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Transcript, edited for readability:
Over the course of this year, I’ve noticed something happening with a lot of small business owners like you. Even I haven’t been immune from this problem as my business has grown and grown.
That problem… is overcomplicating things on the path to success.
This problem shows up in a lot of different ways:
You might be stuck in analysis paralysis… not sure which way to go.
You might feel spread thin… trying to do a little bit of everything to figure out what is going to stick.
You might be nearing burn out and just trying to keep it together.
Or, you might be excitedly planning for the next phase of your business and oblivious to how difficult you’re making things for yourself.
There are 2 main reasons this problem crops up in the first place:
1) You work forwards instead of backward.
You’ve got a new goal and you’re ready to build on the success you’ve already had (whether that’s the decision to start your business in the first place or a long track record of making things happen). You start with what you’ve already got and look to add on to that.
And you add and add until your goal is in sight.
That’s working forwards. And it makes sense… but…
When you word forwards toward your goal, you layer idea on top of idea, or solution on top of solution.
You say, “I’ll work with 10 private coaching clients. Then I need to sell 100 courses. Then I’ll sell 500 books.”
You just keep adding things on until you reach your goal.
This creates a complicated and nearly impossible-to-follow plan.
When you work backward, you start with a goal and ask yourself, “What’s the fastest, simplest way I could reach my goal?”
You might discover that it’s by simply taking on 15 private coaching clients with a 50% price increase, which people will happily pay because your attention isn’t divided between them and trying to make your complicated plan happen.
Or, you might discover that it’s by simply selling 200 courses and putting all your attention on making your sales process as effective as possible, something you have time to do because you aren’t also seeing 10 private clients.
That’s not to say that multiple streams of revenue are bad or wrong. It’s just that layer upon layer, complication upon complication, in the service of hitting some far off goal isn’t going to get you where you want to go.
Focus your plan by working backward from what you want to achieve and keep it as simple as possible.
The other reason this problem occurs is:
2) You set incremental goals instead of exponential goals.
And that brings me to a personal story:
When my partner Sean and I moved back to Pennsylvania a year ago, he quit his job to pursue his creative interests including fiction writing.
He’d dabbled in writing for quite some time, working on character development or penning short vignettes, but he’d never devoted himself to it. He couldn’t find the discipline to take a single idea from start to finish.
And he knew that no matter how many days he worked on character development or short vignettes, he wasn’t going to end up with a completed novel until he changed the way he was approaching the whole pursuit.
So he gave himself a massive challenge…
…he decided to tackle NaNoWriMo.
If you’re not familiar, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it happens every November, right alongside No Shave November (for which he is also a faithful participant). The goal is to write approximately 1650 words every day of the month so that you end the month with a 50,000-word manuscript.
You do it knowing full well that the manuscript will likely be terrible…
…but at least it will be done.
This was going to be a real test: going from a scant 100-200 words per day to 1650 words per day? How could he manage it?
Well, he did. He actually finished early and proudly printed off the entire 50,000+ word manuscript on November 30, 2015.
The reason he accomplished it was simple…
He made structural changes to the way he approached writing. He was no longer just trying to get in some writing 100-200 words at a time, he structured his day around achieving the necessary 1600 words.
It wasn’t a matter of time or hustle. It was a matter of design:
- He stopped writing in a notebook and started writing in a Google Doc.
- He stopped writing at the pub and started writing in an office.
- He stopped putting it off til the end of the day and started prioritizing the action first thing.
- He stopped second-guessing every artistic choice he made and started moving through the plot bit by bit.
These 4 simple changes meant that he octupled his production in largely the same amount of time he was spending on writing before. Not only that, but he actually set a goal and reached it.
He could have forced himself to sit and work on character development and tiny plot points a few more hours a week, hoping that the extra work would eventually see his novel finished.
But that would have never worked.
It’s the same way with your business.
When you set a goal that’s just incrementally higher (maybe 10%, 20%, or even 50%), your brain automatically thinks that doing more will get you there. You’ll add photographing one more wedding to your schedule, you’ll work harder at building your list, you’ll pump out 2 more websites, you’ll sell a few more courses…
How long will you be able to keep that up?
How tired are you already?
The only way past this is to set a goal so much higher than what you’ve done before that you’re forced to consider an entirely new way of doing things, just like Sean.
You stop adding more clients, you stop building new content upgrades, you stop jamming more webinars into your schedule, and you look at the way your business is fundamentally structured.
Then, you can work backward and find the fastest, simplest way to this amazing new goal.
Now, let’s tackle two listener questions and apply this to their situation.
First up is Yvonne Radley.
Yvonne has a niche publicity and coaching practice for fitness and wellness business owners. She’s found success with a small email list but she’s looking to ramp up and break into new markets next year. Her best list-builder to date has been an email challenge she’s been running for 4 years.
So now she wants to know:
“What else can I do to grow my email list and break into new markets?”
Yvonne’s question is one that I’m sure is on a lot of minds for next year.
And our “fastest, simplest way” philosophy is going to come in handy.
First, realize that “list-building” has become a monster as a marketing mantra.
About 2 years ago, once every finally realized they weren’t going to be able to build their businesses with social media alone, the gurus started talking about list-building.
List-building, list-building, list-building.
And… everyone forgot that the goal isn’t to build your list.
The goal is to find the right people to become customers of your business.
You heard me: the goal isn’t to build your list.
Instead, you need to be 100% focused on finding the right people to become customers.
You don’t need to have tens or hundreds of thousands of people on your list to have a million dollar business.
So… what’s the fastest, simplest way to find the right people to become customers of your business?
It sounds like Yvonne already knows: it’s this challenge that she’s been running for 4 years.
I would look for ways to amplify that, to spread that challenge into new segments of her market. And I would do that 2 main ways:
1) By tapping into the people who have already gone through the challenge and asking them to share.
Her existing list is going to be a huge help in growing her audience. Craft a campaign specifically around re-engaging these people and asking them to share the wealth with their friends and family.
At this point, I’d also look for technology that can help to simplify this: a referral system, viral marketing campaign software, etc… She should be rewarding people (even if it’s just with a “thank you” email) as people refer their friends and she should be making it as easy as possible for them to do it.
2) Paid Advertising
When you have something that you know works to turn interested people into buyers, it’s time to invest in advertising and then look for ways to scale the campaign once it’s working. Plus, since Yvonne has her customer defined soooooo well, she’ll be able to target them easily and speak to them directly—which makes any advertising campaign much more effective.
I’d start by advertising some really great content related to the challenge: a video, a blog post, even a few photos. Build general awareness about your brand and the value it provides.
Then, I’d advertise the challenge itself.
You can even run a concurrent ad to the people who have done it in the past asking them to share it with their friends!
Finally, I’d use advertising to ensure the people who are signed up are actually consuming the content you’re sending them and following up on your pitch!
If Yvonne invests all her audience-growing energy into that 2-fold strategy, she should have a great chance at both building her list and finding the right people to buy.
Our second question comes from Michael, who’s just starting his business and wants to know how to set goals.
“As a new business owner, at what interval should I be setting goals and how often should I be reevaluating them?”
At Quiet Power Strategy, we do goal setting a little differently—and you guessed it, one of the big reasons is because I like to simplify and keep things focused.
So I ask clients to choose a Chief Initiative—the main driver of their activity for a period of time, generally 3, 6, or 12 months. That Chief Initiative is the core focus and single goal for that length of time. It’s the 1 thing you want to have created or accomplished in that time frame.
For a new business owner or even an established business owner who is looking to make some big changes, I recommend a 3-month Chief Initiative.
For Michael, that might mean securing 4 client contracts in the first 3 months of next year.
In order to do that, he’ll need to accomplish some supporting things as well. I call these Projects. Your Chief Initiative might have 3 Projects, it might have 10.
Michael will identify each of these Projects, things like completing his website, contacting warm leads, or creating a proposal template. Then, he’ll make a list of the actions he needs to complete for each Project.
Each of those Projects needs to have a definitive milestone or metric associated with them so you can measure their completion.
Finally, Michael should complete a pre-mortem for his Chief Initiative. All that means is brainstorming all the ways his plan could go wrong… and putting new actions or safeguards in his plan to keep those things from happening.
He can then work in 3-month blocks throughout the year to keep the business growing and keep him and Elizabeth feeling focused and productive.
If you’d like to dive deeper into this goal-setting technique and the idea of working backward instead of forwards, check out Episode 47 of Profit Power Pursuit, called Lead Yourself Backwards.
Plus, there’s more good goal-setting advice in Episode 28 Microplanning for Success with Natalie MacNeil and Episode 25 How to Focus & Get Stuff Done with Pam Slim.
That’ll do it for this episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. Remember to keep things simple, work backward, and set exponentially higher goals as you plan for next year.
Next week, I’ll be back with another listener-inspired episode so keep your questions coming! Simply write or record your question and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include your name, what you do, and where we can find you online so that I can give you a shout out!
If you loved this episode or any of the 60 deep dives we’ve done with successful small business owners over the last year, please subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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Tara: Hey everyone, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. I’m Tara Gentile, your host, and together with CreativeLive, we explore the unique strategies that creative entrepreneurs use to take control of their lives, profit from their passions, and pursue what’s truly important to them.
This week, I’m joined by both Jason and Jodi Womack. Jason Womack is the CEO of The Womack Company, an international training firm, and the author of Your Best Just Got Better. Since 2000, he’s coached leaders across industries and trained them in the art of increasing their workplace productivity and achieving personal happiness. Jodi Womack is the CEO of the Get Momentum Leadership Academy, and the founder of No More Nylons, a coaching program providing women business leaders with professional networking expertise. I spoke with Jason and Jodi about the importance of offline relationship building in an online world, the unique challenges of wooing corporate clients, and what they do to create momentum when even they get stuck.
Jason and Jodi Womack, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. Thank you so much for joining me.
Jason: Hey, delighted to be here, everybody.
Jodi: Good to see you.
Tara: Awesome. So I’d love to start with how you both transitioned from careers in education to starting an international consulting firm. What inspired you to start your business and kind of how did you navigate that transition?
Jason: You know, Tara, the short answer is we … we both make really bad employees, because we always had great ideas about what the companies we used to work for could be doing, and so in education, as a high school teacher back in the 90s, I really felt comfortable making up lesson plans, developing project-based learning, taking a look at portfolio assessment over time education. Jodi, meanwhile, was in the counseling office dealing with the kinds of issues that a high school campus might encounter when it comes to students who weren’t performing well on tests, doing their homework, or being quote/unquote good students, and so there were several stones in the river that got us from one side to the other side, and one of them was we both left education and worked for a private, very small at the time, consulting business, where we got to explore and start to take a look at, okay, who out in the world needs to know something, what do they need to know, and are they willing to pay for it.
Tara: Brilliant. Awesome. So what misconceptions did you have when you first started your business?
Jodi: Well, we had a good start, because we were working in a company that was also run by a married couple, and while we were there, we sort of got to look at what parts do we like and what parts do we don’t … we don’t like, and my thing was I never wanted to have a company where a whole bunch of employees came to my house, and that’s what I was going to every day, and I just saw what it did to their personal relationship, and I said I didn’t want to replicate that. But there were parts that I really did like, so my hope and goal was to be able to run an international company from a laptop and travel wherever the work was and not need staff, and I think the misconception for me was that we could do it all on our own, even with all the apps and tools and things, and so over the last nine years, we’ve evolved. We have a team of about twenty-four people now, but again, holding back to that original standard of not having people come to us. It’s a virtual team that’s located all over the U.S., and some people around the world, and we had to kind of build that ourselves to figure out what was going to work.
Jason: And on the content side, and I say this with a big smile, I was under the misconception that if I provided really, really good content and really, really good work, that that would speak for itself, and so what I’ve had to learn is a very delicate balance between creating the great material that when someone sees, they’re going to be naturally drawn to share it, and mapping that to what can be perceived as self-promotion. Oh, there’s Jason talking on his Facebook wall again about his new book.
Tara: Got you. So can … I want to talk more about the team piece in a little bit, but let’s … let’s start with this content piece, because I think that’s really juicy and it’s really relevant to a lot of people who are listening. So what have you noticed about content that actually helps you drive revenue without having that kind of self-promotional piece to it? How do you make that balance? What does that look like for you?
Jason: Everyone’s looking for … when they’re … when they’re reading something, listening to something, watching something that’s content-based, they’re trying to answer three questions. Who is this person I’m reading, listening to, or watching? What do they know that I don’t know? And can they help me with a problem I have right now? And so the best content that I think Jodi and I come up with, and it’s weekly that we can come up with things like this, is going to our user-base. Going to the clients that we just coached last quarter. Going to our current academy members. Following up when I do a workshop on site, and asking them, what are you dealing with in the next 90, 60, or even 30 days, and I really like that time period, Tara, because I think once we start getting into over the next year or over the next three years, for me, it gets really fuzzy, but if I can get someone to tell me a challenge that they know they’re going to face in the next 90 days, then all of a sudden, it gives me my own homework, and then I can go back to them and say, hey, you know, based on that conversation we had six weeks ago, I’ve created a white paper, a short video course, a new podcast episode.
Tara: Brilliant. That is incredibly juicy, and I hope everyone’s taking notes on that, because that’s really awesome. Can you tell me how you kind of parse that information that you get back? Because if you’re following up with people that often, you’re getting a lot of information. How do you decide what to focus on when you are creating that white paper or that video course or whatever, you know, kind of content you’re … you’re producing?
Jodi: Well, we find, number one, we put it in people’s hands directly. So it’s a personal email, it’s not just a giant blast that goes everywhere, because we find people just have become numb to that, and I don’t know about you about, you know, if you have a read later folder in your emails, but we find that we send something, we call to follow up, and we do, we hold people’s hands, because we’re the ones with the real interest. You know, that we want to be able to provide service.
Jason: And I know Jodi went digital really fast. I just want to make sure that we spotlight this. We’re just as apt to send a handwritten letter, a photocopied article. I’ll print up an article that I post over on Enterpreneur.com or TrainingMag.com, and I’ll pull that content over into a Word document, I’ll make it a two-column Word document. Up on the top left, I’ll put a big title. On the bottom right, I’ll put a picture and my bio. I’ll make it look like an article, and I’ll actually put that in the mail, and then there’s always a call to action, so if I … if I do mail you something, and by the way, for those of you who are listening to this right now, the easiest way to do this is for the next two weeks, listen to the questions that your customers ask. If you’re running a boutique, listen to the questions they ask you when they call you on the phone. If you run a restaurant, if you’re an artist, if you’re … I could keep on going. If you’ll come up with the five or ten questions that people ask you, then over the next two weeks, find out which of those two, three, four that you get asked over and over again. That’s where we find, if we can give someone some content, if we can copy … if we can write copy on something, if we can record a video on something, if we can give them something that they can use right away, all of a sudden, we become the source. I think, I think, Jodi, if you were to talk about for a moment your women’s business social, and how you gathered people together and became a hub of women in business, that could be a story people could walk away with.
Jodi: I literally printed up postcards at Vistaprint. You know, just online, overnight, and started walking around my community and hand, personally inviting people to my networking event, and it was one of those things that it just handled so many questions all at once. It was actually more time efficient, even though it seemed like it took a long time, but people then felt like they really knew me. And I love that expression, like, oh, what are you waiting for, a personal invitation? It’s like, yes, I kind of am.
Tara: Yeah, that’s great. I … I so love that you guys are highlighting this offline example, because for as wonderful as online business is and all the tools that we have now, we tend to forget that there’s all these techniques that have worked for time immemorial that are absolutely applicable to a business that’s run virtually as well. So I love this … this kind of juxtaposition of you guys running a distributed team in a virtual, you know, in all but virtual business, but also using these on-the-ground marketing techniques.
Jason: I’ve got a quick story on that. My third book is called Your Best Just Got Better. Someone wrote a review of the book, this is a few years ago now, maybe three or four years ago. This woman named Rongenie wrote a review of Your Best Just Got Better, and while I was up at my parent’s house up in Northern California, I took her name, and I pasted it into Google. It turns out that she was in charge of a NAWBO, National Organization of Women Business Owners organization, she was very prominent in her community. I called her at work to say thank you for writing the review. You would have thought like the president of some country had called her. And I tell you, to this day, she’s probably one of our longest-term members of our academy. She’s been to two of our three retreats in Ojai, and she continues … she hired us to come up to Pleasanton and run a program last year. So you know, someone can say, “But Jason, is it cost-effective to call everybody who writes a review of your book?” Well, my answer is yes.
Jodi: Well, and the other part is we’re not doing it as a sales technique. We do this to build our community, and people remember us, and that’s really what we want is a whole community of people who want to take our calls and who do in fact open our emails, because it’s … there’s … it’s just really noisy out there, and it’s really easy to hit that delete button, so it … the human experience, you just can’t underestimate how far it’ll go, whether it is with, you know, building clients, or just that word-of-mouth and people who are willing to speak on your behalf.
Tara: Yeah. Well, and Jason mentioned that, you know, first question that people are asking themselves when they’re reading new content is who is this person, and I think when you’ve got that offline connection, whether it’s a phone call or a postcard or something hand-delivered that, you know, you’re answering that question pretty … pretty definitively right there and then.
Jodi: Yeah. And I’ll share … I’ve also added it on the flip side where I put people’s images, I’ll Google them and find pictures of people that I’ve never met but have been long-time clients and put them in the phone app in the contacts, and I love when I see their face pop up on my phone. It’s like how human can we make this? How … you know, it’s like I know that person. I know them by their look and by their name, and it’s … it’s really very fun. It sparks so many valuable conversations that lead to more things. That’s really what we’ve learned in business. It really is just Jason and I making the whole company run as far as the marketing and the experience with … you know, we don’t have a sales staff. We don’t have people going out into the field on our behalf. That’s all us, and people, our clients will tell you they know us well.
Tara: I love that. How human can we make this? That’s a brilliant question for people to ask themselves. So let’s talk about the company and how you guys actually make money. What are all the different ways that your company generates revenue today?
Jason: There’s three, and what we found over the years was that having a multiple streams of income was absolutely significant. And for this, Tara, I’m going to take out the investing that we do, I’m going to take out the more passive income, and go to what we do actively. So there’s three streams. One is we run an online academy. It’s called Get Momentum. We also put on workshops and seminars. That’s under the Womack Company. And then we help companies build internal information, content delivery, and kind of white label content. We write it, but they get to use it on an annual, and they just re-up every year, whether or not they want to use that information again. So with the academy, it’s a membership program. People jump in for a year at a time. We say that it’s for recently-funded entrepreneurs, people starting up a company where they’re going to be put in a position of leadership, and then of course, on the corporate side, recently promoted managers. And really, what winds up happening is people join Get Momentum, and then they find out about what we do, so then they have us come in and do a workshop. We come in and do a workshop, someone hears about the content, they ask us if we can do a four to seven to twelve video series for their intranet, for their side of the firewall. So I don’t see it as much as three columns, as much as a triangle, where each one gets to lead to the next, to the next. The last thing I’ll say on that, because I know you’ll have a follow up question, is that recurring revenue model we knew we had to jump into a few years ago. So the idea of someone joining Get Momentum for twelve months, at the end of those twelve months, I’m going to look at Jodi, what do we have, eight? Probably 75-80% of retention. Meaning people sign up for another year.
Jason: So where everyone in the world will always look at us and go, well, you know, what are you doing about … what’s that word? Attrition, right? I just always smile. It’s like, well, people come in, and I mean here’s the deal, you know, for example, in April, we study time management. Look, everybody should probably spend a month a year studying time management. Later, in October, we’re going to study relationship management. I can’t find anybody who would say, “Oh, yeah, I studied that last year. I’m done.”
Tara: Brilliant. I love that. And I love how you … you really illustrated how the business model works. Like you said, it’s not three different columns, it’s not three different streams, they’re all related. They all feed each other in a system, and that’s … that, to me, is sort of the holy grail of setting up a really effective business model.
So I do have a follow-up question, clearly, and that is around the corporate clients that you work with and how you woo those corporate clients, because it’s something that often, my audience, my clients ask me about is, you know, how do I get in front of decision-makers at a, you know, companies larger and small. So what have you guys done to connect with the corporate market and develop relationships to book deals? Whether it’s for speaking or for executive coaching or the content marketing that you do.
Jason: So this is hindsight. This is, you know, we’re nine years into this together, and then I’ll get to the foresight on the other side. The hindsight is it’s referral-based. It is absolutely, you know, I could probably do a numbers game where 9 out of 10 pieces of work we get is because, you know, Bob at company Acme was just speaking with Sarah from company whatever. The real question is how did we create that in the first place, and what we did is … and we’re actually doing it again this summer, I’m … I moved … I put that in air quotes, I moved to New York for about two weeks, and in New York, using LinkedIn, Jigsaw, the New York Times, using anything I could do to find real, actual names of people who were at all involved in learning, leadership development, training, classes, I invited them. I invited them to coffee, to lunch, to happy hour, to dinner. Of those fourteen days I was in New York, Tara, I think I had about forty meetings over that time, and we have a story we tell internally, but one of those meetings over coffee was the most expensive coffee I’ve ever bought in my life. For three of us to get coffee, it was about $28. That has turned into nearly half a million dollars in booked business.
Jason: Building that relationship, maintaining that relationship, and then the real big thing is making it easy for people to refer you. The first chapter, the first stage of momentum, we just published a book a couple of weeks ago, the first stage of momentum is motivation, and what we mean by that is what do you want to be known for? What motivates you? So our clear and present job is to let people know here’s Jason, here’s Jodi, here’s what we want to be known for, here’s what motivates us. Your people on your staff being better leaders motivates me to want to be a better coach, let’s work together.
Jodi: Let me jump in, also, and it goes to this humanizing effect. Really understanding what people in the hiring position really value is so important, because a lot of times as vendors, we think, oh, our pricing is too high or too low. A lot of times, the cost of a speaker is about the same as the cost of a coffee break, you know, at a large conference, so it’s really not the significant factor, but you know, they’re putting their name on you. Like, they’re betting their reputation on you, if you’re the keynote, if you’re the person that they hire, and so our job is to always make them look good, and to make it really easy to work with us, and I think that’s part of the reason why we’ve had the same clients for the whole time. They take us with them when they jump jobs either sideways or up as they get up the ladder in the HR and training and development departments. We’re a known quantity, you know, a known entity, and they know they can trust us. That we’re going to be easy to work with, we’re going to do what we say, we’re going to show up when we say we’re going to show up, we’re going to make them look really good, and you don’t realize how much of their reputation is really on the line when they bring in an outside vendor, and understanding that game, and again, it goes to these real-life conversations and coffee chats and happy hours and asking good questions and listening to what they really value.
Tara: You know, Jason, you said something about making it easy for people to refer you. Do you have, you know, referral information?
Jason: Really tough. So after I do an event, if there’s any kind of good feedback at all via email or face-to-face or someone follows up, the question I ask is who do you know who has similar challenges to you, and would you connect us via email, I’d like to tell them what we do on the phone. That’s it.
Tara: So simple, so important, right?
Jason: And you know what, I mean, there’s probably three layers to that little process that I just gave you, that each one will scare people away. You know, I mean look, at bottom line, what I do, what Jodi and I do is very scary to some people. Jodi will look at me every now and then, because I’ll see her typing an email, and she’ll look over with this knowing look, because you know what I’m going to say.
Jodi: So the idea is like get away from hiding behind email and pick up the phone, and you would not believe how much time it saves from going back and forth and then wondering if they read your email, wondering what they’re doing with the email, all that. Just pick up the phone and make a call. Even if it’s a call to make an appointment to meet in person or you know, something, but set … put a real person behind it, because people like doing business with people they like and they know and they trust, right? So if you can be that person, and you know, it’s … the referral base is also all reputation-based. We … we’re only as good as our last gig, and everybody is connected, so we know that we have to really shine every single time, and handle anything. Like the more we talk with clients, the more we get to know where their pain points are, and anticipate it so we don’t drop the ball or we don’t let them look bad in any part of the whole process, and that’s really been our business model is stay in touch and don’t mess up. Stay in touch, do great work.
Tara: Oh, I love that. I love that.
Jodi: That’s our system.
Tara: That’s excellent. All right, so you guys mentioned that you’ve got a new book out called Get Momentum. I’d love to talk about the … just even the idea of momentum for a little bit, and specifically kind of the obstacles that we face, or even that you guys face in getting momentum for your work, for, you know, your day-to-day life, your productivity. What obstacles do you see to gaining momentum, getting a hold on things for your work today?
Jason: You know, I gave my first TEDx talk about a month and a half ago, and I led it off, I started off, I asked the audience a rhetorical question, and I asked, I said what if everything they’ve told us about achieving success is incomplete? What if there’s something more for us personally that we need to know, we need to do, we need to be, we need to have? And so if I look at the one thing, and I’m kind of giving Jodi a moment to think here, if I look at the one thing that blocks momentum, that forward motion, that get up off the couch and do what it is that you think should be different, do what it is you’re complaining about, do what it is that you know could be better, and look at any time I say, “Someone should …” or any time I hear someone say, “Why doesn’t someone just …” that to me is an indicator that I am someone. That they are somebody. So the number one thing that I think blocks momentum is that trust inside that they way other people have done it may not be the way I do it. That I will add my unique spin to it. People ask me all the time, Tara, “Jason, you’ve written a bunch of business books, you teach productivity tips, you talk to people about how they could be better managers and better parents. You know, what makes you different than anybody else?” And I go well, you’re listening to me right now, so I’m different than everybody else. That’s it. Where are you going to put your attention and where are you going to step into and do what it is that you know needs to be done?
Jodi: Okay, so my answer to that is we absolutely could not have written a book called Get Momentum: How to Start When You’re Stuck without having been stuck ourselves over the years. Personally, professionally, all that good stuff. And so a lot of it comes from our experience and our stories, and then we also pull from the Get Momentum membership, and people have shared some really big events that they’ve worked on in their lives and what they’ve been stuck on, and we found themes. So there’s activities, it’s very practical, but you know, for me, it’s about getting out of the day-to-day and looking up and out. You know, it’s having a more executive experience in my own business, and not being in the weaves and the day-to-day so much. Bringing in all these people to help support us and have this virtual team means that I end up being the bottleneck more often than I’d like. People are waiting for me to decide and give feedback and give the green light, and so my next challenge and real opportunity is how do I act more like an executive and let other people, you know, for me to set the vision and allow other people to step up to help and support us that way.
Tara: Okay, so I want to talk more about that for sure, because that, I think, is a very, very common problem, and I love that you guys are so far along in your business, you’ve already created all the success, and that’s still something that you’re wrestling with, but I want to back up for just a second, and Jodi, you said, you know, you couldn’t have written this book if you guys hadn’t been stuck before. So could you tell me about a time when you guys were stuck, or when you personally were stuck, and how you found momentum again?
Jodi: That’s a stumper. We’re both looking at each other.
Jason: Yeah. Daily?
Jodi: Well, the Get Momentum program came out of this feeling of being stuck where we were doing these executive coachings, we were doing … Jason was on stage doing these workshops, and it was like having a day job. If we didn’t go to work, we didn’t get paid. You know, we had to show up and be there in order for the work to happen.
Jason: The writing was on the wall for me. There was one year I … I took 168 flights in 12 months, and I was in hotels just shy of 300 nights that one year, and you know, where I was stuck, and this is going to sound ironic or weird, but I was stuck making a lot of money. I mean, don’t get us wrong, you know, we were living fine, but as Jodi just said, if I wasn’t on stage, we could not submit an invoice to a client.
Jodi: We didn’t have a company, we just had our own jobs that we had created. So that was the stuck of not being able to figure out how to get out of that successful loop, but there was really no end to that. We were in our 30s.
Jason: So let’s … let’s … let’s do how we got out of it.
Jason: Because I think that’ll be … there’s a couple lessons that we can share with that one. So Tara, it was back in two-thousand, and I want to say eleven (2011), and I ran an experiment, and we did an email campaign, we sent emails out to about 6000 people, our list was small. We sent an email out to 6000 people, we actually sent 12 emails out to 6000 people over one month asking them what is it that you need information, education, coaching wise that would be of service to you? Long, long, long story short, we created a one-month pilot Get Momentum program that was a class a week, it was a call with your coach a week, and it was a workbook that each member had to fill out of worksheets a week. Now, because it was so intensive, I could only take ten people in this program. Tara, when we opened registration for that ten-person spot, we sold out in 36 hours, and we opened the cart on December 27th. So with everything that was going on, with holidays, with New Years, with all of this, there were ten people who within 36 hours, they wrote us a check, and they said Jason and Jodi, we’re all in. So we did that one-month program, we reached out to those ten people, so this is the iterative process, we reached out to those ten people, and we said look, we can’t keep doing this, the numbers won’t work, but what if we did a monthly program? Not a weekly one, but a monthly one. And so you know, for anybody who is interested to see how we’ve created an online recurring revenue information/education-based business, you can get all those details at GetMomentum.com, but it’s what we had to do that would pull me off the road while maintaining this thought leadership domain expertise that Jodi and I have.
Tara: And how did you manage that transition? Because I think a lot of people, you know, you mentioned you’re constantly on an airplane, you’re constantly in a hotel, you’re constantly on stage. How did you find the space to create even the idea of this monthly coaching program, this monthly academy, and navigate the transition between those two things?
Jason: So there’s a term that people use for when people are playing pool and there’s one person who can really play pool well, but they don’t let everybody know that they can play pool well until they start betting for money. You know that saying?
Jason: Tara, I’ve been studying personal productivity and time management for 19 years. I’ve taught more than 3000 classes on personal productivity, project management, time management. I’ve read hundreds of articles, dozens of books, if there’s a class out there, I’ve taken it. So what I’ll say is there’s a tactic I came up with a long time ago that I’ve been using ever since. Let me explain it, and I’ll ask everybody who’s listening to this, do this for a month, and your life will change. So Tara, I call it the 30/30 rule. 30 minutes a day I work on anything that’s not due for 30 days or more away. So what I’ll do is I’ll open up my calendar in the morning, and I’ll go three, I’ll go four, five, six, seven weeks into the future, and I’ll pick something. Here’s my question I ask: What will I wish I had started working on sooner? And look at personal or professional. Right? Maybe five weeks from now, I’m planning to throw a surprise birthday for my sister. Maybe six weeks from now, Jodi and I are going to take a long weekend vacation. Maybe nine weeks from now, I’m … I’m rolling out a brand new product to a client that we’re working with for the first time. If I’ll spend 30 minutes today working on that, if I’ll spend that little bit of time where I carve out not working on what’s due tomorrow, in 30 or 60 or 90 days, I’m going to be ahead.
Tara: I love that. I love that. I’m going to start doing that. That’s such a great question to ask.
Jason: 30 minutes a day, and look, you know, I’m going to pull in on all the people that you and I know. There’s so many guys out there that are saying, look, for the first 30 days, maybe you need to get up a half an hour early, maybe you need to forego one episode of that one TV show that you want to binge watch over the weekend. I don’t care how you buy or borrow or beg or steal or find these 30 minutes, but if you’ll do this, within 30 days, that’s the bad news, right? If you start doing this today, you won’t know if it works for 30 days from today, but I can all but promise you get to 30, 45, 60 days from now, and over that period of time, you’ve been working a half hour a day on the things that are already coming at you, you’ll be shocked.
Tara: Yes. I think that’s a really … that 30-day bet is a really good bet to take. All right, let’s talk more about this executive experience piece, and how you guys are setting yourselves up to do that, because Jodi, I love that you mentioned that you’ve noticed that you’re really the bottleneck, or can be the bottleneck in your business, and I find that with my clients a lot that, you know, they’re getting better at delegating, they’re hiring more people, they’re investing more in the structure of their business, but at the end of the day, everyone still reports to them. Everyone, you know, still needs something from them to make value happen, to make progress on their to do list. So what specific things have you been doing to eliminate that bottleneck from your business?
Jason: So two things, and I think I’ll have Jodi come in on the second one, which is the Monday meetings. So I’ll have you talk about that. Here’s the first one: we are the cumulative …
Jason: The cumulative average of the people that we spend time with the most. Way back when, before I knew I needed a coach, I had a coach, I didn’t know she was coaching me until later on she told me, “I was coaching you.” But Martha, a woman who helped me a long time ago, she had me make a really easy, quick spreadsheet, it had five rows, and it had about a half a dozen columns. In the first column on the left-hand side, she had me write down the five people that I had been spending the most time with. The next column, how much money each one of those people made per year. The next column, how many books they read per year. The next column, how many days of vacation they made per year. You’re getting where I’m going with this. Well, what wound up happening is when I took those five people that I had been spending the most time with, and I averaged out how much money they made, how many days of vacation they took, how many books they read, I was living the average of those five. So here’s what I’ve done over the past nine years, I continue to add another C-level, executive, founder, entrepreneur. Basically, I look for people who are busier than I am, and I get coaching from them, even if it’s a hike in the woods, a chat over a coffee. I’ll fly around, literally, I flew to Singapore last Thanksgiving so I could have two dinners with a guy over there that I knew if I could hang out with Mark for an extra 48 hours this year, that influence was going to carry me to the next level, and it did.
Tara: Wow. That’s incredible.
Jodi: Yeah, and having those mentors in your life, even like Jason was saying, if it’s over coffee. Learning how to be an executive, nobody teaches you that. They teach you how to be a good employee and competent worker, but learning how to hand things off, follow-up, and train people along the way, that’s … that’s big … that’s big learning to do.
The other thing that is really a surprise to me because nobody likes meetings and I’m especially one of those people that don’t like meetings, but I found that people let me down or I … I don’t like being surprised by people when they come up with something that wasn’t what I wanted, right? And I find that it’s usually my fault not guiding them better along the way. So we’ve created these Monday meetings with each of our teams, and they’re fast, they’re painless, everybody needs to come in with their agenda or they’re not allowed in, and then we have one person that tracks all of the action steps and who’s doing them. That was not a great strength of mine, and that’s one of the things about being executive is learning to find somebody who’s really great and wants to do things that you don’t want to, and so you know, it’s basically a glorified note-taker, but someone who’s really acute to following along and capturing who said they’ll do what, and if nobody claimed it, they’ll say near the end of the meeting before we break, “Well, who’s going to take that one? Who’s owning that piece?” And I’ll tell you, at the end of meetings, everybody always walks away, before we had this piece, saying, “Oh, so and so’s handling that,” and it’s like all the fingers were pointing to somebody else. Nobody knew. So really clarifying who’s going to do what by when has helped us keep projects on time, on schedule, on budget, and that there’s few surprises, and you know, people don’t want to disappoint. I think people work really hard. I work really hard. I don’t want to disappoint anybody, and so just building in a couple more touchpoints, and again, making it a human experience for the staff and the … the freelancers and all the people helping us out, making sure that every … I know that they know that I know that everybody’s on board. That’s really been a big learning curve for me, because my go to is like I’ll just do it. I’ll figure out how to do a WordPress blog site or something, you know, and I have no business doing that. And that’s really the hardest part about being in this executive type space is not going to that go to belief or core inside of like I’ll just do it, and training people so that they can help us along the way.
Tara: Yeah, I love it. So what’s next for you guys?
Jason: Let’s see, I’ll date stamp this thing. We’re in Ohio right now. We’re speaking at an Agile … I’m speaking at an Agile conference in healthcare, and I really am fascinated by, if I look at what’s next, if I look at the next three, four years, you know, 2020 has always been something, I just like the numbers put together, 2020, but Jodi and I spend a good portion of our time working with clients, asking them what will your workplace look like in 2020? Now, in many instances, it acts as a conversation stopper, because people are like, “Dude, I can’t think about this weekend, let alone 2020.” But it’s what I spend my … it’s what I spend my free time looking at. So the big thing that’s next for us is the Get Momentum Leadership Academy, it’s growing. We’ve opened up another level of membership to make it easier for people to get access to our information, without having to commit to the monthly one-on-one coaching calls, because all of that was a staple of our program, and Jodi and I both know how powerful it is to schedule a meeting with each one of our members. There were people out there that said, “Jason, A, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the budget, or right now, I simply need to read and listen to and watch what you create.” So you know, with a big smile, I’m studying very closely business schools, specifically executive education at business schools, because I see in the 2020, 2025, there’s going to be a lot more self-ownership of letting creativity, letting intuition, and letting curiosity guide their learning. And just to kind of, you know, as I know we’re bringing this to an end, it’s why I see CreativeLive being the support system and structure that it is. People are very … I don’t think we’re going to be moving toward a future where people are told as much what to learn, but they’re going to have to figure out how to, because there’s so darn much information to go get.
Tara: I love that, and that is a great place to leave it, but I think that’s also a great jumping off point for another conversation that we’ll have to have sometime soon, I think.
Well, Jason and Jodi Womack, thank you so much for joining me.
Jodi: Thanks, Tara.
Jason: Absolute pleasure, and please, everyone out there, we’re huge CreativeLive fans. If there’s anything we can do for this community or your friends, just reach out. We’d love to stay in touch.
Tara: Check out Jason and Jodi’s new book, Get Momentum, and their executive education academy at GetMomentum.com, plus find Jason’s class, Think Bigger, Make More, at CreativeLive.com/Business.
My guest next week is feminist wedding photographer and founder of Catalyst Magazine, Carly Romeo. Carly and I talk about how being a feminist wedding photographer helps her stand out in a crowded industry, why she decided to pursue a print magazine in the digital age, and how she manages her time to make sure all her projects actually get done.
That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., a CreativeLive podcast. Download more episodes of this podcast and subscribe on iTunes. If you appreciate this kind of in-depth content, please leave us a review or share this podcast with a friend. It means the world to us.
Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode. Our audio engineer was Kellen Shamezu. This episode was produced by Michael Karsh. We add a new episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week. Subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you love to listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode.