Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quit the Bull@$#! 30 Day Challenge

WARNING: This is not a feel good motivation post. It contains explicit language and serious advice.

At the time of this post we are 7 months into the year. That's 181 days since you made that New Years Resolution. By the way, hows that going for you?

Let's cut to the chase, for the last 4344 hours you've been bullshitting. All the tough talk about changing things up and taking charge isn't fooling anyone.
Some of you have even have gone as far as to make you declarations public, not knowing this actually makes you less likely to follow through.

Keep it 100% with yourself. What you've been doing for the last 7 months isn't working.

Now is the time to quit the bullshit.  Let's try something different for a change.

Problem 1: “I have a degree I don’t use and work a job I hate but I heard unemployment for 20-somethings is like 40%, so I could be doing worse.”

Ummm no. Considering the number of resources you've been provided, you should be doing more.

Reality: You’ve been afforded more privileges and opportunity than any of your ancestors. You live in the safest period in the history of civilization. Never has there been so much information so readily available for FREE. You can sit in on lectures from Ivy League schools like Harvard, MIT, Stanford from the comfort of your couch. Not to mention technology has all but removed the six degrees of separation granting you access to great thinkers and trailblazers.

All this at your disposal and the cards stacked in your favor, yet last spring all I saw was this.
A bunch of hipsters with their student loan debt around their neck, complaining about how they were forced to be a philosophy major and take 6 years to complete their degree.

All this victimhood talk from the top 1% of the planet.

Let's be real with ourselves. A large part of our current circumstances are a direct reflection of our choices. Take the economy for an example, a thing that has never been in anyones control,  the economy has never been in your control, it is now blamed  as if its sole purpose is to benefit you.

This self defeating jump in logic neglects one of the key concepts in getting ahead. You must first plan like a successful person before you can begin to act like one. Deflecting blame onto something that has never been in your control, while ignoring the number of tools you have access to is ass backwards.

Part of planning is thinking ahead and strategizing. Put yourself on the stand and cross examine your most recent failures and successes. What could you do differently, what will you do next time.

So often blame is put on something else when we ourselves are at fault. Acknowledging and moving on from the conclusions reached through the self-examination will aide you tremendously in looking ahead and preparing for success.

Problem 2: "This is it! I'm for real this time, I'm gonna try it the exact same way but with like way more enthusiasm and motivation.

Word? Hit me when you see some results.

Reality: Quit being so damn mean! No, not in the traditional definition of the word mean  but in the mathematical sense. You're average. You're a regular dude, with average ambition and drive. Unfortunately you live in a society that values achivement (supposedly) and (symbols of) success. More about these in a future post.

Equally average are your peers. You all talk about average shit and get average results. Small victories make you feel good because you compare yourselves to the lowest common denominator.

Average people don't speak in specifics. They use words like "maybe", "probably" "sometime" and "usually" when describing their goals. It should come as no surprise that they only "sometime" get what they "usually" want but "probably" not. (See how  I did that?)

Solution: Develop a gameplan. Try hacking your habits by creating and tracking a productive one and breaking a non-productive one.

1. Download "Don't Break the Chain" on your iPhone or Android and plan for adopting a new productive habit like waking up 30 minutes earlier each day or spending time reading a book instead of surfing the web before bed.

2. Try breaking a non-productive habit while working on your new productive one. Doing both concurrently will yield superior results. Can you imagine having more time everyday to accomplish stuff that actually matters.

3. Track your progress with the productivity app "Don't Break the Chain" by marking off the days you complete. Try and go 30 days without missing a day. Repetition is the key to making a habit stick. Motivation will only get you so far. The goal is to effect behavioral change by implementing a system. The system will keep you honest when your motivation begins to wane.

3. Set reminders/alarms to keep you accountable and  specific checkpoints to track your progress.

DON'T tell everyone what you plan on doing. STFU and just do it. The proof is in the pudding, not your tweet or Instagram pictures.

The Final Step

You're probably feeling really motivated right now. Some of you may plan on starting the "Quit the Bullshit" 30 day challenge next week. If this is you, don't wait until the right day. Start shaking things up NOW.
Putting things off until the right time is procrastination. It makes you feel good for the moment but nothing beats finishing the real thing so start immediately.

Let's finish the year strong by destroying old ways of thinking and developing news of doing. Get to work!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Social Influence Primer: Lessons from the Pros

As LeBron James answered questions from the press about the journey to his first championship I couldn't help but think of  the importance of William Wesley. If his name doesn't sound familiar thats purposelly so. "Worldwide Wes" as he's known in many circles keeps a notoriously low profile.

So low in fact that Henry Abott of True Hoop blog launched a journalist investigation into what he actually does. GQ even went as far as to ask if he is "The Most Powerful Man in Sports?".  One thing that isn't questioned is his ability to penetrate the tight inner circles of NBA superstars and his influence in the world of sports and business. Seemingly working for everyone and no one at the same time Wes represents a new kind of social engieer.

Providing purposeful connections, with no apparent ulterior motive. I highly recommend you read both articles in order to get the most from this particular post.

How does a guy whose name isn't Phil Knight or David Stern manage to be involved in so many deals with elite athletes? Wes' rise to power is an amazing experiment in demonstrating social value, influence and utility. Here's how to leverage your own strengths in a similar fashion.

Infiltrate and Create Value

If there is one thing to know about social groups is that they are always in a state of influx/outflux. Members are constantly being introduced and removed as the group seeks to keep equilibrium with changing norms, values and goals. Many outsiders fail to make it pass the introduction phase because they come off as awkward, desperate and irritating.

Simply put, they don't bring anything new or useful to the table. Being interesting, charming,  or witty won't get you far unless these skills are considered useful to the group dynamic. A great example from Worldwide Wes was his time spent as a sales rep at Pro Shoes, a sneaker store that many college hoop stars frequented for the latest kicks.

Any salesman will tell you the importance of understanding your customer and providing value. Demonstrating value can be done in a number of ways;  niche expertise, connections, discounts, etc.

Developing relationships with soon to be millionaires while they are just hundred-aires and nurturing that relationship was key. Ask yourself this, on your last night out at a dinner party , what value did you actually bring?

-Did you introduce two strangers who share the same interests and passion, ultimately providing a solution through the connection?

-Did you make any new contacts, exchange info and follow-up?

or did you talk to the same people about the same stuff that you always do and post instagram photos of your dish?

Understanding a Powerful Social Concept: Implied Reciprocity
Social groups are alot like balance sheets, meaning there are assets and liabilites. Those deemed as assets get the invites to the parties, trips, job promotions, etc. You can imagine what happens to people who are considered liabilites. Non-returned calls, avoidance and ultimately ex-communication from the group.

One phrase that is repeated from the likes of LeBron and others when asked about their relationship with Wes is, "He never asked for anything".  Let's consider that for a moment.....

Professional athletes for the most part are young, super-rich, famous and are constantly pusued by an army of attorneys, jewelers, family members, friends and women all chomping at the bit for a piece of the action. Naturally they are on guard to any outsiders and keep those outside the core group at arms length. Trust is paramount whenever millions are involved.

Chances are you've been out to a nightclub and have witnessed the long lines at the door. Would be patrons desperately bargain with the promoter or doorman about the entry fee, bottle prices and guest list.

Meanwhile inside the club you witness equally desperate women trying to shimmy their way to the nearest table for a free drink.

Both of these sets are social pariah. Hopelessly looking for a shortcut and hookup while providing nothing in return. Do not let this be you!

The key difference that will prevent you from falling in this group is that you will under promise and over deliver. That's it.

Talk a small game but bring HUGE results.

Taking  a page from the pros, you should be actively downplaying your ability, then unleashing it at the most oppurtune time. You can see this strategy deployed when someone offers that just in time referral that leads to something that benefits all parties involved.

There's an ancient Sicilian motto that goes, "Don't do favors, accumulate debts."  The pessimist will look at it as manipulative, the socially intelligent will recognize it for what it actually suggests.

Be selfless, giving, and unassuming. Expect nothing in return for your efforts but understand that the value you provide others will return to you ten-fold.