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Productivity: This Freakonomics podcast May Save your Life

admin Branding, Consulting, Development, Digital Marketing, Productivity Leave a Comment

On the most recent Freakonomics podcast, host Stephen Dubner interviews author, teacher, and human guinea pig Tim Ferriss. The name Tim Ferriss has become deeply intertwined with the ongoing conversation about increased productivity and effectiveness in life. He’s the author of all those “4 Hour X” books I’m sure you’ve heard about, wondered about, and may be skeptical of. What I’ve read of the 4 Hour Work Week is compelling. His books appear to be recipe books for life – and Tim Ferriss is eager to empower you to be that kind of chef.

Here are 5 key points to know from this podcast:

1) He realized he was replaceable.

After extensive work with a multiplicity of startups, Ferriss bowed out of the startup world entirely. For him, it was all or nothing. And his takeaway? He realized he was replaceable. Being replaceable, for Ferriss, was therefore the end of the line.

Being replaceable, and being unwilling to fight against the crowd, didn’t work for him. He also realized he was sabotaging his own productivity by being replaceable – and I’m sure he’s not alone.  So when someone calls upon you – do they call upon you to produce what you want? If not, it might be worth asking – where in your life are you being replaceable?

2) Get out of your head.

This topic came from his gripping relationship with considering his own ending. Anything with that much weight on influencing your own behavior is worth examining. As Ferriss puts it – “The more time you spend in your own head, the more likely you are to grab on to some weird, circular thinking.” Consequently, that kind of thinking may produce either personally dire or organizationally detrimental results.

As a result, it is worth to have a genuine interest in the health and welfare of those around you. Hence not everyone should bracket what’s on their mind to consider it an example of productivity. Producing great art requires some beguilement, some frustration. Therefore, share your mind, and let your productivity shine through moments both clear and challenging.

3) Focus on something besides yourself.

Ferriss was asked about his dog, Molly. He says it’s beneficial in that he can “get [his] head out of [his] own ass, and actually focus on something besides myself.”  Anyone driving the boat in a business probably knows that keeping one’s attention out beyond one’s self is far more productive than just getting stuck staring at one’s self. Simple. But what may elude you is how simple it is to prioritize the needs of one thing outside of yourself. This may become two, three, ten, fifty. And each time what you have to bring to the table expands.

4) Be willing to go for it yourself.

When asked about how his investing practices, he referenced what has worked with his current investments – being willing to “fund it yourself.” Obviously, paper money may not be the currency all folks use when they “fund” something.  Rather the effort and action taken will pay off in other ways. 

5) Remember your roots.

I’m not at all certain what it’s like in other countries. Although it’s pretty common to find Americans fascinated with past and present high profile dignitaries. Growing up, I remember having conversations about what historical figures stood out. Even now, Ferriss is aware of the top of his list – Benjamin Franklin. It is inspiring to note what these past figures have done, and continue to provide.  (Sorry, Paul Bunyan still does not qualify.)

Furthermore, the value of being enraptured by somewhat legendary figures is to remind yourself that things weren’t as good as they were before a historical figure made it happen. I won’t name names, as we all have different icons in that department. So pick a name and allow inspiration to come to you. Who inspires you?

The takeaway on productivity.

The takeaway for me is that endurance and productivity in business come from viewing myself as irreplaceable.  Not my product, not my service. Just me. Therefore there’s nothing to create – and obviously no productivity – when I am simply waiting to be replaced.

A position is replaceable. The goal is to be more than a position – most of all the goal is to be a person. Simple, maybe. Think being a “person” is out of style? Corporations do it all the time.


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