Why I Blog and Share

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First blog post circa 10/15/2005

My first blog post was on October 15, 2005. I was exploring what blogging meant. At that time, the blogosphere was exploding to tens of millions, and I started that humble process of writing and sharing to help my friends and clients with things I was learning.

I used to gift books that I liked when I would meet people. I believed the quote found in that post,

“The only difference from where you are right now, and where you’ll be one year from now, are the books you read and the people you meet.”

Well, it’s been 13 years and about 1,500 posts later and I am in a completely different place because of the books I have read and the people I have met. They are a part of me, and I am grateful.

I wanted to have a place to solidify my thoughts as well as help people that are trying to grow their businesses and improve their lives.

Blogging has been a wonderful, simple medium to focus the strategies, approaches and insights I gained not only from what I have learned, but also from what I have put into practice in the trenches. There are lessons about business, people, strategy and execution I have been able to test and tweak over the years. And those articles simply capture some of those learnings for those that are trying to grow as well.

I consider it a shortcut. You can skip the figuring out part and grab the good stuff.

For me, I can clarify my thinking while sharing.

I do agree that reading blogs is, “The last great online bargain,” as Seth Godin stated. With the Delete Facebook calls and social media fatigue, reading, writing and testing in the real world has fundamental value as we push for what we want in life.

I am grateful there are still simple ways to think, share and reflect on what is happening in this immense world of opportunity. It’s all continual learning and I blog and share to keep on that journey.

Doing What You Want to Do

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There’s a big consequence for winging it. If you allow your days to be dictated by the demands of others or the urgencies that days tend to push on us, it is difficult, if not impossible, to do the things that you want or matter to you.

Furthermore, your own energy levels and resistance to work on the important parts of your life take a backseat.

Living intentionally with conviction takes focus because everything is working against you. Your brain and emotions are looking for the path of least resistance. And days can bleed into weeks, then into months and then into years without much being accomplished towards your goals.

If you want to do what you want to do, then you must gain conviction. You know what you want. You want it badly.

This can come from setting up a few strategies for yourself:

  • Routines. I have a morning routine. It’s been said, “Routines set you free.” It sets the stage for me to focus on the day ahead and align myself mentally, physically emotionally and spiritually. This is critical to win the day.
  • Ritual. You may know things because you heard them or discussed them. You may know that it’s important to read every day or show gratitude. But the ritual of reviewing why you think this is true pushes it deeper into your convictions. I use Google Keep to collect quotes, articles, rules and important thoughts. Your brain can’t remember everything. But if you have it, keep a list of notes that you review every day. This ritual will help the thoughts you collect become a part of you.
  • Reflection. Think often and regularly about what has been happening around you. Is it what you want? What are the obstacles? What are the opportunities? Taking long walks, sitting quietly in the dark and writing in a journal are different ways I like to reflect. Your brain is a problem solving machine and having time and space to connect the dots furthers your clarity and convictions on what you want and what you are doing in contrast.

Routines, rituals and reflection are powerful tools that work with our natures. If we want to change ourselves and how we approach the craziness of life and the world, these become our anchors for doing what we want to do despite all the forces working against us in a day, externally and internally. It’s how conviction is built.

The Only Answer is Repetition

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At some point, there’s nothing more to change or create. You know what to do and only dogged determination and repetition with accountability will work. This is the part of scaling that moves the ball inches at a time and is quite painful.

Repeating what everyone has agreed to can seem tedious, but it is critical. Articulating your core values until everyone buys in is indispensable. Reviewing what steps need to be taken to make customers happy cannot be compromised. These rituals are relentless and are daily mantras that are part of execution.

Repetition is an age-old habit that gets groups moving in the same direction. While I wish that people could simply download instructions once and execute perfectly thereafter, that is not the case when it comes to scaling. You have to say what you want many times and do it repeatedly until a task, process or habit sticks.

Our temptation is to go back to what we know or did before. Growing is hard and we resist it because our old embedded habits have a grip on us.

The new tasks or habits are there for the taking. We are not necessarily fighting an information misunderstanding. We are fighting ourselves. We have anchors that have been established and something new is a disruptor.

If you are in the business of growing, you undoubtedly will run into the reality of execution. You have to do what you have agreed upon is the new way. And that kind of implementation will come down to saying it and doing it over and over until you see what needs to happen materialize consistently and become the new normal.

What are you trying to execute repeatedly?

Lead with Your Calendar Invitations

Calendar invitations cut through the lack of commitment and helps you to take action towards your goals. Since we live in an environment of decreasing attention, what if you became a person of action by setting 15 or 30 minute meetings that are confirmed with whoever you need a decision from or work to get done in working meetings?

Here’s a reblog of a post I have shared many times that I hope can become a mainstay habit that helps you get results. Enjoy.

Don Dalrymple

invitations.png How are you managing your calendar?

Peter Drucker said it best when it comes to the work we do today, “In knowledge work, the task is not given. It has to be determined.”

We are in a world where there is a lot of information flying around. Sometimes, we are being social. Other times we are trying to get clear.

One of the best leadership habits you can drive to get deals and projects done is to put full attention on a goal. And the way to lead efficiently is to master your online calendar. Make it a leadership tool by setting time and space to have meaningful focused conversations with your prospects, clients and partners.

I use Google Calendars within my Google Apps workflow. Most of the business world either uses Google Apps or Microsoft Outlook. Either one works. The key is to master appointment setting in either scenario.

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Instead of Complaining Become Better

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One of the sobering and honest parts about the marketplace is that you might try any philosophy or approach you like, but it may not work. Your great intention does not necessarily mean that others have to go along.

That can be quite a shocking realization for a generation that may have been given and expected anything and everything. Perhaps a silver spoon makes some believe everything is done for them without cost or consequence.

Others might even have a world-class invention they believe everyone in the world must have.

Entitlement, passion and conviction are powerful tools of persuasion. But, in the end, noone has to do anything with you or for you. You can’t make someone buy, cooperate or work with you.

The marketplace, because of the availability of options and choice, places the burden on you as a seller to be convincing and attractive.

Forget complaining, insisting or appealing. Put all that energy into being better. If your calls are not being returned, how about thinking of what can make someone want to call you back? What’s going on in their world and how can you be worth their time and attention? Again, be better.

We are all needing better ideas, strategies and ways to improve our businesses. There is no shortage of this need.

How about spending a bit of time seeing how you can meet all those unspoken, continuous needs? You’ll be a player of value this way.

The Value of Bookends

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Starting something means you committed in some way. You gave a, “Yes,” and now you are in. Your new yes is one of the items that are in your life and now demands attention, whether small or large.

The temptation is always there to commit on the front end. A moment of inspiration, someone else’s request or a legitimate priority can solicit that easy response.

Starting a thing is highly asymmetrical compared to ending something. It’s easy to get into something and because of our desire to please others or our inability to decide on a good thing vs. a bad thing. We jump in too easily.

Our bias towards the status quo overwhelms our sense of a good thing vs. an irrelevant thing as well. A commitment may have made sense previously, but today’s priorities and reality have changed. However, we find ourselves with a sunk-cost bias still working on something that doesn’t make sense today compared to a week ago.

This is where having bookends can help, something that holds up and defines your boundaries. On one end, you want to let few, but great, things in. On the other end, you want to cross-off or get rid of commitments that simply don’t make sense.

Letting go is hard for many reasons, largely emotional. But burning out, living with a heavy burden of work or relationships, can be costly. How do you get to your goals if you are holding up many commitments by not having clear bookends? It’s not scalable. You’ll simply keep letting half-hearted things in and not letting go of the things you should.

Bookends work because they are clear and defined. You don’t hold onto some clothes you may wear. You get rid of them and get something you love. The same goes for projects, relationships, business ventures and all the pursuits you have built that are part of your life.

Allowing things to stick around because once upon a time you made a commitment is costly. The best things are subservient to the mediocre.

If you can be discriminate about what comes in and vigilant about getting rid of things that don’t matter, I have no doubt you will live a little lighter and a lot clearer.

Pay the Price

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Crumpled One Dollar Bills On The Dial Plate.

“The good things in life cost what they cost. The unnecessary things are not worth it at any price. The key is being aware of the difference.” ~ Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic

This is a fantastic reminder in today’s Daily Stoic reading. We all pay for things and what we spend on becomes part of who we are.

Frivolous trinkets can be entertaining. A quick promise for success can feel like we are doing business. Expedience without consideration for others can feel efficient.

However, paying the real price, what things are worth, is good long-term practice to moving the needle towards goals that matter to you.

I like paying the right price for the right things. Having the wrong things in my life – activities, stuff, relationships, ventures, projects – these can completely drain me of energy, joy and free time.

Finding the right things to invest in and putting all I have into them has a much better payoff when it comes to long-term success and happiness.

Take inventory. What are you paying for that is not worth it?

What should you pay for but have not committed?

Don’t Miss on Seed-Planting

seed-planting increasing value for others

There’s nothing like the lucky break. When it comes, it’s so sweet. I play for the lucky break. In fact, I want a lot of them flowing into my business and life every day. I can’t control what will happen. But I can work my butt off and keep tilting the odds in my favor.

Every day, there’s this great opportunity to keep planting seeds that will turn into something later. It’s hard to do if you are used to immediate gratification, but it makes complete sense when you see that luck often works from the seeds you planted consistently weeks, months and years ago.

Take how you handle relationships. Simply noticing and helping people that are looking for answers goes a long way towards goodwill and building trust. You make friends, and they become aware of what you do and some may want to reciprocate. That can’t happen if you’re holed up somewhere and isolated from the flow of exchanging value.

Seed-planting is what sustains you over the many bumps, bruises and inconsistencies of life. The great thing is that you simply have to be mindful and willing. Here are some ideas to consider as you move about your day:

  • Say a kind word. Everyone’s in a battle. Encouragement can go a long way towards helping someone keep their head up.
  • Get in the trenches. If you see a problem you can solve, how about lending a hand? You can help solve the problems you see or share the answers and resources that will make a difference.
  • Make a connection. Be a hub of connecting people that can really help each other and benefit each other.
  • Send a gift. When someone has done you a kindness, acknowledge it with something you like or they will like. Send a note and tell them why you appreciate them.
  • Have the best ideas. Always be on the hunt for ideas that are working and can work for someone based on what they are pursuing.
  • Show graciousness. You can always be kind, even when someone else is not or is not deserving.

Seed-planting builds bridges and is long-term thinking. While you have to take care of your immediate demands, it’s so important to keep your eyes and heart alert for opportunities to be of service, value and increase to others. The great thing is that you can try it right now with a little initiative.

Five Email Tips To Use Now

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I think people lament too much about email. The reality is that for many of us, email is our work.

It’s easy. Everyone knows how to manage their own email without learning a new system. It’s how information moves to action.

It’s not going away and my encouragement is that you embrace it and become good at email. Have a growth mindset. Use it effectively so you can improve your results.

Here are a few tips to use immediately within your busy onslaught of a week since it’s always going to be a part of your work and something worth becoming good at:

  1. Summarize meetings: Take your notes and any actions and send a summary email right after your calls or meetings. You now have a record and it’s extremely easy to reference any decisions or actions. No CRM required.
  2. Check your grammar and spelling: We have these tools built in now. A misspelling simply distracts the recipient and lowers your brand in their mind. Show you care and do a quick check before sending.
  3. Use lists: I like numbered lists for any actions or decisions. Make it clear about what happens next. Lead. Clarify. Act.
  4. Get to a ZeroInbox. This is not hard. It’s a habit. Most of what you read is informational. Archive those emails. Move others to a folder that need an action or response.
  5. Be fast. Yes, you can increase your speed. You have to embrace decision making and action. Be a person known for action. The world responds to action. You have to want to be fast and decisive first, however. Hiding or accepting slowness doesn’t cut it in our hyper-competitive world of choices. We can choose to work with people that are efficient too easily, otherwise.

There’s definitely more, but some habits and a commitment to being excellent keeps you in the game, especially in the tool most of us are spending our time in on any given workday.

Do you want to become better with better results in email?

What Gets Measured Gets Done

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Perfectionism can be the antithesis of good business. That fixation of doing things right, rather than doing the right things, can move us away from the goals that matter.

I think there’s a lot of talk on KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), but it’s hard for many people to slow down, think, and identify the core things that matter. It’s even harder to quantify what does matter. We tend to talk in qualitative terms:

That’s a nice person.

I like their work.

We are making progress.

How nice?

Did the work produce a return on investment?

What percentage of progress?

If you can step back and think about numbers that matter so you can hit your goals, then there’s an accountability, focus and output that keeps the focus where it needs to be without ambiguity. What gets measured gets done. And those metrics have to be thoughtfully created, tested and transparent so everyone knows whether the right things are being done.

There are many attributes our intuition can take into account, but good measurement focuses the bottom line around what truly matters to you.

Want more revenue? How much? What actions consistently done contribute to that goal?

Want a better reputation in the marketplace? How about setting the goal front and center of getting four star plus ratings on Google and Yelp? Let your customers score you and keep the current score front and center to see how you are doing today. If you’re low, it forces you to make adjustments based on feedback.

Yes, we can bury ourselves in the many things we want to consider. But it’s hard enough to get any goal when everything is working against you. But you can get one or a few that truly matter and put all your energy into closing the gap.

Pick a goal. Design the way to measure progress towards the goal. Then work relentlessly to stay honest with yourself and others that contribute towards that metric.