(1) Stay up late.
Yes, indeed, this is when you will do your best work. There's something implicitly visceral about staying up late in the ink black darkness with nothing but a candle and the backlight of your laptop. This is when I do my best thinking, when my inner editor has left the building, and I can be as uninhibited as I please. Working at night feels rebellious, like you're squeezing more life out of the day than everyone else. Extra points for greeting the warm incandescent glow of sunrise, with a tired body and a well-worn mind.
(2) Do good work.
I have found that you can't lose time, waste money, or feign interest when you selectively choose to do good work, for good people, for the greater good of a cause that's bigger than yourself. Seek these people out. Never stray from the compass of authenticity — the hairs that rise on the back of your neck when you're called to take on a project of greater importance than you can imagine at the outset are projects that need to be undertaken.
(3) Drink some coffee.
Invest in a passable grinder and indulge yourself in some quality beans every now and again. Coffee is living history, you know. It's been at the side of Hemingway; it's the weak link between your writing and Anaïs Nin's. Coffee has stained both manuscript and MacBook over the years, and we love it all the more for it. Although I love tea in all its striking varieties — bags to blooms — coffee is the commander I always answer to.
This week is already off to a wonderful start. I finished a book called The Financial Lives of Poets, which is the jocular first-person monologue of a man's mid-life crisis — something I won't be idolizing anytime soon. We had a fantastic catalytic coaching session with our team this morning, which has challenged us to think deeper about what we want at the 1, 5, 10 year marks and beyond, and how to have difficult managerial conversations with transparency. Tomorrow, I'm headed downtown for a morning meeting with Georgia-Pacific, to talk about social media and content strategy for 2014.
I'm also pleased to confirm our next guests for On Branding's March lineup: