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The Gridlock MBA Podcast
17 minutes | Dec 13, 2018
Episode 4 - Get SMART - Milestones Along the Path to Your Vision
The Gridlock MBA PodcastEpisode 4 - Get SMART - Milestones Along the Path to Your VisionEpisode Notes:You know where you want to go. You can picture the destination in your mind. You have a vision. But there will be important stops along the way. Some of these stops are necessities, like the gas station, the grocery store to fill up on snacks, or Starbucks for that last-minute road trip mocha. Other stops are just for fun and add some excitement and adventure to your journey. Like visiting that vintage toy store in that tiny roadside town or the short detour to see the world's largest ball of twine. These are all milestones along the path to your destination, your vision. Each of them could be visions in their own right. But you have a bigger, more important vision in mind. The milestones along the way are going to make your journey exciting and rewarding. They'll also make sure you're constantly moving forward.I'm Dennis Looney and this is The Gridlock MBA Podcast.Welcome to Episode 4 of The Gridlock MBA Podcast. I am your drive-time professor and host, Dennis Looney, multi-unit franchise business owner and 28-year sales and leadership veteran, here to help you advance your career while you tackle your commute and there's no bachelor's degree required.This week's show is entitled Get SMART - Milestones Along the Path to Your Vision. And this is definitely one of my favorite subjects.The Gridlock MBA Podcast is now available on Spotify, in addition to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.Follow me on social media:Dennis Looney on TwitterDennis Looney on InstagramThe Gridlock MBA Podcast On TwitterThe Gridlock MBA Podcast On InstagramThe Gridlock MBA Podcast On FacebookOther links:dennislooney.comgridlockmba.comI'm going to jump right in with a little story…My wife and I opened a franchise bakery business a year ago this week. Each Saturday, I deliver a weekly update chat with our team at the bakery. About four months into our operation, I told them, "There's one thing you'll soon learn about my wife, Janette, and me - we don't let dreams stay dreams for very long. We have a vision of where we want to go and we put a plan into action." And we did just that. Seven months later, we were unanimously approved to open our second bakery location.This illustrates how quickly dreams can become reality when an actionable plan is put in place.This principle is one of the biggest drivers in my career progression. And it will be in yours as well. If you adopt it now and are intentional about your planning and execution.The last few episodes built on one another. That's because a base level of proficiency in planning, scheduling, and execution are necessary before other actionable items can take hold. In the future, episodes topics will often stand on their own, covering a variety of subjects.In this week's episode we'll continue building on the fundamentals of my planning, scheduling, and execution approach. Today, we will focus on setting goals, or as I prefer to call them, "Milestones."I call them "milestones" for a couple reasons. First, the term "goal" can kind of feel like a desire, a dream, or a wish. Milestones are more definite than that. Secondly, the term "milestone" suggests a defined point along a path. Referring to goals as "milestones" removes the possibility of misinterpreting your intentions. You must reach your identified milestones in order to accomplish your vision.Remember, the simple planning model includes creating a vision, establishing milestones necessary to accomplish that vision, and an execution strategy to reach those milestones.In Episode 2, The Lost Art of Planning, I challenged you to capture three goals you could accomplish within 3 months.And in the last episode, Episode 3, we worked on crafting your personal vision, painting a picture of your ideal career and ideal life. If you missed these, I recommend you check out Episodes 2 and 3 first.Today, we'll examine your three goals from Episode 2 and in the next episode, we'll put it all together and execute your plans and get you closer to realizing your vision.Let's look back at the goals you created in Episode 2What are those three goals?Do those goals support your personal vision from Episode 3?If you created goals that don’t seem to align with your vision, you’re in good company. People tend to create goals with a short-term end game in mind. The short-term approach is actually appropriate, as long as there is a connection to your vision. If there’s no connection, you’re likely just looking for some quick gratification in some area of your life. Losing 10 pounds is a good example. It’s probably worth doing, but for most people, it won’t be uniquely tied to a longer-term vision. And goals that tie to a broader vision will propel your career and life forward faster and in a more intentional way than goals that aren’t connected to your vision.Now, let’s say your vision includes becoming the president of a Fortune 500 company in ten years. Well, if one of your goals is to eat fewer Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and another is to buy an X-Box, we need to revisit your goals.I'm not saying there's anything wrong with these goals, only that they will not move you forward toward your vision. And you can do better than that.Better goals, or milestones, would be actionable and would create an obvious progression toward your vision.An improved list of milestones might be something like:Deliver your first presentation at your company’s National Sales Meeting orConvert two target customers orIncrease sales of a certain product line by 8%Each of these milestones would move you at least a little closer to becoming the president of a Fortune 500 company. No, it won't happen in 12 weeks, but these milestones certainly could be achieved in that timeframe, and that's progress.The reason these are better milestones than eating fewer peanut butter cups or buying an X-Box are obvious in that they relate directly to the vision. But they also check the boxes on the SMART goals test.If you've heard of SMART goals before, this will be a refresher. If not, I'll explain what they are.SMART is an acronym that helps you apply a test to your milestone to ensure you the highest chance of success. Here's how to apply the SMART model:Your goal (or milestone) needs to be:(S) Specific - Think who, what, when, where, why, and, how.(M) Measurable - This is the amount of change that will be realized once complete.(A) Achievable within the amount of time you prescribed, in this case, 12 weeks.(R) Usually stands for Realistic. I prefer to use (R)elates to your vision. This is an area many people fail to connect. My model assumes your milestone will be Realistic based on passing the Achievable in 12 weeks test.(T) Time-bound - This one's easy. You have twelve weeks to reach the milestone. If you can't reach the milestone in 12 weeks, you probably need to break it down into smaller milestones and complete them in stages over time.And why 12 weeks, by the way? 12 weeks is a sufficient amount of time to accomplish meaningful results in many areas of your life. Check out the book The 12 Week Year to learn more about the power of planning for 12 week periods.The 12 Week Year physical bookThe 12 Week Year audiobookNow, let’s see how our example milestones measure up to the SMART test.Milestone Example 1: Eat fewer Reese's Peanut Butter CupsSpecific? That depends. Have you counted exactly how many Reese's Peanut Butter Cups you typically eat in 12 weeks? If so, and you eat less than that, then sure, fewer is kind of specific. But that's probably a stretch.Measurable? Well, it might be less or it might not be. The problem is the word "fewer,” which is rather ambiguous.Achievable? Probably. Unless you REALLY love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.Relates to your Vision? Probably not.Time-bound? YesThe milestone of eating fewer Reese's Peanut Butter Cups falls apart in being specific, measurable, and, most importantly, related to your vision.By all means, go ahead and eat fewer Reese's Peanut Butter Cups over the next 12 weeks, but don't bother wasting mental horsepower on it.What about the X-Box?Specific? Sure, you will have an X-Box 12 weeks from now.Measurable? Yep. You have zero X-Boxes now and will have 1 X-Box in 12 weeks.Achievable? Maybe. How much money do you have now? How difficult will it be to raise the funds to make the purchase? This one depends on the individual.Related to your vision - I doubt it.Time-bound. Yep. 12 weeks, one X-Box.Again, this milestone falls apart in perhaps the most critical area: Related to your vision. And we're trying to get you closer to your ideal career and ideal life.Let's look at the others:Milestone: Deliver your first presentation at a National Sales MeetingSpecific: Yes. It's your first presentation at a National Sales Meeting. It covers the who, what, when, and where of the challenge.Measurable: Yes. You've never delivered a presentation at a National Sales Meeting and in twelve weeks, you will have.Achievable: Yes, 12 weeks is plenty of time to prepare to present at a big event.Relates to vision: Yes. This achievement will build awareness of your capability to shine in front of a big group as well as your peers. This will move you closer to what it will take to realize your vision of becoming the president of a Fortune 500 company in ten years.Time bound: Yep. 12 weeks to prepare to deliver one presentation.This milestone passes the SMART test.For practice, I'll let you apply the model to the other two milestones I mentioned to see if they hold up to the SMART test.As a reminder, those other milestones are:Convert two target customersIncrease sales of a certain product line by 8%Of course, there could be situations where converting two target customers or achieving 8% growth isn't achievable in 12 weeks. But it doesn't diminish the value of the exercise. The point is to apply the model to the goals you created earlier.
9 minutes | Dec 5, 2018
Episode 3 - Crafting Your Personal Vision
Episode 3 - Crafting Your Personal VisionEpisode Notes:So where are you heading right now? Are you off to work? Between sales calls? On your way to a meeting?How are you going to get there? Will you take the freeway? Cruise down side streets? Park your car and catch public transit?What sorts of things will you do along the way? Put on your seat belt, start the car, put it in drive? Maybe stop for gas or grab a coffee?You do this routine every day. You may not realize it, but you've demonstrated vision, planning, and execution skills. Vision in knowing where you want to go (your destination). Planning in deciding how you're going to get there (your route). And execution (starting your car, putting it in drive, scanning for hazards, and refining your course).These are the same elements we'll use to help you grab the wheel and take control of your career. Take control of your life.I'm Dennis Looney and this is The Gridlock MBA Podcast.Welcome to Episode 3 of The Gridlock MBA Podcast, I'm your drive-time professor, Dennis Looney, here to help you advance your career while you tackle your commute. No bachelors degree required.Today, we are going to craft a personal vision.This is where people sigh and think, "vision is for people who don't take action on anything." Well, I'm here to challenge that way of thinking.I learned about crafting a personal vision from a career coach and it's made a significant difference in how I approach my goal setting and execution. "Seeing" where you want to go is critical to lining up the milestones that will help get you there. And get you there faster, too.As we discussed in the last episode, we all know we're supposed to write down our goals. But no one ever tells you to write down your vision.But here's the thing: whether you realize it or not, your goals don't exist without a vision.If you have a goal to lose weight, you actually have a vision to be healthier and more attractive. If you want a six-figure income, you actually have a vision to be more successful and be perceived by others as being successful. Vision always comes first. Vision is knowing where you want to go. You can see it. You can visualize it. It's your destination.Goals are the milestones you'll encounter along the way. They're the route you're going to take.Action (or tactics) are the things you will do along the way, like fasten your seat belt, stop to get gas, and listen to The Gridlock MBA Podcast.This week's homework assignment is to get your 10 year vision down on paper. Here is the process:Take 30 minutes to an hour to really think about the life you want ten years from now. This can be challenging because ten years is a long time. But trust the process. Think REALLY BIG. You don't need to worry so much about creating realistic goals here. This is a vision of the greatest life you can imagine ten years from now.Some triggers to get you started: What kind of home are you living in? What title do you have in your job? Are you self-employed? Are you retired? What kind of car do you drive? Who surrounds you? Family? Friends?Once you have your ten year vision down on paper, capture three goals that, when accomplished, will get you at least a little closer to that vision. Here's the trick - set goals that can be accomplished in 3 months. An awful lot can be accomplished in three months when you're disciplined about executing the tactics that will get you there. We'll cover that more in the next episode.That's it for this episode. Please visit dennislooney.com or gridlockmba.com. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And if you enjoyed the show, visit dennislooney.com and subscribe.As a reminder, the digital world is full of information that can be had for free. Take all you want, but leave some as well. Share your experiences, leave feedback on podcasts and blog posts, share valuable findings with others, etc. You'll be doing your part to make our world a better place.Until next time, drive safe, and I'll see you soon.Dennis
8 minutes | Nov 28, 2018
Episode 2 - The Lost Art of Planning
The Gridlock MBA PodcastEpisode 2 - The Lost Art of PlanningExecuting without having a formal plan in place has become a trend. That's because most of us have never learned to plan the right way in the first place. Most of us haven't learned to break the goal down to next steps and, most importantly, ACTUALLY SCHEDULE those steps on our calendars.There are a couple reasons we fail to plan. First, we often don't know how to plan. Second, we don't like the feeling of accountability it puts on us, which is kind of ironic. We avoid the feeling of accountability and trade it for anxiety and regret.People tend to avoid planning. Maybe they think it's too time consuming or too difficult. But planning is pretty simple and time spent up front planning can dramatically reduces the actual time it takes to complete a goal.Planning:Step 1: Create a vision of a future stateStep 2: Capture goals to achieve with the vision in mind (3 or less)Step 3: Generate actions necessary to accomplish the goalExecution:Schedule the very next action on your calendar (or use a task manager like Outlook)Do that action as scheduled (don't let emails run your day and prevent you from taking action)Mark as complete (celebrate the small victory)Revisit goal (If more steps remain, repeat from Planning step 3)Key takeaway: Schedule tasks that achieve your goals first. They are the big rock goals that deserve your attention.This Week's Homework Assignment:Jot down three goals you'd like to accomplish in the next 12 weeks. We'll talk more about why we're using 12 weeks here in future episodes. But for now, just capture 3 goals. Write them down. Don't lose them. We'll revisit them in a couple episodes.Over the next couple episodes, we will work on creating your personal vision, setting goals against that vision, taking control of your schedule, and executing your plan. You can do this. I'm here for you.Thanks for listening to Episode 2. Visit my website at dennislooney.com or gridlockmba.com. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @dennislooney. And be sure to subscribe so you don't miss any episodes!As a reminder, I encourage you to share your knowledge and experience with the world. Don't simply take everything available for free. And if you enjoy this podcast, share it as well.That's it for now. Drive safe. See you soon.Dennis
4 minutes | Nov 22, 2018
Episode 1 - Intro to The Gridlock MBA Podcast
In this first episode, I introduce myself, my career background, and the reason I created The Gridlock MBA Podcast. I introduce the show's format, share some thoughts for future episodes, and provide information on how to reach me and engage with the show.
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