Thrive Global: What's the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Peter Thompson: I go and work out at 4:45 a.m. I don’t love working out, but love how I feel afterward—and the health benefits are obvious. If I get myself to the nearby gym via something akin to sleepwalking, my brain/ego isn’t warmed up enough to start talking me out of it. Author/Podcast Host Jocko Willink talks a lot about this on his podcast.
TG: What gives you energy?
PT:Conversation with people, either new or old friends, that results in personal connection—gives me bounce-around-the-room energy. I like real conversation and fill up with energy when engaged in meaty dialogue as opposed to small talk. My wife says I act like our three-year-old Golden Retriever in these situations.
TG: What's your secret life hack?
PT: Not sure if it is a hack, but I have pretty good discipline around calling, emailing or texting someone as soon as I have the idea to do so—that second—even when it’s just a random drop in. I’ve found that waiting—even a little bit—results in missed opportunity and oftentimes the timing is perfect. When the thought comes to mind, I believe that the universe is cueing me in some way to connect. I learned from being a too small, too slow, basketball player that good things can come from simply hanging around the hoop.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
PT: 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership is the best business/life book I’ve ever read—by far. But Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is a book that profoundly changed the way I look at life.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
PT:We are in an open marriage. Sometimes we sleep together and other times I sleep with my iPad. But they are synchronized and function amicably, so it works well for all of us.
TG: How do you deal with email?
PT: Not well. I generally have a sprint and recover approach to work, which doesn’t always work well with email—and they can pile up. I do make efficient use of taxicab, and airport transit times to focus on cleaning up personal email and I love airplanes' internet service for quiet time to manage my inbox. I find myself much sharper and attentive when I know I have an empty inbox and minimal unfinished business.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
PT:If I find 15 minutes, I prefer to sit alone, doors and windows closed and undistracted. I often listen to apps with brainwave technology and some type of mantra in the background. My favorites are Catholic Gregorian Chants.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
PT: Not that long ago—a few weeks. I let myself get too busy on all fronts—work, civic engagement, politics and my first priorities… my wife and 5 children. I was in a state of overwhelm of which I’ve become pretty good at noticing/detecting after many years of practice. I realized that not only was I physically pushing limits, but I often don’t turn my brain off and continue to tell myself stories I believe to be true (for no good reason) and they sort of recycle themselves over and over. The thing about burnout for me is that I don’t crash—rather the opposite. I have a hard time sleeping and things sort of compound. For me, it takes two nights away, and I did just that.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
PT: I failed miserably in business in 2007-2008. I bought a business that was struggling and thought I could return it to its former glory. I couldn’t! The market plus many mistakes put me in the position to decide to close the doors. The lesson was age-old—be upfront and do the right thing. We returned our investors’ money, paid our bills and anyone we owed—including the group from whom we bought the business. I gave our employees paid severance despite us going out of business. I was incredibly sad and incredibly proud all at the same time. One of the great by-products of handling things in such a way was that it led me to Bob and Tom Perkins, who chose me to become CEO of their firm a short time later.
TG:Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
PT: “Live a Life You are Proud Of” is a pretty straightforward guide. And St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “Laugh and Grow Strong” quote stays with me as I try very hard to not take things too seriously.
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