You know what IQ is, but do you remember what it stands for? Intellectual quotient. Some say intelligence quotient. How about EQ and CQ? They’re real acronyms, I promise. Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, defined them less than a week ago in the Harvard Business Review.
They respectively stand for emotional and curiosity quotient. In a nutshell, our emotional quotient dictates our ability to adapt to complex interpersonal situations and handle stress and anxiety. “People with higher EQ tend to be more entrepreneurial, so they are more proactive at exploiting opportunities, taking risks, and turning creative ideas into actual innovations,” Chamorro claims.
What does curiosity quotient mean? What does it mean? What does it mean? As you may have guessed, our curiosity quotient is measured by how inquisitive and open to new situations we are. People with higher CQ dislike routine, but embrace ambiguity and have a knack for finding simple solutions to complex problems.
This got me thinking: people with higher EQ are more entrepreneurial, and all of my entrepreneurial friends are intensely curious, which means they must have high CQ levels, which would mean they dislike routine. But they’re also incredibly disciplined. So do people with an entrepreneurial spirit really tend to dislike routine? In my own experience, I’ve found that while routine can be great for productivity, it certainly seems to stunt my creativity. It really is a double-edged sword. For example, I constantly change my work environment, especially when I’m writing, but tend to get up at the same time and go through the same routine every morning.
Confused by my own CQ, and obviously driven by it, I decided to ask some of my friends how they felt about routine.
Here’s what they told me:
Pascal Finette (@pfinette) is the Managing Director of the Startup Lab at Singularity University in Silicon Valley and the author of The Heretic newsletter.
“The art is finding the balance between turning everything you do that is repeatable into a well-oiled machine (call it ‘a routine’) whilst keeping all your attention and senses open for serendipity and creativity. The best entrepreneurs zip through life on autopilot where their creativity isn’t needed and bring intense focus to those areas where they can make a huge difference.”
Robert Phillips (@citizenrobert) is the Cofounder of Jericho Chambers in London and the former President and CEO of Edelman EMEA, the largest PR firm in the world.
“Curiosity is one of the most powerful assets in leadership, especially as we shift towards the creative economy. A Decades-long obsession with managerialism, compliance and endless measurement has only served to stifle curiosity, enterprise and instinctive leadership, however – as though this is the last-guard stand of the traditionalists. great leadership is led by intrinsic values, not compliance”
Michael Gokturk (@MichaelGokturk) is the Founder and CEO of Payfirma.
“While a routine certainly makes time management easier, the best part of being an entrepreneur is the lack of routine in one’s schedule. Effective leaders can plan their days and manage their time, but also be highly adaptable to the flurry of unexpected issues that will inevitably surface throughout each day.”
Brian Honigman (@BrianHonigman) is a marketing consultant, writer and speaker. He regularly contributes to the WSJ, The Next Web, Forbes and other publications.
“A routine is critical for establishing your business and better focusing on what’s really working to drive growth and what isn’t. Routines are extremely helpful to an entrepreneur but that’s not to say they can’t be occasionally detrimental as well. Set a few routines for yourself to help keep your business on track, especially since a routine can be continually analyzed and tweaked to better understand what activities are beneficial for driving results for your business and which are not driving growth for your business. Without a routine to use as a roadmap, it’s easy to get lost in your entrepreneurial successes and failures since it’s not as easy to understand how to either duplicate success or avoid failure. On the other hand, it’s important for an entrepreneur not to use their routines as a comfort zone. An entrepreneur should be continually pushing themselves to succeed by trying new things and experimenting with new endeavors.”
Shala Burroughs (@ShalaBurroughs) is the Cofounder and COO of CloudPeeps.
“Evolution and routine cannot exist in the same room. I will say that having a home base is really important. I haven’t worked in an office in 6 months and it is actually killing me. I miss being able to go to one place each day, even if the activities I do within it are different”
Matthew Capala (@SearchDecoder) is an Adj. Professor at NYU, Founder of SearchDecoder.com, a place for bootstrap marketing ideas for entrepreneurs, and the author of SEO Like I’m 5.
“One of the most common productivity pitfalls I observe working with entrepreneurs is when they mistake scale for process. Growth is a good thing, you want to build scale as you grow, and put in place few ‘standard operating procedures’ to level up. However, your job as the founder is not to build a highly routinized workplace, but rather foster an environment of collaboration and problem-solving. The temptation is high because when entrepreneurs make the their first hires, they look to get the best deal possible. As a result, they tend to spend a lot of time building processes in a blind pursuit of making staff accountable and productive. The truth is that in reality they are building a house of cards, because in this day and age companies that are rigid and process oriented lose, and those companies that are nimble, resolute and fast to embrace change, win BIG.”
“I have to have routine. My productivity requires it. But, I also love the flexibility that entrepreneurship allows and find that most of my creativity occurs when I’m off plan.”
Darcy Briks (@SecondLanguageD) is the Principal and Creative Director at Second Language Design.
“Speaking from my own experience, curiosity and openness directly lead to personal growth. These traits are a catalyst for seeking out new business or trying new methods in my design work – things I would classify as unfamiliar and out of my comfort zone, yet imperative to pushing forward.”
Steven Jon Kaplan (@TrueContrarian) is the Founder and CEO of True Contrarian Investments and a regular contributor to Barron’s.
“I think we share a human desire for some things to remain the same, so that we have some kind of reliable anchor in our lives. Having routine tasks reminds us that even though we love to think about how we can change the world, we still have to do the everyday grind: sending out subscription reminders, contacting certain people on a periodic basis, and filling out government paperwork. I don’t mind doing routine tasks because I use them as a break from working on more challenging projects. Whenever my mind is getting tired or I want a change of pace, I do something routine for a half hour or an hour until I’m ready for another creative burst. As long as routine tasks don’t become overwhelming, I think they help by giving us something predictable to do several times each week. From my personal experience, people with a higher emotional quotient are willing to fail frequently. Failure is often seen as a negative trait, but in my own life I have probably learned more from my failures than from my successes. By figuring out what doesn’t work, it is much easier to focus on what is likely to work. If you look at the history of famous inventors including Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers, they had years of failures which kept pointing them with increasing clarity toward their final goals.”
Mike Fishbein (@mfishbein) is the Founder of Startup College, a contributor at Entrepreneur and Huffington Post, and the author of Where Startup Ideas Come From.
“Having a routine helps me stay disciplined and build habits. While entrepreneurship certainly requires creativity, it also requires some ‘heads down’ tasks. By making a routine out of things like going to the gym, setting goals, and writing, I can be more confident that they will get done. The more I put into habit or routine, the less decision making I have to do during the day, which means less stress and lower likelihood of not completing those tasks.”
James Murphy (@jamestmurphy_) is a Partner at Proton Enterprises, Vice President of Business Development at EquityNet, and Managing Partner at SlideMoor.
“I have to work to stay on a routine. I am not naturally programmed that way. But I think bringing some routine into the system really helps productivity and task management. Creativity is not synonymous with entrepreneurship. Successful entrepreneurship comes with a shit ton of grinding and hard work. Being creative is just step one. If your business product is about being creative, (artists, writers, etc) throw routine out the window. But most businesses have a hint of creativity and a whole lot of hard work in their path to success.”
“Personally, I find routine to be dangerously seductive. We are all, to some extent, creatures of habit. But starting a business is inerently chaotic and unstable, requiring new tasks, new perspectives, and new priorities each day. So while routine can bring an entrepreneur some of the comfort and stability we all crave, it can prevent us from being flexible, and properly leveraging our circumstances. I do think routine can increase efficiencies. And I think forming good habits among employees can be productive in more mature companies. But during the beginning phases of entrepreneurship, it is best to focus on whatever serves the mission at any particular time. Last month I dropped everything and went to Australia because I determined being with my co-founder was best for the project. And last year when we ran out of money, I left my apartment and slept in my car to extend my fundraising period. If a huge conference keeps providing opportunities to meet great people, I may end up spending the whole day there. But if I’m at home and find myself “in the zone”, I may stay up writing until sunrise and sleep in the next day.”
John D’Orazio (@WhatThePplWant) is the CEO and Founder of Proton Enterprises.
“I believe every entrepreneur should establish some sort of routine to balance out such a demanding path. I benefit significantly from structuring part of my time, and use routine as a tool for alleviating uncertainty and increasing productivity. Often wearing many hats, a well structured routine helps free up my mind. By placing tasks in appropriate boxes, I can better focus on the work at hand, and avoid getting overwhelmed and lost in the work. Additionally, scheduling in regular times for creative/brainstorming sessions can be a more efficient approach to the creative side of the business. Now, I have found much of my work routine comes from how tied my businesses are to working consistently and frequently with others. Therefore, the nature of your business may demand some degree of routine, so you might not have much of an option. When it comes down to it, a routine is only effective if you stick to it. But sometimes in the entrepreneurial world of uncertainty, adding a little routine can make all the difference.”
Julio Mendez (@JayXIX) is the Founder and CEO at XIX Holdings.
“In my experience having an established routine has proven to be critical. It is what allows me to effectively manage my time and work towards accomplishing goals. When the appropriate circumstances call for adaption entrepreneurs should be open to doing so, but what gets you there is putting in the time and effort. Having a routine helps.”
Sophia Lovett (@solovett) is the Founder of VoodooKISS Creative, a Berlin-based branding agency.
“Routine… routine…. the mere word makes me cringe a little. I know many people who fear the risk of venturing out on their own and without a steady paycheck – but my personal biggest fear is having to do the same thing over and over and over again. I get bored easily. Currently there aren’t many things (other than brushing my teeth and making coffee) that I do every single day. I also strive to find a better and more efficient way to handle things whenever possible. Not sure I’d describe myself as overly disciplined, though. I like to work, yes. But I don’t say no to a good distraction, either.”
Kate Hodsdon (@KlusstrKate) is the Founder of Klusstr, a business development consultancy, and Just For Founders, a support group for entrepreneurs in London.
“For me, this question depends on where someone is on their journey as a founder. At the moment, I am juggling a lot – my venture is just about to raise funds, I do Biz Dev consulting for start-ups and am setting up a kind of Entrepreneur’s Anonymous in London called Just for Founders. I have tried being regimented about bed times and when I got up in various guises, but when you’re juggling a lot in the early days, it doesn’t always neatly fit together. I went through a phase of reading all the ‘Successful People’s Routines’ lists that pop up on Twitter all the time. I gave myself a hard time about not bouncing out of bed at 5.45am to do 2 hours on my venture before a long day consulting. My routine was come home, quickly eat and crash. And repeat. What I do insist on maintaining is less of a routine and making sure I have time for things that keep me in creative shape and happy: family, arty stuff and cooking. I am religious in routine for some things like reading a LOT: that feeds me daily and keeps my energies up. When I’m all work, my energy dries up. And that’s not good when one plans to conquer the world!”
Josh Riman (@greatbeliever) is the Founder and CEO of the design firm Great Believer.
“Since Great Believer is still growing into a fully formed branding agency, I find myself performing different tasks every day. This can include presenting web designs or picking up paper clips – and everything in between. The unpredictable state of each work day keeps me focused, on guard, and ready for anything.”
What were the biggest takeaways from these responses?
First and foremost, it was interesting to see how other people in my network deal with routine and the methods they employ to remain creative. As I expected, some embrace routine while others say to throw it out the window. Some roles allow it, others don’t. The biggest takeaway, then, for me is that different approaches work for different people, similar to an issue I covered some time ago about the qualities that lead to success. The key is finding a balance that allows you to reach your full creative and productive potential based on your responsibilities, surroundings, and most importantly, your personality.