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You’re Gossiping and You Don’t Even Know It

GOSSIPING

People say all the time “I never gossip” but unfortunately many of them are mistaken. 

They do participate in gossip, they just don’t realize it. 

Because we think of gossiping as “telling” secrets we’ve heard; but there’s more to it than that. 

To listen to gossip is to participate in gossip. 

Why?

Because when you listen to gossip you create a clearing and an environment for an emotional person to propagate their story. 

In other words you give a gossiper an audience. And that invites and encourages them to continue talking about whatever it is that they are talking about. 

Listening to gossip will at minimum make the person feel more validated and at most fan their flame to share even more. 

Because it’s hard to listen to gossip and not be agreeable and supportive of the person you’re listening to. It’s human nature to want to empathize with another person- especially when they’re frustrated or complaining. 

But by doing that you become an active member of the gossip crowd. You are advancing what is being said. 

So how do you know if what you are listening to is gossip?

Simple: Gossip is anything even remotely negative being said about a person who isn’t there. 

The moment someone you are talking to starts talking negative about another person you have immediately crossed into the gossip zone. 

And remember if you’re listening to gossip then you are participating in gossip. 

So how should you respond?

Also simple: You interrupt the person as quickly and politely yet firmly as possible and say “Hey, hopefully you don’t mind but I actually made a resolution this year that I would not talk negatively about or listen to negative talk about someone who isn’t in the room with me. I do want to support you and be a good friend though and the biggest thing I’ve learned that helps is to go talk directly with ________. I think that would probably help.”

This of course is simple but not easy. 

And yes you may lose some friends over this. And the ones you lose will probably be vocal about you being on your high horse because misery loves company and misery often gets angry when their company moves on and leaves them alone. 

But it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, the person who isn’t there, and the person who is frustrated. 

Because, as Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with saying: Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

My Morning Routine

morning routine

How you start each day has huge implications for the success of each day and thereby the eventual success of your life.

Today I was asked by someone what my morning routine is and I thought to share it here. It is something I’m very disciplined about and that I’ve compiled from learning from lots of different people.

1. Gratitude – The very second the alarm goes off I hit snooze once and stay in bed and immediately start thinking about all that I am grateful for. Don’t fall back asleep, but I spend the first few minutes each day snuggling wifey and thinking of all I’m grateful for. I learned this from Darren Hardy.

2. Scripture – The next time the alarm goes off I get up immediately and go sit down and read scripture. My goal is to have the first words that pass my eyeballs and enter my mind each day be scripture. My friend and partner Steve Reiner once taught me that I want to sew scripture deep into every fabric of my soul. I usually read one passage but I read it slowly, one word at a time, which Tim Keller talks about in his book on prayer. Then I pray.

3. Affirmations – On my phone notes I keep several different lists of affirmations. I rotate each day on which ones I read. Most frequently for the past 7 years I’ve read my “Millionaire Mind” affirmations that I got from T Harv Eker. I also rotate reading through our Southwestern Consulting company Creed, Partners Pact, and Manifesto

4. Wifey Goals – Randomly I started reading AJ’s goals each morning and it became such a powerful way to reinforce and remind me to serve and support her. It is very intentional that I read hers before I read mine. This is a very similar reason why I read our company credos as well.

5. My Goals – I have a list of personal goals (targets I’m pursuing), a list of personal visions (moments I want to experience in the future), and a list of visions for the company. I usually rotate reading through these next.  

6. Social Media Post – Each morning I write a custom post that has one unique lesson that I’ve typically recently learned. My goal is to write something that inspires people for their day like a shot of motivational espresso. Even on days I don’t feel like it, I find something to say because as my friend Jay Baer taught me, “media companies don’t publish on inspiration but perspiration.”

7. Exercise – Then I get up and go workout. As my friend and new SWC Partner, Dana Potthoff once taught me, “I try to get to the gym before my body has time to wake up and convince me otherwise.”

Many of these habits were taught to me and ingrained during my summers with Southwestern Advantage, and as you can see are also made up from other people I’ve learned from.

You can check out Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning on this for more about morning routines.

So, how do you start your mornings?

Variable Time: 1 Idea That Can Cost You or Make You Millions

variable time

A key expense that we manage and consider regularly in business is “variable cost.”

That is, all of the financial costs that go up proportionately with each additional unit of production. Variable costs (often interchangeably referred to as Cost Of Goods Sold – COGS) are the ones “you can never get away from” because they always go up as your sales go up.

Business leaders work relentlessly to get COGS down – often through economies of scale at larger production quantities – because that is the best way to make addition margin in each additional sale.

What is frequently overlooked by business leaders, and is potentially becoming even more valuable than variable cost, is “Variable Time.”

Variable Time is the amount of additional time required to produce one additional unit.

Since we often pay people money in exchange for their time, any additional time that is added also has an additional cost.

Anything that costs you time, costs you money.

Anything that saves you time, saves you money.

So the question that results from considering Variable Time is: “What could we do to reduce the amount of additional time each new unit requires?”

That question typically receives much less attention, if any, from leaders because it isn’t a line item on their P&L (well it is in the form of paying people but it isn’t segmented into productive time and wasted time) and they don’t create a budget for it.

At the executive level, when you’re considering a new product line, a new service, or a new initiative it would be expected – often even required – to map out how much money you will have to invest.

But what almost never gets presented and thought through is how much time it will take people.

You scrutinize and work to control every cost, but do you equally scrutinize every use of every person’s time?

The next generation of cost savings will be more about saving time than saving money.

When you start to evaluate decisions factoring in “Variable Time” you eventually come to the place of asking: “How can we make additional money without adding ANY additional time?”

And that is a genius question to ask!

Because that is a way to create profitability for you at the highest margin of all: zero variable time!

You might think “well yes, that’d be great Rory, but what could you possibly do that would really make you more money without requiring additional Variable Time?”

Actually the answer is, “lots of things”.

Here are a few examples:

1. Raise your price – Inflation goes up. Costs of living go up and so your prices every once in awhile should go up. Same amount of time on your end but more profits.

2. Charge an activation fee – Chances are you are incurring very legitimate additional expenses of both time and money to setup new clients, so it can be very fair to charge an activation fee and can actually increase the service experience your new customers have because you have resources dedicated to staff it (It also can improve retention). It’s charging for work you’re already doing.

3. Create recurring contracts – Instead of selling it for just one use, one term, or one project, simply change your sales talk to say “this is an ongoing relationship and we work with clients for x# of cycles”. That creates predictable revenue and reduces the potential future selling time needed to create the same revenue dollar.

4. Go Digital – Depending on your industry or product, convert a physical offering that has to be mailed and shipped to instead being virtual. Or if that doesn’t work, just add an additional digital element to your physical offering and bundle them together at an increased cost.

5. Target a higher end clientele – It (theoretically) takes the same amount of time to sell to a wealthy customer as it does to a less financially able customer, but one will typically buy more and buy higher margin goods than the other.

6. Keep an existing client – It’s typically much more profitable to sell to or continue on with existing clients than with new clients. Yet, sometimes we’re so focused on new business that we don’t take care of our current business. Even if a new customer makes you the same amount of money as an existing one, it will always cost you more in variable time.

7. Monetize your waste – Many companies, like manufacturers, produce waste that often can be converted fairly easily into dollars. Someone out there is likely building something or doing something with a raw material that is an unnecessary output of your core offering.

8. Get paid for results – Again, depending on your business model, it might work to be paid for your results instead of your time. Ask for a percentage of the success you help create instead of just being paid an hourly rate. Same amount of time but potentially a lot more money if it makes sense to structure things that way.  

9. Outsource – Hire other people to do things for you that can happen at a lower hourly rate than you can earn if you focus on certain higher income producing activities. A good example of this is bringing in someone to train your team for you (like we do at Southwestern Consulting) to do things like grow revenues. Even if you’re a small company, you can do things like Arnie Malham (link to my podcast interview with him) and pay your people to read books. Books are one of the fastest, cheapest, and best ways to train your people and it costs you zero time.

All of these items are examples of ways to potentially add profitability to your company without adding much or any additional time.

It’s not these examples that really matter though. It’s the consideration of “Variable Time.”

It’s your thinking that matters.

Because when the leaders thinking advances, it advances everyone.

Letting Go of What Others Think

 

think

So much of the pressure we feel, so much of our stress, is the result of trying to manicure the impression that other people have about us.

We want them to like us.

We want them to respect us.

We want them to think that we are good looking, successful, or important.

Whether it is bosses, friends, clients, and even sometimes strangers that we barely know, these forces have an incredible power over our lives.

While there’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, it can be exhausting and empty to be perpetually trying to impress those people around you.

Because trying to control anything that we don’t have control over is exhausting.

But there is something especially taxing about being concerned with what other people think about us. Because not only do we have to be evaluating whether or not they feel that way or they don’t feel a certain way about us, but then we also expend an extraordinary amount of emotional energy trying to decipher or clarify in our own minds as to why or why not.

This causes us to create theories, invent stories, and to hyper analyze our past experiences with them.

The byproduct of which can sometimes make us feel like they are holding us hostage when in reality it is ourselves holding us hostage.

So instead, what if we just let all that go? What if we refocused the energy that we expend on being concerned with what other people think about us to instead be invested productively into serving others and doing the work that helps us achieve our goals?

What if we trusted that we don’t have to concern ourselves so much with what other people think and allow our work to enable them to create their own informed impressions?

And if self-awareness isn’t enough for you to start letting go, then consider this…

Just as you spend so much time wondering how you appear to others, and what they think of you, realize that they don’t have time to be thinking about you.

Why?

Because like you they are too busy thinking about themselves!

They are thinking about what other people think about them.

You find, as the old saying goes, you stop worrying about what other people think about you when you realize how seldom they actually do.

So let those negative thoughts disappear.

Let those insecurities die.

And let your time to be freed up to focus on other people instead of yourself.

Not only will you find more success, but you will find it coming to you with much less stress.

The Misunderstood Truth About Conflict Resolution

conflict

We spend too much time trying to convince people that we are right and not enough time just caring for the people we are talking to.

No one cares if you were right or wrong.

No one cares if you were accurate or inaccurate.

No one cares if you did say that specifically verbatim or you didn’t.

Because as Maya Angelou so eloquently articulated, “people don’t remember what you said, all they remember is how you made them feel.”

So it doesn’t really matter if you did someone wrong or you didn’t – if they feel like you did then you did.

It doesn’t really matter if you lied or didn’t – if someone feels like you were dishonest then you were.

It doesn’t really matter if you were mean or you weren’t – if they feel like you disrespected them then you did.

We spend too much time splitting hairs over the actual semantics that were used or the specific minute details of what happened – and none of it matters.

What matters is how you make people feel.

Do you make them feel cared for?

Do you make them feel appreciated?

Do you make them feel loved?

Do you make them feel heard?

Do you make them feel sincerely apologized to?

Or do you make people feel manipulated?

Do you make people feel intimidated?

Do you make people feel unimportant?

Do you make people feel like they’re the one who is always wrong?

And although you can’t ultimately control other people’s feelings, it’s still a worthwhile use of your intention to focus on for two reasons:

 1. It helps you focus on what is productive with others and it keeps you from being distracted with the trivial details of disputes

2. It causes you to do the right things

Why?

Because there is only one sustainable way to make people feel a certain way…

It is to actually feel that way about them!

People have an uncanny sense of distinguishing between how someone says they feel and how they really feel.

Which means you have to do the work of actually caring for them.

You have to do the work of actually looking after them.

You have to do the work of actually loving them.

And that is often difficult, disciplined, but worthwhile work.

It’s difficult and it requires discipline because it requires us to get outside of ourselves.

It requires us to let go of what we want, our need to feel validated, and our desire to be proven right.

And we instead trade that in for a chance to serve.

A chance to listen.

And a chance to look after someone else.

So the question is not about what you did or didn’t do.

The only question that matters is “how did you leave them feeling?”

The Myth of the “Lifestyle Entrepreneur”

entspannter-geschftsmann-sitzt-im-bro-mit-fen-auf-dem-schreibtisch-54936109

There is a false dream being overly sold today. 

It’s is the facade of The Lifestyle Entrepreneur. 

It typically includes messages like work from anywhere, set your own schedule, be your own boss, drive a Bentley, and make passive income without doing anything. 

It’s a damaging dream because it’s a lie. 

My problem is not with the promotion of all the things you can have, such as some of those listed above. 

All of those things can become true…eventually. And there are lots of different types of pay for performance business models that can yield them over time. 

My problem isn’t with the dream they are selling, my problem is the dishonesty about what it takes to get there. 

Because the reality is that anyone who has built a successful business has worked their freaking butt off with really long hours, for a really long time. 

They have sacrificed and saved, they have hustled and worked, and they have been beaten down over and over and over again long before they ever had any of those things. 

Real achievers have tried and failed. They started over and got slammed. They kept at it when it never looked like they would make it. But they stayed committed, they fought, they bounced back and went through piles and piles of muck and mounds of setbacks. 

They’ve had a thousand opportunities to embrace any number of justifiable excuses that would have been accepted by any other reasonable person – yet they turned their back on those “outs.”

Every “Lifestyle Entrepreneur” I know that has actually made it is someone who has worked relentlessly to get where they are and they make no mistake about what it’s taken to get there.  

The people who have successfully built businesses are easy to spot because they are the ones who are talking about the truth. 

They are talking about how hard you have to work to get there. They are talking about all of the rejection you have to endure. They are talking about how many times they failed. 

Successful people have unmistakably learned that you do what you have to do until you’ve earned the right do what you want to do. 

So while they may have some shiny toys, big brands, and large followings, they would never promote how easy it is to get there because they know full well that it’s a lie. 

Robert Herjavec from the Shark Tank said it pretty well when he said, “If you are under the illusion that you can start a business and run it at your life’s schedule, you are mistaken. The business is like a starving puppy-when it needs to eat, then it needs to eat regardless of what you have going on personally.”

Gary Vaynerchuk also captured it nicely when he dropped this truth bomb, “people leave companies to start their own business thinking that it will somehow be easier. They are badly mistaken. What they will quickly realize is that if you thought your old boss was bad, in order for your own business to succeed, your new boss had better be a slave driver.”

So if you’re allowing yourself to be convinced that there is some easy path that you’ve missed out on – don’t be. 

If you’re scrolling through social media looking at the manicured versions of other people’s lives thinking they’ve figured out something that you haven’t – quit that. 

If you’re selling yourself that if you’re being asked to work hard you’re in the wrong business – stop it. 

Because chances are that if you’re doing anything that is hard, then it probably also has integrated into it a path to many of the great things you want. 

But it won’t come easy. 

And it won’t come fast. 

And it sure isn’t going to come from jaunting gleefully around the world working only 20 hours a week. 

Quit buying into the lies. 

Quit allowing yourself to be deceived. 

And instead, put your head down and go back to work. 

When you get tired, suck it up and go back to work. 

Then, when you’re ready to quit, go back to work. 

After you’re sure you can’t take anymore go back to work. 

Once you’re completely empty, keep going back to work. 

And one day, after you’ve done that, in one direction, for a really long time, you’ll look up and realize that the “Lifestyle” you thought you missed out on became your actual reality.