April 2019 Archives

The #1 Thing That Prevents Overwhelm At Work (After Being Away On Vacation Or Leave)

How do you get back into the swing of your business after being gone or away?

I want to share one thing I do, and it’s applicable to anyone – entrepreneurs especially – who don’t have people filling in for them while on vacation, out on maternity leave, etc.

After the last nine days at Disney World, there is a definite risk of re-entry hell. With so many simultaneous projects going on, it would be incredibly easy to forget where everything was at, where it needs to go, and the litany of communication channels (Slack, Voxer, Email) make it even harder.

So how does one cope with that?

It’s incredibly important to remember this one SUPER important principle:

What you do BEFORE you leave is way more important than what you do after!

So this post today is for everyone, regardless of your schedule right now. It’s about writing your Pin Drop Document.

What Is The Pin Drop Document

This is the most important thing you can do prior to leaving for any length of time. The Pin Drop Document is something I came up with after using my GPS one day and realized…when you open up Google Maps, you need to figure out WHERE you are, before you can figure out how to get where you’re going. The pin drop isolates your exact location in the moment and gives you the anchor for the route to the destination.

The Pin Drop Document is the document that lists out the exact location of your projects, timelines, client work, etc. at the time you’ve left.

It seems weird to do at the time, because you’re in the thick of it – and all the details are clear and sharply in view. But after a few days or weeks or whatever length of time it is you’re away…you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ve forgotten where you left off.

Let me give you an example that I’m sure you all can relate to…

Whenever I travel, I park in a parking garage. When I park the car, I tell myself, “Okay I’m on level three, row B.” And I say it again and again, thinking that surely I’ll remember. Then I go away for a week, fill my brain with a million memories, and when I return, I’m totally disoriented and can’t remember where I parked. I’ve learned this the hard way and now I take a photo of the sign stating my level and row, and I can refer back to it when I come home.

The Pin Drop Document is your snapshot of what’s happening the day you leave.

What Do You Put In The Pin Drop Document

Everything! Even the stuff you’re sure to remember. For me, my Pin Drop includes important dates, deadlines, projects in the queue, and what I anticipate will be worked on while I’m gone. This is because I have a team under me working. For those of you who are 1-person teams, there won’t be any work while you’re gone, so your document will have a list of what you accomplished the week before you left, and what will need to be done the week you return.

I would organize it like this:

  1. Projects/Clients wrapped up this week (describe)
  2. Projects/Clients in progress (and fill out what should be done while you’re gone if you have a team)
  3. Projects/Clients next steps after you return (describe)

Prepare Your Time/Calendar For Post Vacation

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to go to your calendar and BLOCK off the week you return, with ridiculous detail. If you haven’t read my post on how to substitute time instead of stacking it, you should. Because you’ll use that concept in your calendar for the week you return.

I did this prior to leaving for my trip to Disney World. I wrote up my Pin Drop Document, gave it to the team, and then went to my calendar and pre-booked a few meetings, work sessions, and the like so it was all ready to go.

When I opened up my calendar this morning, it was a full calendar – but to my relief, I had blocked time off to catch up/work on existing projects that were coming down the queue fast. I’m literally writing this email at 4:00pm EST on Monday afternoon, mostly back on track – simply because I had the Pin Drop Document and my calendar ready for re-entry.

Why Not Just Use Your Existing Project Management Software?

I know a lot of people are probably wondering why you would put it all in a document instead of just opening up Trello, Asana, etc.

The answer is simple: Overwhelm.

Have you ever logged into a PM software after a week away? Especially if you have a team?

Notifications galore. Dates and cards and tasks everywhere. You’ll probably have to look in multiple locations. You’ll have to get your bearings again. You’re already going to be overwhelmed as it is, the Pin Drop Document is literally one place with a simple list of all the things you stopped doing, were in the middle of doing, or are about to do.

You can share with your team members, or you can go to their PM software and set up assignments ahead of time, but no matter how you do it, the Pin Drop Document is 100% the thing that keeps me sane after being away for a week.

Use it as your anchor so that re-entry is a breeze!

If you guys/gals would like to see a sample of a Pin Drop Doc, you can check it out here. Please choose FILE > MAKE A COPY if you want to drag it into your account.

I hope that helps!

Ep. 39 Why You Should Join (Or Create) A Mastermind

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Today I wanted to finally sit down and recap with you what happened at my mastermind last week. I know probably a bunch of you saw, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you saw that I was with a bunch of my clients last week and I thought I would give you guys a little advice about some of the things that are really beneficial when you take time out of your business, out of your normal everyday plan.

Twice a year I rent a beautiful co-working space in Hartford, which is right at the capital of Connecticut and it’s on the 17th floor and the space is amazing. First of all, because it’s got a great view and every single desk is a whiteboard, and all the walls are whiteboards. So the very place just sort of emanates creativity and emanates that feeling of possibility.

So I bring everybody to Connecticut and we spend an entire week in this room together, masterminding, hot seating, co-working, collaborating, training, teaching. And some of the things that are really cool that I want to share with you that maybe will help you in your own business.

The first thing is a week is a long time. And I know that a lot of people would be like, “Oh my gosh, taking a week to do that seems like it’s impossible.” But there’s something that happens when you give yourself the space to work, to think, to brainstorm, you come up with ideas that you wouldn’t come up with in any other situation. And I know in my life and in my calendar when I’m trying to block out time to be creative, I sometimes completely underestimate, or overestimate, I can’t remember which one it would be for this, how much time it’s going to take my brain to just get into a creative zone.

So one of the things about creativity, especially when you’re brainstorming ideas, is that it could take 18 hours of thinking, and talking, and exploring to come up with an hour of work that’s creative. And that’s not wrong or bad or abnormal. So when you’re in a mastermind setting, you’ve really dedicated that time to sort of allow that space to really help percolate new ideas.

The other thing that really helps with creativity in a mastermind is when you hear from other people. And it’s, you know, the old saying is, “The shoe maker’s kids don’t have shoes.” That’s based on this old idea that what we can do for others sometimes becomes very difficult for ourselves.

I know this is true in my own business and in my life, that I can give great advice and strategy for other people, and then when it comes to myself I can’t see the forest through the trees. And it’s frustrating. You think, “Oh my gosh, I’m so good at this for others, but why can’t I do it for myself?”

My friend and partner, Kathy Olson, who I run Funnel Gorgeous with her, she actually has, she’s a designer and she has an entire course on designing for yourself because of the unique challenges that come when you try to do something for yourself that you normally could do really well for others.

In a mastermind setting when you’re with other people, your brain is able to process ideas differently because you’re watching other people go on the hot seat. You’re watching other people’s problems be solved and ideas be sort of massaged. So without that weird extra mind set issues that happen when it’s our own stuff, we can see things very clearly for others. And the mastermind arena gives you the opportunity to let your brain imagine that possibility and then it sometimes becomes easier to incorporate into your own business.

But you need time. You need time and space and obviously for all of us who work from our laptops, a week without work there’s not necessarily a paycheck waiting if you don’t work. So when we rent the co-working space we specifically do that so people can go in and out for meetings for work time, so they can actually get work done. So a lot of my clients left with new ideas, new relationships, new collaborations, but also work done as well.

And if you’re not part of a mastermind, I highly recommend that you join one. But even for those of you guys listening who are just living your laptop life, I would highly recommend that you find people in your life that are also doing that and dedicate at least twice a year, a week where you go into a different location, a location that’s conducive to creativity. Even if you don’t spend the entire time collaborating, even just co-working side by side, you’re going to find amazing things happen in your brain. You’re going to come up with stuff that you couldn’t come up with before.

Now when I do the mastermind, it’s a pretty intense week for me because unlike everybody else who can just kind of go in and out and work and take breaks when they need to take a break, because I’m facilitating the mastermind I’m literally in my seat in concentration mode from the moment we start until the moment we end. So it becomes pretty much five days of 8 hours a day of concentration. That is exercise for my brain that really, really stretches me. So I often times forget. I think, “Oh I’m just giving, giving, giving.” But what was happening even in that moment is I was receiving some really interesting insight, and things that started to shift and change in me.

So if you host a mastermind, you might think that you’re doing all the giving, but you’ll be surprised to see what comes back to you in return.
Another thing that I am really passionate about is going to sound super funny. I’m really passionate about eating with people. I know that sounds so funny. But again if you are living a laptop life and you tend to be isolated, you work from home, eating with people bonds you with them in a different way.

The people in my mastermind joke that I’m very serious, I’m a very serious foodie. And I really, really just love good food. So at my masterminds I make sure that we have lots of meals together and we eat good food together. And it just creates friendship. And it also gives you a chance to talk about things that maybe aren’t super business related or business specific, but still the soft issues that circle around business. Like work life balance, relationships, you know the things that we fear or worry about.

So anyway, that is how I structure my mastermind. And whether you join a formal one, or you find a couple of friends and you sort of do it organically. If there’s one thing that I can recommend you do for your business, it’s this. That you take that time out and find a place that’s conducive for creativity, gather with people who are like minded, give yourself the space to become creative, to sort of brainstorm and problem solve. Have other people there so that you can see what’s happening in their business and let it sort of indirectly impact yours since sometimes it’s hard when we’re so zoomed in on ourselves. And share meals together.

That’s my advice for you. And I can’t, I already am looking forward to the next one, six months from now, because I know just how powerful they are. So I hope you have an amazing day. Thanks again for listening and subscribing and sharing my content, I really appreciate it. I appreciate you all, and I will see you next time.

Ep. 38 The Pressure Of A Client Who Borrows Money To Pay You

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I wanted to talk to you today about a question that came up in one of our Facebook groups. And this is from a service provider who is a digital marketer and basically she’s saying that she got a client and this client has really, basically made a very large investment in her as the marketer to produce all of this, the funnels, the content, the launch, everything.

And she knows that he had to sell some of his stock and investments to make that first installment, that first payment.
So she’s very torn because she wants, she feels the pressure to be successful; she feels the pressure to make sure that it all works. And I think a lot of service providers and anyone who’s in the service based industry is going to feel this sort of pressure when somebody pays you a lot of money and you don’t have a crystal ball.

So that’s what I want to talk about today. You don’t have a crystal ball, someone pays you a lot of money, you know they’re going out on a limb to pay you a lot of money, which just adds to the pressure of, “Oh my gosh, I have to make sure that I perform and I want to make sure that this is successful.” And this is all, like these are very good questions to ask. So I answered her in the thread, but I want to talk about that here with you guys.

So the very first thing I’m going to say about this is, number one, the better you are at setting expectations in life, just in general, the happier you’re going to be. And this is something that I’m learning actually. Even though I already knew it, I feel like I’m going around the mountain of it again, in a deeper way. Set expectations. So imagine the expectation if you were a contractor and someone came to you and said, “I want to build a school.” Or “I want to build a hospital.” right. How much money would it take? How much time would it take? And how long would it take for the money and the investment to come back?

So a lot of people would have no problem, even if it’s a private school let’s say, doing that, making that investment, knowing it’s going to take a while for that investment to pay back. And this happens everywhere in the real world of business. People have to take loans and capital and make investments, and it takes a while.

Somehow in the digital world, we think that we don’t have to follow the laws of time and space and money, and we do. So people think they should be able to get their ROI back within 5 minutes. So if you can set the expectations of what you’re building, because online marketing is like online real estate. It’s as valuable as real land sitting on the planet. This is just online real estate. This is why people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for domains. So set the expectation as a digital marketer or service provider, you are creating online real estate for them, and that kind of investment sometimes takes time.

The second thing you can do is you can set benchmark conversion rates, and I talk about this a lot, in fact I think there’s an earlier episode where I outline this. Come up with conversion rates that you know are industry standards that they can see, “Oh wow, this is going to cost this much, so it’s probably going to take me about six months to recoup the money that I invested and then it will start to turn a profit.” And they can see that and not be freaked out when their money doesn’t come back to them in the first five minutes.
So that’s the second thing you do. Third, you know when you are a digital marketer and agency and you are in integrity and you care about your customers and you deliver a quality experience, the reality is that if that client doesn’t start this with you, then who? And that’s the question I often ask. I’m like, “Well, I could scale back. I could shrink back. I could be like, you know, I shouldn’t do this because what if I can’t produce results.” You could play all these mind games, but if you don’t do it, if you don’t step up and give your best work, then the likelihood that the client would go and find someone super scammy or horrible or with a bad reputation, or somehow end up in a bad spot that he would not have ended up in, had you just stepped up, showed up and said, “You know what? I’m going to do this and I’m going to do this to the best of my ability and I’m going to charge for it and I’m going to get….”

That is actually serving that customer because that customer is now not with somebody who’s not going to do a good job. And that is tremendously valuable because if he doesn’t start it with you, the question then is who? And the second thing is, if there’s not another who, what is the other option if the client has no idea how to do it? He’s going to have to pay in money or in time, or both.

So when you pay in time, sometimes it can take years and tons of mistakes. When you pay in money it happens much faster and you can often avoid mistakes. And these are years that he could be serving his customer base, that he’s not doing because he’s paying in time and money.

So I think as a service provider it’s awesome that we ask this question, and it’s awesome that we take our responsibilities seriously. But I think that it’s important that we remember that we can set the expectations for the customer. We can frame the conversations so that they understand that they are investing in an online real estate and online foundation that’s going to pay them back for years to come.

We also can know in our heads privately that we need to step up if we are good marketers, and we are good at what we do in our business and our job, we have the obligation to sell to those people so that they don’t end up with the crappy ones. And at the end of the day, you as whatever you do, social media, copy, ads, funnels, coaching, whatever it is, you are investing the money and the time to learn and that is valuable and that is worth something. And that is the part that you bring to the table. You do not have a crystal ball.

There’s nowhere in real life, not in college, not when you go rent some store front on the street where you hold the landlord or the professor or whoever it is responsible if you don’t do your part. So understanding where your part ends and their part begins, and set that expectation. Yeah, the road’s going to be bumpy, the dirt you’re plowing is going to have rocks. But as John Maxwell says, “Everything worthwhile is up hill all the way.” And when you set that expectation for that customer and that client, and they have a mission and a vision to build this business, whatever the business is, you can step into that confidently and not worry if they’re taking a loan or you know, whatever, cashing in their stocks, or whatever they’re doing, because you just show up 100% and then it’s their job to show up 100%.

And that is my way of really mitigating those sort of expectations. And sometimes things take time and nobody likes time, right. Even in my mastermind I have people who, you know, it took them a solid year to get something converting, and that’s never fun. You never want to tell people, “Oh, it’s going to take you a year.” Because some people it doesn’t take a year, and some people it takes longer. But once they finally get that momentum and they hit their stride, they will be able to see all the work that you’ve done to get them to that point.

And if you’re doing the best work you can, this is something that you probably should put to bed. Don’t worry about this anymore. Stop letting that pressure cause you to shrink back or think that you can’t go out there and charge and somehow take responsibility for something that is really two people coming together to take equal responsibility in their arenas.
So I hope that helps and you know, if you’re listening and you’re like, “Okay, this makes so much sense, but you know what? I don’t think I’m very good yet.” You do have a moral responsibility to not overcharge. You want your value and your expertise to match, and you want your price to match that. So does it mean taking less? Does it mean being honest? All that kind of stuff? Yes, absolutely. And in fact, inside of Create Your Laptop Life, which is a membership program that I run with alongside of Clickfunnels, teaching service providers and agencies these types of businesses. I have a workshop called No Story, No Results, No Expertise. And it’s really how you get started in a business and remain in integrity even when you don’t have as much clout yet, as other people.

So if that sounds like you, you can go to freelancersecrets.com, you can watch a presentation I did at Funnel Hacking Live, you can sign up for Create Your Laptop Life, and you can get that workshop. And that workshop will also help you with that particular issue. So have a great day guys, talk to you soon.

Ep. 37 The Lie People Believe About Integrity In Marketing

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I am really excited about this podcast today, also a little nervous. The reason why is because I want to talk about something that my friend and partner Kathy have started. Kathy and I run a company, business, brand, tribe, community, whatever you want to call it, called Funnel Gorgeous…

and we talk about how to integrate design and branding with marketing. And we got together and we started to brainstorm, what is Funnel Gorgeous really? Because of course we drop super beautiful sales funnel template and we really help, especially people that are building funnels regularly, whether you’re a service provider or a business owner. We help you with the design side so you don’t have to become a professional designer.

And that’s awesome and that’s what we’re known for, but we got to talking on a deeper subject, and it sort of sparked this idea. And what realized, what we’re going after in our messaging with Funnel Gorgeous and what I want to talk to you guys about today is integrity in marketing.

Now I love marketing, I love it so much, it’s basically what I went to school for, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I went to school for clinical psychology because I was fascinated with human behavior. And Marketing is really just applied psychology. It’s understanding human behavior, understanding the wants, the needs, the desires of humans. And we talk about markets and core desires and sales messages and all this kind of stuff, so I love marketing.

But I also know that the industry of marketing does have a bad reputation, especially in internet marketing. Even in just the mainstream we see shows like Madmen on Netflix and stuff, and that’s like old school advertising. But we move into online marketing, internet marketing, it really has been the Wild West. And there has been a ton of people abusing, sort of, the lack of regulation, and there’s just been terrible scams and problems and spam, and all the things.

So internet marketing has gotten a really bad name. So I think the undercurrent of why people have just fallen in love with the Funnel Gorgeous brand and the beautiful designed templates and learning how to integrate marketing and design is because it really boils down to integrity. And integrity in marketing is when your product and your offer, whatever it is you sell, and the way you sell it, which includes not just the copy, but the design, which also aligns with the philosophy and your business mission, when all those three things are in alignment, you are in integrity in marketing.

So when you’re not in integrity, one of those things is usually out of whack. The most common lack of integrity we see in marketing is when the product or offer sucks. The service sucks, they’re not delivering and they try to use marketing to sell something that’s crappy. So we hear a lot of people talk about ethical marketing, like don’t use marketing tactics and strategies and leverage all you know, the power of psychology to sell something that’s crap. So that’s one lack of integrity, that’s probably the most common one.
But there’s another type of misalignment which I think we’re trying to get at, because a lot of our customers do have great products and services, and do want to change the world and do really help other people, but their branding and their design and their sales message isn’t in alignment with how awesome their offer is.

And I’m going to pick on somebody, I’m not going to name them but I love this person so much, they’re actually one of my clients. And whenever you meet her, she is just a firecracker, and she is amazing and she cares and she knows what she’s doing. And she is so good for the business owners who hire her, she’s amazing and the minute someone meets her and gets to know her, they want to buy everything. However, her branding, her design, it’s pretty basic. She didn’t go to design school, this is not what she’s focused on.

So there’s a misalignment there because, and she has said to me, “I’ve struggled to get into the mass market and I’m not really sure why.” And I think it’s because the brand and design help build that trust when you can’t physically meet with them face to face. So for this woman who I love, whenever somebody meets her face to face, they feel so attracted to her and attached to her they buy everything she has. But when she puts her stuff out in a funnel or online marketing and it doesn’t have the branding that matches the personality of who she is, there’s a lack of trust there. And it just becomes that much harder to confer.

So that’s a different type of misalignment in marketing. And it’s not really moral or ethical, it’s just she’s leaving a lot of money on the table. And so what I want to say about this is that people often, when you talk about integrity of marketing, in marketing, people assume that means you’re not going to make as much money. It’s like, “I guess I can’t use that tactic. I guess I can’t use this tactic. I guess this one’s out the door. I have to be compliant here and I’m not going to do this, and I’m not going to make as much money because I’m going to be in integrity.”

But the reality is that that type of integrity I’m talking about, where the amazing offer that you actually have and then the branding and design that’s like okay, but it’s not as good as what your offer is, that sort of misalignment, when you get that in alignment, you make more money.

So Kathy and I were talking about this, the integrity in marketing, making sure that your products, your offers, your design, your branding, your sales message, and the philosophy and business mission you have, when they all come into alignment, you make more money. And more money isn’t bad because more money allows you to serve more people. And when you have a good offer and you have a good product that really, really helps the world in some fashion, then that’s a good thing. They always say money amplifies who you already are. So if you already are a good, honest person, it’s going to amplify that. If you’re not, money’s going to make it worse.

So Kathy and I got so excited we actually started a Facebook group called the Marketers Heart, and we’re talking about integrity in marketing. And obviously the main problem with selling crappy offers is a problem, but we are also talking about the other stuff too. And how you don’t have to trade, you don’t have to get integrity in marketing and lose money.
And we started to count up the number of marketing tactics we haven’t deployed, and not because we don’t like them or because we’re against them, but just because we haven’t had time. And yet the amount of money our business has made anyway, literally we were staring at evidence that you don’t have to, like a lot of the tactics you can use are awesome, but you don’t, even when you don’t use them, if you focus on having integrity in marketing you will make money.

In fact, we joked that our funnel drops, which are our sales funnel templates, we were laughing because we’ve, they’re $49 so they’re not very expensive, we’ve already and without any real advertising at all, we’ve crossed over a hundred thousand dollars in sales. And for the first three drops we didn’t even have a sales page, we just had an order form. That’s it. We broke the cardinal rule of not writing sales copy, just having an order form, and then not even really selling to our, emailing to our list unless we were selling something. We broke all the rules and we didn’t do the tactics but we still made a lot of money. And I think that the reason why is because from the very beginning we’ve worked very hard to make sure that our offers are amazing.

We don’t anyone to be like, “Eh.” We want them to be like, “Holy crap, what can I buy from them next?” and two, we want our design and our branding to be like, as high end as we can possibly get, and that is all attributed to Kathy, 100%. And then three, we want to have a business mission and philosophy that’s actually going to have a good impact.

So we are starting the discussion of integrity in marketing. We want to talk about the things nobody else is talking about. Yes, we know that there’s a lot of problems in the industry. We don’t want to be afraid of them, we want to hold space for those uncomfortable conversations, but we also want to kind of break the lie that integrity, to have integrity means less money, because you can’t do all the cool, cheeky things that other people do, when it’s really just not true.

So if you’re interested you can go on Facebook and type in the Marketers Heart because that’s the group we’re starting. It’s literally just a free group to have these really gnarly discussions. I love controversial discussions, they’re my favorite. Kathy’s more like, “Can’t we all just love each other?’ But it’s super fun. And if this is something that matters to you, you care about marketing, you care about matching all those three things together, I would invite you to go check it out.
Anyway, as always I appreciate you all, and I’ll talk to you soon.

The Productivity Blueprint: The 6 Key Principles Of A Productive Life

It’s taken several years and thousands of students for me to figure out how to predict the productivity potential of an entrepreneur. I don’t have a crystal ball of course, but no matter what personality you have, what niche you’re in, how much money and time you have at your disposal, there are six foundations to creating a productive life and business.

We’re going to dive deeply into these six foundations in coming posts (for those of you who don’t know, I’m currently blogging my book on productivity), but I wanted to give you an overview here now, so you can see the view from 35,000 feet. As we go deeper into these six, I will help you create new beliefs, new systems, and new mindsets around each of the six, until productivity is as natural as breathing.

That’s the goal of this whole thing anyway. You don’t want productivity to be a “thing” you have to look at, work around, or get interrupted by.

It should be a default way of thinking and working and living.

Ultimate productivity flourishes when you have all six. I say “productive in life” because in order to achieve the kind of productivity you’re looking for, this will have to take effect in your entire life – not just your business.

1. Creativity

The seed of productivity begins here. I could write a whole book on creativity (and maybe I will), but for the purposes of this book, creativity is the nucleus of productivity. It’s the seed. The idea. The thoughts that come flying into your head when you’re inspired by something you see or frustrated by a problem you can’t solve.

Creativity is one of those things that feels hard to grasp or harness right? It’s a tough word to even describe.

But I find when I think of creativity like a burst of electricity that appears when conditions are right, then for us, it becomes about creating the environment for creativity to happen.

What environments activate creativity? Well, one environment isn’t one we love to create, but it often happens to us so we don’t need to go seeking it out.

The environment of pain. Frustration. Limitation. If you are in a crisis or if you have a problem, you are in a ripe environment for creativity to occur. How many new inventions and innovations were created in hardship? A lot.

That’s my way of saying, don’t dismay if life is hard. You are ripe for creativity. (Learn more about the green hat of creativity, on my podcast episode about the six hats).

The second environment that activates creativity is the environment of inspiration. Freedom. Love. How many times did you come up with a great idea when you finally stepped outside your office and went for a long walk on the beach or in the woods?

It is our job as entrepreneurs to HARNESS the environment of pain and CREATE the environment of inspiration in order to fuel creativity and spark the productivity machine in our lives.

2. Vision

Vision is the ability to see that which hasn’t materialized yet. It’s a close cousin of creativity for sure! Vision is also closely tied to planning (the practical side of creativity and imagination that we’ll discuss next).

Someone who has vision will be able to set goals and plans more effectively than someone who’s just reacting to the environment without an end destination in mind.

I love the story of the Israelites in the Bible. Moses had the vision of the promised land and was put in charge of leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey.

Incredible vision right? But Moses had to remind his people over and over again of the vision because every time an obstacle appeared, they wanted to run back to the comfort of slavery! The vision fell out of their brains at least 100 times. When you read the story of the Exodus, you want to smack the Israelites…until you realize that we are ALL just like them.

We lose our vision so fast! We need constant reminders and encouragement to stay the course. If you think your vision is just something you etch on a cute plaque in your office, you’ll lose your way the minute you hit an obstacle.

Vision is the container that holds the goals, the plans, and the contingencies.

3. Planning

This is where most productivity products live. Think about the last several techniques you tried. S.M.A.R.T goals anyone? Bulletproof journals. Timer techniques. Planning is a necessary principle of productivity for sure, but just like any good thing, too much of it and you’re crippled again, just in a different way.

Many of you don’t know that I LOVE Disney World. Whenever I go to Disney, I have a plan…without a doubt. Why? Because I know if I want to have a productive day at the parks and not stand in line for hours and hours, I need a plan.

However, over planning (which often happens to people trying to be productive), can make things really annoying and difficult. Take for example dining reservations. If I reserve a breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Magic Kingdom- I am not taking into consideration that maybe we all wanted a Mickey ice cream at 4pm and none of us are hungry at five. Now I have to cancel the reservation last minute and incur a $50 cancelation fee. In this case, the plan cost me, it didn’t help me.

Another problem with planning is that it’s fun. So fun in fact that people prefer to stay in planning mode, rather than execution!

One of the keys to this particular pillar of productivity is teaching you how to create plans that you don’t feel or see. They are so flexible and helpful, they are like oxygen. You need it to breathe but you don’t spend all day thinking about how oxygen is getting in your way.

A plan takes creativity and vision, and lays out a roadmap to get there!

4. Control

Nobody likes the word control, which is a shame. If you’re in the passenger seat of a race car speeding 200mph around a track, you want the driver to be 100% in control of the vehicle right?

Once creativity strikes, it is absolutely useless if we have no ability to control the idea. Think about the elements: fire, water, air, and earth. Unbelievable power right? Uncontrolled water destroys everything in its path without boundaries. Uncontrolled air is a tornado snapping trees like toothpicks. Uncontrolled fire turns everything to ash. Uncontrolled earth results in earthquakes and mudslides and volcanos.

But when you take each of these elements and control it? Civilization.

Control is about having power and influence over something, and in the quest for ultimate productivity, you must be in control of two somethings if you want your ideas to go anywhere. You must control:

  1. Your time
  2. Your mind

As we’ll come to see here soon, both of these things are like the elements – notoriously difficult to control. Which is why the person who masters controlling both their time and their mind, is literally…unstoppable.

5. Momentum

Pillar #1 – Creativity sparks the idea.

Pillar #2 – Vision sets the destination.

Pillar #3 – Planning is the roadmap to get there.

Pillar #4 – Control of your time and your mind allows you to harness it.

Pillar #5 – Momentum is the movement you need to set everything in motion…and keep it in motion.

How many times have you gotten a great idea, written out the plan, and then didn’t do anything to actually execute it? Assuming of course you were in control of your time and your mind, what happened? Why didn’t it materialize?

You stopped moving. Momentum is strength or force gained by motion.

The problem with vision and planning without momentum is that there is a strong tendency to stop moving and relish in your plans.

It’s safer. You feel accomplished by writing out your plan. Much like eating a meal and taking a nap afterwards, when the entrepreneur is in planning mode, there is the temptation to rest. To let the plan fill your belly and dampen your appetite.

Momentum is so critical to productivity because it’s the difference between biking up a hill after racing down the previous one, vs. starting at the bottom of the hill at rest.

6. Focus

The last pillar of productivity is focus. Focus is the epicenter of the activity. As you can see, productivity means there is a lot going on. Focus is that super power that pushes all that momentum onto ONE activity or task.

So many people in their quest for productivity try to improve their concentration and focus, thinking that will make them able to get more done. The problem is that focus isn’t helpful without the other four principles in motion.

Imagine if you’re focusing on how dirty your office is when you have only two hours to build a presentation you’re about to share with 10,000 of your ideal customers? That focus on the dirty office is WILDLY unhelpful huh?

If you have Attention Deficit Disorder, you might struggle with focus. Or…it might just be that your focus is not pointing in the right direction. You hyper focus on the wrong things at the wrong time. Every new emotion or distraction in your environment simply moves your focus to the wrong thing.

(I wrote a whole post on this called The Art of Refocus – you should read it)

Imagine focus is like a little red laser light. Wherever that light hits, it creates a hole. You’re using this laser to drill some holes in the wall. Hole one goes great. Hole two goes great.

Then your dog barrels into the room chasing a cat and instead of staying focused on your task, your focus gets diverted and the laser moves quickly to the floor. Now there’s a hole in the floor.

You still had focus, it was just pointing at the wrong thing.

When Something Is Missing

These foundations match up in pairs. Which means, when something is missing, it’s usually at least two things.

The most common problems are a lack of:

  1. Creativity & Vision
  2. Planning & Control
  3. Momentum & Focus

As you read the profiles below, you might identify with one or more of them.

1. Lacking Creativity & Vision

Michael just left his 9-5 to become a consultant. He was so tired of the rat race and just up and quit one day. Now at home, he knows he has experience in marketing and is ready to build his consulting business. There’s just one problem – he doesn’t really know how to structure his offer, how to stand out, who he’s talking to, and what to do next. He’s ready to work hard if someone could just help him figure out how to get unstuck. His office and planning tools are at the ready as soon as that inspiration hits.

Creativity & Vision are the most difficult foundations to lose because it literally affects everything else. Without creativity and that nucleus of an idea, there can be no vision. It doesn’t matter how much focus, control, planning tools and momentum an entrepreneur has, if it isn’t directed at SOMETHING, they will feel like a race car without a driver or a track.

2. Lacking Planning & Control

Jamison is a creative entrepreneur. He runs a profitable business selling his custom made wooden toys. People LOVE his stuff and recommend him all the time, but he is always behind on production. Q4 in his business creates massive anxiety because of the influx of customers. Q1 also produces anxiety because business drops a ton. He wishes for more stability in production and finances both. Jamison has all these ideas of non-profit projects for kids and toys, and he also wants to teach other artists how to grow a business selling handmade items, but he never has time to get any of it done.

Like many of us, Jamison has plenty of creativity, vision, focus, and momentum to go around. Most entrepreneurs do. What he lacks is planning and control. This is a classic scenario, and the reason why so many people reach for those quick hacks and tricks to change behavior and implement goals. However, the plans and tricks only work in the “right” environment, and the minute something goes awry, like a bad diet, all the attempts at planning and control go out the window.

3. Lacking Momentum & Focus

Will is a talented web designer with a busy agency. He’s known for great design and gets a ton of work from referrals and word of mouth. Will knows that he wants to eventually teach a course on web design, and with every spare minute he has, he’s planning it all out. His team is just waiting for the go ahead to get started, but every time they are about to start, Will thinks of something that needs changing. Consequently, the idea has been collecting dust on the shelf for the past six months because it’s never quite ready to implement.

Will has creativity, vision, planning, and control. What he lacks is momentum and focus. That sense of movement that keeps something in motion. Often driven by fear and perfectionism, Will is more comfortable keeping his dream on paper where he can control it. Where it can’t fail. Momentum would give him the inertia to take action on his plan and see it through to the end. His inability to keep his focus on the next thing he needs to do, means he’s focusing on all the wrong things (the tiny details that make him FEEL like he’s making progress, when he isn’t).

There are two other classic combinations that you might identify with as well.

4. Lacking Vision & Planning

Abigail is a charismatic coach and speaker. She has a bestselling book and an audience in the millions. Everything she puts out makes her money, but she’s not fulfilled. She struggles with feeling “all over the place” and “off brand” and is known for shutting things down randomly. She’ll start a challenge and then never run it again. She’ll start a book and not finish. She hops from idea to idea, and some get off the ground, and some don’t.

Abigail has creativity coming from every angle, but she struggles to see the end goal. The “why” behind it all. Without vision, planning becomes nearly impossible so everything is done last minute and with pieces missing. Because she does have control over her time, she has momentum, and she has focus, her products do launch but they don’t have staying power. They don’t become legacy products because they are either not built correctly or not built with an end vision in mind.

5. Lacking Control & Focus

Harriet owns a franchise. She’s got six coffee shops all over New York City that are super successful. Every time she comes back from her yearly planning retreat with her executive team, she is fired up to implement all the new marketing ideas. Somehow though, within a few weeks of her “State of the Union” address to her team, things have fallen apart. All the plans and ideas are in a half-done mess. Nothing is finished, morale is low, frustration is high.

The problem here is that Harriet is not in control of her time and she isn’t in charge of her focus. Even with her creativity, her vision, her plans, and her momentum, it can’t get done. She comes into a room, gets everyone fired up and excited, but doesn’t have the bandwidth or focus to see the idea to the end. She either has meetings and events to attend to that keep interrupting her, or her focus gets shifted every ten minutes as she puts out fires all over the place.

Where to Go From Here

I hope you’re starting to see how these six foundations work together to create a productive life. In an ideal world, with all six in motion, an entrepreneur has BOTH the freedom and the structure to change the world.

  1. Creativity is abundant. There is space and freedom to get ideas and let them percolate.
  2. The vision is set once the idea takes root, and from there…
  3. Plans are made.
  4. Because the entrepreneur is in control of their time and their mind, executing on those plans can happen effortlessly.
  5. This sparks momentum, which gives the project the movement it needs to get done.
  6. Lastly, the entrepreneur is in charge of his focus, and uses it like a laser at each step in the plan so things get done efficiently and quickly. That creates more momentum along the plan, and before you know it, the idea is now a launched product ready to change the world.