Another episode of the Solopreneur Grind Podcast is live!
In episode 117, I talk to Lucas Root about:
- How he thought about, started and tested his first business while working on Wall Street
- The specific steps he took to determine his super niche and get his first few clients
- Key strategies around productivity and how to get the most out of your work day
And much more.
You can listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platform here, or watch the video/read the transcript below!
Lucas’ website: https://lucasroot.com/
[00:00:00] Josh: Hey everyone, this is Josh from Solopreneur Grind for episode 117 of the Solopreneur Grind Podcast. I’m happy to be joined by Lucas Root – Lucas, thank you very much for coming on the show today.
[00:00:13] Lucas: Thank you for having me, Josh. I’m so excited to be here.
[00:00:17] Josh: can you start Lucas by telling everybody just a quick background, a little bit about yourself and what you’re working on these days?
[00:00:22] Lucas: Yeah, love it. 17 years on wall street doing mergers and acquisitions, I was sort of the guy on the back end of a merger where I would be the one who put together the merger made sure it worked, made sure that, you know, the, the corporate culture, the processes and procedures, the right people were in the right place doing the right things.
It was very cool work. Seven years ago, I decided I needed to get outta wall street. I launched my consulting company. I landed the Pokemon company as my first client. Interesting. Which is when you swing for the fences, that’s kind of what you hope happens. But I, I gotta tell you, you can’t expect it.
You shouldn’t expect it. I’m still with them. It’s been seven, seven years. I’m still with them.
[00:01:08] Josh: Very cool. Can, can you take us back Lucas to. you’re you’re working on wall street. What was the factor or was there like a day or was there a thing or an event that started to make you think okay. It’s time for me to get out.
And then can you walk us through how you went through that decision making and, and that,
[00:01:30] Lucas: yeah. Yeah. So. I have this picture. I I’ve saved it. It’s it’s it, my, my wife took this picture in 2013 at our wedding anniversary dinner. I was working at Goldman Sachs at the time. And I look at this picture from time to time.
I share it and show it to people and the, the picture She, she said to me, as she was taking the picture, you look like death. now we’re still married. Almost a decade ago. We’re still married. I don’t look like that anymore, but, but that version of me and I, I, I agree. I look at that picture and I looked like death.
I was, and, and here’s the thing, guys. We’re all, we’re all responsible for this. I was allowing my job to kill. I mean, really, I look at that face and I wonder if I would’ve survived to now, if I had stayed on wall street I was allowing, I was allowing my job to kill me. And when she said that to me, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I mean, a two by four to the back of the head use, whatever metaphor you want. It, it was a powerful statement. It really got my attention. And I said, all right, you’re right. We, we need to make some change. Got it. And so what
[00:02:38] Josh: was it that sparked the idea to do what you’re doing now? Cause I. The reason I’m so curious about this is, is two points.
Number one, Lucas, we, we have a lot of listeners that are working in nine to five and are probably saying, Hey, you know, I, I want to be in Lucas’s shoes sometime soon. And secondly, I mean, another decision could have been, oh, let me go find a job with better work life balance. Right? So you didn’t have to choose entrepreneurship.
I’m glad you did. And here we are, but can, can you talk about what, so, so what was kind of, where did your mind go next? Like, did you know for sure you wanted to start a business and then how did you go about picking the business that you eventually started?
[00:03:17] Lucas: Yeah, so I, I, I actually have always been an entrepreneur, always.
I, when I went to college, I, I bought the house that I was living in. And I didn’t, I didn’t make much my, some, you know, I was paying rent to my mortgage and staying, instead of paying rent to a landlord, I, I made some money, but when, when I graduated the, the, the little bit of rent, you know, the, the, the little bit of principle that went in after after interest it was money that was available for me to, to redeploy, let’s say, So I moved to New York city.
And let me tell you, when I, when I went to school in Clarkson university, Potsdam, New York, which is all the way upstate all the way. And I bought the $40,000 house that I was living in and then resold it and moved to New York city. And I was like, yeah, now I can buy an apartment. No, no, no, no. The, the, the four years left over after interest on a $40,000 house is not enough to buy an apartment in New York city.
That’s that’s we’re we’re not talking the right numbers. It kicked me off on my entrepreneurial journey. So I, when I redeployed that capital, I bought houses in Buffalo and I rented them out to section eight renters. Some of your listeners will know exactly how exciting that journey I signed up for was it was, it was, it was crazy good rent role business to be in.
The, the, the section eight is, is such an amazing, like you’re, you’re helping families that need help. And, and the state’s the one that’s paying the rent, or at least the part that they’re paying and you don’t get the other part, you just build your budgeting around what you know you’re gonna get. And it’s amazing five years into it.
Is it this, part’s the challenge five years into it. My property manager. Was doing cocaine. This is true story. And he was stealing money from me in order to pay for his cocaine habit. And, and I knew, and I didn’t care because it was making so much money properties in Buffalo. New York were cheap.
I, you know, I was, I was into a house for. $10,000 cash out of pocket and making $700 a month rent. So I was 75% ROI year over year mm-hmm I, I didn’t care. I didn’t care if he stole a little bit of money. But you have to, you have to care. Entrepreneurs listen up, you have to care. If you have employees inside your company that are sabotaging you.
Even if you don’t think that they need to sabotage you more, they will, you have to care. They’re they’re gonna rot your business from the inside out. And ultimately it’s your own fault. It’s not their fault. It’s your own fault. It’s your lesson to learn. It’s, it’s something that you need to internalize that you need to bring in.
That’s true for me. When, when he tanked my business, because he was afraid I was gonna catch him and turn him into the cops, which I wasn’t, cuz I already knew. And didn’t care when he tanked my business to cover his tracks. That’s my lesson to learn. That’s that was a mistake that I was making. Not him.
It’s not, I, he he’s, he’s living his life. That’s a, that’s a mistake that I was making, not taking care of the RO that I was creating inside my business by leaving him there. Tough story. Yeah. I, I took a little bit of a break after that, so, so when I left wall street, I, I didn’t actually have a little side gig going on, but I had, you know, a few years before I had tanked my real estate business and, and You know, a few years before that I had paid for my I had paid for my apartment, my living all the way through college with real estate.
So I had this entrepreneurial bend to me. I, and choosing the entrepreneurial path was easy for me. Got it. And, and I feel
[00:07:09] Josh: like it probably is for a lot of the listeners. Sorry,
[00:07:11] Lucas: go ahead. I, I, I hope so. I, I would love to hear that it’s really easy for them. Choosing entrepreneurial path was easy for me choosing how to engage on that path was not easy.
Cause I, I didn’t have oodles of cash sitting in my pocket this time around. I I didn’t want to go back to Buffalo. I hadn’t learned my lesson to be honest, you know, I, I hadn’t taken responsibility for how I let my business fail yet. And so I was jaded. I didn’t want to go back to real estate. And so I had to pick a D.
Version of the entrepreneurial journey. And that’s how I decided consulting because I had these skills. I had this experience. I had 17 years of wall street underneath my belt. I, I knew that I was good at something. Here’s the funny thing. And you, you nine to fives who are looking to get out and, and move into your own entrepreneurial journey.
This is gonna be fun for you. I, I knew that I was bringing value, but I didn’t know what it was. Because a resume is not the same thing as a business plan. Yeah. A resume is not the same thing as the value that you bring to the table for the customers who want to buy from you, whether you’re a consultant or a coach.
For you know, a service provider, a vendor, some a resume is a very, very different ver you’re selling yourself, but it’s a very different version of selling yourself. Absolutely.
[00:08:39] Josh: So take us through Lucas, how you decided to pick, okay. You, it looks like you, you you’re going down the consulting model and then how do you narrow down?
Was it a matter of realizing what you were good at? And then you just started selling that. How did it look? And, and the reason I ask it in that way is, I mean, that’s why we started the, the podcast, right. Is I think this is the core part of the journey, right. Getting started. Right. And it doesn’t get that much easier cuz usually the first few months, months, and getting your first few clients are really hard.
We want our listeners to take that first step and, and hopefully feel a little bit more confident in the decisions they’re making to pick that first business and, or become a consultant because they have this experience they don’t realize is actually a lot of value. So you decide you wanna be a consultant what’s next, like walk us through the next or, or the first maybe, you know, two, three months on, on how you kind of packaged what you wanted to start selling.
And, and then how. How you went out and got that first, really
[00:09:45] Lucas: big client. Yeah. Awesome question. And, and a fun journey. It’s a process of really deep self discovery. I mean, really deep cause you go through your resume and you’re like, well, What in here were my bosses actually buying, what, what am I actually getting paid for?
It’s true that there’s all this stuff that I did. You know, when you’re writing your resume, you put all the stuff that you do. Like all of it, you 17 lines for six months of work. There’s all the stuff that I did, but what was I actually being paid for? Mm. And, and that’s a, that’s a radically honest.
Journey. Because a lot of times you’re gonna discover that you weren’t being paid for most of those bullet points. Hmm. And now it opens up the question. What if I didn’t do those other things? Would I have been killing myself in my job if I didn’t do those other things?
[00:10:41] Josh: I mean that, that’s an interesting question, cuz it might lead people to stick with their job but but yeah, no, that’s a really great exercise.
[00:10:49] Lucas: Yeah. I wasn’t, I, I, again, I as is normal of, of humans I think, but certainly me, I was in a jaded position at the, at that moment. I wasn’t open to reconsidering the way that I engage in my. So I wasn’t looking for reasons to stay. I wasn’t looking for ways to make the, the jobs that I had and, and the business that I was engaged in more tolerable.
But, but I was discovering that I made, again, just like in my real estate business, I made decisions and maybe I could’ve made differently that would’ve resulted in very different outcomes. I made decisions to do those 17 bullet points when maybe the decision I should have been making was to only do two mm-hmm
What am I actually getting paid for? And it, it turns out that I wasn’t getting paid for all those 17 bullet points. I just said that I was actually getting paid for two things. Project management. Project management’s a valuable skill. And so I took that and, and, and one other and I’ll get to it in a second.
I took project management and I went and looked at the world for, for consulting opportunities as a project manager. And it turns out that project managers make less than I was making. Oh, huh, wait. So I’m already getting paid more than project managers. May, maybe that’s not the path I wanna walk down.
Let me see if there’s something else I’m doing. That’s valuable. The world is different when you’re a consultant. So it, it might still have been okay to go and be a, an independent consultant doing project management. But I would’ve had to make different lifestyle decisions as well, and I didn’t really want to do that.
So I, I looked, I looked back and I went through with a fine tooth comb. And I discovered that there was one other thing that I was getting paid for. And it’s, it’s sort of a crossover between strategy and here’s the thing about the word strategy. Most people don’t really know what it means. And so it’s a hard thing to sell.
Cause you know, if you don’t really know what strategy means, why would you buy it? so I was getting paid for strategy and process reengineering, which just like strategy. Most people don’t really know what that means. And. I spent six months in this funk where I had two different groups of skills and they’re very different pro project management and, you know, strategy slash process reengineering, very different groups of skills.
One of them is worth less than what I want to make. And the other one is not very well understood and therefore hard to sell. I was like, crap, what am I gonna do? And I banged my head against the freaking wall until, and, and it really, I mean, this is true. I, I, I was not happy about the discoveries that I’ve made.
I’m getting paid for one thing that isn’t worth as much as I want to be worth. And the other thing that most people don’t know how to Crap. How did I, how did I manage to survive so long here on wall street? Why didn’t somebody fire me? Like what’s going on here? This what it took about six months for me to realize, wait a minute, the, the, the people here on wall street, they’re, they’re paying me to do this thing that most people don’t understand and they’re paying me well, because most people don’t understand it.
Hold on. Whoa, whoa, hold on. Hold on. This is great. This is like super niche. I’m I’m I’m I’m okay. Talking about it now, but I’m a little bit embarrassed that it took me so damn long to figure out that I had a powerful, super niche. Right.
[00:14:28] Josh: And, and it, it, it would probably take a lot of people. The like the same amount of time, right?
Because like you said, the way we’re wired to kind of position ourselves on a resume is, is so much different. So what would you say, Lucas? Let’s say someone is working a nine to five now and they want to go through that exercise. Do you have one or two tips you would give them now looking back and having gone through it to maybe save them a few months.
[00:14:57] Lucas: Mm-hmm yeah. Start by asking yourself whether or not that stop asking whether or not the things you’re doing need to be done and start asking whether or not the things that you are doing are worth paying for at your salary level. Would you hire somebody to do that work at your salary level? Mm. Now double it.
Because the truth is, and nine to five ERs love to hear this and hate to hear it at the same time. The truth is you’re worth twice, as much as what you’re getting paid to your manager. Don’t take that run away saying they’re underpaying me. They should be paying me twice as much. No, there’s so much that goes into how much you get paid.
Trust me, this market has been beaten up. You’re worth twice as much. As what you’re getting paid to your manager, but they need to be profitable too. They’re paying for bench time. They’re paying for risk, right? You, you get paid, whether you’re sick when you’re on vacation that they have to pay for that in terms of money that needs to come in from your productivity so that they can make sure that your salary is covered.
They’re paying for profit. So double it. Right. Let’s say you’re making a hundred grand a year. Would you be willing to pay $200,000 a year for that bullet point on your resume? If the answer’s no, get rid of it. I mean, keep it there for resume purposes when you’re gonna job hop, that’s still useful, but, but it’s not what you’re getting paid for.
Go to the next one. Would you pay $200,000 a year for that bullet? point If the answer’s no get rid of it. It’s that’s not the thing that your manager is paying you for. That’s a, that’s a
[00:16:53] Josh: good exercise. That’s really interesting. So, Lucas, you, you discover that there’s this overlap between strategy and, and process engineering.
That’s really valuable. What
[00:17:07] Lucas: do you do next? I called up all of my friends who were consultants. And of course, because of the industry that I was in, I have lots of friends who were consultants. Most of them were my friends cuz they want to sell to me. But it’s this, this is another funny thing. My wife jokes that when we got married, she lost all her male friends.
which is kind of true. The corollary joke is that when I stopped being on the buy side, right. When I stopped being an employee of, of wall street in a position to be able to say yes to consulting proposals, I lost all my consulting friends. they disappeared. They were like, Nope, you’re not my friend anymore.
I don’t want you. They really only like you, because you’re, you’re buy side, you’re willing to buy from them. Anyway, I called them every single one of ’em and I took them. I, well, I made them take me out to lunch. I, I went out to lunch with every single one of them. It was a lot of lunches and I talked through a sale proposal and I wasn’t looking to sell to them.
That’s not what was going on, but I talked through a sale proposal for someone like me. Fortunately, I wasn’t dumb enough to think that they would actually help me build my sale proposal. I couched it a little bit and said, you know, I’m getting this proposal from somebody else. How would you modify it to make sure that it would win?
If I was putting it in, they’re all getting excited. They’re like, yeah, I get to like jump in on the competition. I’m gonna be submitting a proposal to you in two weeks. It, it was a cheap trick. but it’s okay. I don’t feel bad. And, and I, you know, I called up every single one of ’em. I probably had 20 of them that went out to lunch with me.
It took a couple of months. And over the course of a couple of months, these professional consultants helped me put together a pitch that turns out, worked well.
[00:19:03] Josh: Got it. And then from, from there, was it as simple quote on quote, as pitching to a whole bunch of companies, like how, how did you then start finding.
Companies or, or what ended up being your first couple clients?
[00:19:17] Lucas: Yeah. I, I dialed for dollars Tru I mean, truly, I, I made, I, it took me about six months to land. Probably four interested yeses, not, not I’m ready to buy, but interested yeses of which the Pokemon company was one. And over the course of those six months, while I was still working my full-time job, I made over 400 phone calls.
The benefit of a super niche is that nobody was counter pitching me. There was nobody out there to, to say oh, he’s pitching that you, you know what, we’ll pitch that too. So when I got in the door, I had no competition. It was just me against me, which is awesome. And also a little terrifying, cuz it means that if I fail, I failed all by myself.
[00:20:06] Josh: Any, any tips for cold calling in terms of like, how were you, how were you picking the companies? How were you and anything in terms of like tools you were using to track in terms of then making the calls themselves.
[00:20:21] Lucas: yep. I used spreadsheets. If I were to do it again today, I would use Hubspot so yeah, I just used spreadsheets to track.
I didn’t call companies. I called people I knew and asked them to either let me pitch to the company they worked for or give me referrals. Hmm. The average person knows 200 people. These are real numbers. The average person knows 200 people. Call all of the 200 people, you know, you probably have five projects in your network, whatever, whatever work it is you want to do, you probably have five projects in your network, five people who are ready to say yes to you right now.
Hmm. It took me 400 calls cause it was super niche and I wasn’t very good at talking about this super niche idea yet. I’m much better at it now. But in those 400 calls, I got four. So 1% I got four people who said, yes, come in pitch. We’re interested. You know, we’ve been looking for a strategist for a while.
They’re hard to find. We didn’t want to hire Booz Allen
Four. So 1% mm-hmm which is two out of 200, right? Remember I said, you probably have five projects. I got two, basically two yeses out of my 200. People that I know. But I did better than that. Because I got an average of one warm referral out of each of those 200 people. So call the people, you know you don’t need to start cold calling companies until you’ve completely exhausted your own network.
[00:21:46] Josh: good advice. And so, Lucas, would you also advise somebody who is starting out, especially, maybe in consulting, is, is picking a super niche, like getting very granular? Would you say
[00:21:58] Lucas: a key. it’s what worked for me. I think that the more niche you can be the better off you’re going to be.
Right. The, the, the challenge, as I mentioned, it is, it’s harder for people to say yes, cause it’s super niche. They, they can’t just slot you in wherever they feel like there’s an opening. That’s the challenge. The benefit is when they say yes, you probably don’t have any competition It’s really cool. Also a little scary because when you mess up, it’s all on you.
[00:22:34] Josh: very cool. So, so this is great Lucas and, and we appreciate you sharing the details maybe to, to get us up to the modern day or what you’re focusing on now. How did the next kind of year or two go? How, how do you know you land your first one or two clients? was it hard to fulfill the services and then any, any other bumps along the way that, that stood out?
I mean, I’m, I’m, I’m sure there were a couple, but any, maybe one or two you wanted to
[00:22:59] Lucas: share. Yeah. So the Pokemon company hired me straight up. They also only hired me for 10 hours a month and they didn’t pay me very much. So at 10 hours a month, not getting paid a whole lot. It’s really hard to quit your job.
I, I actually did anyway, because here’s the thing. I, I had a little bit of money, not enough to start a new real estate empire. But I had a little bit of money on the side. The thing is, as soon as you get the right kind of yes. And you’ll know when you get the right kind of yes. Then you know that your idea is gonna.
work And if you know the idea is gonna work, then the question for you is alright it’s gonna work cool. Where, where do I go find my customers? I got proof. I, I got the Pokemon company. They said, yes, they they’re actually sending me a check. Like this is a real, yes. Not a fake. Yes. Where do I go find my customers?
And, and that was enough for me. Cause cuz as soon as I know it’s gonna work now I can really dive in like head first. Like I don’t need to dip my toes in the water that like, we’re good. I know I’m gonna make it. It’s a question now of how hard it’s gonna be and how long it’s gonna take. And I trust myself and I trust I trust the market to respond to really good offers.
Maybe I shouldn’t, but, but whatever it worked out, so it was okay. The other piece of that answer, so I, I, I quit my job. I, I launched myself. I was good. I had, you know, the poking Pokemon company said, yes, it was only 10 hours a month. So fulfilling the services was easy for me. I probably, honestly, I probably worked 30 hours a month for the Pokemon company and only got paid for 10 of them.
Way over delivered, but now I’ve been with them for seven years and it’s great way over. Delivering worked really well for me. It helped me hone my craft. It helped me get really good. Remember get rid of all those bullet points. It helped me get really good at that one bullet point. The one thing that they were actually paying me, I was doing 30 hours a month, one hundred percent focused on the one bullet point in service to the one client.
I. got Amazing at delivering that thing for Pokemon. If you can, those of you who are listening, if you can do that, get amazing at delivering that one thing for that one client, and then go find more clients just like that one.
[00:25:29] Josh: It’s, it’s a great way of, of putting it Lucas. And, and the other thing I, I find interesting.
so I have interviewed a, a lot of solopreneurs and there’s a wide variety of when to quit your job and when to start your business, right? Some people will just quit cold Turkey, no business idea, nothing. Some people will Moonlight for years and years until the revenue matches their salary and then quit, et cetera, et cetera.
I really like the way that you put it, which. You can correct me if I’m wrong. Keep your job, start with this new idea on the side. Once you get that first check that fir you know, or payment, or I don’t think too many people use checks anymore, but anyways, once you get that first payment, that first, yes.
Be like, you know, holy crap. Yes, there is a market for this. Now I’m gonna quit my job. There’s at least a little bit of money coming in. Hopefully you have a little bit saved and then you can dive all in cause you know that there’s, I don’t wanna say product market fit, but there’s, you know, enough confidence that Hey, people will pay me for this thing.
So now let’s spend all of my time on it. So I think that’s, that’s really great. Any other tips, Lucas, in terms of consulting specifically, cuz that’s become really popular too, right? Especially with work from home and COVID and stuff like that. A lot of companies too are happier to just hire remote contractors, whether they’re consultants or whatever.
Any other kind of like consultant specific
[00:26:54] Lucas: tips. Yes. Is, it’s probably as useful to know what you are getting paid for as it is to know what you are not getting paid for. Here are the things, there are three, here are the three things that people buy in the market. And this isn’t just consulting.
This is everything a hundred percent. The number one, the absolute top of the list. Number one thing that people will pay for is risk transfer. They will pay unlimited amounts of money to transfer risk from their own balance sheet to somebody else’s. And that’s why the insurance industry is so massive, but it’s not just the insurance industry.
The largest consulting companies are all risk transfer engines. They’re engines. Think about it. When a regulator comes knocking and says, blah, blah, blah, you mess this up, blah, blah, blah. You mess that up. What’s the first thing that you. You call up KPMG and then you call up the regulator and say, I’ve hired KPMG.
And the regulator says, oh yeah, we’re good. That right there is transfer of risk, but it’s the number one thing people will pay for. I’m not selling that. I can’t sell that. I can’t absorb the risk. Of any of my clients none of them Pokemon company is a multi-billion dollar client. How much risk can I absorb on their behalf?
Nothing. Zero. I can’t sell transfer of risk. I wish I could. I can’t, that’s not part of the deal. It’s just as important to know what you are selling as what you aren’t Number one, risk transference, number two, the number two thing that people pay for. It’s not knowledge. It’s not specialty. Number two thing that people pay for is execution that I can sell.
I can sell execution, but do I want to, that’s the big question. Do I want to sell execution? Do I want to be a body in a body shop?
Ask yourself that carefully. And the number three thing that people pay for is an experience.
It’s in that order. So if you’re not selling risk transfer and you’re not selling execution, then what you’re selling is an experience and that’s okay. But it’s in that order and realize that you’re gonna get paid in that order too. They’re gonna pay the risk transfer guy. First. They’re gonna pay the execution guy.
Second. If you’re an experience guy you’re getting paid last. You’re still getting paid. People will pay for experiences. People will pay a lot for experiences. Let me tell you something coaching. It’s not risk transfer and it’s not execution. Coaching is an experience. The entire coaching industry is hire me so that you will experience this instead of this.
Mm. It’s an experience. It’s an experience industry. The whole industry is about experience and people pay people pay mm-hmm , but they pay last
[00:30:11] Josh: interesting. Very, very interesting Lucas. I, I wanna touch on another topic that you’re pretty well known for, let let’s talk about productivity for a couple minutes, because.
Number one COVID has, you know, made work from home more, more common than ever. And number two, especially if you’re a solo entrepreneur, solo consultant, solo, whatever you’re gonna be doing a lot of work by yourself, making those, you know, hundreds of calls by yourself fulfilling a hundred percent by yourself.
If you don’t have any. Assistance or anything. So how have you been able to stay productive over the last, I guess seven plus years now. And I’m also curious to know what are, what are some of the maybe work from home specific? Are you, are you still work from home or you said you’re in your office, right?
So maybe talking about. Is it even smart to work from home? What are your thoughts on that? Even, even if you’re a, so entrepreneur, is it worth the extra few bucks to get the heck outta the house? W would love to hear your thoughts on that?
[00:31:14] Lucas: It can be I’m in the office of my retail flooring store.
I, I, I, you know, it’s start, start narrow, go a little bit more wide. Get back to narrow, go a little bit more wide. Get back to narrow. It’s. This is, this is how life works. That’s sort of the flex of life. Mm-hmm and retail flooring is one of the ways that I’m getting wide again. And, and we’ll see what the getting narrow process looks like when it comes round next mm-hmm I’m, I’m comfortable with that.
So yeah, I’m in the office of my retail flooring store. I still consult for Pokemon and I do it out of this office while I manage my retail flooring store. Hmm. Working from home is amazing having productivity as a practice in your life. And you can call it whatever you want. You can call it efficiency or effectiveness or productivity but having practices in your life that, that help you to hone in on the value, add that you can have for yourself when you’re trying to do things, anything, whether you’re doing it for your boss at work, or you’re doing it for yourself, or you’re spending quality time with your husband or wife or kids having productivity as a, as a practice.
Is incredibly valuable. Here are the things that I do. Number one, I, I chunk my time. I block my time. And by block, I don’t mean I make it unavailable. I mean, I choose how to use the time that I have allotted to me in the day we all have the same 24 hours. We’ve all heard this. And what we choose to do with those 24 hours is the difference between this person and that person.
I choose how to use my time. And I choose it. Of course, strategically, there are certain times of the day that I’m better at doing some things than I am at doing other things. So I set aside those tasks for those times of day. It turns out me personally, I’m really, really creative between 6:00 AM and about 9:00 AM.
And so when I’m doing my creative work, like being on podcasts and having conversations with cool people like you, Josh. I try to do those between 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM, because that’s when I get into that creative flow and really cool things just sort of fall outta my mouth and I’m like, oh wait, that, that was pretty cool.
Let’s, let’s find a way to use that. That’s just me. And you have to, you have to mess around with when you are most productive at certain types of activities. I’m not very productive at anything between about 1:00 PM and about 3:00 PM. So I try to put together my day around the idea that from six to nine, I’m really creative from nine to about noon.
I’m not very creative, but I’m really good at getting focused on execution based tasks, like catching up on email or responding to client proposals or. Working through the math on, you know, some big job proposals that I’m doing here in my retail flooring store, those are execution based tasks. They don’t need a lot of creativity.
They don’t need the sort of essence of me. They need the, the brainy part. Mm-hmm I got, I got plenty of both. I got lots of essence of me, but, but the nine to noon time slot for me is best focusing on execution based task. And then, like I said, one to three, I’m not very good at anything. So you know what I try to do with my one to three, take a nap.
I try to put together networking opportunities. Oh yeah. Take a nap is great. Yeah. Hell yeah. Oh, I’m totally a napper. 100%. I am a napper. I try to put together networking opportunities. That sounds more productive. Yeah. it’s it’s great. I don’t need to be turned on when I’m interacting face to face. I can go with the flow of the interaction, the, the, the, the relationship that I am building in networking picks me up and carries me along.
It’s like riding a, a, a river. It’s amazing. And it doesn’t require a lot from me. I have to show up. I have to be attentive. I have to be involved and engaged, but I don’t have to drive that. Great way to use that time. So that, that process that I just described to you, you all need to do exactly the same thing.
Figure out when you’re good at certain kinds of things throughout the day, and just make sure that you’re focused on those things during the day. That’s number one, number two, we have a productivity curve. It starts to go down fair, fairly dramatically. After about 30 minutes. So if you’re in a task for 30 minutes, you’re starting to go down in your productivity fairly dramatically.
You can stay in that task. You can keep pushing through, you can, let’s say you’re in a flow, right? And you wanna stay at it for two hours or three hours. You can do that. But the cost of that is really significant. It’s what I call productivity debt now. I’m a math guy studied physics in college. So I look at many things from a math perspective, productivity debt starts to accumulate and here’s my formula.
It’s geometric productivity debt starts to accumulate five minutes per half hour. Five minutes per half hour, but again, it’s geometric. So the first half hour costs five minutes, which means if you do 30 minutes of work, you just need five minutes to recover from that. You get up, you stand up, you shake around a little bit.
You go to the bathroom, get a drink of water. You’re good. You can get back into it. If you do an hour of work, you don’t just need 10 minutes. You need five minutes from the first half. You need five minutes from the second half hour, but you also need the five minutes cumulative effect as well. So an hour of work actually costs you 15 minutes of productivity debt.
And I’m gonna show you how this shows up in your day so that you can see it. You do an hour of work. You’re sup you’re super, super focused. You let’s say you, this is your normal day, right? You do an hour of work. You stay focused, you get up, you go to the bathroom, you come back, you don’t take a five minute break.
You get back into. You do another hour of work at the end of the day, you’ve accumulated productivity debt. It’s not that you couldn’t be productive throughout the day, but you’ve accumulated this debt that you’re carrying around. Think of it like a sack and you get home. You have, let’s say two, two and a half hours of productivity debt from these 15 minute chunks that you added up from every hour of productivity.
And it’s just sitting there on your, on your shoulders. You sit down, you turn on the TV. And two hours goes by and you’re like, what the hell just happened?
[00:38:00] Josh: Yeah, we’ve all been
[00:38:01] Lucas: there. We’ve all been there. Probably most of us are there far more often than we want to be. That’s us paying back our productivity debt, paying it back.
So, so if you don’t take that five minute break for every half hour of work that you do, that’s what you’re gonna end up doing. You’re gonna force yourself to sit on the couch and watch TV for two hours, paying back productivity debt that you accumulated over the. Right.
[00:38:28] Josh: Are, are those numbers then kind of in line with and explaining the Pomodoro technique?
That’s become very popular. I mean, I, I like it. I don’t use it every day. I do use it a little bit here and there, but is that kind of in line, like the 25 on five off or you see like the 45 on 15 off? And, and what are your thoughts on it?
[00:38:49] Lucas: Yes. Pomodoro is actually 20 on five off. And I, I totally understand why it was put together the way that it was put together.
The Pomodoro technique is, is really optimized for people who don’t have 30 minute chunk meetings. 20 minutes on five off repeat four times take a longer break. So it’s the Pomodoro technique is optimized for two hour time chunks. Let’s say you need to be really good at some sort of creative task.
20 minutes on five off. 20 minutes on five off, repeat four times, take a longer break. That’s two hours. That’s your two hour time chunk. You will plow through creative work. You’ll also plow through this is for people who are studying for something you will plow through material that you’re studying for and your material retention rate will be crazy high.
You’d be so good. Pomodoro technique is amazing for. However, if you’re in the corporate world, your life exists in half hour and one hour chunks. And it’s really hard to try to do 20 minute chunks instead of 30 really hard mm-hmm so yeah I, I love the pulmon technique. The way I do it is different.
Like I just keep track of that five minute productivity debt for every 30 minutes of focus. And sometimes I can’t take a break at fi at 30 minutes. The best I can do is disengage for 30 seconds in between meetings and, and that’s okay. But I keep track of that, cuz that means in 90 minutes, when I finally do have a moment to take a break, I know that I have a full half hour of productivity debt that I don’t want to carry to the end of the day.
I want to take care of it. Now I want to be good now. So I’m gonna take a half hour. Right. I was gonna ask pay off that
[00:40:37] Josh: debt. Yeah. So how what’s that trade off then? That, that you put in your mind, Lucas, is it ideal to end your Workday having already got rid of that debt or, you know, is it okay to have couple minutes, maybe a half hour of debt at the end of the day, go veg on the couch or, or you.
What’s your average day look like in terms of the end of the work day and how much debt you have. And, and part of the reason I ask too, is I guess this could be dependent on your family life. If you’re single, maybe it’s okay to work like an animal. And then veg on the couch for two hours or, or more right at night, you have no commitments, whatever, but if you have a wife and maybe kids and whatever, I I’m assuming you probably want that debt to be as close to zero as possible.
So you can enjoy family time. You know, the stuff you have to do for kids at night, especially if they’re younger. So anyways, wanna know what your day looks like from a, from a debt standpoint,
[00:41:36] Lucas: productivity debt standpoint. Mm-hmm great question. Love. Because I try to set up networking activity in the middle afternoon.
It turns out that networking is a great way to pay off productivity debt. Mm. Because you don’t need to be in deep focused work to be networking. You’re actually just letting things flow. You’re paying off your productivity debt while you’re getting coffee with, with this new person that you’re working or you’re walking around the park with this new person.
Networking in the middle of the afternoon is a great way to pay off your productivity debt. I didn’t set it up that way intentionally, but I have discovered that it’s a fantastic way to get what I want, which is to get to the end of the day with no debt. Right.
[00:42:21] Josh: And, and so would you recommend
[00:42:22] Lucas: that?
Yeah, if you can, it’s it’s also okay. When you can. Sometimes that’s just the way it works. You, you, you have podcasts or calls back to back to back all day long and there’s nothing you can do about that. And that’s okay too. Got it.
[00:42:38] Josh: That’s that’s life, right? Especially in business. Luke is just a couple last questions.
I’m always curious to know any particular tools, books strategies, maybe like two or three, either books or strategies or tools or software, any, anything you might use pretty regularly. Or recommend for those who are looking to break into their own business or maybe at the, at the beginning
[00:43:01] Lucas: stages.
Yeah. I use one note which is a Microsoft tool, but Google has a, a version of that that’s that’s in, in the Google suite as well. And it’s an amazing, amazing tool. One that works kind of like your own book has chapters. It. Very low code opportunity to sort of set things up just the way that you want.
And because of the way that it works, sort of in chapters and, and even in books you can organize your thoughts in the story of your life. So, you know, these are the things that I’m working on and this sort of. Column. And these are the things that I’m working on in this sort of column. It, it’s not, it’s not beautiful.
I wouldn’t take it out and show it to a client. It’s that? That is a tool for me to organize my thoughts. When I’m sending my client out, it goes into word and it gets made pretty mm-hmm one note or at least the functionality of OneNote has been amazing. Awesome.
[00:44:06] Josh: And lastly, Lucas, just if for, for our nine to fivers out there, or, or people who are listening, they’ve been meaning to pull the trigger on a business for a long time.
Haven’t been, or maybe very early stages struggling. What are one or two pieces of advice you’d you’d give to them.
[00:44:22] Lucas: Take it seriously and get started. IBM. Small story. IBM used to be the 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to, to any kind of software or consulting sales, they used to be like the, the king, the king and one of the ways that they got there, it’s not really true anymore, but, but one of the ways they got there, this is funny.
And people wouldn’t think about this. One of the ways they got there is that they rounded up their entire sales team and they said, Here’s the deal. You are not commission eligible unless you make two cold calls every day. How hard is it to make two cold calls? It’s so easy. It is so easy. This was brilliant.
So you’re not commission eligible unless you make two cold calls a day. So you have to make two. Well, once you’ve made two, the other. You know, 18 on your list are nothing. It’s easy. You’ve got the momentum started. The ball is rolling. You might as well just ride it to the end. Like when you sit down at the beginning of the day and you’re like, God, I gotta make 20 freaking calls.
That’s hard. Mm-hmm . But if you sit down at the beginning of the day and you’re like, all I gotta do is two and I’m commission eligible. All I gotta do is too. I can do that. Anyone can do that. I’m down. Let’s do it. You start dialing. Before, you know it you’re you’re through your list of 20 or 30 and you’re good.
Mm-hmm so get started set the bar stupid low celebrate the small wins. Yeah,
[00:45:57] Josh: that that’s great advice, especially at the very beginning where it seems so impossible. Right? So I, I love it, Lucas, this has been really great sharing your story, advice, tips, all that good kind of stuff. Really appreciate you coming on the show.
If anybody wants to learn more about you work with you, get in touch with you, where do you recommend they go.
[00:46:18] Lucas: Two places, my website, Lucas, route.com, really easy to find or I’m very active on both LinkedIn and Instagram depending on which platform is your favorite. And in both cases, my, my user profile name is Luke route L U C R O O T Luke route.
[00:46:33] Josh: Awesome. And we will link to those in the description below Lucas. Thanks again for coming on the show. We really appreciate
[00:46:39] Lucas: it. My pleasure. Thank you for having me, Josh. This was fun.