“If I had stayed for other people to make my tools and things for me, I would have never made anything of [my theories].” – Issac Newton
Very often speed is not a good to have outcome, but a necessity. It helps make the competition irrelevant, it allows you to take an idea and get it to life, before the circumstances have changed. And speed allows you the freedom to try different things and choose from what is best and most profitable for you. Speed gives you the ability to be several steps ahead, always!
What if you can bring in super speed into your business,. It will help you multiply your impact exponentially, will it not?
I am the co-creator of Excellence Installation Technology and in this article, I am going to share, what you need to evolve in yourself and your eco-system so that, you are able to maintain high quality and yet achieve super speeds again and again?
I won the Yahoo Hack award twice, a decade ago. And a yahoo hack is where you build stuff that is interesting, innovative and functional within 24 hours. At a Yahoo hack, you are in big hall filled with bean bags, lots of people to partner with, food and amazing internet (back then, you couldn’t take that for granted). And you build something incredible together. The fun part of the hack is not what you do, its how quickly you manage to get it together.
Most people are fascinated when you do stuff in record time, be it writing that chapter in 1 day or putting out that website overnight, launching a million dollar campaign in a a week or less or even the seemingly mundane repetitive work. I remember Harini and I editing 27 pre and post videos within 3 hours (including the exports), during one of our events before heading to the event the next morning. What most people don’t get, is that super speed is a capability and an attitude. If it’s your way of life, you will enjoy it. If it isn’t, then when your business or family needs that from you, you will feel hard worked, beaten and utterly unfruitful.
In this article, I am going to share with you what I decoded on getting things moving at impossible speeds based on a recent experience, where I had to build a world-class webinar software platform in 5 days as a one man army, a project that would otherwise take a team of engineers several months to complete.
Here is the backstory of that event. Last year, Harini compiled a webinar titled, ‘How to Launch Your Legacy in 3 Years instead of 10 or 20’. The webinar allowed us to finally create a channel to interact with thousands of people who have been watching our videos, hearing our podcasts and following our blogs but haven’t yet experienced our work in person. Very soon, we found through data analytics, that people we have never seen, really connected with us as individuals from these webinars. And very soon, we started doing the webinar as often as we could make time. At the peak, it was about once a month. And then the totally unexpected happened. The webinar platform that we used (supposedly the finest) started to crash in between the webinars. We wrote to customer support, tried different systems, internet connections. The people on the webinar were getting replays of the stream randomly and worse, some viewers saw a screen that read, ‘webinar had ended’.
How do we connect with our fans? The easiest option appeared to be to search for another vendor, so I got my team on it. And it turned out when we did a load testing, most hybrid webinar platforms had the same problem. My team still kept searching and we went on with it for 4 months. I like to buy softwares if I can, instead of building them, even if the platform gives me 80% of what I want, I would rather use something that is already there, than build it myself at the cost of not doing something else that only I can do at this point in time. Besides, I was busy at the uP! event, consultations and so many other things going on in the business that, I pushed my team harder to evaluate an alternate software. And after evaluating over 28 different platforms and doing a solid load and reliability testing, they managed to find 2 promising vendors on the 2nd of June. And we were excited, we are planning the webinar for June 9th and around the 2nd evening, we find out that the 2 promising vendors had show stopper bugs too.
A part of me was saying, how come nobody has faced this challenge before? It can’t be true. But the data was right in front. And then it dawned on me that most corporate users, use softwares like zoom because their need is a conferencing tool and not really a webinar platform. And the webinar players were serving a very small and niche set of audience who had to put up with whats there because there was no alternative. Unlike conferencing tools like Zoom, the webinar platforms in the market were buggy and not reliable.
That was the big revelation. And at the moment, it became clear. We either accept the lowered standard, take a risk and gamble. Or take a stand for higher quality and reliability.
I remember pacing around the room, and checking with the team, if not the coming weekend, when can we have the next webinar, and… before I realized I heard the words that just left my mouth, ‘create a registration page to our own systems’. And then I reflected on what I said, and this time consciously confirmed, ‘We are building our own webinar platform’.
My team was quick, they got the page live on Sunday. And we started to get about 3 registrations every minute. At this time, we didn’t even have a webinar platform to host the extremely well done, private, interactive event with Harini. We knew the countdown has begun and its time for super speed.
11 Accelerators to Attain Impossible Speed:
The things I have learned from this experience can be invaluable for navigating your own business and the relationships in your family. Sometimes, change and new initiatives can be slow, but it’s when you get it on time, that you reap the benefits of your efforts.
1. Enough is Enough
I still remember the feeling in my body when my team suggested we go back to the previous webinar platform because we couldn’t find anything better. And it was a strong sense of intolerance to mediocrity. I didn’t want a mediocre webinar, I wanted a great webinar. Harini deserves it. She has put in such brilliant content and I wasn’t going to let a software glitch get in the way of an amazing experience. And I think this is the most significant thing about super speed is that you have high standards.
People with high standards get things done faster than people who compromise. People who compromise, do so, thinking that they don’t have time, but what they don’t realize is that compromising takes more time, money and effort.
I have helped thousands of people make impossible changes in their life, from fighting medical conditions, turning around ruined marriages, getting people who are diagnosed with depression to live happily and even helping businesses in debts move to profitability and breakthrough’s always start with the same feeling.
When you can feel enough is enough about the situations you have been tolerating in your life, you are setting up the standard in your own thinking that will create the energy and momentum for you to sustain your decision and make things happen. That’s what happened to me. I still remember the feeling. We were in our office terrace, the place that is filled with the guitar sounds and people singing, had an absolute silence, we were having a serious discussion and someone had suggested how about we go back to …. and there was a pause. And I felt that feeling in my stomach. Enough is enough, we are not going back to that broken software. And that is how everything that you do where you manage impressive and incredible results will start. It will start with a strong response coming out of a strong purpose. In this specific example, the feeling was, enough is enough. In other instances it has been love, curiosity and even exhilaration. What happened here is not very different from how I went about learning Neuro Linguistic Programming or developing Excellence Installation Technology. It comes from a strong purpose. And a desire for excellence.
2. Be Real
The irony of getting things done incredibly fast is to recognize the reality of the situation. Most people who miss deadlines and fail to complete on time are optimists who under estimate the reality of the situation. It’s one thing to be arrogant and say ‘I can do anything’ although the rest of the world takes a long time to do it. And another thing to rise up to the challenge that no one has done before. Rising up, requires you to know from the beginning, what you are up against. And this is where experience and exposure, really helps.
The more experienced you are and the more exposure you have gained, the more likely you are to be accurate about the realities of the situation. When you are inexperienced, everything seems only like a day’s work. And the result is you may not get it done even after an entire year. On the other hand, when you are experienced, you know it will take X time and then, when you don’t have enough time, you begin to innovate.
Someone once said, necessity is the mother of all innovation. It’s knowing that you don’t have time and rising up to the challenge that creates the necessity for you to innovate. Knowing the reality will allow you to remove the fluff, the non-essential and focus solely on the core. I had to knock off several features that were good to have but not necessary because from the beginning I knew it was going to be a race against the clock.
I have made a decision to make this my standard hiring question: give people a incredible project and ask them how long will they take to complete it. From previous experience, I think we will meet at-least 3 type of people:
i) Those who will commit to an incredible short time and base that out of shallow confidence
ii) Those who commit to a safe boring and anyone can do deadline.
iii) Those who commit to a relatively short time, knowing why that’s hard to pull off. And they would tackle the timeline using their quick hacks, innovations and creativity. These candidates are the gems.
The key word here is relative.
If you have to be real you got to have a reference from either your own experience or even better from the best of the teams around the world. And when someone can beat that timeframe, fully knowing the reality, those people are real gems.
Sometimes, you have to validate with people outside to know that you are real. I called up my friend Raja and brainstormed the architecture with him, just to validate that I have not missed out on anything. This is the phase most people miss out on. When you are in a hurry, remember to evaluate the magnitude of the challenge. It maybe bigger than it appears at the first look.
3. Know your people including yourself
Be it the hack award that we did in 24 hours or the IEEE paper that was published in less that a week’s time, the key to real results has been finding the right people for the job and knowing their strengths and limitations. And this includes your own self. When we were doing the webinar platform one day before the launch, I knew my designer on board wasn’t going to be able to fix all the bugs across all the browsers.
Predicting this ahead of time, allowed me to get my ex-colleague Alex involved, who went out of the way, supported me remote over the night, woke up at 6 am, took a 1 hour train and reached my office to help us go live. And between the time I said goodnight, till I heard my phone ring in the morning, I had a very peaceful sleep because I knew I could trust him. And the trust turned to be well-founded. He arrived 10 minutes earlier than he committed and took about the time he had anticipated it would take to complete the work and left to his office afterwards. I knew in his heart, Alex wanted us to succeed and that he would go this extra mile.
Can not the super techie Antano, recipient of several awards and author of programming books learn CSS and styling, after-all? Yes, he can. But there is a difference between learning and mastering. And when I commit myself to do anything in a short while, the question I ask is: Can I Master it within the time I have? And when I mean mastery, my standards are pretty high. And that makes a very big difference.
Most people who build things or start a business get to it, just knowing the surface about their business or just knowing enough to get stuff done at a surface level. Mastery saves time. In his incredible book: The Mythical Man-Month, Frednick Brooks, writes about his experience of developing a complex software with 10 great developers within a month that, another team could not deliver with 100 good programmers in several months.
There is a world of difference between good and great. And clearly,
I can do it,
I can do it well and
I can do it extraordinarily well, are all very different.
Knowing your people and yourself in terms of where their heart is and what have they really mastered is key to achieve super speed. Most people think that they have mastered what they do. It’s up to you to train your ability to spot the difference.
4. What you have is more than what you think you have
You find this in life often. You want some resource for your business or you want some help in getting something done and you begin to open your eyes to people and resources that you just didn’t realize were already there to support you. How cool can this get? Using Google backend meant, I didn’t have to worry about load, security, connectivity issues, scale – everything was taken care of :)
But the challenge is most people don’t know when what they always wanted is already in their life.
When I was just learning Neuro Linguistic Programming, a friend’s friend during a dinner told me about how he gets into rage and it’s ruining his life. I offered my help, having dealt with people like that before. The promise was give me 45 minutes and if what has worked for others works for you, you will never face rage again. He asked me for my fee and I told him, I have a full time job as a CTO and I would do this for him without any charge. He told me, that it must mean I was just learning and want someone to experiment with. I felt sad for him. Several years later, I got an enquiry through my website, it was the same guy, asking for a one-on-one intervention to help him sort his rage, but by that time, I was already unaffordable for him. On the other spectrum, I helped hundreds of people for free during the time I offered him help, and sometimes even spending my own money on travel and stay. I was driven by curiosity, the fact that something people were stuck with for decades can change in minutes fascinated me. And when someone from America and Australia who were connected through friends of friends could benefit from the rare work I was doing, someone in the same city, who had easier access to me, missed it completely.
The saddest thing, according to me, is when you have what you desire in your heart right here, in front of you and if you don’t even know that is passing by you until it is gone. And this is the biggest factor for people taking years and decades to do what they could have accomplished in months.
When you start to know people beyond their degree, certificates, awards and nationality, you will start to recognize the gems you have in your life, in your circle, in the world, who can help you convert decades into years.
Several years ago, we published a magazine called NLP Revolution, which did us real good and helped people learn and become aware of several useful things. The editor of that magazine was a 24 year old girl with an HR background. She didn’t have the ‘writer’ background but we saw the writer in her. Harini is a musician and a singer but I saw the ‘entrepreneur’ in her, when we decided to launch our business. The unpolished diamonds are difficult to notice but for the one with the eye for it, you will find yourself sitting in a pool of unlimited talent.
And super speed requires finding this talent, resources and bringing them in.
A woodsman was once asked, “What would you do if you had just five minutes to chop down a tree?” He answered, “I would spend the first two and a half minutes sharpening my axe.”
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday until noon: I wrote less than 100 lines of code. I invested this time learning Angular. I validated my assumptions. I developed my capability to code in Angular and deliver results, reliably. This is where acceleration comes from. By building REAL capabilities.
Your ability to become CAPABLE in a new skill within short time is going to be directly proportional to the variety of things you can do and enjoy in life. I didn’t jump into coding. I took the time to make myself ready.
What skills and capabilities do you have to invest in, so that you are prepared for your business fully?
This is why in the uP! events we focus so much on developing new capabilities and getting the cobwebs out of the way so that you can learn to learn faster, so that you evolve by continuously building new capabilities to complement what you already bring in.
The A&H Fast Track Membership to Launch Your Legacy helps you find the most critical and important capabilities you need to develop and helps you implement it with installations during the 6 day events. So, that when you go back into your work after the program, you are taking with you REAL capabilities and not a set of techniques that you have to practice or remember to do. I am a fan of letting things happen naturally, from within. And that can happen only when what you want to do differently becomes innate. And capabilities are good habits that have become innate.
6. The 80/20 Rule
On Wednesday, we did a full system test of the Webinar platform. I had gotten it done almost. Because from almost done, to FULLY done is at least 4 times work. This is how it is with most things. You can complete 80% of the stuff in 20% of the time but it’s the finishing touch, the last 20% that will take 80% of your time.
While, this is a rule known to most people, what most people don’t realize is the importance to test and validate after you get your 80% done. Before you invest the other 80% of your time doing the 20% stuff, you want to make sure the core of what it is that you are after, is absolutely done, tested and validated.
And most times, this is easy to do. It takes only 20% of the total time. But for whatever reason people seem to leave this stage for last. And most times, because they don’t want to repeat things.
Every single achiever, I have met, have zero reluctance for repetition. They don’t mind doing something now, and repeating the same work again and again and again if that means quicker iterations and faster validations.
People who wait till the end to test and validate, justify it saying, I don’t want to waste time, repeating things. But at the heart of it is laziness. Not the creative laziness that leads to innovation, but the laziness that leads to delays and misses in the deadline.
So what, if we do the testing on Wednesday and have to do it again. So what, if I have to re-write the code, after the full code is written. If it meant more clarity and reliability, I don’t mind a couple more iterations.
Be it storyboarding for making a movie, a business plan, market testing: Do a rough execution with the core in place and validate. Chances are that you will have to rework on it. But you would rather do that and be reliable. Because the danger of not validating the core outcome is that you complete everything and then identify the problems that you can no longer fix. A lot of airports and even cities have been constructed that way.These days, they spend a good money and time to get the basic layout done in full scale, go over it after its done and make a decision on, if they have to change the design or not.
What is the core function of your business growth that you have not validated yet? Get the 80% done at it’s quickest hack and validate it.
7. Measure Results not Efforts
It doesn’t matter that I worked about 120 hours in 6 days to get the platform up. What matters is that, we build a highly reliable and quality webinar platform for our own use that ‘worked‘.
Do not celebrate hard work. Celebrate ‘progress’, Celebrate ‘Outcomes’. Celebrate ‘Achievements’. It sends the right message to your neurology. I have often met people who either: complain that they have not been doing much, or people who are very satisfied that they are putting in productive hours consistently.
While it is necessary to consistently put in productive hours, the right measurement is what is the outcome or consequence you are creating with it.
Be careful, the difference between a workaholic and an entrepreneur is that the former gets a kick from saying how long he/she has worked and the other gets a kick out of the impact they are creating.
As a team, we celebrate, we celebrate every success. This sends the right message to our neurology that we like to be efficient, purpose driven and to do several more incredible things.
8. Enjoy the Journey
Even though I worked 17 to 20 hours a day for this week, I played the guitar, I sang songs. I had my moments of laughter, good food and great sleep. And this is absolutely necessarily because you can work like a donkey and produce output like a donkey or you can bring in your intelligence into what you do.
You are more intelligent and effective when you get sleep, when you laugh, when you are relaxed. And playing music and having fun boosts the creativity. I have seen smart people take forever and do stupid things when they are tired.
The ability to be responsible and yet take breaks to manage your state and energy requires very fine balance and artistry. You know you don’t have time. You are overclocking but you still got to take care of your state. Some people take care of their state and give up by taking long breaks and some people can work continuously but ineffectively. It’s the right combination that is tricky. And I hope you find it.
Find a sport, an art form, and push your personal excellence each time you engage in that activity and have fun with it.You will be surprised, how much you can achieve in a short time, when you have the full capabilities of your mind and neurology supporting you. In addition to building the webinar software, I had other responsibilities, several others that I had to do in parallel, and yet I managed to enjoy the entire week.
Can you say that about your work? If not, learn to enjoy your journey. And it’s not about what you do. It’s a capability and an attitude. And it can be developed.
In SuP!r Masters, Harini and I take a set of niche participants to an international destination for a residential program. And we encourage them to accomplish a project of their heart that they discover there within those 7 days. And in addition to being within the program and learning several new things, they also learn to sing by mirroring Harini (she is a play back singer for Indian movies). And it is incredible to see people completing 80% of their book in those 7 days, some people launch their entire business: all while they learn to have fun and push their excellence in singing at the same time.
In my opinion, this is the most tricky part of becoming a super speeder, is finding that balance: where your performance, productivity, learning, fun and rest is optimum even during high pressure situations. And I believe that it takes artistry, a highly resourceful peak states of mind and a combination of several superior capabilities to create that balance.
9. Be Ready for Anything
When you finish a running race, you don’t look at the finish line, you look beyond the finish line. In the business world, when you get things done, you will discover newer things to handle that you didn’t anticipate!
11:00 am: The scheduled time for the webinar, participants are trying to login and some of them send us a message saying that they are getting kicked off the room!
I immediately started the diagnosis and found that google had an hourly limit on the hits in addition to the 10,000 hits per month that was in their pricing plan. It took me about 3 minutes from the time, we got the complaint to diagnose and to resolve it.
Earlier at 10:20am, I had gone to a separate room to be by myself. I was so sleepy, that I would have just slept. So, I started worshipping God, praying and singing songs. At 10:40, I went and experienced the most liberating shower. And at 11:00 when the challenge appeared, I was ready, in the full force of my alert mind. The result: we got everyone back into the webinar.
Contrast this to, at 10:20am when everything is done after 36 hours of very little or no sleep, you are lazing and chilling around and feeling tired and sleepy. No, I had to wake myself and be ready for the unexpected.
Everyone faces unexpected situations but a super speeder will face more of them simply because they are doing more and covering more distance in the same time.
It’s like in a year they are living the experiences of several years. So, with speed you need the wisdom to be ready for anything. And the preparedness to be ready for it.
Do you have the energy, stamina and mental strength to handle the unexpected in your business, with the full force of your alert mind?
I don’t know why it works this way but the more you give, the more you get. I can think of several logical reasons but I think it’s bigger than that. Writing this article has taken my about 3 hours. And I could rather be sleeping today and taking my vacation after the marathon but in my heart I know I must share this.
Give. It will make you faster and better at what you do, and more importantly happier :) You don’t need to do something outside of what you are doing in life to give back.
You just have to take what you are already doing and add a little more time to make it useful for other people.
More than a decade ago, I was building a web platform for a client, who wanted it built on MODx. And I had never heard of it, and it didn’t have any documentation. And after I had finished the project for him, I wrote a small review on the open source groups so that others can learn it more easily. Packt publications which is now one of the largest technology publications in the world, saw the post and invited me to write the first book on MODx.
In addition to this blog, I may make the source code of the platform I have built open source, so that creators from around the world can build on top of it. Mother Teresa fed thousands of people by getting broken biscuits from a biscuit company that was going wasted but made every day!
What are some things that you can give by just investing another 5% of your time and money into what you are already doing for yourself?
11. Ecological Safety
Caution: Most people who try to go fast, miss out on this.
When you do beyond and take more load, there is load on the entire eco-system. For example: my team members who were not involved in the development of this project, didn’t have my time for all the things they wanted my attention.
Make sure you understand how load affects people who are not involved directly. When you take load, it’s just not you. So, this is what I am going to do, I am going to sleep and take a 2 day vacation but before I do, I am going to make sure the team has what they need so that they don’t have to go on a overdrive later.
Are you aware of what impact you have on your spouse/children/parents when you are overworked? Don’t blame them for their indifference to you later.
When you work hard, you are getting them to work hard too (mentally, emotionally).
Just be sensitive about it and the support you get will make everyone’s life better.
Super speeding is not for everyone. You can be a speed junkie. Or you can create immense value and impact with this kind of speed. The choice is yours when you understand the difference.
You can be superman racing foot vendors pushing carts and feel proud that you walked faster than them or you can actually come to speed and do something useful. The wisdom of super speeding requires happiness, a quality eco-system, a strong purpose and your intelligence.
Wish you well and super speed!