Wasting time can be your new golden ticket

Jeff Hoffman is the billionaire cofounder of Priceline.com. He has grown 7 different companies to over 50 million-dollar valuations, he has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the national CEO council for his contributions to the field of entrepreneurship, and he spends the majority of his time now keynote speaking around the world and mentoring entrepreneurs everywhere.

I recently had the incredibly fortunate opportunity to hear him speak and soak up some of his incredible wisdom.

Jeff mentioned topics like finding your bullseye customer, reverse goal planning, the “second slide client”, and so many more, but one nugget of absolute beauty stuck out like a baby in the boardroom.

Jeff’s billion-dollar business was born from procrastination.

Well, that is a bit of an overstatement. Allow me to explain.


Info Sponging

Jeff swears by this method as one of the most effective and powerful tools for lifelong entrepreneurs. Without this daily practice, which is also fun and entertaining, Jeff would not have had the same success he celebrates today, and Priceline.com never would have came to fruition.

Info sponging is the act of learning something new every single day for no particular reason.

Sounds simple enough, right? Let’s dig a bit deeper.

With all of his business endeavors, Jeff operates on the 97/3 rule:

97% of the time, he is laser-focused, committed to his end goal, building the right team and utilizing the right tactics in order to develop a great company.

3% of the time, Jeff’s focus is completely elsewhere. He spends 10 minutes a day reading an article about something totally random with no real intention behind it. He writes down a one-sentence summary of his findings in a Word Doc and repeats the process every single day.

Then the magic happens.

Without any deliberate intention, Jeff’s summaries and readings begin to coalesce. They harmoniously represent similar ideals, practices, and mindsets, even though they are from totally separate industries.

Jeff told a story about how he picked up a Latina Women’s magazine at the airport, and the cashier almost wouldn’t even give it to him because she was so confused by his purchase! In it, he read an article about travel, then that sparked a connection in his brain about something else he read related to pricing. Then he thought of the article he read about lodging in foreign countries.

Then boom, next thing you know, the idea for Priceline.com.


Other Examples

John Maxwell, prolific author of 92, yes, 92 books on leadership, coaching, business, among many other things has been using info sponging for over 50 years. He has a portfolio of summaries related to different categories, and at this point in his life, he isn’t even writing his own books anymore!

John has so much information and key findings from reading and reacting every day of his life, that his books are now simply scrapbook projects!

He gathers the information he needs from each of the sections he wishes to talk about, he physically copies and pastes them into a binder, he organizes them in a logical fashion, and finally he has a look through, polishes it up, and a book is created.

I have tried info sponging for a week now. Although still novice, I am already an avid advocate.

Day 1 I read about a female entrepreneur working on building a robotic arm.

Day 2 hydration techniques.

Day 3 contract agreements in sports.

Day 4 breastfeeding.

Day 5 “mixed-weight” relationships.

None of these had even remotely close to anything to do with my short or long-term goals for my life or for my business. But, the more I think about them, the more similarities I see, the more connections I make, and the more I can apply one concept to what I am working on.

For example, both the breastfeeding and mixed weight relationship articles had a lot to do with understanding public perception. As somebody working on a project with homelessness and how homeless people are perceived by the general passerby, I learned so much as to how the people I speak with are viewed, and I was able to start brainstorming viable solutions.


Bringing it Home

It is so crucial to follow your curiosity. Do not allow it to become a distraction but do allow it to lead you to unknown parts of your brain, unknown parts of your intellect that open your world to new ideas.

So many of us are overstressed by intention. We fear that if we are not calculated in each step we take toward our larger goal, we will get sidetracked and not be able to accomplish what we fully desire.

Info sponging is here to tell you the opposite.

Do not fear a brief moment of procrastination, a deviation from the set path, or an adjustment from your meticulously designed daily routine. Take time to learn because being intellectually curious opens doors to opportunities that would never expose themselves if caught constantly looking in between the lines.

You owe it to your business, you owe it to those around you, and you owe it to yourself to diversify your perspective, have a more general awareness for all that life has to offer, and do something that for once does not require a buried treasure at the bottom of the ocean.

The beauty of just doing something with no actual intention is that you get to have fun with it, you get to personalize your process, you get to tamper with that process, and you get to learn so much more about others, the world, and yourself.