Speaker. Entrepreneur. Author.

Three Ways to Protect Your Time

Added on by Sam Davidson.

Found a way to save time? Awesome! 

Did a great job at making time? Cool!

Rearranged some things and found some time? Well done!

While hard work can result in saving, making, and finding time, you can breathe a bit easier if you'll just protect your time in the first place. 

We love to talk about time as if it magically appears when we least expect it, or if it's something we can create more of with just a few life hacks and automated tasks. But since time marches on, is a cruel master, and treats us all equally, I've learned that protecting time from the outset saves headaches, helps you get things done, and creates less stress

When you protect your time, you get to control it. When you protect time, you'll be making a statement about your priorities. And when you protect time, you are budgeting your minutes and hours wisely, spending one of the few resources you can't make more of. 

Here are three things I do in order to protect my time as a leader, entrepreneur, dad, and husband:

  1. Live by a calendar. I don't care if you use Google Calendar, iCal, or some old school paper planner, entering what you need to do and when you'll be doing it is the best way to make sure you set aside all the time needed to accomplish your work. 
  2. Set deadlines (with reminders). Better than simply slotting time on a calendar is also giving yourself a hard deadline. For example, I could enter that I'm working on a slide deck from 1 to 3 PM today, but it's also good if I set a deadline that the deck is "due" (to myself, perhaps) Monday at 5 PM. Because if two working hours today isn't enough to get it done, then I need to protect some time this weekend to keep working. 
  3. Start treating time like money. For years, people have said that "time is money," but until you treat it like that, you may never realize the worth of a single hour of your day. I can't buy a pair of jeans if that money isn't in my bank account; I can't spend time at dinner with my family if I haven't protected the time to do so. An hour spends the same, whether it's with your head down at your desk, working and writing, of if it's with a friend, sharing a drink at happy hour. So, make sure you budget what needs to be done and then spend wisely. 

How do you protect your time? What tips do you have to make sure you don't squander this precious resource?

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All the Great Ideas

Added on by Sam Davidson.

I bet I have at least 50 really great blog post, book, speech, and business ideas. But I can't tell them to you. 

Not because they're top secret. Not because you wouldn't understand. Not because they're all illegal, immoral, or even boring.

I can't tell you because I forgot to write them down, type them out, or create a voice memo. And so, I've forgotten them.

The good ones seem to come back eventually. And maybe the ones I forget forever aren't meant to be. But I sure wish I remembered every one so I could at least test it out, share it with a confidant, or grow it into my next big thing.

It's silly that such a small thing could get in the way of the next big thing. It's also silly when any of these things stop your next great idea:

  • You talk negatively to yourself about why you can't pull this off.
  • Someone else is already doing it.
  • You need to cobble together a small amount of money to get going.
  • You think it'll be too hard.
  • Your favorite show is on.
  • You say you'll start tomorrow. 
  • You'll wait until someone asks you to do it.
  • It's never been done before.
  • It may require you to get up an hour earlier than normal.
  • You would need to ask for help.
  • Someone laughs at the idea.

Don't let a small thing get in the way of a big thing.

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You Didn't Finish Because You Didn't Start

Added on by Sam Davidson.

It's not that your idea was bad or you ran out of money. It's not even that you couldn't find a customer or grow quickly enough. It's not that the universe hates you or life isn't fair. 

You didn't make it happen because you never started. 

The leaders and entrepreneurs who make stuff happen make sure to start. They don't stop at ideation; they leap from that to action as quickly as possible. In fact, here are the six steps anyone who has ever done anything awesome follows:

  1. They write down a goal.
  2. They set a deadline.
  3. They get to work.
  4. They evaluate how they're doing.
  5. They make any necessary changes.
  6. They repeat all these steps until they finish. 

Voila. No magic tricks. No shortcuts. No online course for $99.99. Just a step in the right direction. (And in the case of starting, any direction is the right direction.)

Two quick recent examples from my life:

I've got three pals who are speakers. We want to speak more to corporate audiences. We'd love a day where our corporate (professional, association, etc.) speaking opportunities balance out our college and student ones. That's where we want to go. So what steps are we taking to get there?

First off, we set a date to all hop on a call together. We made plans. We blocked time. And we talked. We listened. We encouraged and challenged. We left with an action item that we each have a month to complete and bring back to the group.

That's movement. That's starting. One day, when each of us has a slate of speaking opportunities that don't exist now, it'll be because we started with a call at 5:00 PM on Monday, July 28th, 2014. 

Second example: The good people at Jabra sent me some headphones to review (and write about). They mailed them over to me. I gave them a whirl. I now use them for conference calls and to listen to music while I work without disturbing others in my office. They're super handy. 

I also took them on a recent flight. They worked like a charm without all the wires getting tangled up or getting in my way. They're probably the best travel headphones I've used. For real.

But the point isn't that I got free headphones. It's that the only way I ever get free headphones ever is because ten years ago I started blogging

That's right - a decade of writing. (I've gotten more out of this than a sweet pair of Jabra headphones, rest assured.)

But I don't get to the milestone of 10 years unless I write a very first post. And then a second. And a third. You get the picture. 

So here's the deal: I want to know how you're starting. I don't need to know your big plans or your exit strategy. I don't need to know what your dream is or how your invention will alter the course of human history. I just want to know how you're starting.

And yes, I want to you leave a comment. Old-school style like people used to do on blogs a hundred years ago. I want you to signify your start by doing the hard work of typing something as a comment below.

So tell me how you're starting. And to sweeten the pot, I'll pick one comment at random and the kind people over at Jabra will send you some sweet headphones, too, so you can start whatever it is you're dreaming. 

Drop your idea for starting by Friday, and I'll pick one of you ambitious, awesome people as the lucky winner.

But you don't win (anything, not just headphones) if you don't start the game. 

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Not Everyone is Killing It

Added on by Sam Davidson.

I have a growing network of speaker friends and colleagues and as such, I follow them online, keeping up conversation and friendship as we do in this digital age. 

And quite often, I see pictures of people posted on a stage with captions about so-and-so "Killing It!" at an event. Of people "So Excited" that they "Can't Wait!" to be somewhere. This is all fine and well and I'm certainly guilty of these posts time and again. 

But if everyone is killing it, is no one bombing? Is everyone really this excited? Our best face is the one best fit for online consumption, but surely everything that Instagrams is not gold.

This is still one of my favorite Portlandia clips, capturing so succinctly how not everyone is as happy as they appear online. Take a look.

I'm not saying that we need newsfeeds and streams full of sad truths and mundane musings of the moment. But just know that if you happen to feel sad when everyone out there seems to be killing it, it's not as rosy as they make it sound. 

Whether you post it or not, it's okay to kill it and not kill it, to look forward and to dread, to shout for joy and lament in anguish. That is the whole life, not just the edited version we put forth online where our worlds are full of the idealized imagination of the self. 

(Besides, I've heard some of these people speak, and I know they're not all killing it.)

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When You Solve a Problem

Added on by Sam Davidson.

When you solve a problem, you can create a company, start a movement, and change the world. Until then, what you're up to may just be a nice hobby or a pleasant distraction. 

Successful companies and organizations grow because they're meeting a need by solving a problem. Of course, the notion of "problem" can be a bit vague. After all, it wasn't a "problem" that we couldn't carry around 1,000 songs in our pocket, but now that we have iPods, we think it was a travesty when we could only tote with us all the music a cassette and Walkman could hold. 

As we raise capital to expand Batch, we have been talking a lot about the problems we solve for our customers, be they individuals (B-to-C) or companies (B-to-B). But all along, we've wanted to solve other problems, too.

That's why we hired three teenagers recently. The fact that jobs for teens are hard to come by in general, coupled with the fact that some teens have an even tougher time, led our friends at Oasis Center to begin managing their share of a federal program to help young people find work, especially if it's a first job. 


We needed some extra help in the warehouse and as it turns out, by finding help with our problem, we solved another one as well. (You can read all about what our young people at Batch do here.) Better yet, wait until September until we share more about how we're solving the problem of hunger in America. 

We like to think of companies, programs, groups, churches, and organizations in terms of their name, their bottom line, or their marketing savvy. But until any of these groups solve a problem, they're not doing much. And they may not be around for long. Sometimes, as referenced above, the problems, will be nicely trumped up, but any successful entity is ultimately in the problem solving business.

This week, take stock of your work, your business, your goals, and your mission. Talk about it all in the context of a problem you're solving. Because once people know you can solve their problem, well, they'll line up to pay for that.

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