Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Timing Your Upshift and How I’m Managing Mine


stick_shiftIn your entrepreneurial journey, you will find that everything comes in cycles. I’ve written previously about cycles of low and high energy and how being aware of them can make you more resilient  (Inspiration is for Amateurs) . Another cycle that has run it’s course is the period of high-RPM’s and low torque.  It’s time to shift up a gear.

Starting a new chapter usually requires you to downshift at first. You have to be willing to slow down forward progress, run at higher RPM’s to see more ideas, meet more people, and broaden your field of view.   This is common for entrepreneurs who are between companies.  It’s really hard to find the next big thing. It requires a lot of cycles. As bad as you want to go deep instead of spreading yourself thin, you find that picking the right big bet takes longer than you expect.  As VC’s put it: you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.

But when you do finally slow down the idea review process and find the bet you’re ready to make, it’s important to know how to shift up a gear.

With 2014, my goal is to shift up. Here are three big ways I’m doing it.

1. Tighter Meeting Filter.
I need to accept many fewer meetings around advice giving or general connecting. The last two years, I’ve done a ton of meetings just for the sake of relationship building. I believe I successfully accomplished by 2013 goal of adding value for every person I met with through the year. In 2014, I need to increase the bar for these “just want to get to know you” meetings. My calendar is already too full.

2. Slower Cadence.
New Rhythms… mainly with the blog.   I’ve decided that 3-5 posts/week is at the present time, an unrealistic goal. For the past few weeks, I have established a new rhythm of 1 slightly longer post each week. This is a really healthy change for me. It has allowed my quiet time and my running time to think deeper about the challenges ahead for Voxa, our growing team, and how I can be the best CEO possible.   Those cycles were previously spent on new blog post topics.

3. More Off-Village time.
Whether I work from home, a Starbucks, a beach, or a cabin, I need to find more time in 2014 out of the high energy and extremely-high-RPM environment of the Village. The problem with the awesomeness of the Village is that it’s too awesome.  I want to be there 8 days a week! I love the density of people, ideas, of work hard play hard. But like many entrepreneurs, I am afflicted with extreme ADD.  It’s really hard for me to slow down when I’m in the Village.   I’m setting the goal to spend at least 1 half-day per week out of the Village, working from home, etc… and I’m setting the goal to take 2-4 weeks completely out of the hustle of the building. (Note, this doesn’t mean losing the daily touch rhythm with Team Voxa, it means physically forcing limits of my focus Priority 1: Family and Priority 2: Team Voxa.)

As with an upshift in a car, forward velocity will increase as RPM’s decrease. You have to already have the momentum to sustain the added force, but when you time it just right, I’ve seen the slow down to go faster do magical transformations in entrepreneurs’ lives.

When it’s time for your upshift, I hope you’ll consider what it really means to slow down to go faster.


Category: Efficiency, Gumption

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