Make Me Rich or Die Trying!

Accountability Productivity Well-being


Key Point: “9 to 5 is for the weak.” That is the slogan on a popular t-shirt. And my recent three-week vacation gave me a little white space to reflect on how people, including me, use their precious 24 daily hours. It’s duly noted that some people like “Crush It” guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, tells his disciples of hustle; that if they want the “bling,’ they should work 18-hours a day, continuously. And of course Silicon Valley and every other startup/venture driven “valley” anywhere, inspires much of that thinking and behavior; sometimes to a ridiculous degree. Uber competitor, Lyft, posted a blog bragging how one of their drivers went into labor and kept picking up rides on the way to the hospital. After considerable criticism, Lyft pulled down the post. Hustle and good judgment are not necessarily related. 

Chinese start-ups are now becoming notorious for outworking start-ups in other cultures. It’s about working all-in, every day, including weekends for most new Chinese ventures. This start-up reality is even impacting national strategies. The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, has vowed to take on the country’s infamous labor code (the 3324 page, Code du Travail), in order to spark more globally competitive ventures in France. And much of their work force is pushing back.

On the other hand, counter to this obsessive “grind it up” thinking, are successful companies like Basecamp, where workweeks are capped at 40 hours and reduced to 32 in the summer. The founders are publishing a second book celebrating their company culture, entitled the “Calm Company.” And there is much research that questions real productivity gains after 50 to 60 hours of weekly work. So what does this all mean?

My genuine belief is that there is no wrong or right answer to this debate. 9-to-5 is irrelevant to being weak or strong. If “bling,” or some other purpose/outcome turns you on, then be prepared to out grind and outhustle; and recognize that giving up vacations, sleep, relationships is a conscious decision. Choices are made. No complaints or whining with the consequences. Contrary to most pop culture B.S., one usually can’t have it all at the same time. Also, if you want a more integrated work/non-work experience, then that’s cool too (and also possible in both start-up and more traditional environments). Of course, at different stages of life, sometimes fate matches us up for the pace and focus that works for us at that very time. It’s recommended not to judge others through our unique filters.

Character Moves:

  1. Think about how much you are living and working the way you want to right now. Is your pace and focus right for you? Or are you just in a pattern and let the rapids take you along? Consciously choose your 24 precious hours.
  2. One way or another, do not do what you’re doing to essentially/exclusively make someone else rich (or whatever) at your personal expense. I believe that is when we really lose our way; giving up everything we truly value, without getting the mental and financial equity we deserve. 

Just working in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I too do not believe there’s a right or wrong answer for this, and it’s also a reason why this blog talks a lot more about putting in value than specific amounts of time. We know long hours certainly don’t guarantee you major financial success (just ask a nurse or fireman). I guess all we can do is produce the best work we can, and pay far more attention to our quality of contribution versus eyeing a clock.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Principle of Inversion and Anti-Goals

Abundance Growth mindset Productivity


Key Point: Let’s learn from Warren Buffett’s business partner, Charlie Munger, and the co-founders of Tiny. First, reflect on these three Munger quotes: “1. A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: Early death, a bad marriage, etc…” “2. It is remarkable how much long-term advantage we have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent…” “3. Problems frequently get easier if you turn them around in reverse. In other words, if you want to help India, the question you should ask is not ‘how can I help India,’ it’s ‘what is doing the worst damage in India and how do I avoid it?

Munger is talking about inversion in the last quote; the idea that problems are best solved when they are reversed. It’s often easier to think about what you don’t want before what you do. My experience is that both people and organizations are out of balance regarding the amount of time spent determining what they want to achieve versus what they’d like to avoid or stop doing. And strategic legacy planning processes often just add stuff up without declaring anti-goals. The outcome becomes lists of stuff to do/measure and are made up of executives’ favorite ideas that reflect compromise more than clear intent. 

I loved the blog by Tiny co-founder, Andrew Wilkinson, where he put Munger’s wisdom into action. In his words:

“So, instead of thinking through what we wanted our perfect day to look like, we thought about the worst day imaginable and how to avoid it. We inverted and came up with what we call Anti-Goals.

Our worst possible day looked like this:

  1. Full of long meetings.
  2. A packed calendar.
  3. Dealing with people we don’t like or trust.
  4. Owing people things/not being in control/obligations.
  5. Having to be at the office.
  6. Travel.
  7. Tired.

Working backwards from there, we made this set of Anti-Goals:

  1. Never schedule an in-person meeting when it can otherwise be accomplished via email or phone (or not at all).
  2. No more than two hours of scheduled time per day.
  3. No business or obligations with people we don’t like—even just a slight bad vibe and it’s a hard no.
  4. Never give up voting control of our businesses, no favors from people who could need something from us (ensure the rule of reciprocity doesn’t kick in).
  5. Work from a cafe across from a beautiful park where we can come and go as we please with nobody to bother us.
  6. Video conference or pay for people to come visit us.
  7. Never schedule morning meetings, sleep in when needed.

Problem solved.

Of course, we still have the odd unavoidable crappy day, but these simple Anti-Goals have made our lives immeasurably better by setting an Anti-Goal instead of a goal. Try it sometime, it’s insanely simple and strangely powerful.”

Character Moves:

  1. Try inversion and anti-goals. As Wilkinson notes, it is a simple yet powerful process. Sometimes to be crystal clear about what you want, the best starting route is to get there through declaring what you don’t want first. I do argue however that establishing BOTH goals and anti-goals are important. The processes are related, but different. Connect them. 
  2. Don’t be become that person that whines about how stupid your schedule is, how crazy hard you’re working, and how everyone/thing else is making you miserable. Be self-accountable and do something about it. Try inversion and anti-goals. It will help you break the cycle and move forward with more control over your situation than you might realize. 

Anti-goals in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I love Munger and Wilkinson’s quotes and the freedom they’ve allotted themselves with anti-goals. Some Millennials might read this and say, “But, I don’t have the professional control to accomplish my anti-goals.” That could be the case at the moment, but, at least by “setting” anti-goals, you can get a better sense of where you’d like to make your professional life more malleable as you further your career.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Capacity Versus Choice

Accountability Contribution Productivity


Key Point: “I feel overwhelmed, I just don’t have time to do all that is expected of me…” That phrase or facsimile, is a common mantra in today’s corporate life (or just plain life in general). This capacity issue is often accompanied by a “keeping my fingers crossed” hope or expectation that somehow this situation is going to change for the better. However, most of us know that is NOT true. Certain times are slightly less hectic than others, for sure. However, we are one inevitable crises or new priority away from that feeling of being crushed by expectations. We feel this because it is very real. There is way more to do than time available in both our professional and personal lives. Our common ingredient is the 24 hours available to each of us daily. The new reality is that technology has redefined available options to manage our time, and that has both freed us up and/or enslaved us depending on choices we make.

Most of us will never experience the perfect level of contributions made versus time allotted. Yes, we might become reclusive and even a hermit so that time and capacity become severely narrowed. But that is not the path and likelihood for most of us. Everywhere we look there is more to do: One more email to respond to, podcast to listen to, book to read, initiative to start or complete, child to help, friend to visit, yard to maintain, car to clean, parent to be cared for, diet to go on, etc. etc. Aaaaaaghh… Enough! It can make many of us want to run away and literally escape, or more and more “pause,” through the vehicle of mood modifying substances like drugs and booze.

The wonderful side of this situation is some level of increased autonomy. And of course, that level of freedom to choose is different for each of us. It’s a very personal matter because each of our circumstances is unique. The one thing we know for sure is that we have to look after ourselves first. We become incapacitated when we get totally burnt out, and that diminishes our ability to help anyone. The hard thing about being in control is to take control. We have to make choices, and as a result NOT everyone is going to be happy with or even like us all the time. We have to thoughtfully declare and consciously choose to do “this” and NOT do “that.” The front-end filter has to be our personal well-being, not because we’re selfish narcissists, but because if we go down, everyone loses more. 

So, I do not believe we have a capacity crises in the workplace. Let’s agree for the rest of our lives there will be an overwhelming amount of “should of’s” and “could of’s” at work and in our personal lives. What we DO have, I believe, is a crisis of personal confidence regarding being able to make hard choices. This includes embracing a mindset of being self-accountable enough to choose AND NOT beat ourselves up because of judgment based imperfection. Yup, sometimes a project gets delayed because another one takes precedent. Yes, sometimes the house doesn’t get vacuumed on Saturday. And yeah, sometimes instead of that email, it’s a call to children or grandchildren. Some thing and unfortunately someone is going to get left a little behind. That one person, however, cannot be you or me. Have the courage to accept that and the consequences. You’re worth it. 

Character Moves:

  1. Learn how to make your agenda the one that drives your day (of course, this involves where you choose to intersect with others).
  2. Have a way to choose what is most important and for what reason. This is why your personal purpose and stated values are so necessary. Apply other choice filters that are uniquely yours. 
  3. Embrace and recognize that not everyone is going to be happy with you and accept the consequences. 
  4. Stop saying you do not have “enough time.” Of course you do. You consciously or unconsciously made other choices. You just can’t do it all. Most times, our decisions aren’t fatal. We can recover. This is how we learn to make better ones over time. And for some of us, we have to repeat a few times too. That’s how we progress. 

Choosing in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: It’s nice to hear Millennials be honest and popularize the phrase “everyone’s busy until they don’t want to be.” Usually it applies to dating life because “too busy” is such a common excuse, and no one wants to be rude enough to say “look, I just don’t feel like making time for YOU.” But this applies to all aspects of life. It’s ok that we have to prioritize and sometimes decide not to do or follow up with certain things or people. Notice how we still have time to make that gym session, or watch “The Bachelor” with friends. Let’s just hope we’re choosing the most productive activities and best company to fill our calendars up with. Like it says above, we’re worth it.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Language That Speaks Our Mind

Accountability Growth mindset Productivity


Key Point: Phrases and words are often taken for granted. They become almost “throw away” statements. I’m not sure people give much thought to what the words they string together can really say about the way we think. Lately, I’m paying more attention to a couple of phrases or sentences that “irk” or “engage” me.

Here are some “irk” examples: 

“I don’t know what’s going on.” Now, I’ve found myself saying this too. And every time I default to it, I try and give myself a kick in my pants. The phrase is actually pathetic in some ways. Whah whah. How about asking: “How might I find out out what I need to know?” And/or “What can I do make sure I’m in the loop?” Instead of a victimized, powerless, poor “little fella left in the dark,” I better take control to get the info I need when I need it.

“I don’t have any feedback for you.” Really? This is usually a load of B.S. What it often means is: “I don’t want to think that hard;” “I don’t care enough to invest that much energy;” “you don’t or won’t do anything even if I do give you feedback;” “you’ll just get defensive and mad;” etc. Yes, you and I have feedback and we owe it to ourselves and teammates to give it in a respectful, direct, authentic and raw way. Be specific. It’s the caring intent behind feedback that counts more than anything.

“I sent you an email, didn’t you read it?” BFD… You sent me an email. That doesn’t mean anything other than you did. This can be a big CYA and may have little meaning relative to the importance of the message. If it’s vital for someone to know something, I owe it to them and me to be sure they do.

Now, for some “engaging” ones:

“Wouldn’t it be cool if?” Now this phrase is about opening up possibilities. It helps people think big. The CEO of Marvel is big on this, and used it to help his company completely reinvent itself. Wouldn’t it be cool if we all asked ourselves this all the time?

“How might we?” It is so great to see people rally around this phrase. It puts life into what could be. It can be powerfully little or BIG. There is almost no end to the results possible with this phrase. Watch people rally when you ask about things in this way.

“Have you considered?” This phrase frees people up to be abundant versus judgmental. Rather than too soft or too hard, this phrase allows us to expand thinking. It is a way of giving feedback with less pain. It simply asks the question.

Character Moves:

  1. Give thought to the phrases above. Which might you use more of and/or less of? What other phrases or sentences might limit or propel us? Our language really can tell us how we think and behave.

“Wouldn’t it be cool” in The Triangle?


One Millennial View: I think I’ve discussed my personal dislike for the phrase, “it is what it is.” And trust me, I’ve heard a LOT of people I respect very much use it. I’m aware it’s pretty common vernacular. But, it is dishonest. What that really seems to mean is, “I surrender.” Now, that said, I still subscribe to the idea that context means a lot more than the language itself, but if we can all just work on getting over the fear and discomfort attached to being genuine, brave, or burdensome, then that would likely benefit us all. Then again, whatever,  it is what it… See?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Become a Sprinter at Any Age!

Abundance Productivity Transformation


Key Point: Nike’s breakthrough slogan, “Just Do It,” was brilliant. It promoted and celebrated the principle of forward movement without seeking permission or being burdened by judgment. While all of us are not necessarily naturally great athletes, we are all athletic in the context of moving… “Doing it.” Trying something! The same concept applies to life and business overall if one opens themselves to the idea of celebrating the principles of prototyping or testing. So, in the spirit and inspiration of Nike, allow me to introduce you (if you haven’t already met) to the process described as the SPRINT! 

Too often we are bitten by the notion of perfection or burdened by the old fashioned limitations of traditional project management. There are numerous problems related to this way of thinking. Many times building to “perfection” involves a big investment of resources before testing or prototyping whether our idea or solution is workable. We assume “requirement gathering” is sufficient for product or service development, and eventually, production. Everything has to be “right” before we make a move to full production and often the first time a customer is really introduced to a product or service is when it’s offered to the market. The risk associated with this framework is that the size of the bet can become very big. Large investments of time and/or money connected to big bets on the risk reward continuum can be scary. We are better off under that scenario to stop or do nothing. Or we “bet the farm” and hope our market customer research was right and the eventual product is a reasonable facsimile of what we intended. This is where the SPRINT process comes into play. 

In the spirit of moving with speed and rigor, what if we embraced the learning of the folks at Google Ventures (GV)? At GV, they’ve run what they describe as sprints with companies like NestFlatiron Health, and Medium—to help them enter new markets, design new products, develop new features for millions of users, define marketing strategies, and much more. Over the last few years, teams around the world have adopted this system of sprinting. (They’re collecting their stories at In their book, naturally entitled SPRINT, the authors (Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz) introduce a very detailed and specific five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. They boldly and confidently describe it as a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more.


Character Moves: 

  1. The idea of more speed, agility, and rigor that dramatically improves the time and investment for a successful outcome has evoked much attention over the last few years. The five day print process developed by GV is just one of many such methodologies; most with common process elements (for example, agile/design thinking). The key thing is to learn the principles underlying these fast/agile processes and try testing them  (regardless of which process best suits you) BOTH in and out of work situations. 
  1. Try focused and fast testing/prototyping all kinds of stuff before making the big bet. This applies to whether you want to make fly fishing a hobby, start a business, or try out ideas in your work area, and more. Try sprinting! It’s aerobically and financially healthy. 

Sprinting in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I like this concept. Nothing is worse than dwelling on an idea for too long and never executing. I don’t believe that in this day and age customers/clients will only accept a one-and-done pitch. The best ideas seem to be tested regularly, grow, evolve, change and develop a winning format through trial and error. Who performs better? The person who hits the track and sprints right away, or the one who puts off training because they’re spending a bunch of time and money saving up for the best running shoes? No matter what’s on their feet, I’m willing to bet the first one winds up in better shape.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Too Busy to Create

Productivity Respect Well-being


Key Point: Having a constructive way of thinking about the idea of being “too busy to be creative” is interesting to me. Frankly I’ve had a hard time getting my head around the idea of “too busy” being much more than wasteful blame or an excuse. People that get stuff done (GSD) are just busy. Often, I think people are talking about needing a break more than actually being too busy. We all need a breath… Some space… Some quiet… And it is more than fair to recognize that it’s so darn hard to get off the daily spinning wheel to do so, unless we are intentional about it.

For most of us, a large percentage of the available hours we have are full of obligations we willingly, even happily accept; just the normality of having commitments in work and life. And there is also this background whisper in the mind, “maybe I should call my kids more, visit my Mom more, connect with that friend I’ve haven’t heard from for a while, catch up with more emails, start that project, send out more recognitions…” All the other “should do’s.” So what about room for new ideas for the creativity required navigating all this “stuff“ more effectively? I thought I might listen to a little jazz to help me with an answer.

The following is from Dr. Charles Limb, a professor of head and neck surgery, and the Chief of the Division of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco…. “I started looking at jazz musicians playing the blues as a way to understand how the creative brain emerges from a neuroscience perspective. When musicians go to an improvisation, the brain switches, and the lateral prefrontal lobes responsible for conscious self-monitoring became less engaged.” His research notes the following when the improv isn’t clicking: “When you’re trying so hard to come up with ideas you can’t do it, you can’t force it… When the stakes are higher and the brain is actively over-thinking something, it can interfere with processes that have become routinized, causing behavior or performance to suffer.” So what helps when we want to a switch on a little more creativity and get into a flow? Well, how about a little QUIET?

Hal Gregersen writes in a recent HBR article, that cultivating quiet “increases your chances of encountering novel ideas and information and discerning weak signals.” When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next (perhaps what to play next)? —It’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.

Jazz certainly isn’t quiet. However, quieting the mind leads to better more creative jazz riffs amongst musicians and I believe the same applies in all parts of our lives.

Even incredibly busy people can cultivate periods of sustained quiet time. Here are four practical ideas the HBR article suggests.

Character Moves: 

“1. Punctuate meetings with five minutes of quiet time… It’s possible to hit reset by engaging in a silent practice of meditation or reflection.

2. Take a silent afternoon in nature. You need not be a rugged outdoors type to ditch the phone and go for a simple two-or-three-hour jaunt in nature.

3. Go on a media fast. Turn off your email for several hours or even a full day, or try “fasting” from news and entertainment.

4. Take the plunge and try a meditation retreat.”

 5. Invest in your breathing process. Connecting to my previous blog on Wim Hof, the science of having breathing intersecting with a little quiet, is as a powerful way to detox and open up the creativity channel.

 Quiet and all that jazz in The Triangle,


 One Millennial View: I create and write for a living, and recently I had to coach one of my editors how to write articles for the first time. One of my first pieces of advice dealt with how to tackle the end of a piece, the final sentence that can be difficult if you let it. I’ve learned to just write it… Get words on that page. Anything is better than nothing. Sometimes it’ll be great, sometimes it won’t, but just like a jazz song, the tune has to end. If you’re too busy overthinking it, the last riff will never sound good.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis