big picture thinking

How Big Picture Thinking Makes You Good but Small Habits Make You Great

As creatives, we’re taught to start with the end in mind. We’re taught to look at the big picture. If we keep that in front of us, we’ll eventually get to where we’re wanting to get to, no matter where we start.

This thinking process applies to creating just about everything.

In fact, Think Big, Start Small, Keep It Going was the topic of Amplify’s event last week. We had several speakers who have done just that. Here was the lineup:

Special VIP Guest Host: Mr. Richard Samuels

Featured Musician: Icie Marie Hinton

Artist Spotlight: Rebecca Robinson – Artist, Author, Fashion Entrepreneur

Featured Nonprofit: Community Action of Greater Indianapolis (C.A.G.I.) with Val M. Tate

• Keynote Speaker: Colin Martin – Founder of ViceRays

These individuals had incredible talent. Rebecca had some pretty interesting pieces (one of which I’m pretty sure was of Jack Sparrow – she just didn’t know it!). Icie had an impressive singing voice. And Val – wow, the organization she’s a part of (C.A.G.I.), I didn’t even know existed. They’re all about empowering individuals within the community to figure out how they can enrich themselves and their lives.

But then there was Colin. 

Wow. Dude has had the life that many of us in the online entrepreneurs crave. But, interestingly enough (and I’m hearing this more and more), he got burnt out by it. A lot of the building he did was to simply keep an image of success. Always wanting and doing more. 

Once he figured that these actions were what was tearing him up, he reallocated how he works. Today he has much less stress in his life than he did not too long ago.

Between all four speakers, you could see the talent oozing from them. You can see that they’re all headed towards great things.

But here’s the catch, talent or the potential for great things isn’t everything. It’s just that – potential.

We need to figure out what actions we can take now, to eventually get us to where we want.

Until then, we’re not going to get too far.

Football and Business

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to go to an LTD conference in Greensboro, North Carolina. There were lots of great speakers but one that stood out to me was David Cutcliffe, head coach of the Duke football team.

As you guys probably have realized, I love comparing the inner workings of football to business development. So this was a treat for me.

As he was going through his presentation, I thought, this is great stuff! In the past I’ve written about this topic in a little detail, but not as detailed as he was presenting it.

So here’s a little bit of what David knows about thinking big, starting small, and building the right habits to succeed.

Raising Enthusiasm Leads to Successful Results

In the presentation, David started with a quote from Winston Churchill. He said “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”.

If he was to stop there, I’d be like “Yes, that is correct”. Interestingly, David changed it up a little bit. He said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another while gaining enthusiasm and passion”.

While the difference between those two statements might seem small at first, if you think about it, his perspective is powerful.

Let’s say you have two players training for a particular sport. They’re going through drill after drill, honing their skills.

One of the players goes from drill to drill, task to task, with little change of emotion.

The other player gets more emotional after each drill, determined to be better whether he fails or succeeds.

If you took these two individuals and placed them in a competition with each other? Who do you think would win? The first or the second?

For me, I believe the second would have a better chance to win. And that’s what I believe David’s quote is referring to.

Results Speak For Themselves 

With that being an underlying value of David’s beliefs, how does it translate to the field and the team he’s in charge of? How does he put it into action?

Well, before we get there, let’s look at the results of his work with his team. This will give us a bit of perspective when we get to his methods.

From 1997 to 2007, Duke football was horrible. They had:

  • Only 19 wins
  • No bowl appearances
  • Four or fewer wins each season
  • Three no-win seasons
  • A 25-game ACC losing streak
  • And in December of 2007, the cumulative GPA of the team was 2.46

Since David came in 2008, they’ve had:

  • 67 wins (which is more than a 360% of winning)
  • Six bowl appearances
  • Three consecutive bowl victories
  • 31 ACC wins since the beginning of 2008 season
  • ACC Coastal Division Champions in 2013
  • And in May of last year (2018), the cumulative GPA was 3.126

It’s pretty apparent that the program got better.

Focus on the Little Things to Build a Foundation of Success

So what are the things that David changed to help his team find success? In fact, there’s three things he told the audience that he focuses on:

  1. Climate 
  2. Practice Habits
  3. The 55

Here’s what he had to say about each one:

Climate

The atmosphere that a coach and staff create within a program to enable players to develop to their greatest potential. Great attitudes and a positive approach are critical to the proper atmosphere. It’s the nucleus of the program and will dictate the ability to be successful with the rest of the tangible values. It also gives a sense of hope and accomplishment to everyone involved.

In a recent post, we talked about how the new climate and expectation to win is a big reason why the Colts had a successful season last year. 

Practice Habits

These are instrumental in allowing us to compete at the highest level. We must achieve excellent practice habits in order to achieve our goals.

Furthermore, he adds, that Power is equal to Work/Time (P = W/T). Work, then is equal to Our Habits (W=OH). So, in the end that means that the power that we produce is equal to the habits that we have over time.

Practice Makes Permanent!

The 55

Not entirely sure why David called this group of practices The 55. I think he said something about giving it a unique name that stuck. But what it consists of are practices he said were basic fundamental parts that if done right, they can hang with any other football team.

  1. Alignment
  2. Assignment
  3. Effort
  4. Execution
  5. Finish

He mentioned that if he watches film on the next opponent and they don’t do one of these parts perfectly, such as alignment, he knows right away that his team should be able to beat them.

In business and work, we need to realize what it is that we fundamentally have to do right each day, each week, etc. What are our core values? Our core habits? Are they getting us to where we want to be? If not, then we need to figure out what needs to be changed to get there.

Action Steps

So, that’s pretty much it for this post, guys. As I said, it was a good conference. A lot was learned and discussed with those that I went with. Very motivational.

If you’re counting on motivation and talent to get you through, then you’re not going to get far. We have to work our craft regularly whether or not we want to. 

It’s when you can do that, when you know you’re onto something great.

Or as Coach Cutcliffe said, If you focus and follow through with the small stuff, the larger stuff will take care of itself. 

quality content

Creating Effective Quality Content

When it comes to marketing today, there’s a certain idea all digital marketers have to follow. We have to add value before we get the sale.

What does that mean?

Well, for most, it means that we have to educate our potential clients or customers about what it is that we do or make.

In fact, it can take up to 6 to 8 touches before a prospect becomes a buyer.

Typically, those touches take the form of “content”.

Content can take the form of videos, audio, or even text – like this blog. And it’s usually in the form of an educational format.

In this post, we’re going to look at a few places that we can find ideas for good content in 2018 and beyond.

 

Natural Content vs SEO Driven Content

When we’re thinking about creating content that attracts potential customers, we might be tempted to do a number of things. Most of these fall into three types.

Natural Content Creation

The first type is one where the focus is mainly on what our own individual customers or clients want. As a creative entrepreneur, this is something that seems a bit more natural.

The goal of creating this content is usually to retain and educate the clients, audience, or customers you already have.

 

SEO Driven Content Creation

The second type of content is content that is created specifically for what Google (or other search engines) suggest people are searching for.

Knowing this information allows us to create content specifically based on these search terms or “keywords”.

The end goal of this type of content creation to bring in more people into your sphere of influence.

If you’re not familiar with the term SEO, it simply is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. The idea behind it is that If a particular site has good SEO, the site will rank hire in Google’s search results.

The goal is to appear on the first page of results.

At one point, it was much simpler to understand what would rank a website higher than another in Google. So much so, that if you understood the fairly rudimentary rules, you could start your own solopreneur business or small agency offering it as a service.

In fact, I remember back in 2010, there were several people in my social circle that worked for a couple of startup SEO companies here in Indianapolis.

Today, while SEO still exists and is still useful, it’s getting harder and harder to predict how Google ranks websites. They’re constantly changing what variables make our sites rank higher.

Some of those variables even include traffic on the site, authority of the site, and how quickly the site loads for individuals browsing the site.

 

Hybrid Content Creation

Ideally, since the SEO world has become so hard to predict, the best thing we should do is create content that not only has keywords in it, but also is made to educate your currently existing audience.

The main way to do this is to simply to find out what your audience is asking about, find out what keywords in Google are related to those questions, and then build content based on the results you find.

Doing good SEO work on your site is not the scope of this particular post. However, I have two recommendations for you if you have a WordPress based site.

 

  1. Make sure you have the Yoast SEO Plugin. I personally recommend the premium version because it has some kick butt features (including multiple keywords) and you only have to pay for it once. 
  2. Secondly, when you’re searching for keywords, you can use a free tool within Google Adwords called the Keyword Finder. When you’re searching, there are two columns that everyone should consider. The average monthly volume, and the competition.


Ideally, you want an Average Monthly Volume of 1k – 10k (number of searches a month). If you try anything higher than that, there’s a much higher chance your site won’t be seen in the front of the results. If you use anything less than that, you might be targeting a smaller group of people.

Once you find a keyword that hits that 1k – 10k search sweet spot, then you’ll want to check it’s competition. Ideally, you want a keyword that has low competition. However, from time to time you might have to use a keyword that is marked as a medium. I rarely use those that have high competition.

Here’s a visual of what I’m talking about:

quality content

How to Find Your Audience’s Questions

If you choose to go the natural or hybrid route, you’re creating your content with your audience in mind.

If that’s the case, there are a few places where you can get topic ideas from your audience – directly and indirectly.

  1. Ask them! You can send out a survey to your followers (whether it’s through Messenger, email, or whatever you prefer).
  2. Check out what’s being asked and discussed in Facebook groups or other online forums that are related to your topic. If you think you can go into further detail than what’s covered in the post, go for it. 
  3. See what other thought leaders in your industry are talking about. What are your favorite blogs, podcasts, speakers, and/or authors discussing? They probably have already done the research to find a good topic to discuss. Feel free to add your voice to the conversation!

 

Action Steps

When we’re having to create content on a regular basis for our audiences, we might draw a blank when we’re looking. Once you have an idea of what kind of content type you’re going to be creating (whether it’s natural, SEO focused, or a hybrid of the two), then you just need a spark of inspiration. If anything, this gives you a good excuse to check in with leaders of your industry!

 

knowing when to quit

Knowing When to Quit: Sometimes you have to Slow Down to Speed Up

I’ve been struggling with a question that has been making me think recently. Last week during my 9/12 rememberance, one of the things that I realized was that “things change”.

This has always been the case, obviously, with just about anything – but it’s especially true with online business and marketing.

When I first ran across the online entrepreneurial community, there weren’t nearly as many players as they are today. Facebook and Twitter were still becoming mainstream for businesses to use (I mean, I remember when the Twitter Marketing for Dummies came out. It was the first of its kind!)

Back then, blogs were still popular on the web and the good blogs had their own YouTube channel and podcasts.

In fact, at the time, Pat Flynn said the strategy that worked for him to get noticed was one he dubbed “Be Everywhere”.

And for the longest time, it seems that this strategy has worked for plenty of other folks out there – people who have had success building their popularity on the web.

But, as I said, things change.

 

Using the Web in 2017

When you think about how people use the web in 2017, how is it different than say someone using it in 2013 or even 2011?

For me, I know that more than half of consumers who used to use laptops and desktops have opted for something a little smaller – especially in their time off.

They’re using their phone.

Even more, they’re probably checking Facebook and other social media apps much more regularly than going to someone’s web page or simply checking what’s trending on Google.

Why?

Just like you want to make it easier for people to take as few left turns as possible to get to a drive-thru, Facebook has made it so that everything can be found under one roof. Much easier than navigating on a browser to a webpage… and then another.

Why leave Facebook?

So, it’s pretty easy to see why people are making a killing building sales funnels through Facebook. The eyeballs are on it all the time.

Sure, you can spend a ton of time becoming a thought leader and developing your own external brand, but why?

Things have changed. What worked 5 or even a couple years ago, might not necessarily work today.

 

Knowing when to Quit

So, here’s the plan, guys. As you might have heard on the podcast last week, I’m going to be more available on Facebook throughout the week as well as taking a few courses that I’ve been meaning to take.

After my initial posting of the Facebook Mega Group post, I’ve been thinking – why aren’t I building one of these groups myself?

What occurred to me was that I’m getting lost in the details of the work I’m doing. It seriously takes me like 2 and a half days of working time to produce a podcast episode based on my personal tastes. That’s half the week! Not to mention the time I put into finding and talking with guests, and then marketing the new episode.

By the time all is said and done, I easily have 3 days in each episode. The other two days are shot with meetings and/or researching and writing these posts.

Frankly, I don’t have much time, if any, to actually go through new courses or spend time engaging with you all!

So, last week, as per what Lisa recommended, I have to spend my energy more appropriately. I have to get higher. I can’t stay down in the weeds all the time.

Plus, I have to make sure I follow the recent advise that Brendon said. It went something like “If your current work isn’t going to get you to a place where you’re happy – then why continue the work?”.

Here’s the video of Brendon on when to quit.

 

Coming to a Solution – Slow Down to Speed Up

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t want to quit the podcast outright. It’s been my way of meeting great people on Facebook and at the same time, giving them a way to get their message out there. Personally, since I listen to podcasts as often as I do, I’d just feel weird if I wasn’t producing them all of a sudden.

So, that’s where the two a month solution came from. While it might not be new content each week – I get the chance to actually study other’s content again and apply new findings to my business and help you guys with yours as well.

Plus, I figure this might give some folks a bit of time to hear all the old episodes. Heck, it might even give me some time to remaster some of those old interviews!

 

Action Steps

So there’s my take guys. This why I need to change things up a bit. Hopefully it gives you guys some permission to change things up in your own business as well.

Ask yourself – is what you’re doing right now, the way you’re doing it, going to get you to happiness any quicker? Is there something else you could try to get there?

For Arne and JR – making a Facebook Group was the option they took to achieve the results they have today. Maybe it’s time for you to consider the same thing?

That said, stay tuned for specifics on the new group! I hope to have info out about it at the end of the week!!

 

Bonus: 

Also, since we’re on the topic of slowing down to speed up. Check out this footage of a Bugatti Veron having problems with a speed bump:

How to be more productive

Work Smarter, Not Harder – How to be More Productive In Your Day Without More Discipline with Lisa Crilley Mallis (AoL 090)

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free cloud services

Working with Others Online: 3 Free Cloud Services You Can Use to be More Efficient

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work planning and collaborating with others. Whether it’s my usual recording of the podcast or simply working on docs together, I’ve been using free cloud services to get it done. One type of those I want to discuss in this post are file sharing services.

I’m sure, if you’re an online creative, you’ve probably at least heard of them. And you probably know they come with premium upgrades you can subscribe to get more perks.

If done right, you can use the free versions of these programs to do most of what you want to do.

From moving large files like video and audio to being able to work on documents together at the same time, you can do it all without having to pay a penny to get it done.

 

Reasons to Use Cloud Based File Sharing Services:

Not familiar with cloud based file sharing services? Here are some quick reasons why you might consider using them:

Mobility

Like the idea of having your files available anywhere you go? With these services, all you have to do is upload it to the server on your laptop or desktop, and you’ll have access to it anywhere. That could really be useful if you want to show someone something at an event you might find yourself at.

 

Syncing Abilities

All of the apps I use come with applications that I can install on my computers to allow me to sync whatever I upload from one computer to sync to a folder on another. This is great if you want to get a bit more done on sometime that you were doing on your desktop and needed to pick up again on your laptop.

For me, it might be that I’m working on a podcast and still need to edit parts of it as I’m traveling. Perhaps I need to still work on the cover art or upload it when I have it fully ready. Being able to put incomplete work up on the cloud and sync it among different machines is really useful.

Share Documents Easy

Perhaps you want to collaborate on a document with someone else. Sure, you could email it back and forth, but eventually you might end up with 5 different copies of the same document at different levels of completion.

Why do that when you can just make a document on Google Docs, share it with the other person’s Gmail account, and then work on it via the cloud?

Also, you don’t have to wait until they’re done with the work on their end! You can work on it together at the same time. For many, that’s a game changer in itself!

Keep Your Documents Safe

Another perk about using cloud storage is the simple fact that you might want to make a backup of certain files. Having those files online (whether it’s through the services I’m about to share with you or something like Carbonite) can really give you some piece of mind.

 

My Three Cloud Storage Service Apps of Choice:

Ok, so let’s look at the different ones that I use and what I specifically use them for. Remember, I’m using all of these for free. Also, keep in mind they all have their own sync folders on my computers so I can easily move one file from one service to another.

 

Google Drive

Probably the most versatile of the three services that I use. Not only does it do storage of files like the other two, but it also does remote documents as well.

Personally, I like to use it mainly for documents that I don’t plan on moving for a long time: This includes images and pieces I actually make in Google Docs and Sheets.

I like to write my blog posts on the Docs app before I ever post on WordPress. WordPress has a bad tendency to lose connection when I’m writing at times which, at best, will prevent me from autosaving. At worse, it’ll destroy any post that I might have been making.

Note: Rule of thumb when working with WordPress: Get in, post, and get out as quickly as possible. Don’t have it on all day in the background as you add things to it. That’s just waiting for trouble.

I use Sheets when I’m taking notes of my podcasts. I’ll write the note and time in different cells. Then, after I add the intro and outro of the podcast, I’ll go back and input how long the intro is of the show. I’ll add that to the times of the notes and then have a cell where it gives me the the totals of those two numbers. Sure you could do this in Excel, but it’s great to do on Sheets because again, you don’t have to stay in place to do it all.

 

Dropbox

One of the drawbacks that Google Drive has is that for whatever reason, it has problems syncing on phones (especially Android believe it or not!) and can also be somewhat of a resource hog when you’re uploading and downloading files. Meaning, it will bog down your entire computer if you’re not careful.

Many of the things that I choose to share with Dropbox are files that I need to make sure I have access to right away on my phone. This includes social media images and short videos that I might want to share with friends.

The drawback of Dropbox is the size of storage you get when you sign up for a free account. It pales in comparison to what you get with Google Drive and the next service I’ll be mentioning here shortly – MEGA. That said, you can get more free storage by sharing Dropbox with other people and having them sign up for their own accounts using your link.

If you haven’t gotten your own Dropbox account yet, and would like to have an additional 500MB when you sign up, here’s my “affiliate link” to do that. I’ll get paid with 500MB of more space! Thanks in advance! 🙂

 

MEGA

Based out of New Zealand, this service is the slowest of the three. BUT, having 50GB to use immediately when you sign up for a free account – wow! That’s a ton of space. Especially when not too long ago a student career account at Purdue was 500MB (and I think might only be 5 GB now?)

I tend to use this service when I’m moving media files from one device to another.

It seems that it’s a bit more encrypted than the other two. So if there’s some personal stuff that you want to move, this might be a better option as well.

One drawback that MEGA has is it’s user interface (UI). It’s functional and you can find things, but it’s not the easiest to have guests download items like it is in Dropbox and Google Drive.

Another thing is that when you throw things away, it stays in MEGA’s cache. This comes in handy if you don’t mean to delete several gigs of video with a single key stroke. However, to completely get rid of things, you’ll need to first throw them away on your device. After that, you’d then head onto your MEGA account in Chrome and empty the online “rubbish bin” as well.

 

Action Steps:

So there’s a quick rundown of the free services I use to move files around the web. For me, they all have their uses. But if you’re addicted to spending money or just want more simplicity, you could definitely pay for one of the services. I think you’d probably get more with Google Docs – however, Dropbox is really simple to use.

If you do start using any of these, I’d suggest one more thing. If you’re ever sharing any big files (video and/or audio especially!) with anyone using one of these services, have them sign up for an account and download the service’s syncing app.

This will help you both in two regards. One, you won’t have to wait for them to download the files to their computer directly. And two, if they get the sync app, they won’t have to worry about the download stopping midway if you’re sending a big file. All of the sync apps just move files byte for byte and resume where they leave off.

Anyway, if you have any questions on any of this, let me know. I’ve been using all of these services for several years now.

 

achieve what matters

Getting Prepped for 2017: Achieve what Matters in the New Year

It’s the last week of December. Are you ready for 2017?

For many, this is a week of reflection. New Years gives people a chance and a reason to start a new cycle – a new beginning. Due to this, it’s a tradition to have New Year’s resolutions or goals that they want to achieve in the next year.

However, at the same time, it seems like a tradition for people to not to stick with those goals or resolutions.

So it seems there’s something missing that successful folks do.

In this post, I’ll be sharing a couple of methods that work for many successful online entrepreneurs.

 

Yearly Achievement Method 1: Check last year and set New Goals

Ok, so this first method is one I’ve seen being promoted by Michael Hyatt this past month. He interviewed several successful folks and found out what their success making habits were as they were planning. Those folks included people like Chalene Johnson, Marie Forleo, Pat Flynn, Chris Ducker, Andrew Warner, and John Maxwell – just to name a few.


What he found out wasn’t anything new to me. In fact, there was only one different thing that he found that I’ll point out here in just a second.

But first, here’s the findings of his interviews…

When planning for a new year, the folks that Michael interviewed said that they had to do these things:

  1. Reflect
  2. Stay Positive
  3. Express Gratitude
  4. Eliminate the Excess
  5. Set Compelling Goals
  6. Break those Goals Down
  7. Schedule the Year
  8. Don’t Forget to Plan to Unplug

Now, as I said before, this isn’t brain science.

In fact, most of these steps I personally already employ.

But the one that really got to me was the plan to unplug step.

Because, I’ll tell you, I did not plan to unplug from NI at all this year and… I didn’t.

It’s not that I’m complaining. Any spare second I found, I was working on one thing or another.

But I didn’t have a light at the end of the tunnel like these folks build in. In his report, Michael shows that many big names actually go off the radar in late December (and here I am writing!) or the entire month altogether. And they’re able to do that because they actually PLAN to do it.

 

Yearly Achievement Method 2: BRINGIT

Now, if Method 1 seems like a lot of work and lots of things to remember or maybe you’re thinking that starting off with the reflecting part is a tad on the slow and tedious side, then I have an alternative for you.

Here’s the plan that I actually use.

Personally, I like to use a process that starts off with momentum building and ends with a plan to check periodically throughout the year to make sure you’re on the right path.

Here’s the acronym:

BRINGIT

Which means…

Brain dump
Reflect
Inspect for Good Opportunities
Nominate the best
Great Goals
Identify Steps
Touch base

A few notes to add about these are as follows:

Brain Dump:

When you’re brain dumping at the beginning, go as big as you want to go in your career. Starting with the end in mind has always been a good plan. Set a time for 10 to 15 minutes and just see what comes out. This can be anything from write a book, appear in media, to becoming a speaker – anything.

Main thing – DON’T EDIT. There will be time for that soon.

 

Reflecting:

When reflecting, sure you can take an entire week to do it like John Maxwell does, but really, you can do it in as much or little detail as you want.

Main thing here is to just make an evaluation of where you spent your time. What should take less and what could use more?

 

Inspecting and Nominating Good Opportunities:

Now that you have a list of things that you think might be great ideas to pursue or things that might not necessarily be useful, make a list of 25 things that sound like something you can definitely achieve in the new year if you put your mind to it.

 

Great Goals:

Now that you have 25 possible things you could do the next year, now would be a good time to come up with 10 great goals. And what I mean by a great goal are those opportunities that you can put a definite Why to. If you can’t put a Why to it, then forget it and move on to the next opportunity.

 

Identify Steps:

After you have your goals, make 3 to 6 steps to complete each. If you’re creating a course, for example, then your steps might include creating an outline, ask high level folks to make parts for your course, build a launch schedule, then begin.

 

Touch Base:

The last part here, is to touch base. And what that means is to one, make sure when you’re just about to start implementing – make sure that everything ties together. Think about how they do for a few minutes.

Then, when you have time in the future and you’re questioning whether your actions are moving you towards your goals, just touch base again. Ask yourself are your actions reflecting your goals?

 

Take Action:

Ok, guys. There are two methods you can take to plan out this next year. I know there’s plenty of other plans to get going in this next year that you could probably find as well. Find one that you like.

In this instance, you can pick one that’s kinda analytical based… gets it’s momentum from facts and figures. Or you can go with the plan I use which is more focused on creativity.

Whichever one you find, the trick is to have the determination AND discipline to stick with it. Commit to yourself first and then commit to your plan.

Also, don’t expect the world from yourself at first as this new year is getting going – especially if you’ve never been an entrepreneur or creative in your life before.

Just like any transition, there’s going to be a time to go from the ending of one stage to the beginning of another. This is called transition time. Give yourself some time to become your new self.

 

millionaire marketing

Debra Jason: A Glimpse into Millionaire Marketing and Breakthrough Copywriting (AoL 064)

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