This post is a response to Rand’s post “The Big Picture Conversation”
Full disclosure: I just started reading Good To Great a few days ago while stuck in the Chicago airport. It immediately made me recognize some changes that need to be made. I had the thought to put these into motion (in a post) before reading Rand’s post (which I am replying to here) – but the post did seal the final deal. In it, Rand recommends doing four things:
- Read Jim Collins’ Good to Great (or if you need to cheat, the online article on the topic)
- Write down the problem(s) you want your company to solve on a sheet of paper
- On that same sheet of paper, write down your goals for the company outside of the specific product/service/market focus (e.g. financial goals, personal autonomy, time management goals, etc)
- Look at that piece of paper every day for 30 days. If, every day, you think the problem and the goals are still the right ones, you’re set. If not, change them and repeat the 30 day process until you get it.
First of all, I’m going to have a lot to say in the next month. You may read it, you may not. You may like it, you may not. It may accidently be entertaining at times. This isn’t for attention, this isn’t going to be easy. Its going to be HARD. I’m likely to show restraint (right now) and leave more details out than I plan on putting in over the next month. But the process has to happen and there’s going to be no way to really make a difference in the world if it doesn’t.
Well Damn, here we go. In this post I’m going to do the 4 things suggested above (well, start them anyway).
1. Read Good to Great
As noted above – started reading this Saturday while stuck at the airport (before I even knew it was central to Rand’s outlook – I did know Tom Critchlow praised the book). I knew immediate that it would change things dramatically.
So while not finished, I will say that there is something special about the book. It is based upon research and data. While I’m not writing off other books I’ve loved for years (like the 80/20 Principle and 7 Habits – I learned a lot from them). There’s something to be said about a book that presents findings based upon a team of people researching the exact concept its trying to explain: how good companies become great companies.
I’ve had many insights this far, but one I’ll point out right away is in the very beginning: the concept of humility yet strong will. In fact, most of the traits you’ll find in the book fall in complete paradox of one another. How do you be humble yet determined at the same time?
I think the answer falls with the single most important question. Why?
WHY are you doing that thing you do? How can you be humble yet driven? Because you are driven to serve something bigger than yourself.
I’ve taken away countless more insights from the book – but I don’t want to flood the interwebs with them all at once.
2. Write down the problem(s) you want your company to solve on a sheet of paper
Well shoot – this is going to be more ad hoc than not. I’ve THOUGHT about it, like in a daydreaming way – but I haven’t Thought about it, if you know what I mean.
1. As it stands now, on one side there’s tons of unemployment. People need jobs. I personally know of 4-5 people (including my father in law) who lost their full time jobs in the last few years.
On the other hand, you have this. SEO and search marketing and developer jobs are flourishing. They can’t find good people to help. I personally know of 7-8 SEO/Search companies hiring right now. There’s people who need work and there’s work out there. Do I have even a clue how this will be solved or even what I might start doing about it? Hell no! I’m just doing what the RandMan says!
2. Good honest companies getting taken by crap SEO services. Or good honest companies searching for resources about SEO; what it is, who to call for help, who to trust – and not falling into the hands of the right people the first time around. Seriously?! With all that we’re doing – there’s STILL people not finding the best place to go for online help. Again, I have no idea what I’m suggesting for even solving this. Just doing the exercise 🙂
3. On that same sheet of paper, write down your goals for the company outside of the specific product/service/market focus (e.g. financial goals, personal autonomy, time management goals, etc)
OOOO….KKKKKK…. this is a deceptively hard exercise. But I’ll take your exact categorical suggestions.
1. Financial Goals – to me, its NEVER about the money. Its not why I do anything. But you know, I’ve come to learn the hard way it does matter – I want to support my family (currently wife, 2 dogs and 2 cats). I’LL live for experiences over things any day. But support a family, give my wife the life she deserves, possibly help other family members in the future, and help even beyond that. You HAVE to pay attention to money. I’m terrible at managing money. Some things about that are going to need to change.
That said (I’m terribly failing at this in my head already)… financial goals. I have no idea. This, my friends, is a problem. Maybe someone can help in the comments.
2. Personal Autonomy – This is REALLY important. I can answer that way easier than the money one. You may find this odd, but by nature I’m somewhat erratic in my schedule. Perhaps a goal should be to strive for some more consistency. I’m just going to keep this real simple and break it into scheduled time, unscheduled time, biz time and family time.
- 35 hours week – Scheduled Time – this is any sort of task I have committed myself to doing. Promised time if you will. Meetings, hands on work, content I’ve promised others.
- 25 hours week – Unscheduled Time – this is time to do anything work related when inspiration strikes. Write a post, research a SERP, an impromtu business meeting. As said, my best work tends to come when there is room to also be spontaneous (like this post is totally free form written).
- 15 hours a week+ – Biz Time – time I work directly ON the business. Finances, decisions, growing (whatever that means, I don’t necessarily mean financial or people), hiring, firing – whatever it has to be. I put 15 PLUS hours because so many times the lines blur between work and play. And I’m always putting in more hours, and you do what you need to do until the job is done.
- 45 hours or so left – spend time with family, friends, making music, exercise, whatever.
- …then 2-3 weeks out the year, take time off from work and travel with Sarah.
4. Look at that piece of paper every day for 30 days. If, every day, you think the problem and the goals are still the right ones, you’re set. If not, change them and repeat the 30 day process until you get it.
Will do sir! I have a feeling I may be repeating this 30 day exercise a few times 🙂
GREAT but I didn’t fix anything…
This has been a lovely exercise – but its brought up more challenges and problems than anything so far. As mentioned above, you’re supposed to repeat the exercise in batches of 30 days until its right. I think I have a ways to go.
…NOW Comes the Hard Work
There’s some things I know I HAVE to do. Its going to be hard.
1. Move away from doing the types of SEO work that are not exciting or fulfilling. This means there may be some clients I will need to find new homes for (sorry). But honestly, its probably mutual and I want what’s best for you.
I’ve got some projects that need to be finished up, that have gone on for too long, are past deadline and they’re just holding everyone back. I’ve learned (hopefully) to only say YES to things to really excite me and
2. Personally remove some things from my life that are hindering, not helping, the growth of a business/career. For example, many of you may know I still teach some piano lessons on the side. That’s gotta go. I have lots of STUFF accumulated – books, instruments, even subscriptions to non-essentials like Spotify (which I love) or an iPhone data plan. What do I need? Do I need a car? Did I need that book of Einstein’s Riddles (you know, the whole solving mysteries thing…). I don’t NEED a new computer yet…
3. Say no more. STILL hard. And I’ve said no a TON. More details on some of these things to come…
4. Go on a HELPING SPREE. Some people may call me helpful, but I could do more. We all get caught up in wanting attention for ourselves or doing things for sometimes selfish reasons although we try not to. I’m going to work on this.
To start – you should go read Anthony Pensabene’s blog – NOW. Don’t comment on this blog, comment on his. The guy has some serious writing skills, and I’m entertained and enlightened every time. And he did more listening than talking out of anyone at mozcon. Props for that.
5. Finish reading Good to Great – not quite done with that. I think I’ll be reading it many more times than just once…
6. Pay people – I owe a few people money. Argggg… that’s hard to say, and I hate that feeling. Time to take some actions to pay you right away…
I’m supposed to look at this list every day for 30 days. I already feel like I’m not quite there. Don’t think I’ll post updates everyday on here, but I will be posting updates as important ones happen.
Alright, gotta get to work…