On a recent article, I talked about the importance of having a business coach. Some of my (fantastic) email subscribers, asked me about specific activities that she and I work on together, so I wanted to share one with you. Coming into 2019, we decided it was important to identify the personal areas of development I wanted to work on (instead of traditional New Year’s resolutions) this year and have her keep me accountable and push me. She came up with her list, and I came up with mine; when combined, the result was five statements of “I choose to” –purposely indicating that they’re something I can control and determine and it’s about the person I want to be(come).
There are two reasons I want to share them with you:
One, I am selfishly looking for public accountability by putting them out in the open. In one year, I’ll be able to look back and see if I made any progress, and all my friends, family, and my network will too. And secondly, to inspire you to audit yourself and clearly define where and what you want to improve on. These are mine –and yours might completely differ, what matters is that they’re important to you and that you implement them.
But before we get started, I first wanted to note (like I did on my podcast) that I work backward from where do I want to be –my vision– and then define the specific actions –the KPI’s. Saying “I will go to the gym 4 times/week” in the traditional New Year’s resolution way is not enough and won’t keep you going. You have to first uncover your why –being a healthy person– to get to that end objective. That “why” will give you the long-term drive and motivation to actually implement on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. So, let’s get to it:
#1: I choose to lead fully and fearlessly.
It’s taken me years to truly step into being a leader, but this year I’m making it a priority. I am leaving my fear behind me, removing the filter, walking out of the shadows — and I am ready to fully embrace “being the CEO.”
To make it even more specific –something I recommend when you’re doing your statements–, I broke it down in smaller blocks. First, I will put an emphasis on accountability in order to maintain a high performing culture. I’ve shied away from truly holding people accountable in the past because it can feel like I’m “encroaching” on people. However, I’m now understanding that high performers actually love being held accountable, it pushes them to be better and stops them from plateauing. Saying “that’s not good enough” will only make high performers rise to the challenge –and they’re the type of people I want alongside me.
Accountability and Culture
Similarly, I will also be ruthless about not tolerating ways of being that go against the culture I want to have in my companies. I’ve seen first hand how this can be very destructive, and it could have cost me the business had I not taken action –action that I should’ve taken much earlier than I did. While I’ve gotten better at it, I’m not going to make excuses for their behavior anymore –if someone isn’t a good fit (and they’re unwilling to change), I have to remove them for the betterment of the business (and my emotional and mental well-being).
As a leader, I also want to get better at communicating my vision to the team. In the early years, I was terrified to do it –”who am I to have this vision,” “what if we don’t get there,” “does this even make sense,” or “am I just crazy?”– so I never shared anything. Along the way, I’ve learned that high performers join teams because they’re inspired by something bigger than themselves. And I’ve also realized that I am enough and not a fraud. I have to share my vision and give people a direction and a goal we work towards.
And the final breakdown of the statement is being more appreciative –of myself and of others. Not being scared to say “yes, I’m special,” and fully embrace my strengths. Not in a cocky way, but in a truthful way so I am not limited by my own thinking and I can become more self-aware. But I also want to get better at showing my appreciation to other people –employees, girlfriend, friends, etc.
#2: I choose to surround myself with high performers in all domains.
Something I touched on before is the importance of being around high performers: A-players that don’t settle for low performance. The truth is, I haven’t put enough high performers in my life and that I’ve accepted being around low performers too much. It can feel like I’m stagnating at times. I recognize that part of the reason why I haven’t done that in the past was not being confident enough in myself and wanting to be the best in the room. It sucks, but it’s true. I no longer feel that way.
Now I’m craving high performers to help me. I don’t have to be better than them at something because, as long as I set a compelling, ambitious vision that gives them responsibility and freedom, they will want to be led. They love achieving great things and growing both personally and professionally –which is awesome.
But I want to surround myself with people like that in all domains, not just at work. I want to be pushed and feel uncomfortable —on the other side of discomfort is growth. I want to level up and, to do that, there are two things I have to take care of:
First, attract, retain, and foster high performers. My vision for the Polpo Group is to have multiple companies, and that can only be done with extremely top-notch people as I cannot run every company myself. And second, I want to create a space for high-performers to grow. It’s my job as the CEO of Jakt and head of the Polpo Group to provide a playground where they can grow because, if I don’t, they’ll leave in search of that.
#3 I choose to invest meaningful and regular time in domains outside of work.
So far, everything I’ve talked about has been mostly work-related. And the truth is that for the past 7 years, that’s pretty much all I’ve focused on: Jakt and its survival. That has obviously led to neglecting other areas of my life, and it’s time to begin investing in some of them –which I believe will even help improve my business performance.
There are endless things I’d like to work on, but here’s three I’d like to focus on:
Financial freedom, and how to get there.
I never took money out of Jakt until I made sure that it was good financially and every employee was taken care of –that was my priority. I’ve gone months without a salary, had to put back money in the business when we were struggling, etc, which meant I haven’t focused as much on designing my personal finance life –at least not how I want to. And yes, Jaky is tied to my personal finances, but let me explain more:
Right now, I have to work –and I love it, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a difference between having to work and wanting to work. I want the later, so I’ll be taking steps towards a future where my investments cover all my living expenses, and my active businesses are merely bonuses on top. Doing things because I want to and not because I have to –that’s my definition of freedom.
Which leads me to real estate.
Loved it since I was a kid –looking at new houses, seeing the prices, figuring out why some were more expensive than others… It’s the only industry I ever seriously considered closing Jakt to go into. I’m interested in it from a long-term wealth and investment perspective, and this year I want to dive deeper. And, as of now, my plan is that my real estate investments that spit off cash each month and covers all my living expenses.
And lastly, self-care and relationships.
I am starting to be more deliberate about self-care: moving part-time to Miami, meditating, working out, eating right, and taking intentional breaks. I have to take care of myself first before I can take care of anyone else. But I am also focusing on my relationship with Sasha. She knew going in that Jakt was my first priority, but I wouldn’t be who I am without her –I am extremely lucky. This year I want to put more effort into our relationship and show her how much I value her.
#4 I choose to embrace the operational side of business, specifically how to create repeatability and predictability.
I know I am not the best at creating repeatable and predictable systems. It’s okay to admit that it’s been a blocker to the growth of my business. Operations, repeatability, and predictability will be key in all my future business ventures and, while I don’t need to be the one to actually execute it for each business, I do have to know how to lead it. So I have to get better at it myself too.
In uncovering why I’m not the best though, I’ve realized that it’s not so much that I’m not good at it, it’s actually something deeper. I have to rewire a belief that has been ingrained in me since I was a child: I have to work hard for every dollar and, if I didn’t work hard, I didn’t deserve the money.
What did that translate to? On the bright side, it made me extremely hardworking –first, in school and then, in business. But anytime I would start putting in processes to make things more repeatable and predictable, I’d start to pull back and almost self-sabotage because I felt it was becoming too “easy” and I wasn’t working hard enough for the money. Which leads me to my next “goal”…
#5 I choose to allow money to flow to me easily and effortlessly.
Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day. Why is it that some people have more money than others? I think #5 is a big reason for it. Before I can truly master point number four above I believe I need to truly believe that money flows to me easily and effortlessly.
I’ve caught myself stepping away from highly-profitable economic opportunities because I perceived them as “easy” –so I thought I didn’t deserve them. Is some effort required for success? Yes–I don’t believe you can sit around on your couch and do nothing and magic will happen. Do I have to break my back, pull an all-nighter, do all the work myself and overwhelm myself with stress and anxiety though? No.
Unlocking this belief and feeling like I’m deserving of money has great potential in monetary terms but also on my day-to-day happiness.
#6 I choose to attract abundance in all aspects of my life.
While this is similar to the point above, I decided to separate them into two different areas because there are two important differences.
In point number five I specifically discuss money and “allowing” it in. In point number six I talk about abundance in all aspects of life and “attracting it”.
See, with money opportunities, I’ve found my biggest issue isn’t necessarily attracting it, but it’s allowing it. So that’s why in point number five I use that language. But in point number six, I talk about attracting abundance in all meaningful areas of my life (e.g., physical health, mental health, relationships, money etc).
My take on “traditional New Year’s resolutions”:
These are my six statements. You’ll see they cover everything: from work and mindset to relationships and leadership. These will be my focus for 2019, and I expect to move forward in every single one of them. They won’t be easy, but comfort only leads to a slow death.
What’s my next step? Just writing this won’t get me where I want to be –I have to take actions. Without losing sight from my “why”, I will now break this into quarters/months/weeks/and even days with specific actions that I want to take and measure that will lead me be(coming) the person I want.
And now a challenge for you.
I want to challenge you to write four/five statements of “I choose to” areas you want to develop in 2019. I want to know your goals, your expectations, and your ambitions coming into next year. That way we’ll be mutually accountable –a tad of pressure never killed anyone, right? Just opt-in below, and reply to my email with your own statements.
I’m serious. Opt-in, email me and I’ll help keep you accountable.
If you want to hear me talk through these six statements in more detail and exactly why I came up with them instead of more traditional New Year’s Resolutions, you can listen to it on a “Reflections of a CEO” podcast episode I recorded click here!