Ok so this post is about a month overdue, it’s a follow up to part one. Better late than never though. A lot has changed in the past month, so I’ll do my best to keep this 2013-related.
My Biggest Lessons from 2013
Don’t lose the forest for the trees. It’s so easy to get caught up in a project, deal, business challenge, etc, and spend so much time and emotional energy on it. One of the biggest things I learned this year is that most of the small stuff, despite how important it may seem in the moment, won’t really matter much 5 years from now. It doesn’t affect my vision that much, and getting caught up in it can actually distract my energies from my greater vision in life.
Look inside for strength. Develop spiritually.
This year has been a spiritual path for me, I just didn’t know it until the last couple of months. It wasn’t intentional, but it was deep, powerful, sometimes enlightening, and sometimes painful. Now I’m on this path more consciously into 2014. I’ve found an incredible spiritual mentor/guide, I’m reading a ton of new books, and have been meditating consistently.
Despite being a self-proclaimed atheist all my life, I’m finding god in my own way, and feeling a lot stronger in all that I do as a result. Not to mention happier. I’ll write another post later on my concept of god, inner and outer, as I develop these ideas more clearly for myself.
Physical neglect affects all else. Sleep. Eat. Exercise. Have sex. Meditate.
I’ve committed to sleeping 7+ hours a night pretty consistently, working out every day, started for martial arts classes, am eating great, and spending more time outside. These things should be simple and obvious, but I’ve burned out multiple times over the last couple of years, pushing myself so hard based on my idea of who an entrepreneur is… based on my work ethic, based on my past and my future. I’ve now clearly realized that the better health I’m in, the clearer decisions I can make, the better and more focused my work is, and therefore the less hours I have to actually work. I’m a lot more effective, and a lot happier.
I’ve also realized that it doesn’t take that much effort. A 20 minute workout each day can make a huge difference. Changing up my diet doesn’t take much work or money either, and most of the time I was sacrificing sleep to ‘get more done’ I was actually being super ineffective.
Simplicity. Simple means focus. Greater energy where it matters, rather than scattered.
Building something complex is easy. Being busy is easy. Scattering your energy all over the place to make ends meet is easy (though it’s hard work). Simplicity is actually harder to stick to, but ultimately gets better results, and is more sustainable and more scalable. I’m still working on simplifying a lot of my business life, but I’ve made a ton of progress in the last few months, and it’s really improved my profits.
The biggest thing here has been setting rules for what projects to take on and what to pass on, despite being good opportunities. I run opportunities and clients through a value system now, rather than just jumping on something because it seems lucrative. There’s a lot more to this, but that’s for another post.
Trust myself, listen to myself deeply, but be skeptical of my ego.
I’ve realized that most of the time, my intuition is right, while my ‘logic’ often leads me down roads of complexity. Logic says take the big project for a big check. Intuition says avoid that client because they don’t fit my values well, and the short term pay off will result in a long term headache. Each time I’ve followed the logic approach this year, I’ve gotten the headache. Each time I’ve followed intuition, things have worked out for the best, and again I’ve been a lot happier.
This has also caused me to make some bolder decisions, like committed myself to NEXT despite short term financial success being elsewhere, which has been probably the best decision of my life to date.
No one else will take and ‘run’ and grow your company for you. Build good systems and hire good people to improve and manage those systems.
I hired an operations team at the beginning of the year and thought that would take care of everything. Some things improved, but ultimately I trusted too much and had to dig myself out of a hole. I’ve realized that even if I hire good people, it’s my responsibility to build systems in my business, to build a good leadership team, and to make great growth decisions and evolve the business model. No one’s going to do that for me, at least not with my level of commitment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t scale or free myself from day-to-day operations.
Best and most sustainable approach to growth: great operations, superb product delivery – NOT “sales” (except through natural networking).
I’ve built an awesome client base through doing great work, being honest, and getting great referrals. Each time a deal got ‘sold’ for me, it didn’t work out well either for me or for the client. I don’t think that the service industry needs ‘sales’ to succeed, at least not in the traditional sense, but rather just great delivery. The results and reputation sell themselves and can result in exponential growth. “Selling” to new people each time requires a lot more effort, both up front and long term.
Follow passion, joy, and meaning.
Purpose. Not just the money. With this advice, I’ve co-created Maverick NEXT with Yanik. While financially sustainable in itself, we didn’t launch NEXT as a ‘money project’ but as a passion and mission project for us both, integrate our collected purpose – and for me personally also for greater joy and meaning, creating the kind of peer network I’ve always wanted to have.
Last year at Underground 9, someone asked Yanik “Would you ever do a Maverick Business Adventures for young entrepreneurs?” … and Yanik said he’d consider it if the right person and the right deal came along to run it. This is something I’d been thinking about for some time before, but really just didn’t have the balls to bring it up. Within weeks, we were talking about a young entrepreneur network concept, and 2 months later we conceptualized Maverick NEXT.
I don’t need to “prove myself” to create massive value.
Focus on the value, not the ego, not external validation or comparisons. I used to think that I needed to build a certain size business, like a million dollars in revenue or something, to start really having an impact on young entrepreneurs. This was just a limiting belief holding me back from being of the greatest service to the world, an excuse made up by my ego.
At Eben Pagan’s Accelerate, I had a great conversation with one of the speakers Matthew Monahan, a young entrepreneur who sold his company for $100M to Ancestry.com at 29 years old. He made me realize that I really have nothing to prove, that all that matters is the actual impact I have on people’s lives through the work that I do, not the credentials to do that work. That’s all that gets measured by the right people. I’m so grateful for Matthew because that conversation probably helped me skip a couple of years of pursuing all the wrong things, instead of jumping straight to pursuing my purpose.
My primary goals for 2014:
- Grow my web architecture agency to $300,000 (about double this year’s revenue), while removing myself from about 80% of operations. I plan to keep a leadership position to direct the team, and do some creative direction on client projects. And of course, continually improve our systems.
- Grow Maverick NEXT to 50 active members. My BHAG is to grow NEXT to 100 active members, but honestly it’s a lot more about the quality of the network and their experience, not the number, so I’d be happy with 50 awesome members whose lives and businesses we get to transform.
- Become conversationally fluent in Spanish. Carried this over from last year and the year before that… so what’s different this year? Use Duolingo – it’s fun, and almost addictive, or at least habitual – and competitive. I plan to spend a good portion of 2015 in a Spanish speaking country, so this is really important now!
- Move to San Diego, ideally by the beach. Currently planning on spending 6 months there in 2014, hopping around different AirBnB spots. Next stop: The Philippines!
- Spend a week on a tropical island, doing almost nothing for the whole week. I’ve traveled a lot, but haven’t taken a real vacation since Marketer’s Cruise a year ago, and before that Aruba after my college graduation 3 years ago. I really look forward to just sitting on a hammock under a palm tree on a sunny tropical island, doing pretty much nothing.
- Put on an incredible NEXT Summit with 100+ attendees. More on this coming very soon, but basically it will be an event for young entrepreneurs to get together and learn from really high level Maverick Entrepreneurs. All NEXT members will attend as part of their membership, and we’ll make tickets available for sale to guest attendees. It will be epic.
- Spiritual development: get comfortable with and get to know my own inner god, and pull that god source into my life more actively, more consciously.
- Get in the best shape of my life to date. Ally and I are keeping each other accountable on this one, and so far we’re on a good track.
- Possibly: launch a SaaS product in the copywriting industry. This is a secret for now, and while it’s a really exciting concept, I’m not sure if now is the right time given my other major goals for the year.
I’ll keep this blog updated with my progress, especially on the NEXT stuff, and as always look forward to your feedback. I’m so grateful to have these incredible lessons from the past year, and ambitious goals for this year.
What are your lessons from last year? Goals for this year? I’d love your comments below.