No More S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Me

I used to think my goals had to be “realistic”. After all, I’ve been told over and over again to set S.M.A.R.T. goals; the “A” standing for “achievable”.

However, I’ve come to the realization that setting achievable goals has been holding me back. Slowing me down. I’ve been aiming too low.

So, I’ve decided it’s time to KICK IT UP A NOTCH.

I recently revised a few of my goals for 2017 and DOUBLED the targets.

Yup. I don’t care whether they’re achievable; I’m just GOING FOR IT!

As a result, my productivity recently has been through the roof. I’m getting a more done, I’m super motivated, I’m tackling the really hard tasks, I’m procrastinating less, I’m more positive, and I’m making some serious headway toward my “unrealistic” goals.

What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe I miss my new targets slightly? That definitely wouldn’t be the worst.

Maybe it’s time for you to kick it up a notch too?

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Straight Talk for a More Successful Year

Are you a business owner, senior executive, salesperson, consultant, freelancer, or in a similar entrepreneurial or leadership career? If yes, this post is for you.

If you’re already crushing your goals, no need to read on.

However, if you wish things were easier and just simply going better for your business or career, you need to read this.

I have 3 pieces of advice for you.

But if you’re a person who actually needs the advice, I bet you’re going to disagree with me.

#1: People are just trying to help you. Show some gratitude.

In your day to day dealings with people, be they employees, co-founders, co-workers, strategic partners, vendors, shareholders, investors, or service providers, for the most part they are actually trying to help you. Yes, they have their own agenda too, but generally speaking they’re human and humans like to help other humans.

Occasionally, you probably find that people do things that annoy you, waste your time, or clog up your already overflowing email inbox. Please, please consider that they may actually be going out of their way to try and help you.

Okay, that’s not the always the case, I realize. Sometimes, they are actually being selfish and ignorant. But, regardless… why not include the word “thanks” more often in your emails or conversations, even if the thing they did isn’t all that helpful to you?

Isn’t it better to have more people “on your side” than fewer?

Why bother annoying people with a terse response, or worse yet, no response at all and pushing them away?

#2: Be more open-minded to other people’s opinions and advice.

Let’s face it. Most entrepreneurs, business owners, senior executives, consultants, and salespeople are strong-minded, smart, and confident people. They know a LOT of answers to problems.

However, if you’re not currently crushing your goals and living the dream, maybe it’s time to be more open-minded to other people’s opinions and advice?

Stop dismissing someone else’s opposing opinion as soon as it leaves their mouth.

Instead, pause, take a deep breath, and ask them, “Hmm… that’s not what I would have thought. Why do you think that?”

#3: Stop blaming others when something goes wrong.

I’m sure you can think of many times when an interaction or a project with another person either inside or outside your company has gone poorly or frustrated you because it didn’t got the way you wanted it to.

There is no value as an entrepreneur or business leader to immediately blame the other person for the situation going off the rails.

Allow me to repeat myself and give some straight talk here… there is ABSOLUTELY NO VALUE to you as a leader in blaming others either publicly, privately, or in your own mind. 

There is ONLY value in learning from failures. Rather than blaming others, you need to start looking inward first. Even if you’re absolutely convinced it’s not your fault, the only valuable response is to ask yourself,

“What could I have done differently to help improve the outcome of this situation.”

Blaming others is a waste of time and energy, both of which are the most valuable assets in your personal and business life.

But what about you, Craig?

If you know me personally, you know I have been guilty many times of all of the above. However, with my new positive outlook, I am striving to improve my attitude and behaviour in all three of these areas.

What about you? What are you going to do differently in 2017?

Okay, okay. I give in. I’m ready to try a positive attitude.

Warning: if you’re a pessimist, you’ll likely find this blog post cheesy, lame, and I might even lose you as a friend…

Time for a change

While I don’t think I’m firmly entrenched in the pessimists’ camp, I will admit I’ve spent my fair share of time with a less than cheery outlook on things.

There have been occasions in my career when I’ve been told I’m too negative and need to be more of a cheerleader for my team, my partners, my coworkers, and my managers.

If I’m honest with myself, my personal friends might even agree that I’m a bit too negative at times.

Of course, my standard response is, “I’m a realist, not a pessimist.” 🙂

Well, I’ve decided I’m going to try optimism and positivity on for size.

What’s changed?

Over the past few months, three things have come to light for me.

First, I know more than a few people who tend to have a pessimistic and negative attitude toward things, people, and situations. I find it depressing, frustrating, and quite frankly, tiring. So, I got to thinking…

I guess that’s how my own negative and pessimistic attitude makes other people feel too? Hmm. That’s not good. I should stop that.

Second, I’ve put a lot of effort recently into changing the way I approach goal setting, behaviour, and habits. I’ve come to truly understand that one of the most critical success factors in achieving a goal lies in building new, consistent, and productive behaviours that transition into being automatic and unconscious habits over time.

Building a new habit, especially for a task you find difficult or unpleasant, is really hard! Particularly because it takes (in my opinion) not 21, not 66, but more like 100 days of doing that unpleasant thing consistently before it becomes automatic.

If you approach that new unpleasant task from a negative or pessimistic perspective, how likely are you to keep doing it for 100+ days? Not very likely.

However, if you “make friends with the pain” and approach the unpleasant task from a positive and optimistic viewpoint, you have a FAR better chance of keeping it up for the long haul.

You’re sure to go through peaks and valleys of motivation, but with a positive attitude it’s more likely you’ll climb out of the valleys with enough momentum to keep going.

And third, it turns out the world does actually look better through rose-coloured glasses. Ok, maybe I’m not quite up to THAT level of optimism, but I do find that when I’m successful in simply choosing a positive attitude over negative, things just seem happier and less of a drag.

So, in the spirit of walking the walk, I’m striving to maintain a positive attitude.

I can speak from recent personal experience that my newfound positive attitude has helped me form new habits out of behaviours that I used to find dreadful.

Behaviours like eating salad instead of french fries, skipping dessert, doing mind-numbing tasks at work, or flossing my teeth everyday are no longer as much chores as they are opportunities for personal improvement.

Yes, I used to despise flossing my teeth. Weird, I know.

And, 3 months into my new somewhat healthier eating habits, I’ve lost almost 20 pounds and am more than halfway to my first weight loss goal.

The pessimist negative me of olde struggled with building better habits.

Obviously, success requires more than just a positive attitude

To be clear, I’ve also implemented a few other strategies to help me build new habits and achieve my goals faster and easier than before.

For example, on the days that I take 5 minutes at the end of the day to jot down a quick “status update” on my progress, I find that I’m constantly more mindful of the goals, habits, and positive attitude required for success.

The act of journaling my progress is really working for me. On the days I take the time to journal, I tend to stay focused and disciplined. And on the days I don’t journal, I lose focus, procrastinate a bit more, and make less progress toward my goals.

If you question the value of journaling, read this article from Huffington Post: 10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Keeping a Journal

I built myself a tool to help: MyDreamboard

I decided to build myself an app to help with goal setting, motivation, and habit building. It’s called, MyDreamboard. It’s not super fancy, but it’s really working for me.

I’m keen to see whether it works for anyone else. If you’re interested, feel free to sign up and try it out yourself (it’s free).

I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas. As long as they’re positive, of course. 😉

Two Reasons You’re Struggling to Achieve Your Goals

This is not Goal Setting 101

If you’ve ever read or been taught how to set goals, you’ve undoubtedly heard the trite advice to set “S.M.A.R.T.” goals.

If you haven’t, Google it and read one of the 28,300,000 articles on the topic.

You’ve also been told that you need a PLAN, and at some point you’ve likely been reminded that you need to actually TAKE ACTION to have any chance of achieving your goals.

Basic goal setting strategy is not the topic of this post. This post is about the two most important keys to achieving your goals.

The Two Keys to Success

Assuming you have all the basic components of effective goal setting in place, whether or not you achieve your goal boils down to the following factors: 1) DESIRE, and 2) HABITS.

  1. You need a fierce desire to achieve the goal in question.
  2. You need to form new habits to make sustained progress toward the goal.

Goals are hard. That’s why they’re called goals.

Setting a goal is easy. Achieving a goal is hard. Let’s face it, if it were easy, you’d already have the thing or the situation you desire!

Why are goals so difficult to achieve?

Well, typically, achieving a goal means doing something different. Doing a LOT more of what you’re already doing. Working smarter. Working harder. Stepping out of your comfort zone. Doing things you dislike. Doing things you’re not very good at. Doing things that are unnatural to you.

All of the above. It’s very hard.

Success Factor #1: Desire

If you don’t have a fierce desire to reach a particular goal, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve it anytime soon.

Desire is not necessarily synonymous with passion. Desire is deeper than passion. Being passionate about something certainly means you’ll “want” it badly, but desire is more gutteral. How badly do you “need” the thing you’re striving toward?

Your level of desire for the goal in question determines whether you’ll actually do enough of the difficult or uncomfortable tasks you need to do, or whether you’ll procrastinate and avoid those tasks.

Where does desire come from?

This is a very complex question. I am not a trained psychologist, but I will offer two theories I think are relevant.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can provide some context to the source and level of human desire or motivation. Abraham Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs such as “self-esteem”, “friendship and love”, “security”, and “physical needs” must be met before the individual will strongly desire the secondary or higher level needs.

maslowshierarchyofneeds

Image source: Wikipedia

Your desire (or lack thereof) to achieve a goal depends on its priority in the context of your innate hierarchy of needs.

Pain vs. Pleasure

Another way that I like to look at human motivation is in the context of “pain” vs. “pleasure”. I was taught this concept many years ago in my Sandler Sales Training days.

In a nutshell, there are 4 main reasons people decide to do something, listed here in order of priority:

  1. To avoid current PAIN.
  2. To avoid future PAIN.
  3. To achieve PLEASURE now.
  4. To achieve PLEASURE in the future.

Your level of desire to achieve a particular goal is related to “why” you want the outcome.

Are you setting the goal to avoid pain you’re currently experiencing, or are you setting the goal to achieve pleasure down the road? If it’s the former, your desire will be MUCH higher than it will be for the latter.

Success Factor #2: Habits

So, what if you’re lacking the desire or motivation to do the work and strive toward a goal?

For example, what if the goal in question with provide you with PLEASURE in the future, which is priority #4 on the pain versus pleasure scale?

Right now, you can probably think of several goals that fit into that category. Do you find yourself procrastinating on those tasks? Yeah, I know. Me too.

I’ve read advice recently from a few productivity experts who say that simply “doing the work” consistently, or putting the blinders on and pushing yourself to build a new habit can trump the lack of motivation.

In my opinion, building a new productive habit has the potential to overcome a lack of motivation. However, it takes a long time form a new habit. Some experts say it takes 21 days of consistent behaviour to form a new habit. Others say it’s more like 66 days.

Either way, in the absence of strong desire, doing something unusual and unnatural every single day, or every single hour, for weeks and weeks, takes a herculean amount of discipline, will power, and commitment.

Do you have that kind of discipline for ALL the habits you’re trying to build? I know I don’t!

A habit alone, without a fierce desire to go along with it, is unsustainable.

Without the fierce desire in place, there’s a high probability you’ll fall out of the habit and you’ll start to procrastinate on the tasks you’d rather not do, until the point at which you avoid them altogether.

So, how do you create the desire?

Well, if achieving your goal won’t alleviate PAIN you’re experiencing today or you’re likely to experience in the future, you may think sometimes that you’re trying to go upstream without a paddle.

As I said above, if achieving your goal will provide some level of PLEASURE in the future, your desire may waver at times.

Create a sense of urgency

One way to overcome this challenge and to move the goal up the psychological priority list is to create a sense of urgency for the goal. Decide that you want to achieve the goal NOW (or sooner than you originally planned), rather than way off in the future. That will move the goal from #4 to #3 in the pain vs. pleasure priority list.

While your goals that will alleviate pain will still tend to take priority, at least the desire to achieve something pleasurable really soon (and by a specific date) rather than a long time from now will give you the drive you need to step out of your comfort zone every day and keep up those habits that are critical to success.

Pain in the Future vs. Minor “Annoyance” Today

Convince yourself, or come to the realization that, NOT achieving your goal will result in much more acute pain in the future than the “minor annoyance” the necessary habit will cause today.

For example, what pain will being 25 pounds overweight cause you in the future, compared to the minor annoyance of eating smarter today?

41 Reasons To Love Twitter

I love Twitter.

Although it can be noisy and overwhelming at times, I’m on Twitter all day long. It’s a big part of both my personal and professional life.

Lately, Twitter has been under fire from Wall Street because they’re struggling to attract new users to the platform. Although I know many fellow Twitter addicts, I also know an equal number of people who have absolutely no interest in it.

I can understand why they have no interest. It does indeed take some effort to learn, and a fair amount of discipline to keep it organized, but you can get a TON of value out of Twitter if you do it right. 

I’m sure I’ll add more to this list over time, but as of today, here are the top 41 reasons why I love Twitter…

  1. Get the latest news
  2. Follow live events
  3. Make new connections
  4. Strengthen existing relationships
  5. Stay in touch with old friends
  6. Read
  7. Learn
  8. Develop new skills
  9. Build referral relationships
  10. Generate sales opportunities
  11. Community management
  12. Competitor research
  13. Build your personal brand
  14. Build your business brand
  15. Foster customer loyalty
  16. Enable employee advocacy
  17. Follow politics
  18. Learn what’s happening in your city, your province/state, your country
  19. Compliment
  20. Complain
  21. Be inspired
  22. Get motivated
  23. Get healthy
  24. Pursue your hobbies
  25. Discover new music
  26. Discover new books
  27. Discover new recipes
  28. Discover new podcasts
  29. Watch jaw-dropping GoPro videos of crazy extreme athletes
  30. Interact with people live-streaming their POV
  31. Follow celebrity antics
  32. Hear the latest buzz about movies or TV
  33. Keep in touch with the latest in technology and gadgets
  34. Feast your eyes on incredible photography
  35. Experience other cultures
  36. Laugh
  37. Be sarcastic
  38. Be clever
  39. Be kind
  40. Be happy
  41. Be helpful

How about you? What are your favourite reasons for using Twitter?

If I missed any good ones, please let me know in the comments!

Update: Feb. 23rd, 1:47pm

LOL! My Mom just emailed me to say that I forgot to add “procrastinate” to the list. So true! #busted

Awesome adrenaline sports videos

Awesome sports videos

I’ve been bookmarking awesome crazy sports adrenaline videos for a few years. Here are a few of my favourites. These guys are just nutbar…

(Warning: take your blood pressure meds before watching these videos.)

Danny MacAskill: The Ridge

Martyn Ashton: Road Bike Party 2

Insane Downhill Bike Race in Valparaiso Chile

GoPro Deep Powder Skiing in Austria

Volvo Ocean Race 2012: Groupama in the Southern Ocean

BMX Street Nike 6.0

BMW Nike “The Pool”

Got any other good ones that I’ve missed? (share a link in the comments…)

My, How Marketing Has Changed

Digital Marketing - How It Has Changed

I’m no super expert on Digital Marketing, but I do enjoy following the trends. I’m amazed at how much the mix of necessary tactics has changed in only a few short years.

The past (recent history):

  • Direct mail
  • Trade shows
  • Cold calling
  • Print ads
  • Email marketing
  • Website / SEO
  • SEM
  • PR
  • Referral marketing
  • Media buying
  • Social media
  • (What have I forgotten?)

New:

  • Some of the above (less cold calling, less print, less tradeshow spend)
  • Social selling
  • Employee advocacy
  • Influencer marketing
  • User-generated content
  • Customer engagement
  • Community management
  • #Hashtag optimization (shameless plug => @topicurious)
  • Content marketing (blog, video, infographics, eBooks, etc.)
  • Marketing automation
  • Big data
  • Personalization
  • Growthhacking
  • Mobile
  • UX
  • C-Level personal branding
  • Human-to-Human (#H2H via @BryanKramer)
  • Return-on-Relationships (#RonR via @TedRubin)
  • (What have I forgotten? => help me expand this list by commenting)

There is still no silver bullet. A smart mix of tactics is still required, but the mix is very different than it used to be.

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  
Important first step:
Boil 10 mins
Rinse and strain thoroughly in cold water

Combine in a Bowl:
1T olive oil
1/8t garlic powder
1/4t cayenne
1/4t cumin
sea salt (lots)
pumpkin seeds (1 to 2 cups)

Spread seeds out on a baking tray (try to ensure they’re not on top of each other).

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Drink 1-2 pints of a quality local pumpkin ale to pass the time. #craftbeer

Broil at 375 for 5 mins.
Flip/mix seeds on the tray.
Broil for 3-5 more minutes. #perfection

Photography Technique: A Kid’s Eye View

A while ago I learned a great photography tip…

When taking pictures of kids, don’t be lazy and take the shot from your standing height. Instead, get down to their eye level to take the shot.

Depending on what the kid is doing at that very moment, this might mean getting down on your knees, sitting on your butt, or even lying on your belly to take the picture from their eye level.

It can be a dirty job, but trust me, the quality of photos you take will be worth the extra loads of laundry and occasional scraped knee.

To test the theory, I recently did a little experiment.

My son and I were in a park and he was sitting on a bench waiting for his turn on the swing. He REALLY wanted to use that swing, so he wasn’t enjoying the seemingly eternal 3-minute wait. We’ve all been there, of course.

I took these two shots in quick succession. The first one from a standing position and the second from my knees.

photography technique - taking pictures of kids

Taken from standing position

Taken from my knees

Taken from my knees

I’ve pondered for a long time the reasons this technique makes for more compelling pictures. I think it comes down to this:

  • You get a better look at their facial expression.
  • You feel more “in the moment” rather than looking “at” the moment.
  • The background is typically more attractive than looking at the ground or the floor.
  • The background is typically further away, so you benefit from larger depth of field in the image.
  • You get a better perspective on how big or small the child is.

What do you think? Do you agree that the shot taken from my knees is a more compelling photo? What other tips do you have for taking pictures of kids?

Too Many Social Networks, Not Enough Time

Too many social networks

 

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Foursquare, and YouTube. That’s the list of social networks that I spend “some” time on.

Wow, when I write them all down like that, it looks like a rather long list. Oh, boy. I’m going to be in trouble when my wife and my boss see this. I can hear them now. “Geez, Craig… don’t you ever work??”

To be clear, I do spend an hour (or so ~wink~) per day on social networks for work purposes (marketing, sales, research, learning, networking, etc).

I also spend probably an equal amount of time per day surfing social media to follow my personal interests and connect with friends and family.

If only I had more time

The interesting thing, and the inspiration for this post, is that I SHOULD be spending MORE time on social networks! I know, that sounds ridiculous to those closest to me, but perfectly reasonable to others.

Here’s the thing: There are too many social networks and not enough time.

How do people do it??

To get the most out of a social network, and to maximize your effectiveness as a social media marketer, you have to dedicate an enormous amount of time to search for, find, and then “follow”, “friend”, “circle”, or “connect” with a lot of people who share things you’re interested in.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have time to do that on ALL the social networks.

Social media can be overwhelming

I use Facebook on a daily basis because that’s where all my extended family and close friends are. Actually, I don’t really like FB anymore, but I have no choice since most of those people I want to interact with there aren’t in my other networks.

I use Twitter a lot, not only for marketing, but also to find and follow the latest and greatest information on dozens of business topics, personal interests, and of course current events. I also use it to network in a more public forum where you can connect with people you wouldn’t normally be able to.

Since I love photography I spend a few minutes most days on Instagram, “liking” probably 50% of the pics I see from the talented and creative people I follow.

And finally, I end up spending some time on YouTube because I love watching short videos that are fun, compelling, heartwarming, amazing, or informative. I suppose YouTube isn’t really a social network, but I lump it in there because it’s so tightly integrated.

So in summary, I’m actively building a following and networking on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. That’s all I have time for.

Need to spend more time on LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest

The problem is that from a marketing perspective (both personal and in business), I NEED to be spending more time on LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. And ideally without negatively impacting the time that I’m already spending on the other networks.

Alright, I admit that I could probably spend less time looking at awesome pictures and fun video, and I do sometimes reluctantly get sucked into looking at too many “shares” from my friends on Facebook, but that time only amounts to 10-15 minutes a day, and quite frankly I think it’s really important to follow your interests and stay connected with your friends and family.

Is Google+ the Future?

Google+ is actually a really interesting technology. I see it sort of like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram all in one. Google+ apparently has the 2nd largest active user base behind Facebook, and mark my words, they’ll figure out how to unseat Mr. Zuckerberg from the social networking throne. They didn’t become a gazillion dollar company by accident.

LinkedIn works

Same thing with LinkedIn. The Groups functionality is a really great way to connect, network, and build relationships with birds of a feather. More importantly for marketers and salespeople, although there are conflicting opinions on this, LinkedIn is arguably the most effective network for generating leads and driving revenue for your B2B business. B2C is a bit different. I might be wrong, but I think Facebook takes the cake there.

Pinterest is underrated

And then there’s Pinterest. It’s been long considered the social network for women who are interested in fashion, travel destinations, or home interior design. Not entirely true. While it’s a fact that at least 60%-70% of Pinterest users are female, there is a vast sea of amazing imagery on topics that guys are interested in too. Most men just haven’t taken the time to give it a chance.

More importantly, Pinterest (if used in the right way; and that’s a blog post for another day) can be a really effective way to market either your B2C or your B2B business. 50% of the humans on the Internet are primarily “visuals”. What better networks than Pinterest or Instagram, or YouTube to market your business?

So, knowing all that, in order to improve my personal and business marketing efforts, I really need to spend more time on LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.

What about You?

As a Marketer, are there any social networks that you’re neglecting? I’m curious. Which social networks do you feel you need to spend more time on?