What Do You Want to Achieve in 2012?

Does the idea of setting goals instantly paralyze you? Have you found goal-setting to be an ineffective way to create real change in your life?

On a recent Social Capitalist call, the author, CEO, venture capitalist, and coach Christine Comaford gave myGreenlighters the following mission to improve their 2012 planning:

Identify needle movers, rather than goals, for 2012.

Needle movers are things that will move the needle forward in your business or personal life – essentially goals that change your life fundamentally. While a goal is binary and can leave you feeling great or defeated, a needle mover ends with you either reaching your target (what you want), the minimum (what you are willing to accept), or a mind blowing result (beyond your wildest dreams!). You won’t always get the exact result you want but you will have moved the needle forward. Continue reading

Bill Taylor’s Advice for Success Today

Check out an excerpt from the transcript for The Social Capitalist interview featuring Bill Taylor. Please access the audio recording here. Click here for the full transcript: Social Capitalist Transcript – William Taylor. Enjoy!

TAHL RAZ:     So you do make a point, so let me push you on that and just say, it’s not just enough to be smart and it’s really actually I think you make a point that it doesn’t – this economy doesn’t reward you to be smart at many little things.  You make a point of saying you need to be the most of something to stand out.


TAHL RAZ:     Can you talk about that?

WILLIAM TAYLOR:    Well, I think this is true of organizations but it’s also very true of individuals.  It’s very easy, particularly in these kind of fast-changing, risky times, to get comfortable operating in the middle of the road.  That’s kind of what feels safe and secure.  That’s, in theory, where all the action is.  So you say okay, I’m in the hospital business or I’m in the airline business or I’m in the banking business.  And we know there’s kind of a conventional playbook for how to be in that business as a company, a conventional playbook for what an executive or leader in that industry looks like, and that’s what I’ll do.  But then I’ll just try to be three percent smarter or five percent faster.  We’ll chip away at the margins.  But everybody wants to be kind of in the middle of the road.  But today, where so much change, so much pressure, so many new ways to do just about everything, the middle of the road really has become the road to nowhere.  So what I urge organizations and individuals to do is to say to this, it’s not good enough anymore to be pretty good at everything.  You really have to become the most – it could be the most elegant.  It could be the most simple.  It could be the most exclusive.  It could be the most affordable.  It could be the most brash and colorful.  It could be the most easily accessible.  You know, for you as a person coming, you’ve all go to make your own choices.  But today, being successful requires getting outside of – the you know we had Rick Perry have his famous brain freeze last night at the debate.  One of the funny but true kind of homey pieces of wisdom from Texas is the only thing in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.  And I think that’s true on a Texas highway and it’s also true for all of us as leaders, innovators and individuals today.  You’ve got to figure out, why am I interesting and compelling to people?  Why should people want to hurry up and get energized and figure out how to help me succeed at whatever endeavor I’m trying to do?  How do I conduct myself as the kind of smart person that other smart people want to rally around support and contribute to?  And that requires you at some level to be the most of something in whatever environment you’re after. Continue reading

Two Tips to Sell More Without Working Harder

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  -Ray Kroc

I love that quote. On one hand, the well-known words of McDonald’s legendary founder have never been more timely or applicable. On the other, Sales as a collective profession has never had to work harder or more intelligently in order to secure or maintain business. With the intensity of Q4 upon us, I sometimes wonder what more can we possibly do in an effort to generate incremental success. If the answer to the age old question was to simply work harder, then there would be a direct correlation between hours logged and quota attainment. If only it was that easy, we’d all be working around the clock and retiring early.

Obviously all consistently successful sales people are persistent and determined. Favorable impressions are created and competitive advantages are derived by outworking, outthinking and outmaneuvering your industry. However, knowing that work harder is not a helpful directive, what are some simple things we can do to ensure greater probability of professional success? I have a few suggestions.

1. Manage your energy, a.ka. “Be Here Now”

The first tip is simple and deals with state of mind. Long ago I realized that time in the business day context is a zero-sum game. Conversely, the energy we bring to each and every engagement throughout that same day is potentially boundless. Managing one’s energy correctly and effectively is far more important to personal and professional success than simply managing one’s time. Before anyone suggests I’m dismissing time-management, I’m not. However, effectively filling your calendar or allocating time for projects becomes completely meaningless if you can’t manage the focus and level of engagement you bring to each situation.

Whenever I’m about to participate on a client call or enter into a face-to-face meeting, I think of the famous words of the 1960’s acid-tripping, Harvard psychiatrist Ram Dass: “Be Here Now.” While these three words are the only words of Ram Dass’ extensive canon that I’m actually familiar with, the simple phrase has become a powerful and a familiar mantra for me and those who know me best. I suspect I repeat those words to myself five times a day. I also find myself saying the phrase to my daughters every time we hike our favorite trails in Montana, do homework or even sit down to have dinner. It has become a reminder to focus attention and to honor the people we are with or the situation we are in. The reward is significant because often we will see or hear things most others tend to miss. Whether it is the thrill of watching the girls spot a lone elk sitting quietly under a Montana Larch, or when I seize onto a seemingly irrelevant comment that eventually becomes the foundation of a business fit, the phrase “Be Here Now” has become a catalyst to easing into a receptive mind set. Engage then completely focus and you will have a far greater chance of discovering something remarkable in the otherwise seemingly mundane. Continue reading

Mini Mission Monday

The year end wrap-up, close-out, get ready to gear-up is upon us. Out with the old, in with the new.

Even if you aren’t planning to make any big changes career-wise any time soon, having an up-to-date CV in the can is a great way to make sure you are taking credit for your accomplishments and ready for any opportunities that come along.

Your Mission: Take an hour today to review your resume and make sure it is up-to-date and as tight as it can be. Make sure to quantify your accomplishments.  Toot your horn. Take credit for what you have done.

Extra Credit:  Anything you wish you could put on there?  Write it down as a goal for next year and start working on a plan to achieve it.  Instant resolution!

Flex Your Idea Muscle

On the latest Social Capitalist webinar, guest James Altucher introduced myGreenlight to what he calls “The Daily Practice,” four steps that put you in the right place to succeed by helping you create better ideas and more energy. It was “The Daily Practice” that picked James back up after each of his failures and ultimately led him to success.

The Daily Practice:

  1. Take care of your physical health. You can’t succeed if you’re sick and out of shape. Eating right and getting physically fit increases your energy and makes it much easier for you to succeed.
  2. Take care of your emotional health/intimate relationships. If you’re in a series of bad relationships or constantly arguing with your family, spouse, or boss you are not going to have the emotional health to find the energy to build a business or succeed.
  3. Mental health – flex your idea muscle. You have to be able to generate ideas and have the confidence that your ideas are good. Building your idea muscle requires practice and time just like building any other kind of muscle. Continue reading

The Science of Success

Check out an excerpt from the transcript for The Social Capitalist interview featuring Heidi Grant Halvorson. Read Tahl’s Raz’s blog post on the interview here. Click here for the full transcript: Social Capitalist Transcript – Heidi Grant Halvorson. Please access the audio recording here. Enjoy!

Tahl Raz:    So the application of all of these new – and when I say “new”, the last 30 years of social science’s focus on, as you say, the science of success or achievement – you said something incredibly provocative, I thought, that you make suggestions in your book and that you have implied that you have the answer.  But what are the best goals to pursue – as in, what goals kind of create the most well-being, the most fulfillment, the most – I think you said authenticity – what are those best goals?

Heidi G. Halvorson:    Well, again, they have to do with – I mean, it’s a broad class of goals.  So it’s not that there are three very specific things you need to do.  But it all comes down to why you’re pursuing the goals that you are pursuing.  So if you are trying to, for example, get ahead at work, which many of us are – you know, kind of climb the ladder – are you doing it because you find it personally challenging and rewarding, or are you doing it in order to, for example, seek the approval of other people?  So often it’s not about necessarily what the goal is on the surface, but really the why that matters.  And when we choose goals in our lives that satisfy our basic human needs – people have been arguing for thousands of years about what human beings really need in life.  And really the consensus in psychology has kind of focused on three in particular.  We talk about the need – for anything to be universal cross-culturally – the need for belonging.  So people have this basic need to relate to other people and to be part of meaningful groups, to contribute to their communities.  Another need is the need for what psychologists call competence.  And that has to do with sort of growing our abilities, working on new skills, acquiring knowledge, being able to sort of impact your environment in meaningful ways.  And then the third basic human need has to do with the sense that psychologists call autonomy, the idea that we do things because we are intrinsically motivated to do them, because they reflect something about our values, who we are as unique individuals.  So really it’s the why that matters.  Why are you deciding to go to medical school?  Why are you doing what you’re doing at work?  Why are you in a particular relationship?  And if it’s to satisfy these basic needs, then if you are successful, that’s going to bring you that kind of authentic lasting happiness that many of us associate with being truly successful.  It’s when our actions and our goals are motivated by things outside ourselves, by the approval of others, by seeking things like power and fame for their own sake, rather than to use them to do something positive, those kinds of goals can make us happy – I mean, certainly when you have reached a goal you’re going to feel some happiness.  The question is whether or not that happiness is fleeting. And it your goals really satisfy these basic human needs that we all seem to have, relatedness, competence, and autonomy, then that happiness is going to be a more lasting deeper happiness than you would have otherwise.  I mean, achieving goals is always a good thing.  But when we pursue things that really satisfy us as human beings, then you’re going to have another kind, another level of happiness than you would otherwise have. Continue reading

The Research-Backed Two-Word Solution to Tripling Your Productivity (no, really)

I love planning. Planning gets an invite to my dinner party every night of the week. Planning is like a devilishly charming raconteur thrilling you with their adventures in far-flung locales like the Laotian Mekong. Then there’s doing – doing is like an autistic geographer detailing in monotone the troubled and complex history of that same locale.  Doing is hard, something to be avoided, but planning — the clean slate, the bold ideas, the big-eyed promise of all you’ll do and how — comes easy.  And the centerpiece of planning is the to-do list.

Oh, the gratifying joy of merely jotting down a list of tasks. To have begun is to be half done! Unfortunately there’s not much of a market for half done and so, over the years, I’ve tried nearly everything to make me more of a doer. In fact, much of the time when I’m not doing, I’m reading or talking about the productivity tips and systems of super-doers, everything from Lifehacker.com to Behance.com to David Allen’s Getting Things Done.

And then along comes Heidi Grant Halvorson, a recent guest of The Social Capitalist, who made the startling declaration that the last 40 years of social science research tells us the single most effective strategy for improving productivity, greater than all these other tips and systems combined, can be summed up in two words:

If. Then.

Heidi isn’t so easy to dismiss. With popular blog columns in Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Psychology Today, and a new book book entitled Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, she is a motivational psychologist at the forefront of the science of success.

Turns out that the doing part of our brains is indeed a bit of an analytical bore that processes information in the language of contingencies. Our unconscious remembers information in “If X, then Y” terms and is constantly scanning the environment, ready to turn X contingency into Y behavior (e.g. Unconscious: It’s April 24th.  Me: It’s my wife’s birthday!! I must get a present or I’ll be murdered!!).

Continue reading