A Weekend’s Digital Cleaning

Hugh MacLeodSometimes, you just have to DELETE a lot of stuff.

The weight lifted off your shoulders feels inexplicably amazing, and I swear, makes me more nimble. This weekend:

1. I removed about 200 “friends” from Facebook. I realized I actually didn’t know these people.

2. I deleted about 33% of the leads in my CRM. They were useless. I can navigate around my real prospects so much easier now.

3. Although I maintain INBOX ZERO, I also deleted about 2,000 archived emails.

4. I removed 50% of the blogs I was following from my RSS reader. I found myself not reading them. This was a big step for me. I am slowly moving away from my reader, sending more stuff to my inbox, plus wanting to really focus on the content that moves and incites me. The stuff in my RSS reader now is the kind of stuff that I stop everything to read when it comes in.

5. I deleted a handful of things I “liked” on Facebook. They were things I scrolled through to get to the stuff I actually wanted to see. No offense to anyone, I just have limited time in my day.

6. Using gmail as I do, I am a big user of the “labels” they offer. But this weekend I deleted about 20% of them, and consolidated where it made sense. My INBOX is even more impactful for me now.

7. I deleted a ton of files in my Dropbox. I wasn’t going to need them anyway.

8. I deleted a ton of files from Evernote. I wasn’t going to need them anyway.

9. I removed dozens and dozens of names from my contacts database, people I haven’t talked to since I met, and can’t imagine ever needing to talk to them again. If it is meant to be, they’ll come back into my life.

Removing the physical clutter from your life is a key to happiness, in my humble opinion. But don’t EVER forget the digital clutter can stack up and weigh you down too.

As one of my clients is always telling me, to be able to quickly find your data, contacts, and other information enables you to move more quickly, and make faster, more impactful business and life decisions.

Plus, it is so much more fun to utilize your digital properties when they aren’t weighed down with excess.

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Drawing by Hugh.


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Insanely Simple: Ken Segall Explains How Steve Jobs Can Still Change YOUR World

Ken SegallAn honor to have Ken Segall join me for episode 68, where we discuss his recent book, Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drive’s Apple’s Success.

You should know about this book. It is the Steve Jobs/Apple book you really want to read.

And yes, you probably know Ken Segall as an ad man behind the famous Think Different campaigns, and the iMac name, which lead to the iProduct naming to follow.

But what you really want to do is understand the power of simplicity, the Apple way, and what that means for you and your business. And that’s the focus of our conversation…

SHOW NOTES + HIGHLIGHTS:

1. Yes, over the course of our conversation, Ken talks and shares great stories about the greatest commercial ever made. And below, I share the “Steve Jobs” narrated version, which Ken and I agree is now our favorite:

2. Apple may be known for great products, and great advertising, but there is a reason this happened. And that’s a focus on simplicity. And that’s why Ken had to write this book…

3. Think Different wasn’t just an advertising theme in Apple’s later years. The reason it worked was that was ALWAYS the way to describe Apple, especially when it was two guys starting Apple in a garage…

4. Why simplicity matters. To not only you, but your business…

5. Why do we complicate things? Is it our culture? Is it our insecurities? Is it our education? Why do we take purposeful steps to make business and life more complicated?

6. Market testing? Tweaking? Aren’t you then just trying to please everyone? This is always doomed to fail. Believe in something, and tell people that. Far simpler, and an easier message to deliver…

7. “Apple doesn’t care what you think.” There’s tremendous freedom in that… And simplicity…

8. The origin and concept behind “getting hit with the simple stick,” and why we all need to wield one…

9. Can anyone just start to simplify things? It is a skill? Is it a commitment? Can you do it half-way?

10. Is simplicity an art form? Not designing an iPhone, necessarily, but the act of stripping away all that is not essential…

11. “Simple isn’t dumbed down. It is advanced features made easier to use.”

12. “It isn’t easy being simple.”

13. You can learn more about Ken Segall and his work here. And you can find Scoopertino here!

14. You can get Ken’s book here:

15. To hear from other cool and hip folks like Ken Segall, subscribe to my podcast on iTunes by clicking here. And, a review and customer rating would be much appreciated as well!

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You Be Nimble, You Be Quick

I do EVERYTHING I can to run a business organization that is light, nimble, simple, and minimalist.

This enables me to sell better, sell faster, and sell more effectively.

It allows me to position myself as a partner, rather than some larger organization that requires my potential customers to adapt to a bunch of rules, policies, and complexities.

And yeah, this positioning does prevent me from looking like a large organization, and this may cost me some potential business, but with the way I am structuring my business and my operations, I need to be light and nimble.

The positives outweigh the negatives. Big time.

Noodling on this concept, however, has me thinking how too many organizations layer so much complexity to their sales organizations, that the sales process becomes overburdened, which results in unnecessarily lengthening and complicating the sales cycle.

Here are some signs that your sales process and/or organizations are burdened with too much complexity:

1. You cannot get your important work done until well after the bell whistles at 5PM.

2. You make your customers contort to your way of doing things.

3. You make your employees fill out complicated “TPS” reports, when a simple email or tweet will do. This takes time away from interacting with your customers and prospects.

4. You make your sales team follow rigid scripts, instead of letting them be human.

5. Requiring strict adherence to arbitrary sales numbers and goals (that aren’t legitimate or realistic anyway), forcing your sales force to worry about this, instead of thinking about how to serve their prospects.

6. Shoving a burdensome CRM system down throats to satisfy some management prerogatives, further distracting sales reps from focusing on customers or prospects.

You can probably think of a lot more. This is but a short list to get you started.

But the point is, remove / reduce the complexities from your organization and sales force. They removes some major weight from their shoulders, enabling them to move about more freely, empowered to make some power moves, and move at lightning pace — all on the service behalf of customers and prospects.

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Learn some others ways to simplify your business.

Drawing by Hugh MacLeod.

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Focusing On Your Niche [Audio]

If you are attempting to simplify your business, and make running your business less complicated, it would be an important first step to focus on a niche.

You can’t be everything to everybody. You can succeed in business by serving a very tight and specific segment of the market place.

That doesn’t mean you cannot service and help other customers (outside the niche), but it does mean you MUST focus on your niche with your marketing message and program.

A tighter niche also makes it easier for word of mouth…too broad a market makes it more difficult to make referrals.

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[photo from flickr]

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Removing Digital Clutter Too

You likely know that I am a minimalist. I have removed lots of physical clutter from my life. I have dislodged myself from personal obligations that distracted me from what was important personally, and for my clients. And I have simplified my life to focus on the truly important things.

But…

I have a new challenge…

Digital clutter.

Look, I don’t know if I will ever convince you to remove all of your digital clutter. But let me say this:

For me, removing digital clutter is as freeing and uplifting as removing physical clutter. Removing distractions, ANY distractions, are about eliminating the unnecessary to allow you to appreciate and focus on the necessary.

Allow me to give you some examples of some digital clutter I am slowing purging:

1. Emails in the inbox. I keep too many emails. Clutter that I will never read again. Digital notes that no longer have meaning, and distract me from the important messages that matter. My inbox is now such that zero is attainable each day. Stuff to save is neatly organized and archived, useless less important stuff is deleted. Right away.

2. Followers. Yeah, too many of you still battle “follower envy” where we measure our self-worth by the number of followers we have on Twitter, friends on Facebook, or connections on LinkedIn. But for most of you, a majority of your followers aren’t real, or really connected to you in a meaningful. So, remove the useless followers that get in the way of the people who matter…those who might be your true fans.

3. RSS subscriptions. I have subscribed to thousands of blogs over the last several years. Mainly to experiment and see if a new blog and website will prove to be helpful and meaningful to me. After a while, I have to discipline myself to delete the stuff that isn’t relevant, that I am not reading.

4. e-newsletters. Like you, I’ve subscribed to too many e-newsletters. I’ve made it a point to unsubscribe from those that aren’t providing real value to me. For me, there are only a few that I look forward to. If I don’t want to drop everything when an new email comes in, it probably isn’t worth subscribing to, IMHO.

5. Files in Google docs. After a while, there are a ton of google docs I’ve created for this project or that. Often, I need to review the archive, and remove the clutter that is no longer relevant. To be honest, my biggest reason to remove digital clutter in Google docs? To allow me to more easily find the docs that are more important…

6. iTunes songs. I have over 2,000 songs in iTunes. In the past twelve months, I’ve listened to 45 of them. And with me listing to Pandora most of the time…do I really need all these songs?

7. Books on Kindle. Yeah, I used to have a couple thousand books in grand bookcases. Now, I own only nine hardcover books. The ones that really matter to me. But, I now have a growing collection of digital books. And there are several I will never read again. I am deleting them. They distract me from the books that move me…

8. Audio reminder files on smart phone. I leave myself reminders on my smart phone voice memo tool all the time. Ideas for blog posts. People to call. Old friends to reach out to. Ideas for clients. After a while, they accumulate. If I let the list pile up, I suddenly have a ton of audio files that are less impactful.

9. Random stuff in Evernote. The beauty of Evernote is the ease with which I can save pics, ideas, websites, articles, audio files, etc. The downside? After a while you accumulate a lot of stuff. I have to make it a point to go thru that material and delete content that is no longer relevant. I also have to improve my tagging and organizing ability to better store the data.

10. Downloaded podcasts. I have 74 hours of podcasts to listen to. On one hand, endless streams of great content to learn from. On the other hand, it is almost too much, and I don’t what to listen to first.

11. eBooks. With all the blogs I read, I’ve downloaded dozens and dozens of ebooks to read. In fact, upon counting the files in my eBook folder, I have 47. I mean, wow. How am I ever going to read 47 books? With more to come, I am sure. Now, I am not sure which ones I really really wanted to read in the first place…

How much digital clutter is cluttering up your life? How much digital clutter is distracting you from your important work? Is it time to clear away some of your clutter?

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[drawing by hugh macleod]

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Is Too Much Business Clutter Weighing You Down?

What are you?

No matter the size of your organization, you need to be slight and nimble. All businesses and organizations take on too much clutter.

This slows us down. This makes it harder to make quick strategic decisions. This makes it harder to pivot and evolve with the ever-changing marketplace.

Here are a few questions to ask of you and your organization:

1. Too much overhead?

2. Too many staff not pulling their weight?

3. Too many pieces of collateral that do more to confuse than educate?

4. Too much distracting clutter on your website?

5. Are 80% of your customers only buying 20% of your products? Probably time to remove inventory that ain’t selling.

6. Decision-making matrix involve far too many people?

7. Do you have too many meetings…that don’t really produce results?

8. Too many fake prospects in the CRM database?

9. Too many marketing campaigns confusing the marketplace?

10. Too many pricing discounts and incentives that are costing you profit?

11. Too many phony sales and marketing scripts that are confusing your sales people, and preventing them from being human?

12. Attending too many conferences and not really getting return?

13. Doing too much needless travel when teleconferencing would do?

14. Have too much office space costing you a lot in rent?

15. Too many lost business opportunities because you are too busy having to pay attention to all the stuff above?

If you answered yes to even a handful of these questions (especially number 15), it is probably time to simplify a few things with your organization…

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[drawing by hugh macleod]

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