We’re excited to be really geeking out today… getting a little focused on one particular tactic that we use in our business on a regular basis to keep us organized and productive.
What are they and how do they improve productivity?
To me, timelines give you a visual representation of the journey to get you to the end product. What happens is that when we can see our destination out there in front of us―whether that’s a product, a book, a website, or launching an entire new business, we can see this big goal out there.
But, unless we have a sense of what the markers are, what the milestones are, along the journey, we tend to severely underestimate the amount of time it will actually take to get something accomplished.
“We need to fall in love with the process, not just the end product of our work.” ― Todd Henry, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
A timeline is one of the fastest ways to get clarity around all the steps of a project, to actually bring it to fruition.
Start to plot out a timeline physically―get a big white board, a big long piece of paper, or a bunch of pieces of paper that you could tape up on the wall and move around.
Look at the things you’re saying that you want to accomplish in a certain amount of time… For example, we’re coming up on the fourth quarter of 2018, and we personally have a whole bunch of things that we’re trying to launch.
I did this process recently for one of my art projects, I want to launch a new membership site called the Art Journaling Club, and when I sat down and started working up the timeline, I’m like, “Oh man, this is way too aggressive. There’s no way that, given my other tasks that I have inside of our company, that I have the time to launch this much content in this amount of time.” It gave me a really realistic perspective of what’s possible.
So part of the process is recognizing when a timeline is too aggressive and adjusting the milestones accordingly. Generally, we like to look at 12 months at a time at least once a year. However, it really depends on your sense of urgency around what it is you’re creating.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN:
- Todd Henry’s defining question that Minette found to be so brilliant
- 3 reasons why to really use timelines in your creative work
- What components to include on an effective timeline
- What the heck to do with your timeline once you’ve created it
Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry
Productivity For Creative Business Owners Facebook Group
You can also subscribe to this podcast on our Youtube channel.
Brad Dobson: “I am so overwhelmed.”
Minette Riordan: “I need more clarity.”
BradBrad Dobson: Now we got it.
Minette Riordan: Hey, it’s Brad and Minette. It’s episode 111 of the Structure and Flow podcast. Does your vision statement suck?
Brad Dobson: Does it? This is a big deal for us recently, and it turns out it was a big deal for us three years ago and we forgot about it.
Minette Riordan: Was it a big deal three years ago?
Brad Dobson: Or maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal, because we forgot about it.
Minette Riordan: Maybe it was, but a year ago we did this process too and forgot about in our business acceleration master class, so according to Cameron Herold, the author of Double Double and the author of Vivid Vision, your vision and mission statement suck. And the impact of that can be pretty big on your business. So today we wanna dive in to a little bit of our personal story around Vivid Vision, why it matters, how we got stuck on this topic lately, and what we’ve been doing about it, and how does having a clear vision statement impact productivity, and then some tips from Cameron Herold on how to actually create a vivid vision statement. So, ready?
Brad Dobson: Yeah, definitely. Lots to talk about.
Minette Riordan: There is lots to talk about. You wanna share the quote?
Brad Dobson: I will.
Minette Riordan: It’s kinda weird to go live on Facebook too. Don’t know if we’ll do it again, but we’re giving it a try today.
Brad Dobson: That’s right. I guess we’ll see the follow-up later. All right, from Cameron Herold, “If you have been bold enough in your ideas, this will have two affects. It will attract and repel others, notice I said it will attract and repel, not or. Attract and repel, not or. Your vivid vision should be like a magnet drawing some people in and pushing others, hopefully not too many, away. If your scope is too small, too milk toast, or too watered down, or if everyone likes it, no one will love it. If this is the case, you have failed.” That’s Cameron Herold, Vivid Vision, a Remarkable Tool For Aligning your Business Around a Shared Vision of the Future. Honestly, we’re not getting money from him.
Minette Riordan: No, we’re not. We’d love to have him on the show as a guest, so maybe he’ll Google himself and find our episode and wanna come on and talk about some of his experiences.
Brad Dobson: We can only hope so, but, yeah, this came up for us recently. It just happened that I got a newsletter email from MeetEdgar, who does our social media stuff, and they mentioned a Tedx Talk from Vancouver called, your vision statement sucks, or why your vision statement sucks, and I watched it and I was caught up. I couldn’t put it down. I bought the book. Then we went through the exercises, did a whole bunch of work related to it.
Minette Riordan: So the concept of a vivid vision statement according to Cameron Herold, this is a three year vision of what it is that you wanna create in your business and he recommends doing one for your personal life as well. He says that the reason that so many companies, and he tends to work with a little bit bigger companies as well as entrepreneurs, but he says the reason that they’re struggling is because the CEO isn’t able to clearly articulate the vision that’s in their head to their employees, to their vendors, as well as to their customers.
So learning how to write this in a way that you can get everybody on board with you, is really, really powerful. And as small creative business owners we have always talked about how important it is to know your big why, but this is even deeper and further than that. We realized in our business that we’ve been kinda pigeonholing ourselves lately, and realizing that we weren’t bringing all of our own gifts and talents to bare on the things that we wanted to be doing.
We preach all the time about living inside your creative genius, and doing as much work as possible. Then of course all of this was sparked, I think we might’ve talked about this a little bit in the last episode as well, by Brad’s post iron man, turn 50 year old, what do I wanna do with my life, so maybe you could share the impact for you of just first even considering doing this, and then the actual process of walking through it.
Brad Dobson: I think the, what I realized is that, there’s a lot of my life that I’ve been living … my life and my business work, that I’ve been living in a reactive mode, so I’m the tail not the tiger. I’m the ball not the bat, to bring the sports analogies into it. I’ve gone a long way on that, but that’s not the way to live a super fulfilling life and a directed life.
This isn’t to say that the fates won’t deal me other blows, or I’ll get dealt other cards that I can’t play, but the idea behind this, that struck so much my core, was that it gave me a chance to visualize and then manifest something more, and something that I wanted over the next three years, both in business and personally. I think that’s why it sort of went straight to my heart in terms of something that I wanted to do.
Minette Riordan: I think when we sat down and really started to … so Brad did personal first. We actually had a fun day at the beach, where we did some brainstorming and some mind mapping, looking at all the key areas of our personal life and what we want to happen across the next three years, and then realized that we needed to take a fresh look at our business as well.
In saying this, if you listen to our last episode, we were in the middle of a launch while we were doing all this, and even in the middle of the launch we had this moment of recognizing that we need to be getting more projects going, and not only focusing in on one project at a time. So from a productivity perspective, we were getting tunnel vision, and we needed to be a little more expansive in our thinking, which actually created a lot more room for play.
It could have created overwhelm, but it actually didn’t because in our very next episode we’re going talk about timelines, and the power of timelines, and how that actually connects with this concept of vivid vision. But what we realized is that even in the middle of doing this launch, and the amount of work that was required to launch a new video series and open the doors to a creative business accelerator, we could do other work as well. And that it actually was really fulfilling to do that, so I personally started changing over my minetteriordan.com website. I got pictures of a lot of my art, put it up there. Nothing’s finished, everything’s in process. And why don’t you tell them what you’re working on in OPE site.
Brad Dobson: Yeah, definitely. Starting up a software as a service system. I guess we’ll talk about that more later, but another product that I can sell in a completely different place. I think what you should understand, dear listener, and big shout out to our friend Sam Bennett, author of Start Right Here, is that right?
Minette Riordan: I think that’s one of them. And Getting Things Done. Samantha Bennett is an amazing writer, and very inspirational person all the way around.
Brad Dobson: Something came up with her at dinner the other night, where she talked about how important it was, especially for creatives, to bring all of their talents to bare in their life and in their business. I think both of realized that we weren’t doing that, so some of these new business ideas come from that, just trying to integrate all of our talents into the work that we do in our lives. So we’ve sort of taken that on whole hock.
Minette Riordan: We have, and so the thing that Brad is working on is related to programming, and if you’ve been following us for a while you know that he has 20 plus-
Brad Dobson: 25.
Minette Riordan: 25 years experience as a programmer, and I think you were far enough out from your job and the constraints of that to remember how much you actually love programming.
Brad Dobson: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Minette Riordan: And that that was really missing [crosstalk 00:08:08].
Brad Dobson: That’s fun and creative for me. So, yeah, definitely.
Minette Riordan: Yeah, I can’t imagine programming being fun and creative personally, but thank goodness for people like you that do absolutely love it.
Brad Dobson: That’s right. The world needs more of me [crosstalk 00:08:20].
Minette Riordan: I think the point is that as we were working on where do we see ourselves in three years, that we really needed a more expansive vision than just Path to Profit Academy, and their structure and flow podcast is just part of that, but we have all these things that we’re passionate about.
And it’s funny, another writer and thought leader that I’m a fan of is Dorie Clark. I got an email from her today about what do you do when you’re multi-passionate, actually Marie Forleo talks a lot about being multi-passionate as well. She had this great perspective on how do you pick the thing to work on, and it’s not about giving up anything, but it’s about learning to prioritize things.
I think one of the questions that you kept having, that was such a great question was, so we’re working on Path to Profit Academy, we’re working to build this, and I’m called to work on this other project over here, how do I step away from all the work that I know needs to be done on this project, and we always come back to productivity from the perspective of time blocking, and having blocks of time dedicated to specific projects. Previously all those projects were related to Path to Profit Academy, so we’ve just moved some of our blocks around. And it hasn’t really slowed down our progress at all. That’s the surprising part.
Brad Dobson: Actually the ironic part for me I think is that now I have non stupid stuff to fill the down time with.
Minette Riordan: Non stupid stuff.
Brad Dobson: So, in other words [crosstalk 00:09:55].
Minette Riordan: So instead of surfing the internet-
Brad Dobson: Yeah, yeah, if I come up to a block when I’m working on something related to the Academy, I can put that down. I can then fill the time with other important work instead of web surfing, or that type, Instagram.
Minette Riordan: Right? You spend a lot of time on Instagram?
Brad Dobson: Not as much as you.
Minette Riordan: Not as much as me, well, you know, I’m actually posting on Instagram, and building visibility there. So we are social media junkies, just like so many other people out there, but we’re learning to manage our time effectively. So what I’ve noticed is that I’ve just shifted some of my priorities, and it’s actually been really rewarding to have these different projects going.
When we looked at the three year timeline, and I recently actually had one of our clients do this as well, but I was also able to see where am I doing too much, where am I not doing enough, is this really doable, is my vision big enough, is it too small, so from a productivity perspective we always talk on the show about how it’s not about working harder, it’s about working smarter. For us that meant creating a little more spaciousness in our schedule for some of the the fun projects, as well as the money making right now projects.
So everything that we’re working on will bring us money eventually. It may not bring us money right now, but we’re starting on the foundations so that ultimately we see our company having four different colors, and different brands. And it’s pretty exciting to get them all going at the same time, and I think it’s the definition of stepping into leadership, and stepping into being the visionary and the CEO of your company, is looking at it from this perspective of what’s lacking right now, and what’s the bigger vision that I’m striving for.
Brad Dobson: Yeah, and I think I’d like to segue that into another thing that this has been important for me, setting this vision both personal and business, was related to comfort zone [crosstalk 00:12:03]. In fact, I’ve had the, to be entirely honest, a little bit of emotional feedback from my brain here in the last couple of weeks, finding a lot of, I will say, weepy time, or whatever that may be, and I realized when I worked through it, it’s that the things that I put in these vision statements, these three year visions, were meant to stretch me, and meant to get me out of my comfort zone. I think it’s just hugely important that we do that. That we get out of our stuck patterns.
I think what my brain started to realize is that I was rereading these visions, which you’re supposed to do at least a couple times a week, so that the vision actually starts to set in your brain, I think what I realized, and my brain realized, is that there’s a big gap between where I wanna go and where I am right now when I sit on the couch and watch another episode of whatever, DC or Marvel [crosstalk 00:13:04].
Minette Riordan: Right now we’re binge watching Supergirl in the evenings.
Brad Dobson: We’re watching on Netflix, and so there’s that gap, and that kinda emotion comes from my brain saying, “Well, I really don’t wanna get out of that comfort zone,” so I would challenge you to, when you’re setting your vision, whether that’s based on this vivid vision system, or some other thing that you wanna do, I would challenge you to set things that are not ridiculous, but that are gonna get you out of your comfort zone, and change you over the next three years, make you a different person, because all of us need to grow. We don’t need to end up being the exact same person we are right now, unless you’re the Ubermensch out there that … let us know.
Minette Riordan: I don’t know even know what that means.
Brad Dobson: An Ubermensch, well we’ll go look it up. I think I got the word right.
Minette Riordan: So after all this talk about this, well, one, for those of you that are watching on Facebook or YouTube, I wanted to show you here’s the cover of his book, Double Double, and one of the first reasons I bought the book is it has a quote by my hero Seth Godin, you’ve heard me talk about on the show before, and the quote says, “That Cameron wants you to work on your business, not in it. If you have the focus and desire to make some hard choices, you’ll find a ton of sensible, actionable ideas inside.”
And this is exactly what Brad was talking about when it comes to building your creative business. We’re not saying any of this is easy. It’s not complicated, but it is emotionally taxing. It will stretch you outside of your comfort zone. Like Brad I had very similar experience. I’ve been saying I was gonna sell my art for six months, and took me six months to just simply put a page on my website with picture of my art. Right now there’s no prices. There’s not even any contact me information, and there was this huge emotional surge of resistance and stretching putting it out there, so we really get what it’s like to feel the fear.
Sometimes when you’re thinking about that future you, we do a fun exercise with our clients that’s similar to vivid vision called future you, what’s happening in your life three years from now, it does really make that gap crystal clear, between where you are now, and where you’re saying you wanna be. One of the things that I think I loved about Cameron’s work, and I know this was a challenging piece as well, is that when you’re working on this vivid vision, you have to completely let go of the how. You cannot worry about how any of this is gonna be accomplished. You have to focus on what’s it gonna look like it, what’s it gonna feel like, what’s the experience that you’re having, and your team and your company are having, and forget about the how. You can work on the how later, but that’s not the point of the vivid vision.
Brad Dobson: Yeah, if you’re thinking about the how, you’re just gonna get caught up in, oh, I can’t do that, oh, I’m a failure, I don’t understand how I could ever make that happen. And I’ve certainly been guilty of that over the years, that type of thinking. This is about, I don’t know if it’s so much playful, but just it’s visioning. You’re gonna sit down outside your office, and get a real close feel for what room you’re in, the type of people you’re working with, what people you’re working with, how awesome they are, not, hey, I’m still working with Barbara and she drives me nuts. It’s not about that.
Minette Riordan: No offense to all the Barbaras out there.
Brad Dobson: You’re envisioning something better for yourself, and for your company. And it’s worth the time to take to set that vision.
Minette Riordan: The other key thing that he says, and I think this was really important, I know it was important for us, is to get out of the office, or in our case get out of the house, and go work on this somewhere else. Don’t try to do this while you’re sitting at your computer. Actually take a physical journal, or yellow legal pad, or whatever you love to write on, and a pen, and go somewhere else. Go to a restaurant, a coffee shop, a bar, the beach, a favorite park, somewhere outside of your home so that you are completely free of distractions and you can really be centered in the moment, and capture the feeling and the magic of what you want your life to look like in every area of your business.
So we looked at staff. We looked at clients. We looked at our brand. We looked at technology, just having all of our technology up to date and running. We looked at our life together. We looked at each of our four brands that we’re building, and got really clear about what those brands look like three years from now. It can be scary. We have a lot of work to do, but none of it is beyond our ability at all. It’s just a matter of getting the plans and the priority around the vivid vision and those timelines in place once it’s clear.
Brad Dobson: Yeah, and we looked at what our office looked like, what our company retreats looked like-
Minette Riordan: Oh yeah, I have a really beautiful art studio three years from now overlooking the water.
Brad Dobson: And all these things ended up in a four or five page Google Doc that we can then look at anytime we want, pull it up on phone, reread. There was some financial projection in there, but not much. That’s not really what this exercise is about, certainly that’s a key part of it, but there’s more to it than that. This is about what it is that your company, or you yourself, are gonna look when you do make that X amount of dollars.
Minette Riordan: And then we were able to take that vivid vision and actually use our own visual business planning process to start to put a yearly plan in place for each of the four brands around what needs to happen, what are the revenue streams gonna be, how are we gonna market them. So it gave us a lot of hope I think, and a lot of joy. But then also a lot of practical details. Well, if we say that we want X to grow by this, then here’s what needs to happen. So it’s a beautiful beginning part of any planning process. So if you’ve been feeling stuck, and not really knowing what it is that you wanna create, take a step back, instead of a step forward, and try to get some perspective on how do you want it all to look if it was going perfectly three years from today.
Brad Dobson: I can’t encourage you enough to go and track this down. We’re gonna put all these links in the show notes today, to Cameron Herold, his YouTube video, as well as the book. It’s a quick read.
Minette Riordan: Yep, super practical.
Brad Dobson: And you can get this done relatively quick, not painlessly, but relatively quick. And then you’ve got a road map that you can follow, your brain can follow, you can reread, and you can start setting those mental pathways, and give yourself and upgrade for the next three years.
Minette Riordan: Yeah, that’s true. Flying first class is also on our list. That’s that personal upgrade.
Brad Dobson: That’s been on the list for a while.
Minette Riordan: It has been on the list for a while, and I have to say it’s just as powerful to do this for your personal life as it is for your business life. Sitting down and just mapping out the key areas, like we looked at health and fitness. We looked at relationship and family, travel, spirituality. We looked at all the house, so yeah house projects. So we got really clear about what needs to be happening on the personal side. It’s pretty easy for me in particular to get really focused just on business, and forget about the rest of the world. I’m a self proclaimed workaholic, and productive bad ass. I love getting stuff done in the business, but sometimes I kinda suck at getting it done around the house.
So really seeing it in writing, that these are the things to want to happen, now I know what the actions are that I need to take, and it’s not just this abstract project, but it’s actually very specific step-by-step process.
Brad Dobson: Something I wish I’d been doing for quite a number of years. I’m really encouraged by this. So cool [crosstalk 00:21:15].
Minette Riordan: Yeah, we’ll keep you posted along the way. We’ll do some check-ins on how it’s going as we get closer to that vibrant vision.
Brad Dobson: And if you are watching on our Facebook Live, you just happen to be, obviously this is happening before you’re gonna hear it from the podcast, but feel free to jump on over to the-
Minette Riordan: Productivity for creative business owners.
Brad Dobson: That’s right, productivity for creative business owners, Facebook group. We’ve got a lot of great stuff going on in there, and some really neat announcements about the creative business accelerator this week, and also just give us your name in the Facebook Live if you just drop by, and send us a heart or a thumbs up, and let us know if you enjoyed this, because we may well start doing all of our stuff live like this.
Minette Riordan: Yeah, it was pretty fun. And if you’re listening on iTunes, we absolutely love you as well. And don’t forget you can always go take our unique productivity style quiz to understand more about your own approach to productivity, and how you manage time tasks and stress a little bit differently from other people. You can find that at pathtoprofitacademy.com/upsquiz.
Brad Dobson: Finally, next week we’ll do episode 112.
Minette Riordan: We are cruising through these episodes.
Brad Dobson: And we’re gonna talk about the power of timelines, and how to use timelines to manage your bright, shiny ideas.
Minette Riordan: It’s gonna be a hot topic. I just did this myself this week, and realized I was being a little too aggressive in some of my planning.
Brad Dobson: Cool stuff. Okay, guys.
Minette Riordan: All right, we’ll see you on the next episode.
Brad Dobson: Bye.