GTD

(The following is an excerpt from my new book, The Web Startup Success Guide specifically, Chapter 8, “Getting it Done.”
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Getting Things Done in Summary

Here’s the background on David Allen and GTD. Over the past decade, productivity expert David Allen has become something of the living patron saint of the IT world. His methodology—expressed first in Getting Things Done—The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Penguin Books, 2001), then in Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life (Penguin Books, 2004), and most recently in Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life (Viking Adult, 2008)—has taken hold in the business world, especially in the tech sector.

Although the details, nuances, and practical application of GTD fill not just David Allen’s three books but dozens of other books and hundreds of thoughtful blogs (see http://gtd.alltop.com) and spawned more than 300 GTD-centric applications, the core of GTD can be expressed in a single sentence:

You need to establish and maintain a comprehensive process for collecting, processing, organizing, reviewing, and doing all of the tasks and commitments in your life if you want to achieve results.

Expanding this sentence touches on everything from striving to have no e-mails in your inbox to picking which software systems you’ll put in place to manage your startup. We shall cover the core first.

GTD’s Five Core Principles

  • Collecting. For GTD to work—for your life to work—you need a comprehensive set of physical, digital, and online buckets for all the things on which you have to act. These buckets are anything but your memory and your mind, where—like a software process run amok—they would suck up focus and energy.
  • Processing. At least weekly—and in some cases, such as e-mail, much more often—you should empty these collection points by systematically processing their contents. If an item requires action, you either do it (if it’s something that can be completed in two minutes), delegate it to someone else, defer it to a specific date and time, add it to a new or ongoing project, or file it under Someday/Maybe. If an item requires no action, then file it as reference information, delete it, or let it stew for possible action later.
  • Organizing. Mistaking projects for tasks can make the difference between creating a flow of actionable and achievable units of work and producing a morass of indigestible and stressful mini-crises ripe for procrastination. Some tasks are simple, atomic, binary; anything that takes more than one physical action is not a task but a project. Every project has at any given time one next action—a physical task that should be completed next to move the project toward completion.
    At any given time, you might have hundreds of multiple-step projects in progress and dozens of items that are waiting for someone else to do something. Although every project needs regular oversight and perhaps a plan, tracking those “waiting for” items is especially useful. So, too, is building your task-organizing system such that you can pull out similar tasks from different projects that make sense to do in a given context, such as running errands and meeting with your cofounders or working in your e-mail program.
  • Reviewing. For GTD to work for you, you need a systematic approach to reviewing all tasks and projects at appropriate intervals. The reviewing process keeps you and your multitude of projects and tasks on course. Actual reviews can be as fleeting as deciding what your next action is to a more structured weekly review that ensures not only that things are getting done, but that the right things are getting the attention needed to advance objectives, goals, and values, this week, this month, and this year.
  • Doing. Collecting, processing, organizing, and reviewing the things you need to do is not a substitute for actually doing them. But performing these processes consistently will give you the best chance to do what needs doing, with clarity, focus, and perhaps even fun.

What I’ve just presented is the briefest of summaries. For more information, definitely get one or more of David’s books and visit http://gtd. alltop.com.

(By the way: If you’re looking for the least amount of documentation to read before you start getting some results, I strongly recommend Leo Babauta’s Zen to Done ebook ($9.50 USD). Leo has taken GTD and integrated it into the goal-setting and prioritization methods that made Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People so popular. Think of it as a lightweight implementation of the more powerful GTD framework.)

David Allen, Author, Speaker

David Allen has been one of my personal heroes since I came across his 2001 book Getting Things Done—The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. For a long time I’ve felt that any startup that hopes to succeed needs to adopt GTD as a way of managing the very large load of tasks, open commitments, and responsibilities that go with creating a company.

In this interview, I was fortunate enough to be able focus with David on just what startups can and should expect from GTD. I got a lot out of it; I think you will too.

Bob: Maybe the place to start is in your new book, where you look at GTD from the points of view of control and perspective. What does that really mean?

David: Well, they’re the two aspects of managing yourself and managing a company. If you’re starting tabula rasa, you start with perspective. “Hey, I’ve got a vision. I woke up; I’ve got a fire in my belly. I’ve got to go do this thing.” Now you’ve got a vision, but now you just threw yourself into being a potential victim of modality because now you’re the victim of your own creativity. Like what have I done, right?

Bob: The 10,000 things you need to do to get it done.

David: Yes, but the “it” is the starting point. It’s just that if you already have an entity or it’s already got legs of any sort and it’s moving, oftentimes people need to get it under control. In other words, if your ship is sinking, you don’t care where it’s pointed. But once you plug it up, you’d better point it in the right direction or you’ll keep hitting stuff that you don’t want to hit.

So they’re both key aspects of managing anything. It’s kind of the simplicity on the other side of complexity—those two things. People say, “Look, we need to get organized and get focused.” That’s what you’re going to tell anybody who’s in: “Hey, let’s get organized. Let’s get focused. Let’s try to start a company or have a party.”

Any and all of that will require those two elements. So what I did in making it all work was just define How simple can you get? What does get organized mean? What does get focused mean? Actually, as you know, organization is only a component of getting control. So control is actually a better word. So if I’m trying to get control of it, those are five very distinct kinds of practices, behaviors, that require different tools, etc. I couldn’t get it any simpler than those five.

The six horizons are basically the different conversations that you need to have in order to feel comfortable that this thing is in alignment, on track, headed in the right direction, and that you make choices about

Bob: You and your company have worked with literally tens of thousands of people, applying GTD. Do entrepreneurs and/or high-tech people have an easier or harder time getting GTD right?

David: Yes.

Bob: [laughs] Let’s unpack that a little further. I mean, what are the characteristics there?

“The better you get, the better you better get.”

David: One of my favorite sayings is “The better you get, the better you better get.” So it’s all relative to what you’re doing. If you’re not playing a big enough game, it’s easy to stay in control and it’s easy to stay focused. If you’re playing a big enough game, you’re going to throw yourself out of control and be losing your focus regularly. If you’re not, you’re stale.

So obviously, people in an entrepreneurial modality are going to be losing control probably faster, quicker, and in grander ways than almost anybody else, simply because of their nature. They’ve thrown themselves out into the world that doesn’t exist. They’ve got to make things happen. They’ve got to make it up. Mission-critical stuff is showing up by surprise almost with every e-mail download.

That’s no different than anybody in terms of what they’re dealing with. So it’s almost like the better you get, the more you’re willing to take those kinds of risks, then the more you throw focus and control, or perspective and control, potentially at risk. In other words, it’s not an either-or. It’s not like, well, OK. Those people are better or worse at this. Other people need this more than anybody else. It just means that it’s in a more intense situation where the necessity to do this is—the cycle for applying it—is perhaps a lot quicker and perhaps more important.

Bob: Sounds like they need to be—whatever way you’d like to say this—a hell of a lot better than people who are dealing with a lower threshold of change, of creation, of making things happen. I guess one question that comes to mind is, does GTD scale? That’s a question that we always ask in the software world. Does this or that scale? Take the example of when you built GTD Connect, where you were basically a startup. How did that work out?

David: Well, it worked out very well. It was a component of a bigger thing that we needed to do, which was to provide ongoing support. I’ve been pretty much market-driven from the very beginning. It wasn’t like I went out to make something up and then said, “OK, let me go see if anybody wants this. ” It was mostly just paying attention to what seemed to be needed, and if I had value to add to that: How could I do that? How do I create or maintain some business model so that I don’t go broke in the process?

On a very big scale, 50,000 feet, our whole vision is, let’s get GTD out there to the end of the world, to as many people as want or can use it. So how do you do that? How do you decide who it goes to, and how do you put a cash register on this process, our intellectual property?

Essentially, it’s just common sense. But it’s how it’s packaged, how the method-ology has been defined, and how we can help people deliver and implement that that is the value of our company. So this is just another modality. I said, “OK, I think we need something like that,” so that’s where that came from. I don’t know if that answered your question.

Bob: I think it did. You’ve been (for lack of a better term) a startup founder. Yes, you had DavidCo before that, and it was a thriving business before that, but you’ve been into the hurly-burly of making a software thing happen now, an online software thing, at that. In that process, did anything stand out that kind of surprised you as far as different ways that you need to apply GTD as a startup founder, rather than, let’s say, somebody who works at a corporation?

David: No, it’s all the same thing. GTD is really nothing more than asking what the best questions are that you need to be asking yourself about anything, from a business standpoint. What are we trying to accomplish? How do you allocate resources to make it happen?

In a way, that’s not rocket science, unless you’re a jet propulsion lab, but it’s essentially those questions we had to ask ourselves. So we are constantly having to eat our own dog food. Let’s sit down and go, “Wait a minute! What’s the purpose of that?” We’re rethinking it right now, because as we move forward, we constantly need to keep ourselves honest and real and say, “Wait a minute! Is it fulfilling the purpose that was started? Is that still the viable purpose? What other purposes could this fulfill?”

Many times, there is a lot of ready, fire, aim: “Hey, let’s put it out there. Let’s get some feedback. Let’s see what happens and iterate this thing.” We’ve got our own version of sort of radical programming, which is “Yeah, let’s build something, put it out there, and then reiterate the model.”

So we’re constantly doing that. We’re constantly rethinking, reworking: Is this supposed to be? Is it what it needs to be? Is it what it’s supposed to be? I think that’s the only way you’re going to keep anything vital and alive, especially in the world of the Internet and the Web and so forth, which is a constantly moving, changing event.

So you’d better be clear about what your purpose is. That’s why I think GTD has been so sustainable, because it’s very clear what its purpose is, and it’s not about any particular system because systems always get out of date. Somebody is always going to come up with a sleeker, slicker, sexier way to keep a list. [laughs]

Bob: OK.

David: Ultimately, that’s still what it’s going to be, the very simple idea that people just need tools to help them focus. That’s no different than it’s been since dirt. So there’s nothing new about the principles that we’re trying to apply. How you engage with that, with the technology, in a way that makes it work best, that’s another story.

Bob: Speaking of lists and tools, one thing that I picked up from Making It All Work was that it may not be possible or desirable to have just one GTD system, that is, one place where all tasks and projects go to live. Did I get that right?

David: Well, you just need reminders where you need reminders. I mean, if you pay your bills every Friday afternoon, you don’t need to schlep your bills around for six and a half days. Just keep them where you pay your bills, and Friday afternoon sit down and pay them. So there’s a big “duh” factor there. No need to carry them, unless you need to carry them. If you need to have ubiquity in terms of “At any point and time, I might need to be reminded about this,” then you need to have that in a tool that you have at any point and time.

Bob: OK.

David: If that’s true, you just need to make sure your system matches its purpose. See, most people never figured out what the purpose of this is; that’s why productivity porn exists out there—everybody wants what’s the latest, newest new thing. Is there a better way to get this done? If they figured out what the purpose of this was, they could fulfill the purpose with whatever they’ve got.

Bob: Are all those blogs that I guess are purveyors of productivity porn (try saying that three times fast), are they missing the point?

David: They might be, I don’t know. It depends on what their point is. If all they’re doing is saying, “Look, I’ve got my own spin about how to do this, and here’s a cool way to do it. So I’m going to find all the people that happen to like it and do it my way, and I’ll make some money off that.” God bless them. I mean, that’s cool. Why not? I mean, how many different kinds of gum can you chew? Lots of them. But that’s more stylistic, it’s not necessarily functional.

Bob: So it doesn’t really matter whether they use (to put it in programmer terms) a defect-tracking ticketing system for those sort of tasks versus an agile scrum system for those other types of tasks. The goal here is not beauty and elegance. It’s more along the lines of function and functionality.

David: Absolutely. There’s an article in the new Wired U.K. magazine, by the way, that I highly recommend. I am now writing a column for them, and they have some very cool stuff. A new article on the new Paper-Net, for the web-based paper stuff. In other words, your printer—your aunt is going to send you a little thank you note through your printer. So it has nothing to do with what the tool is itself; it has to do with the functionality of it.

The truth of it is, a lot of people still like the touch and feel of paper. As a matter of fact, it’s easier for the brain to integrate multiple horizons of information on paper than it is any other way. I love these companies that say, “We’re going paperless.” I go, “Grow up!”

Bob: It’s not going to happen, huh?

David: It might, but only if the function the paper is serving can be better served some other way. But then, you have to come back to, what’s the function?

Bob: So this is all about function here, not ceremony?

David: Right, function with a “K.”

Bob: OK, function with a “K”?

David: Yeah. It’s going to be funky and cool, isn’t it? You know what I mean?

Bob: Oh, OK.

David: That’s all it’s about, really, come on! I’m into cool gear as much as anybody else. Anything small, black, high-tech, and expensive I just want. Later on I’ll figure out if it does anything. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the bandwidth to go test them out, because you truly have to try out all these things before you can find out how usable they really are.

The iPhone and GTD

Bob: Well, I’m not looking for a product endorsement for Apple, but what do you think of the Apple iPhone and all those GTD apps that are now available for it?

David: Well, the reason is that Apple basically has productivity as its third priority, entertainment first and communication second, and third is productivity. So productivity sucks on the Apple, because they haven’t integrated the productivity functions as have Outlook and Lotus Notes.

That’s why everybody is doing all of those apps, because Apple didn’t give you a way to tie iCal to e-mail, to tasks lists; so everybody had to build it in. It will be cool when they get it, because they’ll probably get it and add an elegant and stylistic factor that’s really cool. Obviously, the visibility of the iPhone was probably a game changer, because that meant you could handle a lot more data well without going nuts trying to read it or trying to function with it is available through more portable devices. I’d say that’s the real breakthrough, not the function.

Bob: I read recently that there’s something over 300 desktop, web, mobile, and software applications that tout their “GTDness.” How do you feel about that, being the spiritual founder of all that?

David: Yeah, it’s cool! It’s kind of amusing. It depends on what side of the bed I get up, in terms of whether I get up with my small ego or my big ego. If I get up with my big ego, I go, “Look, only a million and a half people have bought GTD and probably a lot of them haven’t read it yet. We’ve got about 5.9 billion to go, wake up!” One part of it says, “Who doesn’t need this? Anybody who’s got to keep track of more than one thing at a time needs this methodology.”

On the other side, I’m sort of amused that anybody catches this, because it’s so subtle and on the surface looks like every other time management, personal organization thing that doesn’t work out there. So it’s kind of, which day are you asking me how I feel about it?

What about Twitter?

Bob: Well, there are things that are new out there. Since we last talked, there is something I would describe as a new kind of “human activity,” online social media, such as Twitter, and, more importantly, the much, much larger networks, such as Facebook. How do you apply GTD to Twitter?

David: The way you apply GTD to a cocktail party or to your laundromat’s bulletin board.

Bob: Well, how would you apply it to a cocktail party? I mean, you sit there and make a list, take everybody’s input, and put that into your process bag?

David: Yeah, you carry a little David Allan NoteTaker Wallet with you, and in the cocktail party if somebody says, “By the way, you should read this book,” write it down. I mean, what is social media but a global cocktail party, just through a different medium? What’s the difference between that and a bulletin board in the laundromat? Same thing, just different medium. There’s no qualitatively different thing about what that is.

Bob: I guess I’m hearing two things here. One is that you see online social media as something that people have been doing for, you know, 10,000 years, but in a new form now. Still, it’s the same thing—social interaction. The other part of that is that the social interaction is one thing, but the things that become actionable out of that social interaction are another, and they should go in the hopper with everything else—digital, analog, online, offline.

David: Sure. But what the social media has done—to be a little more practical and au courant to what you’re really asking—what social media has done is the same thing the Web and everything else has done: They’ve made input easy, sexy, cool, fun, a whole lot of potentially meaningful things.

Come on, how many links on Twitter can you see that could be cool, that could be worth reading, that could be “Oh my God!”

Bob: [laughs]

David: What that does is force you to read the back part of Making It All Work, which is, OK, what horizon am I really focused on right now? What’s the purpose of my hanging out and allowing myself essentially to graze intuitively? You can go to the cocktail party to avoid your life, or you can go there to find an investor in your new startup. Those are two very different purposes for going to the same event. Exactly the same thing with Twitter. Why are you doing it?

Bob: This is where we come back to control and perspective, I guess.

David: Sure.

Bob: Basically, if you’re involved in an online activity such as Twitter and you’re not clear about what it is you’re doing there, well, you may get some good results, but they’re going to be more by pure dumb luck than anything else.

David: Yes. There’s a lot of ready, fire, aim-ness. I think you should just go out and do what you feel like doing, and then learn from your experiences. Don’t make the same mistakes twice. So, yes, throw yourself into it.

I did. I wasn’t sure how this was all going to work. My nephew, Scott Allen, was a big proponent to begin with. He turned me on to it. I interviewed Scott in my GTD Connect forum. Scott was doing a lot of early writing about the social media. What’s the business application of social media?

I was not even clear myself. So I got onto LinkedIn, because I figured it was the most professional of all of those. Still, the jury’s out for me about whether it is still worth it. Not a whole lot has necessarily come across there.

But I hopped onto Twitter about, I guess, two or three months ago. I had a sense intuitively that there was something there. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I’m staring now at 398,826 followers I’ve got. It turned out to be that this kind of little haiku format where I could do my little David Allen-isms and allow people to stay somewhat intimately involved with my thought process. That helps GTD stick a lot when you get around it.

So there’s a service factor there just in giving people access to me and a sense of familiarity and informality that I think is important to wrap around GTD, so people don’t get too wrapped up. I can hold that standard out there. It makes it a lot easier for people to engage and get access to it.

It’s always a great thing to do while I’m standing in an airport security line. I just sit down, and pop something out, and just glance at all that. It is truly a global cocktail party. I happen to like to hang out. But sometimes I like to stand in the corner and just watch. Sometimes I get engaged in conversa-tions. I think that’s the best analogy I can give for it.

Online Information Overload

Bob: Now, it may be productivity porn, but one of the things that always seems to come up in the second or third paragraph when people are talking about GTD is information overload, especially online information overload, especially online information overload when you’re browsing the Web.

I wonder, is there a way, be it a general idea or a specific tool, that you’ve come across for applying GTD to web browsing, to this wonderful idea of bookmarks and favorites? At least everyone I know, including me, ends up with thousands of these indigestible to-dos that are called Bookmarks.

David: Well, if they’re reference, they’re not to-dos. If they’re to-dos and you can grab the to-do, that’s a problem. It’s kind of like people filing an e-mail that they need to respond to over in their reference e-mail. It’s like, “Whoa! Wrong.” You’ve now mixed up meanings.

Bob: Comingling of purposes there, huh?

David: That’s exactly it. That’s what disorganization is, where things don’t match what they mean to you. So if you have two different things that mean two different things in the same place, that’s, by definition, disorganized, and the brain gets confused. It has to re-sort it every time it looks at it.

That’s why you don’t want to open your Favorites list, because you’ve still got actions, you’ve told yourself subliminally, that are embedded in there and that you haven’t pulled them off where you want to see reminders of actions to do.

But once you’ve filtered it like I have—look, I have two years of e-mail on my laptop here because I can. Why not? It’s a library. I’m a serious pack rat. I keep all kinds of things. It’s a good idea to purge that every once in a while, just so that it’s not too big a black hole. If you have trouble finding things or if you’ve got a bunch of irrelevant things, then every once in a while it’s kind of nice to clean the trunk of your car, your tackle box, and stuff like that.

Bob: I’ve noticed that one thing a lot of people get very excited about when they get into GTD is when it gets applied to e-mail. They are just liberated and energized by the idea of an actual day when they have achieved an empty inbox.

Now, we’ve got all these other types of digital communication, RSS, all the online social stuff. Is there any guiding principle there, other than you’d really need to be clear whether the place you’re looking at is a point of collection or a point where it’s going to be reference or a list of actual things that fit into the projects of your life?

David: Yes, well, that’s back to the point that what most people don’t do with e-mail is, they think a medium is one thing. No, it’s a medium through which you then have reference material, and you have actionable stuff, and you have trash, and you have all kinds of things. You just have to put it through the same drill.

To me, it’s just bizarre that people . . . I have never heard anybody say, “I get too many messages on my answering machine. I get too many voicemails.” Well, some people say voicemails, but frankly, nobody complains about those. What’s the difference? There’s no difference. Each one of them, you get stuff that’s just reference stuff, that’s just trash, and stuff you need to act on.

What people don’t do is leave it there, undecided. But they do about e-mail. They also do it by paper. That’s why most people are highly voice-addicted, and most cultures are voice-addicted. That’s why interruptitis is so huge out there, because if you have something you consider timely and meaningful that somebody needs to know and hear, you’ve got to deliver it to them by some sort of auditory means, because that’s the only thing they’re processing.

Well, I just go, “Duh! Somebody give me the rationale for this.” And there is none. E-mail wouldn’t be a problem if it blew up like your answering machine did once you got more than a screen full.

Bob: [laughs]

David: People go, “Oh, I guess I better empty this,” thus allowing them the luxury of nondecision. That is not e-mail’s fault. That is theirs.

Bob: OK. So it is a case of “Doctor, heal thyself.”

David: Sure, and I understand it is a beast because there is a lot of stuff and you better be fast and you better be typing 60 words a minute. You better stop using your mouse. You better use speed keys.

I mean there is a little bit of a grow-up factor here. This is going to be a significant factor and the keyboard is still going to be the most important tool you’ll have the rest of your life. So if anybody doesn’t get that, then wake up.

The Life/Work Balance

Bob: A couple more questions. One thing that popped out of Making It All Work is that you sort of trashed that there is an idea of a life–work balance. You called it a hoax. Isn’t that basically like saying Santa Claus doesn’t exist?

David: Well, no. I didn’t say balance didn’t exist. Balance is actually what you’re after. But you should make life and work two different things. The truth is that most people go somewhat dead when they go to work. So I suppose it is more of a descriptive term than a prescriptive term. You know?

Yeah, I guess a lot of people just don’t consider those the same thing. But once you are in your zone, once you really get this, when time disappears, you are not making any qualitative distinction internally between “Is this work?” or “Is this play?” or “What is this?” You don’t care. [laughs]

That is only an issue when there is no balance and then you say, “Well, I need to get balance.” For some people, balance is 98% of what you’d call work. You know they’re 24. It is all an adrenaline rush. They get bored when they go home because there is nobody there but the cat and they don’t even like the cat. So they would just as soon stay at work the whole time because it is more fun. So when I say it is a hoax, I was just making a point, obviously, that the fact that you even set up that dichotomy is very, very unusual in the history of the world.

As I say, farmers have never split that. Just What’s next? What’s next? What’s next? It’s all work. That is why the kind of play on words I’ve in the title Making It All Work. It is all work.

Bob: [laughs]

David: Make your life the work you have to do on the planet, and then . . . Look, some of it you get paid for and some of it you don’t. Some it you are just moving through.

Advice for Startups

Bob: Any final advice for people who are creating startups on how GTD can help them succeed?

David: I’ve talked to VCs who have been involved with a lot of startups. There are two or three things that will cause a startup to crash. One is if you haven’t protected your intellectual property.

Bob: OK.

David: So make sure that is handled. The other is lack of funding and resources, you know, enough to get it off the ground. And the third is execution. Most of the VCs that I’ve talked to will tell you that number three is the biggest issue. They don’t get the thing done. They’ve got the plan. They’ve got the money. They’ve got the IP protection. But they just don’t get the stuff off the ground the way they need to.

GTD is the execution methodology. It is how you get stuff done. Define what done means and what doing looks like and where it happens, and that is a constant, ongoing set of best practices. Most people don’t sit down and do that kind of thinking until the heat of the situation forces them to.

This is opposed to, I need to train myself to be thinking outcome–action, outcome–action, outcome–action on a consistent basis. And constantly, as I get new meaningful input, constantly recalibrating all of the mix I’ve got about all my commitments. And then refocusing and point and shoot again.

So that’s where, as I say, on the part of the entrepreneur, it isn’t a nice-to-have, it is a must-have as a success factor to make sure these things get done.

Bob: OK. David, thank you very much. I think that when people read this interview, it is going to open some eyes, especially among all the startups, who basically live in a whirlwind of things to do and who wonder just how to execute that whirlwind.

David: Yep. Well, my parting words are just these: Read Making It All Work, especially the chapter where I focus on paying attention to what has your attention. Because if you don’t give appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will start to take more of your attention then it deserves. So as my last tweet says, “When you know what you are doing, efficiency and style are your only opportunities.”

Bob: There you go. Thanks so much.

David: Most people don’t know what they are doing, so [laughs] that’s their problem.

Bob: There are times when I fit into that category too. But I think that, for entrepreneurs, for founders who sometimes feel that they are running on a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, the end that they’ve started at is already on fire.

David: Yeah, I know the feeling. I’m a 30-year overnight success. I’m still in it.

Bob: And I think that one of the things that keeps coming back to me is that this isn’t something that you do once. You keep coming back to it and you keep finding more and more levels of understanding in application to your own life. And whether you are building a startup or you are still working in a nice structured somebody else’s corporation environment, the principles apply. And you need to practice the skills that make it possible to apply those principles, even if you are under duress and stress of, let’s say, massive change in your life.

David: Another way to say that, Bob, is that when you are under massive stress, it is too late. You are going to be in survival mode, so you just have to hope that what you’ve built in as your default best practices and systemic responses are the best. So the trick is, when you are not in crisis mode, what part of your process do you need to be working on so that when the next surprise hits you’ll deal with it with more efficiency and elegance.

One Last Question…

Bob: Well, maybe that raises one last question, which is, how do you get out of crisis mode? Let’s say you’ve got your startup, you’ve got your vision, but it is not getting executed. How do you get out of this?

David: Back to pay attention to what has your attention, what most would relieve the biggest amount of pressure if you made progress on it. And get a next action on it and go.

Bob: And that’s it.

David: That’s it.