You check email the moment you lift your head off the pillow in the morning. You bring work with you on vacation, sneak glances at your smart phone during family dinners, and take business calls and texts at your kid’s sports games. It’s as if you’ve been forced to make a choice between your company or your life, sacrificing time for yourself and family for the sake of career success.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The most successful business leaders have learned to bust through the direct one-to-one relationship between hours worked and value created by refocusing their company, department, or team’s best talent and attention on their highest value activities—generating hundreds, even thousands, of hours of value in the process.
In The Freedom Formula, Wall Street Journal bestselling author and successful entrepreneur David Finkel will help you operationalize working smarter. No fluff, no theory, Finkel shares the detailed blueprint to create maximum value for your company without working nights, weekends, or while on “vacation.”
- Why working longer and harder doesn’t pay off (and what actually does)
- Why the 80-20 principle doesn’t go far enough (and how to take it to its most productive extreme)
- How to escape the Time and Effort Economy
- How to structure your day and week so that you reclaim five or more hours each week in usable blocks of your best time
- How to leverage the five Freedom Accelerators to get your life back faster
And much more!
Whether you’re a business owner, top executive, key manager—or aspire to be one—The Freedom Formula offers a radical new approach to structuring your time and priorities (and your team’s) in order to reclaim hours of your day—and the freedom to live your life, not just your job.
Related collections and offers
|Publisher:||BenBella Books, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
David eats his own cooking which has allowed him the time to start, scale, and sell multiple successful ventures, be on the boards of several other companies, all while holding his working hours to under 40 hours per week and taking 10 weeks of vacation each year. The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of eleven books, David’s syndicated business articles on Inc.com, Fastcompany.com, and Forbes.com have garnered millions of readers. His work has been featured in such prestigious media outlets as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fox Business, MSNBC, and Inc. Magazine.
Read an Excerpt
Step One: Embrace the Value Economy
I want to invite you over to an evening at the Finkels'. As you walk into our calm and peaceful home, I greet you at the door and lead you to our clean and immaculately set kitchen table. My kids are sitting quietly, napkins on laps, patiently waiting for their turn to share about their day. Each of them respectfully listens to their brothers share and then asks insightful, probing questions, making it evident how much they care about one another — not! That's fantasy land.
You walk in, and the first thing you notice is the noise. My god, the noise. How can three boys be so loud? You see my wife telling me about a Cub Scout activity we need to attend that weekend, while my youngest son, Joshua, is playfully trying to get my attention by throwing Cheerios at my head. My son Adam is yelling, "Listen!" while his twin brother, Matthew, is poking me and thrusting his iPad in my face, hoping that in the chaos and confusion I'll reflexively put the PIN code in so he can get extra screen time to play Minecraft.
Ah, home sweet home. A riot of noise, chaos, movement, and interruptions. If you've ever had a houseful of young kids, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. I wouldn't trade my mess of a family for anything in the world, but sometimes it sure can be hard to find a moment to catch my breath and actually think.
You've guessed my point. The strategy of waiting for my family to spontaneously show self-restraint, patience, and calm listening skills is doomed to fail. Just like in your company, the strategy of passively waiting for this wave of demands, fires, and tasks to pass so that you magically will be left with some time, space, and quiet to get to those important projects you've been meaning to work on for weeks ...
well, that too is a fantasy. In the ocean, one wave is followed by another, and another, and another; likewise, in your company, this wave of immediate needs will be followed by another, and another, and another. Tomorrow will be just as overfull and stressful as today unless you embrace what I call the Value Economy and make different choices. If you want to create a space to work on your most important projects, you've got to actively make this happen.
In my family life, I've learned that I need a few hours to myself every weekend to go for a hike, or to read a book, or to just quietly listen to music and think. In your company, you also need to structurally create a block of time free from distraction and interruption. Value needs a moment to collect its thoughts and gather its forces. Entropy is only ever tamed by the counteracting investment of active energy to bring some order and structure to your week.
But you say, "They're waiting for me to set the meeting," "respond to their question," or "get them that report." If you can't regularly reclaim two, four, or six hours of your week in one- to three-hour blocks to do the high-value work you're really on the payroll to do, then all the movement and frenzied activity of responding to requests and processing your inbox is just a sham. Or, as Shakespeare put it, "Full of sound and fury, [but] signifying nothing." This was the experience of Tom Santilli, CEO of a successful technology wholesaling company in Florida.
TOM HAD BUILT HIS COMPANY, xByte Technologies, from the ground up, but years into the venture, his eighty-hour work weeks — filled with fires, emails, and constant interruptions — were getting to be too much. He had two young kids at home whom he wasn't seeing enough, and he felt torn between the demands of the business and being present with the important people in his life.
If Tom was tired, so was his wife, Lee. She was tired of Tom missing out on family dinners, not being more involved in family activities, and of watching Tom's long hours impact his health. She watched as Tom said one thing — "My family is the most important thing in my life" — but behaved differently: long hours, missed meals, and the stress of work brought home.
None of this was lost on Tom. In his heart, he knew he needed to find a way to get away from the crushing pressures of running the business day to day, but he didn't know how. He felt caught between the business's need for long hours to maintain the momentum and success and his personal needs of caring for his family and himself. Tom was like a lot of business leaders I've met over the years who are trapped by their business responsibilities, prisoners of their prior success. They've become like the mythological Atlas, holding the weight of a small world on their shoulders. They carry the hopes and promise of their company forward, and in many ways feel like they're leaving their family and selves behind. What they are doing seems to work in the domain of business — after all, it has generated impressive results so far, even if late at night they recognize it was only part of their ambitions for their lives. But they are afraid to stop working so hard because they don't know any other way to ensure that the whole thing doesn't come crashing down. They dream of a way to enjoy professional success without sacrificing the other aspects of their lives. For Tom, as for a lot of people, it just wasn't obvious how to do this.
In Tom's case, it was his wife who pushed him onto the path to find a way out. Lee had gone online to research potential solutions when she found my business coaching company. Her husband was smart, he was committed, but he also was more than a little bit obsessive about how he and his staff operated the business. Lee knew that there must be a better way. So, in 2007, she enrolled Tom in one of our programs. Today, Tom says,
"She knows how cheap I am, so when I learned that she already had paid for the program and that it was nonrefundable, I felt like I had to participate. I'm so glad I did, because that was the start of a major change in how I ran the company. I know I wasn't the fastest student at first, but over time what I learned about how to run the business better made a huge difference for me. Looking back, I can't believe how I used to run the company. I was doing so much that I just shouldn't have been the one doing. It was nobody's fault but my own. I just didn't know any better."
One of the things Tom learned was that many of the hours he worked each week not only created little value, but also were a key factor in slowing the business's development. He realized that he did three things for his company that created the most value — nothing else he did even came close. First, he made sure his purchasing team was buying right — the right products that would sell quickly with expectations of strong margins. Second, he kept a close eye on big-picture pricing decisions that his online and phone sales teams made so they didn't inadvertently give away the margins that his purchasing team had worked so hard to establish. And third, he made high-level strategic decisions, such as key hires and capital investments. Sure, he did a lot more for the company than that. He scrutinized his operations team, to make sure shipments were going out on time; and his quality team, who did the sample testing of the pre-owned computer servers and component parts they sold. And he paid careful attention to his company financials. But when he looked at his own role in the clear light of day, he realized the three places where he made his highest-value contributions were making sure they bought right, priced profitably, and made sound high-level strategic decisions. Everything else was just bread and dessert. What he quickly came to learn in our work together was that he was spending most of his time — over 50 hours a week — essentially eating empty calories:
"As part of the coaching process, it quickly became clear that most of the hours I was working did very little for the company.
I just felt like I had to do those things or personally oversee that they were done. Looking back, I can see it was more about my compulsion to be in control than it was about what made the most rational return on my time."
Maybe you are a lot like Tom was back then. You're capable, committed, and, by the yardstick of professional success, incredibly accomplished. But you've reached a point in your career when you recognize there has to be a better way than to jump on the endless treadmill of growth by daily grinding out more hours. You want to be successful leading your company, division, department, or team, but you are no longer willing to sacrifice everything outside of work to do it. You've already given up too much at the altar of career success, things that you'll never get back, like time with your family or relationships that ended because you were too busy working, working, working.
Here's the thing — the idea that you need to work long hours to succeed in business is a fallacy. In fact, many of those hours you're working now actually hurt the long-term success of your company by making it less stable and scalable and more heavily reliant on you. Hours worked does not necessarily lead to a better, stronger business. What you really need, now that you've developed a core set of high-value competencies, is to work much more strategically.
What if the root cause of all you sacrificed in the name of career success was an outdated model you held about how the world of business works? A model you never consciously questioned but rather were passively fed by cultural myths and conditioning? What if there was a shadow economy operating in parallel with what we thought was the one we have been living inside? And what if this shadow economy was the real force behind the throne of business success?
The Two Economies
You've been taught that the path to success comes from working hard. You've been indoctrinated with cultural memes like:
* "Work hard."
* "Success comes from outworking your competition."
* "You can have anything you want if you just work hard enough for it."
* "The early bird catches the worm."
* "Sweat equity."
* "If you want something done right, do it yourself."
* "If you're committed to succeed, then you have to put the hours in."
I call this model of the world the Time and Effort Economy. In this model, you get results by working harder. Want to accelerate your success? Put in more hours. Still not enough? Spend nights and weekends taking business calls or answering work texts and emails. Vacations? Sure, just make sure you bring your phone, tablet, or laptop with you so you can stay in touch with the office.
In the Time and Effort Economy, people get paid for hours, effort, and attitude. It's the nose-to-the-grindstone world of blood, sweat, and sacrifice. If the Time and Effort Economy were a Hollywood movie, the poster child would be Rocky Balboa, bloodied but still slugging away, absolutely committed to being the last person standing at the end of the fifteenth round.
"Rocky," you say. "I can live with that." After all, he became the heavyweight champion of the world. First, let's remember that was Hollywood in the 1970s, not the real world. And even if it were true, for every Rocky who makes it to the top through grit, gore, and guts, there are literally tens of thousands of others who get knocked out after a promising start. Plus, can't we see there must be a better way to succeed in business than just absorbing the punishing hours, month after month, year after year?
This chapter takes its title from a better, more potent model for business success: the Value Economy. In the Value Economy, you succeed by creating value for your company. You need time to create value, but a very different kind of time. You need blocks of your best, uninterrupted time to strategically focus on those things that you do for your company that create the most value. Low-value email and third-party requests? You'll get to them, but only after you've invested the best hours of your week into your highest-value creation activities. The low-value stuff gets your remnant time, not your best time.
A quick word: Neither model is true or false. They simply are implicit constructs we've created about how the world of business works. Questions like, "Is this model true?" are less useful than asking, "How effective is this model in getting me the results I want?"
Your model becomes the filter through which you let in, or keep out, inputs from the world. Your model is one of the biggest forces that shapes how you interpret, structure, and make meaning out of the world. Your model, true or untrue, literally becomes the moderating filter that intermediates all that you encounter in the world. Your model, which is a gossamer creation of your mind, literally can change everything about what you believe possible and how you act in an area of your life.
Here's an example. I started playing field hockey at age thirteen. After a couple of years, I was spotted by development scouts as a player with potential. They selected me to play on the US Under-18 and Under-21 National Teams. It was an incredible opportunity for me. There I was at age fifteen, training four days a week with the Senior National Training Squad at Moorpark College in Simi Valley, California. I had just had my first burst of teenage growth, shooting up from five foot four to five foot ten inches in less than eighteen months. Gangly and awkward, I weighed in at 146 pounds, more like a puppy who hadn't yet grown into his own body than an elite athlete.
Three days a week, at the end of two hours of practice, we headed over to the track to do interval workouts including 400-meter sprints to push our subaerobic threshold ever higher. I was shunted to the back of the pack by the grizzled group of veteran players I trained with. These were full-grown men in their early to mid-twenties who were in peak physical shape. The rest of the squad came past the finish line well under the required seventy-second limit, but not me. "Seventy-eight ... seventy-nine ... eighty ... eighty-one ... and bloody Finkel," my coach would say, his voice dripping with disgust, as I straggled across the finish line. After our allotted three minutes and thirty seconds of recovery time, we'd line up for another sprint, and again I'd come in ten to fifteen seconds — an eternity — after everybody else. After a couple of years of this, is it any wonder that I absorbed a view of myself as slower than my training mates?
I can still remember the day all of that changed. It was four-thirty in the afternoon on a sunny, hot day. We had just finished a typical two-hour practice. We walked over to the stadium track to do our conditioning workout. I was seventeen years old and by this point had been training with the Senior National Team for two full years. This day for some reason my coach, Ric, screamed for me to get in the front of the pack at the starting line instead of the back where I just naturally positioned myself to be out of the way of all the other, faster men running with me.
The whistle blew and I took off, this time in front of the pack. I still remember the feel and pattern of my breath as I sprinted around the first turn on the track, pumping my arms as fast as I could, hands and neck relaxed, and in the lead. On the straightaway, I lengthened my stride and again I felt my breathing find a rhythm. Almost like a dream, I came off the final turn and into the home stretch toward my coach, who stood with his stopwatch calling out times. "Sixty-three ... sixty-four ... sixty-five ... sixty-six!" I had come in with the first and fastest group, third out of twenty athletes with a time of sixty-six seconds. I was equally dazed and elated. This just couldn't be possible.
We jogged and then walked for our allotted recovery time, and then lined up for our second interval sprint. Sixty-seven seconds. Then our third 400-meter sprint — sixty-six seconds. Our fourth — again, sixty-six seconds.
My world changed that day as, somehow, I cracked open the limiting view I had previously held. Any track expert will tell you that it's impossible for an athlete to go from 400-meter interval times of eighty-one and eighty-two seconds to times of sixty-six and sixty-seven seconds in one day. You can't shave a full fifteen seconds off in one day. But of course, that is exactly what happened. Looking back, I can see that what it really meant was that for many months I had those faster times inside me, but my model of myself and what I was capable of held me back. I finally had grown into my body — by this point, I was six feet tall, 170 pounds — but until that day, I held myself back because of my past picture of who I was.
What really had changed that day? Nothing more than my belief of what I was capable of — my model of my own capabilities.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Freedom Formula"
Copyright © 2019 New Edge Financial, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of BenBella Books, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsContents Introduction: Why Working Longer and Harder Doesn’t Work (and What Actually Does) 1 Part I 1 The Four Steps to Freedom Step One: Embrace the Value Economy 17 2 Step Two: Reclaim Your Best Time 41 3 Step Three: Invest in Your Fewer, Better 73 4 Step Four: Develop Strategic Depth 105 Part II 5 The Five Freedom Accelerators Accelerator One: Engage Your Team 137 6 Accelerator Two: Become a Better Coach 155 7 Accelerator Three: Grow Your Leaders 183 8 Accelerator Four: Cultivate Your Culture 201 9 Accelerator Five: Leverage Better Design 225 10 Getting into Action 247 Appendix Free Gift for Readers: The Freedom Tool Kit 255 Acknowledgments 259 Notes 261 About the Author 263
What People are Saying About This
“When you're deeply passionate about your work, it's easy to let it consume your life. But doing so only hurts you, as The Freedom Formula so expertly reminds us. David Finkel's approach to restructuring your priorities will help you make the most of your time—whether you're at your desk or on vacation.”
—Gino Wickman, bestselling author of Traction and creator of EOS
“Growing CoBank into a sustainable $130 billion financially strong and dependable advocate for rural America was an audacious goal that directors, leadership, and employees put their heart and soul into for over a decade. Save yourself some of the blood, sweat and tears and follow David’s lead from the start. Brilliant book!”
—Robert B. Engel, former CEO of CoBank and current CEO and Managing Director BLT Advisory Services LLC
“If you're stuck in a cycle of overworking, struggling with time-management, or just can't find time to unwind, you need to break free. The Freedom Formula will help you do just that—while maximizing the value created during your working hours. You can't afford not to read it.”
—Dr. Greg Reid, author of the Think and Grow Rich series through the Napoleon Hill Foundation
“David Finkel’s The Freedom Formula dispels the myth that leaders have to sacrifice what is good in life for professional success. You can have both and this book shows you how.”
—Dr. Geoff Smart, chairman and founder of ghSMART and New York Times bestselling author of Who
“The Freedom Formula begins as if it were a thriller novel. David Finkel’s newest offering bursts through the clutter of business books and reveals powerful information in a fashion that is intensely interesting to read. Better yet, the information in The Freedom Formula has proven to create measurable results!”
—Andy Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The Traveler’s Gift and founder of WisdomHarbour.com
“If you’re looking for concrete ideas to succeed at work and in your business without sacrificing your life, this book has something of value on every page. Destined to become a classic whose messages will withstand the test of time.”
—Jason Jennings, New York Times bestselling author of The Reinventors
“No hype, no BS, no fluff. Just solid gold ideas to create more value at work with less time and effort.”
—Stephen Pressfield, New York Times bestselling author of The War of Art and The Legend of Bagger Vance
“If you’re overworked, stressed out, and unsure how to step off the treadmill, David gives you a way to think and act. This book is filled with powerful tools and an upgraded model to get better results and more enjoyment from your life.”
—Stephanie Harkness, entrepreneur and former chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers
“David delivers more value per page than any other author I know. Buy and read this book!”
—Patty DeDominic, past president of the National Association of Women Business Owners and former chair of The Foundation for SCORE
“David Finkel offers practical advice on business best practices with clarity and insight. David's gift is in distilling abstract principles into valuable lessons that are both relatable and memorable.”
—Laura Lorber, executive editor of Inc.com
“Finally, a business book that gives you the simple, step-by-step mechanics to operationalize working smarter. Wished I had this book twenty years ago!”
—Jeff Hoffman, founding team member of Priceline.com and bestselling coauthor of Scale