Carey & Demir Bentley reinvented their lives, leaving the Wall Street pressure-cooker behind for a nomadic lifestyle supporting their fast-growing business LifeHack Bootcamp, a 60-day productivity program combining personal accountability with a daily practice to unleash your best productivity every single day. Learn how they left behind an 80-hour-a-week Wall Street lifestyle that was making them sicker and sicker and took the entrepreneurial leap, plus life and productivity hacks.
Melinda Wittstock: There are so many amazing couplepreneurs out there and Demir and Carey, I think you’re leading an exploratory life for a lot of power couples and I’m so excited to have you to 10X together today.
Carey Bentley: Hey, Melinda, so great to be here.
Demir Bentley: So happy to meet you.
Melinda Wittstock: You know, I’m struck by your story because there you are both in corporate jobs, burning out and not happy. I want you to set that scene because so many people are there and what it was, what was the ah-ha moment that had you both day, wait a minute, now, this isn’t for us. We’ve got to get out of the corporate thing. We’re going to be entrepreneurs and we’re going to do that together?
Demir Bentley: Totally. It’s interesting because we were in New York living that New York hustle lifestyle. You have to understand a little bit more context that Carey and I both the children of immigrants. When you put that together, it really resulted in an ethos of just do what you’re told, take the right steps, get the grades, go to the college, get the jobs, and everything will be fine. And there we are in New York and things were starting to not go fine.
Carey Bentley: Yeah, we’re always told like work harder, work harder and then it’s supposed to be hard. When it feels hard, that wasn’t at first an indication to us that anything was wrong. I would not say that we knew or any self-awareness that we were burning out. We thought well, we just must not be as good as everybody else. We must need to work harder and longer. We just couldn’t quite figure out what we were doing wrong.
Demir Bentley: Add to that, we are the insecure overachiever archetype. Not everybody is like this, but we certainly are. We learned that we needed to perform for love. We’re the kind of person that our boss never even needed to lecture us to work harder because we were always lecturing ourselves. Damn, I should’ve done better. I could do more.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, well your self-value, right, is tied up in achievement.
Demir Bentley: 100,000% tied up. I won’t even say that I’m over that. We’re definitely evolved from there, but that’s something I still, you know, that’s still deep in my DNA. There we are in New York, really putting the peddle to the metal. I have to add just one for me, not for Carey, necessarily, but for me personally. I’m also the kind of guy that’s smart but disorganized. You probably know the archetype. The kind of person who’s, I was smart enough to get into UC Berkeley but disorganized enough that I had to drop out after a year to try to get myself together because I couldn’t handle the workload. The way that I compensated was I would work 80 hours to get 40 hours of work done because I was successful in spite of my productivity, not because of it.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, see, this is the thing that no one’s ever taught. If you go back to high school, or college, or whatever, whoever teaches productivity, right? Life Hack Bootcamp is all about that, so I really do want to get into all your productivity hacks, and everything that you’ve learned along the way. I’m curious though first, to just dig deeper into this whole thing that we have, this American dream, and it is kind of like the immigrant dream, right? Where you get here and if you work hard and if you’re really good, you’ll be happy.
The belief, I guess, behind that is that there’s this destination that you arrive at. But of course, life is not like that. It’s the journey. And so, as you’re in the corporate hustle and you’re burning out, and I don’t know, what was happening to you guys. Were you starting to get sick, or were you just kind of irritable, or like are you having arguments, or what was going on?
Carey Bentley: Yeah, well, there was a combination of factors, but there were two really big main things. The first thing that happened was our bodies literally started shutting down. Within two weeks of each other, we were both hospitalized, and what we found out later was that we had stress-related illnesses. Our bodies were literally becoming chronically exhausted to the point that we were becoming ill.
Demir Bentley: Yeah, so you know you’ve got these people in Japan who literally die from overworking. I think over here we sort of look at that and say, well, how could you die from overworking? Frankly, I know exactly how because when you’re working 80, 90 hours a week, think about this, really just break this down. You’re sleeping whatever, eight, nine, ten hours a night and you’re laying down, so your body is like sort of inactive. And then, you get on the subway and you’re sitting down. You get into your midtown Manhattan office and you’re sitting down again for another 12-hour workday or whatever it is.
You might get up a couple of times in that whole time. Your body just thinks that it’s dying. It starts shutting down operations. It’s like, okay, well, this organism is done for, let’s just shut down the digestion, let’s shut down the metabolism, let’s shut down this stuff. What was happening is systems were literally going offline.
Carey Bentley: Right, so we were cutting years off of our life that way. At the same time, both of us had had really important people to us who were young, passed away. That was such an important wake-up call for us because it continually reemphasized that time is so short, and fleeting, and we are not guaranteed more of it. We started to look at ourselves and really wonder like, are we truly enjoying this journey? Is it going to get better, and like you said, are we just waiting for some magical destination that may or not arrive, or could we start creating happiness today?
Demir Bentley: So, here’s the bottom. Here’s the dead cat bounce when we hit the very bottom.
Melinda Wittstock: The dead cat bounce, right?
Demir Bentley: It’s when we came back from our doctors and his sort of doctor’s orders was you have to go from working 80, 90 hours a week to working 30 to 40 hours a week. For anybody who’s worked in New York, going to your boss and saying, “I have to start working 30 to 40 hours a week.” Is [inaudible 00:07:06 to saying, “Can you please fire me now?” For us, it felt like, remember again, children of immigrants are taught that it’s all about the grades, and the performance, always developing your self-worth from getting to the next level. For us to feel like we can’t do this anymore, and we can’t pace with the pack, felt like okay, it’s over for us. And when I say over, I don’t mean like we’re going to lay down and die, but all of our self-worth, it did feel like an ego death.
Carey Bentley: Yep, definitely. We had to take a hard look at what were our goals, what did we think success looked like, and really choose a different path because, at the end of the day, society has so much pressure over you. It wants you to do so many things, and we want to fulfill on those. You want to be successful in the eyes of other people, but if you’re not happy, you do have to choose a different way even if means that people are going to look down on you. It wasn’t like we shifted one day and then suddenly started a business together. It was over the course of about a year, I would say, a year and a half. Over the course of that year, I cannot tell you the amount of negative feedback we received, Melinda. You know, we had friends …
Melinda Wittstock: So, your friends because, well, okay, so you’re hopping off this track that everybody else is invested in and your friends by definition want to keep you there because it’s part of their own justification, even if they mean well, right?
Carey Bentley: Absolutely, they mean well, yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: They mean well, like your parents, your friends, everybody around you is coming at this too from a position of fear, whether they know it or not.
Carey Bentley: Absolutely and it’s [crosstalk 00:08:46, right?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Carey Bentley: It’s a thought that they know, and it’s safe, and it’s proven, whereas working together with your newlywed, right, I mean it’s crazy if you have people saying, “Oh, my gosh, you guys are going to break up. You should never do this. What are you doing? It’s going to sacrifice your future.” I mean, all of this is happening as we’re getting married and making the decision to travel around the world. I’m just so grateful we didn’t listen to that. I mean, obviously, we had people supporting as well. I don’t want to make it seem like it was us against the world here, but it was definitely a moment where we had to get uncomfortable and really ask ourselves what did we want and align as a couple around our personal goals.
Demir Bentley: This is a little bit, oh, go ahead, Melinda.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I just wonder how many people actually get held back at that point, where they have the same wake-up call, and the same dead cat bounce, or the realization that you guys did, but they buy into all the peer pressure around them, the society around them? Sometimes, to step out and go a different path, and to really shine, you know, risks that those aren’t going to be your friends anymore.
Carey Bentley: But, I also think it’s an interesting filter for people. I feel like that’s the first gauntlet you run. If you’re not able to run that gauntlet and push through to the other side, I don’t know that you have what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Carey Bentley: It’s like an easy road.
Melinda Wittstock: No, no. I think you’re profoundly right unless you can go against the grain, it’s very, very difficult to be an entrepreneur, because by definition you’re spotting a problem that other people haven’t spotted, and you’re coming with a solution that other people haven’t, and you’re daring to go out and fail, fail, fail, fail forward until you get it right. Okay, so that’s not for the faint-hearted.
Demir Bentley: Not at all. I think it’s also important to emphasis that we would not, I think somehow there’s this value assigned to oh, these are the people who just woke up one day and chose to change their path. No, it was only hitting bottom that forced us, we were forced to get off the path that we were on. I would still be in New York in finance if not for that doctor telling me I needed to stop.
Demir Bentley: What’s interesting is I think we talk so much about anxiety, and fear, as the ultimate enemy, but sometimes that fear and anxiety that’s inside of you can be a signal that your body, the universe, God, whatever is sending you to say like, hey, you’re not realizing your potential, or this is not the right path for you. Not to say that you’re never going to feel fear, anxiety as an entrepreneur. We feel so much fear and anxiety.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, all the time.
Demir Bentley: There’s a quality and a timber to the way that you feel when you’re overworked and you’re not realizing your purpose. It feels very like something’s wrong here. Thank God for hitting bottom. That’s all I say. Thank God that we hit bottom. It’s not because we’re better. It’s not because we’re more spiritual. It’s because we’re somehow more elevated. We just hit bottom and so I often tell people with all my heart, let yourself hit bottom. Don’t fight the bottom because like we’ve been saying, you hit that dead cat bounce, and you get that screw this energy that basically, we looked at each other, Melinda, and we just said, “Screw this. It’s not going to go down like this. We’ve got to something different.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right. What were the specific steps that you started to take, you know, from sort of the diagnosis of that, that kind of burnout, your bodies are failing, it’s depressing, it’s all that kind of stuff? What were the specific steps that you started to take to change?
Demir Bentley: This is sort of actually the funniest part of the story. I’m minorly famous on Wall Street. When I say minorly, I mean really minorly for having outsourced my entire job. What happened after my doctor told me that I needed to work 30 to 40 hours a week and I was working 80 to 90, is what do I do now? Do I quit? As a last ditch effort before quitting, I said, let me see, I just read the famous Four Hour Work Week, where he touts outsourcing, and outsource everything, and automate everything.
I hired three guys in India, and I sort of cut my job into three parts, and sort of outsourced it to them, and became a bit more a project manager in my own role. By the way, P.S., this is totally against company policy. I would have absolutely been fired immediately if anybody had found out that I was doing this.
Melinda Wittstock: This is awesome. This is so entrepreneurial, it’s great.
Demir Bentley: Within a month, I got lucky, a combination of luck in skill. It went swimmingly well and I went from working 80 hours a week to having way too much time and working eight hours a month. My new problem was I still needed to sit at my desk, so I needed to figure out ways to sit at my desk, and pretend to be doing work, even though I wasn’t doing any work at all.
Carey Bentley: It’s actually kind of hard to pretend to do work.
Demir Bentley: It’s really stressful to pretend to be doing work and you’re not doing work.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s hilarious. So, you have these guys doing this job for you, right? And they’re in India, so you’re paying them probably like a fraction of what you’re getting paid, so there’s a good profit margin in it for you, and then it becomes stressful to look like you’re working. That’s hilarious.
Carey Bentley: What I love about this too, it really opened my eyes because I was sort of the rebel [inaudible 00:14:27 one. Demir really got out there at first and just proved it was possible because I’m a little bit more skeptical and realistic, and yada, yada, so to me, it wasn’t something I was going to do to outsource my entire job. When I saw him doing it with such success, it really eliminated any excuses I had. I didn’t go right to outsource everything, but it really forced me to take a hard look at how my vacations were getting sabotaged. My bosses felt like could just call on me at any time to do whatever, even if it was at 11:30 p.m.
I really had a moment with Demir where I was telling him, “No, this is just the way it needs to be.” And he was telling me, “Well, basically then you have a completely messed up attitude toward this whole thing.” That was really the moment where I was like, okay, but what should I do? We decided that the path forward was for us to get out of our jobs entirely, and for us both to jump ship together, and take a totally different path, because that way we would both be doing something new and different, and we’d be able to design our life the way we wanted to. With the number one criteria being we wanted to spend more time together and the number two criteria being that we wanted to be able to do it from anywhere in the world because traveling was something that both of us really wanted to do.
Demir Bentley: You forgot the number three criteria, which was I think the most important, was we needed to be able to take a nap at 1:00 p.m. every single day.
Carey Bentley: Yeah.
Demir Bentley: Very important criteria.
Carey Bentley: You’re right.
Melinda Wittstock: This is very healthy. Napping is really good for you.
Carey Bentley: Oh, it’s insane. The benefits of napping, we could have a whole podcast just on napping.
Demir Bentley: Please, do not get me started on napping.
Melinda Wittstock: Okay, so you still do this, every day at 1:00 p.m., nap time, siesta for Demir and Carey.
Carey Bentley: It’s on the calendar.
Demir Bentley: It’s on the calendar. It’s funny because of course, the nap itself is just so restful and helpful, but also as a couple, I can’t tell you, you know, people will think, they look at our lifestyle and they think oh wow, you bought a house in a foreign country, and you’re traveling all the time. They look at the big glamorous things, but honestly, if I lost everything tomorrow, but could only keep like one thing, I think those 1:00 p.m. naps are so luxurious. There are these tiny luxurious that people, I think they don’t really play well on social media, but it really matters to me.
Carey Bentley: Right, like working on the couch, and taking naps, and being able to eat whenever we want during the day, little things.
Melinda Wittstock: You have both designed a business that supports your life, rather than designing a business that you’re going to basically create another job for yourself. There’s a very big difference. I see a lot of entrepreneurs go into business because they want freedom, but then they end up becoming slaves to the thing that they created. You did not fall into that trap and so, right from the get-go with Life Hack Bootcamp, did you set your own parameters? Were you very visionary about it? Did you sit there and visualize specifically what you wanted before you set out to build it? Was it kind of more a work in progress?
Carey Bentley: I would say from a lifestyle’s perspective, we had a very specific vision in mind. The number one thing we knew was that the business would serve us, not the other way around. We were willing to sacrifice even things like revenue goals. That’s one thing that I hear a lot from entrepreneurs is, “Oh, I want to hit $1-million. I want to hit multi-million, whatever.” It’s like does that really matter? What about the lifestyle elements? The truth is sometimes growing your business bigger, means that you take a massive hit on the lifestyle front.
In fact, we’ve had years where we’ve noticed, and we’ve taken a step back in the business for that very reason. That was the thing that we had clearly in mind. From a business standpoint, I don’t think anyone should have anything clearly laid out, except for, how can I be providing value, and be useful to my customer?
Demir Bentley: Can I just add to that? How can I be providing 10X value?
Carey Bentley: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Demir Bentley: I think often we’re trying to take a dollar and give a dollar back in value. That’s like being, I call it being the worst tax guy ever. If Melinda had a tax guy who’s like, “Oh, I paid him $1,000.” Melinda, how must did he give you back? “Well, $1,000.” I’d be like, that’s a crappy tax guy. I want a tax guy where I pay him $1,000 and he gets me $4,000 back on my taxes. We really have to get out there and really endeavor to not just give value, but give disproportionate value.
Carey Bentley: What I love about what that did for our business was it didn’t lock us into any specific vision about what we wanted to do, or how that value looked. It was very much we got feedback from the market. We continue and even today, testing, and learning, and changing, so that we can fit best into what’s going to be valuable for the consumer, as long as, of course, that meets our lifestyle criteria.
Melinda Wittstock: What’s so cool about what you guys do though, is that you’re sort of the best test case for your own business. Like, you’ve lived it. You’re like kind of, I don’t know, sort of like the guinea pigs in the sense that you’ve gone through this. You know what works, what works for you and so when you’re advising other couples and other entrepreneurs that go through Life Hack Bootcamp, how much of it is a one size fits all? Is it really kind of adapted? Talk to me a little bit about Life Hack Bootcamp works and how it works and provides that 10X value? Speaking of 10X, given we’re on 10X together, how does it provide that 10X value for couples, and for individual entrepreneurs?
Demir Bentley: Yeah, so I mean just to take a half step back, for those of the people who might not know exactly what we do, the mission at Life Hack Bootcamp is to show people how to get their shit together, how to get organized, so they can create the life of their dreams. On our path to lifestyle design, the number one thing that we realized is that the building block is just being able to sit down at your laptop and crush your workdays. When we think about our success and we defined our success in building a different life, it wasn’t that we went to a certain Tony Robins seminar, it wasn’t that we read a certain book, it was that we worked really freaking hard.
We had been really able to systemize and leverage technology, and tools, and technique to get 10 times more done than the competition. Frequently, people think that our company is five or six times as big as it is because we’re projecting that kind of productivity into the market. At the end of the day, our number one philosophy is that we want to show people how to become their best self in front of their laptop, so that they can get ten times more done than the next person so that they can create the life that they want. Productivity divorced from lifestyle design is an abomination.
Carey Bentley: Yeah, it’s just nerds trying to save a few seconds on keyboard strokes, which has no value to anybody.
Melinda Wittstock: I get it. Yeah, thank you for explaining that. That’s very important.
Demir Bentley: Yeah, so I would say our workhorse product that we’re most famous for is we take people into an eight-week boot camp where we strip down their productivity to zero and rebuild it back to superhuman Robocop, iron man levels, were you’re shooting laser beams out of your eyes. Your question was, is it one size fits all? The answer is more than you would think, although, the consumer doesn’t like to hear that. Everybody wants to feel like they’re a precious snowflake, but the truth is that there isn’t 100,000 different ways to be productive. There are principles, frankly, going all way back to Aristotle, core principles that Carey and I didn’t invent, that have been discovered slowly over time, and have really rapidly accelerator in the last 30 years.
Those ideas have been out there. What we do, we just bring it together in a format where people can take it like an injection. I know that sounds like a weird analogy, but people don’t have time to become an expert in productivity. They’re trying to be an expert in their podcast, or they’re trying to be an expert in their business. They don’t have time to somehow now go and research everything and come up with their own productivity philosophy. What we do is we say, “Let us take care of that for you.” We do a little bit of customization on the top of it through one on one coaching.
Carey Bentley: Right, and part of the value I think is that people don’t see at first in our 60-day breakthrough boot camp, is actually that productivity can be so emotional. It’s tied to things like our self-worth, and at our very core see ourselves as being. One of the things that the boot camp does really well is it helps you identify what those things are and helps you create a rational system for working within those core values so that you can still become super productive, even if you have a mindset that’s kind of working against you.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s interesting. Is that kind of like people who think they’re only, yeah, you’re only valuable if you’re working hard, you’re on that kind of task treadmill I call it, I call it? You know, where you running faster and faster and faster in place, and you’re getting kind of dopamine hits because you’re ticking things off the list, or whatever. Psychologically, you feel good like you’re doing something good for the world, when in actual fact, either you’re not really necessary for the hard work, having the results, because hard work doesn’t necessarily correlate directly to the results.
You might be running and faster and faster in place toward a goal that’s not even your own goal. There are all kinds of things, but you’re getting that kind of physiological hit that’s making you feel valuable or making you feel like oh, look at me, it’s like a martyr complex almost. It’s all that kind of stuff. You have to kind of like I guess, undo that phycology.
Carey Bentley: Totally.
Demir Bentley: Actually, to be the decanting, there is this chicken and the egg, where it’s like to I have to, I think very much in our current personal development paradigm, the idea is Melinda, fix how you feel about yourself, and then take action, and then all of the action will be correct. We tend to come at it from an opposite side, which is when you’re taking right action, and you’re actually almost proving those internal doubts wrong every single day, it becomes easier and easier to shift your [inaudible 00:24:58 self-conception.
Carey Bentley: Definitely. I’ll give you a super common example, that what Melinda said made me think of is that for people who are hard workers, you tend to be getting a lot done, but you tend to also not be getting the right things done. You might have the feeling that other people are getting promoted ahead of you, or that you’re working super hard, but not being recognized for all your hard work. That’s probably because you actually aren’t doing anything that valuable. You can contrast that somebody who every single week focuses just on getting their number one thing done.
It’s probably the thing that they’re avoiding, and procrastinating on, and it’s creative, and it requires a lot of mental energy, and no one’s breathing down your neck to get it done, but it still is the most important thing to get done. I guarantee you that person is going to end the week having done less, in terms of an actual number of things, but because they did the most important thing, they’ve actually taken a step forward now instead of remaining on the hamster wheel.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, now they have leverage. I mean that’s all about leverage. I had a really funny thing and I knew better several weeks ago and I had this kind of list, and usually what I do is I have a list of intentions of things that I, you know, what’s my intention for the week? What’s my intention for the day? How can I act on inspiration and alignment? What are the things that once achieve will provide me the most leverage in my business? I do that, rather than tasks. But, this particular week, I think I fell back into an old way. I was doing number two, number three, number four, I was doing everything but number one.
What was really curious, about halfway through the week, I realized I was blocked on two, three, four. Whatever I did, I was just blocked. I wasn’t in flow on those things. The minute I had focused on number one, two, three, four, five, six all resolved themselves. It was kind of the weirdest thing that happened. I’m like, wow, that is kind of cool that that’s actually what happened.
Demir Bentley: Productivity really happens in the six inches between our ears. We have the media, especially a whole category inside [inaudible 00:27:07 productivity. When people are trying to get your attention on social media, or the news, they will put out like, “Oh, this new productivity app came out and look at all this nifty stuff that it does.” We’ve really been led to believe that productivity is happening outside of us. It’s the technology, it a process. Technology is fundamentally happening, or I should I say productivity, should say, is fundamentally happening inside of us. I think we really lost sight of that, of the idea that productivity can be aided by technology, be magnified by technology, but it is a human internal process.
Carey Bentley: Yep, absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: I think that is so interesting. What I’m really curious about is, do you mind taking us all through your day, like your average day? How you organize your week, how you organize your day, and specifically we know about the naps, how does the rest of it work?
Demir Bentley: You know, the truth is, is that one of the core philosophies that we teach in a boot camp is that the further ahead that you can get, from anything, the more power you have over it. I’ll just give you a quick example. If you knew today that, or if you knew at ten years old that you had a higher chance of getting cancer, you could take a ton of actions between and 50 to live a different lifestyle, not smoke, eat a different diet, put yourself out of harm’s way, right? It wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that you wouldn’t get cancer, but you could exercise so much more control over that outcome.
Now, if you hear from your doctor tomorrow that you have cancer, the option set that you have, is vastly, vastly limited in terms of fighting that, and in terms of preventing it. When you zoom that philosophy down to the week and the day level, it means that everybody’s week needs to start with pre-planning. Every single person’s week needs to start pre-planning. This is something that everybody knows, nobody does. Our week fundamentally starts at our favorite bistro on Sunday’s. We take a leisurely two and a half hour process, where we take our dog to the local bistro. The whole staff knows our name. They give us this private booth.
We open up our laptops and we will spend two and a half hours pre-planning our week. That sounds really glamorous, but let me just be super clear. Pre-planning is really accelerating all of the negative emotions in your week into a two-and-a-half-hour period.
Carey Bentley: Right and by the way, our week starts on Sundays and so we take Friday’s and Saturday’s off.
Demir Bentley: The point being here is all of the collisions that were going to happen in the week, you’re accelerating that into Sunday. All of the conflicts that Carey and I might have over, oh, aren’t you going to take the dog to the vet? No, I thought you were going to do it. Instead of those happening slowly over time, it’s like a slow-motion train wreck over the week, we accelerate it all into a two and a half hour conversation work session, and this is why we do it a really nice bistro, is to really soften that blow, and create a reward, and an incentive to do this together.
Carey Bentley: Yeah and I think about it as matching up what is a reality with your expectations because the number one thing that I think our clients make a mistake about is that they have an expectation for the week and then they’re very disappointed when it doesn’t match what actually is real about that week. The vet appointment was always in the calendar, just because you didn’t realize it wasn’t in the calendar, doesn’t mean it wasn’t going to happen. Getting real with that, getting honest, and figuring out the details of your schedule in that sort of logistical way, has been transformative. We call this land mining, where we’re identifying potential land mines that are going to go off in our week and we’re defusing them before the week.
Demir Bentley: Yeah, disarming them.
Carey Bentley: Yeah, we’re disarming them before the week even gets started.
Demir Bentley: That’s not to say that there’s no conflict there, right? There’s still this conversation that has to happen between Carey and I. Well, are you going to take the dog to the vet, or am I? Imagine how much more civil that conversation is on Sunday, you know, four or five days before this has to happen, rather than right in the moment, right before the vet appointment. Carey’s scheduled a call. I’ve scheduled a call, now we have a fight over who needs to reschedule their call, and take the hit in their credibility in order to take the dog to the vet?
Although, you’re really accelerating those difficult conversations, and those difficult land mining process, into Sunday, it is by far a fraction of the pain that you would experience if you let those go off in your week.
Carey Bentley: So then what happens the rest of the week, is we just shift into execution mode, for the most part. We’ve planned very thoroughly on Sunday, then during the week we have different theme days for what we’re doing during that day, so we tend to do calls all day on Wednesday and Thursday, but then on Monday and Tuesday, that’s reserved for deep work, so notice that’s the start of our week. We want to get our most important stuff done right away at the start, so that includes things like creating content, and doing whatever we need to do for the business, really, for moving the ball forward in the business.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that’s interesting, actually, beginning of the week doing the thing that’s going to have, I guess, do you look at it in terms of the thing that’s going to have the most leverage, the thing that’s going to advance you the most?
Demir Bentley: Absolutely. I think the best book of 2017 for productivity was Calvin Newport’s Deep Work. You’ll hear that deep work, shallow work is really more and more you’re going to hear that coming out. This destination between the deep work, which is the work that truly is leveraged and moves your business forward. I like to say, shallow work is what keeps you from getting fired. It’s what keeps your clients from firing you. Deep work is what’s going to give you that next new client. It’s going to get you that new opportunity. We used to have our deep work on Thursday and Friday, or sorry, Wednesday and Thursday, which was our Thursday and Friday for our week. What we find is, with were depleted mentally and emotionally by that time.
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Demir Bentley: We realized that we weren’t reserving our best cognitive reserves for that work, so we flipped it. We do deep work on Monday and Tuesday, and then we do our shallow work on Wednesday and Thursday.
Melinda Wittstock: See, that makes so much sense. I find that my weeks are revolving that way as well. Sunday’s are turning into very much an intentional week where I do a lot of my deeper thinking, I guess, about the business, and you know, setting intentions, really looking at the week, looking at the day, but looking at the quarter, you know, looking at all these different things, right? Doing a lot of visualization, a lot of meditation, I just find that I have the biggest breakthroughs in my business when I’m not working.
It’s always, there’s a macro always going on in my mind, like I think most entrepreneurs have that, but I’m out walking the dog, or if I’m lying on a beach, or if I’m doing something with my kids, that’s when I have my best ideas. If I sit down, like okay, it’s now it’s time to work, I’m going to be more likely to head straight into the busy work. I mean is that kind of like a normal thing?
Demir Bentley: This actually sort of stumbles into there’s almost like what’s your ideal week? What’s your ideal month? What’s almost like your ideals sort of annual schedule? Well, every month we plan a three-day weekend. This is one of those tips that we tell everybody to do. I mean, it is really not something that’s out of the reach of any ordinary person. It’s just to say, look at your vacation days and once a month, take one of your vacation days, and slap together so that you have a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Get yourself some childcare if you can and get yourself out of your context. Maybe take a ‘staycation’, and really give yourself a nice three-day weekend break.
What’s funny for us is we still have that go, go mentality. We still push it hard on the mat. When we’re working, we work hard. It’s easy for us to overwork. That three day weekend every month is that reset point, where we can actually step away from our context, and 99.9% of the time, the second we get rested and relaxed, a solution, an idea, a new product idea comes into our brain, and those are always the ones that really move our business forward.
Carey Bentley: Yeah, it’s what happens when you’re relaxed. This is what you hit on Melinda when you mentioned like walking the dog or something, but often for people who are busy, and working hard, they need a little bit of a longer time period just to let their brains shift into a different place. That’s absolutely true for us. It doesn’t take long. It doesn’t take a week. People talk about like, oh, I just need to take a whole week off and sit on the beach. No, you really don’t. You just need as much as 24 hours where you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, and you don’t have anything to do except for lounge in a hot tub.
Demir Bentley: I would say actually weeklong vacations for overachievers are dangerous because what’s going to happen is you’re going to plan a tour of Italy where you’re seeing 16 cities in eight days. That’s something overachievers do is they tend to make their vacations more exhausting than their workdays.
Melinda Wittstock: I think that’s true and you guys offer so many really amazing tips for entrepreneurs and not just couples, but really for everybody. Is there anything different or special for a couple though to keep the balance right between romance, and work? When you’re in it with your company, it can be all encompassing, so how do you two work the boundaries between what’s business, and what’s romance?
Demir Bentley: It’s interesting because I read a study that had actually analyzed couples who were either going through or getting a divorce and it had looked at the map of their house and they had given the man and the woman a map of the house and told them to draw in different colors, okay, this is my area, this is his area, and this is the shared area. They noticed that the couples that had the highest levels of conflict also had the biggest misconceptions about what was personal space and what was shared space.
And so, that inspired us to actually create a little bit more of an abstract concept in our business where what we did was we created a list of all the roles and the responsibilities that had to happen in our business, marketing, sales, coaching, curriculum, finance, hiring, operations. We created that whole list and then we auctioned it off. I said, okay, you know we started at the top of the list. What do I want to do the most and that was coaching and curriculum. Well, what does Carey want to do the most, and that was operations and finance. And then, we started working down that list and as you get toward the bottom of the list, it’s sort of like oh well, Carey really hates, but I don’t mind it, so I’ll take it.
And then, you get to the very, very, very bottom where we both hate and then the question is who hates it less? We auctioned all of those off and made a very, very simple rule, which is if you’re finance captain, it is not a democracy here, you get veto power over finance decisions.
Carey Bentley: Yeah, it’s your decision. I would say we also, a really key point, is we did the same thing for all of the jobs in our personal life because there’s things like taking out the trash, and doing the dishes, and cleaning the house, and all of these things that usually because so much conflict with married couples, that we just decided we would auction off the roles, and there would never be a question about. Demir always had trash duties. When the trash was full, I had permission to go to him and be like, “Take out the trash.” And he couldn’t come back and me and be like, “Why are you nagging me all the time?”
Demir Bentley: Or, even like [inaudible 00:39:59, you know, there’s a little bit of a bank book that we keep in a marriage of like, well, I’ve taken it out five times, and you’ve only taken it out two times. It actually simplifies that by just simply saying, it doesn’t matter how many times you took it out, trash is 100% always your responsibility. You can even little fun rules like if we’re both in bed and somebody needs to get out of bed to do something, that person is always going to be me. I don’t even know what you would call that, but I always am the one who will get out of bed. There’s no negotiation, or conflict around it. We took that principle through our personal life and all the way into our business life and I have to say that one small move, I think has created the most harmony.
Carey Bentley: Right, because the problem with being in a couple and working a job together or running a business together, is that if you disagree about something, there’s no one who’s going to break the tie. There’s no one who’s going to help you make that decision, so at the end of the day, it has to be somebody’s particular responsibility. You can’t just be arguing the whole day trying to convince each other about some things. Someone needs to be able to make decisions.
Demir Bentley: The fights get so much more passionate, don’t they too because, in your mind, you’re thinking, I’m saving you from an embarrassing mistake. Can’t you see that I’m trying to help you save yourself because in mind, of course, you’re right and they’re wrong? You really have to give yourself that space to say, “You know, this is Carey’s decision and she gets to make it even if it’s going to be a colossal failure or a mistake.” Of course, rewind the tape, after five years, all of the things that I thought were going to be a colossal mistake, that were going to blow up in our face, I cannot remember one example where it actually blew up. Me, just letting that go, and saying, okay, I give Carey the space to make a mistake, as it turns out, I was the one who was wrong, not Carey.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, right, right. It always comes down to really good communication in any relationship, like when you’re running a business, or in your own relationship, like getting that communication right, understanding what you’re going to do, you know, if something’s not working, or whatever. It’s constantly, kind of evolving thing. How have you two, has the communication part always been easy for you, or is something that you had to work at and figure what your rules of engagement were in a way?
Demir Bentley: You know, communication doesn’t feel right. That work doesn’t feel right just in our context. Can I modify and just say protocols.
Melinda Wittstock: Protocols, okay.
Demir Bentley: We feel like if you’re winging it … There are times that you’re encountering a situation that you’ve never encountered before, but most scenarios in your business in your life, are scenarios that you could’ve either foreseen or you’ve encountered many times before. For us, it’s very much about having protocols, having roles, and responsibilities delineated, frankly, so that we don’t have to communicate. I feel like communication is often times a euphemism for let’s fight this out. Let’s duke this out right now. Let’s talk this out right now. Especially, when stress is high, and when the bullets are flying, you don’t want to have to talk. We want to have that team understanding that the Navy Seals have that when they’re moving into a battle zone, that they don’t even have to speak.
Carey Bentley: Right.
Demir Bentley: They can read each other’s body language and follow protocols.
Carey Bentley: Exactly. People constantly comment, even people who have just met us, they always say the same thing, which is, “Wow, you guys just seem to be such a great team.” There’s a reason for that, it’s because it’s more like a game. Somebody told me once that when we first got married that it’s like one person was handed the rulebook for playing checkers and the other person was handed the rule book for playing chest. And then, you guys are wondering why the other person isn’t playing the game right, it’s because you guys were born and bred with two completely separate rules of the road. It was really just coming together and creating our own unique rules for the road that’s enabled us to just live in harmony, honestly. We don’t have to communicate so much.
Demir Bentley: Often, we really don’t, we don’t communicate a lot in the sense if communication is a euphemism for smoothing out conflict, we don’t actually do that a lot because we don’t get in conflict a lot. Mostly because we went through great pains in the beginning of our relationship to iron out our sort of shared rules of the road in our protocols.
Melinda Wittstock: When you look at your lives, going forward for the next ten years or so, what are some of the big milestones, or things that you want to achieve? Where do you see yourselves going or being ten years from now? What’s the big vision?
Carey Bentley: I mean, for me, it’s just continuing to push the edges of our lifestyle design. We already live abroad. We live in Columbia and we’ve created a completely different life for ourselves and we wouldn’t be able to have back in New York, or Los Angeles. We just bought a huge apartment here that we never would’ve been able to buy and we have the kind of services like a live-in maid and cook that I mean, that’s out of the question in the US.
Melinda Wittstock: Columbia is so beautiful. I was in Cartagena, earlier this year. It’s just such a gorgeous place. Whereabouts are you?
Carey Bentley: We’re in Medellín, so it’s the city of eternal spring, which also means that the weather is perfect year round. It’s consistently, I think it’s 72- or 73-degrees Fahrenheit, and so we’ve made a lot of lifestyle decisions already to really optimize that. We want to push it even further. Our next big goal is really around financial freedom, and feeling like we can just have the amount of money in the bank that we need for the rest of our lives.
Demir Bentley: And so, of course, we’re going to move into having a family. It’s so funny, I feel like our life has been this series of people saying, “Well, you just can’t live like that.” And then living like that. The next one that I’m really excited about tackling is people sort of saying, “Well, you know, when you have kids, you’re just going to get fat and [crosstalk 00:46:10.” I’m excited about taking on that challenge. I can’t even say that I guarantee that we won’t get fat, or any of that stuff won’t happen. I’m excited about finding our own rules and our own way of doing it.
Our commitment in the next ten years is to live the biggest most exciting life that we can live, and show that to people, and let that be a confrontation to them. Instead of coming to people and saying, “You’re not living your life right.” Or, “You could be living better.” We never want to whack our finger at people, but we do want to live that big life and let that be a confrontation in and of itself to people so that when they see us, they just think naturally to themselves, man, maybe I can be a little bit different.
Melinda Wittstock: Right and I was just thinking and I got little goose bumps of thinking about your family and your kids because you will be laying the groundwork for them that, oh my goodness, wouldn’t it be wonderful if kids really grew up knowing what you two have discovered right from the get-go without having to unlearn stuff, without having to, right?
Carey Bentley: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, because I think there’s a really interesting purposeful way and there are so many entrepreneurs now that are really looking at how to parent in a way that allows their kids to really, from the get-go learn things about mindset, about productivity, about how to be in flow, how to set intentions, how to be living an intentional life. To have the canvas there with the knowledge that you have to kind of do that, and step into that as parents, is a truly beautiful thing. I can see you both doing that.
Carey Bentley: Thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I just want to thank you both for taking the time to really share so openly about how you arrived where you did, and provide so much value on this podcast that I think others can emulate. I want to give you both the chance to shout out for your business. How can people find you and work with you with Life Hack, excuse me sorry? How can people find you and work with you on Life Hack Bootcamp?
Carey Bentley: Yeah, I would say the number place to go right now is our website, so lifebackbootcamp.com that has all sorts of information about what we do. It has free resources that you can get started with right away. It has our personal emails, and social accounts linked right in there, so it is a wealth of information.
Carey Bentley: Thanks so much for having us.
Demir Bentley: Thanks, Melinda.