Few people in my life have changed the way that I think. Chris Brogan is the latest in that short line-up.
I met Chris through a subscription link given to me on April 18, 2012 by a South African colleague who was working in Taiwan (Thanks, Ian Campbell). Somewhere in the middle of several weeks of leveraging our efforts to get Taylor Swift to perform in China (We were successfully circumvented), Ian thought that subscribing to Chris's newsletter would help me better organize the strange but rich network I had.
So I did.
My first email to Chris was this:
"I just finished reading a blog entry you sent to a mutual friend of ours, Ian Campbell. It was brilliant! You described my life! I found your blog to be so freaking honest, that I subscribed, and I look forward to passing it around to my American network."
Chris's response was:
"You're very kind, Robbie. Thank you for sharing it, and I'm happy you found this useful. That Ian's a nice fellow :)"
Every Sunday morning since then like clockwork, I've awakened to a bubbly newsletter from Chris. At first, I was intrigued with the list of teas/coffees/drinks that invigorate his newsletters. Next, I was intrigued with the brevity of his ideas. Then I began taking his advice.
After almost 4 years of reading Brogan, the habit-forming culminated into a streak of major, noticeable changes in my vocational work, beginning the summer of 2014 and continuing to now.
These work habits have:
- decreased my workload
- increased my income
- increased my output
- decreased my customer problems
- Don't Let People Pick Your Brain. If, like me, you exchange money for information, one of the worst things you can do is to meet people for casual business meetings around food. My wife and I were at a friend's house a while back where I met a new friend. Intrigued with our conversation, he asked if we could "do coffee: one day. My wife smirked, and he wanted to know if he said anything wrong. I explained that I don't "do coffee." Why not? Because I end up paying $5.00 for a cup of substandard coffee and end up giving away hundreds of dollars in free information. Picking my brain is equivalent to picking my wallet. That doesn't mean I'm a stingy guy. It just means that I probably won't go to coffee with you and talk about business.
- Don't Care About What People Think: Especially If They Aren't Paying You. People have certain expectations of American educators. Usually, those expectations involve 1) being highly specialized in a small but impractical area and 2) being poor. In my former circles, certain people have always been suspicious of how I've made my money (because clearly my school wasn't paying the bills for years). Whatever consulting jobs I took in addition to running a school, I made sure that I didn't appear to be smarter or wealthier than people's expectations (I even gave away loads of money when I had it so that I couldn't be characterized as a snob). That led to stretches of scarcity or the inability to enjoy my money. So I learned to stop caring, and the fanbase to which I was shackled slowly disappeared.
- Dont' Look at Your Email or Social Media the First Thing in the Morning Or the Last Thing at Night. Because most of my clients hear about me through one of my many social media portals, it's easy to justify waking up and going to bed with my phone or computer on. The reality is that most of my clients who come through social media are potential clients, and potential clients aren't the same as real clients because most of them need to be courted and sometimes coddled before you make a sale. So I've made it hard for people to get in touch with me (email & voicemail). Potential customers who shoot the breeze with me on social media are not the best investment of my time. The real ones contact me. And pay me.
- Stop Subscribing to Stuff You Plan to Do. I used to borrow credentials against reputation like I've borrowed money against time. When potential clients would ask for my credentials, I found myself telling them about projects I was planning to do, books I was planning to read, places I was planning to go (I don't know... maybe highlighting my bucket list sounded sexier?). So I was always having to play catch up. I've psycho-analyzed numerous times why I subscribed to ideas I didn't care about, books I didn't like, music I didn't care to hear, meetings I didn't want to sit through. It came down to this reason: I wasn't enough. The present was never good enough. I was perpetually unsatisfied. So, as interesting as some things are, I hit unsubscribe if it doesn't fit into my life.
- Do the Thing You Think You Cannot Do. I no longer believe people who pretend they don't know where they have gone wrong in their vocation, their marriage, their health, etc. Don't get me wrong: confusion is a very real thing. But most people can at least guess what their problems are or where their problems lie. I've learned that a lot of frantic or hyper activity isn't so much attributed to personality as much as it's suppression of the thing we need to focus on. Now, my work time is dedicated to identifying and completing these boring and unenjoyable tasks. Barring work that is overdue, I've learned that creating systems to target these boring areas minimizes the hyperventilation of incessant activity.
- Only Supervise the Areas That Need Supervision. I've spent a lot of time in the worldview world and have noticed a curious thing about my behavior over many years. When one part of my worldview shifted, I would feel the urge to overhaul my entire worldview. As integrationists, the worldviewer might spend a lot of time "thinking" about how things are wrong, but s/he doesn't do anything about it until s/he figures out how it fits. Of course, worldviews are always incomplete and always changing (it's really no big deal), so parts of it will always be in tension. But do you really not want to lose 10 pounds if it doesn't fit into your health worldview? Or do you really want to avoid paying that one bill just because you don't have a grasp on your entire financial portfolio. Thinking can be virtuous, but action (even just a little...) is the final arbiter.
- If It's Really Important, Put It On the Calendar. Chris Brogan says that if you aren't making enough money, show him your calendar and he can tell where your problem lies. Routinely doing the smallest increment of a project gets you further than random attention. For several years I was writing a book. When I applied Chris's structure, I set my alarm 6 days a week to write 20 minutes each day. In two weeks, I had a comprehensive outline and had put 4 hours towards the book: more time than I had put in the last 3 years. What's even more amazing is that for 3 years my conscience plagued me several times a week for not writing. Now, I can write for 20 minutes, and I don't think about it again until the next day.
- Stop Pretending You Don't Know Who Your Customer Is. One part of my marketing struggle has been a desire to design the customer I want. That's not the way that it works. Just as the inventor struggles to create a valve that doesn't leak, in the end he never can have a valve that is 100% leak-proof. That's because this world gives us- get this- leaky valves! So it's not a matter of creating the perfect valve as much as it's determining how much leaking you can tolerate. So it is with customers. You can attract any number of customers, but you will only sustain the customer base that needs you. My customers have problems they want me to solve privately. Sometimes they are huge problems. Sometimes they are too huge for me so that I need to bring in a team. Those are the clients who pay good money, let me do what I need to do, and are usually satisfied with my work. I've tried to appeal to a different customer base (believe me), but this is the one that keeps coming back. I've learned that's what I'm good at. And I'm proud of it. Oh, and it just is.
So subscribe here!
Robbie Grayson III
Website 1: http://traitmarker.com/
Website 2: http://traitmarkerbooks.