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community builders

6 Simple Practices for Community Builders

As we all know, it’s one thing to have the heart to want to make a difference in your community. It’s quite another to actually express that in a way that others can understand.

In the last post, I wrote about the mindset it takes to have an impact in your community. Essentially, if you want to grow your community, you have the community in mind as you’re working.

Meaning if you’re working with a nonprofit, for example, you want to be working with those people the nonprofit is meant to help to reach solutions. Same could be said about developing an online following. If you want people to engage with you, you have to reach out first.

But what does it mean to reach out? To be someone who cares? What are the actions that this person takes?

Here’s 6 simple practices to help you reach out and start impacting the lives of others.

6 Practices of a Community Builder

Listen and Examine

The first place you want to start when making an impact for your community is to simply listen. What are some of the problems that aren’t being addressed? Out of these problems, are there some issues you could personally help with? Is there something that sounds like it’d be fun, but maybe you don’t know that much about?

If so, get good at asking questions and digging deeper. This process, called Idea Extraction, is a skill just about anyone can put to use in their work.

Skill Up and/or Branch Out

Once you learn what the issues are in your community, it’s time to figure out some solutions. In the entrepreneurial space, this could be anything from coming up with a service of some sort to creating some software, or even creating a course that people can take on a particular topic.

If you’re in the nonprofit space, maybe you find out that a group of people aren’t being addressed the way you’d like. What would be the solution to that which would be beneficial to everyone in the community? How can you make it a win-win-win?

In either situation, you can choose to do the work yourself (or learn to) or you can team up with someone who’s already well vetted in the work you’re looking to do. A great skill to have is one where you find problems and plug people into them who are naturally gifted at fixing that kind of issue.

Act like Nick Fury and find your team!

Plan Together

Now that you’re starting to put together your own group of Avengers, it’s a good idea to get their input as far as decision making goes. Forming a council or a board of these early folks is a great idea so that you can regularly bounce ideas off of each other.

One thing you don’t want to do is to be the one constantly making decisions for the entire group. If you find yourself in that role, then there might be some things you don’t see and people might inadvertently keep info from you that would have helped make a better decision.

So make sure this group of yours plans together regularly to avoid these issues. Also, there’s the added benefit in iron sharpening iron… if you’ve selected the right people.

Oh, and make sure that these meetings are kept to a minimum. Idea people love to think things out, but if you include implementers into this meeting, they might just lose interest.

Mobilize and Implement

In the US military, there are two distinct groups of people. There are enlisted folks and then there’s officers. Officers are the supervisors of the enlisted. While they think about what needs to be done, the enlisted people have to figure out how to actually get it done.

In this new group of yours, it makes sense to plan. However, great plans don’t lead to great results on their own. You’ll need to take action to get the desired effect you want.

What’s great is that usually your implementers are usually not the idea people in your group. So make sure you let them figure out how something will actually get done once you figure out what that something is!

Adjust and Re-adjust When Necessary

Here’s the thing about implementing a plan. Sometimes it might not work out the way you thought it was going to go. In fact, most of the time, it’s not going to work out the way that you first expected it to. However, that’s not a problem. You’re not a sniper. You don’t have to calculate all the things that can go wrong with your one shot before you take it. Instead, you should think of yourself as someone who’s in control of a machine gun. Fire, then adjust your aim until your bullets start hitting the mark.

So, for example, what does this mean in the nonprofit world? Let’s assume you’re working with people who have a specific kind of health related issue. It’s your job to get them the care they need or connect them to people who can. However, they’re not showing up to their appointments with you or with the other people who can help them.

Why? Why is that not happening? It’s NOT your job to blame them for not seeking the help. It’s your job to reach them where they’re at!

Celebrate Wins

I’m sure there’s people out there that say that they don’t like taking the time to celebrate a job done well. However, those people are few and far between.

Truth is, people like being rewarded for their efforts. And sometimes, the work might be hard, and sure the outcome was worth it, but it might feel a little empty to some of your group members. They might feel like they’re being taken advantage of.

So make sure to celebrate the successful campaigns, the stressful events, and the big launches. Your team will feel like you actually appreciate them and will want to continue to put the effort into this meaningful work.

Action Steps

Now that you see what kind of work it takes to build a community, it’s up to you to fit in the details. This is simply a formula that works for just about any kind of mission. If you have any questions regarding some of the specifics of any of these steps, ask below. I’d love to tell you how we handled something for Amplify.

community building

4 Principles of Community Building

Those of us who are influencers have to repeatedly ask ourselves “Who or what am I trying to influence?” Who am I trying to help? The reasons for this varies, but I think a big part of it lies in our internal motivations.

What do we internally find important?

When it comes to the Reiss Motivation Profile, I have four motivators that lie outside of the bell curve: Curiosity, Idealism, Saving, and Honor.

When I took this test earlier this year, I struggled a bit to see where these motivators fit into my life. However, as I reflected more, I realized that my interest in politics and community building comes from these core motivators.

  • Curiosity leads me to want to keep on the forefront on whatever’s going on. I’m always asking Why?
  • Idealism leads me to ask if the situation is fair. And if it isn’t, how can it be made that way?
  • Saving shows its head by seeing the value in things that have been forgotten or are considered outdated by most.
  • And Honor pops up by me asking “What’s the right thing to do?” in just about every situation.

While I think this gives me a bit of a natural interest in working with people in my town and state, not all current or future community leaders are going to have the same motivations.

So, let’s look a bit into some of the internal principles that a successful community builder believes in.

Community Building Principles

While not every community builder has the same motivations, there are some key ideas that will help a person be successful in this role.

Go to the People

The first thing we need to focus on is the people inside the community. You can’t build a community if you don’t help those that are in it day in and day out. And to find out what people need in a community, it would make sense to go where the people are. Whether that’s in social gatherings, local meetings, or large events, you need to get out and be with the people you want to help.

Just Start

When many of us first start working on something we care about, we often think that we have to have credentials showing that we’re capable of being helpful. But that’s not always the case. In fact, most of the time we feel like we’re capable of doing something ONLY after we’ve put the time into learning it.

So, in other words, you have to start somewhere. Start with what you know and build on what you have.

Be Generally Helpful

When we are first starting out in our craft or working in our community, we often don’t feel like what we’re doing is up to standard or having the effect that we’d want it to. Which is fine – you just started!

Often the best strategy we can have is to reach out and see if we can learn from anyone who’s going down our path who’s just a bit further ahead of us or, better yet, learn from people who are already where we want to be. You need to engage with all of these individuals. That means, be available, be accountable, and be helpful whenever you can. For example, if you have a ton of connections (like me) make sure that those people are meeting each other regularly. If your gift is organization, then help people get more organized. You’d be surprised how little things mean a lot to people at all levels.

Keep the Community in Mind

When we see politicians start their campaigns they make all kinds of promises. They have an agenda, and unlike the last guy who was in office, they’re going to stick to them.


Many times, however, we see politicians let the power go to their head once they’re in and they’ll do just about anything to stay in that role – even if it goes against what they previously said they were going to do.

When you’re working in the community and you’re known to do a certain thing or be a particular role, never forget why you started it in the first place. If you do, there’s a good chance that you’re not doing the work that needs to be done. Furthermore, there’s probably a chance that you’re going to get replaced.

Action Steps

So there’s a few things you need to keep in mind as you’re setting out to make an impact. To be clear, this is simply some things to consider as you’re doing you and adding value where you can.

That said, there are a few practices you can make into habits that will help you keep these principles in check. We’ll be talking about those in the next post. In the meantime, think about the actions you currently perform in your work and how they’re of benefit to your community. If it’s a bit of a stretch to make the connection, then the next post is for you.

out of curiosity

Out of Curiosity… Why Asking More Questions Leads to More Creativity and Solutions

When I was growing up, I remember that I was always curious about how things worked. “How does a controller send signals to the TV to control Mario?”, “How could people build things as big as the pyramids?”, or even something like “Why is the Great Wall of China still around after all these years?” were examples of questions I’d find myself asking.

Little did I know that when I found an interest in Leonardo Da Vinci, I’d learn that he too was a curious mind. And what I’ve come to find out since is that creatives, especially creative leaders, are curious in general.

In this post, let’s dive a little deeper into this idea that curious minds (and understanding them as a leader) lead to better results for your team and business.

Curiosity at Play

I often to think of myself as a gatekeeper when it comes to information – a natural advisor. When it comes to the social circles I find myself in, I’m usually the one that knows random pieces of information that actually help find the solution. When I look at this characteristic and how it plays a role in my life, I don’t think I can find a better example of it in play than when I was on my high school’s Quiz Bowl team.

Quiz Bowl, if you’ve never heard of it, is basically a game where two teams compete through answering trivia. The team that answers a particular question correctly first, gets the point. On a well rounded team, the members know info about all kinds of topics. And interestingly enough, it’s often suggested that players watch Jeopardy to get practice in when we’re not practicing together.

That being the case, the members of my team were all over achievers. In fact, at times, I felt a little out of place. There were your typical book worms, sure. But there was also a few players who didn’t care about grades nearly as much as they cared about art, music, or their other usual extracurricular activities.

We were all curious. We all had great imaginations (we often referred to Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Star Trek on bus rides). And I have to admit, many members of the team were pretty damn creative.


Curiosity Yields Opportunity

While I don’t remember what each member of this team went off to do after I graduated high school, I do remember that I felt at home at Purdue when I started on my engineering degree. Not only were my friends and I focused on our school work, but we were constantly having conversations where we were asking “What If?” or “How Can I?”. We were always asking questions. And later, when I got involved with various student organizations, it was because of these brainstorming sessions that we were able to come up with all kinds of tasks and question.

Truth being, to get anything done in a particular group, you had to think outside of the box. Be it finding new sensors for a robot that was being built in IEEE to finding funding opportunities for projects in Alpha Phi Omega, thinking outside of the box was the norm.

So, from my perspective, the more questions you ask, the more options you get. And because you have more options, you’ll have more answers or solutions.

Roadblocks of Curiosity

Education

If you follow this blog at all, you might know that I’m not a huge fan of the current formal education system. Main reason? It’s hugely out of date. It’s not designed to be super flexible and frankly, most students are being left behind because they’re being told what to think, not how to think.

I started realizing this in grad school when I figured out that college wasn’t for everyone. I’d often find myself asking “Why are these students even in this class?”. Sometimes because there were some who didn’t put effort in their work, but others because they simply just didn’t seem to fit. Their personal gifts were more artistic, more EQ driven, and sometimes even more “real world” friendly.

These students were forced to think that formal education was the only way to get ahead. And 10 years later, I’ve realized that these students should have had education crafted more towards them as an individual than a one size fits all solution.

That’s what formal education is and it simply doesn’t work for everyone.

Training Managers vs Leaders

Another thing I realized during this time is that the traditional business world – the corporate world –  is the only other place where it’s frowned upon to be creative. While I was teaching in OLS, we would make it a point to remind students that an MBA is typically focused more on managing processes while our department was more focused on managing people.

It’s because of this that I think the corporate world sponsors more employees to seek an MBA. They don’t necessarily want leaders, they want managers.

These are two big hurdles in today’s world that prohibits people from being more creative.

Action Steps

So, at this point you might wondering “Ok, I have a team that could possibly be a bit more creative in their work. How do I help them get outside of the box when it comes to problem solving?” Here’s a few ideas to keep in mind:

Let Creativity Flourish!

I think, the first thing we have to realize is that creative people are inherently risky. Because they’re outside of the box, there’s going to be times when they’ll cross boundaries or simply be a bit rebellious. So you have to be willing to give them some space to work in their own world and come up with ideas. When it comes to these individuals, you’ll have to be comfortable with leaving the rule book at the door.

Help Flush Out Ideas

Speaking of ideas, another thing you want to do with creative types is work with them as they’re developing new ideas. As a business owner, you have to see them as your scientists or scouts. They’ll have many hypotheses or a half baked ideas, but they might not have thoroughly tested them. Instead of waiting for the entire process to conclude, it should be part of your job as a servant leader to help them through. Not only will you be able to sniff the idea out and determine if it’s useful for not, but if it is, you can implement it in your business quicker. Of course you have to work on your own curiosity to help them out!!

Be a Servant Leader

And finally, again as a servant leader, it’s your job to not do everyone’s job all the time, but make sure that every part of the business is working smoothly.

Take a restaurant manager as an example.

It’s not their job to just sit in the back and have the other employees come to them with issues. Sure, there might be some time in doing this, but they also need to be able to check in with those who are cleaning tables, dispensing ice cream, working the drive-thru, and serving food regularly. If they wait for something to actually go wrong until they address an issue, that’s not being proactive – that’s reactive. And we know that leaders can not be reactive!!

A quote I saw this week, goes like this:

“If you look at the people in your circle and you don’t get inspired, you don’t live in a circle, you live in a cage.”

– John Maxwell

In that same instance, don’t be the one creating the cage.

leadership accountability

Leadership Accountability – A Great Way to Get Better Results

Leadership is something that I talk about quite a bit on this blog. Most recently, I’ve used the Colts and general success in the NFL as case studies. We’ve looked at how the new leadership has changed the culture to one of winning. We’ve also discussed how the “offseason” can be equally important to success as the actual “season” as well.

But how do you get people to buy in and commit to the plan? How do you actually get moving in the right direction?

How do you hold people responsible to obtain the desired results?

There’s a simple word that many teams use to describe the solution to this: accountability.

Why Accountability?

There are several reasons why a person would want to be held accountable for their actions. There’s networking involved, sure. Someone that’s accountable will tend to build better relations than someone who isn’t. But there’s another thing. Accountability makes most of us perform better. Simply put, when we have accountability, we move from intentions to actions. And even more than this, you strengthen a feedback loop that enables you to get better and better.

3 Levels of Accountability

Personal Accountability

Now when we’re talking about accountability, we’re all familiar with the first level: personal accountability. At this level, we leverage accountability with ourselves, another individual, or a group of individuals to achieve individual desired results. So, for example, we use personal accountability when we’re wanting to lose weight by going to the gym more. Or we might use it in mastermind when all the members have different goals in their own business.

Team Accountability

The next type of accountability is team accountability. At this level, not only are you accountable to your own goals, but you’re accountable to the goals of the team. Meaning, not only are you getting something out of what you’re committing to do, but your teammates are expecting you to follow through. For example, in sports, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do in a given situation, then it gets harder for your teammates to rely on you in the future. So it’s pretty obvious, I think, that at this level, it’s imperative for us to meet or even exceed the expectations of our team members.

Leadership Accountability

The next and final level of accountability is called leadership accountability. At this level, it’s your job to manage the team and help its members not only stay accountable to themselves, but to the team as well. A leader who uses this type of accountability regularly will often be looked at as a servant leader. For example, if you were the manager and/or owner of a restaurant, you would have to make sure that the place runs as efficient as possible. Your job isn’t to do a particular job like washing dishes or making the actual food. Your job is to make sure that those on the team who are in charge of a particular job are actually able to do their jobs without you or someone else doing it for them. You need to be able to give 10% with the wait staff, 15% with the chefs, 8% with the cleaning crew, etc. However, when those people need to be relieved, it’s your job to be able to get in there and do their job.

As a leader who wants to practice more accountability, keep this idea in mind: When you pay attention to others and how they’re doing, you’ll get respect. When you expect them to perform at a certain level, you’ll get results.

Characteristics of Accountable People

Now that we’ve looked at why you’d want to use accountability to move your team forward, let’s look at the characteristics of individuals who are accountable.

  1. They are consistent. People who are accountable follow through on what they say they’ll follow through on.
  2. They have credibility. Being consistent with your actions says something about who you are as a person. However, if you ever wain on doing what you say you’re going to do, then there’s a good chance you’ll credibility.
  3. They improve performance of the team as a whole. Have you ever known someone that when they’re a present part of a team, the team just seems to be in a more positive mood when they’re around? That’s the impact that a credible and consistent leader can have!

Easy enough to say that if you or your team members illustrate these characteristics, then they have what it takes to be accountable.

Characteristics of Non-Accountable People

However, on the flip side, there’s some folks that you can’t expect to be accountable. Here are some characteristics of these individuals:

  1. They make excuses. Let’s face it, you probably know plenty of people who are good at making excuses. Would you want them part of your team to actually get something done? Probably not. When people use excuses, it often becomes more of a deterrent than anything else. Even if they’re good reasons for not getting something done, they still didn’t get something done that they said they would.
  2. They play the victim card. If they blame anything or anyone else for not being able to follow through on a commitment, then they’re essentially saying that they’re not responsible. The most accountable people always take the blame even when they’re not the one at fault for bad performance.
  3. They favor appearance above all else. Something else you might notice about non-accountable people is that they have a tendency to make things look better than they really are. They tend to sweep things under the rug as opposed to really dealing with a situation. If you feel that your team is treading water and not really moving forward, it might be because someone isn’t truly pulling their weight.

Action Steps

So that’s what accountability can do for your team and how to spot it. If you’re working with a group to do amazing things, be on the lookout for these signs from potential or current team members. It will help you determine if you’re going to go places or simply spin your wheels.

the power of focus

The Power of Focus – Why Intentions Aren’t Enough

Many people talk about the power of intention. It sounds good, but it’s kind of a vague phrase. Intention in what? Intention to having an awesome life? Being successful?

People intend to do all kinds of great things. But they keep getting sidetracked and never get to the destination they intended to.

Here’s an analogy: it’s like having a scope on a firearm and not using it while taking the shot. The person holding the gun intends to the hit the target, but they choose not to use the best tool they have to do so. Sure this is cool in a video game, but in reality, it’s just bad practice.

They don’t focus.

To Focus, We Need Clarity

In the last 6 months or so, I’ve been making it a point to figure out how people made it big before the advent of internet. In other words, how did people become recognized as gurus or thought leaders before there were all these platforms to circumvent the traditional routes?

What were the traditional routes?

After speaking with a handful of upcoming guests on the show, I’ve come to realize that the best methods of building a successful business start off with:

Knowing yourself,
knowing your industry,
and knowing how you can help others in it.

Leverage Your 3 P’s

In my resource, Uncover Your Personal Mission, I refer to these as your 3 P’s:

Passions,
Purpose,
and Process.

If you haven’t downloaded the resource yet, when I refer to Passions, I’m talking about the things you find interesting. Topics that you naturally gravitate to. Skills that you’ve been naturally learning.

When it comes to Purpose, I’m referring to how you interact with those around you. What is a group of people you feel a bit of a calling to or you love to help?

Then, your Process can be thought of like this: what is the unique way that you can help people in that group? What do they need help with the most?

For many, the first two Ps are pretty straight forward. They’re your Why and What. But your How is something that many of us don’t necessarily know how to determine on our own. In fact, many of us don’t do the right work to figure out how we can truly help others.

In fact, often times, we’re creating content or performing work similar to what we’ve heard others create.

This simply isn’t how you go about finding your How.

Stop Living Vicariously

Interestingly, I’ve been doing some research to get ready for a guest I’m happy to announce will be on the show in an upcoming episode: Jordan Harbinger. I listened to a couple of his recent interviews where he and his guests were talking about two topics that I felt were pretty interrelated. Focus in a Chaotic World (with Cal Newport) and Why Self-Help Makes People Feel Terrible (with Gabriel Mizrahi).

Talk about a coincidence!

In both conversations, the idea came up that many of us who are in this creative entrepreneur/thought leader space are exercising a simple “monkey see, monkey do” strategy. We see how certain people have risen to where they are and we try to be like them to get the same results.

We feel that we have to do everything that the successful people are doing, or we won’t be successful ourselves.

The problem is that when a generalist approach simply isn’t as effective as a specialist’s approach.

As generalists, many of us just starting out don’t realize that these big names with the thousands of followers actually have their own teams. Or if they don’t have a team, they’ve just been doing what they’ve been doing for so long that they now have reached a point where they have exponential growth.

Trying to duplicate those results as someone relatively new to an industry, shouldn’t be what we’re focused on.

What to Focus On

Instead of trying to do all these different tasks to try and get your name out there and recognized, you need to focus on a few things. The things that really are a value for others.

For example, Jordan has specifically focused on his show for… 12 years.

Funny thing is he still hasn’t really used the different social medias like many of us think he should based on his influencer (fyi – he hates that title) status.

Sure, in the last year he’s completely rebranded himself from scratch, but he did that because he had the connections in place to do so. People knew him from the previous 11 years of being a great host on his old show. They knew what his niche was and, to an extent, continues to be.

If we want to be as successful as Jordan or other influencers that we look up to, we have to find our own track to do it. No amount of learning how to do Facebook ads or learning some other skill is going to have an direct impact on your success. What has worked for others, more than likely won’t work for you.

However, if you start out on your own path of creating value for others, you’ll make the right connections along the way. Find out what’s needed and find a solution for those needs.

Action Steps

So, here’s a bit of advice that I learned all the way back in 2012. We collectively need to practice Idea Extraction (a phrase coined by Dane Maxwell who I had on the show in session 56) in our businesses. We can’t just sit back and hope that we can find what other people need by being on our keyboards or browsing on our phones all day. We need to actually get out there and find out what’s needed. If we can do that within an industry we love utilizing skills we have (or can learn) then, we’ll have it made.

To get you going on the right path, here’s 5 questions that anyone who’s starting a new business needs to be able to know about their clientele:

  1. What keeps them up at night, staring at the ceiling?
  2. Are they upset about something? What do they find frustrating?
  3. What do they desire the most?
  4. Are there any trends that suggest something will change in their lives or work?
  5. What other solutions have other companies tried selling to them. Were they successful?
  6. Are there any weird idiosyncrasies about this group of individuals. For example, if they’re an engineer, do they use a lot of jargon in their working day? If they’re a performer, maybe they tend to work better in chaos?

Once you get an idea of what it’s like to live in the life of someone in the group you want to work with and could probably write a journal entry for them, then you’re onto something. My recommendation is do this at least 7-20 times so you can definitely start seeing a pattern of issues.

Once you get a fix for one of those issues, then you can easily take it to others and start being known as “the person who does X”. Then, from there, you’ll start to build a following as more people hear about your successes. Just don’t forget to constantly update how you do things. I’m still learning everyday!

proactive personality

Developing a Proactive Personality – How the Best Create Their Own Luck and Don’t Try to Control What They Can’t

Manifest: Anything is Possible is the name of the event coming up this month that Amplify is co-sponsoring with Walk the Talk.

In the event’s description, it reads:

The law of attraction is always steadfastly delivering what we have consciously or unconsciously asked for through our focus, our thoughts and most especially our feelings.

We are always in the process of manifesting and creating our lives. This is good news because it means we can change our thoughts to change our world. We can learn to come from an empowered place and use this law to manifest the life of our dreams.

Can’t say that I can disagree with this statement at all. In fact, I think most people who have done any work in the self-help / personal development space would agree with this statement.

However, I think there’s something I should bring up. And, I think it’s something that a lot of people tend to gloss over:

Being proactive is all about controlling what you can control and not expecting what you can’t.

Start with the End in Mind

We’ve all heard about Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In it, the first two habits are, I think, the hardest two for many people to get used to. Mainly because we live in such a reactive world.

The first one, is simply to stay proactive. Like my co-hosts and I talked about all the way back in session 5 of the AoL Podcast, It’s only when you work proactively that you can become the influencer instead of the influenced.

The second habit is all about planning. It says that if you want to be successful at achieving something, you need to start with the end in mind.

Not to go into too much detail in the football analogy here again, but since we did just see the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl again this past weekend giving both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their 6th ring, it might be worth noting that there’s no doubt in my mind that they start from day 1 each season with the end in mind.

I’d go on to say that the particular end that they’re going for is easier to illustrate to the new roster because the organization has reached that pinical so many times.

That analogy aside, if you were to build anything, say a dog house, a phone application, or even an organization, you need to know what the final product will look like.

When it comes to these two laws, simply letting the universe (or God) decide our fate, isn’t a great move. We need have that plan in place to get to where we want.

Habit 3 suggests that the first thing we need to do is determine what the order of steps are we need to perform “to get there”.

Luck Does Play a Role

The definition of luck is this: it’s the point where preparedness and opportunity intersect. With that definition, it’s hard to not think that Andrew Luck has learned to truly embody his surname.

Quenton Nelson, who was the Colts’ rookie guard this year, recently said that Andrew is one of the biggest nerds he knows. And he’s not just talking about football. When the team is traveling, Andrew acts as a tour guide of the city they’re visiting.

When we’re wanting to achieve something in our work or lives, we need to not only be prepared, but we also need to be on the lookout for opportunity. Meaning, if you were a fisherman, sure you could have he best gear and have the best techniques, but if you’re not near a body of water, then you’re never going to land a fish.

Likewise, if you’re looking to serve a certain kind of people, but you’re spending your time elsewhere, perhaps that’s not the best move. If you were Andrew, even though you were good at it, you wouldn’t be practicing soccer in preparation for a football game.

External Expectancy: It’s a Trap!

Now, with all this talk about setting out with the end in mind and being lucky, there’s something we really need to watch out for.

Expecting certain results to come to us from the universe after we put in our own efforts.

Here’s the truth: you can only affect the things that you control. It’s when we try to affect things outside of our control that bad stuff happens.

For instance, you might have wanted to write a book. Ok, that’s great. Are you doing it for the right reasons though? Are you wanting to write it because you want to get nationally recognized or because you simply want to get your message out there?

If it’s the latter, then you’re good to start. Build a writing habit (say 1000 words per day) and you’ll have that puppy out in no time.

However, if the reason you’re wanting to write a book is because you want to get that recognition, then you might have some problems. For one, what if it doesn’t get recognized? Does that mean that you shouldn’t create in the future? Does that mean you need to choose a different niche? Perhaps you’re just not cut out to be an author?

It doesn’t mean any of those things. You just put the expectancy on external results.

Here’s another example. Perhaps you wanted to earn more money last year or become more connected in your industry. If you did everything that you could do to make that happen, but you’re upset. I’d argue, what’s really upsetting you isn’t that you failed – because you didn’t. What happened is that the results that you have no control over weren’t what you were expecting.

All of these questions pop up when you expect things to go a certain way and they don’t. So don’t try to control things you can’t control.

If you want more about this topic, Srini Rao did a good writeup over at Unmistakable Creative.

Action Steps

So here we are. Halfway through winter and you’re still spinning your wheels in how you can get out of your individual rat race.

If you really want to make your situation better, the first thing I would do is figure out if you’re truly doing meaningful work. I WOULD NOT set a possibly unattainable goal of being able to change or quit your job or switch the focus of your business in the next 90 days. You need to first get your bearings of who you are, where you fit in the world, and the superpowers you have.

After that, I’d seek out the first mountain you want to climb and start putting steps into place about getting there.

Maybe you want to be a coach – is there a certification that you’d want to get before setting off on that journey? Is the niche of people you’re wanting to serve actually able to pay you for your services? If not, what’s a possible way you can build an income stream from that work?

Maybe you want to be a consultant? Do you know what that entails? Where do you find clients? How would you sell your services to a potential client?

Heck, maybe you love watching American Pickers and you want to do what Mike and Frank do. Do you know what the market value is for antiques? Do you have a place to store your findings? How will you find targets to pick from?

Figure this stuff out before you set out on your own.

And the third step is this – set the fundamental daily habits in place that will enable you to be successful. As I mentioned earlier this year, I’d recommend looking at Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits. But there are tons of other books out there on the subject as well that might be a better fit for you.

promotional email

What’s Old is New Again! – The Case for Using Promotional Email in 2019

In the fashion world, it seems like a lot of clothes that I grew up with are becoming popular again. Just the other day, I saw a girl at the movies that looked like she was straight from 1989. From a distance, you could tell she had Jessie Spano hair. But as my wife and I got closer, we realized that not only did she have the hair, but under her coat, she was wearing a white turtleneck and overalls.

I’m not really into the whole hipster scene, but is this a thing that us 30 somethings are just not aware of? I know when I was going to school, popped collars and wearing polos on top of long sleeved shirts was a thing. However, I can’t say I would suggest going back to that look. And to add to that, I never expected to see leggings or denim as items that would make a comeback!

It seems that what was once old is new again.

Business has Cycles, too!

In that same vein, I’ve noticed that business has its own set of cycles. For instance, in the 90’s, Walmart started taking off because of a few reasons:

  • They had everything.
  • You always knew you were getting the best price.
  • You get in and get out without hassle of sales people.
  • Because of all the above, you save time.

Today, however, there has been a shift back to a service centric model. There are many more specialty stores and boutiques opening up because there are certain things you don’t get at the big box stores.

Big box stores like Walmart seem to cater to everyone. They do this by having everything but not many options of one particular thing.

Take grocery shopping for example. Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods have a completely different vibe to them than the larger chains like Walmart and Meijer. For one, you have a lot more options in specific items.

But on top of that, help is fairly easy to find if you’re looking for something in particular. Not only that, but when I talk to people who work at these places, they seem to be a bit more educated in the products that are available.

When choosing between one or the other, it’s really a choice of customer service vs time/money. If expertise, help, and friendliness are things you care about, you’ll probably go to a specialty store. If being frugal is your thing – then Walmart might still be your choice.

Return of the Main Open Source Marketing Medium: Email

promotional email
Remember these words in the AOL days?

This month, I have a focus to figure out what’s going to be big and different in 2019. One of those things, I’ve realized, is marketing.

When it comes to marketing, which is important for any creator, we feel it necessary to be on social media all the time – posting and interacting with our base there.

It would certainly seem that this is the best way to get our voice out there in 2019. That’s where all the eyeballs are, right?

But how effective is this really? And is our message getting out to those who follow us?

Add to that this question – with all that’s been going down recently with privacy, should we continue to trust these large online companies with our information?

As these questions gain more attention, people are starting to wonder what the next big way of getting the word out is going to be.

And after reading this article over at the Wall Street Journal, I think the writing is on the wall.

One point that the article brings up is this question. Would you rather have your voice going out to 1000 or 10,000 people who have opted in your emails? Or would you rather have 100,000 followers on Instagram or Facebook?

Email Allows Deeper Connections

For me, the answer is simple. Email has an ability to not only allow us to reach all of our followers, but it allows us to connect with them in ways that not many utilize social media for.

In my recent chat with Avi Arya, one of the things he spoke about that he remembers having great success was when he personalized his emails to people he was marketing to. In fact, he would create a handful of videos to particular people each day.

This was back in the late 90’s when it took several hours to download one 3-5 minute song. It would take one of his assistants all night to upload these videos.


But it blew people away and made him well known in his industry.

In email marketing we can tailor our message to fit the size of audience we’re addressing and be direct. In social, we can’t do that. It’s a numbers game.

Action Steps

So at this point you might be wonder, ok, what do I do with this information? People just don’t willingly give up their emails today like they might have even a handful of years ago. They don’t want to add one more thing to their inbox which is more than likely already cluttered.

So how do you get over that hump?

The answer is not new by any means.

We simply need to add awesome value for their email. Like last week, below is a video from Pat sharing what he’s learned on this topic over the years. It should give you some great ideas in what you can offer.