Jeff Rizzo is the co-founder of The Slumber Yard, a company that reviews bed in a box mattresses. Over the years, he has helped thousands of individuals sleep better through his business.
Three days ago, I spoke with him. During our conversation, he shared some words of advice on handling anxiety and achieving success as an entrepreneur, and furthermore what motivates him to keep pushing on, even when the going gets tough.
Avoiding Anxiety And Burnout
As a former investment banker, and now, small business owner, Jeff is more familiar than most when it comes to 80-hour work weeks. He says that he has lost track now of how many times he has left the office after midnight.
Needless to say, Jeff has experienced plenty of anxiety and has been burned out on many occasions. But when asked how he stays the course, Jeff says that it comes down to personal drive and the ability to keep everything in perspective. As an example, Jeff regularly reminds himself that he works in an air conditioned office around people he really respects and trusts—life could be much worse, even if the hours couldn’t be. Not only that, but he values being part of a team. Jeff has played sports all his life, and says that it doesn’t matter how bad the anxiety and stress get, he has to be there for his team.
According to Jeff, success should be grouped into three categories. First, the little wins. “You have to celebrate even the small successes in life because those are what keep you on track on a daily basis,” says Jeff. These could be anything from completely a great workout to nailing a presentation. The little wins make up the bulk of your successes in life, so don’t forget to stop and enjoy them once in a while.
Next are the project-based wins, which are less common and usually more profound. For example, getting a promotion or hitting your yearly sales budget would both be considered project-based wins. These are what you strive for over a month, year, or even longer. Jeff notes that he has three to five of these “written on the whiteboard” at any given time.
And the last type of success is lifelong success—in other words, how well you played the infinite game, as famous author Simon Sinek put it. Of course, the little wins and project-based wins are critically important, but in the end, the only thing that matters is how well (or not well) you played the infinite game. That incorporates your personal and business success, including how you treated others, how much love and affection you cultivated, and the mark you left on society. Jeff says that he strives for the first two types of success, always making sure, however, that they fit within what he’s trying to achieve in the infinite game.
Source of motivation
The interesting thing about motivation is that it can ebb and flow on a daily basis, based on things such as sleep quality, rest, personal lives, and more. But while the motivation itself will change, the source should not, at least according to Jeff. He says he regularly falls victim to life’s daily grinds, but he knows people are depending on him and his commitment to his family, team, and customers is what keeps him going. As an example, he knows that many of his articles online might not directly make him money today, or ever, but they help to build a brand and are beneficial for his customers.
Jeff and his team are focused on pursuing profitable growth in the mid- to near-term. He says that involves publishing new category-specific websites that help consumers with important product decisions. As an example, given how much time we’re all spending at home nowadays, he says that the patio/DIY vertical is growing quickly and his team is actively building sites to serve that niche. But it’s not just about expanding into profitable adjacent categories, it’s also about diversification. By offering value in a number of industries, his team is able to drive greater customer loyalty, gain economies of scale, and successfully ride the ups and down that inevitably come with business.