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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.

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.

evolution of marketing

Avi Arya – It’s Not All About the Hustle: Life Balance, Creative Fulfillment, and the Evolution of Marketing Online (AoL 140)

The ongoing evolution of marketing has yield today’s social media. Facebook along with its peers are an interesting tool. Most of the world looks at it as a distraction or a way to share with family and friends. However, those of us who are in the entrepreneurial / creative space – we see it as a little bit more than that. Sure, we like to let people know what we’re up to, but we also like to share our projects and/or our message.

If you’re good at digital marketing, you’ll have no problem blending in your personal posts with your business posts. If your business is part of your personal mission, then it’s even easier.

Today’s guest, Avi Arya, is all about helping companies reach out and connect to native social media users. He travels the world not only as a speaker, but as a consultant.

However, this doesn’t define him. This is simply the work he does.

When he’s not traveling around the world, he spends as much time as he can with his family, dogs, and doing the things he really enjoys doing.

The key is this: He works to live, not live to work.

In this installment of the AoL Podcast, listen as we talk about how he rose to the the top of the industry, some of the mistakes that new marketers make, and his perspective on work/life balance.

Enjoy!

SPECIFICALLY, YOU’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

  • How did working with his dad help Avi get started in digital marketing? 11:31
  • What has changed since he first started work in digital marketing? 20:18
  • How has Avi incorporated a traveling lifestyle into what he does online? 24:06
  • What are his thoughts on having life balance? 26:41
  • Are there certain mistakes that he sees novice online advertisers making on a regular basis? 30:54
  • What’s the secret in finding fulfillment in what we do as creatives? 40:40
  • How does Avi strive to become a better version of himself? 48:05
  • Is there a process he goes through to get him psyched to do live streams? 49:41
  • What else is he looking forward to in 2019? 52:17
  • What are three books he often gives or tells others about? 53:48
  • Does he have a favorite social custom that he’s seem in his travels? 55:04
  • What is something Avi believes all high school students must know? 56:02
  • Are there any travel tips he has for new travelers? 57:21
  • How can someone be a difference maker in their community? 58:24

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Avi Online: Website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
Session Sponsor: Namecheap
Quora
Reddit
Elon Musk on AI
Technological Singularity
Crushing It – Gary Vaynerchuk
New Earth – Eckhart Tolle
5 AM Club – Robin Sharma

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

Fear No More

Avi Meets Gary V.

On Location at Social Media Marketing World (Day 1 of 3)

Avi talks with Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on CastboxiTunesStitcherPodBean, and/or Google Play Music. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

debt free

Jared Latigo – Living Debt Free – Why Practical Minimalism Might Just be Your Ticket to Freedom (AoL 138)

One of the reasons many people become self employed is because they believe they can have more freedom working for themselves. Whether that’s more time for family or the ability to dictate what they do in a given day – they’re looking for more autonomy.

However, as we get more and more successful, we have a decision to make. Do we want to scale up and bring more onto our team or stay at the level we’re at because that’s our sweet spot?

It’s really hard to fight the urge to scale up – especially if part of the way that you measure success is through an increase in income and the ability to buy bigger and better things.

But what if finances didn’t enter into the equation of success? What if it stayed at what was important to us at the beginning – to do what we want when we want? Not to be pressured by keeping up societal norms – but to spend time with those we care about and/or traveling?

This is the life that today’s guest Jared Latigo has crafted for himself and his family. Listen in as he explains how he got here and more about his life after debt.

Enjoy!

SPECIFICALLY, YOU’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

  • Where was Jared in his career when he felt like he needed to break out of debt? 9:36
  • What was it like trying to keep up with a persona of success online that he truly didn’t have yet? 14:43
  • How has minimalism changed his life? 19:13
  • How can someone become aware that they’re a slave to their stuff? 22:15
  • What are Jared’s 3 steps to become debt free? 29:08
  • How does he keep a life balance with everything that he has going on? 35:08
  • What kind of habits does he practice to get the opportunities that he’s had? 38:34
  • What’s Jared looking forward to in 2019? 45:11
  • Who’s his top 3 favorite influencers? 48:17
  • Has he been learning anything new that he’s excited to implement? 48:40
  • What advice does he hear adults give kids that he calls BS on? 49:49
  • Has there been something under $100 that has changed his life? 51:22
  • How can someone be a difference maker in their community? 52:35

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Jared Online: Website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
Cohost: Harrison Painter
Session Sponsor: Fizzle (Get your first month FREE!)
George Carlin “A place for my stuff”
Jordan Harbinger’s Level One Program
The Intern – Robert De Niro
Dave Ramsey
Donald Miller
Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Planner
Jared’s Bluetooth Speaker Device for his Truck (Aux port)
JC’s Bluetooth Device – GoGroove FlexSMART X2 (FM Transmitter)

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

7 Steps to Building a Custom Pole Barn Home

Rachel explains the Kids’ Toy Library System

How the Latigos Work Together

A Day in the Life of…


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on CastboxiTunesStitcherSoundcloud, and/or Google Play Music. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!