Tough Things First Author Ray Zinn says, “Your life is your business, but don’t make your business your life.” It may seem easy, but for many it isn’t. In this Tough Things First podcast, Ray and guest host Rob Artigo discuss the pitfalls of misplaced priorities.
Rob Artigo: Rob Artigo here, your guest host for this edition of Tough Things First the podcast. I’m a screen writer and an investigative consultant in California, being invited back is always a pleasure, Ray, hi.
Ray Zinn: Hey Rob. So good to hear your voice again.
Rob Artigo: Along with doing the Tough Things First, you’ve always been an advocate for life, work, balance. So you recently wrote, “Your life is your business, but don’t make your business your life.” What did you mean by that?
Ray Zinn: Well we are all entrepreneurs even if we don’t run a company. So our life is our business and we should run it like a business, meaning we should be careful in the way we manage our resources, both our time and our money, and also the way we interface with others.
So, you know, your life is your business and you should make it a good business. So to be successful you have to run a successful life. That’s what I meant by your life is your business.
Rob Artigo: When I look at that, “Your life is your business,” and I think about it in the way that you just explained it, it kind of gave me a different perspective. I was thinking more along the line of, you know your life is your business but don’t make your business your life, but you really mean your life is what should be your top priority because the business of your life is what you do day in and day out always. All of the actions that you do in your life are your life. As opposed to your business life, which is, you know the part of the day where you’re working at an actual business.
Ray Zinn: Exactly. So, you know if you treat your life as your business, then you will do what’s appropriate and run it in a successful way. You know we all try to go out there and earn the most money we can for ourselves and our family and we also try to negotiate like we would if we were a business. Various needs, whether it will be health benefits or whatever, we also negotiate those.
So, you know, you do run your life like a business, and you should be thinking of it that way, but on the other hand you don’t want to make your business your life. What I mean by that is, that you know, if you don’t know when to quit and go home and be part of your family, you know your family’s going to go find somebody else. So, you know, if you don’t take care of your family, somebody else will. I know people who make their business their life, and they’re miserable in my mind, I mean they, divorce is common, other personal problems creep in when you make your business your life.
I know of a CEO, he’s no longer the CEO but, of a large company in the bay area, who would call meetings at 2:00 in the morning and demand that the staff be there for those meetings. Of course, that’s very disruptive to the family and this person just did it out of pure spite, I mean he lived at his office so to speak, and it didn’t bother him to be calling meetings at all times of the day and night. It was very disruptive to their families and of course it didn’t bother him because he didn’t have a family.
So, you know, make your life your business but don’t make your business your life. I mean, people say that they have to work, you know, 15, 20 hours a day, you know six or seven days a week. That’s just not true. If, you do the tough things first, if you learn how to organize your time so that you get 20% more done, you’re not going to have to work, you know Saturday’s and Sunday’s or 12, 15 hour days to get the job done.
I know sometimes people work long hours just to make a point, you know, so they think well if I work 12, 15 hours, then my employees will do the same and I’ll get more done. That’s not true. That is absolutely a falsest. There’s no need to have to work that many hours a day. Yeah, if you want to put in 10 hours, five days a week, okay 50 hours, you know, that’s okay. I mean that’s, that seems to be kind of a norm here, especially in Silicon Valley, but it’s not necessary.
If you feel the need to work 24/7, there’s just something wrong, either in your brain, or in your business. You know, I ran Micrel for 37 years, very successfully, profitable 36 out of those 37, and I never had to work Saturday’s and Sunday’s. I never had to work 15 hours a day, you know some days I worked 12 hours and some days I worked eight or nine, but I certainly didn’t have to work 24/7. They say well, but don’t you take your work home with you, so to speak?
Well yeah you do think about work a little bit, and if I’m honest, I’d say yeah, there are times when I’m on the phone with somebody at 8:00 or 9:00 at night, but those are exceptions, not the rule.
Rob Artigo: Creative people are often in that situation, where the work sort of never goes away. As a writer, when I’m writing a story, a screen play, or a novel, or something, the story’s in my head. So when I’m, no matter where I am, the story’s still trying to work itself out. So I can, that kind of thing, in your creative process, it’s going to come out in the things that you watch, you know, the meals that you have a restaurant or something. You’re going to have things that trigger ideas and you’re going to make little notes and that sort of thing, but what you’re saying is, sometimes you’ve got to put the pen down and not write.
Ray Zinn: Exactly. Right, as I said, don’t make your business your life. Don’t make screen writing your life. As they say, there must be balance in all things and so, you want to make sure, … or moderation I guess, it’s moderation in all things. So, you want to moderate the amount of time and effort you’re spending at the job. I’m saying flat out, you know, there is no need to work 24/7. You can say yeah, but I can’t, it’s on my mind, you know I can’t shut my mind off. Well then, you have to work on that. That’s something that’s, needs to be fixed. You should be able to compartmentalize your personal life with your business. If you don’t, you know, your family’s going to suffer and then you’re going to suffer.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, you’re going to be on your way to burn out.
Ray Zinn: Exactly. You’re burned out and you don’t even know it.
Rob Artigo: Right. Exactly. I mean you just keep on working and you go into auto-pilot mode, and it is self-destructive, it’s a self-destructive cycle to place so much emphasis on the work aspect that everything else suffers, because your health suffers, your family suffers, you know, and ultimately you know, your finances will suffer, in some way, shape or form. Like you said, Tough things First your book, famously will get people to improve their productivity 20%. I mean that’s, you’re probably losing 20% when you’re burning out. So, you’re running in a deficit. So, if you do that work, life, balance that you talk about, and you’re already in burn out mode and you work on it, to get out of burn out mode, lets say it’s a productivity change of 40%. It’s a 40% swing. So, it’s another way of looking at it, is when you feel like you’re down, you make some life changes, do the tough things first, and you find your productivity increasing. But also your relaxation time and your time with your family and all that does is help you out as a person.
Ray Zinn: Yeah. If you make your business your life, your family’s going to be less supportive. Without the support of your family, I can promise you, you’re not going to be successful. So, you know, balance your time, if there’s some things that you don’t have to personally do, in fact there’s, I wrote a little thought about that just the other day.
I was talking about, you know that some things that we do that we shouldn’t be doing, are just habit. We do them because they’re just in habit and so we think you know, we just get in that routine of doing them. When in fact, we don’t have to do them, we just do them because we like doing them or it becomes a habit. So those are things you want to look at and put aside.
The second one, of course, is just delegating properly. Maybe you feel, well I’m the only one that knows how to do it, or I’m the only one that can do it. That’s just arrogant. I mean, and you’re not training anybody, you’re not teaching by that way so you know, delegate as much as you can. Get out of this mode of you’re the only one who can do it, or knows how to do it. I mean that’s, you’re not helping anybody and not helping yourself.
So take time to train somebody in a particular function that doesn’t have to be necessarily done by you. So, anyway, let’s not make our business our life, let’s make our life our business.
Rob Artigo: Thank you Ray.
Ray Zinn: Thank you Rob.
Rob Artigo: And everyone can join the conversation, continue it at toughthingsfirst.com. Your questions and your comments are welcome there and you can follow Ray Zinn on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn of course, social media is very active. Ray’s out there with, as you mentioned, something he just wrote recently, what’s out? Thoughts Here and There, but it’s just a great way to continue your business education and as you say Ray, “It’s not just your education for your business, it’s about the business that is your life.”
Ray Zinn: Right.
Rob Artigo: Thanks Ray.