277: Saying “No” to Focus on What’s Important with Michael Hyatt


“Most of the people I know, and coach, are recovering people-pleasers…”

New York Times Best Selling Author, Michael Hyatt said this to me in our recent conversation.

In fact, I’m a recovering people-pleaser myself.

In my first professional job, I working between 80-90 hours a week. Part of that was because the job was a bad fit. Part of that was because there was a huge expectation to work a ton of hours. And part of that was that I said “yes” to everything my boss asked me to do.

Absolutely everything.

Saying “yes” to every project – to every request.

“Yes, sir, I can make that happen!”

“Yes, I can get that extra presentation done.”

Saying “yes” to all that took a bad situation and turned it into a totally intolerable situation.

Saying “yes” to too many things can hold you back from career happiness. At first, you may be excited that you’re the person that everyone can depend on.

But then it changes.

People start asking you to do more and more because “______ always finds a way to get it done.” In fact, it gets to the point that the people make you their first stop.

This can cause resentment, stress, and fatigue – none of which produce career happiness. But you also find it difficult – or impossible – to stop saying “yes.”

Saying “no” is exactly what we talk about in today’s episode with Michael Hyatt. Michael is a best-selling author (multiple times over) and was previously the CEO of a publishing company before starting his own company.

Michael is also a self-admitted, recovering people-pleaser. As such, throughout past few decades, he has had to learn to say “no” gracefully. In other words, he had to protect his own time and priorities. At one point, he said it this way:

“The way that you can give people a really firm ‘No’ is to have a really firm ‘yes’ on the other side of it.”

Also, he gives specific examples of how he can say “no” to a request, but still present a solution for the person. And people thank him for saying “no.”

Listen to this episode to hear the whole conversation, including:

  • Why it’s so hard for you to say “No” to people…and what to do about it
  • How to get back hours of free time each week
  • The connection between having a vision and conquering daily distractions
  • Using elimination, automation, and delegation to crush even more tasks on your to-do list
  • Why you need more than one routine to run your day
  • The most important things you can do to be more focused and more productive

Also, as an added bonus, Michael shares the best advice on how to stay happily married for 40 years.


If you want even more help getting started figuring out the ideal career for you, join our free 8 Day Mini-Course to help you figure out the life and work you love or talk to our team about our coaching programs.


Scott: Welcome to the “Happen to Your Career Podcast.” If you've ever found yourself with more obligations than you feel like you can humanly handle or look at your calendar and to do list and realize that somehow you've accumulated much more than you can possibly do or then you can enjoy. Then you're going to love our guest today, he's a New York Times and Wall Street Journal, best-selling author, former CEO of Thomas Nelson and current CEO of his own company helping leaders around the world. And also on a different note, a couple years back, my wife and I used his best year ever goal setting program and experienced, wait for it, our best year ever in both our business and our lives. So I'm excited to welcome to the show, Michael Hyatt. How are you Michael?


Michael: I'm doing great Scott. Thank you so much for having me on.


Scott: Yeah, absolutely.  And I've gotta ask, I believe I read someplace that you have now been married for 40 years. Is that right? Did I understand that correctly?


Michael: That is. That's true.


Scott: That is amazing. I have a ton of respect for that. My, my wife and I are working on approaching 20 here. So I have an immense amount of respect for 40. What is, okay so selfishly, I'm curious, been married for 40 years. What is the biggest piece of advice that you would give me on working on the halfway point?


Michael: Wow.


Scott: No pressure.


Michael: But I would say, always give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. They don't wake up usually with ill intentions. If they've done something to offend you or hurt you, it was probably accidental, so assume the best and go from there.


Scott: I love that and I appreciate that immensely. Thank you for indulging me and…


Michael: You’re welcome.


Scott: I have so many different questions. We're gonna spend a bit of our time today talking about how to say ‘no’ at work, but I'm really curious, I know you've had you've worked in a variety of different environments had different types of leadership roles. And I'm curious what you feel like are some of the biggest places many leaders and professionals miss the opportunity to say ‘no’ at work or in their lives? What have you experienced?


Michael: Well, I found that most people that are in a leadership role got there in some measure, because they were likable and a part of being likable in our culture is saying ‘yes’ to people being compliant. And I think that most of the leaders I know and coach are recovering people pleasers. I know I am, and unfortunately while I can, you know, help move you up the ladder; it can also get you into trouble. I remember a quote from Warren Buffett, he said: the difference between successful people and really successful people is that the really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.


Scott: Which is also a totally different outlook, you focus from say happen say ‘no’ to a few things to I'm going to say ‘no’ to very nearly everything. That's a completely different mind-set that goes along with it. I would say so…


Michael: Yeah, absolutely.


Scott: Go ahead. I was gonna ask, you know, what do you think it takes to shift in that mind-set? Cause that's huge.


Michael: Yeah, I think the way that you can give people a firm no is by having a really firm positive, yes, on the other side of it, you know, everything in life is a trade-off. And especially time because time is time is a finite resource and it's a zero sum game. So that if I choose for example, to go to, to have coffee with a friend or breakfast with a friend, you know, that's gonna mean that I'm not going to be able to work out because I work out in the morning. So there's a trade there's a swap there and most of us are conscious of the fact that we're that we're making a swap and I think that what we got to do is get clear on the bigger question of “Yes?” What are we saying yes to? What do we want our life to be about? What do we want our career to be about? What is the vision that we have? In fact, that's where I start with my book “Free to Focus.” The very first chapter is a book or a chapter called formulate my talk about formulating a vision for it for what it is that you want. If you don't have that vision, you're just gonna be reactive in the moment saying yes to whatever comes across your plate, whether it's a task assignment or a calendar invite, or an opportunity. And before long, your calendar is just full, you have no time for yourself, no time for the people you love the most and no time to really do the things in your career that advance it and give you momentum and cause you to continue to grow and expand.

Scott: So that's, that's great. I love the concept of formulating a vision for what you want. We spend a lot of time on our show talking about that exact thing. And I'm curious then, what does that mean for you? Or what's an example of that? For you, you know what, what goes into your vision of what you want?


Michael: Yeah. One of the things I learned as I began to study productivity a couple decades ago is that for a lot of people, and for and for most people, I think productivity is an end in itself. It's just, they want to, you know, be more productive, so they can be more productive, so they can be more productive. And I think productivity is a means to an end. And for me, the biggest vision is freedom. And in fact, that's why the book is called “free to focus.” And I specifically have a vision for four aspects of freedom. First of all, I do wanna have the freedom to really focus and in a distraction economy, the distraction economy that we exist in today, where we're constantly being pinged for this thing or another. Notifications are going off on our phones and our desktop it's very difficult to focus on the work that matters most not all work is created equal, but 20% of the work that we do according to the credo principle, leave to 80% of the results that we experience in our business or in our lives. So, I want the freedom first of all to be able to focus, do the creative work the hard work the problem solving, that's going to move the business or move the needle in my business in my life. Second kind of freedom I want is I want the freedom to be present, you know, I wanna be when I'm out on a on a date with my wife like I want to be tonight (by the way the secret for long term married.)


Scott: Yeah I appreciate that. Keep it coming.


Michael: So you know we'll be out on a date tonight and I wanna be fully present with her. I don't wanna be checking my phone, I don't wanna be worried about something at work, I wanna be fully present to her- with her to engage and to just share allies with one another. Third freedom I want is that what the three the freedom to be spontaneous. I don't wanna have so much of my schedule spoken for every little bit, you know, planned out that I don't have the freedom to stop what I'm doing: to go help a friend, to visit with my grandkids when they come over. I want some white space, some breathing room in my schedule so that I'm not, you know, constantly overdrawing as it were, my bank account and then finally, I want the freedom to be able to do nothing. Nothing is way underrated in our culture. And yet, when you think about it, when you're doing nothing, sometimes that's where you get the biggest breakthroughs of all. You have that creative thought that that spawns a multimillion dollar idea, or you figure out how to fix a relationship that's broken, but it takes that time of doing nothing to get those kind of breakthrough. So again, I'm after freedom. That's my vision.


Scott: Michael, do you find that when you're speaking about freedom to do nothing, is that something that people take to or enjoy the idea of or do you find that there's a lot of apprehension around that? I'm curious.


Michael: Well, yeah. I would say it's twofold. First of all, people are super excited about the idea they just kind of have a collective sigh of relief when I teach on this topic because they think “Man. How awesome would that be to not be running for this thing to the next out of breath all the time?”

Scott: Yeah.

Michael: But then immediately they feel something anxiety because they say: What would I do with myself? And I really learned about this fourth kind of freedom when I visited Italy, my wife and I went there for a month about two years ago, and we were there in the summer and they actually have this phrase “Dolce far Niente”, which means the “sweetness of doing nothing”, and they practice it so well. So for example, you know, about five o'clock in the afternoon, everybody, if you're in Rome or Florence, or really any city of any size people pour into the streets, you know, they have cocktails together, they just visit- they're basically doing nothing enjoying life together. And we relish that but we found that unless we have something planned in that nothing time, you know, in other words, we gotta be recreating or spending time with people but left to ourselves, if we don't have a plan that we just drift back into work, because that's what's familiar. And for a lot of people, they love their work and but they end up working all the time no weekends, no free nights, no vacations, all the rest.

Scott: That's really interesting. And on one note, I can't wait to experience that for myself on Italy. Italy is on our list. We pull our kids, my wife and I pull our kids out of school bout once a year, and typically go four to six weeks live in another country. So very excited for that and probably have many more Italy questions. However, on that note, though, when you're talking about, unless we have something planned, expand on that for me, you know, what does that what does that actually look like? How do you how do you do that? Because I think that it's easy to say that and I think we might understand that concept logically. However, I feel like that's one of those things that is much more difficult to do or to make work in reality, so how do you actually make that work for our listeners?


Michael: Well, first of all, I struggled with it myself, cause what I would do is often go into weekend with the best of intentions and find myself drifted into work, grabbing my laptop, picking up my phone and engaging and work almost mindlessly or reflexively or maybe even compulsively.


Scott: Sure.


Michael: So one of the tools that I talked about in the book and we also have, I have a paper planner that's grown quite popular called the “Full Focus Planner.” And there's a worksheet in there, that's called a weekly preview. And I do mine on Sunday evening, and there's one each week that comes around, but we have a step in there called the weekend optimizer where we talk about and encourage people to plan how they're going to use their free time for this to rejuvenate because you're gonna be more productive, more focused, make a greater contribution be more satisfied at work when you give yourself time to rejuvenate. So that looks like things like sleep. Asking yourself the question, “how much sleep do you wanna get this weekend? Do you want to take a nap? Do you want to sleep in? What do you want to do? What about eating? What kind of nourishment? You want to go out with friends, do you want to spend some time with them? Do you wanna explore some restaurants or maybe stay home and make something for dinner that you haven't made before? Exercise maybe go on a hike, play golf go fishing something with related to exercise. Connection or play, you know, meeting with friends one of the few relationships that are life giving to me that really give me energy that sustain my spirit that encouraged me and being really intentional with those kinds of things. So i think you know for me, I, on Sunday night I plan the next weekend so that gives me a week kind of set it up contact my friends if I want to go out with them, get a tee time if I want to golf plan, a fishing trip, whatever it is. But I want to make sure that that I've got a positive things that are not work. Then I’m gonna be doing that next weekend.

Scott: I found that really difficult as well. And it's certainly been a progression for me. But I've almost had to trick myself into it in some ways, as crazy as that sounds, you know, even to the point where, you know, one of the things that my wife and I do at this point is will give our kids coupons during the Christmas season of a variety of ways that we want to spend time with them and with each other and everything like that so that it gets put on our calendar for the entire rest of the year. But my question becomes like: what are some of the things that you've seen to make this easier in as a process overall? Because I think it really can be challenging and even if even if I'm, you know, have on my calendar to be able to sit down and plan out the next weekend sometimes, it's really easy to get caught up in the Friday about the things or feel like I can't, you know, put at additional time to.


Michael: Well, I think that this is where it helps to have an overarching vision for your life. In a book I wrote a couple of years ago with my friend Daniel Harkavy, it was called “Living Forward,” it's about how to have a life plan. And one of the things we talked about there is creating a vision for each of the major domains of your life. So as it turns out, there's more to life than work, right? So there's, you know, there's your personal life, your intellectual life, your spiritual life, your emotional life, there's your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your kids, your work, your hobbies, all that stuff, and they're all interrelated. So that if I don't take care of myself, in terms of my health, that could have a very negative impact on my business if I get sick or if I have a heart attack or disabled so I need to be so good for my career. Conversely, if I'm gonna work that's constantly a lot of stress if I'm burned out, that’s probably gonna have an impact of my most important relationships and maybe even my health. So I think getting clear, again, kind of go back to the vision, you know what I want, what I want my life to be about, you know, one of the things that humans have the ability to do is to deceive ourselves, you know, we kid ourselves and we, you know, we think my current situation, I know I'm stressed out, I'm working hard, I'm in this hustle mode right now. But here's where the deception comes in: it's only temporary. And I used to tell my wife Gail, I'd say, you know, as soon as we get through this, this lunch, or as soon as we get through, you know, I get adjusted to this new job that I've just taken, then everything will settle down. But these things that are temporary have a way of becoming permanent unless we have a vision for a different quality of life. And then planning the next weekend becomes a step in that direction. But I've got to keep the vision in mind or I'm probably not gonna do it.


Scott: That's interesting. And I think that, I know I asked you earlier about, you know, what are some of the opportunities that we have to say ‘no’? And I almost think that… that is one of those that we're missing in a variety of different ways where it's a when you know, when this happens, then it'll be different. However, what I’m hearing you say is that, you know, if that initial vision isn't there to actually do it differently than when it happens, things aren't going to change unless there's some other foundation that you are moving towards. Is that correct?


Michael: Well, yeah, that's absolutely correct. I mean, I think that for the average person, they've got so much stuff they're trying to manage because they've got their work life, they've got their career, maybe they're involved with their church or their community. And so there's all these demands, all these requests that are being made all these meetings, people want you to go to all these opportunities and they're all good. But we've got to have a filter otherwise, we're gonna be overwhelmed or it's like us standing on the beach facing a tsunami. But one of the tools that I talked about in the book, free to focus is the freedom compass. And this is a way to think about your book or your work that I think is a game changer. And if you could just imagine a traditional campus, imagine a circle and it has, you know, North, where you expect that at the top of the circle, South at the bottom. And North represents the freedom compass, the things that you love, the things you are passionate about, the things that give you the most joy and satisfaction represents those things, as well as the things that you're proficient at, the things you're really good at, the things that people are willing to pay you to do. And so I call that in the book “The Desire Zone” this is through north, this is the work where you make your greatest contribution, it's the highest and best use of you. Now, directly opposite for that which is due south is “The Drudgery Zone.” These are those things where you have no passion and you have no proficiency, you don't enjoy them, and you're not good at them. So when I left the corporate world, and I was managing a very large company at Thomas Nelson publishers, and we're doing about a quarter of a million dollars a year, I had two full time assistance at all of a sudden, I stepped out of that, and found myself a sole entrepreneur. And I was trying to do everything, not just the things that I loved, and the things that was good at, but increasingly, I was doing administrative tasks that for me, were not in my desire zone like they are for my current assistant, but they were in my drudgery zone. And besides that, people weren't paying me to do those things. And so the thing about this of freedom compass, and by the way, there's two other zones to where you like the disinterest zone where you might be good at it, but you don't really enjoy it, for me that was accounting. Or the distraction zone where you might enjoy doing it, but you're not very good at it. And it's where you go to escape or waste time. But the key to being able to pare down everything and being able to know what you're going to say no to is to know what's in your desire zone. And for most of us, that's a small band of activities where we could really feel good about the work. And we can really do a great job. And the more we can focus on that the bigger, better results will experience in our life and in our work. So, makes sense?


Scott: That makes a ton of sense. And it also raises another question. When in the book, you spend time talking about automation and different ways to automate and even some different areas to automate. And I am curious, what are some of the ways that we can use automation in order to spend more time in our desire zone? In specifically I'm looking for, you know, what are what are some examples of that in addition to those ways to? So, help me understand that.


Michael: Sure. Let me put it in context. This is kind of the middle third of the book where I talk about cutting all those activities. Say no to all those activities that are outside of your desire zone.


Scott: Yeah.


Michael: So I do that, under three overarching principles: eliminate, automate, and delegate. And they're in that order for a very specific reason. First of all, we don't want to, we don't want to automate something that should be eliminated. And we don't want to automate something that needs to be delegated. So we eliminate everything we can- of what's left, we ask ourselves the question, Does a human need to do it? And if so, if not, if not, then we can automate it. If so, then we have to ask the question: Am I the right human to do it? Or could it go to some other human? And that's delegation. Go back to automation. That’s just context.


Scott: Let me ask you really quick though, so…


Michael: Yeah, yep.


Scott: How do we decide if a human needs to do it?


Michael: Well, I think you work through those in the exact order I gave him. First of all, does this need to be done at all? Can I eliminate it? Second question: Could a machine do this? Could this be automated in some way? If the answer to that is ‘no’, then you basically it to the place where a human has to do it, then the question is, am I the right human to do it? And if not that it gets delegated.


Scott: Appreciate that very much. Yeah, makes a ton of sense.


Michael: Okay.


Scott: And, so the one’s that-


Michael: Can we go back to automation?


Scott: Yes, please.


Michael: So automation, okay. So one of the things I do talk about, and this is you could argue that this is the human element, but it's self-automation, where you essentially at least subtract the mental focus that it requires to do it and I talked about four specific daily rituals that everybody needs to have. And so I talked about a morning ritual, in other words, what are the things that you can do every day that set you up for the best possible day? Athletes do this, you know, they have a pregame ritual, and sometimes it's a little bit superstitious, but they go through the same things to give themselves the mind-set put themselves in the best place physically so they can go out and win the game, so a morning ritual. Then the next ritual is: work day start-up ritual. So instead of, you know, checking email all through the day, when I do that, as a part of your workday, start-up ritual, where you go through a handful of things take about 20 or 30 minutes, and then you can get on to the deep focused work, that is what you're actually paid to do. And then it worked. A shutdown ritual where you do that same thing again, except now you're trying to disengage from work so that you can leave it behind and give yourselves, give yourself fully to the evenings, activities, whether that's, you know, time with family, or time and recreation, or whatever it is, and then finally, an evening ritual so you can set yourself up for the best possible sleep because as it turns out, being rested is one of the most important things you can do to be more productive and more focused. Sleep all by itself will make you more productive and a lot of people try to be more productive by cheating on sleep, but that's why they can't focus, that's why they can't concentrate. That's why you try to read a book late at night and Keep the same paragraph over and over again because you're tired, you can't focus. So that's self-automation doing those rituals. But another kind of automation and here's what, here's what I discovered, kind of by accident about 20 years ago. And I found out that or just discovered that the same kind of requests, were coming in over and over again. And so I started to catalogue so I get a request from somebody to, you know, serve on a non-profit board or another request to make a charitable contribution or another request to get together with somebody for coffee and just so they could pick my brain. And so I catalogue these I came up with, I don't remember now about maybe 40 of these, and I said: What if I created a template response so that I could say no to these requests, but say no with grace so that I felt good about it, and the person receiving the email felt good about it. And then I save these as email templates and I'll talk about this specific format, speaking of how to say no here in just a minute. So now when somebody sends me a request because I used to be book publisher people want me to review their book proposals, and I just don't have time for that I can't do it anymore, but instead of me kind of, you know, procrastinating because I'm not quite sure what to say. And I don't want to let that person down or let it sit in my inbox until I finally get irritated enough that I get too aggressive in my response. Rather than that I just grabbed email template and- (talk to you about exactly how I do that here in a second). I grab an email template and I personalize it a little bit and it takes me about 10 seconds to respond to that email rather than 10 or 20 minutes to compose one from scratch. Now Scott, here's the cool thing. I save all of these as email signatures. So typically, people have an email signature that they've created that you know, has their phone number, their address, maybe their title, so forth, but the truth is, you can use it with most email programs have an unlimited number of signatures. You can put all kinds of blocks of text in there and then just pull those down select those as needed. And today, I've got probably 50 of them that I use on a regular basis. And it makes it so easy to respond when somebody writes in. And I can feel really good about the response. Now, can you just take a minute I’ll tell you about how I say no, with those?


Scott: Please do. That's one of the that's one of the things I am anxiously awaiting for so Yes,


Michael: Okay. So one of the best ways to say ‘no’ and I learned this from Dr. William Ury in his book “The Power of a Positive No” and that is this formula where whenever you say no to somebody, you use the “Yes-No-Yes” formula. You know, some people have called this the sandwich approach, but it's a little bit different than that. So the first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna begin with an affirmation I'm not gonna try to shame people for making a request of me or make them feel small. I want to affirm them. So for example, somebody is writing to me wanting me to review their book proposal. It might look like this, that first paragraph would say, “Hey, congratulations! You done something that most aspiring authors will never do. You've completed a book proposal.” That's one of the most important first steps you can make. “congratulations.” So that's the positive yes, right on the front end, then what I want to do is give them a no that's unambiguous or ambiguous, you know, and I'm gonna say no, in a way that's clear. And does it allow for any whistle room. I'm going to establish a clear boundary that I'm going to do it in a gracious way. So I might say something like this. I may, might say, “Unfortunately, due to my other commitments, I'm not able to say yes to your request.” So what I said there is I've linked it to my other commitments. I'm trying to be a person of integrity. I want to follow through on what I've already committed to, you know, I don't want to double book my time and because of those commitments, and it's all absolutely true, I can't say yes to your request. But notice that it's unambiguous so I'm saying in a way, I'm not I'm not saying “Hey, check back with me in a couple weeks, you know, busy right now maybe I'll have time later.” No, then I just have to deal with it later. So when a clear boundary where I, you know, put a line in the sand and say no. So that's Yes-No, and then finally another yes, where I'm going to try to be helpful if I can be helpful, you know, maybe I could refer them to somebody else. Or maybe I could just, you know, wish them well and say, look, I you know, “Wish you the best for the book all the best to try to find a publisher. If you get it published, please send me a copy or I look forward to buying a copy or something.” That ends on a positive note. I'm going to tell you something I have never had a negative reaction to a no kind of email like that usually people thank me for getting right back to them. People can handle no what they can’t handle is not knowing and so often that's what happens, we just let those kinds of requests languish in our in our inbox because we're afraid to say no, and that's the kind of thing that makes people angry, not when we actually say no.

Scott: I love that. And I so appreciate you going into detail on an example of that. And I know you have some examples in the book as well. But I'm curious for somebody who wants to sit down and write these type of templates, what would you recommend for them to be able to get started? So they can start saying no with grace.


Michael: Yeah, well, the first thing I would do is I would develop what I call a “template mind set.” In other words, anytime and this is an automation principle, but anytime you do any task, ask yourself the question: Is it likely that I will be doing the same task again? So, if I'm getting a lot of requests for book proposal review, like I am, and that's not gonna apply to most people, but whatever it is for you. If I'm getting that request a lot then what I want to do is take some extra time on the front end and write a thoughtful response that follows that yes no yes formula and then save it as a template so I can reuse it. You don't have to do all these at once, just do them as they occur incrementally as you experience them, but it starts with that template mind set. And it's not just email for example, when I'm making slide deck presentations cause I do a lot of webinars and a lot of public speaking I asked myself the question years ago I said: Is it likely that I'll ever do another webinar after the first one I did? Yeah, pretty good chance of that. So I created a webinar template using Apple keynote. So that's the basis of every webinar I ever do. I start with the template because it has the seven sections in a webinar that are all mapped out and from there it just becomes kind of fill in the blanks or paint by number. So, use a template whenever you can because it will save you time later.


Scott: I appreciate that example personally. I do a lot of webinars and public speaking as well and I have been unfortunately come to that conclusion and much later than I wish I would have so thank you for that and I also-


Michael: You’re welcome.


Scott: Yeah, different question, so you mentioned start-up ritual. And I'm curious what that looks like for you in your day to day start-up ritual? (Is I think what you would call that.) What does that look like for you personally? And another question, I was talking with one of our listeners yesterday, and they apparently are a fan of yours. They mentioned you off hand and like, well, I'm talking to Michael on the podcast tomorrow. So I can just ask him, they were curious, what time you get up in the morning and how much sleep you get?


Michael: Yeah, so let me start with the last question first. So I shoot for eight hours a night and I measure this rigorously using the oura ring, O-U-R-A, which tracks by sleep better than any device I've ever found.


Scott: Love that. It's amazing. I've got one on my finger right now.


Michael: Yeah, it is. It is amazing and it's really accurate but so I'm shooting for eight hours but I almost always get, you know, seven hours and 15 minutes. A lot of it just depends on how much tossing and turning them doing through the night, but I find that I function the best when I do that my work day start-up ritual, and by the way, I get up at 4:45.


Scott: There you have it. You heard it here.


Michael: Yeah, that's so I don't think anybody's ever asked me that question. But that's, that's what time I get up. I get up at 4:45. I do have an alarm set it almost always, almost always catch it before it goes off because I'm just you know acclimated to that. But my work day start-up ritual consists of four items. First, I empty my email inbox. And, you know, I probably get 150 emails a day, but I don't see I probably have five emails that I have to deal with in the morning. And here's why, because my assistant Jim manages my email account. So I have two email accounts. I have the one that I give to everybody out there except the people on my staff and that's the one that comes into Jim and then I have a super private email address. And Jim drags the ones that demand my attention into my private email inbox. So when I wake up, or when I get to the office, and I'm doing my start-up ritual, I'm seeing only those few emails that he felt like he couldn't handle on his own. And then it requires my, my personal touch. So that's number one. Number two is that I review and respond to slack messages. Now, slack is a piece of software that we use for all internal communication is sort of somewhere between a, email and text messaging, but we love it. We've been using it for about three years. Third thing I do is I check social media don't spend a lot of time there but I'll check my Instagram account, my Facebook account and my Twitter account, maybe respond to a few messages and I've got a social media manager who helps me with the posting so I'm just really replying to stuff and then finally I review and confirm my daily Big Three the three items that I'm going to be focused on for today, three and only three items. I'm gonna be focused on today that are really the important things that that will really move the needle on my business.

Scott: I really appreciate that. And I'm taking notes for myself, as well. And I'm curious on a semi unrelated semi related now you know you mentioned like the oura ring is an example and oura measures a ton of different things but that leads me to ask the question of, you know, what are some what are some things that you measure in your life that maybe most people wouldn't think of, you know, whether it whether it's health or fitness or sleep related or anything else along those lines, what are some things that you measure in your life that matter a lot to you, but maybe most people wouldn't, wouldn't think about?

Michael: Well, certainly all the things all the various things in the business you know, we have key operating indices that you know, we follow and that's gonna be different for every business. But in my personal life, the things that I tend to measure, like I weigh myself every single day and I'm just trying to make sure that you know, I don't, you know, my mouth doesn't get too far ahead of my stomach and you don't want to keep my weight you know, managed. There have been times when I've been on various nutrition regimens where I've measured very carefully my food intake like I went on the keto diet last August and so my wife and I were both using an app called card manager. And it wasn't so much well, I say this, we weren't used to eating as much fat as a keto diet required and we were tempted to eat too much protein and too many carbs. So by measuring it, it really kind of helped calibrate and after we got into the rhythm of that about after three months, we didn't feel like we needed to measure it anymore. So occasionally we'll do that. But the other thing I measure on about a weekly basis is I'll check the ketones in my blood you know Got a little $70 device that will check that with great accuracy. And speaking of blood, I mean, you asked him telling me, but yeah, you know, I twice a year, I go in for a comprehensive blood panel, and then I sit down and talk about it with my doctor. And the thing that I love about that is it's an early detection system, because you can see so much problems. So many problems will show up at the blood before they show up anywhere else. And so for me, managing my health, managing my energy, and by the way, productivity is more about energy management than it is time management. So I want to make sure that I'm getting adequate nutrients that all my blood level, all the different measurements are right and so I follow that pretty meticulously. So those are some of the things I measure.


Scott: Well, I really appreciate that. And I'm also very interested in what you just said. We've done a variety of different episodes on energy management as well but I'm curious what you mean when you say: Productivity is really much more energy management than anything else. Can you expand on that for me?


Michael: Sure. We'll think about how much you can accomplish like for me I'm a morning person so in the morning, that time is so precious to me you know I can accomplish more in an hour than I can in the evening in three hours because I'm rested you know my blood sugar levels, right all of that all about the energy management so when I'm energetic, I can be more focused I can accomplish more and you know, a book that was really helpful to me was Daniel Pink's book on chronotypes think it's called “When”.


Scott: When. Yeah, and yeah, absolutely. We had him on the podcast a short while ago. Great book. You mentioned it.


Michael: Awesome. Yeah, great book. And so I realized that that for example, for me as a morning person. You know, as a morning Lark, I like to do my most creative, most intense, most focused work first thing in the morning or early In the morning after I've done my morning ritual. And then I go through that trough, you know that that kind of declining period when I my focus isn't so great. Usually that's right after lunch. Oh, by the way, I take a nap for 20 minutes every single day. But after I get it from my nap, you know, I'm not at my best, I'm refreshed. But this is a great time to do administrative work or work that has it require a lot of creativity and not a lot of problem solving. And then I usually get a rebound you know, recovery later in the day and then I can go back to some more creative work so knowing that's super helpful to me. So you know, I also think there's a big aspect of energy management this just the decision you make to be energetic because your mental attitude probably more than any other single item affects how you feel about yourself and the energy that you bring into the world. And I don't remember who first told me this is not original with me, and I'd cite the source of I knew it but I don't but whoever it was said you got to decide in life, whether you're a thermostat or a thermometer. In other words, either you, you create the temperature or you reflect the temperature. And I want to be the kind of person that creates the temperature. I wanna be a thermostat. You know, I wanna have energy or I wanna bring energy. And for me a lot of times, most times, that's a decision. You know, I got to this interview with you, you know, I could Yes, after lunch my time I can be a little grog doubt. Or I can say no, I'm gonna be energetic. Scott's got an awesome program with an awesome audience. I wanna bring my best. So I'm going to be energetic. Energy is a caused thing in that sense.


Scott: Well, I appreciate you bringing me energy Michael very, very much for a variety of different reasons. Oh my goodness. We've covered a lot more different places and topics from how to have happy marriage all the way to how to say no to a variety of things in between I so appreciate you covering so many different directions here.


Michael: You're welcome.


Scott: Many more than we then we usually get into one episode and I am, I'm also curious, what at this point in your life, because I would consider you a leading expert in the ability to be productive and saying no, you're definitely influencing a chunk of the world in those areas. So what at this point in your life is most difficult for you to say no to now?


Michael: I think the on-going challenge for me is to say no to technology. Now, here's what I mean by that. I love technology. I consider myself a geek. You know, I've got if you if you could see the studio I'm in right now. I've got four max sitting on the desk in front of me, I've got two PCs across the room, and I've got my phone in my back pocket. The problem is all that technology unless we have a clear philosophy of technology and particularly as it relates to productivity those could be an immense source of distraction. So I just recently read Cal Newport's new book “Digital Minimalism.” Have you read that?


Scott: No. What did you think of it?


Michael: Oh, highly recommended. Phenomenal book.


Scott: Fantastic.


Michael: But as a result of that, what I did was I took my very expensive iPhone Xs Max, which I paid over $1,000 for or $1,200 dollars for and I removed email, I removed Slack, I removed every social media application with the exception of Instagram, but through screen time I limit my access to Instagram to 30 minutes a day. And I gave my phone to my wife and I said, I want you to enter a pass code for screen time so that I can't cheat the system. I love it. So when I run out of Instagram time, I'm out of Instagram time. So the biggest hack the biggest thing I struggle with and have to work on is keeping technology, corralled and not taking over my life. And this this is so hard, Scott. Because all these tech companies are multibillion dollar conglomerates whose one objective is to get you to use their devices and make it compulsive or get you to access their services. Like in the case of Facebook, because their entire business model relies on it, you're the product they're taking our attention collectively past packaging it and sell it to the highest bidder advertisers. And so they're at war with our focus with our attention. And they've got they've got the benefit of being able to tap in and hack our bio circuitry because every time we check those services, we get a dopamine hit a reinforcement that turns that into a compulsive behaviour before long. So one of the best things I found is to fight technology with technology and just take control of it. So even on my desktop apps, I use it app called freedom and you can find out more at freedom.to. But freedom is an application that limits your access to apps and to websites for designated periods of time. And there's no way to defeat it. You can't cheat on the system without rebooting your computer. And what that does is gives me just enough friction to remind me of what my purpose is that you know, going to check, you know, Facebook compulsively for the 30th time today. No, you know, I'm gonna deep work session and I'm gonna stay focused.


Scott: I absolutely love that and really appreciate you going into detail on that too. And again, thank you for such the range of areas that we have gone today. And the book that we've been mentioning again and again is free to focus and Michael, where can people get that book and where can they learn more about you as well?


Michael: Thank you. Well, the book is available for Better books are sold right? So it's on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, everywhere else but I would suggest that people go to: freetofocusbook.com because there were making available a ton of free bonuses some amazing stuff related to the book it's all free all you have to do is buy the book wherever you want come back, submit your receipt there and that will unlock all these free bonuses so we're really trying to drive people to buying the book and to sharing it with their friends for everything else related to me you can find me at MichaelHyatt (and that's Hyatt with a “Y”) Hyatt.com.


Scott: Amazing Thank you Michael. My wife will thank you for the advice as well I'm sure if not now then in years to come. And I really appreciate you making the time and taking the time.


Michael: Absolutely. Thank you, Scott. Appreciate you.


Scott: And we are off I was very much appreciate you. Yeah, absolutely. My pleasure. And how else can we help spread the word on this?


Michael: Well, man, I just think anything you can do to link to that site that I gave you would be awesome. And we'd like to help spread the word too. So with this with this interview is up, send us a link and we'll promote it in our social media channels as well.


Scott: We absolutely will do that. Well, wonderful to meet you. And thank you again and have a great one. Michael will talk to you later.


Michael: Thank you. Good to meet you, Scott. Bye bye.


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