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An HBO Show and Your Productivity

Thursday, May 12, 2022

An HBO Show and Your Productivity

Choose your environment by clearing the obstacles, psychologically and practically. Put what you need close by so you can keep your momentum (not act like a fool) and win your bets.

I always hesitate to ruin a good tv show, but Deadwood ended several years back on HBO, so let’s get into it.

Deadwood is a great entrepreneur show - you should watch it. It’s an Old-West town, the last not to be in the territories, in the late 18-hundreds. It's basically a gold mining town and there's two warring entrepreneurs and essentially to a great degree, it is the Sopranos in the old west meets West Side Story.

So this inventor shows up in town in one episode with a bicycle, where the front wheel of the bicycle is really high. And nobody's seen one before he shows up, so everybody is gathered to look at this thing. And somebody proceeds to challenge him that there's no way he can ride that thing through the town without falling over.

Well, this turns into a gambling deal and the betting begins on him riding through the street and the inventor wisely creates not one wager, but two: one riding through the street and the other one riding the same distance down the rickety boardwalk.

And it's eight to one against him being able to ride down the main thoroughfare of the city, which is dirt and mud and holes and lepers lying in the street and piles of horse dung, you name it.

And the boardwalk is, of course, just wood boards; narrow, usually with stuff in front of each store; there’s gonna be barrels and there’s gonna be a chair here and a dog sleeping there and whatever.

After the betting has been done and the odds have been set and all the money's been in, he goes, “Oh, by the way, I'm gonna do that after you clear away all the obstacles so nothing is in my path down the boardwalk.”

And as I sat there and watched it, I thought, “It would be great if we could get them to do that with every one of our wagers where we're gonna start a company! ‘Oh, by the way, somebody else is gonna go clear away all the obstacles!’ That would be cool!”

I would be much more motivated to do a lot of things that I talk myself out of now. If that was the case, but it ain't (at least not for most people).

You want to give yourself every advantage and edge that you possibly can in order to be as productive as you possibly can.And I've found that environment is a very, very big part of that.

Now there's practical stuff and there's psychological stuff. Even the people that tend to get the practical right tend to ignore the psychological, but the subconscious minds’ more important in all of this than the conscious mind. And so you want to take the trouble to cater to both.

And so the psychological side is putting yourself into an environment that is conducive to productively, doing whatever the job at hand is. So if you're gonna paint landscapes, you're probably not gonna do that with optimum effectiveness in the same physical environment where you would do your bookkeeping.

The tasks are completely different and they warrant totally different environments.

For example, we had lunch with two of the Disney Imagineers, which is their language for their creative staff. They're responsible for everything, from designing and building new attractions to figuring out signage that'll actually help you find the restrooms.

And one of these imagineers was a guy who built a very large company and sold it, roughly my age, so this is not some kid. He said that when they're going to go into a meeting and work on an attraction, they take a half an hour and go out and they ride a few rides first.

They're giving the subconscious opportunity to get in gear with the work at hand. And they're gonna do that in a different place. Then they're going to get to work.

And so there's the psychological component and I do it a lot with what I call ‘Psychological Triggers’, the objects and the photographs and the paintings, the stuff that you see immediately around you in your particular work environment.

The practical side of this is, you know, is the stuff that you need close by in a work environment that facilitates efficiency.

For example, first thing in the morning, if I'm writing in a two hour span, I probably get up and leave three times to go dump half a cup of cold coffee and make another cup of hot coffee. And one of the best gifts I got was a candle warmer that keeps the original cup warm. It's got a treasured place now in the cockpit of my work environment where I write.

I was once going to a meeting with the owner of one of the largest ad agencies in Akron, a very very small town. And so I get to his office and he's out cutting the grass in front of the office building, which in and of itself is off-putting to me, and one of the wheels on the lawn mower comes loose.

So with me tagging along, he decides to pick up the lawnmower with one hand, the loose wheel in the other hand, and drags the lawnmower all the way into the building and down a hall all the way to the back of the building to where there's a little workshop and a wrench. He puts the wheel back on and then drags the lawnmower back to the front of the building.

By then I decided I didn't want the meeting because clearly the guy's too big of a bonehead to do business with.

I mean, how about going and getting a wrench? Or better yet, if this is a recurring problem, getting the lawnmower fixed by somebody who knows what they’re doing!

There's 48 smarter things to do than what he did, but this is all an analogy, because this is how a lot of people arrange their environments and function in their environments.

Choose your environment by clearing the obstacles, psychologically and practically. Put what you need close by so you can keep your momentum (not act like a fool) and win your bets.

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And hedge your bets by removing obstacles and engineering greater productivity.

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