The Power of Blocking Out Your Time for Business Growth

Today, I’m going to talk about the power of blocking out your time. I feel like this is probably the third time I’ve addressed this, but it’s such an important subject that it’s worth revisiting.

I was doing an Entrepreneurs’ Organization meeting recently and one of the topics we discussed was productivity. One thing I brought up was blocking out and being very intentional with your time.

Learn More: The Best Way to Be as Productive as Possible Every Day

As you get older, more experienced and better at what you do, more people are going to want your time. They’ll want to pick your brain. They’ll want to take you to coffee and pay for your $5 coffee in order to get massive value in return, which is probably not a great trade for you (because your time becomes increasingly valuable).

That’s why I try to block out time for emails. So at 10 a.m. I’m checking emails for the first time that day. Then I might check emails again at 1 p.m. or so. I might spend 30 minutes on that each time. Having a calendar blocked out with what you’re doing at any given hour is super important.

I block out time for my one-on-one calls. I block out time for writing my book. I block out time for meditation in the morning. Oftentimes, I’ll miss some of these things, but to have it in the calendar where it’s constantly being repeated and constantly being reinforced helps quite a bit.

Related Content: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: How to Juggle Multiple Projects and Have a Life, Too

Let’s say you’re a business owner on Friday afternoons or all of Friday you just block out time for a strategy session where you can think about how to improve operations. I actually know somebody who blocks out his whole Wednesday just for strategy, and he delegates more client work that day. Those days are really important, because that’s when you come up with great ideas that you can implement for the business.

I cannot stress this enough—blocking out time is super important. Make sure that you do it.

Here are a few more ways I block out my time. For “Webinar Wednesdays,” I try to block out time to do live webinars. When people try to schedule a call with me, I’ll send them my ScheduleOnce link. Typically, the call will only be for 15 minutes because I find that you’re able to get to the point in 15 minutes. Let’s be honest—some people like to ramble. That’s why you keep it at 15 minutes and use a scheduling solution like ScheduleOnce or Calendly, which will sync with your calendar and even build in delays between calls if you need that.


Learn More: 10 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Stay Productive All Day Long

If your calendar is not set up and if you’re not being intentional with your time, everything’s just going to be all over the place. Before you know it, it’s already 5 or 6 p.m. and you were just shuffling around little tasks that don’t really move the needle because you’ve been focused on compulsively checking and answering emails.

But if you start blocking out your calendar, if you start being intentional with your time, and you do it for over a year? You’re going to reap the rewards and your life will be way better.

Learning to block out your time is free, but the returns are priceless.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

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tucker max photoHi everyone, today we’re talking to Tucker Max,the bestselling author of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell.

During the interview, Tucker talks about what it was like for him to discover his story-telling talent to sell millions of books, and how he’s now using his knowledge of the book industry to help busy professionals write and launch their own books to the market. He also shares a really insane story from his younger days, so listen up for that.

How Getting Fired Multiple Times Lead to a Writing Career

After graduating from law school at Duke, Tucker and his group of 8 or 9 good friends all landed jobs in law firms. But once they realized being a lawyer was not as thrilling as they thought it would be, they found themselves sending emails back and forth to each other all day long.

In the emails he sent, Tucker would write stories about the stupid things they did while getting drunk over the weekend, and they were so good and entertaining that his friends would actually forward them around to the point that they became an internet phenomenon. (Even before MySpace and Friendster.)

He got fired from his job as a lawyer, went to work for his dad’s family business, and got fired from that.

His friends told him he wasn’t good at law or business, but he might be onto something with the stories he was telling in his emails.

So, he sent out anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pitches to publishers with zero response. Not to be let down, he learned HTML (this was before WordPress) and put up a website with his stories to help spread them around the internet.

Now, rather than getting rejected by publishers, they were actually coming to him, and he launched his literary career with I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell.

Being a Person vs. Being a Brand

Tucker says that he never really ‘branded’ himself or the lifestyle of his books by selling Tucker Max vodka or Tucker Max shirts. Which was probably good, he says, because when he wrote his last book at 35, he was done with the kind of lifestyle he led in his 20s that created all the insane stories.

He says he feels it’s a little more authentic to have a ‘personal brand’ by accident rather than construct one from the ground up like Kanye West or Paris Hilton. With that, he was able to grow his following organically based solely on his content.

‘Fratire’ as a Literary Genre

‘Fratire’ is a term that Tucker did not make up, but he was one of the original people who got attention for putting an unapologetic masculine voice in culture and art.

The term itself came from a New York Times piece that said his writing was like mixing fraternity-based ethics with satire… even though he wasn’t in a fraternity and didn’t write satire. So basically, a ‘fratire’ piece is something that’s both unapologetically masculine and humorous at the same time.

Content Marketing vs. Content as a Product

Content marketing, Tucker says, is different than content as a product because content marketing is about promoting something else other than the content itself.

For example, Hubspot does a great job with their content marketing because they use their content to promote their products. But a movie, for example, is not content marketing… it’s direct, paid-for content.

Moving Away from the Narcissistic 20-Something Version of Himself

The easiest, quickest answer Tucker says he has to not being so narcissistic anymore is that he grew up.

He says that when you’re young and haven’t done anything in your life, then you don’t know how to get attention and impress people, so you have to try a bunch of different things… and trying to talk about how awesome and cool you are is the route a lot of guys take.

But, he says, the more he accomplishes in his life, the more confident he gets, but he talks less and less about himself. He says he feels less need to promote himself or brag about what he’s done.

The big switch came when he realized that him talking so much was actually trading off with him listening and truly connecting with people. Narcissism, he says, is the opposite of connecting with people and having deep, meaningful relationships. So, he switched to listening more.

To do this, he started applying the lessons he’d learned in relating with women to life overall.

When he was in his 20s, he thought he had to convince women to be with him by talking. But, since women are really deciding who they want to be with, what he needed to do was interact with them better.

He realized his goal shouldn’t be to show off how awesome he is, but to find out what’s interesting about the other person and connect on that level. Now, in life and business, he tries to find out something about the person that he finds interesting so they can connect deeper.

Book in a Box

Tucker’s new business, Book in a Box, was actually something he just blurted out on a podcast interview before he and his partner even had a website for the idea. From the podcast alone, they ended up signing 4-5 clients.

The idea itself came from an entrepreneur who came to him asking how she could get a book done without having to sit down, write it, and go through the publishing process.

He started to scold her on hard work and how you can’t write a book without writing, but she turned around and burned him simply by saying that if he’s an entrepreneur, entrepreneurs solve problems.

He talked with his friend over the course of a couple weeks to come up with the process where they would outline her book idea, interview her, get the interview transcribed, and give it to a professional editor to turn the audio transcript into a book, and they would do the rest of the publishing process.

All the entrepreneur had to do was spend about 12 hours on the phone with them.

They tested it out, and it worked great. After the book went out, she didn’t sell many copies, but she’s signed several million dollar clients from it, and the ROI of the book has been at least 100x.

Since so many people want to publish a book but don’t have the time, patience, or skill set to do it properly, even with a minimum starting package of $15,000 and very little marketing, Book in a Box was able to do $600,000 worth of business in their first six months.

The Future of Book in a Box

Looking forward, Tucker says he’d like for Book in a Box to form partnerships with YPO, C-Level organizations, speaker organizations, and consultants to help grow their business and reach people that could most benefit from what they’re offering.

They’d also like to turn their process into a SaaS service so people that don’t have $15,000 but want to publish a family memoir, for example, can still publish their book.

Finding Top-Notch Freelance Talent

Tucker says hiring good talent has without a doubt been the biggest struggle for them in growing their business.

In fact, it took them about 4-6 months to establish a decent process for finding and hiring good freelancers.

Half of their best people, he says, came from his network of connections in the publishing industry, including an editor from Harper Collins, a Post journalist, and two best-selling authors who ghostwrite in their spare time.

He says he stays away from virtual assistant sites like Elance and Odesk that are really only good for low-level and mid-level talent, and prefers specific job sites like Mediabistro or Publishers Weekly.

His New, Domestic, Boring Life (That He Loves)

Rather than the crazy party lifestyle he used to live, now Tucker’s days look like this:

Advice to His 25-Year-Old Self

“I don’t know if I could say anything to him, because he would argue with me and tell me I was wrong. I would probably have to fight him… because he was such an idiot. I would be so angry at him in no time at all.”

But, even though 25-year-old Tucker wouldn’t take anyone’s advice, the current Tucker would still say:

“Stop thinking you know what you’re talking about because you don’t. Shut the fuck up and listen and learn from people who are smarter than you and who have done more than you.”

Psychoanalysis & Meditation

After a movie was made about his life and totally flopped, Tucker noticed that his life was headed in a direction that would land him in a place he didn’t want to be in.

With the example of the failed movie, he said he blamed the director at first, but realized that he was the one who picked the director. He said he realized he could usually place level one blame for a problem on someone else, but the level two and level three reasons for the problem were usually his fault.

He realized that even with a failed movie, he still had everything he could possibly ask for in life: he was rich, famous, and a best-selling author… and he still wasn’t happy. He noticed that he was the one messing up his own happiness, so he needed to get someone’s help.

He chose psychoanalysis and went four times per week to a talk therapy session to dig into what he was feeling, why, and how his emotions were interacting with him in ways he didn’t understand.

Combing psychoanalysis with meditation, he says, created a force multiplier to get past his demons.

Without it, he says he probably wouldn’t be married with a successful business… he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep landing on his feet. His life would be fundamentally different, but not for the better.

One Productivity Hack

He recommends meditation as a productivity hack. He says there’s a reason smart people talk about it, even though he thought it was total bullshit at first.

But after studying the science behind it, he decided to give it a try and realized how powerful it was.

The changes were slow, he says, but when other people started noticing changes before he felt them, he knew he was onto something.

He says it’s a way to get emotionally centered – to learn how to use your brain and interact with your emotions in a way that’s proactive rather than reactive.

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sohin shahHi everyone, today we’re talking to Sohin Shah, co-founder of iFunding, one of the leading real estate crowd funding platforms in the world. iFunding started three years ago when there wasn’t any kind of proof of concept for the real estate crowd funding industry, but now it’s a thriving company that’s done $40 million worth of business.

iFunding’s Background & User Growth

“To be completely candid with you Eric, when we started off, a lot of individuals though of this as something that would turn into sham,” said Sohin.

When Sohin and his co-founder started iFunding, there wasn’t any example of a company doing real estate crowd funding successfully, or even making any kind of successful exit from it.

Because of this, the two of them had to do the ground work of defining the industry and finding a solution to a problem that lots of investors face, which is investing in real estate with direct investments instead of leads.

They started out with smaller fundraisers for single-family homes so they could get the money back to their investors in six to eight months, which was a total proof of concept for early adapters, who then spread the word to their friends and family.

As of today, iFunding has more than 7,000 accredited investors on their platform, and have raised over $40 million for real estate investments.

Their Unique Customer Acquisition Approach

Of their first 1,000 users, about half of them came from their personal networks. Once they launched, they sent an email to all their friends and family, which helped a lot.

But once their initial users started using the platform and seeing how well it worked, iFunding grew almost exclusively via word of mouth. In fact, they didn’t spend any money on marketing until a couple of months ago.

The other half of their first 1,000 users, Sohin says, came from events, writing guest posts, and educating their target audience about the industry in general.

Sohin says that because he and his co-founder have taken ownership to be representatives not only for their company and their platform, but for the industry as a whole, they’ve been able to attract interested investors to their platform.

iFunding’s Content Marketing Strategy

Recently, Sohin says he’s been writing a lot for Forbes, and just got approved as a contributor for Entrepreneur. Before, he wrote for some smaller-name publications, and he says content marketing has been working wonders for his company.

Last week, as an example, he had an article go live on Forbes which resulted in someone reaching out to him saying he was very fascinated with the story of how he got started and how the company was growing. He said he was interested in investing in iFunding as a company, and they’re in talks with him on making that happen.

If people like what they read, says Sohin, they’ll take the time and initiative to reach out to you.

Getting on Forbes & Coming up With Story Ideas

Sohin says that he spent eight solid mont writing cold emails and pitches to editors of top publications, and they always fell on deaf ears. He finally got help in learning how to put together pitches and had one article published to serve as a basis so the editors would take him seriously.

In short, becoming a contributor for a top-name publication isn’t easy.

To come up with story ideas, Sohin makes sure he writes down everything he learns throughout the day, even if it’s just a brief few phrases.

Towards the weekend, he goes to a picturesque waterfront coffee shop to expand on those thoughts and turn them into interesting story ideas he can pitch.

Dealing with Outsourcing

When Sohin and his co-founder created iFunding, they put all of their net worth into the company.

For this, they wanted to stay away from committing too much capital towards hiring, so he took a trip to India to meet with some friends and family and came across a passionate team who wee willing to work with them remotely.

The only challenge for them was the time difference, so Sohin wakes up everyday at 4 a.m. to go through what’s already been done and to set the vision for what needs to be done in the remainder of their day.

Even though the outsourcing created a great solution to meet their needs at the time, Sohin says he doesn’t see the company scaling on that model. They’re slowly trying to bring everything in-house and have hired an in-house CTO to move towards that goal.

Meditating: How & Why

Sohin meditates each day for 20 to 40 minutes, sometimes longer.

With a growing team, his responsibilities are increasing multi-fold, so he wants to make sure that no matter how overwhelmed he might get, his own personal stress doesn’t deflect on his team or the company in a negative way.

Biggest Struggle: Being Taken Seriously

Sohin says he didn’t have any kind of entrepreneurial experience before trying to fund iFunding.

Because of this, when he approached investors and potential partners, he found it difficult to be taken seriously.

The fact that iFunding was doing well and had a solid team helped out, but eventually he learned how to do the whole fundraising thing so he could get over those challenges.

Advice to Your 21-Year-Old Self

“Be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

One Productivity Hack

Sohin says it’s important to make sure you take time out for yourself, especially on the weekends.

He used to think that the more he worked, the better his company would perform, but he was totally burnt out after 18 months, and the burn out got in the way of him doing his job correctly.

As a rule, unless there’s something urgent, he says that if it’s 5 pm on Friday, it’s time for him to step out of the office and explore new activities.

If you want to keep your ‘off time’ productive, Sohin says you can use the time to develop new skills. He took public speaking classes over the weekends, which provided a good distraction from thinking about iFunding 24/7 and helped him develop a skill set he never had before.

One Must-Read Book

Sohin recommends Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff.

He says it has advice on everything from management, to leading a team, to being an entrepreneur.

If You Want to Get Started on iFunding

After a person meets accreditation standards, the iFunding accepts investments at $5,000 minimums, unless it’s on a multi-million dollar deal, which the minimum raises to $10,000, just because of the limits of the number of possible investors.

On average, you get your money back in six to 12 months with a 12% to 14% return on your money.

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morning routine

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Today I’m going to tell you how I structure my morning routine to set my day up for success so you can take what you like and apply it to yours.

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