“After having implemented 5-hour workday in my business, I feel awesome. I still have much work to do, but it has been a huge step in setting our business apart and giving a huge bonus to our team. They get their lives back. I do too.”
Imagine if your boss called a meeting and announced that you only had to work five hours a day without getting a cut in your salary. This is exactly what founder and CEO of Blue Street Capital, a technology financing company in California, did.
After 14 years in business, David Rhoads felt he worked too much and had too little time to his family, and his big passion surfing.
When he came across the idea of a shorter workday and started to look into the reasons for the average long workday in the states, he was equally shocked and inspired.
Astounded because the 8-9+ hours a day is purely a century old norm from the Industrial Age for running factories more efficiently. For David Rhoads it made so much sense to do something radical about that.
“It really is crazy when you think about it. With all the technology and the digital revolution we still work the same amount of hours that we did in the old days. We have evolved beyond the norms of the Industrial Revolution. In the Information Age, we very much need employees’ innovation, ideas and creativity (that comes to them 24/7 and usually that kind of thinking does not come in the office). The only way to harness that creativity is to give our workers their time back. In return, we get their creativity when they settle in at the office, “ he says.
At Good Life Designed we are so inspired by his innovative move. This is such a great example of how doing the hard work to figure out what he wanted in his own life and for his company; he also made a big impact on the life of his employees and his family. We are pleased to share more about how he made this happen.
Let’s start with a brief introduction…
– I’m 45 (1/2 way through my life if I’m lucky!). I live Huntington Beach, CA. I was raised in Connecticut and moved out here for school, then stayed for a job, weather and my amazing wife Lisa. My wife is a native Californian and now so are my 3 kids. I’m the founder and CEO of Blue Street Capital a technology financing company. Outside of the business I stay busy with my kids, I surf quite a bit and just about anything in and around the ocean. My wife and I love to travel, and in the winter, we go to the mountains as much as we can, as we’re a big skiing family.
My Personal Mission Statement is:
The purpose of my life is to be a guiding light, have fun and do great things now!
My personal values:
Growth – Adventure – Healthy/Vitality – Fun – Courage – Contribution.
Why did you decide to make this big change?
The idea resonated so much with me personally. I had set up my company so I didn’t need to be there all the time. But I still felt like I had to be there and set an example. I wanted more time with my wife and family, to surf and play golf, but also more time to think about the next 20-30 years work life.
It also more sense for our business as it spurs innovation, creativity, and frankly I knew we could get done more in a focused 5 hours than we could over an 8-9+. Additionally, we’re all about creating massive value for all that we serve especially our employees and I knew this would be a huge differentiator. In essence, our employees get their lives back.
Did it take courage?
Yes, without a doubt. However, the second I read about it, it just made sense. Also the risk is pretty minimal as we called it an experiment. We gave it 90 days, but here towards the end it looks like we will continue. This has also inspired others. I have had big companies asking about the idea. There is a lot of curiosity and no negative feedback.
What was holding you back?
Nothing was holding me back form doing this. It was really luck I read about the idea and it made complete sense.
In looking at my personal values and mission statement this fit right in.
However, without Pernille and Good Life Designed helping with clarity through journaling and life mapping I’m not sure I would have the confidence to keep it moving forward.
What kind of work did you do to clarify your decision?
In the decision process, Pernille encouraged me to be true to what I wanted to do. She was asking questions like: What’s your best day in the office? When are you the most focused and productive? When do you get the most done in shortest amount of time? When are you the happiest? For many others, and myself the best days at the office were usually half days. This usually involved leaving early on a Friday, going to a kid’s school event, leaving for a vacation or simply cutting out for a mental break.
Part of me felt confident that I was making the right decision, but I was also asking what if we can’t make it work.
When I said that, Pernille simply pointed out “Don’t make that an option.”
What tools did you work with?
The first step was to start journaling. It really made sense for me to write down what was in my head and in my heart too. I have thought about doing it, but I have never been consistent about it.
Keeping a journal was the best advice and the first thing Pernille and Good Life Designed teaches. For me I was able to get all thoughts out on paper, which helped me get more organized, get my head clear, and most importantly my heart.
I have not always been aware of my values. But I know when I am not happy that something is not a fitting match with my values.
This work has reminded me how making a decision becomes easier when you put your values in focus.
How do you feel personally after this change?
After having implemented five hours workday in my business, I feel awesome. I still have much work to do but it has been a huge step in setting our business apart and giving a huge bonus to our team. They get their lives back. I do too.
It has inspired my life. At work it has given me a better platform and more focus. If you work 8-9 hours and take breaks it hard to stay focused and there seem to be a lot of chitchat during a day. So a lot of the time wasn’t really productive. We have removed a lot of the water cooler time. I still work a lot but I also have more time to work on more strategic initiatives. There is more time for the bigger picture.
Having gained more time outside work and spend more time on my passion surfing, and I feel healthier as a result of that.
What have been the challenges?
The employees liked the idea from the beginning, but we were also clear upfront that this was not a step in a reduction plan.
Actually, it was fairly easy to implement. It’s not a big business; we are 11 of us, so logistically it wasn’t too complicated. We are small and need to come up with new ideas to compete with the big businesses.
I ran the idea by the president, and he looked at me like I was totally insane. He marinated on it for a few days, and came back super excited about the idea.
Obstacles we’re running into now are keeping the ‘newness’ and excitement of it going. In essence, we’re changing the culture of our business. So the challenge now is to keep the newness and keep appreciating the benefits.
Sounds like when you get a big pay rise and the extra money just “disappears” if you don’t pay attention to your spending?
Good point. The biggest challenge is to prioritize the extra time. I would like to learn a new skill and become an expert in digital marketing. Now I have no excuse not to do it. But time gets spent really quickly.
There are endless of benefits not just for me personally, I get to stay in the business and have time to do more of the things I enjoy. The employees also benefit in numerous ways. My only concern is that we are all just humans, and what will happen once the novelty wears off.
Again, Pernille has advised me to make everyone part of that concern and discussion.
What is your best advice to others?
Work as hard on your self and your designing your life as you do your job.
If I was 21 and starting out again, I would tell myself to work hard on these tools and not just go for the easiest way. There is a huge benefit to doing this work that I have just done with Good Life Designed.
How do you define success?
To me success is easy – if I wake up and grateful for what I have, I’m successful, if you’re grateful you’re happy.
Read David’s article on the 5-hour workday experiment on
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For David journaling was a way of gaining clarity, and it’s the first of six tools in The Good Life Designed online course. By doing the work of these six lessons you will gain the clarity to create the life you want to live.
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