Busy man with many hands

Do you have a minute, to achieve your own goals?

There’s always something that’s demanding your time. People and things that fill up your calendar. You’re busy, you’re in demand, and that makes you feel good. Is everything relevant though? Do you need to be in all those meetings? Could somebody else handle some of those? Does anything on your calendar for today, contribute to your end-of-year goal?

Project managers use critical path analysis all the time. It’s how they focus on what’s important, and make sure there’s no time wasted on activities that aren’t essential to moving forward. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s worth taking 10 minutes out of your day to learn about it. It’ll save you a lot more time and effort than 10 minutes.  

Sure we’re not all project managers, but in essence it boils down to asking yourself “Is this next activity going to help achieve my end-of-year-goal?”  

Just because you can add value to something doesn’t mean that you should. You’ve got a goal, there’s steps/milestones you need to achieve. Look at your calendar, and all those other demands for your attention – only do them if they’re on your critical path for success.

Try it for a week and let me know if it helps you move the needle. 

Relax Post-It's

Breath deeply. Relax.

Yesterday I left the office at 4pm, walked 6km through a park in the shade on a very pleasant summers day. When I reached home my children were playing with their friends outside, once they were done I took them for a quick swim. It was really good soaking in the water and letting the tension flow out of my muscles. Today wasn’t much different. I came home in time to give my eldest a hug as he arrived back from school – then had a cup of tea as they went down to play. I joined them 30 minutes later in the playground. After dinner we danced to some music, read stories and slept upside down on the bed.

It’s been a really nice few days. Some times it’s just about enjoying what’s already there. Ignoring the stresses of life and recognizing that what you have is really, really, beautiful.

Exercise and your usual daily routine are great staples – but sometimes you need to eat fattening food, get lots of sleep and enjoy a few long walks with very little to think about. It’s the best way to ensure you’re mentally & emotionally healthy.

Take a deep breath.

Chinese Dolls side by side

Every CMO’s five point strategy for scalable growth

Almost every start-up and investor loves to talk about hockey stick growth, and scalability. Creating a business that can scale, meaning handle substantial increases in workload without affecting quality, isn’t easy though. Lots of companies fail trying to scale. So how can you prepare to create a scalable company?

I asked Penny Wilson, the CMO of HootSuite. She’s proven her skill at scaling companies, having grown Alias from $35m to $110m before being sold to Silicon Graphics; and grown Macromedia from $125m to $650m before being sold to Adobe for $3.4b. As a plus, she’s got a degree in Computer Science, so she’s a bigger geek than most CMOs.

Penny Wilson, HootSuite CMO

Here’s her five point ACEIT strategy to scale a business:

1.       Assets

Understand what your core asset is, most companies only have one or at the most two. Focus on it, make sure to differentiate and build on that core asset. Don’t get distracted. Don’t try to be too much for too many people. Don’t chase the next shiny thing.

2.       Customers

Ensure that the voice of the customer is incorporated in everything you do, whatever aspect of your business or strategy that might be. Customer success, support, internal processes. I believe that customers will take you places you’ve never thought about. Make sure you understand who your customer is, what they want, and what their opinion on your products and your competitors are. Always be customer centric. Whenever you make a decision, make sure it’s in the best interests of your customer.

3.       Ecosystem

You can’t do it on your own. It’s really important to have partners, thought leaders and key people in your industry that can help you scale. Good partners will help you expand your reach, grow your offering and build your credibility – with a fraction of the investment you’d need to do it yourself. They are a key strategy for any company, make sure you work together to create win-win relationships.

4.       Innovation

You always need to be looking for something completely different from what you’re doing. It doesn’t need to be technology, it could be in your process or in your data. It’s just about thinking differently. In the old days of computer graphics nobody’s hair would move, so the key differentiator for us was to have an algorithm for digital hair. Making hair look real, allowed us to leap frog our competition. It wasn’t an incremental change, or something we copied to stay at par, it was radically different. Be bold and do things that will make you stand out.

5.       Team

If you want to get stuff done you need a good team. Keep building the strengths, talents and passion of your team. When managing a team, it’s important to be able to manage failure – because it’s inevitably going to happen. I believe that failure can be as good as success, the important thing is to take the high road. When something goes wrong, good leaders need to help people through it. Don’t hide from the failure, recognize it, accept it and move on. It’s about encouraging grit & resilience. Teams that are gritty will survive failure and grow better because of it.

What are you doing to scale?

You can’t accurately predict what will happen or how any particular plan will actually turn out. As a leader, scalability is about creating the right atmosphere and culture for growth. The software, processes and technology is important, but they’re just tools to support a team that’s focused on growth.