In one of my all-time favorite books, The One Thing, authors Gary Kellar and Jay Papasan describe the domino effect, which is what happens when you focus on the small task or project you should be doing that’ll have the biggest impact on everything else that happens ahead of it.
Because a domino can knock over another one that’s 1.5x its size, the effect is massive over a relatively short period of time. If you started with a two-inch domino, for example, the one seventy-three dominoes later would reach from the earth to the moon!
In my experience, sometimes it’s the smallest tweaks or shifts that can make the most dramatic difference in my business over time. Here are three tiny shifts I’ve made that have had a major impact on where I am now.
1. Planning Our Editorial Calendar
No longer are the days where I open up a document to begin writing and ask myself, “What am I going to write about today?” As I mentioned in SPI Podcast Session #215, planning ahead in my editorial calendar has had a massive effect on my productivity and business.
The first benefit is that the hour or two per month to plan ahead is all I need to completely annihilate the wasted time and the frustrations that pop up when I’m in “what am I doing now” mode.
Secondly, the bird’s eye perspective on the calendar allows me to understand the bigger picture. Posts aren’t random anymore. They have a purpose and often tee up bigger things, such as book launches, events, and other promotions. The ROI on planning ahead editorially is incredible, and so if you aren’t planning ahead more than a week or two with the content that you create, I highly recommend you do so.
How far ahead should you plan? Well, it’s up to you. For Team Flynn, we’re already into August and September of this year in terms of where we want to go and what content we want to publish. This allows us, for example, to establish relationships now with potential podcast guests. We can get resources and people in place for some of the bigger ticket items down the road. And, of course, it’s motivating to see all of the amazing stuff that will happen later this year.
2. “I’m Not a Businessman, I’m a Business, Man.”
What a difference a comma makes.
This is a quote from Jay-Z in one of his songs that has stuck with me ever since I heard it. To me, it’s about the difference between someone who is working in a business, and someone who knows they are the business.
There was a point in 2010 when I shared a list of about a dozen new business ideas with Jeremy Frandsen, a mentor at the time from Internet Business Mastery. What he said in response was life changing.
After looking over the list he said, “Pat, these are good ideas, but there’s one thing missing from all of them that’s kind of important.”
“What’s that?” I replied.
I didn’t really understand what he meant by that, but after looking puzzled, he kept going:
“The reason Smart Passive Income is so successful is because of you. Your experiences and the personality you put into the brand. It makes all the difference.”
He went on about how I had this superpower to make real connections with people online, and that the list of ideas I had did not allow me to utilize this power.
And he was right.
It was after this conversation with Jeremy that I started to really understand how important it was that I put my personality into my brand at Smart Passive Income. That’s when I started to share more personal information about who I was.
It was also the reason why, in July 2010 when I started my podcast, I decided to have my voiceover guy read a random, fun little fact about me at the top of every episode. That has gone on to become one of the things people talk about the most when I meet listeners in person—they all bring up the one or two they remember that sticks with them most.
This idea of putting more of myself into my brand has allowed me to scale up the relationship building process, and allow others on the other end—the readers, subscribers, listeners and viewers—really get to know, like, and trust me more.
Smart Passive Income isn’t the business. I’m the business, man.
3. “Just-in-Time Learning”
This one I also picked up from Jeremy Frandsen: Just-in-Time Learning.
And this is the small tweak that has made the biggest difference of all.
Back when I started my online business, all the way through 2013, I was a content junkie. I subscribed to dozens of blogs, several dozen newsletters, and about ten different podcasts. I also read a ton of books and watched a lot of YouTube videos on the topic of online business.
I loved to hear about all of the new strategies and tactics I could implement in my business. I loved hearing all of the success stories. I dove into all of the emails I received from my subscriptions looking for examples of how to sell well.
Eventually, I found that I was taking in so much great information, but I was hardly getting anything done with my business. Yes, I made progress in my business because I did block time out for implementation, but when I consider the hours and hours of time spent learnings things I’ve never implemented or didn’t even need to know, it makes me cringe a bit.
When I heard about Just-in-Time Learning, it blew me away. It made so much sense. Here’s how it works. It’s quite simple:
Only allow yourself to consume information about the task and project you’re working on right now. That’s it!
Some of you may be where I was at back then, consuming a ton of information about all different kinds of things that aren’t actually relevant to what your next task is and what’s important right now. When you time-shift your learning to only what’s important for now, you get more done. Period.
The hard part about this is that there’s so much amazing content getting pumped into our attention stream right now. Every social media feed is full of articles we want to read, videos we want to watch, inspiring people we want to online stalk. We don’t want to miss out on it. We have a fear that maybe we’ll never see it again.
Well, that’s where one of my favorite tools, Evernote Web Clipper, comes into play. Instead of missing out on the great information that isn’t relevant to me right now, I save it for later! When I see an article that seems to have gained a lot of momentum on a topic that isn’t relevant to me right now, I use the web clipper to save it for later into a topic-specific folder in Evernote.
So, for example, when I finally decide to create my own event one day, I’ll have a folder in Evernote ready for me so I don’t have to go searching for it later. But, I haven’t read those posts yet, and there’s no need for me to worry about them right now. They aren’t related to what I’m doing.
This strategy has, like I said, opened up several hours of my time for me to dedicate elsewhere, including the implementation of topics that I’m working on right now. Plus, because I’m not getting my attention pulled into topics that aren’t relevant yet, I’m more focused on the work I’m doing, and am able to have better quality and complete tasks even faster.
This small “domino,” along with the other two, have been amazingly beneficial for me, as you can see.
So my challenge to you is this:
What’s one small tweak that you could implement right now that might have a major impact on where you’re headed?
Perhaps it’s one similar to my own, or something completely different. Leave your thoughts below, I’m interested in hearing what you have planned or what you’ve already started doing and how that’s building something much bigger for you.
Cheers, and thanks as always for being here!