The 3 Keys to Managing Hyper-Growth

Hyper-Growth is becoming an all too real problem for start-ups. This phase in business growth is where the weak is separated from the strong and the fight for market share, talent, and intellectual property patents begin. Being able to manage hyper-growth is more than a strong leader to handle, that is why the most innovative companies create cultures that are able to sustain and capitalize on hyper-growth.

To create a strong culture there are three items in where you must excel, efficiency, communications and excellence. LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner states “Hyper-growth companies often get so caught up with innovation and the adrenaline rush that they chase the next bright shiny thing at the expense of getting their launch trajectory right”

Efficiency: Make sure the to-do list is concise and the effort you put in is beyond expectations.

Communications: Develop a culture in your organization that is the aspiration of who you wish to be. Building a culture of an organization allows you to dream big and use that dream to inspire others.

Excellence: Great leadership can pave the way to organizational excellence. The excellence in your organization is measured by the speed and quality of your daily decision making.

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Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s philosophy is every time the Duke Blue Devils complete a play, on either the offense or defensive side of the court, no matter how well or poorly they performed, the coach yells out the same thing: ‘Next Play’. He doesn’t want the team celebrating if they did something extraordinary, but he also doesn’t want them lamenting a poorly executed play.

How do you manage hyper-growth in your organization?



LifeHack: The Science of Self-Motivation

This morning when I sat down to write this blog post I did not anticipate it taking this long. Technically I was working, finding the right pictures, deleting sections that were too long, adding links to relevant material that would enhance the conversation, however it wasn’t time well spent. I spent 10 minutes checking email, 15 responding to tweets and another 30 minutes disappeared when I found a funny picture on icanhas.cheezburger.com

Does this happen to you?

Motivation is often hard to muster. Hard, but not impossible.

The origin of motivation takes place all in your head.

Tracing the source of motivation, I was able to find the section of the brain where neurotransmitters spark and tells our body to release the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a powerful chemical that interacts with various receptors inside the synapse between two neurons. This simple action becomes strong when multiplied throughout the entire brain. When we speak of motivation, dopamine takes the mesolimbic pathway which starts at the center of the brain and branches across the different sections such as the cerebral cortex. This pathway holds the most influence over your motivation as it controls the reward system for your brain. One of the pathways in the mesolimbic system leads to the nucleus accumbens. This section of the brain is in charge of recognizing whether something is good, bad or unimportant. Therefore, an increased dopamine rush to this section of the brain triggers your brain to take action providing signals of rewards.

The Science of Motivation

The Science of Motivation

Isn’t dopamine just to make me feel good?

But wait, I thought dopamine was all about pleasure

Most individuals think this, as we have come to recognize dopamine as the brain’s pleasure chemical. However the truth is that this powerful chemical can amplify many feelings including depressions, sleepiness, memory and behavior to name a few. Dopamine’s effects can often be applied to almost every reward pleasurable or not. We often hear about it in the media when applied to topics that perk others attention such as sex and drugs, however the other side of the coin isn’t as popular to comment on. Studies have found that spikes in dopamine during moments of high stress such as a soldier in battle can cause ripple effects such as PTSD. Even in times of high stress dopamine is released… why? This powerful little chemicals true purpose was found to be the brain’s tool to encourage us to act… otherwise known as motivation. The Science of Motivation Studies have confirmed this link to motivation. Behavioral neuroscientist John Salamone conducted a study on rats given two piles of food. One pile of food was twice the size of the other, however it was behind a small fence. The rats with a lower level of dopamine almost always chose the easier meal, however when given an increased level of dopamine, the rats chose to jump the fence for the greater reward. In a human experiment, a research team in Vanderbilt found that individuals that they classified as “motivated” had higher levels of dopamine in their striatum and prefrontal cortex. Among the “non-motivated” individuals, dopamine was found in the anterior insula the part of the brain involved with emotion and risk. Lower levels of dopamine make people less likely to work hard for the things that they want. Motivation has to do with the cost / benefit analysis of your brain to pleasure itself.

How to Hack Motivation

How can you hack motivation? Well that depends, what is your current drive? Are you a motivated individual that feels that you can always be better, or are you too lackadaisical and you want to be more on-point everyday. How can you use this information to become a better you? You can actually train your brain to feed off positive experiences to rewire your brain to become motivated. You have the power to create an environment of dopamine bursts when you achieve positive rewards. One way to create this environment is by setting goals. If you create S.M.A.R.T. goals you will be able to give yourself bursts of dopamine or dopamine rushes with every goal you complete. Allowing yourself to experience the eustress of working to achieve a goal, and the release that you feel when you physically check that box as done will give your brain positive reinforcement. By creating a habit of this action for mundane tasks during the day you will be able to train your brain or rewire your brain to positively reinforce itself. Another way to transform your brain from a slacker to an attacker (yeah, that rhymed) is to negatively enforce bad behaviors. As you recall from the example before, dopamine is present when you have a bad experience as well as a good one. If you negatively reinforce these actions your brain will respond by giving you a lack of motivation when doing that in the future. Your current level of motivation should be front of mind at all times. Recognize your level and consciously react in order to rewire your brain. As with all training, the key to success is repetition. There’s a biological motivation to succeed and you can hack motivation by embracing repetition, training and consistency.

The 5 Business Tools I Can’t Do Without

Running a distributed team can be difficult, however I have found some fantastic tools that allow me to utilize the power of the Internet for collaboration.

The key to running a successful business is effective communication, this is the focus of my suite of online tools.

I’ve selected our top 5 tools that allow us to be productive everyday.

What these tools have in common are their ease of use, and their ability to play well with each other.

One item that I seek in every cloud based tool is scalability.

If I grow my team, how hard is it going to be to add another member or grow my database on the service.

Here’s a quick overview:

  • Buffer is my social sharing tool.
  • Trello is my content organization tool.
  • HipChat is my virtual office chat tool.
  • iDoneThis is my workday progress snapshot.
  • WordPress is my website content management system.

Buffer — strategic social sharing

Buffer1 I use Buffer to share quotes, blog posts, content updates, etc. that I feel my friends and followers would like on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Buffer2 Buffer allows me to strategically share information. I can schedule my social media posts by filling up my buffer with different photos, quotes, blogs etc. and space them out to post at optimal times on each social channel.

This allows me to not overload my feed at certain times of the day. Because I can take care of a weeks worth of posting in an hour, I am able to not spend as much time on social media throughout my day.

I can also easily add something to my buffer waiting area through my phone, browser or on their website.

Right now I am using the personal account for Buffer, however they offer a business plan that allows you to connect up to 25 different social media accounts at once.

Trello — handy content organizer

I love Trello and it’s simplistic approach to keeping my projects organized. Trello uses a storyboard setup that is extremely useful when managing projects in a small team environment. Trello1 I use Trello to store ideas, pr pitches, notes for my team and other process driven tasks. You can separate your different projects into “boards” and keep track of each task as a card.

The  cards are able to move from stage to stage through your process in a very visual streamlined way. Trello has allowed me to very easily keep track of complicated projects with many moving parts.


HipChat — virtual office space

I work with a distributed team, as well as consult with a lot of international clientele.

It’s not always easy or cheap to get together face to face, HipChat allows us to keep connected remotely.

This group chat / instant message tool is how we can easily communicate whether we are out to lunch, at the gym or lounging by the pool.

The ease of use is great as many clients I consult with are often not as eager to adopt a new technology, this can be used either on a smartphone or computer.


I use HipChat for everything from answering quick questions to getting updates on a project’s status.

Because the program offers real-time communication that is not disruptive to my day like a text message would be, it allows me to step away and disconnect.


iDoneThis — simple syncing

IDoneThis provides a quick view of the previous day’s work so I can start on the right foot in the morning.

This is a great simple tool that allows me to keep a one track workflow without having to go over work I’ve already accomplished.

At the end of the day I answer “What did you get done today?” and the next day my team gets a response of the day’s digest which is also recorded in the calendar.


IDoneThis allows me to avoid redundancy.

This is extremely helpful when I am working on complicated projects like app development.

Because my work isn’t packaged neatly in one area, this tool keeps my team on task and of one mind when tackling project management.


WordPress — open source content management system

WordPress is the best content management system in terms of flexibility.

This is a free software that you can install on your website hosting server to build websites, CRM systems, social media platforms, etc.

Because this platform is open source, it lends itself to being constantly updated as the Internet changes. You never have to worry about your website “not working” online.

The backend of the website is as easy to work as Microsoft word. I am able to train my team how to use the site within a few hours and they are able to build complex web pages delivering amazing content.


The best feature as I see it is not the ability to change the use of the system, but the ability to add users to the backend with permissions.

This allows you to add contributors, editors and administrators to your website without compromising security.

You can download the latest version of WordPress here.


What are some of your favorite online tools that I may have missed?