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How You Can Make Time For Everything That Matters with Ken Arlen
Strategic Coach entrepreneur Ken Arlen has always been drawn to music, and he’s managed to make a career out of it with Arlen Music Productions, a company that provides live music for special events.
“It took me until one or two years out of college to realize that this was my calling,” he says. “So then it was just more a question of how I was going to make it work, and I was willing to take on the responsibilities—to be a leader, to make things happen for myself so that I could be successful in music and pick up all of the skills that I needed to pick up.”
But like so many growing entrepreneurs find, the time he had to spend running his business took a toll on every other aspect of Ken’s life.
An exhausting performance.
When he first joined Strategic Coach in 1992, his daughter was four and his son was nine, and he didn’t have as much time to spend with them as he would have liked.
“I had two employees, so I wasn’t doing everything myself,” Ken says. “I had started a second band. I had ten full-time musicians that were working for the company.
“And my life was definitely controlled by work. I wasn’t getting the free time I would’ve liked to have had. The music business can be very exhausting and energetically draining so I found myself mostly in that state of mind.”
Ken ended up having to work most weekends, giving up a lot of family time.
“I was missing a lot of events that most parents would attend, and trying to make up for it on, let’s say, a Monday,” he explains. “But oftentimes I’d be coming out of a weekend very exhausted from performing so it definitely had an impact on my family life.”
Dividing his days.
Ken remembers talking to his sister, associate coach Adrienne Duffy, who’d been in The Strategic Coach Program for about a year, and telling her that he felt like he was hitting a ceiling and not really growing due to complexity generated by his business.
A suggestion from his sister led to Ken coming into contact with Strategic Coach founder Dan Sullivan: “She said, ‘Oh, I think you’d be perfect for Strategic Coach. You should meet Dan Sullivan.’ He happened to be doing a talk in Chicago that I attended, and that was the beginning of a very fruitful relationship.”
At Strategic Coach, Ken learned that to be most effective in his entrepreneurial life and his personal life, working as much as possible every day wasn’t the answer.
“I think up until then, the way I thought about my time was that every day was pretty much the same,” Ken says. “Work hard, and if you could find a little play time, you would play.
“I remember the big ‘ah ha’ moment with Dan was his saying that you take the free time up front so that you go into your life from a rejuvenated point of view.
“The concept that your free time is totally free—not taking a phone call, not being distracted by the business in any way—was really new for me, something that I had to implement at the beginning.”
Dan says that Ken and thousands of other growing entrepreneurs had to learn “the capability of balance, and that’s really what Strategic Coach does.”
The Strategic Coach Program combines two concepts: growing your own Unique Ability and increasing the Unique Ability Teamwork in your organization to handle the growth entrepreneurs experience. That also allows entrepreneurs to cut their actual work time down by as much as half, and that half frees them up to restore balance in their lives. “And that happens as soon as you want it to happen when you come into Strategic Coach,” Dan says.
Download Dan Sullivan’s book WhoNotHow to find out how you can become a better delegator and free up your time.
Balancing it all.
Things have been very different for Ken since he learned and applied Strategic Coach’s Time System for growing entrepreneurs.
“About four years into the Program, I took my kids out of school for the month of April and we did a one-month trip to Europe. And it was great because it was very unstructured,” he says. “Every day was a creation.”
Ken’s family trip proved to be a close bonding experience for everyone and they’ve since been on many other trips just like it. He describes it as “just honoring the importance of free time with the family and making that a priority. I don’t think I would’ve honored that kind of free time, and realized the importance of it, without being in The Strategic Coach Program.”
“I think growth is going to be a guarantee,” Ken says. “But I also think that, at the end of the day, when you write the final chapter and you look back, balance is going to be more important.”
Experiencing bigger and better growth.
While Ken has been able to make more time for things other than work, his company has experienced exponential growth and expansion since he first joined the Program.
“When I look at when I first came into the Program,” he says. “I was doing maybe 60, 70 performances a year, and my ‘Largest Check’ was probably about $10,000.
“I look at my business today, and I have five dance bands and another seven bands of various types of ensembles. I have a company that employs 75 musicians who make their living from being involved in our company. We work with probably about another 200 independent contractors on a regular basis. I have ten employees, and we produce over 600 events a year. And our Largest Check is over $100,000.”
For Ken, these sorts of results would have been hard to visualize 26 years ago, back when he imagined that he’d have to do everything himself. “I’ve become a very good delegator by being in Strategic Coach.”
“So what life has become about is purpose, giving back, sharing wisdom, contributing to the larger global community, being a game changer in some large way, collaborating in some larger way, and helping other people achieve their goals as well,” Ken shares. “And I think that mindset gets perpetuated by being in The Strategic Coach Program as many years as I have.”