I’m going to tell you a secret. I have a very simple, 4-word strategic plan (devised it a few years ago).
Here it is…
Do fewer things, better.
This has made my life — and my work, dramatically better.
Here’s how I execute on my strategic plan:
1. Decide on what matters the most.
2. Say no to everything else.
3. When something falls in the gray area, re-read #2.
Of course, that’s easier to say than do. I fail at it all the time — but I’m getting better. Here are some tips learned from years of practice:
1. When making your list, start with a low-level of abstraction. Resist the temptation to make your list really “high-level”. As an extreme example, one of the things on your priority list shouldn’t be “Be successful”. That’s so broad, that you’d be able to rationalize almost every activity under the sun. Try to be specific enough that the number of things that “fit” is a manageable number. If you find yourself taking on too much (which you probably do), refine your filters and move to a lower-level of abstraction. I’ve written an article on this that you might find useful: “The Power of Focus and The Peril of Myopia“.
2. Forgive yourself for having to say “no” to things not on your “fewer things” list. Years ago, I wrote a blog post asking public forgiveness , you can see it here at http://MustSayNo.com. Of all the articles I’ve ever written, that one has had the most positive impact on my life.
3. Remember that every time you say “no” to something you might have said “yes” to, it frees up time to focus on the things that matter. And the more time you spend on the things that matter, the better you get at them. Let me give you an example: Let’s say you say “no” to some project/request/idea that would have “only” taken a few hours a month, because it didn’t make the “few things that matter” list. And, let’s say that one of the things that matter to you is being able to better communicate your message to the world — via public speaking. Those few hours you “saved” can be spent on getting your message out. More speaking gigs, more people influenced. But wait! That’s not all! Not only are you able to do some more public speaking, because you’re going to spend more time on it, you’re going to get better at it. And, because you get better at it, you’re going to get more frequent speaking invites. With larger audiences. And have more influence once you’re on stage. You’re building leverage by getting better and better at the thing that matters. And, it’s amazing how much better you will get, once you decide on only a few things to get better at.
By the way, the reverse of this is true to: Everytime you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else. Often, you’re saying “no” to something more important.
4. Fight the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) emotion. It’s a killer. We all have it to varying degrees. This fear that if we don’t say “yes” to something, we’re going to miss out on some big opportunity, small joy or new connection. Yes, sometimes you will miss out, but that’s OK. Life goes on. On average, you will be better off skipping some things, instead of trying to do too much.
More people fail from a gluttony of good activities than from being starved of them.
5. Be super-careful with recurring commitments. If you are going to occasionally say “yes” to things that are not on your “things that matter most” list, be super-careful that they’re not a recurring commitment. A one-time commitment of 4 hours is much less dangerous than a monthly hourly committment. The way I think about this: When I say “yes” to a recurring committment, I’m effectively saying “yes’ multiple times (for as long as I think I’m going to be in that committment). Which brings me to the next point…
6. As painful as it is, prune your prior committments. If you are like me (and apologies if you are), you’ve said yes to a few things that you now sort of regret. Get yourself out of those. Be respectful, be, understanding and be fair — but be disciplined and true to yourself. And just because you committed to something last year with no real “expiration date” doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it forever. Things change. On a related note: For things that don’t have an expiration date, remember that it’s going to be just as painful to prune later as it is now — why not give yourself the gift of some time back sooner?
7. Try to solve for outcome, not activity. Figure out what you want to happen (whether it be a commercial interest or a philanthropic one), and figure out how to best create impact. Usually, optimal outcomes are not achieved by saying “yes” to a bunch of “good” activities (however well-intentioned).
On the point of philanthropy, you might be wondering: “What about doing good, and giving back?”
Warning: My opinion here may be controversial for some and feel beknighted and self-serving to others. Sorry.
First off, if you have the ability to give back, you should do so. No doubt. But the question is, how do you optimimize for outcome?
Let me explain with a personal example. I’m an entrepreneur. Have been for most of my professional career. I LOVE STARTUPS. THEY BRING ME GREAT JOY. I’m one of the co-founders of HubSpot (NYSE:HUBS). I’m also a big fan of Boston and want to see the Boston startup ecosystem grow and thrive.
But a few years ago, I decided to dramatically limit the time I spend directly helping entrepreneurs and the Boston ecosystem.
Why would I do this? Isn’t that selfish? Yes, I guess it is.
I’m a big, big believer in leverage and scale. I like to spend my calories in ways that deliver the greatest impact and the best outcomes. I’m actually quite geeked out on that idea.
The reason I made this decision was that I felt the best way for me to help the startup ecosystem — was to use my time to help make HubSpot a super-successful company. The by-product of that success will be much greater than what I’d get if I were just directly trying to help a handful of startups.
So far, HubSpot has had some modest success. We are a publicly traded now and have 1,000+ people working at the company. We have many that have “graduated” HubSpot and gone off to start their own companies or join other teams. We’ve also made a bunch of people money (several of whom are channeling some of that back into to the ecosystem by way of angel investing). We’ve improved Boston’s “brand” as being a place where big tech companies can still be built (which helps pull in more capital, talent and interest). All in, I’d say we’re a net positive.
But, fact remains that instead of being a mentor/advisor/mensch — I’ve sort of been a schmuck when it comes to where I spend my time. My money is a different matter — I’ve made 60+ angel investments. But, I’ve been fiercely protecting of my time and I’ve said “no” to just about everything. And remember, I LOVE STARTUPS. I love helping them. I love the thrill, joy and fulfillment. But, I said “no” anyways. And, I may be rationalizing here — but I think I’ve likely done more for the ecosystem than if I had simply gone to more events, tried to pick a handful of startups to be an advisor/mentor for, etc.
This section got much longer than I planned for it to be. I have a whole other article in draft-mode titled “The Surgeon In The Soup Kitchen”. I’ll give you the abridged message of that post:
Don’t favor what feels the most good. Favor what does the most good.
Thankfully, blogging is a high-leverage activity. And, since I’m using HubSpot to write/promote/track this article, it helps HubSpot too. So, I can rationalize this into my “fewer things” list.
Cheers, and best wishes with your “fewer things”.
Today we’re launching Unbounce Convertables to help you capture more conversions on any website, blog or online store. Using targeted overlays, you can drive revenue, capture leads and direct users to your high-converting pages — without bugging your developers or altering your website.
You know you’re having a weird moment when you’re talking to Siri about marketing and you don’t even have your phone with you.
I was trying to visualize the sitemap for Unbounce.com. I can’t believe I was even considering the term site map. When was the last time you used “site map” in a sentence? Please tell me you’re not Googling “site map” right now…
Anyway, the imaginary conversation went something like this:
Me: Siri, would you be a gem and list every page on my website, ordered by traffic volume from high to low? Oh, and if you could make a note of which ones have a call to action, that would be great.
Siri: How do I know if a page has a call to action, Oli?
Me: If it has a button or link that leads to a URL defined as a conversion goal in your analytics, it’s got a CTA. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
Siri: Okay, here is your list.
Me: So what you’re telling me, Siri, is that out of 845 indexed pages, 804 of them have no conversion goal – no opportunity for site visitors to actually become a lead or a customer?
Siri: That would be correct, Oli.
Every page on your website is a potential conversion opportunity.
They’re not all the same, they’re not all as big and they’re not all worth an equal amount of money. But they’re opportunities nonetheless.
That’s why today we’re launching Unbounce Convertables – a new tool to help you get more conversions on all your web pages.
When my co-founders and I launched Unbounce seven years ago, we set out to provide marketers with the most powerful landing page optimization platform on the planet. But our vision always extended beyond landing pages. We wanted to create exceptional marketing experiences.
This begins with our own marketing, but becomes a much larger vision when you consider our responsibility as a software provider, helping 13,000 customers create their own exceptional marketing experiences for their own customers.
As a mental exercise, picture those 13,000 businesses including thousands of in-house marketing teams managing 500-page websites, 25 concurrent projects and millions in paid ad budgets. Add in thousands of marketing agencies, each with a portfolio of 50 clients with 250-page websites, hundreds of campaign landing pages and average page traffic of 1,000 visits per month.
Do the math and we may be looking at tens of trillions of missed conversion opportunities…. every month.
Why does this matter?
This level of amplification means that one small piece of technology can have a profound influence on how people experience the internet and the marketing touchpoints they encounter along the way.
We take that responsibility seriously. It’s what we care about more than anything.
Our goal at Unbounce isn’t simply to connect businesses to customers, it’s to do it in a way that brings value to both sides of every transactional business opportunity.
The word opportunity here is a two-way term. It’s an opportunity for you as a business, and it’s an equal opportunity for your visitor to get what they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it.
Introducing Unbounce Convertables
Hopefully by now you’re visualizing your own website and landing pages (or those of your clients), and you’re drooling a little at the thought of amplifying your own marketing performance.
You might also be visualizing the pain and cost of updating your website to take advantage of these conversion opportunities.
With Convertables you don’t need to redesign your website, or wait for the dev team to make changes. By adding one simple script you now have the ability to add a conversion opportunity to any page.
What’s a Convertable?
An Unbounce Convertable is an overlay that appears on a web page asking your visitor to take an action. For this release we’re launching four types: entrance overlays, exit overlays, timed overlays and scroll-depth overlays.
Whether you want to generate leads, drive sales or direct traffic from low-converting to high-converting pages on your website, you can now use the Unbounce drag-and-drop builder to create super-customized overlays that support your goal — all without coding skills or developers.
You’ve likely noticed a proliferation of overlays across the web. You see them everywhere because they work. Or at least they can, if used strategically and responsibly.
When I’m talking about something that works, I mean that it works first and foremost for your customers, and by extension, works to grow your business. This means maximizing your potential for conversion while keeping your prospect’s motivations and experience top-of-mind.
Overlays increase the number of opportunities you have to generate conversions on your website, blog or e-commerce store (and, of course, on your landing pages). They allow you to show relevant offers to specific users at the perfect time, making them less likely to leave your website without converting.
For instance, you could use overlays to:
Convert abandoning website visitors into potential customers as they’re about to leave your page.
Convert blog readers into subscribers by offering up an ebook that relates to the topic of the post they’re reading.
Offer online shoppers a last-second discount on shipping just before they abandon their shopping cart.
Turn first-time visitors on your homepage into leads by triggering an overlay on arrival, enticing them with a special welcome offer.
Amazing companies like Buffer, Campaign Monitor, Hotjar and ShopifyPlus are already seeing impressive results. But don’t take our word for it — here’s what Colin Sandeman-Allen, Marketing Manager at Alumedia had to say:
Within 21 days roughly 30% of our organic revenue had a Convertable touchpoint. Converting at 21.83% and increasing the effectiveness of complementary campaigns by 9%, Unbounce Convertables have easily become some of our most profitable organic campaigns.
Great power, great responsibility
For the past year, we’ve been testing overlays on Unbounce.com and our blog.
We’ve had some really big wins, but it’s not just about the extra conversions. By using Convertables we’ve uncovered incredibly valuable insights about how this technology can impact how our visitors experience Unbounce – and we can’t wait to share those insights with you.
When you offer relevant, well-timed offers that are truly valuable, you are enhancing the user experience. And that’s a good thing for everyone.
Start using Convertables today by clicking the link below and starting your free 30-day Unbounce trial. Already a customer? Log into the app and start using Convertables at no extra cost. You can now use the same drag-and-drop Unbounce builder to drive conversions on both your campaign landing pages and your website!
As always, we’ve got your back with tons of hands-on help, including:
Chat, email and phone support on every plan whenever you need it.
Tons of education and inspiration in the form of tactical blog posts, tutorials, podcasts, webinars, ebooks and other free resources.
High-converting templates for you to customize to suit your brand,
An active user community of likeminded marketers who are facing many of the same challenges as you.
Can’t wait to hear what you think, see what you build and share in your marketing success.
Everyone is looking for financial freedom, and we try to do it by getting involved in something we are passionate about. Many people have found this freedom by starting a business or working their way to the top in a company. In the past 5 years, there have been more millionaires than in any other period looking back. Much of their success can be attributed to the popularity of the internet, and the resources available online. The cool thing is that many people have written about this success offering their insight into what makes a person successful, or what someone must do to stay ahead of their competition. These same people have mentioned the “secrets to financial freedom” and have written lengthy books while making millions of dollars through sales. Today, we’ll be going through something very special…
We’ll be exploring the “so-called” secrets and what you can do right now to start working your way towards financial freedom. However, it’s very important to mention that this freedom does not necessarily mean you’ll be happy because no amount of money can buy happiness. However, you can use the money you earn to help others and build a wall of happiness around you.
Let’s get started and your feedback will be greatly appreciated:
1. Money Management
You might have a great foundation with your family supporting you or have a high paying career, but you won’t get closer to financial freedom if you don’t know how to manage your money. I know many people who spend more than they make, and this doesn’t bring them closer to their bottom line. To achieve true financial freedom, you must know how to manage your money and learn how to save, letting your money work for you. Many of the top money managers have stated that if your spending habits are uncontrollable, then you’ll end up worst off then some of the people who don’t make much at all. Therefore, saving money is one of the most important steps to financial freedom.
Start to understand your spending habits, and jump back on track by controlling your expenses, learning about savings and budgeting. Know what’s important right now in your life and what you can do to reinvest into your savings. Identify the areas where money spent truly pays off in a better quality of life for your core interests. For example, some people spend money on their business because they know long-term this will increase profits, grow their customer base and ultimately their business.
2. Your Career Choice
This is going to be one of the most important decisions you’ll make ever, and you should spend time making it by researching growth markets. For you to get closer to financial freedom, you must love what you do, and be earning enough money doing it. However, on the other hand, I know a lot of people who make enormous money but are miserable getting up to go to work in the morning. Follow your passion and everything else will fall into place accordingly.
Some of the best advice I can give you about choosing a career is to get involved in one which plays to your best strengths, and where you’ll be an asset to the company. If you start your own business, then base it around those very same set of skills.
3. Always Set Goals
Someone once provided me with a great analogy about why setting goals is important, here what they said –
“When you set goals, you’ll be like a ship with a compass knowing exactly where it’s going. However, without goals, you’ll be lost at sea”.
Therefore, you should have a clear-cut plan about what you want to accomplish, and how you’ll get there. You should set small goals which, when combined” will lead you to a higher purpose. Setting smaller goals provide you with motivation each time you check something off your list. So, what makes a great goal plan?
Let’s look at some of the questions you should be asking:
What is my main objective?
How can I achieve my end goal?
What is the time-limit I must meet this goal?
Can I network with others for help?
What other way can I achieve my end goals? Hiring help, working for others, etc.
4. Network with Others
This can also be commonly grouped with helping others, and building a network of people that you can rely on to get the job done No matter what successful entrepreneurs you ask, they’ll all give you the same advice – you must get help and then help others to succeed. There are people who have been involved in the same business before you so know creative ways to get the job done. They know the right people which will be a great asset when trying to grow your business, and to your bottom-line. However, for you to benefit you must reach out to people in your industry and build close relationships with them. These people can help increase your brand awareness, profits, guide you in the right direction, and finally help you from making common mistakes.
How can you find the right people to network with? Luckily, we live in a period where resources are available online so all you should do is a quick search. I would search in Google and find bloggers, companies or even marketing companies who are in your niche. Find and connect with the right person and reach out to them making sure your follow-up afterward. Tell them about your passion and ask them for advice on how you can grow your business leading you to faster financial freedom. Remember, financial freedom is all about making enough money to save, invest and using it to provide you the freedom you are looking for.
In the end, everyone is trying to achieve that complete financial freedom so they can live a more enjoyable fulfilling life. However, gaining this freedom does require smart investing and money saving. For example, it’s difficult to gain that freedom when you have uncontrollable spending habits without a clear vision. It’s time you start saving and investing in your business so you achieve that complete financial freedom.
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