Don’t just think big. Schedule big.

Great achievement begins with great thinking. The great news is that great thinking costs the same as terrible thinking. Because they are both free. But the return on great thinking is infinitely better.

As Napoleon Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich:

Whatever Your Mind Can Conceive and Believe, It Can Achieve.”

Napoleon Hill

But it’s not enough to think big thoughts, dream big dreams, or goal big goals. You have to schedule them into existence. You have to set specific times on your calendar to do the important work of bringing those goals to life. You must schedule time for research, action and creation. Even God scheduled his creation days. You have to block specific times for connecting, scripting, ordering, booking or whatever other ings your plans require.

Calendering is Key

Dedicate time on your calendar to make progress. THIS IS THE KEY to alchemizing goals, hopes and dreams into reality. So when you think big make sure to calendar big too. Like Marie Callendar.

Shopping For Goals vs Buying Them.

Thinking big is like window shopping. Which means that you walk by stores looking at things and consider buying them. But by simply thinking-shopping you don’t get to leave the store with the stuff you want. Because to actually own those things you have to buy them. And you buy your goals with time on your calendar.

The Weaponry

Before launching The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency I lead today, I thought about every aspect of the business. I had a clear image of what we would create, how it would run, who would work there, and what the culture would be like. I imagined there would be no A-holes at The Weaponry. I even baked that into the logo.

Notice the A in our logo? There’s no A-hole. Because there are no A-holes allowed at The Weaponry. And since there are 5 letters to either side of the A, this rule is as central to our beliefs as possible.

This Blog

I then thought about writing a blog to share my experiences and learnings as an entrepreneur. I could see the whole thing in my head.

My Book

A few years later I had a goal of writing a book. I envisioned what it would be about and who it would be for. I could see the book being read by people around the world.

Bringing It All To Life

All the envisioning simply let me know what I wanted. It didn’t make any of it real. (Read that sentence again.) But I then put time on my calendar to do the real work of bringing the business to life. I scheduled time every morning to write my blog. This blog. And I gave myself a deadline and dedicated time to writing the book. Today all 3 of those dreams are realer than Real Deal Holyfield. All because I dedicated time on my calendar to bring them to life.

My new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? is now published because I made time to write, edit and push the book forward on my calendar.

Key Takeaway.

Don’t just think big. Schedule big. Give the big things you want to achieve big spaces on your calendar. It’s the only way to achieve your big goals. So block time in your day today. You’ll find that working towards your biggest goals is the most rewarding way to spend your time.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

If you like messages like this you’ll also enjoy my newly published book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Be more you in 2022.

Here we are at the beginning of a new year. Just as each new day presents an opportunity for improvement, each new year presents an opportunity to write a great new chapter in the story of your life. You get to decide if this year brings rising action, a plot twist, the climax, falling action, or if pages are missing and the story doesn’t make any sense.

Remember, Life is Short and Precious.

Last Thursday night I received the type of call you never want to get. My brother-in-law, John Scufsa’s mom, Pat Marsnik, was killed in a terrible car accident. She was out with her husband Ray and brother Bob celebrating Pat and Ray’s wedding anniversary when another driver crossed into their lane near Ely, Minnesota. The accident put a final period on an outstanding story. Pat was in her early 70s and still full of twinkles. She had been an important member of my family for over 25 years. She was a wonderful, warm, friendly, funny woman who no one here on Earth was ready to part with it.

But let Pat Marsnik’s unexpected passing be a reminder that our time here is limited. You never know when your final page will be written. You have to take advantage of the time you have been given. Just like Pat did.

My Mantra for 2022.

There is a phrase that has been pinging in my brain the last few days: Be More You in 2022.

It is a reminder to do more of the things that your ideal you would do. Take on the great challenges. Grow. Go. Improve yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Develop more and better relationships. Mend fences. Heal wounds. Build bridges. Read. Learn. Travel. Go snipe hunting. Try the Rocky Mountain oyster BOGO special.

In 2022 you have to do things on your bucket list. Take initiative. Take on greater challenges. Do things that scare you. Make the year an amazing part of your story.

There is a very good chance that this is the year that Covid shrinks from lion to house cat. That’s not just my wishful thinking. There is data and science behind it, as reported in this article in the New York Times titled Reason For Hope. (Which I only read because I thought it was going to be about Bob Hope.)

Key Takeaway

Get going. Live your life as if you don’t have a lot of time left to become who you always wanted to be. Pick a couple of big things to focus on this year. Add some small, easy wins. Get a little bit better every day. And be more you in 2022.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

If you are looking for more positive ideas on growth and self-improvement check out my new book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

It’s not too late to be who you wanted to be.

At the end of a gym workout recently my son Magnus asked if we could go sit in the hot tub. I said yes, and we made our way to the pool area. When we got to the hot tub there was one other guy already in it. After we settled into the water I greeted the guy, who was staring out the window, and we began to speak. (Which is also how the song The Gambler starts.)

As the conversation proceeded I asked him where he was from and what he does for work. He shared that he grew up near Mequon, Wisconsin, the town north of Milwaukee where we both live. And when he is not hot tubbing, he works at a nice job for a good company.

Then he asked me where I was from (Vermont), where I went to school (The University of Wisconsin), and what I do for work. I told him I owned my own business. I started my own advertising and ideas agency called The Weaponry.

My pruney new hot tub friend told me The Weaponry was a cool name for an ad agency. Then he revealed to me with great resignation, ‘I always wanted to start my own business. But now I am too old.’

I asked, ‘How old are you?’

He answered, ‘I am 37.’

I shot back, ‘F**k you. I was 42 when I started The Weaponry. This is a great time to start a business. And a great time to stop making excuses.’

(I should also mention that my son Magnus was cooling off in the swimming pool at that time. So he didn’t get hit with f-shrapnel when I dropped my f-bomb.)

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

― George Eliot

Key Takeaway

If there is something you’ve always wanted to do, then do it. Do the things the kid version or young adult version of you wanted to do. You are not too old. It’s not too late. It’s time to get going. Now you have 2 weeks to plan the great thing you are going to start doing with your life in 2022.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

To make progress on your life goals, focus on them one at a time.

When you were little you started dreaming of all of the great things you would do in your lifetime. You thought of the great jobs you would have. You imagined the feats that would make you famous. You pictured the amazing things you would someday own. Like the pony, the monster truck, and the free candy vending machine in your bedroom closet that was also encrusted in candy. Because you were extra.

The Reality

As an adult, you have these ideas too. But you also have the ability to make these ideas a reality. You can start that business, take that epic trip, buy that vacation home, or create your own Hamilton. (By this I mean your own Lin-Manuel Miranda-type masterpiece. Not your own ill-fated duel to the death on the Jersey shore, Snooki.)

Dreaming Vs. Doing

My list of imagined successes is long like Duk Dong, and growing every day. The dreaming is easy. The doing is the hard part. But it’s not as hard as you might think.

To make progress towards your life goals approach them the way I approach writing this blog.

Blog Jam

Throughout each day I accumulate ideas to write about and I add them to my list of posts to create. Today, there are several hundred topics on the list.

Pick One

However, when I sit down each morning to write I have to pick one idea to focus on. That idea is in the spotlight. It gets all of my time and attention.

I do all of the work I need to do in order to transform that idea into a real post. I invest my time and my energy. I mind all the details.

I create a headline, write the body copy, and add a key takeaway. I tag the post, list a category, then add a cover photo. I proofread it. Then I hit the publish button. (Fun Fact: When proofreading this post I found that the word ‘proofread’ was misspelled.)

Another One (#DJKhaled)

Through this process, I convert ideas into real posts, one at a time. In fact, this will be my 657th post. Tomorrow morning at 6:10 am I will be writing number 658.

Key Takeaway

You can make each of your hopes, dreams, and wishes a reality by concentrating on them one at a time. Give one idea your total focus and energy. Sweat the details. Take it all the way to completion. Then take on the next idea. Don’t take on more than one thing at a time. But make sure you always have one of your goals in the spotlight. That way you are always making progress. And you are transforming the things you want to do into the things you did.

If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

If you want your pot to boil just keep the heat on.

Inc. Magazine is a great publication about entrepreneurship. I got a subscription to Inc. when I was in my early 20s. Every month I would devour the magazine. (To be clear, I did this with my mind, not my digestive system.)

From my readings I learned about every aspect of starting a business. I knew all the lingo. I knew the major influencers. I felt like I was part of the entrepreneurial tribe. I had everything I needed except my own business. Which is kind of like having everything a cowboy needs except the horse, ranch and loneliness.

I had been a subscriber to Inc. for nearly 2 decades before I became an actual entrepreneur when I opened The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency. But when I did, I was well prepared. And it was well worth the wait.

Preparing

It’s natural to give a lot of time, thought, and energy to a dream. By dream I mean things like the following:

  • Starting your own business
  • Hiking the Appalachian Trail
  • Buying a vacation home
  • Epic travel
  • Running a marathon
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Moving
  • A career change
  • Taking on a major hobby
  • Buying a motorcycle
  • Starting a club, group or society
  • Learning to dance properly
  • Writing a book
  • Streaking the Quad

Don’t get down on yourself for having a dream that you think about a lot but haven’t yet realized. Keep pouring your thoughts and energy into preparing for your dream to come true. Keep reading and studying. Learn all you can. Talk about it. Write your plans down. Know the next step you need to take to make it real.

The next steps could be saving money, finding resources, getting prices, or simply putting a date on the calendar. The key is to make directional progress instead of swirling. Because no one likes a swirly.

To boil a pot of water you have to light the burner, then just keep pouring on the heat. It won’t look like anything is happening for some time. But eventually, that water will boil. As long as you keep increasing the energy you invest in your goal and keep looking for the next step forward to take, you will make it happen.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney didn’t start his epic journey by opening Disney World. He started by reading comics. Then he made drawings. Then he made up stories and put on plays for friends. All of these are easy, small steps in the right direction. Make sure to keep taking your easy small steps. Eventually, they lead to your goals.

Key Takeaway

Set your goals. Then read, learn and prepare yourself. It may take months, years, or decades to get where you want to go. Be patient, but persistent. And keep the heat on. It’s how you make the pot boil.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Every day you can find an excuse not to do the work.

Entrepreneurship is no joke. I started my own advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry in 2016. The business requires a great deal of effort to maintain and grow. It’s not for the weak of heart, weak of mind or weak of alarm clock.

At the same time I started my business I also started writing this blog. I wanted to share my experience and learnings with others. Now I publish a new post 3 days per week. Every day except Saturday I get up at 6 am to write. On Saturdays I sleep in until 6:30 am. I’m like the ‘Time-To-Make-The-Donuts’ man. Except consuming a lot of what I’m making won’t give you diabetes.

However, almost every day I can find an excuse not to do the things I need to do to grow my business or write my blog. I can always, always find excuses not to get up and put in the work to improve our product, processes and people. I can find excuses not to write, polish, and publish the next post. But Like Forrest Gump kept on run-ning, I keep wor-king, and wri-ting.

Excuses are everywhere. And they can get you out of anything hard. In fact, excuses can make your life easier. Much easier.

Excuses are like A-holes, Taylor. Everybody’s got one.

-Sgt. O’Neill from Platoon

But every time you grab one of those excuses you are robbing yourself. You are robbing from all that you are capable of doing and becoming. You are robbing from your life’s work. You are robbing from your own personal legend. You are robbing money from your own pocket. You are robbing from your belief in yourself that you are accountable, reliable and resilient. That you are determined, focused and driven.

An excuse is like Superman’s Kryptonite. The excuse itself weakens you. It zaps you of your superpower. It makes you a very ordinary human. Which means you are Clark-Kenty. Not the super version of you that you really want to be.

Don’t touch the excuses. They only appear to be permission slips that let you sleep in, knock off early, put in half-effort, or not work at all. But they kill your momentum. They kill progress. And they sabotage your success. (Listen all y’all it’s a sabotage!)

At the end of your days, when your obituary is written and your eulogy is read, they won’t mention all the excuses you had for not doing more. They will only talk about what you did, who you were, what you accomplished and the impact you had on other people. Remember that the next time you consider grabbing an excuse.

Key Takeaway

Don’t accept the excuses life offers. Do what you are supposed to do to live into your vision for yourself. Let others take the excuses. And separate yourself from them. That alone is the difference maker. Both successful people and unsuccessful people know what they should do. The successful people actually do what they are supposed to do to make their dreams come true. Everyone else makes excuses.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

To achieve great things don’t let preparing turn into procrastinating.

We all have big things we want to do. Goals, dreams, and aspirations are easy to find. Just ask any waiter in Hollywood. What is harder to find is goals met, dreams realized and aspirations achieved.

You can spend a lot of time thinking about the great things you want to do. You can talk about your plans. You can write them down and sketch them out. You can listen to podcasts and read newsletters and books. You can go to seminars, workshops, and meet-ups. And all of those things will feel like progress

But Oklahoma sooner than later, planning and preparing simply turn into procrastination. Because there are only ever 3 things that matter in the achievement process.

The 3-Step Achievement Process

  1. Where you are now.
  2. Where you want to finish.
  3. What you need to do next.

You already know where you are. (You do know where you are, right?) So once you know where you want to finish you have to quickly move your focus to what you need to next. That is the entire planning process.

The rest is doing.

  • If you want to start your own business, you should be working on your product or service, or finding customers.
  • If you want to write a book, movie, or play, sit down and start writing. (Unless you have a standing desk.)
  • If you want to become an investor in real estate or business, freaking buy something.
  • If you want to be an entertainer, start entertaining people.
  • If you want to travel the world, go somewhere you haven’t been.
  • If you want to be a nude model, lose the turtleneck sweater.

Key Takeaway

The difference between dreamers and doers is action. Once you know what you want to accomplish find the next step forward and take it. Once you start moving the next step always reveals itself. Gobble up those next actions like Pac-Man eats dots. Then keep going until you have cleared the board and you are ready for the next level. That’s what achievers do. And you will achieve by taking action.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Are you accepting your destiny or making it happen?

There are two ways to think about life. The first is to think that everything that is happening to you, or going to happen to you, is already predetermined. Your story was handed to you, fully written, and you are simply following the script. The second way to think about life is that nothing is written. You are the one doing all the writing. The world is waiting for you to figure out the next chapter.

Driver or Passenger?

The first approach assumes that nothing is up to you. The second approach assumes that everything is up to you. Your position on this issue leads you take on two very different roles. One allows you to be passive. The second requires you to steer. It says that nothing happens until you make it happen. Like Mariah Carey.

However, there is a third option. One of the most accomplished Americans of the 20th century, and one the most quoted philosophers, said this:

“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happenin’ at the same time.”

-Forrest Gump

This Gumpism is useful in explaining the universe and our role in it. It says that there are multiple forces at play at all times. It says that there are things we get to decide and things that are out of our control. It acknowledges that we all come into this world with some predetermined conditions, whether the insurance companies like it or not.

The Dealing

We are dealt a hand of cards that we have to begin the game with. Some hands are more advantageous than others. But the game isn’t over when the dealing is done. The dealing is just the beginning.

The You Factor

Gumpian doctrine allows for our own choices and decisions. It provides room for our grit, determination, motivation and action. We have the ability to set our minds on our own course, with our own goals and our own strategic plan. We simply must recognize that we don’t get to march unimpeded towards our goals, like Michael Strahan’s phony sack of Brett Favre in 2002 (as seen in this 20 second video clip).

The Cross-Traffic

There are too many people on this planet, all with their own goals, hopes and dreams for us not to get caught up in cross-traffic and competition on the way to what we want. There are natural phenomena and acts of God (or maybe Morgan Freeman or George Burns) that become obstacles in our way. All of which make life more challenging, and more interesting.

All Things Considered

Acknowledging that there are both pre-determined and self-determined forces at play is both a comfort and a frustration. It allows you to go after what you want. But it also means you may not find it, or that it will take longer, or be different than it was in your head. Because there are nearly 8 billion bees in this hive we all share. And some of them will occasionally get in your way. When they do, you may have to yield, but you never have to stop.

Key Takeaway

We all deal with a combination of destiny and autonomy. So set your own goals, chart your own course, believe in the greatest you that you can possibly imagine. But know that you are going to experience resistance and disappointment. Perseverance is king. You may need to try again, or take a detour to get where you want to go. Don’t be easily deterred. You may simply need to wait until it is your turn to complete your mission. That is half the fun.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

My 2 goals for 2021 are More and Better.

Here we are again at the beginning of a new year. The shelves have been restocked with hope. We have resolutions to keep and gym memberships to use. Okay, so you aren’t going to the gym because of covid, and because you have some kind of exercisey-thingie at home. (I have been going to the gym, because there is no one else there.)

The Resolutionary War

I don’t make resolutions. I set goals. And I have 2 very simple goals for 2021. They cover everything I want to do this year.

My 2021 goal: To do more and better.

I want to do more on the X-axis. I want to get better on the Y-axis. And I want all of the arrows in my life pointing up and to the right.

I want to do more of everything.

  • More fun
  • More joy
  • More work
  • More growth
  • More rewards
  • More winning
  • More exercise
  • More reading
  • More adventure
  • More volunteering
  • More helping others
  • More quality time with my family
  • More time spent with friends
  • More Dinty Moore

But it’s not enough to simply do more. I want quantity and quality. Like chocolate and peanut butter. Like tastes great and less filling.

I want to do everything better.

  • Better work
  • Better play
  • Better husbanding
  • Better parenting
  • Better friending
  • Better thinking
  • Better ideas
  • Better writing
  • Better contributions
  • Better skills
  • Better quality time
  • Better health
  • Better commitments
  • Better investments
  • Better conversations
  • Better advice
  • Better leadership
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • Better Baby Buggy Bumpers

Key Takeaway

It’s impossible to know exactly what lies ahead over the next 12 months. But you can commit to growth and self-improvement. Your capacity is a matter of self-perception. Self-improvement is a mindset too. Getting your mind right is how you get your life right. So here’s to a More and Better Approach to everything in 2021.

Suddenly it is now or never for your 2020 goals.

You started 2020 with exciting goals to achieve. But the aspirations of New Year’s Day probably feel like a lifetime ago. Whether you set goals specifically for 2020, or goals to achieve in your lifetime, you began the year with something important you wanted to accomplish. If the wild ride that is 2020 has caused goal amnesia, take a moment now to remember your goals for the year. (cue the Jeopardy music…)

It’s go time.

Today is December 1st, and you are down to your last month of 2020. The next 31 days are what you have left to work with to make personal and professional progress this year. Don’t let the remaining time slip away. These are the days to remember. Cause they will not last forever.

Remember, self-imposed deadlines are the key drivers of accomplishment and self-improvement. And as Buddy knows, elf-imposed deadlines are the key drivers of elf-improvement.

Don’t worry if you can’t complete everything in 31 days. A good start is plenty valuable. In fact, the more you can accomplish in the next month, the better you will be positioned for a great 2021.

Things You Can Still Do In December

  • Lose weight
  • Start exercising
  • Read a book
  • Start writing a book
  • Begin a business
  • Create a meetup group
  • Expand your network
  • Look for a new job
  • Volunteer
  • Give Blood (A life goal I accomplished in November.)
  • Learn a new skill ( I just subscribed to Master Class)
  • Develop a new product or service
  • Take a class
  • Learn to ski, skate, scat or ska
  • Improve your business development efforts.
  • Begin to learn a new language
  • Create a plan for your financial security
  • Spend quality time with your family. (Over Thanksgiving my family focused on family game nights again.)
  • Reconnect with an old friend or family member
  • Quit smoking, drinking or drugging (It only takes one day as I wrote about here.)

Pro-gress Tip

Break the goal or project you want to make the most progress on into 31 smaller pieces. Do a little each day. Or break the goal into fewer chunks, depending on what day you first read this post. However, if you are reading this on December 31st I suggest you skip the last 2 paragraphs and get straight to work.

Remember, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. (I recommend starting with elephant ears covered in powdered sugar and cinnamon.) And the best way to complete your 2020 goals in December is 1/31st at a time.

Key Takeaway

Get going. The rest of the world may use the excuse that the end is near and give up, but the positive procrastinators say It’s Go Time! Don’t let these 31 days slip away. They are your opportunity for progress, change, new beginnings, or completion. It’s not too late to salvage 2020. Let the progress you make over the next 31 days be your holiday gift to yourself.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message today, please share it with them.