It’s Movember!

Up until this year, I’ve never paid much attention to the Movember movement. People growing facial hair in a way that should have been banned since the 80s, what’s that all about? But this year, it dawned on me that I really should look into the issue the Movember movement tries to shed more light on: Men are getting cancer. And with cancer victims in both our families, that topic is far from irrelevant to me.

When I saw a friend’s Facebook post about him taking part in Movember, I spontaneously decided that I’ll join the fun, grow a mustache and finally learn about the health issues I may need to face as I grow older.

Speaking of face, here’s my progress so far:

Photo on 15-11-2013 at 10.07

What do you think? Leave me a comment below!

It looks like fall puts me in a spontaneous mood because, a week ago, I also decided on a whim to participate in the Dublin Mo Run this Saturday. In that context, it’s important to know that I stopped running in November last year due to tendonitis in both of my legs and that I haven’t done a round since then. I registered myself for the Mo Run regardless and did two test runs this week to see how I do. Surprisingly, I managed to run the 5k without major problems. It must be the two children that keep me on my feet day and night. ;-) And that I’ve lost 10kg since June probably also helped a bit.

So, the geewiz family will head out to Dublin early morning tomorrow to see a lot of people carrying furry animals on their upper lip across Phoenix Park. My start number will be 26.

May I ask you, my dear reader, for a favor? Support Movember by making a donation. In Ireland, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men; each year 1 in 8 men is diagnosed with prostate cancer. Movember is a fun way to lower these numbers. Simply go to my Mo Bro page and help fight a terrible disease!

Tactics against burnout

Being an entrepreneur in the tech space means working 60 to 80 hours a week and hustling from one opportunity to the next. That’s what many people think. That’s what many entrepreneurs in the tech space think. It’s what I thought, too, when I started freistil IT in 2010. The temperature started rising. It felt like a fever. And I mean that in the literal sense.

One busy day, my body started heating up and I started to feel weary and devoid of energy. It felt similar to a flu, but I had no other flu symptoms on top of the 40 degrees. I remembered that I had experienced this before. Back then, I went to a doctor and had blood samples taken. No conclusive results at all. Now that it happened again, I started to recognize a pattern: This was how my body alerted me that I was hitting my limits. So I dropped what ever I was sweating about, went straight to bed and switched to private mode completely. No email, no phone calls, no pondering business issues. Soon, the fever vanished and I slowly got into business again, carefully ramping up my workload. Since then, it never happened again because I’ve become much more aware of what drains me of energy and motivation, and because I learned how to replenish my mental fuel.

Andrew Dumont describes his experience with this issue in his blog entry “Avoiding Burnout“. These are his tactics to stay in good shape:

  • Morning Workouts
  • An Evening Walk
  • Fiction Reading
  • A Day A Week
  • Intellectual Hobbies
  • Small Wins
  • A Healthy Diet
  • Limiting Decisions
  • Yearly Unplugs

While I’m doing many of these myself already, the yearly unplugging is something of which I still need to make a habit. When work — even hard work — is fun and fulfilling, it’s sort of addictive. But Andrew is right in that work as an entrepreneur needs to be more than just hard:

It’s taken me years to realize that overnight success is fictional. Overnight success comes after years of hard, sustainable work.

The benefits of daily meditation

Being a leader in a growing business with all the duties and responsibilities is a challenge that requires me to learn new skills all the time. For every task that I get done, two new ones seem to grow back. I actually enjoy that. But I also realise the hidden dangers of losing focus and going into burnout.

That’s why I’m making it a habit to start my day with 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation. Concentrating on my breath alone and putting all the thoughts whizzing around in my head back to their waiting line (again and again and again…) helps me keep my peace of mind and trains my mental muscles.

Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne lists “5 reasons as a CEO you should develop a habit of daily meditation“:

  1. You will easily handle the inevitable ups and downs
  2. It will save you time, by reducing procrastination
  3. You will have bursts of creative genius
  4. You will feel alive and healthy and have better sleep
  5. It will make you happy and you’ll find meaning

And If You’re Too Busy to Meditate, Read This.

Three tips to keep you sane in your business

I’ve been working in my own business for over 2 years now and I enjoy it very much. Success and fun in business is a great thing but what about the rest? Although — and since — there are more things to life, I sometimes struggle to keep the business from eating up all my time and energy.

In “Stay Sane While Managing Your Business”, I’ve found three good tips that can help prevent your work life from overwhelming you.

Tip no. 1: Cut Clutter

Even if you’ve never heard of entropy, you can see it in action everywhere in your life where disorder tends to grow. Clutter means extra work, so it’s important to fight it whereever it rears its ugly head.

Tip no. 2: Take Control

Never let go of the steering wheel of your ship, especially in heavy waters. Set yourself goals (both for your business and your personal life) and keep them in sight.

Tip no. 3: Have Fun

Fun is no extracurricular activity. “Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.” (Johnny Carson)

If you have 5 more minutes, read the article for more details on each tip!

Family First

Founding my own business has proven to be a very fulfilling venture, but it’s also very time-intensive. Balancing my professional duties with the responsibilities of a father and partner actually is a challenge every day.

Over the years, I had many opportunities to experience how much the support of my family means to me. That’s why I follow Gary V’s advice in “Crush It” (which, by the way, did immensely influence me) and chose “Family First” as my rule number one.

Now, how do I put this rule into practice? The article “Manifesto for a Freelancer with a Family” on FreelanceFolder has a great answer with which I agree wholeheartedly! Author Brian McDaniel makes the following declarations, adding to each some concrete guidelines:

  • My Family Will Always Come First
  • I Will Keep My Marriage Healthy
  • I Will Pour Myself into My Children
  • I Will Keep Myself Healthy and Sane

I think having these principles really helps in making the right decisions and achieving something like “work/family balance” (I don’t like the term “work/life balance” since I regard my work an essential part of my life). That’s why I copied the Manifesto into my “Important Notes” folder and reread it from time to time.

I have to admit that there are still some points I’m struggling with, for example with “Be present. Not just physically, but completely present, even when I’m working.” because it seems to conflict with my very focused working style.

Since I know from experience that working as an employee can be as taxing on your family life as is working for your own business, I recommend reading Brians article to every professional that has (or intends to found) a family.