The bald guy in my head

NOTE: This content was originally published on Squidoo. Since that site closed, I decided to move it here as historical record more than anything else rather than let it disappear altogether.

Or how my life has changed in six short months.

Photo Credit: James Jordan on flickr

The blog post asked – “If you could change your life, would you?” I thought the answer was yes. I thought I wanted to. I thought I was ready.

I had no idea just what I was getting in to … .

Change – real change – doesn’t come easy. There were many tears shed, many headaches, many frustrations along the way to making me who I am now. But change did happen.

What I do with that change, how I sustain it, how I continue it – that’s all on me now. But there’s a little bald guy in my head now who continues to poke, push and prod as I head down the path. I will forever be grateful to Seth for his generosity and unrelenting pushing that started me along this route. May I live up to your hopes for me and my expectations for myself.

Here’s a recap of one humongoidist (I’m allowed to make up words now) thing that changed for me and the three biggest lessons I walked away with from the program. May they inspire you as you seek change in your life as well.

Change in Perspective

Photo Credit: extranoise on flickr

This part isn’t so easy to explain, because it’s so personal. But the reason my life changed isn’t because I learned how to read an income statement or how venture capital works or a fancy method for setting a marketing strategy.

What changed my life was a change in perspective. About myself. About what is possible. About what is possible for me.

More than any skill I learned, any philosophy I heard, any book I read – the slow rotation in how I looked at the world in general and myself in particular has meant a sea change in how I approach life and my options. I’ve gained the courage to be as bold as I always wanted to be and the knowledge to make those bold moves effective.

Ask the Right Questions

Photo Credit: alexanderdrachmann on flickr

Questions come in two kinds – the right ones and the wrong ones. And I learned two things about asking them.

Sometimes, the question being asked is part of a game you can’t win. The proposal is asking for one thing and there’s no way to stand out from the crowd by actually answering it. Sometimes, the question being asked is just the wrong question.

Change the question.

Doing so better serves your boss, client, prospect, spouse. And better serves you by resetting the ground rules in your favor.

Part of how you know you’re asking the right question is because you start at the very beginning. It’s tempting as marketers to jump into tactical questions – should we start a blog, did we get a Twitter account, we should get it in red.

But the right place to start is long before that. What is the goal? We get distracted by the shiny and fun things we can do and often forget to ask whether we should even do those things. Even if we ask the right questions about audience and action, we forget to really drill down for a goal. And until we know that, the tactics can become just a game of running in circles.

Ideas Are Worthless

Photo Credit: Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis on flickr

I am an idea hamster. It’s a huge part of how I see myself and part of the value I feel I bring. It’s certainly why people think I’m creative and value my input.

So the first time Seth ever said that ideas were worthless, I bleated in protest. (And it was a bleat. I was far from being ready to really challenge him yet.)

It took a long time for me to come around on this one, but … he’s right.

I have files and lists and boxes full of ideas. Idea for Squidoo lenses, ideas for blog posts, ideas for books, ideas for home decor. But as long as those things remain just files and lists and boxes, they are worthless. They don’t earn me anything, deliver value to any readers, bring me any joy.

Their worth only comes as a result of executing the idea. Execution (or shipping, as Seth likes to say) is the key to unlocking the value in an idea. But often we idea hamsters are so in love with generating ideas, we never do anything with them. And that’s an unfortunate fail.

There is No Right Way

Photo Credit: optimal_tweezers on flickr

There is no right way. There is no right way. There is no right way.

I believe this now. I really do. But it’s still easy to get trapped in the fear of uncertainty, the desire for perfection, the need to look good.

Because that’s the path of the person who thinks there’s a “right” way, a “right” answer, a “right” solution when it comes to marketing.

There are right answers in math. There are right answers in physics. But in marketing?

Waiting for the right answer leads to exactly that – waiting. Sometimes, you have to take your best guess, jump off the cliff and see what happens. It works more like a video game than reality because if that tactic crashes and burns, you can always shift and jump again. But waiting for perfection means you never ship. And not shipping? Takes us back to worthless effort. (See the above point if you’ve forgotten it already.)

Books I Read

This is likely to be a long list when I’m done. But here’s a start to the books I’ve read in the past six months while in this program.

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