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QI-006: A Simple Goal Setting Exercise for Turning Your Great Ideas Into Reality.

Today I want to talk to you about something that sounds simple:  Your goals.  I know, right, duh, of course you have goals.  Don’t blow this off – we’re going to go further today.  In today’s show I’m going to walk you through an exercise you can do from time-to-time to bring clarity to your goals and better focus to your efforts.  I will show you how just sitting for one hour to think through some deceptively simple questions will not only give you amazing insight into yourself, it will also help you prioritize and better position yourself for success.  Note:  These are show notes only from the QI-006 podcast episode.  They are not the full transcript. 

Get ready, you may end up surprised at what you learn about yourself!

Before I get into the goal-setting exercise I have for you today, as a reminder, the QI podcast is now aimed primary at innovators, startups, entrepreneurs, and anyone else working on their own great idea.  Here you’ll get the advice, tips, and inspiration you need to make it a reality.   I changed the show format recently and am loving the new direction!  In fact, I even put in a new tagline which is now on the banner of the website, “Helping you turn your great ideas into reality”.

I also pointed listeners to some blog postings since I last recorded in case they’ve not seen them. One was about a promotion run by Intuit on QuickBooks that was poorly executed.  I used the posting to talk about how how NOT to run a promotion.  Second posting I highlighted here is “Make the Most of Your Marketing Campaigns – 5 Quick Tips”.  I learned all of this stuff the hard way.  

I then had a sidebar discussion of why you need accounting software like QuickBooks. Serious innovators, startups and entrepreneurs NEED to be using some kind of accounting software.  I’ve used Quickbooks for more than 10 years and highly recommend it.  I do earn a small commission if you buy Quickbooks by clicking here.  But I will also still earn a small commission and save you some money if you buy it using this Amazon link instead.  

Moving on …

Today’s show is all about you.  Technically, every show is about you.  But today is more personal.  It’s about your goals, what you’re really good at, and what you’re not so good at. 

Like I said, deceptively in the intro, this exercise starts with some deceptively simple questions.  They are: 

  • What are your goals?
  • What are you really good at or love to do?
  • What you not so good at or don’t like to do? (even if you are good at doing it)

Then I have one more question after we get through these first three.  That will come later.

Most people blow these questions off or don’t care enough to give much thought to this kind of stuff.  But I know you: you’re different.  You’re an innovator, a startup, or an entrepreneur and you already think differently than most of the world.  I know you because I'm just like you in that regard.

As you begin this exercise I want you to set aside some quiet time, only about an hour, and then from time-to-time.  For me, I tend to do this as a rolling update kind of exercise, but definitely at least once every six months.  Again, you will get amazing insight into yourself while helping you prioritize and better position yourself for success. 

Some history to the "What Are Your Goals?" question.

  1. To be successful, these are three questions you must ask of yourself and, incidentally,  in every job applicant.
  2. My own coaching of others shows that most people can’t answer these questions.  But once they do, all of sudden their path becomes clear, doors open, resources seem to magically appear and they’ve got new energy and purpose.  In other words, they have well-placed focus.
  3. Examples of answers we would get in interviews



    • I want to get rich
    • I’m not really sure
    • Get out of my current job
  4. Why these kinds of answers fail



    • No energy, no focus, no direction.
    • Why Darin's answer was so great – I discuss an answer given to us by a bright, capable analyst we ended up hiring who then went on to do a great job for us.
  5. When asking someone "what are your goals?" we were looking to see where the job applicant lined with us and our needs. 



    • You need to do that with job applicants. 
    • As you do this for yourself, keep asking, “do your own goals, abilities, and passions line-up?” 


Question #1:  What Are You Really Good At?

  1. Make a list as long as you can.
  2. Write it out.
  3. Think about what employers, teachers, friends and others told you that you are good at?

Now that you know what you’re really good at, what do you love to do?

  1. Be realistic: I love big fat weekend naps, but it’s all got to fit into the grand picture because you can’t take naps all the time.
  2. The Barry Manilow question:  Only pursue a career in music if you can't imagine doing anything else. It’s not really work if you love doing it (technically it is, but).
  3. Using myself as an example —



    • I can see with others can’t – Helps make me good at strategy
    • Good at creating things
    • Natural leader – Calm under pressure
    • Good negotiator
    • Strong analytical skills
    • Good public speaker

Question #2:  What are you not so good at? Don’t like to do?

  1. Give the same amount of time you gave to the good stuff.
  2. No fluff! You’re not here to overcome an objection. It’s all about self-awareness.
  3. We found that salespeople sucked at answering this question
  4. Using myself as an example



    • In college: disliking bacon grease while a kitchen worker. That’s when I became too lazy to fail.
    • I am good earnings models and forecast but I actually hate to do it.
    • I can shred financial statements and have loved it. There’s a detective work element to it that I really like. But I also only like to do this in small doses.
    • I get bored easily – A touch ADD
    • I suck at being someone’s employee

Self-assessment complete, let’s move on to your goals and then my 4th secret question.

Question #3:  Time now to think of your professional goals and personal goals.

  1. Sometimes momentum and direction for a goal is enough. Sometimes precision is better.



    • My college story had some of each:  Get a degree, work hard, get whatever jobs I had to, get passable grades.  GPA not a goal – learning as much as I could was.
  2. Big picture sweeping visions are okay but only to a point



    • We need big picture and visionary type of people.
    • That’s a leader’s role sometimes.
    • But the “I want to get rich” concept is too vague.
  3. Initially don’t put filters on as you list all of your goals.

  4. This is not a to-do list – typically you want to have a 6-12 month time horizon.
  5. My own goals coming out of closing Disclosure Insight in February 2012



    • Replace my lost income – but I know I suck at working for someone else.
    • Lifestyle job – Snow storm example.
    • Find good investments
    • Create assets to be sold

The 4th Deceptively Simple Question:  What Has to Happen First? 

I call this my “getting from the airport” question and it’s all about execution.  Here’s how it works –

  1. Travel sounds great, and it usually is, but how do you get from the airport?



    • Using example of a trip I took to London.  The Hilton I found online had great reviews and was inexpensive.  But, it was two hours away – removed from things I wanted to see. 
  2. Examples of “What has to happen first?” questions



    • Story of my accountant's advice a decade ago: how we going to get our next client, not the 10,000th?
    • How are you going to make your first hundred dollars? Your first thousand dollars?
    • Want to be a rockstar? That’s great how you going to have your first hit?
  3. What has to happen first questions are always evolving and are more tactical than your overall goals question.  Strategy is big picture, tactics is execution.
  4. How I did it coming out of closing Disclosure Insight – again, the goals at that time were:



    • Replace my lost income – but I know I suck at working for someone else.
    • Lifestyle job – Snow storm example
    • Create assets to be sold
  5. My version of "what has to happen first" items back then: 



    • Close down DI with as little harm as possible.
    • Out of office space and all contracts
    • Help my employees where I could
    • As much good stuff as possible with as little clutter.
  6. First 3-6 months were focused on post shutdown
  7. First year post-closing was used to find a new direction



    • Learned all I could about new methods of publishing to identify the skills I lacked and models that worked.  This helped me come up with a new business and formulate new goals around it.
  8. Some of My Current Goals



    • Have QI become a widely followed and trusted resource.
    • I want to positively impact at least 5 of you by the end of the year.
  9. Some examples of my "what has to happen first?" questions:



    • Continuing education
    • Social media stuff.
    • Work on the website
    • Publish a lot of content.

Final Thoughts: 

People tell me about their great ideas all the time.  And, invariably, if I think their idea might have some merit – or if I want to test their conviction – I’ll end up asking how they’re going to make it happen. Most people fail in this regard, just like most people fail in their ability to put clear voice to their goals.

There’s no shortage of people with great ideas, some are crazy, many others have merit.  If we are going to succeed in turning your great idea into reality, you really do need to come up with and regularly work on your own answers to these deceptively simple but critical questions

  1. What are your goals?
  2. What are you really good at or love to do?
  3. What you not so good at or don’t like to do? (even if you are good at doing it)
  4. What’s your version of what has to happen first? That is, how are you going to get from the airport?

Again, most people won’t do it.  They love to talk but that’s all it will ever be.  But, remember, I know you, I know how you think.  And I know that sometimes a great idea driven by a sincere person just needs a little help.  Hopefully I gave you that today.

So what do you think?  I’d love your feedback.  I want to hear about your great ideas and how I can help you turn them into reality.  I really do want to make one of your trusted resources for tips, advice, and inspiration for turning your great ideas into reality. 

  • Got to Quietinnovation.com (right here!) to learn more and leave me comments and feedback.  All the social media links are there.
  • Have a question, problem, or great idea you need help with?  Call and leave a message at 763-260-4250
  • Action items:  Do the goal setting exercise.   Go give me a positve rating at iTunes if you found this helpful.

Keep working on your great ideas!