One Thing & Another

Delray Beach, FL

Notes From My Journal: The Good Father

Boca is a monster. His neck and arms are logs. His skills are world-class. He could crush the life out of you in seconds, if he wanted to.

He is sitting across from me, back against the padded walls, his two sons sitting on either side of him. He’s talking to me, making me laugh, his big hands resting gently on the heads of his boys. He strokes their hair. They are relaxed, listening to our conversation. His fatherhood at this moment looks primitive. Primate gentle.

Boca is a world champion submission grappler several times over. He thinks he is old, old like me, now that he’s 40 years old. I have trained with and/or taken lessons from dozens of the best-known BJJ fighters in the world. As a theoretician and teacher, he is at the top.

Do I sound smitten? I suppose I am. But our relationship has been fairly balanced. He’s improved my grappling game through patient teaching over the years. And I’ve done the same for him in helping him learn how to build a successful business.

Boca is the father of four children. The two boys sitting next to him – a 15-year-old and a 6-year-old – are from his first marriage. He also has a boy and a girl from his second marriage. He lives in Tennessee and his two older kids live in Miami, so he sees them only occasionally during the school year.

To many, he would be seen as a neglectful father. But look at this. His oldest son is a head taller than his father. His torso is more slender than one of his father’s thighs. The 6-year-old looks to have his father’s build. Both boys are smart and sweet and talk easily to an old man. This is a rare combination of quality and talent.

Credit their mother for sure for their manners (and good looks!). But the sweetness comes from their dad. (Trust me, I know their mom.)

And look at how they lean against him. And look at how they watch him teach. And look at how they smile when he talks about their six weeks together. Look at how they laugh when he jokes.

Remember the movie Life is Beautiful? (See today’s video, below.) Remember Roberto Benigni as Guido Orefice? Remember Giorgio Cantarini as Giosué, his son? This is what I’m looking at here.

And beneath the astonishment and admiration, there’s something else: I’m jealous of these two kids. My own father is more than I could have asked for. But I’m sitting here thinking how great it would be to have a father like this man, young enough to be my son.


Today’s Word: nonplussed/nonplused (adjective)

 To be nonplussed/nonplused (non-PLUST) is to be totally baffled. As used by Herman Melville in Moby Dick: “Ignorance is the parent of fear, and being completely nonplused and confounded about the stranger, I confess I was now as much afraid of him as if it was the devil himself who had thus broken into my room at the dead of night.”


Fun Fact

The average American eats about 274 eggs per year.


From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket


Time Management: Fortune 500 CEOs vs. You and Me

How do the guys that run the world’s biggest businesses spend their time?

I don’t care. But when a colleague sent me a report summarizing a 12-year study of top CEOs, I had to take a look.

These were not ordinary CEOs running ordinary companies. These were rich and powerful people running behemoth enterprises. The group as a whole had annual revenues of $13.1 billion. And the largest company I work with is barely over a billion. Most of my experience has been in the startup to $100 million range.Their priorities and responsibilities are very different from mine. Still, it was interesting to compare the way they spend their time and the way I spent mine.

If you are an entrepreneur or manage a small or medium-sized company, look at the following numbers. See if you agree with my “takeaway”…


Here’s how many hours they put in:

* 9.7 hours per weekday, on average, or 48.5 hours a week

* about 3.9 hours per day on the weekend, or 7.8 hours

* 2.4 hours per day while on vacation

47% of their work is done at headquarters, with the balance at “other company locations, meeting external constituencies, commuting, traveling, and at home.”

How this compares to my own experience:

These CEOs work long hours – the sort of hours I put in during my years as an entrepreneur. I almost always worked seven days a week – 9 or 10 hours on weekdays and half-days on weekends. These days, because I’m not running a business, I’ve been able to limit my work time considerably in order to spend more time with my family and friends.

I would have guessed that CEOs of huge companies would have figured out a way to  delegate the time-consuming crap and work less. So I think it’s interesting that they still work as many hours as most entrepreneurs do.

Here’s how they allocate those hours:

* 25% on developing people and relationships

* 25% on functional and business unit reviews

* 21% on strategy

* 16% on matching organizational structure and culture with the needs of the business

* 4% on M&A

* 4% on operating plans

* 3% on professional development

* 1% on crisis management


How this compares to my own experience:

This is where the road divides. Sharply. As an average, I probably spent 25% of my time “developing people and relationships.” But I suspect I was doing more mentoring and less team building since the experience level of the people that reported to me was usually a good deal lower than mine.

I spent very little time on “functional and business reviews” or on strategy, and no time at all “matching organizational structure and culture” (At least, no time that I was conscious of.)

Much of the time I didn’t spend on reviews and strategy and culture was devoted to sales and marketing. When you are CEO of a growing business, you have to be an expert and in the trenches in those areas.

Another difference: I spent much more than 1% of my time on crisis management. Maybe 20%.

Here’s how their time is spent with people inside the organization:

* 33% on direct reports

* 22% with other senior managers

* 10% with other managers

* 5% with other employees


The balance is spent with business partners or board members.

How this compares to my own experience:

Since the businesses I ran were small and medium-sized, and since my philosophy of management has always been somewhat laissez faire, I was able to spend maybe 75% of my time with my direct reports, about 20% with my partners, and only 5% with other employees.

Here’s how they communicate:

* 61% face-to-face

* 24% electronically

* 15% by phone and letter

And 72% of the time, they do their “communicating” in meetings, vs. 28% when they are alone.


How this compares to my own experience:

The big difference here is the time spent in meetings. 72% seems crazy. I mean we all know that meetings are intrinsically inefficient, right?

I don’t think I ever spent more than 10% of my communicating time in meetings. Most of it – probably 70% – was person to person. Another 20% or so was by phone.

Now it’s different. I think we all spend much less time on the phone and meetings can be done through the Internet, which, in my experience, makes them more efficient.


So what can we take from all of this?

It’s not just me. I did tons of research and there is solid support to verify my experience as a relatively typical entrepreneurial business leader. (And I’m thinking you can back me up on this with your own experience.)

I was surprised to learn that these guys work as long as their entrepreneurial counterparts. I was surprised, too – although I shouldn’t have been – by how much time they spend in meetings.

But I wasn’t surprised to discover that the bulk of their time is about communications and management, whereas the bulk of my time as an entrepreneur was about growing sales and cash flow and squeezing out undoctored profits.

Same for you?



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