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overloaded-africaOverdoing enjoyment

You know when you’re so busy that you lose track of time and days?  And not in a good way, but in a mentally overloaded way?  Because that’s how my head’s been the past several days/week, because my main businesses and projects (PebbleStorm, CEOFlow, DataSalad, and are all gelling right now, in great ways, and need real attention. Which, because there’s a traffic jam of goodness, is becoming a pain in my azz.

For example, Yanik Silver’s hosting my first PebbleStorm webinar (“Here’s an Uncommon Way to Discover Your ‘Unique Genius’ – Combining What You Love with Real Satisfaction and Financial Independence”) in two weeks, on March 17 (register here).  I’m also holding CEOFlow events in both Southern and Northern California, organizing a event, and will also be updating the content on, among other things…

March is going to be a month of overload, a big ol’ bite of the apple.

Extremes of any kind aren’t sustainable

The thing is, I love all these businesses and the people I’m doing them with!  Yet things go wrong when we go to extremes, even with enjoyment, and get outside of our sustainable pace.  I feel like a glutton at the dessert bar, stuffed from eating too much, but unable to stop…

So of course rather than meditate, play Wii, go for a walk or a motorcycle ride, I decide to do a blog post about all this and add some gas to the fire!  Yep I’m laughing at myself.  Ah, what I won’t do for my readers 🙂

Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it

The first inspirations for PebbleStorm came to me back in July/August 2007, when I was at the VC firm Alloy Ventures in Palo Alto, CA (I will do a dedicated blog post on the ‘origins of PebbleStorm’ sometime).   After doing about three months of research into the b2b lead generation space, I had 10-12 ideas for projects or businesses that I wanted to do.  They all seemed so interesting to me that I didn’t want to have to pick just one.  I mean, if you had 10 children, could you choose just one you wanted to keep, and then leave the rest behind?

I got my bunch of businesses

Trust me, I am not complaining.  This is a great problem to have, and I love all this stuff – again, so much so that sometimes I can’t stop, even when I should.  One of my habits, which I’ve gotten MUCH better at since starting PebbleStorm, is overdoing things and going to extremes.  Sort of like when I ran myself into a hyponatremia coma in a triathlon in 2001.

Of course, that pattern is also what led to me creating PebbleStorm (“I want to work on what I want, when I want, with whom I want, from where I want”), which is a seriously extreme way of thinking about work, in its own way!

80% patience, 20% bursts

As much as I counsel patience, babysteps, taking things slowly and more patience, it does make sense to regularly turn on the juice and burst for a few hours (fun!), days (ok) or weeks (yuck).  Patience gives you the clarity of exactly what you need or want to get done; bursting gets it done very quickly.  You gotta know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em, and how to balance the two modes.  I burst for 1-4 hours at a time, and preferably with one of my business partners.  I’ll break longer bursts into 1-hour chunks with their own goals.

sprinters-relayWhat I mean by “burst”

When I use the term burst, I don’t mean just working on random stuff for a few hours. I mean sitting down with a very specific goal (launch a website, draft a webinar, publish a blog post, draft and send an event invitation…), for a defined time period (1 hour, 2 hours…), shutting out distractions, and getting it DONE. For example, I might budget an hour to publish a blog post, or two to revise a Sales Success Kit document – and the time limit keeps me focused on getting it done.  

This is really the first time since starting PebbleStorm that I have a good reason to burst for a few weeks/a month.  I’m not sure if this will lead to changes in my ongoing routines or not, but I’ll pay attention to it.

The burst that created a profitable business in four hours:

Here’s an example of how I burst: a couple of weeks ago, Onna Young (CEO of and I created a profitable product and business/website in about four hours, after doing some basic preparation and goal-setting.  We had fun with it, and made it into a game: “How can we create a site and sellable product in just four hours?”  In that time, we created the ebook, Success Kit and website

(Well, technically we lost, since it took us 4 hours and 15 minutes.  But don’t tell anyone.)

It wasn’t magic, just the application of PebbleStorm’s principles and PebbleStorm’s 5 Stages.  I’ll discuss it some more in the March 17 PebbleStorm webinar.

On the personal front…meditation, exercise, a home in Santa Monica

Meditation: It’s been about three months since I attended a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat (“A lifetime happiness and focus enhancer: Vipassana meditation”).  I’ve been meditating about every 2 out of 3 days – sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 30 minutes.  It’s a bit of mental calm.  I’m still playing with my practice, but I’m feeling like 30 minutes most mornings, and 10-15 at night, is where I’m heading to over the coming months.

Exercise: I’ve noticed how exercise affects my mood positively that day, even many hours after the workout.  If I don’t exercise, I’m not as centered (not that anyone else would notice). Normally even I wouldn’t notice, because I’m good-natured in general, but I’ve been paying attention to this. I’m really enjoying both Yoga and mat pilates.

I just moved to Santa Monica: I finally found a great place to rent in Santa Monica (video) as a home, after 2.5 years of bouncing around Northern and Southern California communities!  (I was doing the taster’s menu approach in order to figure out exactly where I wanted to land long-term.)

It’ll be fun organizing some PebbleStorm groups here in the coming months.  A core part of PebbleStorm includes connecting fellow PebbleStormers, and creating a network of trusted people that can work together very easily.  Santa Monica’s ground zero for the core group now.

I’ll continue to visit the SF Bay area about once a month, to see family, friends, clients and to host the CEOFlow sessions.

How much do I want to proof this before publishing?

Not much.  Time to hit “publish”, eat something and rest my brain…I have more bursting to do tomorrow!  Although I joked in the beginning about making the overload worse by blogging, sharing is fun, and one of my core enjoyments (as it is with many people).

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2 Responses to “Big Aaron Update: Overload, “Bursting”, Create a Profitable Business in 4 Hours, and more”

  1. George Kao Says:

    Aaron, terrific post. Great example of your “burst” with as well as the importance of taking breaks. I find that 5-30 minute breaks interspersed throughout an intense work day, especially when doing something creative like writing or strategizing, is crucial because many ideas will come during those breaks! Walking (outside) is an especially great way to take a break and get fresh ideas on something one’s working on.

    Also want to share another tip for getting stuff done when we’re procrastinating or “stuck” in terms of creativity:

    Just use this script…
    “I’m not going to do [the whole project]. I’m only going to do [the next physical, visible, easy action.]”

    …literally say it aloud to yourself.

    Repeat as necessary.

    What you’re doing is having your higher brain (the part of your conscious brain that plans and executes) soothe your lower/reactive brain so that you don’t freeze up in perfectionism or fear about failure.

    What’s amazing is that the lower/reactive brain will believe what the higher brain says.

    For example, “I’m not going to write a blog post – I’m just going to open a document.”

    Then if more is needed to get unstuck: “I’m not going to write a blog post, I’m just going quickly to jot down 3 things that I don’t want my audience to miss in this post.”

    Then more: “I’m not going to write a blog post. I’m just going to expand on just one of these points for a bit…”

    The idea is to say a next action that is so easy to take that it won’t trigger resistance from the part of your brain that is always trying to protect you from danger, threats, pain, failure.

    I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes, from Ralph Waldo Emerson…

    “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.

    All of life is an experiment.

    The more experiments you make the better.”

    aaronross383 Reply:

    Exactly – great thoughts. And your ideas are perfect examples of babysteps. It’s really great to have you involved with PebbleStorm George, I appreciate your insights!

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