The secret of the few simple things you need to do to be successful in life (The 18th birthday present I gave to my son)

My dearest Emilio,

Nearly 10 years ago I wrote a letter to you on behalf of Father Christmas. Today you are 18.  It feels like yesterday when I first picked you up on my shoulder and carried you like a “saco de patatas” up the stairs as we played.  I gave you my all and I did what I thought was best for you, just like my parents did for me.

In trying to do my best, we played, travelled, did home work together and read many books, amongst which I most enjoyed Mr Stilton where we got to see how fun reading can be.   In trying to help you become a respectful and responsible man, on some occasions I have also shouted at you, possibly belittled you, I tried different strategies and in the process I even most possibly hurt your feelings in more than one way.

Forgive me if I have hurt you, for it has been through an act of duty, responsibility and wanting the best for you. I understand what is best for me is not the best for you and I read book after book in order to find the right method to deal with the many situations that we encountered as a family.  I tried. I tried my best and I tried more. That’s all I can say. And I know that in trying, just as much as my father has hurt me unintentionally in many ways, I have hurt you.  However I know that my father has nothing other than love for his children and I have given you nothing other than my love even if I have ended up hearting you at times. I believe time is a healer and I hope in time you will come to forgive me for all I hurt you. 

In my life I have had many parents, from France to Spain to UK, I lived with surrogate parents whose teachings at the time did not seem the best but only now do I appreciate and feel ashamed of how I reacted towards their unconditional love.

Today, I would like to share with you one secret, and it is not even a secret but a fact. A fact that my father practiced and was unable to share with me.  My father came from a poor family.  At the age of 10 he had to start helping his father with cleaning offices, At 16 he went on to get a job as a fridge repairman and at 18 he was in charge of the production line.  By the time he was 21 he was the manager for the Service unit of General Steel which was the first fridge manufacturer in Iran.

6 years later, when he was just 27 he was offered a 5% share as a bonus to setup and run the Hitachi TV manufacturing unit in Iran.  Finally at the age of 30 just about the same time that my sister was born he thanked all of those who helped him along in his path, left his highly paid job and decided to setup on his own and follow his own dream. 

His key to success was “Have no fear”, “Love yourself” and “Respect everything and everyone along your path for you never know when your paths will cross again”.

As kids, we were spoiled, but we were taught discipline, respect and love. As your step father, I tried to teach you the three most important things I had learnt as a child. Respect, Discipline and Love.

His success was a combination of  SELF LOVE, DISCIPLINE, NO FEAR and STAYING TRUE TO HIS HEART. All you need to do to be successful is LOVE YOURSELF, HAVE NO FEAR and BE TRUE TO YOUR HEART.  

And allow me to just clarify one word.  SUCCESS.   Success is not acquiring wealth, wealth is a by-product that comes from your relentless efforts of following your heart.  Don’t make money your primary objective; rather make your heart your primary objective. Don’t follow money and let money follow you.  When you follow your heart, there is no resistance, there is no time, there is no tomorrow. All there is, is NOW.   And what is another word for NOW:  “THE PRESENT”.   The Present is “The gift” of your day and every morning life provides you with that beautiful gift, the present.

Today, you have the time to follow your heart, fly high and achieve all your dreams.  I admire your fearlessness and by all means your acting as if you have it all. It is part of the secret of success.  Act as if you have it all and then you will feel needless.  Play without fear and dream beyond Bitcoin, the moon and the Mars for Bitcoin is other people’s dream and your future is beyond the dreams of those who dreamt yesterday.

And while you are dreaming remember that this is your dream, remember that this is your book and your life.  Do not get distracted by the life and dream of other people for that is not your path.  Your dream will come from the bottom of your heart and when you know what it is, there won’t be a mountain high enough that you won’t be able to move and cross.

Most people find me crazy for they call Urbytus a dead rat, yet Urbytus is what feeds us, Urbytus is what feeds my soul and gives me energy to create, invent, program and speak.  Urbytus has been my journey through which I have become a mentor and advisors to those starting their dreams today. The journey has had its ups and downs. Like a roller coaster, the ups sometimes take time and the ride down, is exciting, exhilarating and sometimes short lived. 

If I had to look back on my 50 years (of which 40 I can remember), I would say all I have ever wished for, the universe has delivered.  Material and immaterial and above all you, mami and Claudia.

The secret is simple: Be true to your heart, dream and visualize what you want and then find the first step towards that goal. And then repeat.  Just remember, never to give up hope or faith along your path.  It is your journey on this planet, it is your life in heaven and “The present” is your gift, today, tomorrow and forever.

Enjoy your life and aim for the highest for I have no doubt in how far you can fly.

With much love

Dada

THE ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY. learning from the courage of those who dare to conduct risky business

Unfortunately, many of us are brought up with risk aversion. With a constant reminder from our parents, don’t do this and don’t do that.  While out of love, the downside is that we grow up avoiding risk, fearing the consequences and tomorrow.

You can always look at any situation as good or bad, risky or exciting, dangerous or adventurous.  Your cup is always half empty or half full and you can always win big or lose it all.  Here is a story that I have just read in Financial Times (25/26 July 2021) Obituary section on a Steelworker turned pioneering stockpicker. Yang Huaiding was a warehouse attendant in an ailing Shanghai steel factory earning just over a hundred dollars per month.  In 1988 he poured his efforts into scanning local newspapers at the local library and discovered that the treasury bonds had different prices in different cities.  He managed to scrape together all his savings, took an overnight train to another city (Hefei, in the province of Anhui) to buy all the bonds he could, and returned the same day to sell them in his city earning a profit of about $125 (equivalent to a monthly wage). 

A simple daring act and just a few hundred dollars went on to prove his hypothesis that earned him millions in the years that followed.   Not only that, Yang was brave and courageous enough to walk into the tax office a year after he started his bond purchasing. In 1989 he walked into the Tax office and declared his business making sure he comes out clean and without breaking any rules or evading taxes.

He contributed his courage to a story dating back to his childhood about a man who dared to eat a crab after he found his village invaded by these creatures which no one had seen before. The man was courageous enough to approach, catch, kill, cook and eat one crab, and in the process discovering a most delicious and nourishing source of food.  “Learn from the courage of those who dare to eat crab and conduct risky personal investments” was one of the slogans that Yang had printed on his business cards. If you want to succeed, sometimes you need to dare, you need to take the risk that no one is willing to take, be daring, be courageous.   If Yang did it, you can do it.

Staying in The Flow: The entrepreneurial journey

In the past couple of years, I have made one big change in my life and that’s to make sure I stay in the flow. As entrepreneurs, we have been told that we need to work hard, all god-given hours, and bend reality.  All that’s true but it becomes a lot easier when you stay in the flow.  Startup success is not guaranteed by the number of hours you work, rather by how you use those hours to achieve your goal and that means living in the flow.

It has taken me some time in understanding what it means to be in the flow.  Many people think that they need to work hard, endless hours, weekends, and none stop.  I did that for the best part of 23 years.  I worked many weekends, I worked through my holidays, I might as well have had the mobile implanted in my head to save my hands from holding it. I proudly and always would announce that I am a workaholic and that nothing would stand in my way of getting what I wanted.

 I succeeded in getting everything I wanted but along the way, I lost many other opportunities of having fun, enjoying life, and realizing that there is a much easier way to get all the above, everything you want, and much more.   

That method is nothing more than tapping into and staying in the flow.  To understand this, you have to understand that we all go in different directions. To be in the flow doesn’t mean that you have to do what others are doing and how they are doing. Salmon is in the flow, but Salmon is in its own flow, and it flows against the current.  To be in the flow is to follow your direction and your flow and in order to do that, you need to tap into something deeper.  BUT how do you tap into that something deeper?  Sounds esoteric!. 

 Allow me just a few minutes.  If you’ve read so far, you will now agree that to be in the flow doesn’t mean that you have to be doing what everybody else is doing.   It also doesn’t mean that you should stop working towards your goal.  To be in the flow for Salmon means swimming harder than most other fish against the current, upstream, risking their lives on the way, and ending up exhausted and dying after laying their eggs. 

 Being in the flow for me has meant following my heart and doing what I love against all odds.  While a few years ago, I was struggling with my startup #Urbytus, I set up many events big and small.  I created The Presidents Club, we held annual conferences, quarterly meetings, forums, and so on.  I tried my hardest to get more clients, publicity. It was hard work and it worked and before the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was set to start more events.  We all know what happened next.  I was stopped dead in my track. For months I was unsure of how to get this back on track and I was struggling to find a safe method for recreating our forums and get-togethers in small numbers.   Until one day a long-term client of Urbytus sent an email with a bunch of questions.

 

I had two options, simply answer the email, like I answer all the support emails, or invite him to lunch, thank him for all these years of business and answer his questions in the process. Lunch with The Presidents Club, was born because of the pandemic and so far it has meant, I have learnt much more about some of my clients, I have addressed more of their concerns, we have discussed in detail and at ease the future of the product and what it needs to be in their view.

 

 

To be in the flow, meant letting go of old ideas and allowing the present to PRESENT me with new opportunities and possibilities. To be in the flow has been my way of life for the past 3 years, where I have been a startup mentor, teacher, and advisor. All of these opportunities have helped me along my path, life, and this beautiful journey on earth.  Being in the flow means doing your best and keeping your dreams live as your vision and using every opportunity that life throws at you on your path even if that means swimming against the current :-).  Love you all.

Embracing change, The only way to move forward

Change is possibly one of the most difficult things we face in life.  Changing schools, partners, jobs, countries, lifestyle, mobile, etc, etc, the list is never-ending.  Every time we have to try something new, food, place, or way of doing something there is something in our mind telling us “Wait, why change, everything is working as it is. Why bother? What are you going to gain and why put yourself to all that trouble and maybe be disappointed, fail or not achieve anything at all?”

Problem is that in order to avoid change and the discomfort that may accompany it we try to look for any possible excuse.  However every time we try new food, place, job, country … we find that it was not half as bad as we thought, it was not half as difficult as we thought and in most cases, we find that the benefits have far outweighed all the reasons we came up with in order to avoid the change.

A few months ago, I started a course of change with my new health coach “Mounira Nassef”, Founder of Every Day Healthier.   During this time we tackled many things.  Mounira found me of her hardest students to deal with as I was stubborn and resisted every change.  Drinking tea is part of the Iranian culture, yet I was experiencing issues with waking up at 2 or 3 am in the morning and feeling wide awake.  I was part of the 5 AM club, but if I woke up at 2 or 3 am that was the end of me by 4 pm.  

During our two months of training, Mona patiently helped me stop drinking after 2 pm. She held me to adopt other new habits and find ways of sticking to them.

Change is hard. It took me a few weeks before I agreed and accepted to change, to give up tea, to give a habit, which I felt was part of my culture, but it was nothing other than a habit.  Change is difficult at times, once I stopped drinking tea my body totally lost its rhythm. Initially, I got a week or two of good sleep and suddenly I was awake the whole night, and slowly and, over time my full sleeping pattern has changed. I no longer wake up at 2 am or 5 am. I currently wake up around 6 am, allowing my body to recover and find its new natural rhythm and hoping that I can recover my 5 am routine. 

Embracing change is not easy, it is not immediate, it is not always what you want but it is the only way forward. I am still going through the change and my body may need time to adjust further to this new change but in the process, I have adopted other new habits such as journaling and different types of mindfulness practices, love, self-care, and much more.

A big thank you to Mona, from Every Day Healthier. 

The entrepreneurial journey. The last mile

So many times I see entrepreneurs leave good projects, their dreams, and passion.  The entrepreneurial journey is never a straight line. The glorified image of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the rest are only part of a journey that has had equally as many downs than ups as other startups.  Your journey is no different than any other journey, it will have highs and lows.

Last Saturday at 9:30 I was out with a crowd of about 50 other walkers/runners for a 32KM run. As they all started a leisurely stroll, I stayed back as I usually do and started a very slow jog and slowly passing them.  The first part was downhill and soon what should have been an easy jog ended up being painful.  My knee locked up more or less at KM 3 before we had even reached the bottom of the valley.  I took notice of the pain and slowed down to adjust but it was too late.  I had already pulled a tendon or a ligament.  I could have turned around, but I decided to carry on. I tried running slowly, but it was too painful, so I walked. What would have normally taken me 3 hours max took me about 6 hours. I had to stop several times on route to sit and massage my knee so it would relax.  The sun was blaring down, it was hot and I had not put any suncream on my arms.  Not only was I in pain, but sometime around 13:00 I felt the sun burning through me.  There were four fast runners in front of me, they had long disappeared. Another runner whom I also run with was suffering from back pain, we walked together for about 1km and he also had to abandon me. For the rest of the journey from Km 18 to 32, I was pretty much on my own. 

I could have sat and called for help, I could have given up, however, I had one objective to finish.  I wanted to prove to myself that even if it is painful I can push the pain barrier. I meditated, blanked my mind and I listen to Pink Floyd and Dire Straights. I rehearsed the many motivational speeches I give to keep me focused.  It felt like a never-ending journey, but with every step, I knew that I am one step closer to the finish. With every step I knew that I am putting in the effort towards reaching my goal. In the end, I made it 16.24. I arrived at the finish line.

The last mile? Are you willing to go as far as it takes? Many times I see entrepreneurs give up too early. Whether it is a jog, marathon, or work, it is all the same. It all depends on how dedicated you are and how focused you are on your goal. If you keep your mind focused and remind yourself that with every step, you are one step closer to the finish, that’s all it takes.

The Entrepreneurial Journey. What it means to persevere and pivot

The Entrepreneurial Journey.  Starting again

One of my favourite quotes from Steve Jobs where he quotes  “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

Ali Parandeh Zandpour

Two weeks ago as I was chairing the Division Toastmaster contest for the English language speeches and I was inspired not just by the speeches and speakers who year after year compete for the World Championship of public speaking. Every year a new speech and sometimes taking a break in between.  I have been on this journey and I plan to continue, not just to win but to compete is the only way to push yourself up and out of your comfort zone.  Each year you have to start from scratch, all the way from your club to area, division, district, semi-finals and finally the world championship.  Each time competing against better and more accomplished speakers.

Perseverance on a path towards a goal is possibly one that I would rate amongst the highest and most important in any entrepreneurship or self-development journey.  Perseverance does not mean that you should blindly keep moving on a path, rather it is moving with knowledge and flexibility to adapt to the path, by learning from the mistakes on route and being able to apply what you learn in order to continue.

We all want to climb to the top, so many times we hit a cliff or a brick wall and so many times I see people giving up. Sitting there aimlessly or just going back and never trying again.  Perseverance is about being able to keep that vision of your goal, and letting that goal pull you on a new path, again and again. Call it pivoting, call it trying again, or perseverance. In the end it all boils down to your drive and passion for reaching your goal and not giving up on the path that at times is arduous, debilitating and even defeating.

The only one who can stop you from achieving your dreams is you. Sit, rest, get up and start again.  Love you all.

 

 

Is Entrepreneurship in your blood?

Is Entrepreneurship in your blood?

Are you born an entrepreneur? Salesman, a doctor, painter, violinist, or an astronaut? Most would probably agree that you are born with the potential to do anything. Talent is not given but acquired and a good teacher/mentor/book or incident can awaken any talent, path, or desire inside you.  I often think about this.  How do we come across our passion, our call, what we love doing? As I was reading the book ‘Do No Harm’ by Henry Marsh, I read how he changed his path from “Literature” to taking a sabbatical, teaching English in Africa, going to writing poems while working as a hospital doorman, which finally led to his desire to become a doctor. Even then he did not know he wanted to become a brain surgeon. He simply felt the desire to help people through that profession and it was not until another 10 years or so after he started the medical career that he set forth to become one of the leading brain surgeons in the UK if not the world.

As I lay awake this morning in bed, I started thinking about what makes one person a real entrepreneur or not.   Last week, I had spoken to the founder of one of the competitors to Urbytus. We spoke about joining forces.  We both agreed that the sector has to change and that there is a lot happening now, the meeting went well and we decided to continue with another meeting which would have been yesterday.  However, an hour before the meeting he sent me a WhatsApp saying that he had thought about it and although he agreed that the sector has to change and sooner or later this would happen, he preferred to do something that would not be a fight or a battle to change something.  I wrote back “Thank you for giving it time to think and your honest answer. Right now I believe in it more than ever before, so I am going to continue the fight. The bigger the fight the bigger the win.”

I don’t think there is anything in particular that makes one an entrepreneur or not, but I would say that one of the traits I have to come to cherish and look for when I work with entrepreneurs and look for in cofounders is that instinct to fight for your dream.  I think this is a unique instinct that differentiates those who just want a job and a regular salary from those who dream big and would do what is necessary to achieve that dream.

THE ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY: It’s all about the CUSTOMER

 

I have just finished doing a master class on “7 Steps to creating loyal customers & multiplying revenue” for the Demium entrepreneurs in Greece.  In the past years I have done this presentation

Alpha Stock Images - http://alphastockimages.com/

numerous times and it is one of my favourite masterclasses as it focuses on the most important part of this journey:  “The customer and the customer’s journey”.  

Many entrepreneurs start their business with big ideas and along with it, they start with the big tasks such as protecting their trade name, registering multiple domain names or buying expensive domain names. Signing up with expensive lawyers or accountants.  I certainly made some of these mistakes, but I learnt one important lesson early on; that all the aforementioned is useless if you don’t have a customer and before you concentrate on the above you are better off spending all that time, energy, effort, and money on one thing: YOUR CUSTOMER.

Customer IS key to your success because without it, even if you have the most awesome product on earth, you will have no business at all.  I learnt most of my customer service through experience by applying what I liked from other services or products to my services and products.  As entrepreneurs, we all want to please our customers and do what it takes to make them loyal.  We do many of these steps naturally or just by copying from what we have seen or experienced.

Over the years I made all the above into a strategy.   A 7 step guide that allowed me to sell my last company and that really brought in the reputation and success I have enjoyed over the years.

For the sake of argument, I will assume that you do have the most awesome product on earth, so we can concentrate on your customer.   I want to concentrate on how you look at a customer from the very beginning.

First let’s look at the basics of what you need to do for your customers.

  1. Greet your customer

A customer is not just a name, and email address. A customer is much more than this simple data. Today we are bombarded with personalized email marketing and much more.  I learnt the art of greeting your customer actually from flying with Lufthansa. I know that it is hard to apply some offline matters to online, but I made a point of making sure that I can personally address my clients, at least one phone call, one personalized email, to let them know that this is not mass marketing and that they matter to me personally. All you have to do is work out what it takes to make this personal touch to greet and work out a way to make it scalable.  

  1. Please a customer!

In order to please a customer, you must get to know them.  Apart from the basic set of data like date of birth, nationality, gender, etc., knowing your customer’s personal preferences in relation to your business is what can make the difference for that customer’s experience and what will connect you together. Simple things like a birthday gift voucher to spend with your business or other information that you believe is relevant or important to your customer. Remember that different dates are important to different nationalities. In my opinion, the first step to pleasing a customer is getting to know them and treating them with respect and not just someone who is in need of your services.

  1. Wow the customer

If you know your customer, then you can wow the customer. Customers don’t expect you to memorize what they like to eat, do, see, etc.  However, if you have built your client profile with details, it is easy to add a wow factor.  Regardless of your business, you can always note little details about your customers; their favourite chocolate, author, drink, sports team. Surprise them with a little detail and you will be amazed, while they will be wowed.

4 Make your customers loyal

Deliver what you have offered, within the agreed price and time structure. That’s pretty much what most customers want. A detailed offer ensures that the client understands all the steps, procedures, terms, and conditions. A detailed offer that has been signed with the terms and conditions attached, also ensures that there will be no misunderstanding in the future (or at least a little if any). A detailed offer ensures that you and the customer understand what the job is and that when the job is finished, you have a customer who will be loyal to you, for you have delivered exactly what was requested.

  1. Knock your customer’s socks off

We often forget how important that finishing touch is. If you go to a Hotel, and they throw in a bottle of champagne with some chocolates, or if you get a lawyer to complete your property purchase but they also take care of the transfer of utility bills or when you have your car repaired and they will wash it inside and out. It is these finishing touches that impress me and certainly impress my clients especially when it is not expected. That extra touch doesn’t really cost much, but it means a whole lot more to those customers. You can always cash in for more. I would rather have ten more customers because of recommendation than cashing in 5% little extra from a tiny add-on job.

Most of you as entrepreneurs please and wow your customers naturally without having thought about it in any particular order and you all genuinely want to make sure your customers stay loyal and you will do anything to knock their socks off.  The trick however is how do you make this process repeatable and can you do more for your customers and what do you have to do to set yourself apart from your competition?

However, there are two more steps.  If you’ve read so far, then take the leap. Book a session with me two find out what the next two steps are that can set you apart from your competition. I do master classes for Incubators, Accelerators and in-house implementation for promising start-ups looking to up their revenue and improve their customer experience.

The Entrepreneurial Journey:  Doing your best under the circumstances

https://www.flickr.com/photos/deeplifequotes/15984537989Last Tuesday I had to give a presentation on the use of KanBan for personal and self-development.  Now I have done many events, public speaking and taught many classes in the past 20 years and as it happened, just 4 days earlier I had given a similar course on the use of KanBan to entrepreneurs with a fairly positive feedback.  This should have been a piece of cake and just like another.

However this was not so.

 For a start the request for this presentation had come from someone else and while the title was as it mentioned, I had been informed along with another colleague a different requirement.  While I generally double check these with clients and fully clear the objectives and make sure that we are all aligned of what is to be expected, delivered and learnt, I failed to do my due diligence and communication.

 The next issue was that one of the pre-requisite for this job was that it had to be a 4 hour long lecture!  I already felt a little uneasy about this.  If we are talking about a tool that’s supposed to help you better plan your day and not waste time, spending four hours on a subject that should be no longer than 60 to 90 minutes is already contradictory, a waste of time. I had talked to a colleague who was supposed to be co-presenting this session with me and together we had decided that he was going to dedicate sometime to explaining the benefits of scrum framework and uses.

 Finally just a day before, my colleague asked if I could take over the presentation for both parts. From one point it would have been easier, as I could control the flow but from another aspect I had to now read through his presentation and deliver it on his behalf. 

  The day arrived and after many hours of preparation, arranging slides and working out how to make it all flow, I joined the online session where the presenters started the session by asking two questions, reading it out at the speed of light and asking the participants to respond in the chat. 

  As he was speeding through these questions I felt an uneasy chill going through my body that this is not going to go so well.  I took over by asking everyone to let me know what their expectation was from the course and much to my disappointment there was an additional disconnect as some people were looking at the concept from a business point of view.

We were already mis-aligned about the requirement and expectation, and now I had to address a disconnected and muted audience through a camera with some power points that were not suitable for this crowd.

 I took a few minutes to reorganize my thoughts, if this was an off line presentation, I could have kept them engaged by asking them more questions and doing more practical hands on, however here all I had was a power point presentation.  As the session progressed into the first fifteen minutes most of the attendees turned off their video and from there on, I was just talking to myself. I had some feedback from one or two participants and by the time we had reached half time I could already feel that I could not carry on. I suggested a short 15 minute break to help me pull my thoughts together and prepare myself to dive into to some practical use of the program and how to implement it, but as we started the engagement was almost at zero.  I ploughed through different examples and by this knowing that I might as well be talking to myself. After a about 45 minutes to 1 hour of practical demo and use case, I stopped and asked if anyone wanted to know more or had any other questions. Apart from some basic questions, all other participants had already switched off, probably gone cooking or cleaning.

  As I closed the session an hour earlier than the scheduled and required minimum time for the session I already knew that this was probably the worst presentation I have done so far. I could not see my audience and even if I wanted to engage with them they had already disengaged from me. I remembered the book “Do no harm” by Henry Marsh the famous British Neurosurgeon whose many operations had also gone terribly wrong. He had done his best, under the circumstances but the result was one were the patients would die earlier or were left paralysed.  I pondered upon this session; I had done my best, despite the challenges and circumstances.

 

Understanding the concept of the 5AM Club. Enjoying the Entrepreneurial journey part III

Understanding the 5 AM CLUB.   Enjoying the entrepreneurial journey part III

Contrary to the popular belief and book of Robin Sharma, I believe that the 5 AM club is not necessarily about waking up at 5 am but a concept of what you can achieve in a 3 hour dedicated period when your mind and body are at their optimal working conditions.

So before we dive into this section, I want to emphasis the importance of flexibility.  The 5 AM Club should be looked at as a concept or an idea that you can adapt to yourself.  We are all different in when we like to work when we like to rest, how we want to enjoy our rest and playtime.  So it is important to understand your body and adapt this concept to your body clock.  In my last blog, I also mentioned how Arianna Huffington collapsed from sleep deprivation and if you get the chance read the book “Dangerously Sleepy” by Alain Derekson.  You will read that while many successful businessmen have associated getting up early with their key to success, it is not actually the getting up early that is the key.  It is the concept of what you can achieve in those hours where no one else is around to distract you. 

Let’s quick analyse Benjamin Franklin’s “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.   First of all his routine was going to bed at 10 pm and waking up at 5 am, giving him an approximate 7 hours of sleep.  His motto for this quote was that if you wake up late you will end up catching up with lost time and only getting the leftover.  However, this is a limited view of a limited world with limited abundance.  We live in a world of abundance and even if you wake up at 5 pm in today’s connected world there is no shortage of abundance and whenever you wake up, you can always view it as if you have got up 3 hours before those in some part of the world that are still sleeping.

Therefore, sticking to these old descriptions is misleading and unproductive.  Your body has an internal clock.  Some of us function better working into the early hours of the night and need to sleep it off during the day and others are early birds.  In fact, you may even find that you may be a bit of both.  I remember that when I used to program, I very often would write my best code beginning the end of the evening (starting between 10 pm and 12 am) and doing a stretch of about 3 to 5 hours.  It was a time that I had no distractions. My parents were asleep, the house was quiet and I could concentrate.   However, if I had to study, I would wake up at 4 am and study until 8 am.  That was it, after that, I would pretty much stop.  In both cases, the late night or the early morning provided me with quality, uninterrupted, focused time.

So now that you understand that you do not need to wake up at 5 am to be wise, wealthy, and successful, let’s look at the real concept behind the 5 AM Club.

In fact, the real concept behind the 5 AM Club is not so that you get up necessarily to do quality work, but quite the opposite.  It is for you to get up and dedicate a few focused, uninterrupted hours to yourself.  At this time you are not supposed to be working, answering emails, or preparing reports rather you should dedicate it to three main activities and preferably but not necessarily in the below order.

  1. Warm-up your body, do some exercise to start your machine.  Physical activity is good for brain development and also jump-starts your day. I dedicate several times a week (some 15 minutes) to an early morning workout followed by a walk (about 45 minutes).  This gets the blood flowing through my body, gets rids of any negative energy I may have built up, helps with my digestion, and even allows me to indulge in chocolate and some sweets as I burn them off. This is my routine, but you can build your own. I also go running and hiking on weekends and this is also a routine that helps me keep a healthy mind and body.
  2. Easier said than done. I drift in and out and when I am busy, I tend to forget and soon I remember how important it is to calm the mind on a daily basis.  Once again my last article “Driving at full speed in first gear” is a good description.  If all you do is push your brain to analyse at some point the result is nowhere as clear as it used to be.  In order to bring good clear results, you need to have a good clear mind.  A mind that can rest when it needs to do and analyse when it is required to do so. An overclocked CPU or brain sooner or later will lead to failure.  My meditation routine is those suggested by Joe Dispenza in his book “Changing the habit of being yourself” and also various youtube meditations that I listen to while I walk or run.  As my one of my mentor says, even in worst-case scenarios you should be able to afford 2 minutes for mediation per day.
  3. This is the hour or time where your brain is running at its optimum. You are what you learn and what you learn is what you earn.  Dedicate some time to learning and reading.  I read at least 1 hour in the morning if not more.  The days I get to read and learn something new I feel energised and happy and those days that I miss my reading time I feel a little empty and as if lacking.  Imagine what you can achieve with just one hour of reading per day.  1 new word per day, 1 new trick per day, 1 new concept per day, 1 new quote per day, and a new you per day.

Is it clear from the above 3 points how you can be “healthy, wealthy and wise” as Benjamin Franklin had envisioned?  I am working towards waking up at 4 am and I am often in bed by 9 or 10 pm. I love the early morning walks, my uninterrupted reading time, and listening to the birds at 5 or 6 am. It connects me with nature, life, and the universe.  Pick your own time and practice to be “healthy, wealthy and wise”. It is not about working, it is about learning and living a healthy life.