Do an Energy Audit

Do an Energy Audit

One thing Anu taught me in the Y Combinator growth program is the importance of doing an "energy audit" on oneself. Founders and CEOs are pulled in many directions and often need to focus in areas that may reduce vs. increase their energy.

Much of this analysis lies in really understanding where one gains vs. loses energy. We're typically the best at doing the things that give us the most energy. If I've ever interviewed you for a role, I've probably asked you what your "superpower" is, because I believe we each have a unique ability to do something better than most people in a way that gives us energy, and I always want to know what that special thing is for each person I talk to, so I can help that person unlock their superpower.

My superpower is that I'm relentless. I start from yes. I believe "no" is just a request for more information. Heidi Roizen called me a cockroach (in the best way possible) a decade ago, saying "I have so much respect for entrepreneurs who are just like cockroaches. They just do not die." I like to imagine impossible things, and then find ways to get them done. This makes me uniquely well suited to start and build companies. I get deep satisfaction, energy and joy from creating; from taking something impossible and making it possible.

Part of understanding one's superpower also lies in understanding its limits. None of us are the best at everything, and I try to be self-aware and authentic in understanding where my unique set of skills tapers off, and where another person's superpower and unique skills can pick up the baton.

Here's how I did the audit:

A screenshot of my personal energy audit

I made a table and listed the activities that increase my energy (column 1) and that reduce my energy (column 2) as CEO. A good way to do this is to look through your calendar and tally up which activities / meetings / events in the past month were net positive & net negative for you. Did you walk out of that meeting feeling energized, or drained? If you could do more of one thing in your week, what would it be? What would you really like to be doing less of?  And importantly, what are the things that increase your energy, but you're not able to do any of right now? (One example for me: I used to be a web developer 20 years ago and love to code. But I don't get to do any of that in my professional life.)

I also list the highest-impact focus areas the company needed from my role as CEO. What are the things that only I can do? Am I doing enough of those things?

Then, I compare the first three columns: How do the things that increase my energy (column 1) fit into the highest-impact focus area needs of the business? How can I do more of those?

And lastly, I made a fourth column: I listed the support I personally need to be successful in achieving the focus that the company needs. This might be, for example, hiring an executive assistant to offload some of the work that reduces your energy (column 2), but is a high-impact focus area the business needs you to do. The purpose of the fourth column is to ensure that high-impact work gets done, but in a way that limits your downside energy depletion.

Give an Energy Audit a try for yourself and use it to help you do more of what you love, and less of what you don't, while being as effective in your role as possible.