The Productivity Giants Series with Patrick McGinnis, Venture Capitalist


Entrepreneurs, this installment of the #ProductivityGiants is for you – we speak to Patrick J McGinnis, New York City resident, venture capitalist and private equity investor. After a decade on Wall Street, Patrick founded Dirigo Advisors in order to provide strategic advice to entrepreneurs, investors, and fast growing startups. He’s built a diverse portfolio of investments, including in companies such as beauty site ipsy, smart luggage company Bluesmart, and Afiniti, a big data company focused on the call center industry.


Patrick is also the author of the ebook “How to Become a 10% Entrepreneur”, which teaches how to both have the stability of a day job AND the excitement of a startup at the same time. If you’re interested in becoming a 10% Entrepreneur, you can download a free workbook to get you started at


Read on for the full interview where Patrick reveals his favorite productivity methods:


What does the first 90 minutes of your day look like?


Since I grew up in a house with only one bathroom for 4 people, I can go from bed to door in less than 20 minutes. I don’t believe in TV or music in the morning, I prefer silence. I also don’t look at my phone for at least 20 minutes, other than perhaps a quick glance. I do my best thinking while I’m getting going.


Then I walk 3 blocks to my office, while listening to the Monocle Briefing podcast to get a start on the news, grab a coffee, and dive into the most essential thing I’m going to do that day. I like to tackle the most important and/or least fun things first in order to clear them away and feel like I’ve accomplished something.


What’s your number one productivity/time-saving tip? 


Three months ago, I removed Twitter from my phone. As a former Twitter addict, I probably checked it 20-30 times a day. Now, I’m in detox. I’ve noticed I have more time and I’m also much clearer headed. Plus, I have less FOMO.


Any favorite tools?


I’ve replaced my Twitter addiction with an app called NewsPicks. NewsPicks gives you far more curated news that is complemented by expert opinions that give you context. It’s far more thoughtful, far less stressful, and it’s fun to use.


How often do you check your inbox?


During the week, probably 2x per hour, minimum. During the weekend, once every few hours. Either way, that’s way too much. I hate email.


#1 Email tip?


Set up a secondary email address for all mailing lists and social networks. This filters out a lot of junk.


Favorite SaneBox feature?


Although I aspire to achieve inbox zero, it’s always a goal but on most days, not a reality. SaneBox was the missing piece.


When you lose focus, what do you do to regain it?


When I was writing my book, I learned that you simply cannot write more than 4-5 hours a day. Unlike working as an investor, where you can work for many more hours, anything above 5 hours produced total junk. In order to regain focus and produce good content, I found that sometimes doing less meant greater productivity over the long term.


Taking a walk, going for a run, taking a nap, or meditating, may be exactly what you need that day. I often get my best ideas at those moments, but I make sure to write them down or make a voice note, lest I lost them. While it doesn’t “look” like you’re working, time spent away from your desk pays major dividends.


What book has changed your life?


The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.


What’s your definition of productivity?


Productivity is achieving the goals you set for yourself efficiently, while leaving open time for yourself to dream, create, or think outside of the box.


In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?


I started investing 10% of my time and money into side ventures outside of my day job. Not only did I create an investment portfolio that’s worth well over 20x my investment, I’ve diversified myself, gotten access to real upside, learned how to be an entrepreneur, and met amazing people in the process. This mindset also served as the basis for writing a book that has taken me all over the world.


What have you become better at saying no to?


I’m learning to say no to myself with respect to introducing people. I’m a natural connector and I want to connect people who might find ways to collaborate. Being a connector can be a burden, however, since each time I do that, I generate work for myself. Now, when I consider making connections, I ask myself whether I will regret doing so later on. That saves me time but also makes sure that I’m making meaningful connections for people who will truly benefit from and appreciate my efforts.




Follow Patrick on Twitter.