Extraordinary Work Circumstances = Extraordinary Results.

HBO’s Silicon Valley depicts the Incubator work concept

What do you do, to get the most out of your day?

 ‘Jack isn’t really committed to work. If he was he wouldn’t be late so often.’

The eight hour work day paradigm is a ritual that I have never been comfortable with. It constrains and frustrates me. As I get older it gets harder for me to work traditional hours. On the other hand, a close colleague thrives on traditional hours. For him, commitment to the cause is measured by what time a person starts and what time they finish.

In a world that has long advocated routine as being healthy and having a great ‘day’ job as social success, does his work paradigm still stand as a more acceptable and practical approach than my own?

There is no doubt that in a commercial world that requires teamwork and effective coordination of activities, that people need to be at the same place at the same time. But in a world that increasingly requires new ideas and extraordinary effort, I find the old framework limiting. I could never have built iHR Australia on normal work patterns. Someone else might have, but not me.

“My work routine has often been ‘jokingly’ described by my colleagues as a disgrace.”

I work in short sharp very intense bursts. It’s how I create my best plans, write my best pieces and generally bring the best I have to our organisation.

My typical day:

3:00 or 4:00am – day starts

6:00 to 8:00am – punctuated with a sleep

8:00 to 11:00am – breakfast, meetings with my team or clients

11:30am – gym workout

1:30pm – lunch with my Co-Director, my daughter or my partner

After lunch – some ‘creating time’ interspersed with some PS4 FIFA (mostly with my son),

Maybe a siesta

6:30pm – dinner of a light soup

7:00 to 10:00pm –  phone calls and work with our Asia office and more ‘creating time’

It’s an unusual life style that is regularly blown apart by a conventional training day where my job is to teach and inspire, or intense days full of client meetings across Melbourne, Sydney or Bangkok. Recovery is at the minimum 24 hours.

This works well for me and keeps the fire in my belly. I understand that my undefined routine could be disastrous for others. This is one reason why I felt a need to start my own company. I really wonder how I could ever work within the structures and confines of an 8:00am to 6:00pm day again.

“There is no doubt that high performing companies are beginning to understand that diversity carries with it individual preferences in regards to work routines and flexible work practices.”

The Incubator 24/7 work, live and play system set up by companies in Silicon Valley to attract extraordinary people who thrive on flexible working hours is a prime example.

In Australia, there is a a tendency to associate flexible work hours with ‘lifestyle balance’ and family status requirements. The industrial commission Fair Work even pushes employers to be flexible around family life matters.

“There is not a focus on creating environments that are suitable for highly creative people with talents that demand extraordinary hours of work.” 

I see advertising and other creative environments to the brim with ‘cool’ break out areas, coffee machines and greenery. But I don’t hear much about how they accommodate extraordinary minds that require extraordinary work circumstances that, in the end, help organisations achieve extraordinary results.

Have you had this conversation? What arrangements have you found to inspire creativity?

Leadership Essentials 1.1 – Losing Should Hurt

THinking Too Much?

It is 5.00am. I am awake thinking about a job we didn’t get yesterday. I am stewing on the fact that it was maybe something we did or didn’t do that influenced the client’s decision the wrong way. It was a good contract and I love working with them! Actually I was fuming yesterday afternoon but now I am just stewing. It’s all pretty emotional really, but then running the company is an emotional experience. When you ultimately run the show, losing an opportunity can feel like the end of the world, but then my real strength as a leader has always been getting over a lost opportunity by learning from the mistake or simply accepting it was out of my control, then winning the next one.

One thing I realise is that the day ‘losing the opportunity’ doesn’t hurt anymore I should step down from my job.  If you want to be a key leader you need to care about what you do or you should give it away. And I hate this hurting feeling. I get so angry about what I see as unnecessary failure…I think that’s the high achiever in me. I know sometimes I get ridiculous because I am a truly intense individual. But in my view you need to feel hurt when you don’t achieve a goal or a favorable outcome. Not that I can show it to my people. I try not to show my disappointments although my people will tell you sometimes it spews over. I don’t like to focus on negatives.

This lost opportunity seems due to a  change of thought process internal to our client although on Monday we will sit down and evaluate the circumstances and decide if there was any more we could have done as a team. Maybe we can get back in the race somehow. We havent missed out on many big contracts lately. We have got a really good proposal to trade ratio because in this area our product is spot on……but it still hurts.

What I do need to remember is that we had word today that one of my favourite clients in Asia has asked for a lot of training over the next few months. It’s funny how I woke up worrying about the one we didn’t get instead of rejoicing about what we won. Yes I must remember to remind the team about the one we got!

Anyway I better get some sleep.  I want to run 12km in the morning.  I have had a busy week and haven’t achieved my fitness goal yet which will get me uptight.