#ALB 54 – Routine Machine
This episode is a little different from the norm – it’s a LIVE reading (complete with some stumbles) of a few chapters from John Lamerton’s latest book on habits and routines – Routine Machine.
Why did John write a morning routine book?
Last August John was on holiday in sunny Corfu with his family, whilst there he started plotting out some notes, he did this with a view to writing a potential second book, a follow up to the successful Big Ideas… for Small Businesses.
John famously said he was never writing again, he was NEVER doing a second book, but four or five pages of notes later it became apparent that he was in fact going to be writing a second book. This podcast takes a look at his new book, Routine Machine, which is available from the 11th July 2019.
The power of routine, not just a morning routine but successful strategies and daily habits to make you more successful. It is written primarily for small business owners – if Big Ideas… for Small Businesses was about focus, doing the right thing, choosing the right thing to focus on, then Routine Machine is about doing the right thing consistently, every time, habitually….. ROUTINELY!
How many days does it take to form a habit?
John earned £13.51 in his first nine months in business.
Nine months later, he quit his job. Nine months after that, he was earning over £100k a year.
Warren Buffett bought his first stock in 1941, he was a millionaire by 1960 and surpassed the $1 billion mark in 1986.
$19 billion of his $86 billion-dollar fortune has been made in the last 2 years.
It’s going to be a while before you see any feedback or results from any changes you make now.
When John replaced his go-to lunch of beans on toast with a healthy green juice, he saw absolutely no effect on the first day, or the second, or the third, but 30 days later he could see a difference. A year later and he looked like a different person. There is always a delay between the routine change and the feedback, that is perfectly normal and to be expected.
John and Jason discuss why expecting instant rewards just doesn’t work.
There is always a delay between the action and the result. That concept can also work on a negative point too – one KFC now and then isn’t going to make a huge difference, but a KFC a few times a week might, and a KFC every day almost certainly will.
Routine Quotes from John
“Remember, you are the compound effect of every decision you have ever made and every action you have ever taken. The little habits and routines that on their own seem so small and insignificant, when rolled down the hill of time, yield massive snowballs”.
‘If you want new results, you need new routines, but they’ve got to work for you. copying someone else just isn’t going to help in the slightest. The routine doesn’t matter what matters is that you have a routine’.
“When I replaced my go to lunch of beans on toast with a healthy green juice, I saw absolutely no effect on the first day, or the second, or third. But 30 days later, I could see.a difference, a year later I looked like a different person. There is always a delay between the routine change and the feedback, that is perfectly normal and to be expected”.
Should I just copy the morning routines of successful people?
When John was just starting out in business, he used to read the profile of a successful business man or woman in the Sunday papers each week.
The format was the same every week – a day in the life of whoever.
Every week on just about every profile the day would start in a very similar way – get up at 5am, hit the gym, healthy breakfast, and be the first person in the office ready to GSD from 6am.
If you want new results, you need new routines, BUT they have to work for you. Copying someone else’s just isn’t going to help in the slightest. The routine doesn’t matter, what matters is that you have a routine.
If you follow a routine that doesn’t work for you, you’re not going to stick to it.
John attempted to copy someone else’s morning routine once. He got up at 5am, did some meditation, blended a super healthy smoothie and so on – but all he actually achieved was “waking the entire house up, feeling absolutely shattered and being back in bed by 11am”.
Trying to copy this morning routine with kids just didn’t work for him.
John read those Sunday business profiles again, the endless accounts that all started the same – up at 5am, in the office by 6am and wondered if he was cut out for this.
But then he discovered that Winston Churchill woke at 11am most days, and often didn’t even get out of bed, staying in bed writing.
People think that because Sir Richard Branson gets up at 5.45am every morning, they need to do the same – “if I want a successful business like Sir Richard’s, the alarm needs to be set for 5.45am.” No it doesn’t, because everyone is wired differently – and there’s some science behind this.
At last – a morning routine for late risers?
John says – “The morning routine doesn’t matter, I’ve got my own routine, it’s personal to me and it works for me. You may well hate trying to copy my routine to your schedule and your life. Your routine doesn’t have to start at 7.24am or 6am. You choose – ideally based on your circadian rhythm. The important thing is having a routine when you do wake up. ”
There are three types of people:
- Early birds – The aforementioned “get up with the sun at 5am, and hit the gym” brigade.
- Inbetweeners – The bulk of the human race – rising between 7am and 9am. This is the group that John identifies himself as.
- Night owls – Rarely seen before midday, this group love to burn the midnight oil, but hate mornings.
Lee, the sound technician for the ALB podcast is a night owl – he does his best routine work from 7pm onwards, whilst for John its mid-morning and for Richard Branson its first thing.
Knowing the science begin the circadian rhythm, how can you have a one size fits all routine for everyone?
Its simple – you can’t.
It’s all about playing to your strengths.
The marginal gains theory
In this podcast, John tells us how Sir Dave Brailsford turned around the fortunes of British Cycling, Team GB, and won the Tour de France for Team Sky, using a method called “marginal gains”.
When Brailsford first took over at British Cycling, the team was regarded as a bit of a joke – a bunch of also-rans. They never won anything.
But within a year of becoming performance director, Team GB won four cycling medals at the Athens Olympics, including gold medals for Bradley Wiggens and Chris Hoy – Team GB’s best performance for 96 years.
The marginal gains theory was thus – to break down every component into it’s individual elements, to improve each element by 1%, and then put all the elements back together again. It turns out that 1% + 1% + 1% adds up to a whole lot more than 3% – each tiny gain builds on the last – and everything compounds.
Brailsford went hunting for marginal gains – improving the bikes, suits, helmets to make them more aerodynamic; personalising the mattress and pillow for each team member to improve their sleep; getting surgeons to train the mechanics on how to wash their hands (to reduce infections); and painting the floor of the truck pristine white to spot dust particles.
The marginal gains theory says that when you stitch these 1% gains back together again, they’ll add up to more than the sum of their parts.
What they’ve added up to so far (for British Cycling, at the time of this podcast) is six Tour de France wins in the last seven years, and 42 cycling medals in the last four Olympic games.
Want more morning routine ideas?
If you’ve enjoyed this podcast about routine, you may also enjoy ALB39, where John was first crowned as the “King of Routine”.
John’s book “Routine Machine – How successful people improve their morning routine, daily habits, and guarantee themselves results” is available here.
You can get a free sample chapter of the book by clicking here. In the sample chapter, you’ll discover:
- Why your current routines may be conspiring against you.
- Who’s REALLY in charge of your daily decisions.
- What habits and routines are treasonous to your goals.
- How to become a billionaire by simply being “not stupid” most of the time.
You’ll also read a little tease of the full book, so you can see how Rik Mayall, John Lennon, and the 1993/94 Plymouth Argyle squad can help you create better routines.
John Lamerton: Hey everybody, it’s John Lamerton here alongside my good friend and business partner, Mr Jason Brockman. We are here for another episode of the Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast where as always it is our job to help you get more customers and more money without just working harder. So without further ado, let’s dive straight into this month’s episode.
Jason Brockman : Hey everybody, welcome to episode 54 of the AIB podcast and it’s an exciting time for me now. Very excited-
John Lamerton: Very excited. And this is the combination of what has been a 12 month project for me. So last August I was on a holiday with the brief of plotting out some notes for a potential second book, a potential follow up to Big Ideas and Small Businesses. And I took my notebook and my journal with me and I said to myself, well, if I’ve got some notes then we’ll do this. We’ll do this thing. Four or five pages of notes later. And I went and did a Facebook live from Corfu and said, looks like I’m writing the second book.
Jason Brockman : Never doing it again, are we? never writing a book.
John Lamerton: That was what I said. Never doing another book, and here we are, 11 months later. The book is coming out this month, so if you’re listening to this episode before the 11th of July, it’s not out yet. If you’re listening to this episode, after the 11th of July, hopefully it’s available to buy now, it’s a best seller. It’s had hundreds of reviews, it’s been picked up by Richard and Judy. Do Richard and Judy still do books?
Jason Brockman : That’s Punch and Judy.
John Lamerton: Punch and Judy. what I would say guys is if you would like to get a sample chapter of the new book, just… well actually I haven’t said what the book is called yet.
Jason Brockman : I was going to ask you actually, I was going to say [crosstalk 00:02:18] what’s it about?
John Lamerton: The book is called Routine Machine. It’s all about the power of routine, not just morning routines, but sort of successful strategies and daily habits to make it more successful. It’s for business owners, I’m positioning it as the follow up to Big Ideas, so Big Ideas was about focus. It was about doing the right thing, choosing the right action or the right thing to focus on. If Big Ideas is about choosing the right thing to focus on, Routine Machine is about focusing on the right thing or doing the right thing consistently. Every time [inaudible] routinely. it’s becoming a routine machine.
John Lamerton: So if you’d like to see, I’ve put together a little sample chapter of the book, which you can get, you can download at routinemachine.co.uk, that will take you to the website where you can get yourself a free sample chapter. It’s available now, so when the book is available, whether it is released or not, you can still get a free chapter of the book at routinemachine.co.uk. What we’ll also give you today, is I’m just going to read a few snippets for you. This is like a mini audiobook version for you. How cool is that? You know I spoke with someone today, just a little aside, spoke to someone today and they said to me that they only bought the Audio book of Big Ideas To Small Businesses.
Jason Brockman : You read my mind.
John Lamerton: As they’re hearing my voice.
Jason Brockman : Because it was read by pirates.
John Lamerton: They made me audition for that. You said I only bought it, I listen to the books and I thought I’d like the sound of your voice
Jason Brockman : He likes the sound of his voice.
John Lamerton: [Inaudible] here we go guys, we’re going to give you a few snippets from the book, which is, as I said, it’s coming out this month. Routine Machine. Get your free sample at routinemachine.co.uk.
Jason Brockman : Is this by John Lamerton?
John Lamerton: That’s me!
Jason Brockman : Hey. so now everyone knows who you are.
John Lamerton: Are we there yet? I earned £13.51 for my first nine months in business. Nine months later, I quit my day job. Nine months after that I was earning over £100,000 a year. Warren Buffett bought his first stock in 1941. He was a millionaire by 1960 and surpassed the $1 billion mark in 1986. 19 billion of his $86 billion fortune has been made in the last two years. It’s going to be awhile before you see any feedback or results from any changes you’re going to make now. When I replaced my go-to lunch of beans on toast with a healthy green juice, I saw absolutely no effects on the first day, or the second, or third, but 30 days later and you could see the difference. A year later, and I looked like a different person.
John Lamerton: There’s always a delay between the routine change and the feedback. That’s perfectly normal and is to be expected. Remember, you are the compound effects of every decision you’ve ever made and every action you’ve ever taken. Those tiny flakes, the little habits and routines that on their own seem so small and insignificance, when rode down the hill of time made massive snowballs.
Jason Brockman : [00:05:45] That’s actually an interesting concept, because I think even when you start doing stuff like you might want to lose some weight and you go to the Slimming World or wherever that kind of is, you kind of expect instant rewards, don’t you? I’m going to lose this much over this first week. It’s going to be brilliant and it doesn’t kind of work out all that well, does it?
John Lamerton: Yeah, no, I had a salad yesterday so why haven’t I lost two pounds today?
Jason Brockman : I went to the gym yesterday and I should be like Adonis, shouldn’t I?
John Lamerton: And it is that delay between the action and the feedback. I mean, health and weight loss is the obvious one because there is a massive delay. There’s at least two week lag between what you do and the longterm effects on you.
Jason Brockman : Take away from health issues, things like overpaying on your mortgage, for example. Actually you can put another hundred pounds off, add another hundred pounds to your thing, it doesn’t make any difference this month or next month or five months time or 10 weeks, 10 months time or three years time. But actually over fire years that extra money that you paid off, completely reworks… you know, you save so much time on paying back your mortgage and stuff like that.
John Lamerton: It works for negative routines as well. So you know, you could say, have a KFC for lunch today, fine. Have a KFC for lunch once a month, fine. Have KFC once a week for lunch, okay, that’s going to start actually impacting you and you’re going to notice a difference. But you’re not going to notice the difference having a KFC every week, four weeks later, you know, what’s the difference? Four months later, stairs are getting a bit harder to walk up now. Four years later, where did that extra two stone come from? Came from the one weekly routine, which that’s a KFC every now and then. These things really do compound and they do add up, but you have to allow time for the feedback loop to come back into action.
Jason Brockman : Yeah. Yeah.
John Lamerton: The morning routine doesn’t matter. I’ve got my own morning routine. It’s personal to me and it works for me. You may well hate trying to copy my routine to your schedule and your life. Your routine doesn’t have to start at 7:24 AM, or 5:00 AM, or 6:00 AM. You choose ideally based on your circadian rhythm. You may not have or want to take your kids to school. You may want to hit the gym or get straight to work, meditate or read, do yoga or go for a run, make some phone calls, read the newspaper, meet friends for breakfast. Whatever you want to do, it’s your routine.
John Lamerton: The important thing isn’t getting up at 5:00 AM, unless you’re an early bird and you want to, of course. The important thing is having a routine when you do wake up. I remember when I was just starting out in business. I used to read the profile of a successful business man or woman in the Sunday papers each week. The format was the same every week. Where have I heard that before? It was a day in the life of, whoever, every week in just about every profile thei day would start in a very similar way. 5:00 AM wake up, coffee, hit the gym, 4:30 AM alarm goes off, go for a run, 4:00 AM got to wake up before everyone else does. It seemed there was a clear pattern here, all these successful people get get up at silly o’clock in the morning, get some exercise, and they’re in the office by 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM. Bugger! As an inbetweener I’ve got no chance. I now know that the most important thing is having a morning routine. Full stop. Not one that starts in the middle of the night that makes you look superhuman to readers of a Sunday newspaper, but one that works for you. A morning routine that does all the heavy lifting and sets you up in the best possible way to hit the ground running when you land at your desk.
John Lamerton: Even if it starts at 11:00 AM with half a cup of coffee and watch TV. If that’s what sets you up for a really productive, high energy day, then go for it. If you’d be happier setting your alarm for 4:00 AM, doing a kettlebell workout, and being first in the office, good for you! It’s your routine. You choose, Richard Branson gets up at 5:45 AM every morning. Winston Churchill didn’t get a bed until 11:00 AM. If you want new results, you need new routines, but they’ve got to work for you. Copying someone else’s just isn’t going to help in the slightest. The routine doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a routine.
Jason Brockman : okay. I mean that’s a really important lesson really, because routines are routine, but they’re your routines, and if, for two reasons I guess, if you don’t follow the routine that works for you, you’re not going to follow the routine.
John Lamerton: You’re not going to stick to it.
Jason Brockman : yeah, straight out the window. and two, because everybody lives their likes differently and everybody has other things which can interfere with their routines. And whether that’s the children or the pets or delightful girlfriend or boyfriend or whoever, whatever it is, there’s always something that’s going to interfere. So actually, you’re building your own routine and having that consistently throughout gives you that growth.
John Lamerton: I talked earlier and in the book about when I tried someone else’s morning routine, let’s get up at 5:00 AM, let’s do a workout, let’s do some meditation, let’s do some affirmations, let’s have a healthy smoothie. And all that ended up with was the entire house being woken up, me being shattered and being back in bed by 11 o’clock, it just didn’t work for me. And also I remember going back to the Sunday newspapers and just reading every week, it was the same thing. Wake up early, hit the gym, get my power lunch in, and power walk in, and I’m in the office ready to work at 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM and I’m thinking, I don’t want to get out of bed before 8 in the morning.
John Lamerton: What’s going on here? I’m clearly not made for this, I’m not cut out for this life. You know, you get Winston Churchill, 11:00 AM he’d get out of bed and actually most of the time he wouldn’t get a bed. He just stayed in bed writing and drinking. Everyone is different and you have to customise your routines. As you said, if they’re not your routines you’re not going to stick with them.
John Lamerton: People think Richard Branson gets up at 5:45 AM therefore, if I want to have a successful business like Sir Richard, the alarm needs to be set for 4:45 AM. no, it doesn’t matter what time. If Richard Branson gets up at 11:00 AM he gets just as much done in the day as he otherwise would. But 5:45 is what works for him, and you’ve got –
Jason Brockman : He works in those lovely sunrises, wouldn’t he?
John Lamerton: We are recording this in summer, and I’ve got to say, I am waking up a lot earlier because it’s your natural schedule. When you wake with the sun, you go down with the sun, you know?
Jason Brockman : That’s the interesting thing, actually, with circadian rhythms. There’s a lot of science involved as well. it’s not just the case of, circadian rhythms it’s the right thing to do, but actually the science actually back up the fact that you need those things.
John Lamerton: There are three types of people and you’ve got your early birds, you’ve got your inbetweeners, I’ve identify myself as an inbetweener, and you got your night owls. So, just about every techie, every coder we’ve ever employed is, without a doubt, a night owl. You know, I’m saying “Hi” to Lee now who’s our sound engineer, but I can never reach him until three o’clock in the afternoon because that’s when he starts work. He’s happy working until midnight. Now I can’t stay awake until midnight, but he does his most productive work in the evening. So you’ve got Richard Branson who is most productive at 6:00 AM, 7:00 AM, you’ve got our sound guy who’s most productive at seven in the evening, you’ve got me, I do my best work in late morning. It’s like, well, how can you have a one size fits all routine for all three of us? You can’t and it’s about playing to your strengths. We’re all individuals.
Speaker 3: Who are you? who are you?
John Lamerton: When you change your routines, you don’t just change what you do. You change who you are. As Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do. From 1994 to 2006 I was a smoker, the record books, if there was such a thing for smoking, would show that I had my first cigarette on something like July the 20th, 1994, with my final toke coming on April 12th, 2006.
John Lamerton: Does that mean that I went to bed on July 19th, 1994, a nonsmoker and woke up the following morning as a smoker? No, of course not. If you’d asked me on that fateful day that I took my very first drag, was I now a smoker, I’d have laughed at you. Of course I wasn’t a smoker. I’d just had one little cigarette. Even two weeks later. I wouldn’t have classed myself as a smoker. sure I’d had a couple every Friday and Saturday night, but I was still a nonsmoker.
John Lamerton: That’s who I was and then there’s a blurry line somewhere between that, just a couple at the weekends to 20 a day, from nonsmoker to smoker. The change didn’t happen overnight. It happened over time as I changed. It was the same when I quit. I still classed myself as a smoker for several months afterwards, despite not partaking of a single puff. I was a smoker who hadn’t had a cigarette for a few months. Then one day, the story changed in my head. I’m a smoker who’s trying to quit, became I’m an ex-smoker, and then eventually I don’t smoke. I changed. My routines changed months before, but it took an age before my thinking and realisation about who I was caught up. The story you tell yourself, and who you believe you are, is half the battle.
John Lamerton: I found giving up drinking really easy compared to giving up smoking. I believe that’s because of the story I told myself about who I was. When I gave up smoking, I thought of myself as a smoker who was trying to quit for several months. Yet when I give up drinking, I didn’t want to drink from day one. The person who doesn’t want to drink finds it easy to say no to a drink. A smoker who is trying to quit is still a smoker, and has to use willpower to say no. I don’t have to use willpower to say no to cigarettes now because who I am has changed. I’m a nonsmoker now.
John Lamerton: People who don’t smoke don’t want cigarettes. People who don’t drink don’t want to get drunk. I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s for 10 years or more, and my kids have never eaten there. I used to enjoy a quarter pounder with cheese at least once a week, but now I can’t think of anything less appetising. What changed? I did. I don’t eat at McDonald’s. That’s just who I am now.
John Lamerton: McDonald’s didn’t change. I did. What you repeatedly do or don’t do makes you who you are. When you change who you are, it makes creating and sticking to routines congruent to your goals much easier. If your goal is to become healthy, ask yourself, is this the routine of a healthy person? If you want to be more productive, ask is this what a productive person would be doing right now? If you wants to be a better leader, what would a great leader do in this situation? Every time you ask what the person you want to become would do, and then model that behaviour yourself, you inch one step closer to becoming that person, to changing who you are. We are what we repeatedly do. Do what the person you want to be would repeatedly do, and you will become then.
Jason Brockman : That’s really interesting because actually taking on routine, it’s all about mindset. At least that sample chapter there, when you release that, really. No matter actually the belief in what you really want to be doing, then that’s not going to want to do it, and therefore you won’t do it.
John Lamerton: Makes sense. The ex smoker has the routines of someone who used to smoke. A nonsmoker has the routines or someone who doesn’t smoke, and a smoker who is trying to give up has the routines of a smoker who is trying to give up. And it makes it, so the mindset is completely different, my shift that’s been giving up the smokes and giving up the booze was polar opposite, because I literally, when I go and smoke, it’s like I still love smoking. I still really enjoy it. I’ve just given up because it bloody costs too much, and there’s that immediate, right what I need to actually do this and to achieve this is willpower. Whereas when I immediately said to myself, I don’t want to drink, okay, I don’t want to drink. So it makes it much easier to have the routines of a non drinker when I don’t want to drink
John Lamerton: It’s not about the bike, which is cycling, used to be a bit of a joke. Us Brits, we’ll be bringing up the rear, huffing and puffing our way up the mountain. Well behind the leaders. Hopes of Olympic glory and Tour de France wins were but a dream. Enter Sir Dave Brailsford. Sir Dave joined the British cycling team in 1997 and became performance director in 2003. The following year, Team GB won four medals at the Olympics in Athens, including gold medals for Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy. It was their best performance in 96 years.
John Lamerton: Four years later at the 2008 games in Beijing, they would pick up a record 14 medals, including eight golds. Having seen what Sir Dave’s methods have done for team GB, he was persuaded to join team Sky and head up their road cycling team, with a view to replicating his success on the grandest cycling stage of them all, the Tour de France, a race that no Brit had ever won, which was widely accepted as the world’s toughest bike race.
John Lamerton: Riders compete over a three week period, covering more than 3,500 kilometres of gruelling climbs, with competitors often having to ascend multiple mountains in a single day. From altitudes from a few hundred feet above sea-level to more than 3000 feet. World’s racing potential faced their competitors in 30 degree heat. It took Sir Dave just two years to work his magic, with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Brit to win the Tour de France in 2012, the same year that another 12 cycling medals were picked up by team GB at the London Olympics, including another gold to Wiggins, who became Sir Bradley as a result.
John Lamerton: As if to prove that it was no fluke, team Sky won the race again in 2013. This time Chris Froome wearing the yellow jersey. Froome would go on to notch up four Tour de France victories, including three in a row from 2015 to 2017, the first rider and to do so since Lance Armstrong, who of course had his own methods to give him an edge over his rivals.
John Lamerton: As I write this, team Sky have won six of the last seven Tour de France competitions, and team GB have notched up 42 Olympic cycling medals in the last four games, including 24 golds. Not bad for a laughingstock.
John Lamerton: So what was the secret to Dave Brailsford’s success? Did he have a golden generation of athletes all perfectly suited to be the best in the world at cycling? Did he stumble across a new bike that went faster than anyone else’s. Nope. In Sir Dave’s own words, it’s not about the bike. What Brailsford did was have a technique that he referred to as the aggregation of marginal gains.
John Lamerton: What the hell does that mean? It may sound complicated, but it’s actually a pretty simple idea. While everyone else is focused on getting world class a small number of things, like building bigger muscles, improving stamina and making the bikes more efficient and reliable. Dave and his team would break down the big unachievable goal, winning the Tour de France, or Olympic gold medal, into each individual elements that could help or hinder them.
John Lamerton: They then look to improve each of those elements by just 1%. “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,” said Brailsford in 2012.
John Lamerton: The bike went into a wind tunnel to improve aerodynamics by 1%. He insisted everyone in the team used antibacterial hand gel to cut down illness and infections by 1%. The team bus was redesigned to improve recuperation by 1%. When he discovered dust accumulating on the floor of the mechanics truck he had the floor painted pristine white, so it’d be noticed 1% quicker. He employed psychologists to tease out 1% improvements in the athletes mindsets. He redesigned the teams training suits and helmets, making them 1% more comfortable. Reducing friction by 1%, wicking sweat away 1% better, and reducing air drag by 1%.
John Lamerton: Sir Dave went hunting for each and every one of the team’s weaknesses. Those tiny opportunities that have been allowed to slide, and by correcting each one he saw that desired 1% improvement, and went hunting for the next marginal gain to be had. Whilst on the roads in the Tour de France, he noticed that the entire team, not just the athletes, were getting more and more tired as the weeks rode on. 23 nights of sleeping on different mattresses in different hotels will do that to you.
John Lamerton: So a new bus followed the team around, containing each persons preferred mattress and pillow. It’s fair to say they slept more than 1% better as a result, and having every single member of the team firing on all cylinders throughout the gruelling three week process, cannot be underestimated.
Jason Brockman : Like it! And this is, I think, probably out of the ones that we’ve read so far, the one which you can apply to business.
John Lamerton: I think so. Or you can feed any aspects of your life. People are often looking to the big sweeping changes. How can I, you know, lose five stone? How can I 10x my business? How can I find that new relationship? Actually there’s so many opportunities for these small 1% gains. I mean, I think the stand out section, just a I was reading through there, obviously I’m talking here about Sir Dave Brailsford, I’m talking about team Sky, team GB, but just apply this sentence to your own life.
John Lamerton: Those tiny opportunities that had been allowed to slide, and by correcting each one and seeing that desired 1% improvement. I mean there’s so many areas that we could all be 1% better in, and being 1% better isn’t difficult. Now at Olympic standard, at professional athlete standard, being 1% better is quite hard, because people are already pretty optimised. But for the average small businesses marketing department, could they send 1% more emails over the course of the year? Probably. Could they negotiate 1% better with suppliers? Could they be 1% better at selling? Could they increase their profit margins by 1%? Could they reduce their overheads by 1%?
John Lamerton: Making these small gains, which on their own you would say, well, it’s not worth while. But when they compound and you have this massive effect of all these multiple things, it’s what Sir Dave did with the British cycling team was to break it down into 50 or a hundred different components, and if you add a hundred components and you improve each one by 1% you don’t end up with a 100% improvement, you end up with a 700% improvement because what?
John Lamerton: It’s not one plus one plus one equals three. It’s one plus one plus one or multiplied by one, which I know doesn’t work for the mathematicians out there, but it does compound. These things do, they multiply because the time you factor in all of the team being more alert, the bikes being more efficient, the suits being more efficient, and recovery being quicker, less illness better sleep, more rested. All of these things compound to actually an extra three seconds on the sprint.
John Lamerton: Being able to have the stamina to go up that climb and shave three minutes off her day. You know, these are the little gains. On its own, the mechanics, using hand gel on its own, if they were only to do that, it makes absolutely no difference. But, and it wasn’t just hand gel.
John Lamerton: I mean, they actually had surgeons come in and show them exactly how to wash their hands correctly, so making sure they’re getting down into these little bones, and into the palm of the hand, all the bits that you don’t get when you just wash your hands with the soap. And they reduced sickness in the team. And that then meant that actually the team, I’ll say the team, not just the athletes, it was the whole team.
John Lamerton: So you know, again business owners often focus on themselves and the things that can impact. But what if you can get your admin team working a little bit better? What if your customer service could be 1% better? What if you retained 1% more people? You’ve got 1% more people to bring referrals in. This is what we do within the 1% club. This is actively our 1% club ethos, isn’t it? It’s about having, as Dave calls it, the aggregation of marginal gains, which is an awful title, but a brilliant concept.
Jason Brockman : Absolutely, and because they are so small, they’re not unachievable. They’re not something you’ll go and give up on, because actually to make that 1% gain is simple, is easy. And then do lots of those in a varied period of time routinely, and you’ve got yourself in a good position.
John Lamerton: Exactly, it’s just setting a routine of hunting for these opportunities and that’s what Sir Dave does now. He literally, he loves the game of hunting for these opportunities, because obviously a lot of what I’ve talked about here is now what Dave did seven, eight, nine years ago, so he’s pretty optimised. So actually now he is literally hunting for these next 1% opportunities, but I bet you in an average year, I bet he still finds at least 50 1% gains.
John Lamerton: You can just tweak this, tweak that, technology’s moved on. We can make this a little bit better, and this is such an easy routine and it, you know, all your routines either compound for you or against you. And if you’re not making 1% gains to make things better, it’s very, very easy to make 1% negative routines, which count against you, and actually you may be better off cutting out the little shortcuts that you make in seven or eight different areas, because that will again compound against you.
John Lamerton: We just decided to go. What’s the hardest part about going for a run? is it the aching afterwards? The tightness in the chest as you tyre Getting a stitch? Your lack of stamina? Your jelly legs on hills? The time it takes to warm up, do the run and warm down?
John Lamerton: Nope. The hardest part of going for a run, the one thing that stops most people from running is lacing up your trainers. Once your running shoes are on and tied, you’re going to head out the door. You’re going to warm up, you’re going to push yourself. You’re going to do this. As Jim Lovell, played by Tom Hanks, says in Apollo 13 watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldridge landing on the surface of the moon in July, 1969, “From now on, we live in a world where man has walked on the moon and it’s not a miracle. We just decided to go.” He just decided to go, that’s the hard part, deciding to go, deciding to do, deciding to do is the tipping point.
John Lamerton: I’m talking about truly deciding, making an absolute unbreakable contract with yourself that says, we are doing this. Lacing up those trainers, signing that contract, publicly stating that you’re going to write a book. That last one is what I did in the summer of 2018, a year after my first book hit the book shelves and I declared many, many times that I would never write another book again. But this idea kept needling me.
John Lamerton: All the success I’ve had, and all the success I’ve witnessed, so much of it comes down to routine. To simply doing the right things day in, day out. Jeff Woods, made his king of routine comment on a podcast and I found it harder and harder to resist the temptation to write another book. I needed to get off the fence and either do this or bury the idea forever. I’m not the sort of person who can keep an idea on ice for any length of time. As Yoda may or more likely may not say: do or do not. There is no maybe one day.
John Lamerton: we had a family holiday booked for the summer holidays, I thought about in the sun with no work, zero responsibilities. I decided to use this downtime, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday business life. Obviously I don’t allow a great deal of hustle or bustle in my everyday life anyway, and took my journal with me. My theory was thus. If I had a book in me I’d be able to jot down loads of ideas. If I struggled to write down the basic chapter outline for this book, then I would consign the idea to the dustbin, never to see the light of day. And after 90 minutes and three cappuccinos sat by the pool, I’d noted down almost a hundred ideas. I’d filled page after page after page in my journal.
John Lamerton: Ping! Imagine a light bulb going off above my head at this exact moment. For this is the exact moment that it happens. I decided to write this book at that exact moment, sat by a swimming pool in Corfu with my fourth cappuccino next to me, and the kids splashing in the pool. The one thing that I needed to do now was to commit, to lace my trainers, to give me some public accountability.
John Lamerton: So I took out my phone, I went live on Facebook to our Ambitious Lifestyle Business community, bigidea.co.uk/Facebook. The total of my live video was I might possibly have decided to write book number two. Of course there was no possibly about it. Do or do not. My trainers were laced. It was several months before I wrote a single word of this book, and almost a year before it became the finished article that you’re listening to right now.
John Lamerton: This isn’t the finished article by the way. This is just the snippet but you get the idea. But I took action immediately, decide to go and pop your trainers on. The rest will follow. One of my mentors used to preach about reducing the time between the idea and the implementation, and this is advice that’s served me well over the years. I don’t have half baked ideas floating around the place unfinished. I have an idea and I do it or I decide not to do it. But either way I decide and I act immediately after deciding. I take the very first step towards achieving my goal, or I ditch the idea, never to be seen again.
Jason Brockman : Good idea. if you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it.
John Lamerton: It is, though, it’s just one of the things that I think so many people, they have the idea, they say, yeah I’ll do that one day. One day never comes. I think I talked about this in Big Ideas, but you know, people have these plans for one day. Just lace the trainers, take the first step, and do. And I think if you can create that routine, and if it is going for a run and it is lacing your trainers, well how’d you make that easy? well, stick your trainers by the front door, you know, do the school run in your trainers so that might as well run back from there. It’s taking that first step, and I think the deciding to go, the decided to do, it ties into what we’re saying, just now, the person you are, the person you become. And the minute I decided to write this book, well that book was almost written because I decided to do it.
John Lamerton: You know, up until that point I was contemplating writing a book and I’m sure there’ll be people listening to this podcast now who are contemplating writing a book, and thinking, well maybe one day I’ll do that. Well, do or do not. There is no maybe one day as Yoda probably doesn’t say.
Jason Brockman : I don’t think, adding to that toolbox, the public accountability, I think that also works, because once you’ve made the decision… There’s nothing worse than telling everybody that you’re going to do it and then you don’t do it, so actually you’re going to do it, aren’t you? That’s the thing.
John Lamerton: Yeah, because ever since I did that Facebook live, at least a couple of times a month someone will say to me, “How’s the book coming?” And you know, I’m going to say, “I’m at this stage, I’m at this stage,” and for a couple of months it was, “I haven’t actually started yet, but that’s the plan.” The plan was to start it in, November I started writing it, and that was always going to be the plan, but three months before that I decided to do, I decided to go, you know, and I really like that scene like i say in Apollo 13 where Tom Hanks is kind of looking up at moon and saying, “Yeah, we just decided to go.”
Jason Brockman : I thought you were hinting at Forest Gump, that’s what I thought you were going to do, when you’re on about running, and… I ran.
John Lamerton: Run Forest, run.
Jason Brockman : I ran and I kept on running. I thought you were going to be doing that. [00:36:28] But there you are.
John Lamerton: Well see, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.
Jason Brockman : In this podcast?
John Lamerton: Exactly! Here’s something a little bit different for you this month, guys. Hope you enjoyed that. If you have enjoyed these little snippets from Routine Machine then don’t forget you can get yourself a free sample chapter, at routinemachine.co.uk. And hopefully by the time you actually listen to this episode we will be, like I say bestselling once again, you know, hundreds of reviews and…
Jason Brockman : Be nice, wouldn’t it?
John Lamerton: Well, hopefully lots of people are enjoying the book and actually finding it useful and changing those routines.
John Lamerton: And I think-
Jason Brockman : [inaudible 00:37:05]
John Lamerton: … if we can get one takeaway from the whole thing it is that, it’s not about morning routine. I know lot of people focus on morning routine when it comes to routines, but it is about the little habits you do. It’s about those 1% gains.
Jason Brockman : Like building blocks, isn’t it? And yet there’s still lots of people who are preaching about routines and stuff. It’s about getting the foundations right in the morning, waking up properly, and that. But that’s not what it’s about at all. it’s about changing These little things, putting the blocks together to create a routine.
John Lamerton: Yeah, I think the more people like the morning routine is because it’s starting the day in the right way, and it’s lacing your trainers, and if your trainers are laced, you’re going out for the run. If you start the day right, you’ve finished the day right. Whereas actually if you don’t start the day right, well you’ve got to find time to go to the gym, or you’ve got to find time to do that. write that sales letter. Write that productive email. Or have that conversation with that member of staff.
John Lamerton: And just creating those routines. I mean, I’m the king of routine. You know, we’ve talked about this before in a previous podcast, but you don’t need to take things to the level I do with routine where I’d live and die on my routine, and it’s… I’m very, very…
Jason Brockman : We all live and die by his routine.
John Lamerton: It’s true. I’m very, very persistent about it and I completely, crave routine. there’s a lovely chapter in the book about why I hate Christmas. Fond of my routine, but you don’t have to take it to that level. And one of the points I will make in the book is, if you’ve already got a routine, you just need to realise that you have a routine now and it is within your control to tweak it and…
Jason Brockman : Make those 1% minor changes.
John Lamerton: Make a few little changes. Make the marginal gains, add them up, and then you too will have a knighthood and a gold medal, and win the Tour de France.
Jason Brockman : If you want to.
John Lamerton: If you want to.
Jason Brockman : But you do have to lace your trainers.
John Lamerton: You’ve got to lace your trainers.
Jason Brockman : And [00:39:03]
John Lamerton: Cleats is the answer for cycling.
Jason Brockman : Is it?
John Lamerton: Yeah, you don’t need to lace your trainers. Cleats. where you stamp the thing on the thing.
John Lamerton: We’re off then, anyway.
Jason Brockman : Cheers guys.
John Lamerton: See you later. Bye.
John Lamerton: So there we are, another episode in the camp. How was it for you? Please let us know. How ever you listen to these podcasts? Please leave a review on that platform. Let us know what we can do better. What you like, what you don’t like, and how we can improve to make this show even better. We’ll see you next time.
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