Discomfort is the new normal

A few years ago I resigned myself to the fact that my career was going to be unpredictable. At the time, this didn’t make me happy.

Today, I’ve happily accepted that this is the perfect place to be. And the only way I want my life (and buisness life) to be.

I don’t want to be ensconced into any type of rut or routine. In my view, doing that is the kiss of death.

This realization came roaring back to me this past week when in the midst of conducting a new innovation series on another radio show of mine.

Recording a new interview for the series, we were discussing the optimal situations for innovation to thrive, and our guest said something to the effect that you have to be uncomfortable for innovation to thrive.

It was one of those forehead smack moments.

I immediately thought to myself: If you are ever comfortable in your business environment, it is safe to assume that you are NOT working in an innovative business environment.

Looking back on my recent career track, it has been ANYTHING but comfortable. Lots of change and evolution going on. I now see this as a positive thing.

I started thinking about another radio show of mine, one that I’ve been producing for almost three years. We just made a major recent shift in the show’s format…despite the fact that the show was doing fine and the sponsor was generally happy with things.

Despite that, we still made the format shift.

So, what happened?

So far this month, the show’s downloads are up 50%.

The lesson here? Even if you are comfortable, get uncomfortable. Shake things up. Try new things. Mix it up.

You need freshness in everything you are doing. If you aren’t learning, you are failing. If you aren’t seeking to improve, you are falling behind.

And yes, there was risk in this move. It might not have worked. It might have backfired. It might have proven to be too disruptive to yield any movement.

But it didn’t.

I’d rather push the envelope than stagnate.

So get uncomfortable. Be a little unsure of where the path might lead.

Because that’s so much better than the status quo. So much better than sitting motionless in neutral.

Discomfort is the new normal. Get used to it.

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Speaking of innovation, you owe it to yourself to read the best book on innovation I’ve ever read:
The Innovation Book: How to Manage Ideas and Execution for Outstanding Results

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Live the Intrepid Life: Now available for pre-order!

Todd Schnick

The new book!

My next book is now available for pre-order!

Pre-order with this link!

Live the Intrepid Life is a passion project of mine, one that I’ve been working on for several years. It is a carefully curated collection of essays of mine about diving into life, thinking a little different, presenting some hard lessons learned, and some hard successes earned.

Unlike past books of mine, this collection is organized into three blocks: Planning, Disrupting, and Doing.

Planning. Most of us go through life without any direction, path, goal, mission, or purpose. We get up, we go to work, we go home, we watch TV, and we get a paycheck at the end of the week. No, the goal here is to think about and understand what work we are meant to do, and to change mindsets and paradigms to position ourselves to get it done.

Disrupting. Change is hard. Starting is hard. And changing those mindsets and paradigms only happens when you think differently about things, when you look differently at things. To achieve big goals and dreams, you can no longer conform to societal expectations. You have to disrupt how you interact with the world.

Doing. At the end of the day, you have to execute. This always has been and always will be what separates success and failure, or at least mediocrity. This is where I failed so often in my early life, and this is where most people fall short of reaching their goals: most don’t even PURSUE the achievement of the work they are meant to do.

Yeah, I know…did the world need another motivational and inspirational read?

Perhaps not.

But the world hasn’t read my take on how to do these things. Perhaps the world would benefit from observing how one man, someone just like them, not some world renowned celebrity they cannot relate to, learned to live the intrepid life…

You’ll receive your copy when the book launches mid-October!

Pre-order the book here:
Live the Intrepid Life

Extend the conversation: #IntrepidLife

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Tell them you are hitting the road: How to make sales fun again

Todd SchnickWow. Guess I was in a mood Friday.

But there were two business opportunities I’ve been chasing for quite a while, two specific organizations who just haven’t been engaging back with me…not responding to my communications.

And Friday, I decided to let them know I was moving on.

I said something very much along the lines of: “Well, clearly this isn’t a priority for you. I am tired of wasting my time (and yours), so I am throwing in the towel. I sincerely wish you the best of luck, but I am going to focus on some organizations who see value in what I can do for them, and are actively exploring possibilities with me. Do let me know down the road if there is ever any way I can serve you…”

Immediately following those notes, I deleted both records from my CRM. Boom. Gone. Removed from existence.

[Frankly, it was surprisingly therapeutic...]

So, took a deep breath, reorganized the notes on my desk, and set about to tackle the next action item…

You already know what happens next…

I immediately received messages from both (one email, one phone call), asking to set a call for next week to discuss the project.

Ok. So there’s that…

I guess that’s a good thing, right?

Trust me when I tell you, I didn’t pull that stunt move hoping to achieve this very outcome. I am not that smart.

No, frankly, I was exasperated, and fed up. And decided my time was better spent on opportunities that were legitimately interested in learning more about my services, and more importantly, working (and communicating) with me to explore said possibilities.

Full disclosure here: I am not suggesting you send exasperated notes to all the people in your funnel with whom you are, well, exasperated with.

But if you are a instinctual salesman, you just know when someone is legitimately interested, interested but busy and distracted (most), or not interested.

But I have two important questions here:

1. Why do we treat prospects with kit gloves, why are we so afraid of them, why do we gently dance around how they treat us? And why are we so afraid to let them go, especially when they act like they don’t care? [ok, that's several questions]

Which leads to the next question:

2. When did it become ok to treat people who are attempting to sell you something as scum of the earth?

We are rude, we don’t respond to their emails, we don’t return their phone calls, we are annoyed by them and delete their communications with malice…

Let me be clear, with the two opportunities mentioned above, they weren’t ugly to me, they had just stopped acknowledging my communications.

As a salesman, I don’t deserve that. I don’t have to accept that. And most important, it does me no good to keep opportunities like this in my funnel, just so I can tout to my sales manager that I have “thousands and thousands” of opps in the funnel.

So what?

Look, my media company is growing, and I am busier than I have ever been. I have more opportunities to manage than ever before. I have more “scope of work” documents in play than ever before.

I don’t have time to manage the ones who are not acting professional.

It is ok to let them go. Spend your found time working with those who are interested. Spend your found time identifying new opportunities.

Many complain that sales is a hard slog.

That’s because you are trying to work with prospects who don’t want to hear from you.

Move on.

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CLICK HERE to receive more rants about how to change your sales mindset.

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Sales requires actually talking to people

create conversationYou all know I do podcasting for a living.

And you all probably know I help my clients leverage podcasting by using the medium to facilitate connections and expediting relationships with prospects important to their business.

Got someone you want to connect with? Invite them to be a guest on a podcast you are involved with. Simple.

Erm… Maybe not.

Was speaking with a prospect today who actually indicated they had tried podcasting as part of their sales and marketing process in the past, and abandoned the strategy, indicating it didn’t work.

When I asked why it didn’t work, here is what he said: “The challenge was because it fell on us to line up the guest. It became a hassle, I’m told.”

Me:

Me:

Now, to clarify, I pitched the idea as a business development strategy. This assumes you have identified prospects you want to close and make customers.

Since the dawn of man, sales works when you connect with people, communicate with them, offer a solution to a challenge they are struggling with, and they buy your solution because you solve the problem.

Works a lot better when you actually speak with the people.

The whole damn point is to invite people…to invite the people YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH.

There are several clients we’ve sold podcasting services to who failed. Why? Because at the end of the day, they never actually ever invited someone to appear on their podcast.

Makes it hard that way.

Reminds me of a guy I know who flopped at a fundraising gig. When I asked if he ever actually asked anyone for money, his answer was “No.”

That makes fundraising really, really hard.

People… sales are about relationships. You develop relationships when you talk with people.

Sales works when you reach out and actually try to connect with people. Some, like me, invent tactics (my podcasting services) where we try to make this process of connecting with people simple.

Even then, people muss it up.

Why is connecting with someone you can help and serve a hassle, to use the quote above?

If that’s how you view your role and your job, that it’s a hassle to reach out to people, sales is gonna be a real long slog for you.

Find something else to do…

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Drawing by Hugh.

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What does it mean when a fraternity brother unsubscribes?

A love supremeSo yeah, a low point….

;-) [wink]

A fraternity brother of mine just unsubscribed from my mailing list…

This is a dude who knew me at my most raw, most innocent, and the most stupid point in my life. He saw me do things that I don’t really want to (and cannot) repeat here.

Jointly, we shared very personal secrets.

Together, we witnessed our brethren do some of the most silly, most ridiculous, most insane feats humans could attempt to achieve.

I could tell you stories about this fellow.

And he could tell you stories about me.

Jointly, we share very secret, and very personal fraternal rituals that even if you held a gun to my head, I (and he) would NOT share.

And despite that…

…he unsubscribed from my mailing list.

Why do I tell you this?

Simple…

If a fellow who would probably take a bullet for me, and many of our brethren, would unsubscribe from my mailing list….

Why are you surprised that someone you DON’T EVEN KNOW unsubscribes from your mailing list?

Virtually every day, I talk to clients who get so stressed that people leave their mailing list.

Here’s the thing:

If I saw my fraternity brother who left my list tomorrow, I’d smile, I’d probably yell and do our chapter chant at full throttle, and I would hug and embrace him…

…but what I wouldn’t do is be angry that he unsubscribed from my mailing list.

I have a certain style. I have a certain approach. I am a little edgy (as Dan would say), I push some buttons. And I rant (as Emile would say)…

Point is, my approach to things isn’t for everyone…as it clearly wasn’t for this fellow.

But the whole point of this post is that this is ok. This is normal. This should be anticipated. This is the real world way of things.

Problem is, too many of you get upset by this. Let something like this distract you from whom you really are. Too many of you get tripped up from stumbles like this.

You can’t let setbacks from losing people whom you’d think would (and will) fall on the sword for you distract you from your message.

The true secret to success is to stick to your guns, knowing there is a very niche audience THAT DOES care what you say, THAT DOES care how you say it, THAT DOES care about your approach to things.

Sticking to your guns is where the rubber hits the road, and where success happens.

Be strong. I know it ain’t easy, but winners don’t get distracted by what seem like losses.

Winners stay true to who and what they are!

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We may not share fraternal ritual, but if you dig where we jointly stand on things, join my mailing list!

Drawing by Hugh.

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Attention to detail matters

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 10.06.35 PMI am co-founder of a media company.

And through my work to date, I’ve learned that with a media company, a serious focus on detail matters.

You don’t see folks at ESPN, or the New Yorker, or Atlantic magazine, or any serious media company, schlepping on the details of look and feel.

You aren’t taken seriously if you half-ass design.

And yeah, you know where I am going with this: This isn’t just about how your website looks. This isn’t just about how amateur your email newsletter looks…

…This has everything to do with how EVERY element of your physical presence looks…the pride you take how EVERY element of your physical AND digital presence comes across.

Sorry, but you cannot punt and say that “Well, I don’t have an artistic eye, so, I have a pass…”

No, frankly, you don’t.

And I am not suggesting that you have to overthink and overproduce your design. Sometimes simple and clean makes a significant difference.

And no, generic, boring, default templates are very different than simple, minimalist, and simple, clean design.

On one hand people are suggesting that we live in a very noisy, media-driven world…

True that.

No doubt.

But in that vein, people are going to make decisions on where they invest their limited time and attention.

And frankly, one of the ways they will make these decisions is based on design….

…whether you like it or not.

So, my simple appeal here is that you must give this idea some focus. And whether or not you have the aptitude to manage this, the focus on it is mission critical. And you must outsource this if necessary.

At the end of the day, you don’t even want people to comment on this. You don’t want people to even notice it.

What you really want, is someone to feel at home, to feel inspired by your design…

…in such a way that they just want to spend time there, and refer others to do the same.

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If you think design matters — in ALL things — you should probably join this mailing list….

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Why you should podcast, reason #367

Todd SchnickEvery day, I get asked about why you should host a podcast, or any type of media show for that matter. Allow me to share this story.

Just this morning, I received this email [name changed to protect the innocent]:

Hello, I would like to find out how we could have our CEO, John Smith, appear on your Healthcare Insider radio show. Can you tell me how I might go about this? Thanks.

Now, I hope you ponder the wonder of that short email. In fact, allow me to help you ponder:

1. Someone found me because I host a show, and sought me out to connect with me.

2. A potential business opportunity fell into my lap, just like that.

3. This person wants me to spend at least 30 minutes with the CEO of her company.

4. Did you get that? The CEO. And I didn’t have to do ANYTHING to connect with this gentlemen.

5. They already view me as serious and credible. I don’t have to prove anything. They want to spend time with me.

6. I didn’t have to spend one penny on marketing to make this valuable connection happen.

Now, I’ve responded with the appropriate means to get him scheduled on the show, which includes asking about some potential discussion topics they want me to cover on the air.

7. To translate, they will provide me with a list of things important to this fellow. Can you say, market intelligence?

8. Seeing any evidence of the infamous gatekeeper problem here?

[The correct answer is no.]

So, to recap, this is the magic of hosting several radio shows on the Dreamland Radio Network. I receive emails like this frequently, in fact, this is a large part of how I develop business opportunities.

And it can become your strategy too (Let me know if you need help)!

I am hoping this little story helps you answer the question: “Why should I podcast?”

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Join my list to learn more ways to leverage podcasting and other means of media production!

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I don’t understand people who take the elevator one level

Why stairs are the key to understanding business success!

Why stairs are the key to understanding business success!

Since March of 2014, I’ve lived on the seventh floor of a mid-rise. And living in an building of this size, we’ve no doubt seen all kinds of unique behavior.

But nothing puzzles me more than the person who takes the elevator just one level.

Especially one level DOWN…

WTH?

[Look...if you are disabled and thus otherwise unable to take the stairs, this post isn't targeted at you. Obviously...]

But I just don’t understand it.

I’ve written about this before, but I see this same phenomenon in the parking garage of the building that houses my radio studio as well:

In a seven-floor parking garage, 94% of the cars parking there compete for the few limited spots on the first two floors. Making people stacked up behind them wait ten minutes for a coveted spot on the prized first level corridor to come open.

Never mind that on the third level, most of the parking spaces are wide open. Are people just that lazy that they don’t want to deal with taking an extra thirty seconds to go up an extra level?

Honestly, if I was in recruiting, this is how I’d make my hiring decisions.

I’d monitor all my prospects arriving for their job interview, and those that went to the upper levels to get claim the wide open parking spaces and take the stairs down a COUPLE OF FLOORS, would get the gig…

…Over the candidates who sat, waited, stressed, and cursed the fierce competition for the one or two spots that might come open on the first level.

I wouldn’t even make them come inside and interview. I’d say, “Hey you, you are five minutes late for your interview already because you were waiting for that one spot. Turn around. Go home. Don’t waste my time.”

I’d be thinking:

“If you do that, I can’t imagine how that attitude translates to other ways you’d interact with my company…”

As in:

These are the people who stare at the clock until it hits 5PM.
These are the people who wait for permission to take even the slightest of initiative.
These are the people who follow the sales call script.
These are the people who cut and paste.
These are the people who don’t take the time to be original.
These are the people who complain in staff meetings.
These are the people who do the bare minimum with regards to sales prospects.
These are the people who bitch when the sales manager is wondering why they are short of quota.
These are the people who hoard the office supplies.
These are the people who are walking to lunch at 11:59AM.
These are the people who ask about raises, rather than earning them.
These are the people who max out their sick leave.
These are the people who follow the job description to the letter.
These are the people who actually read the office manual, not to be a good employee, but to learn how to take advantage of the system.
These are the people who grab the free perk of the office smart phone, not to communicate with customers, but to brag at happy hour. At 5:02PM, btw…

No, I can tell a lot about the people who take the elevator one level. These are not the kinds of people I want in my world.

No, I want the gal walking down six flights of stairs. Smiling. And whistling. With that mischievous look that she knows something the schmucks on levels one and two don’t know.

Those are the free spirits that I want in my world…

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If you park on the upper levels and take the stairs, SIGN-UP FOR MY LIST HERE.

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Why I meditate, and why you should too

Todd SchnickIt’s funny, but there are certain people that when I tell them I meditate, they do in fact look at me strangely. Surprises me every time.

They honestly think I am weird.

Funny thing is, my newest company is having the best year of its existence, and I am on a path to exceed my entire 2014 sales goals by the end of this month.

Do you want to know why?

Meditation.

I kid you not.

Meditation makes me a better person, calms me, brings me peace, clears my mind when overwhelmed, and really brings down the stress level.

As a result, I am better at sales, at writing, at conducting my radio interviews, and doing all the other creative work my media company requires.

I often wonder if people think you have to be some Tibetan monk to meditate. I don’t shave my head, sit on some special pillow, cross my legs, or do that funky little holding my fingers together thing. See, I don’t even know what that move is called…

Nine times out of ten, I meditate sitting in my office chair. Or, sitting on the floor with a dog asleep and snuggled into me.

And I don’t do it for hours on end.

Most days I do it for five minutes. Fifteen minutes on some days. Several days a week, I do it when I need it, which means I meditate for five minutes a few times a day.

When I have task overwhelm and I can’t decide what project to start next, I get so stressed I can’t think clearly enough to make a decision on where to start.

This is usually when I find value in shutting down for five minutes, and meditating.

Most of the time, when done meditating, my mind is calm and clear and the decision on what to do next becomes easy.

This has been the biggest breakthrough for me with meditation. And it has changed my business.

How does it work? This is my simple process:

1. Close my eyes.

2. Be still.

3. And do nothing but focus on my breathing. In and out, in and out, in and out. When I exhale, I like to think it is all my demons and stresses exiting my body.

4. Do that for five minutes (Heck, for the first year I just did two minutes. Even that has impact).

Still, some people think this is hard. They’ll tell me: “Well, I get weird random thoughts, or I yawn a lot (so do I), or I get an itch on my nose, or the dogs bark, or I suddenly think of something I have to do…”

Guess what? You are doing it right!

Your mind isn’t shutting down when you meditate. All you are really doing is finally listening to your thoughts. This is the whole point. Getting some quiet so your mind can process what it needs to.

When you do get distracted, simply acknowledge the distraction, and then very consciously go back to focusing on your breathing.

When you start, you will get distracted a lot. This is ok. This is just how it works. I think you’ll find that the more you do it, the less you will get distracted. My mind still races while I meditate, but that no longer stresses me, and I calmly refocus on my breathing.

It’s that simple.

The great thing about this is that positive vibe I feel when I am done, similar to the elation I feel when I complete a run or a workout.

This simple daily reset has changed how I go through my CRAZY business days building my media company. And has enabled me to do better quality work.

This has obvious implications on the success and growth of my business.

Don’t look at me, or others who meditate, and think we are strange birds following some fru-fru Zen religion.

Instead, think of us as people achieving a little more control over their mind and thoughts. Think of us as smart and savvy businesspeople. ;-)

Now, I still get stressed, and still have my bad days. And my journey with meditation is still early. But I am excited to see how much more this will do for me.

I urge you to give it a try. Be patient though, it will feel strange at first. Soon however, you’ll embrace those very feelings…

And that’s when things are starting to get good!

[You are welcome to EMAIL ME should you have any questions!]

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Photo from unsplash.

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Why aren’t you operating with a sense of urgency?

Hugh MacLeodMan oh man, this is a tricky post to write. Because for every ten people who read it, there will be ten different perspectives on the concept. But here goes anyway:

I don’t understand people in business who ARE NOT operating with a high sense of urgency.

There, I said it.

People say to me all the time, “Wow, I can’t believe the hours you put in…”

Or…

“Dude, I know for a fact you didn’t chill this past weekend.”

Or…

“I can’t believe I received an email from you at 1045PM last night. Take a chill pill pal…”

A couple of comments here:

1. Yeah, I put in long hours, because I don’t see what I am building as work. It is my art, it is my life’s work. And it thrills me to no end.

2. My life is short. I don’t have time to mess around. I need to build my thing now, while I am still breathing, while the world around me can still benefit from what I am building.

3. I am all about quality time with loved ones, but I surround myself with loved ones who are also jacked up building THEIR thing, and we relish spending time in each other’s company building our respective art and our respective contribution. In my world, my partner isn’t complaining that I am knee deep doing my work, because she is knee deep doing HER work…

4. Yo, it ain’t gonna build itself. This thing requires work. Sweat. Time. Hours. Labor. Late nights. Passion. Frustration. It you aren’t gonna put that time in with me, then I don’t want you distracting me.

5. And I can’t do it myself. I don’t have time to do YOUR work, I am swamped doing MY work, I will help you when and where I can, but I cannot, and WILL NOT, do it all by myself. If you saw value in partnering with me, than I expect you to dive into the mud with me…

6. And yet, there is complete joy. When my work, when my efforts are recognized, and when people benefit from it, there is NO GREATER JOY. I am sincerely hoping you see that vision too. If not, this will be a hard slog….

[By the way, this is what I am busting my ass to build each and every day...]

I just turned 45 years old. I’ve jokingly told myself I am half way done. Which means, I still have 45 years to go.

I have a lot to accomplish. I have a lot to learn. I have a lot of building still to do. And to do it, I have to BUST MY ASS. And well, that’s what I plan to do.

So yeah, I refuse to not charge forward full throttle on this business, on this mission of ours. I am working under a severe sense of urgency: we have a lot to do, and not much time to do it.

I apologize if I seem impatient, for we have too short a life to accomplish what I believe we BOTH want to accomplish.

We must be on our way. Let’s get on it…

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Sign-up to receive other “URGENT” messages in your INBOX…

Drawing by Hugh.

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