4 Questions to Ponder Before Making that Big Decision

startup Decision
startup Decision

Can I have them all? Photo: InaFrenzy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My eyes opened at 6.30 am, 30 minutes before my alarm clock was due to chime. Too early for me to get up for breakfast so I lie there. The first thought to pour into my mind was the decision I had to make this week.

It’s official – I was stressed. Know how this feels?

Every so often we’re presented with opportunities and we have to make a big decision which to take. Some of them are no-brainers to accept and some easy to dismiss. But some of them stop and make us think:

What’s the best thing to do?

They can be small, but interesting opportunities – like the chance to be involved in a cool sounding project for X number of hours per week. Or they can be big & risky, like an offer to work on a project that would mean lifestyle or income changes or even a move to another part of the world.

Both of these types of opportunities can lead to difficult decisions – particularly the latter.

And of course, just to make things interesting – the better you get at stuff & the more successful you become, the better the opportunities present themselves (this of course makes sense), and hence the harder the decisions you must make.

I’ve written before about opportunities that present themselves – such as one time I made a bad choice and started a PhD simply because it was a good opportunity rather than what I wanted to do, and how starting this blog leads to a lot of opportunities. To sum both these up – making the right decision is important because it gets you to your goals faster.

Thing is – sometimes deciding what is the right thing to do is hard. It causes you to really dig deep and think is this opportunity is right for you – and forget what other people think.

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” — Bill Cosby

This can be easy in theory but difficult in practice, so I’ve discovered 4 questions that I ask myself whenever I’m present with a new opportunity. Before I share these 4 questions below, I want to show you the following video about life choices given by Steve Jobs in his 2005 commencement speech – he speaks about how to make big decisions (if you haven’t already seen it – I highly recommend you watch it):

To sum up his main points:

  1. You can’t connect the dots looking forward – only backwards, so you gotta have faith that they’ll connect for you
  2. You gotta love what you do – don’t settle
  3. Ever morning ask yourself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to spend it doing what I’m about to do’ – if the answer is ‘No’ for too many days, it’s time for a change
  4. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown your own inner voice
  5. Have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition – they already know what you want to become

How to make the difficult decisions

Whenever I’m presented with an opportunity now – I run it by the following the following 4 questions to see if it’s something I should pursue:

  1. Will it make me so excited that I want to get up at 6am each morning, simply so I can spend the maximum number of hours available in the day on it?
  2. Will it being me closer to my life goals (as opposed to putting them on hold)?
  3. Will I be learning new skills and challenging myself?
  4. Will I be working with great and successful people?

If the answer to all these questions is an instant ‘Yes’ then I’d seriously consider it. If the answer to any of these is No – I’d think twice about going ahead.

And thankfully, once the decision is made you can go back to having a full night’s sleep.

To echo Steve’s send-off: Stay young, stay foolish

Your Turn: Any questions you ask yourself before making a big decision?

How to Start Your First Blog (in just 4 days)

first blog

Are you wondering how to start your first blog?  Or have a blog that’s not started the way you liked?

Today I spoke to Seth Leonard. Seth is a great guy that helps people start their first blog or website – but unlike most people who does so in exchange for your cash, Seth will show you how to create your own blog, for free, in just 4 days. Believe me if I knew Seth when I was just getting started, he would have saved me a whole bunch of time.

I this video you will learn:

  1. The 4 easy steps you need to take to create your first blog
  2. How you can start a wordpress blog without being technical at all
  3. What questions to ask yourself before you start that will save you time later
  4. The (free) tools you need to get started
  5. The 4 different ways you can make money
  6. Seth gives his tips on what changes I should make for my site (very interesting)

Check it out:

Seth’s links:

The Web Launch (free course to launch a blog in 4 days)
Seth’s Blog 
My friend Marc’s blog I mention during the interview

Transcription:
TRANSCRIPT IS CURRENTLY BEING PREPARED

How did you learn how to start a WordPress blog? Share your ideas or the url of your blog below

How Badly do you Want it? (Truth of Success)

Slam Dunk
Slam Dunk

Slam Dunk'd: Photo by *jP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘When you want to be successful as badly as you want to breath, then you will be successful’ – Sean Walker

Earlier this week I met a girl at an event. She was smart, good looking and (from what I could pick up from her) talented – she was telling me how badly she wanted to go places in her career.

Trouble is, despite all these things going for her, I don’t think she’s going to go anywhere.

She told me how badly she wanted to become X, how she’s been unlucky with breaks and things haven’t gone her way so far. And when I asked what her plans were to achieve X I just heard all the reasons why she didn’t have time to do it (part time job hours too long, meeting friends at the weekend, tired after work blah blah….)

To me, it’s simple: You just don’t want it badly enough

Sleep is for those people who are broke – 50 Cent

I’m not going to sit here and claim to be an expert in success – I’m not. However, to me, there are two things you need to even be in with a shot:
1. Want it more badly than you want to breath (i.e. want it more than anyone else)
2. Take complete responsibility for what happens, and no excuses

Here’s my favourite video on What it takes to Be Successful:

Main points: 

  • You need to want it more badly than you want to breath
  • You will never be successful until you don’t need a dime for what you do

The voice is taken from a lecture from Sean Walker, the original lecture is here

Your Turn: What did you take from this video? What do you think it takes to be successful?

Share in the comments below

How I Got Clarity from Speaking to the Best

clarity.fm

clarity.fm

It’s midnight as I’m writing this post.

I’m a little excited.

I rarely (read: never) write blog posts late at night but this is cause for a special occasion. (warning: before you read anymore of this post, if you were in any doubt that I am a complete startup nutter, then you will soon have all the confirmation you need to send for the guys in white coats)

This evening I got an opportunity to speak to two of the greatest minds in entrepreneurship.

Eric Ries and Andrew Chen.

I got to speak to them personally – one on one, and they answered questions to help me with my business. I did this from my bedroom. These are all good things :)

Further down this post I’m going to tell you exactly how I spoke to them, and tell you exactly how you can too.

But before I do, firstly let me explain why this is so awesome.

Eric and Andrew are generally accepted as two of the greatest minds in tech startup scene. Eric for starting the Lean Startup movement and Andrew is pretty much the world expert on viral marketing.

This evening I spent about 10 minutes, solid one on one time, speaking with both.

  • Eric gave me advice on the key next steps he’d recommend for an iPhone app startup I’m working on (will divulge more on this soon). I told him the concept & asked what he’d do in my shoes – he recommended 2 key actions I should take:
  1. See if they care: Go and get 10 people you don’t know to install the Beta version of the app, see if they use it
  2. Find out where the hardcore tribe of my potential users hangout – immerse myself with them. These will be my early adopters
  • Andrew and I spoke bout the correct equation for measuring viral co-efficents (k-factor). Something if you follow my twitter, you’ll know I’ve been working on this week for the social game I work for. There’s a hell of a lot of conflicting equations for K-factor on the web, so I thought I’d speak to the leading expert in the world to clarify things. I’ll do a full post on this later this week to explain my findings.

For me, this advice was invaluable. Yes I have read Eric Ries’ book and yes it probably does tell me the same advice in it. But there is no substitution for asking an expert where you are right now with a problem and them advising you exactly what you should do.

Speaking to the best people = you getting the best advice = you doing the best/correct actions = you increasing your chances of success.

How did I do it?

I spoke to Eric Ries, Andrew Chen (as well as 4 other startup experts who were awesome) through a new service called Clarity.fm that launched yesterday.

Clarity is a new startup launched by Dan Martell (up there with Eric and Andrew in legendary status) that allows you to get expert advice when you need it. You can get early access by following this link.

Sign up, find people you’d like to get advice from and call them. Any charges go to charity.

From what I can see, there isn’t any search functionality on the site yet – which brings the question: how do you find the profiles of the people you should call for advice?

Well, I’m sure the search functionality is coming soon – but before it does, the best way I found to find people is by searching the #clarity hashtag and you’ll see people’s recommendations and availability pop up.

However, this lack of search functionality also presents an opportunity for theearly adopters amongst us: A path of little noise.

There are rock-star advisors on Clarity right now (i.e. Dan Martell, Eric Ries and Andrew Chen) who are available for calls because most people don’t know they’re there.

But do you know how to find them? I did. Here’s how:

I figured linking to their profiles would make it too easy but I’ll tell you exactly how to find them yourself. (hint: it’s just like if you were trying to guess the email address of a large company’s CEO).

  1. Establish how the profile urls are built: https://clarity.fm/#/howardkingston
  2. Make a wishlist of the world’s most amazing people you’d like to speak to (Silicon Valley based tech entrepreneurs have highest probability of success)
  3. On the Clarity profile url above, change my name for the person you’d like to speak to, using the same format as above

Viola!

Apply the same principle here.

Happy chatting – I hope this posts gives you some clarity as where to find some great advice. 

Let me know how you get on & spread the word :)

Looking ahead to 2012 – the Goals Post

In my last post I took a look back over 2011 and how I did against my goals for the year. Here I’d like to look forward and set myself some goals for the year ahead.

Goals are simply one of the most important things you can do IMHO. Goals are the X on your map of where you’re trying to get to. Imagine setting off on a journey this year without knowing where you’re trying to get to? Now wouldn’t that be silly.

On a serious note, I know my life changed for the better once I started making goals – and I firmly believe the bigger the goals the better.

I post my goals here for two reasons:

  1. To hold myself accountable – if you see me slacking off, hey I’m going to get achieve stuff or you’re going to kick my ass ;)
  2. To inspire you to think up some great goals and share them here

At the end of the year I’ll review my progress.

My Goals for 2012

First off, my goals are going to be S.M.A.R.T.er than last year. Some of my goals last year were a little unquantifiable which made it hard for me to assess my progress, but that’s cool – we’re all learning here.

So before I share my goals for 2012 with you – I’ll be asking to share your biggest goals with me a little bit further down this post. Think of at least one.

Ok – to the juicy stuff: My Goals for 2012

Goal: Blogging – Publish 2 Posts a week & 10,000 Email Subscribers

2 Posts a Week

In 2011 I was pretty erratic with my Blog posting. Some weeks I published every other day, other times it was weeks in-between posts.

And I know consistency matters.

I would love to be able to post every day to this blog (it’s something I really enjoy), but I have to be realistic with my time available. So I’m going to commit, right here, to posting twice a week, every week, this year. I will post on a Tuesday and on a Friday.

To keep myself accountable: I will donate $50 to Kiva for every week I don’t keep this promise. Feel free to keep tabs on this on my Kiva profile.

10,000 subscribers

As I mentioned in my 2011 review – using unique visitor as my success metrics for this blog sucks. That’s why I’m setting a goal for 10,000 email subscribers by the end of the year.

It’s specific and measurable (and a.r.t.) but also it is something, when achieved, that could help me with my income goals.

I’ve a clear plan how I’ll be growing this list, which I know you’ll love – all to be revealed soon.

Goal: Startup- Be running my own startup

I’ve a very clear goal for 2012.

Be running my own Startup that has over 100,000 users with a 20% weekly user retention.

Simples……;)

Goal: Finance – Be debt free & have $100K in net worth

Become 100% debt free. Clear the last of my college loans.

Have $100K net worth.

All pretty straight forward there….

Goal: Do More with Less & Thoughtfulness

I reflected in my 2011 review that it’s not about the hours you spend on things, but more the results that come from your efforts.

That’s why I need to do more important things with less time. I’ve really realised the important for taking some hours to unwind: It frees up your creative mind and sharpens your saw so you can cut through tasks faster when you return to them.

That’s why in 2012 I’m going to be religious about taking the time to sharpen the saw (something I don’t always do) every day and week.

To achieve this I’m going to have to become more laser focussed on priorities when I am working.

More thoughtful

I also want to become more thoughtful this year – I have the habit of getting tunnel vision when working on projects, often forgetting about other important things and people when I’m in the zone. Yes I confess, I forgot to call me sister on her birthday – forgive me Sue!

So I’m going to do at least one nice thing for a loved one or create one new relationship every day this year. Even if it’s just a 5 minute phone call to a family member, a coffee with another entrepreneur or a Facebook message to an old friend.

These two are all about being more intentional with my time – and I admit I’ve improvements to do here.

Goal: Become a Fish

In case I haven’t told you before. I swim like a brick.

A few years back I competed in a triathalon and I sucked so bad in the swimming part, that I was over taken by a guy with one arm.

Not my finest sporting moment.

This year I’m going to master swimming and compete in a full, triathlon. Bring it!

Goal: Coding

Like many other my goal is to learn a new language in 2012. But unlike many people’s Spanish or French, this year I’m learning a programming language.

Being able to hack together something, even uber-basic, is just a must for a tech startup co-founder I believe – so this is the year.

I’ve just signed up for http://codeyear.com – why not join me?

Goal: Conference

I’m going to speak at, at least one major conference in 2012. Don’t worry – you’ll be the first to know when I do!

Overall

I’m completely pumped writing these goals for 2012. Can’t wait to see where I am this time next year.

Your Turn:

What are your top goals for 2012? I’d love you to share them here – even just the one thing that if happened, by this time next year, would completely rock your world? Don’t be shy – we’re all here to help each other.

Write yours in the comments below

Tipping my Hat to 2011

Crazy reflections
Crazy  reflections

Crazy reflections. Photo by: Bert Kaufmann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three hundred and sixty five days ago I made a resolution that 2011 would be the year I started a blog (I finally launched this blog on February 27th). Well here I am.

I made some other goals for 2011 too (part of my milestones for my bigger goals) – some I nailed, some I bombed at, and some things popped up that I wasn’t expecting at all.

Note: I see goals are very different than resolutions – goals are something tangable you work towards throughout the whole year, resolutions are multiple knee jerks that quickly become forgotten.

And accessing how you performed on these goals are equally important.

Accessing yourself on how you perform on these goals are really important – (and giving yourself kicks up the arse & pats on the back where required) In this post I’ll be accessing how I did in 2011 and I’ll be sharing my goals for 2012 in my next post.

My 2011

Goal: Start a Blog and grow it to 6,000 visitors

One of my big goals this year was to start a blog – well after a delayed start (and some stop-starts in the middle i.e. a road trip across Australia) I’m here and loving it.

I’ve discovered some really fun things about blogging along the way.

Did I meet my goal of 6,000 visitors?

Yes I sure did – With 7,230 visits and 6,093 unique visitors, and I’m averaging over 1,000 uniques per month now.

Am I happy? Sure I’m happy. I met my goal and am loving blogging but have realised that both visitor numbers are a poor metric to go on & there’s lots of room for gorwing this MUCH bigger – I’ll address these both in my 2012 goals :)

Side Note: I also just started using Twitter seriously one year ago today. Now I have close to 5,000 followers – I think that’s a win!

Goal: Be Debt Free Earning & be $10,000 net per month

So I planned to debt free and be making $10,000 per month at this point – am I?

To be honest: No.

There were moments when I was on-course for it (including my as digital marketing agency started getting a tons of clients just before I left Australia), but definitely came up short on this one.

Big lesson is that some things take (annoyingly) longer than you want them to i.e. playing off the last of my college fees. But 2012 will be the year :)

Have a Self Sustaining Startup business

Do I have a self sustaining startup?

If you had asked me this question in March – I would have said hell yeah! But my business in Australia didn’t transfer well to my move back to the United Kingdom, and the answer now is resounding:

Nope.

However every cloud has a silver lining and mine has sparkling silver. Coming back to the UK has really allowed me to focus on what I really want:

Working on tech start-ups and getting ready to launch my own (very different to having a service business like I did in Australia).

So I’m delighted it happened! And there’s some exciting things in the pipeline for 2012….

Goal: Achieve Work Life Balance

Wanted to achieve a really good work life balance – with plenty of time off.

I think I failed on this one.

Although on one side I did get to travel to wonderful places like Australia, Thailand, USA, Malaysia, Ireland and the UK– I’m definitely working a hell of a lot of hours right now.

Trouble is: I love it & don’t want to change it.

Lesson: Set 2012’s work/life goals based on people I connect with and places I go – not hours I work – it’s relationships & memories that count, not hours.

2011 Overall 

When stop & look back over 2011 – it’s insane how far I’ve come. To think I was still doing my PhD (which sucked) only 15 months ago is crazy. I’m working on great projects, with amazing people & learning exactly what I need to.

When I started this blog I wrote about how I felt like a car spinning its wheels (i.e. burning lots of energy) but not going anywhere of note.

Now it’s completely different.

Now I feel I’m more like a race car that hasn’t quite got a fully tuned engine yet – I know where I need to get to and I’m going my max speed to get there. Although the max speed isn’t quite fast enough just yet, my mechanics are honing the engine & I’m getting faster all the time.

Enough dodgy sporting analogies for one New Year :)

Will be back with my 2012 goals in my next post – Happy New Year.

Your Turn:

How was your 2011?