Here’s some good advice that’s easy to follow:

a sentence should contain no unnecessary words
a paragraph no unnecessary sentences
a page no confusing ideas

This kind of de-cluttering is always good; and every presentation can be made better by trimming.

But it’s easy to cut-and-paste a document. Can you de-clutter the real world?

Let’s start with your office.

What’s the expression? “a clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.”

Joking aside, a clean office is deeply satisfying. I don’t mean just “tidy”, but Spartan- -where your workspace looks like the economy suite at a Motel 6 room or better … an empty jail cell.

Here’s all you really need to be productive and focused:
– a standing desk
– a laptop
– pen, notebook
– and a phone.
– oh, and don’t forget Black Insomnia, the world’s strongest coffee

Now … you’re ready to work.
No piles of paper, no dangling cables or dead dry-erase pens scattered around.

This Zen-level of organization and junk reduction is attractive to me, and I am in awe of those who have mastered it and strive to achieve it.

As you can guess, when you are building a media empire (in addition to rebuilding 6-motorcycles), things can have a tendency to pile up. Yesterday, I was doing my weekly de-cluttering at Pitch Anything headquarters, a sprawling compound by the beach with a video studio, finance offices and mad-scientist workshop.

And while I am no Zen-master, throwing-out my own stuff was teaching me how to see the difference between treasure and trash:

– old SD-cards, DVD’s, USB cables ………………. trash

– white papers, analyst reports, unread books … trash

– cool schwag from startups, random pens …….. trash

– picture of my Dad and I camping ……………. treasure

– random drawing from my little boy ………….. treasure

I was unrestrained, and shredding everything in sight. Hey, If your cat is missing …. sorry.

Then, suddenly, there IT was in my hands… The Pathway Presentation.

Arrrrrgh.

That pitch had closed $37 million.

In my hands was a piece of my personal history and I couldn’t bring myself to toss it. Yeah, I knew it was just paper junk, and although I was alone in the room, I could hear whispers in my ear, it was a low and menacing sound, like the voice of evil Senator Palpatine …

“Destroy it all!! Overcome your emotions, it is just old paperwork …. burn it now!”

But couldn’t. This was the actual object, the physical document that had turned into a small fortune. I remember it all had started as a random call in the middle of the day …

As my hand hovered over the shredder, I noticed the customer dial in line blinking red and before I could think, I threw the Pathway presentation into my “rare and personal” pile, and answered the phone.

Saved by the blink.

Blindly picking up the customer service line is risky. Like chat-roulette, anyone can be on the other end … anyone. For the next 30-minutes I could be helping someone find a lost password or do a credit card update … or it could be a Really Big Deal …

“Pitch Anything, This is Oren, how may I help you?” I waited for the startled response. It always throws people off a little when they figure out they’ve got me on the phone.

“Hey, is this really Oren?” a stern but not unfriendly voice said. “Uhhh, you answer the customer service line?”

“I do today,” I said. “I call it my 2-out-of-10 rule. Keeps me on the edge … sharp … where I gotta be.”

That subtle intrigue-ping had hooked the caller.

“Tell me about this 2 out of 10 rule,” he said, with a little more urgency than I thought the situation called for. Then I learned why, “… but we need to meet in person.”

This customer service call definitely was not about a lost password.

“My name is Martin,” he said. “And I’m afraid I can’t tell you who I represent but it’s someone serious, someone you’ve heard of. So if you’re IN, I’ll have a plane waiting for you on the runway at Palomar in three hours. My guys will be there to … help you aboard.”

I know what you’re thinking: it is a horrible idea to jump on a plane with no idea where it’s going, who’s on it or when you’ll be back.But over the years I’ve learned, no great adventure starts with the words, “why don’t we meet at Olive Garden for a salad.”

And sometimes the wrong choices lead us to the right places.

To be continued…

Click here to see that plane

Click here to learn Oren’s 2-out-of-10 rule

Click here for Episode 2

– Oren

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