“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs
With this in mind, I’m looking at my calendar and canceling one appointment in my day…so I can take my kids to the park.
I’m looking at my to-do list, and canceling the three least important tasks…so that I can work on our family’s RV remodel with my wife.
I’m taking inventory of my clients, and firing the bottom 20% (based on least profitable, least enjoyable to work with, and least engaging)…so that I add more value to my favorite clients.
I’m taking a hard look at my content creation strategy, and I’m cutting the articles that don’t inspire me or add value to my audience…so that I can make room for more inspiration to kick in.
The list goes on and on.
There may be some consequences to these cuts…but the consequences of honoring them are far worse. Being buried by a bunch of unimportant, uninspiring, and creativity-killing tasks scares the crap out of me.
Treat each decision as a binary one. If you’re saying “yes” to one task, remember that you’re essentially saying “no” to another.
Did you choose right?
What are you saying “no” to, that you can say “yes” to the more important thing?
In case you’re curious about the RV we’re working on, it’s still in progress – but the first photo is the BEFORE and the following image is the AFTER.
A three-step strategy that helps business owners and salespeople sell more, sell easier, sell differently, and have the competition sleeping with the fishes (see what I did, there?)
A good friend of mine, client, and owner of an emerging restaurant chain just started franchising. He asked how he could sell franchises more effectively – especially since his brand isn’t well-known outside of Southern California yet.
I shared this strategy – called The Godfather Technique (after reading this, I’m wondering if you can figure out why). And although this advice is tailored toward franchising, it’s relevant to any sales situation.
First, make a list of all of your service providers – past and present. Even if it’s not related to your business, if you’ve ever gave a vendor payment for any services or products, they go on this list.
In my restaurant owner friend’s case, it included his:
Paper goods supplier(s)
Cleaning supplies company
Merchant services processor
Franchise development company
Retail real estate agents (for both his corporate and franchised locations)
I recommended that he go through his Quickbooks and find where his expenses went.
Next, remind those vendors and ask for a favor. Send them each a message that you are glad to give them business, and ask if they could do you a favor (and mention this favor will probably give them more business).
Ask if you could host a virtual talk, podcast interview, and/or write a case study – and distribute it to their audience – covering topics of relevance and value.
In my friend’s case, he would talk about how he handled COVID, lessons learned, and tips for his fellow small business owners. He would also talk about his decision to franchise, so that he and his franchisees could be of service during the downturn and build wealth when everything is at a discount – real estate, construction, and so forth. And he would also offer a free gift for attending and providing an email address – like an anti-recession checklist, or free catering for local businesses.
Seven things happen, here.
When you ask your service providers for a favor, the word “favor” subconsciously shows them they have value and and gives them power. Naturally, they want to exert their power – so might as well use it to help you. That, and people want to help.
You get to subtly show off that your company is a strong, recession-proof business.
You get to teach and overall help people. In this case, the audience was small business owners, and who would be perfect candidates for franchising.
You get people interested in learning more about your business, and how you are the best solution or opportunity.
You can now access your new audience member’s sphere of influence, too.
Now you have video and digital content for future use – be it PR, social media posting, getting onto other mediums like podcasting, magazines, etc.
Your service providers would love to get more business, and it gives them a reason to reach out to their customer base. In this case, my friend’s real estate agent has tenants of other businesses who might want to expand. His CPA or financial advisor knows who has capital available to deploy. His food supplier will absolutely like to get more accounts. You get the picture.
Finally, eat the elephant, one bite at a time. To prevent yourself from being overwhelmed, schedule to talk to one service provider a day. And choose one day out of the week to create the case study or talking points for your talk.
And if you haven’t figured it out by now, I call this strategy The Godfather Technique, because since you’ve already given these service providers your business – in effect, doing them a favor – it’s now time for you to come around and collect a favor. They owe you.
AND, if you communicate this proposal effectively, it’s an offer they can’t refuse, because it helps them look like a heroic value-adder to their network, as well as give them a chance to earn more business.
Go forth, and make a movie masterpiece of your business!
We don’t make nearly enough of them. Not enough original effort, not enough generous intent, not enough daring in search of something better.
But at the same time, we need to stop making the old mistakes again and again. What did you expect to happen when you did the very same thing that didn’t work last time?
For some of us, it’s more frightening to do something new than it is to retry something that failed.
In response to this, I’m taking inventory of how I’ve been spending my days recently, and running them through the filter of:
Is this a new mistake or an old one? Below are old mistakes that keep happening:
Jumping into forex trades (my investment portfolio includes foreign currencies) without a stop-loss and/or from fear of FOMO. I need to trust my research and signals; engineer a trading plan that prevents my impulses and addiction for a “big score” from ruining my successes; and also be okay with letting trades go if I’ve missed them.
I make more money when I trade less, and trade with multiple confirmations.
Telling myself that I’ll write at night. By then, I am out of creative energy, and I am in decompression mode. And when I do muster the discipline to do it, I sleep and wake up late the next day – ruining my future productivity – and either I spend less time with my family, don’t go on the usual one-mile run at night (where I spend time with God and take care of my health), or both.
I don’t win in any of those scenarios.
Overstepping my boundaries as a business consultant. I am so focused on adding value and seeing results in my business owner and salespeople clients’ performances, that I sometimes jump in and do the work they need to be doing for themselves.
I’m getting better at drawing my boundaries and not stepping over them, but the tendencies are still there.
What’s wrong with that? I am robbing them of their ability to be self-sufficient. I am creating a toxic dependency on me. I am forcing my own agenda and habits on them. It takes me off the objective of helping them create and sustain long-term gains.
And it takes my eyes are off of growing my company effectively.
Not sharing my ideas with my wife. I am so easily excited about business opportunities; and while that energy has its positives (it’s what got me into entrepreneurship and where I am today), it also has had its fair share of horrible crashes.
Christine keeps me grounded. She’s very nurturing and she thinks long-term, and shares perspectives that reflect those values. When I do tell her about my ideas, they almost always become better ideas, or I dodge bullets.
But when I don’t tell her – either because I’m too impatient, or I want an idea to happen so bad that I don’t wanna be shot down (which are signals that I shouldn’t be doing them at all) – they almost always fail, or I get myself into bad stuff.
And a bonus failure: When I don’t tell her – even if she would’ve supported it – it strains the relationship. Stupid, stupid.
Okay – let’s change the mood for a bit. What are the new mistakes I’m committed to making today?
Researching new and rapidly-growing podcasts and blogs, and asking to be a guest writer/interviewee. I want to reach and serve more people, and create content where both myself and the platforms or service providers win.https://seths.blog/
Increasing the frequency of my newsletter. I’ve refrained from sending more than one email a week. I told myself that I hated getting too many emails; but at the same time, I welcome certain emails and sometimes wished they came more frequently (like Seth Godin’s daily messages).
I caught myself telling myself a false narrative – and changed it. The true stories are: “I hate getting too many emails with no value” and “If I could get an email every day to inspire and recalibrate me, bring it on!”
(on this same note, I hope I don’t annoy you with more emails!).
What’s a new, generous mistake that you’ve been thinking of making? I’d love to hear about it, and help you fail forward.
Let’s spend more time honoring habits that work and making so many new mistakes today, that old ones can’t even come to the party.
Mix this with crab meat and chicken broth (all three of which can be found at my local Costco in SoCal).
I eat pretty simply, and you can dress it up with other items if you’d like. But for me, I’ve learned about myself that if it’s too complex, I won’t keep it with; and this has gotten my pho and ramen noodle urges taken care of without sabotaging myself.
I had a coaching call with a company a few weeks ago, and we got into the topic of giving customers gifts.
I love what the owner does: They use their dedicated VSA to schedule presents to be sent to their business customers every quarter, and on special days like birthdays and Christmas.
And these presents are legit – foodie snacks, workbooks to improve sales and work performance, and device screen cleaners. All stuff I actually want (not the useless knick-knacks that clutter your space).
It’s above and beyond what their competition does; they “get it” that retaining and increasing sales from current customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones (and if you’re not already doing it…get on it!); they’ve automated it so that giving happens without straining their bandwidth; and it further increases the chances of cross-selling, up-selling, and asking for referrals.
On this call, I suggested that they switch up their target – that their salespeople meet with their customers (or Zoom, in this COVID day and age), and ask them if they could give a gift to THEIR customers.
When you give customers gifts regularly, they do feel appreciated. But when you switch it up and ask if you can love on THEIR customers, you’ve shown that you’re not just trying to collect or protect your revenue, but you want them to win, too.
I take it personally. For example: Even though it’s nice to get a treat myself (if I was a customer, regardless of the vendor)…when a vendor skips past me and treats my wife and kids (their customer’s customers), I am over the moon about it. I unconsciously trust and love them more. I tell others about it.
Give it a try. It’s a reason to connect with your clients (I hate it when people follow up with no value whatsoever; “just touching base”). Tell them that you appreciate their business and you wanted to cater lunch to their office, AND to their best customers as well. Hold a free workshop on a topic that serves their clients. Offer to send a basket of brownies on your clients’ behalf to their customers.
Let me know if you try this, what you think, and if you have any other ideas that the community could benefit from!
I feel so called out and encouraged by this passage.
I’m called out because it requires that I take a deep, uncomfortable, and honest look at the stories I tell myself. It doesn’t allow me to deflect blame or get a free pass from external circumstances – be it mean people, a bad economy, dirty or deeply-rooted competitors, debilitating regulation, or unplanned events (oh, like, I dunno…A VIRUS?!)
I’m encouraged because change is within reach. I don’t need expensive, distant, theoretical, or complex software to replace and upgrade my hardware. And the results are immediate and long term.
I simply need to decide, and protect those decisions with intense vigor. A few narratives that I caught myself having when I thought about this were:
I have 10+ different companies that I own and manage. My family should understand if I’m busy and gone all of the time. I’m trying to provide for them, and I’ll make it up to them later.
I’m older now. It’s understandable to be overweight and have less muscles than I used to. My prime of being in the best shape of my life has passed. And this one-time doughnut is harmless (but I say this to myself 100 times a day lol!).
We’re in a pandemic and the economy is in a mess. Of course I’m going to lose clients, customers, and funding. And why bother fighting for it? I’m just going to hit a wall.
I’m an introvert. Trying to speak publicly is like forcing a a round peg in a square hole. I should just stick with coaching, consulting, and selling one-on-one or in small groups.
I don’t have any original ideas. Why bother writing a newsletter to my sphere of influence? And why re-share other people’s important work? They’ll think I’m a fraud and I’m wasting my time.
There are more negative self-talks where they came from.
It’s crazy – I KNOW these stories are unhelpful, untrue, and toxic…but I still let them direct my thoughts, mood, and actions.
Something’s wrong with me, right?
In talking with other entrepreneurs and creatives that are doing important work…I’m comforted to know I’m not alone. They deal with this, too.
Resistance stemming from the status quo never goes away. In fact, it actually gets stronger as you get near breakthroughs.
It’s a twisted, mean way to tell you you’re on the right track, lol!
Over the years, I’ve picked up three frameworks to prevent or minimize those impulses from ruining my progress.
1. The answer to every single thing that happens is “GOOD”.
When you decide that everything is all your fault [even if it may not have stemmed from you], you now can take 100% responsibility and change things.
You eliminate ego. You eliminate the bottleneck that you unknowingly create when you blame others and expect others – or the universe – to make things right.
When you blame external stimuli, you give away your right to change things.
3. What I’m going through is God’s plan. This is more Christian in nature, but whether or not you are a believer, the concept is still helpful.
I believe that things happen for a reason. That whatever I’m going through is preparing me for purpose; is preventing me from premature, unprepared pursuit (hey – there’s alliteration going on, here); is stopping me from an even worse decision or scenario; and is exactly where God wants me to be.
So – instead of wanting a difficult circumstance to be over, consider being present. Let go of the outcome, respect the process, rejoice, strengthen your faith (because if all things are going your way, you don’t need faith), and ask yourself: “If I am supposed to be here, what is it that I need to be doing?”
I hope these strategies improve your operating system.
What stories are you working on changing, or aware aren’t serving you? I’d love to hear about them and help you through it, if you’d like! And if you have any perspectives that have helped you eliminate negative narratives, I am continually learning and would appreciate hearing them =)
In partnership with Pro Sulum, I’m creating a regular video series for their clients on ways you can deploy your VSA to automate 98% of your business. To learn more, you can reply to this message or visit www.prosulum.com for more details.
During uncertain and/or difficult times, you can’t over-communicate with your stakeholders – your team, your customers, and your followers in general.
Here’s a way to touch on every one in your sphere of influence that’s both personalized AND scalable. And though the example I go over focuses on social media and restaurants, you can easily transfer this to your business and preferred platforms to a great result.
By the way, I’m not getting compensation of any of those items (although they should pay me royalties lol). I just love this stuff so much is all!
Crash Landing On You. I have a guilty pleasure. It’s Korean soap operas lol!
After a long day of work and when the kids go to bed, my wife and I turn on Netflix and watch these cheesy shows. And this show is sooooooo good. The music is beautiful (I don’t know what they’re saying, but I melt anyway); the characters are lovable and hilarious; the story is really creative; and I’m tearing up every other episode (and I didn’t know I had tear-ducts before).