Buy Back Your Time

UP: Books
Podcast Episode: The Growth Guide with Dan Martell

📚The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Don’t hire to grow your business. Hire to buy back your time.
  2. Spend your time on the tasks:
    1. You excel at
    2. You truly enjoy
    3. Add the highest value
  3. Buy Back Your Time provides actionable advice on achieving more in less time and living a more fulfilling life.

💗 1. Impressions

Few books hit home like this.

I’m in the process of starting a number of businesses and this is invaluable in the moment.

A sign I like a book is the number of people I recommend the book to and I’ve recommended this book to a LOT of people.

🧭 How I Discovered It

I found Dan Martell on Twitter and saw the book Buy Back Your Time, which resonated, because I need to buy back my time.

👤 Who Should Read It?

If you run a business or you’re a business leader, this book is for you.

🦋 How the Book Changed Me

  • I delegate more tasks
  • I’m focused on buying back my time
  • I plan to build my businesses using these techniques

✍️ My Top Quote

  • Successful people aren’t doing what they love because they’re rich. They’re rich because they’ve learned to do what they love, and only what they love.

📒 2. Summary + Notes

Email GPS

Email GPS is a list of folders (or labels) that work for entrepreneurs in any industry to work with your administrative assistant.

Armed with Email GPS, your admin assistant can route 90% of your email exactly as you would have routed it:

! Your Name Emails only you can respond to

1. To Respond Emails your AA will respond to but haven’t yet

2. Review Emails you need to review with them – opportunity for learning

3. Responded You can see what emails your AA responded to on your behalf

4. Waiting on These emails require actions from others before you can act on them

5. Receipts / Financials Use this to track anything financial related

6. Newsletters Use this to put content you want to consume and consume it when you want to.

Drip Matrix

The Drip Matrix allows you to see how valuable a task is, in terms of money and energy.

The goal is to spend the majority of your time in the Production Quadrant, with some deposits in the Investment Quadrant

The Investment Quadrant (lower right) contains those tasks that light you up but don’t make you much money, at least not today. Every task here is an investment – in yourself, in relationships or in your business:

  • Industry collaborations
  • Physical Activities
  • Time with others
  • Hobbies

The Production Quadrant makes you lots of money and lights you up.

When most of your tasks are in the upper-right-hand corner, where you’re making lots of money and your energy is flowing, you’re living in true freedom.

The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

In general, you want to remove tasks in your Delegation Quadrant as quickly as possible.

Remember, 80% done by someone else is 100% freaking awesome.

Removing tasks in your Replacement Quadrant takes more time

How to Hire Right

  1. Be Clear: Be certain about what you’re looking for
  2. Cast a Wide Net: To get a large number of qualified candidates, ask current employees, use job boards and look for those who are currently working
  3. Require a Video: Ask all candidates to upload a 3 minute video. Many people wo don’t read the instructions will eliminate themselves here
  4. Use Profile Assessments: Have each candidate do a personality assessment
  5. The Test-First Hiring Method Don’t work with someone until you’ve worked with them. Have your final few candidates perform a test task:
    1. Pay Them
    2. Don’t give them many instructions
    3. Make it representative of the work they’ll do
  6. Sell the Future: Once you’ve narrowed your list to the one right candidate, swith gears. Now you want to sell the role to them.

Buyback Principle

The Buyback Principle is focused on:

  1. How to Spend the most finite asset your business possesses – the Founder’s Time
  2. How to Invest that time into what will bring the Founder more energy and more money

Don’t hire to grow your business. Hire to buy back your time

Use the Buyback Loop

  1. Audit your time to determine low value tasks draining your energy
  2. Transfer those tasks to someone who’s better at them and who enjoys them
  3. Fill your time with higher value tasks that light you up and make you and the business more money

Lather. Rinse. Repeat

The 10-80-10 Rule

The 10-80-10 Rule is a simple technique you can use when you still want to be involved with the end result, but you don’t need to do all the work on your own.

You do the initial 10%, put someone in charge of executing on the middle 80% of the work, then sail back in and finalize the last 10% putting your magical touch on the project.

The Preloaded Year

  1. By preloading your calendar with what’s most important first, you’ll fit in not only the big rocks, but also what’s moderately important and even the fun little parts of life
  2. Counterintuitively, the more planned and scheduled you are, the more spontaneity you can enjoy
  3. Think once. Once you’ve made your year, don’t keep making exceptions
  4. You can use the Preloaded year to help execute on your 10X Vision. Break down your 10X Vision into five, three and one-year goals
  5. If an ad hoc opportunity does arise, and you’re considering changing your plans, ask this question: Is this a Hell YES Opportunity? If it is, it may be worth changing your plans. Else, don’t.

The 10X Framework

There are 4 specific elements of an entrepreneur’s dream that must be detailed in order to turn your dream into a crystal clear 10X Vision:

  1. Team
  2. Empire
  3. Lifestyle
  4. One Business


To accomplish your dream, who will be in the room with you?

Who will you need to join your team to execute your one crazy idea?


After you’ve imagined (and are able to clearly describe) your one business then consider your Empire.

Considering the overall empire will help you think about the team you’ll need today, the connections and network you’ll need to build and the personal development you’ll need to have.


Transport yourself ten years into the future of your dream life.

Walk around a little bit, get in your blood, and take in the smells, sights and sounds.

What are you doing? Are you an avid runner? Are you training for an Ironman? Think of everything you can possibly think of. Whatever your wildest dreams are, expand them and don’t forget the details.

One Business

Dream of being an empire-builder who owns multiple entities, but when creating your 10X Vision, remember to focus first on one company and become world-class at what lights you up so you can invest in new opportunities.

The CLEAR Framework

The CLEAR Framework can help defuse the awkwardness of offering clearing conversations. This is best done, at first, in a 1:2:1 environment where the leader invites feedback:

1. Create a warm environment
2. Lead them to offer critical feedback
3. Empathize wit the feedback they offer
4. Ask them whether they have more feedback
5. Reject or accept the feedback they’ve given you

The Three Trade Levels

There are three trades available to everyone:

Level 1 trader: employee
Level 2 trader: entrepreneur
Level 3 trader: empire-builder

An Employee trades their time for money

Even if you own your own business, but you’re stuck in it, you’re an employee for your own company – you’re still living the GSD mentality.

An Entrepreneur trades their money for more time

An Empire-builder trades their money for more money

At level 3, your personal life gets really exciting: You have time for personal, professional, and financial activities and have positioned capable people to run the day-to-day of your (probably multiple) businesses, and you have the time you want to dream up new investments or opportunities.

To move from Level 1 to Level 3, apply the principles in Buy Back Your Time and start with a Time and Energy Audit:

  1. Determine your Buyback Rate
  2. Audit Every Fifteen Minutes of your workday for two weeks
  3. Assign dollar amounts to each task using one to four dollar signs
  4. Highlight everything red or green [energy] and apply the principles of the DRIP Matrix
  5. When you review the list, to get quick wins:
    1. Delete unnecessary work
    2. Use your current team members
    3. Look for creative solutions to challenges

The 5 Success Assassins

The 5 Time Assassins to Entrepreneurial Success are:

  • The Supervisor – You fail to properly train and micro-manage your team
  • The Staller – You sabotage your own success by hesitating on big decisions
  • The Speed Demon – You make rapid decisions and then end up in the same spot
    The Self-Medicator – You turn to food, alcohol or other vices to reward yourself when you have success
  • The Saver – You have money in your bank account but don’t understand the value in spending it on growth opportunities

The Replacement Ladder

The Replacement Ladder is a time-tested system for what business operations to transfer at each stage of your company.

The rungs of the replacement ladder, in order, are:

1. Admin
2. Delivery
3. Marketing
4. Sales operations
5. Leadership functions

There are three key components at every rung on the replacement ladder:

– The key hire you need to make
– Your current feelings of stress or liberty
– The responsibilities that need to be transferred (ownership)

The Four C’s of a Playbook

There are four essential pieces to the creation of a Playbook:

1. The Camcorder Method – Training videos
2. The Course– the steps involved in the process
3. The Cadence – How often these tasks should be completed
4. The Checklist – the high level items that must be completed each time

The Camcorder Method

Film yourself doing the task

Make sure you talk while doing it

Film it at least 3 times to capture all scenarios (Use LOOM)

The Course

Create a high-level bullet list of all the steps required in a process.

If you’ve done the Camcorder Method, the course will outline everything you recorded.

The 4 Time Hacks You Need

The 4 Time Hacks You Need are:

1. The 1:3:1 Rule
2. $50 Magic Pill
3. A Definition of Done
4. Sync Meetings with Repeat Agenda

The 1:3:1 Rule

Before your team can ask for your help, they have to verbally define a singular, narrow problem. Next, they have to consider and offer three realistic paths to overcome the problem. Finally, they have to recommend the option they believe best:

Make them follow the 1:3:1 Rule

1. Define the one problem that needs to be solved
2. Offer three viable solutions to solve the problem
3. Make one suggestion from the list of possible solutions

$50 Magic Pill

Whether it’s $50 or $5,000 give everyone on your team an allowance that enables them to efficiently fix problems without ever having to get you involved.

As the role on the team goes up, the amount they can transact on without you being involved can go up accordingly.

A Definition of Done (DoD)

In simple cases, a simple definition is all you need.

For example, when you say to buy a whiteboard, the DoD is when the whiteboard is hanging on the wall in your office, there are four colored markers and there’s a dry-erase marker handy

In larger cases, a Definition of Done (DoD) will need to have three things:

1. Facts – what are the hard metrics that must be accomplished?
2. Feelings – How must you and others feel for this task to be complete
3. Functionality – When this task is finished, what must it enable others to do

Sync Meetings with Repeat Agenda

For working with your Administrative Assistant, use repeat Agendas, for example:

– Emails
– Off-load
– Calendar Review
– Review past meetings
– Review my action items
– Feedback loop on our projects
– What questions do you have for me

From Transactional Management to Transformational Leadership

  1. Smart leaders don’t tell others how to do something. They tell them the results that need to be achieved and allow the person to use their creativity to figure out how.
  2. Every person in your workplace has their responsibilities, or monkeys. When given the chance, they’ll give their monkeys to you. Don’t take them. Empower them to carry their own monkeys.
  3. Many leaders manage their organization by telling staff what to do, checking their work then explaining what to do next. That’s Transactional Management. If you do this, everyone will come to you for answers on what to do next – it creates a ceiling.
  4. Instead, embrace Transformational Leadership in which you:
    1. Give an outcome
    2. Offer a metric to measure progress
    3. Coach your team and colleagues to success
  5. Use the CO-A-CH framework to coach your staff to success
    1. CO = COre Issue – Focus on the principle, not the one-off situation
    2. A = Actual Story – Share a personal, vulnerable story of how you’ve dealt with this same issue in the past
    3. CH = CHange – Try to enroll commitment to change, recognizing it’s their decision

✅ 3. Actionable Advice

  1. AI can help you with the 10:80:10 rule, being your middle person for the 80%
  2. Focus on what brings you joy and adds value to the business instead of the busy work

☝️ 4. Potential Weaknesses

Where I can see Buy Back Your Time being a challenge for people is for those who aren’t in a position of leadership or ownership who can’t buy back their time.

You may not benefit from the principles if you don’t have the power to buy back your time.

🪢 5. Conclusion

This book is powerful.

I’m currently focused on entrepreneurship.

What that means is I want to build multiple businesses.

To do that, I’m going to be using the principles and systems from this book on a daily basis.

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