Omar M. Khateeb is the Director of Growth Marketing & Branding at Potrero Medical, a VC-funded medical tech startup based in San Francisco. He’s best known on LinkedIn for reading one book per week and sharing lessons learned in video format with his followers. Omar is a speaker at conferences around the country on the topics of marketing, growth, and customer acquisition with a special focus on the medical sector. Let’s hear more from him in this episode of Productivity Masterminds.
- Make your bed in the morning. This gets you in the routine of accomplishing one task before you even start your day. Furthermore, it puts yourself in a positive state within your mind so that way it carries over into the rest of the things that you do throughout the day and therefore you are more productive.
- Take 5 to 15 minutes to meditate. The reason why people lose time, is not because they’re not efficient enough, it’s because they have too many things going on in their head at once.
- You got to get really good at saying no. Have boundaries that are well-defined and based on that decide what you want to engage with, what routine you want to have and which information and explosion of things that you’re going to encounter throughout the day. Understanding what your interests are and what you’re driving to will allow you to say “no” to a lot of things.
- Don’t put it all in your head, put it somewhere else. Make Lists and get things out of your head. Whether you use some online tool or just a notebook to help you get things off your mind.
- Framework to optimize your time: capture, direct, curate.
- Capture: capture all the things that need to be done (next day, week, month) in a very logical system
- Direct: direct yourself to make front-end decisions
- Curate: Ask yourself: is this related to my long-term goals? And then decide whether you take action or not.
- One tip to save you a LOT of time. Check your emails at the top of the hour and don’t open those emails, look at the subject lines and based on that, ask yourself a yes or no question which is, ‘can I answer this in two minutes?’ If the answer’s yes, open it and knock it out. If you can’t, leave it.
Omar Mazin Khateeb: [01:22] Thank you Juan for having me on. I was very excited to join.
Juan: [01:26] Thank you so much for coming on the show, Omar, and so what’s really exciting about having you on the show Omar, you’re growing a personal brand as well on top of all of the ventures you’re doing with marketing, customer acquisition. You’re kind of a funny mix really of like biology, like left brain discipline mentality with creative marketing, copy and what you, what you’ve done, that’s been super impressive, you were reading a book a week and sharing your knowledge with your LinkedIn community and now have grown to be a LinkedIn, a sort of influencer as well in that space along with growing your own LinkedIn group, now with your company and you’re juggling so many projects at the same time. What are you like? You certainly know something about time that most people don’t. What is that? What helps you be productive and actually categorize all of these tasks and know what to do?
Omar Mazin Khateeb: [02:14] Yeah, no, absolutely. I think, you know, from the outside, it definitely looks like there’s many things going on and a lot of people have even asked do I have an assistant or a team and I don’t have any of those. I would love to have those one day.
It is actually possible to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control.
To be honest with you, it’s a great way to live and work, you know, when you’re very elevated in terms of the levels of effect, is it effectiveness and efficiency that you have, but there is a way to get there.
Juan: [02:51] How do you do that? Do you have like a paradigm, a framework for optimizing your time?
Omar Mazin Khateeb: [02:55] Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Um, you know, the first thing, and this might surprise some people, the first thing I really recommend is, you know, starting your mornings off really well and in terms of productivity, this isn’t really time-based, but this is really effectiveness. So what I mean by that, my routine is this, you know, try and go to bed at the same time and wake up early, you know, waking up really early in the morning, if there’s one thing you can find from most productive people, successful people in the world, majority of them, they wake up well ahead of time from people, and as you get older, you really require less and less sleep. If you’re in your twenties, I recommend get getting good sleep, seven to eight hours. For me, I’m 32 and I’m managing pretty good on six to seven hours, but I wake up every morning at the same time at 5:30 AM, so get you know, get that routine down. So it’s clockwork, right?
Once you wake up, you know, I always make my bed, that way it gets me in the routine of accomplishing one task before I even start my day.
Now a lot of people, they argue, ‘why? How does this help productivity?’ The idea is that you want to put yourself in a positive state within your mind, so that way it carries over into the rest of the things that you do throughout the day. You know, after I’d make my bed, I take five to 10 or 15 minutes to meditate.
The reason why is that a lot of productivity, when you think about it, the reason why people lose time, it’s not because they’re not efficient enough, it’s because they have too many things going on in their head at once.
So, the ability to have absolute clarity and more importantly, when you sit down to do something, you are focused on that one task that you’re doing and that requires know training on a daily basis. To kind of touch a little bit more on that one, and I definitely have some tools and frameworks to recommend to people, but you know, I can’t emphasize enough that, you know, right now the one mistake I see a lot of young professionals make is that work and cognitive boundaries or boundaries in their minds are really ambiguous and not very well-defined. And unfortunately, so are time and space, you know, from which within we work in, you know, and the reason why I mentioned that is that if you don’t have these boundaries set up in place, you don’t have rules and boundaries based on what you’re going to engage with a longing, and that’s not just your routine, this is also based on the continual flow of information and explosion of things that you’re going to encounter throughout the day. So for one, having an understanding of what your interests are and what you’re driving to will allow you to say ‘no’ to a lot of things. I think it’s Warren Buffet that says that, that ‘you got to get really good at saying no,’ I mean you’re a very high-functioning individual as well, but I know that there’s certain things I wanna accomplish will say ‘no’ to because it is not in line with what you want, correct?
Juan: [05:42] Totally. Yeah, totally. And you’re touching on some points that are backed by really big-leading figures. You’re talking about Warren Buffett. Oh my gosh. Like a Steve Jobs, he would always wear the same clothes every day just so that he would have more, kind of energy allotted to making for the rest of the day and not stressing out on things. So he was like opting out of making decisions early in the day. There is a video that was going viral a little bit ago on gold cast. I think it was a Tedx talk from an ex navy seals who was giving his advice for top performers. And he basically said, ‘my best advice is: make your bed in the morning. First thing you do every day.’ And everyone laughed and he’s like, ‘I’m serious. You start with victories, you start with routine and you start holding yourself accountable to the fact that you’re not a victim to how your day is going to unfold, you actually start by leading and start by taking the victories and little by little.’ If you start making this habit and start having that predictable, like you’re saying, when you wake up, when you go to bed, everything else starts falling in shape of that. But, if you’re not intentional about organizing these things ahead of time, you will always just be a victim to whether or not someone picked you, whether or not whatever had your attention that day, and it all starts by forming these habits, these nonnegotiable habits. Well, yeah, nonnegotiable habits essentially that are start leading and taking shape for the rest of the day. They start setting the tone. So, totally agree with what you’re saying. Can you walk me a little bit through what the last thing where you left off is what you say ‘no’ to? How do you actually categorize, and do you have any criteria for what makes it into your list of things that you do say yes to?
Omar Mazin Khateeb: [07:22] Absolutely. And I have, you know, I’ve thought about this, I wanted to give very simple framework to it. So, before I answer the question, let me just prep everyone’s mind with that framework, and it’s going to be captured direct and curated and I’ll walk you guys through that. But, in terms of what you say no to. So if you look at what I’m doing now, it’s all related. So, the mistake that a lot of people make our age, is that they try and do too many things at once, unrelated things. So for me, you know, think of it like design thinking, what is it for and who is it for me, Omar Khateeb, what is this for? Medical devices and medical technologies. Do I do other things? Yeah, absolutely. But I go a thousand miles deep in medical device technology, especially disruptive ones. So, my name is attached to it. What is it for? Omar Khateeb is for startups, companies that want to take new products to market, that’s what it’s for. Based on that, I go very deep specifically on marketing and if you look at some of the books I read, vast majority of them go laterally into things such as psychology, efficiency, a storytelling history, all these things that relate to that and so what, you know from an outsider’s perspective, it might seem like it’s covering a lot of different things all at once, but they’re all related in some way, shape or form. Peter Drucker, who’s a world famous management consultant, talks about this is that have one focus, but at the on the side, have something that’s a little related, maybe even unrelated as a hobby because that’ll set you up for your later part of your career. For me, it started off in medicine, but while I was in medical school in relation to medicine, I studied psychology and a little marketing because I thought one day I’ll open a medical practice. I didn’t end up finishing, I wanted to leave to go to business and so the things that were my hobby that were kind of related, turned out to be my career now, which is implementing marketing and psychology. Now, do I get questions or, or do I get approached for other things? Absolutely. But, you have to be able to say no, and as you and I both know since we’ve lived here in Silicon Valley, there’s a lot of shiny things to distract us and for us to say ‘yes,’ to you got to say ‘no.’ So, and real quick, I’ll walk you through that framework that I mentioned, and this is something that I try and always approach.
I can’t emphasize the importance of really making lists and get things out of your head, whether you use something like Trello or Evernote, for example, or even Google calendar, you know, use these things as tools to help get things off your mind, declutter your mind, don’t put it all in your head, put it somewhere else.
So real quick, if we look at the three things I mentioned: capture, direct, and curate. So, capture: that goes back to using the tool like Google calendar, any calendar, Evernote, something. You want to capture all the things that might need to be done in a very logical system, which is simple as what needs to be done today, this week, one month, six months from now, a year from now off your mind in somewhere where it needs to be put. Number two, we want to talk about direct. Okay? So direct yourself to make front-end decisions. [10:35] And when I say about front-end decisions, simple as this: people are slaves to their emails, right? Here’s a simple trick, I’m going to save a lot of people time because I checked my email maybe a few times a day.
Check it at the top of the hour and don’t open those emails, look at the subject lines and based on that, ask yourself a yes or no question which is, ‘can I answer this in two minutes?’ If the answer’s yes, open it and knock it out. If you can’t, leave it.
And what young managers have the issue of doing is you have to let some plates fall and break because somebody will actually pick up the slack and answer the question or take care of whatever is that is in that email.
If you condition your mind to have the behavior of answering every email as it comes in because you’re trying to impress people with your responsiveness, you are going to become a slave to time and you’re conditioning other people to expect you to respond fast.
That’s how you end up staying very late up at late at night answering emails just to impress people with your responsiveness, it’s a terrible system, it’s a great way to make yourself miserable. If you’re able to set up these things, and this goes back to what we talked about, which is what to say ‘no’ to, you can start to implement processes or just renegotiate these things at the moment they happen. Very last thing, which is curate. You know it, it relates to how you want to direct yourself on making these front-end decisions, curating, coordinate all this content so you utilize different styles of recognition such as you know, two-minute drill of looking at emails and deciding yes or no to them, or if somebody approaches you, let’s say for a speaking engagement or some kind of venture.
Ask yourself, is ‘this related to my long-term goals?’ If you want to be, let’s say, the world’s greatest marketer, ‘will this get me closer or farther away from that?’
The same thing with if you want to look at food, food either kills you or makes you healthier, so if you look at food that way becomes very easy to say, ‘should I eat this? Yes or no?’
Juan: If you look at, it’s basically categorizing. You constantly have to be in the habit of, ‘is this good for me as a bad for me? Does this help me make better use of my time or worst use of my time? Is this a good opportunity or a bad opportunity?’ And it’s not really that great of an area and not everything is like, ‘oh, it’s, it’s a spectrum,’ you have to just get good at ‘it’s good, it’s bad,’ if it’s 51 percent bad, it’s bad. That’s going to help you declutter like you’re saying, your inbox and your mind much quicker, if you just set up some rules for yourself, essentially.
Omar Mazin Khateeb: 100 percent and the more binary you look at it, the faster you’ll be able to make decisions. This is why if he emails ceos, their emails are usually one or two sentences long, yes or no, but that’s how you start operating at a very high level and yeah, is it fun to make black or white decisions about things such as like, ‘should I go to dinner like with a family member on this night?’
Life isn’t supposed to be easy, but if you want to get paid more money, if you want to be more successful, you want to be given higher responsibility, you have to make quick decisions and be very clear about it and honest with yourself.
This kind of goes all back to what I mentioned earlier, which is declutter your mind and getting things off your mind. The reason why things are on your mind is that you haven’t clarified what your intended outcome is, you haven’t decided on the next step and you haven’t put reminders of that outcome or the action that’s required. This is why people are always like, ‘oh, next productivity tool, et cetera.
The number one productivity tool is your mind and learning how to train it.
Juan: No, I love this, this is awesome.
Omar Mazin Khateeb: A quick note on this, and this is where, because I know who’s listening to this podcast, ambitious, high-performing entrepreneurs, listen carefully when I say this: using a calendar, doing these things, you do not want to treat yourself like a master/slave relationship. It’s a bad way to start. You have your mind, which will come up with these solutions, but you’re dealing with your brain, which is like a primitive animal. You don’t want to just punish your brain and just say, ‘we’re going to do like the 50 things for the next three or four hours.’
Think of it like, you know, like an award system. Okay, ‘I’m going to wake up early, I’m going to make my bed, but then I’ll have this interesting thing to do afterwards.’ You know, the reason why a lot of people don’t stick to schedules or productivity is that they treat themselves, you know, like a master/slave relationship.
Not a good way to go.
Juan: [15:15] Well, there you have it. Omar is a top performer, top professional, dedicated to that relentless pursuit of excellence. His top habits for success are: being intentional about your time, making sure that you’re decluttering anything that might be stressing you out by putting it on a Google calendar, on a Trello board, whatever it is for you to treat yourself more like a creative mind and not having that master/slave mentality of controlling yourself by the minute, making sure that you’re categorizing things on a ‘heck yeah, heck no, I don’t want to do this through training,’ being a lifelong learner and understanding yourself better to increase the speed in which you make decisions and being able to see things through to the end. Omar, thank you so much for coming on the show. What is the best way for people to stay in touch with you and learn more about your career as you continue to grow?
Omar Mazin Khateeb: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can look me up as Omar M, as in Mary, Khateeb and I’ll give you a link for the show notes and then I highly recommend for those who are marketers and interested in medical technologies, follow portrero medical on their LinkedIn. We’re going to be doing a lot of exciting things and we actually are launching a podcast with some very impressive people in tech. Definitely will want to catch that.
Juan: [16:30] Perfect. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Omar.
Omar Mazin Khateeb: [16:33] Thank you very much, Juan, I appreciate you having me onboard.