February 14, 2018

CEO School: Decisions


The most difficult thing is the decision to act,
The rest is merely tenacity.
Amelia Earhart


Jeff Bezos credits his success to High Velocity Decision Making
The DoubleM IdeaGrinder™ can help you with that.


The DoubleM IdeaGrinder™

The Problem

I have for some time been impressed with the absence of any generally available system for evaluating the potential success of a business.  There are people who spend a lot of time looking at lots of different businesses, and at different stages of development, from startup to mature cash cow or IPO.  But there seems to be no system, no organized, structured way of looking at a business. 

To complicate this matter of developing a standard System, there are different perspectives of evaluating the potential for success of a business. The startup entrepreneur is different from the 4th generation owner, and they have different views than the early stage angel investor or the series A venture capitalist.

It seems reasonable that professional investors would have a proprietary method, but what about the rest of us?  There should be a generalized, customizable System...

Along those same lines, some entrepreneurs have lots of ideas about what kind of business they would like to start, but have trouble deciding which is the best. Indecision is fatal. But how best to decide?


I am not a product of my circumstances.
I am a product of my decisions.
Stephen Covey


The Solution

Step one is to Write It Down. Get it out of your head and into an organized format so you can see it more clearly. The simplest way to do this is Benjamin Franklin's approach of drawing a line down the center of a page, and at the top, writing Pro on one side and Con on the other. Now just list all the positives and negatives of the decision. That works fine for one option, a Go-NoGo decision; but what about selecting from multiple, mutually exclusive options?

In 2003, over a series of meetings with good friend Alex Wenz, I developed a simple methodology to choose the best among his surplus of startup ideas.  We looked at the various elements of a business that were important to him, built a little spreadsheet and called it the IdeaGrinder™. 

If you're familiar with spreadsheets you'll be able to easily understand it, and add/change/delete formulas, columns, and rows to suit your needs. Contact me if you want help with it. 


1. From the Google spreadsheet menu, select File - Make a Copy.
2. Customize your copy to suit your situation.
3. Decide!

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Deciding what not to do
is as important as deciding what to do.
Steve Jobs

February 8, 2018

CEO School: First Principles



Elon Musk








Miyamoto Musashi
Elon Musk credits his success to "First Principles Thinking".

Here's the main idea:

“It is important to view knowledge as a sort of semantic tree. Make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”   - Elon Musk


He applies this thinking methodology to his success in his technology businesses, based on his study of Physics. Elon isn't revealing anything new here, just saying that the fundamentals of Physics have been known for a long time and he's just focusing on executing based on these principles.

What about Life? Are there First Principles that govern Life? And if we could know such principles, and apply them consistently, would they serve us well in our drive for Success in Life? And if we were successful in Life would these same principles also apply to Business?

My answer is Yes, and I think Elon would agree that the Scientific Method, Cause and Effect, applies to all of human endeavor, not just Physics. 

OK, so what are the First Principles of Life?

Allow me to introduce my favorite philosopher, Miyamoto Musashi, a most revered man in Japanese culture who wrote an extraordinary book almost 400 years ago. The Book of Five Rings is his analysis of sword fighting based on his life as an undefeated samurai warrior.  The book says nothing about business, and yet it is a fundamental training manual for people in modern business in Japan. They take business seriously!

In his advanced age, just before he died, as he was preparing to leave this life, he wrote a very short piece called Dokkodo (The Way of Walking Alone). After having mastered the life of a Warrior, and as his parting gift to all, he left us 21 lines of his best thinking of success in Life.

Here they are:

  1. Miyamoto MusashiAccept everything just the way it is.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself or others.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
  11. In all things have no preferences.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
  17. Do not fear death.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
  19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
  21. Never stray from the way.



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Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
Warren Buffett

February 4, 2018

Top 5 Reasons Why Salespeople Fail

Top 5 Reasons Why Salespeople Fail

Having a quality sales force in place is essential to the success of most businesses. Why do some salespeople succeed and others fail? Here is a list of the top five reasons some salespeople fail.

1. Most salespeople spend too much of their time selling with prospects who will not buy. It is important to prospect efficiently and effectively.

2. They don't have a consistent sales process. Do you treat each sale differently? It is important to have a sales process that you use with all your prospects and customers. Use a sales process that has the highest probability of producing high closing rates on all your prospects. This way your results won't be hit or miss. To find a powerful sales process, check out the Sandler Selling System.

3. Many salespeople don't spend enough time building trust. Prospects want to purchase something from someone they can trust and respect. Build a trusting relationship with your prospect from the beginning.

4. Most salespeople close at the end of their sales process. Top salespeople start closing at the beginning of their sales cycle and continue to close throughout the process.

5. Most sales people do presentations about their product and company rather than determining the real need of their prospect. This will make your prospect feel neglected.

source: RBdata


January 31, 2018

CEO School: Accoutrements

The number one job of the CEO is to communicate: the dream, vision, goals, values, etc. The effective CEO will do this in writing, and in meetings, but consider that we are all communicating all the time, whether we know it or not.

The CEO will be watched for clues as to his priorities. People will adopt the CEO's persona unconsciously. The CEO's character determines the corporate culture.

Here are 10 thoughts about the CEO's basic accoutrements and the messages they send:

Smile, a lot more than you do now!
Your Smile - the only Free thing on this list, yet it is the most powerful. It's easy to forget this because CEOs are always thinking serious thoughts, solving problems, doing analysis, critical thinking. Your team sees that serious look on your face and they easily think you are angry, unhappy, and getting ready to unleash some negative statement. They hold back. Cultivate an easy smile and your team will do the same. Smiles are contagious. Enthusiasm ensues. Great work follows. "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." - Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other free super-powers: eye contact, handshake, remembering names.

Your Business Card - this is the first thing you give to everyone you meet. It's also your lasting impression. Spend a little extra to show the world you value Quality. Most people leave the back blank, but you'll be surprised how many people turn the card over when they receive it. Reward them with a personal statement of your philosophy, or a great quote that communicates your character. Remember that the number one job of the CEO is to communicate the dream. Do it here!

Your Pen - Do you even carry a pen? Do you find yourself embarrassed to have to borrow one and show how unprepared you are? A 29 cent Bic will do the job just as well as a $100 Mont Blanc, but what is the message you send when you pull out that chewed on disposable that skips and deposits globs of ink on important documents? A serious pen demonstrates seriousness of purpose. A professional writing instrument says to all that you are a professional. Check out this very conservative black/gold, high quality Waterman pen, only 42 bucks. or better yet, go for the Hemisphere blue/silver with blue ink:

      

Your Notebook - of course you can take short notes on your phone, or your tablet, but consider the lowly notebook's advantages, in a professional leather binder that also holds your business cards, and your great pen. Taking notes in a meeting is one of the most powerful signals you can send that you are respect the speaker, you are paying attention, and you value what is being communicated.

Pilots wear these to
show the world
they're pilots! 
Your Watch - Time is of the Essence, as always! Of course your phone can tell you what time it is, but there is an extraordinary advantage to wearing a watch, because it can be checked much more subtly and easily than using your phone, especially while driving. Your watch is a necessity to be on time for meetings. You are always on time, right? To be late is an insult, and shows your team and your clients that you are unprepared, or worse, uncaring/disrepectful. An Apple watch is very productive, and I favor it over no watch. But it's commonplace, and you are extraordinary, right? Tip: in a meeting, take your watch off and put it on the table in front of you to signal to everyone that you have a serious respect for staying on schedule. You don't need to spend a fortune to wear a quality timepiece. It's a lifetime investment that will start many interesting conversations.




Your Car - you are what you drive! Above all it must be clean and uncluttered inside and out. Imagine what message you send when your ride is loaded with junk and Burger King wrappers. You will be judged by our car, whether you like it or not. It's the second most expensive purchase you'll make and one of the most visible expressions of your priorities in life. What does your car communicate about you?

Your Clothes - Dress for Success! You may be surprised by the effect this has on the quality of your work, and the work of your team. If you look like you just fell out of bed, or like you just don't care what you look like, that will filter down throughout your organization. Show your team, your clients, and your suppliers that you are a first class company and they will up their game to your expectations. Women are a great judge of character based on first impressions and one of the first things they notice is your shoes! The strongest suggestion for the way to dress is to mirror the way your customers dress. Even more importantly, dress the way your VCs look when doing your presentation. This is a variant of "mirroring" described in NLP Neuro-Linguistic Programming, an advanced communication technique. Overall, NLP has some seriously questionable claims, but mirroring is a technique that works if done properly.


Don't do this!




Your Face Piercings - just seeing if you're paying attention! Do you know any successful CEOs or VCs with piercings? Maybe if you're doing a rap startup, and looking for money from Dennis Rodman, then ok, but for the other 99.99% it's probably not the best way to communicate your intelligence and priorities. Same thing with face/neck/hand tats.







Don't be this guy!
Your Office - Set the tone. You're a leader. Create the example you want your team to follow. Above all, your office must be clean, uncluttered, organized. You will get more done and improve your mental health. Read this.

Your Home - Your home says everything about you. Make sure it sends the right message. Consider these words from "The Alchemist" by Paul Coelho: "See the wonders of my world," said the wise man. "You can't trust a man if you don't know his house." We all start out in humble surroundings, but even the most inexpensive abode can still reflect your priorities of cleanliness, organization, minimalism. Your books send a very strong message. Is your bed made? Is the sink loaded with dirty dishes? 

In Summary - The bottom line with all this is that you are sending messages at all times by your posture, what you wear, how you talk, and your "bling". Many people are completely unaware of the negative effect they are creating. Don't be this guy! 



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Energy and Persistence conquer all things.
Benjamin Franklin

January 23, 2018

CEO School: Fundamentals



First time CEOs, and many seasoned CEOs, will benefit from a review of these Fundamentals. Knowing is not Doing; it takes consistent practice to create bulletproof Habits. Corporate culture starts with the CEO.

Communication


Sales Solves All Problems. The number one job of the CEO is to communicate. The CEO must communicate The Vision, the Dream, the Goals, the Plan, the rewards for achieving the Goal. This is Selling 101. The CEO needs to be the top salesman in the company. Fundraising and Recruiting are key aspects of selling the dream.

Know Your North Star and Follow it absolutely. There are only a few basic principles of success in business and they have been known for a long time, but most CEOs either don't know them, or have forgotten them, or they violate them in pursuit of opportunistic gains. There are thousands of new books every year that purport to reveal some all-powerful new technique that will make you an instant billionaire. Beware the shiny object of the solution du jour. It's all the same stuff: repackaged common sense.  For the last 35 years, DoubleM business principles have been written down as the Ten Commandments for Managing a Young, Growing Business. This poster is suitable for framing and free for the asking.

Talk less, learn more. You can't learn anything with your mouth open. Avoid these topics: politics, religion, sex, gambling, etc. The more you listen, the more people will think you're a genius. “Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt

Breathe before speaking. Take your time before spewing forth. Know what you are going to say before you say it. If you take a slight pause before you speak, you will have your audience's attention.

Ask questions, and pay attention to the answers.  When you do speak, ask, don't tell. Ask a lot of questions to learn and draw others out.

Smile, a lot. People like people who smile. People follow, and buy from, people they like. You would be amazed at how long it took me to learn this. Most of us are so inside our heads that we forget this most important and powerful gesture. My smile story.

Delegation


Delegate, but don't abdicate. Or, to be more clear: Do it; Document it; Delegate it. You can't and shouldn't do everything yourself. Build faster by delegating. Clearly written processes/checklists make delegating effective, especially if the person's job description is to continuously improve the documentation. Delegation is not Abdication. Know the difference. Delegate everything possible; only do the things that only you can do: Communicate the Dream. If you don't have someone you can delegate something to, then Always Be Recruiting.

Always Be Recruiting. You will never have enough great people. This concept of "Always Be Recruiting" is one of the more overlooked basics, until all of a sudden you lose a key team member, then it becomes a fire drill to fill that seat, and because it's a rush job, it's usually done sub-optimally. Read this.

Kaizen: Continuous Improvement.  (Link) The law of entropy is universal and omnipotent. Everything always changes, and almost never for the better. Build a culture whereby everyone's job is Continuous Improvement. This list is under continuous improvement! Are you?


Write it down


Take copious notes. It demonstrates that you are paying attention and value what you learn.

Follow up in writing. Almost nobody gets this right, and yet it is the hallmark of a true professional. See Commandment #4.

Keep a Journal. There's a lot of scientific evidence to support the fact that keeping a journal is a good thing for people to do. The benefits include reduced stress, faster recovery, feeling of peace, greater focus... do you need more?  Keep a journal. You'll be amazed at how good it is...

Know the Score. Business is a game. You must know the score. Focus on selected daily/weekly KPIs. Have professionally prepared monthly financial reports including Balance Sheet and Profit/Loss statements, at a minimum. Delegate bookkeeping as soon as possible in the life of your business.  Life is a game. Money is how we keep score. Ted Turner

Have an agenda. Send it in advance, and follow it. Be organized and respectful of your team members' time.


Good Habits


Sleep and Let Sleep. Consistent sleep is the best thing you can do for your health, energy, focus, concentration, and the quantity and quality of your work. The madness of Silicon Valley startup culture whereby CEOs demand workaholism is counterproductive. Read this for the sane point of view.  And, now here's the ugly argument, from a top VC.  VC greed can drive the CEO to demand insane behavior from his team. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Ben Franklin.

Be On Time. Never be early, never be late.  Get there ahead of time and wait until the appointment time before you walk through the door. Being early is an inconvenience to the person you are visiting. Being late is an insult, and demonstrates your lack of preparation. Make it a game to appear at exactly the right time. You know they will look at their watch and be impressed with your punctuality and dependability. Make it a habit, a point of personal pride, and an shining example to your team.

Exercise consistently. Even a little exercise, done consistently, is far better than sporadic strong workouts. Get away from your computer frequently throughout the day. Walk around, drink water, do a few pushups, do something, but do it consistently!

Eat right.  Make nutrition an intellectual decision, not an emotional reaction. My food story.

Dress appropriately. Quietly communicate the highest level of professionalism.

Optimism breeds success. Become this person. People will follow you to the ends of the earth.

Practice Gratitude. Read this.

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Be wiser than other people if you can: but do not tell them so.
Dale Carnegie

January 17, 2018

CEO School: Rich or Happy?

Interesting question! How would you answer it?

Many people would say Both, but the question is asked as though the choices are mutually exclusive, forcing you to select just one.

People who answer Rich might think they will be Happy when they are Rich. That's a big mistake, because Rich always seems to be Not Now, and only maybe in the future, if everything works out.

That's the typical entrepreneur mindset. You've probably heard it before:

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, 
so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't."

The fallacy in this plan is that the overwhelming percentage of startup entrepreneurs will either fail absolutely, or spend their days running a business that barely clings to life. They will not be Rich, and therefore will not be Happy. Lose/Lose.

Wise Words!

How much is Rich? What is your number? Ask the guy who is flipping burgers and he will tell you his number is 100 grand, or a million. Ask someone with 10 million and he will tell you it's 100 million. Ask the guy with 100 million and he might tell you he wants a billion. And it depends on other factors, such as the country you live in.

To me, Rich is a factor of Net Worth (Assets minus Debts), and disposable income. My mantra is "No toys on credit." In fact, I have avoided all debt for the last 30 years. That brings me big peace of mind, which for me is an essential part of being Happy.

Bill Gates says being a billionaire is overrated: 'Once you get beyond a million dollars, it's still the same hamburger'.


Rich always seems to be just out of reach, sometime in the future, but Happy is a state of mind that can be achieved right now, regardless of the bank account. 

Most people are about as happy as 
they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

Happy starts with Gratitude for who we are and what we have right now. Focus on the positive in life and be one with that. 

If you focus on being Happy, right now, as you continue to work to become Rich, the odds are greatly improved that you will become Rich, and truly enjoy the journey.

Another key ingredient in being Happy is being Healthy. To me that means low stress, excellent nutrition, exercise, and having good relationships with excellent people. I focus daily on being Healthy, mentally and physically, and Happy seems to follow as night follows day.

Men find happiness neither by means of the body nor through possessions, 
but through uprightness and wisdom. 
Democritus

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
Rumi

Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. 
Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. 
Who is rich? He that is content. 
Who is that? Nobody. 
Benjamin Franklin


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January 9, 2018

Gratitude



There's been a lot of talk about Gratitude over the last decade or so. Initially, it seemed like a lot of new age hocus-pocus without anything real to back it up. Anybody can make claims; show me the numbers. I'm a pragmatist. I've got better things to do with my time...

But over time, the idea started working its way into my reality. The benefits seemed to make sense, (see below) and the practice sure seemed easy enough, and free, so decided to give it a try.

Before sleep

There's a lot published on the practice of Gratitude. Here's a practical guide. One of the best ways for me is to think of some people and things I'm grateful for right before I go to sleep. I've found that I go to sleep faster.

Morning routine

Another thing I do is to include Gratitude in my morning routine (includes yoga, stretching, breathing, exercise, meditation, affirmations...). For about a year I had a list that I read to myself, but after a while my attention wandered while reading the list, so I recorded my voice reading the list, then added some of my favorite music for background. It's still a work in progress (everything is!), but it works for me. Check it out.

Bottom line: I highly recommend the practice of Gratitude, at least once a day, and to do it until it becomes a Habit, and a strong foundation for a happy and healthy life.

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Here's a summary of some health benefits of Gratitude as recently published in Time.

Gratitude can help you sleep
“Count blessings, not sheep.” Research in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research has found that feeling grateful helps people sleep better and longer.

Gratitude can make you more patient
Research from Northeastern University has found that people who felt grateful for little, everyday things were more patient and better able to make sensible decisions, compared to those who didn’t feel very gracious on a day-to-day basis. When 105 undergraduate students were asked to choose between receiving a small amount of money immediately or a larger sum at some point in the future, for example, the students who had shown more gratitude in earlier experiments were able to hold out for more cash.

Gratitude may stop you from overeating
“Gratitude replenishes willpower,” says Susan Peirce Thompson, a cognitive scientist who specializes in the psychology of eating. The concept is similar to the Northeastern research that found a connection between gratitude and patience: Thompson says cultivating feelings of gratitude can boost your impulse control, helping you slow down and make better decisions.


Gratitude can help ease depression
Thompson, the cognitive scientist, says experiments have shown that people whole partake in the “three good things” exercise — which, as the name suggests, prompts people to think of three good moments or things that happened that day — see considerable improvements in depression and overall happiness, sometimes in as little as a couple weeks. “If there were a drug that did that, whoever patented that drug would be rich,” Thompson says. “Gratitude is very powerful.”


Gratitude improves self-care
In a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers asked people to rate their levels of gratitude, physical health and psychological health, as well as how likely they were to do wellbeing-boosting behaviors like exercise, healthy eating and going to the doctor. They found positive correlations between gratitude and each of these behaviors, suggesting that giving thanks helps people appreciate and care for their bodies.


Gratitude might improve your relationship
According to a study in the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, feeling grateful toward your partner — and vice versa — can improve numerous aspects of your relationship, including feelings of connectedness and overall satisfaction as a couple. This just seems to be common sense.


Gratitude gives you happiness that lasts
Lots of things, from a compliment to a sugary treat, can bring little bursts of happiness. But instant gratification also goes away quickly, which leaves you craving more. Gratitude is something that leads to much more sustainable forms of happiness, because it’s not based in that immediate gratification; it’s a frame of mind. If you regularly take time to express gratitude and thankfulness, you’re likely to see results.


January 2, 2018

Resolutions, Goals, Plans, Systems, Habits, Self-Image




Happy New Year!
Or not.
It's up to you.


Resolutions are those promises we make to ourselves every year around this time because it seems like a good thing to do, and there are a lot of people talking about New Year's resolutions.


Resolutions are really half-promises, at best, because while we feel that we should make some resolutions, we also know the awful truth about resolutions: almost everyone fails at their resolutions. That automatically give us an out. We promise we are going to do something, or give up something, or change somehow, but we also know that we probably won't follow through because nobody does.

This attitude is guaranteed to produce zero results, but there is a way to change the way we look at resolutions so that it will become automatic that we will actually do what we want to do.

It would be helpful that we stop using the word resolutions. I carries a lot of negative baggage, what with all the failure history. How about if we use the word Goals? What's the difference? Well resolutions seem to be something we say to ourselves. A wish. A hope. A Goal is something you write down, and preferably share with others (significant other, coach, good friends). If it is not written down it is just a wish. If Goals are written down, they are more likely to happen. So, first thing we do is pick up a pen and start writing. Go ahead, pick up a pen and start writing. I'll wait here...

Welcome back. And congratulations! Most people, probably north of 95% of people have no written Goals! So, automatically, you are now in the top 5% and well on your way to success. All you need to do now is start writing your future. But first, a disclaimer: just because you might have Goals at the end of this exercise, there is no reason to assume that you will actually achieve your Goals. In fact, 95% of people who have Goals will not achieve when they have written. The deck is overwhelmingly stacked against you if you proceed with the way most people set goals. 

What you will learn today is how to set Goals that become automatically self-fulfilling. 

And it all starts with the answer to a very simple question: Who am I?  Who do I want to be? What do I want my Life to look like? What am I willing to do to achieve this?

Who am I?
This step should include a written description of yourself in all positive terms, no negatives. Many people see themselves in terms of what they are Not, what they Don't Have.  

There should be a lot of Gratitude for what you do have, right now, in your life. So it all starts with a feeling, an appreciation, of Gratitude. 

Make a list of some of the things you have going for you: I have a nice smile. I am a good friend. I'm smart. I work hard. I have a good sense of humor. People like me.

It doesn't need to be a long list, just a few important positive things about yourself. You can change this list anytime you want, so this is just a quick start and gets us to the next step:

Who do I want to be?
A lot of people get stuck here. It's a fearful thing, to write down on paper who you want to be. What if you're wrong? What if what I want to be turns out to be bad in some other way? What if, what it, what if... This looping through what if's is what stops us in our tracks. Now you know why almost all people have zero goals written down.

There is a subtle distinction in this question Who do I want to be? Many people might mistake it for What do I want? The answer to What puts us in the mode of thinking in the material world: I want a boat, a couple of really neat cars, a big house on the oceanfront, a beautiful wife and kids, and a good dog. Or whatever. We think in terms of what we don't have now, and what a good future will look like. So what happens is that we put what we want at a distance to right now. 

I propose a different solution: Think of who you want to be in terms of living an ideal life day by day. Leave the toys out of the picture, for now, please. I guarantee that the toys will come automatically if you simply become the person who is on the path to achieving his Goals.

See yourself living the life you have imagined, but without considering the toys. How do you feel, personally. Not because you have toys, but because you are living well. 

Here are a few examples of seeing your future self: 
Physically I am healthy, I feel great and look great,
because I enjoy exercise and I eat right and sleep well.
I have great friends and family relationships 
because I am a great friend.

What am I willing to DO to achieve this?
You might be tempted to answer this question in the form of 8 hours per day, or 40 hours per week. They are obvious answers to the question. That would put a limit on achieving your goals. I suggest a different approach. 

When we see ourselves as working hard now to achieve some imagined future thing, some thing that may take a long time to achieve, it is easy to give up, or to get distracted with some other shiny object, or to just get lazy for a while.

Begin with the end in mind. What is needed is a self image of being a person right now, who is On the path to the achievement of their Goals.  If I happen to be temporarily Off the path, then I simply, without any negative feelings, get back On the path. That self-image of a person who is On the path leads to the achievement of their Goals.

If I am On the path, then I see my future self as the person who created the path, and continued on the path, to create that future self. It is from that perspective of your future self that you look back and tell the story about the person you used to be. You can tell the story of your awakening, your vision of your future self, and how you set your Goals to get there. And you can then share the story, and your method, with others who need to learn this (Pay it Forward), as I am doing now.

The answer to What am I willing to do to achieve my goals is a lot simpler than you would ever expect. It's not really a lot of work at all. In fact, the secret is simply changing your mind, your attitude, your self-image. 

Adopt a self image that you are a person who goes though each day doing the things which will create the future you want. Just do it. It's important to deal with only one day at a time. 

Do what, exactly? Well, that is going to become clear once you start writing down your Goals. The awakening occurs when we fully understand that everything in life happens because of the Actions we take. This is the "scientific principle", the basis of everything we know to be true. It simply states that every condition exists because of some Action that created the condition. Every Cause has an Effect. Nothing exists without some Action that caused it. Therefore, in order for us to create some future condition or Goal, we must have caused it by our Actions. I say Actions in the plural because the Goals we want will almost certainly be the result of consistent Actions taken over Time.

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a Habit.

Aristotle

It is really so simple: just do the things that will produce the result. Inaction produces no result.

The fist thing on the way to success is to be clear about where we are going (Write it Down), and then, every day, to refresh ourselves on where we are going by reviewing our Goals and our Plans for achieving our Goals. 

Oops, did I slip something in there, that thing about Plans? Yes, there needs to be a Plan for achieving Goals, or they are just wishes, guaranteed to remain wishes until we take Action. 

Of course, our Actions must be according to our Plans. Random actions will produce random results, Inconsistent Actions will produce inconsistent results. Planned actions have the highest probability of producing Planned results. So let's make a Plan. 

The best Plans are the things we can do every day, or most days. Every day begins a new opportunity to get on the Path, do take the right Actions, to learn from our yesterdays, and to adjust our Plans accordingly. 

The solution, then, is to get into the Habit of taking the Planned Actions that will deliver the Results (Goals).

Getting back to the Goals... The best way to write a Goal is described in the Wikipedia entry regarding S.M.A.R.T. Goals. That's all you really need to know how to write your Goals.

Now group them into Long Range (5+ years), Medium Range (2-5 years), and Short Range Goals (1 year or less). Short range goals should be grouped by quarter, monthly within the current quarter, weekly within the current month, and daily within the current week). That may sound like work, but it becomes automatic when you review your Goals daily.

Set a Plan for what Actions you need to take in order to achieve your Goals.

Review your Plan every day, and update it, in writing, if necessary, to reflect real world conditions. 


Summary
If you do these things, you will become a Goal achieving machine. Start now, and remember that you need to focus on Daily Habits that will transform you into the person you want to be. One of those habits is to review your Goals and Plans every day, and to continually improve them.

And if you need help, just ask. I have a system that makes it easy: EZchecklist™.

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Additional reading from my favorite Goal achieving human, James Clear:

January 1, 2018

Looking back 50 years.

Image may contain: car and outdoor
Fifty years ago: It was 1968... 
I was a young lad, only 26, recently left IBM, and starting on my first CEO/founder position. Also, that year I took my first and only bride, on my birthday, so as not to forget the date. I was driving a Jag XK-E roadster, radically customized to tow a racing BMW 700 in which I competed successfully at east coast tracks like Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Marlboro, Hershey, etc. It was a good year... Just four years prior I had graduated from college at the bottom 10% of my class. Success is the best revenge! 
It was a very good year...
The Jag, the race car, and the bride are all ex now, and yet life is better than ever, and I'm enthusiastically looking forward to joining you, and helping you, create an Epic Year ahead. 

December 26, 2017

Building Habits


We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a Habit.

Aristotle

A long lost friend (Gary S.) I haven't seen in many years remarked about a recent photo that I seemed to be rather healthy for being 75 years old, and then he wondered if I have a few "pearls of wisdom" to pass on...

I was going to answer his email directly, but then I thought it was such a great question that I would share it with You, dear reader...

The most important "pearl of wisdom" is to build good habits, by doing the right things every day. After a number of days, a habit is formed, and the longer you do the habit, the stronger it becomes, until you no longer need to think about it. The habit takes over; you are on "auto-pilot". It's not work anymore, it's easy. In fact, it becomes difficult to stop doing the right things.

I've been working on building good habits for several years. It's coming along nicely. I have learned a lot about the process, and have been building a system that helps good habits. For now, I call it EZchecklist™.  

The concept is simple. Make a list (checklist) of the good habits you want to have. And then "Just Do It" as the Nike quote so eloquently states. It's just that simple; but it's not at all easy.

The problem is the "Knowing - Doing Gap". We know the right things to do, but we don't do them, primarily because we are, by default, in the habit of not doing them.

For example: we know, and have heard many times, that it is important to:
  • Eat right (avoid sugar, alcohol, drugs; drink water, portion control, etc)
  • Exercise (daily light exercise)
  • Get enough sleep (consistently early to bed, early to rise)
  • Meditate 
  • Breathe
  • Smile
  • Help others, acts of kindness
  • and so on...
But in the press of everyday life and business (especially doing a startup), it seems that there is always something more urgent that needs doing, and our health suffers, stress mounts, and in the long run the business suffers because we are out of control in our own lives.

What happens is that we just don't do the right things, or we are not consistent  in doing the right things.

Consistency is the key. That's what builds habits. Exercising once or twice a week does nothing for your health. 

This applies to building Habits: You must start, and you must continue. 

Gary: Thank you for the opportunity to be of service!