Carpe Diem! Seize The Day
What a great rallying cry on a Monday morning. What a great way to start your day or the beginning of your project. Yes! Today will be a success!
The enemy of “seize the day” is procrastination. Soon after you you cry out “Carpe Diem” something captures your eye like a shiny object. Oh, I have a comment on Facebook! Hey, that guy wants to connect on LinkedIn! Just a quick response and then I seize the day. All of a sudden it’s lunchtime. Procrastination has done it’s job. Tomorrow I seize the day!
I was channel surfing one night when I came across a show that had a very old man who was climbing a mountain in Antarctica. I missed the first part of the show and at this point he was already struggling high on the mountain. There was an interview with the camera man who was going through a moral dilemma, Should he drop his camera and help the others save this man or does he do his job and continue recording the story as it played out.
Norman Vaughn made it to the top of the 10,302’ mountain that bares his name. He was three days shy of his 89th birthday. At the top he was greated by hugs, tears and relief and then he yelled out his mantra, “Dream Big and Dare To Fail!”
Vaughan was no ordinary man. He was accepted as a member of the 1928-1930 Byrd Antarctic Expedition. Admiral Byrd was so taken by his skills that he named the peak after Vaughan.
There is not enough room in this story to list all of his accomplishments. I will say that he had a full life and at the age of 68 moved to Alaska where he also competed in 13 Idatarod Sled races. Do the math.
Dare To Fail
Dream Big and Dare To Fail. What has stood out to me the most is “Dare to Fail.” Anyone can seize the day. Anyone can make a bucket list. Anyone can have a mission statement. Not everyone can stare down failure and still move forward.
My son is 10 years old and is one of the smartest and most creative kids I know. The only thing that holds him back is the fear of failure. If he doesn’t think he will succeed at something, he won’t do it. He’s not alone. Other parents have told me the same thing about their children.
When ever he is in a funk or won’t move forward with an assignment or goal, I drag him down to my workshop. On one of the cabinet doors I have stapled a page from a 1995 Men’s Health Magazine. It shows a picture of a saluting Norman Vaughan, his face framed by a fur lined hood.
I tell him about Norman Vaughan’s adventures, of successfully climbing the mountain that bares his name. Becoming a polar explorer, competing in the 1932 Winter Olympics and a host of other achievements.
I also tell him about his many failures. He was married 4 times after all. When he moved to Alaska he was bankrupt. These setbacks might have slowed him down but didn’t stop him. He kept moving forward.
Is Failure Holding You Back?
You probably already have big dreams. It’s part of your buckel list, you personal mission statement. Now think about the projects you have that you just can’t seem to finish. Do you wish you had another career but you can’t seem to leave the one you have now because it pays too well? What are those road blocks that are keeping you from getting to where you want to be?
Maybe your just scared you will fail.
Procrastination probably has you in it’s grips today but tomorrow is a new day. Instead of waking up and thinking “Sieze the Day.” Think “Dare to Fail.” It’s time to push through and have the job you want and to be the person you are supposed to be. It works for my son, it will work for you.
The photo at the top is not Norman Vaughan. It’s just a stock photo that I thought would look good. I had a tough time finding photos that I could use. If you would like to see Norman Vaughan visit his website or search the images on google.
There are many ways that I take notes and put them into my trusted system. This could be a note in Omnifocus or a text file in a job folder for instance.
Note apps that I use on my iPhone and iPad include, Drafts, Note2Self, Omnifocus, Simplenote and Evernote. I prefer to process from my mail inbox on my computer so I tend to go straight for Note2Self which is setup to send directly to my email when I press the send button. I also like to use the dictation feature to make it go even faster. I have started to use Drafts if I know where I want the information to reside. Omnifocus or Evernote for instance.
I’m a big fan of paper. There are note pads around the house and at my bedside for the quick note. I have the GTD Notetaker Wallet from the David Allen Company in my car so I can grab it when I am out and about. I also have a few Field Notes ruled paper 48-page memo books that I use for the same purpose. For me it’s easier to get my thoughts out and draw a few pictures in pen and ink than it is to type out something on my phone.
I may be old school but I get this weird feeling when I am talking to someone about a project and I am typing on my phone. I feel that I am ignoring them somehow or worse, they think I am texting someone else.
The only missing piece in my note taking arsenal is in the shower. Way too many ideas come in the shower, but there is too much time and too much moisture between the shower and writing or typing my thought out.
Then it hit me. When my shower mirror started to fog up I turned to the scuba diving shop to provide me with the same stuff that kept my mask fog free. They had my note pad as well.
I always had a writing slate attached to my diving vest if I needed to communicate with my dive buddy. It was a white board with a golf pencil attached by a piece of rubber hose. I found the perfect one online. It is the Trident Instructor Size Underwater Diving Slate. It is 8” x 10” and I have rigged it up to hang from my shower rod or towel bar. Just this morning I was able to jot down some tag lines for a project that would have been forgotten minutes later.
So there you have it. Another way to process that great idea you had in the shower, turn it into a million dollar project and you keep being awesome.
Many years ago I was visiting New Orleans when I happened upon the Kaldi Coffee House just off Decatur Street and the French Market. As I stood in the doorway I had an epiphany. I wanted to own a coffee house.
Kaldi had everything. It was located in a corner building with high ceilings and a somewhat rickety mezzanine. The coffee counter was setup more like a bar than a lunch counter and was located in the middle of the room. My favorite part was the coffee roaster in one corner surrounded by bags of green coffee beans waiting their turn to be roasted.
Yes, I had to have a coffee house to call my own.
I researched equipment and I studied roasting techniques and coffee beans. I had picked out a storefront in downtown Homewood that looked to be the perfect location and the price was right.
Once I got everything together I took a long hard look at the numbers and decided that there was no way I was going to make this work. Loans on restaurant equipment are very short and the mortgage was long. That roaster I had picked out was going to cost me $17,000, the espresso machine $8,000. I couldn’t see how I was going to make any money selling coffee at a $1.50 a cup. I also had experience working in food service and I knew the hours and dedication it would take.
Imagine my surprise when in 1993 O’Henry’s Coffee opened up in the exact storefront that I had picked out less than 2 years earlier.
Move forward 20 years and Homewood supports Starbucks, Octane, Hart & Soul, Seeds and Red Mountain Expresso. O’Henrys is still in that storefront along with a second location outside of Brookwood Mall. Weld wrote a story about it just recently.
Had I opened that coffee house I would have been at the forefront of the coffee movement in Homewood and Birmingham. I could just as easily have been the first casualty.
I don’t regret not opening that coffee house at all. I did the research. I put the time into learning about the business. I analyzed the risk and knew I didn’t want that risk. I walked away and I have never regretted it.
If I hadn’t done the work and made the plan I might be sitting hear moaning about missed opportunities. Instead I stayed in marketing and have a wealth of excellent coffee shops within minutes of my home.
Over the years I continued to do research and look at other opportunities within marketing. I have stayed ahead of trends and recognized how traditional advertising is changing. That has helped put me in a position to help other businesses as they make the change in the way they market. This is where I belong, I am doing what I enjoy and I’m good at it.
It may take you awhile to find the right business for you, it doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes you might see another opportunity only to realize later that it wasn’t the right one. Do your research and take the risks you are comfortable with. As Kenny Rogers said, “you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”
Before I started MarketCloud, I was a partner in the sustainability consulting group, Resolutions, LLC. I had left my long-time marketing firm, Atticus Communications, and took a leap of faith in this new venture. Businesses everywhere were looking for new ways to make money and grow their business. Sustainability was and is a great way to do that.
Companies that adopt sustainable business practices are able to find cost savings and competive advantage through environmental performance. The additional recruiting and employee benefits it brings, all contributed to the bottom-line.
My partner had the green credibility while I had the marketing skills to make the program work. Unfortunately, soon after our company started, the economy changed and looked to be heading for collapse, the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the great depression.
The end of Resolutions came with the realization that sustainability had gone from a top 5 issue for c-suite executives to not even registering. They went into survival mode. If sustainability was going to happen it was coming from marketing. So I went back to my roots and opened MarketCloud.
Funny happened on the way to a marketing firm that promoted sustainable business practices. I found inbound marketing. I found that there was a name for what I had been doing all along.
Advertising has changed dramatically in the past few years. People have become desensitized to ad campaigns. For instance, there is a greater chance that you will survive an airplane crash than click on a banner ad. We are investing in machines such as AppleTV, Roku, Tivo and DVR’s so we can fast forward past ads. It’s getting easier and easier to ignore marketing. It’s obvious that if we want to continue growing our business, we need to change how we communicate with our customers.
It was thought that social media would be the next great wave of advertising. Companies spent large sums of money to build social media campaigns and to “earn” more likes than their competitors on Facebook. In the end, most companies resposted stories from other sites or gave up completely. They realized that you can have all the likes in the world but it doesn’t matter if they don’t become customers. You can’t buy me like.
According to Bob Garfield and Doug Levy, authors of the book *Can’t Buy Me Like* we have entered the “relationship era.” In other words, the only way businesses will have long-term success is to create authentic customer relations.
In the past companies put a lot of time and energy in controlling the conversation and their image. Now anyone with internet access can find out most anything on a company before they chose to engage with that company. The good, the bad and the ugly.
The subtitle of “Can’t Buy Me Like” is “How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results.” You have to treat your customers like flesh and blood human beings and not a target to reach in your campaigns. Businesses now have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
At Resolutions we preached to our clients that sustainability was a marathon, not a sprint. You had to put the work in up front, monitor what you had done and make changes as needed.
Inbound marketing is sustainable in the same way, you do the work up front which help’s you get found You monitor what you have done and you make changes as you go along. Once you have been found you work to turn those leads into customers. Hubspot put it so well, it’s marketing with a magnet, not a sledgehammer. Best of all, it’s sustainable.
I have been reading “A Website That Works” on the suggestion of David Baker. David is owner of Recourses and someone I consulted with when I was starting my agency, Atticus Communications back in the ’90’s.
Mark O’brien wrote the book “A Website That Works” with the ad agency in mind. That is a group that desperately needs a bit of advice. We are so used to giving advice that our own sites tend to get bogged down by design and they tend to not deliver much useful information.
This analogy from the book really stood out.
“As Chris Butler wrote in one of our newsletters on design, “Print design is like classical composition, and web design is like jazz.” Classical composers meticulously place every note for every instrument in an intentional spot. The pieces are faithfully reproduced by well-trained musicians (think: printers) time and time again. Compositions created hundreds of years ago are still performed with little varience today… the web after all is like jazz, Even the most brilliant jazz composers almost never set out to craft every note a musician would play.”
Too often as designers we try to lock down what a website will do and how it shows information. We treat it like an ad or flyer and not a dynamic piece. Look at web browsers for instance. Each one has it’s own nuances and can render your site slightly different. Throw the different operating systems into the mix and who knows what the viewer will see.
It doesn’t end with just design, content is a huge part of web design and SEO. Google rewards sites with fresh and original content, if your site is locked down by your design. or worse, you use flash to deliver content, you may not rank very high for your keywords. It is probably time to jazz up your site with content and then decide how you will serve that content to your visitors. The design can wait unil you aswer these questions.
On your next web project try spending more time being a jazz composer, knowing that each musician, or website, will play the notes just a little different. Your audience will thank you and reward you for it.
If you grew up in front of the TV from 1985 to 1992 then you probably watched MacGyver. The show follows secret agent MacGyver who was played by Richard Dean Anderson. He was always using everyday materials to solve complex problems. MacGyver’s extraordinary ability to use gum, paper clips and a turkey baster to get out of danger was ripe for parody and even today most people know what is meant by saying the verb “to MacGyver.”
We can be MacGyver in our everyday lives. Some people refer to them as life triggers or life hacks. Simple things to make our life easier even if we don’t have to diffuse a bomb with a ballpoint pen and a rubber band.
Monday, March 11th is “Clean out your computer day.” Someone, somewhere, decided that the second Monday of the month would be a great time to clean out your computer.
Why not, it’s a great idea to schedule an event like this. We all have these huge hard drives on our computers and it’s very easy to leave old files and out of date applications cluttering up the place. We don’t notice anything now but sooner or later our hard drives will become more fragmented and empty space will become scarce, slowing down our computers.
There are ways to automate services on your computer. On my Mac I use a program called Hazel which watches folders and when a file is placed in that folder, Hazel triggers an action to handle that file.
An example is how I handle my stock photography. I buy photographs from services such as iStockPhoto.com and Shutterstock.com. The purchased files are sent to my download folders. The name of the company is in the filename so when Hazel sees it, the file is moved to my stock photography folder.
I can also use Hazel to empty my trash on particular day of the week or month or when the files have been in there for a certain number of days. This will keep my computer working its best.
Since I can’t automatically turn a post from my blog into a notice on Google+, IFTTT sends me an email reminder to post to Google+ whenever a post goes live on my blog.
These are just a few ways life hacks can help you do those things that need to be done. An obvious place for these triggers to live is on your calendar.
One of my favorite life hacks is to change the battery in my smoke detectors the two times a year the time changes. Changing the air filter goes on the calendar as well.
I could go on and on with ideas but instead let me send you to a few sites that can help you get started.
These are just a few tips that can make your life easier and hopefully free up some time so you can create more content and keep serving your clients. Good luck MacGyver.
I have become a fan of Mark Miller’s blog Great Leaders Serve. Mark teamed up with Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager to write Great Leaders Grow: Become a Leader for Life. A great book that I recommend to everyone. You will know the name Ken Blanchard as author of the Wood Badge for the 21st Century Syllabus.
In his post How To Be Successful… Mark shared a talk that Dr. Henry Cloud gave on the principal of EASY HARD vs. HARD EASY. An example he gave of this principle was If a student takes the EASY path in their youth and neglects their studies, it will be HARD to get into the college of their choice. However, if the same student does the HARD work of studying, their career path is often EASY.
It made me think about the reasons people give for not having a marketing program or more specifically an inbound marketing program. Here’s an example.
If a business owner takes the EASY path and depends on word of mouth to market he might find it HARD to consistantly grow his business. The converse is if the owner does the HARD work of continually marketing, producing content and engaging his “fans” online he may find that growth and increase income will become EASY.
Here is another example of someone in the service industry. This someone could easily be me.
Who hasn’t thought “I have so much work right now that I will take the EASY path and not market.” But when the work dries up, and it will, it will be HARD to get back on track with no work lined up. The best way to handle this situation is to realize that It will be HARD to produce content and market but when the current projects end it will be EASY to replace them with new projects I have lined up through my inbound marketing program and other efforts.
When it comes to marketing and growing your business the choice is yours. Do you choose to follow HARD EASY or EASY HARD?
When my wife and I married over 13 years ago we made sure to have a gift registry at Williams-Sonoma. Among the gifts we received were,what seemed to me at the time, some of the most expensive dish towels known to man. Not sure if the cost reflected the quality or the name imprinted on the towel. Of course to guests it would show that we were refined, foody-types who would only shop at the best places, eat the best food and entertain quality guests.
Thirteen years and two children later we still have those dish-towels. The youngest of those children is closing in on 5 years old and we slowly have been coming out of the baby fog. We looked around our kitchen and realized our days of entertaining, as we had done in the past, were over. After a quick look in one cabinet we realized it was time to throw out most of our spices. To our horror we checked the sell by dates on cans hidden at the back of the pantry. And we checked out the dish towel drawer.
Out of all the dish towels a third needed to be thrown away. Another third are still in good enough shape and we donated them to the Community Furniture Bank along with other linens and towels we had. The final third of the dish towels we kept are from Williams-Sonoma that we received as wedding gifts.
Some of you may read this and think, 13 years? Get rid of those towels. Not going to happen. They really are great towels. Besides, we received a new set at Christmas and that should cover us for the next decade.
So why am I writing about dish towels on this business blog? Quality. In exchange for a premium price, Williams-Sonoma provided a high-quality product. And they have lasted 13+ years.
Next time you are looking for help in your business, don’t shop on price, shop on quality. Otherwise it’s going to cost you in the long run.
In one of Chris Brogan’s latestest email newsletter he asks “Are You A Good Neighbor?” It is all about the sharing of other people’s content. Too often people will take content and repost it as their own. More than likely they don’t mean to be malicious, they just don’t think to give credit.
Brogan uses the neighbor analogy that neighbors are polite and we share. There are ways we do this online so that everyone benefits.
Reading “Are You A Good Neighbor?” made me think about my interactions with friends through social media and how I sound when I make a post. With friends I tend to want to poke fun or be a smart alleck. It’s my nature. The problem is that without the nuances of voice intonation and body language some people might think I’m serious or just a jerk.
The other day I wanted to poke fun at an English friend who is a supporter of West Ham United in the English Premier League. My favorite team, Arsenal, had just beat them 5-1. I had written out a couple of sentences on Facebook when I stepped back to read what I wrote. There was nothing wrong with it but I realized what I said might have been taken wrong by his friends who also supported West Ham. I realized to them I might have sounded like a jerk. I thought it best to be a good Neighbor and I deleted my post.
Facebook tends to be that one social media platform that has the ability to ruin friendships or destroy business relations. It is far to easy to post a meme or a story that others will find offensive. We are a very diverse group of people and our beliefs could be quite different from our close friends and relatives. I have one friend from high school who posts some wildly offensive things (offensive to me). Luckily I know her well and realize that she is just doing a bad job of expressing her views. She is not being a good neighbor. Good neighbors edit well.
Unfortunately the use of social media puts us in a cone of silence. We don’t get that immediate feedback so we tend not to self edit. Take the car for instance. Who hasn’t become upset with another driver and maybe even yelled at them from behind closed windows. The car is a cone of silence. You probably didn’t think twice about it unless you have a 4 year old in the back seat who asks you “what’s wrong, Daddy?” Yep, it happens to me.
Have you noticed that if we are standing in a line and we get upset we don’t yell and scream at the people around us? Think of the hours we stand waiting for a drivers license or waiting for a ride at Disney World. We wait patiently. If someone can’t, they usually leave.
Next time you are using social media and you decide to rail against someone elses views or you want to make a sarcastic comment to a friend, step back and think how this is going to look. Your friend is not the only one who will see it. Future customers and employees may be searching for information about you and to see if you would be a good fit for their organization. You need to make a positive impression. I suggest you follow Chris Brogan’s advice and ask “Are You A Good Neighbor?”
As business people and entrepraneurs, it’s in our DNA to be the leader, to be out front and see if we can bring people along with us. We want to start a movement or sometimes just a business. To really get our movement or business off the ground we need the first follower.
I first learned of Derek Sivers when I read his book, Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur. Sivers is founder of CDBaby.com which he sold in 2008. At the time CD Baby was the largest seller of independent music on the web, with over $100M in sales for over 150,000 musician clients.
I really enjoyed the book so I visited his website and came across this 3-minute talk he gave at the TED Conference. It’s called First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy and you can see his TED talk here. It’s a fun video but the first take away I got from it was: “A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous… This is key. You must be easy to follow!”
It’s not so much about the leader, the dancing guy, it’s about the first follower. It is the person who has the courage to follow the leader, in this case the dancing guy.
The second take away from the video is “The first follower is actually an underestimated form of leadership in itself. … The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.”
I don’t want to say anymore without giving away his entire talk but let me leave you with this. When you do start your business or your movement, take the time to nuture your first follower and every other follower. They could be the difference in whether you are successful or not.
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