Becoming Heroik

On the great list of all metrics worth tracking, somewhere high on the list, is your product. What are you producing? How’s the quality? Are you producing enough? Is that effort generating the results you want? These are essential questions to explore on a regular basis. In fact you can take charge of your productivity, simply by defining, owning, and measuring what it is that you produce.

These days, products take many different forms. In fact, defining where products stop and services begin is really tricky in the Information age. There’s service as a product (SaaP), product as a service (PaaS) and a lot of confusing, blurry areas in between.  For a more functional, modern definition of what a product is, how about this:

Products are ideas that are given form to add value to others. The creators of the product are responsible for its quality. And owners act as stewards of that quality.

Products do not have to be physical. They can be packaged ideas, like software, or even a methodology. They can be experiential, like services, video games, and roller coasters. The roller coaster is part of the product but so is the experience of the ride.

Products represent and embody your brand when you are not around. They are the chief experiential marketing collateral for any brand. Products are physical expressions of our values and perceptions. They allow us to scale and grow. They bring value to more people than we can meet face to face in a day, and create opportunities to entice people to share more with us in many forms of value.

Owning what we produce and how we produce it, transforms our work into our craft. We are rewarded with a craftsman’s pride; a sense of service and worth that allows us to experience greater flow in our work. Ownership through craftsmanship is an aspiration worthy of encouragement for those seeking high performance and more productivity for themselves and/or their teams.

What you produce speaks volumes about the level of integrity with which you operate at the moment of production. Did you make strategic considerations to ensure that your product would deliver value for consumers and your returning customers, or did you put it together last minute? Is it a finished product? These are but a few questions that even the largest enterprises fail to stop and explore from time to time.

For those in the service industry, or those with specialized roles inside an organization, it can be challenging but immensely valuable, to clearly define your product. Products come in different, nuanced forms.

Think about what you put down on paper or build with your own two hands. Are you laying bricks or dropping truth bombs in documents and reports? Whatever those key things are that you produce, they are products of your personal and professional brand. Many things we produce are taken for granted, dismissed and devalued. Yet, when we take a bit more ownership, and put a little bit more excellence into them, they get noticed and great things can happen.

From a performance and productivity standpoint, our products are anything we generate with our own two hands. Sure, we may like to avoid ownership of a lot of things, but would our lives be better off if we did? I think so.

Here are a few products that are taken for granted everyday:

  • Moms and Dads pack lunches for their kids. How much love and consideration is packed each day? Kids measure this stuff (ultimately), just as customers measure products.
  • A great meal – TV dinner or farm to fork?
  • A clean home – I know many dedicated and underappreciated neat freaks out there. We love you.
  • A refined, edited document – Again, the guy who solves problems we never have to see. My editor Mike Penfield for example.
  • An organized office – I still think these are about as common as unicorns for really productive people, but I’m open to the idea.
  • A TPS report – What’s this I hear about you having trouble with your TPS reports? Someone needs these?
  • A handwritten note, sent through snail mail
  • Sales and marketing collateral – The better armed your sales and marketing team, the more successful they can be.
  • An outreach email – Yes you can create these in a hurry and generate spam, or put a little more care into them and increase the engagement.
  • A birthday card – Or anyone with a shop on Etsy, you know who you are. Keep it up!

Just about anything you can experience or create can be a product. Calling attention to what we produce, and raising our awareness as to its potential, is a Heroik metric and an empowering tool.

Whatever you are producing, here are a few questions to consider regarding taking account of your products and production process:

  • Are you doing what you can to make your products excellent?
  • Do your products embody your values and aspirations?
  • Are you committing enough Time, Effort and Energy (TEE) to achieve the quality standard on par with your brand?
  • More importantly, are you measuring / comparing the two?
  • What tweaks can you make to increase your rate and/or quality of production – without selling yourself short of course?

The more you think about the things you produce as products of your personal brand, and the more you are aware of this connection, the more mindful your decisions and output will be.

In this post, we’ll discuss 7 metrics that are fit to help any endeavor, of any size elevate and grow forward.

A wise, old man (Joe Rohde) once told me, “where you look is where you go.” This is true in business and life. And it’s really easy to focus on the wrong things, the numbers that don’t matter or map out to our goals. However, it’s just as easy to focus on positive pursuits.

For every new trend, there seems to be a new metric marketed alongside it. Measure what matters we’re told, and then all the marketers get busy BSing you on what matters. The devil is truly in the details here. What bad metric BS beliefs are you buying these days?

If only we were to increase our Klout score, Facebook or Twitter following, we’d be successful right? If you ever rode one of these trendy waves, like social media metrics, you know exactly how full of mighty brown BS they are, and how they end for businesses large and small.

Often times, these “critical metrics” don’t map out to significant insight either professionally or personally.  They can turn out to be a misdirection or part of a great scam or value vacuum.

Many of the “mission critical” metrics also don’t scale down to fit or be relevant to businesses of differing  sizes. And no marketer wants to scare-off potential business by sharing the facts. What works for the enterprise may bankrupt smaller endeavors. The .0001 percent positive return may be accepted as a win for a big company, but can be a huge and crippling loss for a small business. Similarly, a million dollars for a 1 percent performance gain, again may be good for the goose but not the gander. So, how do we help everyone here? What metrics matter to everyone?

If where you look is where you go, what exactly are the right things to look at? Well, we’ve come up with a prioritized list of six metrics that will serve you in business and life regardless of the size of the endeavor. These six will serve you now, in the near and long term, both in business and in life.

  1. Relationships – It’s the people, not the brand, not the project, that are the true golden geese for wealth, abundance and prosperity. Read more
  2. Revenue – Money matters more than hype and hot air.  Read more
  3. Products - Everyone produces something, hardware, software, paper, TPS reports. Products speak for us in our absence and allow us to scale and grow. Read more
  4. Meetings – If you’re like me, the more face time you get, the more business you close and the stronger connections you build. Read more
  5. Fans – People who love you, what you do and want to see you succeed. Facebook fans DO NOT count here. Read more
  6. Traffic – How many people are given the opportunity to have a moment of focused attention on your presence. Read more
  7. TEE (Time, Effort, and Energy) – Where are you pouring your TEE? This is a key metric that will help optimize your processes, evaluate systems, elevate your performance and help you decide the best course of action. Read more

We use these metrics in this order for other projects, systems and productivity tools. Give them a try and see if they work for you.

Relationships : The MVP of Metrics

Track this: The number of people you are serving face to face, the type, level and commitment to service.

Simply tracking and valuing this will make it easier for you to create and give more value in your products and services, and build stronger bonds of loyalty and trust with your customers and business community.

As the saying goes, all things being equal, people do business with those they know, like and trust. So a good measure (metric) of the trust and likability you are producing is the number and quality of relationships you have.  The most important relationships are those based on face to face connection.

Digital Truth: Connecting and relating online is not a relationship. We fall in love with ideas, and then project unrealistic expectations that are out of alignment with the reality of those people we connect with. It gets murky quickly. A better plan, is to focus on building quality,  face to face relationships with people. I say this as a sinner, a guy who once drank the kool-aid and thought that those connections online were equal to those in real life. This is in no way true, and falling for this was very costly. We only have so much time in the day and if you are giving up your time for people, they’d better be REAL people, who genuinely know you and care about you.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Expand Your Vision to the Value of Connecting With Many People from all walks

When I mention people, don’t confuse that with prospects only. I mean other awesome, interesting, compassionate, growth minded human beings who will bring you untold riches if you invest in them appropriately. Everyone “knows a guy who knows a guy”, and, “knows a guy who needs a guy.” By increasing the quality and number of your relationships, you’ll exponentially increase your opportunities. These can be friends, partners, referrals, connectors, fans, influencers. They are people. Welcome opportunity, wealth and abundance in all of its forms as it comes to your awareness.

Do: Treat people like wrapped gifts - You don’t know who they are or what they’ll bring until things unfold in due time. It doesn’t hurt to be kind to them. They could be fragile gifts. You don’t want to shake or drop that new chandelier or big screen!

Don’t: Limit your attention/focus to qualified prospects

Don’t make the mistake of limiting your connective vision to qualified prospects only. Doing so will ensure you have sales breath (desperation), and a taker’s attitude when you meet them. You hate this when people do it to you, so be sure to check yourself.  Also, you never  know where your next referral will come from.

Don’t use fake/pseudo relationship metrics to give you a false sense of influence.

The number of fans or followers on your Twitter feed are inconsequential compared to face to face relationships. These pseudo connections trick people into thinking they have enough “friends” and “connections” when in fact they have none. They are apples and oranges. They have some value but it is eclipsed by the capability of a good friend, partner, referral, etc.

Pro Tip: Reframe your attitude to align with this truth:

More and Better Relationships = More Wealth & Abundance

People are like wrapped gifts; they are for you and of untold bounty. The point of measuring relationships isn’t to make it easier to get, but also easier to give. That is, to recognize that giving more, a bit more time to make a personal connection, bake in a bit more time adding to quality of your product or service, is what will get you more wealth.

I can’t stress this enough. If you never ask yourself “Does this add value?” or, “Does this serve people?” your endeavor will stall out. This is more important than revenue. If you’re sacrificing the people to save the numbers, the corruption and lack of integrity will destroy trust with your team, employees, community and customers sooner or later. On the positive side of things, relationships yield infinite and untold truths to those who treat people in such a way. Your attitudes and beliefs produce your actions and results. And if you place more trust in money than people, you’ll surround yourself not in riches but in problems.

Track this: How much money is coming in and from which sources

Right beneath our MVP metric of relationships, are dollars earned. News flash! Money matters! There I said it. There’s nothing wrong with the desire to be rich, nor being forthright and authentic by expressing such a desire. People who stay poor often struggle with this notion, believing their suffering is part of God’s plan. Other people are afraid to look at their numbers, and fear the anxiety that will be created from knowing the truth. Queue the wrong answer buzzer. I’ve been there, and there is hope.

Measuring revenue draws your awareness to the fruits of your labor. It can help you increase awareness of alignment with your goals. We all want to live fully and be wealthy, and measuring revenue is important. It helps us to know if our labor is producing fruit at all, and if so, how much?  And, is that enough for now? The revenue metric answers questions like the following:

  • Is what you’re doing enough?
  • Are you working hard enough/good enough to produce results you want?
  • Is it time to change the product/service or your job?
  • Is that MLM (multi-level marketing) pyramid scheme making you a millionaire OR someone else benefiting more from your labor?
  • Is our product meeting the customers needs? Is it a quality/valued product?
  • Are you connecting with enough people to meet your goals? Do you have enough relationships to get the word out, sell your product, and get honest feedback?
  • Are you doing enough for your customers to get you where you want to grow?

Those are just a few questions you may explore as you reflect on the numbers. Suffice it to say that they are very important.

Do: Look at the numbers and ask yourself questions

Even negative numbers are opportunities and blessings. They queue the investigation, that gives you the ideas, that transform operations, that shift attitudes and results to those you want.

Don’t: Ignore the numbers or make excuses

Burying your head in the sand and neglecting the numbers will keep you poor.  Own your numbers, ask and answer questions and be accountable to the result. This is the gift that invites change and opportunity.

If your revenue isn’t where you want it to be, it is a good time to challenge your thinking about:

  • Your level of investment in sincere relationship building – (# of relationships and the quality of relationships have a direct impact on your wealth)
  • How you are treating, motivating and connecting with your team
  • Where are you spending your time, effort and attention (TEA), where are you pouring your TEA? Is that the best place to spend it.
  • What’s your relationship with money? Do you believe that you deserve to be wealthy? (read, How I Found and Transformed my Limited Beliefs about Wealth)
  • Where are you spending? Are those investments yielding fruit?

The point is to start measuring and pay close attention. Challenge yourself and use the numbers to refine your efforts.

Revenue Growth Tip: This will make you feel better, spend better and evaluate more honestly. Figure out a percentage of profit first (20%, 40%, 60%) from your gross revenue and reverse engineer those figures to find out what you ideally want to be making in the first place. If 20% of $100 earned is $20, that leaves $80 to manage everything else (taxes, expenses, etc.) If you come back with a negative number afterwards, do not reduce your profit, increase your efforts, make your endeavor more efficient by boiling it down to the essential, and make appropriate changes. It’s better to feel the pinch that forces you to change while making a profit, than it is to feel the pinch of red ink without making a dime. ALWAYS pay yourself first! I know you’ve probably heard this before but are you actually doing it?

Track This: The number and quality of face to face meetings you have with people.

Meetings offer opportunities to get belly to belly with people that matter to you. Getting face to face with your customers, partners and your team is certainly better in cases where you want to increase connection, meaning and value. If culture and performance matters to your organization, you need to consider these elements when deciding when, where, why and how often to have meetings.

Belly to belly meetings allow you to do many things including:

  • Build/reinforce rapport
  • Connect and form genuine relationships beyond tasks and agenda items
  • Show respect, regard to valued parties
  • Create an omni-dimensional opportunity to collaborate and make decisions
  • Read body language and other nonverbal communications

If you don’t need these things and an email will suffice, then by all means don’t abuse this tool. However, when you’re measuring what matters in meetings, be sure to account for all of the blessings of getting face to face.

All the technology out there is great but it is also an abstract proxy of a real relationship or connection for the parties involved. Hence, the reason we see so many remote workers being called back into the office.

Technology creates abstraction, distance, disconnection and increased likelihood of insincerity. According to multiple studies, all the wonderful technological terrors we’ve created (video conferencing, social media and so on) actually increase the disconnect and devaluing of people and relationships. For example, people are more likely to be deceptive over video conference than they are face to face because to some extent, the mind sees the person on the screen as an abstraction; that is, more of a cartoon than a human being. I say all this as a technologist. These abstractions continue as things get more digitized, like on social media. People get depressed with pseudo-relationships. They want the satisfaction of a real connection.

Darth Vader put it best, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”

All the technology is great and amazing, but compared to the Force of real connection and getting face to face, it is insignificant. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. But I am also pragmatic and practical, and I recognize where it serves and where it doesn’t. Don’t let the tech tools replace all your meetings. Recognize and measure what you get from getting belly to belly. Make strategic considerations for all of the benefits of getting face to face vs. phoning it in. This goes beyond achieving the items on the agenda.

Meetings Won’t Help Those Who Don’t Meet to Create Value

Many people try to avoid meetings. I believe this is because they go in without any intent to create value and fail to account for the value created beyond the agenda items. Then they proceed to victimize themselves by thinking the meeting was a waste of time. If rapport, relationships, community and connection building are a waste of time, dollars to donuts your company culture is struggling.

Would you want your congressional representatives to phone it in to a session, or fight on the floor in a rigorous debate? Which do you believe is more effective?

How about your lawyer? When it’s time to put up a defense or resolve a conflict, do you think a skype or hangout session will do?

When you need to inspire your team to perform, to show them that you care and that you are in fact leading, is an email or conference call the appropriate representation and embodiment of your commitment?  STEP IT UP.

My point is, when it matters, people show up. People have face to face meetings. The corollary is also true, many meetings that don’t matter or are unimportant take lesser forms. There are endless useless conference calls and committee sessions that take on a variety of forms. That’s fine, just be honest with yourself and your team about what you expect to get from your meetings. Measure the results and decide what is best for you and your team.

Track This: The number and quality of those people who like you, like what you do, and want you to succeed.

Let’s begin by defining what I mean when I say fan. I’ll give you a hint, it has little to do with social media. A fan is someone who knows you, likes you, likes what you do and wants to see you succeed. This is very different than someone who likes what you say, imagines who you are, and wants to get to know you.

How many people out there fit this description for you and your endeavors? Make a list. Write their names down. It will make you feel good. Include the family and friends (who fit the description of course).  Look next to customers, partners, colleagues and other acquaintances who may fit the bill to finish your list.

Now, for those you considered that were a marginal fit, ask yourself:

  • What would it take to get these people I know to become my fans?
  • How can I invest in them (without selling myself short) and get them to advocate for my growth and success?
  • What role can they play in my growth and success?

You’d be surprised how many fans you can really have, and how effective real life fans are compared to the digital ones. Work on developing these marginal folks into real fans.

The small things matter and the little people can have a big impact on you and your business.

The title of fan is not reserved for only referral partners or business prospects, and I pity the poor souls who limit their thinking to such few categories. Fans are people that come from all walks of life. The friendlier they are and the more they relate to who you are and what you do, the stronger your brand truly is. They are your personal army of advocates. And when a prospect hears your name from the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, he or she is far more likely to contact you. Don’t discount anyone because of their role. You’d be amazed at the level of influence that all the so-called “little” people have in the world.

The  many roles of fans

  • Referral and Recommendation – Those interested in your success will consciously work on your behalf to connect others to you.
  • Spread the Legend – Fans share your stories and tales of epic achievement.
  • Encouragement - It feels good when the grocery store clerk remembers your name and says hello. This is a form of fan and a gift. Don’t underestimate the value of the people who can recharge your batteries and uplift your spirit. The more of these experiences you have, the more effective you can be.
  • Feedback – I’m not talking about advice on your business strategy. I’m talking about basic and more subtle forms of feedback. Do people smile as they shout your name across a building/store or parking lot? If so, this is a good sign. People go out of their way and risk a little embarrassment just to get your attention or say hello. This feels good and boosts your confidence. This is a huge moment.
  • Insight - How many TV shows involve a protagonist who gets insight from a seemingly unrelated source or unrelated topic to solve a profound puzzle? There are many enlightened ah-ha moments that come from seemingly disconnected ideas.

You don’t have to spend money to build fans. Real fans require less and give more than those on social media. Kindness is so quick and easy to give. It requires little preparation or investment. People want to feel acknowledged, have opinions validated, and held in high regard, or at least preserve their egos. Simply saying a person’s name, restating what they’ve shared with you to reflect understanding, and adding something to it go a long way to building a fan that can transform into a referral.

So be generous in giving kindness. Listen, connect, share and be open to receive the benefits of such generosity. It works.

TEE, Time, Effort and Energy,

Track This: Where and how you spend your focused attention; time, effort and energy.

The most important metric or currency of our time is attention; composed of time, effort and energy. The modern audience of potential customers, partners and fans, for your business and mine, is actively searching for ways to spend less time consuming anything where there is a low perceived value. These are called low information diets. These diets have different needs, like tools that block ads and social networks. Or management programs that provide analytics and visual breakdowns of where they are spending their precious available TEE. The point is, measuring in terms of TEE, is really important.

At Heroik, we’ve been asking our clients where they are pouring their TEE (Time, Effort and Energy) for over 8 years. We work to make their businesses more efficient, and free their TEE so that it can be poured elsewhere. We also pay attention to the TEE of their customers.

Measuring where and how you’re spending your time, effort and energy, and comparing it with the results earned, can help you make better decisions and invest wisely. The TEE metric is a powerful business tool that helps you:

  • Measure the return on sweat equity and whatever demands your attention
  • Helps you to create more effective processes
  • Find more time to invest in customers
  • Identify activities that deepen relationships vs. make more noise
  • Be considerate and respectful for other people’s TEE

With Customers: It’s important to invest some TEE in developing  and serving potential and existing customers. Content is an easy example, investing a little TEE to provide an audience with useful information can go a long way to a fruitful and profitable relationship.

Reflecting on where you pour your TEE can help you identify waste. For example, over-estimating the value of social media engagement can cripple a business. If you spend too much time flirting on channels that don’t convert, this can significantly take its toll on the clock, your enthusiasm and of course your wallet.

The TEE metric also allows you to create more effective processes. Process is about creating effective activities and standards that lead to greater efficiency. The standards and repeatable steps in your workflow also make it easier to automate, delegate and liberate your TEE. We use this concept to help our clients identify waste and inefficiency.

It all starts by looking at your efforts through this lens. In terms of strategy, you can create an actionable process around the quality and frequency of your work to eliminate waste and inefficiency, which will give you back the important commodity of time. More time can translate to more freedom. Use your new strategy to achieve a higher level of freedom.

Ask yourself: Where are you pouring your TEE (Time, Effort and Energy)?

3  Emerging TEE Trends

  • Awareness of the new currency of attention & TEE (time, effort and energy) is leading to more sophisticated consumption habits. Content creators drew so much attention to the attention economy that the modern audience is now adapting as it becomes more aware that the world is competing for this commodity.
  • The word count and thickness of the book matters less. One book weighs as much as another on the iPad. Quantity matters less than quality and TEE (time, effort and energy) required to understand the content. People are paying as much for the cliff notes and summaries as they are for the complete work. This is but one example of the attention metric.
  • Continued Increase in audience resilience, scrutiny and filtration. This applies to everything, especially content, and means there is a growing value placed on being mindful of the TEE metric. By being aware and having a regard for others’ TEE, you’ll be on the cutting edge of value creation.

No easier or more practical example can likely be found than that of the content we create and share. If you pour your TEE (Time, Effort and Energy) into building something in alignment with your values, and emphasizing those that you share with your target audience, you’ll notice a few things:

  • It feels easier because it is easier. You’re not spending energy faking it. You’re gaining energy and supercharging your batteries by sharing what comes organically while in alignment with your audience
  • You grow faster because what you have to say, and how you say it, resonates as honest and true with your crowd
  • Creative ideas for refinement and growth come easy, because you’re not distracted or vulnerable to the snake oil tactics that serve at best for the short-term

If you enjoyed this post and want to explore more implications of the TEE metric and content creation, be sure to check out our book “The Heroik Power of Headlines“. You’ll get plenty of practical advice on how to more successfully leverage it in your business.

The spiritual technology of personal empowerment not only leads to transformation of one’s life and work. It also brings new capabilities, a vision of new opportunities and a dirigible architecture that allows us to elevate ourselves, our communities and endeavors. Its added gifts are the derivative blessings that spill out and empower others. This spiritual technology and dirigible architecture that provides the means to cultivate that which truly serves and empowers and elevates us on our paths to greater living; this is what is at the core of Heroik.

To be Heroik is to pursue thrivalism; a state of prosperity of the mind, body, spirit, and adaptive mastery of environment. It is to tap into the persistent drive to cultivate all that is good and in service to us. It is our desire, matched with equal effort to our aspirations, to grow to our maximum potential. It is to live and express ourselves fully; far beyond the deceptive appearances, circumstances and perceived conditions of the world in the present moment.

It is Heroik to remember the deceptive nature of our own perceptions, and recognize our desire to quickly secure an understanding of the world, the people in it and our place amidst it all.

The desire to quickly make simple sense of it all often leads to a perspective that is reduced, finite, and static. The sense of security and confidence is false, and secretly we quake and struggle with the premise and our assumptions or “understanding”. We often rush to linear, simple, black and white interpretations, that prove to veer us away from our own well being and prosperity.

The world is ever changing, in constant motion, in great and subtle efforts beyond what the eye can see or what people can easily perceive. It is Heroik to admit this, and to know it. It is Heroik to unlock transformational truths, to know wonderful people, to see distant lands, to have extraordinary experiences and create great wealth and abundance. These are noble expressions of thrivalism.

Finding that Heroik spark within requires the courage to be vulnerable, open and authentic. It takes the wisdom to be humble with others, to balance it with the confidence of self and to take on the unknown future in a Heroik way; knowing you have within you what it takes to be the creator of your future. It takes the strength to be discerning in our endeavors.

To be Heroik, we must confront popular misconceptions about what is possible and what is known, especially about ourselves. We must not cling to, believe or accept limitation based on skewed perception; based merely upon what we can see, while neglecting to admit what we are blind to. It takes great faith in knowing that discovery and opportunity are just beyond that next patch of fog. In order to reach it we must let go of the comfortable shores of the familiar.

At times, we must defiantly reclaim that spark, that Heroik identity and rescue our own destiny from the masses. It is often the masses, starving for understanding and safe ground to grow, who devalue, and commodotize with great competitive mind and confuse this with growth and elevation. It is our birthright to explore and reaffirm our own identity, our own individual purpose and create our own path on our journey.

To ignite that Heroik spark is to take the embers of our faith and courage, and fan upon them the oxygen of opportunity and great effort of the moment. This fuels the very engine of our growth. And this is what we must put in everyday. The diligent, faithful and courageous who put forth a best effort to live fully in each moment, can rest easy each night knowing they put forth the effort to build a fuller life around them. They greet each moment with the gratitude of the momentum behind them, the knowledge of the gifts among them, as well as those gifts and opportunities that lie ahead.

It is worthy of our every effort to safeguard this spark, this engine, and this vessel. As they are all the vehicles of freedom, growth and prosperity. This dirigible architecture which elevates us, fills us with noble purpose and continually guides us, requires the liberty to freely move and explore broadly. It requires the focused attention, free from noise and distraction. And so we must protect the very right, room and opportunity to explore this spark, fire, and engine further. We must nurture the Heroik insight and wisdom to find that beginning spark within ourselves and bring it to the surface. We and finally the ability to pass it on to others.

Taking time to breathe deeply; filling our sails with the intensity of our thoughts, great ambitions of our imaginations, and highest gratitude to be on such a journey; ensures we will soar higher still. As we elevate ourselves, in position, status, thought and opportunity, we recognize that this Heroik fire is what makes it so. And this fire must be continually fed. And it is fed by every step in the direction of our growth, exploration and self discovery. What begins as a secret courage to embrace a dynamic world that does not require finite grasp, sparks to a sacred flame, and the Heroik engine within us all.

Hey friends, I want to reach out with some tough love today. I want you to read it, though it will be hard. It will be sarcastic at times, and will pick on several ideas you’ve come to know and believe in success culture, but it will be worth it. You’ll come out ready and willing to do the work to reach your goal with a FREE, lean process or road map to get you there. It’s not rocket science, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s not complicated. Make your friends read it, you’ll know the ones who should when you’re through. I don’t want to see you get hurt or sucked into a cyclic struggle of motivation, poor attempts, exploitation and failure. I hate seeing my friends get exploited. Bear with me through the sarcasm and tough love. If you hate sarcasm, scroll down to the process I mentioned.

I found a post-it note buried under the desk rubble in my office. It really helped me get focused and get things done. It looks like this:

do the work post it

No this isn’t the free formula I mentioned, we’ll get to that. I must have made this note while reading some success/motivational/blog post that talks about how-to do everything except cultivating discipline to do the necessary work to become successful. These posts often disappoint me – not for myself but for the suffering masses that get stuck on them. Society has built an entire billion dollar industry on selling you ways to trick yourself into pretending to be busy while getting nowhere. And it’s time that the truly successful people reveal the path to true wealth. Are you ready for the secret ingredient? Are you totally psyched? The secret to success, the linchpin to real wealth building is DOING THE WORK. Forgive the sarcasm, but read this and tell me if you identify with it. In return, I will outline a legitimate 6 step practice to ensure progress, growth and real productivity on your path to wealth, success, celebrity and your upcoming reality TV show.

But first…the sarcasm…

1. Are you motivated?

If not there’s a decade of your life and countless books and DVD’s to spend to get you there. Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Crystal Meth…the band… all will get you wired and motivated to get things done. When you’re really amped, proceed to step 2.

2. Sell it back to the masses

If your journey from Step 1, Law of Attraction and power of The Secret, haven’t made you a millionaire yet, try selling all the junk you’ve bought to your friends or becoming a reselling “partner.” And if that doesn’t work, and you ran out of friends and family to alienate, continue to step 3.

#Pro-tip: Multi-task this step with step 1 and save your self 10 years!!!

3. Do you have ideas?

Ideas are like assholes. Everybody has them. They are a commodity. How about ideas related to your success that you yourself can do, right where you are with what you have? Got any of them? If you don’t have any, spend another decade or so exploring the Internet. Just go nuts on Pinterest, Buzz Feed, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Twitter, and jump on Netflix and binge watch The Secret, and What the Bleep Do We Know. And practice your Law of Attraction Mantra some more, until an idea comes. Oh and don’t forget to tell yourself, your friends and loved ones that it’s all part of the process, or you need to put more attractive energy out there or something…

If that doesn’t work go back to step 1, or 2, or both… OR, if you’re ready to stop screwing around, end the sarcasm and cultivate the discipline to actually get things done and succeed, proceed to this simple lean 6 step framework. 

The Super Simple 6 Step Process to Ensure You Get Things Done.

do the work

The process outlined below is based on divergent exploration, convergence on a solution, then refining that solution and expanding upon it. This is a common approach to creative problem solving and business challenges as well. I find it fits for personal goals too and wanted to share that.

1. Gather ideas

Read some books. Watch some TED talks. Pinterest around a bit, but create a time-limit for yourself. Many people get stuck generating ideas to improve their lives without ever proceeding to vet, refine, or explore them in depth. You have a finite amount of time on this planet and it is unknown to you. Get yourself out of the idea rut. Spend 1 final day on an idea binge and then make a list of possible next steps.

2. Narrow down your ideas to those YOU can execute

Cross out anything you can’t do right now, where you are, who you are with, and with what you’ve got. You need to be real with yourself. Too often I see people with big dreams that are dependent on them transforming their lives completely before pursuing them. The excuse that change is difficult and major changes are harder, prevent any change from happening. Be honest and vulnerable with yourself. There are many romantic ideas and paths out there, but many of them require more time and effort than we’re able to give. That is, at least without making major compromises or sweeping changes.

Choosing from a world of infinite possibilities can be tricky – but the secret is to find a baby step. Start small and think like a tortoise.

Find that baby step, something in reach that you can do. I see many people setting yearly goals of losing 100 lbs, or making millions, when they really need to be setting smaller weekly goals, of making hundreds, or losing 2lbs.

Hints:

  • If your idea requires more starting capital than you have or are likely to raise, it’s probably something to shelve for later. Think about an idea or project that you can do now, that will help you grow towards that goal. Look for an iterative business model you can grow into your big dream.
  • If your idea requires a lot of change across many aspects of your life, take heed. Focus on one of the changes and focus on that in the near term. Learning to juggle, while learning to sing, playing the piano, and becoming a lawyer, while exercising more to lose 30lbs, may be pushing it. In fact, for most people, a good starting point is simply getting more sleep, or making it to the gym at all.
  • If your idea requires a lot of learning time, you might want to reign in your goals to something smaller with a more immediate payoff. If you’ve suddenly decided to become a doctor, lawyer, or nurse, try and make your way through a book on the subject. Read a book from a day in the life of, or real stories from your chosen category. If you can’t commit to reading one book prior to spending a fortune on school, you might want to gut check your resolve to pursue the goal in the first place.
  • Feel free to defy the odds and prove me wrong. By all means. However, if you fail, if your wings melt, come back to the ground and consider making a year long commitment to smart, small growth. It’s lower reward, lower risk, but higher return. What I mean by that, is you set yourself up for a higher likelihood of meaningful growth and success without taking on a major financial and psychological risk.

DON’T get attached to ideas that exceed the capabilities of your budget, body, and ability. As you struggle, and if you fail, you’ll likely beat yourself up over and over again, and then likely give up. These kinds of mind games can sabotage your growth for years.

DO pair down your list of ideas to those that you can do right now.  Prioritize that list, by eliminating the stinkers that might be too ambitious as a starting point.

3. Converge on your best idea.

Hint: Your best idea is usually the one that you can execute on your own without a billion dollars of investment or crowd funding.  Write down the things you’ll need to do to make it happen. These may be tasks or projects. Early on it’s difficult to know the difference but its important to keep a road map, printed and visible to keep you on the right path.

Convergence is hard stuff. It requires that you leave a lot of other good and valid ideas on the shelf. 

Converging on one idea or goal is a Good News/Great News Scenario. The good news is you’re on your way to doing more than talk about your latest aspiration. The great news is, if you fail, you’ll have a library or list of other good ideas to come back to and try next. So say goodbye, and shelve the others so you can increase your focus and chances of success. It may not be goodbye forever. You’ll always have Paris.

If you don’t converge on that one idea and commit to it, if that plane leaves the ground and you’re not on it, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Tips:

  • Find a guide, mentor or trusted adviser and ask for their perspective. Remember that they have only a perspective and may not have perfect insight into the situation, but they can also help guide you to growth.
  • Be cautious of friends and loved ones who struggle with the thought of your progress. There are many people who don’t consciously wish you harm or suffering, but they don’t want to see you move on, or grow, often out of fear that they will feel less than you or distant from you. Sometimes they don’t make the best advisers.
  • Keep it real. Be cautious of allowing your spirit animal, past lives, alien ancestors, or gods, godesses, or God speak for/through you. Odds are, it’s you consciously or unconsciously BS’ing yourself from underlying fears, or unmet needs.

4. Do the Frickin Work

Yes. It’s to the point where some good willed individual, needs to swear and curse and remind the world that to be successful, one must actually do the work.

The work is elusive. The work is harder than it seemed it would be when planning it. The work often takes longer than you thought. That doesn’t make it any less necessary. Don’t jump to second guessing if the work is necessary or not. It is. So lean in, put on your frog-eatin bib, and hop to it.

What is the work exactly? Well, long ago you wrote down what the necessary jobs were that needed to get done, in order to get you from A to B. Conveniently, that list often disappears and gets buried somewhere. Even more conveniently, in its absence we are now armed with a delightful excuse to avoid doing the work. If you can’t find the work, start by taking your hands off your eyes.

The work is the 20% the 80/20 people are talking about.

It’s the MVP (Most Valuable Part), and the VIP (Very Important Process) on your path to success.

There is no work-around for the work.

Ambitious yet weak-willed people avoid the work like politicians avoid commitments. So many people try to work-around the work. It looks something like this:

The Assignment:

A project that involves a report with a visual aide due in two weeks

The Necessary Tasks:

1. Write the report (AKA the meatiest part of the work)

2. Create the visual aide (AKA the fun part)

What Most People Do:

1. Create a shopping list for materials to create the visual aide

2. Start a committee to decide what kind of visual aide to create

3. Research on the web, get lost on Pinterest,  pour some wine and pass out

4. Read books and watch videos related to creativity

5. Argue about which colors and tools to use

6. Read books and watch videos about color theory

7. Get distracted on Facebook and Instagram

8. In an all-nighter attempt, write a half-assed report

9. Celebrate

A few points here:

  • If this sounds like an episode of your childhood, or childish, it is. It’s sad, but amounts for what many consider “hard work,” or a “day’s work.” It’s not that valuable to the purpose or goal, thus, not much of work at all. Furthermore, we live in a global community where others work very hard on the meaningful parts of the work and grow happier, healthier, and wealthier for doing so. Are you putting in a genuine effort with focus on the activities that will determine your success? Or are you getting lost in what most people do? Newsflash: Most people are not successful. Most people do not achieve many of their goals. Most people avoid the work and whine about their circumstances. Don’t sit idlely to count yourself among them
  • Maybe someone tricked you into believing that showing up with a smile and some glitter is enough to create value that the world will crave. The truth is, it may be enough to get you started, or possibly earn you a friend or two who are attracted to sparkly objects. However, it’s not enough to make you a billionaire, and eventually you’ll come face to face with real work
  • People who care about their success know that the most important task is the real work. That is, the activities that are essential to the desired end result. The rest is mostly window dressing and the mental masturbation based on the idea that we can have fun the entire time and “get stuff done.” It’s true, it’s just that much of that “stuff” is not meaningful. In hard economic times, those doing the window dressing activities are the first to get cut from the team. Are you holding yourself accountable to do the real work?

If so, good for you, let’s rock and roll on to step 5.

5.  Review & Refine

The first time you do something all the way to completion, you can probably make a list of 100 things not to do if you had to do it all over again. Make that list. Also, find ways of repeating your efforts. This ensures you can refine them. It’s important to streamline, to make them easier, cheaper, and to make them better. You can come out with a:

  • Better plan or process
  • A list of the right parts/ingredients/elements/people
  • A list of possible, likely better parts/ingredients/elements/people

A smoother ride, a faster finish, a shinier shine, and on and on. There’s always room for improvements and when it comes to you, you’re worth the extra effort.

Success can teach you as much if not more than failure. Even after successful outcomes, I often note things that did not go according to plan, or things that I could do better. I don’t do this to shame or guilt trip myself, but to remember what to do next time. I get a lot of grief from people who mislabel me as cynical in the face of success. Don’t listen to these types. Don’t aim for perfection, but don’t settle for mediocrity either. Aim for precision. Aim small. Miss small.

Life does not hand out trophies for attendance or participation. Those activities simply afford you the opportunity. You must act and perform to truly achieve your goals.

Check Your Expected Time Requirements at the Door

Despite the highlight reel we see in the movies, Tony Stark did not create Iron Man in 4 minutes, not even in his own fictional world. Steve Jobs didn’t light a fart in the garage and suddenly become a billionaire. It took a lot of time, hard work, refinement, a discerning mind, and persistent attitude.

If everything went up in smoke, it’s important to understand what went wrong and pinpoint the failures. Even if you will never do anything like it again, pinpointing the failures will ensure that you hold yourself accountable for the precise things within your control, without taking on the guilt of the factors beyond your control.

6. Repeat

Start again, refine your efforts and repeat them. Maybe they can be applied to the lives of others, maybe to your own, maybe to your job, or adjacent industries. Look for opportunities to leverage your experience and new found success, and keep growing. The commitment to this process will continue to bring you opportunities and increase your momentum.

Why all the Tough Love?

Sometimes, a bucket of cold water is exactly what you need to wake you up. It’s abrupt, rude, angering, but it certainly can do the trick. The ambitious goals most people set for themselves come with heavy price tags of time, effort and attention. They require discipline, discernment, creative grit, tenacity and a love of the game to see you through. Many haven’t cultivated the necessary skills yet. They are exploited for their ambitions by people who pretend they want to help them, but what they really do is sell them anything, promising an easy path, to help them avoid the idea of real work. It’s a coping mechanism for a crappy life. There is an alternative: Do the work, grow, and help others escape the cycle.

Feel free to point out additional areas that I missed, or got wrong, or share your war stories with me. I love to hear them.

Meeting someone once or twice is pretty easy. Creating a robust professional relationship requires work and TLC. You can run into the same person at a mixer or 3. Connecting in meaningful ways, or even reconnecting, proves to be an elusive skill for most. If you’re looking to reconnect with contacts you’ve met once or twice, or colleagues you know but don’t see often due to your schedule or theirs – look no further. Here’s a sure fire, 8 step, simple formula to get back on their radar. The trick involves sending an email  from your account, adding personal context, an invitation for them to share with you, and give visual bullets of what you’re interested in sharing with them. This doesn’t work if you are trying to spam all of your contacts. However, this  can be very effective if you’re sincerely trying to reconnect and maintain or grow a healthy, professional relationship. Read on!

On a quest to cut down on the noise in our lives, and focus on the things that really serve us, let’s start with the 800 inch Gorilla in the room. Don’t worry. We’re not purists either. We’re not going to recommend that you give up TV altogether. We are going to talk about the nitty gritty of becoming more aware of the cost to benefit ratio and return on investment of that TV time.

The average person watches 5.5 hours a day. A day. Most people don’t even pay that amount of attention time to their work day.

First of all, is this really something you want written on your tombstone? Competitive Couch Surfer, Absentee Parent, Friend and Spouse? Or are there other things you want to be known for? How about your kids?

tv habit

Don’t be a statistic. Sitting on your rump for so long puts you at greater risk for all sorts of disease, and the result is an appearance that no-one is proud of. So consider cutting back on your screen time.

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6 Quick Fixes

1) Unsubscribe & Switch: Consider pulling the plug on cable and trading it for a platform that offers more control and independence like Netflix and Hulu plus. This will take your TV bill down to around $20 a month. You’ll find yourself watching more documentaries and Discovery Channel shows (after binge watching some of your favorites of course) and thus begin a healthier path. This habit shift can help you be more interesting too.

What’s on TV is a major source of casual conversation and ice breakers.

Here’s how to leverage your new Netflix habit in your social and work life:

  • At networking events, parties and mixers, having interesting stories and facts from the Honey Badger documentary will be more memorable than sports statistics.
  • Relive the glory days of TV’s favorite and classic series. This can help your intergenerational skills, and make it easily relate to older or younger generations. Some people watched shows when they were new, some when they were daytime re-runs, but chances are, you can watch Friends, Cosby, Cheers, Wings, and connect with someone on a happy memory.

#MindHack: This is a mind hack too because we experience the shows as if we were in them. We remember and emotionally attach to the shows, ups, downs, and simple times. This alone should inspire you to be more mindful of what you watch, but it can also be used to win friends and influence people.

Hulu plus offers you the latest episodes of your current favorites with less and/or limited commercials. Also, these put you in the driver’s seat with the ability to pause, mute, fast-forward, switch to other programs around your schedule not theirs. You also create your own playlist of sorts which gives you the opportunity to check-in with how you feel after consuming a show and killing time. This tiny bit of gained awareness is a great step to a path of further filtering out noise and things that don’t serve you.

Also you can watch a horrible but popular show fast-forwarding through the worst, and getting the conversational gist, in no-time. Bascially, fast-forward your way through your own highlight reel.  This lowers the cost of your time, energy and emotional investment (TEE) in garbage TV, giving you a competitive edge.

That might sound crazy but consider this: the fast forward habit is on the rise. As our experience with common plot lines and fillers (time spam) increases, so does our connection to that FF button on the remote. In fact there are now several apps that help people share life’s moments in Fast Forward including Instagram’s Hyperlapse and Microsoft’s much smoother, 3d composing software. (See the difference between the two here)

2) Mute – Enjoy Mute Mania - Maybe you’re struggling to turn the TV off altogether. A good transitional step is to get trigger happy with the mute button. Without the sounds, you can allow the TV to become an animated background and begin doing other things while it’s still on. Just like your dogs responding to a doorbell on the TV, your ears and eyes perk up based on all sorts of sounds. That’s why the voice over narrators, and stars on commercials sound so excited. It gets you to pay attention. A muted TV, has less of a pull on your attention and you’re not as much of a moth to the flame. If you glance at the screen and occasionally see a headline catching your attention, you can unmute it and listen in. This can get you started on a mindful, noise filtering practice.

#RelationshipSaver – Spend the extra money on date night and go to a restaurant without TV’s. This will make it much easier to be attentive to the conversation with your loved one.

3) Create a Playlist - We all have our guilty pleasure shows. Try sprinkling a different show in between favorites in that may stir you into activity. For example, perhaps for every 2 episodes of your favorite show, you’ll watch a documentary, nature program, 20 minute exercise tape. It doesn’t mean you have to move to it but the boredom, discomfort, or lack of interest may stir you to disengage from the TV and do something more productive, or it may stir you to play along, learn something new or participate and exercise. Take advantage of any of those feelings and move to do something better.

4) Make half your TV time, multitasking time – Catch up on your honey-do’s. Do laundry. Do dishes. Do push-ups. Do something that involves more physical activity than a typing a keyboard, thumbing at your phone or touching a tablet. Grab a cheap case for your iPad and some velcro adhesive strips, and a attach them to that treadmill you may currently be using to hang your clothes. Walk or jog while you watch – and you’ll be on your way to a healthy return on time invested in TV.

tv get up

5) Block out your TV Time on your calendar - This will help you visualize how much time you’re spending drooling on your couch as you catch up on your favorites, fume at the newsman, or channel surf. This will also allow you to enjoy the time you do set aside to enjoy some television since you are doing so mindfully with awareness of time.

6) Set Reminders - Old habits die hard. One hour or episode leads to another, and before you know it you’re binging on TV. Set a timer to remind yourself to break away and do something else. Use your calendar reminders on your phone. Schedule a next activity after your TV time. Make sure that it’s important. Consider something that will take you outside, like a simple 10 minute walk with your dog, your thoughts or a friend. This will also help increase your awareness of your TV time, and make it easy to appreciate and build healthier habits.

My consumptive TV credentials for those interested – Next to video games, Mountain Dew and Milky Ways, when I was a teenager, I was addicted to TV. I was also 260lbs! I ditched the Mountain Dew and Milky Way’s lost 100lbs, and was still addicted to TV. That’s how addicting it is. I loved it. I still love it but I am much more discerning and critical of what I watch and discerning to identify what content serves me, my goals, priorities, family and environment I want to cultivate. So take it from a former TV zombie, cutting back, switching services and getting picky has really changed my life for the better. I read more. I listen more. I participate more. And when I watch, I watch way more interesting stuff.

As leaders and ambitious professionals, we all want to cultivate the practices, habits, and culture that truly serve us. And we want to hit the eject button on all the garbage that does not serve us. The things that don’t serve us, act as roadblocks, keeping us from growth, performance, and success. So how do we identify those things that don’t serve us?

Your inbox and social feeds are probably regularly bombarded with zillions of tips and tricks of what you should do to succeed. How much of that has helped you confront the things that are currently getting in your way? Are you ready to try something different? So why don’t we Heroikly go where few have gone before? Let’s get a step closer to becoming Mission Ready For Life. First, let’s get clear about the things that benefit us and the garbage that hinders, damages, and holds us back.

What does it mean when we say something is serving you?

At the core of Heroik Culture is our mantra: Mission Ready For Life. This is an attitude and dedication to both personal and professional growth, and it has many implications. One of the key practices boils down to this: cultivate that which serves you, and proudly hit the eject button on that which does not.  Bruce Lee, the Martial Arts legend, said “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”

empty your cup

So, want to make like the lord of kung-fu, empty your cup, and get trigger happy with the eject button? Read on!

It’s amazing to me, how many ambitious upstarts have the passion for new endeavor, yet hate to read and learn to reach their goals. If reading is a barrier to improvement for you, perhaps because you find it slow-paced, difficult or uninteresting, then you’re in luck. With the help of some new technology, you can speed read your way at 2-4x your current speed. This is a real time saver.

How Speed Reading Works

There are many books out there disguised as how-to’s, prompting you to tell your story through social media, and to use it as a platform to build a more authentic brand. But let’s be real, most of these books are far removed of specifics with watered down recommendations to use social media to tell your story. Some of the better books on the subject show you how to sell-out your brand for mass appeal. These don’t pass the sniff test of building an authentic brand with great content. That’s where this book comes in.

Welcome to the No Bull Rodeo Tour. We’ll try to make this a recurring feature wherein we offer tips, tricks and truth bombs that are sure to shock, amaze, and hopefully save you some time, effort and energy. This one you’ll definitely want to read through to the end. And as always- we’ve bolded the good nuggets for your skimming pleasure. Feel free to ask questions and add feedback to the comments. On with the show.

A few lazy weekend recovery hours spent scouring the web produced a persistent question: How will businesses monetize 5 years from now? Thinking with a futuristic viewpoint of 5 years may realistically be like looking ahead the next 3 months when you consider the exponential pace of change in the Information Age, factor in a turbulent global economy, and various external pressures motivating businesses to innovate and evolve. So one way or another, we’re talking about the not so distant future and how it affects you. Let’s explore how the heck we’ll make money in the months and years to come.

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