3 July 2024

How I Learned to Stop Being Busy: Tips for Entrepreneurs Finding Balance | EP 19

In this episode, Aaron Henriques, a former police officer and experienced entrepreneur from London, shares his journey of becoming comfortable with not being constantly busy. He reflects on his habit of starting multiple businesses without seeing them through and discusses how he learned to value downtime.

Aaron talks about shifting his focus from social media’s ‘busy’ culture to strategic thinking, setting new rules to avoid being essential to daily operations, and his new interest in investing. He shares the principles he’s adopted to maximise efficiency and success, aiming for long-term personal and professional growth.

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Opportunity Awaits podcast Episode Transcript

I'm going to talk about how I train myself to start being okay with not being busy and filling my time constantly with a million different things to do. I'm Aaron Henriques from London, former police officer. I've had businesses in the UK and one in Dubai over the last 15 years or so. I'm currently in Dubai in my last few weeks after being here a couple of months. I'm just been thinking about something that has been, it's been top of mind for quite a while because when people ask me a question about what have you been doing today? And a lot of the time, I haven't been doing stuff that they would consider to be work as such. And so sometimes I feel I feel something in me like, Oh, you need to make something up. And if you like this episode, please like it, share it and all that jazz. So that other people can find it. So let me get into this. not that long ago, it was a couple of years ago. Now my accountant came to me and we had a call and he was what are you doing? And it was because I had, I think [00:01:00] it was like four or five brand new companies that I was meant to be starting and it was just crazy, and I wasn't really doing anything with those startups. it didn't take me long to realize that, I wasn't actually doing anything and it was a repeating pattern. Where I was just, get a new idea. I'd start a new business. do all the initial business development side of things. then I would get another idea and then I'd start on that and neglect the previous idea. And that was just like a repeating pattern. And I realized what it was really, is that I needed to fill my time with stuff. I needed to fill my time with something new all the time.   and I told myself at that point that, I need to shut down these companies because it's absolutely insane. I need to go back to the absolute zero drawing board, the company that I'd had for a long time, the cleaning company, let's keep that in play. I needed to just reset basically and get to a stage of where I'm not just filling my time with busy [00:02:00] stuff, like busy work, just random shit that will fill up my time. And I had to get okay with just not being busy. And that was one thing that I really struggled with that sort of concept of being, just not really doing anything with my day. and I know it sounds crazy cause it's like. It's calling people lazy and all this stuff, but I needed to find a way to try and be lazy if that makes sense. And I think it's because the likes of social media. we watch all these entrepreneurial gurus and all that stuff. And we think that we need to be, copying them because they're like, work 18 hours out of 24 and sleep under your desk and, do this, do that. And all the time. And they always look like they're busy doing stuff. And I'm not doubting that many of them are, but I just think that at that point I was at a stage where I needed to sit down focus on what I really wanted to do, have a real think about what did I really want to do. And that process took a really long time. This isn't something that was certainly for [00:03:00] me that I could just do it overnight and just decide, Hey, I'm, no longer doing anything and I'm busy and I'm lazy. I'm just going to watch Netflix. And I think in more recent years, this is the thing that has required the most self discipline on my part for sure. So I took a lot of time out, I'm talking about months and during that time out of not doing stuff, I started to think about how can I fill my time in other ways that are probably more productive for the longterm and will have more benefit to me in the longterm and help me, develop myself. So I really started hammering in on like reading more, Audio books are great because I read physical books really slow, some audio books I listen to, if they're really great audio books. I will then go back and read the physical book because I always get more out of it, even though it takes more time. I'd listen to podcasts, a lot, whether they're YouTube or audio podcasts Just developing certain skill sets and during that period, also thinking about what direction do I really [00:04:00] want to go in because I. probably knew already then that me being the forefront of a startup isn't the right thing. I don't think I'm very good at it. And by that, I don't mean like with the ideas and stuff like that. It's more the implementation and I get really bored. So I'm not one of those startup founders that can then do all the work for the next year. If I did a startup, I need to be able to do something where I can pass that on to someone. Now I'll get onto that in a bit, but I really filled my time with learning, developing myself and thinking about what do I really want to do? And I realized that for me is really about investing. Investing in small businesses, but initially, I was thinking about buying entire companies rather than investing in existing companies. But I now think that actually investing [00:05:00] is more my thing. And also during that time, I set new rules for myself. One of the things I did set, set to myself, very early on in this, was that I had a look at my companies that I had. The one that was, the most successful continuously, although it wasn't making me huge sums of money, it paid for my life. But I wasn't running it day to day. In fact, I wasn't running it at all. My involvement is pretty much uploading a couple of bank statements, two or three times a month. And then that's it. I only have input occasionally. And that's if there's like a specific problem that needs to be solved.And I wanted to make sure that any ideas that I was coming up with, if I was going to do a new startup or anything like that, or be involved in a company, I cannot be so important to the company that it requires me for the end service or end product or whatever it is that the clients buy. I wanted to make myself Disposable, really, to the business, not important. Now, I know for a lot of you, when you're [00:06:00] particularly in your own business if you're just starting up your own company, you want to be the main figure, the main person in the business, a bit of ego stuff, really, if you're really honest with yourself. I realized that is actually not what I want. It's the complete opposite of what I want. And actually, if you really think about it, if you are so important to the business and if your goal is to create, a business that in the future you might one day be able to sell you being so important and pivotal to the business is going to make that very difficult, if not impossible. And often I find that people will ask me, they'll call me up on the phone and be like, Oh, what have you been doing today? And, it's just, I'm now two years along the line and I'm just like, a lot of the time I haven't really been doing that much. I might have, Sent a few emails first thing this morning, and I might have planned a podcast episode like this occasionally. I might have uploaded my bank statements. What else might I have done? I might have actually spent two or three [00:07:00] hours listening to an audiobook that morning. Or a YouTube podcast that morning. But when they asked me sometimes, even now, I've had quite a long period of time, a couple of years of learning to not be busy. I still get that feeling of dread even now where I feel like I have to, really rack my brain to justify myself to the person that's called me, to a friend that's called me to explain what I've been doing that day. And make it sound like I've been doing. Maybe more than I have been. And sometimes I think my, these people must think I'm doing something dodgy because obviously I make money just being honest, most of my friends, I make more than them and they probably wonder you do fuck all day. What are you doing? And I realized it's not, I'm doing fuck all what I just mentioned there is about, I might've done two, three, four hours of learning that day. Now I've discovered that [00:08:00] my strengths really are around providing like strategic advice and problem solving. And that has come about as something that has been in my nature for a very long time. I don't think I've ever really been that great at the implementation side, but the thoughts that go behind the thing is what I am good at. And it's then finding the person to implement the thoughts. Does that make sense? What I've discovered is that even though it sounds like I don't actually do much work. Yes, because I'm not physically doing the thing. I'm not doing the end bit for the end client or whatever. What I've realized is that my learning, the amount of knowledge that I've been gaining from different sources, on different topics like money investing, really around, mergers and acquisitions and stuff like that. But it's more around principles rather than how [00:09:00] tos. That's something that I think has been a massive change in my mindset in terms of how I take information from books and stuff that I read. I'm not taking the how to do this specific thing. I don't really care about the how to for an individual. One individual's got a different way of doing things something to another individual that's got a different way of doing it, another individual, and they can all come to the same outcome. What I've been taking from the books and audio books and podcasts that I listen to, and also part of, I've got business mentors as well that are paid, mentors. So what I also do is I take the principles from those and sometimes, I might listen to an audio book 10 hours long, but I've taken Maybe literally two or three lines of yeah, let's take this and add that to the principles box like in here. And also I've got things written down. But what I'm saying is that [00:10:00] a lot of people focus on the how to. They want to know how do I do this specific thing. And for me, I've realized that's not the right question. It is the principles around it, which then enables me to think out of the box and be able to come up with creative solutions to problems. this is what I've been implementing that more now with my business partner in finance company that I have, that I'm, part owner of, is being able to help the director of that to be able to, solve certain issues, solve certain problems. And that's really where I've started to realize my strength is. So to most people, it doesn't look like I'm doing work. To me, it doesn't feel like I'm doing work, but that work that I have been doing has been making changes, very positive changes in my businesses. And that is what is important for me. Listen, if you feel like you are that [00:11:00] person, perhaps it might be time for you to also change and think about how do I cut out all of this noise? How do I cut out all of this stuff that I'm doing? How do I create a few new rules for myself? So like my new rules around, not being important to the business, no new startups, although I did have a slip. I set up the company in Dubai after having that rule, but that was because I was pissed off with the UK government, to be honest with you, with the amount of tax that they charge. Whatever. I have the company now. and any other rules that might make sense to you, and use that extra time in a positive way, in a way that's going to move your life forward further down the line. And that might be through learning. That might be through reading more. That might be through, learning more principles that you can implement. But I would say that for a lot of people, if you're in the position where you're just starting out, you don't have business knowledge behind you, [00:12:00] You're going to need to do more of the how tos first to understand how to apply those principles in the future when you strategize and maybe speak to your own business partners and stuff to be able to come up with creative solutions and ways to solve certain problems. Hopefully that makes some sense. I think I'm going to probably do a more planned, deliberately planned, episode another day about this if it's something that you're interested in because I find it still very difficult to really make it make sense in my brain exactly what has changed over that time. That is the biggest change is not being busy with just random shit, but it's all the stuff that I did with that extra time which has led to a result which has had a massively positive impact on how I think about things, how much time I have, how much money I earn for our actual hours [00:13:00] work that most people would consider hours worked is substantial. And I'm really protective over my time now, as anyone who dealt with me asked me for Oh, "Can I just have 30 minutes of your time on a call". No is normally my answer. And it's not to be a dick. It's because I'm just protective over my time. That 30 minutes I might've read Another few chapters of a book or something that have, made me start thinking about other things. And that's what happens with the principles is you then start thinking about all these other things. But if you're just so focused, laser focused on the how to, , Yeah, you don't, because you're thinking, oh, it's only done in this really rigid way. This is how that person does it, and you do it in this really rigid way, rather than these are the principles behind what this person does, and this is how I can, use the principles from this thing to apply it to my thing. I don't know if that really makes much sense, but if it does make sense and it's something that you want to hear more about and maybe [00:14:00] get me to spend probably a bit more focused thought time planning out another episode like this, but more focused on that specific point. let me know in the comments if you yourself have found yourself in a similar position where you've got that entrepreneurial mind, Ideas buzzing around you all the time and then you're like, You start a company and then after a few months don't really do anything with that because you've got another idea over here And you're thinking about that over there as well I think entrepreneurs just have chaotic minds and you need to find where your skill set is I feel like i'm only just starting to really understand What my skill set is and to get comfortable With Not fitting the mold of what, social media tells you that you have to do and having my own way of working that may differ to 90%, 95%, 99% of other people, but actually for results, it is showing me results and I'm starting to see the trend, which is what I actually [00:15:00] really wanted, not the ego boost of, Oh, I'm this great entrepreneur that's created all this I don't give a shit. what I care about is the end result that the client gets. And the end result that the client gets is important because that will define whether or not your business is successful financially. And for me, I'm not setting up a business just because, people can say all the shit they want, they wanna cure the world of all this other stuff whatever you're talking shit, for most people, you want it because it's gonna make your life better in some way down the line. And for me, The things that I do want to achieve, I haven't achieved. I'm not even 1% towards where my goals are. But, as I progress throughout the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years of my working life, I know I will get closer to those goals. And I see each new business that I either own or, partially owned, invested in some way as a stepping stone to reach those goals. But I've got to do the work first. the work for [00:16:00] me is currently not involved around the physical implementation part. It's very strategic. It's about applying principles and problem solving. And that's it. So that's the end of this. I'm going to go cause I've actually got a meeting very soon that I need to prepare for very important meeting. I'll probably talk about another day. it's not going to be great news for someone who's going to be at the other end of this meeting, but whatever this is business. It's one of those hard things that entrepreneurs and business owners have to do occasionally. I'm not leading the meeting. I'm just sitting in on it. Yeah, so let me know in the comments what you thought remember to subscribe, share this episode if you feel like it was useful to you in some way, leave comments because I do want to make it better for you and watch this video here. Bye.  

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