Sunset at DoubleM Systems (, Del Mar, California

Thursday, July 2, 2020

I love Client SS

He always has the best questions and now that he has an executive assistant I get the questions a day before our meetings so I can give his concerns a really good think and some research so when we meet I'm as helpful as I can be.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Wanted: A few good users

Do you:

Wish you could be more focused, less distracted, less stressed,
and get more of the important things done?

Want to be a part of something
that can truly change the world
one person at a time,
starting with you?

Are you:

First time CEO of a startup company
Student with intentions to start a business
If so, we have a great software product for you.
It's free right now.
All we ask is that you give it a try
and let us know what you think.

Simple. Easy. 
Tell me a bit about yourself.
Apply by email:

Sunday, June 21, 2020


Sleep. Probably the most important thing you can do to be healthy and productive is to focus on your sleep. And, as the old management maxim states, you have to measure it to manage it. I use the app called Sleep Cycle to measure and report on my sleep stats.

Included in this post are just a few of the many stats that it gives me.

I really like the comparisons of my average bedtime with the USA and other countries.
I used to go to bed around midnight, like most people in the USA, but then I noticed I felt better if I got more sleep before midnight, and that squares with other research I've done.

This one less revealing than the others, but it shows that I'm keeping consistent even through the weekends:

While the Sleep Cycle app may not be perfect, and while they are a bit vague on how they calculate the nightly Sleep Score, at least it is consistently calculated so it's helpful in that regard.

An unexamined life is not worth living. (Plato)

What are you doing to examine and optimize your sleep?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Metcalf's Law

Metcalfe’s Law: Why big networks produce colossal winners

In 1980, Robert Metcalfe — one part of the duo behind Ethernet, a technology for connecting computers together — observed that communications networks increased in value in proportion to the number of users.
One telephone in a city was useless. Even a few hundred, dispersed across millions of inhabitants, wasn’t very useful. But once you had friends and family who owned telephones — and restaurants and movie theaters and stores all had telephones — it was suddenly very desirable to own one.
Metcalfe was working at 3Com, a computer network company he co-founded, when he came up with the idea. At the time, he was trying to understand why his company’s local area network (LAN) starter kits — which allowed 3 PC users to share a printer and a hard disk — weren’t selling.
What he found wasn’t necessarily that the cost was too high, but that 3 people didn’t constitute a sufficiently large network to justify the purchase.
Like early installations of the telephone, the cost of connecting the network initially exceeded the value generated — but there would also be a point of critical mass where the benefits of connecting did exceed the upfront investment.


When Facebook first launched at Harvard University in 2004, it was like a singular telephone: pretty useless. But it wasn’t useless for long. Within a month, 50% of the student body was on Facebook.
This was partly a case of pent-up demand: every year, Harvard released a physical “face book” that included every student and faculty member on campus, designed to help everyone at the school get to know one another. “TheFacebook,” as the social network was then known, was an attempt to digitize this already existing physical object and make frictionless the process of snooping on other people’s photos.
The effect, however, was this: with every new Harvard student that joined the platform, it became more valuable for other students to join too. Each new student promised new people to look at, learn about, and “poke.”

As Facebook grew, the company added features that were designed to tap into the “more is better” mechanics of Metcalfe’s Law. Photos, groups, likes, comments — they all leveraged this concept to bring users back into Facebook again and again. And the more people there were on Facebook, the more photos were uploaded and tagged, the more groups were created, and so on.
The non-linear effects of Metcalfe’s Law would also contribute to the long-term viability and success of Facebook’s advertising business. The more people on the platform, the more data and connections, the greater the revenue opportunity in targeted advertising.
Metcalfe himself acknowledged the impact of this law on Facebook’s growth, observing that if Facebook’s revenue was used as a proxy for its value, it was impossible to deny that the network’s value had risen exponentially compared to the steady linear growth of its user base.


According to Metcalfe, a network’s critical mass is a function of the cost of a new connection (e.g. the cost of acquiring a user), the number of users, and the value of each connection.
This approach describes a few mechanics key to network effects. The lower your cost per connection, for example, the lower the number of users that you’ll need to hit critical mass — and the same goes for a higher value per connection.
Andrew Chen, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has written not only about how the mechanics of Metcalfe’s law are key to growth at companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Snap, but also how the law can work against these networks if user retention isn’t high enough.
In one scenario, each new user that comes to a platform makes the experience better for everyone else. Growth is self-perpetuating because not only are users encouraged to stick around, but there’s an increasing value proposition to entice new users at a steady clip.
In another, not-so-good scenario, new users may still be joining and helping generate the benefits of network effects (for a time), but the network’s retention isn’t great.
If a network starts losing too many users, it can get stuck in what he calls a “social network death spiral.” Because while the forces described by Metcalfe’s Law can help startups gain lots of users quickly, they can also cause those startups to lose users at the same pace. In other words, “as you lose users, the value of your network decays exponentially.”
What’s lacking in this reverse-network effect scenario is the value offered by joining the network. If that value is too low, retention will be low, and it becomes difficult to reach critical mass. Meanwhile, if the value is high, your retention will likely be high as well.
Chen’s death spiral provides a way of understanding what happens when social networks take off for a time but ultimately don’t give each new user sufficient value to stick around — a fate that has befallen prospective social networks from Ello to Path to Peach. These apps often launch with a bang, attract initial interest, and then rapidly lose their user base as the promise of the network fails to materialize.


The telephone, the fax machine, and early LAN networks had what venture capitalists today call “network effects.” The more people that were on these networks, the more valuable it was for new users to join.
This is one of the most important dynamics for businesses in the 21st century, especially in tech. Many of the most valuable businesses of the last several decades, from Microsoft to Facebook to Airbnb to Uber, have succeeded in part thanks to the power of network effects.
While building a business through network effects was valuable before the internet, the internet has made it possible for companies to grow their user base at exponentially faster speeds, often building their entire business models on this growth.

Consider this interesting example of Metcalfe's Law that happened to software I created before the internet existed: As the number of users of TeleMagic grew, it became easier to sell it because there were more people who were trained on the software and therefore easier to hire someone. And when a user left his/her employer for another similar job in another company, they would always recommend the product they knew best... TeleMagic! Other software products were left in the dust.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Smaller Teams = Better Results: The Two-Pizza Rule

The Two-Pizza Rule: Why small teams lead to big success

Jeff Bezos didn’t just leverage the basic insight of Gall’s Law to develop what has become Amazon’s fastest-growing internal unit — he is also responsible for popularizing one of his own tech rules.
In early 2002, Bezos decided that to reduce communication overhead and improve productivity, all of Amazon would be re-organized into so-called “two-pizza teams” — squads small enough that just two pizzas would be enough to fully feed them when working late in the office.
While this has also been interpreted as a rule for meetings — either capping the maximum size of meetings at Amazon or capping the size of meetings that Bezos himself will attend — the original formulation was an edict about team size.


For analyst Benedict Evans, the two-pizza rule has been a crucial structural advantage for Amazon.
The root of the two-pizza team idea was Bezos’ attitude toward both centralization and communication. Bezos wanted Amazon to remain nimble even as it grew, and that started with encouraging independent decision-making rather than an over-reliance on hierarchy.
And Bezos hated the overhead created by excess communication. In “The Everything Store,” Brad Stone quotes Bezos as saying that “communication is a sign of dysfunction. It means people aren’t working together in a close, organic way. We should be trying to figure out a way for teams to communicate less with each other, not more.”
Source: Getty Images
The main advantage this conferred upon Amazon was simple: smaller and independent teams meant the ability to spin up new teams much faster, giving Amazon the power to scale more cheaply, explore new ideas easily, and ultimately ship more products to customers.
While many of the new initiatives spearheaded by these small teams have failed, some — like Prime, Kindle, and AWS — have become core businesses for Amazon.
For Bezos, it comes back to the idea of building a corporate structure that can generate the maximum amount of innovation for customers. Big, centralized teams maintain companies. Small, autonomous teams find new ideas.
“We have the good fortune of a large, inventive team and a patient, pioneering, customer-obsessed culture — great innovations, large and small, are happening every day on behalf of customers, and at all levels throughout the company,” he wrote in his 2013 shareholder letter. “[Decentralized] distribution of invention throughout the company — not limited to the company’s senior leaders — is the only way to get robust, high-throughput innovation.”
In other words, as Benedict Evans writes, “you don’t (in theory) need to fly to Seattle and schedule a bunch of meetings to get people to implement support for launching make-up in Italy, or persuade anyone to add things to their roadmap.”
There is a machine, and then there is a machine to build the machine, says Evans. And Amazon’s two-pizza rule ensures that the company, aside from being a ubiquitous tech leviathan, can operate a machine to build more Amazons.

The concept of small, autonomous teams has become extremely popular in the tech world over the years, and some of the biggest and most successful companies have adopted similar ideas to the two-pizza rule to help make their people more efficient and productive.
Spotify is one example of a company that abides by the smaller-is-better rule when it comes to organizational structure.
Source: Getty
The music streaming app organizes teams into 8-person squads, with the function of each squad determined autonomously, rather than being directed from above. Each squad functions as a mini-startup inside Spotify: cross-functional, self-sufficient, and sharing the same geographical location.
One unusual feature of Spotify’s squads is the lack of a designated leader or manager, with each squad member equally responsible for results. In the vein of autonomous operations, any leader of these squads emerges organically and informally. The company uses the squad structure to encourage greater innovation, disruptive thinking, and complete accountability, without the burden of excessive control.
Squads with similar functions across the organization are then grouped under tribes, chapters, and guilds. While tribes act as incubators and provide support for the development of squads, chapters connect employees based on specific skill sets such as web development and quality assurance. Guilds are a way to encourage knowledge sharing across the organization, irrespective of squad, function, or location.
This organizational structure is designed to support a bottom-up approach at Spotify. For example, best practices at the music streaming company only emerge after enough squads have adopted them.
Furthermore, by keeping teams highly autonomous, the structure “lowers the cost of failure” through ensuring that “failure has a ‘limited blast radius’ and affects only part of the user experience,” according to Michael Mankins and Eric Garton of the Harvard Business Review.
In the vein of Bezos’ idea of excessive communication being wasteful, Spotify looks to make communication more efficient by seating squads, guilds, and tribes that need to coordinate closer to each other.


According to organizational psychologist J. Richard Hackman, the more interconnections you have between people, the slower your decision-making and the higher the management costs for the organization.
As you add people to an organization, the number of communication links increases exponentially.
“The cost of coordinating, communicating, and relating with each other snowballs to such a degree that it lowers individual and team productivity,” writes blogger Janet Choi. Two-pizza teams solve this inherent scaling problem by artificially capping the number of links.
Despite the organizational clarity derived from the two-pizza team, not everyone at Amazon and in the wider tech world is a fan of the rule.
Some former Amazon employees and others believe the strategy was counterproductive, and some think that building products using two-pizza teams creates a disconnected user experience.
According to Brad Stone, the concept of two-pizza teams was unevenly applied throughout the Amazon. It took root most of all in engineering, while the idea barely touched the finance and legal departments.
Additionally, each team had to set up its own “fitness function” — some kind of quantitative, linear equation that could be used to judge whether that team succeeded or failed in its mission. For a marketing team, that might be the average email blast open rate multiplied by ensuing order value.
Yet, Stone writes, making some teams define this function for themselves was like “asking a condemned man to decide how he’d like to be executed.” For others, it was merely ineffective.
Kim Rachmeler, former VP at Amazon, said, “Being a two-pizza team was not exactly liberating. […] It was actually kind of a pain in the a**. It did not help you get your job done and consequently the vast majority of engineers and teams flipped the bit on it.”
Small, disconnected teams run the risk of producing disjointed products that don’t contribute to a seamless experience, according to product management consultant Matt LeMay.
For LeMay, the most important aspect of a product for a customer is not the individual features of a product, but how those features come together to deliver a cohesive experience.
Given the vast number of products that Amazon has put out over the years, and how cluttered many of its website’s menus can seem, it’s fair to say that Amazon’s drive for two-pizza teams has not been without its drawbacks.


Jeff Bezos wanted small, autonomous teams that could be “independently set loose on Amazon’s biggest problems,” as Brad Stone writes. These teams wouldn’t have to waste cycles communicating with other teams, and they would each have all the resources and people necessary to launch new products. The result, Bezos thought, would be more creative offerings and faster results for customers.
Though not without its detractors, Bezos’ idea that over-communication between teams risks stoking inefficiencies is now commonly implemented at companies like Google and Spotify.

source: CBinsights


As for personal experience, I agree that the smaller team, in general, will produce a better product. The smallest team is ONE, and since I had the experience of developing TeleMagic completely alone for the first several years of its existence, and with only one other developer taking over for the next several years, there is no question in my mind that the smaller the team, the better the product. (Michael McCafferty)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The James Clear Newsletter

The James Clear Newsletter

The most wisdom per word of any newsletter on the web.


Every Thursday. Short. Powerful. 

Click here

I have been a fan of James Clear for many years, 
and I only advertise products that I use myself,
and I do it for free.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Conway's Law: Corporate Structure Is Vital to Product Development

In 1967, the computer scientist Melvin Conway made a key observation about organizational structure.

The way that a team communicated and the design of that team’s products, Conway argued, were mirrored — one always reflected the other.
A droll illustration of Conway’s Law. Source: Manu Cornet,
In a simple explanation of Conway’s thesis, there are two pieces of software: software A and software B. If the developers of these two pieces of software don’t communicate, there’s no easy way for the software to integrate.
When communication between the developers occurs often and openly, on the other hand, the odds of a seamless experience are far greater.


At Apple, teams are organized according to what’s called the Unitary Organizational Form. The basic idea — rooted in Conway’s Law — is that the company should be organized around functional expertise rather than products.
That means that instead of dedicated teams for products like the iPhone, the Mac, or the iPad, Apple has teams that work on design, teams that work on engineering, teams that work on marketing, and so on.
This structure encourages coordination between teams and helps Apple deliver a unified experience across products. No product is ever released that departs from the predominant Apple design, engineering, or operational paradigm. Even its credit card has an unmistakable Apple “feel.”
After the iPad first launched, Steve Jobs said this “post-PC device” needed to be “even easier to use than a PC” and “even more intuitive than a PC, where the software and the hardware and the applications need to intertwine in an even more seamless way than they do on a PC.  We think we have the right architecture not just in silicon but in our organization to build these kinds of products.”
Reorganizing Apple along functional rather than divisional lines was one of the first things Jobs did upon returning to Apple in 1997, and his successor at Apple, Tim Cook, still attributes the success of the company’s products to this move.
“We’ve found a way to make our products such that the experience is jaw-dropping,” Cook told Businessweek.


GitHub provides an example of a company that obeys Conway’s Law while doing so in a remarkably different way from Apple.
Instead of integrating in order to promote an end-to-end experience, GitHub is intentionally structured like one of the open-source projects the service hosts: decentralized, autonomous, and asynchronous.
That structure reflects the kind of product GitHub has built — one designed for developers more than managers — as well as how that product works.
The GitHub tool is built for asynchronous collaboration: new code can be submitted anytime from anywhere, then reviewed at the responsible party’s leisure. Developers across the globe can use GitHub to collaborate on a project without having to deal with overlapping codebase changes or inconsistencies between their work.
The company itself is also built for asynchronous collaboration, with many of its basic organizational tenets ripped directly from the processes of open source development.
There are no codified standards about what time to come into the office, and most work is completely self-directed. “If you’re interested in working on something, then work on it,” wrote Zach Holman, one of the first engineers at GitHub.
Members of the team are spread out across the world, there are no daily stand-up meetings, and most of the communication they have with their colleagues happens asynchronously, over chat or email.
Collaborating asynchronously to the extreme is a way for the team at GitHub to stay close to one of the biggest problems they want to solve with the company: the difficulty of collaborating asynchronously when working on software projects. One of the ways they take on this problem is through “open, easy-to-use platforms” — precisely what GitHub itself is trying to build.
Apple, in other words, uses an integrated organization in order to build products that give the customer a seamless, end-to-end experience. GitHub uses an organization structured like an open-source project because its goal is to give its user base of developers a collaboration platform that allows distributed, decentralized teams to build great products.


Conway’s Law helps explain not just how companies operate — and how their structures enable or hinder business activity — but also how they are managed.
As computer scientist Fred Brooks (we were at IBM in the mid '60s) has pointed out, for an organization that provides some good or service, the structure that it naturally takes on as it grows is unlikely to be the ideal system for delivering that offering. Remaining flexible is essential to the organization’s structure.
The people that run companies, in other words, must consider organizational design on a similar level as operations, R&D, and products. Much of what we attribute to the latter is rooted in the former.

source: CBinsights

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Gall's Law: Why Simplicity Rules

Gall's Law, Free for Kindle at Amazon

Gall’s Law
: Why the best products are built from simple systems

In 1975, the American author and pediatrician Robert Gall made an observation about systems that would go on to become hugely influential in computing.
“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked,” he wrote. “A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.”
This idea, originating in his book “General Systemantics,” would eventually become known as Gall’s Law. Since then, it has become one of the most important and foundational ideas in tech, especially when it comes to the design of new products.


One concept that can help illuminate the power of Gall’s Law is the idea of emergence: the notion that complex systems possess properties that the individual constituents of the system do not.
Powerful technologies can be built when users can manipulate and recombine individual pieces in order to create something of greater value.
Twitter, for example, was founded without reply or retweet functions. All users could do was post 140-character messages to their feeds.
Then Chris Messina proposed the idea of using a hashtag to collect all tweets relating to a single topic, and not long after, hashtags were added into the Twitter platform itself.
Replies and retweets followed later as the Twitter team realized that their users were trying to approximate these actions within their constrained set of possible behaviors.
Source: Getty Images
Twitter could have predicted that users of a public broadcasting app would want some way to share content with their followers, reply to other people’s messages, and even organize information along topical lines.
But cultivating an openness to what users actually did, rather than assuming they knew exactly what to build, was key to how Twitter developed into the product it would become. As co-founder Evan Williams put it, it wasn’t even clear “what [Twitter] was” in those early days, and the product took several turns before settling on what it is now.
This kind of emergence-friendly development process is more or less conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley today, with the creation of a “minimum viable product” (MVP) being standard practice within product businesses.
The thinking behind the MVP is simple and echoes the development processes followed both by Amazon in inventing AWS and by the team at Twitter: build a version of your product with just enough functionality that it can engage your core users. Roll that initial version out and start gathering data and feedback. Then, use that data and feedback to chart the path forward. When done right, the result is what Gall’s Law predicts: a complex system that has arisen from the organic growth of a much simpler system.


The development of Amazon Web Services (AWS) from an internal data storage service to a crucial backbone of the internet encapsulates the power of Gall’s Law.
AWS emerged from a relatively simple desire: Amazon needed a more modular system for its internal engineering work.
Every time a team at Amazon wanted to build out a new web feature, whether for internal use or for a retail partner, Amazon developers would end up building everything — from databases to computing power to storage — from scratch.
That’s when the idea emerged to build out each one of these functions as a modularized service. For one, the team had become highly competent at working on these functions. For another, the Amazon team was operating at a unique scale, being one of the biggest early internet companies.
It soon became clear that Amazon had an equally unique opportunity to make databases, computing, and storage easier for other companies and other developers to use.
“We tried to imagine a student in a dorm room who would have at his or her disposal the same infrastructure as the largest companies in the world,” Andy Jassy, head of AWS, told Brad Stone, author of “The Everything Store.” “We thought it was a great playing-field leveler for startups and smaller companies to have the same cost structure as big companies.”
Source: Flickr
While AWS today appears to be an intimidatingly complex system, it emerged from the interaction of a very simple set of modules designed for Amazon to use internally.
The concept was heavily inspired by the 2003 book “Creation,” written by game designer Steve Grand. Grand’s design approach had centered around building simple creatures, then sitting back and “watching surprising behaviors emerge.” For Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, this idea proved perfectly applicable to computing.
On the influence of “Creation” across Amazon’s leadership, Brad Stone writes,
“If Amazon wanted to stimulate creativity among its developers, it shouldn’t try to guess what kind of services they might want; such guesses would be based on patterns of the past. Instead, it should be creating primitives — the building blocks of computing — and then getting out of the way. In other words, it needed to break its infrastructure down into the smallest, simplest atomic components and allow developers to freely access them with as much flexibility as possible.”
Today, Amazon Web Services drives most of Amazon’s operating profit and about 15% of its overall revenue.


Tech history is full of products that failed because they went the opposite way of Twitter and Amazon: they built over-engineered products, bloated with features, that lacked enough simple utility for users.
One of the classic examples of feature bloat bringing a product down is ICQ, the once-popular instant messaging client. In a 2007 blog post, Robert Scoble attributed the service’s sudden decline mainly to over-engineering: “It got too cluttered and stopped being developed.”
At one point, ICQ had been the king of instant messaging. In 1998, AOL bought the company behind ICQ for $287M upfront and $120M in performance-related payments. The service had more than 100M accounts registered around the time it peaked in 2001.
For Scoble, that’s where the decline, and the clutter, started. ICQ started branching out from its core utility by adding features around shopping, music, games, and even careers, resulting in a busy interface that felt removed from the purpose of the product.
At the same time, new products like Facebook were emerging that allowed people to more organically connect with their friends outside the constraints of a messenger.
“Feature bloat is how most consumer web and desktop products suffocate themselves,” Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston has said. “ICQ became so comically bloated that they released an ‘ICQ Lite’ version, but by then they were already on the decline.”
Releasing a “lite” version of a product might make sense if you’re differentiating it from a “premium” version that serves an audience with more complex needs, but ICQ and ICQ Lite were the same basic product for the same basic target user.
The release of a “lite” version, in this case, could be seen as a way to actually offer a superior product — an attempt to cut the feature bloat that had crept in over the years.


Today, with free trials, SaaS, and subscription business models in vogue, it’s more sensible than ever to produce a minimum viable product (MVP) and iterate on it based on user feedback.
While companies should avoid feature bloat, aiming for a gradual evolution from simple functionality is a way to build a growing product that actually reflects users’ needs.
And according to Gall’s Law, products that start small — as simple, effective systems — stand the best chance of becoming powerful businesses built on high-functioning, complex systems.

source: CBinsights

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Six secrets of highly motivated people

Here's the quick story, for details, scroll down:
Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.

Surround yourself with motivated people.

Celebrate Your Successes.

Be Compassionate with Your Failures.

Design Your Environment to Be Energizing.

Be Ruthless About Saying No.

1. Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

Highly motivated people know that the currency of motivation is energy.
Most of the productivity and habit building advice you hear offers tips and tricks for better time management. With promises of making you more efficient in your work, they suggest all sorts of techniques and strategies for carving up and diving your day to manage your time better.
But here’s the thing:
Motivation isn’t a time problem. It’s an energy problem.
You can have all the time in the world but if you’re doing things that drain you of energy, you’re not going to feel motivated.
Luckily, the reverse is true:
Even if your time is extremely limited, you can accomplish a tremendous amount with enough energy and enthusiasm.
So forget about managing your time and learn how to manage your energy instead:
  • Start your day with your most exciting tasks. Not only will this give you momentum for the rest of the day, it will also make it easier to get out of bed and hit the ground running because the first thing on your list is something you’re genuinely excited about.
  • Outsource energy-draining tasks. You don’t have to be a multinational corporation to do outsourcing. Get creative about delegating essential tasks that drain energy, confident that you’ll recoup the expense with the added energy and motivation you’ll get as a result.
  • Batch process your energy-draining task. Of course, most of us can’t outsource all our energy-draining tasks. But we can minimize their influence. Instead of spreading them out across your days and weeks, get them all over within one or two days so they don’t contaminate your energy-giving tasks.
When you plan your days, make your overarching principle energy, not time.
The difference between one man and another is not mere ability . . . it is energy.
― Thomas Arnold

2. Surround Yourself with Motivated People

For better or for worse, the people we surround ourselves with impact us greatly—and highly motivated people use this to their advantage.
In small, everyday interactions, you probably already realize how much impact other people can have on your levels of motivation:
  • One positive interaction with a supportive and enthusiastic friend can supercharge your own energy and motivation almost instantly.
  • On the other hand, just one interaction with a really negative, critical person can drain you of energy and sap your motivation for the day.
But there’s a bigger principle here:
The people you habitually spend time with affect how you habitually feel.
If you really have to interact with energy-draining people, you can’t expect to feel energetic and enthusiastic on a regular basis. But, if you habitually interact with energy-giving people, you can’t help but have some of their enthusiasm and motivation rub off on you.
So be thoughtful about the people you choose to spend your time with:
  • If you’re dating, be careful of starting a relationship with someone who consistently takes lots of energy.
  • If you’re applying for a new job, look carefully at the energy levels of the people you’ll be working with.
  • If you’re starting a new project or business with someone, try to find someone who gives you energy. And if they don’t, their other assets better be really worth it!
If you want to feel more motivated and energized in your life, surround yourself with energy-giving people.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
— Jim Rohn

3. Celebrate Your Successes

One of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to feel more motivated is to take time to celebrate your successes—even very small ones.
It’s a basic law of human psychology that behaviors followed by a reward are more likely to happen in the future:
  • If you successfully run your first 5K and have a handful of close friends at the finish line to cheer you on and congratulate you, your motivation to run future races in the future goes way up.
  • If you’re willing to be vulnerable with your spouse about something that’s bothering you and they let you know they’re proud of you for bringing it up, you’re going to feel more confident talking about difficult things in the future.
The lesson here is obvious:
Learn to build a tiny habit of celebrating your own successes, and you’ll create a steady stream of motivation for future goals.
Thankfully, you don’t have to buy yourself expensive things or throw a giant party in order to celebrate your successes and build motivation.
It’s a funny quirk of human psychology that the size of the reward doesn’t matter nearly as much as the timing. More specifically:
A small reward delivered immediately beats a big reward delayed.
For example:
  • Tell yourself that you are proud of yourself after getting an A on that recent test.
  • After nailing a presentation at work, close your office door, put on your favorite song, and throw yourself a little dance party.
  • After going for that early morning run, splurge on a fancy cup of coffee and muffin.
Build the habit of using small, immediate rewards for your accomplishments and your motivation will surge.
Rewarding yourself for a job well-done doesn’t make you vain. It just means you’re psychologically savvy.

4. Be Compassionate with Your Failures

There’s no better way to kill your motivation than beating yourself up after a failure or setback.
People with chronically low motivation almost always have a habit of being harsh and judgmental with themselves after failures and mistakes:
  • They criticize themselves with negative self-talk.
  • They judge themselves as being weak and not worthy.
  • And they punish themselves in a misguided attempt to motivate themselves in the future.
But being a jerk to yourself doesn’t motivate you to do anything but be more of a jerk to yourself.
Luckily, the reverse is also true:
Nothing helps you recover quickly from a setback like a little self-compassion.
Highly motivated people aren’t merely good at giving themselves energy and motivation—they’re also skilled at maintaining their motivation, even in the face of setbacks.
And the best way to preserve your energy and motivation in the face of failure or mistakes is to practice a little self-compassion:
  • Talk to yourself like you would talk to a good friend who was struggling.
  • Be empathetic and remind yourself that you are more than the sum of your mistakes. Much more.
  • Acknowledge that making mistakes and feeling bad doesn’t mean you are bad or weak.
Learn to be gentle with yourself and you’ll be far more resilient in the face of adversity.
Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
— Winston Churchill

5. Design Your Environment to Be Energizing

Just like the activities and people in your life give and take energy, so does your physical environment.
We’re all control freaks at heart. Which means we love the idea that the solution to everything is inside us. And that, with enough insight and willpower, we can accomplish anything.
Your environment matters—a lot—including how much motivation and energy you feel on a regular basis:
  • Having a messy and chaotic workspace makes it easy to get distracted, procrastinate, and lose energy to do your work.
  • Trying to resolve a disagreement with your spouse in bed at the end of a long day when you’re exhausted makes it hard to be compassionate and manage your irritability.
  • Going for a run in cold weather without good gear makes it hard to stay motivated to exercise.
Environmental design is the secret weapon of consistently high motivation.
Of course, you can’t always change your environment. But it’s possible more often than you might think.
And designing your environment to be more conducive to your goals is a fast track to better energy and higher motivation:
  • Organize your desk every evening before you leave work so that there’s no friction to getting started in the morning.
  • Set a dedicated time early on a weekend morning to discuss disagreements with your spouse—when both of you are rested and able to engage productively.
  • Buy good running gear to minimize the dread of going out in the cold.
When you accept that the solution to every problem isn’t just more willpower and pushing harder, you can design your environment to be conducive to your goals instead of causing friction.
Every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.
— Benjamin Franklin

6. Be Ruthless About Saying No

One of the most common causes of low motivation is saying yes to competing motivations.
As we’ve talked about, motivation is energy. When you’re full of energy you feel motivated. And when your energy tank is empty, motivation disappears.
Well, you can’t expect to have high levels of motivation for the things that matter most to you if you’re wasting all your energy on things that don’t really matter:
  • How can you possibly have the motivation to say yes to that new hobby or side project when you say yes to 2 hours of Netflix every evening?
  • How can you possibly make progress on your personal initiative at work if you’re always saying yes to other people’s requests for your time?
  • How can you possibly find quality time to spend with your partner if you say yes to every social event you get invited to?
You have plenty of motivation. Stop wasting it on things that don’t really matter.
Motivation is largely a matter of priorities:
  • If that new business idea is really a priority, you would say no to your buddy’s Super Bowl party and spend an entire Sunday writing a business plan.
  • If your marriage is really a priority, you would say no to poker night with the boys and plan a date night.
  • If your health was really a priority, you would say no to the comforts of sleeping in and get to the gym first thing.
You only have so much energy each day. If you distribute it across dozens of unimportant or draining things, you won’t have enough left to do the things that matter most.
If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
— Greg McKeown


bonus material: 50 Habits of Highly Successful People (slideshare)