Restaurant menus are great. They give us a narrowed list of an infinite number of options to choose. They even narrow down the options to an optimized list of options with a coherent theme. A theme that is set by the restaurant so you generally know what to expect before you even pick up a menu. It assists every patron in making a quick and effective decision.

We can create the exact same thing for being productivity.

When we’re sitting on the couch after a tiring day of work, it is so easy to fire up Netflix, open a bag of chips, and do a bunch of nothing. The excuses tend to be a variation of, “but I’m tired… It was a long day at work… I already worked hard today… I’ll work on my todo list tomorrow… I’ll exercise this weekend…”

It’s all excuses because the body is defaulting to its natural instinct – conserve energy.

But the reality is, we have a lot more energy than we realize.

We absolutely have the energy to get up, get to work, and get stuff done.

I have taken a page out of the restaurant’s strategy book and have created a Productivity Menu. This is a selection of productive options to keep my decision making focused and to a minimum. I no longer have the excuse of, “I’ll think of something to do while I turn on another episode of Scrubs.” I have a concrete list of productive options to tackle.

If I’m ever feeling lethargic, but want to get productive, all I need to do is select any item from this Productivity Menu and get to work.

Using the Productivity Menu

The key to this methodology is once you select an item, do not give up until it is complete. Whenever we do something, we are wiring patterns in our brain and we are more likely to repeat that action in the future. If I complete this five minute task, I am more likely to complete five minute tasks, or even ten minute tasks in the future. But if I cave on a five minute task, then I’ll be more likely to cave on future tasks.

Every item on this list is intentionally super easy. I don’t have any chance of failure for any of the items on this list. Furthermore, every item on this list helps advance my physical or mental health in one way or another. When I complete any item on this list, I will earn a feeling of success because I was productive and accomplished something positive in my life.

Upon completing the task, take a moment to mentally revel in the success. A simple, “Yes, I did it” helps ingrain positive emotions towards the chosen task – making it more likely to be repeated in the future.

That feeling of success will very likely generate momentum, enabling me to tackle any another productive task.

Here is a sample menu, but I encourage everyone to adapt the menu to meet your own priorities.

The Productivity Menu

  • Read a book for 5 minutes
  • Write for 5 minutes
  • A short walk – 2.5 minutes in one direction away from home then walk back
  • Stretch for 5 minutes
  • 10 Isometric hold exercises for 30 seconds each
  • 5 minutes of chores/cleaning
  • Pray for 5 minutes
  • Mediate – 2 minutes is acceptable if you’re new to meditation
  • 5 minutes of something personal to you that is enjoyable and constructive

Things that should not be on this list are mindless activities such as endless scrolling on social media or watching TV. The key to the list is in the name itself – it’s not a “Mindless Menu” after all.

Once you complete one of these five minute tasks, nine times out of ten you’ll have generated enough energy and momentum to keep working further. The more you progress with that tasks the more you wire your brain to be productive in the future.

I encourage everyone to print out a Productivity Menu and when an item on this list is completed, add a tally next to it. If you complete an item on the list and continue for more than five minutes, add another tally. Adding a tally provides an opportunity to revel in success of completing something and over time, the page will become filled with tallies showing your progress. The more tallies you have, the more you’ll want to add more tallies to the page!

Don’t know what to add to your list?

Over the next week, write down everything you do. Big and small. At the end of the week, look at that list and identify what helps you towards your goals. Find five minute things you can do on that list and add them to the productivity menu.

While you’re at it, identify the things that don’t help you towards your goals. Consider cutting back on those things or cut them out of your life.

How does the Productivity Menu work?

The more positive actions we take over time, the more we wire our brain to act in a positive and constructive manner. Productivity creates momentum and momentum creates more momentum. The more momentum we have, the more we get done. The more we get done, the more we will get done in the future.

It’s an incredibly cyclical pattern that feeds on itself.

Just like slacking off on the couch makes us more likely to press play on the next episode, getting up and getting something done makes us more likely to tackle another productivity item.

Every time you complete an item off of the Productivity Menu, you develop willpower in addition to being productive. In fact, the more your inner voice tells you to stay on the couch, the more you strengthen your willpower by getting up and getting something done.

The more often you get up and complete something productive, the more likely you are to get up and get something done in the future. Consistency of effort makes future efforts easier and more fruitful.

Like I said – it’s very cyclical.

Completing items on this Productivity Menu allows me to accomplish something productive, generate momentum to tackle future tasks, and develop willpower so it is easier for me to be productive in the future.

Yes, completing a simple five minute task really can be that powerful, when it is paired with consistent productivity over time.

Ever have that feeling where you’re just in the groove, borderline effortlessly making progress on the task at hand? Time passes differently, outside influence can be zoned out from, energy is high, and the quantity and quality of output is well above average. It’s a glorious feeling of productivity – it can even get addicting.

There are many names for this state of mind: flow state, in the zone, focus state, hyperfocus, or even motivation. This productivity state can be elusive and mysterious, but no one can deny its power. Many books have been written on it, many studies conducted, and many systems have been established to try to get into this state of mind. A single article doesn’t provide enough time for a full and deep study on this topic, so to keep this discussion simplified and focused, I’m going to simply call this elusive state: “momentum.”

Momentum is one of the most powerful productivity tricks available.

An effective leader can utilize momentum to boost productivity and job satisfaction in themselves and in their team.

Unfortunately, many people just sit back and wait for momentum to find themselves. Sure, momentum can be elusive at times, which results in many people taking a passive approach on achieving momentum – simply hoping they find it along the way. However, there are methods to enter such a state of mind with reasonable consistency. There’s no need to simply hope to stumble upon momentum.

What’s more, effective leaders can encourage processes and systems for teams to create momentum in team member’s work as well. In creating momentum, wins and celebrations of the wins is a core component, so building this momentum subsequently builds positivity and cohesion in the team. I love opportunities to double dip like this.

Create Momentum in Yourself

Leadership always starts with the self. If you’re going to lead, you need to lead by example. Leading by example builds trust in the team, allows you to demonstrate excellence, makes you more accessible to the team, and so much more. In the case of creating momentum in others, it’s easier to teach people how to create momentum by demonstrating it in your own life.

Create a Win

Manufacturing a quick win is the simplest and easiest way to generate momentum. Find a task, any task, and complete it. Yes. Really. That simple.

Wins are positives. Wins put individuals and those around the individual in good moods. Good moods help with focus, and focus helps with momentum.

Start with known tasks that are quick and easy or regular tasks that are deep within your primary skill set. Something you know you can complete with ease and knock it out of the park. Even if it’s a 5 minute task, just get it done.

After all, momentum is simply a series of wins in a row. A manufactured guaranteed win is still a win. It can act as the first domino falling over, even if it easy to knock over that first domino.

Revel in the Success

When the task is completed, take a moment to intentionally revel in the success. Completing a task garners satisfaction. There’s satisfaction in something done and over, or the enjoyment of the process, or the gratification of doing something you’re good at. There’s something to enjoy – so dwell on that positive component of completing a task. Nine times out of ten, the next task will be easier to get started and complete.

Reveling in success creates a positive imprint in yourself and in your team. It builds an individual’s positive self image and helps build camaraderie in the team through shared positive experiences. It can help make any win feel bigger, even a small win. The bigger the feeling of success in completing something, the more positive emotions and momentum it’ll create.

“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”

Thomas Carlyle, influential author of the Victorian Era

Create a Log of Wins

There are many methods of journaling that dance in and around this topic. It doesn’t have to be complicated or intense. It doesn’t even need to be something that can be referenced in the future, though there is benefit in that. The key is to take a moment to write down the success of the task. It can be short and sweet, or detailed and thorough. Simply take a moment to write out what you did and why it is a win – even if it’s on a dry erase board and will be gone before the end of the day.

There’s something about writing that helps things stick in the brain. Getting the positive feeling of success to stick in the brain puts people in a better mood and even helps build positive self image in the long term.

Having logs like this is also an effective CYA technique in the corporate world. You can use these logs to demonstrate progress and value as an individual contributor.

Create consistent processes to act as triggers

This method is a long term play. It requires planning, effort, and most importantly – consistency. But when utilized effectively, process triggers can be incredibly effective at building momentum and maintaining positive moods.

Everyone has processes in their lives, eventually these processes become more like habits. Things like sitting down in the car, putting a seatbelt on, turning on the car, and selecting choice music is second nature for so many of us. You do it without thinking. It’s a trigger (getting in the car) to be prepared to drive in a particular manner and achieve a reward (getting somewhere safely). It’s a basic “habit loop” – cue, routine, reward.

Everyone has them in more areas of their life than they may realize. I absolutely want to dig into the habit loop more, but that’ll require its own post. The key takeaway is how a specific set of actions happens based on a certain cue in order to earn a particular reward.

Intentionally creating new processes to trigger momentum can be incredibly powerful. Specific processes can be created for work, personal life, specific tasks, and… well… everything. The routines can be personalized to the individual and the specific circumstance.

The process is easy in concept. A cue starts a routine. The routine is a consistent set of actions. Completion of the routine earns a reward. That’s a habit. The key to a habit is consistency. The key to a positive and productive habit is intentionality.

A good morning routine is an easy example. If we’re going to create momentum, why not have momentum at the very beginning of the day?

Here’s an example morning routine.

Alarm goes off, put feet on the floor, then turn off the alarm. Brush teeth. Light physical activity to get the blood flowing. Read something educational to stimulate the mind. (Notice how we’re starting each day with physical and mental growth?) Shower while thinking through 3 things to accomplish today and 3 things that were accomplished yesterday. Get dressed. Start the day by working on one of those things to accomplish.

This isn’t a universal morning routine and it’s a bit long, but it illustrates a few key points. It includes progression, allows for key consistent actions to trigger the next, it creates growth which includes potential for success, and it revels in previous successes. Following a routine like this guarantees at least one win, if not multiple wins. These wins can be used to build on each other, gaining momentum before starting on the first main task each day.

Protect Earned Momentum

Momentum takes effort and anything that requires effort has value. Things of value are protected, and things of immense value are protected – even at a cost. I argue momentum in particular has immense value.

When momentum is captured, do everything possible to protect and maintain momentum.

Avoid distractions! Silence notifications, don’t check email, don’t get sucked into water cooler talk, and stay focused on the task at hand. Self sabotage is the greatest killer of momentum as people leave a task to work on something else, check social media, eat a snack, check email, look at a Slack notification, etc.

Study after study shows that interruptions destroy flow and it can take 15 to 60 minutes for someone to fully get back into a task. Protect your momentum and respect the momentum that others have.

Create momentum in the team

Momentum in the self is powerful, but we are focusing on leadership after all. So how can leaders create momentum in their team?

Create opportunities for small, compounding successes

Encourage your team to start with small, easy wins in the morning. Give them opportunities to pursue these small win tasks. Use todo lists and project management software so everyone can feel the satisfaction of marking off tasks and encourage team members to revel in those successes.

When building out and assigning large, long term projects. Ensure these projects have plenty of small short term tasks. Individual tasks shouldn’t take longer than a day. Generally, tasks should be a half day task at most. Completion creates satisfaction, so why structure a project where team members have to wait more than a day for that completion satisfaction?

Give opportunities for team members to define their own execution plan. It’s satisfying to complete a task, but it’s even more satisfying to complete your own vision. There’s definitely a balance to be had when giving people opportunities for their own plans. It generally is only an option for more seasoned employees, but the more seasoned the employee, the more opportunities they should have to sculpt their own execution plan towards a defined goal.

Encourage team members to share their successes. Consider creating official channels and opportunities to share these wins. It’s absolutely possible to create feelings of satisfaction on wins from team members. The more success is shared, the more cohesive the team becomes. A close knit team can erupt in excitement when one person completes a task, which is a huge boost to morale and momentum for everyone.

Protect the team’s momentum just like you protect your own momentum

Avoid interrupting coworkers mid task. Standardized signals can be set up to indicate whether someone is deep in focus – such as headphones are over both ears or slack is set to “do not disturb.”

Have as few meetings as possible with as few people in them as possible. Meetings interrupt workflows. They take time for everyone to filter in. There’s a reason why “This meeting could have been an email” is practically a meme. Keep meetings tight and focused. Only use meetings when collaboration is needed rather than simple information to be shared. Use emails when the sole need is to share information.

It is the job of a leader to make a team more than the sum of its parts

If a leader can’t generate a multiplicative output from the team, what use is that leader?

A primary focus of any leader needs to be figuring out the team’s unique dynamics and help every individual contributor to establish a workflow that maximizes momentum. If teams or individuals don’t have workflows, by all means create workflows. If there’s room for improvement, by all means help improve workflows.

Once teams and individuals get their workflows established, leaders need to work around the team’s workflows to preserve and build momentum.

Encourage and protect the team’s momentum to watch productivity and quality of life soar.

You really never know the impact you may have on people around you – for better or worse.

This is why it is critical to work as hard as you can to lift others up at every opportunity.

A cutting remark or a harsh and negative joke at the wrong time could destroy someone’s day, or even week. The wrong comment at the wrong time could set someone back for years.

Similarly, an uplifting comment or positive advice could make someone’s day, or even week. The right comment at the right time could drastically help someone for the rest of their life. No exaggeration.

I’ve got a story of just such a situation. I met a man who drastically changed my life. He gave me advice that was game changing for my budding career. Learning that lesson at the very beginning set me up for some fairly aggressive personal growth that has put my career much farther along than it otherwise would have.

This guy has no clue what he did for me. He probably doesn’t even remember the conversation – but I do. I have very vivid memories of that day even though it was decades ago.

Let me tell y’all a quick story.

How this guy set up my career for success

In the world of web development, new techniques, best practices, and technologies come out at a blistering pace. My world is by no means the only one where this happens, but still, it seems like I have to re-learn half of my job every three to five years. Staying up to date with what’s new is just part of the job.

But I didn’t always know that.

Back when I was first learning how to put together basic HTML and CSS, table based layouts were the usual method of creating a website. (Don’t worry, I won’t get technical in this post) I was just a sophomore in high school and things had recently clicked. I was comfortable with this methodology.

But times were changing. The div was on the rise. It was becoming the standard way of building websites.

But like I said, I was comfortable with tables. I was resisting change.

At this point, I was an intern on the tech team at my church. I very vividly remember exactly where I was at church, though I don’t remember why I was there. I was sitting at a table, next to some windows, oriented down the hall towards where my office was, with my back towards the coffee bar. It was a bright sunny day and I was on my laptop writing some code.

Some guy walked up and sat down in the coffee bar. It was odd because the church was pretty empty since it was during a week day. He saw my open code editor open and asked me what I was working on. Don’t even remember what it was, probably my personal site that I used to experiment with and learn on.

Turns out, he was a web developer as well – a web developer with an actual active career – while I was just a high school student dabbling around and teaching myself. We made small talk for a while about building websites. It was neat to meet someone with the same interests as me since I didn’t really know anyone in the industry other than my boss at the church.

Eventually he asked me if I had started messing around with divs yet.

I hummed and hawed… talked about how I had read up on them, but I was reluctant to dive in. I was comfortable working with tables. Tables were familiar to me and I didn’t have to work hard to build with them.

This guy proceeded to (kindly) teach me about the importance of learning new things, particularly in the changing world of tech. Things changed in the world of web and it’s important to build websites using the current and emerging best practices, and best practices were always changing. It is such an incredibly basic concept, one that is obvious to me where I am in my career now. I’m sure even I would have agreed with it at a conceptual level, but I still protested putting it into action. Remember, I was just a high school amateur web developer at the time!

Something about how this guy explained the importance of staying up with changing technology resonated with me. 

Our conversation ended, he got up and left, and I immediately started reading articles on building websites with divs. That conversation kicked off a thirst to learn new things and stay up to date with all of the changes in the industry.

I never saw him again – I don’t even remember his name. I could pass him on the street and never know it.

Even so – he positively changed my career trajectory before it even began, and he has no clue.

He taught me an incredibly core concept of maintaining an active and growing career in web development. If I hadn’t learned this concept, I could have been left behind and stagnated, holding me back from new and bigger opportunities. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without that conversation.

You never know the impact your words could have

NEVER underestimate the power of your words when interacting with people, even strangers.

You never know what could be going on in their life, good or bad. You never know what they might benefit from, or get hurt by.

This scenario has an opposite – a negative alternative.

I remember a situation where a group of us were making small talk. Just talking through things and joking around. But one of my buddies made a negatively charged joke. It included a jab at the character of one of the other people in the circle. Just an attempt to get a cheap laugh.

But it struck a nerve. He unknowingly pushed too far on a sensitive topic. Something the other guy was struggling with. It crippled him for the weekend. The remark could even still come back up from time to time and still sting. I’m not really sure.

I cringe hard at myself because I don’t know how many times I’ve done this before making similar jokes. It’s why I don’t make cutting jokes anymore – you never know when they could sting and go to far.

Passing moments can set people up for success, or destruction

Always be mindful of the impact your words can have. A moment you will forget within 24 hours could consume someone for better or worse for days, months, or even years.

Just stop with the negativity towards others – even if it’s in passing jokes. A cheap laugh is not worth risking stabbing someone in a weak spot, undermining their self image.

Make an effort to always have uplifting, supportive, constructive, and helpful words. Those passing moments could create positive snowball effects for people around you.

You never know the impact you could have – you could be like that stranger I never saw again, setting someone’s entire career trajectory for success.

When was a time you had the opportunity to help someone when you didn’t need to?

People don’t like rejection – it’s just how we are.

People don’t like it when their ideas are turned down and their contributions are rejected. When people get told no, it often creates hurt feelings, tension, and resentment. Yet despite these problems, people often don’t put effort into how they reject others.

Human brains are extremely sensitive to the negative. It’s our survival instinct. When we are rejected, fight or flight kicks in. People get defensive or aggressive. Given enough repeated rejection, they’ll just give up on contributing. Very often, rejection converts collaborative discussion into a battle where each side is trying to win over the other – that isn’t productive. That’s a battle between coworkers – which isn’t teamwork. We want to be collaborative, not combative. We’re all on the same team after all. We shouldn’t try to win while the other person loses.

I was that type of a person for many years. I was always trying to win based on my preconceived notions going into the conversation. I even took pride in how I was “blunt” and “honest” and simply trying to move forward as quickly as I could. I was an idiot. It was the exact wrong way to communicate and collaborate.

Thankfully, there are many ways to say “no” in a positive, appreciative, and uplifting way.

Step 0: Listen

This isn’t even really step one. This is more like the pre-step one. A step zero.

If you don’t listen to the suggestion or question, how can you make an informed decision? People can always tell when you aren’t paying attention, and it is unfortunately common for people listen just to find an opportunity to talk rather than listen to learn someone else’s perspective. So close the laptop (or the email if you’re on a zoom call), physically rotate yourself towards the person talking, make eye contact, and listen.

Respect your coworkers by engaging with them. But! Don’t cut them off. Let them contribute. Don’t split your focus with your email client. Don’t let your mind wander to other projects. Stay completely present in the two way discussion.

Simply put: encourage team members to contribute by giving them your full attention.

Step 1: Appreciate

Remember, your coworkers are humans. They have emotions, priorities, hopes, and dreams. The mere fact that they are a human being making an effort makes them worthy of appreciation.

All well meaning effort is worthy of praise.

Even if the idea or contribution falls short, the effort behind the idea is worthy of praise.

And guess what – if the idea or contribution falls short, it is likely due to poor leadership. Team members are not at fault for shortcomings when they are making contributions based on incomplete information or poor guidance. That is a failure of the leader, not the individual team member. Leaders must work hard to set up their team for success and always acknowledge when the failure is on the leader rather than the team member. Reduce these types of errors by maintaining open lines of communication and make sure the team has more than enough information to do their job effectively.

But hey, human error happens. Even when leaders do everything right, team members will make mistakes and their contributions or ideas won’t hit the mark. We’re all human.

But just because the final contribution isn’t “good” enough doesn’t mean the effort wasn’t “good” enough.

Praise the effort to contribute and encourage them to keep working.

Step 2: Communicate Openly

Start off the communication with any “yes” that is possible. It is rare that 100% of an idea is worthless when working with skilled team members. So always emphasize the good parts of the idea, especially if they can be accepted and implemented.

Next, explain why the idea is being rejected.

People don’t like being dismissed out of hand with no explanation. Again, we’re all humans. We like being valued and we don’t like rejection. It is critical that whenever possible (which is most of the time), we always communicate openly about the why behind the answer.

When people are told why the idea is being rejected, it gives them the opportunity to learn and improve for the future. This open communication creates a compounding effect over time where coworkers learn more about the task, the priorities of the company, or the historical knowledge of what has already been done. This helps future contributions be more effective.

This openly communicated why also opens the door for collaboration. Frequently, discussion allows rejected ideas to create an iterative process, ultimately turning a good idea into a great idea. Everyone is on a team and is supposed to be working towards the same goal – so give people the opportunity to work towards the goal. This is yet another instance where listening is critical.

If at all possible, say yes to a rejected idea by simply saying, “Great idea, but we can’t tackle it right now. We’ll write it down and re-visit it in the future.” This situation can be very easy when it is a leadership failure to keep the team pointed towards the primary goal. The proposed idea can be a great idea, but doesn’t help towards that all important primary goal – therefore the idea should be shelved and re-visited in the future.

Finally, at the end of the discussion – re-emphasize any positives or “yes” that can be implemented. All discussions always should conclude on the positive – it helps keep the interaction a positive memory instead of a negative memory. Even if the positive is simply a, “Thanks for putting in the effort. I appreciate your hard work, keep it up.” Finish the discussion with a positive.

Step 3: Follow Up Later

If there was any part of the contribution that was slotted for a future execution – don’t let the idea fade into the oblivion. Make sure future tasks are organized and slotted for future work. Positive leaders should always mean what they say – otherwise people will notice. Don’t think you can offer token yesses – people will eventually learn that your “yes” doesn’t actually mean “yes.”

When the time comes and the task is revived – give the original contributor the credit. Make sure their efforts are acknowledged to the team at large and appreciated. People love to be appreciated and they’ll be eager to keep contributing when they are thanked for their work.

But if circumstances change and priorities shift causing the idea to be removed from the todo list, don’t just remove it without explanation and hope no one notices. Again, people notice these types of things and will realize that your “sometime in the future” is actually a “no” and your “delayed yes” will lose all meaning.

In this instance, re-visit Step 2 and explain to the original contributor why the suggestion is getting canned. People realize that circumstances change. If you explain why it was a good idea at the time and how the circumstances changed to make the idea no longer applicable, people will understand. They’ll also be educated on the new priorities of the company and will be able to provide better suggestions in the future.

Remember, always end these discussions on the positive – point out the good parts of the idea and appreciate the effort. Always.

When people try to help, don’t reject the help or the person

People who want to help are worth more than their weight in gold.

Their efforts to help should be appreciated and emphasized – not rejected. Constant rejection destroys team morale and encourages people to be passive as a defense mechanism. We want people to be active and to contribute regularly – we foster contributions and nurture coworkers by encouraging them and appreciating them

This is one of the many ways positive leaders can generate a multiplicative output from a team.

Positive leaders encourage genuine effort and praise all effort, even when the effort doesn’t work out that time.

How do you say no in a way that lifts people up instead of beats them down?

If you had $86,400 in your bank account and someone stole $10 from you, would you be upset enough to throw the remaining $86,390 away? Of course not. We have 86,400 seconds each day. Don’t let a negative 10 seconds ruin your entire day – let alone your entire week.

This reasoning makes its rounds across the internet fairly often. You may have even seen it before. It’s a nice feel good moment – but it’s also much easier said than done.

Negative moments tend to trigger our fight or flight response, which can escalate quickly in… less than ideal ways.

So this begs the question:

How do you properly respond to those negative 10 seconds?

The simple answer is to have a very strong positive self image and focus on the positive.

When you’re confident in who you are and what your value is, the blip of a problem or of a cutting remark won’t impact you at all. This is the power of Point #1 on my philosophy of Living Positively.

How do we use the negative to build our positive self image?

Unfortunately, building a strong, positive self image isn’t something you can achieve with a wiggle of your nose. It requires a lot of work over a long time to build that confidence and security in yourself.

Thankfully, those 10 seconds of negativity can be a good tool to build a positive self image. This is where Point #2 of my philosophy of Living Positively and Leading Positively comes into play.

First, quickly analyze what was said and why it hurt. Did someone question your skill? Your personality? Your accomplishment? Why did the comment hurt you?

Be quick with this step. Don’t dwell on the negative – only spend just enough to analyze and understand the negative. No more, no less.

Once the issue is cataloged and understood, we will focus intently on the positive – we’re going to find and focus on successes. Something that has happened in the past or something we can control and use to create a success in the future. 

Use these past successes to counter the negative point with a concrete and indisputable fact about yourself. Point to something you’ve accomplished. A compliment someone gave you. Or even recognize that you aren’t perfect, but you have made improvements over time.

Find a success, any success, and focus intently on it.

The more you dwell on your successes, the more they will ingrain into your positive self image, slowly building your confidence. This will compound on itself with ever increasing momentum over time, strengthening the positive self image.

It’s similarly very effective to create successes. Find something you know you can accomplish and complete it – even if it is as simple as cleaning the kitchen. Creating an accomplishment makes you feel good about who you are and what you’ve done, which staves off negativity and boosts your positive self image.

Eventually, external negativity will barely register.

How do we build a positive self image in others?

Believe it or not, building a positive self image in others is a great way to build it in yourself! Plus there’s the whole “make the world a better place” side of things, which is also cool.

But where things get interesting is in how the brain interprets positivity. The brain weirdly has a difficult time differentiating between emotions you feel towards yourself and towards others. This means when you exude positivity upon others, the brain gets its happy chemicals in pretty much the same way as when you pour positivity on yourself.

This means you should always avoid negativity towards others and instead emphasize the positive. The more angry and frustrated you get towards others, the worse your state of mind gets and your positive self image is indirectly harmed. Your demeanor towards others is very closely correlated towards your demeanor towards yourself. So be careful how you act outward to the people around you.

So how do we do this towards others? Easy – the methods for emphasizing the positive towards others are conveniently the same as emphasizing the positive towards yourself.

Focus on the successes – even create successes when possible.

When interacting with others, particularly when it’s people who report to you – always try to be a positive influence that pushes people forward. Always find those successes and emphasize them whenever possible.

Seek out opportunities to structure everyone’s workdays with quick wins in the morning to create successes in the morning. Assign tasks and encourage the team to start days with quick wins. Even if it’s sub tasks within the major task. Find something to complete to create a moment of, “I did that.” Doesn’t matter if it’s small – the feeling of accomplishment is powerful and should be emphasized at every opportunity.

Others will frequently say things like, “yeah but…” and then focus on the negative. It’s your job as a Positive Leader to redirect that energy and the discussion back onto successes, past and future. When someone says “yeah but… this didn’t work out well…” immediately fire back with “yeah but… these things did work out well!”

Find successes. Create successes. Point to successes that are currently being worked on but will be completed soon.

Create future successes

I touched on it earlier. But there’s another way to trick the brain to boost positive self images.

Just like how the brain has difficulty differentiating between emotions towards yourself and towards others, the brain has difficulty differentiating between past and future successes. If you can get yourself and your team hyped about how good it’s going to feel when a task is accomplished… everyone will get those happy chemicals in their brain almost as if it’s already been completed.

As a leader, you have a tremendous amount of influence on the mental state of your team.

It is the responsibility of every leader to improve the lives of their team.

In my opinion, using positivity and obsessively focusing on successes is one of the easiest and most effective ways of doing so.

Build everyone’s positive self image around you. The world will be a better place for it!

Be Consistent

Every action we take changes who we are – for the better or worse.

Even the small actions slowly change who we are – they slowly change the core of our character day by day, week by week, year by year.

Reinforcing a positive self image in ourselves and those around us isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time. Depending on where you are today, it could take a lot of time.

I strongly recommend getting a spouse, significant other, or friend on board with these efforts so y’all can work together, helping each other out, boosting positivity, and reinforcing each other’s self image. It’s much easier working together.

Change at this core level of yourself takes time and consistency – but the results are well worth it.

Every time you focus on the negative, you damage the positive self image and reverse progress.

Every time you focus on the positive, you reinforce the positive self image and push progress forward.

The power of positivity can change your entire demeanor, boost your productivity, and make you much more effective at interacting with others. I can say that with confidence as I used to be a rather negative person in years back and have noticed a major difference in myself and how people interact with me by rewiring myself into a positive person.

Self improvement is a process. If you want to become a better leader, a better employee, a better spouse, a better friend, or even just better at a particular skill – it’s always a process that requires time and deliberate effort. 

But that process doesn’t have to involve something big. There is no 5 minute training montage like in the movies where a few cuts backed by upbeat music and we’re suddenly a drastically different person. In fact, 99% of the efforts that we make to change our character are small and we don’t even realize our character is changing. 

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature”

-C. S. Lewis

Every single decision we make each and every day slowly changes who we are. 

The person we are today is made up of every tiny decision we made yesterday

The person we are tomorrow is made up of every tiny decision we make today

If you want to be someone different in the future, you must start changing how you act now. 

What does this have to do with positive leadership? 

The best leaders weren’t born leaders – they didn’t trip through a door into an office and magically became a top tier leader. 

The best leaders out there work at it – they work at improving themselves each and every day. 

And each step of personal improvement happens with every decision you make. 

Do you cut a corner on the project because it’s easier? Do you make a cutting remark to tear down a colleague to make yourself appear better by comparison? Do you spread gossip? Do you fudge the numbers on a report? 


Do you complete the project to the best of your abilities even though it’s harder? Do you compliment your coworker’s work to build up their self image? Do you spread positivity in the office? Do you embrace the truth even when it might not be the best for you? 

Consistency creates character

Whatever you are consistent about is what you will become. 

All of the decisions we make, large and small, creates and defines us over time. These decisions slowly turn our character – for better or worse. 

And people notice all of this! Our colleagues notice these decisions. Our family notices these decisions. The core of our being, our character, slowly molds itself based on these decisions we make each and every day. 

Your character is reflected in your actions and your actions define your reputation. 

How do we ensure our character is headed in the right direction? 

First off, what is the right direction? 

That is the question you must answer for yourself. 

What character do you want to define who you are? 

Are you going to look to certain experts? Are you going to be defined by the character of your social circle? Are you going to use a higher power as your measuring stick? Whatever it is, identify it and define it. 

I STRONGLY recommend creating a label for what YOU want your character to be. Create a label and a definition of that label. Use the label as an accountability tool to help guide each decision you will make and keep moving forward in a deliberate direction. 

Obviously, I have picked the label “Positive Leader” to act as my measuring stick for how I act in the professional world and I am continually iterating on and exploring what the definition means to me. 

“The more we think about, write about, and talk about a thing happening, the more likely it is to happen.”

Lanny Bassham, Olympic gold medalist

I’m thinking about it every day, writing about it in my personal writings, and talking about it to others. This keeps it on the top of my mind and helps guide my decisions, large and small. When you want to learn about a topic, grow in a skill, or change a characteristic about you – the more top of mind the topic is, the more you’ll pursue whatever it is. 

This is my journey – what’s yours?

Everything we do outwardly is a reflection of who we are internally. Therefore, it is impossible to lead positively, that is, be positive externally towards others without being positive inward to yourself. 

If your internal self is negative, your default output is negativity. At best you can fake outward positivity, but people are very good at spotting fake emotions – especially over time. 

When you can create a positive core of yourself, positivity becomes just who you are. When the core of who you are is positive, it becomes your default to out pour positivity on others. 

Since living positively is the other side of the coin of leading positively, building a positive core becomes critical to leading positively. 

Which begs the question, what is living positively? How do we build this positive core? 

This question is something I’m spending just as much time thinking on and trying to define as I am spending trying to define the positive leader. It should be no surprise that the two definitions are extremely similar. They really are two sides of the same coin, therefore the “living positively” definition is the inward definition of leading positively. 

My definition of living positively

Just like the positive leader definition, my definition of living positively is continually being iterated on as I find better ways to convey my belief. 

  1. Foster a positive self image
  2. Always focus on and seek out successes
  3. Highlight the positive in others
  4. Set and work daily towards affirmative and attainable goals
  5. Every small decision makes a difference

All five components are intertwined and will build upon each other. When the momentum builds, a positive core becomes ingrained, which will then overflow to others. 

Foster a positive self image

The mental picture you have of yourself is a very large driver in how you react to external influence. 

“Confidence is at least 30% of performance.” 

Steve Anderson, certified mental management coach

Do you think you’re always prone to make mistakes? If so, every small mistake will jump out at you in an incredibly obvious manner and occupy your conscious mind. This easily compounds upon itself and makes it difficult to try new things for fear of new mistakes. Small trip ups will be perceived as large mistakes instead of minor issues that may not even have any impact on the end product at all. 

Thankfully, the opposite is also true. Do you have confidence in your abilities to achieve successes? When a person is confident in their abilities, small issues don’t slow them down. Confident people are eager to learn and try new things, seeing them as more opportunities to improve and achieve new successes instead of opportunities for problems. 

What is confidence in abilities except a positive self image? 

Building a positive self image makes nearly everything in life easier.

Always focus on and seek out successes

Just like what I said about positive leadership, focusing on and seeking out successes for yourself is critical to building and maintaining positivity. There are always successes to draw from, be it the one thing that went right or identifying lessons learned from the four things that went wrong so the next attempt can be improved. 

Focusing intently on successes builds the positive self image, creating more future successes. 

This doesn’t mean we should ignore mistakes and issues. We absolutely need to take the time to analyze mistakes and issues – but only spend enough time on them to understand them and identify how to turn them into future successes. 

Creating success builds momentum and momentum creates future successes. 

Highlight the positive in others

Building inward positivity can be easily compounded by pushing positivity outward. 

The more time you spend helping and uplifting others, the more you’re orienting your brain on the positive. This outward positivity will engrain inward positive thinking incredibly quickly. 

The brain is quick to identify patterns that generate positive results. When positivity is poured out on others, it generates enthusiastic and happy responses. Give someone a compliment and watch their eyes light up. Help someone with a difficult task and most people be grateful. 

Brains are quick to pick up on these patterns that generate favorable results and it’ll quickly become a habit to continue with these patterns of positivity. 

Set and work daily towards affirmative and attainable goals

No one walked out their front door to go on a casual walk and suddenly ended on top of Mt. Everest. Climbing the tallest mountain in the world requires hard work and a deliberate effort. 

Climbing any metaphorical mountain similarly requires deliberate effort. 

Set goals for your life and make intentional effort towards those goals. For these goals, set a blend of long term “big” goals as well as short term easily obtainable goals. 

If only long term goals are set, it becomes very easy to get discouraged and lose momentum. The body craves and seeks out successes. Only having multi year goals isn’t sustainable because the body is lacking those successes. 

Similarly, if only short term goals are set, meaningful long term progress becomes difficult. The overarching long term goal acts as a framework for the smaller short term goals and keeps oneself working in a deliberate direction, rather than an aimless direction. 

The blend of long term goals and short term goals provides long term growth backed by short term successes. 

Every small decision makes a difference

Who we are today is made up of the decisions we made yesterday. Who we are tomorrow is made up of the decisions we make today. I’ve said this many times and I’m going to keep on saying it until I am blue in the face. (Partly because I need to constantly remind myself.)

If we improve by a little bit every day, we’re obtaining compounding interest on ourselves – and compounding interest is an incredible multiplier. 

Let’s put it in perspective. If we start off with $100 and apply 1% interest, we’ll have $101. If we compound interest by 1% every day for 30 days, we’ll have $135.34. But… if we keep up 1% compounding interest for 5 years, we’ll have $7.7 billion dollars

The more you invest in yourself and make an effort to grow and improve every day, the more and more compounding interest you’ll generate in yourself. This is how the best of the best become the best – they work and improve a little bit every single day. 

I love to call it “progress through endurance.” The greats have incredible amounts of endurance to keep up their daily efforts to improve, and they use that to surpass everyone out there. 

Where to begin?

That’s quite the question. Everyone’s journey is different. We all start from different positions and we all have different destinations. 

Take time today to try and figure out where you are right now and where you want to go. 

Write down where you want to be in 5 years, then identify 5 checkpoints from where you are now and the goal you want to achieve. Then create a list of small actions you can take each and every day towards that goal. 

Having those small daily goals help you create successes. You can use those manufactured (but still very real) successes to improve the lives of others. The more you achieve these wins and help others out, the more you’ll boost your self image and the more you’ll engrain a positivity oriented core. 

What is one thing you can do today to achieve a “success” and build that positive self image?

I’ve been incorporating “positivity” into my life more and more over the past few years. The more I lean into being positive, the more my life has improved. The more the positive has improved my life, the more I work to incorporate it into other areas of my life. It’s been an incredibly rewarding process and now I’m wanting to bring other people into this journey with me.

For more than a year, I’ve been thinking deliberately and specifically on what is a “Positive Leader” and how I can improve my consistency in this philosophy. That turned into working to define and document what a positive lifestyle and positive leadership style is. My goal is to create structured documentation on this definition of a positive leader so it can help other people as it has helped me.

What is a positive leader?

Ever seen Parks and Recreation? Are you familiar with Chris Traeger? Chris Traeger is an over the top positive character, to a fault early on but he achieves a balance later. Even though he is overly characterized for amusement, he’s still universally loved by characters in the show and viewers alike.

He always loves, compliments, and appreciates everyone around him.

That positivity is infectious. It improves the lives of everyone around him.

Obviously, we can’t create an entire philosophy based on a fictional character, especially since he is to an extreme that highlights the flaws in excessive positivity. (we’ll dig into the balance of “Goldilocks” positivity in the future) But he is an excellent example of the power of positivity. He drives people forward by emphasizing the best in everyone.

So how can we be positive in a way that pushes people forward, improves their lives, and generates multiplicative output from teams? That’s what I’m trying to figure out and define.

My definition of a positive leader

This definition is being continually iterated on right now, so expect these line items to change. But here’s what I’ve got so far.

  1. Prioritize people
  2. Always focus on and seek out successes
  3. Foster collaboration to generate a multiplicative output
  4. Guide people towards affirmative and attainable goals
  5. Every small decision makes a difference

Living positively doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need be genuine.

Prioritize people

A leader is nothing without people – they are the priority. Helping and giving of oneself to everyone else is what leaders must do. This is commonly called “Servant Leadership” and I absolutely love that label.

In order to prioritize others, leaders must empathize with them. They need to understand that everyone has their own perspectives, experiences, priorities, and goals. Leaders need to work with everything that makes each person unique rather than try to dictate exactly how everyone needs to act.

Leaders need to give constant appreciation, encouragement, and credit. This is where I love the Chris Traeger example. He is constantly complimenting and appreciating everyone around him. Individuals can only go so far, it’s the help of others that takes teams to the top.

Finally, leaders need to joyfully help others. They can’t just help people – they need to help each other with joy. They have to genuinely be eager to help others. People can always see through begrudging help, and people don’t really like that. People love it when others are excited to help out. It, like everything else in here, is infectious.

Always focus on and seek out successes

There are always successes to draw from situations. There’s always things that went well, things that can be learned from, and doors opening for future opportunities. Positive leaders need to emphasize these successes to keep teams motivated and moving forward.

This doesn’t mean ignoring problems and mistakes. It simply means to only take enough time on problems and errors to identify them and understand them. Once they’re classified and organized, spend the rest of available time focusing on solutions and future successes. This keeps teams focused on future growth instead of past problems.

Keeping this focus requires leaders to be level headed and positive. They need to develop a success oriented perspective that is capable of finding each and every success wherever possible.

Foster collaboration to generate a multiplicative output

As I said earlier, leaders are virtually nothing without a team. Sure, leaders can (and should) contribute on their own. But the sum of one is only ever just one. Good leaders take a team and create a multiplicative output – they make a team more than just the sum of the parts.

Teams don’t multiply their output in isolation. Teams use the power of different experiences, skills, knowledge, and priorities. These differences are the power of a team – not the problem of a team. A leader must communicate and collaborate with a team. Leaders don’t dictate to the team and they don’t control discussions. They guide and you guide through listening and asking questions.

The opinion of the people on a team needs to be more important than your own opinion. That doesn’t mean letting a team walk all over you and dictate everything. But it means you must give a team your entire focus when discussing things with them – listen to and care about everything they have to say. A leader takes all of these good opinions and good ideas and morphs them into great solutions.

Guide people towards affirmative and attainable goals

Positive leaders need to, well… lead. Positive leaders aren’t dictators, they aren’t micromanagers, they aren’t bossy. Positive leaders need to prioritize goals and share as much information as possible. This is how teams are empowered and motivated to work together towards common goals. Effective teams can only generate that multiplicative output if leaders get out of their way, but still keep the team moving in a unified manner in the right direction.

Set large long term goals and give a purpose and meaning towards those goals. Then set smaller short term goals as steps to achieve that long term goal. When teams have goals instead of micromanaged tasks, they have freedom to make their own unique contributions. This gives individuals meaning and ownership, which empowers and drives people. This allows leaders to step out of the way and let the team just charge forward. It’s really fun to watch.

Every small decision makes a difference

Finally, leaders need to lead by example and understand that every tiny thing they do makes an impact. Who we are is defined by each and every small decision we make. There is no five minute training montage in life where we can completely overhaul ourselves to conquer a new task. We are who we are because of every small decision we have made in the past.

And guess what – everyone around you watches and notices those small decisions.

People notice when someone doesn’t live as they preach. People notice when someone doesn’t care about them. People notice when someone isn’t willing to do what they expect others to do.

Every teeny tiny decision we make impacts who we are at our core. We must make the best decision we can each and every day so we can show others the right way forward. In doing so, we show others that we genuinely care about them and we slowly but surely change who we are at our core so we can be a better person in the future.

This is only scratching the surface

I absolutely LOVE digging into and talking about all of this. I can’t wait to continue this journey as I strive to define and document what a positive leader is. But I’m even more excited to be doing this in a public manner so I can start sharing these thoughts and ideas with others, even while I continue to define and understand them – and try to live them for that matter.

I would love it if y’all join me on this journey and subscribe to this LinkedIn newsletter. The feedback and opinion of others would be invaluable as I continue to create this definition.

What do you think a positive leader is?

It’s the job of a leader to facilitate a multiplicative output from a team.

Multiplicative output isn’t done by sitting back and dictating orders. An effective team helps each other out, communicates and collaborates towards a common goal.

This is where servant leadership comes in. Servant leadership doesn’t mean doing someone’s job for them, it means helping out and enabling others so they can do their job easier, faster, and more effectively.

Hence the phrase, “happy to help.”

Not only should servant leaders help out, they must do so joyfully and without grumbling. Easier said than done. But the more you embrace a positive outlook when helping out, the more you’ll internalize the positive and helpful attitude.

On top of all that, anyone can be a “leader” in any position, even if “leader” isn’t reflected in a job title.

  1. What can I do to make your job easier?
  2. Thank you for teaching me.
  3. Thank you for helping me.
  4. Let me finish this first, then I’ll give you my undivided attention.
  5. What do you think?
  6. That’s a good idea.
  7. How long do you think this will take?
  8. You did great work on your task.

There’s a trend in these questions.

  1. Treat your coworkers, employees, and bosses as humans with merit. They deserve to be treated with respect.
  2. Prioritize their well being over your own. Servant leadership creates exponential results.
  3. Appreciation for the people around you goes a LONG way to improving their lives, making them feel valued, and ultimately increase the quality and quantity of their output.

The best part is all of this just takes a few seconds here and there. It’s not difficult and it isn’t time consuming. Just do it!

It is VERY easy to kill your website with new features. It’s also very easy to increase a website’s revenue by removing features (simplifying) the site.

“Less is more” is a cliche, but it is very true in a great many situations.

The easiest example is tracking scripts. Bloating a website with a bunch of tracking scripts, especially trackers that are render blocking at the top of the head, can make a website so slow that it doesn’t convert. Sure, the trackers are tracking a lot of traffic – but they’re tracking lots of lost revenue due to how slow they are. Tenths of a second can mean several percentage points on conversion rate which translates to lots of revenue.

An easy partial solution is to put trackers at the bottom of the body and as async/defer so they aren’t render blocking. I’d rather have an un-tracked conversion than a tracked lost sale.

Taking things a step further, don’t fill your site with a bunch of trackers as that hurts performance a LOT. Instead, minimize the amount of trackers you have and double down on the trackers you do use. Don’t half commit to a new channel because that new channel is hurting the performance of your website.

With a large enough budget, services like RudderStack or Segment can act as a single source of truth and a single tracking script on the website. They allow you to send info to various third party services while only having one script on the website, which can be a big boost to performance (and revenue). It’s quite easy to have a positive ROI with these services.

This advice goes way beyond just trackers though. The more pop ups, banners, CTAs, functionality, and programs you put on your website – the more dilluted your website is. Most likely, you’re hurting your website by making it too busy and complex. A simple website tends to convert better than a complex one. Focusing intently on where you’re succeeding tends to be more successful than weakly dabbling in a bunch of different areas.

Don’t “new feature” your site to death.

Simplify your site to increase focus on successes which will maximize revenue.

“Give [employees] reasons for doing things when you tell them what to do and they will feel they are part of the project and not just following orders.” -Zig Ziglar

I had a coworker who had been given a very large, very long, very monotonous task. They had to comb through a spreadsheet of thousands of lines and slowly combine elements in a different piece of software one by one. The details don’t matter much to the story, but the point is, this was a large task that took her over a month to accomplish while juggling her other responsibilities.

One day I was chatting with her and mentioned how her efforts were making such a big difference in a core metric that the company was putting large scale concerted efforts into improving. Turns out she had no idea why she was combing though this large spreadsheet and had no clue how much she was helping the company and her coworkers.

I proceeded to give her more details on the fruits of her labor, giving her much needed context to the monotonous and monsterous task she had been given. She was ecstatic that she was making such a difference – it gave her a reason why she was doing such a boring task.

Taking an extra 20-60 seconds of your time to explain the full context of the task can make a huge difference in the quality of life of your coworkers.

But context can do even more.

There have been many times throughout my career where I had been given a task with little to no context – most often from non-technical coworkers. Upon asking a few probing questions I would uncover the “why” behind the “what” and can immediately provide a faster/better solution.

These days, I often don’t even assign tasks to the developers on my team. I give them goals and some of my thoughts on the implementation to get to that goal. If they can educate me by giving me an alternate improved implementation, then everyone wins!

Context to a request can make such a huge difference. It educates employees, can boost motivation, make them feel included, and most often results in a faster and higher quality end result.

When possible, don’t give tasks, give goals. If a task must be given, provide the context so they know why. A simple communication change and it can make such a huge difference in the quality of output and the quality of the lives of everyone at the company.

Failures are not a problem – repeated failures are the problem.

We are all mere mortals. We are humans. We are not perfect. All humans make mistakes. All humans will accomplish a task in a less than ideal ways.

Freaking out about a first time error is a bigger mistake than the original error. People will always make mistakes and problems will always arise. Harsh reactions to mistakes encourages people to hide mistakes – which makes mistakes even more of a problem.

Human error is an opportunity for everyone to improve. Weaknesses are opportunities to grow to strength. Every time we improve, we create compound interest in the quality of the “self.”

Seeking out opportunities to learn and improve and grow is the critical step in any mistake. Make things better on the other side of the mistake and everyone wins.

Leaders, don’t make a big deal about first time mistakes. Focus obsessively on the solutions and opportunities for improvement – that’s how problems turn into successes.

Everyone – a first time mistake isn’t the end of the world. The only problem from a mistake is failing to learn and improve.

Probably the #1 metric of success for a Boss is their employee retention rate.

If you’re fighting imposter syndrome as a leader – examine your employee retention rate. If your employees are sticking around, you’re doing something right. Communicate openly and honestly and ask them questions about why they’re staying and what do you do (and can you do) to make thier jobs easier.

A good leader’s primary goal should always be to bolster the effectiveness of their employees. Good leaders help others, teach others, share the load with others, and give credit and appreciation. Employees will stay at places with good leaders like that, even if the job is stressful and the pay is below average.

If a leader doesn’t make their employee’s jobs easier… if a leader doesn’t share knowledge… if a leader doesn’t give appreciation… they are drains on everyone around them. That drives people away in droves.

If you’re a leader and can’t retain employees, take a good hard look at yourself and figure out what you can do to make your employee’s lives easier, not harder. Sure, you may not be able to control a lot of factors, such as sallary, benefits, and the like. But you can do things to offset those issues and get employees to stick around.

If you’re aspiring to be a leader, look around and find leaders who have teams who are sticking around. Watch what they do and aspire to be like them. Maybe buy them lunch and ask them what they do.

If you have a leader who makes your job easy, make sure they know how much you appreciate them, help them out, share credit – do all of the things to them that you wish they would do for you. Things like that can go a long way to improve their lives just like they can make such a difference in your life.

If we all share the load, give appreciation, and give knowledge – the entire world can be made a bette place. If you don’t care about making the world a better place, then you should at least know that all of these things will make companies more profitable as well.

The best time to plant a tree is yesterday, the second best time is today. -an old proverb

You can’t training montage your way to the top like it is a movie, but you also don’t need to cancel all of your commitments and devote yourself to a sensei at the top of a mountain. A little bit of progress ever day goes a VERY long way over the years.

I call it “progress through endurance” – show up a little bit every day and the dividends down the line will be huge.

Open up that educational book and read a chapter a day. Go for a short run after work. Pursue that extra certification.

Big or small, find something to work on ever day and you can go far.

In digital marketing, it is important to set aside emotion and rely on data.

We’re in an industry where we have treasure troves of data to measure the effectiveness of ideas. Since we’re all just mere mortals, not every idea we have will be a winner. If we let emotions, like pride, get in the way – we can cling to things that ultimately lose money.

Let the data speak for itself. If the data disproves an idea, drop it like a hot potato, learn, and move on. No one benefits from pride clinging to ideas.

Every time data disproves, or proves, an idea – everyone wins.

Instead, find ways to ethically measure data and lean hard into what the data says. If it works, it works! Double down on what works and you can snowball some serious successes.

Leaders must:
Give time.
Give courtesy.
Give respect.
Give attention.
Give credit.
Give knowledge.
Give appreciation.

A leader must never be a taker. Someone who takes from their team does not push their team forward – they hold them back.

Good leaders give as much as they can to their team – giving pushes everyone forward. It creates productivity and improves quality of output. Giving leaders make companies more profitable, improve the quality of life of coworkers, and all around make the world a better place.

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.” – C.S. Lewis

All of our small decisions slowly change who we are. It changes our character, our priorities, our ethics, and our effectiveness.

Every small compromise we make that goes against our character erodes us. Bit by bit we become worse people.

But every time we stand up for what is right, we become better and better humans.

All of these small choices add up over the years. So start to day – make a good small decision. Then tomorrow, make another. It makes all the difference.

“And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature.” – C.S. Lewis

“Never assume malice when incompetence is more likely.” – a saying from my mother

So often when something goes wrong, people jump to assumptions of malice. “My coworker didn’t help me because he/she wants me to fail.” “My coworker said that remark to undermine me and take my job.” etc…

There are few people in this world with that level of malice. Most people would instead have some sort of shortcoming – be it they didn’t do a good job, they forgot, they were lazy, they failed to communicate that they got pulled onto another task, etc etc.

There’s a million and one reasons for some sort of interpersonal conflict. The vast majority of the reasons don’t have to do with malice – instead the individual’s flawed humanity and imperfect work is the more likely culprit.

Don’t assume malice – don’t create conflict where there doesn’t need to be.

“It [is] more fun and more profitable for [employees] to like themselves.” -Zig Ziglar

Employees are a company’s number one resource.

The primary job of every leader should be to cultivate and grow their employees. All leaders need to constantly praise, appreciate, support, and defend coworkers and their lives (and the company) will be enriched.

Employees who are valued produce more and stay longer. It is profitable for leaders to prioritize the well being of their team – not to mention it makes the world a better place.

Consumers around the world spend an average of over 7.5 hours per day with media.

That is scary how much time is wasted – much of it is spent on media that is just a dompamine chasing time waster – or even something that makes our lives worse.

Be very careful where you spend your time. You can time waste your life away. The dopamine rush can be very addicting though, so resisting the urge is a challenge.

But at the same time, if you are selective about how much you spend your time on certain media, you can drastically improve your life.

Asking someone “Does that make sense?” is assuming you did a good job explaining the topic and requires the other person to say that it didn’t make sense, which can make them feel stupid. Sometimes they won’t even say that it doesn’t make sense even if they didn’t understand it. No one wins in that situation.

Don’t put the awkwardness and pressure on them when YOU are the one who’s doing a good or bad job communicating.

Instead say things like… “Did I explain that well?” or “Am I making sense?”

That puts the ownership of clarity on you – not the person you’re talking to. That simple ownership makes things less awkward for the receiver and you’re more likely to find gaps in communication so you can improve what you say and how you say it.

Essentially, own your own communication shortcomings – don’t put them on other people.

Praise, encouragement, support, and appreciation are some of the most effective and valuable tools in interpersonal relationships.

Praise more than scold. Encourage more than discourage. Thank more that condemn. Point out success rather than error.

Leadership is all about propelling the team forward and the best way to get that push is with the positive rather than the negative.

Disagreements mean you are wrong and you have an opportunity to learn and grow.

Or they are wrong and you have an opportunity to teach them.

Or, what happens 49 times out of 50, you’re both partially wrong and have the opportunity to teach each other and take a train of though and improve it beyond what either could do solo.

Embrace disagreements with humility and open minds. Who knows where you can go from there.

Don’t kill your website with “features” – those features cost load time, load time costs revenue.

These days, so many SaaS offerings say things like, “just add a script to your website – no developer needed!” It drives me bonkers. Those extra bits of javascript WILL drown your website with horrible load times.

Each second of load time hurts your conversion rate anywhere from 2% to 11% depending on your industry and customer loyalty. The studies I’ve seen seem to average at around 6%.

Can you afford a 6% hit to your conversion rate?

For a seven figure business, just a few tenths of a second slower website could cost you $1,300,000 per year in revenue!

Each tenth of a second load time is CRITICAL for the success of a website, even with today’s fast connection speeds.

Think long and hard before adding more and more to your website and instead spend time more thinking about what you can take away. Those minute website optimizations can very quickly add up to millions of dollars of new revenue per year – or millions of dollars of lost revenue per year.

It is critical that companies provide value for value in virtually every exchange, and email exchanges are no exception.

My email address has value. It has value to me as managing it it takes up my time and it has value to others as it can be sold for monetary value and it can be used to generate revenue.

If a business wants my email address, they want something of value. Which means I want something of value to me in order to justify the exchange of information.

Daily emails of nothing but links to products for sale does not provide value to me. Weekly emails of nothing but links to products to buy does not provide value to me.

Free content conveyed via email is critical for email retention and should be the cornerstone of any email marketing campaign. If I know emails sent to me will teach or entertain me, I’m more likely to open the email, read the email, and stay subscribed to the list. If I know the email is going to be nothing but a list of products to buy, I’ll only ever open that during big sale times and every sales email sent to me drastically increases the liklihood of my unsubscribing.

Don’t push the sale at every turn – it drives away leads.

Balance offering free educational/entertainment content along with pushing the sale – that’s how you retain leads and drive long term success. It takes effort, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Everyone loves being appreciated. It makes them feel valued and builds their self confidence.

A well timed compliment could even make someone’s whole day and pull them out of a slump. So why wouldn’t you thank someone for their work or tell them they did a good job on a task?

It doesn’t matter if it’s big, small, complex, or easy. It especially doesn’t matter if it’s just them doing the basics of their job. Everyone loves being appreciated. Just toss out an extra compliment! You can’t go wrong!

Be as generous as possible with compliments and appreciation – the world (and work place) will be better for it.

Why would we ever want to spread negativity? No one benefits from that. So drop all negativity.

Instead, be positive at every opportunity. With practice, you might be surprised at how many things can be spun positive with a little effort.

Positivity is contageous. It lifts everyone up. It increases productivity and quality of life.

Social media is such a bittersweet tool. It’s great for keeping up with friends and family as well as networking with new and interesting people. But my goodness it can become such a time waster – not in a good way.

One of my biggest takeaways from my favorite book of 2020 (Peak Performance) was, stress + rest = growth. This simple formula is the best way to pursue your goals. Push your limits with the stress part of the equation, and then rest efficiently. There’s a lot of fascinating nuance and science to it, but I won’t get too far down that rabbit hole.

The point is – quality rest is important. However, social media is not effective at the “rest” portion of the equation.

Have you ever been stressed out, scroll on social media for an hour, then feel rested and relieved? I haven’t. Even with my heavy handed curation of my social media feeds. So I have been reducing my social media consumption at every turn – fighting to be more deliberate with the time I spend there.

Towards this end, I’ve developed some quick and easy tricks for reducing social media consumption.

Disable all notifications

I have very very few notifications enabled on my phone. I don’t need them interrupting my day. The more interruptions I get, the harder it is for me to focus on my primary tasks.

So of the very few social media apps I have on my phone, all of them have their notifications disabled.

I’ll seek out social media when I want to check them – not when the apps give me another useless notification that I absolutely do not need to see at this very moment.

Delete apps from your phone

Apps make it so easy to quickly open up social media and get scrolling and scrolling. These app designers work very hard to make them addictive. So I delete them. Instead, I browse Facebook from my web browser, and I even log out of Facebook from the browser.

Of the social media apps that I do have on my phone, I leave them off of my Home Screen and keep them on pages far to the right so I have to swipe to get to them. I also don’t have any social media widgets.

The goal is to increase the amount of steps it takes to open up social media so I am less likely to absentmindedly open them up as I’m staring at my phone.

Leave my phone behind

A new thing I’m starting to do is simply keep my phone out of my pocket and out of sight. There’s some interesting studies that show having your phone in your pocket or having your phone in your field of view makes you more distracted. You’re more likely to be thinking about the phone or compulsively pick up the phone.

This helps me focus more and be more engaged with what’s going on around me.

Screen time app limits

iOS and Android have screen time limitation features. So I have screen time limits for the only 2 social media apps I have on my phone. I have those limits set to 1 minute. This means whenever I use social media, I constantly get “keep using for another 15 minutes” notifications. this simple timer will break me out of the endless scroll loop of social media and back off of my phone.

I also set downtime that disables all apps in the evening. This strongly encourages me to get off my phone and begin my bedtime routine, helping me sleep better and get up earlier the next day.

Less social media = more happiness and productivity

I’ve never thought back on a day and was glad I spend 4 hours on social media. So reducing social media consumption is a big goal of mine for 2021 and I’m already off to a great start.

Positivity is contagious.

Being positive betters your own life and the lives of those around you.

Negativity is contagious.

Negativity drags down people around you.

It’s easier said than done, but don’t be negative. Be positive instead.

No really. I mean it. Try try to focus on the positive even when things seem completely bad. The more you dwell on the good, the more good you see around you.

We life in the time of history and in nations where the poverty line is the highest it has ever been, average education is the highest it has ever been, average lifespan is the highest it has ever been, and even crime rate is the lowest it has ever been

We are in an amazing time to be alive. We have more comforts, security, and mobility than any period in history. We are so blessed we freak out over tiny little things. So instead focus on the good things.

It can make a huge difference.

« Older Entries