do you like to run? Every day, or?
Andrew: do three, four a week. How many do you do? You do every day, it seems like. Right?
Jared: We got a dog, so that helps me, I don’t want to feel guilty. So I probably do about five days a week.
Andrew: Five days a week, run with the dog. How far do you run with your dog?
Jared: She’s been, she’s been getting tired lately. I wonder if she’s getting old, but we’ve done, you know, fifteen to twenty miles together. Typical mornings, you know five to eight.
Andrew: Wow. What kind of dog can do fifteen to twenty miles?
Jared: She’s a mix, she’s a mostly Border Collie, that was what her mom looked like. I got her from a shelter, but Border Collie and Pit Bull, she just looks like all muscle. She’s about fifty pounds and she can jump many feet in the air to catch a Frisbee. She’s a real athletic dog and it’s been great, so yeah, she’ll just keep going.
Andrew: I should try running with my dog, but I’ve got a Jack Russell mix and I remember running through Los Angeles where everyone’s very image conscious, and friends would see me running through a lane with this like, little dog, and it looked ridiculous and I try not to care about stuff like that but it looked ridiculous. This was a lot of work, the dog kept wanting to pee on stuff along the way.
Jared: Female dogs, they don’t pee as much.
Andrew: Ah. I got a male dog, you want to mark every friggin’ thing, I mean everywhere. All right, the Pen Ultimate Tactic, what’s that?
Jared: The Pen Ultimate, probably, well these next two, I think, are the most important. They’re a lot more subjective, they’re not specific things you do. Be remarkable, no productive. Almost everything that I’ve done that’s really made a difference, it wasn’t on my to do list. It wasn’t a response to an email. It wasn’t something that I had to get done because I was being paid to do something. It’s like starting your business is the classic example of this, usually people understand that starting a business is not something they were told to do, but it’s probably going to make a difference.
Well, it’s not just that, it’s at various points in the company or in your life that you get an opportunity to do something that is going to make a really big impact and it’s not going to come from your task list. So, it’s, think about the idea that it’s OK, you know you mentioned that you have all these emails that are in your inbox that you interestingly called the folder, you were thinking about calling it Bankruptcy which implies that you’re probably not going to respond to them.
The idea of accepting the fact that some things will slip through the cracks is perfectly fine. It really is. It’s OK that you’re a week or two late for a person for something that they don’t need that urgently. It is OK to be late if it’s at the expense of an opportunity to do something great. To really do something remarkable. So, one of the classic examples that probably changed my life the most was this, you know, after I read the “Far Work”, which was a good book, in its own right, it definitely made an impact on me.
But what I actually decided to do was, my last company, one of the things we did was we automated a lot of stuff at Microsoft Office and the spreadsheet in the book for our work week, the Dream Line spreadsheet was just, it was severely lacking shall we say. So, I contacted Tim and I said, hey you know, we could do a better job, are you interested? He said, you know basically sure, I mean we had some back and forth. So we built what ended up being the Dream Line spreadsheet that’s now part of his tool series and it’s in the book. You know, I still get hundreds of click throughs to that article, to the Dream Line spreadsheet on my blog, every single day.
And it also, of course, links to AwayFind, because you know, people that are into Far Work are definitely into my product. It was just an example of something that I was, you know I didn’t get paid to do it, but it has the, it’s probably had the highest return investment of anything I’ve ever done. Similarly, you create a video that again, you’re not supposed to do, you don’t have to do, and it’s true some of these things are going to be duds but for better or worse, I feel like there’s been sort of three categories. I’m doing something in response to something, and those have varying results.
There’s the things where it’s like, oh I was told that I should make a viral video and I’m going to spend 30 hours on it, I’m going to do it, and like and it’s maybe that will work and maybe that will be a dud. But the things that I’ve been like, you know what this is something big, this is something I really, really want to accomplish. I’m going to probably put a hundred hours into it, and I’m going to really give it my best. For better or worse for me, while they may not have landed me on NBC or something, I’ve had really good results with all of those things.
Like I wrote an article for Life Hacker that ended up being, I think, maybe 2,000 words. It was the definitive guide to Outlook versus Gmail, and to this day if you search for Outlook versus Gmail, it’s the number one result and it made it on the front page of Digg and again, like those two things that were in my case, one of them was writing and one of them was designing and automating, but those two little projects which nobody told me to do, which happened to be really a lot of work were by far the most valuable things that were little side projects for my work.
Really consider what it is at the end of the day that you want to accomplish. Whether it be just the critical path for your company or if there’s some special thing. Some really big thing that’s just going to make a big difference and find a way to do that instead of just getting through your task list, because being responsible is not going to get you big results. I mean it’s a part of it, it’s necessary, but it is not sufficient.
Andrew: I’ve found that in my own life that the more productive and organize I am with all the other stuff, the more free time I have to really enjoy doing the remarkable work.
Jared: They do go hand in hand.
Andrew: And it is a little hard, but also very satisfying to say shove off to all the have to’s and do the thing you want to.
Andrew: All right. Do you want to talk a little bit about choosing the right people in your life, too?
Jared: The last one. So any time I’ve ever made a big, big shift. I imagine some of your viewers, maybe they’re not working for themselves or they haven’t started that company or their product or project and they’re looking for a way. When you’re an individual trying to make a jump and to do something, inherently that requires a lot of self-motivation. It’s really, really tough to do that. Even with all these productivity tools out there. For me, the biggest, most effective way to make a big life shift has been to change the people that I surround myself with. All the studies have shown that the five people you spend your time with most, are the biggest indicator of how you, yourself are going to be in terms of how much money you have, how you dress. Just all elements of your style and everything. There’s a lot of osmosis that happens from the company we keep and there’s a lot of motivation that comes from that.
So an example for me, I was running a consulting business. I ended up running it for eight years. I’d say probably five or six years into it, I was realizing that it wasn’t going to get me the results that I really wanted from my life. I wanted to make a bigger impact and reach more people and that was partly the genesis for Awayfind, but partly the genesis for a big transition. This time it wasn’t by design, but I started getting involved with certain people online. I started talking to them regularly and I started having calls with them regularly. I say online because at the time my friends weren’t entrepreneurs and they weren’t big names in social media or they weren’t direct marketers.
These are little components of what leads to building a business, a product business. I started surrounding myself. For example, one of those people was Clay Collins. He and I were both making some big jumps at the same time and it was really, really motivating to have calls with him probably every week or so. He and I aren’t talking all the time now, but it was a big motivation to me to have some people like that, that were around me that wanted to make a big change or they were already there. What I actually ended up doing, I created a mastermind, one that you were probably familiar with. If you guys aren’t familiar with masterminds, it’s the idea of have a group of people that get together maybe every week or around that frequency [??]
Andrew: Can you do what? I’m sorry, I’m doing something very rude that the audience won’t even know about. I’m pulling up Clay Collin’s website as you’re talking about him, so that I can follow along, but I didn’t realize how much it was going to slow down the Skype connection. There it’s all loaded up. So you were starting to explain what a mastermind is. Can you take it up from there and tell us how you created yours?
Jared: Oh sure. So a mastermind is a group of people that hold each other accountable that work together every couple weeks or every week. It could be just one person that you have a mastermind call with, it could be a group of around three to five people. The idea is that they get together for an hour or two. Hopefully face to face, but a lot of people do it online. The idea is you do this regularly, you hold each other accountable. Especially when if you don’t have two co-founders or something and you don’t have something to hold yourself accountable to. It’s really hard to stick to things.
Both from you don’t necessarily know what to do perspective as well as you’re not holding yourself accountable to that. So this whole idea of choosing the people in your life is a combination between the people you surround yourself with and then just start becoming like them because you see that’s what those people can do. As well as the people you might specifically say, these people are struggling through a similar thing and I want to be good in their eyes, but I also want the motivation and the accountability and I want to know that I’m not alone.
For a slightly random tangent, I’ve been reading a lot about the psychology of games and the ones that work. They talk about four personality types, the things that are attracted to games. There are the achievers, there are the explorers, there are the killers and there are the social people. So, achievers, you know you want to like get to a higher level. There are the explorers; they want to learn everything in it.
You know in Zelda, there are the killers, you know the first person shooters and such. And there’s social and you see the social games that we have today, you know the things where you have to work together at once. And when you start reading into this theory, you learn that, maybe actually, we’ll ask you a question Andrew, if you wouldn’t mind. Take a guess, which of those four things is the most common to find in a person? In terms of like, if you’re building a game which of those things do you think you have to design for?
Andrew: I’m guessing if it’s a game that achiever is the one thing that’s most common.
Jared: OK, it’s not. It’s by far social.
Jared: By far social. Social is by far the most motivating thing, so almost, I don’t have the book right in front of me that I was reading from this, social is kind of like the 90%, like everybody has that, so if you were to look at World of Warcraft, or something, in your Guilds, yes people want to all show at 7:00 p.m. and to win whatever it is their fighting for and yes, they want to get to that level 70 or whatever happens to be for the achievement. But really, what it comes down to is they promised a bunch of people their going to be there at 7:00 p.m. and they don’t want to let them down.
If you were to look at studies about people like trying to lose weight or something, and you know it’s sort of like, oh who shows up most at the gym wins a hundred dollars. Like those things don’t work. However, if you put a group of people together and say our groups going to compete with your group, and you’re the one that might hold your team back, you’re extremely likely to show up.
Andrew: I see.
Jared: You know what I’m saying. So, anything you can do to tie social to things. Now I mentioned this because it’s actually the reason why it’s hard to go out on your own because you’re not being held accountable, you don’t have to show up. So, things you can do to push yourself in that direction. Mastermind being one example, obviously hiring people being a great example. And of course, the people you surround yourself with, you’re not a failure in their eyes, right. Anything you can do that changes the people in your life and yes, the people who are reading this really can make a decision about who they chose.
They can start by writing to each of you, or writing to other bloggers and saying, hey you know, we should chat and like I’d love to just take you out to lunch or whatever. Hopefully, you start seeing these people regularly and eventually you have a different group of friends, it really doesn’t take a long time. And all of a sudden you’re going to become like the most successful one that’s there. It will be, it’ll make the biggest impact on all of these kinds of things.
Andrew: So you started the Mastermind group that I joined when I first got here to DC but you were never in the meeting.
Jared: I’d moved, so you moved to DC.
Andrew: So, soon after you came up with the idea that we need to do this, you moved out?
Jared: Not soon. So, it’s interesting, so I was.
Andrew: And then I’ll tell you what happened to the group after you said it.
Jared: So, probably two years ago, I started a group. I actually won’t say the names. I started a group with four or five of us that met in D.C. for a couple of hours at a restaurant and the group went for probably a year and a half, well before you were around because you were on the west coast and I guess you were in South America. I’d say the group went really well, as a matter of fact, I was talking to one of those people, the one who you know, just yesterday about the group and it turns out that almost everyone’s moved. I was the first to move, which is probably what you’re going to tell me is that the problem with the group is that everybody’s moved, at least the physical presence part of the group. But, all of those people have gone on to amazing things. One of them is.
Andrew: Can I give the names of the people of who I, at least, got together with, because I know it changed after you left, or is that bad to give the names of people?
Jared: I don’t know if we want to do it in the video, depending on what you want.
Andrew: I’m OK with it if you are. You’re not, OK, so I’ll give.
Jared: I just don’t know that they’re OK with it.
Andrew: Oh, sorry, you don’t know if they’re OK with it. So, here it is, I’ll say it. One of them ended up getting funded by TechStars and ended up moving to one of the TechStar cities. Another ended up becoming a principle at one of the major incubators. The third one got moved out and got funded by one of the major incubators. So it ended up really doing really well for everybody in the group.
Jared: Every single one of us, yeah I could’ve said that, but I just didn’t want to say the names.
Andrew: Yeah, I wanted to say the names because they’re good friends and we used to meet at just the Matchbox Pizza which is my favorite pizza, there’s a wait forever to get a seat but once you’re in there it’s got fiery pizza which is terrific and it was a really good group. Actually, they’re the ones that kept pushing me to say, look Andrew, you’ve got this premium membership, if you don’t talk about it, we’d like to know about it.
One of them said, I signed up for it because I found out about it and you just do a terrible job of telling people how good it is, so at the end of my interviews I’ve now started doing it and they push me to do even more and it’s really helped a lot. So, it was a great group and I’m glad that you put it together and I’m glad I got invited. Let me ask you this, I didn’t give you a chance to talk about it earlier, but what, I’m going to say it this way in a really smart-alecky way, what’s so great about AwayFind.com, your company?
Jared: What is so great? I mentioned in the very beginning that we lose about a third of our data interruptions. We’re the only product that is really solving that issue. We’re helping people get away from their inbox.
I mentioned you should batch your time. You should focus, you should create that cone of silence where you’re really focused on your email but only do it for specific periods.
What if you’re going to miss something? What if you’re worried about that one message from the investor that’s coming in with a partner or your wife or whatever it happens to be. What our tool will do is it will notify you right away within 15 seconds when that mail arrives. So, we’re helping people to get away from their inbox.
Two things happen with our product. One you spend less time in your email. Two you get to be more responsive to the people and the topics that matter most to you.
That’s what we’re working on. I think it’s kind of fun.
Andrew: The idea is that instead of me checking my inbox every minute, if Brad Felt happens to email me and say, “Andrew I’d like to do that interview you’ve been asking me for.” Actually he said yes.
Dave McClure forever has been saying, “Yes.” Things don’t work out, but if he finally sends me an email saying, “Andrew ready to be on Mixergy, it’s time.” I’ll get that alert.
How do you know I care about Dave McClure, Brad Felt, Jared Goralnick and a few other people more than everyone else in my inbox?
Jared: Interestingly, Brad Felt and Dave McClure may or may not be the ones that trigger that alert for you because those are important messages for you. Those are things you don’t want to miss but it doesn’t necessarily matter that you get it right now.
At least, with your interviews they’re going to be four days later or seven days later.
Andrew: That’s a good point.
Jared: Those messages don’t matter now and you might feel better getting those things right now. What we’re more concerned with is the timeliness of a message not the importance overall which is a big difference between our Priority Inbox and our TOOL. Of course we’re taking things out of the inbox so we’re very different from Priority Inbox.
We know this in a few ways. One is that we tier calendar. If you have a calendar appointment with one of your interviewees and they email you, since you use Calendars this is actually perfect for you.
Just by the virtue of the fact that they’re on your calendar if they email you within a set amount of time, for instance an hour or four hours before the appointment, that will turn into a text message or a push notification on your [??].
That’s one way we magically know that the thing is timely. Another way is we have plug-ins and we even had a gadget for Gmail and Google Apps Marketplace where you can just say, “Follow this topic or follow this sender,” for the next week or month or year or forever I guess.
You can always indicate at any point with literally one click that something matters to you. You can do the same thing on your I Phone. You can be sitting at lunch and you could type in real quick, “I’m waiting for this for the next 90 minutes.” This way if that one person emails you a special alarm will go off of your phone so that comes to you.
Over time we have a lot of algorithms. That’s really the main thing that my six, seven engineers are working on is really making it so that it magically knows when it matters to you right now.
Right now, it’s a lot of rules that are easy to set up but in the future it’ll be a lot of magic.
Andrew: I know you know a lot about email because you are the cofounder of Inbox Love an annual conference on the future of email. You’ve also done a ton of other stuff that we didn’t even get a chance to talk about.
The productivity tips you gave our audience here today enabled you to launch and sell SET Consulting, raise money for Awayfind and at the same time cofound Inbox Love, cofound Ignite DC, found Bootstrap Maryland and many other things that are on your LinkedIn profile that I don’t want to regurgitate.
I will say this, thank you for doing the interview.
Jared: Thank you.
Andrew: Thank you for teaching our audience.
I’m now actually looking at an inbox that has a few emails from people who are saying, “Thank you for this interview.” or “Thank you for that interview.”
Guys I appreciate it, and I want to know the results from those interviews. I love that now people send me screenshots and I’ve been telling them that I want to know the results but don’t forget to also thank Jared or any other interviewee directly.
If you’ve got any result directly from an interview send them a thank you note and say, “Hey, I’ve got it.” Or if you think you’re life is going to be impacted by what you’ve learned from an interview send the person an email and stay in touch with them.
Jared and I first talked to each other maybe a year or two ago. A relationship just starts off with just a thank you or some point of contact that doesn’t require any action and in time will build up into something significant.
I keep proselytizing this because it is important to you as the entrepreneur who is listening to the interview all the way through. It’s the business person or as the human being who’s listened and learned to the full interview.
Go and do something with it and also connect with the person who taught it to you and say thank you. I’ll start first by saying, “Jared thank you. The website is awayfind.com, and thank you all for watching.
Jared: Thank you so much, Andrew.
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