Ari Meisel is a best-selling author, podcaster, and productivity expert.
He is the Founder of Less Doing, a company that teaches entrepreneurs how to master the art of doing less, while still getting more done.
We all know how important productivity is to achieving success. I had the pleasure of interviewing Ari about his less is more philosophy of living and working.
If you are an entrepreneur who is struggling to scale up your business, this is an interview that you don't want to miss!
Watch the video below:
Are you ready to achieve more with less? CLICK HERE to learn more about Ari Meisel's work!
Here is a list of tools Ari mentions that will help automate your business:
- Process Street
- Design Pickle
- Automation Agency
- Agility Automation
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Ari Meisel is known as an “overwhelmologist.”
His journey to adopting this title began when he was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. His doctors told him that he if he wanted to get better, he had to reduce his workload to one hour per day. Essentially, he had to learn how to work less. While this was a challenging feat to achieve, it was the best thing that ever happened to him.
At first, your rational brain may not be able to grasp the concept of working less to achieve more. It seems counterintuitive, right? Well, we live in a culture that celebrates busyness. The assumption is that the most successful people work harder than anyone else.
Being busy has become a status symbol.
However, this way of living is not necessarily something to be proud of, nor is it healthy. Research shows that excessive work can lead to burnout, depression, panic attacks and a lack of meaningful relationships. Ari devotes his work to helping entrepreneurs make themselves replaceable so that they can scale their business and take back their time.
In his new best-selling book, The Replaceable Founder, Ari talks about how you can replace yourself as the Founder of your business and create more freedom. By doing this you get back your time and are able to focus more on what truly matters to your success.
Here is a sneak peek of our interview together!
Do you mind sharing with people a little bit about your story and how you got to where you are today?
I graduated from college 16 years ago. I remember the day that I went to visit a friend in Upstate New York at Binghamton. This is one of the more depressed real estate markets in the country. While I was there, my friend Tony showed me some old industrial buildings.
At this time, I was 20 years old. I had an idea that I could build lofts in Binghamton, so I made an offer to buy the buildings that day. They were very cheap at the time. For the next 3 years, I was learning and doing every construction trade that there was. I was running a team of 60 people. It was an insane learning experience and a crazy lifestyle. I was very unhealthy. At 23 years old, I found myself in 3 million dollars of personal debt and got diagnosed with Crohn's disease.
Crohn's is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the digestive tract.
It's very painful and debilitating. I got knocked down really quickly and I went on a downward spiral for a couple of years. Doctors were giving me a lot of meds, but I was still really sick. I had gone from working 18 hours every day to struggling to get one hour of work done.
It's fair to say that I was at a very low point in my life. However, it was during this time that I started doing self-tracking and a lot of biohacking. I wanted to take back control of my body. Once I saw the results, I started to feel better. I went on to compete in my first Olympic distance triathlon.
Eventually, I got off my meds and I set my sights on competing in the Iron Man competition. During that training process, I got physically better, but I was still in debt. I had no choice but to continue working. In many ways, these challenges formed the basis for most of the work that I do now.
I started writing blog posts about productivity hacks.
I wanted to help people optimize, automate and outsource everything in their lives so that they could be more effective. Eventually, this desire transformed into a system, which eventually became a part of my teachings. This led to my first book being written, which is called, Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier. Over the last several years that has morphed into a business and growth methodology that we call, The Replaceable Founder.
The goal of this methodology is to make people as replaceable as possible so that they can have focus, flexibility, and freedom. We want to remove the constraint from the business, which oftentimes, is the founder.
What are some things that entrepreneurs can do in order to ease feelings of stress and overwhelm?
Let's face it… if entrepreneurs want to go from zero to $40,000 in sales, they need to hustle. From our data, we have found that these types of people need to reduce pressure and noise. They are wearing so many different hats. Most entrepreneurs aren't working on their businesses, full-time until they are making $100,000 per year.
However, once they hit $100,000 they start to think differently.
At this point, the number one thing that people need is to be able to breathe and reflect upon how they work. This optimization step is extremely important. A lot of the overwhelm that we experience comes from a lack of knowledge of what is causing our overwhelm. As I always like to say, you can't read the label from inside the jar. When you're in the machine, so to speak, it's extremely hard to be introspective.
This is why I always recommend that people use some level of tracking, like The Oura Ring. Knowing how many emails you've sent on a particular day or how many calls you've made is super helpful. If at 6 pm, you ask people, “What did you get done today?” I guarantee you that you will never get a quick response. They may have to think about it or check their calendar.
If you were to take two minutes every night and write down all of the things that you accomplished during the day, your happiness level would go up by 15 percent. As an entrepreneur, you are the only person that really knows whether or not you did a good job at the end of your workday. If you aren't even sharing that information with yourself, it just feels like you are churning and burning.
Do you have any tips on how people can better plan their day or week so that they can be more efficient with their time?
A traditional to-do list is anti-productive. The only purpose that it serves is to remind your brain of all the things that you aren't getting done. In short, it adds to your frustration, to the point where you can't even enjoy the process of crossing things off of your list. I think that a to-do list needs to be more dynamic. You need to be moving towards a goal, not just simply erasing something from a list.
A lot of people like to plan out their days in terms of what they are going to do during certain blocks of time. This is okay, but a more innovative way of looking at this is determining who your time is for. If you are a parent, maybe the morning is for your children. If you are religious, maybe that means that your time is for God.
Ask yourself, “Am I organizing my life in a way that is dedicating time towards a particular person or group?”
When people figure this out, they feel more balanced. I have four small children. A lot of my time is allotted for them. A smaller part is given for my wife, and a huge portion is for my team and my clients. Usually, there is a small slice for me and that is enough. I'm not trying to say that I'm a martyr. However, if I don't take that 30 minutes for myself every day, it weighs on me.
Do you set aside blocks in your calendar for who you will dedicate your time to for the entire week?
Yes, it's a rinse and repeat process. I work from 9 am-3 pm while my children are at school. During the hours of 3 pm to 8 pm, my attention is given to them. Intermittent hustling is great. However, constant hustle is not good.
As human beings, we need change. It is the thing that makes everything work better for us. Monotony and consistency get boring. As entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to self-sabotage and make things break so that we can fix them. It's not so much a work-life balance issue. I don't believe that even exists. Rather, it's about work-life integration.
What are some strategies that can help people manage their email inbox?
We created an entire method around this issue. The email problem isn't an email problem. Rather, it's a decision-making problem. We attack this issue with something we call, “the three decisions.” Your inbox is a very unique opportunity during your day to make thousands of decisions. You don't have that problem anywhere else. You may make a lot of decisions throughout the day, but nothing like what you get in an inbox.
Unfortunately, a lot of people treat every email as if it was the first time they've ever seen an email.
You have to limit yourself to three possible decisions. You can either deal with the email right away, delete the email, or defer the email. When it comes to your inbox, it's easy to allow yourself to lose control. The challenge is that most of us need control as an antidote to stress. The biggest control freaks in the world won't let anyone touch their inbox. Unfortunately, by acting in this way, they are allowing their inbox to control them.
Can you talk more about what you believe is the peak time for processing emails?
People misunderstand how they should be approaching and using their email. In a lot of ways, it's like sorting. Peak time is a 90-minute period during the day where you are 2 to 100 times more effective than any other time of the day. This looks different for everyone. Essentially, we are talking about your ability to jump into a flow state.
We made this really cool free app called the “Less Doing Peak Time” app. It involves tapping your finger on a button multiple times throughout the day. After a few days, it creates a statistical map of your results and lets you know when your peak time for working is.
My peak time is between 10-12 pm.
Don't schedule anything during your peak time. This is when you want to work on your highest and best abilities. If you do, you will be amazed at the jump in productivity that you will experience. More importantly, if you have a team, try to identify what their peak times are, and schedule meetings that don't get in the way of those peak times. If you can do this, you will see huge increases in your team's overall productivity levels. Lastly, once you develop your peak time, it becomes an anchor for all of the other things you do throughout the day.
What are some of the most common challenges that you see entrepreneurs face, and what do you do to help people overcome them?
Across almost all industries, in particular, at the sales level, the issues are the same. When a company is making anywhere between $100,000-$300,000 in sales, the primary concern is sales. They need to bring in revenue.
When it's anything over $300,000, they need some system for leveraging sales, whether that's ads or salespeople. Also, they need to be able to get out of the sales role so that they can service the business that they are bringing in.
From $300,000 to $1 million dollars, the focus is on systems and processes that replace what you as the founder do well.
This is when I see a lot of people become a victim of their own success.
The question at that point for the founder is “How do I get ahead?” When you go from $1 million dollars to $3 million dollars, the question becomes, “How does my team get me ahead?” At that point, you are focusing on building a team and putting in place structures so that the team can grow.
From $3 million to $10 million dollars, this is when you start to become a real leader. The focus is on developing leadership systems. This is where we see people developing a C-suite.
What are some things that you outsource in your personal and professional life?
The primary virtual assistant service that we use is called Magic. Their response time is 30 seconds, and they are available 24/7. We probably use their services 300-400 hours per month in both my business and personal life. On the personal side of things, I have four kids, aged 7 and under. Magic handles everything, from insurance to health forms, to applying to schools, to arranging travel, and piano lessons. This support allows me to focus on being a Dad. Anytime we need to buy something that isn't on Amazon I have them do it because I don't want to sign up for things.
On the business side of things, Magic deals with a lot of our customer journey.
We use them to optimize several of our processes in a very manual way to figure out where things work and where they don't. We try to push the limits of what can be done. When we hit a limit, it usually means that we need to create a process for it and then they keep going.
Do you think that people should start outsourcing their work, regardless of whether or not they have the financial means to do so?
For the people who don't have the financial means to outsource, my advice would be to focus on automation first. There are so many things that you can automate that are free, the most obvious one is social media marketing. People have to get into the mindset that there is value in that.
There are things that you can cheaply outsource with sites like, Fiverr. For example, if you want to launch a podcast, you need intro music. You can get that for $5 on Fiverr rather than just waiting or not having music at all. Spend the money and have something that's decent.
What are some of your favorite tools that you use in your business?
Voxer has singlehandedly transformed my business. It's a voice messaging app that is asynchronous. I can send a message at 4 am my time and someone in Australia can respond to it three hours later. In my coaching programs, my clients get unlimited Voxer access to me. As a result, we are able to move the needle so much faster. They never have to schedule a call with me five days in advance for 45 minutes to get the 3-minute answer that they need. It's also how I work with my team.
Everyone on my team is a mother.
They have crazy lives, so this is an effective way for us to work. More importantly, I'm never the bottleneck because of it.
Another communication tool that I use is Intercom. It works like a shared inbox for email, text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and live chat on a website. This platform gives you one place where you can manage and respond to all of your conversations, whether that's with leads or team members. In short, nobody will be left hanging.
Process Street is another great free tool. It gives you a powerful way to manage your team's checklists and procedures.
Do you mind sharing what project management tools you use?
Trello is my favorite project management tool. It's so dynamic and easy to work with. More importantly, it's free. We use it for our sales pipeline and our team to-do list. Furthermore, we also have a dashboard that we created for members in our group so that we know where they are at. We can automate so much in and out of it. You can literally have a workable Trello account set up in five minutes.
We also use Zapier, which is an automation platform. It's like the glue that ties all of the other tools together.
A more basic version of Zapier is IFTTT. This is an easy tool to play with if you want to get started with a trigger and an action. However, keep in mind that it's more focused on consumers.
Do you mind sharing some of the other inexpensive services that you use for your business?
We use Design Pickle for our graphic design work. For $370 per month, we get unlimited graphic design work from them. They do all of our social media images, our Facebook headers, and the back covers for our books, to name a few things.
We also use a company called, Automation Agency.
This is an online marketing concierge service that provides us with unlimited website-related work. Anytime we need to make a change on our WordPress site, they help us out. We pay them $240 per month.
Lastly, we use Agility Automation, which has taken a lot of the processes that I've created and have custom-built them for me.
What do you see as the future of technology?
I think that human potential is all about our ability to innovate. I think that it will be a very long time before artificial intelligence replaces innovation. If we can use machinery, innovation, and robotics to replace all of the other stuff then we can solely focus on the things that will change the world. A lot of people are scared of automation. They think that it will take jobs away. However, you should see it as an opportunity to free up your time to do better things.
Any final words that you want to share with people?
I can't stress enough how much value there is in just stepping back for a moment and getting into the mindset of looking for things. I know that sounds hard, especially when you are in your business. You may be in overwhelm and don't feel like you can take the time to work on something. However, that's the same thing as saying, “I can't take the time to sleep.”
That approach to life will catch up with you.
When Seth Godin talks about what he does, he says that he notices things. That's amazing! If all of us were just better at noticing things, our lives would be a lot easier. When you start looking, the opportunities to make things better will present themselves to you.
How can people learn more about you?
Everything that we do can be found on my website, Less Doing. I also encourage you to check out our free mini-course called, The 3 Keys To Becoming Replaceable. This includes five short videos that will give you some practical strategies for how you can grow with less pain. This will allow you to focus on what you do best. If you want to learn more about what we do, you can also follow us via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Are you ready to start working on your business instead of in it?
I highly recommend that you check out Ari's incredible work. He is literally transforming what it means to be productive and providing people with a simple method for how they can work smarter, not harder. If you're an entrepreneur who is looking to optimize, automate and outsource your business, Ari is the guy you want in your corner. In the words of Ari himself, “To be truly successful, we must make ourselves replaceable.”
What is keeping you from becoming more replaceable?
Are you ready to achieve more with less? CLICK HERE to learn more about Ari Meisel's work!