The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
Gary Keller is the founder of Keller Williams Realty which is one of the largest real estate companies in the world. Throughout the book, the author explains how he focuses for maximum productivity by repeatedly asking himself “What's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” While it appears to be deceivingly simple concept (akin to Grant Cardone’s book The 10x Rule), the effects can be massive as to often in life we try to keep busy or cross items off a To-Do list. Instead, armed with this question, we can continue to keep what is most important in our sights. I would still recommend reading the book as the author uses several good examples of work, home, relationships, etc to really get his point across.
The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason
A long standing canonized book about personal finance. I love personal finance books and as I have recently being going through a long list of books and knocking out books that are considered “must-reads.” I wasn’t interested in this book in the slightest. I thought it took too long to get around to it’s simple point of paying yourself first. I also thought the fictionalized Babylonian narrative was hammy and unnecessary. If you are in fact looking for a book on personal finance I would recommend, “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
A brief yet profound rumination of the late stages of cancer by a brilliant writer and unabashed atheist. Hitchens has as many fans and foes due to his strong thoughts about religion, yet all should be able to agree that he is a writer of the finest degree. This is a very short but profound read and would be nicely paired with the fiction novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich by the great Russian author, Leo Tolstoy.
Happy City by Charles Montgomery
A good book about urban planning and the need to think of human walkability to create community, and stimulate sensory interest in one’s neighborhood. Also, discusses the human need to be social as well as a need to hide and be alone. It’s a fast-paced trip around the globe, checking in on the last advancements in urban planning. There are so many examples, some obvious, some surprising, of the happiness that derives from thoughtful city planning.
Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon
A brief history about the creation of the internet from government research project, to university information sharing system, to private household connectivity. The history is all here and reads informally and the reader feels like they are at the moment of discovery right alongside the scientists and researchers. My favorite part of this book was that it was written in 1996 and that I read it in 2017. That span of almost twenty years feels as though I am looking over the shoulder of 1997, which is looking over the shoulder of the 1960s and each successive viewer has more future knowledge than it’s predecessor. Said another way, this 1997 book is a time capsule that is unaware of the technological advances that would follow. It will of course be equally fascinating to see the technological breakthroughs of the next twenty to fifty years.
This past month a select several songs have been on repeat in my headphones so I thought I would share these tracks, instead of entire albums. May I suggest you create add them to your playlist, sit back and zone out!
“American Dream” by LCD Soundsystem
“Three Rings” by Grizzly Bear
“Higgs Boson Blues” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
“Death In Reverse” by The Ocean
Recently, I was out wandering the beach on a casual stroll.
While taking in the magnitude of the waves I started thinking about the interplay of Work, Play and Rest.
If you only Work, you will never have fun, and in short order you will run out of energy.
If you only Play, you won’t appreciate what Play is.
If you only Rest, you will become restless. An hour nap feels divine but a week of laying on the couch is sheer boredom.
A mentor once told me “you can only eat ice cream at every meal for a week.”
Of course, his idea was that too much of a good thing makes the it lose its “goodness.”
I’m not saying that Work can’t be fun. In fact, most days I truly think it is.
I don’t wish Work to be easy, but rewarding. I feel the same about Play and Rest. All three of these are essential for life to be meaningful, and I believe a meaningful life gets us closer to happiness.
I’m not sure that it is possible to truly create a Work/Life/(Play) balance. However, I think we must take a moment and listen deep within ourselves to make sure that we provide an adequate dose of what we truly need to ensure we remain both aligned and nourished by Work, Play and Rest.
I was coaching a salesperson recently, we’ll call him Trevor, who has been struggling to build a robust and perpetual pipeline. Overall, he knows his products and their key differentiators. He knows what sets his company apart. He has familiarity and relationships with many prospects in his industry. Finally, when he speaks to prospects he actually has a decent conversion rate.
So what is Trevor’s problem? His problem is that that he doesn’t call a large volume of people frequently enough to fill his pipeline - a.k.a. He is afraid to pick up the phone!
Trevor is not alone with this issue. In fact, it’s one of the most common problems among salespeople.
His primary issue is part idealism / part procrastination on how the perfect prospecting call should unfold. Many salespeople secretly (or openly) believe that if they call at the right time of day on a certain day of the week, after sending X number of “drip” emails, and recite their “pitch” in exactly the right way to the prospect, then the salesperson will close the sale every time. Sound familiar?
Further, he thinks that the above can only happen after a massive industry research campaign honed by subject-matter experts and after the marketing team creates a huge and exhaustive marketing campaign.
Allow me to wake Trevor and any other sales people who think this from their daydream. Prospects are humans with feeling, thoughts, ideas and interests; not robots. Second, sales isn’t about fleecing people or tricking them. It’s about listening to challenges, learning about needs and desires, collaborating on solutions and executing to the fullest.
To be clear, I’m not against market research, nor am I against spending long hours honing your pitch. Both are very necessary. However, neither of these things should prevent Trevor (or you) from picking up the phone right now and just reaching out to someone.
Sometimes, all of the time and energy spent planning and preparing to come up with the perfect pitch goes to naught because while you were planning, your competitor simply picked up the phone, spoke to the prospect, and asked for the business.
When you strip it down it all seems so simple. Put in the effort. Do the work. Get it done.
So many sales books, audio programs, selling systems, softwares and seminars prey upon the fact that most people in sales don’t want to put in the effort, do the work and get it done.
Simple doesn’t mean easy, but make no mistake this isn’t complex.
Have a useful product. Know your product. Pick up the phone. Ask for some time. Listen to their needs. Determine a fit. Agree on a price. Deliver on your promise. Repeat.
So why do so many not execute? I don’t think it’s fear; not most of the time anyways.
Perhaps it’s rejection. After all, everyone wants to be welcomed. To be approved of. To feel competent and smart. We are often worried that we do not yet know enough about our product or our industry or our competition or the client’s needs and that we will be found out and look stupid. All of these points are valid - you should know these things! - but not when it becomes an excuse to not pick up the phone.
Pick up the phone. Reach out. Have conversations. Get rejected.
Put in the effort. Do the work. Get it done.
Pop quiz: When was the last time you picked up the phone and made five consecutive prospecting calls? How many days in a row did that last?
Leave your comment below solidifying your commitment to putting in the effort needed for success.
I stumbled into the hobby of running (pun intended). I never ran in school or college; rather it my foray had far more humble roots. Literally, I was bored one day and so I decided to run around my neighborhood, which I had never done, simply to see if I could do it (I was able for those curious readers). A few days later I decided to do it again. A week later it was time it to see how long it took me to complete. The next time I did it of course, I wanted to do it faster than before. Finally, I added some length to the route. Soon after, I entered a small local 5k, just to complete it. Then another. Then a 10k etc.
Later, I wanted to complete longer distances races and finish them faster than before. That meant I couldn’t continue to do what I had been doing in prep for races, which was largely me running every fews days without direction. I needed a plan.
At times, the goals we wish to achieve can seem too large and insurmountable. It can also be hard to know how to start. Sometimes we just lose focus or direction in the midst of the journey. That’s why it can be extremely helpful to map out your goal by breaking it up into smaller and more manageable tasks and sub-goals. I call it the String of Success.
Try this activity: Write down what you want to accomplish - grab one of your big, audacious goals. From there, work backwards and write down each successive step that you will need to accomplish the goal. Next, break down those large steps into even smaller tasks. Continue to repeat this process of breaking down each step that you have written until you can’t think of any more sub tasks to create.
Bonus Tip: If you want to increase your likelihood of success even more, write down deadlines next to every task listed.
Example: You want to run a marathon. Ok, what’s your plan to complete that 26.2 miles of suffering? Start by finding a training plan that breaks down week-by-week and day-by-day the mileage you need to run to conditioning your lungs, legs and mind. Some of these runs may be sprints or repeats so you’ll need to find a local school track or measure off ahead of time some area in your neighborhood. Some of the training runs will be hill repeats so you will need to find a good hill near your house to run.
What else? You’ll need to think about gear. Do you need new shoes or training clothes? Do you need a training partner or coach? Where will you find that person? What’s the frequency you will meet? How will you hold another accountable? You may need to schedule around work, kids, family. You may need to move around or decline other activities. What is your plan should you be sidelined with a small injury?
Again, by listing all of the items that you need for each and every training run you will increase your chances of success. This includes laying all clothes and gear out the night before, setting the alarm, having all food/energy/water for runs prepared the night before. It means ensuring your fridge is stocked with the right fuel and that you schedule time to sleep, massages - whatever you think you will need to succeed. All of this prep makes it so you have to think less and just do - just follow the plan!
This post isn’t about running. It’s about the mindset and utilization of the String of Success. The intention is to deconstruct the larger goal into many smaller goals and tasks and then place time frames to them. Finally, you determine what prep work or pre-planning can be done to make it even more likely that you will string along many small successes en route to your big success. That, in a nutshell, is the String of Success.
What goals are you chasing and what does your plan look like? How are you creating a String of Success?
Leave a comment or shoot me a note as telling others about your goals increases accountability too!
From time to time I find it to be a healthy practice to take a moment to stop and reflect about what what I am doing and the reasons why I am doing it. The questions below, while not comprehensive, offer some assistance to begin a dive into some self-reflection. The answers to these questions are rarely the end. Instead, they are often only the beginning of a successive string of questioning one’s responses. It’s like pulling on a string and continuing to pull until you find the end. I wish you the best of luck!
What do I want more of?
What do I want less of?
If I had more money, what would I do with it?
What would I do with more free time?
What do I want to be remembered for?
If today was my last day, what regrets would I have?
If today was my last day what would I race to accomplish?
If today was my last day, what would I want to be sure to say to those important to me?
Who am I jealous/in awe of? What about them or their situation seems so great?
Who are your closest friends and advisors? Why are they?
When was the last time that you did something nice for someone who wouldn’t know you did it?
Leave a message or shoot me a note and let me know what questions you would add.
Self-Improvement Is Like Home Improvement
For any of you who have lived through home remodeling work you know it is quite stressful. It always takes too long, even when things are on schedule. Living out of boxes = not fun. Dust = not fun. Having to eat out (both the spending of money and not getting to eat at home) = not fun. Having a bunch of people walking around and literally tearing apart your home = not fun.
I have to remind myself no matter how fast I want it completed (and I do!), not to count the days.
Rather, I need to realize that the “process” and “patience” of rebuilding is part of the deal. The enjoyment of the completed renovation is the relief and the clear distinction of what came before and what came after.
When you think about it – it’s a lot like self-improvement. Sometimes you have to live through the suck for a little bit to get to the pay off.
And once the (home or self) improvement is done, you get compliments from others; people take note.
In both situations, you will meet people who tear you apart and those who build you up.
And in both situations, you’ll live uncomfortably and learn to do without before you reach completion.
Any finally, with any improvement, the work is never really done. As soon as you complete one project your eyes are already sizing up the next project. Be careful, as this can lead to frustration striving for perfection or because results aren’t coming fast enough. Self-Improvement can swing from something positive and productive to a ceaseless Sisyphean task. I too, find myself in this struggle from time to time as well. To combat it, I’ll take a moment and ruminate on positive thoughts to center me. Two examples would be:
1. To remember where I was before I started my improvement work. Many of the follies or mistakes that I made I wouldn’t change (as dumb or dangerous as they were), because they created me and who I am. I might not have the passion to improve myself if I wasn’t aware of deficiencies or bad decisions of the past.
2. To remember my progress and past successes. I give myself some credit to remember that I have succeeded – I review some of my wins. They help to remind me that the effort is worth it, that I can affect change and that when I want something and am willing to persevere through the discomfort, progress can be made.
Leave a comment or shoot me a note and tell me what improvement you are working on.
I have been traveling quite a bit recently and as many of you know, I still try to remain diligent about getting in exercise while on the road. It makes me feel good, it helps me sleep and it forces a bedtime so that I don’t spend too much time staying up late reading or curating cat video playlists to send to loved ones.
Anyways, one of my recent exercise endeavors has been CrossFit. The cool thing about CrossFit is that there are literally thousands of gyms (called “boxes” in CrossFit parlance) and so it’s been fun to drop in and workout at these boxes and to interact with new scenery and new faces.
Each location is similar but also different. Sure, many of them have similar equipment but the space, the layout, the people, the culture, the coaching, even some of the rules (both spoken and unspoken) are different.
For example, sure the distance of a 400-meter run is always 400-meters, but how is it marked off? Sometimes, it’s straight down the road to a stop sign, other times, it’s up the sidewalk, turn the corner and turnaround at the horse trailer?! Sometimes, it’s 80 degrees and humid; other times it’s 34 degrees and icy. As an old twist on the familiar, it makes it novel and keeps me guessing.
Also, coaching styles and demeanors often vary greatly. Some coaches are constantly talking, critiquing and reinforcing good movement, others barely talk at all, except for one comment about your technique on a particular lift. Both are valuable. The former is like your conscience reminding you the things you know about your craft and should be doing as a best practice; the latter is offering you something new that you didn’t know. You need both. You need to grow and learn new things, but you also need to remember to utilize all that you have learned thus far.
Funny enough, many of these drop-in visits often start and end the same way. With me showing up 15 mins early, meeting some tired people and exchanging quiet banter (mind you, this is often happening at 5:30am). Fast-forward an hour and all of us are heaving for breath, smiling and giving each other knowing looks that, this morning, while others were still sleeping, our little group did something (perhaps silly and futile), but purposefully and it made sense to us. In fact, we wouldn’t have felt right if we just stayed home tucked in bed.
Why am I bringing up visits to gyms around the country? It goes back to my point of scenery and faces. We can learn a lot by making sure we immerse in new scenery and engage new faces.
How can we plug ourselves into new situations and interactions and use them as lessons? How can you get in front of a new crowd and do something you love? How can new places and new people make you rethink what you know or spark innovation? What could you learn from them OR what motivation might be awakened by having some fresh competition?
Shoot me a note or leave a comment and tell me what you are doing to see new scenery and engage new faces.