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Episode Summary Introduction:

Carlos Hidalgo: When I’m working, yes, I’m hustling but I’m not in this hustle state 24/7. And I actually in the last three years since I’ve been doing this I get more done in less time. Actually I had a client who says to me “you don’t need to turn things around so quickly”.

But I get more done with better quality. I shut down every night knowing how much I’ve accomplished and business-wise business has never been better and I’m not I’m getting more done in 7 to 9 hours a day or seven to eight hours a day than I am when I work 12 to 13 hours a day.

Adam O’Donnell: Boom, welcome to The One Growth Show brought to you by Growth Marketing Conference. We are the only podcast in the world that breaks down a growth experiment or delivers an actionable growth strategy.

No fluff no nonsense so you can get back to your day and start making a real difference to your bottom line.

We’re your hosts. I’m Jorge Soto.

I’m Adam O’Donnell, here we go.

AO: How can work-life boundaries be a growth strategy? Carlos shares how he hit rock bottom with the “hustle-all-the-time” mentality. That was when he realized that there had to be a better way to work, so he shares that approach and just how it’s enabled his business to actually grow faster, more efficient and he’s able to spend better quality time with people that he loves like his wife and his kids. You’re going to love this unconventional growth strategy.

Here’s Carlos Hildago, Chief Strategy Officer at the DemandGen.  

CH: It’s probably counterintuitive to most but my biggest growth strategy that I’ve implemented over the last three years has been really defining work-life boundaries.

As a business owner, you know with so many of us are told, you know the grind, work 24/7, hustle, sleep when you’re dead and I used to buy into that and I can tell you it fundamentally, it’s not scalable, it’s not a long-term strategy because it’s not sustainable and I have found when I started to establish defined work-life boundaries. I am better in all facets of life and surely better in my business because I have a boundary that I have where I know I am working and I’m not going to be distracted, I’m not talking with friends, I’m not engaging other than with my clients and the deliverables that I’ve promised them and my quality of work is better I get more done and in a shorter time and I also believe when you show up the best of yourself to relationships you get energy from that and you bring that energy into the workplace.

So having those defined boundaries for me is one of the biggest changes I’ve made in my 25-year professional career.

AO: Awesome. Tell us when this really was exposed to you. When did that break down for you?

CH: Yeah, 2016 to be exact. Yeah in 2005 I co-founded an agency and really had left a promising career at a software company because at that time my four children were pretty young and I was traveling all over the world. I was bringing work home. I would you know do dinner with the family and I mean, everybody knows the drill you do dinner with family tuck the kids in bed and then sat with the laptop on the couch and you’re trying to catch up on work and I realized after one year, I forget how many miles I traveled that I was literally missing out on my kids growing up and I didn’t want to do that.

So I started a company more as a lifestyle business and then it really started to take off and I bought into and I would say not only I bought into it but I was hook, line, and sinker into the hustle mentality and then on top of it my ego got involved because this one was mine. It wasn’t for somebody else. And if I wasn’t physically in my home office or at our headquarters in Atlanta or at a client site, I was mentally working as well and that really started to break down in and started to show itself in the breakdown of my relationships primarily my marriage and then also with the relationship with my kids because I wasn’t putting the time needed to truly cultivate a true relationship.  

And in 2016 I kind of cratered. I hit rock bottom where I just thought I was going to lose my marriage and lose that connection with my children. And while the business was successful. I wasn’t successful and I left that agency to hit the reset button and start to do things differently.

JS: I remember by the way your talk at the last GMC in December and it made total sense to me and I actually came up to you and said something so I was really touched by it. What do you think that we should do in terms of something like early steps to start to find this balance? 

CH: Yeah, great question, Jorge. What I started with is what are those things that I value the most and to be clear one of those values for me is my work. I love what I do.

I’ve been a B2B marketer for almost my entire career with two pit stops and a nonprofit.

But I literally made a list of what do I value the most so it was for me not a long list because I don’t think your band boundaries have to be grand they just need to be established but it was first and foremost time with my wife so over the last four and a half years I’ve been very fortunate to forge that strong bond and relationship with my wife and with my kids. Now. My kids are all grown and gone except one who’s a senior in high school, so he’ll be gone next year, but I try to maximize that as well.  

And then it was my whole health when I could talk about the whole health. I talk about mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. How do I give time to that then as I mentioned earlier my work? So once I defined those boundaries I then started to say, how do I construct my professional life to map to the life that I want to live and protect those values? And too many times when we do it the opposite way we make our life wrap around our work and the work never going to stop. So that’s something that if we do, we’re going to give more of ourselves to our work and less of our times, to our relationships and our hobbies and our health which are also extremely life-giving. So that’s where I started.

AO: That’s amazing.  

Carlos, I’m just curious about how we can prove the impact of the work that you now have? An hour now at the office compared to an hour with the hustle mentality because that’s been the biggest thing that I’ve found is just justifying to your team. Like “hey man, I don’t work on Sundays. I’d take off Saturdays. I take 24 hours off right? I have these boundaries throughout the weekday. It always seemed like I was letting the team down when I express that because it’s like “man, we got to make this happen” and I couldn’t have an argument like “hey, it’s actually in the best interest of the company” that actually take these boundaries and that we all do that.

So it has many metrics that we can have around the actual improvement – that would be huge.

CH: There’s actual science to back it up. So first and foremost most all of us as human beings have ultradian rhythms that our brain works on so what that really means on but believe me, I am no scientist, but I’ve done enough study to know that our brains are really wired to go all out from a mental capacity standpoint for ninety to a hundred and twenty minutes at a time. And then we reach this law of diminishing returns where we’re not operating at peak efficiency and what we owe it to our brains that ourselves to take a step away and that’s step can you know, it’s literally 15-20 minutes. You can go make a sandwich you can go for a walk around your building if you’re in an office, but you need to step away and let your brain kind of flush out the mental debris that has built up and then come back to whatever tasks you are working on or whatever work needs to be done.

There’s also additional science that shows how efficient we are when it how many hours a week we work and I don’t know the step, but I want to say it’s around 46 hours a week and after that, we literally start as one researcher said we start to work dumber, not smarter.

So when you think about somebody who like myself used to go 60-70, sometimes 80-hour weeks. I can definitely point to the latter half of that time. My work wasn’t as crisp. My quality was poor. I was making stupid mistakes. My decision-making surely was clouded and the only one of the big things that I can tell you is having adopted this boundary approach my business is much more efficient. My decision making is so much better. My creativity is off the chart and I’ve had the best three years in business that I’ve ever had in the past 22 before that.

So there’s some evidence there for you and I would just encourage everybody to just Google ultradian rhythms and you’ll see a wealth of information on it. But this is how we’re wired as human beings. We’re not machines.

AO: Wow, that’s that’s amazing. I mean, I’m just it sinking in.

Yeah, Carlos I mean help us with some roadblocks that we’re going to run into as we start to implement this and yeah, let’s just dive into that.

CH: Well, I think first and foremost of roadblocks are from the evangelist out there of the hustle culture. You’ve got guys like Gary Vee and Grant Cardone and guys who are extremely talented and what they do no doubt, but this idea that you know, Grant talks about work in 95 hours a week. That’s absolutely absurd because where do you find time if you’re going to sleep, you know, you’re given your leftovers to your family and your own self, and if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not going to be good to everybody. So I think that’s roadblock number one.  

Roadblock number two, maybe managers who are saying “No, I’m requiring more of you” and educating them saying “look, you know, I challenge you to a Bake-Off with colleagues who are going to work non-stop and say I actually need to adopt this way because I know that’ll allow me to present the best of myself to the company or to the work that has to be done. 

 And the number three is going to be ourselves because we have all adopted this idea that more is better, harder is better, grinding is better and that mentality, I will tell you, I tell people all the time I’ve not arrived in anything, this is a practice for me and just like any practice you do whether it’s an instrument or sport you’re going to have good days, you’re going to have bad days and I am still sometimes very drawn to 8 o’clock at night – well, maybe I can sneak away and get ahead on these things.

But I’ve brought people into my community who helped me stay accountable to that.

So those are just three obstacles off the top of my head.

AO: That’s amazing. What are some tactics around guarding these boundaries and when we do need to potentially break them at times?

CH: Yeah, so I think first of all just documenting them and literally writing them down and you know, I shared with the audience in December my boundaries actually put them up on a slide. Just writing them down. Like what do you value and then what boundaries? So for instance, my biggest value is time with my wife. So I start every morning when I’m not traveling, at our kitchen table with a cup of coffee and my wife and we start and we have a cup of coffee anywhere from about half an hour to an hour and sometimes we just stare mostly out the window. I will let the caffeine do its work. Other times we have great conversation, but that’s time that I value and I want to start my day each and every day that way so start to write down things. If you value your personal health then what do you have to do to make sure that you’re working out three, four, five, six days a week. Build that into your calendar put work out and treat that like you would a meeting with a client or a meeting and just say I’m unavailable at that time because that’s really really sacred.  

Secondly, is making those boundaries known and I talked about my community, this isn’t something we should do with ourselves. So if you’re married sit down with your spouse and really have a conversation and it’s going to be more than one conversation about what do we value? And what can I do to enable this kind of boundary led life talk with your boss about this and then talk with your colleagues about it and make sure that you’re actually putting it in place and when you fail don’t beat yourself up.

Now. You also, Adam, ask the question about what happens when we need to break those?  

So here’s a great example. Last year I have a boundary that after six o’clock at night I don’t work and that means checking email, doing calls, things like that. I had a client where we had like seven people in multiple time zones we had to manage. So before I committed to that call, which is going to take place from 6:30 to 7:30. I said to my wife hey, do we have anything and are we good with this? It’s not going to be a constant thing. It wasn’t a weekly thing and she was like, yeah, no problem.

I had made a commitment as well to my family that we were going to go out. It was a nice summer day. We’re going to go grab ice cream after my call. So yes, I moved the boundary with the agreement for my community, which is my wife. But I also made sure that call was done right at 7:30 to the point where about halfway through, I told the group, hey guys, I have a hard stop in 30 minutes. Let’s make sure we wrap up and we have the action items that we need. And when I told my client, her response was “I love it. It’s great and also, could you talk to our boss and make sure that we start to do the same?”  

JS: You know, it’s interesting because this is something that I personally have been also really focused on you know, and I think that this is something that right now with the current Global situation is really going to come to the forefront for us as a species. We have to find this balance and we have to implement these things and I don’t know how it ends up shaking out. But I know that you know that this is actually a priority, you know, I’ve been talking to a lot of people about just the Law of Attraction, right, you know, whether without getting into you know, it’s the say I don’t know religious or philosophical but just you know discussions or Focus, but just from most pure energy perspective would you say that like, this is something really helps you attract more success when you’re in a more of a flowing State? And by the way, this is not something new. I know there’s like a lot of new age, quote-unquote new-age content or people talking about this. But if you look at Taoism you look at a lot of these old traditions, you’ll see that. Actually, what’s your take on the kind of like you said in the last three years. You’ve seen a lot of success. What’s your take on that kind of looking at it from that perspective?

CH: Yeah. I think you’re exactly right. I think especially with the current state, that we are in the midst of the Corona pandemic. I got an email over the weekend from a colleague, I shoot him a note “hey just checking in. want to see how you guys are doing” And this is a guy who thought nothing is in his career of staying up till 2 – 3 a.m getting up at 6 am, repeat, rinse, wash and repeat, and he said, “you know, this is really caused me to take a step back and seek perspective and really understand what’s important.”

For me, spirituality does play a part in it. For those people listening, it may not, but I think we are all now at a place with the current world events to say. What really matters, and let me be clear,

it’s not to say your work doesn’t matter, your work does matter, but it’s not where we’re going to find. We should take pride in our work but it’s not what’s going to necessarily feed us at our human core. And one of my friends Brian Kramer has done some writing around the fact that for years with social media and our phones. We’ve been social distancing. We’re content to hide behind a screen or send a text rather than a call. But now that we’re all being sequestered for the common good. Interesting to note that the thing we all want the most right now is human connection and that should come as no surprise because that’s what we’re wired for.

We are wired for meaningful human connection and we are not going to find that through a screen.

AO: Well Carlos, this has been amazing. Do you have any other things, the last words you love to share with us, with our audience?

CH: Yeah, I would just say if your audience wants to talk more about this I would love to. You can find me on Twitter hit me up on LinkedIn. I’m putting a lot of posts on LinkedIn about our current state of things and kind of what I hope our new normal becomes and yeah, I would just encourage everybody go for it, do this because it will allow you to bring the best of yourself to your personal life and your work life and you won’t be sorry.

AO: You made the change. Boom.

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