Karoshi – Life, Death, And Leverage

When you have a big vision with big goals, it is imperative to create leverage in your life and your business. Similar to how you can move a heavy object by applying less force to a lever,  finding ways to use a few resources to achieve a greater result is Leverage. 

While leverage in a business sense typically refers to how debt can be utilized from a financial point, I would like to reserve that for a later study and focus on other forms of leverage such as time and energy. Leverage ultimately boils down to how effectively you use your energy with the time you have. Time to think; create; and strategize.

n Japan Karoshi means ‘death from overwork’. James Schramko has a great chapter on personal effectiveness in his book ‘Work Less, Make More’. Statistically, James points out that in Japan, Karoshi causes around 1,000 deaths per year and nearly 5% of strokes and heart attack fatalities in employees under 60 years of age. A ‘Hard days work’ is an industrial term meant to instill the value of working hard and rewards. The belief in those days was that if you were loyal to the company you worked for they would in turn look after you in retirement. Society holds these values favorably so it was uncommon to see anyone from the middle class challenging these thoughts. 

Overwork is a real problem faced by the working class. With very little time to spare the average desk clerk in meant to do more with less making if impossible to live a balanced life. From a macro perspective, a companies leverage is created through systems and people, however, most people equate leverage with money. Sure, money can pay for systems, as well as for wages, but the two should not be conflated. James Schramko’s belief is that an effective day’s work is about energy and not time management. What is the best way to change your focus and increase how effective you are?


Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.


The Pareto Principle also is known as the 80/20 rule, is an old business term made popular by Richard Koch in his book ‘The 80/20 Principle’. Simply put, 80% of a companies sales come from 20% percent of its customers. This landmark concept not only applies to sales but to other areas of business:

  • 20% of the products you have on inventory account for 80% of sales.
  • 20% of the sources of marketing contributes to 80% of the leads the business generates.
  • And so forth…

From a modern-day perspective the average worker is using this principle in the wrong way, using 80% of their resources to achieve 20% or less of the results. To succeed with the 80/20 principle you will need to use it as a primary tool for organizing everything you learned about selling in your business.

How to use this principle in everyday life?

Start by looking at your client list, how many of your clients provide the most business? You find that only a handful of clients are your regular customers. Then move on to inventory, list all the products that have made the greatest returns on an annual base. You’ll start to see a pattern start to emerge. What would happen if you had to focus just on that 20% using the time you have available, removing the clients that take 80% of your time for only a fraction of the revenue. While I don’t suggest you remove the 80% of time waster and inventory completely from your business. I do suggest that delegating those tasks to employees can free us to focus on growing those parts of your business that matter the most.

A real life example

My company, Sproud, was formed to provide myself and equity partners with the opportunity to improve lives through the use of property. One of the most important tasks of this business is to gather new leads. While we managed to get a great result from an array of sources there was one area we were not gaining any grounds with. Reals estate agents seem to produce only 1% of the leads, which meant that we were using 99% of our resources to generate a tiny fraction of possible leads with this funnel.

If you know anything about lead generation, it’s a systems game. Property investment is a system after system after system. Money is constantly being moved. Residents are moving in and out. Vendors need to get paid. Clients need updating. Realty is recruiting, training, marketing, commission checks for agents, and bills needing to get paid. 

Finding potential leads for business was time-consuming for the 1st few months. Meeting with agents, trying to explain my business model, and succeeding in only attracting 1% of the leads I engaged with, was a real-time constraint and it felt never-ending.  I use to spend most of my weekend meeting agents some of them for the 1st time to look at what they had to offer. Most of the deals did not meet my criteria because the agent had not understood how investments work or for a better term, they had no financing education, which resulted in them seeing only the short-term gains.

I needed to find the 1% of investor-friendly agents for my team and I needed to find them faster with less effort, or just abandon this lead source altogether. My idea was this, I was not going to search for these agents, I was going to let hem come to me. 

My 1st task was to raise awareness by informing these agents that my company exists and what my goals were. With over a thousand agents in my province alone finding the time to talk to each one was not an option. So, I focused my efforts on the agencies themselves. I drew up a list of all the real estate businesses in my area and found their contact details online.

It took me 1 hour to a list of agencies and 5 minutes to send a single email to the heads of these companies. 3 hours later I started to receive calls from these investor-friendly agents. What I essentially did was use these companies’ 1st point of contact to find the right people I was looking for. After all who knows the agents better then the people they work with. Not only did these agents call back but they understood my strategy and understood it from an investment perspective. With very little effort, these agents were able to educate me on how to go about gathering the leads for strategy and how they can assist. What I had tried to achieve in 6 months I did in little than over an hour. This is how I used my time and energy to leverage finding the right people for the job. 


Rest assured, I intend to provide value to these agents as they are very few of them out there. Finding the right people for the job is one of the most important tasks of a leader. My time is now dedicated to what I do best: working with our clients and building my team.

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