Show #378: Kevin Kruse, time travel and extreme productivity

Show #378: Kevin Kruse, time travel and extreme productivity

Today I have a show for you that I wanted to happen because I wanted to learn. We’re interviewing Kevin Kruse. He’s an Inc. 500 entrepreneur who has started and sold several multi-million dollar companies over the last 20 years. He is also a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book is what got me interested. Not even the title, but how he came to it. It’s on time management. Not one of my strong suits. But this wasn’t just his personal idea. He simply interviewed: 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs. And this book is the culmination of what he found. It’s called 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management.

Go now to and you can download the 1-Page Tool Millionaires Use to Plan Their Day and a Quick Start Action Plan.

This Forbes article from Kevin was widely read and gives a synopsis of his book:

We’re going to discuss some of the findings to achieve EXTREME PRODUCTIVITY without feeling overworked and overwhelmed.

Before I bring on Kevin and Tom Ziglar, check this out.

On May 13-15 in Dallas, TX, world renowned leader, Brian Tracy, is hosting a 3-Day Weekend Event. It’s the 20-Year Anniversary of the Success Mastery Academy. This is a one-time only event. It headlines Brian and Special Guests Darren Hardy, Vic Johnson, and more…

3 Powerful Days of Insights, Strategies, Associations and Networking.

Topics Include: Marketing, Selling, Productivity, Wealth Creation, Branding, Crushing The Speaking Stage, Peak Performance, Mindset Shift and RESULTS!!

But the coolest thing, Tom Ziglar will be there doing a bonus session!


Go check it out now at

OK, folks, now we’re going to dive in with Kevin Kruse and Tom Ziglar.

Kevin, first…thank you immensely for giving yourself to us today for this Ziglar Show…we’re incredibly honored!

>> Listen to the entire show right here!

So, Kevin, when you contacted Tom Ziglar I did not know you. We get so many requests for interviews. But when I saw the link for the Forbes article you wrote, I was intrigued. Then a short scan down and I knew I wanted you on the show. I’m going to lead off from the top.

Folks, here is how it reads from Kevin’s article:

“I recently interviewed over 200 ultra-productive people including seven billionaires, 13 Olympians, 20 straight-A students, and over 200 successful entrepreneurs. I asked a simple, open-ended question, “What is your number-one secret to productivity?” After analyzing all of their responses, I coded their answers into 15 unique ideas.”

First off, this type of research is the core of the most popular TED talks on the planet. You’re not giving us an opinion, you’re giving us hard data and being a brilliant messenger.

What led you to the focus of productivity?

>> Listen to the show

So here we go…let’s get to your 15 secrets to productivity. I’m going to read them, then ask you one question:

Secret #1: They focus on minutes, not hours.

Average performers default to hour and half-hour blocks on their calendar. Highly successful people know there are 1,440 minutes in every day and there is nothing more valuable than time. Money can be lost and made again, but time spent can never be reclaimed. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told me, “To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” You must master your minutes to master your life.

- Do you have some people hear this and respond that they don’t have enough control over their time to structure it so well, and how do you help them?

>> Listen to the show for Kevin’s answer

Secret #2: They focus only on one thing.

Ultra-productive people know their Most Important Task (MIT) and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions. Tom Ziglar, CEO of Ziglar, Inc., shared, “Invest the first part of your day working on your number one priority that will help build your business.” What task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goal? What accomplishment will get you promoted at work?

- In an era of “multi-tasking,” this feels like a significant discipline. But do you find if people will try it, it becomes a reasonable and viable habit? They just need to relearn their normal?

>> Listen to the show to hear more

Secret #3: They don’t use to-do lists.

Throw away your to-do list; instead, schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out only 41% of items on to-do lists are ever actually done. And all those undone items lead to stress and insomnia. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live from that calendar. “Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks. It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile…”, advises the co-founder of The Art of Charm, Jordan Harbinger.

- We interviewed Jordan, really interesting guy, who has knocked it outta the park with his podcast. We’ve never, so far, been ranked ahead of him! Here I’m just going to ask a tactical question. From a resource and tool perspective, what is the most popular calendar folks are utilizing for this step?

>> Listen to Kevin’s response.

Secret #4: They beat procrastination with time travel.

Your future self can’t be trusted. That’s because we are “time inconsistent.” We buy veggies today because we think we’ll eat healthy salads all week; then we throw out green, rotting mush in the future. I bought P90x because I think I’m going to start exercising vigorously, and yet the box sits unopened one year later. What can you do now to make sure your future self does the right thing? Anticipate how you will self-sabotage in the future, and come up with a solution to defeat your future self.

- Kevin, that is just…brilliant. It’s personal awareness. I’m going to ask you personally…where did you do this in your own life? Come up with an area in which you often fail, and create a solution to save yourself from…yourself?

>> Listen to the podcast

Secret #5: They make it home for dinner.

I first learned this from Intel’s Andy Grove, “There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done.” Highly successful people know what they value in life. Yes, work, but also what else they value. There is no right answer, but, for many, values include: family time, exercise, giving back. They consciously allocate their 1,440 minutes a day to each area they value (i.e., they put it on their calendar), and then they stick to the schedule.

- As a lifetime entrepreneur, boy do I understand this. I just turn it off. Laptop and smart phone gone when I come in the door. Not to be seen until kids are in bed, if at all. My question, of all you interviewed, how many really put a high value on all three -- family, exercise and giving back? Did some do one, some two, some all three?

>> Listen to Kevin’s response

Secret #6: They use a notebook.

Richard Branson has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn’t have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook, which he takes with him wherever he goes. In one interview, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, “Always carry a notebook. Write everything down…that is a million-dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!” Ultra-productive people free their mind by writing everything down.

- So I’ll share. I learned this principle from a guy named Joe Stumpf, a real estate and lending marketing guru, over 20 years ago, and it’s been that long since I’ve been in contact with him. But he did this.

I always have a notebook, or if forgotten, use the “notes” on my iPhone. I write relevant things down so I just don’t forget them!

But what struck me most then, and still does now, is in regards to other people. It’s so honoring. When I’m meeting with people, I want them to know I honor them enough to note what they are saying. So in a “how to win friends and influence people” sense, this is key wisdom.

But the bigger issue is retention. How much life-changing and beneficial wisdom for our lives do we hear…and simply forget? Is that what you found, Kevin? These highly productive people take the moment and info that can benefit them…captive?

>> Listen to Kevin’s answer

Secret #7: They process email only a few times a day.

Ultra-productive people don’t “check” email throughout the day. They don’t respond to each vibration or ding to see who has intruded their inbox. Instead, like everything else, they schedule time to process their email quickly and efficiently. For some, that’s only once a day. For me, it’s morning, noon, and night.

- Now we’re back to being able to control our environment. Of course most, if not all the folks you interviewed, were self-employed. What counsel can you give those who are employed and not as free to dictate their time?

>> Listen to Kevin’s response

Secret #8: They avoid meetings at all costs.

When I asked Mark Cuban to give me his best productivity advice, he quickly responded, “Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” Meetings are notorious time-killers. They start late, have the wrong people in them, meander in their topics, and run long. You should get out of meetings whenever you can, hold fewer of them yourself, and if you do run a meeting, keep it short.

- I’m going to skip this one. If you can, skip em’. Point taken.

Secret #9: They say “no” to almost everything.

Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” And James Altucher colorfully gave me this tip, “If something is not a “hell, YEAH! Then it’s a “no!”"

Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in every day. Don’t give them away easily.

- OK, I own the movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey. I love the concept. So many people say no to getting out and doing life! But I hear this…speaking to the addiction of busyness in our lives. We say “yes” to so many seemingly good things, and push out room to do great things.

I absolutely love James Altucher’s perspective, and am going to adopt it. “If something is not a “Hell, yeah!” Then it’s a no. That is just a great perspective. I want to ask, how has this one impacted you personally, Kevin? What have you said no to as a result?

>> Listen to Kevin’s response

Secret #10: They follow the 80/20 rule.

Known as the Pareto Principle, in most cases 80% of outcomes come from only 20% of activities. Ultra-productive people know which activities drive the greatest results, and focus on those and ignore the rest.

- OK, this hit home. Most people, like me, don’t feel they can just ditch the 80% activities in their life. They don’t have the margin or luxury. But my guess is, what these folks do is what I’m literally in the process of doing. And it’s Secret #11. Let me read it:

Secret #11: They delegate almost everything.

Ultra-productive people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead, they ask, “How can this task get done?” They take the “I” out of it as much as possible. Ultra-productive people don’t have control issues and they are not micro-managers. In many cases good enough is, well, good enough.

- Kevin, is it safe to say, they delegate the 80%?

>> Listen to the podcast

Secret #12: They theme days of the week.

Highly successful people often theme days of the week to focus on major areas. For decades I’ve used “Mondays for Meetings” and make sure I’m doing one-on-one check-ins with each direct report. My Friday afternoons are themed around financials and general administrative items that I want to clean up before the new week starts. I’ve previously written about Jack Dorsey’s work themes, which enable him to run two companies at once. Batch your work to maximize your efficiency and effectiveness.

- That is just…a great idea. From all your interviews, what was the day theme that was the most…unusual?

>> Hear what Kevin said on the podcast

Secret #13: They touch things only once.

How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail—a bill perhaps—and then put it down only to deal with it again later? How often do you read an email, then close it and leave it in your inbox to deal with later? Highly successful people try to “touch it once.” If it takes less than five or ten minutes—whatever it is—they’ll deal with it right then and there. It reduces stress, since it won’t be in the back of their mind, and is more efficient, since they won’t have to re-read or evaluate the item again in the future.

- Shoot, this one nailed me. And convicted me. It seems like the root though, is it forcing…decisiveness?

>> Listen to Kevin’s answer

Secret #14: They practice a consistent morning routine.

My single greatest surprise while interviewing over 200 highly successful people was how many of them wanted to share their morning ritual with me. Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, told me, “While most people focus on ‘doing’ more to achieve more, The Miracle Morning is about focusing on ‘becoming’ more so that you can start doing less, to achieve more.” While I heard about a wide variety of habits, most people I interviewed nurtured their body in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast, and light exercise. They nurtured their mind with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, and journaling.

- I just have to say…I’ve experienced the same in other successful people’s lives, and I’ve lived both sides…meaningless morning rituals, and worthwhile morning rituals. The results are…dramatic.

But I’m going to take this point and hit on an overall concept. Last night, I had dinner with Chad Jeffers, the main guitarist for singing legend, Carrie Underwood. Chad’s been a friend for a few years. We talked about the band members and entourage, 90 people. And Carrie. They are all folks that are exceptionally successful. At the top of their game. Money, fame, power.

They can afford the time and money to do pretty much whatever they want. But the reason they are there…and remain there, is…they have discipline. Carrie and the band members aren’t up all night partying. They don’t live like normal people. They have goals and ambitions, and even when they can do whatever they want, they do…what is needed to be able to do…whatever they want.

There lies a seeming…crux. Like Dave Ramsey’s quote, “'If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.'”

But I’d submit, it’s not just…later. Live like no one else and you can have moments, even now, when you live like no one else. What is your experience Kevin?

>> Listen to the show

Secret #15: Energy is everything.

You can’t make more minutes in the day, but you can increase your energy, which will increase your attention, focus, decision-making, and overall productivity. Highly successful people don’t skip meals, sleep, or breaks in the pursuit of more, more, more. Instead, they view food as fuel, sleep as recovery, and pulse and pause with “work sprints.”

Ziglar show listeners know this is a massive topic for me. I’m heavily involved in the wellness industry. We have a culture that doesn’t have time to pursue wellness. They so often view it as a luxury of those who can afford the time. Which is an absolute myth. These people succeeded, because…they invested in their wellness. Your brain function and energy level are a direct result of investing in yourself, taking care of your health, and fueling yourself for top performance.

- So Kevin, did these testimonials pretty much debunk the concept of successful people learning to sleep four hours per night, eating on the run and basically selling their souls for success?

>> Listen to Kevin’s response