Movember. A great cause for men’s health. BUT, every time I try to grow a moustache I look like an Amish version of Wolverine. So, I flirted with my own theme. Put the “No” in November. Therefore, say ‘no’ to French Fries for the entire month. Scrreeeech. Then, Josh Kaufman showed up.
Now it’s ‘Yesvember.’
Saying ‘no’ to something is a pretty easy concept to wrap your mind around. Just pick something and don’t do it. Don’t eat it. Don’t say it. Don’t believe it. Don’t buy into it. So, no french fries.
But “Yes?” That’s a whole lot like commitment.
Mr. Kaufman’s TEDx talk refocuses the 10,000 hours rule made famous by Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. Originally, research determined it takes 10,000 to be highly skilled and occupy the pinnacle of a specific vocation. But, as Kaufman explains, "like a giant game of telephone," the rule has morphed into a watered down version: “It takes 10,000 hours to be good at something.” Kaufman jumped on the TEDx soap box and explains how we are way off.
According to Kaufman, all you need are 20 hours to be acceptably good at anything. 20 hours of focused, targeted time and you're good. Not an expert, just good. Things like learning a language, playing an instrument, learning a new sport, learning a technical skill or selling a certain product or service. He argues the age-old learning curve of aptitude is very steep at the beginning. You start as grossly incompetent, then gain a great deal of ground in the first ten hours or so. Its not until the learning curve starts to plateau (flatten out), the gains become subsequently more difficult to get, and greatness comes thousands of hours later.
If you said yes to learn something this month, what would it be?
Lest you think this is a one-way 70 Second eBrief – here’s my offer to join you.
I pick learning Spanish. I’ve had the Pimsleur Spanish CDs for years. Time to stop procrastinating.
What do you choose?
Here’s how Kaufman suggests we approach our 20 hour challenge.
- Deconstruct the skill. Target the parts of the skill that make it work. For learning Spanish, what are terms and constructs most likely needed in conversations?
- Learn enough to self-correct. Being able to notice when you’re making a mistake and doing something a little different.
- Remove practice barriers. Use a little bit of willpower to remove distractions while you practice.
- Practice at least 20 hours. Get past the initial-frustration phase, into the quantifiable-gains phase.
Still not sure? Pick something that scares you. Parachuting doesn’t count. That just takes a few seconds.
The only thing you have to lose = 20 hours. That’s 45 minutes per day in less than a month.
- Pick something where you can test yourself.
- Stretch your preconceived notions.
- Face your fears.
Here’s to an adventure in your capabilities in Yesvember – or, as they undoubtedly say in Spanish, Si-vember.
Get a thick, red permanent marker. Write this on your computer screen:
It’s all about conversions!
Stop email lunacy by being an email ninja. Convert your emails to the result you want.
In the mid 90’s electronic mail went mainstream. It’s been a regression in communication ever since. In a recent survey, email marketing response rates have fallen 57% since 2004. From long boring emails, to scattered diatribe, to confusing brevity – we all seem to be flailing away at how to write the best email. Here's how.
For starters, look again at the graffiti on your screen.
It’s all about conversions!
Due to an interesting Subject Line, compel your reader’s index finger to click-through.
Let’s say you want to reach out to a past client to strengthen your network. If you were an emailunatic you’d the subject would read: “Follow up” or “Checking in” or the single worst one “______________” (“NOTHING?” You couldn’t think of anything? Were you too busy, important, creatively bankrupt to come up with a few words?)
What if your subject line said: “Okay... enough popping into my brain.”
In six words you’ve converted your reader to wanting to know more.
1. Grab ATTENTION
2. Get to the POINT
3. Call to (a Specific) ACTION
If you want a result from your email, even if your email is solely informative, make sure you model this sequence.
Little Miss BornToBore would write, “How are you?”
Yes, start with their name. Then immediately inspire your reader to read the next line. Imagine if your reader saw this: “Honestly… this has to stop.”
You could blah, blah, blahhhhh all over your reader or you could get to the point. Mr. BoringLederhosen would write, “You’ve been on my mind and I wanted to reach out and say hi.”
Continue to get their attention with your point: “You keep popping into my noggin. So, “Wassup?”
If you absolutely must be more formal: “You keep coming to mind and I wanted to reach out.”
Those in the marketing world call it a CTA (Call to Action). Combine a CTA with specificity to skip the nauseatingly common, back-and-forth emails. Don’t just say, “Let’s connect.”
Instead, spell it out, “Let’s spend 15 minutes and catch up. How about I call your cell on Thursday at 10 am or would Friday at 9 am be better?”
Let’s recap (the thick, red permanent marker and these two examples):
Subject: Follow up
How are you?
You’ve been on my mind and I wanted to reach out and say hi.
Subject: Okay… enough popping into my brain.
Honestly… this has to stop.
You keep popping into my noggin. So, “Wassup?
Let’s spend 15 minutes and catch up.
How about I call your cell on Thursday at 10 am or would Friday at 9 am be better?
Be the Emailninja you were meant to be.
It’s all about conversions!
At lunch, he was preoccupied. Dan had to fire two people when he went back to the office. The details don’t matter as much as what inspired his next thought. On his way to be President of the company, he used the fear of being fired to get him on a better track. This example and others can be a way to scare yourself to get ahead.
The best time to fire someone? According to Dan, long enough after they get the kids in school and well before Thanksgiving and Christmas. In other words, right about now. Whenever October rolled around, Dan would imagine he was on the bubble for being fired.
“I’d picture the guy who'd replace me and the changes he would make. Then I’d make the course corrections instead. This fear forced me to up my game on the job. It seems like it worked, because I never got fired.”
Most believe, fear can be your single greatest enemy. Eleven years ago, a conversation with Bruce Jenner changed all that. Skip his reality show, tabloid and plastic surgery hijinks – or his propensity for a Brian Regan-esque “Me Monster” keynote where his opening video tees up "the world’s greatest athlete" and "the world's greatest father." In a one-on-one conversation, he said something that turned fear on its ear.
“Make fear your friend.”
We compared training notes (actually, he told me about his training and didn't seem curious about mine) and we each had stories (well I heard his - mine didn't make it into the conversation) how we (in his mind - he) used scare tactics to drive our (his) conditioning further ahead. (Hey, c'mon... Between the two of us we have one Olympic gold medal, an appearance on the Wheaties box and, hopefully, a healthy ego.)
There were times when 100 push-ups was the target. At 95 push-ups, a self inflicted mind game would surface. “Okay, if I don’t do 110 push ups I won’t get to the Winter Olympics.” Despite burning arms and shaky form, the mind pushed the body to go the extra distance. "107 - 108 -- 109 --- 110."
Other times I’d be cycling up a curved hill and eyeball the time. “If I don’t get to the top in 7 minutes, I won’t be marching in the Opening Ceremonies.” Fear of missing the dream would be enough to get past the pain of pushing harder.
The idea is NOT to put fear in your heart all the time, but it helps, now and then, to turn fear into results. Use fear as a tool. Not an anchor.
So… it’s October... and you haven’t been fired – YET.
What change or changes would your replacement make?
Execute those changes!
Go beyond keeping your job. Be the replacement your boss was looking for all along.
Scare yourself to get ahead.
(Bosses: Feel free to forward this 70 Second eBrief. You won't be accused of being subtle. ;-)
In the same way, "The rich get richer" -- "The smart get smarter." When someone has money, they can use it to make more money. People with smarts have the same advantage – but in this case you don’t necessarily need to be a brainiac to get ahead.
Our middle child, Alex, was recently asked to help a fellow student to prepare for a test. Alex has done well in class and she helps her fellow classmates frequently. By helping her friends, she doubly prepares herself for a good grade. Yet, if there was an ambitious C or B student who wanted to get more A’s, a little proactivity would go a long way. Put your metaphorical stethoscope up to a medical school approach to see how.
When learning procedures, medical students have a motto:
See One. Do One. Teach One.
This can be a tremendous tool, especially for those tasks that could be done more efficiently.
Let’s say you want to learn a time-saving way to send emails. Take a moment and think of an email you send on a repeated basis. For us, it’s a video-clip we personalize for prospects. The email takes ten minutes to do each time. It occurred to us, a template would speed up the process.
STEP 1 – See One.
I went online and learned how others created a template in Mac Mail.
STEP 2 – Do One.
I fumbled through the process of creating a template. It wasn’t too difficult after I locked down the proper sequence.
STEP 3 – Teach One.
I sat down with my assistant Cara and taught her how to create a template too. For grins, Cara came back a week later. She taught me how she creates templates in an even more efficient manner.
The ‘video-clip email template’ we now send saves a half an hour per week. Add Cara in the equation and together we save four hours per month. Multiply that by another time saving tool and we can double our time saving productivity to 8 hours per month. What would 96 hours of time savings per year mean to you and your company?
If you see one, do one, teach one:
- you learn something valuable
- you benefit other people in your world
- you save time
- you improve productivity
- you become more amazing than you already are
For you, the secret behind this approach is proactivity. Pretend you’re a C student wanting to run with the Honor Roll crowd. Be proactive.
Choose something you want to learn. See one. Do one. Teach one. The upside will have you playing doctor anytime you like.
That didn’t sound right.
Okay... The upside will be a smarter, richer you! Booya. Drop the mic. Walk off the stage.
Maybe it took a movie featuring a strong female character. Possibly a documentary about the objectification of women did it. Or, more likely, with two daughters coming of age, it was a twobyfourish whack on the head. Whatever factors catalyzed this realization, let’s see how our future generations can reach new heights (or stop sinking lower depending on your POV).
Watch Gravity with Sandra Bullock and your back will not touch the chair. Heck, I practically held the hand of the equally captivated stranger sitting beside me. (And he didn’t seem like the holding-Vince’s-hand kind of guy.) It was refreshing to see a portrayal of a buffed hero who wasn’t airbrushed with impossible abs or as a heroine sporting a bikini and a sword on top of a mountain.
If you have access to Netflix or DVD rental, absolutely, definitely, unreservedly watch a documentary called MISS Representation. Chances are you’ll be educated on the conditioning we’re getting regarding women and their influence in society. It profiles the media’s misrepresentations of women in positions of power and impact.
It’s unsettling to realize the limited portrayals of women and girls in the media. Considering 97% of media executives are male, it’s not surprising the perception of ‘normal’ is skewed.
A haunting line in Jennifer Siebel Newsome’s documentary is, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
If there are scarce images of female presidents, believable heroines, clever engineers not sporting a divine shoe/purse combinations and scientists who don't have perfect hair and nails, how can our younger generations imagine being one? If the media comments on the attractiveness of a female politician, yet would never talk about a male counterpart’s legs, how can we begin to make progress?
Money. Specifically, your money.
If there’s a movie showcasing helpless women, what message are you endorsing by buying or renting? Take a position with your wallet.
If there is a reality show, TV program or news service superseding a women’s drive and intellect and with eye-candy appeal, does it fit within your moral wheelhouse to support the companies who support this kind of messaging?
If there are tabloids objectifying women, is it wise to support them? Anything with a Kardashian in it would be one rag to avoid.
Some of our readers may be nodding with self-awareness, “I don’t have a male/female bias.” Consider a study done within the scientific/academic community, our beloved bastion of rational thought.
Identical resumes were sent to 127 professors of both sexes. For the position of lab manager, either John or Jennifer applied by mail. Each academician was asked to rate hireability, likeability, competence and the mentor-ability of each. They were then asked what salary they would endorse.
Regardless of the professor’s sex, age or specialization area, John scored 14% higher in all categories (except likeability) and 17% higher for a starting salary.
- Become more attuned to the stereotypes of femininity and masculinity limiting our girls and boys.
- Support a female’s ability to see herself as a leader and hold leadership positions.
- Be a part of a culture that encourages equal representation.
A less biased future is counting on you.
Prince was sitting off to our right. Max was waiting his turn to perform. The place was pulsing. Then up pops an Asian fella with a gold tooth, the right half his hair dyed platinum, an Alaskan Husky light blue eye on the same side and whack of so-so talent. But, all this was overshadowed by his infectious enthusiasm. He took the room’s energy to a whole new level. He said something to his appreciative audience that still sticks with us months later.
Simon made it clear he wanted to be a singer and performer his entire life. His thick accent was irrelevant when he performed a Michael Jackson song, Human Nature. He drew the packed room into the groove. Holding the microphone out to the audience, everyone participated.
“Why, Why? Tell her that it’s human nature. Why, Why?”
As the professional musicians played their roll of a live band version of Karaoke, other musicians dropped in and played too. It was Black Velvet Monday, full of uber talented, musical drop-ins. The location? New York's famous Village Underground, frequented by Prince and other of the musician elite. Later that evening, Tweet sang a couple of songs. (We’d never heard of her either – but the entire rest of the club had.)
To support Max, his sisters, mother and dad got there early. Turned out we were the only Caucasians in the place. It was a slice of an African American Speakeasy from the 20’s. Quite the scene!
Before he finished his song, Simon improvised a little motivational talk. He said he came to this country knowing this was the land of opportunity. Then he gathered more momentum and encouraged everyone to “Follow your dreams.” For him to sing in the USA was his life-long aspiration. Then the coup de grace… he declared with unbridled enthusiasm,
“Remember this. If you do nahteene… nahteene will happen. If you do somteene, somteene will happen. So everyone… DO SOMTEENE!”
The entire place erupted in in a spine-buzzing ovation. It was a magical moment.
It was also poetic significance for the 16 year-old white boy from Dallas who was about to go on stage – completely out of his typical element.
When Max got up he dismissed the band. Instead of doing covers of other famous works, he sang his own original. In place of an energy boosting tune, he sang a ballad on his acoustic guitar. The looks between his mother and I didn’t need spoken words, “I’m sure glad I’m not going on stage.”
But he did. He performed well and the audience showed their appreciation.
Was it the right venue to have a lyrical ballad. Maybe not. But, in the sentiments of Simon:
If you do nothing, nothing will happen.
If you do something, something will happen.
So, do something!
There’s this guy who left his wife and kids… a relative who still can’t find a job… a person you know who sued close friends… a celebrity who said something inappropriate… a politician who’s in the middle of a scandal. What seems to be common about all these stories? Our instant human reflex to judge and be right.
How dare he leave his family? What a deadbeat if she can’t find a job? What kind of low life would sue my friend? That celebrity is should be ashamed. That politician is morally corrupt. We instinctively feel we have a right to judge. But when you judge you put yourself on thin ice.
Use the advice of Ralph Waldo Emerson. “In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.” Quickly skate past the areas of judgment, hurt, pain, feeling of revenge or “being right.” There are no winners when you feel you have the right to judge.
In 2008, in Israel, I met an Israeli mother, whose daughter died because of a Palestinian suicide bomber. On stage, she was holding hands with a Palestinian who’d been imprisoned by Israelis for untold crimes. They looked into each other’s eyes, in the spirit of forgiveness. They let go of being “right” and replaced it with peace.
I also met Ali, a Palestinian who watched his mother killed and later his brother shot in the back -- alongside an Israeli mother whose son was killed by a sniper. They both emphasized a simple message:
If you chose a side, you are part of the problem.
They let go of judgment and replaced their “rightness” with seeking a solution. If they can do this under extraordinary circumstances, you can too.
Pain is relative. Connect with the pain of a kindred soul and the pain is not isolated. Experience the power of forgiveness and forgiveness becomes mutual.
The potential of peace is not a distant notion. It is entirely possible in the Age of Speed. Let go of judgment, quickly make a connection, add in forgiveness and peace is an embrace away.
Whether it’s the Middle East or closer to home it takes courage to let go of judgment, connect and then forgive. Or you can continue to hold on to ‘being right’ – no matter the cost.
You have the mettle to accelerate peace of mind and peace itself:
- Resist the instinct to judge. Face it, you don’t know the whole story. (Esepecially those armed with a couple of pieces of information and a propensity to jump to conclusions.)
- a) Connect with that person if they affected you directly -- Listen, don’t speak.
b) Disconnect from people who are only observers, yet are determined to judge and ‘be right.’
- Forgive that person. You have not been where they have traveled. Being right is less important than peace.
There’s thin ice out there. Keep skating past those patches of judgment.
If you’re in the balance, considering commitment, STOP reading now. You’re not there yet. For the rest of you, let me lovingly grab your eyebrows – get so close you don’t know which eye to focus on... and say – “You are NOT committed yet. Not even close!”
"But... but…I walked down the aisle." - "I spent $10,000 on a marketing campaign." - "I said, Yes to the promotion." - "I quit my job, got a business loan and ordered those shiny new cards."
Go ahead, argue, “I’m in the game. I am committed!” Don’t be delusional. You’re not remotely committed and won’t truly see this until you next-level yourself out of blissful ignorance.
You are not committed yet! No wedding band, comma on a check, my-word-is-my-bond or entrepreneurial leap into shark infested waters is real commitment. You won’t know the level of commitment necessary until you put yourself at a higher level.
Case in point. 1988. You quit your job. Become a Realtor. Move into a pathetic basement suite. Travel on a shoestring budget to ski races across Canada and the US. One would say, you are committed. You even win the National Championships. The person you see in the mirror is on track. Then you go to a “B” level international race in Sweden.
There, your thosearen’tpillows body-part is handed to you. In a field of aspiring international speed skiers, you place midfield. 55th. At this stage, there isn’t a chance in the Casa di Diablo you’ll ever make the Olympic team. You realize your commitment level needs to be raised. When you step it up; you eventually become ranked 10th in the world, break the national record five times and look upon 50,000 people waiting to see you race the gold medal round of the Olympic Winter Games.
You won’t be able to see the level of commitment necessary until your commitment is tested at a higher level. Examples include:
- Preeminent Trade shows.
- National association conventions.
- Personal coaching/counseling from the best, no BS, been-there-done-that professional you can find.
- Elite competitions where your aforementioned body part is on the line.
- Pretty much anything where you risk embarrassment or a contented ego.
Your first foray into that ‘Higher Level’ will not be comfortable. It will likely be categorically painful. But you deserve a new vista.
Gain a perspective of or from the outside, and you will gain clarity. The higher you go, the more insight you gain. Clarity makes your next steps more deliberate, definitive and profound.
Commitment clarity will be the greatest gift you can give your company, business or marriage. Ignorance may be bliss but you deserve more.
Step up to the next level!
They start with one question, “How will we stand out?” That query bagged close to five minutes on national TV, 200+ franchise leads, a 20x spike in their web traffic and ongoing residual PR. If you’re interested in growing your business fast, the CEO of WOW 1 Day Painting, Brian Scudamore, has a great approach.
No stranger to building franchises, Scudamore’s relatively new venture, WOW 1 Day Painting followed his philosophy of don’t-pay-for-advertising-if-you-don’t-have-to. With the help of his internal PR team, Scudamore followed their first question by five others.
Who’s our market? What media reaches that market? What specific programs do they have? How do we get them to profile us? How do we scale the PR for residual traffic?
According to PR director AK Virani, the amount of research you do is directly proportionate to the quality of PR you get out. With this approach Brian Scudamore's team went to work with the following formula:
- Define your Audience. In WOW 1 Day Painting’s case, they wanted to hit potential franchisees.
- Research a Media Match. After significant groundwork, the team decided CNBC targeted their specific market of business people.
- Research Specific Avenues. More diligent research revealed a program called Power Pitch. A mini-version of the entrepreneurial hit, Shark Tank.
- Be Creative to Get Their Attention. After downloading the forms and finding out the Producer’s name, they assumed 1,000 other businesses were hitting on Power Pitch as well. According to Virani, “If you find that right person who you really believe will cover your story, then do what ever you can to get their attention.” They sent the producer a “1 day painting goody box.” It has brushes, coffee mugs, t-shirts and painting trays. The producer loved it, called back the next day and asked, “When can we get you on a plane?” The creativity didn’t stop there. Scudamore first produced a short promo video for the program to use and then flew to CNBC’s headquarters in New Jersey (armed with sound bites and a well honed pitch). You guessed it. More research was necessary.
- Scale Your PR Coup to Your Network. The research mantra extended beyond the one-time airplay. Scudamore’s team then targeted what they called, “residual traffic.” They reached out through social media, business contacts on LinkedIn, focused YouTube channels and their own company blog. Yahoo.com and NY Times online both picked up the story and posted through their small business blogs.
The reason you’re reading this story is a LinkedIn message we received directly from Brian Scudamore. It was intriguing. The CNBC video was compelling. And now 25,000 of you are reading about it.
How will you stand out?
You may create priceless PR from that one simple question.
You have a gift. Your job is to share it.
Your gift was born the day you took your first breath.
Others may recognize it in you, before you begin to honor it.
Yet, you know when your gift tapped your shoulder.
It nudged you into the light. You saw further. You felt free.
You have a gift. Your job is to share it.
The day she was born you naturally started looking for it.
When his smile touched your soul, his gift smiled too.
Help find the place where her gift can stretch out.
Be a wall and his gift will wither in the shade. Celebrate it instead.
You have a gift. Your job is to share it.
In the world of gifts, the word “should” has no place.
The most venomous word to your gift is “can’t.”
Your gift never goes away. It may collect cobwebs.
It may calcify or rust. But it never dies. Ever.
You have a gift. Your job is to share it.
Your gift never arrives. It’s forever setting out, seeking, blooming, curious, magnetic.
When it can’t breathe, it waits. When it can’t see, it calls out.
If you knew how long you had left to live, your gift would greet you every morning.
When you forget you’re mortal, your gift hides under the covers with you.
You have a gift. Your job is to share it.