Productivity

August – The month to go “ALL In”

I absolutely love this from Gary Vaynerchuk.  Are you “All In”?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Redesign Your Life Interface | Orange Nomad

Your Life Interface Is Broken. Here’s How To Fix It.

If you’ve ever tried to use a smart phone, or a website, you’re using a user interface. If done well, this interface has been designed to help you do what you want: check your messages, read an article, find information, get stuff done.

Our lives have interfaces too. We just don’t often think about it.

And just like with badly designed websites, a bad interface for your life can be frustrating, grating, full of friction and confusion.

The good news is … you’re the interface designer of your life! You can redesign the interface.

Let’s think about a few examples:

  1. Life’s popup boxes: When you work, are there a dozen things trying to get your attention? Email, phone messages, social media, blogs, news, other favorite websites … while you’re trying to get an important task done? These are like popup boxes asking you to subscribe, that get in the way of your reading. You can redesign it so that you have only the task in front of you, no popups or distractions.
  2. Simplify the steps: If you want to work out regularly, how many steps does it take before you can actually do the first exercise? For many people, they have to get their gym clothes together into a bag, close down a computer, drive to a gym, check into the gym, change, find an available spot in the gym, then do the workout. That’s like if you wanted to send an email message but had to click through seven different pages to get to the send message screen. Instead, think about simplifying it so you can get right to the task — get down on the floor and do some pushups and planks, have a chinup bar near your bathroom so you can do some every time you pass, go outside during a work break and walk quickly for 10 minutes, several times a day. You can look at other things in your life that take too many steps to accomplish a goal, and remove steps.
  3. Annoying ads or sales pitches. How often have you been on a site with annoying ads, or constant sales pitches from the blogger? You just want to read or get stuff done without all the pitches. The same is true of your regular life — you don’t want people walking into your office giving you sales pitches, nor do you want to hear or see ads in your radio or TV or magazines. Consider “ad-blocking” your life, by finding ways to avoid sales meetings, people who are soliciting, meetings where someone is trying to pitch you. Pay for ad-free music streaming and video, stop buying magazines (just read articles using read-later services that strip out ads), unsubscribe from ads disguised as newsletters in your inbox. Unfriend people who are trying to get you into multi-level marketing and the like.
  4. Make your important goals be easy to find. One frustration on websites is when the thing that matters most is buried in a hard-to-find page, not easy to find. With a good user interface, the most important goals are front and center, obvious and easy. But in our lives, we make the least important things easiest to find and do (TV, Facebook, distraction, junk food), while the most important things are hidden behind layers of distraction (your most important project, exercise, eating healthy, spending time with loved ones). What if we put these important things in front of the rest? Bury Facebook and other distractions, and have the important project be the only thing that shows when you open your computer. Get rid of junk food and have your healthy options be out in the open for when you get hungry. Put the TV in the closet, and have dumbbells there instead. To spend time with loved ones, put the activity that you want to do with them just inside the front door when you get home — put the book you want to read with your kids, or the rollerblades you want to use with them, just inside the door. Or put the coffee cups you want to use with your wife as you talk and have coffee together, in the middle of the living room.
  5. Beautiful design. When an app or website looks beautiful, it’s not just for the sake of gloss and glamor. It’s to create a mood, an experience, a feeling of delight or peace. Each action with a good app or website should give you an experience you enjoy, rather than a feeling of clunkiness or frustration. The same can be true of your life — remove distraction and clutter, and find ways to bring peace and delight to your life.

Obviously these are just a few examples, a few abstract ideas. The actual implementation depends on your goals, on the experience you want to create for yourself. But these are good to think about.

In truth, we can never control everything about our experience in life, nor should we try. But spending some time thinking about a smarter, simpler, more lovely interface for your life is about rethinking the unconscious, and living more consciously.

As always, thoughts, comments and sharing are strongly encouraged!

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How to achieve exponential growth by debriefing the past

I’ve never been a huge fan of dwelling on the past.  What’s done is done.  However, I am a big fan of learning.  I’m a huge believer in learning in order to grow.  Life is about growth.  Growing mentally, spiritually and emotionally are not things most focus on.  The crux of personal development comes from evolving who we are as leaders, fathers/wives, entrepreneurs.  Sometimes we need to reflect on the past to continue that growth.  However, there is a big difference between reflecting and dwelling.  Those that dwell on the past unfortunately tend to get stuck there.

So, how do we reflect on the past without getting stuck there?  A few years back I came across the concept of the “Debrief” at business conference.  The concept involves taking a recent experience, and examining the good/bad/ugly from it.  What did we do right?  What did we do wrong?  How can we improve?  Since then, I’ve tried to implement this in most areas of life.  This has been especially useful in my business and personal life.  It has led to exponential growth both personally and professionally.

June 30, 2014: The day that changed everything

Two years ago today I issued a press release announcing the sale of my IT business, Network Logix.  It was a bittersweet day to say the least.  The 10 years of blood (sometimes literally), sweat, tears, sleepless nights and many cups of coffee had finally culminated to a conclusion.  At least for this chapter.  It was on to the next chapter.  The next chapter for growth.

Many of you reading this were likely in the room back in April for Robin Robin’s Boot Camp.  During one of the presentations, the question was asked whether anyone in the room would like to eventually sell their business.  Nearly the entire room raised their hands.  This got me thinking.

I’ve always attempted to be as efficient as possible.  Learning from others allows me to expedite the process, and possibly side-step any pitfalls along the way.  Learning from coaches, mentors and peers has led to exponential growth for myself and many others.

After selling my business, I did a Debrief of what I learned.  Boiling this down to just a few items was pretty difficult, as you can imagine.  10 years is a long time, and I could almost write a book about all the adventures.  (Stay tuned for that, it’s in the works.) Below are the 7 lessons I learned along the way.  I’m happy to share them with you.

7 Lessons I Learned From Building, Growing and Selling My MSP

  1. Find a niche and OWN it!
  2. Sell, sell, sell
  3. Fire Rotten Clients
  4. Ruthless Productivity
  5. Document and Systematize All Processes
  6. Focus All Your Attention On Your TOP Clients
  7. Run It Like You’re Going To Sell It

I sincerely hope that there is at least one thing that you can draw from my debrief.  I’d also love to hear how you use past experiences to further your growth as an entrepreneur, parent, father or any other roles you are privileged to play.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Feel free to share this with your network too.  I’d be eternally grateful.  Have an awesome day!

 

 

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Microsoft acquires LinkedIn! Holy Schnikes!!!!

Just in case you hadn’t heard…..Microsoft is buying LinkedIn for $26.2.  What does this mean for you?  Stay tuned……

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I’m Returning to Single-Tasking

I have a confession to make: I haven’t been single-tasking lately.

I’ve returned to multi-tasking and distraction.

I’d like to blame my smart phone (I long for the days of my sweet dumb phone), but in all honesty I constantly switch browser tabs too. I’ve been pulled by the allure of so many interesting things to read on the Internet, email, Slack, always something to check or read or respond to.  Not to mention the ultimate time-suck…..FACEBOOK!

As of today, I’m returning to single-tasking.

Why? Because I think giving in to constant switch and distraction is a way to run away. It feels busy and productive, but it’s an avoidance. Not just an avoidance of important tasks, but of whatever boredom or bad feelings I might be having in the moment.

So here are the rules I’m going to try to follow:

  1. One browser tab open. I want to focus on reading one thing, responding to one email at a time, doing one task in my browser at a time. I realize that I might have to open multiple tabs to work on something, and that’s fine, but if I have tabs open that don’t have anything to do with my current task, I’ll bookmark them for later, add to Trello, or add the task to my to-do list.
  2. Know what I’m focusing on. When I open a tab, I have to consciously pause and think about what I’m trying to accomplish. That might be looking up some info, or writing something, or answering an email … whatever it is, I have to try to pause and make sure I’m being conscious about it.
  3. Read to completion. Unless there’s an urgent interruption, if I open an article to read, I have to decide whether I want to invest the time to read it right now. That means giving it my full attention, and reading to the end (if possible — unexpected interruptions are fine). If I don’t really want to read this article to completion, I’ll save it for later or just close it.
  4. One app on my phone at a time. Just like browser tabs, I often have multiple apps open on my phone, and I switch between them often. I’m going to try to close my phone except when I consciously want to do something on it — send a message, reply to emails, read something. And I’ll only have one app open whenever possible.
  5. Be mindful of interruptions & switching. I think my mind is easily distracted, so I’m going to try to practice noticing when I’m about to switch, and make a conscious decision to either follow or not follow that urge to switch. It’s OK to switch, if I’m ready to leave what I’m doing and focus on this new thing instead. And it’s OK to be interrupted (by a call, my son, my wife, etc.), but I’d like to try to make a conscious note that I’m switching my attention, leave behind what I’m doing, and give my full attention to whoever is calling for it (without resentment that they’re interrupting me). Now, I realize I’m not going to be perfect at this (I was interrupted as I was writing this paragraph, btw), but I’ll try to practice is when I remember.
  6. Consciously close my computer & phone. I don’t need to always be working, always be distracted, always be checking. Sometimes, I can consciously close things for awhile, read a book, go for a walk (without headphones), do something with a loved one. I’ll try to consciously tell myself, “OK, digital-free time for the next 30 minutes” (or hour, or two hours, or whatever).

These aren’t hard and fast rules, but things to shoot for. I will fail at them often, but I’m going to try to follow them for at least a week, and hopefully longer.

I’m not doing this to be more productive, more focused, more disciplined, more perfect. I just want to explore mindfulness and consciousness, and not avoiding by distraction. Wish me luck!

If you have the same issue, or have more to add, feel free to leave me a comment below.  [I know I’m not the only one out there ;-)]

Here’s a funny video on the subject too.  Enjoy!


Credits: Photo from sharazza.com

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What I Do When I Fail

I fail at things much more than you might imagine, given that I’ve started and run numerous businesses since age 8.

I’ve had businesses that were unsuccessful, and it feels just as horrible for me as it does for anyone else as a serial entrepreneur.

I get down on myself, feel guilty, try to avoid thinking about it, and would rather hide it from everyone else.

Failing at things can really suck.

And yet, I get back up and try again.

I fail at eating healthy on a regular basis, but I keep trying again. I’m pretty good these days at sticking to a sleeping plan, but I failed and tried again, regularly, for years and years.  Not getting enough rest as an entrepreneur is highly detrimental.

I’ve made several attempts at writing the book I’m writing now, and scrapped it all each time because it didn’t feel right. And yet, I started again, and I still continue to work on it.

I fail at being content. But I don’t give up on that.

I fail at being a good dad, seemingly multiple times a day. But I continue to try, and sometimes I succeed.

When I try over and over again, once in awhile I succeed.

So what’s the secret? Well, there isn’t one. You just have to keep trying.

That said, here’s what I’ve found to work:

  1. I learned a more flexible mindset. When you are rigidly trying to stick to a plan or achieve a goal, and things don’t go according to plan, then you feel like crap and things can get derailed. But if you have a more flexible mindset, and think, “Done is better than perfect,” then it’s not a disaster when you get off track. There’s no single track that you have to stay on.
  2. I came to realize that every attempt is about learning. When you fail, that’s actually really good information. Before you failed, you thought that something would work (a prediction), but then real-world information came in that told you it didn’t work. That means you now know something you didn’t know before. That’s excellent. Now you can adjust your plan, figure something new out, try a new method. Keep learning.
  3. I ask for help. When I’m struggling with something, I know that I can either give up, or I can figure out a better way. But it’s not always easier to figure out a better way, so I reach out to my wife, friends, trusted family members, and I ask them. They might give me simple, obvious, why-didn’t-I-see-that advice that I need, or brilliant tips, or accountability. Whatever happens, my friends and loved ones never seem to fail me.
  4. I give myself a break. If I’m struggling, sometimes my mind or body just needs a break from the discipline. So I’ll take a day or two off, or a week, or even more. There’s no set time that’s right for every situation, so I’ve been learning to go by feel. For some things, I’ve taken a month or two off from trying to learn something.
  5. I remind myself why it’s important. It’s easy to give up on something, because not doing it is always easier. But giving up means you’re losing something important, like helping someone, and so if my reasons for doing something aren’t just selfish (pleasure, vanity), then I will renew my vigor for the struggle. This alone is often enough to get me going again, especially if I’m doing it to help someone important, like my son.

I realize that I’m far from perfect, and that the guilty secrets I hide inside myself are no different than anyone else’s. You guys are just like me, in the inside, and while we all share the commonality of failing to live up to our better nature, we also share the bond of being able to start again.

So start again.

I would love to know how you have dealt with failure in your life and/or business.  Leave me a comment below.

If you know someone who might be struggling, and just needs an extra jolt, please feel free to share.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Practicing Slowness & Being Present

In our rush to get through the tasks of our day, to complete our errands and answer emails, to look at the next video or Facebook post … when do we think we’ll find happiness?

If it’s not here right now, when will it come?

Maybe we think it’ll come when we improve our lives, or meet our goals, or succeed at our business. Maybe it’ll come when we go on that next trip, or when we find time to relax. Maybe tomorrow.

Or we could try this:

  • Slow down instead of rushing.
  • Pause to savor the current moment.
  • Really notice everything about the moment, and find small things to appreciate.
  • Be grateful for what there is right here, right now.
  • Allow the things that are bothering you to just be in your life, without fighting with them, without pushing them away.
  • Don’t allow little things to offend you. They’re not worth ruining this moment.

These are all things we already know. But we don’t actually do them. The key here is practice.

If you don’t practice being present, slowing down, enjoying the moment right now, when will you practice? What are you practicing now instead?

Start your practice this moment.

‘When you live completely in each moment, without expecting anything, you have no idea of time.’ ~Shunryu Suzuki

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[LIVE WEBINAR] “How Forward-Thinking MSPs Are Using LinkedIn To Keep Their Sales Pipeline Full”

FREE Executive Webinar for MSP Owners, Marketing Managers
and MSP Sales

 

“How Forward-Thinking MSPs Are Using LinkedIn To Keep Their Sales Pipeline Full”

WHEN: Thursday, November 19 at 1:00PM EST

SEATING IS EXTREMEMLY LIMITED!  CLAIM YOUR SEAT TODAY!!

Here are the full details and registration: http://linkedinformsps.com/linkedin-for-msps-webinar/

During this event I’ll be covering important new information on what you need to know about how to maximize LinkedIn, as well as:

  1. How to develop a LinkedIn OIL WELL
    Learn how busy MSPs like yours can create a SYSTEMATIC approach to convert cold prospects into warm leads.
  2. The Exact Script
    I’ll be giving away the exact script that you can use to achieve a 70% hit rate even with the most high-level decision makers.
  3. Getting Targeted Referrals
    step-by-step strategy for getting targeted referrals and how effective it is at opening conversations with potential clients.
  4. Staying Top Of Mind
    How to stay TOP OF MIND with the most influential people in your network for years to come. When they need IT expertise, you’re the ONLY one they think of.

If you want to make sure you have a LinkedIn strategy as part of your 2016 marketing plan, you need to be here:

http://linkedinformsps.com/linkedin-for-msps-webinar/

This event is free to you, but you must register
soon because seating is limited.

SEATING IS EXTREMEMLY LIMITED!  CLAIM YOUR SEAT TODAY!!

Here are the full details and registration:
http://linkedinformsps.com/linkedin-for-msps-webinar/

Hope to “see” you there.

Andrew Moon
Orange Nomad | LinkedIn For MSPs

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lesson 7 run it to sell it

7 Lessons I learned from building, growing and selling my IT business | Lesson 7: Run It Like You’re Going To Sell IT

When you are starting a business as an entrepreneur, you don’t really give a whole lot of thought to your exit strategy, let alone selling your business.  You are too excited with the challenge of building a great company.  You’re finally living the dream!

Your new company becomes your child in a sense.  And, let’s face it, you typically spend every waking hour taking care of it.  (If you’re like me, you dream about it too. It’s 24/7.) You forgo sleep whether intended or not.  But, you know that all the sacrifices will be worth it.

When your child is born, you don’t immediately start thinking about the day he/she moves out.  However, when you start a business, you need to plan your exit strategy from the very beginning.  Let’s face reality here.  Most of us won’t have an IPO in our future.  The more likely scenario is a sale or merger.

2004 was a year I had two “kids”.  My son was born in May, and Network Logix was reborn in September that year.  So, for me, the “child” metaphor takes on double meaning as I write this post.

Your child soon learns to walk and then to run.  It falls down and gets banged up.  Welcome to life kid.  Your “child” goes through all of life’s growing pains, and you continue to worry 24/7 like a normal “parent”.  But, you know that all the time, effort and energy will be worth it.

Soon the day comes for your kid to leave home.  In this case, the day came for me to sell my business.  That day came on June 30, 2014.

This was a bittersweet day for me.  Every waking (and sleeping) moment over the last 10 years spent thinking about my IT company had finally come to end.  It was an extremely emotional time.  But, I didn’t have much time to think about it.  I now had more work to do in order to make the transition smooth for our clients.  No rest for the weary!

As I’ve done with the other 6 posts in this series, I’d briefly like to share what I learned.  It is my hope that this information can help at least one person learn from the good and to avoid some of the pitfalls I found along the way.

My Takeaways From Selling My Business

They say that, “Hindsight is always 20/20.”  I agree with that for the most part.  Things that you learn after the fact should have been obvious all along, yet they are not always apparent when you are in the heat of the moment.  Here are the top 3 things I learned from going through the process of selling the business.

  1. Build your valuation early.  This is always the sticky part of getting a deal done.  What is your company really worth?  The short answer; your company is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.  The core “Asset” of an MSP (Managed Service Provider) is the quality of MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) and client relationships.  Fortunately, we started as a pure-play MSP in 2004, and MRR was built in from the beginning.  We did very little break-fix work, and most of our clients were with us for nearly the whole decade.  Having Raving Fans is a huge asset.
  2. Have your books and records in order.  I’m not an accountant, nor do I pretend to be one.  (I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night)  All revenue and expenses should be clearly broken out by service type.  Solid, long-term agreements with clients proves very helpful.  Make sure they are assignable too.  Non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements with employees are also key.
  3. Hire A Broker.  When it’s time to sell, find a business broker to help you.  (I’m throwing this in as a hindsight lesson.)  Having a professional broker will help eliminate any personal feelings and miscommunications, and reserve it for what it is, a business transaction.  Selling your business is an emotional thing.  Remember, it’s your baby.  Emotion can cloud your judgement, so let a broker do his thing.

If you base success on a single event as an entrepreneur, you will be disappointed.  As I look back, I have found that the most joy I derive from the last 10 years has been the journey.  The journey of building, creating, learning.  It was a wild ride, and I still have a few war wounds, but it was worth it.

As always, I welcome any thoughts or comments below.  If you found it useful, please share with a friend or colleague.  Until next time….

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7_Lessons_I_Learned_from_My_IT_Business eFolder

[Webinar] eFolder Partner Chat: Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I’m excited and honored to be a guest with one of my favorite partners, eFolder.  Please join me Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 2:00PM EST where I’ll be giving away all the things I learned from building, growing and eventually selling my MSP practice.  Register here: http://www2.efolder.net/7LessonsILearnedFromMyITBusiness

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