6  practices that completely changed my life

I’m a big believer that  all people should push for constant change in their lives. Standing still leads to losing one’s sense of purpose and can often lead to anxiety, a feeling of discontent and even depression. Over the last 12-18 months looking back I have made some radical changes in my life some of which have been truly transformation. Here are my top ones

 

 

  1. Intermittent fasting

 

I  have been doing this religiously  for the last 18 months, initially to lose body fat, for which its  very very effective and fast, but afterwards mostly because of the addiction to the mental focus and feeling it gives you.

 

There’s lots of   literature one can read online about intermittent fasting, some with conflicting views so take what you read with a pinch of salt. Personally I’m a big fan of Thomas Delauer’s channel on Youtube – I find it one of the better sources and one that goes deeper into the science behind things as opposed to voicing generic unfounded opinions.

 

The important thing to bear in mind is that every person is different –  fasting may  or may not be for you, or, and quite likely, you will need to adapt it to what works best for you.

 

In general the thesis is that by paying attention to  WHEN you eat, not just  WHAT you eat, you allow your body to take a break from digesting food constantly and turn more attention on itself. After twelve hours Autophagy kicks in (Greek for ‘eating oneself’) where the weaker cells in your body get ‘eaten’ by the stronger ones so in essence the body replenishes itself.  You start feeling better, your skiing cleans up,  your energy levels are higher (we really don’t realise how much energy constant food digestion takes up, our hunter-gatherer body was not designed for this after all) and of course you lose fat because in the absence of food in the stomach your body turns to  reserve fat as the next easiest source of fuel.

 

The other thing to bear in mind is that fasting becomes easier the more you do it. So after a while you don’t feel the hunger any more and the shakiness (if you had it in the first instance) goes away. Your body is very good at adapting to what it’s used to. So if  you have a fridge next to your desk and keep munching all day, that’s what your body will get used to and need. If you fast it will retrain itself to accept that feeding time won’t be till hour 16 when you break your fast (another misconception: breakfast  which in the modern world has been taken to mean your morning meal, also wrongly called ‘the most important meal of the day’ by many, is meant to mean literally the meal which breaks your fast. If the first thing you do when you wake up is gobble down some food its hardly a fast. Granted you may be asleep for 8 hours but you hardly burn anything during sleep in comparison with daily activity of moving around).

 

My advice to anyone new to fasting would be to stage it. Kill the classic three meals a day (a completely  fabricated practice by the lazy modern Man – our  hunter-gather ancestors never had the luxury to feed 3 times a day, unless it was a REALLY good day in the hunt) and go to two, one being lunch and the other an early dinner. Then to one.

 

Try to  fast: feed in 12:12 hour windows at first then make it 16:8, then 18:6.  16-18 hours fast is  meant to be the optimal as you get a good few hours of autophagy and fat burn. For me what works well is to mix it up. I usually do a 24 hour fast at least once or twice a week (usually a Monday  and Tuesday following a food-indulgent weekend) and 20/4 for the rest of the working week. Weekends I let go and refeed the body. And have fun!

 

The other benefit of fasting from a physique perspective is that you can literally take whatever you would normally feed on (or actually even more)  and cram it in that 4 hour window without putting on the same amount of body fat. In other words when you fast, during the narrow feeding period your body turns into a fat-burning machine, destroying whatever you put in. Which  means you can indulge more.

 

The same goes for splitting your weekly intake (I’ve found) skewed towards weekends. If you fast all week and go nuts on weekends, the net effect body-fat wise is much less than spreading the same intake evenly throughout the week.   Your metabolism adapts to be much more efficient at digesting food when food is around, while in the mean time your body is given a chance to replenish and work on itself when it’s not, keeping insulin levels more steady and therefore avoiding the peaks and troughs in energy which you inevitably  get when constantly feeding at narrow intervals, especially so with carbs and sugars.

 

 

  1. Training every day

 

Training, in whatever format it may be (gym or doing a sport) is another one of those practices that the more you do the  easier it becomes.

 

I was never too much of a morning person training wise, and the evenings  I often have social or work-related engagements, or just want to  chill after as tiring day at work, so for me the transformation was

 

  1. to find something I love and enjoy doing which makes it effortless. I got addicted to boxing and Muay Thai
  2. to find a time of day that works for me  and make it a regular. I religiously do it  just past midday at 2pm  just before’ breaking my fast’ . This also has the benefit of kicking me into Ketosis (as I explain further below) so that I can keep my evenings free and don’t feel drained all day with a morning workout.. plus by splitting my day in half it’s like having two fresh mornings in the day. It’s almost like a restart to the day
  3. finding a trainer or a training partner with whom you have fun so it makes your time enjoyable. I now interchange a few trainers but literally with all of them we are friends and laugh non stop together.. sometimes too much:) That one hour of my day is not just a reboot but a pleasurable laugh.
  4. setting goals that you work towards. Seeing yourself progress towards goals is motivating and gives you stamina to keep going
  5. slotting the session in my calendar and don’t move it no matter what. Its the only way to stay religious about it

 

Training has not just been lifechanging because I got healthier and in better shape but again it’s the mental stimulus, higher metabolic rate, more alertness and energy, more balanced hormonal system and a calmness that you only get by  sweating it out. Especially with all-consuming jobs like mine, finding time to train  – even if its 30 mins – every day is truly transformation. You are more focussed, have a clearer mind and feel better all round.

 

  1. Cutting out carbs and sugars from my diet

 

Unbeknown to most, sugar is the biggest killer in America and more addictive than cocaine. Not only that but it puts you in constant swings of energy from highs to lows and back all the time, hence the term ‘high on sugar’.

 

I’m lucky because I  never did like sweet things too much (apart from desert wine J) but I used to consume a lot of carby foods: bread, pasta, rice etc.  I’ve cut those out of my diet almost entirely in the last 18 months and again, much like with intermittent fasting, the first benefit is  fat loss, but then following that I got hooked on the feeling of having steady levels of insulin in my blood stream without the highs and lows in energy it creates.

 

Again, the easiest way for one to understand the science behind all this is to think of our hunter-gather ancestors. When the first Homo Sapiens evolved from our predecessors Homo Erectus  we weren’t designed with the idea that a fridge will be  next to us 24/7. Or a grocery store round the corner. Our body was designed for infrequent feeding for necessity (survival) when food is around, storing any excess as body fat to turn to when food isn’t around. What we’ve done in modern living however is invert that: we feed constantly out of pleasure (you will not die of starvation if you stop the constant munch) and our body spends more time accumulating fat instead of using it a spare resource.

 

Equally our diet was composed mostly of meat, vegetables, nuts and berries – things found in nature, in other words starch, protein and small amounts of fructose. Synthetic carbohydrates such as the ones found in bread were not part of it either. We forget that   bread and pasta are things we invented in the kitchen.

 

So when you eat a bowl of pasta,  or have a cake, the body isn’t designed to process that at its normal  metabolic rate which is why whatever energy is need is instantly released (resulting In spikes in glucose and insulin) and the rest is turned to fat storage, as opposed to the whole meal being digested at a pace akin to the pace you expend energy (therefore avoiding the energy spikes and fat accumulation).

 

On top of that, the double whammy is that – unlike with longer lasting  or  in colloquial terms more ‘filling’ meals like starchy veg or a steak – you still feel hungry because the carbs have been digested so fast (hence people saying have pasta for lunch as its ‘light’) so you end up having more of it to fill up. Which is more calories and more carbs again and hence more fat. It’s a viscous cycle,

 

 

  1. Ketosis

 

I’m not a big fan personally of the keto diet, I find it difficult to consume the amounts of fat it prescribes.  I prefer  intermittent fasting (not that they’re mutually exclusive)  coupled with high protein / low carbohydrate diet and – quite importantly – fasted training, especially HIT (High Intensity Training).

Ketosis and a ketogenic diet are often confused. Ketosis is the state you get in when your glucose levels are below a certain threshold. In the absence of glucose to turn to energy your liver secretes ketones which are used to burn body fat for energy. The effect is higher fat burn rate which is why a Ketogenic diet is often prescribed for fat loss.

 

However it’s not the only way to get into Ketosis. In fact the easiest way is by doing HIT on a fasted stomach. If you’ve done over 12 hours fast and do a high intensity training session without eating anything you’re almost certainly going to be in ketosis.

 

Ketones are important because they are one of the two sources of energy for the brain, the other being  glucose. Studies have shown increased mental activity if ketones are used for energy versus glucose: in other words you think clearer, faster and are more focussed, and even better memory.

 

So for me what’s worked in terms of getting the mental benefits of  ketosis without putting myself through a strict fatty keto diet is to break my fast every day after a fasted HIT session.

 

Some people measure whether they are in ketosis or not using one o fa variety of methods. For me its pointless. You will feel it when you are in  ketosis – the  mental clarity and focus is  quite profound and addictive.

 

  1. Getting a ‘mind coach’

 

I hate the term life coach or therapist – both carry inaccurate predispositions often associated with the negative. It’s a bit like calling your sports trainer a ‘fat burner’. The focus should be on the positive.

 

Ultimately what it comes down to is someone helping you train your mind, much like a Personal Trainer helps you train your body or helps you improve a sport. Remember: even the top sportspeople or athletes have a trainer.  So if your mind is as important as your body (if not more) why wouldn’t you do the same for your mind? Why would someone help you train your body or get better at sport be seen as so obvious (and indeed common these days) whilst someone a trainer  for your mind would not?

 

Our brains and our body are the two things we need to keep in balance the most.  This is not to say you can’t do both alone. Meditation is a form of mind training more often than not done in solitude (though not necessarily) –  as is going to the gym for physical training.  But the right coach can be transformative for both. Which is why even the best athletes have a  trainer and the best business people have as mind coach.

 

Again – chemistry with the right person is crucial here. I probably went through a dozen trainers to get one I really ‘click’ with and happy to spend an hour of my day with every day – that’s a serious commitment to keep up if you’re not having fun with that person or on the same wavelength. Same with a  mind coach.

 

What I got out of mind coaching is first and foremost a deeper understanding of myself.  Our minds are hugely complex muscles – think of how we can still perform actions in a split second that computers with infinitely more CPU power per say cant. We think we understand how our mind works but we don’t (although Steven Pinker’s book of the same name is a great help).  Others simply don’t care which  is fine for some – ignorance can be bliss- but if  you are interested to make the most of what you truly can in this short passing we have through planet earth, I’d argue you stand as far greater chance if you understand yourself.

 

What I understood is what truly motivates me in life, what my fears are and how to overcome them. Only then can you understand how you can improve your interactions with others which in turn has a knock on effect on friendship, social life, and relationships pretty much of all sorts, romantic or not,  and  in my case as a business leader, my interaction with those around me at work which is crucial to any my business success.

 

You become a more balanced person, less self-absorbed, less insecure, more in tune with those around you; you get to appreciate chemistry – again in all types of relationships – and learn to avoid those who will drain your energy (not because they are bad people but because, now that you understand yourself better, you know you’re incompatible) and spend more time to those with whom you find you recharge each others’ batteries. You cut out inefficiency in your life which leaves you feeling a bit lost, lonely, downbeat and frustrated.

 

One of the best take-aways I got from my coach puts the above more eloquently I think. He said to me: “we all a Smart Person inside us and a Kind Person (to some extent or other and in varying degrees between us of course). The important thing  to realise that the two are constantly in battle.  So when we don’t understand a situation, or are fearful of it,  we may gravitate toward being kinder but at the expense of doing the smart thing”.

 

Feeling sorry for someone (don’t confuse sympathy with empathy here) is often a good example. If someone you care for keeps doing the wrong thing then gets in tears, because you cart for them our natural reaction is to say “Aww you poor thing “and give them a hug  or a pat on the back. Guess what. You’ve just increased the chances of them doing it again.  Kindness got one over Smarts in that battle in that instance. The Smart thing to do is in fact to shock them: scream at them and say you look and sound pathetic. “You keep doing this then come crying,. Get a grip and snap out of it.”

 

Or in more layman terms: sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind.

 

  1. Meditation

 

I  never really believed in meditation but I have to confess I’m a converter. Again, the term is probably carrying negative connotation, and images of a  monk stuck in absolute silence for hours on end in a funny and uncomfortable posture.

 

Meditation is nothing other than emptying your thoughts – as much as possible – from a mind that’s constantly bombarded with information all day, something accentuated with today’s social media ridden world we live in. And we do that by trying to not think at all, and train the mind to push away thoughts when they  get in our brain by focusing back on fundamentals like our breathing. The idea is the everything else in life comes and goes: breathing stays with us from start to end in our life.

 

What worked for me is doing some basics with a meditation coach, then using an app like Headspace.What I’ve found is that frequency is more important than length. Even if you do it for 5 mins every day when you wake up (normally what I do) or whenever, but do it consistently, you will find that your mind empties itself from all the clutter. You become calmer and more focussed. More content. Less anxious and agitated.

 

The other  important effect of meditation I’ve found is that you become more intuitive and less cerebral in your thinking. In other words, once the thoughts clutter is gone it’s easier to  follow your intuition, otherwise known as your instincts.  This is important in personal and professional life alike. Hugely so.

 

Why so?

 

We forget or perhaps disregard that Intuition is in essence condensed logic, lots of it, accumulated over our lives or even before, stored in our limbic brain at the back of our mind, literally (and hence the origin of the expression). Which is why we know fear as kids before we are logical enough to compute logically that a situation should be fearful.

 

Equally when an instinct tells you to avoid someone on the street (hence street smart) that’s not a logical computation at that moment. It’s still logical though, entrenched in  the back of our brain from past experiences – that tells you instantly to stay away. Hence  the term ‘street smart’  vs book smart. If you spent all your life in a library reading books you may well lack that experience to trigger that instinctive thought. Result: you get mugged.

 

Instinct is also how animals who don’t have a developed cerebral brain like humans can (as dogs do)  get a negative vibe about someone and start barking. Hence the term ‘animal instinct’

 

In short our limbic brain is  more mature and wiser than  our newer developed prefrontal and new-cortex (hence ‘neo’, Greek word for new) which is responsible for sequential computation of thought otherwise known as analytical thinking or logic. When we think instinctively we short circuit the  neo-cortex and go straight to this hub of accumulated condensed knowledge.

 

Which is why as we get more experience at doing something we stop thinking analytically and start thinking intuitively. We get into a natural ‘flow’ as often called where the activity becomes natural to us.

 

Granted some people are genetically more intuitive than others but I’ve found that meditation helped me become more instinctive buy removing a lot of the clutter and noise that gets in the way.

Reflections on 2016

2016 for me was, if I had to pick one word to describe it, a year of ‘regrouping’.

 

I had only moved properly back to London end of 2015 from New York. In the year that ensued I regrouped with old friends whom I had partially lost touch with – people with whom I go back over a decade, spent more time with my family and my ‘auxiliary family’ – my beloved colleague PPH-ers.

 

The year reminded me of the importance of having long-lasting relationships in life, people with whom you’ve gone through life-transforming experiences like university or school years, the army, trips or expeditions, or building a startup together. The tough times more than any others are the ones that build long lasting bonds between people. No amount of ambition and the success it fuels is worth sacrificing that.

 

Even though I first moved to London approaching 15 years now, it’s only in this last year, my second spell upon my return, that I got to appreciate how much London is home for me. More than ever I’m in love with its contradictions. Fast-paced yet balanced and civilized; old-school in so many ways yet modern, cool and funky; deeply traditional yet cosmopolitan and international like no other city I’ve experienced; demanding and tiring at times yet forgiving, warm and communal at others; close-knit in its social circles yet easy to meet people and make new friends.

 

Apart from regrouping the things that I’m grateful for in 2016 are having made new friends, build relationships that I’ve learnt from and hopefully contributed to, travelled extensively, grown my company and team, rented a studio so I can devote more time to my art which is my passion, and setting the foundation for what seems a great 2017.

 

By far the highlight of my year was being appointed Godfather to my beautiful little niece (my brother’s daughter)  whom my sister and I  baptized this summer, and more recently being asked to be Godfather to one of my best friends’ unborn child. No honour can be grander or more gratifying to be bestowed with the trust and responsibility that comes with being a Godparent to someone’s child. I feel blessed and privileged to be in that position twice already.

 

The best trips I’ve had in the year include visiting one of my old friends in Mumbai, India, my family in Dubai and later Cyprus for Christmas, spending time in the beautiful South of France this summer and falling in love with the breathtaking Cap-Ferrat. My trips to the U.S. have become less frequent, yet I visited New York twice including spending my birthday there in May. I spent time in Marbella in Spain, Berlin, St Tropez, the beautiful Greek islands, the gorgeous old town of Nafplio in Greece, skied in the Trois Vallees where my year began in 2016 and ended. The symmetry itself rounded up the year perfectly.

 

On the business front, with the exception of a short-lived hit triggered by Brexit, PeoplePerHour has continued to grow strong and unabated. We’ve made drastic improvements to the product and the customer experience and that’s thanks to the hard work and dedication of our team. Team PPH – you rock!

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Contentment

I consider myself really lucky to be surrounded by some amazing people. Truly blessed. Friends, family, colleagues and even just acquaintances. I’m lucky to have a wide network of brilliant people from different walks of life but also different cities and cultures. I can count friends in New York, London, Athens, Cyprus, Dubai, Miami, L.A, San Francisco, Austin, all the way to India (If I’ve left any out I apologise:))

 

Yet I don’t know that many people who – despite their successes- are truly truly content. I find that most people are always on a never ending quest. Quest for more of whatever it is they crave. One of life’s paradoxes is in fact that the more we get the more we want, and the more we want the more discontented we become. There’s a fine line between ambition and greed, and an equally fine line between complacency and contentment.

 

I don’t believe in complacency. I believe that no matter how much anyone has achieved they cannot rest their laurels. There’s always more to do, more to learn and more to give. No success should be taken for granted – we can all lose what we have much faster than it took us to acquire it.

 

I do however believe in contentment. One needs to be truly at peace with what they have in order to be happy. We need to remind ourselves of the good in our life and live in the moment in order to really take it all in and appreciate it.  Cliche as it may sound most people I know do not live in the moment. They are always in anticipation of what comes next. They are too busy planning, worrying or sharing the moment with others on social media instead of BEING in it.

 

2016 has been the first year for me when I’ve really achieved contentment (or at least more so than previously). For me it comes with a number of things. Appreciating the ‘now’ is a crucial starting point. But it’s also about having a purpose and doing good things for you and those around you. It’s about being selfless, giving, being generous and altruistic and just seeing the bigger picture. Its about showing heart!

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Endurance

We’ve all heard this phrase before: ‘life is a marathon not a race’. Yet how many of us put it in practice?

 

Ironically we’ve been nurtured to worship and admire  endurance. From the preachings of Jesus Christ who endured so much in his life for the good of Mankind, culminating in  enduring the weight of the very cross he was crucified on; to persecuted mythical heroes we grew up in awe of, from Hercules to Tarzan, to more modern characters like Rocky Balboa who beat the odds by never giving up. We revere not their success but their endurance… we envy not the result but the courage they show  in  ‘going the distance’ as the soundtrack of Rocky – by that very name and not coincidentally – reminds us, climaxing our emotions seeing a guy refusing to give up despite the beating he was taking, enduring till the end even if he lost. Or did he? As the expression goes ‘he may have lost the battle but won the war’.

 

Tenacity, grit, persistence are the things that make one endure through tough situations. Time and time again we see those being more instrumental to the long term success in any given situation that the mighty powers of whatever one deploys in the short term: talent, wit, intelligence… I call those ‘situational masteries’. You can master a situation with traits like charm… the ability to outwit someone, talk the talk; you may even hit some home runs with situational mastery. People do after all become overnight hits- sometimes. They do in casinos too! But that’s neither a strategy for success not a safe haven for ones’ hopes or ambitions. It’s dependent as much on luck as on anything else; or in there being just the right mix and fit between the ‘situation’ and the tricks possessed to master it in this notion of ‘situational mastery’.

 

Building endurance is, on the other hand, a strategy. It’s a sustainable, dependable and more predictable – or a more backable – route to success. I’d much rather train for a marathon than the 100m sprint (although admittedly I have done neither). By the nature of having a longer path from the start point to the end you have just much better odds of finding a way to win; to muster the energy and stamina needed to keep going. I’d much rather bet on a team committed to building something – anything – for the longer term. Be it a business, climbing a mountain, building a family.

 

Warren Buffet put it perfectly when asked how is it possible that he beat every other investor with the least sophisticated of strategies, purely by sticking to fundamentals. He said:  “because no one wants to get rich slowly”

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Reflections on 2015

If there’s one sentence that summarises the past year for me it’s this: everything happens for a reason, and mostly for the best!

 

My key lesson of the year, cliché as it may sound, is, once again, that our ability to turn a negative into a positive in a split second, to drive instant and radical change in our lives when something doesn’t go our way, is potentially one of the most powerful forces in life and a key determinant of success and happiness.

 

A lot has happened in 2015, including moving my base from predominantly New York back to London in September, opening up offices in Berlin and New York, becoming a British citizen, appearing on BBC World news to talk about the sharing economy, hiring some amazing people to grow our team at PeoplePerHour, and having had the luck to travel to some incredible places and meet some truly great people.

 

2015 reminded me that short of our health and time with our loved ones, one’s best investment is in new experiences. They really enrich our lives so much more than anything we could possibly buy. My best ones for the year were: skiing in St Moritz where I started off the year, visiting Art Basel in Miami, (definitely going back!), skiing in Deer Valley (my first time skiing in the west coast of the U.S.) and staying in the super-cute Salt Lake City which I totally loved, visiting Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and the gorgeous Malibu in L.A. (where I managed to find myself – involuntarily- dining at a cute Greek restaurant called Tony’s), followed by San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a tech. power-shot, a rainy yet magical Costa Rica, Montauk, the beautiful Greek islands of Skiathos and Mykonos, Ibiza in Spain, the breath-taking island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean, attending Summit @ Sea on the world’s 8th largest cruise ship with a group of some of the most prominent and inspiring tech entrepreneurs on the planet, attending SXSW in Austin Texas for the 4th time in a row, attending European Young Leaders 2015 forum in Dublin, celebrating my b-day in Vegas and watching what was supposed to be the fight of the century between Manny Pacquiao & Floyd Mayweather, watching Klitschko – the worlds Boxing heavyweight champion- fight in Madison Square gardens, and ending the year with a fabulous family Skiing trip to Val Thorens in France.

 

Things that almost happened and thankfully didn’t: I came a stone’s throw from extended my stay in NYC for another year. On the 1st September I was due to move to a new apartment which I totally fell in love with, whose lease fell through in the final hour. My gut instantly told me it was a sign that my time was up and I literally planned my relocation back to London within hours and left a few days later. I shipped my apartments contents to Athens where I had decided – and again came a stone throw’s away – to buy a place to take advantage of the plunge in real estate prices. That too fell through, or rather I walked away, when the owners – in typical Greek fashion- kept moving the goal post and made signing a deal near impossible. Looking back it was a blessing in disguise, for more reasons than one. Again, a negative turned to a positive.

 

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10 reasons to carry on doing what you’re doing (if you’re building a startup)

I was recently asked by someone why I do (or carry on doing) what I do. It’s such a simple question yet it startled me. It’s easy enough to jump in to a knee-jerk textbook answer. But its really hard to articulate why it really is that you do what you do (short of things like necessity, habit, or lack of choice. The ‘why not’ is not a valid answer.continue reading »

My only allergy – NEGATIVE PEOPLE!

I’m lucky enough not to have any allergies. But recently I developed one very strongly –  NEGATIVE PEOPLE!

I cannot deal with negativity any more. It’s what’s killing the world. The winging, constant “I can’t” attitude instead of “can do”… seeing all the things that can go wrong first instead of what can go right.  For the love of God , if you want nothing to go wrong then stay in bed and spare the rest of us the itch. Nothing can go wrong if you stay in bed can it ?! STAY ! continue reading »

Reflections on 2013 and resolutions for 2014

It’s been a good year

2014 has began well. Partly because I was skiing with my family as I usually do in the beautiful alps. The fresh air and the mountain always helps me self-reflect and think more. Without a shadow of doubt that one week skiing may be the most productive of my entire year. And whilst I always push myself to self-reflect that time of year – and this year in particular- is the deepest and most meaningful retrospection of all.

As I reflected on the past year I realized how much had actually happened. We started the year on steroids, the typical ‘go go’ top line investor fuelled growth mode. We operated on vanity metrics instead of sanity metrics.  We were fat and over-bloated. We were management heavy and inefficient. We were shooting for the stars and developed tunnel vision.

And then something painful but retrospectively lucky happened. The investor appetite changed, some of the assumptions, promises and myths came out sour. Some hidden realities came out of the wash. The froth came off the cappuccino.

I’ve said time and time again that the true test in life is what one does when that happens. In our case I’m proud to say that we just picked ourselves up, implemented some drastic changes, got real and elevated sanity above vanity.

It wasn’t easy.  We had to let go of team members, change plans and direction, scrap a lot of things that had emotional equity built in, and especially for the guy at the top who gets the shit from both ends – investors on one and team on other – I can tell you I had more than a few sleepless nights.

But we pulled through. We turned the business into cash-flow positive, we became leaner and meaner, the people staying over being part of the earlier hires who had more dedication and passion about who we are and what we stand for. Who share our sense of purpose.

We made drastic changes like moving from two split locations to one, which meant making our support team in London redundant. We dropped a few balls in the process with some metrics temporarily dipping but overall we came out a winner. Our costs overall halved and our revenue trebled in the year.

For this I am most grateful to the team that’s left over. They are warriors, with heart, passion and dedication. To reward them I doubled the stock pool and allocated a much bigger chunk of equity to the team that stayed for the fight. Some of the more senior management voluntarily took salary cuts in exchange for more stock.

The difference I’ve seen in mindset and perceptions is that from night and day. Its almost a different company now. Before I had employees. Now I have partners. Co-owners. And I push them to look at me more as a peer than a boss.

But good is the enemy of great !

Yet with all of that, I was still troubled at the end of the year. I had a niggling piece of the puzzle missing somewhere. I felt we did good but not great. continue reading »