No Shortcuts - The Game Doesn't End

When I was younger I would set goals for myself and they would be pretty short term.  Get X job.  Go to X college.  Make X amount of money.  Then those things happened.  I then set up some higher and somewhat arbitrary goals.  Get Y job.  Go to b-school.  Make Y amount of money.  Then those things happened.  

Now that I am 11 years in at P&G and have had Sloane for the same 11 years my goals have shifted.  I still have goals, but they're more based on growth, happiness, challenge, etc versus needing to do something specific.  The chase towards specific things can work, but also is a little deflating when you actually get it.  

It's like when you get that nice new car.  You thought about it for so long and FINALLY got it.  It feels good, but you're then looking for what's next.  That's how it can feel when you get that job.  When you get that salary.  Those things don't really bring long term happiness.  A promotion feels great during the celebratory dinner, but then you start on Monday it can actually be incredibly stressful.  Can be a major letdown if you've dreamed of that role for a long time.  

If you are learning and growing and happy I believe good things happen.  You are likely doing well and successful.  That will open up good job opportunities.  If you do the same in that new job, then you will have even more job options.  It just builds and builds.  

It's great to have goals for yourself when it comes to titles and money.  Just make sure you're also growing and happy.  In the end that is what matters.  I have realized that people really don't care about your job or how many money you make.  Especially the people that truly care about you.  It doesn't make sense to do things for other people.  Do it for yourself.  Do what makes you happy and the jobs and money will follow.  

Getting Sloane off the ground was amazing.  Since then we've been going and going.  Trying to get bigger.  Trying to make the product better.  Trying to make the website better.  It never ever ever ends.  We are one of the few companies that makes it to the 10 year mark.  There was no celebration.  We have to keep our heads down and keep going.  I do Sloane because I love it and it helps me grow.  If I did it just to say I started a company I would have quit a LONG time ago.  


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No Shortcuts - The Fine Line Between Challenge and Misery

I saw a Simon Sinek quote recently that I thought was interesting.

"Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion." 

There is so much going on in culture today about working hard, burning out, hustle porn.....and then on the other side the IG influencers who are trust fund babies, do very little and post about their fantastic lives.  Media LOVES both of these extremes.  The middle is where most people actually are and it is a confusing place.  

There is a lot of research done on where the ideal place to be is.  A couple books I love about this topic are Drive by Daniel Pink and Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (craziest last lame I've ever seen!).  You want to have an internal drive that pushes hard and is challenged.  You want to be right beyond your comfort zone and solving problems that give you energy, pride and momentum.  

Since everyone is different in their threshold for hard work, what they're passionate about, what type of work they like doing, etc that it becomes hard to know when you flip from "flow" to just outright stress and misery. 

I have had some experience with this for good and bad.  I have grinded through period where I just knew I didn't care about it, but had to push through.  I've also been in the flow and accomplished more than I ever could have imagined.  Here are my tips on figuring out where you are on that edge. 

Long Term Goals:  Having a compass for where you want to go long term is extremely helpful.  I like to think 5 and 10 years out.....and then work back to figure out what you need to do to get there.  Do you need an MBA?  Do you need strategic skills?  Leadership skills?  Hardcore analytic skills?  Do you need to have 4.5 speed?  Or be able to bench press 350 pounds?  It could be anything.  Just be very real on what it takes. 

At that point you can start your journey and be very objective about what you're going through.  If you need to eventually bench press 350 pounds you are going to have to go through some extreme pain to work up to that.  Your expectations are now set as you begin this arduous process.  If you are not good analytically and know you need to be really strong, then you ALSO know the journey is going to long, painful and involve a ton of frustration.  If you knew in your heart this is what is needed to get to your goal, then you will suck it up and do it. 

Sinek's quote is good, but you need to stand back sometimes and be able to see the whole picture.  At the time you are stressed that actually might be ok.  You might need to endure a ton of stress at the time to reach your end point where your passion is.  The point is that you CARE about the journey.....not just that single point. 

I have a good personal story from my experience at P&G.  My long term goal when I entered was to equip myself with the skills to be a CEO one day.  Within the first 6 months I realized I was drastically lacking in pretty much every skill needed.  Strategy.  Analytics.  Leadership.  Writing.  Public Speaking.  Project Management.  Vision.  The list could go on, but I'll end it there for my sake.  ha.  I was VERY realistic about what the next 5 to 10 years will need to be like.  I knew I was going to have to endure pain along the way to build those skills.  Long nights.  Negative feedback.  Rough meetings.  Doubt.  

Week by week I felt myself growing though.  I got little wins.  I could see myself getting better and forming into something positive.  The long term goal kept me from getting too frustrated when things got tough.  

Check in Regularly on Progress:  It's important you do regular check ins to make sure you are on the path you want to be on.  One thing that always shocks me is how fast time goes by.  6 months can seem to pass by in a blink.  Sometimes  a few years can feel like the same way.  Where I have made mistakes is when I have the mindset of....."I'll give it another 6 months (after saying the same thing 6 months ago!)".  A year just went by.  

It's totally fine to struggle for a bit.  That is part of life and part of the journey.  The problem becomes when you are off your path and you just continue marching in the wrong direction.  You are stressed.  You are miserable.  And you are not going toward where you need to go.  This can easily happen with jobs because you don't want to go through the effort of finding another job.  It's scary and there are no guarantees.  The downside is wasting potentially YEARS in a job that sucks and is not growing you to get to your long term goal.  

Time and Life Management:  If you aren't ruthless about managing your time you can actually start taking on a lot of things that ADD stress to your life and make you overwhelmed.  This is the principle of needing to say NO to a lot of things to make sure you stay focused on your path.  

You can be perfectly on your path and then you get invited to lead a volunteer group.  You think it's a good idea, but is adding a lot of commitments.  You then have a family member that is ill and you need to spend time taking care of that.  You then want to spend more time with friends and you join a golf/cards/book club session every Wednesday evening.  Your schedule is now packed.....and you become very stressed.  

This was caused by YOU.  Not by your job or anyone else.  Your intentions were good and life comes at you fast with stuff.  You did overextend yourself our of maybe a feeling of guilt because you hate saying know.  Oprah talks about this a lot.  She HATED saying no and just ended up traveling all the time to events that she didn't have passion for.  Once she stopped doing that she got a whole lot happier and focused on HER.  


Finding that fine line between challenge and misery is tough.  Some weeks you might be in misery.  Some weeks could be that perfect challenge.  That's part of what happens when you are pushing yourself.  It's important to be mindful about what's going on around you to stay our of that misery place for a long time!  It's not worth it.  

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No Shortcuts - How to Start a Business

I am starting a new business.  I will keep Sloane up and going, but want to test out a new market in the golf space.  I am passionate (some say obsessed) with the sport and see an opportunity.  Golf has boomed with COVID.  People are stuck at home and golf is one of the sports that can be played while socially distanced.  

I am very busy with my day job at P&G.  Sloane keeps me busy.  My 10 month old also keeps me busy.  I have a lot going on and want to see if I can start another business amidst the madness. 

I want to document the progress to show how it is done and keep pushing myself to make the needed progress.  You will see that this is a very step by step process that does not happen overnight.  It takes a ton of commitment and patience, so you have to start something you care enough for the long haul. 

Step 1:

Come up with the idea:  I have been noticing that golf has been taking off since COVID started.  A lot more people are playing.  Over the years I have seen brands like Travis Mathews and Linksoul come into the market offering cool West Coast style clothing to combat the traditional brands like Nike, Callaway, Titleist, etc.  Many people see the traditional brands as boring and basic.  The new people to golf are looking for something more exciting.  Not what they grandfather wore when he golfed. 

Golf is something that I am passionate about, as well.  I have played since I was in elementary school and really love the sport.  I love the challenge.  I love the connection you can make with people.  I love getting outside in beautiful places.  I love talking about it.  I actually have about 5 co-workers where golf is a weekly discussion point. 

I saw Macklemore started a golf brand essentially for the same reasons I want to start one.  He wants to wear something he feels good/cool in.  Not a basic white cotton polo like the rich guys at the country club.  

I think there is an opportunity to start a new golf brand targeting a lot of the new players entering the game!

Take a Commitment Step:  This is important!  Somehow make a commitment to this.  Go from talking about your idea to DOING something about your idea.  It can be something small.  Just do it.  That will ground you and show to yourself that you are taking a step forward. 

My first step was to find some URL's I like and buy them on GoDaddy.  It's a pretty cheap thing to do.  When you do it though you FEEL like you did something important.  Now that you locked a couple possible URLs your mind starts thinking about possibilities.  You can now take the next step. 

Without taking a commitment step you are in LA LA Land.  You are thinking.....theorizing......wondering......dreaming.  You are doing NOTHING to actually get the business going.  

Slowly Progress By Taking the Next Best Step:  Some people at this point want to ask for money.  They get overly excited thinking that they are starting the next Apple.  They start skipping steps.  I see the process almost like building a house.  You can't put a roof on without the foundation or walls.  

The reality is that the process takes awhile and people have a hard time building something slowly.  They want the big win.  They want to show people that they are crushing it.  The process is very unsexy at the beginning as you pour the foundation.  

My next step after the URL was to incorporate the company.  I worked with my lawyer to do this, but it also can be done via a program like LegalZoom.  You now have an ACTUAL business.  You can put CEO on your LinkedIn.  ha.  This makes the venture formal.  

Think About What is Needed as You Build:  You now need to take some time to think through what building this business looks like.  Start laying out the steps to get there.  Do you need a partner?  How is your business model going to work?  How are you going to be different from what else is out there?  What is the fastest and easiest way to start the business BEFORE asking people for money?  

Skipping through this thinking part could open you up to doing things that just don't make sense as you progress.  Hiring someone way before you need them.  Taking money way before you have a path to sales.  Making a misstep here could make life stressful and also doom your business. 

For me, the logo design is really important.  I want to develop something unique in the market that will resonate with the consumer I'm going after.  I hired a college student to help me with this.  We are going back and forth on the logo design to get it to a point where it's good enough.  Not perfect.  Good enough.  Many people call this an MVP (minimum viable product).  I want something good enough that I can sell and see if people like it.  If people do like it, then I put more money into making it better. 

I am now also looking at what products I would start with.  Hats?  Shirts?  Where would I get these manufactured?  How much will they cost?  How much will then I have to price the product for?  Once I figure that out I need to figure out the website.  What will it look like?  How much will that cost?  Who will develop it?  How will I then get people to the site?  Should I do a Kickstarter?    

Step by step.  Step by step.  It's easy to get overwhelmed with EVERYTHING, but it's all about conquering the next thing.  With each step you build momentum and confidence.  It feels slow in the moment, but in a year you can make a ton happen. 

Stay tuned for updates on my progress and good lock in your own venture!    

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No Shortcuts - Be Interested & Interesting

I used to think being successful in business was all about business.  Knowing strategy.  Analyzing data.  Speaking convincingly.  Networking.  Going to the right schools.  The longer I work the more I realize it is about relationships.  You have to have the tangible skills to understand business and win, but what really separates people is their ability to influence others. 

People want to work with the support people they like and respect.  That is a very important sentence.  They don't necessarily want to work with and support the SMARTEST person.  They don't necessarily want to work with and support the BOLDEST person.  They want to support people they like and respect.  Those are the people they will work late for and run through walls for. 

So how do you become that person?  You need to be truly interested in other people and be interesting.  Someone people can learn from and have a conversation with. 

Being interested and interesting are two very different things and they often are in conflict.  Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People is the best read on how to be an interested person.  The main skill is active listening.  Truly caring about what a person is saying.  Being curious enough to ask follow up questions to get deeper.  It sounds easy, but most people are terrible listeners.  They are rushed.  They are thinking about the next thing THEY can say to add to the conversation.  This is why being interested is a unique skill that if you can possess it will let you stand out. 

Being interesting is very personal.  Truly interesting people aren't trying to be interesting.  They just are via what they do outside of work.  They might be really into windsurfing or yoga or history or flowers or nutrition or reading or whatever.  They have some passions OUTSIDE of the day to day grind of work.

Work can be so overwhelming that it completely sucks you in.  You have no time for anything else.  For brief periods where you need to really grind this is ok.  Long term it is not ok.  If you JUST have work, then you don't have time to be interesting.  When you go to a party and see the eyes glaze over when you talk about work for 4 minutes you can get a feel for how little people care about the details of your work.  I don't care what you do.  Most people don't really care. 

People do care about other topics though.  If you can bring some of that into work, then you can form bonds that are beyond just work.  People get to know you as a human being.  If you combine this with strong work skills, then you form into someone people want to support. 

Take the time to be interesting.  And do this for YOU.  Don't read books you think people will find interesting.  What do YOU want to read?  Don't just play golf because it's expected.  Play because YOU like it.  Own what you like.  Even if it's a little weird.  That's ok.  Just own it and have some passion for it.  

Having some passions outside of work and caring for the people around you will go a long way.  It can be easy to forget this stuff when work heats up, but it's critical for you long term success and happiness. 


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