Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – HARD Goals

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Mark Murphy. This book will teach you an entirely new way to set goals, and when you do it will change your life.  

Brief Summary:

Mark Murphy is founder and CEO of Leadership IQ, which is a leadership consulting company. Mark and his team studied 5,000 workers from all different type of industries to understand what makes people and businesses extraordinary. He also shares stories from people like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and many of our past presidents to discover what made them achieve things most dream of doing. What he learned was that they didn’t set easy or “SMART” goals, they set HARD goals. In his book, Mark walks us through what HARD goals are and how we can achieve them. 

Things I learned from the book:

  • You must be emotionally connected to your goal, able to see and feel as if this goal is necessary to your survival and when accomplished it is the hardest thing you have ever done in your life.
  • Forget about SMART goals, and focusing on tactical and analytical goal setting. The most important part of the goal-setting process is asking yourself questions like this: “WHY do I care to accomplish this goal,” What happens if I don’t accomplish it? How is this goal going to help me reach my potential?
  • The specific part of “SMART” goals is OK, but all you do to make it specific is focus on making the goal a number. Instead, why don’t you visualize the goal, and draw it out to make it specific? If you can draw the goal being accomplished, then your mind will be more invested in completing it.

Other things I learned:

You can set and achieve HARD goals because YOU HAVE DONE IT MANY TIMES BEFORE

We have all accomplished things we never thought possible. When we do, we all have the same feeling that makes us feel on top of the world. Unfortunately, as incredible as that feeling is we as humans tend to lose it so quickly. For most, they just completely forget, and it prohibits them from remembering how they achieved things once thought impossible. So, right now at this moment think back to the last time you did set a goal and achieved it. Now ask yourself these questions?

  • Did this goal challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone?
  • DId I have a deep emotional attachment to the goal?
  • Did I have to learn new skills to accomplish it?
  • Was my personal investment in this goal such that it felt entirely necessary?
  • Could I vividly picture what it would be like to hit my goal?

What are HARD goals and How do you set HARD goals?

Heartfelt

As mentioned above, the best question to ask yourself is “Why do I care about this goal.” This is a straightforward and easy question, but yet very powerful. And to further develop a heartfelt connection Mark explains you must focus on intrinsic, personal, extrinsic connections to your goal:

    • Develop goals around things that interest you, and you have expressed passion towards
    • Who are you accomplishing this goal for? It is OK if it is not just for you but for someone else
    • Ask yourself what the payoff is?

Also, Mark discusses the idea of discovering your “Shoves and Tugs” which are moments/things that pull you away from your goal or push you towards your goal. Once you identify what these “things” are you can be more aware of them and set goals that are tailored to the tugs more than the shoves. To help, ask yourself questions like this to help yourself identify shoves and tugs:

    • Describe a time when you felt really frustrated and wanted to give up?
    • Describe a time recently when you felt really motivated, and you were totally fired up?

Animated

This is a simple task that I think most people know how to do, but don’t actually do it. A great way to think about is to ask yourself “How do I think this goal looks and feels? Literally, Draw it out. (Shape, Colors, Lighting, Distinct parts, Emotions, Movement)

Required

Most of us set goals annually and never achieve them (80% of us to be exact). Why? We want the reward immediately rather than putting in the long-term work. When it comes to goals like losing weight, saving money, and trying to improve yourself, it is easier to just eat that cake, spend that money, or not pick up that self-help book in the moment. You say, ‘well I have time. I can start tomorrow, or next week’. You have no thought of the future implications. So, how can you try to turn the goal into being a requirement and ensuring it gets accomplished?

  1. Ask yourself this: If you don’t accomplish this goal, what happens? If the implication is something you can deal with, then I bet you will not be invested enough to follow through on accomplishing the goal.
  2. Spread out the costs and rewards over the present and future: Instead of taking on the brunt of the work now, and rewarding yourself right now. You can spread it out and have small wins to avoid burnout and gain confidence.
  3. Limit your choices: If you are trying to lose weight don’t go to a restaurant that has healthy and crap food. Just, change the habit not the reward to get you thinking about breaking your goal.
  4. Focus on each day, or as I like to put it say to yourself “every day is day one.” Just focus on accomplishing today.
  5. When writing down your goals or visualizing your goals make sure you tell others you want to “lose weight” say “6 months from now I will be wearing an X size” OR say “I will be wearing those pants that I have not worn since I was young”s

Difficult

To create a difficult goal you ask yourself  questions like this:

  • How is this goal going to stretch me?
  • What will you have to learn to achieve this goal?
  • How will you have grown and what skills will you have acquired?

How has this book impacted me?

The first time I read this book I thought it was dumb, no joke. I was all for the “SMART” goal idea, but I quickly realized how I and so many others fail to actually accomplish their goals. I re-read this book about 3 years ago and went into it wanting to find a better way to set and achieve goals. Well, over the past 3 years I went from saying I was going to achieve goals to ACTUALLY achieving goals. I go through an annual goal setting process for myself personally, and I use these steps above to help me do that.

In 2017, I set 6 goals for myself: Read 25 books, reconnect with 6 people from my past, write 5 recommendations for others who I have worked with, save and invest X amount of money, build out a framework for a blog, and write a “thank you” letter to my high school teacher. I can tell you that I read 28 books, reconnected with 10 people, wrote 9 recommendations, didn’t just start my blog, but published 10 posts in 2017, and reconnected with my old teacher. My goals were crushed in 2017, and I have no doubt if I follow this process of setting HARD goals I will do it again and again.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to set your HARD goals for 2018 and beyond. You can start by purchasing the book here: Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and check out www.leadershipiq.com for more information on Mark and his company.

How to live a better life: Read books from my book list 2017/2018

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  As Warren Buffett put it best, “If I could have one superhuman power it would be to: “Read Faster.”  

I think about it like this: If you could read every book ever written in one lifetime, you would acquire so much knowledge and perspective it would be like living a billion lifetimes. How valuable and powerful would that be?

Today, I am sharing with you my 2017 BookList along with my 2018 Booklist. The books I read in 2017 impacted me in so many ways, and I believe it can do the same for you. In 2018, I will be reading another 25 books, and at the bottom, I will give you a sneak-peak on my reading list for the new year. If you don’t have time to read, NO worries-just follow my blog! Throughout the year,  I will be posting a summary and my own takeaways on each of the books below on my site.

At the bottom, please feel free to write any book recommendations you have or simply share your thoughts on any of the books below!

2017 Book List:

GIVE AND TAKE by Adam Grant

Adam Grant walks us through research and real-life examples about how “givers” in the long run tend to be more successful than “takers.” He further explains, there are three types of people givers, matchers, and takers. No surprise here, but you want to be a “giver” if you truly want to be “successful.” He shares techniques and stories about how you can become one and continue to be one throughout your life.

MINDSET: The New Psychology of Success by  Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck states in her book a simple concept. The view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. According to her research, we have two mindsets: Fixed and Growth.

Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

I was recommended this book that teaches you everything you will learn in an MBA program. An MBA costs A LOT of money, and arguably are only valuable because of “networking,” not the actual content you learn. If you can’t or don’t want to attend MBA school, this book is a great crash course on how to operate a business.

SHOE DOG by Phil Knight

This is one of my all-time favorites. It is a memoir written by Phil Knight(Founder of Nike) as he takes us on the journey from the days before starting Nike to becoming one of the most iconic brands in the world.

MIRACLE MORNING by Hal Elrod

Hal Elrod has become a keynote speaker, author, ultramarathon runner, and the creator of The Miracle Morning routine which thousands of people use every day.  He shares with you the Miracle Morning routine, and how this accident changed his life for the better, and how we can all persevere through the most desperate moments of our lives.

GRIT by Angela Duckworth

If I had the chance, Angela Duckworth is one of the top 3 people I would want to meet. She shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a unique blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” This is #2 on my top ten list, and I highly recommend you read this book. I believe, it is one of the most important books ever written.

ELON MUSK – TESLA, SPACE X AND THE QUEST FOR A FANTASTIC FUTURE by Ashlee Vance

This is a biography of Elon Musk, and the author shares with us his journey to accomplish his life goal: To Die on Mars.

POWER OF HABITS – Charles Duhigg

You want to achieve your goals. Weight Loss? Promotion? Addiction? In the book, Charles Duhigg talks about how it all starts with Habits. He does an incredible job of giving you real-life examples and actually action items you can take away to create habits that can change your life.

THE CHALLENGER SALE by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

In my opinion, the most critical sales book to ever be written. I have read this book three times and will reread it in the future. If you are in sales, marketing, operations, or a business owner. Read this book. It will teach you how you should message to your prospects and customers in the new era of technology.

BEST TEAM WINS by Adam Robinson

My CEO Adam Robinson has built Hireology into a leading HR tech software company. He shares his knowledge on how to hire the best people for your organization. The book is fantastic because if you are a business owner, HR, or hiring manager, you can use his step-by-step guide to start hiring better people today.

RELENTLESS by Tim Grover

Tim Grover was the athletic trainer for Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade. Three of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. He shares his techniques in this book, and after you read it. Damn, you will be FIRE UP, and ready to achieve anything. Trust me.

THE EVERYTHING STORE – JEFF BEZOS BIOGRAPHY by Brad Stone

This is the best biography on Jeff Bezos I have read to date. It is very in-depth look from his days before Amazon to his time now as the wealthiest person in the world.

NEW SALES SIMPLIFIED by Mike Weinberg

Easily one of my favorite sales book. Mike Weinberg was a very successful sales person selling B2C products (which is as tough as it gets) along with other unique sales jobs. He found a way to be successful at all of them, and in his book he shares his techniques.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE by Daniel Goleman

Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman’s brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our “two minds”—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny.

GENERATIONS by William Strauss and Neil Howe

William Strauss and Neil Howe share with us the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and encompassing every-one through the children of today. Their bold theory is that each generation belongs to one of four types and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern. The vision of Generations allows us to plot a recurring cycle in American history — a cycle of spiritual awakenings and secular crises — from the founding colonists through the present day and well into this millennium.

THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY by Ryan Holiday

#3 on my top 10 list. This book introduced me further into the idea of stoicism. It is absolutely incredible. It has also been very popular in the NFL, as coaches have tried to adopt a “stoic” philosophy for their team. If you want to improve yourself and accomplish anything in life, read this book.

PRESENTATION ZEN by Garr Reynolds

Best-selling author and popular speaker Garr Reynolds is back in this newly revised edition of his classic, best-selling book, Presentation Zen, in which he showed readers there is a better way to reach the audience through simplicity and storytelling, and gave them the tools to confidently design and deliver successful presentations.

EVERYBODY WRITES by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes is a go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication, because in our content-driven world, every one of us is, in fact, a writer.

EGO IS THE ENEMY by Ryan Holiday

Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes a recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.

MANS SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor Frankel

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.

CREATIVITY INC. by Ed Catmull

Ed Catmull is the Co-Founder of Pixar, and in his book, he shares the story and lessons he learned while building Pixar.  More specifically, he explains Pixar’s unique leadership practices that made them one of the most innovative and successful companies the world has ever seen.

THE ART OF POSSIBILITY by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone

Benjamin Zander’s experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander’s genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. They give you 12 practices that can help you unlock your potential. This book is incredible, and I highly recommend.

THE ENERGY BUS by Jon Gordon

The Energy Bus, an international bestseller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment – at work and at home. Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus, you’ll enjoy the ride of your life!

GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE by Giles Andreae

A children’s board book that has an incredible message that sadly we forget as we get older. The book is #5 most sold on Amazon. Highly recommend for you as an adult, and your kid.

WOODEN ON LEADERSHIP: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden

John Wooden’s goal in 41 years of coaching never changed; namely, to get maximum effort and peak performance from each of his players in the manner that best served the team. Wooden on Leadership, explains step-by-step how he pursued and accomplished this goal. Focusing on Wooden’s 12 Lessons in Leadership and his acclaimed Pyramid of Success, it outlines the mental, emotional, and physical qualities essential to building a winning organization, and shows you how to develop the skill, confidence, and competitive fire to “be at your best when your best is needed”–and teach your organization to do the same.

2018 Book List:

Biographies:

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow
Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
Eisenhower War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith
FDR by Jean Edward Smith

Books on Leadership:

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferris
Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion by Pete Carrol
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads to Failure (And What to do About It) by Michael Raynor
Who says elephants can’t dance by Louis. V. Gerstner
Education of a coach by David Halberstam
The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh
The Carpenter by Jon Gordon
True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill Sims
Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry
Power of moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
You are a badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen
The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey
High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden

Books on Sales:

The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes
Creating competitive advantage: Give Customers a Reason to Choose You Over Your Competitors by Jaynie Smith

Other:

Sapien by Yuval Harari
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. Vance
Wonder by RJ Palacio
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by George Horace Lorimer
Courage Under Fire by James Stockdale
Everything has two handles by Ronald Pies
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Be like Gerald the Giraffe, Find your music.

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s Book is Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It is currently in the top 5 most sold fiction books on Amazon.com.

Brief Summary:

A giraffe named Gerald is nervous because the annual Jungle Dance is today, and he is not confident in his ability to dance. He sees all the other animals do amazing dances, and when it’s his turn the animals all start to laugh at him because he is a giraffe and giraffes can’t dance. Quickly, he scampers off and believes that they are right, and he’s useless. While gazing at the moon, he runs into a cricket who tells him, “sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.” With the help of the cricket, Gerald hears for the first time the music in the jungle surrounding him.

Before he knows it, he is dancing. All of the animals start to catch word of Gerald’s dance moves. They can’t believe it; Gerald is the best dancer they’ve ever seen! They ask Gerald how he got so good at dancing. He says, “We all can dance when we find music that we love”.

Things I learned from this book:

  • Less is more. This book is 30 pages, and it has a very powerful message. We tend to overthink when it comes to whether or not we can do something. The message of the book is to do what you love, and you can do anything.
  • When we were newborns and toddlers we were fearless; thinking positively was the only option, and curiosity flowed through our veins. We spent hours reading books like Giraffes Can’t Dance but somewhere along the way, we forget the messages that were the foundation of our existence. It’s hard, but we need to get back to that beginner’s mindset: be curious, think positively, have fun, and don’t be afraid to fail.
  • “We all can dance” is similar to “we all are unique”. We just need to start to focus on what we love and find passion in.
  • It is OK to be different. It does not mean that you “can’t” do something. It means you just have to find your own way to do it.

Other things I learned from this book:

Find your Music:

We are all unique. It is the best part of being human. If we were all the same, the world would be a strange place. Imagine if we all danced the same way, how strange would that be? Gerald sees all the other animals dancing in certain ways, and feels like he can’t dance. What he does not realize until the end of the book is that he can dance, he just has not found music that “interests” him.

A great way to start to find your “purpose” is thinking about what interests you. You will spend hours, days, years learning and exploring these interests. This repetition and practice will lead you to find out precisely what you are most passionate about. If someone asked me how to find their purpose I would ask them what they are most passionate about. Let’s start there.

Be Yourself:

We tend to want to go with what is “cool” or “popular” instead of doing what you really want to do. We fear that others will think we are “lame” or “dumb” or “not cool”. Gerald feels this way in the book when he goes to the Jungle Dance. He feels like he has to be able to dance like the other animals or he won’t fit in. In due time, he realizes that he can dance however he wants.

If we live our lives living by someone else’s standards, we will ultimately regret the life we lived. As I have discussed in my previous posts, if you feel different that’s OK. We are all different. Don’t waste time worrying about the opinions of others. It is similar to what the cricket told Gerald when he said, “sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.” To me, this means to be you. Do what you love and create your own path.

How has this book impacted me?

If you want to reach your potential, start with doing something you love. For some people, they fail to do this and they wake up one day realizing that most of their life has been wasted in things they don’t truly enjoy. As juvenile as this may sound, don’t follow others because it seems like the cool thing to do or because everyone is doing it. Believe in yourself and your own unique story. I love sales, leadership, and seeing others achieve things they thought were not possible. I have always been interested in these things, so I started to read about topics in these three areas. Soon enough, I began to become incredibly passionate about it and launched a blog.

It seems like it can’t be that easy, but it is. Think about this, you just learned something from a CHILDREN’S BOARD BOOK. So, just like Gerald taught me, anything is possible. Giraffes CAN dance.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Time to find your music. Buy the book here!

Don’t Stop, Keep Going

After reading my prior posts, you learned that to start achieving your potential you need to be able to believe in yourself and redefine what the idea of success means. Hopefully, you have done both! If not, It’s OK. Step 1 is the hardest step to complete, and even if you do, it’s hard to maintain. Trust me. Others in your life will tempt you to follow the “rules,” and you will continuously feel tested with the vicious cycle of worrying about the past (failure) and future (success), which will try to prohibit you from making choices and taking action. You will feel like you want to give up and start to doubt yourself, but you must continue to move forward on your journey, and remind yourself of these four things:

1. Remember your “Why”:

Your “why” is your purpose which is what drives you and what wakes you up every single day. When you have moments where you want to give up, your “why” is the single most important thing to remember. You don’t need to focus on your “why” in the broader sense of your life but think about your “why” for this moment, which also allows you to be fully present. It helps you focus on what is right in front of you, and it gives you the meaning and motivation that you will need to continue forward.

Further questions to ask yourself:

Why are you here?

Why have you gotten this far?

Why do you wake up every day?

Why should you continue to move forward?

2. What you can control, and your supposed “superhuman idols” control:

Writing down what you control and what your idols control is a great exercise to help you realize that you both control the same things. Typically, people will notice three things about their role models: 1. They put in more effort. 2. They learn every day 3. They are not afraid to fail. That’s it. Understanding you can be as great as they are by noting these things is an incredibly powerful feeling.

Further questions to ask yourself:

How do they go about their improving their skill or ability?

How did they get to where they are?

How hard did they work? What specifics outside of pure talent did they do to be successful?

How many times did they fail?

3. The present moment:

Stop worrying about what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow. Focus on the here and now. In this moment, how can you just merely contribute? Ask yourself each day, what did I do to add value to the world? These questions will allow you to see how much you accomplish in just one day. You realize that you make an impact and you quickly start to understand how you have the ability to do amazing things in your life.

4. How you respond:

This goes along with the prior point of focusing on the present. What has happened in the past is what it is. Every second spent talking about regret, could have, should have, would have is time you are wasting that could be spent on moving forward. If you are serious about reaching your potential, we need to get going. We have more steps to take in this journey. Make a choice and TAKE ACTION.

You might think it can’t be that simple, but it truly is. As humans, we tend to overcomplicate EVERYTHING. It’s time to cut the bullshit. You need to WAKE UP! The good thing? It’s Day One. So, my first question to you is: Are you ready to make the choice to move forward?

Leadership Lessons from the CO-Founder of Pixar

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, every Monday I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.
Today’s book is Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. If you are a leader of a team or company you should definitely read this book, but anyone can benefit from reading it. In many ways, we are all leaders.

Brief Summary:

Ed Catmull is the Co-Founder of Pixar and in his book, he shares the story and lessons he learned while building Pixar. More specifically, he explains Pixar’s unique leadership practices that made them one of the most innovative and successful companies the world has ever seen (he also got to work side by side with Steve Jobs, so he shares very insightful conversations and things he learned from Steve. I outline one of the things I took away from their time together below).

Things I learned from the book:

  • We are all creative. As an employee (or simply a human) you have the ability to be creative. You just need to be in the right environment with the right mentorship and believe in your abilities.
  • As a leader, you must manage your employees and yourself to the unknown. Loosen the control, take risks, accept the fact that you as a leader can be wrong.
  • Ed states in the book, “The view of our past is hardly clearer than our view of the future.The past should be our teacher, not our master.” Love this quote.
  • Some of the first questions Steve Jobs ever asked Ed Catmull included: “What do you want?” and “What are your long-term goals?” As a leader, you need to find out what is important to those you are leading.
  • You must create a “safe environment” which allows employees to feel comfortable to speak up and talk to anyone regardless of title. This is extremely important for all leaders because most tend to just manage up and forget about managing down. Ed realized quickly that the latter was possibly even more important.
  • Every company has problems and the cost of not finding the problem is much more than the cost of fixing them once they happen.
  • Hire people who you believe you could work for one day and that you believe are smarter than you. So many people do not follow this advice. I truly believe most leaders are intimidated or scared to hire someone who threatens their intelligence or job because they may have a higher ceiling.
  • As Ed learned from George Lucas, you must follow the process, but do not lose sight of the end goal. Employees will come and go, but keep moving forward even if you do not know where you are headed.
  • All teams and employees matter. If one team or one employee fails to achieve their goal, then we all fail. You must have a mentality and culture that lets everyone know that what they do is vital to the company’s success.
  • As a leader, you must learn to see problems before they happen, which is very difficult. Your employees typically know or see the problems before you. It’s simple. Just ask them, because typically they are too afraid to tell you.
  • A culture that is innovative and achieves their end goal is able to meet “unexpected problems with unexpected responses”.

Other things I learned:

Ask the right questions, and focus on what you value as a company

Ed explains how he got advice from Silicon Valley experts about how to price Pixar’s first imaging computer. Their advice was to price high to start, and if necessary you can always lower it. He quickly learned that was a mistake. He took advice without asking questions.
Pixar gained the reputation of being powerful but too expensive. Because of this, their sales got off to a slow start. He realized he failed to ask the right questions, and should have been focused on what he and the company valued. Meeting the expectations of customers and investing in software development so customers could get more value in their product were their priorities.

Focus more on the end result than the actual process

Making the process cheaper and trying to perfect it is OK, but that cannot be the goal. The goal is to get to your end result. Ed explains that he sees so many companies focused on fixing and streamlining the “process” which leads to groups thinking they are doing the right things. But it ultimately limits communications between teams and blinds you from what the real problem is. This leads to teams becoming distracted from the end goal. This is a mindset I believe everyone should possess. A team or company needs to have one specific end goal, and everyone then needs to be aligned with that goal. You must set the end goal prior to setting short-term goals. This is so simple, yet so many companies and teams fail to understand this. The process will look like a roller coaster and that is ok. Hitting the end goal is all that matters.

Change is Good

Successful companies and people tend to view any change as a threat to the company culture or way things work. It is easier for people to hold onto processes and things that work and just stick to what they know. The ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ model to some is the winning model, and shockingly most companies fall into this trap. Most people don’t want to hear that no matter what you do things change. The key to a successful company or even an individual reaching the end goal is by changing and evolving. If we try to tighten our control over what we already know and choose not to change, then we impede our creativeness. And just a side note, Ed discusses the person who changed his mind the most of out of anyone he knew… Steve Jobs.

Trust your employees at all levels to find solutions

Big and small problems should be treated the same, and you should create a response structure that matches the problem structure. In a creative and innovative environment, people are allowed to solve problems with no permissions and we are OK with people making mistakes. The person or team can then solve the problem, and it allows the company to catch a problem early on. Don’t wait to get approval or the problem could destroy your business.

Leadership and life lesson from someone who worked side by side with Steve Jobs

As I mentioned, Ed had the unique experience to work with Steve Jobs. After working so closely with Steve, he shares his definition of the world people believe Steve Jobs lived in which they call the “Reality Distortion Field”. Here is Ed’s definition after his time with Steve:
“It stems from my belief that our decisions and actions have consequences and that those consequences shape our future. Our actions change our reality. Our intentions matter. Most people believe that their actions have consequences but don’t think through the implications of that belief. But Steve did. He believed, as I do, that it is precisely by acting on our intentions and staying true to our values that we change the world.”
To me, it seems as if Steve Jobs was just human, and he lived in the same world we lived in. He just did something really well and he believed in his abilities. He didn’t stop. He kept going and he reached his end result. He changed the world.

How has this book impacted me?

From a leadership standpoint, my number 1 goal is to strive to help my reps become not just better salespeople but better individuals. The idea of focusing on the unknown is exactly how you can do that, and Ed lays out very simple practices that you can follow to help create this environment where people can reach their full potential.
As an Individual, one of my core values is to learn every day and learning from other people on how they achieved their potential is easily the best way to learn. This book specifically was helpful because it solidified some of the leadership ideas and personal values that I am so passionate about. After reading a book like this, it shows me how simple life is at its core and how people like Ed Catmull became successful doing things that you and I can do. As long as I focus on trying to learn every day and have a laser focus on my end goal, nothing can stop me.
Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to lead your team and yourself into the unknown. And purchase the book here: Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration