Managing Me

The Pursuit of 100x More Value

I spend more time than most thinking about process and systems.  It’s just part of how I’m wired.  A system can come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are more important than others (think heart monitor vs stock ticker… both are data visualization systems, but one can mean the difference between life and death).  I am convinced, now more than ever, that the most important systems for us to focus on are the ones for managing ourselves.

For a moment, hold that thought.

People often ask me the question, “When is right time to start thinking about systems?  And, where should I start?” This is a coded question. What they really mean is, “I hate the idea of having to document how we do things around here… how long can we just keep lettings things run as they are?”  It makes sense. I’ve had the same questions.

Hypothesis:  There is a necessary combination of systems mastery that must take place within the leader at the same time as improved systems are woven into their business.

It is said that what got you “here” in a startup won’t get you “there” as a leader of an established and profitable company.  There are notable transitions that must occur in yourself and in your business.  Development of great systems that great people can work within is part of that growth curve.

As I started this website, I went through the exercise with a group of fellow entrepreneurs of defining a target customer for  We brainstormed what must be true about their situation to really gain benefit from systems thinking. Various attributes surfaced in those early conversations that might describe a person who is “ready for systems.”

  • The business is ready to scale to second (or third and fourth) physical location.
  • You’re growing your team.  You’ve hired your first set of managers and have “layers” in the organization, but key decisions keep falling back to you.
  • You, as the founder and leader, continue to be the bottleneck no matter how many people you hire on.
  • Business revenue is at or above $1,000,000 per year (you’re big enough to have waste… time for lean process management).
  • Many other characteristics…

So who am I trying to serve?  Who should be reading this right now?

I feel torn between two thoughts in how I go forward.  First off, I love the insights from authors like Seth Godin and Peter Thiel who are adamant about adding extraordinary value for the smallest market possible.  At the beginning.  Then, when you have delighted your customer with a 10x (or 100x!) greater value proposition than anybody else, you can expand to the next and bigger markets.

To follow that advice, I need a very detailed customer who wants to go deep into systems thinking.  I need to find the businesses transitioning from startup to scale-up.  More importantly, I need to find the leaders who are transitioning THEMSELVES from startup to scale-up.

On the other side, I’m learning more day by day that everybody needs systems in order to manage THEMSELVES on the leadership journey.  Return to what I said earlier. I believe that self-management systems might be the most important ones in our lives to take seriously and master.

Speaking from my own life experience, mastery of a few areas has had massive impact on my day to day life.  Things like how I respond and press through suffering, how strongly I can influence and encourage others, and how fast I reach my goals have all leapt forward in recent years.

What kinds of system mastery?

  • Calendar (Time management)
  • To-Do List and Task management
  • Morning Routines
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Self-reflection and Solitude
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Continuous Learning and Development
  • Journal writing
  • more…

Each one of these areas is a unique market and industry of its own.  How many apps are there for that?  How many different types of coaches are there now, anyway?  Fitness coach, nutrition coach, life coach, performance coach, business coach…  So how can be different from what all these services provide?  What value do I bring to these spaces, and who are my people?  Who can I serve with something 100x more valuable than anything you have access to today?

Is there an intersection between managing our business and managing ourselves that can be uniquely served? 

Great questions.  As I said last week, I’m just starting to write to figure it out.  I think Seth and Peter are right – serve the smallest market possible with something so good they can’t imagine any other solution to their burning pain or greatest desire.  I’m 100% convinced of the value, and of this strategy.  I’m also 100% uncertain who is the perfect customer to serve.

Hypothesis:  There is a necessary combination of systems mastery that must take place within the leader at the same time as improved systems are woven into their business.

If that is true, and I believe it is, perhaps the secret sauce to 10-100x value lies in bringing the two together in a unique way that changes the game.  Interesting thought.  What do you think?

My plan in the meantime… continue the mastery of managing me.  In the process, I’ll have more and more freedom to find you, the perfect customer.

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