Start Making Decisions

Fantastic post by Seth about something that every entrepreneur needs to be reminded of from time to time.

the farmer who grows corn has no illusions about what his job is. He doesn’t avoid planting corn or dissemble or procrastinate about harvesting corn. And he certainly doesn’t try to get his neighbor to
grow his corn for him. Make more decisions. That’s the only way to get better at it.

via Seth’s Blog What do you make?

9-Step Checklist For New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions Checklist
© Guido Vrola –

This year I’m determined to set better and more effective goals than ever before. To do that, I first sat down and went through the mistakes I made in 2012. This resulted in the 9-step checklist that follows. You are  holding me accountable this year, so hopefully you’ll see for yourself how effective this is.

#1: My Resolutions Must Resonate With My Core Values

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve finally been able to compose a list of the 6 values that are the most important to me. This list will be used to filter all candidate goal for this year’s resolutions. Most of the problems that arose during last year were rooted with miss-alignment between my core and the goals that I’ve set.

Implementation: I did not filter anything out while I was mind-mapping, outlining, and writing my resolutions. Everything was allowed on paper. Only when I started editing, I filtered out more and more goals, making some tough decisions along the way, removing stuff that’s not ‘me’.

Does it mean that something that was removed from the list won’t get done in 2013? Not necessarily. But it does place it at the bottom of my priorities when compared to stuff that did make it into the list.

#2: I Must Be Held Accountable

Anyone that I’ve interviewed for the magazine this passing year, talked about accountability. It’s pretty basic, and I’m heavily counting on you guys on this one 🙂

Implementation: This blog post.

#3: The List Must Be Balanced

My 2012 resolutions where completely biased to business. This year at least 30% of the resolutions must resolve personal growth and pleasure.

Implementation: Remove low priority business goals.

#4: I Must Let The Universe Know

No one can help me reach my goals if I don’t share them. I strongly believe that when you declare your goals in a clear and concise way, both your brain and the universe help you achieve them. Whether it’s by giving you the right ideas, bringing you the right people or offering the needed opportunities. It’s like tuning in to the perfect radio station.

Implementation: This blog post.

#5: Goals Must Be Clear

This one is pretty obvious. Nothing vague ever gets done.

Implementation: I will use Google’s “Objective, Key Results (OKR)” method. I’ll explain in-depth after the checklist.

#6: Goals Must Be Measurable.

This one is also obvious. If something’s not measurable, it’s not manageable.

Implementation: OKR.

#7: Goals Must Be Time-bound.

There must be an urgency to a complete goal. See Parkinson’s Law to learn why.

Implementation: This is a tricky one, as most of my goals are based on an ongoing effort. This has to be broken down. For instance, going from 100 to 20,000 paid magazine subscribers within a year requires a monthly growth rate of 59%. But a 59% growth rate can be measured and worked towards every single month, instead of a yearly basis.

This will prevent me from waking up cold-sweated one morning in June, trying to figure out if I’m on track.

#8: Goals Must Be Actionable

Goals need to have a clear definition of what has to be done in order to achieve them.

Implementation: Action plan made for quarterly and monthly OKRs.

#9: Goals Must Be Described In Present-Progressive Tense

Goals must focus on the positive and be written in present-progressive tense. This is a tip I picked up last week from my good friend Farnoosh, on her episode 73 of her podcast: How Not to Make New Year Resolutions.

Implementation: Instead of saying, “I will make the magazine a success”, I shall say, “I’m making the magazine an even bigger success”. Tell the brain it’s already doing it, and be positive about it.

© Andy Dean -
© Andy Dean –

OKR? What The Eff?!

OKR Stands for Objective, Key Results. It’s a system originating from Intel, the chip manufacturer, but was made famous by a small company called BackRub, although you might also know them as Google (honest to god, Google was originally named BackRub).

Here’s how it works (dead simple):

  1. You set an objective that inspires you and gets your juices flowing. The objective has to be time bound.
  2. You define 3-4 key results. Each key result is measurable and clear. These results will serve for focusing, planning and measurement; They must pose a serious challenge.
  3. You will try your best to achieve the key results. As you set very challenging ones, if you hit the 70% line your good. If you hit 85%… You aimed too low to begin with! Gotta keep that brain of yours inspired with great challenges!

Here’s an example OKR:

Objective: I’m making the Inspiring Innovation magazine an even bigger success in 2013. (Notice the positivity + present progressive tense.)

Key Results:

  1. Grow my subscribers base to 30,000 (65% monthly growth rate).
  2. Interview all top 20 leaders of the solo-preneurship world.
  3. Get listed in Apple’s top #5 Business & Investment magazines ranking of the US Store (see how detailed that is?).
  4. Get 2-3 sponsorship deals summing to $100,000.

From the yearly OKR you derive your quarterly OKRs. Some people go as far as deriving weekly and even daily OKRs — I don’t think I’ll go that far, but I’m planning on going monthly.

So there you have it! This is my checklist for creating this year’s resolutions, and I’m almost done. I plan to post it tomorrow, so make sure you come back and check it out — some cool projects going on.

What are your tips for creating valuable new year’s resolutions? Let me know in the comment section below. If you likes what you’ve read, please LIKE this post or click on the Tweet button. I’ll really appreciate it!

Talk soon,


Body Language And Facial Expressions In Business: How To Mingle Like A Pro

Mingling like the pros!
Mingling (“BigOmaha11_12827.jpg” by Big Omaha/Malone & Company. Shared under CC BY license).

You can’t mingle like a pro if you make any of these 10 mistakes that Farnoosh highlights on her podcast:

Podcast: Prolific Living Media: The Daily Interaction
Episode: Episode 64: How to Mingle Like a Pro

Find out more about the podcast at:

What mistakes have you made in your earlier days, or still make today?

I often forget to work the room after I hook up with the first round of people who I click with. On the brighter side, I can definitely vouch for the amazing effect that maintaining a good posture has on mingling and creating new relationships and friendships.

The most effective of all 10 tips in this podcast episode (and the easiest one to achieve IMO) is radiating a welcoming and open body language. Julie always laughs about my tendency of striking heart to heart conversations with strangers wherever we go – whether it’s a trip on the train or a transatlantic flight to the USA, openness and genuine enthusiasm are THE REAL secret sauce for making strangers into friends.

What’s your secret sauce?

Telling A Story: The Best Communication Skill In Business

communicating your message

Communication Skills in Business

A lot has been said about communicating your message successfully, especially during presentations. Blog posts have been written, debating the ‘right’ look for your deck (AKA “every time you use bullet points a kitten dies”), your tone, the data you should use, your pose, body language and what not.

That’s all fine and dandy, but will becoming a polished speaker really help your message get through? According to an experiment carried at Stanford University, the answer is – NO.

Results show “almost no correlation between ‘speaking talent’ and the ability to make ideas stick.” (Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die)

Eric Barker summarized this on Barking Up The Wrong Tree: What’s the secret to communicating memorably?:

Polished [presentation] wasn’t memorable. It was the students who used stories in their presentations that were best remembered.

I’ve seen this phenomenon first-handed two years ago. The company I worked for sent me to develop a system for a call centre of a large Israeli mobile network provider.

The system was much more intelligent than the industry’s standards, and could recognize ineffective behavior/actions of agents within seconds. Suspicious incidents where pushed to the supervisor, who was monitoring the data for anything unusual. Data highlighted in yellow meant “an event developing” and data highlighted in red meant “an event that is losing money to the company right now”. It was an awesome project! 🙂


We launched on October. By the end of the same year, my system saved our customer over $200,000. This surpassed all expectations by a mile. But when I came back next year and analyzed the logs, I realizes that the power of our system was no where near being fully utilized. This meant our customer could save even more money, if we could figure out what causes the underutilization.

“You can triple the results you’ve been seeing”, I told him. “Let me observe your supervisors’s work for a week, and I’ll tell you how.” The deal was made.

A lot of data was collected during the observation period, as every single action that supervisors took was logged. After analysis, I sat down with the call centre (CC) manager. “You have good supervisors. They are very professional and mostly doing the best they can”, I told her. “But, they have too many tasks happening at the same time, the prioritization is wrong in my opinion. A lot of their protocols are outdated or missing, and they really need some new hardware over there”

“I know all of that” she answered. “But many of these tasks root from company policies or direct requests from my boss or the GM. I’ve been asking for new hardware and more manpower for months already” she explained in despair. No one got her message.

Let Me Tell You A Story

Presenting my findings to the GM, he grilled me immediately.
“I’ve seen these STATISTICS before and I’m not buying it. Our current manpower should be able to handle this, why aren’t they? Find the real problem!” he said, suggesting an early end to our meeting. “Let me tell you a story”, I replied.

I described a typical work day of a supervisor at the company. I told him about the constant interruptions, the “urgent” reports that had to be prepared, hundreds of little emergencies that had to be attended. And on the top of everything, tens of alerts beeping from our new high-tech monitoring system, screens full of flashing red and yellow notifications….I shared their despair of the workload, the time consumed in switching between the tasks, the amount of stuff they missed while not being able to concentrate.

STOP!” He exclaimed. “But why are the doing all these tasks? They should be looking at the monitoring system and proactively handling events, not be running like headless chickens!!”

Before I knew it, we were going through each and every task a supervisor has, and he was canceling many of them. “This is not worth their time. This can be done once a week instead of twice a day. This should be done by X, not by them”. Next came my recommendations. They all accepted, effective immediately. He sent the needed emails while I was still talking.

Would that have happened if I kept focusing on number, reports and data? No. Only when he listened to a story and was taken through “a day in their life”, he understood the size of the shoes they had to fill.

Tell stories, not statistics.

Photo: © Ilike –

Check out this podcast episode

I’m listening to my good friend Ralph Quintero’s podcast, and wanted to share this golden nugget with you:

“When you’re picking a coach for yourself , ask the prospect coach if he ever been coached by some other coach? you don’t want to end up picking up the guy who thinks he’s so great and clever that HE never needed help, but he can help YOU”

Podcast: The Great Business Project Podcast : For Entrepreneurs By Entrepreneurs

Episode: Episode 009 : Coaching and Doing What You Love

Find out more about the podcast at: