Today’s guest is Chris Brogan of Owners Media Group. I first met Chris when I was trying to learn how to blog effectively. Chris was instrumental in helping me learn about what a frame is and how I could use one to speed up my writing process.
Today Chris is going to talk with us about two very important things. First, he’s going to talk with us about learning to focus on 3 words to move you forward. Second, he’s going to help us understand what a 20 minute plan is and why you should focus in this manner instead of making really long plans.
This is one of our best podcasts and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy listening today. Here are some things you might want to focus on:
- Learn why you have no free time and what you can do about it.
- Learn what five concepts that are lined up with what ownership is.
- Why you might feel that you have no free time.
- What you can do to get a sense of where your business is going.
- Why mistakes are one of Chris’ favorite things.
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business podcast.
Today, I am super excited to have Chris Brogan with us. Chris has been an entrepreneur for years. I credit him with teaching me to be a great blogger or at least an effective blogger. I’ve written 1000 blog posts and was using his methodology I learned in his blog-writing course. He is president of the Owners Group and he has tons of stuff that he puts out there.
Instead of me just talking with you about what Chris does, I’ll let him come in and Chris will talk about what you do.
Hey, Chris, how are you today?
Chris: Josh, I’m so glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Josh: My pleasure. Thanks so much.
Tell me what is the Owner’s Mastery Foundation Group?
Chris: I run a company called the Owner Media Group. And so, one of the projects that we made was this thing called the Owner’s Mastery Foundation Group which is actually a daily idea journal for business. What comes in this particular project which we have a lot of different courses and webinars and things. But that particular one, which the initials end up being OMFG – just for an inside funny joke, we do all kind of little bitty ideas for your business. And the reason I came up with this is that because a lot of time there’s people out there who have this concept in their mind that they want to be entrepreneurial, they want to be some kind of an owner but they’re not surrounded by other people who do that sort of a thing.
You know, I was in a really small town in Northern Massachusetts and I always wonder what my neighbors think I do. Like, maybe they think I’m a drug dealer or something because I wear sweat pants all day. And it doesn’t matter what I look like. And I never seem to go back to work, a 9 to 5 or whatever.
So, I thought about all of the people out there that that maybe are not surrounded by entrepreneurial-minded people. And I started creating daily information that was applicable – that they could do something with, in their business so that you could just kind of keep pushing the ball forward every single day. So, it’s not anything especially heavy but it’s a whole year of information that’ll put you through the paces of doing the stuff that entrepreneurs need to do to thrive and survive and make, as you like to call it, a sustainable business.
Josh: What kind of stuff do you cover in this?
Chris: Everything. I cover everything from financial matters to how you can go about finding stuff to write about if you need to do content. I do how to do better lead generation, how to keep your discipline up because I always tell people that “Willpower is the weakest muscle but that discipline is rather important.”
And so, there’s a lot of work involved in kind of talking people through the basic five concepts that I think it takes to be an owner which is “ownership”, in general, which is sort of assuming responsibility for everything and realizing that you’re the one who’s in control. Kind of like Covey’s First Habit. And then the second would be “take action.” Because there’s so many people who have lots of ideas but forget to go out and do something with them. And then the third—its sort of a trilogy – three, four and five, are tell stories through great content. Use that to nurture communities and then earn the right to build a marketplace. And so, I think that owners usually focus on one part of that pie at a time and I wanted to come up with some way that would really keep people’s attention and move their way through the system.
Josh: So most owners have almost no free time to do this sort of stuff, how do they go about doing all five at once?
Chris: Well, I’m always amazed at how people feel like they have no free time. And when I dig into it—we just launched the project earlier in the year—or maybe in 2015, I guess, called the 20-minute plan. In that, I’ve challenged people. And I said, “I don’t think you don’t have time. I think you allot your time to things that don’t really move your goals forward and so you get the weird feeling that you don’t have time.” And so, we decided that maybe there’d be three hours in ever day that you could really apply to growing your business.
And when somebody says to me, “I don’t have that time.” I always take them aside and look through their day with them. I can find it every time. So it’ll be, I need two hours to watch Game of Thrones or something. Or sometimes, they really don’t have the time. Sometimes it’s, you know, taking care of a sick parent and I’ve got all these other projects that are crushing me. I volunteer at 53 things. And so, I start helping them cut some of the volunteer work out which isn’t—you’re not supposed to volunteer. It’s great to be of service to the community but some people dip a little too deep.
“We all have the same 24 hours”, that’s what Gandhi said. And so, I just really keep people on task with that because I find that where we think we’re using our time or where we think we should be using our time, rarely aligns with our goals and rarely aligns with what we’re willing to serve the people that have given us the right to serve them. So, I think that a lot of times, we tell ourselves stories that end up using hours that aren’t necessary where we can go after something that’s going to have a much better impact and effect.
Josh: So you just brought something up that I think is really interesting. How many of the people you talked to, Chris, don’t have a sense of where they’re going with their business?
Chris: You know, it’s depressing in some ways. But I would say the vast majority, especially in the entrepreneurial field, because in all cases they just sort of threw a boat in the water and said, “Ah, let’s see what happens.” And so, they start catching some fish and are like, “Oh, this is great.” But they haven’t gone any further to say, “I wonder where fish mostly spend their time, or I wonder what kind of fish—maybe if I can just catch two or three bigger fish, it will work a little better.”
And so, this sort of looking at your belly button part of the business is a little bit rarely done. And I think that, you know, strategic planning goes into this whole other scenario where we look at the wrong part of the belly button. When I say that, sometimes when people want to talk strategy, they end up thinking way far afield in five years and all that kind of stuff. And I’m just hell bent on telling people, Josh, that we’ve got to make our day match our week, match our month, match our year.
You know. If you want to lose 30 pounds, you can’t eat a bag of Oreo cookies and then think “Well, now tomorrow, I’m going to work on this great plan to lose my weight.” So I think that’s what we do in our businesses too. And so I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t have any forward planning going on.
Josh: You talk about three-words and I love that concept. It’s something I use myself. Can you go into that a little bit?
Chris: Yeah. So every year, since 2006, I had this idea of doing my three words. And they’re basically a sort of three compass points in your brain, as far as where do you want to put your actions and your intent and where you want to get stuff done. The very first ones I did in 2006 were ASK, DO and SHARE.
And so, what I said was “I’ll ASK more questions this year.” I find that a lot of people think that if they ask questions, they’re going to look like they don’t know it all, or that they’re dumb, or that they’re stupid questions. And so, I got so much more success out of my life, asking more questions in 2006, asking for help, asking for opportunities than ever before.
DO was like I said in the second principle of ownership which is “take action”. There are so many people that just talk a good game. And so, I made sure that I had a really DO.
SHARE was a lot like my content creation strategy in content community and marketplace which is that we have to share what we’re doing. Not, to say “Hey, look what I’ve been doing.” But, “Hey, this is some of the ways I help people. Do you need this kind of help because I can sure help you?”
And so, every year, I come up with three words that are important to me in sort of guiding things along. One of the words that I have for 2016 was called SHINE. I wanted to SHINE the light on other people. And so, one of the ways that I implemented this is that every Friday night, on my newsletter, I send out something called Shine Friday where I mention five people who the community has picked that we should know more about and we talk about who they are and give at least to them so we can shine our attention on people so that when you become part of this community that I have the pleasure to serve, it’s not just about me, it’s me helping connect other people to get better opportunity from it. So that’s how I use my three words.
And I use them to kind of guide how am I going to take my actions this year? Does this match against my intentions? And even in the granularity of an hour in a day, sometimes I might go “Huh, is this really a way that I want to go after this?” And it helps guide me forward a little bit better than your typical resolution.
Josh: Well, I can tell you that every Sunday, I plan my week and I sort of think about what’s important for me to do. And the first thing I do is look at my three words. And as I’m planning my week, I’m asking myself, “Is every action I’m putting in there, moving me towards or away from those three words?” So, it’s a really good tool to use. And like almost everything I’ve ever seen you produce, really simple to use at the same time.
So, let’s talk about asking questions for a minute because you just said “People don’t like to ask questions” and that moves into one of my other favorite areas which is “people also don’t like to make mistakes.” And in my world, both are gifts. How about your world?
Chris: Oh, mistakes are my favorite things in the world. My last book that I wrote, The Freak Shall Inherit the Earth, which is about entrepreneurship, there were a whole bunch of parts that were about failure – fall in love with not knowing was one of my chapters. I just really did a lot to say to people that, I feel like you learn a lot better and faster through failure than many other methods. And I think that when we put so much emotion into worry about failure, we’re just really missing some great opportunity.
Josh, I play video games and I started at the late-70s when video arcades were suddenly a thing in America and early-80s when Pacman and Space Invaders was a big thing and you’d put your quarters up on the rail and hope for the next game. And the entire video game culture, to this day, is built around play-lose-lose some more-figure it out some more-and try to figure out the objectives and move forward. And in video games, failure is just part of it. And you might have to add another quarter but that’s part of life, right?
So, I think that more people should have that sort of video game mindset to their businesses. Unless it’s something really mission critical, like if you’re an airline pilot, I want you to land the plane right every single time. I don’t want you to practice failing, crashing a plane with me in it. If you’re a surgeon, you can practice on cadavers a bit but I want you to not practice on me. But everyone else pretty much alive, including chefs, professionals, lawyers and tax people, you should fail here and there.
If you make mistakes, you’ve got to apologize. You’ve got to practice your three A’s of acknowledge that you made the mistake, apologize and then take action to fix it. But beyond that, failure is such a great learning tool that I’m just stunned that we don’t spend more time doing it.
Josh: You know, even pilots and surgeons make lots of mistakes because they have both simulators. And that’s where they go in and they screw things up because they put them under extreme circumstances, so when a normal emergency happens, it seems like it’s easy. So, even those people are mistakes folks.
You’ve been running around this term which is one that’s dear to my heart and that’s personal responsibility. For an owner, someone who’s going to be a successful entrepreneur or a business owner, why is that so important?
Chris: If were ever in the presence of someone that tells me the reason that they’re not successful is – and then the very next thing out of their mouth is always some other person. “Well, when I worked for this guy and he’s just not really into the things that I’m into and it’s just really hard for me to get my ideas across to him.” I always wonder. “I wonder if there’s handcuffs at that work. Like, I wonder if there’s a chain from the handcuffs to the desk. And I wonder like, how do they feed him over there?”
And, you know, I got that from my old boss, Dave Johnson. I worked at the phone company and my boss Dave Johnson and I–I was a manager and this girl who was on my team, Kelly, had a really bad day and she came screaming off of the little board that she worked at the phone company, came running around the corner and she was really mad. And I’m trying to calm her down. And Dave turns the corner and he’s red-faced and angry. And Dave’s my boss. Dave says to her, “You know, there’s no bars on those doors. Get the hell out.” I had never in my life ever thought of that as management advice. She looks at him stunned and shocked. And I look at him, stunned and shocked. And then she just kind of goes, “I just had a bad moment. I’m okay. I’m okay.” And then she want back to her desk. But I thought about that for the rest of my career, like, “Wow, that’s totally true.”
And so, when we, in ownership, say to somebody else that the problem is anything not started with “me or I” then that’s the problem. I stole that from Covey. “Anytime we think the problem is outside of ourselves, that thought itself is the problem.” It’s what Stephen Covey said. And I think that the people that I know that are successful, all lay all the blame on their feet. They put all the praise on other people’s feet. And they do their best to just kind of move things forward and they do their best to just take responsibility for everything that they can be responsible for, and then hopefully not much more that they can’t be.
You know, the other failure of responsibility is when we try to assume responsibility for things we can’t control and then think that that’s going to work. So, its’ a pretty interesting balance but I work on the first part of that equation, I think, because it’s easier. And I just try to get people to understand what they can control and how they can manage it.
Josh: You know, in my world, if you’re not going to be personally responsible then I can’t work with you. It’s that simple so.
Josh: So, talk to me about the 20-minute plan. What is a 20-minute plan?
Chris: So, the 20-minute plan came out of an interesting survey that I did. And the survey came after another failure, by the way, to harken back to our previous conversation, where in which I launched something that I had understood everyone said that they wanted because that’s what you were telling me in various e-mails and what not. So I launched it and no one bought it. Then, by no one, let’s say nine or ten people bought it. The only thing worse than zero people buying something is nine people buying it because then I have to actually create the rest of it and make it work. And so, I was miserable.
So, I did a survey just to basically understand where people were with stuff, thinking that the answers to the survey would sort of match what I’ve been doing for the last few years. Because why would you be hanging out with me if you weren’t? It turned out that the majority of people wanted something utterly different than what I was offering. And so, these are the people I serve. So I said, “Huh”.
Out of this comes the 20-minute plan which is this very simple personal business systems for personal leadership, basically is what we call it. And the actual name, 20-minute plan, relates to you spend 5 minutes in the morning reading your personal mantras before you do anything else. And personal mantras are just little sentences we tell ourselves that are nice about ourselves or that are positive about what we’re going to do, going forward.
It’s so funny, I stole this from another guy, he asked “How many people here recite mantras every day?” and maybe one goody-goody puts her hand up and he says, “Well, that’s wrong. All of you recite mantas. You just usually say negative things to yourself all day.” “I’m not going to do really well at this. I’m probably going to mess something up today. Or, let’s see how bad I’m going to do.” Well it isn’t so, maybe we can just take a little time to put some positive stuff in our life.
So, 5 minutes of mantras, 5 minutes of reviewing your goals to make sure that your schedule and your calendar maps to your goals, 5 minutes of reviewing what I call the 351K which is a system of how do you align those three hours of time in your day to your goals and all that. And then at the end of the day, the last 5 of the 20 minutes is reflection.
“How did I do? What do I need to make sure I’ll just jot down on my notebook before I fall asleep for the next day” so that I can actually fall asleep because I think a lot of people have crazy time trying to sleep because they immediately have a go into this, “I’ve got to remember this for tomorrow” mode as if you’re brain is thinking, “this is a perfect time for me to use that facility.” But I think if you just write it onto something, you can go to bed and you’ll be okay. So that’s the 20-minutes. And then there’s just the mechanics built into the rest of the system to make the 20-minute plan run.
Josh: So are you a fan of “getting things done”?
Chris: I’m a fan of the concept of it. That very specific system did not work especially well for me because it was a lot more geared towards people thinking that productivity was a great thing. And I tend to tell people that productivity is a sort of a really strange weapon. You can point it at anything and think you hit it. And so, what I wanted to do differently than that is use this idea of aligning your goals to your day. You can apply ”getting things done” inside the 20-minute plan, but “getting things done” would not give you what I’m trying to accomplish in the 20-minute plan which is get your head focused on how your day matches your goals.
Josh: Yeah. Well, I think that makes a ton of sense. I was referring to getting stuff out of your head and down on a piece of paper.
Chris: Oh yes, absolutely. And I think that it’s a vital tool. I’m amazed at how many times we try to let our brain hold so much stuff and I think that—thank God for things like Evernote, and paper, and 3×5 cards because I try to spit my brain out into text form a million times a day if I can or drawings so that I can keep it clear to be ready for the mysteries that’ll come up and hit me.
Josh: Yeah. So, Chris, what is a 351K plan? I mean, you sort of piqued my interest with that.
Chris: So that’s part of 20-minute plan. And it’s the 35 and 1K – so the 3 is three hours a day, geared towards working on your business. And so we split those into 20 minutes each. So it’s basically nine blocks of 20 minutes of time. Which, again, kind of echoes the 20-minute plan.
So everyday, I have this paper in front of me, it’s a physical paper in my case, that I write what I’m going to do for three hours of every single day, split across 20 minutes, that will move my business forward. So maybe I have to write the newsletter for Sunday and I haven’t done that yet. So I’ll put one block or two blocks because sometimes it takes me longer to write that newsletter. And the reason that improves my goals is that 78% of my business comes from my newsletter. So that ties to my goal of “I need more subscribers and I need more sales.” I might put in one of the blocks, ask friends for joint venture opportunities because I keep forgetting that I have this great network of friends who really have huge audiences that would maybe benefit from knowing what I can do to help them. And so, that will grow my business.
So what goes in that three hours is stuff that makes your business better. If you’re a lumber jack then maybe it’s get the saws in better shape or pick a better ridge line to start the tree work or whatever. It’s the on-the-business stuff though not client work, so that’s the 3.
5 is 5% – what can I improve by 5% that would make a real measurable difference in my life. And the reason I put that in there is because so many times we’re just trying to improve everything. Like, “I think, I’ll learn Spanish.” Well, sure. It’d be great to learn Spanish but is that going to make a 5% measurable change to your business in some way? And if no, then save that some other part of your life.
Then the 1K, I just stole it from Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 true fans. So he wrote this post in, I think, ‘05 and it was called “1000 True Fans” and he said, “I think that a lot more businesses in the future are going to benefit from really focusing on just 1000 people. And these 1000 people really care about what you do and are really into you and really love what you sell or whatever and that’s who you serve.
And so, I focus everybody I can on this idea of who are my right 1000 people? Because we’re worried about how do we get 100,000 people, or how do we get a million people? It’s hard to focus on the people that we want to serve. And if you think about just 1000 then, at least, it’s a somewhat more manageable number.
And then you start thinking about “Well, could my business run on 1000?” In my case, the answer is “yes.” I mean, if 1000 people bought Owner Insider then I make a million bucks a year. That’s a pretty good amount of money. I could eat some bacon.
So I think that a lot of businesses run like this. A lot of businesses have the opportunity to really serve a very smaller amount of people and just really focus on them. And your number might not really be 1000 but if I just put that in your head, you start really thinking about who are the people that you want to serve?
Josh: You know, I love that. And one of my favorite sayings comes from Gino Wickman which is “less is more” and that fits right in with that. And speaking of less is more, Chris, unfortunately we are out of time and you have like a ton of things that people need to hear about. They need to hear about your program. They need to hear about your newsletter. So if you could tell folks how to get into your program, how to find your newsletter and all the other places you can be found, I would really appreciate that.
Chris: Well, I guess, let’s end on Gino’s idea of less is more. And I’ll say, just go to owner.media. It’s one of those new domains that it’s not .com. So, it’s just owner.media. And right there, it’ll show you how to sign up to my newsletter.
I guess, before anything else, if you want to see anything about what I do or how I offer, or how you’re going to operate, just drop into the newsletter first. It’s free. It’s easy and you’ll get a sense of who I am. And if you like it and you’re going to go, “Oh, this guy seems to know what I’m into.” Then hit reply one day and talk to me. And then some day I’m going to sell something and you’re going to want the thing I’m selling. It’ll all work out great.
Josh: Well, Chris, thanks so much. I’ve got to tell you. You’ve been an extraordinary help in my business career and in my personal life and I really appreciate it, so thank you so much.
Chris: Josh, you’ve been a really great guy and I’ve been thrilled to know you over these years. I’m grateful for every e-mail and exchange that you and I have, so thanks for having me on your show.
Josh: My pleasure.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.