Half-Day Henry


Business owner, entrepreneur. Interested in business, property, FBA, entrepreneurship, smart passive income, and becoming a Half-day Henry.

9 things productive people do differently

I love those lists of '15 tasks billionaires do before breakfast' or '10 habits of productive people' or '18 egg recipes used by successful people'*. Often they are the same information recycled. However, I came across this list of things productive people do differently and found it quite insightful. The author "invited 26 bestselling science and productivity writers to share their insights for achieving top performance, as part of the free online summit called The Peak Work Performance Summit (link is external)."

Here are the findings. Original article here.

1. Own your time.

Our most satisfying work occurs when we’re playing offense, working on projects that we ourselves initiate. Many of us know this intuitively, yet we continue to allow ourselves to spend the vast majority of our days playing defense, responding to other people’s requests.

Many of the experts I interviewed believe that top performers take steps to ensure a favorable offense-to-defense ratio. Tom Rath, author of Are You Fully Charged? (link is external), recommends blocking out time to work away from email, programming your phone to ring only for select colleagues, and resisting emails in the morning until you’ve achieved at least one important task.

2. View "busyness" as a lack of focus.

There’s a satisfying rush we experience when there’s too much on our plate. We feel needed, challenged, even "productive." But it's an illusion that robs us of our focus and prevents us from making progress on the work that matters most.

Sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D. (link is external), of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, put it this way: “Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear." Instead of viewing busyness as a sign of significance, top performers interpret busyness as an indication of wasted energy.

3. Challenge the myth of the “ideal worker."

Too many of us continue to believe that an "ideal worker" is one who works constantly, often at great expense to their personal life, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Being productive requires recognizing that you can’t work for extended periods of time and maintain a high level of performance. As humans, we have a limited capacity for focused attention. As Brigid Schulte, journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Overwhelmed (link is external), points out, we have been seduced into thinking that if only we try harder and work longer, we can achieve anything.

Top performers take a different approach: They recognize and honor their physical limitations by cycling between 90-minute bursts of focused work and short restorative breaks, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and taking time to disconnect from email for some portion of their off hours.

4. Intentionally leave important tasks incomplete.

We often race to finish assignments quickly so we can move onto the next item on our list. But Wharton psychologist Adam Grant (link is external) believes resisting this urge can actually make us more productive.

“I used to sit down to write and not want to get up until I was done with a chapter or an argument," Grant told me. "Now I will deliberately leave sentences just hanging in the middle and get up and go do something else. What I find when I come back is that I don’t have to do a lot of work to finish the sentence, and now I also have a bunch of new ideas for where the writing should go next." Hemingway followed the same strategy, and both Grant and the novelist leveraged the human tendency to ruminate over unfinished tasks, otherwise known as the Zeigarnick Effect. Start a project and leave it unfinished, and you’re bound to think about it more frequently than after it’s done. And so, instead of aiming to complete important tasks in one sitting, try leaving them incomplete. It will encourage you to continue thinking about your work in different settings—and position you to uncover creative solutions.

5. Make a habit of stepping back.

In a knowledge economy, productivity requires more than perseverance. It requires insight and problem-solving. Research indicates that we are more likely to find breakthrough ideas when we temporarily remove ourselves from the daily grind. This is why the best solutions reveal themselves when we step into the shower, go for a run, or take a vacation. Top performers view time off not as stalled productivity, but as an investment in future performance.

6. Help others strategically.

High achievers, Grant argued in his 2013 book, Give and Take (link is external), tend to be givers—those who enjoy helping others without strings attached. Giving can certainly help you succeed, but Grant’s data also reveals that helping everyone with everything is a recipe for failure. How do you do it right? Top performers, Grant argues, avoid saying “yes" to every helping opportunity. Instead, they specialize in one or two forms of helping that they genuinely enjoy and in which they excel.

7. Have a plan for saying "no."

The more commitments we agree to take on, the more likely we are to experience what author Rory Vaden (link is external) calls “priority dilution." This is when the sheer number of obligations we’ve committed to keep us from the work that matters most. One method of counteracting priority dilution involves having a strategy in place for saying “no" in advance, so that you don’t have to stop and think about how to phrase your response each time you need to turn someone down. Create an email template, or write out a script that you can use when saying no in person.

When dealing with a manager who is asking you to take on more than is reasonable, think outside the yes/no paradigm. Writer Greg McKeown (link is external) recommends having a conversation with your manager and listing all the projects you’re currently working on. Indicate which items you think are priorities and invite your supervisor to share his or her opinion. It’s a way of illuminating the constraints you’re under without ever saying the word “no."

8. Make important behaviors measurable.

To make progress toward any goal, it helps to track our behaviors. Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin (link is external), an expert on happiness and habits, sees monitoring as one of the keys to behavior changes: “If you want to eat more healthily, keep a food journal. If you want to get more exercise, use a step counter. If you want to stick to a budget, track your spending."

CEO coach Marshall Goldsmith (link is external) agrees. Every evening, he reviews a 40-item spreadsheet consisting of every important behavior he hopes to achieve, including the number of words he wrote; the distance he walked; and the number of nice things he said to his wife, daughter, and grandchildren.

9. Do things today that make more time tomorrow.

A final theme to emerge was that top performers look for ways to automate or delegate activities that are not a good use of their time. Vaden (link is external) suggests asking yourself, “How can I use my time today in ways that create more time tomorrow?" Evaluating your to-do list through this lens makes it easier to commit to activities that are not immediately enjoyable—like automating your bill paying, or creating a “how to" guide for other team members to make it easier to delegate repetitive tasks.

All of these suggestions are useful individually, but they also highlight an important trend: In the 1990s, being productive mainly required good time management. Ten years later, the advent of email led to an expanded workday, and productivity required managing your energy, not just your time.

Over the last few years, we have entered a new age in which managing our energy and time is not enough. Today, the magnitude of information rushing toward us from every direction has surpassed our capacity for consumption. No matter how much time and energy we have at our disposal, we cannot be productive without mastering the art of attention management. Resisting the lure of busyness, having a plan for saying “no," maintaining a relentless focus on self-directed goals that only you can achieve—these are the skills we need to cultivate to succeed both at work and in life.

*May or may not exist.

Amazon FBA: The end of the road

And now, the end is near, and we must face, the final curtain.

Ok not quite so dramatic perhaps, but my Amazon FBA viability project has come to a conclusion, and I've decided not to proceed.

Is it a viable business idea with the potential to make decent money? Yes, absolutely. So why am I not going forward with it?

First of all, as a Half Day Henry, I wanted to establish if Amazon FBA represented relatively passive income.

It does and it doesn't.

The hope in my research was that it would prove to be a venture I could set up and when it was up and running, it would largely be a case of monitoring stock levels and customer feedback, and reordering stock as and when required. The truth of it is that Amazon FBA, at least to spark the income levels I'd like, requires a lot of ongoing work to really make the most of it. Reviews and feedback must be monitored, advertising campaigns checked and tweaked to maximise efficacy, product listings maintained and competitors watched, then any unexpected issues dealt with as they arise (more on that in a minute).

Secondly, if you really want to make a go of it, then expansion of range and variations is part of the process, and that leads me on a path on which I'm not as interested.

What I mean by this is that initially, my thought process was to search for a product opportunity, get it manufactured in China, shipped to Amazon, and that's that essentially. The reality is that what the really successful FBAers are doing is expanding a product range; related products, variations, evolving their listings and product range as the market changes, building external-to-Amazon websites and social media pages, and really building a RANGE, as a retailer almost. This isn't what I'm looking for; it's not the business I was looking to get in to.

Thirdly on the why-I've-moved-on-from-this-idea list is the threat of unexpected issues arising which can scupper your work.

What do I mean by this? I joined several FBA Facebook pages, subscribed to podcasts, and rattled through the full back catalogue of Amazing Seller output, and this 'unexpected issue' problem has troubled me. I seem to see many posts on Facebook groups with vendors having reviews disappear for no reason, seemingly-malicious bad reviews being submitted to lower rankings, stock being lost by Amazon, 'hijackers' moving in and usurping listings, and so on. I'm the type of person who likes to get his research done thoroughly, and execute a plan with the risks known. The idea of doing all the work just to select and manufacture a product, do the PPC, get it on Amazon, get it selling, have reviews in, then something unexpected, some unscrupulous rival, swoop in and undo my hard work....it's not something I'm comfortable with.

The idea of my Amazon FBA viability project was to establish if it could bring in income relatively passively to help launch an expansion of my property development. My conclusion is that it's more involved that I'd hoped, that it takes me in a retail/product range development direction, and that there are unexpected dangers that are difficult to mitigate or plan for, which can put a stick in the spokes. For these reasons, I've decided it's not for me right now. I have no doubt I could make a success of FBA, but I don't want it to distract from my property development.

I've no doubt there are huge opportunities out there for people with FBA (though it's undoubtedly much harder than those who got in on FBA a few years ago; another issue not dwelt on here), and it's been difficult for me to leave the groups, delete the podcasts etc, but knowing when to say 'no' is a key part of becoming a Half Day Henry, so I'm being positive about leaving this project behind. Remember; it's all about getting to the successes as quickly as possible.

If you're going to fail, fail fast, and move on.

100 rules of being an entrepreneur

This article by James Altucher has been on my reading list for a long time, and I've finally gotten round to reading it.

Superb stuff. I don't want to ramble too much; just go read it if you're interested in entrepreneurship.

Personal favourites include:

"It’s OK to fail. Start over. Hopefully before you run out of money. Hopefully before you take in investor money. Or, don’t worry about it. Come up with new ideas. Start over."

"Don’t worry about anyone stealing your ideas. Ideas are worthless anyway. It’s OK to steal something that’s worthless."

FBA journey:  struggling for a product

I'm struggling for inspiration on an FBA product.

For what it's worth, this seems to be a very common problem.

I want to do private labeling; it seems to be the best way to generate real income through FBA. That said, there's a LOT of learning around FBA, and I'm starting to grow frustrated about not actually getting started yet and having products online. I analyse detail, and like to be careful and pragmatic in business, but at the same time, I am wary of being caught in "analysis paralysis". This has led me to look at 'retail arbitrage' (RA) as a way in; an opportunity to get to know the basic FBA systems, the labeling requirements etc, before diving in at the deep end.

Retail arbitrage is essentially finding a product on sale at one retailer which is selling for more on Amazon, buying the products, and quickly getting it on to Amazon. The Arbing Blog has a great worked example of this in action so I won't go into detail; he explains it very well.

I thought I'd found a product this week. A kids game. It was for sale for £25 with a retailer, and on Amazon (the only other listed retailer on the comparison app I was using) for £57. At first glance: ideal. However, upon further investigation, it revealed itself to be a no-go. Only 6 reviews on Amazon, and of them, only 2 were in the past 12 months. It also had a BSR of 105k. A bit disappointing, but I'm glad I've completed the first few steps on a potential product. Every failure is one closer to the success etc etc.

Coincidentally, I listened to podcast 165 of The Amazing Seller. It was a 'back to basics' on finding a product, and it's changed the way I've been thinking about FBA product sourcing. The main thing I took from it was the aim of building a MARKET, with a few products around a central theme, interest etc. I've got some ideas on this related to my physical shop and will be developing this with good old pad and paper in the coming weeks. Incidentally, I'd thoroughly recommend the Amazing Seller podcast, and this one in particular.

The quest continues...

Barclays shares: sell or hold in 2016?

I (we: my wife & I) have some shares in Barclays (LSE:BARC), and have had since 2010. It's a relatively small holding, but nonetheless it's there. I've watched as the value of those shares has toppled from around the 350p mark when I got them, to the 161p they closed at yesterday. I remember having conversations with my wife about waiting until they got back up to 330p before we sold them off. 'LOL' is the expression. They never got near it.

As the bad news around the banking sector (PPI, LIBOR, increased regulatory requirements with regards to reserves) continued to rain down, we became increasingly despondent. I've been determined to get rid, adamant that they will never get back and are just a bad asset to have.

But hang on. Hang on just a minute. Let's look into this a bit more.

Analysts are actually fairly bullish about Barclays. For all the perceived nervousness, many are positing that 2016 isn't going to be as bad as 2008. QE is an option in 2016 in the Eurozone, and while China's growth is slowing, it's still expanding at a good rate. The FTSE seems to represent good value, and, as Motley Fool point out, Barclays have a new CEO and management team, and are making great strides in becoming more efficient as a profitable, investment banking focused organisation. MF sees a return to 300p as "very achievable" in the medium term. On top of that, Hargreaves Lansdown are advising BUY.

So where am I at?

Part of me thinks these shares are never going to recover and get rid. The other part (I only have 2 parts, it appears; read into that what you will) reckons things can't get MUCH worse, so why not ride it out. I'm leaning to the latter, with a view to reassessing at the end of the year. I'm bracing myself for 150p and hoping for a rally up through the rest of the year. Regardless of what happens though, I'm glad I've done a bit of reading.

We got a good deal with these shares, and I'm keen to use them as a foothold in stocks and shares with a view to continuing to increase my knowledge and build a portfolio I'm interested in and which provides a residual income. I've found some great articles on the Retirement Investing Today blog around building a passive income around your portfolio, and will continue to explore this site.

2016: the year of the global crash?

2016, welcome. I've been expecting you.

In many ways I've been building towards 2016 for years. Many personal and business finance decisions have taken me from a place of debt, credit cards, loans (personal and institutional), and a startup business to where I am now; debts settled, business in order, property let and generating income with as-yet trouble-free tenants. I'm ready to move into the next stage of expanding my property portfolio, and looking at my options regarding stocks and bonds. Now that 2016 is here, I've been excited in recent weeks about getting stuck in and embracing a new period of financial grown as I move towards more passive income and a timescale for location independence.

But here's the thing. I'm now worried about a global financial meltdown.

We bought our house to renovate and live in for a while in 2007. Late 2007. Yes. THAT 2007. The one right before the crash. We bought at the peak of the market, broke the ceiling price on the street, and watched as the housing market collapsed like a bad souffle. We've been hamstrung for some time by this bit of bad luck, especially as we saw big potential in the property and the area (it was due investment, new facilities and transport links etc which largely haven't materialised). We thought we'd get a good profit on the house, and that's not looking likely. The last thing I want is to make some bold financial decisions about property and stocks and then watch them devalue hugely and take years to recover.

So are we heading for a crash?

Well nobody knows for sure, let's just get that out the way first.

Several observers are pointing out that we could be though, with some outlets reporting that George Osborne may have triggered a crisis 'greater than 2007'. RBS has told investors to “sell everything", and Albert Edwards, a strategist at the bank Société Générale, was warned of an impending wave of deflation from emerging economies and that things will turn "very ugly indeed". Brent crude is hovering around $30 and expected to go lower (Barron's have predicted it to go as low as $20 before bouncing back by year end), and share prices have had a woeful start to the year.

What other red flags are there?
China is the big red flag (arf arf), with it's gargantuan economy, falling demand for credit, and capital controls (keeping money within it's borders, meaning the increasing middle classes are limited in where they can invest and so make stocks and real estate increasingly expensive) has the hallmarks of a growing bubble. If China drops, well, that saying about being in bed with an elephant comes to mind.

The PIIGS (Portugal Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain) in the Eurozone continue to look shaky economically, and the prospect of Grexit and Brexit will make markets nervous. Grexit, in particular, wouldn't be a disaster in and of itself, but could lead to a slew of further departures. Low interest rates aren't really an option to alleviate the pressure because they're so low already, so central banks don't really have a lot of wiggle room if the economy goes down the toilet.

So how does this affect my plans?
I was fairly undeterred, but the more I read, the more nervous I get, particularly about the BTL bubble theory. Shares-wise, I'm looking at oil with a view to investing if it gets significantly lower (say, $25) and then holding out for a hoped-for bounce up to $50 by the end of the year to get back out again. Likewise with big name 'safer bets' like Apple, Disney etc, who could see a drop but are fairly decent bets to recover. My property plans will continue; I'm not immediately ready with my business plan to purchase, so will keep a close eye on the market for now, and reassess week-by-week, month-by-month.

But hey: I'm far from an expert. Just an interested observer warning: tread carefully, read extensively.

What's the difference between ROI and ROE?

Reading an article recently on a novice property investor who was reflecting on his journey, he noted that he 'didn't even know the difference between ROI and ROE'.

I have been absorbing copious amounts of information for some time now about property investment including the finances as I look to expand my portfolio, and confess that I have not come across the term ROE. So I researched it, and here it is, for those of you who aren't aware.

Return on investment is the net income from your business (in this case property) divided by the total money invested in the venture multiplied by 100. If, for example, you spend £100,000 on your property and got £5,000 profit, your annual ROI equals £5,000 / £100,000 x 100 = 5 percent. When calculating ROI, the investment will include all borrowed funds.
Return on equity is calculated by dividing the net income by the equity of the investor and multiplying the result by 100. In the example above, say you have a 75% ltv mortgage, your equity is £25,000, so ROE equals £5,000 / £25,000 x 100 = 20 percent.
In the example, for every pound invested you have made 20p, while the ROI tells us that for every pound of combined assets and loans invested, you will yield a 5p profit.

Like I say, ROE is not a metric I've used or heard talked about with reference to property. I like that it takes into account assets and liabilities (ie mortgages), but am wary that more highly-leveraged properties could show a skewed higher-than-expected figure. I'll be concentrating more on ROI, but like a man in orthopaedic shoes, I'm happy to stand corrected.

About me

Let me tell you a bit about myself.

Like on Blind Date. (Bliiiiiiinda-daaaaaaate, for those of you who get the reference).


I'm a thirty-something business owner and entrepreneur. My income comes from my shop, where I am hands-off, and my property portfolio. I built 2 shops from nothing, sold one, and retain one. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit; as a child I was fascinated in the idea of using money to make more money. My jobs as a teenager were largely commission based, unlike my peers, who got cushy jobs in shops. I had paper rounds that I did Mon-Sat before school (yes more than one at a time to maximise income), I sold goods from home-shopping catalogue businesses, worked as a programme vendor at a sports ground, sold confectionery door-to-door, then in my later teenage years and early 20s responded to demand among friends for popular computer games and accessories that were in short supply by ordering a few and selling them on at profit.

I've always been fascinated by the ideas around income that rises the with increased effort and ingenuity.

I have a young family (wife, 3yo, <1yo), and love to see new parts of the world. I've done desk jobs. I've enjoyed them, but ultimately, they weren't for me. I want a business I can run from anywhere in the world. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and know that I've earned money while I've been asleep. I want my kids to see me and us to spend quality time together, rather than sending them off to nursery/school all day while I go work to give me enough money to be able to pay the bills to have weekends with them before getting back to the grindstone.

I love to work. But I want the rewards to go to me. Not a manager. Not a CEO. Not shareholders. Me. My family.

I want to increase mine and my partner's net worth, expand my property portfolio, and establish a business interest in FBA. You can follow my progress here.

Let me introduce myself

This is the Half-Day Henry blog.

I am not Henry.

Not yet. Allow me to explain...

'Half-Day Henry' is someone you see living in a nice house, with a nice car. They seem to spend a lot of time with their kids, taking them out on their bikes in the MIDDLE OF THE WORKING DAY, taking them to swimming and dance lessons. This person MUST have a job, but they seem to knock off at lunchtime! Bloody half-day Henry!

The cheek. They should be slogging their guts out in an office/shop somewhere, doing the commute to work like the rest of us.


A half-day Henry is someone who has their business organised in such a way that they don't need to adhere to the 9-5, the commute, the uniform. They can be flexible, and they use their time efficiently and smartly to prioritise what they want to, whether that is working on their business, taking their family out for coffee, or going travelling to far-flung locations.

That's where I want to be.

This blog will document my journey towards Half-Day Henrydom. I'll use it as a journal, a sounding board, and a point of reference for anyone else interested in achieving what I want to.

My interests will be reflected in this blog. Those interests are:


I hope you enjoy. If you have feedback, please feel free to contact me on halfdayhenry (at) gmail.com. I'm also on Twitter, @halfdayhenry

Amazon FBA Feb 2016 update

Ok the more I learn the more questions arise. This is fairly typical with me on new projects; I like to get into the detail, to 'deep-dive' (awful phrase but captures the idea well). I plan to execute FBA as a business venture and want to document my 'adventure' as I go along. After all, when you've acquired knowledge, it's very hard to remember exactly what it felt like BEFORE you acquired it. Hopefully this documentation will help others embarking on similar paths or with similar interests, as well as assisting me in the process of journaling and achieving more in my business. Win-win!

Ok so here's where I'm at.

Podcasts discovered
I'm a podcast guy. I listen to podcasts while walking & driving, and some days I can do quite a bit of that, so it's a great way of soaking up information. If you're not a podcast person so far, give it a go!

I've started listening to The Amazing Seller, and FBA Allstars and have enjoyed both, particularly The Amazing Seller, where I'm working my way through the back catalogue. I'm getting so much great information on different aspects of FBA so intend to plough through the back catalogues. I've got more podcasts to try over the weekend (I've a few hours on a train to come): FBA Journey, Amazing FBA, and AM/PM. I'll jot some thoughts down on them when they're listened to!

Amazing agents
Scott Voelker (@scottvoelker) on The Amazing Seller interviewed Nancy Ramirez (@awcblog), an agent who has been working with Chinese businesses exporting for many years. Her insights were illuminating. My first impression was that to do the FBA 'thing', you get on Alibaba, and there you have a load of factories telling you what they have for you. It seems that actually a lot of the work in hooking up manufacturers with suppliers is done by agents, who are absolutely crucial in getting you to where you want to be as a successful FBA seller, particularly as a lot factories are very small and not necessarily staying up to date on sites like Alibaba. I intend to delve much more into this aspect and can thoroughly recommend Nancy's blog at approvedwithcorrections.com.

Doing it yourself; a good option for noobs
Another preconception I had around FBA was that you pick a product, order 1000, and send them straight to Amazon, who do everything for you. While this IS an option, initially, with newbies still learning the processes and building relationships with manufacturers, a sensible approach is to order smaller quantities, have the manufacturer provide the basic labeling service, and have the items shipped to you to check quality before forwarding on to Amazon. This lowers risk and maximises the opportunity for good reviews based on quality products so a bit of a no-brainer for me really.

Incidentally, I am aware that another approach that people take is taking on liquidated stock from shops, getting products from 'flea markets' and 'thrift stores', but this just isn't really my thing so it's not an avenue I'm looking at. I put the ' on those previous terms because as a UK-based seller they are not really appropriate to me.

Still no product
I've got two product ideas, both in the same category, both fairly high on the BSR ranking. With one of them I've found some products on Alibaba with which look great. That's as far as I've got. I've a concern that I should be looking at a product that's smaller; while neither product is 'oversized', they're not 'small' either. I plan to do more work in the next couple of weeks into product ideas, and produce a shortlist of three by the end of the month, having reviewed who the competition would be, BSRs and prospective sales levels.

BSR numbers clarified
Some reading around BSRs on the web has given me ballpark figures on what a 'good' BSR would be in terms of sales of products in major categories. This was for Amazon US sellers, but nonetheless it made me feel more relaxed about the need to pick something in the top ten BSR for a category.

More research to be done, but a fruitful week in terms of moving the project along.