Living the dream

If you don’t get enough sleep but still need to perform at a high mental capacity then after a while everything does start to feel like a bit of a dream.
What to say? Rest weeks are dangerous. I really, really, REALLY miss training, and without that feedback loop I make poor decisions (like not sleeping enough). Staying up until 2am on chat is a choice. No regrets. But really … thank goodness for CrossFit.
I’m very close to being fully healthy again and that is no small thing either. The work I’ve been doing absolutely fascinates me in its effectiveness at changing the entire alignment of my body. There are foundations going into now that are going to serve me in the months to come.
Sleep deprivation is not going to be in the mix – in a way it was good to go there, just to understand why I’m not going to go there again on a regular basis. With lack of sleep I get cranky, rushed, and one bad decision leads to another. I agree to stupid stuff while sleep deprived (like running a half marathon).
I’ve also been not particularly enjoying the hustle and bustle of getting ready to leave on my USA trip. This has involved numerous meetings that are really best done in person. I’m feeling a combination of massive separation anxiety at being away from the office, and staff, customers, and partners for so long and yet a strong desire for the ‘alone time’ that will let me plow through some deliverables that we urgently need.
I can understand now why being President ages people. Last week has seemed like a month long. I had a nice Freudian slip yesterday at lunch when I said I’d been in the job five months and I meant to say five weeks! It actually feels that way. Well, I wanted a challenge. I got one and I tell you what I’m having the time of my life, even if the pace is a bit unsustainable at the moment.
But wow …. In the last week, a long sales/marketing meeting, a couple Skype calls with the directors, lunch with the CEO of one ISP, coffee with another, quick call with the CEO of a competitor, four sales meetings, one bizdev call with CA, one trip to Joburg/Pretoria, almost in bloom jacarandas, meeting with a potential PR firm, a two-hour meeting with our attorney down in Kommetjie, reviewing a 37 page lease agreement, and a 22-hour day from wakeup to bedtime in the mix.
You can tell a lot about a person by what sort of coffee they drink. Love how I SMSd our lawyer from 5 minutes out … and he read my mind and put the kettle on.  And he makes a good pot of coffee!
And then there is the personal stuff … the various therapy sessions for the back, the fascial release torture session where I learned that the fascial lines and acupuncture lines are apparently quite similar, and there are a lot of proprioceptors intricately related to the fascia. Do not dismiss that which you don’t understand. The induction of a few disciples into the inner circle at the martial arts centre. Mid-week dinner with friends. The breakfast, wine & chocolate, and brandy & chocolate session with Riaan and Kora from the Stellenbosch intelligentsia …. I just love people who are smarter than I am, or at least as smart and driven as I am.
Seeing Henk, hematoma and all, out in Grabouw and then a braai at Roger Norton’s. I don’t normally get emotional but every time I have to say goodbye to this man I get very, very sad. Not sure why, but it’s hard to have him so far away and Skype is just not the same. I have similarly strong emotional ties to some of the other people this job has brought into my life. There’s another blog post on this coming up, but for anyone who has worked with me, you will understand that for me it’s fundamentally all about the people.
I am happy that I’m getting great feedback in my new job: it’s a nice validation that I can not only talk the talk but the trick, the real trick, is making sense of all the possibilities and actually negotiating the right agreements, and managing well. It’s so much better to make my team empowered to figure out what it means to have world class service than to tell them my opinion. Even our company meeting on Wednesday was very positive: there is a lot of positive momentum in the sales and business development pipeline. But now the rubber has to meet the road, and we have to execute on some of these things.
Business success is the flip side of adding value. The half of what’s so motivating to me is that I’m on a mission that’s way bigger than I am. There are people counting on me now: employees, customers, shareholders. This is a higher-stakes version of a team competition. You hear everyone’s perspectives on everyone and everything else and, as I always do, form my own opinions and call it as I see it. I welcome constructive criticism because I don’t have a monopoly on being right, but at the end of the day I’ll also make a tough call if I have to.
This is one of the reasons why I’m loving sales: the thrill of the chase, the turning a loss into a win, the no-win situation you turn into market research, the ease in knowing that we really are the best (because I have a hard time selling something I don’t believe), and the not-so-subtle game of it all. Your connection or status may get you in the door, but you still have to make the sale. And people buy from people, so being charming helps. We’ll see if I’m still smiling in a week: I’d rather do business with me than with my competition, but you never know. You just never know.
One of my prospects had a great line this week. He said that they don’t compare themselves to the competition. They try to be the best that they can be, and just presume that the competition is going to fall short. I love it. Spoken like a competitive athlete.
Speaking of which, I am still trying to figure out what my athletic goals are in this brave new world. To be as fit as I can to optimise my mental capacity? To spend as little time as possible and still keep decently fit? To go back to the CrossFit Games? To maximise my personal brand exposure? To push my own mental boundaries?
This is surreal. It is. I sometimes actually, literally, cannot believe it. In a way a couple of personal concerns at the back of my head don’t matter because at the end of the day, there is actually nothing more important to me in the short-to medium-term than my company.
But in a way they matter more than anything.
  • “Everything is connected.” – Byron
  • “What was Henk doing on a horse?” – Helen
  • “He doesn’t give dates.” – Helen
  • “I don’t know what you’ve done …. But you’ve changed him!” – Helen
  • “It’s usually a pretty good indicator of intent.” – Michael
  • “You know they’re good when they sound pretty compelling.” – Michael
  • “It totally is but if my customers are in the cult too that’s a good thing!” – Ellie (full disclosure: I declared this before I was hired!)
  • “Now we see how good of a manager I am.” – Ellie (grammatically incorrect and all)
  • “Oh my God I wish he was single.” – Sam (yeah… her and a few other people)
  • “So in about 35 minutes you turned around an entire sale I would say.” – Doug
  • “I wasn’t designed for this.” – Doug
  • “It seems like all these guys ever do is paperwork.” – Adrian
  • “I haven’t even read what I’m signing.” – Ellie
  • “This isWoodstock.” – Chris
  • “To this day I’ve wondered if that was the right decision.” – Tim               
  • “If you don’t hire my agency, I’m going to have to come work for you!” – Grant
  • “Forget like an oligopoly. It is an oligopoly!” – Ellie
  • “There’s always an angle.” – Jon
  • “Are you a little bit drunk?” – Hermann (Lucien was saying CrossFit could be marketed to women as a place to meet men)
  • “I think you’re in a very good place.” – Dominic
  • “It’s great to hear you say that, because a lot of people say the opposite.” – Juliet
  • “The dog’s not stressed. Why are you stressed?” – Shirfu
  • “There’s a new fat kid in town!” – Kim  
  • “Can you drive an automatic?” – lady at Budget
  • “In Europe you pay for the toilets. But the Wi-Fi is free.” – Paul
  • “They diagnosed the symptoms of your character whereas I’m learning the cause.” – Doug (this is flattering and terrifying at the same time)
  • “Being a CEO isn’t a small thing.” – Riaan
  • “No, you’re right. It isstrange.” – Riaan                                
  • “That’s easy. If you want to improve your knees, stop running.” – Roland  
  • “I mean … doesn’t he have anything better to do?” “Possibly not.” – Ellie & Henk
  • “I’ve just had a bottle of wine and you’re telling me to watch my language?” – Roger 

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