Eating Frogs: Managing Time By Doing The Worst, First
Published on 20 February 2020
As entrepreneurs and start-ups know, there is a strict limit to what you can do in a day. Elize Hattin, Smart Hub Business Manager, exchanges more time management and goal setting tips with Moonsure CEO, Chris Lorang, and explores how to focus on the fundamentals.
With a background in the fast-paced world of international ad and digital agencies, goals are naturally part of start-up strategist Chris Lorang's professional and personal life.
Chris says like most, he has personal goals, business goals and financial goals which he likes to set at the start of each year.
"I identify the things I'd like to achieve for the year, personally, for my family, my business and ask myself what do I need to do to achieve those things?”
Chris warns against overthinking the goal-setting process; simply start with a retrospective look back at the year that was.
"My business partner Glen spent some time (and maybe a little bit too much money on decent red wine) reviewing where we'd gone last year and what we wanted to achieve for this year.
"We set out three big strategic buckets of things we wanted to do and how to move those forward.
"It's not a formal thing, it's more about acknowledging the things I thought I should have done last year but didn't achieve. Let's revisit those and see how we move those forward. Then what are the other things I would love to happen and how do I make this happen?" Chris explains.
While Chris realises the importance of documenting his goals, he admits he's not 'the guy that sticks his goal on the mirror'.
"You read about the start-up guys out of Silicon Valley, the first guy that made $1 million in a day…who used to put the images of a Lamborghini and a Ferrari on the mirror…that was his visualisation of that goal. I'm not that guy!" Chris muses.
SMART TIME MANAGEMENT (OR HOW TO ACTUALLY GET STUFF DONE)
This is critical, and goal setting is such a critical part of time management. For Chris, this is where SMART goals are key; a Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Realistic goal set within what Chris calls a Time box.
Working with large corporates, Chris says a lot of what he does centres on setting objectives, essentially goals, which need to be further broken down into these factors.
"Otherwise it's loose and its airy. How do you put a KPI to something otherwise?
"For example, I want to make more money. That's not very measurable. I want to make $100,000 by the end of the year. Okay. We're starting to hone that down. We can start to break that down further to what are the steps I'm going to go through to achieve that goal?" he asks.
GOAL SETTING FOR START-UPS VS. BUSINESSES
When goal setting, Chris maintains there are different areas of focus for a start-up versus a traditional business. For start-ups and high growth companies, Chris suggests looking at strategic, operational and financial goals.
"Purpose is super important, because purpose actually aligns all those goals. Why am I here? What am I really bringing to the world? How do the goals come out of that? If it's aligned to your purpose, chances are you're more likely to achieve it.
"It goes back to a SMART goal, because you're working with milestones. What milestones do I hope to achieve by when? I want to launch by this date, I expect to have my MVP (Minimum Viable Product) built by this…what's involved with that? I want to have a beta launch by here. I want to have my first one hundred customers, and so-on." Chris explains.
Once his goals have been set, Chris then breaks these down into time boxes; or 'stories'; the actions he and his team can execute to make that story come to life.
"It gives it personality and people are more involved. What are we going to achieve this week, this month? We work in 10-day cycles, so what are we going to achieve in that period? What's that sprint to achieve that goal? and then start all over again," he says.
DON'T FALL IN LOVE WITH THE START-UP LIFE
Chris cautions against start-ups living to be start-ups.
"Some people love the start-up life; they love the "I've been building this business for three and a half years" mentality.
"The question becomes, why? It's a time management thing and a lack of goal awareness, i.e. what value do my goals bring to the business? How do I track them, how do I measure them and how do I move them forward?
"Go back to that smart thing and ask yourself, 'is it really adding value? Is that even the right thing to be doing?" he suggests. To be a successful start-up, Chris advises to fail fast and start again.
For more traditional businesses and small, regional businesses, Chris recommends Jim Collins' Good to Great approach to goal setting.
"How do I rise above? What do I do that makes me different and stand out?
"That's a BHAG; a big hairy audacious goal. You may want to be like an IKEA by the end of the year or the world's best butcher or whatever…you can benchmark it against transformation within the business," Chris suggests.
PERSONAL GOALS AND PUSH-UPS
According to Chris, setting personal goals is equally important as business goals. He says one of the major reasons start-ups fail, is due to mental health. Not having personal goals and a lack of understanding of the business journey can create risk factors likely to flare up in future.
"You're putting off your problems for another day. If you start and say, "my goal is to run around the block or do 30 minutes a day or be fit or meditate once a week or whatever, and you start to set those goals, then you're fit enough, strong enough and you're going to have enough grit to go the journey," Chris advises.
Elize shares a personal story of her own goal setting; being able to do push-ups.
"I've never been able to do push ups. It took me two years before I was able to do 10 push-ups and now I'm stronger in my upper body I can do push-ups.
"The goal that I set for this year is to do one pull-up on the bar, one pull-up. If I can do one pull up, then I can go to three and so forth and so forth.
"It's something I can work on every day I know I will achieve," Elize encourages.
FROM DISTRACTION TO ACTION
"I'm always distracted. I mean, that's the nature of an entrepreneur," Chris admits.
Elize confesses she faces the same dilemma, acknowledging it's a topic that most businesspeople never admit to or avoid talking about.
If you are always distracted, what bearing does this have on time management, or more accurately, self-management?
Chris offers two schools of thought. Firstly, time equals value; the more time applied to a task, the more value that comes out of it.
The second school of thought is experience and input equals value.
"If you allot time to a task, then you need to stick to that task, you need to stick to that time," Chris advises.
"You're not late for meetings...this does not bode well for building trust and business relationships. You're there, you're present, you listen, you're in the moment and you add value," he asserts.
Chris borrows from both schools of thought, claiming there are things you innately understand and can improve, and then there are things that warrant more time than we give them.
He says while people talk about strategy (aka goal setting), not a lot of people invest enough time in the implementation.
"Even businesses that really invest on strategy, often it just becomes execution…the hand to mouth existence. Operationally, let's just sell some stuff over here to pay for some stuff over here…it's very reactive as opposed to being proactive.
"You've got to look at that strategic layer and ask, how do I compete in the future? What's happening in the world? What are the goals I need to set to enable that to happen? It's all going to flow from there," Chris urges.
TIME MANAGING CHALLENGING CONVERSATIONS
Chris uses a scheduling program (Monday.com) to timetable specific blocks of time for focused work, even scheduling in "thinking time" before a call. When preparing for a difficult or a sales conversation, he plans and mind maps this out prior, questioning:
- Who are we talking to?
- What are they interested in?
- What are their need states?
- What do we know about them?
- Where are they in their life stage?
- How are we going to add value to that as a product?
- When is the right time to talk to them?"
- What do I hope to achieve out of this call/engagement/lunch etc?
Chris argues good preparation can help get to the result, quicker.
TIME MANAGEMENT TOMES
Both Chris and Elize agree there are countless books exploring goals and time management. They offer the following titles and experts as their go-to guides:
- Make Your Bed – Admiral William H. McRaven
His goal, he says to everyone is, "make your bed in the morning, because once you make your bed, you've achieved one goal." Everything is easy after that.
- Good to Great - James Collins
The key takeaway is discipline; to go from a good organisation to a great one you need disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined action.
- Zero to One - Peter Thiel
A philosophy and strategy for making your start-up a success via the lessons Thiel learned from founding and selling PayPal, investing in Facebook and becoming a billionaire in the process.
- Employee to Entrepreneur - Steve Glaveski
Chris says while this book is not specifically about goal setting, it outlines how to change the mindset of leaving your job behind and building something for yourself.
- Manifesting Mattise - Dr. Michelle K. Nielsen
Elize recommends this book for its great tips on clarifying personal visions, making space for the desired objectives and ways to connect with spirit.
- Unicorn Tears - Jamie Pride
Chris says this is a good one for personal goals and well-being. It's coined as the ultimate guide to avoiding start-up failure and feeling burnt out, alone, fatigued and being driven away from entrepreneurship.
- The Messy Middle - Scott Belsky
This text challenges the notion that projects grow slowly and smoothly toward success by outlining the rocky but important intermediate stages of any journey and how to survive them.
- Eat That Frog - Brian Tracy
It means to start your day with the biggest, most important, and most dreaded task you are most likely to procrastinate on. A how-to guide to discipline yourself to eat that frog first thing in the morning, every single day.
Chris suggests seeking out Anthony Robbins for more inspiration on working out what you want to achieve out of life and how.
"Robbins talks about belief systems and defined performance, which gives you action, which gives you results. If your belief system is wrong, if your purpose is wrong and you're out of whack, your goals are going to be wrong. You're not going to achieve and everything's going to be in a state of chaos."
"Siimon Reynolds, mentor to business owners worldwide, is also a great proponent of effective time (or self) management. He talks about the fact most tasks should be and can be achieved in 20 minutes. We just give them an hour," Chris says.
Chris Lorang has joined other world-class subject experts providing practical guidance and advice to start-ups during Turbo-Traction Lab 3. Turbo-Traction Lab is a hands-on program designed to build a modern business in 80 days, delivered with a ‘lab’ mindset.
An initiative of the Australian Government, in conjunction with Capital[b] Pty Ltd and Rockhampton Regional Council, Turbo-Traction Lab is a program delivered by the SmartHub.
The SmartHub encourages entrepreneurs and business owners to adopt technology and modern based best business practice to make the entire business journey more profitable, more enjoyable, more effective and more efficient.
Being part of the SmartHub gives local business owners opportunities to meet with and learn from mentors, to help them learn the discipline required to succeed in business.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming part of the SmartHub, contact us via the following channels:
Phone: 07 4936 8444
In person: Customs House, 208 Quay Street, Rockhampton for a personal tour.