Love Letter #6: Your brain is fu*&%ing with you

Hello Veevart Team!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about two of our core values:

  • We are seekers of excellence and efficiency.

  • Work with Strategic Intent.

I’ve been thinking about them because as intended, these values work both inside and outside work. But then again, it is really, REALLY, hard to achieve them. And that is because your brain is fu*&%ing with you in different ways. So I wanted to share some things that I’ve been working on for some time, and others I’m currently working on that go toward stopping my brain from messing things around.

Tip 1: Reclaim your time

Tip 1: Reclaim your time

Your brain is Fu*&%ing with you. When I moved from Miami to Paris, every one of my friends told me this was going to be a catastrophe. “How are you going to help manage your team from there?” “What about your clients?”, “How about meetings?” Frankly, I don’t know how I was doing it before, nor know how any CEO who works in the same timezone as his team does it.

The truth is that every time I come visit you here in Colombia or the US I work twice as hard, I’m beaten by the time I get out of the office, and I feel I’m half as efficient as when I’m at home. At 8 pm I’m in bed. There is a reason for this unsustainable behavior: I go to the office every day. It is ok because I only get to be with you 2 weeks per quarter, but if I were to do this all year long I’m certain I’d die of exhaustion, and/or be out of business in a year.

I’m sure you know how I feel: I’ve seen how hard you work, sometimes going into the night, and often using your weekends. None of this is intended, and I’m sure there is a better way.

So how is my brain fu*&%ing with me on this? It is because it makes you think that being in meetings all day is good. It is because it TELLS you that being busy doing emails constantly is doing actual work. Believe me, it is not. But as intelligent as you are (you would not be working with us if you weren’t), I’m sorry to tell you: you are not thinking. Your brain does not want you to think, it wants you to be busy. Thinking is hard, and nature will always take the path of least resistance - your brain is not the exception.

Tip 2: Demand more of your peers

Tip 2: Demand more of your peers

Jason Lemkin said two important things on this subject:

  • You really can only focus on 1-3 core things. The biggest problem with mediocre hires is they force you to spend so much time on 4-400.

  • The #1 thing that you need to move on from a team member: You are doing a lot of their work.

So how is my brain fu*&%ing with me on this? It is because it wants to take the path of least resistance, and having a hard conversation is, well, hard. Our quarterly reports and a mandatory quarterly qualification were my way of making us have these hard conversations. My brain fu*&%ed me here for a long time, and I apologize for it!

It took me some time to understand that every year, the game gets harder and not easier. Bars and Targets are raised, and what worked previously will not work now. Every year, everyone’s game needs to be raised.

If someone is taking a lot of your time - you need to let him/her know.

Tip 3: Plan: You-have-to-make-time-to-think

Tip 3: Plan: You-have-to-make-time-to-think

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

- Abraham Lincoln

On Sundays, I’m thinking: “If I achieve three things next week, what should they be?” I also do the same exercise every morning, but I reduce it to one item after looking at my calendar.

You are probably saying to yourself: this is easy, I look at my email, or at the project that I’m doing, and I know what I need to achieve. Let me tell you, if this exercise comes easy to you, you are doing it wrong.

So let’s expand the question, and make it more specific:

“If I achieve three things next week (or one thing today) that will move the needle forward, and will have a compounding effect on my process, my life, or me as a professional, what would it be”.

Allow me to give you a hint: the answer is not in Salesforce, your email, or whatever tool you are using for work. To answer this question you have to sit down, take a white page, and think. This, my friends, you have to plan it.

There are two types of jobs:

  1. High Accountability - High Level of Craft Type of Jobs.

  2. Regular Jobs.

If you grew up in a traditional middle-class home, if you went to a traditional college, you were given the necessary education to get the type 2 job, the regular job. But you won’t get or keep a Type 1 Job without significantly taking a stab at the white page.

You might accidentally arrive at the High Accountability - High Level of Craft Type of Job (I did!) but you won’t be able to keep it without continuously working on what will move the needle or what will have a compounding effect on your process, your life, or your craft.

I’m not saying that a regular job is a bad thing. You might value peace of mind, you don’t want all the responsibility, and the stress. It is understandable. Here though, quoting Naval Ravikant, you are earning with your time, and not with your mind.

But if you are in a managerial role or you have a decent-sized portfolio/project, and you are not working the white page, you’ll be soon replaced by someone who does. Because that’s what scaling means: working and earning with your mind and not your time.

You might be thinking, why? I am responsive, I reply to emails, I follow up on clients, etc. And here is where your brain is fu*&%ing with you, your personality might be fu*&%ing with you, hell even our traditional concept of work is fu*&%ing with you.

Many of us are reading Empowered by Marty Cagan, and there is a chapter in which he speaks about the difference between intelligent people and thinking people. We are all intelligent, but are we always thinking? The answer is no. I’m the first one to admit it, and often, be guilty of it. Looking at the white page requires discipline, requires recognition that fighting fires although required, is not what is going to help us make real progress.

In terms of compounding activities (activities that build you), my sin has been more in terms of always being acquiring knowledge -reading, for example, or listening to my craft-related podcast-, but not leaving space to think and act. It is like buying groceries and never cooking. Or buy materials, but never build. And that, mes amies, is my brain fu*&%ing with me, my personality fu*&%ing with me, and the traditional concept of work fu*&%ing with me. YOU-HAVE-TO-MAKE-TIME-TO-THINK. I am not calling you stupid, nor calling you a non-thinking person, I’m stating that our second core value -to work with strategic intent-, it is not natural, and it requires effort.

Please don’t stop reading, that would be worse: you have a white page and zero knowledge to think about. Find the right balance, and face your white page.

With love,

You Might Be Interested

computer screenpicture

Museum fundraising: 4 tips for taking your fundraising efforts to the next level.

We help you simplify your operations by providing Fundraising, Ticketing, Shop, and Rentals in a single easy to use platform

a pice of art

‘A Modest Proposal’ an exhibition at Hauser & Wirth

14 artworks remind visitors that this summer you can find a place where there is something more about the body than selling sunscreen and swimming suits.

a picture of a ticket

Why more museums should have an online ticketing application

Selling tickets online helps museums provide greater access to visitors, it enables them to better anticipate visitors fluctuations, and to make the best of their daily operations.

Stay up to date with Veevart’s latest news.