Lessons from SXSW: "Life Automation for Entrepreneurs"

SXSW Synopsis:

"Join Dave Asprey, Veronica Belmont & Maneesh Sethi as they discuss automating your life while running your business. Running a startup is an intense, all-consuming undertaking and new entrepreneurs have a hard time keeping up with the demands of their business and maintaining their relationships, social life, family, health, etc. 

In this panel, we'll be discussing creative ways to utilize technology to automate your life while you are running your business. Moderated by Stephanie Burns."

Dave Asprey - @bulletproofexec :: Veronica Belmont - http://swordandlaser.com/ :: Stephanie Burnes (Moderator) :: Maneesh Sethi - http://hackthesystem.com/

Dave Asprey - @bulletproofexec :: Veronica Belmont - http://swordandlaser.com/ :: Stephanie Burnes (Moderator) :: Maneesh Sethi - http://hackthesystem.com/


Mostly, this session was about finding ways in which to automate aspects of business and personal life in ways that save individual entrepreneurs - and really, anyone - from decision fatigue. 

The basic premise of this is that each time anyone makes a decision, it eats into a finite pool of willpower that we have in our reserves every day. The more we waste our time making little decisions - especially those that can, and should, be automated - the less willpower we have left to make more important decisions. So, part of the goal of automating parts of your life is to find ways to reduce the overall decisions made per day.

The panel recommended the following:

  • Delegate scheduling & calendar to assistant. Assistants also do not necessarily need to be expensive.
  • Schedule things that you normally wouldn't - like exercise, lunchtime, and other daily activities, so that you will stay on track and avoid unnecessary interruptions.
  • Pre-schedule long-term decisions like food (ie. make healthy food on the weekends and prepare to take it for lunch each day so that it isn't a unique decision on what to eat in the mornings or before lunchtime - this also cuts down on temptation to eat unhealthy foods); and recurring appointments for the doctor, dentist, etc.
  • Reduce scheduling decisions between multiple parties by reducing the number of available time options on your schedule, or using website to automatically align schedules.
  • Outsource travel arrangements as much as possible via secretary or websites like
  • "Anything you're not the best at" - Maneesh Sethi
  • Even gratitude...
  • Social media presence can also be automated through social media managers, and also:
  • Emails - Maneesh Sethi in particular has developed a system where nearly all of his email correspondence is run through an assistant. The assistant reviews all emails and categorizes them by importance and specificity. 

When asked if it's worth the trade-off to outsource personal information to assistants - especially internationally - Maneesh Sethi just considers it to be a cost worth bearing, noting that the worst things that can generally happen are "not that bad". Dave Asprey added, "Someone's already reading your email today. They're name is the NSA."

Things not to automate:

  • Sex & relationships (Belmont)
  • Mentorship (Asprey)

On internships, Dave Asprey also noted:

"There are people who will work for a surprisingly little amount of money, and they're not actually getting screwed out of the deal because they're getting an apprenticeship."


In the Q&A section, the panel answered several questions that I found relatively interesting. To the question of what we should do  if we don't have enough for our assistants to do to make a full time job, the panelists answered:

  1. Don't worry about it, they're there to assist you, not the other way around
  2. Add a constant job of ensuring accountability
  3. Work on forward-looking projects

To the question of how to start automating one's life, the panelists suggested that individuals start by asking the question, "What do you procrastinate on the most?" Whatever the answer to that question is, that's where you should start if possible.

Finally, to the question of what to do after college, the answers were:

  1. Eliminate debt as quickly as possible
  2. Look for the holes or what's missing in terms of what you currently don't outsource that you'd like to, and figure out how to automate those parts of your life
  3. Find great mentors & friends

All in all, this was a pretty informative session.