Do you end every day feeling like you haven’t accomplished enough like each day brought more to do than you could ever finish in twenty-four hours? In this episode, host John Laurito talks about the art of simplifying your days or tasks so you’ll never feel overwhelmed anymore. There’s no magic bullet to eliminate all your stress, get everything done, and make every day great, but one thing can help: simplicity.
[1:21] Guess the riddle
[4:30] The beauty of simplification
[9:56] Be ultra-selective of what you say yes to
[11:05] First thing’s first
[14:21] Here’s the challenge
[17:12] What are the three things you will excel at?
John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on an insatiable quest to learn everything I can about leadership. What makes the best leaders so good? After running companies small and large over the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito. I’m your host, and I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this very topic and what makes the best leader so good. Welcome to tomorrow’s leader.
John All right. Tomorrow’s leaders. How are you? Hope your day is going great. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying, boy. Well, that’s not the normal intro. Well, I actually did something that I don’t normally do. I don’t normally go back and listen to my prior episodes. And I actually did just recently. And I realized, you know, it’s kind of like I do the intro twice, you know, you get the catchy music that’s going and, you know, it’s, uh, I’ve been passionate about leadership, obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. So I invite you to join me, join me on this journey as we find out what the best leaders are doing. And then I open up my show and I say, Welcome to tomorrow’s leader.
John Today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader related related to leading yourself and leading others. I kind of realized it’s a little redundant, so I’m trying to think and just jump right into it. That’s not the only new thing. I’m going to try to do something else different. I’m going to throw out a challenge to everybody who’s listening here. We’re going to play a little game. Why does this have anything to do with leadership? No, but I just like to play games and have a little fun, so I’m going to challenge you with something. This is a riddle.
John And I know you can look this up. I know you can Google in and find the answer, all right, we’re going to do the honor system here. I’m going to I’m going to really ask you to be honest and just dig deep, see if you can find out the answer to this. And the first person who emails me or texts me, okay, I’ll give you my email address and text message, text number. The first person who emails me or texts me with the right answer. Not only will I give you recognition and put your name out… I just looked at our episodes, our podcast, Tomorrow’s Leader, goes out to 80. Its audiences in 88 different countries now.
John It was 66. I hadn’t looked in a while. It’s now 88. So you got people your name will be mentioned to people all over the world. You could be taking a trip to Italy and somebody might hear your name mentioned and say, I heard your name on tomorrow’s leader. I can’t believe it’s you. You could actually be famous just for getting this riddle right. So I’m going to do two things. I’m going to mention your name in the next episode. I’m also going to tell the answer in the next episode, but I’m also going to send you a signed copy of my book Courtesy Me No Charge. You will get a copy of tomorrow’s leader signed by the author himself. John Laurito.
John Yes, with a little personalized note just because I love you and because you’re playing along with me. So my email is this is all in the show notes. You have all this stuff John at Laurito group dot com and I’ll give you my you can text me at my number which is 8605737230. And that’s been my cell phone forever. You know, when I become massively famous, it still will be you will have my cell phone number and personal line directly to me. Okay, you ready? So you know the rules of the game. Here’s here’s the riddle that we’re going to start off today’s episode with. It is as follows A man pulls up in front of a hotel, looks at the hotel, and immediately knows he is bankrupt. How? Why? Okay.
John That’s it. Man pulls up in front of a hotel, looks at the hotel, and realizes immediately he has now gone bankrupt. What’s the answer? Why? How? How can that be? If you know the answer. Email me. Text me, the first person, again. I will announce it. I will announce your name and send you a book. I will be on its way and you’ll be on your way to be famous. Okay, let’s talk about today’s episode. So today’s episode is about simplifying and the beauty of simplification. And I must start with the story. You’ve heard me talk a lot about Steve Jobs, one of my favorite leaders, and he was masterful at the art of simplification. And one of the things that are interesting, when he was hired, you know, you may know he was let go and fired from Apple.
John He was brought back I think it was 1987 when he came back to Apple. He was inundated with and he was brought in as a CEO. He was inundated with all these product reviews, meaning every engineer, every product designer, software designer, and everybody had their product that they wanted to go through. They had like, you know, hundreds and hundreds of products that they were working on or different stages of development. And he got so fed up after a few weeks and he was just like enough. And what he did was he he drew on a whiteboard for boxes and in the upper left box on the top of those boxes, he wrote consumer.
John And on the top right, he wrote Professional, consumer, and professional. And on the left-hand columns, he wrote next to those boxes he wrote desktop and mobile, so meaning that. And he said All I want is I want one product in each of these four boxes. That’s it. That’s all I want to focus on. Okay. One by one, in desktop, consumer desktop, a professional one in mobile consumer, and one in mobile professional. That’s it. That’s all I want. And ultimately, what made Apple so successful is you could put all their products on one table. They were brilliant at the art of simplification. Yeah. Granted, you know, different levels of each of those products, but that’s what it came down to. So he sifted through all the B.S.
John They were focused on way too many things. Every single year he would bring his top 100 people in Apple all across different divisions. I mean, literally, he would rank them top 100 people he would bring to an offsite retreat. And the last day of this retreat, what he would do is he would pose a question to the hundred people there. Again, the brilliant the smartest, most capable people at Apple. And he would say, okay, what are the next ten things we need to be doing? What are the next ten things we need to be focusing on? And people would literally, I mean, compete to get their idea on the board.
John And Steve would just some of them he laughed off some of its, you know, stuff off others he’d put up on the board. They need to race them. It was constantly like, you know, right in writing, not writing to challenge people. By the end of this couple of hours or half-day, whatever it was, he would have a list of ten items on the board that were narrowed down to ten people were proud to see their their item up there. And then what he would do is he would cross out the bottom seven and he’d say, we can only work on three. These are great. These ten ideas are fantastic, but they’re going to be seven of them. We choose not to focus on them even though they’re great. And the reason being is that we can only focus on three.
John Think about that, the beauty and the intelligence of that decision, which is really tough right when you have now maybe there were a thousand, maybe there were 100 that 200 ideas, a thousand ideas were thrown out that day. Ten of them made the board, which were great ideas. Yet he deliberately chose to not take action on seven great ideas. And what he understood was what many leaders don’t understand that there’s a cost when you try to take on too much, even though and business leaders, you know, we all do this all the time. Small business owners, just individuals.
John I don’t care if you’re running the business or not. You’re just you’re running your life. You’re running the most important business that’s out there, your life. And we tend to have so much stuff that we’re focusing on, so much stuff that we’re thinking about, so many things, so many things, habits we’re trying to develop or break. So many things we’re trying to change so many things. We’re trying to start so many things. We’re trying to stop whatever it is. There’s so many things. And then as we’re working on those things, we’ve got other things that come into ours. Vision. And we start to try to take those on. We don’t realize that, hey, you know what? I don’t have the capacity. We don’t think through that.
John We just say, Hey, I can handle everything. Sometimes the bottom line is what happens here is you get this feeling of being just overwhelmed and you know what happens. It’s not that you do those three things exceptionally well and you do the other seven things so-so. You don’t do any of them well, you truly don’t. And that’s the cost of it. So the beauty of that decision is what he realized. It’s like running with a backpack on. When you’ve got so many things you’re trying to focus on, you just cannot run fast and eventually you can’t even run. It’s just too heavy. You don’t even want to. You can’t do what you feel like. You can’t do anything right. You know, you start one thing, and then all of a sudden something pops into your mind. You’re like, Wait a sec, we’re doing this too. There are just too many there are only so many things you can really focus on at once.
John So what I challenge you to think about as a leader of your own life, of your business, of the team, of the organization, whatever it is, is do you have too many things going on right now? Do you have too many things you’re trying to do? And you have to be great at being ultra-selective. You have to be great at being able to say, no, you have to. And it’s not a matter of of of not being able to just. Okay, not give an answer. If you don’t say no, then you’re leaving the room for that to still occupy space in your brain. And if you’re just if you’re just not focused on it is enough. Well, okay, I’m going to focus on this. I’m going to focus on these three things. And when they’re done, I’ll focus on the other seven. You can’t do that. It’s still on your plate. It’s still occupying space mentally.
John It’s still popping into your mind. It’s still creating stress and anxiety. It’s still eating up brainpower, all this stuff. It’s taking other people’s time. You have to be ultra deliberate about this. Okay. Now, Stephen Covey wrote amazing book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And in it, there are two very, very important habits there. One is I was many of them, but one is begin with the end in mind. I’m sorry. First things first begin with the mind is one of them. But first things first and he talks about time management, which is the four quadrants and he talks about this was something I think it was called the Eisenhower Box or something because they were always everybody was really fascinated how Eisenhower always got so much stuff done.
John They’re like, how do you do it? He said, Listen, I just label things in different ways. It’s either not important or not urgent. It’s not important, but it’s urgent. And then it’s important and urgent or important and not urgent. So if you’re not familiar with that and you haven’t heard it, or even if you have, write those down. Not important. Not urgent, not important. Urgent, important. Not urgent and important. Urgent. So think about that. Most people spend their time doing things that are urgent. And regardless whether important or not, there’s so many things that occupy our days that are urgent but just not that important.
John When you’re really thinking of what you’re trying to accomplish in your mission, they’re really not things that are contributing to your success. They’re not crucial to your success. They’re not critical to achieving that goal. Really think about that and write down in challenge yourself. Look at your schedule over the last day and ask yourself how many things in that day would I label as being important, really, truly important for me reaching or our organization reaching our goals. Okay. And then how much time what they found is that the hour I just did an interview with was really great. I think it’s coming out next week. Vikram Raya. Raya Rather So you’ll hear him talk about this as well. They did a study that said something like the most.
John They interviewed and observed high-level executives and what they found is that the average executive, I think it was 2 hours a day, was really, truly busy, was two or 3 hours a day, even though they might be, quote, working for 10 hours a day, 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours a day. There were really only two or 3 hours of really important work. What I find is the most successful leaders, they’re really not running around like ragged. They actually have a lot of time. They have a lot of whitespace in their calendar. They have a lot of buffer time because they’re so selective of the things that they choose to do. You’ve heard me talk about and I got this from the book Sense. Journalism. Dan, Dave, Dave or Dan McKeon.
John Great, great book. And that’s if it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no. Okay. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no. The bottom line is, Steve Jobs was so great at simplifying and being able to say no to great ideas because it would take away from even better ideas and their ability to execute an even better. So my big challenge to you today, whether it’s you looking personally and thinking about your life and how many things you have going on if you are just feeling overwhelmed and stressed. A lot of times it’s because of this. So take a whiteboard, take a sheet of paper, take whatever you want, write everything down and list out what are the things that are truly important and what things aren’t urgent, and focus on the things that are important and not urgent.
John These are critical, I think. I think about things like this. You know, this podcast, this is important. It’s very important for me to do this for many reasons, from a personal satisfaction standpoint, from communicating to my audience, from developing people, all the things that are my mission this ties into. It’s not urgent, though. It’s not. In other words, you know, there’s nobody that’s saying, you know, hey, you have to put this episode out there. It’s my decision, right? So I could easily push this recording off to tomorrow or the next day. And sometimes when I get really busy, I will tell you, you know, I got a lot of stuff going on working with my clients. I’m doing stuff, keynotes, all this kind of stuff. It’s sometimes tough to fit this stuff in and this in as much as it’s important. And when it’s not urgent, sometimes it can get pushed off.
John But the decision you have to make in order to do this today and you are listening to this today because I carved out time in my schedule today, which meant not making the decision. And I’ve got a long list of things that I could be doing that just are not as important and ultimately would be taking up the time for me to do this. Vikram again talked in this in the episode that’s coming up about starting your day with the things that are urgent, not important. And I love that idea. Take the first 30 minutes every day. Start with the things that are important but not urgent. It’s interesting when you’re running a business, these are what I call the get-ahead tasks.
John These are this is marketing, new business development. This is recruiting new people. It’s thinking about and figuring out how you will scale your business. You know, what I look at is working on your business. I take a day or two days out of your business. I used to sit in a coffee shop, literally sit by a lake, do whatever you want to do and just think about and work on your business. Work with your coach on this. You all should have a coach. Everybody should be working with the coach. I don’t care if you’re a leader, if you’re not if you’re not a formal leader or you are everybody, the top executives, all have coaches. You have to have something you’re working with. So grab your coach and do this and work on your business. Okay. That’s important, but not urgent, right? You could push that off. It’s important. You could be like, I got too many things to do. I can’t do that now. Do it.
John You will reap the benefits and the rewards of that. And then the last key point is, as a leader, how effective is that? I’m thinking about Steve Jobs with with the Apple employees, the Apple team, the Apple leaders. Wow. How focused were they when they knew those three things that they had to do were those four products versus the 400 that they had. They were committed to make these work at a super high level. Right. There was nothing else distracting them. There was nothing else they could say. They couldn’t say, Well, I was working on project number four or five or six or seven. Now it was number one, two and three. That’s it. So think about how you can get your team so laser focused behind this.
John What are the three things that are most critical? What are you going to choose to excel at? You know, if you’re if you’re coaching a baseball team, what are the three things you are going to excel at? Think about that. Challenge yourself. Can’t do everything. You can’t be the best baserunners in the league, the best hitters in the league, the best pitchers in the league. The best fielders in the league. The best recruiters in the league. The best at practices in the league. The best uniforms in the league. You just got to pick what you’re going to be great at, right? Choose what you stand for and you’ll find that everybody in the team gets behind that. Right. So again, the artist simplification, I think it’s so incredible that will help you accelerate if you’re sitting there and you feel like you’re at a plateau, which everybody at some point is going to be a plateau, plateau, plateau, plateau.
John You know, this is a way that you can crash through that. Part of it is you just got too much stuff on your plate. Again, you’ve got to say no. There’s so much more. I know I can make this like a an hour long podcast because there’s so much more that I have to say on it. So maybe I’ll break this up into a few different topics, but that is key. Just realize the importance of simplification. Let me know your thoughts on this. So I’m interested to get your take on it and what are the challenges? Give me some examples of things that you have a tough time saying no to give me some scenarios and I’ll I’ll again, I’ll mention you on the next podcast. I’ll bring it up as an example. Hey, so-and-so said this great quick question.
John Here’s the deal and here’s what you know. Here’s how I’d handle this. So just let me know. Reach out to me. You got my info. All right. I hope this was helpful, as always. Like, share, subscribe, all that kind of good stuff puts this out to people that you know, that you think this can be valuable to please. It means a lot to them. Means a lot to me. Let me know when you’ve done that too and go down below. Give a five star review that itself pushes this out to a larger audience. All right. Thanks for your time. Hope you have a great one. Talk to you soon. Bye.
John Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on!