10 things you should do every day to get INTO TROUBLE

Todd Schnick

The new book!

[My next book launches October 28, 2014. Here is an excerpt. CLICK HERE to pre-order]

Not long ago, I ran into an old friend at a coffee shop.

We exchanged pleasantries, filled each other in on what we were up to, talked about work, etc. The usual stuff. Then I said, “You know, just causing trouble where I can.”

Just a typical goof line I often mention in such a circumstance.

But then she replied, “Me too. I think that’s what we are supposed to do…”

[Insert forehead smack]

She’s right. That is what we are supposed to do. With projects. With careers. With plans. With travel. With life…

[Disclaimer: I don't mean law-breaking here. Just for the record...]

In this context, I mean we should always:

1. Question things. Just because that’s how it has always been done? Just because that’s how you were taught? There is a different perspective. On most everything. Probably worth exploring that different view. That’s how we learn. That’s how we see things differently.

2. Challenge things. Challenge assumptions. Challenge beliefs. Challenge rules (not laws, policy). You may end up where you started. Or you may end up innovating.

3. Fix things. You should no longer accept the status quo. If you know how to fix something, or even suspect you know how to fix something, you should tackle it. Some might begin to define NOT doing so as criminal.

4. Try new things. You might just find something better. It wasn’t until I was 40 that I realized I actually liked guacamole. What a shameful place to be, this being afraid to try, test, experiment, expose.

5. Repurpose old things. There’s gold in some of those old gems. Sometimes, newer just isn’t better. Some old school stuff is just better built. Reliable.

6. Connect things. We are, in fact, a social people. Life happens when people are connected. But somehow we all started living in cliques. Break free from that. Connect with new people. Force that connection. That old comfort zone leads nowhere.

7. Reinvent things. Twitter was meant as texting on steroids. We as a community decided to change the world with it. And business. And connectivity. And service to others. Always be looking at new ways to apply what you have….what you know.

8. Break things. Because in replacing it, you might find a better alternative. Or in repairing it, you’ll learn a better way. Or in tossing it away, finding more beauty in simplicity.

9. Trust things. The Sun will come up tomorrow. Weeds will grow in the front lawn. Humans will be humans. There are plenty of things to count and rely on. This should give you comfort to try other stuff. Life will, somehow, provide a foundation. You can recover. You can heal.

10. Or don’t trust things. Humans will be humans. Organizations will do what’s profitable, not necessarily what’s right. Suspicions keep you on your toes. Keep you from being complacent. And in that edginess, you might find a new path. Being wary can also mean keeping your eyes open and LOOKING. So, look closer.

Some may call this looking to cause trouble. I also call it living life.

Have you been bad?

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Pre-order the new book here:
Live the Intrepid Life

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10 things you should do every day

A quick, simple memorandum written to myself. Here’s hoping there is some value to sharing this with you:

1. READ. They say a heavy majority of Americans don’t ever read a book again after they graduate high school. How unbelievable is that? Reading is the best thing I do to continue learning, to get inspiration for new ideas, and to connect to amazing ideas around the world. Learning never stops, or it shouldn’t ever stop. Reading is the best way to keep connected to the new ideas of the world. If you aren’t reading, you are losing.

2. WRITE. I don’t care if you don’t actually publish anything to the world, but you are losing out on the benefits of writing, if you aren’t writing every day. This can be your next book, your daily blog, or private notes in a personal journal. Doesn’t matter. Someone who isn’t writing every day is falling behind. You aren’t processing, you aren’t thinking, you aren’t clarifying the ideas in your head, and you sure aren’t formulating compelling messages that will motivate and move markets.

3. WALK. Be active. Move. Shift to a standing desk. Take your meetings on a walk. Pace the office when you are on the phone. Just move. Sitting is the new smoking, as they are now saying. Your phone probably measures your steps. Track them. 10,000 per day.

4. MEDITATE. I wrote about how I meditate here. The world is getting crazier. We are getting busier. And the world is getting noisier. You simply MUST take a few minutes a day to clear your mind. Meditating helps reduce stress, clears your mind, and makes you a better person. If you are still one of those people blowing off meditation, you are a fool.

5. CONNECT. Reach out and connect to someone new everyday. I do this with my podcasting. A big piece of your success depends on your relationships. And if you aren’t actively trying to grow your network, you will slowly wilt away.

6. REINVENT. I wrote about this idea here. But if you aren’t constantly seeking change, seeking ways to improve what you are doing, and learning a better way, you will stagnate. And the mind-blowing thing is, you don’t have much time to wait. Wait a few months to change, and you are already falling behind. Change is a daily activity.

7. STRATEGIZE. I’ve recently picked up a new thing I do: Whiteboarding…even on the small stuff. This daily process of thinking through a problem by sketching out ideas on a giant whiteboard, or even in my Moleskine notebook has proven to be a great way to think through a problem. We don’t spend enough time thinking. Meditating will help this endeavor, I assure you, but the active process of thinking and writing down (or sketching) your stream of consciousness is a great way to capture new ideas. Hell, doodling on a napkin matters too…

8. PRETEND. I am an old man now, but I still like to play pretend. I still like to jam on the air guitar and pretend I am in the Stones. I still like to act like I am a massive, world-renowned celebrity when I am broadcasting LIVE from a trade show floor. I guess you could call this dreaming, but I like pretend intend. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. We ALL still need to play pretend. It is so good for the soul…

9. LET IT GO. I couldn’t think of a number nine. So, I am not going to stress out about it, and I am just going to let it go. The world will keep turning, and the sun will come up tomorrow…

10. LIVE. Do something. Anything. But whatever you do, don’t just execute on the same old routine. Too much of life is routine. I get it. That’s a part of what we have to do. But please oh please, whatever you do, don’t sleepwalk through your day. Make something happen.

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More thoughts on living the intrepid life found here…

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The necessity of reinvention

“If you aren’t always reinventing yourself, you are falling behind.”

Life is about reinvention. Changes. Upgrades. And if you aren’t doing this on a regular basis, you really are short-changing yourself.

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite artists/entrepreneurs today, Jade Simmons.

I always get inspired and fired up when I speak with Jade. In addition to being an amazing and well-regarded concert pianist, she is an entrepreneur, or as she calls it, an emergence specialist. As in, we are all “emerging artists” in our craft.

In our conversation, she talks about the idea that humans aren’t meant to dream small dreams. We aren’t meant to think small…

Yeah, that point requires some deeper thinking.

We all think of ourselves, we all vision ourselves as “smaller than we are.” And it takes a third party to look you in the eye, smack you on the forehead, and tell you what you are truly capable of.

But this isn’t a post about the importance of mentors and coaches to help you see that.

This is an essay about the importance of reinvention.

If you are stagnant, you lose.
If you don’t change, you lose.
If you refuse to innovate, you lose.
If you have no new ideas, you lose.

The people around you want to be inspired. The people around you NEED to be inspired.

It is your responsibility to always reinvent yourself. And per my conversation with Jade, I am not just talking about leaving the grind and finally pursuing your entrepreneurial dream…

…I am also talking about reinventing yourself in your current gig. Even if you work for some large corporation. Or some company company that’s been around for several years.

I am in process of reinventing myself. And how I do things. It won’t be easy. It will be hard. And it will be worth it.

But man oh man, it will be invigorating. It will be inspiring. And it will change things. I will come out of the back end of this process a different person, a better person, with a new perspective on what I do and how I serve.

This particular change will be a big one. And it will be exciting. But reinventing yourself doesn’t have to be a BIG. It can be small.

And while it can be small, it is necessary. It is essential. It is required. Because if you don’t constantly focus on how to make change, to improve, to innovate, to make more interesting, integrating a new philosophy into things…

…you will stagnate.

And that inspires nobody.

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More rants about living the intrepid life…

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Swotting Flies

I was never been a big fan of the SWOT analysis. Mainly because it always seemed to be one of those exercises that merely justified a marketing consultant’s time and billable hours.

SWOT:
Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

So, if you aren’t familiar, a SWOT analysis is an exercise where you identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Put very simply, once you identify these things, you can then make very strategic decisions about how to better allocate talent and resources to maximize strengths, buttress weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate threats.

Let me officially declare: I was a fool with regards to poo pooing the power of a SWOT analysis.

It can be very eye opening.

Now, you don’t need to hire a consultant to facilitate one, in my opinion. Unless you need someone to conduct an honest one. [Honesty is critical with a SWOT analysis. If you fib and aren't honest in assessing your strengths and weaknesses, the SWOT analysis is totally useless.]

The second piece of advice with regards to the (honest) results of a SWOT analysis? Do something meaningful with the results.

If the outcome is obvious, if the clear direction an individual should take is obvious, go that way. Cater to those strengths (or steer away from those weaknesses).

If you bury your head in the sand, and ultimately wonder why nothing changes, there was no point to the exercise in the first place.

I, for one, promise to do a mini-SWOT analysis on things (however minor) on a much more frequent basis. It is a very effective tool to make a quick determination of the value of a person/process/concept. In fact, I did three small ones today to gauge my thinking on a couple aspects of my business.

It changed my thinking on a few things, let me assure you…

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More #sales and #marketing rants found here!

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You just need one idea

When it comes to succeeding in sales, you simply need to present one (new) idea that matters to your prospect.

One idea, to get the whole damn process rolling.

Just one idea.

For the record, I am not suggesting that’s all it takes to “close the deal,” but I am suggesting that generating one key idea is REQUIRED to get the ball rolling.

I had a killer first conversation with a new prospect today. We only met a few weeks ago. There was one bit of our preliminary conversation that struck me in a meaningful way…

…A way that resonated, for both of us. I hung on to that idea, and let it process in my head.

Off of that one strand of meaningful conversation, an idea developed, one that became the basis for my whole pitch to them about how we could serve their organization.

Today, I presented the one idea.

Boom. It resonated.

And from that, three to four different strings of opportunity presented themselves. Magic was happening. From there, I was no longer pitching my value, we were brainstorming the idea, which lead to scintillating discussion on multiple directions and concepts.

All from one idea…

Too many people think they have to crack the code in the first pitch…

Too many people think they have to close the deal on the first call…

Too many people think they have to convince the decision-maker with the first white paper…

Too many people think the cash register will ring loudly when you mail the brochure…

Doesn’t happen that way. Sorry, but you’ve got to start a conversation about how you can partner and solve their problem.

And that first conversation may be raw. Unformed. Untight.

But for cryin’ out loud, at least get a discussion started.

Here’s the good news:

A positive interaction, one that might lead to a closed deal, can all result from you sharing ONE IDEA that changes their thinking on things…

Easier said than done, I know, but that’s the fun part:

Your job is simply to come up with one cool idea that gets them thinking.

It’s down hill from there…

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More #rants about #sales can be found here.

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Long-term thinking: How and when to do it

I am going to be honest: All I can think about is 2015.

As of this writing, early September 2014, I’ve almost sold as much business for 2015 as I have for all of 2014.

This is very exciting. And explains why I’m so excited about the coming year. And don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with planning for and thinking about the future.

But there are still four months left in 2014. Lots of exciting stuff can still happen now, in the short-term. This is exiting too.

But how to proceed? How to conduct oneself? How to prioritize one’s actions? How much effort do I exert to close business NOW verses the next calendar year?

Now, some big changes and evolutions afoot with the business, most of it centered on changes in how I will approach things this coming year. But I have to be mindful that there is still fruit ripe for the picking…right now.

How does one balance this?

My answer?

Prioritize serving your customers first and foremost. Act in their best interest.

Just this afternoon, I just lost a gig scheduled for late October 2014. But in the same conversation, sold two projects that will pop in 2015.

My client is a winner. But so am I (even though I might have lost a little revenue designated originally for 2014).

What I can promise you is that this mindset won’t always jive with your end-of-month numbers. And if this is a problem, well, then you have bigger problems.

But in the end, you and your prospect will come out winners.

Like I just mentioned, I’ve punted several Q3 and Q4 opportunities to 2015. While this will result in less profit for me in the short-term, it does yield a heck of a good 2015.

Look, always good to close as soon as is practicable. Not arguing that. But if you are operating in the best interest of your potential customers…

…you both will come out ahead.

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Some daily tips to better serve your customer!

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Trust your sales instincts

I worked a sales opportunity about two to three years ago. It was potentially a really cool gig, for a really cool organization.

There was interest. We had several phone conversations. We had several face-to-face meetings.

Plans were sketched out. Timelines were drawn up. I was beginning to build the project into my work flow.

And then all of a sudden…poof.

It was gone.

The fellow stopped returning phone calls. Stopped answering emails. And then one day, quickly, and matter-of-factly, sent an email to say “Leave me alone.”

It was strange, but as we know from our own sales experiences, this happens with some frequency.

But I was frustrated. For two reasons:

1. I had invested a lot of time in my efforts to advance the opportunity.

2. And as I said, it was a really cool organization, and what I had in mind would have both served them well, and been really fun to execute.

It saddened me to update the CRM to reflect the latest news.

But then a funny thing happened:

I later found out that the fellow I had been coordinating efforts with had soured on the organization, and had moved on.

Turns out, he just lost interest in the organization itself. It was NO reflection on what he and I had been working up.

Flash forward to a few months ago, I came to meet the new person installed in the organization that had taken his place, and had the pleasure of running across him at a meeting.

I mentioned some of the ideas that had been bandied about a few years back. And what do you think happened?

“Wow, those are great ideas! I like them. I want to explore them further. Where do we go from here?”

Boom. We are having coffee in two weeks.

At the end of the day, trust your sales instincts. Your ideas, your solutions are good.

Sometimes, just sometimes, the person you are pitching them to just has his mind on something else.

I had allowed myself to question whether my ideas just weren’t good enough.

Turns out I was wrong.

Keep after it. Sometimes it is just a matter of the right person hearing your ideas at the right time.

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SIGN-UP HERE for more of my sales rants!

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I am not a salesperson

I sell everyday. And I’ve built a business where I help my customers sell every day.

And yet, I don’t see myself as a salesman.

And by this, I don’t mean that I am embarrassed to call myself a salesman. Frankly, in business, we are ALL in sales. Some, obviously, more directly than others.

But I don’t see myself in the traditional light that many still view salesmen. Instead, I see people helping and serving and advancing.

Rather, I see people who do what I do in these following ways:

Engineers
Tacticians
Thinkers
Problem-solvers
Teachers
Innovators
Artists
Craftsmen
Designers
Thought-leaders
Influencers
Mentors
Architects
Foremen
Directors
Creatives
Strategists

Think about it…

When I think about how I interact with my market, I am not some dude with a briefcase full of carpet and tile samples…

Rather, I am a partner. I am a co-conspirator. I am a collaborator with my customer/prospect to move the needle, to make something interesting happen.

I see a little bit of myself in everything listed above. And how I collaborate, how I interact, how I strategize is all a little bit different case by case.

It is this idea that every scenario plays out a little differently with each opportunity, that keeps my sales work interesting.

It is this idea that I have to use different strengths and skills and mindsets, that keeps my sales work interesting.

I am not embarrassed that I am a salesman. But I also don’t see myself as a salesman.

I see myself as (see list above).

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CLICK HERE to read more of my occasional sales rants.

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Building your own media empire

Todd SchnickAnnouncing a new project: Building your own media empire!

Some of you are aware and took my “Workingman’s Content Marketing Course.” I’ve long been promising a major overhaul and upgrade to this program, and am hereby announcing it today.

I am in the midst of finishing up the short ebook manifesto and autoresponder course offering, which will launch soon.

My thinking has evolved in a big way here, and therein the shift in the program.

I used to think we all had to be content marketers. Now I believe we have to build mini-media empires to get our story told, our message out there, all to inform and move our markets.

Some won’t tell the difference between those two. That’s the point of this book. To explain that shift…

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Whether you want to admit it or not, you respond to media.

We ALL respond to media.

We all binge-watch the latest hot show on Netflix, and then chatter about it on Facebook, usually whilst watching it.

We all read the latest best-selling book, and recommend it to our friends.

We all watch the commercials during the Super Bowl, and engage with our community and vote on the best (or worst) ones.

We all glance through magazines (online or print) and look at the ads, ads which influence products we want to buy, or fashion we want to wear.

We listen to a song from a favorite artist, and harken back to the memories of what the song is about. We listen to certain songs when we are in a melancholy mood, or pick-it-up when we need to get fired up.

We all read essays, articles, or manifestos (like this one), to get inspired, informed, educated, influenced, and to learn about a new idea, movement, strategy, etc…

This is media. We all consume it. And it inspires us. It influences us. And it drives our actions and behaviors.

Here’s the important thing:

It has never been easier to consume media. With some combination of your television, books, computers, and your growing collection of mobile devices, you can consume all the global media your heart desires.

And as a person with a product to sell, a service to offer, or an idea to spread, YOU HAVE TO PRODUCE MEDIA to drive the actions and behaviors of your market.

Said another way, if you aren’t creating your own media, you will be left behind in this modern world.

This manifesto walks through this idea, and shares some basic strategies and tactics on how and what you should be producing.

Together, we can help build your own media empire!

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Sign-up here to be notified when the book and e-course are officially launched!

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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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