Being on drugs

Look, I do live a pretty healthy lifestyle. Although I do sometimes wonder, mostly when someone asks me, how healthy CrossFit at this level of intensity actually is, but that’s another matter.
Or is it?
What it is about CrossFit that brings me back even when I’m clearly injured? The thought of taking an extended time off or even, say, modifying workouts for some extended period so as to save a knee or ankle or shoulder is mildly horrifying. And why is that?
My latest theory? It’s a psychological addiction. You make up excuses for what you really want to do. CrossFit is a drug. The intensity is a drug. We haven’t had that much intensity lately because our program doesn’t call for it, but even still that constant variety, that comraderie/competition is a drug.
But that wasn’t the drug I intended to talk about. The drug I intended to talk about is caffeine. Because this one has me in its vile claws at the moment. On Monday I somehow must have had a super strong cup of coffee because I got over-stimulated, over-buzzed. I can best compare it to when you’re drunk and you reach this point at which you kind of don’t want to be drunk any more, or THAT drunk, mildly drunk would be OK but you know you’re past that stage and wish you weren’t. Well, this was like that.
I was not amused. I even woke up Tuesday STILL feeling a bit buzzed, so I decided not to drink any coffee that day. That was a huge mistake. I was fine, fine, fine …. When I went to 88mph for a 4pm meeting I was feeling a headache starting to come on. By the time I got to CrossFit, it was a full-blown caffeine withdrawal headache. For the first workout this was fine. Then I was trying to work before the team workout and my brain didn’t function and I was exhausted.
Then the second workout came and I could barely lift my head. Instead I had to do muscle ups. Needless to say, I’ve had better performances. Mind – body connection was just not there, nor was my motivation.
So I went back on the sauce but took it easy on the caffeine the next two days and guess what? My stress levels were down, my happiness levels were up. But it’s also a crutch. When I’m stressed, I eat. Or I drink coffee, which makes me more stressed, actually. Friday afternoon I was giving a talk to a large-ish audience and I was, I suppose, a bit nervous. These sorts of things don’t really faze me too much; you just have to do what you have to do and sometimes what you have to do is public speaking.
As it turns out, for an off-the-charts extrovert public speaking is not a huge ordeal, but at the end of the day you just never know. Your audience could hate you. You could forget what you were saying. There’s usually at least once in any given presentation where you stumble around a bit, unless you’ve spent hours rehearsing, and I hadn’t. This was not a TEDx speech, and I was busy.
Doing stuff like having birthday drinks & cake with my team. Yeah it’s weird that I eat the sugar (another drug) and don’t drink but whatever. We added a team member this week, Jeff, to help with the operations and bookkeeping on a part-time basis, and then we also welcomed the newest addition to our sales team. She doesn’t start until next month but will be in for some training next week, so we introduced her over drinks.
Busy with coffee with Ingi (!), coffee with Dominic (well dude this is CAPE TOWN you have to have coffee!), coffee with Michael earlier in the week, a conference call with the UK, a meeting with the designers, a meeting with the lawyers, reviewing the March financials, a few sales meetings & calls and LOTS of emails, some sales prospecting and planning, and a number of cross-functional team meetings.
One of the things that recently came across Twitter that I love said something like the only thing you can count on in a startup is that you and your staff are going to make lots of mistakes. One of us made a kind of bad mistake this week. I could care less. Well, not entirely true. But at the end of the day, he won’t be making that mistake again. That’s really all you can ask.
Speaking of my staff, I had a great Freudian slip. I was talking about my team and I meant to say ‘They work for me’ (can’t remember the context) but instead I said: ‘I work for them.’ Which is pretty much how I feel. Why do I want to be successful? Because it’s fun. Because I can. But also because there’s nothing like seeing Stefan come out of his shell, or the smile back on Bronwyn’s face as some of her stress is relieved, or the look in Tim’s eyes when he gets to play with cool new stuff.
My most important job as protector is to let my team fail, and know that I have their back. That’s how they grow. They can be comfortable making decisions because at the end of the day I review most of the important ones, and it’s my responsibility at the end of the day. This weight on my shoulders that I always complain about? Well, yeah it’s stressful. But it’s actually me taking that stress from my team, and allowing them the comfort to stretch and fail and succeed and grow.
Now do they all properly appreciate this? Surely not. That’s not the point. That is neither here nor there. It’s a martyr who wants recognition for doing the right thing. This isn’t about them, this is about me getting to be a better leader and manager.
Glass half empty or half full … there’s always a way you can look at a situation that makes you selfish, and a way that makes you selfless. That’s spin! Call it positioning, rather.
There was another thing that I am again, in my calmer, less-caffeinated state, trying to exercise which is the human interaction equivalent of the medical doctor’s vow to do no harm. I can be a strong personality. With great power comes great responsibility. Rather use that charisma to raise people up  than to whack them around. Isn’t it something like a negative statement has 10x the impact of a positive statement? Constructive feedback is so important, and you have to be honest, but you also have to do it respectfully. Sounds good on paper at least; in reality I am not so patient. But that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to get there.
Oh and speaking of people. I’ve been struck lately by a few times when someone has made a negative statement about someone else that has not jived with my opinion. I guess it’s like reviews of books. If someone I like, trust, and respect, although I don’t know him that well tells me that he doesn’t trust so-and-so because of such-and-such that happened a few years back … well, I take it under consideration. It’s input. This is not reason enough to distrust the person. People change. At the same time, what’s that cognitive bias again? Consistency bias? Or the one where we reject information that doesn’t fit what we want to believe?
On the subject of belief, one of my most firmly-held beliefs at this point is around diet and nutrition. I have experienced for myself how various things impact my body (hello, coffee!), but one thing I have no doubt about is that eating real foods and cutting out sugars, grains, dairy, and processed crap, is healthier for your body than eating as a ‘normal’ person does.
Man the forums are a sickening place. People get into religious arguments about paleo this, Harvard study that, blah blah blah. Firstly, one size does not fit all, and secondly, how many people actually read the studies or the books or just the headlines? Reading the data can be good; I whipped out some stats about which vendors did best at throughput and simultaneous connections on a sales call which I’m sure bought me some credibility with the customer. It helps to know what the hell you’re talking about if you want to claim to be an authority.
Anyway. My friend Riaan is an authority, and this man has now, as a hobby, started to read all of the scientific literature available about the paleo diet and variations thereof. I think we spent the first 20 minutes of Monday night’s dinner in Stellenbosch getting schooled. One of the things I like about spending time with Riaan is that it’s one of the times that I don’t want to be talking about Skyrove, because I’m so utterly fascinated by what his company is doing. I could talk about diet and measurement and sports all day long. But I also love Wi-Fi. What can I say?
Oh? The punch line? Eating real foods is legit. Everything you already know. More salads. Just enough high quality protein. Fats in moderation. Processed healthy fats are fine. Sugar is the devil. Dairy and wheat very not cool for the body. It’s amazing how a change to what we eat can have such a massive impact on how we feel and our level of health.
Speaking of Stellenbosch, two signs Cape Town is getting to me: 1. I do think a 35-minute drive for dinner is a bit long, 2. When I’m parking a half block away from a restaurant I wonder if I could get a closer spot. Oh, me oh my.
One thing that struck me this week [not literally] was safety. So I’m out on my way to a prospect and this person saunters across the highway. Yes, I said saunters. It wasn’t a dash, it was more of a stroll. Who STROLLS across a highway without even looking at the traffic? Granted he was doing it in front of a speed camera, but seriously?? Later the same day a woman with a two-year-old child saunters across a busy street with no notice of the traffic.
But hey how often am I oblivious to my surroundings? Often. And then sometimes just do stupid shit like drive through Brooklyn with three laptops in my car. I sometimes forget I’m in a country that can sometimes be dangerous.
Hell, life is dangerous. My younger brother is in the hospital right now. I wish I could be there with him. It actually makes me want to cry a little bit to think of him in pain. I wish I could protect him. I am a protector, or I want to be. But some things you can’t protect.
  • “Delays are psychological.” – Michael
  • “You’ve been playing the field a bit, though.” – Michael (this is not a Cindarella story. The knight in shining armour doesn’t come out of nowhere!)
  • “I’ll wait. I’ll wait. I’m patient. No, I’m not patient. But I’ll wait.” – Ellie
  • “Wait. Did you just say bring along a 3G dongle in case the fibre goes down?” – Ellie
  • “And when I say straightforward I mean VERY straightforward.” – Rudolph
  • “I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again when the next set of vouchers go out!” – Reebok sales manager
  • “I like the part about after he left, the other guy started laughing.” – Adam
  • “Why does their brand have to be in a bunker?” – Ellie
  • “I embrace conflict if I think it’s necessary.” – Riaan
  • “A single success is just a data point.” – Riaan
  • “He’s too explosive for this weight.” – Chris
  • “I was born in the dark.” – Bane
  • “Is this good for your body?” – Bryony
  • “Sugar is the devil, hey.” – Bryony
  • “Yeah I don’t even know what those squiggly lines mean.” – Ellie
  • “You know exactly what you’re doing.” – Mathew (fooled another one!)
  • “Lactic acid is energy.” – Grant
  • “A cup of coffee is like a few milligrams of speed.” – Byron
  • “How about ‘We add value? That’s our proposition.’” – David
  • “I’d be willing to bet you’ve already sold them.” – Doug
  • “This is a game-changer.” – Doug
  • “Some would say, a criminal amount of money.” – Dominic
  • “One does sense the futility of making future plans.” – Dominic
  • “They want to be disruptive. Which is why you should be talking to them.” – Dominic
  • “You’ve gotta watch your back.” “You’ve gotta watch your cynicism, too.” – Ellie & Dominic
  • “You were normal?” – Bronwyn  
  • “I have 43 connected devices in my house.” – Christiaan
  • “That guy who wanted X? You just sold him Y?” – Adam 


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