Last week, I shared with you what went well and what did not go well in 2014 in both my business and life. Today, I want to share with you a few lessons I learned along the way that I think will be relevant and applicable to you. Buckle up buttercup, here we go…
1. You can’t win if you don’t try
Trying anything new is scary. You don’t know how it will go. You’re certainly not guaranteed success. Whatever you try could be a huge success or a colossal failure, and you just don’t know. But you’ll definitely never know if you don’t at least try. In the early months of this year, I started kicking around the idea for the How Did You Get Into That? podcast. I was intrigued by doing a show, but I started worrying…
- What if I don’t enjoy it?
- What if nobody listens?
- What if the show sucks?
- What if I get negative reviews?
- What if I don’t have enough time to keep up with it?
But we sucked it up and pushed forward and launched the show on May 27th. And even though I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, it’s done well, and I’m pleased with the result. To date, we’ve had over 250k downloads from over 150 different countries around the world.
But we would have had zero downloads from zero countries if we never even launched the show.
We announced several months ago that we’re moving to Nashville. Unfortunately, our house in Missouri hasn’t sold yet, so we’re still in a holding pattern waiting to make the move. So will moving to Nashville be a huge success or a colossal failure? I don’t know yet. I think it will go well (or we wouldn’t be considering it), but we don’t really know for sure until it happens.
But I know we can’t win if we don’t try.
YOUR TURN: What do you need to try in 2015 that you’ve been putting off because you’re worried it won’t work?
2. Significant changes don’t happen overnight
It would be great if they did. Losing weight…quitting your job…starting a business…building a life you love…nothing significant happens overnight. We live in a microwave society. We want things to happen now. But have you noticed that food that comes from the crockpot tastes better than food that comes out of the microwave?
Our move to Nashville hasn’t happened like we hoped it would. But it’s a significant change, and it won’t happen overnight.
The podcast has gone well, but I’d like it to continue to do better. But growth is a significant change, and it won’t happen overnight.
I’m working on transitioning my business, so that I’m traveling and away from my family less. But that is certainly a significant change, and it won’t happen overnight.
YOUR TURN: What significant change do you need to make in 2015?
3. You don’t have to live by society’s script
When we announced we were going to move to Nashville, we had a lot of well-meaning and well-intentioned family and friends ask the logical question…
Why would you leave what has been home for your entire life?
Why would you move away from family?
Why would you go to a city where you hardly know anyone?
Why are you doing this? To which we reply…
The assumed script from society says you need go to college, find a steady and secure job to stay at until you retire, have a dog and 2.5 kids (not sure where the half comes from), own a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and try to keep up with the Joneses.
But what if you don’t want to play by that script?
What if you want to move just for the heck of it? What if you want to sell everything and travel the world? What if you want to quit your successful law practice to become a chocolatier? What if you want to travel the world for free and teach others to do the same? What if you want to be be in a boy band or become a CrossFit guru? What if you want to provide clean drinking water to millions of people all over the world?
You can because you don’t need permission. You can because you don’t have to live according to anyone else’s script or agenda. You can because you want to.
YOUR TURN: How are you going to venture away from your current script in 2015?
4. Hire a coach
I’ve always found it interesting that the greatest athletes in the world have coaches. No matter how good you are in any career or profession, it’s helpful to have others who can push you but also see the blind spots you may miss.
Earlier this year, I hired Jaime Tardy as a coach to help me with the launch of our podcast. I worked with her for 6 months and invested thousands of dollars, but it was an investment that has paid off. She helped keep me on track with the launch of our How Did You Get Into That? podcast and shaved my learning curve down significantly. Jaime has her own successful podcast called Eventual Millionaire and has worked with many others to start a new show, so I knew she would be a good fit.
Coaching can be a win depending on what you need. I knew I wanted to work with Jaime specifically for the launch of the podcast. Maybe you need help with a transition in your job. Maybe you want feedback on starting a new business. Maybe you need a coach to help you with your health and fitness. There are a variety of coaches with a variety of skillsets. You need to know what you need help with to know what kind of coach would be the best fit for you.
YOUR TURN: What area of your life/business could a coach dramatically help you improve in 2015?
5. You have to start building a team
Entrepreneurship requires you to wear a lot of hats. When you start, you’re the accountant, the CEO, the secretary, the janitor, and the weird IT guy with the sketchy mustache. You have to play all the parts.
But as your business grows, you reach a point where you just can’t do it all. Many years ago I hired Lisa to help with the administration of our business. She helps run my calendar, books travel for me, helps with the logistics of my speaking schedule and just makes sure the train stays on the tracks. She’s been with me for nearly 6 years and is awesome.
This year we added our 2nd part-time hire. Jeff handles a lot of web and tech stuff. He takes care of our various email lists, setting up LeadPages, various website tasks, and a million other random things I come up with that I don’t know how to do myself. He’s a stud.
Since my business started about 8 years ago, my sister has always done all my graphic design work. If something looks cool, it’s her fault. She’s really good at what she does. Her skills in Photoshop are far superior to mine on Microsoft Paint.
In addition, Lara does show notes for every podcast. RJ does the audio editing for each podcast episode you hear. Andy helps me make videos that look cool. Josh helps with big website projects. Greg helps with our taxes, and Mark helps with bookkeeping.
The point is I can’t do it all. And as your business grows, you can’t either. You have to find people that have different abilities and skills in areas where you’re lacking. Then give them opportunities to crush it and get out of the way.
YOUR TURN: What is 1 thing in your business/life you could hire someone else to do? (doesn’t have to be fancy…maybe someone to mow your grass or clean your house once a month.)
6. You need a mastermind. Period.
I’m currently in a mastermind with three other guys that has been a huge win for me and my business. Every Monday at 1pm, I talk with Bryan Harris, Joseph Michael, and Andy Traub. We discuss what we’re working on and areas where we need feedback. We challenge and encourage one another in the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. During the week, we share ideas using Slack and continue to push each other.
Having these guys to not only share business with but to also share life with has been a huge highlight from this year. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or employee, you need to surround yourself with people who will go on the journey of business and life with you.
YOUR TURN: Who is just 1 person you would like to be in a mastermind group with (preferably someone you already have a relationship with)?
7. Nothing builds relationships faster than meeting in person
In business and in life, you should always be looking to expand your network and connect with like-minded people. Hosting a podcast has been a great way to do this as well as just connecting with others through social media.
But nothing, nothing, nothing builds relationships faster than meeting in person. There were several people I had an online connection to, but when we met in person this year, it changed everything (cue sparks and Disney music). Meeting in person just changes the dynamics of the relationship and helps you to connect in a more meaningful way.
So how do you meet people in person? Figure out who you want to connect with, where they’re going to be and go there! The simplest place to connect with others is at conferences. In 2014, I attended Pioneer Nation (Portland), Podcast Movement (Dallas), and FinCon (New Orleans). The content in most of the sessions I attended was fine, but the true value was the people I met.
In 2015, I’ll attend conferences based on the same question I asked about parties as a teenager…”who’s going to be there?” Take FinCon for example. It’s a conference geared more towards financial bloggers/podcasters. I like that space, but it’s not really a niche I talk about. But I went (partly because I was speaking and I’m a big fan of the conference host PT) but in large part because of who was going to be there. Several people I’m friends with and chat regularly with today is because we met in person this year.
YOUR TURN: Who do you want to connect with in 2015 and what will you do to connect with them?
8. Entrepreneurship (and life) is a huge series of ups and downs
I’ve been self-employed for about 8 years now, and I can’t imagine ever working a “real job” again. As my friend Michael O’Neal likes to say, I’m proudly unemployable. I know I would make a crappy employee (and that’s ok!).
But as much as I enjoy being a self-employed entrepreneur, it’s really hard. There are days when you feel like the wind is at your back and everything is going your way. Money is coming in…speaking engagements are happening…everything is going good. And other days where I feel like a huge failure. It seems like nothing is going good at all, and the pressure really weighs on me.
I’ve learned to stomach the ups and downs fairly well, but I still have my moments of doubt, insecurity and fear. That’s why surrounding yourself with people who know and care about you is so important. Not just within your family, but finding peers and others in the trenches that you can lean on when things are rough or celebrate with when business is killing it. That’s why masterminds, meeting people in person, building a team, and hiring a coach are so important.
If I were being honest, I’ve had days I wanted to cry because things were going so well, and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude. And days I wanted to cry because it felt like everything was collapsing and nothing was going according to plan. And the fact of the matter is…you need both.
YOUR TURN: What was one highlight and one low point of 2014 for you?
9. Start before you feel ready
Most of us have significant goals we’d like to accomplish in business and in life. And often times, those goals feel very intimidating. So to help stack the deck in our favor as much as possible, we do two things…
- Do a ridiculous amount of research to find everything we could ever need to know on the topic or subject.
- Wait and wait and wait for the absolute perfect opportunity.
But here are two lessons I’ve learned that counter this…
- You’ll learn more from launching instead of researching.
- There’s never a perfect time for anything.
When I started my speaking career, did I feel prepared and ready? Nope. But I started, and my speaking abilities and overall business have improved dramatically because of it.
When I started the How Did You Get Into That podcast, did I feel prepared and ready? Nope. But I started with what I knew and figured it out as I went.
Here’s another way to think of it. I have 3 little girls (8, 6, 4) who love to play outside. One of their favorite things to do is ride bikes. If I wanted to teach one of my girls to ride a bike, I wouldn’t stick her in front of the computer to watch hours of YouTube videos about proper biking technique. I wouldn’t give her a manual with stick figure illustrations on how to ride a bike!
What would I do? I’d put her on the freakin’ bike, and she’d figure it out as she went! Would she fall down some? Probably. Would she maybe even skin her knee a time or two? Perhaps. Would she have moments she wanted to quit? Most likely.
But how do you learn to ride a bike? By actually riding a bike!
Whether you want to start a side business or launch a podcast or transition to a new career, do a minimal amount of homework, but at some point, you have to actually do it! You will never feel 100% prepared or ready. If you waited until the timing felt right, or you knew every possible scenario and detail, you’d never do anything in life.
YOUR TURN: What goal have you been dinging around with that you need to finally take action on in 2015?
10. Life is good
Through the highs and lows and ups and downs of it all, I’m always reminded that life is really good. I tell people all the time that I wouldn’t trade lives with anyone. I’m married to my high school sweetheart…we’ve got three little girls that I absolutely adore…we have a successful business that is able to impact a lot of lives. Life is really, really good.
Is it perfect?
Not at all. One thing I say frequently in my speeches is that your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be great. Nobody has a perfect life. As much as I love my wife, there are still days we don’t get along (not often, but they happen). As much as I adore my daughters, there are still days they drive me up the wall. As much as I love being an entrepreneur, there are still days I want to quit.
Maybe 2014 for amazing for you. Maybe it was a year you can’t wait to leave behind. Either way, take a few moments and acknowledge the good that has come to your life this year. Be grateful and thankful for the life you do have.
YOUR TURN: What are you most thankful for from 2014?
2014 was a great year, but I’m excited for 2015. I’m looking forward to new challenges, adventures and obstacles to overcome. See you in the new year!
Photo via: Mark Brannan