Being your own boss has got to be the best gig ever, but it’s not without a lot of responsibility. Time and project management, coordinating people and ideas, keeping up with the latest news and information – these are just some of the basic skills necessary to be the best at what you do.
I met Casudi a while back on Twitter. The consummate entrepreneur, Casudi could fill a book with stories about creative problem solving, international relations, and “designing bridges to success.” I personally consider Casudi a mentor, and hope we’ll be able to interrupt her busy schedule again in the future to get her insight on other topics, but for this, our first synchro interview, let’s begin our journey into the realm of entrepreneurship with a day in the life (or almost) of a hi-octane entrepreneur.
What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
A double espresso.
After which I preview the day ahead in my mind… Everything is already filed in categories, and the very first thing I go through is each category I know I will have to deal with during the day (sometimes there is a list on my computer from the night before); but†usually I do this even before I fire up my computer. I think things through – it’s sort of an abstract ‘business plan for the day’. How do I get from A to B the most efficiently. What needs dealing with first, what appointments/calls do I have, and what do I need to have prepared?
On any given day I might have a scheduled Skype or call with an entrepreneur, or one of the small biz owners I mentor. Always some issue to deal with… Last week some new local building regulations were instituted, but Ken B., running a business I have mentored since he started over 6 years ago, was never notified, so now, suddenly, he is no longer compliant with county regulations for installing rain collection systems. Instead of doing a plumber’s apprenticeship for 2000 hours, we’ll convince them to count his years of experience and he’ll willingly take the exam. What is most annoying of all this is taking time away from the business; but I do think he will win this one.
How do you change gears between each different category of the various different things you focus on?
I guess this is easy for me, because I have things so defined and compartmentalized. It also makes multi-tasking easier, at least for me… where I am dealing with more than one problem or challenge at once. Good time management is key to being able to shift categories, and that means not staying with something after the allotted time, no matter how cool it is, or putting off something because it is unpleasant to deal with. Of course there are exceptions, as you can’t leave a fire half extinguished, But as soon as a pressing problem is solved (the fire is out), you can most often rearrange your schedule to accommodate and prioritize for the rest of the day.
Good time management is very dependent on a realistic assessment of the time required to meet your goals and objectives. People who never seem to get things done or are always late, either have no plan or have an unrealistic plan. And plans and time frames to meet objectives do change so what about that? Clear precise communication updating any changes is a key ingredient for effective time management. It is unfortunate that so many of the best people who are quite artistic and tremendous craftsmen usually have an overly optimistic view of what they can accomplish in any given time slot. That in itself is not so bad, but what is, is the inability or disinclination to articulate by phone/email or carrier pigeon that there is a delay or change.
“It is unfortunate that so many of the best people who are quite artistic and tremendous craftsmen usually have an overly optimistic view of what they can accomplish in any given time slot.”
This disinclination to communicate makes project management extremely frustrating, whether it is a major house, car or boat restoration. Software development is another kettle of fish, but we know at the onset it always takes way longer than anyone anticipates.
In any given day I am dealing with at least three major headlines, and those I break down into manageable sub sections. Yes, I am obsessed with categorizing:
- There might be a car or boat restoration project, and you know how many subcategories to that there are. Our BarnFindRiva project is a good example of this.
- There might be a start up or early stage company I am involved in either as a consultant or a principal.
- And I am usually dealing with at least one mentoree, sometimes more than one.
If it’s not a start up, I will likely be managing an architectural & interior design project. We do some pretty high-end projects for some very discriminating (aka: difficult!) international clients.
And I write or edit 4 blogs too!
When managing a restoration or renovation project how do you keep track of where you are in the process? And what is the most frustrating thing or part of any project?
The most frustrating is probably the subcontractors who don’t do what they say they are going to do! This, beyond the time issue mentioned before. Example: I specified an exhaust system with quite smooth & generous curves (with pretty precise drawings I might add), and what I got back was this one with tight, sharp curves.
Not acceptable! What was the fabricator thinking? There was also an issue of missed schedules; this really set the project back by several weeks (and cost me a LOT of money).
I keep track of projects (and the many parts of a project) using an Excel spreadsheet; sometimes a master Excel sheet and one for each category. Simple and easy. I am always looking at more complex project management programs, but I haven’t found one yet I am ready to commit the learning curve for.
How do you keep up with all the information you have to follow, read and digest to remain current?
I don’t! And I don’t think anyone really does , even though they might say they do. There is just so much information anyone can read and absorb in any given day. And when you are interested in so many things as I am, this can get you off your schedule really fast. I limit my RSS feeds to 20, and often delete and subscribe to new things that interest me. I limit my Twitter time to picking up links that interest me and to twitter chats from which I can learn (or can really contribute to). I don’t do FB. I allot a certain amount of time to “research” for any specific project I am doing. Then, from time, to time I play catch up, often late at night or very early in the AM, and on weekends; easier in the winter when the weather is bad. Just one of the great things about being self-employed; you can work 24/7/365 and nobody can stop you!
“Just one of the great things about being self-employed; you can work 24/7/365 and nobody can stop you!”
What are your three favorite cars or boats you have ever owned or currently own? And why?
One of my choices is a ë76 2002 BMW, which I bought used with about 30K miles. I left the engine pretty stock, and beefed up the suspension with the usual; Bilsteins, stiffer springs, sway bars, and an Ansa exhaust. What I learned from that driving experience was that cornering can be everything. That little sand-colored box on wheels could corner better than many of my friends bigger BMWs, Aston Martins and a 928 Porsche.
The typical early morning drive; how fast can you take the 35mph corner or a 3/4mile section of road with consecutive hairpin bends? Not my fault: I grew up a couple of miles from Sir Stirling Moss… watching him when I was young and impressionable. The 2002 is long gone now.
My 1960 Riva Super Florida; che bella machina! (We found this in a barn too. Same ranch as Perlita, but a real barn, which kept out the elements – see above). I like it because there is no need to keep it all original. When we found it, it had a Holman/Moody NASCAR 351. A call to Lee Holman at the time we found the boat confirmed how rare this is. Does anyone know anything more about this motor? I am sure the “purists” hate this, and won’t rest until it’s back to the way it left the factory in 1960. IMHO; It’s Riva; what more could I want?
My Audi R8 was the first car delivered to the northwest, and was definitely the most iPhoned-R8 during its first few months in the US!
Purchasing the R8 was not what I would call a good business decision all things considered, but it was a great investment in living, fun and a fitting ‘celebration of life.’
The R8 had been on order for nearly 2 years. We were #3 on the list, and as D-Day approached, we were moved to first place. However, during this time my partner James had been diagnosed with an aggressive Lymphoma issue, so we had already decided to pass on my dream Audi.
They say timing is everything. Just 2 days after James got his first ‘all clear’ from the doctor, we got the call from Zoltan at University Audi; our Daytona Gray R8 with carbon fiber blades had arrived. What would you have done?
The things we have in common enable us to get the most out of our differences. Our synchro stuff is meant to help you see things you have in common with success. On behalf of everyone here at Gearbox Magazine, I would like to thank my friend and mentor, Casudi, for taking time from her insanely busy schedule to do this interview.
Brian considers helping gearheads build high performance machines & lives to be more important than completing his own race car build and believes the things we have in common are what empower us to realize the full potential of our differences. Brian can be found behind the wheel at Gearbox Magazine and Gearheads-United , promoting global unity through automotive passion.