OTS 122 | How To Gain An Edge


As entrepreneurs, we always have so many plans. Every year, we start out thinking what we’re going to do, and then we get to the end of the year and it’s the last push of the quarter. You realize that you haven’t done a lot of anything and that you ended up filling your schedule with stuff that may not be the best use of your time. Learn how to gain an edge, what things you need to stop doing to maintain your edge, as well as what things you should definitely start doing that you haven’t done in the past to kickstart your year and start strong.

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#Flashtopic: How To Gain An Edge In 2018

It’s time for our Flash Topic which is actually our fifth Flash Topic that we’ve done overall. We have the full team here for Flash Topic Five. Tracy Hazzard is back, Joe Tarnowski is back, Salah Khalaf, Jamie Robinson is back and Bill Carmody is also back. I wanted to kick-off with something that was a little bit different. I asked the team two questions, “What is the one thing you think entrepreneurs should do differently than they’ve ever done before? What’s something that they should add to give themselves an edge?” Then I also asked them, “What is one thing that you think that entrepreneurs can drop to maintain their edge?” Something that they can stop doing to maintain their edge? What we got was a huge array of information for you, some really great suggestions on things that you can do differently and some really great suggestions on stuff that you can just drop and not do and really maintain your edge. I can’t wait for you to listen to what the team has put together.

Welcome back to Flash Topic. I appreciate you all being here.

Thanks for having us.

I just launched a podcast but as I said on that podcast that I took a month off just to figure out where I wanted the podcast to go, and of course the Flash Topic, I wanted to continue that. It was good to step away for just a month. I’m not a big pre-podcaster so I don’t put a bunch of shows together and have them sitting in a queue so that if I can’t pull one out, I’ll pull from my queue. I pretty much a podcast and then launch it like in a couple of days. It was good to step away for a minute and look at it from 10,000 feet. I’m glad you are all back. We’re going to do a little bit of a different Flash Topic now because we’re not going to draw it out of a hat, not that any of you think that I actually do that. We’re going to have a little bit more trust.

It’s trust but verify. We do trust you, we just want to verify.

I really wanted to find out what you individually, maybe even personally or professionally, what’s something you personally are going to drop or not do? Then in contrast, what is something you’re definitely going to start doing that maybe you haven’t done in the past? Our topic is similar to this because the topics we’re not actually drawing them out of the head. The topics now are what is one thing entrepreneurs need to do to gain an edge? What is the number one thing, and each one of you I’m sure will have a different thought on that. Then the second one is, what is the one thing that entrepreneurs need to stop doing to maintain their edge? It’s similar to the question I’m asking you now, but for me, what is the one thing that I’m absolutely going to do? That is, I’m not going to wait until the end of the year to figure out that I didn’t do anything fun.

Every year, I start out thinking that I’m going to plan these things, these family trips and blah, blah, blah. Then we get to the end of the year and it’s the last push of the quarter and I realize that we haven’t done a lot of anything fun. A lot of our time gets put into ice skating and a lot of the trips that we take are ice skating-related. To kick that off, my daughter wanted a high-end camera for Christmas and so she got this new Canon. We’re taking a photo essay excursion to the beach this Saturday. I’m not talking like fly here and go to Bora Bora and stuff like that, but just stuff that we can look back on and say, “That one thing was fun.” I don’t want to wait until the end of the year to figure out that we didn’t fit any of those things in there. One thing that I personally definitely not going to do is I’m not going to overschedule myself which is a huge issue for me. I’m constantly overscheduling myself, which is why you’ve got a text message two minutes before we’re supposed to start saying, “I need ten more minutes,” because I’m overscheduled. It’s my own issue. It’s my own way that I work my schedule. I’m committed to not doing that.

My answer is pretty much the same for both. I’m going to say ‘no’ more. I’m going to say no to things I don’t really want to do, but maybe for some reason feel like I’m obligated to say no to things that are not extremely important. The opposite is stop saying yes to too many things because you end up filling your schedule with stuff then maybe it’s not the best use of your time. I want to limit the BS and focus more on those absolutely critical things.

OTS 122 | How To Gain An Edge
How To Gain An Edge: Stop saying yes to too many things because you end up filling your schedule with stuff then maybe it’s not the best use of your time.

Anybody else?

The one thing I’m absolutely doing is I’m going to write my next book, which is something that I’ve been pulling together for a while, but I’m actually going to get it published and get it out there. That’s something that has been waiting on me because I’ve been doing a lot of it on the off hours and in between everything else, but I’ve finally prioritize that and made it part of my schedule and that will happen. I’m excited about that. The second thing that I’m not going to be doing is just completely changing and flexing my calendar to support everybody else’s needs. I think that was one of the problems I was running into was always trying to say yes and making myself available more than I should. In similar theme to both you and Joe about this idea of getting a tighter control over your own schedule, it just gives you more productivity hours and it allows you to do more of what you really want to do as opposed to reacting to other people’s needs.

What’s the book about?

The book is actually How to Millionaire. A step-by-step guide, the tools, the strategies and the action plans to basically generate your wealth. I found a lot of people struggling with that and I’ve had enough requests for support on that I’m going to put it out there and help people become millionaires.

I read somewhere that we generated two billionaires every day of the year.

Not me, but yes.

I was going to say, “And I was not on that list.” In that same year, Jeff Bezos became the richest man ever to live. We won’t even get off on that tangent. Who’s next?

As you put it, that I tend to be the opposite. When we were discussing this Tim, I tend to be the opposite. Originally, I set out the year saying, I was going to do less and be more and I quickly realized that that wasn’t going to work for me. As I said, yes, yes, yes to so many things and I have decided instead that I’m just going to get a whole lot more great resources. That’s what I set out the year to do. I actually hired my daughter as my COO and it has been the best decision I have ever made in my business. She has freed me up to find the time to do those things like finally edit the four books that are sitting on the back of my credenza and head off to events and not worry about what’s happening in the business. She’s doing a fabulous job, so fabulous that within a month of hiring her, that I actually gave her stock in the company.

Your daughter’s a rockstar. I agree.

I decided to do that everywhere. I think that’s what I’ve been looking at. If you want to take a lesson for entrepreneurs, what I do is entrepreneurs do too much themselves. They think because they can do it or because they can learn it and they don’t have a ton of money that they should and in the end, the amount of time lost the opportunity lost, it’s not worth it. You have to find the right ones and trust them, but when you do it’s worth it.

You’re getting into the topic already. We’re going to bring you back. Is that the things that you’re definitely going to do and the things that you’re definitely not going to do or are almost the same thing?

I’m going to sit back and I’m going to go, “Should I do this or should I hire somebody to do this?”

I am 150% believer in that. I had a similar epiphany. I’m with you. We are actually, Tracy, the same on that. I’m agreeing with you.

I hate to say this but I’m not tremendously personal. My personal and my business are mixed together so intrinsically because I work with my husband and now with my daughter. Because my business is creative, it doesn’t stop. For me, they’re one in the same. I treat my life like it’s harmony. It does come up and personal things do come up and I weave them in, but it’s not a really a cut and dry line between the two for me.

Salah, how about you?

I’m going probably sound like a broken record and just to repeat what everybody said. For me it’s the same thing. I’ve just taken on a lot of stuff. I’ve been doing everything on my own. My wife is stepping in and I will be delegating a few things as far as work-wise so she can help me. I really asked her to travel with me as well to meetings and things I do. I just think that the things I’ve taken on. I want to make sure that I streamline that and I’m just delegating a little bit more of this load to my wife. It will be a team effort between both of us. It’s along the same lines everybody’s alluded to. I’m really looking forward to it because it was a hectic year at building the business here. The good thing is we become very busy, the bad thing is just I’ve taken on too much. I just need help now.

The good thing is, it’s very busy. The bad thing is it’s very busy. I will give you one of some hard-earned advice with bringing your wife in. I would say it just in wording, you never delegate anything to your wife. You can go and you can ask for help. You can say, “Honey, baby, I need some help with this. Will you help me?” but no delegation.

I agree because I’ve just been delegated to for many years.

That’s what Tracy said. She can delegate to you, but I’m just saying your wording-wise, it might be better for you if you’re going to say, “I could use some help on this,” instead of “I’m going to delegate this stuff to you.”

I work for her. I admit.

Just some free advice for you from somebody who’s been there. Jamie?

I’m a little opposite of you guys. I’m looking forward to becoming an empty nester in about eighteen months. I want to use these eighteen months to build a situation where I can chill after my youngest son gets out of high school. I’m actually looking to start a few things and work a little harder. The thing I am absolutely going to stop doing though, and I’ve been saying this for several years, not completely worked yet but I would really like to do less graphic design myself. I want to find a good graphic artist that has my same type of style and flow and thinks like me and I’ve not been able to do that. I’d really like to give up that part of my work.

Just don’t do that with my work. When I want Jamie to do the pretty, I want Jamie to do the pretty.

That’s what all of my clients say.

[Tweet “You have to find the right ones and trust them, but when you do it’s worth it.”]

My mother-in-law, as she gets older she’s not as able as she once was, but she’s an amazing seamstress and she can make things and alter things. What people really come to her for is altering their clothes. If you lost 100 pounds, she can literally alter your clothes for that. I know that we all did a little bit of our personal things that we are going to stop and start, but entrepreneur-wise, thinking out to the entrepreneurs, I’m interested to know just one thing. What’s the one thing that you think that they should definitely start doing and then opposite of that, what is something that you think that they can let go of doing? One is to build their edge and two is to maintain their edge. What’s the one thing you think they should start doing? What is the one is the one thing you think that they can let go of. Bill, what do you think?

On the letting go side, what I’m finding is that organic Facebook, Instagram, any of that stuff is just gone. At this point, if you’re going to do anything in the social media side, you really need to look at the page strategies because the organic stuff, they’ve really squeeze it down to nothing. If you’re going to let go of something, the push for the organic content strategies that worked extremely well for basically the better part of the last decade have been essentially stopped. They curtailed because of Facebook and Instagram changes primarily. I would let that go and instead look at other paid place options if that’s the way you’re looking to promote the business. The other thing that I would do on the positive side and start looking at what would you do differently, I would really take a deep look at what are the other ways in which you can grow your business fast and thinking from a growth hacking perspective. What are some things that you maybe haven’t tried? What are some of the things that if you had someone put a gun to your head and you need to double your revenue in the next quarter, what would you have to do in order to make that happen? By asking those questions, you can start to look at really creative strategic ways of doing things that maybe you’ve ignored or just have never gotten around to.

Bill, do you think that there’s a specific growth hack that you say? The question really is, what’s one thing that you would say that you would advise that they do? I get the whole organic social, stop wasting your time on that and do paid, but if there was one thing that you were teaching in class or you’re doing a talk and somebody says, “What’s one thing that I should do or add to my strategy?” I get the whole brainstorming thing, but do you have one thing that you could offer up?

What I would say, of all the growth hacks that I’ve deployed that had been most successful, the number one growth hack for me has been give it up for free. Find the thing that is truly valuable that your competitors pay for that you have the capability to give up for free. I’m not going to steal Tracy’s thunder, but the stuff that she does on her podcast is something that she doesn’t have to charge anyone to come onto the podcast. You, Tim, same thing here, there’s the interview strategy. You write for Inc. Magazine so I can go in and find ways to add value to people by interviewing them and telling their story. Something that they have high perceived value, but it’s low actual cost for me other than some time. That’s a really strategic growth hack of what can you in your business give away for free that your direct client values and holds dear.

One of the things you can add is give it up for free. Figure out something that people really need that will showcase your business that you can give us for free and then something that you can let go is stop wasting time with the organic social marketing and if you’re going to do anything social-wise, you should be putting some money behind it. Am I getting that right?

It’s a perfect recap. Thank you for saying so eloquently.

Salah, what do you think?

Tim, one of the main things that any entrepreneur needs to do at the beginning of the year is look at the top things they’re doing, and what is it they have done that’s not working that they need to stop. I can’t decide what it is for anybody, but whether it’s having the wrong product, not analyzing competition or they need to analyze more, but for me they have to stop something that’s not working. They have to just not keep doing the same thing over and over again if it’s not producing results. It gives them more time then to add on things like what Joe just mentioned. You guys just talked about with social media. Finding what’s going to work, what is it that’s going to bring quality results for that entrepreneur, whether it’s quality social media, paying for a podcast, paying for four books, just learning more stuff that’s going to really bring that entrepreneurs business into 2018 and beyond.

As far as things to stop doing, it sounds super simple, Salah, but you really just nailed it because I find myself just based on time-wise, still doing things that aren’t working. I think what you’re saying is if there’s one thing, Big Boxers, if you’re going to look at stopping doing something, don’t do anything more that doesn’t work. Stop that stuff. I am going to put you on the hook, Salah, is if they’re going to pick up one thing, if they’re going to add one thing and you had to nail it down to just one thing, for you it might be adding your wife to the business, what would be one thing that you would say that you think entrepreneurs can do to create an edge?

Analyze competition properly before doing anything else in your business. It sounds so basic, but it is what people just don’t do much of. They think they’re doing analyzing stuff but utilizing resources that are available these days to analyze that competition so you know what that gap is, where you can come in, rework your product, rework your service, whatever you’re trying to offer and hit it.

I think that a lot of times, especially when you create your own product, you get blinded by the fact that you just think that your product is the best. You don’t really have to take a look at anybody else because you already know that you’re a rockstar and your friends and family have told you that this is the best thing ever. Your analysis of competition is somewhat flawed because you’re so behind your own product. I’m glad that I nailed that down for you because I think that’s absolutely right. Jamie?

The thing that I would encourage entrepreneurs to stop doing is everything. I think we touched on it a little bit earlier just talking about ourselves but hold back on insisting on having your fingers in every bowl. Delegate where you can, ask for help. It might be a little expensive or you can’t do it exactly how you like to but ask for help. It’s okay. That’s advice for myself. I think the thing that entrepreneurs would benefit from by starting to do is building relationships with their customers. Understanding why their customers came to them, what brought them there, why they keep coming back or why they didn’t come back? Build a relationship with their consumers that will help them make their business better.

OTS 122 | How To Gain An Edge
How To Gain An Edge: Find the thing that is truly valuable that your competitors pay for that you have the capability to give up for free.

I love both of those and I think that it’s not an argument, but it’s a conversation, a difficult conversation I have with clients which is trying to make them understand that it’s worth it to find out why your customers are buying your product. People think they’re buying it because they want it. What is the exact reason? What’s the want? What’s the need? What is it fixing for them? You may find out that it’s different than you thought.

What’s it doing for them is the question I always ask, how does that make them feel? A lot of times, I can’t answer that. You’re right.

A lot of times, it’s difficult for people that created a product for one thing, and they find out that customers are really using it for something else or they find out that the customer they thought they had is different. I had a client that really built a product for business traveling women. Who ended up being her biggest customer were actually older women. Probably women 50 to 65 that had a ton of disposable income and travel a lot. That ended up being her core demographic, which was tremendously different than the 25 to 35-year-old business executive traveling woman that she thought she was building it for. I don’t know if she ever came to grips with that switch, because you have it just ingrained in your head. I think you have to be flexible, Jamie and understand who your customers are and why they’re buying it.

That would be my start Tim, actually. If you start focusing on the customers you have and designing more things for them or building more products for them or making it better for them, that is a whole lot faster growth than having to go find a market. If you start there and do more for them, it’s going to be an amazing growth path for you.

That’s the one thing you would say that they should do is find out who their customers are and start catering to them. Because you’re right, your current customer is ten times more likely to buy from you again than a brand-new customer.

I’ve been doing a lot of research and analysis. As I look back on the last few years, my clients that have been more successful already had a market in place even if it was really small and we helped them grow that one. Or they do the thing is that they really have a core understanding tapped into the right Amazon demographic and then they built the rest of their brand around that. Those are the ones that have been more successful. If I look back at my entire career, I almost always work with brands who already have a channel access, which means that they do somewhat have an understanding of their customer. The important part is then to just grow that and do a better job at that. That was what I would start doing and this is what I would stop doing. I would stop defining success narrowly. We tend to define success as profit only. If I looked back and said, “My Inc. column didn’t make me any money.”

Seriously, I think I made $300 over the course of the year or something like that. It’s no money, but it was my most successful marketing vehicle because I got more clients from that. I got invited to more speaking events. I got more out of that than anything else that I spent my time on. When I look at that, it’s probably worth a couple hundred thousand dollars in income at the end of the day. Because I wouldn’t have met those people if I hadn’t have started with an article somewhere. If we define success only in that dollar amount and not in who we are introduced to and people that we meet and the impact it has on us or on others, then we aren’t defining it broadly enough to make good decisions about what we should and shouldn’t do. Don’t get me wrong. I believe like Salah that we should analyze things because I’m a big analyst myself, but we should look at it with a broader model definition of profitable and success.

Lifetime value as opposed to what can you do for me this quarter? Which I think often times where people get myopic. Great insight.

What can you do for me this month? I think that entrepreneurship is an ecosystem. It’s made up of a lot of different parts. Even though you might think that your Inc. column not bringing in a lot of revenue and so you’re looking at ways maybe to cut down on some of the ancillary things that you’re doing. If you just looked at your income and said, “How much money does that column bring me?” I’m going to cut that out. Then all of a sudden, your business is down $200,000 for the year because you’re not reaching those people. It’s this very delicate ecosystem that’s built off of a lot of things that you’re doing and you have to pay attention to each one because they build on each other.

To Bill’s point that he just made that about the organic, I actually agree with him that most people should go paid social. However, there is an exception and I have done a rare, like once a month, maybe twice a month rare Facebook live and for me, I actually got speaking engagements offered off of both of them. What I didn’t realize is that of course I don’t have the audience base because it’s not boosted up there because I don’t pay for ads to get clients, but I have people who follow me who are very influential and can do something for me and want me to do something for them and for their audiences. Don’t give up everything organic but take a look at what got you the most engagement and keep that one thing organic is what I think might be the best way to do it. Even though it seems like it doesn’t have dollar value, at the end of the day, it makes a difference. Focusing on the difference, not the dollar.

[Tweet “Your current customer is ten times more likely to buy from you again than a brand-new customer.”]

Joe, what do you think?

I’m parallel a little bit of what Bill and Tracy were talking about. For the one thing that they need to do is really sharpen their focus on those things that deliver the most value. Whether it’s monetary value or like Tracy was just saying, maybe it’s not direct monetary value, but it’s going to have a tremendous impact to their business, to their long-term goals. There’s this book that I read that really focuses on this. It’s called The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. In the book, they have this one question which they called the focusing question, which for me has been very valuable in my own life and with work. The question is, “What is the one thing that I can do that in doing so, it would make everything else irrelevant or unnecessary?” You focus on that thing, whether it’s part of your business. Like Tracy said, focus on those Inc. articles that that’s really going to make everything else fall by the wayside, the less important things, but that’s going to give you the biggest bang for the time and the resources that you put into it. That relates to a lot of things, not just with work but with work, with health or studying or writing or whatever.

Whatever you have to do to really hit those big things and then what you’ll notice is those big things will provide the most impact and those smaller things that fall by the wayside, you realized they really weren’t that important at all. Sharpen the focus on those things that really matter will be the one thing that they could do to gain an edge. On the other end is what I talked about with me personally is learning to say no more. Saying no to those things that are not as important. You’ve got to take a long-term view and figure out exactly where you want to go, where you’re headed with your business and then break it down, “What’s the one thing that I could do this week, now, the next week? What’s the one thing I can do this month?” Build it up as you get closer and closer to that long-term goal and it puts things in perspective and it gives you a good idea of what to focus on and what maybe can go by the wayside. Then in saying no as a few of our analysts have said, time is such a big issue and people want to be nice, they want to help. They want to get involved in things, but you can’t get involved in everything. The more you say no, the more people respect your time. They know that you can’t do this by now. If I can do this, what can I take off my plate that I might be doing for you that’s not as important? There are a lot of ways you could trade that off. You don’t just have to say, “No, I can’t do it.” You really prioritize and they will find that some of the things that you say, no to, it really didn’t matter in the first place.

One of the things you said in the ‘no’ thing reminded me of I was just in Iowa with some clients of mine. We had a couple of meetings during the day and I’ve been working with them on their pitch in front of buyers. You know the old adage when you’re talking to a group of people, think about them in their underwear, which that never has ever worked for me. I said, “When you’re talking to a buyer, act as if you have ten other deals behind this deal that you have to get to.” In some buyer meetings, they go along. Then you’re done with a pitch and you’re just chitchatting and it feels good because the buyer is giving you that time. To your point, Joe, about time, I tell him, I say, “When the meeting is done, they chitchat for a second and then act like you have some place to be. You do have some place to be. You’re in the middle of pitching multiple people and you don’t want to ever have any buyer feel like you just have unlimited amounts of time to just chitchat and do this and do that. You want them to think that you’re busy, that you’re onto the next pitch and you have things going on. I like your thing about time. Joe, go add one more thing.

The other thing is get more sleep and focus on your health. The time you do have, you get more out of.

Joe, thank you for bringing the holistic part in there. It goes by the wayside so easy especially when you’re traveling.

You could actually schedule in your sleep like you would schedule in anything else. Scheduling your workouts, you put your workouts on your outlook calendar, put your sleep. It’s like, “I am going to bed at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, whatever it is.” Schedule it like anything else.

My phone knows when my first appointment is the next day, because I schedule in like get up. Take the dogs out. I schedule that into my calendar. My phone will literally let me know, “If you want to get seven hours of sleep, you have to go to bed in the next 30 minutes based on your first calendar appointment. Then I say piss off.

You make bad decisions on little sleep. That’s how you get weak and say yes when you should say no.

I had a mentor one time who told me, and the first time this happened we were in New York. We were checked into a hotel that just ended up being a horrible hotel, not that the hotel itself was horrible, but the rooms were just super tiny and it was next to some really heavy construction. He literally checked us out and checked us in for like $350 more a night, which if you’ve stayed in New York, into the Westin. His thing was, “It’s worth it. $700 is worth it. We have a big pitch tomorrow. It’s worth it to get a good night’s sleep in a nice place where we can rest fully and be ready to go tomorrow. Than save $700, get no sleep, be a bloodshot, and then have a poor pitch.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I’m always willing to stay a little bit nicer to make sure that I’m ready to go the next day. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve met people for a pitch and they just look like hell. You’re like, “What happened?” Here’s mine. Number one, this is what I think all entrepreneurs can add to the program that will help them give them an edge and that’s self-education. Jim Rohn has a set of quotes that I think about all the time and he said, “Work harder on yourself than you do at your job.” His whole thing behind that, if you listen to any of the things Jim Rohn ever said, is that you get paid based on your value and your business gets hired based on its value and its value is driven by your own personal education and how you increase your own knowledge.

If you spend all the time in the business but never working on yourself, then you can’t technically grow your business because you’re not growing. My big thing is spend more time on yourself than you normally do. Educate yourself. Pick up a book. Even Joe unknowingly proved my point in his because he talked about a book that he read and he’s better for it. He spent some time with the one thing, it had some impact on it and now he’s sharing that with you Big Boxers because he was able to improve himself by reading something. Jim Rohn said a million times, “Everything that you want to do in life, somebody technically has already done it and wrote a book about it. Why would you not read that book and figure out what they’ve already done and just copy them instead of trying to slug it out yourself and trying to figure out the how’s and why’s?” That’s my first thing. If you’re going to add something, do some self-education, make yourself better so that you can in turn push your business forward.

OTS 122 | How To Gain An Edge
How To Gain An Edge: When you’re talking to a buyer, act as if you have ten other deals behind this deal that you have to get to.

The thing I think that you can drop that will help you maintain your edge is stop wasting time. This is one that I really have to look deep inside myself and a self-impose. The example I gave to this one is obsessing over email. I get 150 or so emails a day and there are days when I just literally sit there and watch them come in. What I’ve done is I’ve limited myself technically and I’m still struggling with this a little bit. I’m trying to make it work, but I answer my email at 9:00 in the morning and at 4:00 in the afternoon. It varies in the timeframes because I have to be able to sit down and have my book open that when I read the email, I can either write a note about it, answer it or delete it or archive it. I no longer look at email if I can’t act on it because what it does to me is just provide anxiety about the possibility or having to do something when I can’t actually at that moment do anything about it. Whatever your nemesis is, if it’s email, Facebook, social media, staring at the clouds, stop wasting time. That’s probably one of the main things that you can do to get back some of the time that you think that you don’t have and be productive with that. Whether you’re productive with your family and your friends, on your health, or reading a book. Get back some of the time that you’ve been wasting and put it to work for you. I think that you’ll be able to maintain your edge with that.

Tim, I agree 100%. There’s one thing that I actually do that you reminded me of that is a direct application of something I learned in The ONE Thing. My primary role, my one thing at work is creating content. What I do is I’ve adjust my schedule, my daily schedule to accommodate that. The first thing I do, I put off the emails, I put up conference calls. My first two or three hours of each day is solely focused on content, whether it’s editing a video, writing a story, or what have you. Then I save conference calls, emails, administrative things, anything like that for the second half of the day because my focus is sharper first thing in the morning. That’s get the creative juices flowing and then later on in the afternoon, if my mind is not as sharp as far as creating content, and things like that, it’s still, when I have a conversation, like a conference call or something that gives me energy in itself. I saved the mornings for the content creation, whatever I can and then the afternoons, I do my meetings and all the people stuff. That tends to perk me up after my mental resources have been used up creating content.

I have to say Tim that I struggled a couple of years ago with email and then took it all completely under control because it was for me not having no emails in my inbox didn’t feel like an accomplishment. Every time they would start filing back up, it would stress me out just like you were talking about. I got a bunch of tools and I created a bunch of extra email addresses. I’m really careful about where I send people to and there’s only one email address that I go through every single day, twice a day. The other emails I go through maybe once a week.

For me, it’s not the amount of email. I don’t look down at my number and think, “I’m stressed out.” It’s that I’ll actually look at an email from a client and they’ll be needing something and I can’t give it to them right that minute because I’m in the middle of something else. The fact that I can’t act on it right then stresses me out. I’ve been training myself. If you can’t sit down and actually take action on the email, then don’t even read it. I get hit up via email, WhatsApp, messenger, Skype.

There are a million ways to get ahold of me. I know if it’s urgent that one of my clients is going to hit me up some other way and say, “I just sent you an email, can you look at it?” I tell you what, 9:00 and 4:00 sitting down with my binder actually going through has really reduced my overall stress level. I can’t even tell you. I tend to be quicker in responding. I know it seems like, “From nine, you might not respond until four,” but because I’m actually prepared to respond to it, I find myself giving them more thorough, accurate and timely response. Then I would just be shooting off something from my phone. One of the things that I don’t enjoy is sending somebody a request and then getting a three-word answer from them from their phone. That doesn’t help me at all.

You’re more productive too when you leave yourself an hour longer time blocks to focus. I love reading about cognitive science and how the mind works. If you’re on a task and then you go and check an email, then you’d go back to the task, it will take you a lot longer than if he just stayed on the task straight. Your brain does something what’s called task switching. Let’s say you’re writing an article then you go to answer an email, your brain has to switch its mode and instructions from the task you are on to the new task which is doing the email. Then when you go back to writing, your brain has to undo the email reading mode and go back to the writing mode, which takes time. You’ll end up spending more time to get the same thing done than if you just would have focused on it straight.

I think that there are a lot of really successful people out there right now that one of the things that they’re constantly saying is multitasking is becoming an actually a taboo word. Working on one task at a time, finishing that task before you go onto the next is how a lot of very successful people are saying that they run through their day. That’s proved your point, Joe. You don’t even know because it’s pretty quick to go from writing an article to answering an email to back. You could probably do that in the course of maybe even a minute. Your brain as far as switching is just starting to switch to email mode by the time you even get back to your article. That’s why you feel like you’re just discombobulated.

Multitask came from computers, but computers don’t even technically multitask. They do one thing, then another thing, they just do it really fast.

To add onto what you guys are saying, that it’s more important now for an entrepreneur to realize that they have to develop people around them. They can’t do everything themselves. They have to have a winning team. They have to have a team that’s focused on what they’re focused on. They have to build an A performing teams around them, supportive to what they want to do to their mission. Like all of us, we develop people. Entrepreneurs have to develop people so they will not do everything themselves.

[Tweet “Computers don’t even technically multitask. They do one thing, then another thing, they just do it really fast.”]

I wanted to go back and mention something Jamie said earlier about wanting to find someone to duplicate yourself basically, which is a big problem for a lot of us. Our clients expect it to be us and especially when you’re in a creative field, they really expect it to be you. This is a really hard thing and so I actually have found personally that we have a lot better luck with an apprentice model. That virtual assistant model doesn’t work in the creative world. It doesn’t work when you’re trying to model yourself. If you can bring in a recently graduated student, an intern, someone who can be you, follow you around all day and get to know you and you get to train them on their skills, you’d be really surprised at how quickly that actually develops into someone who’s good. I’ve done it. I paid top dollar for people and then had them go that this is just not going to work. Their communications skills don’t follow mine. Even if their creative skills do, they don’t communicate that well and then the client doesn’t receive it well. For me, I’ve found a lot better success with molding and training than I have with hiring and looking at it that perspective. Hiring someone with the most beautiful portfolio.

A young mentee and that absolutely works. Her style began to mimic mine. We’re bouncing off of each other. It was just a great situation. Then she moved to China.

Jamie, I thought you were going to say something like, “You lost me at will be there all the time and follow you everywhere.”

I actually don’t mind that as long as they’re quiet.

As long as they’re quiet and they do what I tell them. To your point, Tracy, an intern, somebody who hasn’t developed. It’s very hard when you hire a designer that has their own style to say, “I want to hire you, but I don’t want you to do your style. I want you to do my stuff.” Whereas an intern is a little bit more moldable.

That’s also something that I don’t believe in as a designer is I don’t believe that I should have a style. People would argue that my style is no style, but it is this idea that it is what the customer needs. My training is all about getting them to listen and hear and not impose and then decide when your creative needs to come in because they don’t know what they want. It’s really all about training that portion of it. It’s really all about people skills, performance skills in terms of that communication skills. That’s not something that they teach in school. It has to be a trained in terms of showing them how it can be successful for them and actually allow them to be more creative and be a better designer.

Although, this wasn’t a traditional Flash Topic, meaning we didn’t pick something out of a hat and not really know what we were going to talk about. I did want to offer up some advice. I’m not sure unless you pay to go to a Roundtable that you’re ever going to get a more well-rounded understanding of some really key things that you can do and some things that you can let go of than you’ve got right here. Six successful entrepreneurs offering up their advice, things that they’re going to do not only for themselves, but things that they’re offering up to you to do I think is invaluable. We appreciate you guys tuning in and as always, thanks so much for taking the time out. We went a little bit long, but good topics and really good information. I couldn’t be any more grateful than I am for all the all that you let go of today. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for having us.

You’re welcome.

I appreciate it. Job well done.

Until next time, we’ll look forward to our next Flash Topic Six, and I’ll get that out all out to you. You have a great rest of your day and a fantastic weekend. We’ll talk to you all soon.

Thank you.

Flash Topic five is complete. I hope you guys enjoyed it. I hope that you were taking notes and if not, you can always go back with pen and paper in hand and actually write down some of the really great suggestions from the team. This time probably more than any other Flash Topic, I think that there were some real nuggets in there that are going to give you some insight. Never too late to start doing something different and mix it up just a little bit.

We’re just starting to produce our podcast again after a little bit of a break, and I want to hear from you. I want to know what you are thinking. I want to know what you want to talk about, what kinds of things you want to learn about. I just want to create a little bit more conversation than we’ve had in the past. Don’t be afraid to go on the actual site and start a conversation. Leave some comments. Don’t be afraid to leave some comments on whether it’s iTunes or Stitcher, but let’s get the conversation going.

Reaching out to us with your questions, concerns, things that you might be dealing with, especially topics that relate to maybe problems that you might be having with a buyer or getting to talk to a buyer. Anything that you’re struggling with, we want to learn about that. We want to put it on the show and allow other people to learn from the solutions that we’re giving you. There are a multitude of ways that you can reach out to us.

The best way is to get on our closed group on Facebook. It’s called On the shelf “Now”. That’s where the conversation continues. That’s where people are talking about what’s really happening in their entrepreneurial business. We look forward to seeing you there. You can also just reach out to us on Facebook in general, under TLB Consulting. You can also reach us on Twitter at @TLBConsult, and of course you can always go to our website TLBConsulting.com, and shoot us an email. We’d love to hear from you. I’m so glad to be back into the conversation. I look forward to speaking with you next time, but until then, I look forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.

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