How does someone run two businesses and a podcast and still be able to be present for his wife and three kids? It’s all about time blocking mastery and it’s something we can learn about from Jordan West, who joins Penny Zenker in this episode. It wasn’t always like that for Jordan. Just like many of us, he spent the whole of his 20s living in the hustle before he finally came to realize that it wasn’t creating the life he wanted to live. Now 34, he efficiently runs a baby clothing line with his wife, Carmen, called Little & Lively and a paid marketing company called Mindful Marketing Co.; host a podcast called Secrets to Scaling Your eCommerce Brand – all by working a total of four hours a day! He spends the rest of his time walking his kids to school and having quality time with his family. Listen in and find out how he does it!
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Time Blocking Mastery: How To Run Two Businesses And A Family With Jordan West
We are dedicated here to help you to work smarter. We’re going to interview smart people to help you to work smarter. Jordan West is with us and he is the CMO and Founder of Little and Lively Clothing. He’s also CEO of Mindful Marketing and a podcast host of The Secrets to Scaling Your eCommerce Brand, which is now in the top 50 business marketing podcasts in multiple countries, including Canada and the US. Jordan is going to share with us how he manages multiple companies and what he does to effectively manage his time, as well as some tips and tricks around his business expertise. Jordan, welcome to the show.
Penny, thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to this. It’s great. I love going and seeing how other podcast hosts host their podcast and this is awesome so far. I appreciate you having me. I realize your time is valuable, so thank you.
Everybody who’s reading knows their time is valuable and why they’re here is because they’re going to get some brilliant tips and tricks from you on how you do it. Tell us, how do you do it? You run two businesses, you’re a podcast host. You’ve got a wife. Do you have any kids?
You have three kids. How do you organize and manage yourself so that you can beat your best and be efficient and effective?
It wasn’t always like this. I have made many mistakes along the way. I’ll tell you, my twenties were not like that. My twenties were working all the time. People go through these modes. I call it the Gary Vee mode where it’s like, “Hustle. You have to hustle and that’s what you do to get there.” That’s great for a time but it’s not sustainable at all. It doesn’t create a life that, in my opinion, is a life I want to live.
It’s funny that you say that. In my twenties, it was the same. I started my own technology business, I built it up and it was all about the hustle. What is it for your 30s? What would you say is the age of the 30s for you then?
For me, it’s realizing that my time is my most valuable commodity. I don’t take phone calls anymore that I don’t want to take. I’ll tell you what the end game is that I only work 9:00 until 2:00 every day. After that, I’m off. I don’t respond to messages generally after that. I take an hour lunch every day. It took me a long time to get to that point and for my team to understand that that’s the way I was going to live my life as well.
Was that a goal? Let me ask you because let’s say there are people who are in the hustle. Was that something that you decided earlier on and you work towards or was it like cold turkey you said, “This is what I’m doing. I’m only going to work from 9:00 to 2:00 and go?”
It came from doing business coaching with somebody. I was the coachee and we talked about my goals of my life because at this point, I have been very successful financially. I’m like, “I don’t feel successful. I feel like I’m working more than ever. What does it even matter if we’re successful financially when you don’t have any time to do anything? I can’t spend time with my kids.” Going through this coaching process was incredible. Now I’m the biggest advocate for coaches. It’s invaluable what you get from a coach.Treat your time as your most valuable commodity. Click To Tweet
They see your blind spots. They can get past all those excuses that you put up as to why you have to hustle.
We have this goal and to be honest, it only started right before COVID in February 2020 where I was realizing that I didn’t want to continue on that lifestyle where I was working 8:00 until 4:00 and then at night time working on my computer. For what? It didn’t make sense to me. We set this goal of taking lunch every day because I would work through lunch every single day. I would order, skip the dishes in. Every single day I was at my office and it was like another interview, another whatever. I’m trying to get it cram as much into my day as possible. We started with taking lunch. I blocked lunch off every single day for an hour and that was the turning point for me.
How did you stick with it? I’m hearing it’s a turning point but I want to ask you because there are a lot of people who would love to do that. All the excuses are going through the head or they don’t have the time and it’s not possible. How did you hold yourself to that?
Practically, I block out my calendar every day during that time. If somebody is going to try and book something with me when I give out a calendar link, they can’t during that time. That’s one practical way that I do it. After that, as the self-control of saying no. I will occasionally take an in-person business meeting during lunch. That’s something I will do. I try to keep those to a minimum, maybe once a week doing something like that. The rest of the time, it’s like meeting my wife for lunch. She runs our clothing company. We may have to talk business a little bit but at least I got that time where I’m not on during that lunch. That was the first step of the process.
The second step was making a priority at the beginning of the day of walking my kids to school. My two older kids, I was like, “I want to walk them to school instead of me being in a rush and dropping them off.” Every single morning, I walk them to school, it’s about a twenty-minute walk, probably more like 30 minutes on the way there with them and then I get coffee. I sit down and start my day at the coffee shop answering any certain messages from our staff or emails or anything like that.
That starts my day at about 9:00. That was the next step. At 2:00, I decided, I was like, “After 2:00, I don’t get anything done. I’m in a fog. I’m not effective anyway, why don’t I stop my day then?” As I’m sure that you’ve talked about on here. I’m talking about Parkinson’s Law. Whatever time you have to get something done, you will take up that amount of time. For me, essentially, I have four hours throughout the day and I always say to people, “I’m going to get eight hours of work done in these four hours.” I do during that time. I’m trying to treat my time as the most valuable commodity. The only way I can do that is to surround my life with that.
Can I challenge you? I don’t think you fit eight hours into four hours. There’s a myth here and I want to point it out because a lot of people think that they need to get more done in less time. That’s the eight hours in four hours. I think that you work effectively for four hours and you work smarter and you delegate things so things get done but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you yourself work eight hours in four hours. It’s almost an oxymoron of is that possible if you’re working those four hours or whatever hours they are. I want to challenge you and ask you whether that’s true or are you working smarter in the way that you work in more focused so that you are working a full four hours versus eight hours?
That’s a great challenge. You’ve nailed it right there. What I’ve done is adding two virtual assistants so they’ll do a lot of the work for me. I have to set up the systems for them. At that point, I’ve been on about 30 podcasts and I haven’t done any of the booking myself until I get onto the podcast. That’s where I’m valuable, but doing the booking itself, there’s not as much value that I can add in that sense. That’s definitely one point.
Are you seeing on the high-value tasks that absolutely you have to do and want to do and make sense for you to do so you’re delegating the things that can be done by other people? The way that you’re getting eight hours of work done in four hours is by bringing on a team to support you.
It’s more like twenty hours of work in those four hours. Knowing what do I need to delegate, how do I need to set my team up for success? There are a lot of different things. At the marketing agency, we need to be up on whatever the latest tactics are and strategies. I can’t be doing that with clients. We have a big team that deals with all of that but the direction comes from me. I need to be doing that. It doesn’t mean that the tasks that I’m doing are more valuable. It’s just the things that I’m good at.
We all need to know where our strengths and weaknesses are. It’s not necessarily worthwhile to spend a lot of time, money and effort to focus on getting better in our weaknesses when we can hire somebody or work with somebody who can mitigate those.
One of the things that we do in both of our companies is StrengthsFinder for both. We can see what people’s top five core strengths are and try to play to those strengths. Since we’ve done that, I feel we’ve become a lot more efficient. Not only efficient, but we also have more fun because we’re doing the things that we like and people have to do things that they don’t want to do. We all have to do that. We try to make the environments that we work in ones that are conducive to a happy, healthy life.
I always ask everybody this question. How do you define productivity and why?
Productivity to me is meeting a goal that you’ve set. For me, that does allow others to help me be productive. I said I was good on my toes but that’s a tough question.
Nobody has given the same answer in everybody that I asked. That’s interesting to understand that productivity means different things to different people. Also, when you’re working with your teams, it’s important that whatever you’re defining or problem that you’re solving, you need to clearly define it together so that you’re all working from the same understanding of what it is. Another question tip, what’s your shortcut? If you had to say, there’s one thing that cuts through the chase and it’s the 20% that helps you get 80% done, what’s the one thing that you do that works awesomely for you?
Time blocking, for sure. I block big chunks of my day to do certain things. In those four hours that I have throughout the day, I make sure to protect those times. If I need to think over a problem, I’m going to time block that 30 minutes of thinking. In the book, The Road Less Stupid, he talks all about this, this time blocking, about thinking time, and I’ve taken that to heart. Those are little tiny hinges that move big doors. That’s been valuable to me.
I’m a big proponent of that as well quite frankly, otherwise, most people, they’ll only have in their calendar what they need to do for other people. “I have a meeting with somebody else,” because you have to work on this project or whatever and there’s nothing wrong with that to put those meetings down. It’s not the things that are moving the needle for you. It’s not the most important thing. We tend to be people pleasers. That’s where then our schedules get filled up with what’s important to everybody else.
It’s all about control. Who has the control over your life? Do you have the control? Do you have this internal locus of control or is it like everyone is doing things to you? For me and for most CEOs and founders, they have a very high internal locus of control. For me, I do struggle with everyone is booking into my calendar. I let them book into my calendar. It wasn’t their fault.
You allow that to happen. I was going to go in a different direction but we’re entrepreneurs. We do have more control over at calendars than we take control of. There are situations for people who are working in corporations where they don’t have as much control over their calendars. What would your feedback be to somebody who’s in a corporate role who says, “I don’t get to say I’m not going to attend that meeting or I don’t get to turn that down.” What would you say to that?
You can make a good case whether you’re an entrepreneur or not to whoever is in charge of your time that you can be much more effective. I’m sure that you can use studies and you can use some persuasive techniques to your boss to let them know, “I don’t need to be in that meeting. I’m going to be way more effective if you give me that hour back to be able to perform this task or to be able to think about this specific role,” especially at the executive level. Less meetings are always better.Revenue is a thermometer that shows you what you’ve done right. Click To Tweet
It has to start from top down also to reevaluate our whole meeting culture. As you said, Parkinson’s Law, what is the real time that our meetings need to be. Do they need to be 60 minutes? Look at this whole Scrum thing. They meet for fifteen minutes and it works. We need to be rethinking, why are we meeting? What are we meeting for? Where can we have some alternative forms of communication as opposed to a meeting in some instances? Let’s switch gears a little bit. If you had to delete all the apps off your phone and computer, what are the top two that you would add back and be the first ones you would add on because you use them the most?
I’m going to have to say LinkedIn. I know that’s terrible but any of the social media apps, that’s the one that I rely on for connections with people, especially in business. If everything else went away and LinkedIn was still there, I could do anything business-wise with the connections that I have on there.
It makes sense. You’re a marketing company, so LinkedIn is where your people are and where a good part of that communication takes place.
Not only for that, but we’re in acquisition mode right now with our clothing company. We’re reaching out to a lot of other baby brands looking to potentially acquire them. Anyone who’s going to be at that level that we want is probably going to be on LinkedIn. That would definitely be one of them. The second would be podcasts. I could not do without the Apple Podcasts app. I spend so much time listening to podcasts. I wish that I could combine that with Audible. Can I have both?
You could have more than two. I wanted to know which ones are your efficiency tools. I don’t know, is there another tool that you use that makes and helps you be more efficient or effective? You said time blocking is your shortcut. Do you have an app that you use that supports your time blocking efforts?
Google Calendar. That’s exactly what I’ll do throughout the day. If I have a big task, which I’ve got a big one for our agency now. It’s creating about 55 videos for our staff to be able to use that are strategies that we’re going to be using on basically every single eCommerce client. I have to create these videos. That is a massive task, 55 strategies and different videos. For me, I’m going to put an hour every single day to doing these videos and block out my calendar. Nobody can book in during that time and that’s how I’m going to get it done.
I just interviewed Nash Ahmed from Undock. It’s an interesting new tool that focuses our time management around the calendar. It has some AI in it that will help you to move appointments around based on prioritization and things like that. It’s interesting. It links in with your current calendar mechanism. I have downloaded it. I have not tried it yet but based on what he was talking about, I’m going to be a huge fan if it does everything that he says it does. It’s a free tool. I’m not plugging anybody’s tool. I don’t get anything from that. I love new technologies that help us to work smarter. Let’s switch gears and talk about marketing. Your genius is in and around marketing. What are some top 2 or 3 tips that would help people in terms of working smarter around the way that they market themselves?
It depends on what industry you’re in. I’m good in the business to consumer space. That’s the space I feel like I know well. A couple of tips there is if you’re starting out, spend as much as you can trying to figure out your customer, getting as much data as you can. One of the things that a lot of people don’t do is they don’t have a feedback loop of data. Especially at Mindful Marketing, our agency, we try and get that feedback loop going in all ways. I don’t get anything for this. We use an app called Prove It that does post-purchase surveys, which is hilarious because it’s old school to do a post-purchase survey.
Are we ever finding out incredible data of where people think that they heard about us from? Attribution is this huge black box that we don’t exactly know how to attribute sales to certain channels. Google will tell you one thing, Facebook will tell you another. They’re taking credit for the same purchase oftentimes. No one is good at it yet. There are some tools out there that cost thousands of dollars that say that they’re good at it. I still don’t think that they’re incredible at it because I want to know the actual purchaser intent. That’s my big tip for everyone is getting that feedback loop back. You can say like, “Facebook is telling me that we had 100 purchases on this certain ad.” That’s cool. That’s great to know that that’s pushing the needle forward but I want the feedback back from the customer.
The more you know about the customer, the more you can tailor the message, the more you can tailor the product, the more that you can do with that information. That makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Maybe it’s back to the basics types of things. If you’re going to go and reorganize a football team, apparently, they go back to the basics. They learn the blocking and the tackling in the playbook.
On that same note, is getting customer feedback. I’m a huge fan and proponent of VIP groups, whether you’re business-to-business or B2C, it’s all the same. You’re talking to humans no matter what. VIP groups are a great way to get feedback from your customers. At our clothing company, at Little and Lively, we have a VIP group that’s about 8,000 people. We’ll ask them a question. We released our Christmas collection, but right before we were about to release it, we asked them about which graphics they liked better. We’re trying to stir up some conversation, “Which graphics do you like better?” Everyone said they didn’t like either of them. We had 300 comments that were like, “We don’t like either of them.” It’s important. We went back to the drawing board, came up with new graphics and showed them. They were thankful that we had asked them and then went back and changed things. We sold out the collection in about 30 minutes when we launched it. We knew that we had done right by the customer. In the end, the revenue was the thermometer that showed us that we’d done right by the customer.
Both of them are talk to our customers. Why is it that we get in our mind that we already know what the customer wants? It is important to not make those assumptions and have those conversations and to get that feedback. By the way, it’s important to note here and I know that you would say the same, I’m interested. It’s also important in your company and for your staff. Tell me how you do this within your staff. If you’re doing it for your customers, I’ll bet you’re doing it for your staff as well.
We use Slack as a communication tool. There is a great free plugin in Slack called Polls. If you search polls in the Slack workspace, it’s awesome because you can do anonymous polls. That has been the best. It’s these anonymous polls within our staff to figure out what they want. Especially during the time of COVID, there are many polarizing views that people have. To have an anonymous poll has been amazing. At our clothing company, we weren’t mandated to wear masks inside. Some people wanted to, some people didn’t. We asked like, “What do you guys want to do?” The outspoken people said, “No masks. No, I don’t want to wear a mask inside.” Yet 80% of people in the anonymous poll said, “Yes, I want to wear a mask.” A good example of if you listen to the loudest person in the room, you’re probably not going to get the best feedback. We’ve done that on the marketing agency side as well. It’s a great way to be able to do things and people to be able to say their thoughts.
Did you get any overarching feedback about what people are having challenges with working from home?
We haven’t gotten much feedback on that. That’s maybe something I’m going to bring to the team. At our clothing company, we’re still all working at our factory. Everyone is still working from there but at the marketing agency side, everyone is working from home and that’s a good question. I’m going to bring that up.
Check in with your people about various different things, and understand what’s the level of trust that people have in the organization. As you said, if you make it anonymous, people are willing to share and this is all valuable information to find out where your culture is right now. What is it that you want to be creating and how do you better serve your team internally?
Culture is a lot more difficult to create being remote.
Either way, you’ve got to work at it because if you’re not purposeful when you’re working with your team to create a culture, then the culture will create itself. That can be challenging when there become toxic elements or undesirable elements in there that aren’t productive or aren’t towards the purpose that the organization wants to go.
We saw that with the clothing company and we made sure to nip that when that happened by creating internal core values. That clothing company-overarching brand is called Kindred. We created this document that’s what Kindred people do. It was effective at pointing our culture back in that direction. We let people know like, “If you can’t be a Kindred person like the rest of us, that’s okay, but you may want to find somewhere else to work.” Everyone got on board with that idea.
That’s important, what you did with that. I want to highlight because maybe people don’t understand that you identified what the behaviors were that you want to see that meet those values. Sometimes people define the values and I believe that’s not enough. It’s not deep enough. We have to all know that we’re talking about the same definition. When you can get down to saying, “This is what people do who are purposeful. This is how they show up. This is how they behave.” That’s a great thing for people to do or thinking about, how do I guide my culture and my principles in my organization? Get down like you did to the behaviors and say, “This is what we do.” We’ve talked a lot of great things about working smarter internally in our business for you personally and how to manage yourself as an entrepreneur and a little bit about the marketing side. Is there anything else that you wanted to share before we close out the show?You have more control over your life than you think. Click To Tweet
You’ll agree with this. What I want people to know is that you have control. You have the ultimate control whether you’re working for somebody or you’re working for yourself. You do have a lot more control over your life than you think.
It’s one thing to know it. You have to take control. An interesting point, maybe we can have a deep moment around this. I was talking to people about this whole concept of control and there’s the circle of influence. There’s the thing in the center of what we can absolutely 100% within our control. There’s what’s outer circle that’s in our influence and then there are the things that are out of our control. We spend so much time, money and energy trying to control the things that are outside of our control. We’re exhausted and whatever, learned helplessness, that we don’t take control. It’s like a terrible paradox. We don’t take control of the things that we absolutely can, like our distractions, like our time and so forth. What are your thoughts or feedback on that?
I have something interesting along that same lines. I was a full-time paramedic for a lot of years. While I had businesses, I was still doing the full-time paramedic thing. Similar to in the US and we went through a bad opioid crisis where it’s going to an overdose after overdose. It was draining staff. This was a few years ago now. We had a psychologist come in and explained this principle to us. That principle, I believe, changed my life of thinking about what I have control over but that’s what I’m going to spend my time on.
Do I have control over who wins the election? I have zero control over that. Just my vote. After that, I have very little control over that and yes, it’s incredibly important. He talked about the four quadrants. There are the things you have control over that are important and then things that are unimportant. We mostly spend the time on the things we don’t have control over and are important or even aren’t important. I want to spend the time in that quadrant of things that are important that I have control over. That has changed my life. I’m glad you brought that up because that is like such a mindset shift.
When you realize like, “I’m wasting all of my time and money, my energy and everything in this area that I’m only banging my head against the wall.” Sometimes we forget, so we need to be reminded, is this within our control? Is this where we should be focused or would we be better served shifting it into something that we absolutely can make a difference?
We get into these thinking patterns and it’s soothing. It’s a bit of a crutch for us like, “Awesome. I can talk about politics and the side that I’m on and this is great.” Instead of being a crutch for you, it becomes a bit of a leash that you go to every time, instead of working on the things that are important and impactful.
It’s a distraction. It’s like why do we procrastinate. It’s something that’s easy so that we can avoid the things that are a little harder. Jordan, you were awesome. It was great having you. Where can people find out more about your clothing line, your marketing business and get in touch with you?
Clothing is LittleAndLively.com. If you have kids, that’s what we specialize in. On the marketing side, we’re MindfulMarketing.co. If you search Mindful Marketing, you’ll find us. For me personally, I love connecting with people on LinkedIn. If you search Jordan West on LinkedIn or Jordan West Marketer, that’s my URL on LinkedIn. I love to connect. Everyone knows I take every single connection request on LinkedIn, whether you’re going to spam me or not.
There you have it but please don’t spam him. Let’s create meaningful conversations together. Mindful Marketing, be mindful in how you interact with one another. Thanks, Jordan, for being here and thank you all for being here. There were a lot of good things in here. You might want to go back and reread to capture, to rethink and then recap it again in a week or two and see where you are and see what else you take away from it. There’s always more to take away. We packed a lot. Thanks again, Jordan. Thank you all for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.
- Little and Lively Clothing
- Mindful Marketing
- The Secrets to Scaling Your eCommerce Brand
- The Road Less Stupid
- Prove It
- Jordan West – LinkedIn
About Jordon West
For 5 years I worked hard to grow sales every way I could think of and in the end, tripled our revenue which still didn’t seem to matter on the profit side. (I lost a lot of money)
The one thing that I seemed to be the best at in the restaurant endeavour was the marketing and getting people in the door.
Fast forward to 2014 when my wonderful wife Carmen (definitely my better half) started a modest baby clothing line and was selling at craft markets. I asked if I could test running a few ads on Facebook… and the rest is history. I learned every up and coming strategy and tactic and helped grow the small start-up to a multi-million dollar company and still growing!
Over the years I have realized what I am good at and what I’m not.
What I’m good at… Marketing and helping others scale their businesses. Which leads me to now.
In 2019 we started the podcast “secrets to scaling your e-commerce brand” which is now in the top 50 business/marketing podcasts in multiple countries including Canada and the United States.
On top of that we founded Mindful Marketing Co. to help scale brands, stores and makers using paid marketing. I love to see brands grow and founders shift from grinding to scaling… it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning!
We have seen an average ROAS of over 6 since we started which has lead to tremendous growth for many of the companies that we work with!