Do You Have Entrepreneurial ADD?

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“Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forgo an opportunity.”  -Benjamin Disraeli-

So, I’m sitting with a friend at lunch yesterday, who just happens to also be a 7-figure copywriter and internet marketer and, after listening to what I’m working on for the better part of lunch, he reveals…

“Jonathan, you have entrepreneurial ADD!”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d never heard that phrase before, but it was perfect.

I’ve never been one of those people who lack interests or passions. My mind is in a state of constant learning and creation. When I work, I am hugely productive. I drop into a hyper-focused flow state with a fair degree of ease and create ideas, products, services, companies and solution extremely quickly.

Productivity is not my challenge, narrowing the number of ventures to be productive in is.

Lately, I’ve been casting my net a bit too widely, with nearly a dozen projects and ventures that range from overseeing a yoga studio and teacher training school to writing a book to launching a marketing and entrepreneurship training company, exploring a handful of health and fitness joint ventures, launching up to 5 new blogs and online businesses and a number of other options.

Even when you have the knowledge and ability to access hyper-productive states, you get to a point where being simultaneously hyper-productive on too many fronts at once causes all activities to slow down, stand still and potentially even slide backward.

Much to my chagrin, it appears that time in finite!

You get to a point where you need to eliminate opportunities, adventures, interests and passions in the name of creating the space to allow the activities with (1) the greatest likelihood of success and (2) the greatest opportunity to make you come alive become your focus. The process of stripping away becomes as important as the process of getting things done.

You need to cull your passion flock to allow a smaller number of pursuits to thrive on a profoundly deeper level.

That’s where I am now. And, I’d love your help in this adventure.

For quite some time, I’ve been struggling with the best way to allocate my writing and blogging interests. The challenge is, I am passionate about a wide array of pursuits and that passion fuels me to write about them.

But, rare is the person who shares that same diverse basket of interests as me.

Many readers with an interest in lifestyles, health and spirituality have little interest in marketing, business or blogging. So, readers with an interest in marketing might have to wait a few weeks until I cycle through the variety of topics that don’t interest them and circle back to a new article on marketing. While I am thrilled at how our amazing community has grown, I also know this approach has led a lot of people to tune in, then quickly tune out.

My solution, over the last few months, has been to very intentionally shift the energy of this blog to focus more on lifestyles with an emphasis on empowering and enabling conversation. Many of you have noticed and appreciated this. While others have asked where the hardcore marketing, business and blogging articles have gone.

Well, not so secretly, I have been developing a number of more highly focused small business, marketing, career and blogging blogs.

The first of which was days from rolling out, when my lunchtime awakening to the siren taunt of entrepreneurial ADD led me to question whether taking on the burden of launching and maintaining multiple blogs was really the best use of my time, energy and focus.

What wold be the impact on my bigger picture ability to move forward on other projects that, in all honesty, were a higher priority to advance?

With a brick and mortar company to oversee, a book to prepare to launch and a number of other still non-public ventures in the works, does it really make sense for me to share all my other writing in the form of new blogs that would also take substantial amounts of energy to cultivate, write for and build?

Or, does it make more sense to share those same thoughts, insights and writings in the form of articles on other well-established blogs with already well-developed niches and communities?

Would contributing to other blogs, and not running my own blog network, allow me the space, time and energy to focus not on the substantial job of running a small blog network, but on devoting more time to fewer endeavors and allowing a smaller number to flourish more quickly and fully?

All of which leads me back to you guys.

Have you experienced similar entrepreneurial ADD? How have you handled it?

And, most importantly, I’d love to know your thoughts on the decision that lays ahead of me. Become a blog network dude and share my marketing, entrepreneurship and copywriting on my own family of niche blogs.

Or, keep cultivating this blog alone and pursue the less “ego-satisfying, asset-building,” but also far less burdensome and likely equally impactful role of contributor to a handful of other well-known blogs, while freeing up time to focus more on other projects?

What do you guys think?

As always, let’s discuss…

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43 responses

43 responses to “Do You Have Entrepreneurial ADD?”

  1. Um, well, alright… uh… Okay, so I really *do* have ADD (mild, no meds but requires patience by loved ones and coping skills). I also have all the classic symptoms of an entrepreneur, so it’s double-whammy joy all around.

    I do consistently have to revisit my thousands of ideas and 50 visions to pick and choose priorities, mostly because I’d drive my business partner insane.

    So yes. Cull back, focus on what gives the best ROI for your interest and efforts, and have at it.

    Cheers.

  2. Amy F says:

    I have only recently found your blog and I am really enjoying it! But I share your “strange” combination of interests. So I would say don’t change a thing 🙂

    Back to catching up on your previous posts…

  3. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ James – The more I meet people who are entrepreneurs in hyper-creative content areas, the more I see we are not alone (and, not in the alien sense of the phrase, though, who knows, there could be Martians with entrepreneurial ADD, too, right?)

    One practice I am about to put into place is a weekly Entrepreneurial ADD Check-in, both as self-assessment process and also a weekly commitment to reach out to my inner circle and solicit feedback. I’ll rank the relative importance, impact and likelihood of success of the major ventures, determine whether my energies are allocated intelligently or spread too thin, then decide what to cull and what to grow.

  4. […] Go to the author’s original blog: Do Yo Have Entrepreneurial ADD? […]

  5. Ah, so that’s what I have! I’m always spread thin over several areas but I have a hard time trying to figure out what to give up or cut back on since I enjoy them all. I’m running a non-profit, work part-time for a video relay company and I write for six blogs, two which are my own. I’ve got three kids and I’m also pushing a bill in my state for hearing aid coverage.

    I know that I do have to focus on the stuff that produces $$ right now, there are other things that I want to do with little return, so those have to wait.

  6. Jonathan

    I can totally relate to this as I have always found it easy to generate new ideas and find myself involved in many projects at once. Inevitably this has meant I get burned out, quit and then go bum around the world for 6 months to recover. When I come back, I rinse and repeat.

    Since I became a mom 4 years ago however, I’ve found it essential to focus my energies. Spreading myself too thin means my son is short changed with a very distracted mommy.

    Jonathan, this means my advice to you is do whatever is going to give you the biggest pay-off for your time and energy. The pay-off you’re interested in may be money, status, or joy and personal satisfaction. Only you know your values and what will add the most to your life right now.

    What does your gut say? Mine never lies, though sometimes I drown it out with too many intellectual rationalizations.

    I think your blog is really unique, by the way.

    Cheers
    Kelly

  7. Deb Puchalla says:

    Passion and creativity are most useful when matched with focus on impact. But that’s easier said than done when your internal voice bounces like a pinball. I’m still a bit of a dino re: blogstuff, but I still migrate to “brands” I know from the old world, where I see channeled energy–I see the virtue of both a network and a hub. Food for thought.

  8. Steve Kinney says:

    Incredible article. I think that entrepreneurial ADD is even more dangerous for the neophyte entrepreneur. I find myself constantly distracted by new ideas and new interests. It is difficult to stick to one idea or plan long enough to see it past the conceptual stages.

  9. abby says:

    i would try to separate what seems like two separate issues presented above.

    1) entrepreneurial ADD
    2) how to market those endeavors

    first I would take a serious look at the full list of commmitments you’ve made versus your values & timeline.

    can you delegate some of those commitments? for example, do you really have to oversee the yoga studio or could you give someone else the opportunity to do that? sometimes we need to learn how to expand others’ options, rather than thinking we can only expand our own.

    do you have to do them all this year? could you take a step back in some of the less-rewarding ones?

    do you have an accurate sense for how intensive what’s left on the list really is? for example, i know from friends’ experiences that book launches/tours are extraordinarily time-consuming and not as supported by the publisher as you thought. there’s a lot of personal PR/legwork that goes into it. are you ready for that? what if you have this blog network and a yoga studio and coaching clients, etc.? would it change your list of commitments if the 3 things most important to you took twice as long and twice as much energy as you think they do?

    as far as the blogging decision goes, you might want to figure out: is it about the writing or the sharing of the writing or ego gratification? if no one was reading, would you still be writing? if you’d still be writing, do you see it as a negative to contribute to others’ blogs or to a network rather than have your own?

    hope that helps!

    -abby

  10. While I’ve always had a bit of an ADD problem, it’s only recently that it’s manifested itself in entrepreneurship. Right now I’ve got about 5 different business ideas that I want to pursue, but only have the time for one. *sigh*

    PS: “You” is misspelled in the title.

  11. On your original question, I don’t know what would be best for you, but I would tend to choose the less burdensome option so that I actually have time for family and friends.

  12. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Amy F – glad to know someone else with a similar menagerie of interests!

    @ Karen – only for 6 blogs and raising 3 kids, dunno, seems like you’re definitely slacking to me! 😉

    @ Kelly & Joshua – great point about the impact of being overcommitted on the mental and emotional energy needed to be a good dad and husband. I tend to work in a style I call Big Rocks & Batching. I build the most important big categories of my life into my schedule first, then batch the major tasks within those categories and work in intense batch-driven efforts.

    For me, the biggest rock is always family, so that gets put before everything else. I am fortunate enough to have spent enough years as an entreprenuer to have created a revenue stream and lifestyle that allows me to do this.

    But, I think what you guys are getting at is the subtler impact of trying to move too many small rocks up a hill at one time on my ability to be present during my big rock time (wow, that sounded weird, but you get the point). Definitely food for thought.

    @ Deb – no doubt, I’ll keep the need to be able to maintain a strong level of passion as a key element in the decision

    @ Steve – believe it or not, I think entrepreneurial ADD is more of an individual trait and it follows you through all levels of entrepreneurship. But, honestly, it’s one of those challenges I am happy to be able to grapple with. Far better than a total lack of passion, interest or inspiration.

    @ abby – great points all around. Estimating the amount of time a venture will consume to bring to fruition is key.

    As someone who’s been through the process many times, I tend to think like you and double the amount of nearly every resource resource needed, then secretly work to deliver in half the time, with half the effort and half the money.

    And, your questions about what I am looking to get out of blogging and the other ventures is a great one as well. The interesting thing for me is that I actually have a very specific, yet different, goal for each of the varied topics I write about. Which is why I am trying to really do a good job of placing the best content in the best arena possible.

    @ Joshua – thanks for the typo catch, corrected! And, again, I completely agree, family is always the biggest rock in the jar!

  13. Oh, brother I feel your pain. I have had E-ADD for as long as I can remember! I continually struggle with this but here are some things that have helped me:

    When possible, I “line up” my projects and devote the most energy to the one in the #1 spot until it is at stage X, then I’ll move onto the next. They don’t seem so overwhelming that way. Of course, I still think about the other projects that I’ve yet to work on but I do my best not to start them until I reach stage X on the main one.

    I have written out an “Ultimate Mission” statement for my life. One of my most important missions is “To carefully exhort others to become what God created them for”. When I’m faced with different opportunities (which happens daily for those of us with E-ADD because that is how we see the world) I measure the opp. against my mission statement to see if it’s a fit. So, in order for me to invest in an opp. it has to fit with my statement as it relates to the people I would be helping but also it can’t detract from the energy I need to devote to my family to help them become “what God created them for”.

    The easiest way for me to hone in on what I need to pursue is to take my eyes off of the opportunities (again hard for us E-ADDers) and focus on what my values are, and how much time and energy I have to devote to “opportunity investments”. And then suddenly I know what the right answer is and the choices I have to make.

    Some E-ADD points to remember: The stronger one has E-ADD the more likely that person is a visionary. Visionaries are good at conceptualizing the ideas but not so good at the implementation and the day-to-day make-it-happen stuff. No problem, just make sure you know yourself well enough to know what you’re good at – and stick with it. Outsource if you have to. Delegate when you need to. But first and foremost, know yourself well.

    E-ADD is a beautiful thing. It really is a gift to see opportunities where others see – NOTHING.

  14. Elaine Yu says:

    I am new to blogshere so I enjoy reading everything that are of interests to me, and your site is interesting to me. I think having your own blog brands you as oppose to being a contributing member of another blog. When readers find something that resonate with them, it doesnit matter it takes a couple of weeks to get back to the same topic, they will enjoy it even more. Readers will decide who to read, when to read anyway. I say keep it the way it is.

  15. Sandra says:

    What do you mean you’ve never heard of entrepreneurial ADD??? I approached you early this year about my inability to focus on one thing which made me feel I had no idea what I wanted to do, but in reality, I wanted to do too many things.

    the advice you gave me was to read “Is Your Genius at Work?” Perhaps your genius is at work and it is manifesting itself in a number of ways that interest you. What’s funny is that in another book that was recommended to me “The Renaissance Soul” (a great read by the way) the author point blank addresses this label. For people who are these Renaissance Souls, it is not ADD at all. You my dear Jonathan are one of these souls. How do I know? Because not only do you have a passion for all of these pursuits, you are good at them.

    I have been struggling with this so called ADD for years now. but I have finally had to critically think about what I need to focus on to make money. If it won’t make money, right now I just can’t focus on it. I go through bouts of burn out just like Kelly.

    My new list of criteria for determining if something is worth it goes like this:

    1. Do I like doing it?
    2. Will it make enough money to be worth my time?
    3. Does it help people in some way?
    4. If I die tomorrow, will I be sad I never tried this?

  16. Entreprenurial ADD is just a new term for being able to accomplish several things at one time with equal ease.

    When I was young the term had not been invented. Otherwise they probably would have put me on medication.

    Instead, one teacher wrote a comment on my report card which said –

    “Corinne has ants in her pants.”

    Well, if you’re going to weed out some of your stuff, don’t include blogging.

    Yours is one of the few I enjoy reading the most!

  17. Gail says:

    I know what you mean 100%! I thought it was just adult onset ADD, because I always have too many interests and ventures going as well! What is too many??? really it does keep life interesting, but I do want to do things well, so I wonder if I could be doing things better if I did less…. you are not alone here!

  18. Patty says:

    One of the greatest things about your writing is that you have some sort of personal involvement, passion, or higher purpose to your topics. You’ve influenced me to take a closer look at the overall value in what I do. Can you really write about the high priority things if you are spread thin? Contributing to a few well-known blogs, may have a greater impact than committing yourself to regularly write a lot of posts. Quality rather than quantity? A blog network? Sounds like an awful lot of administration to me. I’d just hate to see you turn down something really important or inspiring because your energy was scattered. Thanks for asking us about this. By the way, I actually do have a very similar “basket of interests” as you. I’d bet that many of your readers do too.

  19. Chris C. says:

    One way to help the ADD issue is to think more about long term goals. What’s the most important message for you to communicate to others? I admire your courage and enjoy following the variety of your ideas and see your ADD as a strength. But if you could focus on what’s most important to you, you’ll end up having a more significant impact on the community. If it works for you, pursue the interest benefits others the most!

  20. Lisa Newton says:

    It’s good to know I’m not alone. I have so many different ideas floating around in my head. I finally took the time to write the main ones down, prioritize them, and now my focus is driven.

    I’d love to see you put all of your passions in this blog. As an entrepreneur, I’d love to see the advice, thoughts, and directions you might blog about. I’d hate to have to go to multiple locations when one would really suit all of my needs, plus yours, if I’m reading your post correctly……………:)

  21. Dave Navarro says:

    Dude,

    Focus on one blog. 🙂 You’ll reach people more effectively.

    Keep rocking,

    Dave

  22. Jarkko Laine says:

    Jonathan, I relate to this post perfectly. While I’m nowhere nearly as productive as you, I most certainly have entrepreneurial ADD – always thinking about new things to learn, try, and imagine.

    In a sense, I think that’s something that drives us to entrepreneurship – maybe (I’m still in the middle of researching the hypothesis) everyone with an entrepreneurial drive actually suffers from this?

  23. Lisa Solomon says:

    I understand where you’re coming from: I have two kids, a full-time law practice and three side businesses (a company that sells humorous gifts and greeting cards for lawyers and legal professionals; a law-related infoproduct and coaching/consulting business; and a pet-related business). Although I have been able to bring all of my side businesses to fruition (none are stuck in the concept of development stage), I realized that I don’t have the time to build the contacts, connections and industry knowledge that I need in order to make the pet-related business as big of a success as I know it can be.

    One question to ask yourself is which of your ventures will benefit most from synergy with one or more of your other ventures. For me, that was the key to deciding that I should sell the pet-related business. I’m still trying to find time to do that, though : – )

  24. […] that is. Or maybe a better description is that its a form of ADD. I was reading about Entrepreneurial ADD on Jonathan Fields’ blog a few days ago. I also read an article in Mens Health magazine about […]

  25. […] Entrepreneurial Spirit    The Unsurpassable Productivity List- A Handy Guide to Getting Important Things DoneDo You Have Entrepreneurial ADD? […]

  26. Marvin says:

    So what’s the Ritalin equivalent?

  27. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Jonathon – you have a friend who is a seven figure copywriter? That is amazing. I knew some of those guys earned big money, but I had no idea it was as much as 7 figures.

    I have also taken on too many projects before and it does dilute your efforts. I would keep the ones that make you happiest and take you towards your goals.

  28. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Cath – yeah, it’s pretty amazing, but there are a small number of 7 figure guys, though most end up making a big chunk of that writing for themselves and promoting their own products and trainings and doing JVs with others, too. So, its a combo of copywriting and internet marketing.

  29. Justin says:

    Wow, you certainly have a lot on your plate! I’m involved in several ventures myself, but some are smaller than others, while all of yours are important and large. I think it’s best to cut out some projects and focus on the ones you think have the most potential.

  30. Lea says:

    Jonathan

    I think I might be one of those “rare” people you were talking about who also has an interest in health/lifestyle/spirituality as well as business/marketing/blogging.

    I was a management consultant, then became a personal trainer & chekkie (you must have heard of chekkies in your line of work, bless them!) and then started up my own business which has both suffered & thrived at the hands of my entreprenuerial ADD!!

    Re. your blogging question – I can only speak from my own experience…I too felt boxed in writing on just one blog with so many topics, so started up 4 more tightly niched blogs to cater for my different readers.

    Result? It ended up taking the pleasure out of blogging, stretched me way too thin and I stopped 2 of them after a few months, realising it was just too much work to keep going.

    Also, maybe consider it like this…if the blogs depend on you & your unique insights to drive them and grow them, are you really creating “assets” or more jobs for yourself?

  31. […] was driving home after a crazy busy day that started with an early morning blog post about entrepreneurial ADD. Shortly after hitting the publish button, I headed out for the day, before the rest of the family […]

  32. […] a few weeks back, in my post entitled Entrepreneurial ADD, I shared a struggle I was having, deciding whether to launch a number of new ventures, including […]

  33. Shareen says:

    Two points…
    One of the reasons I love your blog is it fits ME so well, “the crossroads of work, life, entreuprenurship, & play” I am constantly balancing that ring of business passion, self-development and spiritual passion, family, love, and simple play time. I often find in your blog items that I have been thinking on or wonderful food for thought. I love that you have all those pieces in here and part of me actually panicked at a later post of you splitting off these parts into contributions on seperate blogs instead of having them here in cycles. But if it makes sense for you, then that is what you have to do. Can I please have the blogs you will be contributing to in the business arena?

    Point 2…

    I always have ideas for businesses and the like, and after I run through them in my mind and on paper they kind of lose interest to me. It is almost like “solved that puzzle.. next?!” I am currently actually running my own business, based on someone else’s idea and plan, just to see if i have the energy and ability to sustain a great idea. I am finding that I am great at vision and planning, and have a lot of passion and energy, but I need a partner who is strong in the consistantcy portion. Meaning I can’t juggle all the balls consistently, it is like you mentioned areas I start strong often get sluggish or reverse themselves as I am trying to jumpstart other areas. So appropriate growth and balance are becoming key focuses for me. I love your two qualifiers 1) biggest opportunity for success and 2) Most rewarding inside for me.

    Gulp. Now all I have to do is find people who want to take on my weaknesses for the long haul. (as I recall that seems to correspond to one of your more recent posts on Entrepreneurial Divorce.)

    Bottom line, I hope you keep blogging, (preferably in the same mix as before, but change is inevitable and most of desirable) I love your questions and your insights, and your voice. Even though I don’t reply often, I do read often and ponder. I’d miss it terribly if you were gone.

  34. […] (So says Deb Puchalla of Dinner Tonight, while commenting on an article called Do You Have Entrepreneurial ADD?) […]

  35. Jim Vernon says:

    My perspective is similar to Abby’s, but instead of delegating, can you look for ways to partner with others and try to monetize some of the value of the ideas back to you? Not as simple as having an idea and selling it — you might need to stay involved, but at a higher level. Something like the chairman’s role to someone else’s CEO/COO role, maybe, or a limited partner role to someone else’s managing partner role. In the narrow realm of blogging and related ventures, you’d be something like editor-in-chief, not staff writer.

  36. […] Do You Have Entrepreneurial ADD? by Jonathan Fields: Jonathan asks if we suffer from entrepreneurial ADD, an inability to stick to just one entrepreneurial activity at a time. I think my answer would be yes. What about yours? […]

  37. Yes! Parts of this article sound exactly like they could have been wrote by me.

    I’m constantly thinking of new ideas… mainly web startups. I currently maintain three sites with two more on the way hopefully very soon. It’s going to get to a point where I’ll have to sit down and decide what the most important ones are and continue ahead with those and possibly phase out the others. It’s already difficult to consistently update three sites, let alone adding two more. The good thing is that one of the new ones should run itself, I’ll just need to pump the right traffic to it. I think you should definitely become a blog network dude and continue down that path. That’s the path I’m headed and I love doing that kind of stuff.

  38. Re-read your great post of today:

    http://jonathanfields.com/blog/gods-grace-or-dumb-luck-embrace-what-you-have/

    or the great Randy Pauch (sp?) video.

    That’s what (who) it is all about. Pick one or two great ventures to focus on – and turn that into ADD parenting, not ADD working.

    Who ever left this world wishing they had spent more time developing (another) business? Clearly from your writing you have a big heart and are a caring parent. Enjoy it.

  39. […] Do You Have Entrepreneurial ADD? Do you have a hard time sticking with one project at a time? Are you constantly coming up with awesome new business ideas? Congratulations. You may have entrepreneurial ADD. […]

  40. […] Narrow the number of ventures you’re involved in. – “Productivity is not my challenge, narrowing the number of ventures to be productive in is.  Lately, I’ve been casting my net a bit too widely, with nearly a dozen projects and ventures.  Even when you have the knowledge and ability to access hyper-productive states, you get to a point where being simultaneously hyper-productive on too many fronts at once causes all activities to slow down, stand still and potentially even slide backward.” – via Jonathan Fields […]

  41. Ah Jonathon, cant beat a little self indulgence eh?
    So much to juggle so much to create. Where can I view it all?
    Nice piece though. Take care and get as much joy as you can every day

  42. Mouli Cohen says:

    Absolutely I share this affliction! Great examination of the mind of the true swiss-army knife entrepreneur. Seems like you should be putting together some kind of “self-help” book for exuberant entrepreneurial minds.

  43. […] And, added to this already gargantuan challenge, I’ve come to realize lately that, while I love to be involved in about 5 different business ventures at any given time, if I choose to play the lead role in all, I’ve now just just raised the total number of […]