What you should know about Essentialism


Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

More?  Or Less?

More is a thing we’re all in pursuit of, even if we don’t know what “thing” it is.  Just have more of it.  More, more, more! It’s exhausting to pursue more.  It never ends.

Ask someone close to you what they’d like to have more of? You won’t get a short answer.  Think about all the more you could have in your life right now if you could just achieve it.  More:

  • house or houses
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • money, lots more money
  • car(s)
  • furniture
  • jewelry

If immediately you believe you will be reading about giving away your life savings, living like a hermit, and wearing terrycloth clothing you’re wrong. Essentialism is a framework for choice.

Instead what about considering less? Doesn’t sound very sexy does it?

Okay, I agree and I like things that sound sexy and simple.  So, let me rephrase it the way Greg McKeown did in his book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  Less, but better!

Less, but better!

Welcome to the essentialism lifestyle. The pursuit of “less, but better” in our lives. More focus, on fewer activities, for a return magnitudes higher than the simple pursuit of more for more.  It’s not about living in a 400 square foot apartment and giving away all we’ve ever owned.  Its about discipline in following and achieving our dreams by using the power of choice (elimination) and focus (dreams).

If I could recommend five books to anyone, this book is for sure on the list. I devoured it the first time I read it, so I’m going back for a second course to make sure I didn’t leave too much meat on the bone.

I associate the essentialist set of beliefs with another leader I follow a great deal online Gary Vaynerchuk.   Gary is obsessed in focusing his efforts on the two or three things he’s really great at.  These two or three “world-class” talents can provide him the greatest return (in magnitudes of order) compared to investing his time in the 95% of shit (his words) he sucks at.

Here’s another very strong correlation i found from author and successful blogger Ramit Sethi’s, I Will Teach You To Be Rich blog. The title of his recent post 2015 The Year of More.  After you’re done reading this piece, circle back and digest what Ramit is saying.

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Here are seven of my favorite points I distilled from the book:

  1. Essentialists ask this question every day, multiple times per day.  “Is this the very most important thing I could be doing with my time or resources RIGHT NOW?
  2. “Only once you give yourself permission to STOP trying to do it all, can you make your highest contribution toward what really matters
  3. Evaluate the “trivial many” vs. the “vital few” – in all aspect of our life and finances
  4. From Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter), “There are a thousand things we could be doing, buy only one or two are important”
  5. Nonessentialists = Yes to all.  Pleasers of anything and everything.
  6. Decision fatigue.  More choices = lower quality of choices.  I found this really interesting as I just read a Fast Company piece titled, “Always Wear The Same Suit”  about decision making and wardrobe choices for President Barack Obama.  He subscribes to this productivity hack.
  7. The invisible art form.  EDIT.   We should always be editing down our schedules, focuses, goals, and lifestyle.  Like a great producer taking a film from five hours to three.  Or a publisher taking a great book and simplifying it from 600 pages to a well distilled 250.  Edit, edit, edit!

I don’t want to ruin it for those who would like to consume all the book has to offer, but I do really suggest you think about how the power of choice and elimination could better impact your life.

ACTION ITEM:  I really want you to read this book.  If you don’t choose to read this book, slow down and read my seven favorite points.  They will substantially impact your life and the way you look at how your invest your time.

Women Are Where It’s At

You’ve got to be wondering just exactly what the hell it is I’m thinking starting with a headline like this.  Pretty simple really, I firmly believe women hold the cards in the new economy.  Here’s this week’s cover (May 2014 Edition) of FAST COMPANY.  Ironic…nope!



As we move quickly out of the production/information economy of the late 20th century, and deeper into the service economy of the 21st century, we’re seeing a woman’s leadership, sales style, and compassion take center stage.  I’m not going to relate this to a glass-ceiling conversation.  More, an observation on psychology and physiology of the working woman in 2014.

Think about these changes happening right in front of our faces:

  1. Every single aspect of the new economy is social and involves conversation.  Every one. Blanket statement – Who’s better at engaging in a conversation, men or women?  DUH!  Want to see a wonderful infographic on girl power in social?  Click here (once you’re done reading of course) from Entrepreneur.  Women DOMINATE Every Social Media Network.
  2. The world is service-demanding (not just service-focused) like never before.  Having understanding and empathy are extremely important.  Who’s good at this?  I’ll give the edge to the ladies.
  3. Selling.  The conversation wrapped around selling is a different style and dialogue today.  It involves education and not over the top closing techniques.  Selling could be replaced with nurturing the consumer today.  Can men do this?  Yes, they certainly can.  Are women possibly better at it today?  I think so.
  4. Flexibility and working relationships.  I firmly believe women for the most part are wired to be more compassionate than men.  Therefore, as new challenges approach and compassion is needed to keep key team members, women will play a crucial role in understanding their teams and the flexibility they need to continue growing.

As if women haven’t controlled men’s hearts and minds enough for the last 2,000 years.  Honestly though, if I were starting a business tomorrow the first thing I’d look for is female leadership.

Not to fear men, we’re still needed in the workplace and we haven’t become obsolete just yet.  But if you think long and hard about this, you know we’ve got some learning to do from our female counterparts.  I recommend you listen.

ACTION ITEM: Men, we have to open our eyes and our hearts.  Social Media superstar Gary Vaynerchuk (who happens to be a man) says it frequently.  Companies and businesses are being built today on thousands of micro conversations and customer engagements by people who actually CARE.  The world of one to many is dying in front of us.  Embrace this change and evolve.

Women, continue to be who you are and what you’re great at.  Don’t forget to stop every now and again and give us guys a few pointers along the way.

PS – thanks to Beth Keeney for feedback and the social media infographic from Entrepreneur!