Monday, August 11, 2008

Zen | 2 | Routine

"Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our
usual everyday routine"

Shunryu Suzuki

Once you are able to focus your thoughts and actions on the present - the NOW - the next step is to build and follow a routine. Build your routine with actions that you control and you can ultimately finish. Do not create a routine that is dependent on anything but you.

A Zentrepreneur focuses their energy on events they control, and accepts that all other events (past and future) are meaningless.

In my experiences, I have seen myself and other entrepreneurs become fixated on a future "event" that they believe will propel their business to the next level. This event can be signing a big customer or partnership or hiring someone who promises they can elevate the company to new heights. These "false expectations" can cloud your judgment and distract you from what is real and most important - your daily routine. Once you are distracted from your routine, all progress stops and you are no longer in the Present.

A perfect example of how a business can easily fail by not following a daily routine, and placing expectations on future events is in the fund raising process. When an entrepreneur is trying to start a venture, the first thought that comes to their mind is "I need to raise capital to start this business." If you really think about this statement - you can begin to see how it is a completely absurd concept. Essentially the translation of this statement to an investor is "I have no operating business, no customers and no product and I am not sure if there is a market - but I would like for you to give me money".

This statement is not only absurd to the investor, but also it shows that the entrepreneur has made a critical mistake - by making their business dependent on a future event (e.g. funding). Instead of "waiting" for funding to start the business, the entrepreneur should focus on building a daily routine to build value and grow the business.

And more importantly - the daily routine must only contain tasks that you can control the outcome. If you cannot control the outcome of a task - then you may need to reconsider your path.

For example, if you want to start a Internet e-Commerce business, and you have no experience building a web site - it may be difficult for you to control the outcome. However, a Zentrepreneur would find a way to build the website by leveraging their network and finding someone with experience to execute the task (and therefore re-claiming control of the outcome). Controlling the outcome does not mean that you must execute the task alone, it means that you are able to find the resources to execute the task.

Here is a sample Daily Routine that I use for one of my businesses that may give you guidance on building your Routine.


1. Wake up and answer all critical emails

2. Focus on top tasks that drive revenue

  1. Building Product or improving product

  2. Address any existing customer's concerns.

  3. Execute marketing/sales tasks to gain new customers.
3. Research and Learn
  1. Keep up with industry news / blogs

  2. Have conversations with customers / partners

  3. Brain Storm - white board new ideas
4. Have Lunch

5. Answer all new critical emails

6. Evaluate team progress on any projects

  1. Re-affirm critical path tasks with team

  2. Add new critical tasks (based on results of the day)
7. Go workout or go for a walk to re-engage with the Present and to
evaluate the day.

Of course, this routine is just an example, and relates to what I do when I am building a new company. If your company is pre-product, or pre-revenue your tasks will be oriented toward tasks related to launching the company. Either way, the key point is to build a routine that gives you steady and consistent progress each day.


The Zentrepreneur is not distracted by potential events of the future or past. Each action you take is independent from future events and is under your complete control.

The first step is to focus on the Present (the Now), and the next step is to execute a daily routine that builds your path.

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