Do you love making cold calls? You do? OK, well, you’re a crazy son-of-a-gun, and I want you on my team.
For the rest of us, cold calling is the biggest necessary evil in all of Sales. If only we could spend 100% of our time delivering electrifying presentations, chumming it up on the golf course, and treating clients to overpriced sushi.
Why is making cold calls a necessary evil? Because as a sales rep, you are responsible for creating demand. You have to get there and spark interest with a prospect, connecting your product to their problem.
Unfortunately, thanks to decades of unsolicited and unprofessional telemarketers and robocallers incessantly spamming us with phone calls pitching products we don’t need, asking us to donate to XYZ cause, and addressing us by the wrong name, people have now been trained to shun sales calls. Corporate gatekeepers stand guard as you “Press zero to speak with an Operator.” And assuming you’ve found a way to bypass the gatekeeper and catch a prospect in a moment where they’re at the desk and able to answer their phone (a Herculean feat in itself), before you even speak one word, you are already at a massive disadvantage – the prospect has been trained by years of receiving low quality sales calls to instinctively say “No.”
It doesn’t matter if you have the best product for the lowest price and perfectly suits their business; you are battling against a now-hardwired instinct.
Making a cold call to a prospect is like walking into the kitchen of a Michelin Star restaurant at 7 p.m. (peak dinnertime when the kitchen workers are buzzing a mile-a-minute), strolling right up to the Head Chef in the midst of the culinary chaos, and saying, “Hey there, I know you’re busy, but I’m with National Cable Company and we have a promotion where I can get your business twice the WiFi speed for no extra cost. Are you interested in setting up a meeting to discuss in more detail?”
You’d be lucky to escape that kitchen without the Head Chef lopping you off at the neck with a cleaver, let alone having any realistic chance of making a sale.
What can you do to improve your cold calling odds and make the entire process of cold calling better for everyone involved?
THREE SELLING TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR COLD CALLING RESULTS
1. Communicate your Valid Business Reason for calling before you take your first breath.
Ever heard the old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression?” In this situation, your first impression isn’t this initial cold call; your first impression is your first sentence. From the moment you being to speak, you are being judged. Your first 1-2 sentences are the most critical piece of this entire conversation. Plan exactly what you will say before you pick up the phone.
A good Valid Business Reason for calling will include three components:
Show that you know something about their business
Give the prospect a reason to meet with you
Give them a reason to meet or take action right now
2. Anticipate a minimum of three objections, and know how you will address the concerns and return to the validity and urgency of your Valid Business Reason.
Remember, the prospect is trained to say “No” to anything you say or offer. Think through the likely objections they will toss out and prepare yourself.
Some of the most common objections for any cold call are:
“Now’s just not a good time.”
“We don’t have the budget for that.”
“That decision isn’t up to me.”
“We don’t do ____.” or “We don’t use ____.”
Write down how you would respond to these in a document, and keep that document nearby when making calls.
3. Before you call, define your desired outcome of the conversation.
Hint: it should be one of these three things:
Further qualify the prospect beyond what you could find online
Schedule a business meeting
Close the sale
If you don’t know the exact purpose of your call, how is your prospect supposed to know? Before you start talking, they don’t know if you are trying to get them to buy something on the spot, take a meeting with you, or simply to have a conversation. Your prospect is trying to decide, as quickly as possible, “Is there any reason I should not hang up the phone right now?” Your well-crafted Valid Business Reason gives them a reason to speak with you for a few more minutes, but then you must progress into clearly articulating exactly what you want the prospect to do and what they should expect to get in return for doing it.
For example, “We’ve established your website is difficult to find for homeowners in your area who are searching for a plumber. What we should do is schedule a time within the next five days for a 30-minute business meeting. In this meeting you can expect to learn the 5-step process my team will take to improve your company’s visibility online, and we’ll discuss the results my team has generated for other businesses with similar situations. At the end of the meeting you will know what we propose to do for you, how we’ll do it, what it will cost, and what your company will get in return. When can we meet?”
Taking these three steps will drastically improve your cold calling game:
Communicate your Valid Business Reason before you take a breath
Anticipate at least three objections and prepare your responses
Clearly define your desired outcome, and don’t shy away from telling your prospect exactly what your desired outcome is
If you had to set up Rock, Paper, Scissors rules for a new game called “Video, Audio, Text,” how would you do it? What beats what?
Text was invented first and has been around the longest. Some pretty important documents are text: the Constitution, the Bible, that one note you got from Gina in 7th grade. Today we see nearly every publication from newspapers to magazines designed as online first, print second, but they are still putting out text to disseminate news, gossip, and information.
Audio came next, sort of. Humans had been speaking before the written word came about, but it wasn’t until around 1900 when the first radio communication transmission was sent and received. Many people still listen to the radio today, and now we have internet radio, ebooks, and podcasts as wildly popular audio media.
And then there’s video, the sexiest of the bunch, what with it’s sight, sound, and millions of pixels. Many have said we are now in a Golden Age of television, with more on-demand streaming options launching by the day and binge-watching being readily available like never before. And as the cost for high quality cameras has come down (nearly everyone has a high-def camera in their phone), the playing field of video creation has been leveled.
In Rock, Paper, Scissors…
Rock beats Scissors because Rock is bigger and heavier and smashes the Scissors
Scissors beats Paper because that’s precisely what Scissors do
And Paper beats Rock because it covers up the Rock like a blanket, smothering it
So in Video, Audio, Text… what beats what?
It begs a clarifying question. What are we going for here?
Are we looking for which is the:
Most fun to create?
Most influential medium to society?
Easiest to consume?
Most likely to convey information you will recall and remember later?
Medium of the future, that a hundred years from now the one we expect to have the best chance of still standing and garnering most of our attention?
Least damaging to society?
Best business opportunity for a content producer to venture into?
There are a lot of ways to evaluate a medium!
Let’s focus in on the question “Which medium is the best business opportunity for a content producer to venture into?”
Huffington Post is arguably the most popular “blog” or text-based site on the web, getting around 110,000,000 visits per month. SimilarWeb says the average Huffington Post user visits 1.84 pages per visit, so means its average monthly page views are 202,400,000.
T-Series is the biggest YouTube channel, with over 91,000,000 Subscribers as of this writing. In the last 30 days, SocialBlade reports T-Series videos have been viewed 2,772,822,000 times.
It turns out, information about podcast downloads and popularity is not that easy to come by. In 2018 Apple released what the top 25 most downloaded podcasts were (like The Joe Rogan Experience, The Daily, Pod Save America, and RadioLab), but with no specific data. My uneducated guess tells me that even the biggest podcast probably doesn’t have as much reach as the biggest blogs, and it most definitely does not come close to YouTube view quantity.
Granted, there are many other factors that go into a content production business plan other than potential reach, such as:
Natural aptitude of the content producer (writing skills v. oral communication v. video production acumen)
Cost / overhead to produce
Identifying the target audience for the content and aligning their preferences with your content
Perhaps developing a grading rubric is in order to really get this right?
Sometimes attempting to answer one question leads to more questions. That’s when you know you’re on to something.
We can’t wrap this article without answering the not-so-important question of what the rules are of our incredible new game, so I’ve come to a conclusion…
Video beats Audio, because Video has everything that Audio has to offer, and more.
Audio beats Text, because you can listen to a book in a lot more places and contexts via an audiobook than a written text.
Text beats Video, because it’s the O.G. medium. Text doesn’t care how sexy Video is, some pretty important documents wouldn’t exist without the written word.
And there you have it. Now I just need one of you out there to help me with the best hand signs for our new, media version of Paper-Rock-Scissors.
I read Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World. Now you don’t have to! (You still should, though. You can buy it here from Amazon.)
I gained IMMENSE value from this book. So much so that, while reading it, I made a point to glean at least one takeaway from every person in the book and have cataloged the juiciest pearls of wisdom below.
Much of the advice in this book contradicts other advice in the book. This is why it is wise to heed the insight of Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō while reading the advice in this article, or when receiving any advice anywhere:
“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise; instead, seek what they sought.”
My advice? Focus on one insight that really speaks to you, internalize it, and take action on it. Then move on to the next.
Get real-world experience. Be a cowboy. Drive a truck. Join the Marine Corps. Get out of the hyper-competitive “life hack” frame of mind. Get out into the real dirt world and start failing. You’ve got ten lifetimes ahead of you.
When hesitating to get into a hard workout, remind yourself that afterward you’ll be able to think, “Nothing I face today will be harder than what I just did.”
The disease of our times is that we live on the surface. We’re like the Platte River, a mile wide and an inch deep. Real work and real satisfaction come from the opposite of what the web provides. They come from going deep into something – the book you’re writing, the album, the movie – and staying there for a long, long time.
Minor key music is elevating and transcendent, not sad like many people think.
Set up your life so that it is as comfortable and happy as possible – and so that it accommodates your creative work.
I love espresso, but I only allow myself one latte a day, and I save it for when I’m doing my creative work because it has trained me, Pavlovian style, to associate writing with the pleasure of coffee.
“Not dead, can’t quit.” – Richard Machowicz, former Navy SEAL
“Follow your bliss” has become my true north. Thinking about what makes me happy doesn’t give the same clarity as what gives me bliss.
The more you run from your fears, the bigger they get, but the more you go into them, the more they tend to vanish like a mirage.
Competition is the opposite of creativity.
Life is not a “young man’s game,” it’s an “inspired person’s game.”
Busy is a decision.
I do not believe in work-life balance. I believe that if you view your work as a calling, it is a labor of love rather than laborious. Your calling can become a life-affirming engagement that can provide its own balance and spiritual nourishment. Ironically, it takes hard work to achieve this.
Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. Happiness, or at least peace, is the sense that nothing is missing in this moment. No desires running amok. It’s okay to have a desire. But pick a big one and pick it carefully. Drop the small ones.
The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower. The means of learning are abundant – it’s the desire to learn that’s scarce. Read what you want, not what you’re supposed to.
Specialize – the great human achievement is to specialize as a producer of goods or services so that you can diversify as a consumer. Self-sufficiency is another word for poverty.
Listen to books as you fall asleep. By setting the timer carefully and rewinding a little every time you wake, you can miss almost none of a book.
Bozoma Saint John
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Working as a writer on your own hours, it’s tempting to get into the romantic notion that you don’t play by society’s rules – you work from home in your underwear, you do your most inspired writing at 3 A.M., you never set an alarm, etc. The problem is – it doesn’t work well. Make a schedule for yourself.
Obsess over figuring out the funnest, most exciting, most natural shape of yourself as a writer and start doing that. Imagine you are writing for a stadium full of replicas of yourself – now you know exactly what topics interest your audience, what writing style they like, and what their sense of humor is. By focusing inward on yourself as a writer instead of outward on what you think readers will want to read, you’ll end up creating the best and most original work.
Life is the obstacles. There is no underlying path. Our role here is to get better at navigating those obstacles. Strive to find calm, measured responses and see hindrances as a chance to problem-solve.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
We need a new diversity – not one based on biological characteristics and identity politics but a diversity of opinion and worldviews.
Dropped off daughter late at school and I was impatient, so she asked me, “Dad, what exactly would be the worst thing about being late?” It completely shifted my mindset.
Mike Maples Jr.
Step back, slow down, and ask the five whys. Get five levels deep with “why” to find the root cause of an issue.
Have something every day you’re looking forward to.
Don’t use “steppingstones” in your career. It says you clearly aren’t invested in what you’re doing. You have one life to live. Time is valuable. If you’re using steppingstones, you’re relying on someone else’s path or definition of success. Make your own.
Dita Von Teese
You can be a juicy ripe peach and there’ll still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Most people blame others or circumstances in their life for their suffering, but Buddhists believe we are the causes of our own suffering.
Be so good they can’t ignore you.
“The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.” – Walt Disney
The secret to change and growth is not willpower, but positive community.
The outcome is not the outcome. What we think of as endpoints to a goal are really just forks in a road that is endlessly forking. In the big picture of life, we don’t know whether a particular success or failure is actually helping or hurting us. Think instead: Did I do my best, given who I was and what I knew at the time? And what can I learn from the outcome to make my best better next time?
Criticism is not failure. If you’re not being criticized, you’re probably not doing anything exceptional.
Bad recommendation – take all feedback into consideration. Not all feedback is created equal, and not all ideas from your users are good ones.
Daily meditation, twice a day.
Don’t try to have a “social antenna” rather than a moral or creative compass. Trying to second-guess what the masses will accept or reject always leads to stagnation. Work from within!
Design a life so you don’t need an automobile.
Choose a profession that is easy for you to do and that allows you to be creative.
Sugar is toxic.
I told one of my clients who blamed her husband for everything to take 100 percent responsibility for her part in their interactions. “This way, you will be free of trying to control him, and you will be able to find constructive solutions in your relationship.”
Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.
“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children… to leave the world a bit better… to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If I accept you as you are, I make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Say no to negativity.
No one owes you anything.
For every major event in my life, I assign a song. I keep these songs in a playlist, ordered chronologically. I can go back through and listen and relive major experiences, both highs and lows.
Pursue the dreams that are planted in you already.
Help people who are less fortunate than you.
Help the planet.
Be here now.
People are too aware of trying to figure out what’s “hot” and trying to emulate that. Ultimately, you need to develop your own voice as a creator.
Follow your curiosity, wherever you can find it. Embracing a curious mind and always trying to learn more – about others, about yourself, about the world and our place within it – is an important way to express yourself.
Andrew Ross Sorkin
Persistence matters more than talent.
Everything’s a remix. Of course, there’s such a thing as being overly derivative, but I tend to value sincerity over originality. I perform better when I focus less on being original and more on being honest.
Write as if it’s for an audience, even if you’ll never show the writing to anyone. By having to explain whatever is vexing you in writing to a “reader” with no prior knowledge, I’m forced to identify and parse all the elements and nuances of what’s really going on.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Live. Give. Forgive.
Face fear full of hope, knowing that whatever challenge lies ahead, you are equal to it, and just deliver a message that is precisely the opposite of fear and defensiveness.
Remember your ultimate destination every time you feel overwhelmed. Remembering that destination will help you distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted.
Avoid consuming media that’s just telling you things you already know and agree with. Remind yourself how much time you’re wasting by not learning anything.
Uncertainty over Expected Value just gets folded into Expected Value. So, if I know that one of option A or B is going to be great, and the other’s going to be a disaster, but I’m totally unsure which is which, then they have the same expected value.
Do a gratitude practice every morning, every day. Write down three specific things you’re genuinely grateful for.
Disconnect failure from outcomes. Just because you lose doesn’t mean you failed, and just because you won doesn’t mean you succeeded – not when you define success and failure around making good decisions that will win in the long run.
Go for a walk.
It’s the quality of your relationships that will determine the quality of your life.
Different parts of me come alive when I switch languages.
Other people see you differently than the way you see yourself. That multiplicity of perspectives is essential to making us who we are.
Losing makes you think in ways victories can’t. You begin asking questions instead of feeling like you have the answers.
If you want to change the world, you have to enroll others in your plans and vision. Not only that, but immense pleasures and satisfactions can be derived from focusing on others. The more you give to others, the more the universe gives you back in return.
Meditation is a way to relinquish control of the conscious mind so that the more powerful unconscious mind can take over, and analysis of the world improves.
When dealing with a failure:
Find the thematic or psychological lesson hidden in the technical error (which hugely amplifies the ensuing growth)
Have a sense of the beauty and potency of how the loss is actively improving you while still in the thick of the pain of the blow.
Do what you love, do it in a way that you love, and pour your heart and soul into every moment of it. Do not be subject to inertia. Challenge your assumptions and the assumptions of those around you as a way of life.
If you love something enough, it is far easier to really commit.
Develop a philosophy of giving and generosity.
The practice of judgment and reasoning found in philosophy, history, and literature are skills we should to continue to hone.
“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito.” – Betty Reese
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you, just measure it in inches.” – Andy Warhol
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – William Bruce Cameron
Focus on your writing skills. It’s the one thing that really helps people stand out. More and more communication is written today. Get great at presenting yourself with words, and words alone, and you’ll be far ahead of most.
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills. There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.
Burnout is not the price you have to pay for success. When we prioritize our well-being, our performance goes up across the board.
Macro patience, micro speed.
When feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, I pretend my family has died in a horrific accident. It sounds weird, but it’s what drives me. I go to a very dark place, really feel it, feel that pain in my heart, and then realize no matter what I’m dealing with right now, that it’s not even in the same universe of something like that. Then I become grateful for losing that client, missing that opportunity, getting made fun of, etc.
Create more value than you capture
Roll out of bed, do a plank for two minutes and a downward dog for two minutes. This gets your metabolism going and makes you much more likely to do a more vigorous bout of exercise.
Listen to your inner voice, which tells you what to choose. It is this ability to wait quietly for the right moment, rather than rushing about aimlessly, that can lead even an ambitious success-hunter to capture the biggest game.
They say “Thing big! Have a compelling vision!” I say: Think small. Do something super cool by the end of the day! Excellence is the next five minutes or nothing at all. It’s the quality of your next five-minute conversation. It’s the quality of your next email. Forget the long term. Make the next five minutes rock!
Storms make us stronger. Don’t shy away from hard times. Tackle them head-on, move toward the path less trodden, riddled with obstacles, because most other people run at the first sign of battle. The storms give us a chance to define ourselves, to distinguish ourselves, and we always emerge from them stronger.
Problem identification is always a sound investment of time, money, and energy. Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” It feels uncomfortable to spend time and resources trying to figure out exactly what the problem is – we want to jump to fixing way too fast. Most of us are plagued with action bias and struggle to stay in problem identification. Getting clear about what’s wrong and why it’s a problem is the best investment you can make at home or work.
You are good enough just as you are. Relax, and breathe into the moment.
Ask yourself, “What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself and others right now?”
The structural demands of meditation are very doable in the context of our current lives. Twenty minutes when we get up and twenty minutes toward the end of the day. It is a safe place where you can go deeply into your own trauma and drama, free from fear. It decreases being reactive and clears space to be proactive.
Don’t try to find your passion. Instead master some skill, interest, or knowledge that others find valuable. You don’t have to love it, you just have to be the best at it. Once you master it, you’ll be rewarded with new opportunities that will allow you to move away from tasks you dislike and toward those that you enjoy. If you continue to optimize your mastery, you’ll eventually arrive at your passion.
Shit or get off the pot. Too many people are waiting to get shit set up just right so they can do the thing they are gonna do. It’s time.
Posting about it isn’t doing anything. It’s just like talk… it’s cheap! Too many people think they are supporting a cause, and the only thing they are doing is posting about it on social media. Doing something is doing something, everything else is just talk.
Be very careful with the moral high ground. Everyone has different moral codes, and very few people intentionally make immoral decisions. No matter how egregious the crime, the criminal usually has a reason for viewing it as morally acceptable.
I wish we could all start seeing social media as having a giant billboard for millions of people every day. I know so many people who were against Trump but were talking about him, criticizing, on their social media every day. Would you put up a giant billboard of someone you don’t want to see elected? Probably not.
Make yourself proud.
You are 99 years old, on your deathbed, and you have a chance to come back to right now? What would you do?
Before eating, I pray. Not religiously, but more for setting intentions. Feel grateful for the food on your plate, especially if it has an animal product on it.
We are all mini gods. I mean this in the sense of creators, in a way that should not feed our ego but our consciousness. This means the entire universe is not just outside but also within us.
Prioritize connecting with what’s real: nature, your soul, your inner child.
Most of the world is asleep today, playing a small role in a gigantic illusion. You can choose a different life. It’s all within. You will know the answers when you take the time to find yourself and trust yourself.
If you are studying business/PR/marketing, then drop out today. The world is already full of marketers and businessmen. The world doesn’t need more of that. The world needs healers and problem-solvers who use their hearts. Your heart is a million times more powerful than your brain.
Ask the right questions. Dive deeper and discover someone’s why. Ask how someone feels and why they behaved a certain way.
Being a good human, and the way to true inner happiness, is through altruistic actions, being mindful of others.
Live life in three parts: 1/3 business, 1/3 family, 1/3 self.
The more you divide your focus, the more each endeavor can suffer from your lack of attention.
You are a person worthy of love.
If feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, ask yourself, “What do you need right now in order to be happy? Is it something other than what is happening right now?”
He has been described by NBC News as “the man behind Hollywood’s secret screenplay database, ‘The Black List.'” In 2005, Franklin surveyed 100 film industry development executives about their favorite scripts from that year that had not been made into feature films. Since then the voter pool has grown to 500 film executives. Now, more than 300 Black List screenplays have been made as feature films, including Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and Argo.
The great majority of that which gives you angst never happens, so you must evict it. Don’t let it live rent-free in your brain.
Reinvent yourself regularly. See your world as an ever-increasing set of realities and seize the day.
Your dreams are the blueprint to reality.
Stand on one leg when brushing your teeth.
If you dare, then you have already gotten further ahead than 99 percent of all the others.
Good things come to those who work their asses off.
Start slowly with working out; develop the habit of doing exercise for about three months and it’s likely to stick. Start with 2-3x/week.
While it can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable to apologize, it’s a sign of maturity and good character. Unfortunately there is no particular magic to saying “I’m sorry.” Just do it.
Having tasted synthetic meat, I believe it will accelerate the development of human morality, much like an economic alternative to slavery helped society acknowledge the horrors of slavery. When we look back 2,000 years, we can see how much we have changed as culture matures. It’s much more difficult to identify something that we do in our current lives and the mainstream considers moral, but our future selves will consider immoral. I believe that in a few years we’ll look back and marvel at the barbarism and stunning environmental waste (water consumption and methane production) of meat harvesting today.
Celebrate the childlike mind. The best scientists and engineers nurture a mind that’s playful, open-minded, and unrestrained by the inner voice of reason, collective cynicism, or fear of failure.
Neural plasticity does not disappear in adults. It just requires mental exercise. Use it or lose it. Bottom line: embrace lifelong learning. Do something new. Physical exercise is repetitive; mental exercise is eclectic.
Stay present and make yourself available to your loved ones instead of chasing every business opportunity and keeping yourself distracted with work, hobbies, or travel.
Success should not be measured by financial gain; true success is doing something you love for a living. Learn every aspect of your chosen field or craft, as it will give you an advantage over any competitors, and set you up for more – often better – job opportunities.
The consequences of your actions matter far more than the actions themselves.
Whenever I have to make a prediction about something uncertain, such as “How likely is my partner to get mad about me not doing the dishes?” I know try to assign a numerical percentage to fuzzy words like “maybe,” “sometimes,” “occasionally,” and “probably.” I try to picture exactly what I mean as a number on a sliding scale between 0 to 100.
Anníe Mist Þórisdóttir
Try to stop worrying about the future. Focus on making the most out of every single day believing it will get you to where you want to be.
Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become, and the hours of practice, and the coaches who have pushed you, is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.
Cut down on nervous tension by going up to people, introducing yourself, and shaking their hand.
The way to get strongest is to lift what is optimal and not what is maximal.
You’re either in or you’re in the way.
Ignore what everyone else is doing. Racehorses have blinders for a reason.
Do squats with pauses at the bottom. The only way to get out of the bottom once you stop is for your whole body to push and sync at the right time.
How to devise a training plan you’ll stick to:
Write down every day of the week for x weeks
Write every set, every rep, and every weight for every single exercise predetermined for each day
Stop and look at the routine and ask yourself, “Is every single thing here doable?”
If you have to think about it, change it. Make it so that you know 100 percent everything is doable.
When you start that routine, imagine how positive your mental outlook is.
Think for yourself while being radically open-minded.
Love looking at what you don’t know, your mistakes, and your weaknesses, because understanding them is essential for making the most of your life.
Learn to balance and hold the audacity to dream a different world with the humility to start with the world as it has been.
Live the Questions, which is a simple reminder to have the moral courage to live in the gray, sit with uncertainty but not in a passive way. Live the questions so that, one day, you will live yourself into the answers.
Writers should follow their curiosity, obsessions, and fascinations. Writers should not write based on a marketing calculation of demand potential.
CrossFit. Swagger in, stagger out. Repeat
Sarah Elizabeth Lewis
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
There is no earth-spinning committee. Relax. We are all part of something larger. We can impact the laws of nature with how we treat the planet, and we can work with the laws of nature to manifest things in our world, but we can’t create these laws or destroy them. We live in a world governed by them. Feeling overwhelmed or unfocused? Get into nature to remind yourself of these systems and laws that govern movements.
Ultimately, your gift to the world is who you are. It is both your gift and your fulfillment.
Don’t confuse being driven with being authentically animated by an inner calling. One state leaves you depleted and unfulfilled. The other fuels your soul and makes your heart sing.
Is what I’m doing right now aligned with my life’s calling? You have a choice in every moment.
Lean into the future. Position yourself for what’s happening next versus what’s happening now.
Be confident in the skills you have.
Be fearless. Babe Ruth was not only the home run king; he was also the strikeout king.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you must go together.
For leaders, rather than strive to be superhuman (“don’t let them see you sweat/cry/etc.”), strive to be less super and more human
Not only is crazy a compliment, but if you’re not called crazy when you start somethign new, then you’re not thinking big enough!
(Nicely) stalking people is an underrated startup strategy. Find a little courage and reach out to a mentor you admire.
Don’t worry about making money. Don’t stress about having a plan. Try as hard as you can to find something you love. It will never get easier than right now to recklessly pursue your passion. Do it.
I can feel my blood pressure go up as I try to figure out what to focus on. The world will go on if I don’t read/create/do everything. I will always be better off consuming a smaller amount of high-quality information than trying to consume it all.
Stop looking at your phone.
The secret of this radio business; there is no secret. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. Don’t be afraid to sound stupid.
Do your best. But also, take it easy.
When I overcommit, I lose focus and desire to do the work at hand. Learn to say no. Loss of focus can be a symptom of not caring about your work. This needs a lot of reflection and discussion with mentors to figure out whether you need a break, a vacation, or a change of career.
The best investment I ever made was investing in my children when they were young.
No society in human history ever suffered because its people became too reasonable. Only a commitment to honest reasoning can allow us to cooperate with billions of strangers in an open-ended way.
Having a podcast has allowed me to connect with a wide range of fascinating people whom I wouldn’t otherwise meet – and our conversations reach a much larger audience than my books ever will. I feel extremely lucky that my career as a writer and speaker has coincided with the birth of this technology.
Don’t worry about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Just find a profitable and interesting use for the next three to five years.
In order to become a Grandmaster, you must already be one.
I wake up each day with the firm conviction that I am nowhere near my full potential. “Greatness” is a verb. I spend my years desperately looking to improve who I am from year to year. Greatness is not a final destination, but a series of small acts done daily in order to constantly rejuvenate and refresh our skills in a daily effort to become a better version of ourselves.
Strive to be completely open and transparent in relationships. Speak truths that resonate from your soul.
Advice is almost always driven by anecdotal experience, and thus has limited value and relevance. There is no universal path to success.
Sitting through an unproductive meeting has huge opportunity costs. People struggle with equilibrating time and money. Many organizations fret over small, direct expenses, yet have no misgivings about keeping superfluous staff tied up in a conference room for hours.
Mr. Money Mustache
The real measure of a good life is, “How happy and satisfied am I with my life right now?”
Look at every activity as you go through your day and think, “Is this contributing to getting me a better day – today – and if not, is there anybody in the world who has managed to design this activity out of their lives and still success beyond my level?”
A high savings rate (or “profit margin on life”) is by far the best strategy for a great and creative life, because it’s your ticket to freedom. Freedom is the fuel for creativity.
Practicing Transcendental Meditation regularly will end your suffering and give you happiness and fulfillment in life.
When feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, sit and desire ideas.
Everybody is striving after social proof – from a close friend’s adulation to online likes and upvotes. The less you need positive feedback on your ideas, the more original design regions you can explore, and the more creative and useful to society you will be. But it could be a very long time before people will love you (or even pay you) for it. The more original your ideas, the less your bosses and peers will understand them, and people fear or at best ignore what they do not understand. But, making progress on your own ideas can be very rewarding in itself.
If you can’t laugh at it, you lose. The exceptions to this quote suggest a powerful lesson. You wouldn’t laugh when people die, but that’s because you can’t always win in life. Sometime we do lose! But we better be able to distinguish between real loss and weakness of character. The sooner you can laugh about something, the sooner you can get on with your life. The sooner you can laugh at yourself, the sooner you will really be living life.
When growing my social media, I focused on providing massive value. I curbed my postings to fit what was trending, what was most valuable from the analytics.
To get the most out of stretching, don’t hold stretches for long periods of time, but break the stretching time into sets with rest periods.
Tell your brain “no” when it wants to related to conversation with a “bigger” story. Let the desire go to “one-up” someone’s story with your own. The loss of the opportunity to possibly impress someone is far outweighed by what you learn when you ask more questions.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Put a chinning bar up in your house.
Don’t plan on “winning the lottery” right away, because it usually doesn’t happen. Doing a good job and building your assets is winning the lottery, but over time. Work hard every day, make progress every day, and make money every day.
I encourage people to look up, make sense of the sky, and along the way experience an existential jolt. This may be ridiculous, but I have this belief that as long as we peer at the night sky, feel small, see the universe and say, “Oh, wow, all that mystery,” then we’ll drop some of our nearsighted hubris. Maybe even save the planet before it’s too late.
Most of the game is about persistence. When you get an opportunity, you have to perform and you have to exceed beyond all expectations… but getting that chance is the hardest part. Keep the vision clear in your head and every day refuse all obstacles to get to the goal.
Mindfulness meditation has changed my life more than any other behavior. I feel like it rewired my brain (probably because it did).
Be in a hurry to learn, not in a hurry to get validation. If you resist asking for too much, you will often get more.
“Minimum viable product” means forgetting about succeeding massively and instead focusing all your efforts on desperately trying to not fail.
Avoid sugar. All other diet advice is noise.
It’s frustrating how there’s a fad of people mostly falsely thinking they’re gluten sensitive, while lactose intolerance isn’t even brought up. Most of the black and Asian people in the U.S. are lactose intolerant, and they’re served food that they’re incapable of digesting as a central part of every one of their school lunches.
Live for something that’s bigger than you are.
The best way to get things done is to let go. It’s often the case that people want to help you or work with you. But they can’t if you insist on holding on to tight control. The more you let go, the more people will surprise you.
Many of us have bought into the cliché “pursue your passion.” For many, that is terrible advice. In your 20s, you may not really know what your best skills and opportunities are. It’s much better to pursue learning, personal discipline, and growth. And to seek out connections with people across the planet. For a while, it’s just fine to follow and support someone else’s dream. In so doing, you will be building valuable relationships, valuable knowledge. And at some point your passion will come and whisper in your ear, “I’m ready.”
If I’m feeling unfocused, I ask myself, “How long has it been since I actually wrote something?” and tell myself, “Stop doing whatever else I am doing because it isn’t actually work, and go write something.”
Every day is an opportunity to create a living masterpiece. We have far more control in our lives than many embrace. We create or co-create our experiences in life, and each day is a new opportunity to be fully engaged in the present moment. It’s the present moment where glimpses of our potential are revealed and expressed. A living masterpiece is not drawn on a canvas or etched in stone or inked by pen. It’s the pursuit and expression of applied insight and wisdom.
It is through the relationships we have that we are able to experience what is true, beautiful, and good. It is through those relationships that high performance is expressed and our potential, meaning, and purpose are revealed.
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” – Henry Ford
Think for yourself. Everyone has a unique picture of how things work and function, and yours is as valuable as anyone’s. It’s sometimes the belief in yourself, open-mindedness toward others, and your delivery that allows things to be heard by others.
Invest generously in others. Rewards will come back in unsuspected and abundant ways.
Katrin Tanja Daviosdottir
Believe your best is enough. Your absolute best is the best possible outcome. That is a “win.” To do your best may sound easy, but it is anything but. It requires everything you’ve got… and no less.
I have realized that I value the results of a process more when I truly apply myself and make myself proud.
Top down (macro thinking) means I consider the big-picture issues before the small when making decisions, and these big-picture issues dominate my preferences. It does not mean I ignore the small issues, as they are necessary but not dominant. For example, I invest in real estate where smart people want to live. While I could make money in other areas of the country, over the long term, this rule will be quite lucrative. There are other factors, of course, but this one is a requirement.
Practice calendar architecture – designing and implementing a repeatable schedule every day. As an introvert, this requires a lot of alone time, and everyone around me protects this in my day. It is also designed to keep my day from being filled up with “gristle.”
Live in a space of bravery in every aspect of your life: creative, professional, familial, and in relationships. Being brave means being present and willing to give of yourself regardless of result.
You cannot do anything great without aggressively courting your own limits and the limits of your ideas. There is nothing more powerful than failure to reveal to you what you are truly capable of. Avoiding the risk of failure means avoiding transcendent creative leaps forward.
Say not to everything that doesn’t energize you personally or creatively.
Laura R. Walker
Get out of your comfort zone when you graduate. Ask yourself what you are genuinely curious about and explore it. Embrace the ambiguity and contradictions that life invariably will bring. Don’t spend time chasing a right answer or a right path, but instead spend time defining how you are going to approach whatever path you choose. What values most define you? What questions do you want to pursue?
Life is not designted to hand us success or satisfaction, but rather to present us with the challenges that make us grow. Mastery is the mysterious process by which those challenges become progressively easier and more satisfying through practice. The key to that satisfaction is to reach the nirvana in which love of practice for its own sake (intrinsic) replaces the original goal (extrinsic) as our grail.
Five steps to mastery:
Choose a worthy and meaningful challenge.
Seek a sensei to help you establish the right path and priorities.
Practice diligently, always striving to hone key skills and to progress incrementally toward new levels of competence.
Love the plateau. All worthwhile progress occurs through brief, thrilling leaps forward followed by long stretches of seemingly going nowhere. Learning continues at the cellular level… if you follow good practice principles.
Mastery is a journey, not a destination. There is always more to be learned and greater skill to be developed.
Examine if you are truly driven by an intrinsic motivation or goal? His basic motivations:
To continually deepen his understanding of technique and performance.
To have a life-changing positive impact on those he coached
To leave an enduring mark on the field, to leave the profession better off than he found it.
I look at every failure as a learning experience and try to spend time with my failures. I stew on them for a while until I pick out some nugget from them that I can take forward.
Fast one day per week.
If you’re willing to be relentless, stay nimble, and keep taking action, everything is figure-out-able.
Pursue every project, idea, or industry that genuinely lights you up, regardless of how unrelated each idea is, or how unrealistic a long-term career in that field might now seem. You’ll connect the dots later.
Show up in every moment like you’re meant to be there, because your energy precedes anything you could possibly say.
What are the specific business reasons you’re going to commit time, energy, and resources to regularly creating and engaging in that space?
Whenever I feel unfocused or stuck, I do an intense physical workout. The goal is full sensory immersion.
If I could give my younger self a cheat sheet, I would give him three things: a tennis ball, a circle, and the number 30,000.
Tennis ball: find something you can become obsessed with, like a dog with a ball
Circle: you are the average of your five closest friends.
30,000: people live for about 30,000 days. How many days down are you already?
Think of your time like a jar, your priorities as rocks, and everything else as pebbles or sand. What is the best way to fill your jar? Do your own rocks!
Great opportunities never have “great opportunity” in the subject line. What makes an opportunity great is upside. If the potential upside were explicitly clear, the opportunity would have already been taken.
Set up a self-reward system for completing a phase of deep work, like a deep work playlist or special snacks.
Don’t ask customers what they want; figure out what they need.
We all should reassess what we think and believe constantly – in politics, in life, and in our thinking.
Focus is the key to everything.
If I had a billboard, it would say “DAD.” Especially as a dad of daughters, how I talk to them and treat them is crucial to how they see themselves. Reminding myself that I’m a dad makes me want to be the best parent I can be for my kids.
Ask yourself this question, “When I’m old, how much would I be willing to pay to travel back in time and relive the moment that I’m experiencing right now?”
I can add more value by going deep on a few things rather than engaging with a broad set of activities.
Seems like all religions recognize the precept that you should “treat others as you want to be treated.” This simple reminder can help people act in a more benevolent way.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” – Rabbi Hillel
Have my children read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, and the His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman
Fly high. You can only control your reaction and your contribution – choose the high road. Creatively, “fly high” is a reminder to always strive for an A-plus no matter how tired you are or how late it is.
Writing a daily gratitude list in the morning has atrophied my negative thinking. It’s built up the muscle that focuses on what’s going well and how fortunate I am, which helps me be more productive, creative, and focused.
Don’t network, just work. Just get better, and opportunities will naturally present themselves once you deserve them.
You can’t really lose by dedicating yourself to what you love.
Work tirelessly. I feel lucky and blessed in my life, and I know this is because I totally submerged myself in what I was doing. I spent my every waking hour, every day, enjoying it when I was doing it and truly living it.
When you start something new, it’s good to ask a lot of questions from people in the industry and to learn from them. Remember, though, when people give you advice, they’re giving you advice based on their particular skills, experiences, and perspectives; the advice is from their journey, and every journey is different. Ask yourself “does this advice fit me?”
3-4 sets of bench press, squats, or deadlifts. 6-10 reps of 70-80% of one-rep max.
3-4 supersets of either
15-20 pull-ups and dips
10 bicep curls and tricep extensions
10 shoulder presses, lateral raises, and front raises
4 sets of 1-minute planks alternated with 4 sets of sit-ups and leg raises
1 set each of sit-ups, planks, side planks, and ball knee tucks
Instead of New Year Resolution, try a New Month Resolution.
April: Daily writing
May: No dairy
June: Daily meditation
July: No news or social media feeds
Try either elimination goals or daily behavior goals.
Create a chart of boxes representing every year of your life: ten years across and nine rows down. This puts time in a visual format and you can plot things on it.
A lot of professions assume that you’re going to take eight to ten years just to achieve the minimum level of competence necessary to start to get quality work done.
If regular exercise could be bottled, it would be a miracle drug. Everything in your life gets better if you find time to exercise regularly.
The most important stuff in life has to be parallel-processed, like your relationships and your health, because you can’t make up the time by doing more of it later. Figure out a system so the stuff you need to do all the time happens, even while you might be placing disproportionate focus on one thing.
If you have a habit of writing things down you’re grateful for, then your brain is constantly looking for those things, and you feel happier. It’s absurd in its simplicity.
No one is qualified to tell you how you experience the world.
I often decide to do something, or a while pile of somethings, then beat myself up for not doing it. It turns out that I often beat myself up to the point of depression for not doing it. I get depressed because I’m not doing what I think I should be doing. I’ve learned that it can really help to temporarily give up on everything. After giving up on everything, I am immediately relieved of depression. Sometimes this relief is all I need to start working again. Sometimes it isn’t, and I need to spend time doing other things before I’m ready. Often, I end up realizing my “somethings” aren’t important and I forget about them forever.
(On telling people “no”) The realization that helped me was that the kindest and best thing that I can do for people when I get unsolicited requests is to give them a “no” explicitly, quickly, and firmly.
“Do something you’re afraid of every day.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
At the first sign of thirst, don’t sip water. CHUG WATER.
Before bed, think of three things that made me happy during the day. It’s better than being grateful, because I would feel guilty if I didn’t say certain things I was grateful for, and I wound up saying the same things over and over. Focusing on happiness helps me put aside the day’s baggage and focus on what’s really important.
“For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – John F. Kennedy
If you set a goal, it should meet these two conditions: 1) It matters; 2) You can influence the outcome.
Don’t give in to the sunk cost fallacy. “You’ve spent X years learning Y, you can’t just up and leave now and do Z.” This is flawed advice because it weighs too heavily the time behind you, which can’t be changed, and largely discounts the time in front of you, which is completely malleable.
Instead of following the trends, you want to identify them but not follow them. Focus on the energy of what you do.
Music is our tool to engage with our feelings.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children… to leave the world a bit better… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The daily ritual of self-reflected writing has produced priceless personal insights in my life.
Anything quantified and tracked on a regular basis will invariably show improvement.
Protection from stress serves only to erode my capacity to handle it. Stress exposure is the stimulus for all growth, and growth actually occurs during episodes of recovery. Avoiding stress will never provide the capacity that life demands.
This exercise helps me to get present to the reality of a situation where I’m feeling unfocused or overwhelmed. I tell my story to myself from the perspective of a victim, then I tell the exact same story from a place of 100 percent responsibility. Victim: “I was late to an important event because my girlfriend took too long to get ready. It’s not my fault.” Responsible: “I acknowledge my breakdown in being late. In the future I am committed to making sure that I do everything I can to ensure that I’m on time.”
Discipline equals freedom.
Set up a home gym in the garage. It’s one of the most important factors to allow one to work out every day regardless of the chaos and mayhem life delivers.
Work harder than everyone else. Outwork them all.
Prioritize and execute. Pick the biggest issue in front of you with the biggest positive impact and execute on that.
Read and write every day. Free your mind.
When trying to do focused work, use two notepads (or two columns on one notepad): Tasks and Distractions. Write down a few tasks, then start doing the most important, major, even undesirable one. Set a timer for 20 minutes. While doing, if stray thoughts, distractions, or impulses come up, write them down on the Distractions pad. Do not do anything else but the major task until the timer goes off.
Fácil! It’s a Spanish word meaning “easy” or “no big deal!” I like the idea of setting impossible challenges and, with one word, making it sound doable, because then it suddenly is. It’s a reminder that anything can be done, with relative ease and less stress, if you have the right mindset.
When not in crisis, I consider “my life is great” as a cop-out, a stuck place, where learning is no longer available to us. Which is why you shouldn’t wait for crisis to happen before you take steps to go beyond what you’re capable of seeing on your own. Go to marriage counseling when your marriage is going great. Hire a fitness coach when you’re already in the best shape of your life. Bring in a marketing expert when your marketing department is already kicking ass. And watch next-level magic happen.
Instead of a gratitude practice, try a fear practice. Fear is a sense of discomfort in our bodies, not our minds. Locate the feeling in your body, then following these three steps: 1. Affirm it’s natural to feel this discomfort. 2. Be curious about your current relationship with the discomfort. 3. Feel the feeling by spending time with it, like you would with your dog or friend. Turn toward discomfort and have an honest relationship with it.
Yuval Noah Harari
When writing, publishing, and trying to sell a book, the DIY method just doesn’t work. Instead of looking for shortcuts, do it the hard and long way and rely on professional help.
Nobody really knows what the world and the job market will look like in 2040, hence nobody knows what to teach young people today. Traditionally, life has been divided into two main parts: a period of learning followed by a period of working. By 2040, this traditional model will become obsolete, and the only way for humans to stay in the game will be to keep learning throughout their lives and to reinvent themselves again and again.
Don’t trust technology too much. Make the tech serve you, instead of you serving it.
If you don’t believe the first step is the hardest, watch a one-year-old try to take their first literal step. They try, and try, and fail, and cry, and try, and drool, and fail, over and over and over. But, eventually, magic happens. Something clicks. A plateau is a plateau no more. One step. Maybe two or three. Then more trying and failing. But before long, three steps turn into five turn into ten and all of a sudden you have Usain Bolt gleefully scooting around your house.
Little ones aren’t told to walk. They aren’t taught to walk. They just learn it. They learn by observation. And they have innate determination to figure it out.
How can we tap into this drive within us?
Define for yourself a mission, a purpose, a project, a goal – something that you are as motivated to see come to fruition as an infant who desperately wants to be come a toddler.
Do you consider yourself someone that’s driven? Good at self-motivating? You might be doing it wrong.
There’s a difference between pushing yourself to do a thing and being pulled from a force within you to do a thing.
I push myself to get through doing the dishes as quickly as possible. I’m determined, focused, systematic, fast, and thorough as a dish cleaner. But I am not being pulled from within to wash dishes. I don’t have a voice inside saying, “Do more dishes. Find more dishes to do. Your life won’t be complete until you wash 30 more dishes today.”
Following your own curiosity will lead you down more interesting roads.
As Gabor Maté puts it, “Don’t confuse being driven with being authentically animated by an inner calling. One state leaves you depleted and unfulfilled; the other fuels your soul and makes your heart sing.”
What does your voice within say? What pep talks does the voice give you? What does it tell you to do more of?
What does it wish you were doing right now? Follow it!
There are conversations, and there are meaningful conversations. How do we have more of the latter?
In Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss, Jon Call (aka Jujimufu) was asked “what one of his new behaviors or habits has helped him most in the last five years?” His answer (paraphrased):
Tell your brain “no” when it wants to relate a conversation you’re having with someone to a “bigger” story. Let the desire go to “one-up” someone’s story with your own. The loss of the opportunity to possibly impress someone is far outweighed by what you learn when you ask more questions.
We’ve all had the impulse. A story one of your colleagues is telling about their Spring Break trip to Jamaica transports your mind back three years ago when your family spent a week in Ocho Rios over the holidays. And you’ve got that hilarious story about how, with the rest of the tour group watching, you and your brother just could not get your dune buggy up that hill! Is interjecting that story at your colleague’s first breath really adding the most value to the conversation? When instead you could ask your colleague to elaborate on any number of things from their experience: how was it traveling with their new spouse? What did they find most intriguing about the local culture? Did they have any noteworthy interactions with the locals?
Think about it from a selfish standpoint. If you believe every person has value, every human has something to offer, then why wouldn’t you take every opportunity you get to learn, to expand your perspective, and to deepen your relationship with and understanding of that person?
Let’s take a business example. You sit down to meet with someone in person for the first time. Maybe you’re in Sales and you are sitting down with a prospective client. Maybe you’re in a job interview. Maybe you’re at a networking event. In any of these business situations, you have the inevitable “ice breaker” introduction moment. Some number of seconds or minutes spent on connecting with that other person on a topic outside the real purpose behind your meeting. Current events and the weather tend to get the lion’s share of these conversational exchanges. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s delightful when, in this “ice breaker period,” you actually do make a meaningful connection of some kind. You find a few square feet of common ground; perhaps you have a mutual acquaintance, Linda. Your new contact used to work with Linda at their previous employer. You know Linda from university. So, as you stumble upon this fun fact and your new contact says, “I worked with Linda at Company Q,” you have a choice. You can either launch into explaining everything you know about Linda from three years at university, or you could ask a follow up question about their work experience at Company Q. Which of these paths is going to better serve you in developing your relationship with this new contact? Should you ask some questions like, “What was it like working with Linda? How closely did you work together? Oh, you worked on a project together, what was that dynamic like? What did other colleagues say about working with her? If I were to ask her what it was like to work with you, what would she say?” just imagine how much of a deeper understanding you’ll have about your new contact. Isn’t that worth more than getting that story about you and Linda partying hard in the tailgating lot on Homecoming Weekend off your chest?
I’m not saying storytelling is bad. It’s not; it’s essential. It’s not that you should never openly share about your own life. How is anyone supposed to learn about you otherwise? The point is to adopt a mindset of curiosity. Good conversation isn’t about having the “gift of gab” or “being able to keep the conversation going,” it’s about telling your brain “no” when it has impulses to one-up the other’s story or to jump into sharing mode when it should be seizing an opportunity to learn, grow, and connect.
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone and a self-centered idea pops into your brain, try telling your brain “no” and instead ask a question. You might be surprised what you find out.
I’d love to hear about a time you tried this; what the situation was and what you learned by telling your brain “No.” Let me know in the comments!
In our connected world, the rules have changed. In the Industrial Revolution, the trick to business was mass-producing a product and then selling those products at scale. Now, in the Information Economy, scale is both easier to attain (social media & blogs) but also, in a way, harder to attain (fragmented consumer attention, more options than ever before).
This is where the concept of Minimum Viable Audience comes in. What is the minimum number of people or customers you need in order to have a viable product or business? And the way to succeed today is to be so incredibly value to that minimum viable audience that you become irreplaceable. A necessity. Because guess what? If that small audience is super happy and satisfied with the value you’re bringing them… they’re likely to tell a friend.
The Minimum Viable Audience concept has so many applications. Take Sales, for instance.
Let’s say you are a digital marketing sales rep and you sell Facebook Ads to businesses as a managed service. Who are your prospects? Which type of businesses can benefit from advertising on the world’s largest social network? Answer: nearly every single one of them. So is the best approach to call up every single business one by one to pitch them your service? No. In fact, that’s exactly the wrong approach. Instead, pick the smallest niche you can imagine. “Credit Unions in Dallas that specialize in low home mortgage loan rates.” Sure, there might only be 5, 10, 15 potential businesses that meet that description. But now you can be uber-important to these 15 prospects. Become a credit union home mortgage expert. Know exactly how to run an effective Facebook Ad campaign to generate more home mortgage leads. That’s a phone call those prospects will take. And now instead of spinning your wheels calling 1,000 prospects with a vanilla, watered down pitch about Facebook Ads, you’ve become super important to these 15 people and your chances of creating value for someone (and closing a deal, or three) increase dramatically.
This week is the week I discovered Seth Godin. I had heard of Seth before, seen the blog before… but today, Seth’s wisdom has LANDED. I don’t have a clear “end game” in mind. But something inside – the voice from within – is telling me writing is the right thing to do. I am compelled.
I love everything I’m reading, hearing, and seeing come out of Seth’s mouth. The “minimum viable audience.” Trust and attention are what matters, and the way to earn both of them is through generosity. So much more. And one thing Seth preaches is what we all should write a blog post every day.
I’m making this commitment to myself, and to the Internet, right now: I’m publishing a blog post every day.
I’m tired of waiting for “the moment.”
I’m done worrying about the writing being perfect.
I’m through with thinking about “my audience.”
I’m not going to concern myself with all the blogging “tricks” of writing SEO-friendly content, hyperlinking everything, crafting the perfect titles, and following all of Neil Patel’s tips (no offense, Neil, I think you’re incredibly good at what you do).
I don’t care if I fail, because I know I will learn from it and grow into something better because of it.
The “Publish” button will now become my friend, not my enemy.
I’m ready to be vulnerable.
I’m ready to share.
This blog is for me.
If one day you are reading this, I’m glad it has brought you value, too.
I will write the things that I want to see in the world. The things that will give me value. The things I wish there were more of. The things that bring me joy and make me laugh. That will be enough.
I want my existence to make a positive impact. That impact starts right now.
I want my children and their children to be able to look back at the archives and see what kind of a ruckus their old man was stirring up.
I’m on inspiration overload reading and watching content from people like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Marie Forleo, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Gary Vaynerchuk. I feel like I have inspiration bursting at the seems. There’s no other place for me to channel this inspiration than right here.
While this blog is for me, I want it to be about you. I want to provide value to you. I don’t know exactly how yet. But I’m committed to figuring it out.
Here’s a question I just asked myself while journaling and the four answers to it I came up with.
“What dent do I want to make in the universe?”
Better the environment for the generations ahead.
Make marketing better. Improve the profession and improve what we see as consumers. Less noise. More relevancy. Better attribution.
Help everyone lead more productive and fulfilling lives.
Reduce the amount of stuff we all use and think we need (i.e. embrace minimalism).
I expect future writings and works will embark upon some version of one of these directions.
If you’ve ever wished there were more than 24 hours in a day, this article is for you.
We can’t change how long one day is, but we are in control of how we use those 24 hours. By implementing small, manageable tweaks to our day, we can unlock hidden minutes and squeeze the most out of every day we have.
Well Mr. Buffet, I agree we cannot “buy time,” but if we focus on the daily improvements below, we can become more productive, creative, and achieve more each day, thereby giving us more time in a sense.
Activating your body will make your mind more productive. Go for a walk. Stretch. Do ten pushups. Roll out of bed and do a one-minute plank. Anything! Taking even one minute at the very beginning of your day to wake up your entire body will energize your mind and kick-start the day’s activity, thereby creating extra minutes you otherwise would have been snoozing, scrolling through your phone, or staring at the wall (until you finish cup of coffee #1).
2. Begin with your own agenda.
Don’t unlock your phone. Don’t touch your phone. Don’t even look at your phone. Start by focusing on the question, “What are the things I want to get done today?” Make a quick mental list or write them down. Then ask yourself, “Which of these three things can I do right now?” Do those three things! Feeling like you won’t have time to get three done? Do two, or even just one.
Completing at least one self-directed task at the beginning of the day has many benefits. You allow yourself to be proactive, doing what you want to do, not reacting to someone else’s email, article, or social post. It also gives you momentum; you’ve gotten one thing done, it feels great, so maybe you do one more. It takes an immense amount of energy to get a stopped train moving, but once it’s rolling down the track at a good clip, just try and stop it!
3. Make a list. Then, do the list.
It’s not enough to just write things down though. Develop a system for prioritizing your list. Then do the thing at the very top of the list. Barbara Corcoran, a businesswoman best known for her personality as a “Shark” on ABC’s Shark Tank, has a great method for lists:
Step 1 – Write down everything you want to get done. Big, small, everything.
Step 2 – Next to each item, give it a grade: A, B, or C.
A’s are the things that will move your business forward, things that must get done, and they absolutely must get done today.
B’s are things that will help you be more productive, help your business get ahead, but they aren’t the most pressing. And that leaves the C’s.
C’s are the things that are longer term projects, or if you stop and think about them, they would be nice to do, but won’t directly move your business forward or have meaningful impact.
Step 3 – Do the A’s. Ignore everything else until the A’s are done.
Pro Tip – If you have too many A’s and aren’t sure which one to start with, do the exercise again looking at just the A’s, then rank those as A-B-C to see which of your top priorities are at the tippy-top.
Pick the time that fits best into your day. But do it. Taking 20, 10, even 5 minutes to shut everything down, close your eyes, get into your breath, and achieve a soft focus of the mind will do wonders for your productivity. You might think, “That will be five minutes I’ll be wasting not being productive.” True, in a sense, but which of these is really more productive? An hour of distracted, scattered work, or 55 minutes of razor-focused deep work?
Try the Headspace app for a beginner’s (or skeptic’s) guide. Download it and try it right now. The Basic lessons are free. You can do as short as a 3-minute session with it. One of the best metaphors about meditation made in the Headspace app is equating the mind to the sky. Imagine stepping outside on a bright, sunny, cloudless day. Imagine taking a deep breath as you step outside. Feels good right? Like, I-can-conquer-the-world good. That clear blue sky is a healthy mind, free of distraction, stress, and worry. That’s how our minds are when we first wake up in the morning. As the day progresses, we check our email (stress), we get pinged with notifications (distraction), and we just mucked up that presentation we didn’t prepare well for and are now wondering what the consequences will be (worry). These are the clouds. Dark, rain-filled, ominous clouds. These clouds make it hard for our mind to do the things it really wants to do. Meditation allows the mind to discard the clouds and get back to the clear blue sky.
Want a guaranteed 100% irrefutable way to get more time back in your day? See that thing you’re about to do? Don’t do it!
Can the thing you’re doing right now be delegated? Can you find the courage to let go and let someone else take over? Is there a way to break up your project to portion out pieces of it to your others so you can focus on the bits you will be best at or enjoy the most? Use the people and resources around you. If you play to others’ strengths and frame it up in a positive way (“I could really use your help with this. You’re such a natural when it comes to _____.”), you may be surprised just how easy and rewarding it can be to get others involved.
Take note over the next week of things you do every day or several days per week. Is there a way to automate this action? Is there a piece of software, an app, or a paid service that would allow this activity to happen automatically? If so, it’s probably worth investing the resources (time, money) to make that happen. Maybe it’s something as simple as setting up an Outlook Rule. If you are constantly dragging emails into folders in Outlook, all the seconds of those actions adds up> Let’s say it takes 3 seconds to pick an email, find the folder it needs to go into, and drag it. You do this with 30 emails/day, that’s 90 seconds/day. 90 seconds/day x 5 days/week = 450 seconds/week. 450 seconds/week x 52 weeks = 22,500 seconds or 375 minutes or 6 hours and 15 minutes per year wasted dragging emails to folders. Imagine you work there for 10 years. Now you’ve wasted 62.5 hours or over 2 and a half days of your life dragging emails to folders. Would it be worth investing 15 minutes right now to set up Outlook Rules to give you 2.5 extra days in your life? What other daily or weekly actions are you taking that could be automated?
7. Plan your day 15 minutes at a time.
Plan out your entire day in 15-minute increments. You don’t have to do something different every 15 minutes, just look at your entire day and “schedule” what you are going to do in every 15-minute block. Carve out large blocks for deep work.
The next step of this experiment is refinement. Take note of any moments when you deviate from your schedule. Why did you deviate? Was the deviation a necessity or a distraction? If it was a distraction, do better next time to tune them out and say “no.” If it was a necessity, make the adjustment in the calendar for tomorrow or next week to make room for that thing.
After a period of refining your calendar this way, you will have designed a schedule with minimal wasted time that you can repeat every week.
8. Only schedule time in your calendar if, at the end of that time, you will have produced or created something.
If you say, “I’m going to make sales calls with these next 30 minutes,” do that. Shut off your email, talk to no one else, and dial. But, that activity is just half the battle. Your time will much better spent if you go into that 30 minutes with an intention or a production goal, such as, “I’m going to schedule two appointments in these 30 minutes” or “I’m going to call the 10 pending deals I have with the goal of getting one of them closed on the phone, win or lose.”
You may be thinking, “I have corporate meetings I have to attend, I don’t get to choose how I spend every minute of my day.” Fair, but you can still enter that meeting with an intention to produce or create something, or encourage your team to think of the time spent together that way. What are the desired outcomes of your meeting? Define them and make sure you walk away with those outcomes accomplished (or know why you didn’t). If you’re having a hard time coming up with desired outcomes of the meeting, you don’t need to meet.
Adopting a production mindset or a creativity mindset with each 15-minute chunk of your day gives your mind a framework to be as productive as possible with each passing minute.
9. Change your habits with your phone.
Your phone is likely your biggest minute-stealer of your day. Any time you react to your phone, you’re being taken away from the moment, from whatever you were just doing. It seem innocent. It may seem urgent; “My friend and I are planning a dinner tonight and she just texted me asking if 7pm will work, so I’m being a better friend by texting her back right away so she can better plan her evening.” Truth is, if she’s a real friend, she won’t mind hearing back from you in 5, 10, 15 minutes… however long it takes you to finish what you were just working on. Even a glance at your freshly lit-up screen will slow down your ability to complete the task at-hand. Notifications are the biggest culprit. Notifications have been widely studied and repeatedly found to be detrimental to accomplishing tasks, especially ones that are cognitively demanding. This study, The Attentional Cost of Receiving a Cell Phone Notification, from Florida State University found that “cellular notifications, even when one does not view or respond to messages or answer calls, can significantly damage performance on an attention-demanding task.” The study explains how, even though notifications are short, especially when not responded to, they prompt “task-irrelevant thoughts” or “mind wandering,” which slows down performance and causes more errors. OK, so how do you prevent your phone from stealing your minutes?
Embrace Digital Minimalism.
Use the Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode feature. About to sit down and get some real work done? Take 5 seconds to switch into Do Not Disturb settings on your phone, which will mute ALL notifications, calls, texts, and anything that could distract you. Bonus challenge: you’ll probably be feeling great having finished your task quickly without any distractions, so see how long you can keep your phone in that mode once you’ve successfully finished your task.
Turn off Notifications on your phone, at least on your Lock Screen.
Move any apps that receive Notifications off your Home Screen. Ever unlock your phone with a specific purpose in mind, but as soon as you get to your Home Screen you’re drawn to open an app with 5 Notifications and then completely forget why you picked up your phone in the first place? Stop that. By moving any notification-driven apps off the Home Screen, you will be more intentional with your minutes staring at your pocket-sized screen.
We can’t change how long it takes Earth to rotate on its axis, but we do have control over our own time and how we spend it.
Ideas are the easy part, execution is the challenge. Try implementing just one of these productivity hacks into your life each day for a week. Let me know how it goes for you.
What other ways do you unlock more time in your day? I’ve love to hear from in the comments!