S02E23

20% of your effort is responsible for 80% of your results. To increase results, you have to do more of that killer 20%, right? Great… So, how do you do that? Step #1: Get yourself set up with some digital hacks that are gonna keep your online life in line.

As you may already know, I am obsessed with the 80/20 Principle. I heard about it through Perry Marshall’s book, 80/20 Sales and Marketing. The short version: 20% of what you do is bringing in 80% of the results you want (in business, and in life). To increase results, you need to devote more energy and resources to the 20% that works and less to the other 80% of what you’re doing.

With this principle in mind, we at Think Digital developed a course of 21 Digital Lifestyle Hacks designed to increase results and reduce stress. I don’t call them “tips and tricks” because they’re not cute little tips. These digital hacks are actionable concepts and methods that will get you rockin’ that 20%. They are shortcuts to success.

We got five hacks on this week’s podcast. One from the course, and four others that didn’t make the cut (but are still supremely useful). If you want the whole shebang, head over to thinkdigitalhacks.com and check it out! (Psst! There’s a promo code in this week’s podcast if you want a discount!)

1. WinStreak

WinStreak is a Strategic Coach app. (If you haven’t heard me talk about Strategic Coach before, it’s the coaching program I’m completing this year that is helping me grow my business. It’s amazing.)

Enter three or four “wins” each day. Super easy and straightforward. It might not seem like much, but over time this practice changes your brain. You will gain confidences, strength, and just plain joy. The app itself won’t dazzle you (it doesn’t look like much), but the practice will.

2. Bulletproof Espresso

You’ve probably heard of Bulletproof Coffee. I swear by it, but it takes too long. Sometimes I don’t even have 5–10 minutes to drink a cup of coffee in the morning. I perfected my own recipe for Bulletproof Espresso instead, and I will never go back.

How is this a digital hack? The whole point of Bulletproof is to give your brain the good fats it needs to work at its highest level. It increases mental stamina and clarity. That’s a hack for sure.

3. Clam Case

I house my iPad mini in a Clam Case Pro. A Clam Case is way more expensive than a lot of cases on the market, but it’s worth it because it turns my iPad into a usable laptop. And we’re talkin’ usable for me, a 6’4″ man who needs a keyboard that isn’t so tiny I could Hulk-smash it with my pinky. 

Why? Same reason that makes this a digital hack. A Clam Case makes it possible for me to be in “Vision Mode” rather than “Work Mode.” I need to be focusing on my $1,000 and $10,000 tasks, not sitting on my laptop. My iPod mini in its Clam Case lets me live in Vision Mode for as long as I need to. I can shed the mentality of being tethered to work by my laptop. This is huge for my entrepreneurial brain!

4. iA Writer

I love iA Writer. It’s the distraction-free environment I need to write. Not to knock Evernote, because I think they do a great job, but I get too distracted when I’m on it. I’ve also tried Scrivener and it didn’t work for me. Bonus: IA is the abbreviation for Iowa, which as we know is home of Des Moines, the greatest city in the universe!

5. Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is one of our hacks in the course. It has revolutionized the way I work. I don’t care who says they can do it or how to do it, multitasking isn’t a thing, guys. Our brains don’t work well doing more than one thing at once. The Pomodoro Technique brings focus to one thing at once, which is how you’re going to be at your best.

Plus, all you need is a timer (it can be a kitchen timer or your phone or whatever). Work on one thing for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break to do whatever (check Twitter, take a quick walk, etc.). Then do it again. All day! Super easy, super effective.

So there you have it, five digital hacks that will decrease stress and increase results. Like everything else, apply the 80/20 Principle here, man. You don’t need to implement 100% of these. You need to implement the 20% that will make a big difference for YOU. So pick one and rock it out.

Aaaaaand just when you thought this episode couldn’t get any more jam-packed, we have a new segment this week! On this week’s podcast, you’ll hear our expert guest, Glen White, give advice on how to be an effective communicator. He should know; he’s the Founder & CEO of brand new professional communication and collaboration tool, businessfriend. BOOM.

After you listen in, hit me up on Twitter (@JustinWise) or Snapchat (ATJUSTINWISE) to let me know one thing you’re going to do differently now that you’ve got these tools at your disposal.

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If “it’s free” is one of your product’s best features, it’s time to get a new product.

A lot of people make “free” into an ideal that everyone should aspire to. Maybe they are trying to be altruistic. Or maybe they are trying to sound like they can throw products out like candy at a parade.

Frankly, the “we can offer our product for free mindset” is the opposite of mine. When I hear free, I hear problematic.

When Free Pays Off

Now, before we get too far I want to say that there are certain things my company will give away for free. The reason we give resources away is so that we can bring in the right people who will eventually want to purchase our products, services, and courses.

This is an intentional process and method. I am up front with it and I won’t pretend we’re trying to do something different.

Part of the problem of the “ideal of free” is that even if organizations are following the method we do, too many of them aren’t up front about it. That’s true for businesses, nonprofits, churches, small or large businesses, and entrepreneurs.

Basically, there are people out there who want to cover up that somebody is profiting from their work somewhere. There are two common costs hidden behind free products.

Less Than the Best

The first hidden cost isn’t monetary; it’s quality. An organization says that their product or service is free. They don’t charge you anything for it. But because it’s free they cannot keep that product consistent or up to date.

They can’t put in the time commitment to maintain it. Therefore they can’t spend as much time as they should creating a rock solid product.

Users may get something for free but it’s certainly not the best.

Hidden Funding

The second hidden cost is simply that someone somewhere  is actually footing the bill for the product or service. The organization says it’s free, but it is underwritten by a corporate entity or sponsor.

The service or product is free to the client but what the client doesn’t see is the sponsoring entity who is undoubtedly pushing their products or services.

I’m not against this model; what I am against is when people will say “It’s free!” and then critique others who charge for their products or services. The fact is – if they are utilizing sponsors they are charging, too.

Honestly, I’m not against either method. I just want people to be honest when they are utilizing them. The client should be able to have realistic expectations.

The Way We Do It

Think Digital Academy is a 100% commercial product. That means it’s entirely funded by client registration. We are producing the material and we are profiting from the sales and it keeps our business running.

Another of our products, Social Church Academy, runs differently. We have partnering organizations that help out. Some help offset the cost of producing the material.

Others underwrite registrations for Social Church Academy so that people who would otherwise be unable to access it have that chance. It also is driven by client registrations.

I love both of these models. Why? They both work. They work for our clients and they work to keep us moving forward as an organization.

Why Our Models Work

These models allow us to bring more resources more quickly to make a better product for our clients. Everybody wins in this scenario.

If you still think your organization can make it by relying on donations, I want to be blunt with you. Having to rely on donations is like blackmail. Saying to your clients: “Hey, we’ll update this when we get enough donations!” is hamstringing them and blackmailing them to donate to your cause.

I think other organizations can learn from the more unapologetically capitalistic ones like ours. By keeping free resources as an intentional entry point for future paying clients, we are able to provide consistent products, consistent customer service, and consistent growth as a company.

S02E22

A car is a system of systems—maybe the electrical system is working, but if there’s a problem with the brake system, you better believe that car needs to go to the shop! A business operates the same way: ALL the systems need to be working to run smoothly. Pop the hood on your business to make sure all of these systems are working for you.

This week’s podcast is brought to you by the letter S for SYSTEMS, yo!

I talked about this on my blog last week as well (in Parts 1 & Part 2 because there is just way too much to say about this epically important stuff). Your business is made up of systems that keep it running. If you haven’t taken the time to intentionally look at those systems and make sure they are running well, you’re selling your business short.

1. Content System

I’ve got a routine down for my content. (And like I said on Monday’s podcast, routine = focus and focus = success.) I sit down with a content writer who interviews me, takes notes, and then turns that into blog posts. It’s simple and it gets content OUT THERE when I would never have time to do it myself.

We’re actually about to work with a group of small businesses who want to do what I’m doing. If you want the luxury of great content without writing it yourself, email me RIGHT NOW (justin@thinkdigital.co) to tell me you’re interested before the spots fill up.

2. Productivity System

A productivity system is something that governs the way you work. 

I have tried every productivity app on the planet. Evernote. Things. Nozbe. Wunderlist. OmniFocus. You name it, I’ve tried it. They were not for me; I found them confusing and frustrating. I need things simple.

I use the Pomodoro Technique and the Post-It Note System as my productivity system. That’s all I need.

3. Time Management System

If a productivity system governs the way you work, a time management system governs how you spend you day working. There are so many time management tricks and tools and recommendations floating around out there, but none of them will do you any good, unless you choose something that actually works for you. Once again, I go with simple…

I use the Strategic Coach system to manage my time. It breaks down my week into three different types of days:

  1. Free Days: Nothing business-related. Time to recharge.
  2. Focus Days: Big money business days. Time to kick butt.
  3. Buffer Days: Clean-up days. Time to put out fires.

Same idea as Pomodoro; it’s all about focus with this system, and it works for me.

4. Cash Flow System

If your business is a car, this is your engine. It keeps your business running.

If your engine starts rattling, do you continue to drive on it until it just explodes one day? The answer better be no, dudes. You take it in and get it fixed; you don’t just keep driving.

I don’t like surprises. I set up a system with my bookkeeper to get daily, weekly, and monthly $$ reports.

Dailies might sound like a lot, but they’re not. It takes me 30 seconds every morning to check out the daily report, but it keeps me in the loop of how my business is doing. It doesn’t solve cash flow problems (nothing does for a small business, amirite?) but it keeps me from getting nasty surprises.

5. Marketing System

You need a system to track the lifecycle of a lead all the way through to a loyal customer. At Think Digital, we have a trademarked system:

  1. Know
  2. Like
  3. Trust
  4. Build

Here’s one example of many: See a Tweet or RT (Know). Read the blog post or check out the website based on the Tweet (Like). Sign up to receive an email after reading the blog post/website (Trust). Purchase a product based on the email marketing we send (Build).

It’s straightforward and engineered to get the results we want.

6. Onboarding System

You need a system here that works for onboarding new clients and another that translates to onboarding new team members. You need to set expectations from the get-go on both sides. Do yourself a huge favor and take the guesswork out of it.

There you have it, folks. These are the engine and the tires—without them, the car don’t go anywhere. This stuff is so crucial, I should be charging big bucks for this content. But I’m not, because I want to see you succeed. Take a listen to get into the juicy details. And you know the drill; hit me up on Twitter (@JustinWise) or Snapchat (ATJUSTINWISE) to let me know one thing you’re going to do differently after you listen in.

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