2021 is under way and if you are like me, you have been strategizing on how to make it your best year yet, no matter what gets in your way. As I have been planning and starting the year acting on my plans, one thing that has become apparent is how important it is to be focused this year. And when I say focused, I mean making sure that I really understand and know the things that work and drive the results needed to meet my goals, and stay focused on them.
For that, I use the 80/20 Rule. The rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts or activities. And many times, it is more like the 90/10 or even 95/5 rule. But, that begs the question and the one you should be asking - "What are my 20% activities?"
The answer will give you the places you need to focus and double down on your efforts. So, as you get going into this year, take some very serious and focused time to really analyze the actions and activities you take in your life and determine which ones make the most difference and drive the most results in reaching your goals.
Then, put those into action, double down on them. Cut out the noise and shiny objects. Work at them, make them better, and don't stop. Many people think success is this flashy thing, but it's not. It's not Hollywood or what you see on TV. Success is really disciplined, consistent focused application of the 80/20 Rule. It's lather, rinse, repeat. In fact, sometimes, it can be downright boring - but who cares if you are reaching your goals and dreams that you aspire to. It doesn't matter if it looks good or flashy - it matters if you reach the goal or not.
Put the 80/20 Rule to work for you and go make it happen!
If you are sport fan like me, you've no doubt gotten pretty excited when you favorite team is "on a roll." You know what I mean. They seem to have it all going well for them. They are scoring at will. Everything the other team tries doesn't seem work. In short, your team has all the momentum.
This is very easy to see in sports and it's also amazing to watch the changes in momentum in the course of a single game.
Entrepreneurship is the same. We go through and ebb and flow of momentum on a daily, weekly, or even annual basis. Many entrepreneurs fail to notice these momentum swings as they are so mired in the business and day to day. Because of this, they are missing out on one of their biggest secret weapons - taking advantage of and fostering momentum throughout their organization to help them be more successful.
Momentum is contagious. Even watching a sports game on television, you can feel it. You can feel it happening, the energy around it, the good feelings, the excitement, and so on. Think about how you feel when your team is on a roll. Think about how strong and powerful they seem and how you tap into that. They are like a soaring eagle.
It's the same thing in your business. When you business gets on a roll and has momentum, it's up to you as the leader tap into it and foster the energy and excitement throughout the organization. Momentum is contagious, as long as people are aware and have the ability to tap into it. It's your job as a leader to help spread momentum throughout your organization and make it known. The more engaged people are into momentum to longer last and more successful it will be.
Conversely, when you feel momentum slowing down, you need to do everything in your power as a leader to regain or find the next opportunity for momentum. You should always be on the lookout for your next momentum driver or inspiration.
If you make it a point to foster momentum in your organization on a consistent basis, you'll tap into a secret weapon that many entrepreneurs miss and find yourself and your business more successful.
Get out there and get momentum!
As we get into the end of the year and the holidays, I think we all welcome some real downtime. A break from it all. A break from the pandemic, a break from the rigorous day to day to keep business going, and a break from social media, the news - the bombardment of life.
This year will offer us a good opportunity to take that break, even if it is for just a few days or so. And when that time comes, it's always nice to lose yourself in a good book.
With that said, here are 3 of my favorites to enjoy during your break.
Top Fiction Book
I have really enjoyed delving into the James Rollins Sigma Force series of books this year. If I had to describe them, they are part Indiana Jones, part Jason born. And they are also "faction," and this is what I love most about James - he meticulously researches to find truth from history and science and builds an awesome story around it. I am always amazed at how much of the things in his books are true. So, not only are the stories/adventures page turners, I get to learn things as well. His latest book is called the Last Odyssey and is the book I started with before going back and starting the series from the beginning. The nice thing about the Last Odyssey is that you don't need to read the series to understand what is going on, so it is a great place to start. But, if you want to start from the first book, pick up Sandstorm. The "opening scene" of the book is awesome.
Top Non-Fiction Book
My top non-fiction book for the year is The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather. It is about the man who volunteered to go into the Auschwitz death camp and bring it down from the inside. I have mentioned this book before, not just because of how amazing the story is and how well written the book is, but because of what you will learn about what really happened in the Nazi death camps and get a healthy dose of reality and lessons for life. This book is not for the faint of heart, but is a must read.
Top Book to Make You Think
My top book for making your thinking and looking at society in a different way is The Parasitic Mind by Gad Saad. I admit, I recently started this book, but it is already incredible. It is all about how easily common sense can be destroyed by "idea pathogens" in our live and what we can do about it. It really helps you to better understand reason and become a better independent thinker. Dr. Gad Saad is one of the top behavioral science and marketing thinkers of our time.
The habits we have in our lives shape us, our lives, and our success. I once asked Zig Ziglar's son, Tom Ziglar, "What is the fastest way to success?" His answer was, "The fastest path to success is to replace a bad habit with a good habit." It's that simple. You pick a bad habit, replace it with a good habit, and then cement. You can then move on to the next. Think about if you did this multiple times in the course of a year - where would you be? You'd be in a completely different place that you are today.
So, with all that said, here are 3 habits you can start doing today that will make a major difference in your life.
You've no doubt heard about the power of writing things down and journaling. Many of the most successful people in their fields do this every day. Why? Because it works. When you write things down and get your thoughts out of you on paper - it helps you to crystalize them and get them in order so they aren't just bouncing around in your head. Taking 5-10 mins a day to write your thoughts down will help you be better organized, know what to prioritize, help you to know yourself better, and help you be more successful. My favorite tool for helping someone do this is the 5 Minute Journal. It makes it easy by giving you the structure, so you don't even have to think. And it takes 5 minutes to do each day! Click Here to Get a Copy!
This is an easy. Start going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. Set your times and adhere to them, even on weekends if you can. Studies have shown that your quality of sleep directly affects your energy levels and mental capacity. By going to bed and waking up at the same times each day, you create a habit of consistency for your body and its sleep rhythms that will help you be more rested, have more energy, and be more alert and on your game each day.
Commit to Personal Growth
You know this one, but it bears repeating because you can do it today. They say you are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with. I like to take that further by saying you are not just the sum of those you hang out with, but of the books you read and the things you put into your mind. And if you don't take the time to put anything into it, you cannot learn, grow, and get better. If you want to increase your success levels, you must grow yourself. Start small - pick one new book to read a quarter. Then maybe one per month, and go from there. Listen to podcasts like the Misfit Entrepreneur or take courses on things like Udemy. Whatever you do, commit to a personal growth plan. As Jim Rohn said, "Formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you rich!"
There is just no substitute for great customer service and taking care of people. I was recently reminded of this when dealing with a provider in one of my businesses. They lost their relationship with me because of how poorly they treated me.
The company offered a service I use to help manage my business and then one stopped access to it for the business. I checked and everything was up to date, there had been no issues or anything that we could find. I then got a cryptic message saying they had suspended service and to get service back up, I needed to provide more detail about my business.
I thought this was odd, so I got on the phone with their support and discussed why they needed the detail they needed. They were less than helpful and would not give me a good answer. Instead, they said that in order to re-instate services, I would need to provide the requested details. They told that if I did so, in 24 hours things would be resolved and that it would be restored. I obliged and gave them the detail they asked.
3 days later I got a message back from them stating they needed even more detail and wanted things that didn't even make sense for the services they were providing. At that point, I was done. They were rude, not forthcoming, and did not live up to their promise in that if I provided what they originally wanted, things would be re-instated.
This company lost a long-time customer simply because of their service and the way they treated me and my business. It today's age, it can month's to find a customer and seconds to lose one. It is much easier and less costly to keep a customer and care for them than it is to lose them. This company forgot that rule.
In any business, customers are your lifeblood and you should love them and do everything you can to take care of them. It's a simple lesson that gets forgotten more and more - There is no substitute for great service, period!
What makes a great brand? What creates loyalty? What makes you want to keep coming back time and time again to buy from a brand?
Picture a brand you truly love. Why do you love it so much? I bet you could list a number of things.
I've spent some time thinking about this lately and have come up with a lot of signs of a great brand. But, after some further thought, I was able to distill things down to 4 signs that signal a great brand and are always present in great brands.
1.) The brand engages you on an emotional level
Great brands stir our emotions. We absolutely love them and are major advocates for them to them point where we will even stand up and defend them when others disparage them. Some may saying that getting emotionally involved with a brand is going a little too far, but think about your favorite brands - the ones you know, count on, and love in your life - you are emotionally involved with them. That is OK and perfectly normal. It also means the brand has done a good job in creating a relationship with in addition to #2, #3, and #4.
2.) The brand provides a truly unique and incredible service to it's clients
Think of your favorite brands and how good they service their clients, including you. Their service may be one of the reasons you love them so much. They aren't perfect, no company is, and they know it, so they go above and beyond to provide service to their clients and make sure they have a great experience.
3.) The brand takes care of you
To go along with great service, the brand actively works to take care of you - not just when you have a service issue, but as a customer in general. They may give you special offers. They may check in on you from time to time just to see how you are doing. They reach out in unique and creative ways. They show genuine gratitude for you putting your trust in them. They go above and beyond to take care of you and make you feel like part of their family.
4.) The brand listens to you
Lastly, on top of service and going above and beyond to create a great relationship and take care of you, a great brand will truly listen to their clients and work to serve them in the ways they want. They will take the feedback, both good and bad, and use it to create better products, services, customer environment, and tailor things to what people are asking for. And they will prove to go above and beyond in doing so and not just say they do it. They will show it and they will keep their clients engaged and updated on the progress.
If you look at those 4 signs of a great brand and think of your favorite brands, they no doubt have them and if you embrace them in building your business and commit to them, you will develop deeply loyal customers who are raving fans and great advocates for all you do.
I admit it. I'm still not good at doing what I am about to share with you. But, by sharing it and putting my thoughts down, I hope it helps you in your life and business - and selfishly, me as well.
What do you know of in your life right now you should be doing? What is it that is in the back of your mind, your gut, that you know you need to do? What is it that is constantly there, eating at you?
Even knowing it is there is tough, because you think of all the ramifications of what would happen if you followed this thing that is pulling at you. What would be the consequences if you did it? How would it affect others, your family, your business(es), your business partners, employees - those that rely on you. How would it affect you? How do you know it is the right decision and not just some stupid impulse that if acted on could ruin everything?
I'm talking about when you know you need to make a change or at a crossroads. You gut, your intuition is telling you where you need to go and what you need to do. It gnaws at you. It is there day and night - and you know you need to act - but all those potential consequences, right?
I've had these moments many time over the years, and as much I fight them, I ultimately give in and follow my intuition and it has served me well when I did. I have also missed out because I didn't act when I knew I should - only to do it later and things still turn out well, but not as good as they could have.
I learned over the years to trust these instincts and "my gut" in life and business, but sometimes I'm too stubborn to give in for a while or let a lot of potential made up consequences/ramifications rattle around in my head keeping me from acting for longer that they should.
I haven't yet quite figured out how to best manage these situations, but I am getting better.
One thing I have found is to be open and talk through them with others that you trust and that you know have wisdom and experience. They should challenge you, but also help you to see through the jumbled mess to get to the core of what really matters and help you see the benefits/detriments of the decision.
Sometimes you need to just talk it through and it's best not to do it with those that are close to it or in it with you. For example, when I have one of these situations in my businesses, I won't try to solve it with just my business partners, but instead reach out to those I trust and know will can help outside the organization and that are not close things. I have found that the perspectives and new ideas that come forward have helped me the most in making the right decision - which the majority of the time is going with the pull of the intuition.
If you are in one of these times in your life, I really understand the struggle - these things can eat at you and consume you. Get some help and don't go it alone. Reach out to that person you know is the right one to help you see things the right way and that will help you think about it differently. You'll find that once you do, a weight will be lifted off you and it will be easier to proceed forward.
The times I have made the biggest strides in my life and work have always come when I put an intense focus on my personal growth and development.
I am always reading and studying something - most of the time because I enjoy it and it keeps me learning new things, but there is a difference between passively learning something and being intently focused with a goal.
I have found that when I set a goal to learn a subject to use the information to generate true results in an area of my life; I learn it better, I use it better, and I retain it better.
And the periods I have been able to do this best are when I have slower times or downtime in my life. Times when I don't have as many distractions and obligations taking my time and I can focus better. For example, when I am working on a product launch over a 6-8 week period and am reiterating with my teams and working late hours seemingly up to the last second to get it right; it is not a great time to set a focused personal growth goal.
But, when the launch is over and we've celebrated our success and things calm down - I find it a great time to immerse myself into learning a new skill or subject.
One thing that the Coronavirus has done for most people, is slow things down. It has given many people a great opportunity to focus on personal growth in their lives. In fact, now is one of the best opportunities in years to focus on learning new skills and subjects, not just because we have, but also because there are so many great resources available to us.
If what I just shared makes sense to you and you want to make a commitment to your personal growth, here is my advice to you.
Now is the THE time to grow in your life. Don't waste it!
One of my favorite scenes in the movie Ocean's 11 is where Rusty (played by Brad Pitt), explains the "art of conversation" to Linus (played by Matt Damon). It is a short scene, but it offers some great business lessons.
The biggest one I take from it, is that less is more. When selling, don't say more than you have to close a deal. When leading people, don't push people past their breaking point when inspiring them. When setting targets, keep them simple, short, measurable, and easy for everyone to understand. When reaching for new levels in your success, don't take on more than you can handle.
Less is more. Simple is simple. And simplicity, executed well, leads to great results.
Watch the clip below and see what lessons you takeaway from the "art of conversation."
Sometimes we just need to be reminded of reality and the facts of life. No matter how much we keep them at bay or seek to change them, there are certain truths that will win out over time. And there are certain truths that when we live by them have proven to make us more successful, happier, and free'er in our lives.
I was thinking about this the order day in the midst of much of the chaos around the world and started making this list. While it's not complete and something I will probably noodle on for a while, I wanted to share it with you. I hope it will spur you to think critically and differently and question what is being hailed as "normal" in our lives.
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