Finding Clarity with a Line of Sight

Finding Clarity with a Line of Sight

She shifted her weight hastily from one foot to the other, clearly irritated.

I was too. Irritated, that is.

Her, a hundred other travelers in front of me, and I had chosen the wrong line at the airport, and security was moving us through their checkpoint at a snails pace.

The line to my left seemed like a racetrack by comparison. Each of the travelers walked confidently toward the checkpoint faster than American Pharoe to the Triple Crown. They seemed happy, almost cheery (or so my imagination told me).

That’s when this woman in front of me made her break for freedom.

Be a Witness to Your Time

Be a Witness to Your Time

Your time comes, and then it goes, never to return.

Most people don’t even watch it pass. They simply notice, one day, that they (and everyone around them) are older. They look back fondly on their memories, wondering why they seem so distant, amazed at how quickly they came and passed.

This is not how you treat a non-renewable resource. It's not even how we treat some renewable resources!

Success Doesn't Make Sacrifices, It Make Choices

Success Doesn't Make Sacrifices, It Make Choices

Your mind is an incredible transportation tool. 

In it, you can travel the world. You can put yourself in others' shoes. You can envision a future, more successful version of yourself. 

Your mind can also flip a bad situation on its head. You can see the good side of things, figuring out how to benefit from a regretful experience. 

Choosing how we view the world is a superpower. One that every human-being shares. 

This power is what incredible athletes, winning entrepreneurs, and high performers use to outperform their competition. They transport themselves into a world where there is only one path: Their path to achieving their goals. 

On this path, they don't make sacrifices. They make choices

Your Free Time is Disappearing... Here’s How You Reclaim It

“Zed, don't you guys ever get any sleep around here?” - Jay

“The twins keep us on Centaurian time, standard 37 hour day. Give it a few months. You'll get used to it... or you'll have a psychotic episode.” - Zed, Men in Black

37 hours in a day. Sounds nice right? An extra 13 hours to get shit done.

In reality, this would mean one of two (untenable) things:

  1. Your day would be the same length and your hours shorter, squeezing 37 hours in a standard 24 hour period.
  2. Your hours wouldn’t change but your days would expand by 13 hours, quickly reversing day and night. Your circadian rhythm would get all fucked up and you’d be a hot mess, or have a psychotic episode.

As it stands, you, your friends, Warren Buffet, and I have the same 24 hours in a day. No more. And sometimes it feels like less.

It feels like less because your free time is disappearing. And despite what I hear you saying, yes, you do have free time. The problem is, you’re spending it on activities of which you are not aware and for which you don’t account.

Translation: You have hidden, uncalculated free time in your day. Here’s how to extract it: 

1. Draw a circle and split it up into 24 segments... a pie chart with one segment for each hour.

2. Color in the number of segments representing how many hours of sleep you got.

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3. Color in how many hours of meetings you had.

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4. Color in how many hours of eating (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) you had.

5. Color in time taken exercising.

6. Color in time spent in emails and working on projects.

7. Color in time spent commuting.

8. Color in any other time you can account for.

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Don’t guestimate when you’re doing this. If you spent three hours emailing, but were really heads down for an hour, color in one hour, not three.

When done, you should have an accurate representation of where your day went and how it was spent. More importantly, you should see a free block of time remaining.

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This “free time” you see may come as a surprise since, of course, this wasn’t time you spent playing video games, relaxing, or otherwise bullshitting today. This free time was sucked out of your day because of distractions or poor planning. And there’s no way you could have known...

So where did this time go? Perhaps menial activities like Facebook, standing in front of an open fridge, or some other time-waster. It’s impossible for me to say, but with a bit of awareness tomorrow, you’ll easily see where your time is burnt on unimportant activities.

This is the time you can reclaim. This is the time you can budget tomorrow for important activities that will help you get closer to your goals. Even if it’s only 30 minutes, that’s 15 hours a month and 180+ hours a year! The possibilities for what you can do with that much extra time in a year, when used effectively, are endless.

Draw your 24 hour pie chart, identify where your time is being spent, find the free time, and utilize it more effectively tomorrow.

About the Author

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Mike Mehlberg

Efficient Time Waster Extraordinaire

Mike just went through this exercise, as he occasionally does, to identify where his time is most effectively spent, and where it’s being wasted. If you are a high-achieving entrepreneur looking to get more done and achieve more in your life and business, contact him to see how he can help.

Need a Breakthrough? Try Working the Impossible...

For the longest time, I couldn’t squat more than 200 pounds. Though training 5 days a week had quickly pushed me from squatting zero to 195 pounds, adding five extra pounds to the bar felt like adding 1000.

I knew this limit was artificial, manufactured in my brain that tried as best as it could to preserve itself by not taking risks. Regardless, I couldn’t break through. So I looked to a friend and fitness coach for some expert advice:

“Throw 300 pounds on the bar,” he said. “Don’t try to squat it, just put it on your shoulders. Feel the weight, hold it, then re-rack it. Do this a few times, then drop back to 200 lbs and try squatting again.”

It worked.

In theory, nothing had changed. I hadn’t gotten any stronger. I hadn’t learned a new technique or used some new device to artificial increase my lift. I had simply forced my mind to believe that it was possible to hold more weight. And after holding 300 lbs, squatting 200 felt much, much lighter.

What seemingly impossible task are you dealing with right now? What is holding you back from taking that next step towards your goals?

Acknowledge it, but move quickly to build tasks that challenge you. If someone has achieved what you are trying to achieve before, study them. Open your mind to the possibility that, if they can do it, so can you. Push yourself to operate at a new level, even if only briefly. When you come back to your work, what seemed impossible before may be that much easier.

Sometimes, when you get stuck and can’t seem to break through to the next level—when you hit a plateau that prevents you from furthering your goals—showing yourself the impossible is possible can be the breakthrough you need.


About the Author

Mike Mehlberg

In Search of Breakthroughs

Mike is constantly searching for breakthroughs for high-achieving entrepreneurs. Contact him to find out how you can get more productive, align your passion with your vision and purpose, and crush your goals with a balanced, achievable plan for success. 

Faster, Better, Cheaper: Two to Survive, Three to Thrive

Faster. Better. Cheaper.

This was the mantra of our business.

In every customer presentation, every water cooler discussion, and every company memo, our CEO could find a way to weave “faster, better, cheaper” into the conversation.

These three things are, after all, what every customer wants. They are what anyone and everyone wants.

Faster. Better. Cheaper. Three words that perfectly summarize the desire of any modern human.

Faster

We want results, and we want them now. We want revenue immediately. We want products shipped and delivered same-day. We want our goals accomplished, and our visions realized tomorrow.

Better

We want the best. We’ll settle for good, but we want great, and we crave the best. The best price (see below), the best food, the best information that will lead us to the best version of ourselves.

Cheaper

We want it all to be extremely affordable. The best goods available as quickly as possible, and cheap as shit. We want inexpensive products and free shipping. We demand free apps, customer service, and support.

Two Will Survive, Three Will Thrive

Faster. Better. Cheaper. Companies that can deliver two out of the three will survive.

Deliver the best service the quickest (but at a higher cost)? You’ll live. Build inexpensive products quickly (albeit with lower quality)? Your customers will buy. Provide the best coaching cheaper than your competition (but provide slower results), you’ll make a living.

But show your customers how you can be all three and watch your company thrive.

About the Author

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Mike Mehlberg

Business, Productivity, and Organization Writer

Mike Mehlberg helps high-achieving entrepreneurs maximize their time with purpose-driven business, organization, and productivity tools and techniques. Contact him for strategies to transform your vision into goals, goals into action, and action into results.

When the Struggle Gets Real, Remember to Have Fun

Baseball is a game of failure.

Failure to hit the ball. Failure to get on base. Failure to push a runner home. Over and over, play by play, someone, somewhere on the field is failing.

It’s not for lack of trying. It’s just the nature of the game. And, of course, there’s the flip side...

Some games see big hits, great plays, and few failures. Those games you usually win. Other games though, the failures accumulate and you wind up with a loss. Every once in a while, a real struggle sets in where every play seems to end up in error. Small failures build on each other until you see no chance to recover. Deep in your mind, you believe you are going to lose. And so, against all your beliefs and training, you stop trying; you just go through the motions until it’s game over.

Why the monologue on baseball? Because baseball (like any sport) is in microcosm of life.

You’ve faced failure countless times. Maybe you’ve swung at an opportunity and missed. Maybe you ran hard toward your goal, but just couldn’t reach it. Or, maybe you put all your effort into throwing a competitor out, but they somehow managed to slide under your tag and score.

Those are the times you feel the struggle; the times when winning feels too painful too bother trying. But you know you have to... try, that is. The question is, how?

Remember to Have Fun

Yes, have fun. This isn’t empty advice aimed at taking your mind off your problems, though it does help.

No, having fun is a call to action. A call to remember why you are playing the game in the first place. Having fun is actionable advice, reminding you not to take the game you play too seriously. It’s pain medicine administered to

  • prevent burnout,
  • spark creativity, and
  • avoid giving up.

So the next time struggle hits you hard, step back and remember why you started. Remember what made your game fun in the beginning, then go do that.

If you’re a photographer struggling to capture the perfect pic, take some silly photos of your kids, weird looking bird, or whatever. If you are an entrepreneur struggling to capture the next big idea that will skyrocket your company to success, draw some wacky doodles on a whiteboard and brainstorm how you can build and sell whatever you’ve created.

Then, when your mind is at ease and your smile returns, gently guide your mind back to the problem at hand. Transform the fun you had into a renewed energy and focus, leveraging the childlike sense of wonder that first captured your imagination, long ago, before the stakes got too real and everyone started taking themselves too seriously.

Remember to have fun.

About the Author

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Mike Mehlberg

Chief Child in Charge

Mike loves having fun, but often forgets because he’s “too busy” helping entrepreneurs get productive and turn their ideas into reality. Come to think of it, he should probably go have some fun right now. That way, next time you contact him, he’ll be fresh, energized, and ready to rock and roll.

Minimizing Risks vs. Maximizing Gains in Business

One word.

It’s the most common investment advice you hear.  

You do it with your assets, your wealth, investment types, even investors.  

Diversify.  

Diversifying protects your downside. It prevents massive losses and minimizes risks to your portfolio. Diversifying is arguably one of the most important concepts for wealth management. After all, if all your eggs are in one basket, you can’t afford to drop it. 

But diversifying isn’t the way to maximize growth in business. Quite the opposite. 

In business, you must constantly stay ahead. You must find your unique perspective and use it to claim (and protect) a portion of your market. Then, with that as a foothold, you have to grow your market share and squeeze out the competition, or at least prevent your competitors from encroaching on your territory.  

To do that requires learning — continuous, focused learning.

Take, for example, a “diversified business owner.” He spends one part of his day selling technology, then rushes over to work on marketing for a bakery, finally finishing the day with a trip to his hair salon to manage the books.

Clearly this is not optimal.  

The problem is, this owner can’t apply the lessons he learned in from business to the next. His actions are fragmented and unfocused. He can’t use the experiences from one company to make the next better.  

Entrepreneurship requires focus.  

Focus on learning the right things. Focus on learning the right skills. Focus on applying what you learn to run a more efficient, productive, and profitable business. 

When it comes to your investments, diversify. When it comes to your business, focus.  

About The Author

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Mike Mehlberg

Co-Founder | Focus Master

Mike just crushes focus and productivity in business for entrepreneurs. Right when they feel the weight of too many things to do, Mike can jump in and focus their efforts on achieving their vision and goals. Just don’t ask him about investing... 

The Most Important Thing You Must Do To Find and Retain Customers

The Most Important Thing You Must Do To Find and Retain Customers

I couldn't get out of the car fast enough.

The mountain view outside my windshield at Glacier National Park was stunning and, being a self-proclaimed amateur photographer, I felt compelled to capture the scene.

I walked out onto a small dock, past the trees and into the open. A panorama of magnificent natural beauty, unlike any other place I've seen on earth, came into sight. The blue sky, the green trees, the mountains rising out of the horizon and reflecting on a shimmering freshwater lake, all free for my eye to see and my camera to capture.

But I had to wait my turn. 

Using Trello to Organize Ideas, Track Process, and Take Action

If sticky notes are 3M’s gift to random thoughts and ideas, and the Internet is Al Gore’s (ha) gift to communication, Trello is Trello, Inc.’s perfect union of the two; a web app combing the simplicity of sticky notes with the power of the Internet; a gift to anyone who wants to organize their ideas and turn them into reality.

Want to skip the foreplay? Sign up here and play with it. It’s free.

Note: I don’t make a penny for recommending this tool. I just love it that much.

If you’re not ready to dive in, here’s why you should consider it.

Your Ideas are Worth Nothing, Unless...

I’ve written before on just how valuable your ideas are.

Bottom line up front?

If you haven’t taken action on your idea, it’s worth precisely nothing.

Many ideas have infinite potential, but never amount to anything because their creator didn’t execute. It’s easy to understand why. One of the most challenging things to do is take that first step toward transforming an idea into reality. We fear perfection, success, and failure all at the same time. We are overcome with indecision when facing a forest full of trees to cut down.

 As such, any app that captures your ideas, if it’s to be worth anything, must also help transition your ideas smoothly into execution.

This is why I love Trello. It’s an idea organizer, process development, project management, and general productivity tool for turning ideas into reality and getting shit done. 

Trello, the Kid-Friendly Productivity Tool for Grownups

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Think of Trello like an online whiteboard (called a Board) you can cover with sticky notes (called Cards). Your whiteboard is divided into columns (called Lists)—one for each step in your process.

Trello can support multiple Boards, and each can be customized to fit any stepwise process that works for you.

  • Turning Ideas Into Reality - From idea generation to research to a project plan.
  • Managing Sales - From lead to opportunity to sale to revenue.
  • Project Management - From project charter to execution to review to project close.
  • Writing - From idea to research to draft to published to marketing after.

Your Cards are the thoughts, ideas, and tasks that you need to track through your process. They are the digital "sticky notes" containing a title, description, notes, labels, assigned team members, due dates, and other tracking tools necessary for small business projects. Create new ones, delete old ones, move active ones between the columns to represent where each task lies in your process. You can even view the cards with due dates on a calendar. Oh, and if your Card is a bigger task that requires multiple actions to complete, you can list action items within and track them to completion. 

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 It’s Time to Take Action

Trello is free to use for teams, making it perfect for creators, entrepreneurs, and businesses with less than 25 employees. For businesses working in distributed environments, the Trello app on iOS and Android interfaces perfectly with their web app, allowing teams to access their Trello board anywhere they have an Internet connection.

Remember, your ideas are worth nothing if not executed.

And if you don’t have a process for turning your ideas into reality, it’s about damn time you created one. Trello might be exactly the app you are looking for to help you get organized, get productive, and transform ideas into action. 


About the Author

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Michael Mehlberg

Co-Founder | Technology, Apps, and Wicked Cool Productivity Tools

Mike Mehlberg spends most of his productive hours playing with cool apps that would make him more productive, if only he’d use them for real work. Want to get organized and maximize your time? He knows an app for that. Contact him at mike@moderndavinci.net to get organized, get productive, and make the most of each day.

Building Happy, Loyal Customers By Closing Open Loops

Building Happy, Loyal Customers By Closing Open Loops

At 35,000 feet, it’s unnerving when your 737 spins sideways like a fighter jet dodging a missile. On a routine flight, you don’t want to feel your commercial airliner shudder, violently, as if the pilot drove you through a field of boulders in a convertible.

But that’s what happened to me on a recent flight, halfway between Washington Dulles and San Diego.

Force in Business is Not a Multiplier

Force in Business is Not a Multiplier

It’s easy to use force to accomplish your objectives. 

  • Go straight for the sale by telling your customer every benefit of your offering.

  • Shout “look-at-me” on social media to get attention.

  • Jump from meeting to email to some other urgent task to feel productive. 

More often than not, you'll find success with this approach. As such, like a pigeon that finds a seed in a pile of rocks, you continue pecking in search of more success using this blunt tool called force. 

Here's the problem.

Force requires energy. Your energy. Moreover, you can only force your will for so long before your energy is depleted.  

There’s a better way.

Getting Derailed? Leave Room to Accommodate the Unexpected

Getting Derailed? Leave Room to Accommodate the Unexpected

You often get derailed by "the unexpected.”

It’s inevitable.

You get interrupted an unexpected number of times daily. Those interruptions come at unexpected times. They each take an unexpected amount of time with which to deal.

That’s why it’s "the unexpected."

These interruptions kill your flow, destroy your focus, and force you to work on the urgent instead of the important.

So how do you deter, prevent, and deal with the problems these unexpected interruptions incur? 

The Missing Element to Achieving Your Goals and Expanding Your Potential

The Missing Element to Achieving Your Goals and Expanding Your Potential

I chuckled in the smallish veterinary clinic in Leesburg, Virginia, just loud enough to draw a glance from the doctor standing nearby.

"My wife just responded to my text," I said. "I told her Dottie gained 10 pounds. She told me 'that's because you feed her salami every night.'"

Dottie is our Bulloxer rescue; a bulldog head stuck on a boxer's body. She's four years old, has white fur, and (now) weighs 85.2 pounds. Where she was once ripped with genetically-gifted shoulder muscle striation, she now looks a little soft and full. 

Maybe full of salami...