Yesterday, I attended a breakfast program hosted by one of San Francisco’s popular startups. It was a business intelligence firm promising to turn everyone into a reporting machine. This is something hundreds of startups are doing today, mostly copying each other. Marketing is the primary differentiator. Their vision was turning all employees into data “producers.” What struck me was the conversation I had with a couple other attendees. We talked about our lives and what sacrifices it took just to get to the early morning program.

If you begin your day checking the news, checking your email, and checking your notifications, you’ve launched yourself into a day of mindless consumption, fueled by a heavy breakfast and hearing the same pitches over and over again. 😦

Fortunately, the folks at my table were interesting. We talked about the “producer” mindset. If you work for a product company, the greatest perceived value comes from being a “producer” versus a “consumer” or an “enabler.” Sometimes you equate “consumer” with “customer,” but certainly the end goal is to turn your “customers” into “producers.” Give them tools. Teach them to fish. In this case, the startup’s goal was to enable “customers” to produce actionable reporting with their tools. Certainly, this is a value-creator if executed properly.

The conversation was great and we drowned out the program. I learned that when I start my day as a “producer”, it meant that my information consumption has meaning: the rest of the day means consuming information that is relevant to what I’m producing. Waking up as a “producer” frames the rest of my habits. I’m not mindlessly grazing on social media statuses. I’m moving fast and getting what I need in order to produce. Waking up as a “producer” is procrastination insurance.

I started writing this blog in the mornings so I could reduce my avarice for info which adds no value. Of course, sometimes I get lazy and just post the content that I consume. When I write something coherent, there is greater clarity and purpose over the course of the day.

Some advice: wake up and start producing. Before you grab breakfast, before you head to the gym, before you head to your email, write about something. Doesn’t matter what. Just sit down, focus and write for that first hour that you’re up. It’ll change the rest of your day. You will be more productive.