Sleep is good for everyone, CEO and baby too

Brandon Frere famously made himself a promise that when he ran his own business he would never set an alarm clock. How did he know that getting enough sleep was a wholly rational decision that was both good for him, and—because he is responsible for hundreds of employees and thousands of clients—good for those around him?

Feeling Lonely and Isolated? Take a Nap

Recent research from UC Berkeley shows that sleep deprived people feel lonelier and less inclined to social engagement. Unrested people live with the same sort of isolation as those with social anxiety. Even worse, well-rested people feel lonely after a brief encounter with a sleep deprived person. This creates a sort of social isolating virus that infects wider and wider circles.

Another study by the Rand Corporation quantified the loss to the American economy due to sleep deprivation at $411 billion per year. This is counted in terms of 1.23 million lost working days. Only Japan has worse per capita numbers. Even more serious, those who slept less than six hours per night were 10 percent more likely to die than those who slept between seven and nine hours.

There are many reasons why some people sleep less than others:

  • Age: Brain function responsible for regulating sleep begins to decline as early as 35 years of age
  • Genetics: A gene called “CRY1” regulates circadian rhythms. One variation of it causes longer circadian cycles, leading to less sleep
  • Career: Night and swing shifts are extremely harmful to healthy rest
  • Weekends: Sleeping late on the weekend can cause disrupted sleeping the rest of the week.
  • Relationships: Those in committed relationships are 20 percent more likely than single people to sleep seven hours or more per night.
  • Education: The higher level of educational attainment, the more you sleep. Over 70 percent of those with a college degree or higher sleep at least seven hours per night.

Why We Sleep

In Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, neuroscientist Matt Walker argues that lack of sleep takes a toll on everyone, from military fighters and first responders to airline pilots and truckers. It is also associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, obesity, stroke, chronic pain, diabetes, heart attacks and more.

As a sleep consultant to the NFL, NBA, and numerous Fortune 500 enterprises, Walker is certain of the links between a good night’s sleep and optimal performance, on the playing field and in the conference room.

All of these studies seem to point to something that Frere knows intuitively: that allowing the body to get the sleep it needs is essential to how we operate and interact in the world, that a good night of sleep is one of the healthiest therapies we can give ourselves.

Sleeping until your body says it’s time to wake up is good for the body and good for business. It also saves you all that time hitting the snooze button.

CEO sitting in yoga pose is using stress reduction tips to help with his busy work schedule

Being a CEO can be stressful. As the head decision-maker, overall operations manager, and chief strategist, the task-list is never-ending. So, it’s understandable that people with so much on their plate may have a difficult time de-stressing, especially people whose mind is always on their work. Stress can wear on a person physically and mentally. So for a CEO to be at their best, it’s necessary to keep stress in check. Some CEOs may feel too busy to work on stress-relieving techniques, but there are several things they can do that require very little effort or time.

Visualize Your Power Animal. Or Happy Place. Or Both!

Remember the scene in Fight Club where Ed Norton’s character visited his visualized cave to find his power animal? Visualization is a very effective way to mentally remove yourself from your surroundings, and that short mental vacation can do wonders for stress. Whether you’re visualizing your power animal or your favorite place to relax, simply closing your eyes and creating a mental image of that thing for a couple minutes can make your body and mind more at ease.

Take Deep, Purposeful Breaths

We don’t often think of our breathing since it’s automatic, but paying attention to our breaths can naturally make us feel more relaxed. Deep breathing supplies your brain with more oxygen, which also produces a feeling of overall calmness. Taking a moment to take a few mindful, deep breaths can bring about a quick reduction in stress. For added benefit, add in some visualization. The use of deep breathing in stress relief is so significant that the American Institute of stress has said it’s the most effective stress reduction technique.

Laugh That Stress Off

Laughter really can be the best medicine, especially for stress. Laughter can relax the whole body, and it’s tension and stress relief can affect your muscles for up to 45 minutes afterward. Laughter also releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormone. When feeling stressed, take a couple minutes to laugh. Bookmark a couple funny (work appropriate) sites, or keep funny photos in a folder on your desktop so you can quickly refer to these when you’re starting to feel that tension weigh on you.

Forced Worrying Chases Those Involuntary Worries Away

This might sound counter-intuitive, but it can be very effective: Stress can cause us to worry — worry about deadlines, or revenue… or a million other things. If stress is making you worry and you find it hard to focus, set a timer for 60 seconds and force yourself to worry. Often, trying to make yourself worry is difficult! Worries often affect us most when we’re trying to push them under the rug. After your time is up, you may find it’s easier to focus, and that worry isn’t trying to steal your attention as much.

Put a Smile on That Face

It may sound corny, but smiling can have a physiological impact on stress. While the link between facial expressions and mental states hasn’t been researched much, one study showed people who smiled during a stressful situation had lower heart rates and lower self-reported levels of stress. Some researchers have suggested smiling may reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in the body. Not only can smiling have an impact on your stress levels, but it can make people around you feel more at ease as well.

 

 

We are what we do - Aristotle quote on a slate blackboard against red barn wood - building habits for success

Success, regardless of whether it’s at work, school, or our personal lives, often depends on being highly disciplined. Discipline seems to come easily for some. Others… well, it can be more of a struggle. The good news is that discipline can be developed and part of that can be achieved by actively working on routines that can turn into habits. Habits work by actually changing the pathways in your brain. The more often you do something, the less effort and thought it requires, eventually becoming a subconscious behavior. Successful people tend to share many of the same habits, and they aren’t difficult or daunting to develop. Spend a little time each day working on them, and before you know it, these little routines will become habitual.

1. Start the Day With a Positive Mindset

Start your day invested in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. Push down any negative self-talk you might have, and instead focus on gratitude, growth, and enthusiasm for the possibilities of a new day not yet lived. Think about what you’d like to improve upon today, and set that as a mini goal to achieve; understand that nothing in the universe is fixed, yourself included.

2. Embrace A Health Conscious Lifestyle

We all know that we should eat healthily and exercise, but actually doing that on a daily basis can be difficult. Regardless, it can become a habit like anything else. Fueling yourself with nutritious food and exercising first thing in the morning awakens both the body and mind and provides energy for both to get through the day. Rest and relaxation is also part of being healthy; we all need this to recharge the body and mind. Being health conscious is all about balancing physical and mental needs.

3. Adhere to Your Core Values

What’s most important to you in life? Spend time thinking about this, and write them down. Once you’ve identified your core values, remind yourself of them daily and make sure you’re adhering to them with whatever actions you’re taking. Let them guide your goals. If and when you find yourself feeling lost or discouraged, return to your list and read through them to remind yourself of who you are and what you stand for.

4. Be Goal-Oriented

Habitually set goals; successful people know what they want and have a plan on how to accomplish it. They work on their plans, review them daily, and set deadlines for when they’d like to have their goal accomplished by. Those who are goal-oriented don’t let setbacks hold them back or persuade them to give up; they always keep their eye on the prize.

5. Spend Time in Reflection

How often do you just sit quietly and reflect? Our lives are often fast-paced; our days are overwhelmed with decisions and emotions that require quick reactions, rather than careful thought. Taking 15 to 30 minutes out of the day to disconnect from technology and sit silently thinking about goals, your day, and your plans can bring about wisdom and clarity.

6. Read Daily

Reading is a pastime that has multiple benefits. Research has shown that it can reduce both physical and mental symptoms of stress. It’s also a source of entertainment that exercises the brain; unlike movies or television, the brain has to work to convert words into meaning. Reading also is a way to build more empathy and understanding of the world around us.

ikigai concept to show purpose

Many entrepreneurs want to find their work’s purpose but don’t know how to describe it. The concept of ikigai, may be an elegant way of expressing what people look for when they want “purpose.” Ikigai can also be used as a planning tool to find the motivations of different goals or entire businesses. Ikigai is composed of four questions, are you doing what you love? Are you doing what the world needs? Are you doing what you can be paid for? Are you doing what you are good at?

What You Love

An entrepreneur may want to start at the top of the circle and consider what they love to do. Entrepreneurs don’t need to produce something that is loved, but the act of producing should be something they are passionate about. If a person is doing something that they love then they may be able to take on harder challenges. The more an entrepreneur cares about the business, the more they’ll be able to learn and persevere from those challenges. When work isn’t so trying, passion can make every day a little better.

What the World Needs

Fulfilling customer needs is at the heart of a business, but fulfilling employee, and personal needs are just as important. When a business tries to fulfill a need, It needs to make a strong argument on how it fills that need. Once an argument is strong, it should be obvious. Discovering how to make a business strong and obvious may reveal ways that the business can be improved. When a business is stronger and more obvious it is more likely it will fulfill the need it was created for.

What You Can Be Paid For

After being certain a business fills a need, an entrepreneur should sure people cares enough to buy what their business is selling. Money is a necessary system at the heart of a business, and most businesses won’t function without a good monetary plan. If someone loves the business but isn’t willing to pay, then the business may not be worth pursuing. Some turn their business into a hobby until it can make money. By using a little creativity, most endeavors can find a market.

What You Are Good At

Finally, a person should do what they are confident in doing. This shouldn’t stop someone from trying new things. It may be wise for an entrepreneur to perform tasks that are outside of their comfort zone. An entrepreneur may want to spend more time measuring whether a new task is possible, and deciding what skills are required. By measuring, it becomes possible to find out just how good a person needs to be to solve difficult tasks. If an entrepreneur needs to try something they are bad at but gets better through attempting the challenge, then that may be best of all.

Thinking with ikigai may be a good way to measure a business’ emotional value. By thinking with ikigai entrepreneurs may be able to figure out what causes people to care about their work.

Small businesses might not be as small as you think.

A business may feel large or small, depending on factors like building size, customer to employee ratios, and so on. Actually being defined as a small business in a legal sense, though, has more defined parameters. Deciding to stay a small business or working toward growing into a big business — that all comes down to the personal choice of a business owner.

The legal definition of a small business would likely surprise many readers. A business that has $7 million in annual generated revenue and 500 employees, depending on the industry, could still count as a small business. The numbers can go even higher for industries such as railroads and certain food services. When talking about small business, that’s not going to be what the average person thinks of. Most often, they’re imaging a small store with an employee count that doesn’t hit double digits and brings in a moderate amount of money. A business owner might have a different perspective on these numbers, but for the 95 percent of business owners that make up small businesses, they might still seem odd.

However, when thinking about how large certain businesses and industries are in America, those businesses can certainly seem small in comparison. Wal-Mart Stores was reported to have generated over $350 million in revenue; a big enough difference to bring to light what kind of scale is in effect here.

Growing to become a big business may take much more time and effort than a business owner was originally anticipating. But for some, the challenge may be worth it. For others, the business may expand over time, but the owner will have no problem remaining in the rather large parameters of a small business.

Entrepreneur at home office

Starting up a business takes money, a plan, and a fair amount of courage. Many of the people who start up a business would call themselves entrepreneurs, and some of them would be right. However, Brandon Frere, CEO and President of Frere Enterprises, would argue that not all people who start a business are entrepreneurs.

“Not everyone is an entrepreneur. Some of those people are what I call ‘technicians suffering from entrepreneurial seizures,” said Frere. Please be aware that’s not meant to be disparaging or say that people who may not specifically be entrepreneurs can’t be successful. Being an entrepreneur requires much more than people often realize: (1) customer service; (2) networking; (3) management on most levels; and (4) a solid understanding of how the business functions. The list of things a true entrepreneur needs to not just handle, but handle well can go on forever. A technician of a specific occupation might be the most amazing in a specific field, but if they can’t handle the rest of the requirements that it takes to successfully run a business, such as marketing tactics, they may not entirely be an entrepreneur according to Frere.

Being successful in a business may depend on many more factors than the ones that are plainly obvious. Being a successful entrepreneur is similar. Perhaps a professional in a field is looking to start their own business so that they can be in control of themselves. “(Someone) may find it much more difficult than they were thinking or just not what they really wanted. For some people, though, it may be just the kick they need to really become an entrepreneur,” said Frere.

Adult and five year old together happy

I’m not the five year old kid I used to be.  

Still, my inner five year old shows up and wants attention. He wants to join the party, in fact, he wants the party to be about him. And he’s going to be pretty unhappy when he finds out it isn’t. 

But I’m an adult. I have a family and they need me to be present and aware. My clients and employees also require my absolute focus so that I can see where we need to go and the paths we need to take to get there.

And that inner five year old continues to get in the way. Or does he?

Dealing With the Painbody

Eckhart Tolle talks about the painbody. He says that there are old emotional pains living inside us, an accumulation of painful life experiences. These experiences were not fully accepted when they happened.

Often, the experiences were just too much to deal with. You were just to young to understand what was happening and didn’t have the power to deal with it, so the experiences overwhelmed you.

Maybe you were five years old. Or four. Or three. Maybe you’ve experienced painbodies your whole life.

These experiences leave behind energy in the form of emotional pain.

So now you’re an adult and something triggers you. It’s happened to everyone.  Somebody cuts you off in traffic or someone says the wrong thing at the wrong time and the painbody takes over, shading interpretations of everything that comes next with stored up emotion. 

Everything becomes distorted and and warped by this painbody. And you react with emotional outbursts, acting out, and bad decisions. Until the energy runs its course and you suddenly come out on the other side and wonder what the hell happened.

Not Five Anymore

So here is the problem. I’m like you. I’m not five anymore. I have family, clients, and employees that need me to have clarity. You have responsibilities, too.  

So, what’s an adult to do?

Drowning out the painbody doesn’t work. There’s too much stored up energy. It will always comes back. Plus, who really wants to drown a five year old? Especially when the five year old is your inner self.

Be Present

The option is to be present. Try to realize and understand the five year old wants a say. Hear him out, give him some space. Become comfortable with this part of you. And learn to realize when someone you are with is in their painbody.

The more comfortable you become, the clearer you can be. Then you can see where the pieces fit, how to grow and where you need to go.  

Wherever I am, I have my five year old with me.

If I am present and aware, that inner five year old feels cared for, and I can bring my full vision and energy to my family, clients, and employees where it is needed most.

There are a few influential books that have persuaded me as powerfully as the books below.

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

I try to reflect what I learned from this book in aspects of myself. In the text, Dan becomes a disciple of a modern, ninja, Socrates and confronts death and the meaninglessness of existence to become present, aware, open, and vulnerable. These qualities lead Dan to find, and marry, the girl, and concept, named Joy and realize his full capabilities as a human being. I believe the ideas that Dan expresses about how to find joy in life can help people become the best version of themselves that they can imagine.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

This book teaches a person to pay attention to emotional responses, acknowledge them, and how to prevent them from representing your logical side. The book teaches that if some pain has already happened to you then do not let dwelling on it or future implications ruin the current moment. Lastly, try to find patterns in your brain by asking “what will my next thought be.” This will show your thought habits. Break those habits and focus on paying attention to the immediate moment, instead of being caught in a self-fulfilling loop.

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh’s story at Zappo’s is amazing by itself, but his employee-first attitude and focus on company culture and vision is particularly inspiring. Hsieh’s belief that company culture is the greatest predictor of success was an enlightening revelation. His decision that Zappos must be the best at one element of the business, then choosing customer service and dedicating themselves to that focus to the point where the company center to their Las Vegas customer service center shows how vision can be used to make bold decisions.

Delivering Happiness promotes having a company’s vision and culture drive everything. Hsieh shows how to focus on one aspect of your company, how to never outsource the best quality of your workplace, and how to remove one aspect of the budget (in Hsieh’s case, marketing) to re-invest it into a company’s primary focus. Most importantly Hsieh teaches how to make the company’s greatest strength be the greatest measure of their success.

The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump

The Art of the Deal is treasured among my influential books since it’s the one that taught me how to be scrappy. The guidelines of this influential book teach me how to fight like an underdog at the negotiation table.

  1. Think big.
  2. Anticipate the worst.
  3. Don’t get too attached to a deal, and start making lots of deals.
  4. Know the market.
  5. Never be desperate to make a deal work.
  6. If your situation isn’t the best, figure out a way to make your deal the best.
  7. Be sensational and get your name out.
  8. If someone tries to take advantage of you, fight back.
  9. Deliver what you promise.
  10. Never spend more than you have to.
  11. Be in a business you enjoy being a part of.

More

Below are a few authors who make nothing but influential books. I recommend reading every work they create or help create:

  • Tony Robbins
  • Marc Benioff
  • Zig Ziglar
  • Jim Rohn
  • Warren Buffett
  • Bill Gates
An Entrepreneur Thinks About His Lessons Learned While Living Abroad

Living abroad is a game changer for any entrepreneur; take everything you think you know and turn it upside down. You’re likely to discover things about yourself and the world that you’d never imagined, even when living in a county that’s like your native nation. The education and life experiences you gain from being immersed in another culture is incomparable to any other schooling you could have and the lessons that you can take away from it, especially as an entrepreneur, are invaluable.

Stretch Your Comfort Zone

How can you grow if you’ve always stayed in your comfort zone? Living abroad forces you to have moments of uncertainty and discomfort, but instead of looking at these moments in a negative light, you should turn them into a teaching moment. Let these experiences of the unknown take control. Staying within your comfort zone can make you avoid new ideas and opportunities — the very opposite of what makes a successful entrepreneur! If you aren’t challenged, you’re not growing as a person and as an innovator.

How to Ask for Help

Many entrepreneurs feel like they have to tough it out alone and “fake it until they make it.” The universal truth is that we all need help sometimes. When you’re living in another country there are going to be plenty of things you don’t know. Experiencing the unknown can be a humbling experience within itself. Many entrepreneurs have a strong sense of independence, but it’s important to remember that asking for help doesn’t negate your independence or your abilities. You can’t do everything alone. Everyone needs help sometimes and it’s important to be able to understand when you need it and how to seek it. From a business standpoint, utilizing the help that you have available can also boost brand awareness, increase your networking skills, and lead to business growth. So, don’t be afraid to get comfortable asking for help.

Question the Status Quo

We tend to see the world through our own culture’s eyes. Traveling allows you to see the world through the eyes of other cultures and makes you realize that most things people think are culturally relative. Culture shock is defined by BusinessDictionary.com as a “sense of confusion, discomfort, disorientation, and uncertainty felt by those exposed to a different cultural environment.” Culture shock is an important tool because when you experience it your long-held ideas, beliefs, and your comfort zone are being challenged. Learning to accept another culture’s techniques and perspective of ways to do certain things allows you to think outside your culture box and will promote increased creativity, individualism, and a greater understanding of the world. All are valuable skill sets for any entrepreneur.

Develop Better Communication

When living abroad, you will most likely discover that a friendly smile can get you far. Communication of all types is an art form and learning how to communicate with people from many backgrounds in both verbal and non-verbal ways is important when it comes to business. If you’re living in an area that has language barriers, you may have to rely significantly on nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication also becomes a helpful tool in business. We gather a lot of information from physical cues and knowing how to use effective nonverbal communication may mean the difference between a successful business pitch and a strikeout.

It’s About Advancing, Not Perfecting

Some entrepreneurs strive for perfection. Living abroad shakes up the idea that you need to be perfect. You’ll make mistakes at some point: a cultural faux pas, misspeaking a foreign language, or even taking the wrong public transit and getting lost. It’s not about being perfect. Continuing to learn and adapt is what matters and the flexibility that comes with learning and adapting quickly is especially useful for developing problem-solving skills. Every successful entrepreneur sees the value in learning from their mistakes and adjusting accordingly. Always keep advancing and adapting and the business world will be your oyster.