217: Don't hire for experience

One of the biggest mistakes that I made early on in building was hiring for experience. Logically, it makes sense to hire someone with experience in your businesses area of focus.

You assume they will ramp up quicker.
You assume they will perform better.
You assume they are the best choice.

But rarely is that the case...

Instead, here is really what happens.

They fail to fit with the culture because you chose the experienced hire over the best attitude.
They have their own ways of doing things, and so they push back on your approach.
They have an attitude of superiority which creates a negative dynamic among the team.
And they tend to be more expensive...

So if hiring for experience is not the case for most hires, then what is?

Attitude & Culture fit.

If someone has the right attitude that gels with your culture, then you can lead them and train them on just about anything.

There are limitations to that as you can't just turn an admin into a designer overnight. But within reason, you can coach most intelligent people who have the right attitude into whatever role you need them for.

Hire for attitude, not for experience.

216: Consistency wins

Faster, faster, faster. That is the motto in today's world. Everyone is pushing for rapid results and overnight successes.

While you may have success with this path, you will also burn a ton of energy and create stress along the way.

There is another path.

Consistency.
Show up every day.
Do the work.
Learn something everyday.
Keep yourself challenged, but not overwhelmed.

But most of all, stay consistent.
Day after day.
Week after week.
Year after year.

If you can do that, then no one can stop you.

Consistency wins.

215: An argument for giving away your income

Recently, I had a conversation with Michael Thomas that floored me.

When Michael sold his first company, he donated 25% of the sale to a charity.
Afterwards, Michael started up a content agency where he donates 50% of profits to charity.

And Michael is not insanely rich... the sale of the company wasn't massive.

From what I read about his story online, I would estimate he sold for around $500k-ish.

So that 25% is a lot of money... but the remainder is not "never work again" money.

When I asked him how he thinks through this in his head, his response was amazing. He said:

"There is just so much research on the fact that more money doesn't make you happier. After around $75k per year, it just doesn't help.

While I could go buy nice cars, or expensive houses, I've chosen to keep my life at a modest level, and then donate the rest of the money beyond that.

I gain way more fulfillment from donating money to code school in a developing country than I do buying a Lamborghini."

--

Do you really need all of that extra money you are making? Will spending it really make you happy?

214: Make decisions quickly

Indecision... this will drain the life and energy out of you.

When an open decision loops, it eats up mental energy.
It consumes your brain... until you make a decision.

It's like like Parkinson's law... a decision will take the amount of time that you give yourself to make it.

And so when you don't make a decision, you halt progress.
You stop yourself from moving forward.
You exhaust mental energy on deciding... instead of progressing.

When a decision lands on your plate, take a short amount of time to think it through.
But keep it short.

Make a decision fast.
Even if it is the wrong decision, you will make progress forward and have more information to apply to your next decision.

213: Fix it now, not later

When I started Lead Cookie, there were some challenges I saw in the business model. The main one being the fact that our entire business model was built around LinkedIn which could change as a platform.

I knew this was a problem... but I ignored it and thought Oh, I'll figure out how to fix that later.

That was a silly mistake because 2 years later, it is still a massive problem.

If you have a flaw in your business model today, it will still be there 2 years from now.

So fix your business model early.
Find the gaps and the holes in it.
And be intentional about what you are setting out to build.

If you want your business to last for the long-term, then you need to have crystal clear intentions about what you are setting out to build.

If you know what you want, and you've fixed problems in the model before you started... then the rest is easy.

You just show up, do the work, and tackle small challenges as they arise.

Define the business you want today.
Then turn it into a reality.

212: Keep showing up

How did Seth Godin become Seth Godin?
How did Nathan Barry build such a success with ConvertKit?
How did Basecamp become such a successful company?

While you could point to millions of small factors, there is one consistent among them all.

They kept showing up.
They kept pushing forward and striving toward their goal.

At times, they may have lost sight of their goal, but eventually they found themselves back on track.

And their success didn't happen over months, or even a year or two...

It happened over years... in most cases, 5-10 years or more.

During the span of their career, thousands of copy cats sprung up, had a run, and gave up... but these icons still remain.

Stop dashing about.
Stop running from tactic to tactic.

Pick where you want to go and take a step toward that each and every day.
Stop rushing.
Aim for the long game and keep showing up.

211: Building an incredible life

Everyday, I wake up and strive to move forward.
I don't leap forward, or try to run a million miles per hour.

But I just try to go forward, in the same direction of the vision I have set out for my life.

I have a vision, and I work toward it each day.

For years, that vision used to change every month...
And every month I walked in a different direction.
So I never got very far.

But over time, as my vision for my life has become very clear, I keep moving in the same direction.

Step by step, day by day, I am moving toward the targets and the man who I want to be.

I'm not in a hurry.
And I'm not making massive changes to my vision, but instead small tweaks along the way.

Getting clear on what you want from life is key.
Then each day, take a small step toward it.

Strip away the things that don't serve you.
Double down on the things that do.

A simple path to building an incredible life.

210: Don't let others distract you

I pissed someone off recently... It was an influencer who interviewed me on their podcast. Then they started sharing my social posts.

They did this over the course of a few months as they built a relationship with me.

Then... they pitched me to be a guest on my podcast.

They did a great job with this. It wasn't a cold pitch and they had built a relationship. They had given before they asked.

And in that moment, I felt this gut reaction to say "yes" because they had put so much work leading up to this ask.

But here is the thing... It's a distraction.

That request is someone else putting their agenda on my desk.

I have a plan of action for my podcast, and I am in process of executing it. This request from this influencer does not fit into the agenda.

So I turned them down and that pissed them off because of "reciprocity."

Here is the thing.

You don't owe anyone anything.
Don't let people make you feel obliged to include them because they give first.
And don't let others distract you from your vision & plan.

Your inbox is a to-do list that anyone can add an item to.
Recognize that and don't let people distract you.

209: Your physiology leads emotions

For years, I did not connect the dots between what I ate and how I felt.

To some, this seems crazy but it is how I was raised.

Eventually, you begin to realize that your diet impacts your state of mind.

Your fitness determines your state of mind.

You happiness, sadness, anger, or depression can all be triggered by how you treat your body

Yet many of us don’t realize this.

We get angry and we blame others.
When in reality our own physiology is causing that anger or irritation.

Your physiology guides your emotions.
Your emotions guide your decisions.
Your decisions guide your life.

Be conscious of your physiology and how it impacts you.

208: Why are you irritated?

“The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me.” - Anthony De Mello

How often do you find yourself frustrated with someone else?

Your spouse, a colleague, a client...

Always remember that they are not the cause of the irritation...

You are.

You choose to let them irritate you. You choose how you react to their actions.

Remember this and that your own emotions are within your control.

207: Build for profitability now

There is a mindset in the startup and entrepreneurship world that seems to make it ok to run an unprofitable company..

You sacrifice short-term profits in exchange for the opportunity to sell your business down the line.

While you want to think about selling your business early, putting that as the sole payday for you is a dangerous game to play.

What if the market takes a turn?
What if technology disrupts you?
What if you never get to sell your business?

Instead, you have to choose to make your business profitable now.

You must learn to analyze your finances.
You must make smart economic decisions.

And if you sell your business someday, consider that a bonus.
But in the short-term, build for profitability now.

If you build a profitable business today, it will be more attractive to a buyer.

Stop building for a future payday.
Start building for profitability today.

206: Stop overpaying yourself

"Why is it that I can never seem to get this damn credit card paid down?"

This is the question I kept asking myself with my business. Despite doing well and generating profits, it seemed like we never had the cash on-hand to pay down our credit card.

To be blunt, my knowledge of books and finances has been historically weak so this problem seriously plagued me.

Then eventually, as I really started looking at the books and modeling out our finances, it hit me...

I've been overpaying myself.

Not by a lot, but by enough that month-after-month, we would add to our credit card instead of paying it down.

I had been using the Profit First system, by Mike Michalowicz, but my percentages were just a bit too high.

As a result, I was taking a higher personal income that helped me pay down personal debts at a faster rate... all while increasing my business debts.

You need to learn your finances.
You need to master these skills.

Because there are so many things that are easy to screw up if you don't know how to manage your money.

For me, I learned to stop overpaying myself.

But the deeper I dig into financial management, the more I realize I don't know.

205: The lie of profits

"We make a 50% profit margin." - Sometimes you will hear entrepreneurs touting numbers like this.

This makes most other entrepreneurs feel like crap.

But what you have to realize is that those numbers are most likely distorted.

Are they telling you the Gross margin? (The amount of money they make after paying direct costs)

Or are they telling you the Net business margin? (The amount of money leftover after direct costs AND overhead)

Even if they are telling you their Net Margin, they could still be distorting the facts.

Are they factoring in a "salary" that they pay themselves for all of the work they do? Or do they pretend that they work for free and all of that money is profit?

This is the big lie that most business owners don't even realize they tell themselves.

About a year ago, I thought Lead Cookie had ~50% margins...

But here is the thing...

I was doing account management.
I was doing sales.
I was doing marketing.

Once I replaced myself in those roles, it became clear that we had nowhere close to a 50% margin.

Don't compare your margins to others. They most likely are inflating their numbers, even if they don't realize it.

204: Profits vs Salary

Profitability is something that most entrepreneurs fail to understand. I know because I failed to understand it for years.

For a long time, I would say things like, "We have a 50% margin."
And while in some ways that was true... it was also a lie.

It was a lie because what that margin failed to consider was that I was working as an employee within my own business.

I was closing the sale.
I was managing the client relationships.

Even though we may have only spent 50% margin servicing that customer, the truth is, we were spending more. I just didn't see it because I was paying myself for those roles.

It was hard for me to grasp this fully until I replaced myself in sales and client management.

Once I had two more people hired and in those roles, it became clear.

"Oh... we definitely don't have a 50% margin."

Instead, we had a much lower margin now that the full business cycle was being completed by someone other than myself.

The profitability of your business is different than your salary.

Ask yourself what it would cost to hire someone to replace each role you fill.
Subtract those numbers, and then you can see what your real profits are.

203: The map is not the terrain

You can spend all day planning and writing your ideas down on paper.
That is all good and nice... but at some point, you need to start the work.

Your plans on paper are just plans.
And it is not until you start trying to implement those plans that you will really see the obstacles in front of you.

And while the plan can provide a roadmap for your overall trajectory, it can't warn you of every obstacle in the road.
It can't give you the answers when a road is shut down.
It can't fix things when you realize the original route just won't work.

You can only learn that in the field.

So build your initial plan, but then get to work.
Dive in and get your hands dirty.
You will move 10x faster with a rough plan and actual movement than you will by overplanning.

202: Give yourself a break

Whenever you find yourself facing a mental challenge at work, it's tempting to lean in and work more.

We struggle to solve the problem, and so our mind just keeps wanting to think about the problem.

Yet when we find ourselves in a state of obsessive thoughts of trying to answer something that we cannot solve, or finish something that needs more time... this is what we must watch out for.

In these moments where our work moves from a natural pace, to one where we are pushing forward, despite deep resistance... in this place you must be careful.

Sometimes you really are overcoming "the resistance."

But other times, you are pushing against a natural pace.
You are overworking yourself, and you are about to start making bad decisions.

When you hit these moments of "pushing," instead of having work feel "natural," then I encourage you to take a break.

Enjoy your weekend.
Read some fiction.
Go for a walk.
Spend time with family.

Getting your head totally away from the work for a few days is often the best thing you can do to clarify the work in your mind.

201: Work less, do more

Early in my career, I was addicted to work. I poured in 60-70 hour weeks on the regular and took pride in the amount of time that I spent working.

And today, I still see others who take pride in how much they work.

But here is something that I have learned... working more hours doesn't help you get more done.

While you may end up completing more tasks, working so many hours blinds you from making decent decisions.

You may do task, after task, after task...

But then when it comes time to make a strategic decision, you make a less than optimal decision that will end up creating a ton more tasks!

By bogging yourself down with the detail work, you fail to see the big picture.

It's kind of like that old jungle analogy.

Your tasks are all the weeds you're cutting through... but who says you are even going in the right direction?

Today, I work fewer hours than I ever have before, yet my businesses are achieving new levels greater than they ever have before.

It's not because I am working harder.
It's because I am working less and making smarter decisions.

If you want to get more done, cut back how many hours you work.

200: Do it right the first time

"Don't half-ass it. Do it right the first time." This is a motto that my dad repeated to me over and over and over again through life.

He would say, "Fix it now or you are just going to be tripping and fumbling over it for weeks to come."

As a teenager, my rebellious self didn't like to listen much, but over time, I began to see the value in this simple life lesson.

Whenever you do something in business, it's easy to just fly through it to try to get the work done.
Or to see a small problem but leave it to be fixed later.

It may feel more productive to move on to new things, but it will come back to bite you.

In Jeff Sutherland's book on Scrum, he cites research they actually did on this.

They ran two separate efficiency tests.

For one group, software developers had to test their code daily and fix any bugs that were created that same day. On average, developers spent 1 hour per day fixing their code.

For the second group, software developers would test their code in batches every 3 weeks and ignored bugs until then. On average, it took developers 24 WORKING HOURS PER BUG when they went back to fix it.

They didn't do it right the first time, and as a result, they had to interrupt their workflow to go back and get in the flow. And since they didn't fix it early, the problem often created compound effects that they had to fix.

Don't half-ass it.
Do it right the first time.

199: One job complete is better than 5 half-way done

Too many half-finished marketing projects... this is the story I hear over and over again from consulting firms and agencies who talk with me.

They dabble a little bit in all of their marketing channels, but struggle to ever get anything out the door.

As a result, they have 5 marketing projects started, but nothing actually launched and producing results.

Think about the madness of this...

They are working like crazy on so many projects, yet they are seeing zero results in their business because nothing sees the light of day.

So whats the better path?

Tackle one project at a time.
Get it out the door.
Ship it.

You will be amazed at what you can get done in a week if you just focus on one thing at a time.

Build a backlog of future ideas, but commit yourself to working on just one project at a given time. If you do that, you will be amazed at how you can spring 10x faster and get more done than switching back and forth between different channels.

198: The cost of multitasking

In the early 1990s, a scientist, named Harold Pashler, did a study on multitasking and his findings were incredible.

When someone is focused on a singular task, they have 0% waste because their brain is not switching between two different tasks. So stacking one item after another was the fastest way to get something done.

When he added in two tasks at the same time, it took the subject 20% longer to complete the two tasks due to the time lost in mental context switching between tasks.

When he added a 3rd task, it took the subject 40% longer to complete the three tasks.

Yet in today's day and age, this is how we all operate. We jump around and hop from project to project, full of distraction.

Turn your pings off.
Stop checking your email.
Stop trying to run 5 projects at once.

Instead, do one thing at a time.

If you can do that, your output will be significantly greater than trying to juggle too many things at one time.