WRITE DOWN HOW YOU FEEL to Unclutter Your Mind and Release Your Negative Energy w/ Pete SenaMay 04, 2022
Welcome to episode 42 of the Mindful & Driven podcast! It’s all about how to not lose sight of what really matters whilst chasing your dreams.
Episode 42’s guest is Pete Sena. He is the founder of Digital Surgeons. They started with only $5,000 in the bank and they built it into a multi-million-dollar business with over 50 employees. Pete finds that his ADHD has had a big impact on his life and the best style of work-life balance for him. He is always thinking about how he can make his mind calm but also make the best use of the way his brain works.
I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation! I’d love it if you could subscribe, leave me a review and follow me on social channels.
- You can find all my work and socials here: http://amardeep.co
- Download my free Anti-Burnout Toolkit here: http://antiburnout.mindfuldriven.com
- United for Global Mental Health: https://unitedgmh.org/mental-health-support
- Find more about Pete: https://www.petesena.com/
- Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/petesena
- Follow him on Medium: https://petesena.medium.com/
Topics discussed in this episode:
- How to better manage your negative emotions.
- How to turn your ADHD into an asset.
- Why it’s important to let your negative emotions out.
- How to be more candid.
- How to say what you feel without sounding like a bad person.
- Why it’s important to label your feelings.
- Non-violent communication and how it can help you achieve balance.
- How to balance your mind and life.
- How to calm your mind.
- Why you should communicate your feelings to others.
- Why it’s important to pay attention to your emotions.
- Why you should prioritize your mental health over your friends.
- Introduction (0:00)
- Fake it until you make it? (2:32)
- Toxic relationships (4:15)
- I was that guy. (9:13)
- We teach people how to treat us (18:16)
- Striving for harmony (21:07)
- Time blocking (26:39)
- Purpose, autonomy, and mastery (30:00)
“Himalayas” by Mona Wonderlick — bit.ly/youtube-monawonderlick
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free download: bit.ly/himalayas-download
[00:00:00] Pete: So I would get a lot of energy release from getting my thoughts out and, you know, I call it keyboard cowboy, right? And a lot of times you can do that. So let’s say I’m really mad at you because of something you did, but I don’t want to talk to you about it. It’s just insignificant. I can write you a letter or an email and just send it to nothing, right? Like literally just, I wrote an email to myself. I wrote, I wrote a letter to you and I crumpled it up and I throw it away. Right. There’s something about the energy release that that’ll make you feel good, but then you don’t have to sort of like mess up other things in your life. So that’s just
[00:00:41] Amardeep: Welcome to the Mindful and Driven Podcast, where we help you to not lose sight of what’s really important whilst chasing your dreams. Today’s guest is Pete Sena. He is the founder of Digital Surgeons. They started with only $5,000 in the bank and they built it into a multiple million-dollar business with over 50 employees. Pete finds that his ADHD has had a big impact on his life and the best style of work-life balance for him. He is always thinking about how he can make his mind calm but also make the best use of the way his brain works. I really hope you enjoy our conversation today.
[00:01:11] Welcome to mindful of different Pete. It’s a pleasure to have you on. For those of you watching on YouTube, you’ll notice that he’s got a beautiful light in the background.
[00:01:17] Pete: I love my light background. Yeah. That’s a really interesting artist collective called Koolzo
[00:01:22] Amardeep: We’ve talked before previously, so obviously know you’ve got a huge marketing background and a business background. But what I really liked about our previous conversation was he mentioned how important balance is to you and you don’t just want to burn out and just chase money as much as you can. What advice do you see out there quite often that you really disagree with and you think that it’s taking people down the wrong path?
[00:01:42] Pete: I love that question. I think the thing that I used to hate hearing, it really got me angry. I don’t get as angry at anymore these days thanks to meditation, but the advice, fake it til you make it. I used to hear that a lot when I was coming up as like, oh, just fake it til you make it. Fake it to make it. And I understand the intention of that advice. You know, the intention is of that advice as to, kind of thrust yourself into something and just work through something, even if you don’t know, and that is often the intention with it, but I think that what shows up is a lot of inauthenticity. So I don’t like that advice because it’s, I don’t think anybody should fake anything. I think that people are much more willing to help when people admit what they don’t know. So, you know, I find, you know, I work in the consulting space. I advise a lot of startup founders and CEOs. I love when people say, I don’t know. Hey, can you help me understand? Or can you get some advice on this topic or whatever it is, you know, whether I’m mentoring or coaching or consulting or whatever, like I always say, just lean into what you know, lean and it’s really easy to know what you don’t know when you are mindful of what you do know. And that’s just a piece of advice that I don’t like is that fake it til you make it, because I think that people are much more willing to help you when you’re honest and upfront about like what you’re after and, you know, be very transparent with what you’re trying to accomplish.
[00:03:02] Amardeep: Yeah. And I think I hear this advice, especially in front of people fresh out of university or really early in their careers. And I just completely disagreed because we’re not on the same team as them. It’s a nightmare to work with them. Right. Because if they’re faking it, then you didn’t know about the problems until they’ve got too big and that causes you more stress and more pain in the future rather than if they just openly say, oh, I’m struggling with this at the moment, here’s what I’m trying to, it’s not quite working and even if you don’t necessarily help them at that point, but at least you’ve got your expectations set correctly. And I think that helps so much in business, in any areas of life, is that if you tell people where you’re at, it doesn’t mean that they’re obliged to help you, but at least they can plan around that they can adjust their expectations to understand, maybe this isn’t going to happen. Maybe it is. Whereas if he tells me this is definitely going to be done on this day, and then on the day you work, actually, I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s going to be a much more negative effect.
[00:04:01] Pete: A hundred percent. I couldn’t agree more. I think, you know, nothing breeds distrust more than when you know, someone is like BSing you, you know what I mean?
[00:04:12] Amardeep: And it’s the whole spotlight effective thing as well, where it’s remembering that people have other troubles, other things going on in their life. And just because they’re not over the top supporting you. It doesn’t mean they’re against you. It just might mean they don’t have time right now. And they could still hope the best for you and still wish you well. Have you ever heard that in your businesses?
[00:04:31] Pete: Oh my god. Like you’re striking a chord with me in so many ways. Like, well, first and foremost, I think that the idea of toxicity or toxic relationships I think is oftentimes really blown out of proportion. So a good example of what you just said is like, you know, so I’ll talk about, you and I talked a lot about last time in terms of just how meditation really helped to rewire my thoughts and just how thinking about balance and harmony and thinking about intention has really changed things. So I’ll talk about just like the idiotic version of myself when I was younger. Right. So I very much would have that mindset where when someone was not constantly supporting me or cheering me on, I would immediately think that they’re, you know, against me or have an issue. And like you make up these stories in your head, right. About like what people are saying or thinking or feeling. And, you know, the reality is it’s not true a lot of times. A lot of times it just, it’s not a priority. You know, people’s attention now is more fragmented and more distracted than ever. So the biggest piece of advice that I would offer up to my former self when I was younger is, If you’re going to set a new boundary where you’re going to say, okay, I’m going to remove toxic people from my life or whatever, define what toxic means. Define what, what behaviors you think are toxic. Let people know that because generally, if let’s say you and I were working together back in the past, and I’m putting out some content. You use the example of sharing content and I’m like, Hey, well you keep saying, you want to support me, but every time I post something, you know, are you seeing my content? And you’re like, yeah, I’ve seen it. And you’re like, I’m like, well then why aren’t you liking it and sharing it or using an example, I’m trying to tap into my younger self. It’s a little bit more immature. Right. And. If that was a situation you may be like, oh, I had no idea that was important to you or I’ll definitely do that. I think the problem that I’ve noticed lately is we have a culture of ghosting and obviously we’ve all seen that in relationships, right. Where you’re dating someone on a dating app or whatever, and you just get ghosted. I think that the energy around that is people are scared to say how they feel. They’re scared to, so there’s a great book called Radical Candor by Kim Scott. And she really sort of made this idea of how do you say exactly how you’re feeling, but without being an asshole and there’s some fun charts and graphs and stuff. I am sure you can include in the show notes, but you know, for me, you have to label those behaviors and you have to let people know how. And the term, I think the professional term, I think is nonviolent communication, which is when you tell someone how their actions or inaction are making you feel. So I feel like one of my biggest mistakes when I was younger is not telling people how I felt not setting those boundaries, not being able to tell them, hey, listen, when you do these things, it makes me feel this way. I’m feeling very unsupported and it’s hard to do, right. It’s almost even a little bit cringy, even hearing me say it right. But I think that, what people like Kim Scott and Bernie brown and other folks that are really leaning into that vulnerable way of communicating have realized that you can foster some really powerful relationships, because I think if you go and you just start ghosting and debting people that, because they, you think that they’re behaving toxically, they might not ever know. And then at the end of the day, when you do it, they just think you’re an asshole. And I hope you don’t have to beep that out, but but yeah, no, that’s, that’s just what shows up for me is that, you have to define it and then you have to hold the space and then you have to hold you in the other people accountable to do that. You know, I see that a lot on like Instagram or Facebook or whatever social platform you’re on. If people will be like, okay I’m going to unfriend a bunch of people and they’re just looking for attention, but anybody who doesn’t take interest in me, I’m going to unfriend. Like I see that all the time. And then I’ll never come out on that publicly. Sometimes if the person is close to me, if I went to school with them or university or whatever, I’ll shoot them a note on a DM and I’ll say, hey, are you okay? And they’ll be like, yeah, why? They’ll be like, well, I just notice, like there’s a lot of like charged up energy. It feels, it feels toxic, feels negative. It feels angry. Are you okay? And they’re like, oh yeah, just someone put a shitty comment on one of my things. I’m like, so you’re going to blast out to all 750 of your friends because one person put a comment. So I think that w we live in a world today where it’s, and trust me, I’m an extremist myself, right. I go from zero to a hundred like this. So I think sometimes understanding the balance and the harmony that everything doesn’t have to be at 11 to make a spinal tap a music reference for a second. Right? Like there can be sort of like a gradient or shades of gray as to what you deem a specific behavior. So I hope that is helpful.
[00:09:07] Amardeep: Yeah. And I think one aspect of that as well is that people often, they don’t say how they feel. And if they did say how they feel, it also helps rationalize it. Right. Because when, what you’re talking about in your head, sometimes you can get very irrational. You can have a negative spiral. But as soon as you start saying it out loud, you’re saying, well actually, am I being a bit too harsh here? And is this me being fair or am I just expect too much? Whereas, if you never tell the person, you can never have that conversation, because for example, let’s say you were annoyed at somebody and you said to somebody, look, I expect you to do this to me. And they can say, look, I don’t think that’s reasonable. I think you were expecting too much. And like, I don’t, I don’t think I can fulfill that and said, if that’s going to be a problem for you, then that’s okay, I understand. But thank you for letting me know. That’s the reason why. And I’ve had in the past, right, people have said, why haven’t you supported? Why haven’t you posted this? Like, because if I did that for everybody, then like there’s a balance there, right? Like there’s so many people who need help and want support. But if they give that to everybody all the time, then I’d be burnt out, then I wouldn’t have enough time. So you’ve got to play it in a way that suits you in a way that’s sustainable, because there’s no point helping somebody so much, and then your own candles burn out because then in the long term and you can’t help them.
[00:10:32] Pete: Oh man, dude, a thousand percent. So let me tell you about, I’ll give you one story and then I’ll tell you about something that I do all the time now that I think you and the listeners can absolutely tap into that it’ll work for all of us. So I’ll go ahead and do this, right. So I remember one time I was, I had a, really, a client that was a big client for us. And they were, you know, a global brand. I can’t say, I don’t want to out them, but you would know who they are. It’s an international brand and whatnot. And I was working really closely with a top marketing leader at the organization, a very prominent marketeer and, you know, known in many communities, speaker, et cetera. And he would always write these very like curt emails, like during the day. Like it would be like, okay, you know, one word answer or this or that. And then I would get me and my team would get these late night emails that were like epic rants. They were like, multi-page emails. But during the day we’d ask questions, we’d send things. We’d try to schedule meetings and we’d get like one word answers. So the story I made up in my head was that this guy’s an asshole. That like, okay, so it’s all on his time, whenever he wants to send notes and, you know, he’s going to send a multi page email to us at night and like, how dare he, like, and obviously, you know, I’m like, it’s 10 o’clock at night, 11 o’clock at night, I’m getting this email and I’m responding to it. You know, a lot of parts of the world, you’re not allowed to read your emails on the nights or weekends. Right. But it’s quite different here in the states. Right. We, we work all the time. It’s grind, grind, grind. But why tell you that story is that, that that’s a younger version of myself. That was a lot more inexperienced as a leader and as a business practitioner, because I’ll tell you what the actual reality was. You know, one day I ended up kind of seeing this client, we’re having a couple of drinks. So obviously, you know, inhibition start going down. The drinks start flowing, and I was like, hey, can I ask you a question, man? Like, you know, it really pisses me off when, you know, we send you all these thoughtful messages and these thoughtful things that like, like really dig into insights and data and all this different thing, you know? And then we get these, these long rant emails from you at like midnight. And he’s like, what? And I was like, yeah, like we get like one word answers from you, like during like business hours and I get these, these rants. And he looks at me and he goes, oh my god. I’m so sorry. He’s like I get up every morning at about 4:00 AM because I’m getting on the phone with, with Japan and with, with some of my international, like EMEA clients and da da da da he’s like, so I’m just slammed with meetings, from meeting to meeting every single day. He’s like, I just never want to not get back to you guys on time. He’s like, so then when I had time after hours after it put my family to sleep, that’s when I get back to everybody. So like my mind was blown, you know, obviously I picked up the bar tab on, that one needless to say, right. And then he said, wow, like, that’s amazing. So what I do now is, so that that’s one great example of sort of making a story from my head. It turns out this guy was not an asshole. It’s just, he actually wanted to get back to us really quickly with things. And he was just really, really, really tied up with meetings back to back. And he had a very full life, right. That he was trying to sort of balance. So what I do now, is I recognize that all of this is modeling. So I use it, I use an email application called Superhuman, which lets you do all kinds of fancy stuff. And for those that are familiar with it, it lets you tap, it’s got keyboard shortcuts. You can like automate certain things and whatnot. So now when I send emails to people that are after hours, my team will notice for me that they get emails at eight AM. And the reason they get emails at 8:00 AM is that I use this send later feature, which previously wasn’t part of Gmail. Right. But, so I use it with Superhuman as an app and it lets me delay the email and the reason why is that? What I, what I recognize is if this, if you’re sending emails in the middle of the night, team members who were eager to please you, people who are eager to please you, they’re going to respond late at night. So what you’re going to do is you’re actually going to be modeling the wrong behavior, the wrong culture, right? If you want a well rested, mindful culture, you have to understand how to communicate. So I think that’s a really good example of, I was also that guy who would send the long multi-page emails. So that’s an example of both experiencing that and how shitty that made me feel. And then also contributing to that, not realizing how I made my team feel. And the other thing too, is recognizing and realizing that people communicate differently. So one of the ways I work, right? So I have ADHD. I’ve I’ve recently come out and been open about this because it’s something that I kind of hid from the world for a long time, and now I’m sort of leaning into my authentic self. Like now that I’m a, I’m a father. And you know, my kid just turned seven months yesterday. Like I’m leaning into who I am and I want to sort of be who I am. I don’t want to hide just parts of me, and I think that that’s letting me tap into my authentic self and why I’m so excited to be here with you. But yeah, those are some examples of just like, I’d say what has shown up for me. So now just to give a really, put a fine point on this here, how do I do this now? So I would get a lot of energy release from getting my thoughts out and, you know, I call it keyboard cowboy. Right. So what I do now is I’ll either write an email to myself or I’ll write a letter to myself, you know, like a physical letter. And a lot of times you can do that. So let’s say I’m really mad at you because of something you did, but I don’t want to talk to you about it, it’s just insignificant, I can write you a letter or an email and just send it to nothing. Right? Like literally just, I wrote an email to myself. I wrote, I wrote a letter to you and I crumpled it up and I throw it away. Right. There’s something about the energy release that that’ll make you feel good, but then you don’t have to sort of like mess up other things in your life. So that’s just some examples of like things that I’ve learned over the years. Feedback is such a gift. So when you get it, just say thank you. Even if you don’t like it or agree with it. That’s the one thing I’ve learned. I used to always want to justify because I’m a pleaser. Right? So when people would say stuff to me, I’m like, well, but we’ll wait, but wait. And they’re like, why are you so defensive bro? And I’m like, you know, you’re right. It’s because I want to please people. I want people to know I’m a good guy. I want people to know I care. And oftentimes we can just make huge mistakes all by the stories we makeup in our heads. So I hope that’s helpful.
[00:17:19] Amardeep: The bit you mentioned at the end, there is an idea as well, so whenever I’m upset by something similar like that, instead of writing a message to them, I’ll often write a message to myself and also the nature of you being a writer and things like that. It means that I then go through an edit that I try to work out. What exactly am I saying here? And I always self moderate myself through the editing process because I’m writing that through. I’m like, do I really mean that as like, I don’t think I should mean that it’s, what’s coming out of me for my first reaction and reaction, and that helps to settle me and often I never actually send the message to the person because, I’ve talked myself out of my own anger anyway. And just like you said, he’s trying to be understanding because people have got all these things going on in their life. And for example, with me, where I work in, I live and work in London, but many people I collaborate with are in America. So often their emails will come to me in the evening. And one of the things I’m trying to get better at is not replying to them, then replying them to the next day and setting those expectations to those people, because otherwise, like you said said, it’s the people pleasing aspect that comes through, whereas I want to apply straight away because they don’t want to think that I’m ignoring them. But then that sets boundaries and I overstepped my boundaries and they didn’t even realize that. Cause obviously they’re, not thinking in their heads, oh wait, he’s going to be, he’s going to be 10 o’clock in the evening for him. It’s going to be nine o’clock in the evening because if it’s one o’clock in their time, then they didn’t see that. And it’s difficult to expect people as well to change their times with sending emails, to suit me. And she’s accepting [unintelligible] on the same page about that.
[00:18:52] Pete: We need to teach people how to treat us, right? Like that’s what I tell people all the time. It’s like, we teach people how to treat us. if someone behaves a certain way and you enable it, acknowledge it and just let it go. What’s going to happen? If I write you an email and I get back in, a response in 30 minutes, then I’m going to expect an email response in 30 minutes. And if If If you wait a day or two, and I don’t know you’re on vacation or you’re meditating or whatever you’re doing, I’m going to be like, well, what did I do? Is it something I said, one of the things I always ask myself when I’m sending a piece of correspondence now just to kind of get back to your point about editing, your thoughts is first question I ask is, is it useful? The second question I ask is, is it actionable? So what I’ve recommended, what I’ve I’ve realized a lot about myself is I would send emails that were really using, but not always, really specifically actionable. And that’s something that I’m really grateful for, for my, my, just the support, my team. They’ve, they’ve really helped me see, see the error in my ways and some of those ways. And so the questions again, what am I sending to someone one? Is it useful? And two, is it actionable? Because you can have things that are actionable, but not useful. You can have to, you know, whatever and the useful or helpful is the word I would also use is important because I love to teach. I love to share information because I want people to have resources that I didn’t have when I was coming up. But what I recognized sometimes is that can be really polarizing for people, you know, when they’re starting out their careers, you know, and, and I’m the kind of person where I’m going to read the whole library. And I’m going to give you all the nuggets because I want to help you out. But sometimes when you give someone the three-page novel, you kind of paralyze them. And I didn’t realize that. Right. Like, what I realize now is there’s, there’s some people that like want my fire hose of information, and then there’s some people who just like, want the answer to move on to the next thing. And I think that just knowing your audiences as a marketeer, like one of the things I would say is the number one thing is like, understand who you’re talking to. And that is going to help you edit and shape everything that you do to go with that.
[00:20:54] Amardeep: Hi everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the episode so far. I want to take a quick break to ask you to check in with yourself. There’s many people struggling with balance and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s tips that my guests might share can hopefully help you along the way, but if you already feel overwhelmed or burnt out, it’s probably best that you ask somebody for help too. For some, this might be a friend or family member, while others might feel like they have nobody they can talk to. If you’re one of these people, check out the link in the show notes, it’s for United for Global Mental Health. They’ve got health plans all across the world, with people willing to listen on the other side. It’s important to let somebody know how you’re feeling. Now, back to the show.
[00:21:30] And you mentioned a bit earlier about, you’ve got some months old son now, and that’s changed the way you look at things. So you’re more open about your ADHD. Is there anything else in your balance that’s now changed because of that? I imagine there’s quite a lot.
[00:21:42] Pete: Oh, so much. I mean, so, I don’t know how many of the listeners are parents. So I hope I’m not kind of speaking to an audience that is not there. But one thing I would say is I used to think that I needed a lot more time than I did to do certain things. So the obvious reality of having a child is you have less time. You have less time to do certain things because, that child requires care. Now again, you know, we have nanny and we have resources to help, help support us. So I can, you know, keep the lifestyle that I have and still maintain to be a present father, whatnot. But the reality is it changed my perception of time. So I’d say there’s a couple of big things. I’m actually writing a, a piece of content right now that I’m going to be submitting to a publication you might’ve heard of The Entrepreneur’s Handbook. It’s all about how becoming a father made me a better founder and I put some specific, actionable data-driven things in there that I’m seeing some, because I measure everything, I use an app called RescueTime, which I’ve been using for about a decade. And I measure so many qualitative, quantitative things in terms of like, when I shape or shift behavior tools, how does it improve my productivity? But back to your answer, your specific question. As a father, what I’ve realized is what I can get done in five minutes. So I was telling this to a mom the other day, one of my clients, she’s a, she’s a mom and she was laughing. She loved the conversation. I said, you know, I used to think I couldn’t get anything done in five minutes. What I recognize now is I have exactly five minutes from the time I put the bottle in the bottle warmer, and the bottle is heating up. I can change my kid’s diaper. I can check social media or check a couple of quick emails while that bottle warmers warming up. And all of that process is done in five minutes. So I’ve checked my email, responding to a couple of emails, changed my kid, hanging out with my kid, and it had a bottle and five minutes. Like that’s a pretty, pretty actionable kind of sprint of things. And some people might be like, why are you checking your email when you’re like hanging out with your kid? And the reality is for me, I strive for harmony. I don’t think of balance as a 50%, 50% kind of sleeper scale. Right? Like that’s not how I think about balance for me, and again, if that’s how you think about balance, that’s your own perspective. Me, I’m about harmony, right? Like I want to feel like I’m in control of my decisions. Part of what’s driving this great resignation right now, and people rethinking their lives in work is because they feel like they’re on the clock. They feel like they don’t have that flexibility. So I want that flexibility for me, for my clients, for my teams that I employed. So the big thing that changed, my relationship with time has changed a lot as a, as a father. The other thing I’ve realized is it’s 100 X my empathy. I thought I was good at customer listening sessions and design thinking before having a kid, there’s nothing more explosive and transformative than when you have this little human that can’t speak, that doesn’t have motor skills to tell you what you’re doing. And you’re just like, what does this thing need? It’s crying. Right. I can tell now, is my kid crying because he needs to be changed? Is my kid crying because he’s hungry? Is my kid crying cause he’s uncomfortable? Is his, you know, outfit too tight because they grow so fast? Right? Like, but in the beginning, all I heard was a cry. So I think the reality is there’s a lot of shouting in the world happening. So the skill that’s really helped, I’ve honed is listening to the patterns and listening to like the signal versus the noise. And I apply that skill a lot now. We’re doing some work for a big fortune 500 right now. I’m a leader in what’s called advanced manufacturing. And essentially, can’t say too much about it, but let’s just say that the way that things are made and built in the future world, it’s going to be a lot more driven by robots and cobots and those things. So I tell you that. I was working with fortune 500. And I’m applying principles that I have with my new son into these customer discovery sessions. You know, I’m asking questions like, you know, when some of the other day I was in a listening session and the person’s like, well, when I’m in the, in the manufacturing floor, I’ve got a number of activities we have to get done and meet these quality standards, buzzword, buzzword, buzzword, buzzword, buzzword. And I was like, I need to freaking dictionary to understand how this person is talking. And I stopped them. And I said, so how does it make you feel when you have this particular thing and the whole dynamic of the conversation changed. What I realized is before being a father, I was a lot more transactional in my relationships. It was like, okay, what is the answer to this question? How do I get to the next level in this game? And now what I’m realizing is that we’re these really complex human beings. And the more we can understand the emotions and the intention and the energy, because humans are not logic, we’re not logic driven. Right. We’re, we’re irrationally driven in a lot of cases, behaviorly so I don’t know if that answers the question, but those are two big things that show up is just my relationship with time, and my empathy, I feel like have completely changed since I’ve become a dad just seven months ago.
[00:26:51] Amardeep: I think what’s interesting there is, about the mix between the personal time and the work time there. So is that something which you think you do at the moment where you’re almost always on, but then making time for the other things you went through at the same time? So you didn’t really have like these are my working hours, you’re kind of just working. And is that what you want to do in the future or do you want to bring it more in line where your time is boxed in a bit more? To have like time where you don’t have to think about work [unintelligible] emails.
[00:27:18] Pete: Well, here’s the thing, I love that question. So I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book by Cal Newport about deep work. So I absolutely use time-blocking. So I have specific days that are set up for specific companies or specific tasks that I work on that are very sort of driven by that. And then my calendar right now is set up where specific dates, I only work on specific types of problems or specific types of activities. And my team has a link that they can use to book those meetings during those times, or book working sessions or, or, you know, however it’s set up. So one thing that’s really important to me is when I set a block of time, what’s going to happen in that block of time, what I allowed to happen in that block of time is really set by those parameters and those boundaries. So to answer your question, the only time I’m checking email at night is, or, or I use that as an example. It’s just one example, but the only time I’m doing something like that at night is when I want to. So for example, last night, I didn’t have anything scheduled. I didn’t have anything planned. My kid went down pretty early for once and I was pretty wired. I had, I had a coffee late, late in the evening, afternoon, yesterday. I was kind of wired and I was inspired. So I was like, you know what, let me write an article. And that was actually when I started to write that article that I’m going to be sharing with you in just a bit. But for me, I think having that flexibility, that control, I like to, I like to sort of follow my energetic cues that come up for me right. There might be like a cue where, you know what, right now I’m just, I just want to kind of like mess around and go play with my Oculus and, you know, go shoot some zombies or something, which is like a new little kind of stress reliever. Right. I think that time boxing is really important too, because what I’ve realized is there’s things I don’t want to do that I just have to do to be successful or to achieve my goal, you know? And it’s those things that I schedule like, all right, here’s a 15 minute block or a 30 minute block, or a 45 minute block where you got to get this thing done and then it’s like beat the clock. Right. And I’m sure you and the listeners have heard techniques like the Pomodoro technique or the GTD technique. There’s lots of productivity tools for those that don’t know the Pomodoro technique is Named after like these, these kitchen timers that look, you know, that you sort of turn on and they tick away and you’re basically doing a burst of focused work. And then you take a short break and then you’re back to a burst of focus work. So I sort of have a lot of things that I’ll use to, to help me with that. So when I’m time blocking I use an app called Brain.FM which is fantastic. And I can set like 30 minutes of focused time or an hour of focused time and it would be playing some music. And I know it’s almost like, like I got to get through this, I’m hyped up on this music. And then at the end of that hour, no matter where I’m at, if I’m in the middle of a sentence, I stop and I create that boundary for myself. And that’s been like really empowering for me because you almost can gamify the things that you don’t love to do.
[00:30:10] Amardeep: If there is one mindset shift you think people can make today that make positive difference their lives, what would it be?
[00:30:16] That’s a great question. And I think in order to answer that question, I’m going to kind of work through that one with you real time, if that’s okay. So you talked about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. So one of the books that changed my life was a book called Drive by Daniel Pink, which many of us have read. And he basically says that the carrot and the stick model does not work anymore. So just imagine for those of you that are listening to this, you know, you’ve got the little kind of rabbit or whatever, running on that, rabbit running on the treadmill. The carrot and the stick. So stick, you know, you’re hitting it. Carrot is the, is the reward if you will. Right. So Daniel Pink in his book, he talks about the three sort of things that really create drive. And he calls, he says purpose, autonomy and mastery are the three things that create drive and really activate those intrinsic behaviors. So the first thing for me is whenever I’m doing anything that I want to do, or don’t want to do, whether it’s deadline driven or not, I always ask that first question of why, you know, what is the purpose behind this thing and how does this to either a small degree or a large degree connect back to the thing that I want. Right. Autonomy I think is really important. I’ve always had autonomy cause I’m an entrepreneur and I’ve always run my own companies, you know, after I sort of left corporate, you know, early on in my career. But I think autonomy is really important now for a lot of people, whether they’re in the gig economy, working remote or working for a company. So I think that I always ask people to figure out how much autonomy you want in your life. And really make sure that you have that relationship with your employer or employees or whatever it is. That’s the second thing is autonomy. You have to feel like you have a sense of agency in your life for work, to be able to not run against some of those things that you mentioned. And then mastery, you know, is the thing that I’m doing, helping me get 1% better every day. Want to talk to you about last time we connected, I was like, I want to always be in pursuit of 1% better, you know, I want to be one, 1% better as a father, as a friend, as a husband, as a founder every single day. So when I look at those sort of three purpose, autonomy mastery, things that I mentioned, the way that my sort of algorithm for not burning out, so I’ve had a couple of moments in life where I’ve completely burned out. I mean like full on nervous breakdown almost went to the hospital, cause I thought I was having a heart attack. That’s how I discovered meditation. It’s why I got this fancy cool little light in the background, right? Meditation literally saved my life. And that’s why when you said, hey, I’ve got this, this podcast Mindful and Driven. I’m like, I am so excited to be on this podcast because if I can share my story with, with one person that prevents them from feeling like I felt that day, I almost went to the hospital. I thought I was stroking out or having a heart attack. Then this would be the best use of my time ever more than anything. So my algorithm for not burning out is very simple. Make sure the things that fill your cup, that, that give you energy or give you joy, make sure the value of that variable exceeds the value of the thing that’s taking energy from your cup. And that’s a really, really big thing. So what I know is administrative meetings, operational meetings, email sucks my cup dry. What I know is brainstorms, ideas, generating solutions to problems, thinking about things differently, fills my cup right in a, in a work setting. I know in a home setting, meditation fills my cup, town, my family and my friends fills my cup. Intellectual conversations, fills my cup, a little bit of gaming here and there, it fills my cup. Right. So my algorithm is very, very simple. It’s just does the sum of those two variables, I’m simplifying it because I, at one point I made it much more complex because I tend to do that sometimes, and it was like this very like derivative equation, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, just simplify it. Like that’s simple because that’s helped me to not just prevent burnout, but also just re-energize me. One of the main principles I apply every single day, going back to your earlier point about the emails and people on social media and whatnot is reciprocity. What I’ve come to realize now in my time on this planet is that I want to spend my energy. I want to give my energy to people that give me energy back.
[00:34:30] Pete: I mean, that’s really interesting. One thread I want to put on, because you mentioned it quite early on is about autonomy, because you said as an entrepreneur, you follow autonomy, but one of the problems is so you’ve obviously got employees, you’ve got clients and they’ve all got different demands of your time. You’ve got family, you’ve got to monitor. So, did you find it hard at all with that autonomy because yes, you have control of your time, but at the same time, you also have this responsibilities and did that pressure ever get you as well in the past where you feel like you had to work harder than potentially you wanted to because of [unintelligible], of your employees or your clients, and you felt that you couldn’t let them down, even though you knew it was starting to strain your cup
[00:35:10] 1000%, let me be clear here, so I’m not preaching to this audience. Every single day, I have a moment of exactly what you just described. There are some days when I’m like completely done and I’m like, okay, I need to walk away. I need to meditate. I’m an empath, so I absorb a lot of energy, and one of the things I’m mindful of now is I have to avoid negative people. Have to avoid pessimism because when people project that out there to the world, my empath absorbs it. And I want to help everybody. And it’s like the oxygen mask metaphor that we’ve heard a million times. Like you got to put the actual mask on yourself first, before you try to help your kid or your family or somebody else. Because the reality is, if you, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. So yes, 1000% what I’ve I’ve run into with my staff and my clients is a lot of times their expectations of me are, well, one, a lot of times people’s expectations of you are actually not nearly as much as you think they are. Right. That’s a lot of negative self-talk so a lot of times I always like to ask the question, well, what are you expecting of me here? Or what, what would you like to get out of it? So somebody of their day was like, we need to meet Pete, it’s, it’s really important. I need an hour of your time da da da da. And I was like, absolutely hear you, appreciate that you’d like to meet, can you let me know what you’d like to accomplish? And I’ll tell you how much time we need to accomplish that. It turns out we literally accomplished to be an email which was just people, I think a lot of times, just default to meetings, default, to wanting to talk it through, as opposed to like putting a couple of minutes in to think about it. So what I’ve realized with those demands is some of those demands were self, like were hallucinations. They were fiction in my own head. And then some of those demands I think are just me not setting good boundaries. So. I don’t have it all figured out what would be the first to know that, like I I haven’t knock on wood, had a meltdown or a nervous breakdown and, you know, I think a half a decade, I think I just celebrated my, I just celebrated my 2000th day in a row of meditating nonstop. And I’m really proud of that.
[00:37:17] Amardeep: Congratulations.
[00:37:17] Pete: I use, thank you. I use an app called Calm to, I use the unguided, so I don’t do the guided meditation anymore. Back to your point about demands, the number one way to achieve success, when people put demands on you is to stop thinking about things in a linear way. If someone’s expecting something of you ask clarifying questions, because that one hour meeting sometimes can be an email. That one deliverable can sometimes you broken down into a bunch of micro deliverables. So for me, it’s that sense of curiosity and caring greatly about the intention that helps me to get to that. So those are just some of like, I know it was probably like a lot of different pieces of content, but if you sort of connect it all back, I think what it comes down to is you got to have a sense of purpose for yourself and others. You got to understand the agency you have in life, no matter what your job is.
[00:38:06] Amardeep: For people listening today, who aren’t familiar with you, where can they hear more about you and what you do?
[00:38:11] Pete: So petesena.com is my website that I’m going to be making some continued updates to. I’m very active on Twitter @PeteSena. So definitely hit me up on Pete Sena. I am very quick to respond to people because I just love Twitter. It’s like a personal pastime and then same handle on Medium. So actually you and I met through Medium and, and just, you know, I’ve been fancying doing some writing myself recently, teaching myself and improving that craft. It’s hard. So I have so much respect for you and others that write. But yeah, you can find me at PeteSena and, you know, again, I’m really, really grateful for you and, and this time, and just for reminding me of, of how far I’ve come and, and reminding the audience for how far they’ve come in their journey. So thanks everyone and thanks to you. This has been fun as always.
[00:38:56] Amardeep: And then the final question is, what’s one small thing that’s brought you joy recently?
[00:39:03] Pete: Seeing my son starting to crawl.
[00:39:10] Amardeep: If you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, I’d love it If you could leave me a five star review, it really helps get the message out further. Wherever you’re listening, it would be awesome If you could subscribe and share in your social media channels. If you want to see more of my work and advice, you can find all of the links in the show notes.
Thank you again for listening and I hope you have a lovely day.
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