A Simple System to Transform Your Health, Wealth, and Relationships Forever


Clint Murphy Eric Partaker


Eric Partaker, Clint Murphy

Clint Murphy  00:03

Today I had a great conversation with Eric partaker, an award winning entrepreneur, peak performance expert and mentor for Fortune 50 CEOs. Eric is the author of The Three Alarms, A Simple System to Transform Your Health, Wealth and Relationships Forever, which teaches you a technique to create habits through identity change through the use of three alarms on your phone. It’s an amazing conversation. And if you use these techniques, you will change your life for the better. I hope you enjoy the conversation. Eric, welcome to the growth guide podcast where I’d love to start before we dive into your book, The Three Alarms is to get the readers up to speed a bit about who you are and what you do. So that they’re aware of everything as we dive into the book. So can you give a little brief bio on Eric’s history, and then we’ll dive in?

Eric Partaker  01:03

Yeah, cool. Awesome. Well, thanks for having me. Excited to be here, Clint. And yeah, our household is like the United Nations. So I’m half Norwegian, half American, my wife is Brazilian, we live in Portugal. The kids speak like four languages. So it’s a real mixed bag where we’re kind of citizens of the world. And that kind of mixture appears it within my career as well. So I started off as a consultant with McKinsey and Company, then a bit of nonprofit work for awhile, helped in the early days of Skype, back when Skype was cool. With the blitzscaling of that, and then we had a big exit to eBay for a few billion dollars back in, I think it was like 2005, 2006. Was missing Mexican food having grown up on it in Chicago, so it was trying to figure out what to do next. And then built what became an award winning chain of Mexican restaurants in the UK, and lived in the UK for total of 17 years. Lived in Norway, lived in the US, now I live in Portugal. And these days, my wife and I, we support about 30 CEOs at any one point in time, helping them scale their companies, their leadership and themselves. So yeah, that’s a quick, quick intro.

Clint Murphy  02:26

And Eric, what was the chain of Mexican restaurants?  Chilango. Wow, impressive. That was one I wasn’t aware of. So where I’d love to start as we dive into the book is taking you back a little in time, which really was the impetus of the book and of changing your life. And what we’re talking about is there was a time when you had a wake up call that you were sacrificing your relationships, your body and your son. And for so called success as you had defined it for yourself at that time. I’ve been where you were, for me, it showed up as adrenal shutdown. My son not looking me in the eye, not telling me he loved me anymore. And so what was happening in your life that led to that and can you take us through what that wake up call looked like?

Eric Partaker  03:20

Sure, sure. So maybe I’ll start at the climax, and then we can go back and then forward. So I was on a flight and my colleague could see that I wasn’t well, he ran to get the attention of the stewardess. Stewardess calls for a doctor. Luckily for me, there was one on board, Dr. rushes over, takes my vital signs and says we need to land the plane immediately. He’s having a heart attack. And when you hear those words, 35,000 feet in the air, I can promise you, you have never felt more alone, more terrified, more like regretful, like all every negative emotion, all rolled into one. The descent felt like an eternity as we made our way to make an emergency landing. And as I looked up into a obviously we, you know, we reached the runway, I’m whisked away into an ambulance waiting on the runway, they administer nitrates to open up the blood flow to my heart. And I looked up into the eyes of the paramedic looking down at me and I said, please don’t let me die. I have a five year old son. And he said, you know, I think we got ya, you know, just in time, so you know, sit tight. And the next day when I woke up in the hospital, I thought about, you know, what have gotten me to that point. And as you had alluded to, it was you know, I had always been obsessed with reaching my full potential since I was a kid. But it was, you know, there’s two ways you can approach I think, realize, you know, becoming all that you’re capable of being in life. And in the first half of my career, I approached it from a place of lack, you know, like, I need this to feel complete, I’m not worthy if you know, if I’m not, you know, doing X, Y, or Z, in my, In the second half of my career now, you know, I approach it from a place of abundance, you know, so it’s, I’m already complete, but I’m going to add two things. And I think that was probably probably emerged from childhood, just this constant feeling of always being second best, this fear of like squandering, you know, my potential. And that led to a lot of overworking just a lot of soul sacrificing, you know, I was doing like 100 hour weeks at McKinsey and Company, during the blitzscaling days of Skype building, you know, more than one of my own businesses. And so that eventually took its toll because I wasn’t looking, I was only trying to put in as many hours as I could at work. And I was doing the bare minimum to get by on, you know, the health and relationship front. And it caught up with me. And, you know, my body, as described basically said, enough is enough. And then that prompted, you know, some deep reflection, because I still wanted to reach my full potential, that didn’t change. But I realized that I had to obviously find a better way. And that started a journey, I went really deep into peak performance, I went really deep and trying to just, you know, understand behavior change and neuroscience and, you know, habit formation, and how do I do this all basically without sacrificing my health and relationships. And then that’s the, you know, as you correctly pointed out, that’s the, essentially the focus of my book, The Three Alarms, which is you know, what did the journey look thereafter to get to where things are today?

Clint Murphy  06:47

And so when you look at that in you talk about going deep into the neuroscience, into the habits, high performance, you talk about using the concept that British cycling’s Dave Brailsford used being marginal gains or marginal improvements. And he used that for the British team and for Team Sky, can you bring the listeners up to speed on what he was talking about? And how you use that concept of marginal improvements in your life?

Eric Partaker  07:19

Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, for context, you know, as the coach, or as, you know, the performance coach for the cycling team. He, his belief was that if you want to optimize performance on the field of play, then as any good sports coach, you know, would be thinking, you have to optimize everything off the field of play, as well, it’s not enough to just show up and give it your all on game day. So that’s what I was doing in the first half of my career, I was just thinking of optimizing my performance on the field of play, not off the field of play, you know, like health, relationships off the field, on the field, your work. And those three, by the way, you know, health work relationships, to me, that’s the 80/20 of life improvement, the 20% of things you can focus on for 80% of the improvement you’re seeking, I also kind of refer to it as like the three legged stool, you know, you need a minimum of three legs for a stool to have stability, you take out one leg, and it starts to wobble. So what he did back into the cycling team example, as he looked at, you know, absolutely everything down to what were the mattresses that the cyclists were sleeping on. And, you know, what gave each cyclists like the best night’s sleep and transporting and even those mattresses from location to location. So even their sleep on an individual basis was being optimized in the diet being optimized, the training is specific to the cyclist being optimized, such that all these small little things added together, whereas individually, you might not think they’re worth it, because let’s say they offer a quarter of a percent of improvement. But, you know, in athletics, you know, if you do 10 things that offer a quarter percent improvement, such that you’re 2.5% ahead, you know, when you’re at an elite level, and you’re already say, you know, giving 90%, you know 92.5 That’s a big deal. That’s the championship right there. So, where I was going wrong, you know, prior was that really two things so I referenced one already, I wasn’t thinking about off the field stuff, you know, how do I optimize health and, and home but also too, I was always going, you know, you know, the whole thing go big or go home? Like It sounds great, but it doesn’t really doesn’t work. You know, it’s like one of these things that people say and they throw out there and it’s kind of like a BS thing. I was swinging for the fences every single time. You know, so I gotta knock this project out of the park. Okay, well, let’s put in, why 100 hours, let’s put 120 hours this week into it, right? That stuff doesn’t work. So examples of how I started to change. Well, one was I noticed this tendency within me for perfectionism. And that not only would lead to taking way too long to do just about anything, but it also meant that I often procrastinate, because I didn’t have enough time to get started, or I didn’t have enough time you know, to get finished. And so it just made everything drag on and on and on. And I really zeroed in on the 80/20 law as the best way I could combat and cure my own perfectionism. So 80/20 simply says that, you know, the world is nonlinear. And a minority of things create the majority of effects. So, you know, I referenced 80/20 earlier with health working relationships, you know, 20% of the factors you could focus on life, you know, for 80% of the improvement, you know, that you’re seeking. 80/20, in the context of a project could be, if I’m working on, let’s say, I’m working on a presentation, and for me to deliver, you know, a perfect presentation, let’s assume it’s gonna take five hours to complete. Well, the question is, if you were to give it your all for just one hour, 20%, could you create something that was 80% good enough, such that you free up those next four hours to do whatever you like, work less, or move on to the next thing? Right? And so, you know, if you do that mathematically, right, like, let’s, let’s talk about an economics class, like it, what was it? utiles? Right. So it’s like, if you’re gonna put in 100, right, and you get 100 of value in terms of the presentation, you get 100 utiles, right. But if that takes five hours to produce, if I’m going to do one hour and produce something worth 80, I got 80 in that one hour, but now if I do that for the next four hours, and get 80 in each of those as well, 80 times five hours 400. So literally the 80/20 rule, in a way, mathematically speaking, can allow you to 4X your output, just by looking at, you know, the looking for leverage, right, what’s the 20% of effort, I could put in for 80% of the results. Now, this doesn’t, of course, apply in all situations. And you have to respect that. And I’m just using this as an example, right to help, you know, free up your thinking, you know, in manufacturing, you can’t get away with 80%, you need, like 99.999999. But there’s other interesting ways to approach that as well. And I’ll give one more example of how I started to put less than myself. So 80/20, you can 80/20, something yourself, but then you could delegate it, perhaps to someone on the team, right? So you do a first draft, you get it to 80%. And then you hand that off to someone and you ask them, Can you 80/20 the remaining 20%? Right, mathematically, what does that get us to? Well, that percent 96% is usually, you know, good enough, right? That would be a good result. So yeah, I mean, that’s just one example of how I started to, you know, free myself up to do more with with less, essentially,

Clint Murphy  13:17

Let’s stay on this one for a minute. Because the 80/20 principle is massive in my life as well. And I write about it a fair bit. It’s one of the reasons you can do some of the things that other people say, hey, you can’t drink Starbucks, or eat avocado toast and be a millionaire. And it’s like, well, if I’m focusing on the right 20% of things consistently, I can do other things at the edges that aren’t actually going to have an impact. So when you think about the 80/20 rule, one of the good examples you use that can bring it around to people is this concept of diet or health, and how the 20% applies to your diet or health. Because the second half of the 80/20 rule is something that you and I both align on, which is the simple line that most of these things are simple. But they’re not easy. No. So how does simple but not easy, tie to the 80/20 rule if we look at something like physical fitness or diet,

Eric Partaker  14:16

Yeah, right. So I mean, a few things, you know, come to mind. So first of all, let’s start with the fact that typically everyone who wants to get in shape, me included, right? I’m in a phase right now, actually, where I’m like, Okay, time to get into a little bit of, you know, better shape here. We can easily overwhelm ourselves. Right? And we, yes, there’s, I mean, there are. So let’s just talk about like the 80. I mean, this is meta. I’m just like literally thinking out loud right now. But let’s just talk about like the 80/20 of improving anything. So first of all, if you take the non 80/20 approach to let’s develop an improvement plan, you can get lost on the internet because there’s a million different ways that you could probably get into shape. Um, there’s a million different diet plans out there. That’s not really the issue, The issue is just picking one, any of them really, like just any of them, because they all are linked to the primary, you know, the another level of 80/20 here. so what’s the 20% of things you need to focus on to actually lose weight? Well just consume less calories than you require, right. And just about, I don’t think there’s a diet plan on the planet, that is about you. And I’m not talking about bulking up as a bodybuilder, I’m talking about losing weight plans, I think they’re pretty much all aligned on yeah, you gotta eat less than you need, it’s not like, hey, you’re gonna lose weight by eating ice cream. So you know, that’s the first thing that comes to mind is just like, just pick one thing, you know, rather than trying to do a million things. And then, when it comes to getting in, you know, into shape, there’s a few things again, to not get lost in it all to focus on. So first and foremost, I would just focus on sleep. If you don’t sleep well, you’re going to be you know, if you wake up tired, you’re going to be more prone to snacking, you’re going to be more prone to not following through on your routines such as like working out. I even think biologically speaking, and I’m not a scientist here, but I’m fairly certain that if you’re not well rested, it even messes up the way your body converts calories, and you’re more likely to put on fat, you know, essentially,

Clint Murphy  16:37

If you’re very sleep deprived for sustained periods of time, your mind or your brain says the only time someone is this sleep deprived is when they’re in a state of starvation. So let’s conserve calories. I read that one recently, I’d have to definitely you know, Internet people fact check us. But it’s the brain saying, hey, usually when someone’s in this state, it comes with starvation. i.e. ancestors couldn’t go to sleep because they needed to hunt food. So let’s go into a state of preservation of calories. And so we broke up because we’re not sleeping not only the bad food choices, but so I believe you are correct on that one.

Eric Partaker  17:21

Yes. So you got sleep. The next thing to think about is exercise. And I’m saving, you know, it’s probably the biggest problem and also dial mover for the last one, but exercise. And I think people, you know, most people would benefit from doing a combination of strength and cardio within a week, you know, and the way I approach it is three cardio sessions, three strength sessions a week, you can do them on the same day, if you want, you can break them up. And then last but not least, you know, I think 70% of the results you get from a fitness routine will come down to what you’re eating. Because you can eat a ton of crap. And then it feels like you’re going nowhere. It doesn’t feel like you’re getting stronger, it doesn’t look like you’re getting stronger. And if you look at nutrition, you know one of the commonalities again, here’s another example of 80/20. So, across all the eating plans out there, one of the most common set of things, factors that you’ll see is, you know, eat whole foods, mostly plants. You know, don’t eat you know, eat real food, mostly plants don’t eat sugar, basically. I think Michael Pollan says this in one of his books, I forget which one it was. And when we talked about eating real food, what like, what does that mean? Well, if it has an ingredients label on it, it’s not real food. That’s the way I look at it. Right? Because you know, a potato, what does that potato say on it? Potato?. There’s nothing else to say Carrot, carrot. You know, but if it has ingredients, you know pasta, you know, do you find pasta growing on trees? No. Does it have an ingredient list? Yes. Just you know, so So real food is the stuff that typically doesn’t have an ingredient list that you could just find right in nature and the sugars sounds self explanatory, but it’s not just candy bars. You know, drinking loads of fruit juices, for example. That doesn’t help. That’s not how nature intended it right. An apples delivered with its juice connected to the fiber of the apples so that you don’t get a massive sugar rush, you know, as you’re eating it, you juice the apple and you don’t have any of the fiber that it’s coming with, you know, you’re basically getting like nature’s equivalent of a candy bar. So those few thoughts and examples about how to kind of simplify what to focus on with regard to health.

Clint Murphy  19:49

And so if we look at that, and we talk about, you know, it’s, I always come back to there’s an old video that was on the internet when I was much younger, called the fat smoker and his recipe for weight loss, because he became not the fat smoker, which is the whole point of the video was, you know, people always look for the magic bullet and he’s like, eat less, exercise more. So when you go right down to bare bones simplicity, weight loss, eat less exercise more. And most things in life are that simple. You want to be more financially independent, earn more, spend less, right, like we can always boil it down to that level of simplicity. But that level of simplicity isn’t easy and you highlight, it’s the magic button, right? You have your magic button exercise, if you could press this, and you could be x, would you want it? And people say yes. Now it’s simple to get there. But most of us don’t get there. And that’s because there are common blockers in our way. You already talked about one of them being perfectionism. You talk about four others. Can you let the listeners know, at a high level what are some of the things that are blocking them? And can we deep dive into procrastination together? Because that’s one that you go a little deeper on, you have your four steps and when we can talk about that one a little deeper, but high level, what are the things that are blocking people from doing what’s otherwise simple?

Eric Partaker  21:21

Yeah, I mean, I think at the deepest level, it’s this false belief that you need to want or to like, or to desire, you know, everything that you do in life. We have a great life right now. We live in Portugal. You know, I don’t work a full week. Are there still things on a daily basis that I have to do that I don’t want to do? Yeah, all the time. And I think you know, when people think when you go through life requiring, you know, everything to be exactly as you would like it to be, then you’re just setting yourself up for failure. And that’s also too one of the triggers of procrastination. So in the course of a day, you will have to, I mean, nobody ever procrastinates on something that they absolutely want to do. Right, and that they’re excited to do. You don’t need you know, procrastination, overcoming procrastination techniques for that. Do you need overcoming procrastination techniques to do your tax return? Yes. Because are you ever gonna want to do their tax return? Maybe, maybe there’s some accountants out there that, you know, relish in the moment every year, but not for me. And that’s, you know, a segue to one of the simplest procrastination tactics that I’ve used is recognizing the self talk that goes in your head. So when if you were to verbalize what you’re saying, and the moment that you are starting to procrastinate, or you feel the procrastination coming on, there is a sentence going on in your head that probably is along the lines of I have to, you know, finish whatever it is, you know, or I should be doing, you know, whatever it is. And this is language of oppression, right, you’re being forced to do something you don’t want to do, I have to, or you’re being compared to an ideal that you’re currently not satisfying. You know, I should, you know, but I’m not. Either way that’s going to create resistance, it’s a natural response. The self defense tactic is procrastination, right? So that’s what happens if you feel like you’re being forced to do anything. Well, what do you do? Well, I’m not going to do it. And so you put it off, if you instead start to get into the habit of recognizing when this negative self talk is happening, and change the language to language of choice, rather than language of oppression, and simply use the construct of I choose to, instead of I have to, right, you don’t need to like to tax return, but you can so choose to do it. And that’s better than I have to do it. And instead of focusing on the finish as in I have to finish if instead you focus on the start, because I have to finish well, how long is it going to take to finish? I don’t know it’s hard to estimate that’s going to trigger overwhelm. How long does it take to start? Well, that happens in a second. Right? So instead of I have to finish, I choose to start and then you need to make it super small. And you can add a further element to that construct. I choose to start for just five minutes. And when I tell myself that okay, I gotta do my tax return. Oh, I don’t feel like doing this. Hang on a choose to start for just five minutes. I never know when that 300 seconds has gone by. Right because you just get lost into what you’re doing. It’s like so you know that the hardest part about going for a run they say you know it’s pretty down the trainer’s Right, it’s like, similar concept here. You know, it’s physics, right? Nobody wants it, you know, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. So, you know, the most important thing is to find easy ways to get the ball rolling and create motion. Just if you can get past that initial feeling of resistance, then you kick in, you know, with to the momentum effect.

Clint Murphy  25:22

Yeah, you know, whether it’s the two minute rule or the five minute rule. Basically, the starting gets you going, right? So and number one thing for people, whatever it is you want to do, if you want to be a runner, well go run for two minutes, it’ll become 10 becoming 20. If you want to be a writer , write for two minutes, it’ll become 10, it’ll become 20. And if you do that consistently enough, you’re going to become what you want to be. So that’s a beautiful way to do it. So earlier in the conversation, you talked about it, but we didn’t go into it was the concept of the three legged stool. And I believe you said health, wealth and relationships. Can you talk a bit about that, and then we’ll dive into some of the things that people can do to improve in these different areas of their life?

Eric Partaker  26:06

Sure, yeah. So and when I say wealth, I mean, both, you know how you make the money. So what you do for work, and then what you do with the money thereafter, some people just want to refer to it as work, health, work and relationships, health, wealth, and relationships, whatever floats your boat, but this for me is see as mentioned the 80/20, the life improvement. And I recognize that I had been over tracking on the work front and not paying enough attention to the health and relationship fronts. And one of the most powerful things that I learned from one of my early mentors, I remember he said to me, Eric, rather than tried to gradually change yourself, which takes a long period of time, it’s much easier just to switch to a new identity, so that you can change instantaneously. And that might sound like far fetched and a bit superhero-ish, it is super hero-ish. And the fact that when you were a kid used to do this all the time, used to change into a superhero and in a moment’s notice your behavior match your identity. And so really, what this is, is not something new to any human being on the planet, it’s more about reigniting a dormant, you know, capability that’s gone dormant. Typically, you know, after the age of 13 or so, reigniting this ability to instead of creating the new youth from the bottoms up building it behavior after behavior, you go back to how you used to do things, as a child, you create a top down, where you decide what the identity is, and then that drives the behavior. And if anybody listening, who has kids, and if you can’t remember your own, you know, childhood, you’ll know this to be true with your kids, right? You know, we bought our youngest son, a Captain America shield, the shield arrived, we gave it to him. And he instantly became Captain America, we didn’t have to sit him down and do behavioral training. And that’s once again, because identity drives behavior. So how does this relate to health work and relationships? Well, I decided to create superhero identities in each of those domains, and give them a name and identities that meant something to me, identities that represented me at my best in each of those domains. So on the health front, I chose the phrase “world fitness champion”, I’m not one I never will be one. But that’s the version of me strong, focused, disciplined that shows up at the gym in the morning, especially on the mornings that I don’t feel like working out, because would a world fitness champion need to feel like working out in order to do the workout. Never. They would just get it done, whether they felt like doing it or not. Right? On the work from the identity I’m using at the moment is world’s best coach. Again, are there better coaches out there? I’m sure there are. But that reminds me how do I need to be showing up today for you know, the 30 CEOs that I help as a as a CEO coach. And then on the relationship front, my kind of superhero identity is world’s best husband and father again, I’m not. But I know for a fact that before I had that level of intentionality on the homefront, I just drifted. Right? When I decided what this identity was, and actually put it into my phone and timed it for a certain time of day. So I took that identity, world’s best husband and father, I timed it for 6:30pm Put it on my phone to prompt the question how would the world’s best husband and father walk through that door right now? And when I started to have that intentionality to finding what best looks like, setting a reminder on my phone to cue it at the right time of day. Over time. I started to close that gap between my current and best self on the whole on front. And then I did the same thing with those other identities, 6:30am I put a alarm on my phone, that said world fitness champion to cue that identity. And at 9am, I put an alarm on my phone that says world’s best coach, again, to cue that identity. The point isn’t these phone alarms, that’s just like a funny, you know, a fun way to kind of mess around with it. But they’re like training wheels on the intentionality bicycle. The point is, to become more intentional in your life in each of these three areas. And find a way of checking in with it, reminding yourself so that again, you can close the gap between who you are and you know who you’re capable of being.

Clint Murphy  30:40

Thanks for listening. If you enjoy what you’re hearing so far, and want me to be able to get your favorite guests on this show. Please do me a quick favor, subscribe to the show. And leave me a rating, the 30 seconds of your time will mean a ton to me.  What I really want to zone in and dive a little deeper on with you there is this idea of you talked about through most of your life you drifted. And then you brought a level of intentionality to each of these areas. And intentionality to me seems to be the number one way we can bring ourselves off of autopilot, which is often the way most of us live our lives. And so what was it that highlighted to you that you needed to bring that level of intentionality? And so you’ve talked about crafting those identities, how do you make the behaviors and habits stick? And how do you keep that level of intentionality in your life and not get back into autopilot?

Eric Partaker  31:48

Right. Okay. And so remind me what was the first question?  How do you make the behavior stick? So you’ve got the identity you want to create? How do we make that permanent? How do we go from okay, this idea of Clint is going to be the best dad, how do I stay that best dad? And I think intentionality may be part of that. Yes, great question. So it’s all well and good to choose these identities, but you then need to evidence them on a daily basis. And that’s something that I’ve sort of gamified. So I think of these identities as like, the champion versions of me is another way I think about them. And so on a daily basis, I think, what are the champion proofs, you know, almost like mathematics, right? Like, how am I going to prove today that I’m a world fitness champion? How do I prove today in the context of today, based on today’s scheduled meetings, work that I need to do? How will I prove that I’m the world’s best CEO? Similarly, On the homefront, what am I going to do that will evidence that I’m the world’s best husband and father, and I do this every single day, and all I do is I just choose what the number one thing is that I can do in each department. And if the whole day went to, you know, crap, and I hadn’t achieved anything, but as long as I achieved those three things, I’d still feel, you know, pretty good. And I’ll give you some examples. So let’s say it’s a cardio day for working out. And I know that, I don’t know, I did 600 calories, you know, on my stationary cycling session, while I’m going to be asking, Okay, If I was to step it up today, can I do 650. On the work front, there might be a proposal that I want to get out. And I just tell myself, no matter what that is going out today, you know, that’s the number one thing I could do today. Or it could be it could be even simpler, it could be that I have a day full of meetings. But I look at one in particular, and I go, You know what, that one out of all of them, that’s the most important one, I’m going to really show up at my best in that meeting and make sure I actively participate rather than passively kind of, you know, exist. And then on the home front, in the context of a day, I might just say, You know what, I’m just going to, you know, send my wife a nice note or something, or make sure I spend, you know, a little bit of time playing, you know, a game with one of the kids the point is, you could pick literally anything. And it’s about just getting into the habit of asking yourself, What does best look like today? And what’s the number one thing I could do to evidence that and when you start to do those things, you know, if you picture this like a dartboard, so there’s a dartboard on the wall and the bullseye as you at your best. And on a daily basis, you start out with three darts: a health dart, a wealth dart and a relationship dart and when you choose your number one, you’re throwing them. And over time, I guarantee you, even if you suck at darts, over time, you will get closer and closer and closer to that bullseye. Every time you throw, and go for a number one on a daily basis, however small it is, it’s a repetition. You’re developing skill, you’re developing the ability to bridge the gap between strategy and execution in a way, right, having the intention to doing something and actually doing it. So that’s the way I think about these things. And you know, how I kind of connect them together

Clint Murphy  35:38

And so a few things that I’d love to dive deep with you on there. So when you look at this idea that a big part of that intentionality, you look at my day tomorrow, and these are the things I’m going to focus on. So there’s a level of intentionality of realizing you own your time. And so your designing your day. And so that’s something you talk about in the book, but you also just brought up there, can we dive into the importance of taking ownership and control of designing your day? And then how do you use the what gets measured gets managed to look back and say, Hey, how did my week go? And then how did my quarter go? It seems like that’s your rhythm and cadence is to analyze your weeks and analyze your quarters, but also, within the day, have evening routines to wind it down and morning routine sto rev it up. What does that look like in terms of ownership and intentionality and Purpose Driven Life Design?

Eric Partaker  36:46

Yeah, well, let’s start with the day. Because if you if you look back over a period of time, and if you view that period of time as successful versus kind of like neutral versus unsuccessful, your answer will very likely relate to how many of the days during that period of time, were winning days. Days that you felt proud days that you showed up and did what you said you’re going to do days where you did your best. Now to achieve that there’s three routines that I installed in my day, and I start with an evening routine. Because a productive day never begins the morning of, it begins the night before with how you shut down that day. And there’s an acronym that I follow SDA, so like sedate right if you creatively you know pronounce it, the S is a shutdown ritual. So last half hour before I would like my day to end I do a final scan of my email,, I update my to do list, I look at my calendar for the next day, I choose the top three things I want to do. And I schedule them into my calendar as appointments with myself. One hour before I go to bed, such that I’ll get eight hours asleep, I do a digital sunset. And the digital sunset is simply all electronics off, helps calm the mind and also helps with your melatonin production. Because artificial light especially from your devices in that last hour before bed can reduce your melatonin by 50%. And we need melatonin to promote deep sleep, without deep sleep we don’t wake up feeling productive, we don’t have a winning day, right. And then you know the eight as mentioned for eight hours of sleep. Next routine is a morning routine. Mine consists of a few things but I think in the simplest, simplest way to recommend a morning routine would be to just focus on like two factors really. So one is if possible, try to spike your energy, you know, so a bit of exercise proven if you have a bit of vigorous exercise, that’s proven to spike your mood for up to 12 hours equivalent in strength to taking an antidepressant, 12 hours it’s enough to get you through your day. So if you can exercise in the morning, it puts you in a good mood spikes your energy. And then the other thing that I tried to do is always be creative before reactive. So for the first hour of the day, right? Don’t start in your inbox. Don’t start in social media. If all you did from what I was what I’m suggesting here in terms of productivity. If all you did was without fail, block the first 60 minutes of your day to work on your most important task, that alone right there would be a game changer for you. If you had a you know rule you could make something crazy in your head. Like there’s a there’s a man next to me. And if I work on anything other than creative output, I’m dead ,turn it into the squid game, you know then do you’d just be amazed right if If you were created before reactive, you know, what should you be working on? Whatever you had decided in the shutdown routine the night before was your note number one tasks that can go into that first hour of the day. And then the last routine is a working routine. So as you start your workday, you know, how do you approach work. And the single biggest move that you can take there is to focus on single tasking. So in the book, the one thing they talked about a study, I think it was based out of Stanford University that showed that the average person, this is about 28% of their work day to multitasking in effectiveness, which is essentially task switching. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but 28% extrapolated across the work weeks in a year is an entire 13 weeks loss per year, meaning the average person loses a calendar quarter every year. It’s like playing a basketball game. You get to the third quarter, you finished, you’re ready to start the first fourth quarter. And the referee says, oh, no, I forgot to tell you, you have to sit out. You’re like, well, how the hell are we going to win? You know, the other teams you still shooting. Well, you’re not because you’re only playing with four quarters, or three quarters in your year instead of four. So if you focus on single tasking, not jumping around, but just do one thing at a time, you can reclaim those 13 weeks a year. So that’s, I’ll take a pause there for a moment. But that’s that’s how I approach a day in terms of evening, morning, and workday routines.

Clint Murphy  41:26

Now, a natural question that’s going to jump out to the listener may be, Well, Eric, that’s great. But you also run your life, you own your business, you’re a solopreneur, or an entrepreneur, you don’t have the same demands on your time that I do as a worker bee in a system that has less choice. So how do I use what you’re talking about to better my life? What do you throw at that that listener?

Eric Partaker  41:55

Yeah, so first of all, don’t recognize that, out of those three, three routines that I just mentioned, the bookends of your day, the evening and the morning, you have the most control over those. So you’d be crazy to not take advantage of those. Right? Yes, the you have the messy middle, which has different degrees of messiness, depending on you know what your life situation is, and you know what your work situation looks like, but absolutely take ownership of the bookends of the evening and the morning. Number two, this sort of stuff is, you know, great to have a conversation, you know, about what the people that you’re working with, start off a productive conversation, you know, explain that I would love to be even more productive in my role. I think that as a team, while we’re producing that x level, we could probably produce at an even higher level, if we can agree some standards in terms of, you know, what’s a reasonable response time when someone messages you? Can we agree some standard as a team of when we acknowledge that we’re all kind of, you know, heads down and doing focused work so that even if we send the message, we’re not expecting a response. You know, that cuts across a week, it’s like 10am to 12pm, where it’s going to be, you know, focused work for everyone. Or maybe it’s certain days, Mondays and Tuesdays are meeting days, Wednesday is a no meeting day. And then Thursday’s meeting days again, and Friday is something else. But I think when you’re in an environment where you’re not in full control, from a work point of view, then it really ups the requirement on kind of communicating the why with the rest of the team, and getting some buy in on certain things to try in terms of communication standards, and like protected focus time.

Clint Murphy  44:00

Love it. And then how do you, so having those string of successful days is super important. How do you use your weekly review and then quarterly review to make sure that you’re on track? And when you look at the quarterly one, do you do any, you know, you have the the 90 day year that people talk about? Is that something that you employ in your life? Is there some big reason for the quarterly review? That drives the years?

Eric Partaker  44:33

Yeah, no, great question. So on a weekly basis, super important to set up a review. I think the I’ve experimented with a lot. It’s always changing. I think the ideal time to do it is on a Friday afternoon, so that you can kind of go into your weekend knowing you got next week covered. And what I do in a weekly review is I look at what went well for the week, what could have gone better, what did I learn? I look at the calendar That’s just passed, I look at the next two weeks ahead, I check in with my goals. And then I asked myself, what are the three most important things that I want to do this week. And then I schedule those things once again, into the calendar. So that means that you’re both doing that scheduling into the calendar on a weekly basis, and then kind of reconfirming and checking in as part of your shutdown routine. And on a daily basis too and I get to the end of the week, can I complete that that review again. At the end of a quarter, I’m doing the exact pretty much exact same thing, but just quarterly version of it. Right. So it’s, you know, what went well, what didn’t? Is there any, you know, unfinished business from the quarter? You know, what are the key things that I learned? And, you know, what actions will I take next quarter as a result, and that kind of level, that constant introspection, combined with deciding you’re being intentional about what you’re going to work on, and when, again, has a hugely positive effect on, on what you can or can’t achieve.

Clint Murphy  46:13

I love that the big fan of what gets measured gets managed in all areas of our life. So that’s pretty, pretty big right there. And the other concept that I’d love to dive into with you is this idea that when we’re wanting to be productive, having those massive goals equals massive results. And I often say to people, when you think of a concept like 10x your performance or 10x your profitability, whatever it is, you want a 10x, one of the reasons we use that idea of 10x is you can incrementally improve anything without necessarily having to change how you’re doing it. But when you want to 10x something, you have to redesign the whole process, if you will, you have to choose a new identity, you can’t just incrementally improve the old identity. So why is the massive goals equals massive output so big for you and how do you use that in your life?

Eric Partaker  47:21

This on you got to be very strategic with because as I mentioned, at the start of our conversation, you know, I fired a warning about the whole phrase, you know, go big or go home, right? So that may sound then this conversation may sound like it’s contradicting that, but so that’s why I want to explain the Go big or go home reference is, we have to be careful with that if you’re, you know if you’re applying that to absolutely everything that you do. But not all things are created equal, if he looked back on your life, right now, just think, if you go back to your life, there were forks in the road, where you went right instead of left and something bad happened, or you went left instead of right. And, you know, boy, was that a good decision and had a ricochet effect on the rest of your life thereafter, until the next major fork in the road. You know, again, life is nonlinear, and there are not all decisions are created equal. And so it takes a bit of arcs to think through, okay, well, where does it make sense to go big? Where would achieving a certain thing, you know, have a positive ricochet effect on, you know, other aspects of my life. And I’ll give you an example from my own, you know, my own background. So, you know, at one point in my career, I doubted, you know, myself as a CEO, and I spoke to, you know, business, my, my business kind of coach and mentor at the time, and asked him, you know, what were his thoughts? And he said, Well, you know, you just need to step it up, you just need to, you know, believe in yourself, but you need something, and it’s helped you in that respect. And he said, What about the CEO of the Year award? And there was, you know, a national CEO of the Year Award in  Britain. I said, Okay, well, that sounds a bit crazy to go for that. And that’s like, over the top, I just want to kind of shore up some of my leadership abilities. But that was an example of by choosing a massive goal like that it prompted me to take massive action, action that I wouldn’t have normally taken. So I really invested a lot of time in my leadership development more time than I would have normally. I reached out to top performing CEOs to interview them to understand what drove their success. I really spent a lot of time with my team, you know, to understand, you know, from their point of view, how could I be a better leader, and then all that factored into my own leadership development plan, which culminated in winning this CEO of the Year recognition. So yeah, that’s, you know, an example.

Clint Murphy  50:08

So, you know, we’ve gone through a lot of the ways we can make life better, we can be more productive and you talked a little bit about the three alarms that you use to take on those identities at different points of your day. I didn’t dive too deep into that one with you at the time, because I wanted to wrap the book up with the three alarms. So can you take the readers through how to use your your iPhone and the naming capability that you have on it to choose the three identities that you have? And how you’re going to enter those states each day which are the three alarms that we can set up for our health, wealth and relationships?

Eric Partaker  50:53

Yeah, absolutely. I mentioned this a bit earlier. But if you go into your, your phone, if you go into the alarm section, when you go to set an alarm, you’ll find that you can either change its name or its label, and you can have it say something essentially. And so what I did is I literally went and created an alarm that said world fitness champion, timed it for 6:30am. Because that’s the time that I work out. And that’s the time I want to be reminded of that identity. I created another alarm for 9am that says world’s best CEO, because that’s when I’m sat down. World’s best coach because that’s when I’m sat down. And I want to be reminded, okay, well, how do I need to be showing up for the CEOs that I serve? And then at 6:30pm, another alarm, world’s best husband and father, because that’s typically when I’m wrapping up my day and going from the office into the house. And I want to prompt the question in my mind, how would the world’s best husband and father walked through that door right now? Yeah, so it’s just a matter of going into your phone and choosing an identity, giving it a name, the superhero version of you, and each of those domains: health, wealth relationships, and then setting it at the most appropriate time of day that would benefit from being you know, reminded of what best looks like for you.

Clint Murphy  52:11

Now, if I’m setting five alarms, am I trying to bite off more than I can chew? I need to work. Okay, okay. That was, damn, that was the first question,

Eric Partaker  52:22

I think, because it’s slippery slope that right? And we need, you know, this is like a meta application of Parkinson’s Law. Right. So it’s like, we need to contain things, or else they’ll drift. You know, it’s sort of like Warren Buffett, the Warren Buffett story, where he’s like, What are the top 25 things that you want to do? Okay, now, what are the top five out of those 25? Okay, so those are the five that you should do. And then the other 20, those are the things you absolutely should not even come close to touching. Right?

Clint Murphy  52:58

Yeah, I love it. For our listeners who don’t know Parkinson’s Law, work will expand to consume the time that you give to it. So give yourself tight short deadlines, and you’ll get the work done because you’ll focus on the 20% you need to do, not the other 80% actually takes as long or longer than that original 20%. So love that. Eric. Eric, can I fire a quick, rapid fire 4 questions we do to end the show at ya? Okay. So the first is what is one book you’ve read that was most influential on your life?

Eric Partaker  53:34

I would say the The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, which is a strategic program to overcome procrastination, which was the inspiration for many of the ideas about overcoming procrastination that I share in my book, The Three Alarma so definitely, yeah, pick up a copy of that. It’s incredible.

Clint Murphy  53:54

Love it. And this whole time we’ve been talking, I’ve been consumed by that bookshelf behind you. So the second question is, what are you currently reading?

Eric Partaker  54:07

Oh, God, I’m one of these people who reads like several things at once. So I have multipliers going at the moment. I have Wired for Story going at the moment. I Never Metaphor I didn’t like going at the moment. So I’m in this big kick about, Multipliers as a book on leadership, but I’m also trying to go deep on the use of metaphor and storytelling.

Clint Murphy  54:32

So what was that third one?

Eric Partaker  54:34

I can show it to you as well. So I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like.

Clint Murphy  54:42

Oh that sounds great. I never metaphor I didn’t like okay, I’m gonna. That’s cool. Okay, and what’s one thing that Eric has spent less than $1,000 on in the last 18 to 24 months that you’ve thought to yourself, Wow, I wish I’d bought that sooner.

Eric Partaker  55:05

Something I spend $1,000 on the last 24 months, I wish I would have bought that sooner. Be another book about this book Inbound Marketing, it’s one of the HubSpot books. And yeah, I think it was written in 2014. And I’m kind of reading it like nine years later.

Clint Murphy  55:26

Which can often be good because then you know, it stood the test of time. And then the last one because the show’ about growth, what is one habit, behavior change ,mindset shift you’ve made in your life that has had the greatest impact on you?

Eric Partaker  55:47

Oh, gosh, 100%. It’s developing the muscle, the capacity to do whatever needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not.

Clint Murphy  56:01

Discipline equals freedom. I love it. So and some of these guys, like these are things we do when we lead to levels of success. But when someone has a tagline that just fits it so well, like Jocko does for that one, or James Clear on the identity one, every choice you make, is a vote for the person you want to be. It’s, ah, such a good line. So we went pretty wide, we went deep in some of the areas. Is there anything we missed that you want to make sure that we can get across to the listener from this conversation?

Eric Partaker  56:35

I don’t think so. I think it’s about you know, with any conversations about zeroing in on, where do you think change would have the greatest impact, you know, for you, like, if you’ve listened to this conversation, think of it this way, if you weren’t to act on anything at all that you heard today. So basically, everything remains as is, where would action, just one action have the greatest impact for you? Or said in another way, if you were to not change at all, based on today’s conversation, except for just one thing? Where would change have the greatest impact for you? And then just start there.

Clint Murphy  57:16

Love it. And where can our listeners find you?

Eric Partaker  57:19

just go to the website, Eric, with a see EricPartaker.com. And, yeah, you’ll find a bunch of stuff there. And there’s even a free digital copy of the book three alarms there, so.

Clint Murphy  57:34

A great read for anyone who’s listening so get to the website, we’ll have it in the show notes, get your free copy of the book, a wonderful, wonderful read. I now have to take a lot of what we talked about and stick it into my second brain so it’s always accessible. And very, very glad to have you on the show today, Eric, thank you very much.

Eric Partaker  57:53

Thanks a lot. Thanks. And thanks for all those listening. Thanks for your time.

Clint Murphy  58:01

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