Wednesday, December 26, 2012


When you want to get something done, how important is it to specify the time you are going to start? 

Turns out Precision and Specificity are mighty helpful when listing things to get done. Researchers have found that even chronic procrastinators are eight times more likely to follow through on planned for tasks if they set a specific time to start them. 

In “Be Excellent at Anything,” author Tony Schwartz illustrates this point.

A group of subjects was asked to exercise at least once a week for twenty minutes. Certainly not a daunting task, yet only 29% complied. Another group was also asked to exercise but they were provided information on the impact exercise plays in reducing heart attacks. This, of course, was a ploy to motivate them. Compliance rose to 39%. A third group was asked to commit to exercising at a specific time, on a specific day, and designated location. Compliance more than doubled to 91%! Wow!

Why does this work? When we define precisely what we’re going to do, then specify a time to start we’re more likely to actually do it. And, we’re far less likely to suddenly “discover” there is something else that is more pleasurable or easier to do instead of our intended task.

Think about a To Do List in which you didn’t specify when you would do any of the tasks. Perhaps you created your list the evening before you left work. Then the next morning, suddenly the tyranny of the urgent, along with the pull of your old previous habits, overpowered you. You looked at your list and said, “I can do that, that, and that later, maybe this afternoon.” Later, you looked at your list again and told yourself, “I really don’t have time to do any of these things today. I’ll do them tomorrow.”

So what’s the solution?

Simple: Give yourself no leeway in the start time. Make an appointment with yourself to start the work you have on your list at a specified time. If a phone call or conversation is running long, say to the other person, “I’m sorry I have another appointment, can we continue this later?”

When you set and adhere to a schedule with specific times to start things, right down to your family commitments, the activities not only expand to fill the time allotted to them, they also contract to fit within the time allotted. To make this work for you, the following tactics are recommended:

  • Precision and Specificity: Define precisely what you plan to undertake -- and specify exactly when you will get started. The more physically, mentally or emotionally challenging the task, the greater the need to be precise and specific about the start time.
  • Doable Chewables: Undertake only one task at a time. Start small and build on incremental successes as you go through your list of things to do each day. 
Now common sense tells us these are good ideas, right? So why don’t we get with it and start achieving more? Because life interferes, we get distracted. It’s a constant struggle to minimize our distractions and use the precious time we have wisely. But to win, we gotta work smarter. And, yup, we can do that.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


All serious sailors know how to win a sailboat race. You win by getting a good start. Win the start—win the race. I think winning in business is also hugely facilitated by getting a good start. Throughout the year there are chances to get a good start or a good re-start at many things that make for winning in business. Certainly this is true when you get back to work after the December holidays and the New Year celebrations.

How to start off right in 2013 and have the best year ever, this is the subject of my Chalk Talk for January.
Winning in business has many requirements of course and central to them all has to be clearly identifying and successfully putting forth your top profit generating behavior, the things you say and do that bring in money. Successful businesses thrive on money making activities and on the operational activities that produce immediate, ongoing, or future income.

As a business owner, the key to focusing time and effort on money making activities is to keenly understand which day-to-day actions (behaviors) produce steady profitable income. Simple sounding huh, yet many business owners have not isolated these activities nor have they identified enough time to employ them so as to secure the desired results, more net income. How can you expect to double your net income if you do not start with the vital planning step?

Money making activities must be scheduled during peak money making hours. And all conditions that contribute to this must be present and working flawlessly.

The notion of clearly identifying your top money making activities and getting them working well for you as you start another year, your best year ever, will be the subject of our CHALK TALK in the January 2013 meeting of the Master-Mind Alliance. 


What is the purpose of life? This is a great question, one that does not get asked enough and certainly does not get answered adequately enough. How does the purpose of life interact with and affect business ownership? Are these things related? Need they be? If they are… how so?

The purpose of life is to find and pursue our interests successfully. That’s what it’s all about. And when that is somehow prevented, all sorts of unhappiness, emotional misery, depression and even fits of rage can occur. Truly and undeniably, chronic, bone crushing frustration is a terrible thing. At work chronic frustration and low productivity is what often puts a business out of business, or even worse, cause a business owner to succumb to life’s greatest temptation which is to settle for less.

All of us have NEEDS and WANTS. We certainly do. When we get our needs satisfied we start going after our wants.

What do we NEED? We have two kinds.

First, we have physical or tangible NEEDS. We need breathable air, drinkable water, decent food, clothing, shelter, and health, both physical and mental, and a temperate climate, one that’s not too hot and not too cold and is free from radioactivity.

Second, we have emotional or intangible NEEDS. We need to feel competent, that we are good at something that matters to people, good enough and public enough that we are recognized for our talent and skill. We need to feel significant, that we make a difference. And we need to feel loved or at least lovable or at the very least, respected.

Everything else in life that we might seek or go after is a WANT, a desire, but not a need. And the getting or securing of some of the things we want helps us improve the quality and quantity of some of the things we need and generally get the more under our control as well.

Needs and wants, wants and needs, it’s a circularity type of thing.

So what do we WANT? We want MONEY because money is instrumental in the getting of all things, both needs and wants. When we get money by working, we get success, recognition, respect and yes, even love sometimes because when we have enough money we can focus our attention on forming meaningful relationships.

Does purpose matter in our business life? Oh yeah, big time. We even have a special name for purpose when attached to a business. We call it MISSION.

After we get these things we want then we’re on the meaning trail. Do we get meaning from food? No. Do we get meaning from clothes? No. Some people say clothes make the man, but we don’t get meaning from clothes we just get fancy clothes. And shelter, well shelter can make us comfortable and maybe give us status but it can’t give us meaning. Meaning is a consequence of the things we say and do. Meaning comes from the results generated by our behavior as we strive for success. Now we’re right back to the place we started.

Identifying and pursuing interests that we have—and doing so successfully—that’s what gives our life meaning. What we’re looking for is success, because success at something in which we have keen interest gives us meaning. We achieve success through behavior, things we say and things we do. So in the end, it is success at things attached to our interest, that’s what we really want. That’s what gives us the feeling of competence and significance.

There are three reasons why we sometimes don’t achieve more success in our business. Reason number one: we have no strategic plan of any kind. Reason number two: we have a plan but we don’t implement it. Reason number three: we implement our plan but it does not work, does not make us enough money.

Think about the importance of a plan. If we get into our car and decide to drive to Florida, and we take no map or compass and we pay no attention to road signs and we never ask anyone for directions, we won’t ever get there. We’ll be lost forever. And yet people do this in the business all the time. They wander and ramble around aimlessly, haphazardly and wonder why they’re frustrated and considerably less than happy about their lack of positive results and success. For our business to succeed, we need a plan, we must implement our plan and our plan has to work. Common sense.

So how do we get more of what we want at work and in life too?

Author Brian Tracey, a guy I really like, wrote the following two paragraphs on this very subject in a newsletter to which I subscribe.

Have you been taught how to succeed? The most common question I'm asked is, “What’s the most important ingredient to success?” And my answer is ALWAYS the same: You need a strategic plan that works and you must implement it successfully. According to, a strategic plan is a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them. So, do you have one?

Have you ever wondered how you can become more satisfied in life - how you can enjoy life more than ever? Well, simple clarity accounts for probably 80% of success and happiness. Lack of clarity is more responsible for frustration and underachievement than any other single factor. That’s why we say that SUCCESS IS GOALS AND ALL ELSE IS COMMENTARY. People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine. This is true everywhere and under all circumstances. You could even say that the three keys to high achievement are, Clarity, Clarity, Clarity, with regard to your goals. Your success in life will be largely determined by how clear you are about what it is you really, really want.

Tracey is dead on right. To win in all our business activities we need goals and a decent game plan and clarity and we must be able to successful implement our plans. Successful implementation matters in business and in sports and in life too. We must play well, everywhere, all the time.

“Play great or get beat.” ~Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers Football Team

How to play and therefore be better at everything: Set better goals, talk more convincingly, close more deals and make more money. It’s all about the thinking we do, the words we use, the helpful input we seek and accept, the persuasion tactics we employ and how well we formulate and execute strategy. We work on this stuff at every Master-Mind Alliance meeting and always will, because pursuing our interests and doing so successfully is what life is all about.


Every day, all the time, you are either thinking, dreaming, scheming, wishing, or saying and doing things. This is all behavior. Your behavior defines you as a person, an individual, a unique human being. Doing these things well at work matters a lot, a whole lot. Sadly and unnecessarily, for some, making this happen is a constant source of frustration.

At your work there are certain things that you say and certain things that you do that make things happen, that benefit your clients/customers, employees, partners, yourself, your business and even your community.

The things you say and do regularly and repeatedly, because they are essential to your success at work, can be divided into two categories. Things you CHECK ON and things you DO (including talking). In the Master-Mind Alliance World, we call these Checking On Behaviors and these Doing Behaviors “ROUTINES.” And for success to be attained and maintained, these crucial behaviors must be mastered and continually improved.

When people come into the program they sometimes have way too many things that they check on and do. We encourage everyone to do an audit of their ROUTINES, to examine and filter and boil down and streamline their ROUTINES to the few essentials, a more manageable number of activities. The people who have way too many things going on must go through this audit and streamline procedure because only afterwards is it possible for them to achieve mastery of their now more reasonable number of ROUTINES. No one can personally master fifty separate ROUTINES. Three to five or six ROUTINES is a much more reasonable number. An audit of your ROUTINE Checking On and Doing Behaviors is a logical and useful place to start yourself on the road to a DONE Business.

A DONE Business is the grand goal, the top level, the ultimate accomplishment, for once achieved and maintained, business owner nirvana occurs. And that is ABSOLUTELY SPLENDID.