Fear

“A good plan violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”
-George S. Patton

Dramatic scene on the sky. Vintage fighter plane inbound from su

 

I love staying in touch with students who go through the entrepreneurship program.  When it comes to work, I do not think there is anything more fulfilling than being around entrepreneurs and their growing companies – especially young ones.  I find the way they view the future inspiring.

The other day I met with one of the most promising recent ISU entrepreneurship program grads.  The topic of the meeting was “what is next?”

We talked about planning.  And how bad it can be for a startup.  He identified an area where he had succumb to planning paralyzation.  He had a plan in the works re: going national which combined implementing mass production and replacing an existing product line.  The problem was it had been in the works for almost a year now.  Mass production and new product lines are a big deal, but he realized he needed to stop planning and start doing – even if it meant his plans might not go perfectly.  Fear can keep us in planning mode.  What if this?  What if that?

Planning and acting.  When balancing the two, a good way is to do just enough planning to act well.  Just enough to decide what you need to learn, what action it will take to learn it – and no more.

By the end of our talk he had come up with an action plan.  Within twenty-four hours he had sent me a note describing the results of some of the actions he was taking.  They were good results. Results he would have never realized if he was still planning.

 

A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

 

Rhetoricals: Is there anything that you have been planning for awhile now? Is it time to take some action? What assumptions are you making in your plans? Which assumption is the most critical to your plan succeeding? What is the smallest action you can take to learn whether or not that assumption is correct?

Actives: What do you think a good balance between taking action and planning is? Any helpful books, takeaways, stories, lessons learned on the subject?

 

Time Management

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Woodpile In Scottish Forest

The first time I heard ‘work smarter, not harder’ I was like ‘yeah – sign me up.’  The second time I heard it I was like ‘yeah, that is going to be harder than it sounds’.  After struggling for some time to apply that which is the ambiguity of the instruction ‘work smarter, not harder’ I came across a simple way to apply it each day.

Have you heard the idea that if you take fifteen minutes to plan out your day you will gain it back ten times in productivity?  Me either, but after doing it for several months I am convinced it is true and man – does it feel good to prioritize and knock things out.  To accomplish this Dave Ramsey suggests spending 15 minutes each day before we start work listing and categorizing our tasks into one of the following three categories:

  • A – Must be done today
  • B – Should be done soon, but today would be nice
  • C – Everything else

Once we have our items into one of these three categories number them by order of importance.  Put a 1 next to the most important ‘A’ item and a 2 next to the next most important ‘A’ item and so on.

I like this.  It hits one of the larger ideas from Getting Things Done by David Allen which is getting to do items out of our head and on to a list so they do not take up space – brain space.  I have found this to be very calming.  I use a google doc so I can always have access to it, which I find handy.  I love the feeling I get when I strike something out.  (actually I turn it blue)  I know I have had a good day if all my ‘A’ tasks get done.  I also have different headings – work, personal, etc.  I tie my daily tasks in to my goals by reviewing my goals before creating my list each day, which has been a helpful way to have day-to-day focus that leads to where I want to be long-term.  If things pop up during the day that can not wait until tomorrow I have a section creatively named ‘items for tomorrow’.  I categorize them the next day – genius, should I slow down?  When things pop up that seem urgent I ask myself ‘are they more important than my ‘A1’ item?’ or whichever item is up next, this helps me focus on what is important.

A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

 

Any other time management tips or systems?  What’s your favorite book on time management?  As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned would be the coolest but anything is cool.

 

Goals

Goals are visions and dreams with work clothes on.

-Dave Ramsey

Work Boots

During my studies I became very interested in goal setting.  I will never forget an ISU alumni and entreprenuer who came in and gave a brilliant talk on goal setting.  “Write your goals down” he said.  “I’ll give you the secret to achieving all your goals” he said.  Yeah, I was listening – and that day, that speaker, that talk – changed my life.

After that talk I became very, very interested in goal setting.  I wanted to learn everything I could about it so I got some help from a couple professors.  Professors are trained researchers.  They hunt for, consume, and analyze information and data at an incredible rate.  They are particularly good at doing meta data analysis, a high level summary of all the research and publications on a given topic.  I was lucky enough to have taken a class with an entrepreneurship professor named Dr. Terry Noel who made a study of goal setting.  Dr. Noel also condensed his findings into a year long online course on setting and achieving goals that I was fortunate enough to take.  About a year or so after I finished Dr. Noel’s course, Dr. Doan Winkel also helped me research goal setting.  If you are looking for more of a DIY approach, Doan and I took what we learned up to that point and wrote a series on goal setting.

If you do not have the time to check out either of those, I must give you the summary.  Great goals are;

  1. measurable and time bound,
  2. written down, and
  3. read daily.

Now the secret I learned a few years back that changed my life. If you want to achieve every goal you set this is the secret:

Do at least one thing each day to move you even just a tiny, little, almost laughable bit closer to achieving your goal.  Everyday.

In my experience, goals are not mythical, ever elusive things that are just beyond our understanding.  Goals are quite simple.  Let me restate that.  Great goals are quite simple, but they can require hard work.  And it is typically not the kind of hard work that makes us say “I am not going to get off this treadmill until I lose 5 pounds.”   More often than not it is the kind of hard work that persistence and discipline over time affords.  It leaves us saying “I will spend 30 seconds to track the calories that I consume every time before I put anything in my body, and I will not consume more calories than I burn in a day, everyday.”  If this sounds like hard work, perhaps this particular thing is not so important to you.  In my experience it is much better to start with fewer goals that you are passionate about.  When you do not care so much, goals become the hardest of things you set out to do.  When it is something you are passionate about, really passionate about – it becomes easy.

 

A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

 

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned about this stuff would be the coolest but anything is cool.  Does anyone else have any tips or lessons learned on setting great goals?   

 

Mission Statements – part 2

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Young couple in love outdoor.

I went through a large portion of my life without a mission statement.  I remember thinking, “mission statements are for suckers” or something equally as stupid.  Then I remember a few years where the idea of a mission statement didn’t sound so stupid after all.  Then I recall a few years where I thought “I need me one of those” or something equally as brilliant.  Then, a few years later, I actually sat down and started to put one to paper.  Looking back I wish I would have done it much, much sooner.  But perhaps this is the natural cycle.  None the less if I could have done it over again I would have made one sooner.

From the time I put it on paper to the time I thought of it as final-ish (I think it is ok to tweak them as you grow) about two to three weeks passed.  I visited it once a week for a few weeks and it was done.  Immediately after I finished it, I recall a feeling of great peace – it was a very settling feeling.  Within days I noticed how it made decisions easier – it made life less stressful.  Especially as an entrepreneur, you will get several people who come to you with ideas for companies and ventures and projects and the like.  This is all good and awesome and a gift.  Still, we can’t do them all well. Having a mission statement acts as a helpful filter to these types of decisions.  I am of the belief that a good mission statement helps us make all sorts of decisions better and with the end in mind – so as not to be distracted from what is really important.

A tip to get you started

One of my mentors recommended an online tool that Franklin Covey makes available for free called the mission statement builder.  My family has used this tool many times as a starting point for mission statements.  It asks a series of questions that will help you determine your values, which is a great place to start when creating a mission statement.

 

 A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

 

Anyone have any other tips on creating mission statements?  Any stories about how yours has helped you make a tough decision?  As always comments re: good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned would be the coolest but anything is cool.  

 

Mission Statements – part 1

“Without a really good mission statement you have the potential to get to the top of the ladder
only to find it is leaning against the wrong building.”

-Dan Miller

 

bigstock-businessman-drawing-diagram-41173549

Another quote that comes to mind here is “Begin with the end in mind” from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Mr. Miller’s quote above paints a great picture of climbing a ladder.  So many of us are hard workers.  Many of us are even very intentional about our focus, goal setting and the like.  But if we skip this step of stopping to develop our mission in life, to what end are we working, focusing and toiling away?  It would be a shame to finally get to the top, after all that hard work, and realize we weren’t happy with where we were.

 
A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

 

As always comments re: good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned would be the coolest but anything is cool.  

Vision

“Dreams become a reality only when you pull them gently from the clouds and convert them to visions.”  

-Dave Ramsey

 

bigstock-Little-Superhero-51840154

Vision is key to sustaining motivation for yourself and those around you.  In The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni lays out a set of six questions that he feels will help organizations create clarity.  The first of the six questions is ‘Why do we exist?” Lencioni suggests the answer to this question should be something just short of “to make the world a better place.”  A vision is something that will likely never change for and organization.  It should inspire and fulfil.  It should be something people can get passionate about.  Our vision at Mavidea is to “Have fun serving others.”  How cool is that?  Our vision at internrocket is to “Help people do what they were designed to do.”  That just gets me fired up everytime I see it.

 A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

What is your organization’s vision?  Have you heard of any inspiring visions worth sharing?  How about resources for developing visions? Also, as always comments re: good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned would be the coolest but anything is cool.

Dreamers

“Dreaming is a sign you have hope.  Dreaming is a sign you still think you can win.  Dreaming keeps you young.”

-Dave Ramsey

 

Sailing regatta, during sunset.

Dreaming is important.  I once learned a lesson to harness my dreaming potential into something entrepreneurial.  The tactic started with a simple human hack.  Here’s the hack:

When you get frustrated or even simply inconvenienced, train yourself to take a note.

Often these inconveniences turn into companies.  The idea is, if you are inconvenienced, frustrated, or even in pain – someone else might be feeling the same thing.  Maybe a lot of people are and you can help them!  This is a simple way  you can find an opportunity to serve lots of people.  Pretty cool for something that started out as a pain in the rear huh?

If you know you are destined to be an entrepreneur but are looking for your big idea, try asking your friends and family to keep a similar log and send you their notes from time to time.  Did you ever think listening to someone complain could be a gold mine? It can.

 A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

Anyone have any examples of companies that started this way?  How about inconveniences of your own that might make a company?