A SuperAngel’s Investment Guide

In recent years I came to realize how much I truly love angel investing: I get to meet tons of young new entrepreneurs, I get to see and hear the newest developments in the market, and I get to participate in the growth of amazing companies!

In a previous post in 2008 I explained that I had fundamentally changed my angel investing strategy. After reviewing both empirical data and from my personal experience of feeling (and being) a lot less rich, I went from investing a lot: $250k to several million, in a few startups, to investing a lot less: $25k to $250k with a $50k average, in a lot of startups.

The change can be seen in the number of angel investments I made:

  • 2005: 2 very large investments
  • 2006: 4 large investments
  • 2007: 1 large investment
  • 2008: 7 investments
  • 2009: 9 investments
  • 2010: 22 investments and 4 follow-on investments (with 5 more investments expected to close in January and February 2011)

It’s not as though I completely adopted the “spray and pray” approach. As I explained in another post, active CEOs are more likely to invest in consumer facing companies, because the due diligence is easier. As Co-CEO of OLX, I have very little time to dedicate to angel investing so I have devised a mechanism to evaluate whether or not to invest in less-than-an-hour, although the “magic” is a bit more complex.

My Angel Investing Method

1. I only look at pitches that I feel capable of evaluating

Given my experience and interests, I only look at consumer facing projects (C2C and B2C) with the following components: marketplaces and/or user generated content (UGC) and/or ecommerce.

If your project falls out of this still relatively large box, I won’t look at it. It’s not that there are no great B2B or semiconductor projects, but I don’t have the time to understand the sales cycle, the competitive dynamics, and the technology, etc.

2. I decide whether to invest or not based on 4 criteria

If I:

  • Like the team
  • Like the pitch: the market size, the business model, etc., basically if the business meets my 9 business selection criteria
  • Like the product: yes, I expect the product to be live if only for the founding team to demonstrate its tenacity and capability of executing on a shoe string
  • Like the deal: pre-money valuation, liquidation preference, size of the raise…

… then the entrepreneur can literally leave with check in hand (a wire actually). An hour is all it takes.

3. I have a secret weapon: Jose Marin, my amazing angel investing partner

Another large part of the reason the system works so well is that I do all of my angel investing with my good friend and angel investing partner, Jose Marin. Jose was one of the founding partners of Deremate, an eBay clone in Latin America, which was sold to Mercadolibre in 2005. In 1999, I provided the technology and business plan for Deremate from Aucland, my eBay clone for Southern Europe. In the process, I became close friends with its CEO, Alec Oxenford, who is now my partner, co-founder and co-CEO in OLX. I also became friendly with the other founding partners.

In all honesty, I did not take Jose very seriously at first. With his suave Latin style and playboy looks, I never imagined working with him. Not knowing him, I could not imagine he had the mettle to succeed. We lost touch over the years and reconnected in 2008 on one of his trips to New York where he shared his experience with his company, IG Expansion. IG had very successfully partnered with large American companies to take them to Spain, Brazil, and Mexico. He felt that angel investing could be an interesting and synergistic side business to IG Expansion.

We finally made an investment together in 2009 in PeoplePerHour and jointly led the fundraising round for Wikimart.ru, a Rakuten clone for Russia. Upon working with Jose my impression was changed forever. Jose is one of the hardest working, smartest, and most standup guys I have ever met! Working with him has been one of the true pleasures of the last few years.

Not only is he a great source of lead generation for new deals and a great thought partner for investment ideas, but he does all the heavy lifting when it comes to the investment documentation and all the stuff I hate to do! He makes sure the letter of intents (LOIs), stock purchase agreements (SPAs) and the like are perfect. I trust him fully, to the point I never read legal docs. He works directly with my lawyer to draft all the docs. I just make sure the deal points are in line with what was agreed upon with the entrepreneurs.

Jose is really one of the key reasons I can be as prolific an angel. Like with Alec, my co-CEO in OLX, we never formally sat down and spoke about how we would split tasks, we never allocated the angel investing work, we just fell into it based on our interests and what needed to be done. While the work we do as angels overlaps, it broadly breaks down in the following way: we both source new deals and evaluate them, though I am usually the final decision maker on whether we do a deal or not. We jointly agree on the deal terms with the entrepreneur. I send the intros to other angels if need be. Jose takes the lead on closing the deal. I typically help more with product feedback, marketing strategy and VC introductions. Jose actively does status checks with entrepreneurs, flies over to meet them in person and takes the lead on identifying what we could do to help them.

Basically it just works!

4. We often crowd source the due diligence and investment

Reasonably often, we end up leading the angel round with say a $100k investment and raise the remaining amount, typically $500k, though it ranges from $200k to several million, from our angel friends. Jose and I agree to the terms with the entrepreneurs and help them with their deck. We then introduce the team, deck, and terms to our angel friends and ask them if they are interested in participating, and if so, the amount.

Some just tell us they are in for a certain amount without any due diligence. Many, especially early stage funds or VCs who invest at seed stage, organize meetings and calls with the entrepreneurs. In the course of a few weeks, we get to hear the feedback from our network and can assess the demand for the deal. If we can get close to the amount we were looking to raise, we work towards closing the deal, and bridge the entrepreneurs if necessary. If we can’t get close to the amount we were looking to raise, we don’t do the deal.

The angel list now has around 200 names on it segmented by whether they are willing to invest globally or in the US only. As you might suspect, many of the names on the list are also on Angel.co.

Though the above might sound like a lot of work, the reality is that it probably takes less than one hour or two of our time to organize.

5. We use a standard entrepreneur friendly set of terms

We have done so many deals, we now have a basic template. If we are leading the deal, my lawyer takes the lead on the docs, under the supervision of Jose. All of our deals are basically clean deals with a 1x liquidation preference. We don’t do participating preferred, etc. We do expect our parent companies to be Delaware C Corps, or Cyprus holding companies in the case of our Russian investments.

We never invest in convertible loans unless they have a low valuation cap. We feel that the 15-25% discount to the series A they typically offer is not enough compensation for the much greater risk of investing at a very early stage, especially since a series A round is far from guaranteed to happen. If the entrepreneur insists on the convertible structure, we will just wait to invest in the series A.

6. We try to get proprietary deal flow

Jose and I have successfully been doing international idea arbitrage for 12 years in the businesses we run. We apply the same principles to many of the companies we invest in. A large portion of our investments, and our seemingly most successful investments, are localized versions of successful US concepts for Brazil and Russia. Our early success in the region seems to be generating a virtuous circle by which we are known to be good investors in the region and get to see great new deals there which hopefully will in turn be successful.

I will detail our recent investments later, but just to give you a sense of what we invested in (with many more in the pipe):


  • Paypal copy
  • Expedia copy
  • Gilt copy


  • Booking.com copy
  • Jetsetter copy
  • Diapers.com copy
  • Rakuten copy

We also invest in clones in Germany alongside Lukasz Gadowski of Team Europe. In those deals, he takes the lead and we co-invest. Recent investments include:

  • Grubhub copy
  • Yext copy
  • Diapers.com copy
  • WarbyParker copy (online glasses)

We have not invested much in China as we feel the decks are mostly stacked against non-natives.

I use the word copy for illustration purposes. It does not do justice to the great work the entrepreneurs do at localizing the concept and adapting it for local market conditions. For instance in Russia there is no reliable delivery infrastructure so many companies have to build their own. One of the lessons learned was, you can get a huge productivity increase by removing the passenger seats in your delivery vehicles so your drivers don’t play taxi when they should be doing deliveries…

That is not to say that we only invest in copies of successful US businesses. Around half of our deals are innovative new concepts from around the world, mostly in the US with a few deals in Israel and the UK. We invested in Peopleperhour for instance, due to the vision, clarity of purpose, intelligence, passion of Xenios, its founder and CEO, who is revolutionizing the temporary work space, originally pioneered by elance and odesk.

Our deal flow is varied and comes from many sources:

  • Entrepreneurs we have already backed who introduce us to their entrepreneur friends
  • Friendly angels and early stage funds such as Oleg Tscheltzoff, Team Europe, and Xavier Niel and Jeremie Berrebi of Kima Ventures
  • Friendly VCs, especially DN Capital, Bessemer, General Catalyst, and Repdoint, who share deals that are too early stage for them or deals where we can help
  • Stanford Business School (Jose is a GSB grad)
  • Our entrepreneur friends
  • My blog

Lessons Learned

1. Quality of time spent helping entrepreneurs matters more than quantity of time

In the early batch of investments where I invested a lot, I typically joined the board, organized regular meetings and was very involved. The reality is that a lot of the time spent in the board meetings and getting reports was not very productive.

An email update or a 5-10 minute phone call once in a while is more than enough to get a sense of how the business is doing. Moreover, rather than having structured times to talk, it’s much better to be available punctually whenever the entrepreneur needs help. This works better for me given it takes less absolute time and is better for the entrepreneur because they get the help they need when they need it. I sometimes don’t talk to an entrepreneur for 6 months or more, but then end up spending a lot of time with them discussing a term sheet they might have received if they are fund raising, etc.

As most entrepreneurs I invest in can attest, I am usually very reactive and can give instant feedback on the product or make introductions to someone in my network.

This setup has definitely worked better for me and I believe that it has not decreased the quality of the help for the entrepreneurs, but I will let them comment on that directly.

2. Stick to your investment principles

I occasionally invested in companies that did not meet my 9 business selection criteria. I always had a great reason to do it, but it invariably did not end well. For instance in 2005 I invested $300k in Phanfare. I LOVED (and still love) both Andrew, the founder, and the product. It’s the best way to upload and manage photos and videos. They keep the originals forever and have amazing iPad and iPhone apps.

Despite loving the product and the team, I knew that the market for a premium photo and video hosting site was small given the free alternatives from Facebook, Youtube and others. I knew that this was not a $1 billion revenue opportunity and would at best be a sub-$100 million business. However, I decided to follow my heart and made the investment.

What I realized over the years is that it’s just as hard to build a small business as to build a big one, so you might as well try to build a big one. As an angel, you might as well invest in big ideas. Through sheer grit and tenacity, Andrew has made Phanfare profitable and sustainable, but its niche nature made it a poor investment.

3. Diversity is good

Sometimes companies fail despite having good entrepreneurs, good products and being in seemingly large businesses. Some business end up being bad businesses because competitors give away your product for free or consumers prove reluctant to pay for something they really should pay for.

A few reports I read on angel investing suggest that angels with less than 7 investments lose money and those with more than 7 make money. In fact the more investments you have, the higher your IRR because it increased your chances in being in the real hits like Facebook, Google, Youtube, or Skype.

In my particular case, I am glad that I had enough diversity in the portfolio to withstand the investment losses on all of my storage investments: Phanfare, Allmydata, and Badongo.

4. It pays to be lucky

As I had previously reported, I had been extremely lucky with my first batch of investments from 2000 and 2001. I had made 7 investments. If you had asked me in 2002, how much the 7 companies were worth, I would have told you they were worthless, in fact one of them, Alidoo, a Pets.com for France, had gone under.

Somehow, over the course of the next 6 years 5 of the remaining 6 investments did incredibly well despite, or maybe because :), there was no involvement whatsoever on my part. One of them, MilleMercis, an online marketing company went public and turned my 76k euro investment in March 2001 into 1.16 million euros when I exited in March 2006. Four of the other five investments made money, albeit with lower returns than the MilleMercis deal: 2xmoinscher (half.com of France), Cityvox (a Yelp of France), Kangaroo Village (an incubator) and Webhelp (an online call center). The only exception was Demerate (an eBay of Latin America) where the liquidation preferences took all the proceeds of the exit.

Even my recent 2010 success might be attributed to luck as the startup scene has become extremely heated and Brazil is super-hot right now.

5. Exits can take a long time

VCs typically have a 4-5 year time horizon given their fund life. Given that angels invest before VCs we need to realize that many of our investments won’t be liquid for 6 or 7 years if not more. That duration has increased over the past few years as companies now need to be larger and more profitable to go public.

By way of example, I invested in Cityvox, a Yelp-type site for France, in January 2000, but only successfully exited when it was sold to Orange in March 2008, over 8 years later!

As such it’s very important to invest money you can afford to lose and will absolutely not need under any circumstance. I mentally write off all investments the minute I make them such as to be pleasantly surprised if something comes of them.

6. Most exits are below $30 million

Even though Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, Skype or Youtube come to mind when we think of successful startups, there are less than 5 startup exits per year with a valuation above $1 billion. In fact, the vast majority of exits are below $100 million and most of those are below $30 million. Excluding Zingy and OLX, the companies I ran, only one of my angel exits had a valuation above $40 million (MilleMercis). You can still get great returns, but you must be mindful of the valuations you invest at. It’s also a good idea to steer your startups against raising too much money unless the opportunity is really huge and the entrepreneur really wants to go big.

Performance to Date

I originally did very well with my 1999-2001 investments. My three large storage investments (2 in 2005 and one in 2007) were unmitigated disasters and essentially written off. Fortunately most of my other investments are actually doing rather well.

2010 was a year for the record books! Financially, it’s my second best year ever after 2004, the year I sold Zingy.

I sold 5 companies in 2010, one more at the start of 2011 and have a term sheet for one more. Another company also almost sold, but the buyer backed out at the 25th hour after we (the sellers) had signed the stock purchase agreement! I invested in 22 companies and made 4 follow on investments in companies I had previously invested in. I also committed to invest in 5 more companies. Those investments should close in January and February 2011.

The companies I sold were:

  • Allmydata (to its management)
  • Labpixies (to Google)
  • Contextin (to Spark)
  • BrandsClub Mexico (to BrandsClub Brazil)
  • Dineromail (to Naspers)
  • OLX (to Naspers)

If you exclude the companies I actively ran (Aucland, Zingy, and OLX), Dineromail is my best investment to date as $300,000 invested in February 2006 became $4.69 million in February 2011.

In 2010 invested in:

  • January 2010: Captalis, Spanish lead generation company
  • January 2010: Martingale, hobbies marketplace
  • February 2010: Fisker Automotive, electric car company
  • April 2010: Assured Labor, job site for unskilled labor in emerging markets
  • May 2010: AppsFire, mobile app recommendation engine
  • August 2010: MeetMoi, mobile geolocalized dating site
  • August 2010: Follow on investment in Rate it All!
  • June 2010: Autrement (HotelHotel), Tripadvisor for France
  • June 2010: Follow on investment in Martingale
  • July 2010: Follow on investment in Peopleperhour, a freelance marketplace
  • October 2010: WiseStamp, social email signatures
  • October 2010: Hipway, Jetsetter for Russia
  • October 2010: Viajanet, Expedia for Brazil
  • October 2010: Follow on investment in Sonico
  • November 2010: digitale-seiten.de, Yext.com for Germany
  • November 2010: HealthVillage, WebMD for the world
  • November 2010: Groupit, group gifting payment solution
  • November 2010: Oktogo, Booking.com for Russia
  • November 2010: Babyboom, Diapers.com for Russia
  • November 2010: Betterment, a better way to manage your investments
  • November 2010: Windeln, Diapers.com for Germany
  • December 2010: EcoMom, high-end Diapers.com
  • December 2010: MobileSpinach, local mobile cash
  • December 2010: Lieferheld.de, Grubhub.com for Germany
  • December 2010: Buildabrand, an online branding system
  • December 2010: Usingmiles, a miles management solution

Since I started angel investing and excluding the companies I ran, I have invested in 55 companies of which I still have 43 investments active. The angel exits I have had so far have paid for all 55 investments including disasters like Allmydata. In other words, I am break-even with 43 investments still active a few of which look very promising including Viajanet, Wikimart, Brightroll and PeoplePerHour.

We’ll see what 2011 has in store for me from an angel investing perspective. Regardless, I am looking forward to meeting great entrepreneurs and hearing fantastic new ideas!

Fantastic and brutally honest memo by Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia

It has been clear to outsiders for a while that not all is well in the house of Nokia. The question was whether Nokia’s management would realize it before it was too late and what they would do about it. The previous management seemed complacent about the threat to Nokia’s very survival brought about by the three pronged attack of Chinese phone makers on the low end, iPhone on the high end and Android pretty much everywhere in between.

Stephen’s memo is a realistic assessment of where they stand and a necessary wake up call. It’s going to be interesting to see what they decide to do on Thursday (the early rumors suggest a tie up with Microsoft and Windows Phone 7). It might be the wrong strategic choice and too late, but at least they are deciding to go down fighting as opposed to letting events overwhelm them.

Here is the memo for your reading pleasure:

“Hello there,

There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

Over the past few months, I’ve shared with you what I’ve heard from our shareholders, operators, developers, suppliers and from you. Today, I’m going to share what I’ve learned and what I have come to believe.

I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform.

And, we have more than one explosion – we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.

For example, there is intense heat coming from our competitors, more rapidly than we ever expected. Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers to a closed, but very powerful ecosystem.

In 2008, Apple’s market share in the $300+ price range was 25 percent; by 2010 it escalated to 61 percent. They are enjoying a tremendous growth trajectory with a 78 percent earnings growth year over year in Q4 2010. Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range.

And then, there is Android. In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers. Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry’s innovation to its core.

Let’s not forget about the low-end price range. In 2008, MediaTek supplied complete reference designs for phone chipsets, which enabled manufacturers in the Shenzhen region of China to produce phones at an unbelievable pace. By some accounts, this ecosystem now produces more than one third of the phones sold globally – taking share from us in emerging markets.

While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time. At that time, we thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind.

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.

We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough. We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.

At the midrange, we have Symbian. It has proven to be non-competitive in leading markets like North America. Additionally, Symbian is proving to be an increasingly difficult environment in which to develop to meet the continuously expanding consumer requirements, leading to slowness in product development and also creating a disadvantage when we seek to take advantage of new hardware platforms. As a result, if we continue like before, we will get further and further behind, while our competitors advance further and further ahead.

At the lower-end price range, Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, “the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation.” They are fast, they are cheap, and they are challenging us.

And the truly perplexing aspect is that we’re not even fighting with the right weapons. We are still too often trying to approach each price range on a device-to-device basis.

The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.

This is one of the decisions we need to make. In the meantime, we’ve lost market share, we’ve lost mind share and we’ve lost time.

On Tuesday, Standard & Poor’s informed that they will put our A long term and A-1 short term ratings on negative credit watch. This is a similar rating action to the one that Moody’s took last week. Basically it means that during the next few weeks they will make an analysis of Nokia, and decide on a possible credit rating downgrade. Why are these credit agencies contemplating these changes? Because they are concerned about our competitiveness.

Consumer preference for Nokia declined worldwide. In the UK, our brand preference has slipped to 20 percent, which is 8 percent lower than last year. That means only 1 out of 5 people in the UK prefer Nokia to other brands. It’s also down in the other markets, which are traditionally our strongholds: Russia, Germany, Indonesia, UAE, and on and on and on.

How did we get to this point? Why did we fall behind when the world around us evolved?

This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven’t been delivering innovation fast enough. We’re not collaborating internally.

Nokia, our platform is burning.

We are working on a path forward — a path to rebuild our market leadership. When we share the new strategy on February 11, it will be a huge effort to transform our company. But, I believe that together, we can face the challenges ahead of us. Together, we can choose to define our future.

The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.


The 4-Hour Workweek is shockingly good and may change your life forever!

I had heard great things about The 4-Hour Workweek and actually met its author, Tim Ferriss, a few times, but the gimmicky title always kept me from reading it. Rave reviews for his new book The 4-Hour Body, with yet another annoying gimmicky title, convinced me to start at the beginning to see what all the fuss was about.

Funnily enough the entire raison d’être of the book, to reduce the amount spent working because it is boring and meaningless, does not apply to me. I love being an entrepreneur and angel investor and thus fall more in the “love what you do and you will never work again a day in your life” category, especially since I can work from anywhere and can thus go on fun mini-vacations all the time.

I am not even sure that I bought his analysis that the opposite of happiness is boredom and that thus we should keep ourselves active. Hyperactivity, be it from working for work’s sake or finding personal activities, seems like an escape from finding deeper contentment with ourselves and the lives we lead. That said, as an escape, pursuing personal projects trumps slogging through hours of mind numbing and boring work. To be fair, later chapters of the book espouse doing things slowly and seeking the activities that speak to us.

Regardless, it’s less the book’s life philosophy that struck me (since it mostly eschews one), than its extremely practical productivity improving advice. In many cases, I had already reached similar conclusions to Tim’s and had already put them into action in my own life. The difference is that I got there through lifelong trial and error while you can get there by reading the book.

I know most of my friends will make fun of me for recommending this book given the number of hours that I “work”, but ultimately it’s about being as productive as you can be and really getting meaningful things done. You can choose to spend your increased productivity by doing the same amount of work in less time, thus freeing time for other activities, or you can choose to just do a lot more. It’s up to you to find your Pareto optimal life/work balance.

In the meantime, if you ever wondered how I am able to get so much done, here are a few of Tim’s recommendations that I had already implemented in my life that could work for you too:

  • I don’t read daily newspapers, watch daily news, etc. For the most part the news is sensationalist and irrelevant dribble. I prefer to get the relevant news in a more analyzed and digested format and thus only read The Economist and New Scientist every week. I also check a few tech blogs (Techmeme, Techcrunch, Engadget) once a day more for entertainment (I love tech and gadgets) and a bit to see what’s going on but that takes less than 10 minutes per day.
  • It is critical to live in the present and provide attention. Leave work at work and don’t think about it in other environments. Don’t take your cell phone with you or turn it off after you meet whomever you are having dinner or drinks with. Don’t answer the phone during meetings. Shut off your cell phone at night and don’t use it as an alarm clock (because most need to be on for that), especially when traveling internationally.
  • I mostly work from home on Mondays and Fridays, if only to save on commuting time and to spend more time with my dogs. It’s also great how much you can get done when you are not distracted by noise, questions, etc. To the extent possible don’t schedule phone calls and meetings for those days either! This setup makes it easy to take lots of 4 day week-ends. From NY I often whisk myself away to Cabarete or Snowbird/Alta for long week-ends either to kite board or ski.
  • Do not do work for work’s sake. Outsource or delegate all repetitive, low value creating activities that you get no enjoyment from. It can be very inexpensive to have a smart personal assistant pay your bills, go through your mail, etc. The 4-Hour Workweek walks you through a few smart and inexpensive examples of how you can set it up. I also apply it to my personal life. I don’t do laundry (the cleaner next door does it for $1 per pound!), cook, clean, etc. because I don’t get any enjoyment out of these activities. I would rather be playing video games or tennis 🙂
  • Take few meetings, limit them to less than 30 minutes and make sure they have a clear agenda.
  • Learn from Parkinson’s law: you will fill whatever time you allocate to a task. Self-impose short deadlines to get things done fast with just as much quality.
  • Take decisions quickly. Agonizing over the decision does not improve its quality and just reduces your happiness. Most wrong decisions are easy to correct once you realize they were wrong.
  • Travel light! It’s shocking how little you can take. I just came back from a 12 day trip to India. I had so little with me (a backpack with my notebook and Kindle weighing in at much less than 10 pounds) and a small suitcase weighing in at 18 pounds full, that I kept thinking I must have forgotten something. The reality is that for $50 or less you can buy locally whatever you need. Don’t pack toiletries for instance, they force you to check luggage, and are easy to buy anywhere!
  • Material goods should be there to serve you and not you them. Follow the 80/20 rule (keep the 20% of things that you use 80% of the time) and sell or give away most of the rest -> clothes, books, etc. You won’t miss them (otherwise you would be using them more) and if you do, you can always buy whatever has left a gaping hole in your life rather inexpensively.
  • Don’t burden yourself with large expenses such as mortgages and cars when you can get much more bang for your buck from a life enjoyment perspective by spending that money on travel and life experiences. Many such experiences can be had incredibly inexpensively (and many are detailed in the book).
  • Work in batch mode once enough work has accumulated. To prevent interruptions remove email notifications from Facebook, Linkedin and the like. You will see the activity when you choose to logon.
  • Ask for forgiveness rather than permission.
  • Don’t take no for an answer. As Samuel Beckett said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” The book gives great examples of how to do this.

As most personal stories written from a first person perspective, the book can feel self-aggrandizing at times, a weakness this blog post and my blog in general also share. Despite that, I truly loved the book and found lots of great tips that I look forward to implementing in my life in the coming weeks.

Read the book, it might very well change your life!