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Project 5K Podcast: Focusing, Motivation, and Working harder vs Working Smarter with Manu Goswami (1/4)

Never miss out an opportunity because you think it’s too far out of your reach or you think it will never work. Near the end of March this year I decided to reach out to Manu Goswami, a man I look up to for advice on for getting started and focusing on the pain points that really matter.

For those of you who don’t know Swish, he is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, and a venture capitalist he is also a recipient of Canada’s Top 20 under 20 award.


Time management is busy, double-edged sword, and Manu knows it. His thesis is that you have to be laser focused and passionate about 2-3 things in your life.

Simply put, if you are passionate and in love with something, then you will be able the make time to do it.
Swish also makes a point of highlighting that really, you have plenty of time. All that it takes is to watch fewer movies, take a break from going out with your friends, get off social media for a bit. If you are really excited about something, then you need to figure out how to make time for that thing.

At the end of the day, Swish points out that it’s all a matter of priorities. While this may be really different for different people, for Swish, school is currently not his priority. Of course, he still wants to graduate, but he always asks himself “what matters to me?”

So the example he gives is a research paper. If it’s due the next day, then he is going to work on it (turns out even Swish procrastinates school work, there’s hope for the rest of us). But if has a lot of other stuff like emails, interviews, etc. then if that paper is not due tomorrow, those items take priority, because they are infinitely more important to him compared to his school work.

What’s the takeaway? If you are struggling to manage some of your time, then you should really start questioning some of your current activities. You need to set priorities, cut out some of the stuff you don’t enjoy doing, and take it easy on the Netflix.

Work ethic comes to mind. I know that one of your idols is Gary Vaynerchuk, and one of this mantras is “go hustle and get it done”. Can you talk more about Gary V?

As a little bit of background, Manu has actually met Gary V. in person before, and he calls it one of the best moments of his life. You can find the blog post on his website here.

One thing that Manu brings up is that GV’s #1 regret was that he didn’t document his own entrepreneurial journey. So what both GV and Manu advise is that you should document your journey, whether through a podcast, video, articles, whatever you do, you can look back and see how it happened.

One day you can look back at yourself and say “Man, those were incredible moments!”
That’s one idea of GV that Swish really likes. One idea that Manu really disagrees with is the idea of needing to hustle 24/7.

He points out that even he (you know top 20 under 20, serial entrepreneur) doesn’t actually end up working and hustling for every waking moment of his life. In fact, in a very important idea, Manu wants us to make the distinction between being busy versus being productive. Too many people think they are the same thing.
Manu is always meeting people who pull up their calendar and brag about how busy they are, and how much they have to do.

To them Manu has a few choice words:
“Yo, screw you.”

A filled up; busy calendar doesn’t mean much. More than anything, it means that you are doing a lot of extra and pointless work that has nothing with where you want to go. It all comes down to being focused.
Work smarter, not harder.

How do you specifically work smarter rather than harder?

Before going into what Manu says, it’s important to realize that this advice might not apply to everyone, but see if there are a few thing you can personally take away from this.

To quote Manu, “you need to be hacking conventional sources.” To try and interpret what he said, that means trying to optimize a few common sources of work or things that cause you to be productive.

For example, if you have too many emails, work around the pain of getting so many emails by just starting a new email account and only giving that email to the most important people.

There are a lot of repetitive tasks that exist too, and Manu wants to point out that you can find the right technology to supplement your work and make yourself more efficient. He uses Office 365 to manage emails, tasks, and “organize his life” in general. Something else he does is use a website called Fiver, where he goes and hire freelancers to complete common tasks for his business.

For the people who aren’t crazy busy entrepreneurs, what Manu says next can be more helpful. He talks about the need to build a good mindset, and realize that you aren’t good at everything. Some people might be able to do things better than you. So if you are ever looking to work smart rather than work hard, try and figure out what you are the best at. See whether you can delegate (or avoid) the other stuff altogether.

So not everyone is an entrepreneur. You started Rafiki Media, you have your own brand. For people who don’t necessarily want to start a company but still make change, where do you they start?

Swish has 2 points:

  1. Realize then if you are not interested in starting a company (which is totally fine), then you are a consumer. People don’t have to just start initiatives, but you have to be able to “consume” initiatives that you believe in. There are a lot of products and companies that have sort of beneficial ulterior motives and social initiatives. For example, Toms! You buy one pair, and they donate another pair to someone who needs it.
  2. Try to be a person to influence change, in any area you are in. You don’t need to call yourself an entrepreneur (and frankly most people who do call themselves entrepreneurs aren’t really).
    1. Really in any career, you can be an entrepreneur. You can be a dance, singer, whatever. But every person can start a small project. That’s entrepreneurship and making a change. While it’s not exactly Silicon Valley, you are still innovating and making meaningful change in a space.
    2. Anyone can do it! Just realize that as you build something, you are also building a personal brand, something that you can rely on to spur even more change and social projects. You are showing people your beliefs, ideas, and connecting with people. All put together that is your personal brand.

Great, I know how to hustle, but where do I start?


In a common refrain, Manu says PLEASE JUST START. There are a lot of people out there who are busy thinking about where to start, they write plans, talk over things for ages, do too much market research, but they never get anywhere.
Until you start sending those emails, getting those speaking engagements and interviews, you will never know that those people you are trying to reach and impact are looking for. You will never know for 100% how people respond and how successful you will be until you start.

Don’t misinterpret him. Swish thinks that planning is important. Plan it, write something down, just don’t spend too much time staring at a piece of paper.

In one of the most interesting pieces of advice that he gives, Manu talks about the need to start small or “go micro.” The lessons you can learn from going micro will tell you whether it’s a good idea to go big.

As an example of what he did, Manu and a couple of friends wanted to have a different type of conference, one where the speakers were constantly engaged with their audience 100% of the time. So what did he do? Do you think he started by emailing some potential speakers, booking the venue, and making posters?

Nah he just invited a small group of 15 friends over to his house, and they did a mock conference to see how it would play out. That was 10x better than just imagining it in his head.

Now Manu takes the time to address the group of people of are probably thinking “Swish you are an outlier! This doesn’t work for everyone! Not everyone is like you!”

How does he know this? As he told us, even just 2 or 3 years ago, he wasn’t known to people as an entrepreneur. He was just some debater. But the best thing he has done that has contributed to his success has been realizing that people are there to help and simply capitalizing on that by asking for help.

These weren’t necessarily people that he knew, but people online who were willing to connect, give him some time, and answer questions.

In fact, in one of the best-kept secrets of the century, one of the best ways to connect with people you don’t really know is to interview them (that’s what we do here at Project 5K).

There’s no excuse for not getting a Soundcloud, some recording software, and telling someone “If find your story about XYZ really inspiring, and I want to know more about you!”

In the process of interviewing them, you can share your own story and share your own thoughts. Hands down the best way to connect with someone. Besides, who doesn’t like being interviewed?

That concludes the first part of the four part series with Manu! Was there anything that you found interesting? Something that you loved or found super inspirational? Tell us in the comments! It means a lot to us 🙂!

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