Ditching My Closing Speech 15 Minutes Before The Speech

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Three days ago on Friday, I was sitting at the Sacramento Airport eating a falafel burrito, waiting for my ride to come pick me up, and I look over and see a familiar looking face walking by. With a mouthful of falafel, I dropped my burrito to run over and say “Are you Chris Guillebeau?” His response was yes, and with tons of excitement I said, “It’s really nice to meet you! I’m a huge fan, I’ve followed your blog for years and read all your books, and I just wanted to say thank you for doing great work! What are you doing in Sacramento?” Turns out that despite all the traveling he’s done (he visited all 193 countries by his 30th birthday), he had never been to Sacramento Airport. He asked what I was doing in Sacramento and I told him that I was about to go run a training for 60 college students on the topic of entrepreneurship. After 30 more seconds of chit chat, he heads over to his gate and I head back to my half eaten burrito, and that was that. If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you’ll know that I’ve mentioned Guillebeau more than a dozen times, and it was pretty cool meeting the guy in person.

Fast forward to Saturday evening, I’m prepping for my closing speech at the training I’m running. It’s about 15 minutes before I’m about to go on, and I’m reviewing my slides, which are the same slides I used to close a similar training the weekend before. The talk starts off by asking the college students in my audience to complete this phrase: “Millennials are the E________ Generation.” Like planned, they answer “The Entitled Generation” and I get them to discuss why they think that is. Then, I turn the corner and tell them that if I was to complete that phrase, not based on most millennials, but based on my friends, and the students that I have mentored before them, and individuals I hope that they become, it would read “The Entrepreneur Generation.” I follow that up with a couple articles from Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes, Inc.com and the New York Times, making the case for Millennials as the Entrepreneur Generation, and my goal for the rest of the talk is to inspire and encourage them to develop entrepreneurial characteristics as opposed to characteristics of entitlement.

But something came over me about 15 minutes before delivery. I didn’t want to give the same speech I gave the weekend before, because what’s the fun in that? I usually don’t give the same speech more than once, and although I was ready to give what I thought was a pretty good speech, I needed to keep things fresh. And plus, I really wanted to work my run in with Guillebeau into the mix. Last minute and on the fly, I came up with something completely new.

The first part of my new talk hit on the importance of role models and looking up to people  who have the characteristics that you want to emulate. I asked the crowd who some of their role models were and why, and I got answers ranging from “my former self” to Kobe Bryant. Then I shared a story of growing up as a young baseball player, really looking up to Cal Ripken Jr.  When I was young and in Little League, I liked him because we played shortstop. I had his baseball cards, knew his stats, and admired him for multiple Gold Glove awards as well as batting titles. And then on September 6, 1995, when I was 9 years old, I saw Ripken break Lou Gehrig’s 56-year seemingly unbreakable record by playing in his 2,131 consecutive game. He didn’t miss a game for over 16 years! Ripken, now known as the Iron Man, really made an impression on me, for his consistency, his perseverance, his work ethic, and ability to show up and do his job everyday, for 20 years and over 2632 consecutive games. In the past 8 years working for my company, I’ve taken ZERO sick days. Whenever I’m not feeling it, and remember Ripken and his streak, and I remember the importance of showing up and doing your job no matter what.

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It’s been over a decade since I played in my last competitive baseball game, and Ripken has long since retired. Now, my role models include mostly entrepreneurs, which comes to no big surprise considering I run a company. I really look up to Yvon Chouniard, the founder of Patagonia, for his “let my people go surfing” approach to business, as well as many other philosophies that make him a very unique and successful entrepreneur. I look up to Tim Ferriss for his work in entrepreneurship, lifestyle design, and meta-learning, and I get almost every book recommendation from him or the guests on his podcast. Coming back to my speech… Knowing that my students were about to embark on their first adventure in starting a business, I also encouraged them to find role models based on the characteristics that they wanted to emulate. And then I decided to tell them a quick little story about how I met one of my role models the day before at the airport. I told them how excited I was that I got to meet Chris Guillebeau, and how I told him I was in Sacramento to run a training on entrepreneurship. He wished me luck in my training, and about 15 minutes ago I decided to give them a little bit more than some Guillebeau luck. I had learned so much from Chris as a role model, I decided to end my speech giving the students some Guillebeau wisdom.

Guillebeau’s first book was The Art of Non-Conformity, based on his blog by the same title. My first piece of advice, from that book, was this:

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His second book was The $100 Start-Up, in which he gives many examples of entrepreneurs who were successful NOT because they had large start-up funds or MBAs, but because they found something they were passionate about, developed the right skills, learned on the fly, and worked extremely hard.

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And his most recent book of his that I’ve read, The Happiness of Pursuit, is all about how long-term quests are tied to long-term happiness. I talked about the difference between enjoyment (sitting in your sweatpants watching Netflix) and fulfillment (accomplishing a worthwhile goal) and encouraged them to take their new business quest one day and one step at a time.

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The final message was this:

Through the challenge of starting their own businesses this year, I hoped that they developed the character traits of the people they look up to and aspire to be like, and they find new role models who inspire them to be better. Quoting Thoreau, “What you get by achieving your goal is not as important as who you become by achieving your goal.”


In 15 minutes, before giving my closing speech, I decided to toss my old speech, throw some slides together, and wing it. It was the most fun I’ve had running a training like that in a really long time. It reminded me why I love my job. It reminded me why I love coaching college kids, to inspire and encourage them to be more entrepreneurial and become better versions of themselves.


If You Want to Change the World, Start Off by Making Your Bed

What does making your bed have anything to do with changing the world?

I just watched last year’s University of Texas commencement speech by Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. In his 20 minute long commencement speech, he tells stories and gives advice based on his experience in Navy SEAL bootcamp. Here is an excerpt (http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/05/16/admiral-mcraven-commencement-speech/):

I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years.  But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.

Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.

It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.

But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.

To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are the ten lesson’s I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection.  It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day.  It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

“Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.” Man, I just love that.

This excerpt really makes me think just how important morning routines are. It also really makes me think of discipline habits in general and how important they can be. After taking a cold shower 100 mornings in a row, I learned that having discipline is hard. It’s incredibly hard to stick to something like that, but I learned to have the discipline to do it, and that discipline was beneficial in other areas of my life, with work, relationships, health and more.

I also just read a good article on the Zen Habits blog about how to start a discipline habit. Leo says “you start by washing your dishes. It’s just one small step: when you eat a bowl of cereal, wash your bowl and spoon. When you finish drinking coffee or tea, wash your cup. Don’t leave dishes in the sink or counter or table.” (http://zenhabits.net/start-discipline/) Again, you start with a small task, because it’s the little things that matter.

Accomplishing big goals and changing the world – it starts with discipline, being able to stick to something, being able to take pride in the little things, the little details – like making your bed or washing your dishes.

I highly recommend investing 20 minutes watching the rest of the commencement speech. Other stories end with “If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward” and “So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.” You’ll be glad you watched it.

How to find time for that important project

I started following the Michael Hyatt blog a while back, and he constantly posts good stuff, especially relevant to goal setting. Actually, if you google “goal setting”, Michael Hyatt’s post called A Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting is result #4. In his post from today he talks about how to find time for that important side project that you’ve been meaning to work on. I figure that many of you reading this blog set goals, and there is a high chance that one of your goals involves a project, or side business, or “evil plan” (as Hugh Macleod would call it) that you want to work on, so I thought I would share this post. Here are the 7 things Michael Hyatt says you should do to find time for your project in your busy life:

  1. Accept reality. You only have 168 hours a week—the same as everyone else, including presidents, captains of industry, and the homeless man you passed on the way to work. Time is finite. You can’t borrow, beg, or steal more of it.

    Starting and finishing that important project is not about time management as much as it is about priority management. It’s not so much about efficiency as it is about courage.

    The question is this: How important is this project compared to everything else in your life?

  2. Get off your but. No, not your butt, your but—that excuse that keeps you mired in the status quo.
    • “I could do it, BUT I just started a new job.”
    • “I could do it, BUT I just don’t have the energy.”
    • “I could do it, BUT I have small children.”

    In order to move forward, you have to accept responsibility for where you arenow. Your current situation is the result of choices you have made—not all bad, by the way, but yours nonetheless.

    The question is this: Are you ready to make new choices? Yes or no. (It’s okay to choose No. Just be intentional.)

  3. Set a clear goal. The momentum begins to shift when you chose a different destination. The way to turn a dream into a goal is to put a due date on it. This one act will often create the urgency you need to get going.And while you are at it, make the goal S.M.A.R.T. You can read more about that, in “The Beginner’s Guide to Goal-Setting.”

    The question is this: What do you want? Can you clearly articulate it? Can you see it?

  4. Understand what’s at stake. The is perhaps the most important ingredient in finding the time for that important project. You have to connect why your why.The way to overcome inertia (or keep going when you want to quit) is to understand clearly what you gain if you do your project and what you lose if you don’t.

    The question is this: Why is this important to you? Write down your reasons as a series of bullets. Keep them handy—you’re going to need them.

  5. Schedule time on your calendar. This is where the rubber meets the road. What gets scheduled gets done. You literally have to block out time on your calendar to focus on your project. It won’t happen otherwise.

    I literally set these up as appointments with myself. If anyone else looks on my calendar, they see that I am busy—and I am busy. I have set aside this time to work on my project.

    The question is this: When will you set aside time to begin? Or re-start? Or finish?

  6. Keep your commitments. Too often, we sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent. We can always do it later, right? Wrong. The key is to honor your commitment to your project as though it were an uber-important meeting with an uber-important person.

    I just faced this again today. Someone wanted to book an appointment with me when I had scheduled time to work on my pet project. I said, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t meet then. I already have a commitment.” I didn’t provide any detail. My response was enough. And guess what? We found another time.

    The question is this: Do you really want to get this project done or not? Are you brave enough to say No to other demands, so you can say Yes to this?

  7. Make time to celebrate. Honestly, I am not very good at this. I’m better than I used to be, but no where near where I want to be. As a recovering Type-A personality, as soon as I check something off, I refocus on the next objective. Ultimately doesn’t serve me or the people I work with well.

    It’s important not only to acknowledge what you have accomplished but thank the people who helped you. Otherwise, you wear out your team and eventually yourself. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Yes, it really is possible to find time for those important projects you want to accomplish. You just have to be intentional and use the right strategy.

Follow Michael Hyatt’s blog: http://michaelhyatt.com

SMART Goals and Habits

Martin Grunberg is the author of the best selling book The Habit Factor, and I have had the opportunity to hear him speak about habits on multiple occasions. I love his book, and all his research on habits… and even the app too. Check out his book here and his website here. The Habit Factor philosophy is that “HABIT is the single-greatest factor in a person’s ability to realize a life of success and achievement.”

On the Habit Factor blog, there was a very good post critiquing the SMART goal-setting theory that I thought I’d share. The more I researched goals, the more I also realized that the SMART theory is effective, but habits and behavioral change also play huge role in goal achievement.


Here is an excerpt straight from the post:


Be More S.M.A.R.T.-ER
Looks pretty good right? Over 33,000,000 Google results (do a search)— S.M.A.R.T. goals can’t be all bad? And, the answer is, they aren’t. Well, unfortunately, they just aren’t ALL good either, here’s why.

From my experience coaching and helping people with their goals here are five “challenges” I have with SMART goals.

1) The To-Do List. After you go through all the necessary S.M.A.R.T. criteria, guess what. You’re left with a To-Do List. “So what” you say, “What’s wrong with a To-Do list?” Well, nothing really, if you can ensure it’s not getting mixed up with your daily, life to-do list: you know, call grandma, pickup cereal, call the dentist, wash car, feed fish, etc.  The To-Do List is ubiquitous, never-ending and always growing. So people go to bed at night and wonder, “Did I get any closer to my goal today?” The answer, of course, is unfortunately “NO”.

2)  Enter: HABIT. The biggest challenge with SMART goals, is its greatest oversight; SMART goals do NOT take into account HABIT. No mention of the conscious development of supportive, core behaviors (habits) to achieve your goal. It’s astounding when you consider that everyone’s greatest tool for achievement is habit and yet habit hasn’t been offered in any goal achievement theory to date, let alone the most popular goal achievement methodology, S.M.A.R.T. goals.

3) The subconscious mind: What “experts” in achievement and “success” coaches would tell you is that your subconscious mind has far more influence than your conscious mind when it comes to goal achievement. Now whether that is 10x or 100x more influence, that is up for debate. What appears to not be up for debate, that is, what they ALL agree upon is that the subconscious mind has the greatest influence when it comes to goal achievement. So, my friend, here is the question? Where do your habits reside? BINGO! In the subconscious mind! Now, here is another question, does it make sense to follow a goal methodology that doesn’t take into account habit which is a direct path to your subconscious mind?

BTW: Below for your reading pleasure is an excerpt from publicly made available PDF from Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham – on Goal Setting theory:
Here’s the link. I love the final paragraph/specifically the last sentence. Enjoy!

4) SMART Goals criteria gets confused:  See the above screen shot and you’ll notice there is no less than three terms behind each letter in the acronym. So what is being regurgitated by coaches and want-to-be coaches unfortunately, is often incorrect.

5) There is a “simpler” way. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci & “Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.” ~Einstein. Combined, these two edicts (from a couple geniuses) have greatly influenced my creative efforts. Consider the simplicity and you might even say, elegance (see Dr. Evil pinky) of simply tracking 3-5 core, related behaviors to achieve your goal. Exciting isn’t it?

Read the whole post here: http://www.thehabitfactor.com/2012/08/goal-achievement-theory-what-you-dont-know-about-smart-goals-how-to-achieve-your-goals-faster-with-greater-predictability-welcome-to-2012/



In Version 2 of Smart Goals that just launched, you will have the ability not just to set and track your goals, but also your bucket list, and your habits. I best imagine the app to contain your top 3-5 SMART goals that are broken down into measurable and time-bound milestones,  unlimited short term and long term bucket list goals, and 3-5 habits, or as #5 above says, “3-5 core, related behaviors to achieve your goal.”

smart goals, dreams, habits

***The Dreams and Habit feature will be available in version 2.1, August 2013