Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead by James Clear

Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.
We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives -- getting into the better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, writing a best-selling book, winning a championship, and so on.
And for most of us, the path to those things starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. At least, this is how I approached my life until recently. I would set goals for classes I took, for weights that I wanted to lift in the gym, and for clients I wanted in my business.
What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things.
It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.
Let me explain.
The Difference Between Goals and Systems
What’s the difference between goals and systems?
  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.
Now for the really interesting question:
If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?
For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?
I think you would.
As an example, I just added up the total word count for the articles I’ve written this year. (You can see them all here.) In the last 12 months, I’ve written over 115,000 words. The typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so I have basically written two books this year.
All of this is such a surprise because I never set a goal for my writing. I didn’t measure my progress in relation to some benchmark. I never set a word count goal for any particular article. I never said, “I want to write two books this year.”
What I did focus on was writing one article every Monday and Thursday. And after sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work. In the end, I enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results.
Let’s talk about three more reasons why you should focus on systems instead of goals.
1. Goals reduce your current happiness.
When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”
The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”
SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.
Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Can you imagine if I had made it my goal to write two books this year? Just writing that sentence stresses me out.
But we do this to ourselves all the time. We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals.
When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.
2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.
You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but that’s not always true.
Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?
This can create a type of “yo-yo effect” where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.
SOLUTION: Release the need for immediate results.
I was training at the gym last week and I was doing my second-to-last set of clean and jerks. When I hit that rep, I felt a small twinge in my leg. It wasn’t painful or an injury, just a sign of fatigue near the end of my workout. For a minute or two, I thought about doing my final set. Then, I reminded myself that I plan to do this for the rest of my life and decided to call it a day.
In a situation like the one above, a goal-based mentality will tell you to finish the workout and reach your goal. After all, if you set a goal and you don’t reach it, then you feel like a failure.
But with a systems-based mentality, I had no trouble moving on. Systems-based thinking is never about hitting a particular number, it’s about sticking to the process and not missing workouts.
Of course, I know that if I never miss a workout, then I will lift bigger weights in the long-run. And that’s why systems are more valuable than goals. Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins.
3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.
You can’t predict the future. (I know, shocking.)
But every time we set a goal, we try to do it. We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.
SOLUTION: Build feedback loops.
Each Friday, I spend 15 minutes filling out a small spreadsheet with the most critical metrics for my business. For example, in one column I calculate the conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that join my free email newsletter each week). I rarely think about this number, but checking that column each week provides a feedback loop that tells me if I’m doing things right. When that number drops, I know that I need to send high quality traffic to my site.
Feedback loops are important for building good systems because they allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything. Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.
Fall In Love With Systems
None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.
In fact, I think I’m going to officially declare 2014 the “Year of the Sloth” so that everyone will be forced to slow down and make consistent, methodical progress rather than chasing sexy goals for a few weeks and then flaming out.
Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.
version of this article was first published on JamesClear.com.

Based in North Carolina, James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he uses behavior science to help you master your habits, improve your health, and do better work. He also publishes a free weekly newsletter on improving your mental and physical performance.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230333#ixzz2owh40ELg


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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Team Pebbles VS. Team TLC: The Business of Music by Kyle Phoenix

I remember when TLC came out, the splash of color and energy and the hip-hop and rap and music from the first cd (Shock Dat Monkey!) then when they went CrazySexyCool it was the absolute of the total.  Then it got Fanmail and finally 3-D.  I was down, I was there I was in it.  It was good.  I actually have all four cd's in my Ipod and in my physical collection.

Recently there was TLC bio movie on VH1 about their whole rise to fame, the drama, the extra drama and the total drama.  Upfront I will say that I've only seen clips of the film so I'm writing mainly about the interviews around the movie and pointedly the business of music and the music business and the business of doing business as a creative person.

Next to gangland fights, the music business is one of the most difficult---the movie business and probably arms dealing running a close second.  The reason why is because talent is ephemeral, glitter is blinding and there are so many levels of business to the business itself.  For years there has been the TLC swirl of the three young ladies (T Box, Left Eye and Chili) not getting due pay, being used by Peri "Pebbles" Reid, LA Reid, LaFace Records, Arista Records, Clive Davis and BMG Music.  As one of the examples in a class I'm teaching, I always like to use a real life example full of known/famous folk to keep my students interested and captivated as we discern real world issues.  Also a lot of my students are African American and Latino and both fortunately and unfortunately, there's a heavy interest in singing, dancing, rapping, modeling, acting---wanting to be in entertainment.  I, as a teacher, can now point to TLC, as the main reason to get a sound education.

The gist of this multi-player drama is that TLC didn't get all they were due and everyone else got more than they were due.  After listening to and watching several interviews from all sides on this---yes, it is a mess but if you listen, can think and understand business, it's clear.  Though she can be...much in her heavy delivery---I think I understand what Pebbles is trying to explain without "breaching confidentiality"---which I surmise is a level of confidentiality or a non-disclosure profit sharing agreement that she has with LaFace records and not the term/agreement in her divorce, which is why she'll talk about infidelity but not actual royalties or payments or monetary structures.  Essentially the first cd was under a music production company's contract of New Artist---which seems to translate to mean, you ain't ballin', you just getting started---the real money is in the comeback.  I got that in just a couple of hours of watching all of these pieces to put together fairly cogent curriculum.  I also got a clear picture of the production and therefore profit train that was the inception of the group---Pebbles has a vision for a girl group, pulls together a T an L and a C and because her husband is in charge of LaFace Records as is she, they're able to fast track the group (about a year) through development to an album.  LaFace Records then packages the product and sells/leases it to Arista/Clive Davis who puts the big company push behind it and it's distributed by BMG.

The way the money is made is:

  • You or I buy a cd and essentially BMG get's the $15
  • then they send Arista/Clive Davis their cut---say $10
  • then he sends LaFace their cut---say $5
  • and LaFace first pays its bills
  • then cuts to Pebbles her managerial/development cut
  • and then she turns around and gives TLC their cut, which I would think would be maybe the equivalent of $1 in our fictional money stream.
  • From that $1, which makes the music business like a grandma with razors in her dentures---tour, band, costumes, equipment,living expenses, etc. come out of that $1.  According to Pebbles she put up hundreds of thousands---probably a shared business expense with LaFace so all of that had to be paid back first before other money was cleared to re-invest in the group.
  • In my studying and interest in business and the music business I would say maybe Pebbles got $2.50 in our example and as their manager/developer paid for everything out of that, inclusion of their salaries.

It makes sense so far.  TLC were highly visible but not paid employees.

Mind you it's not "fair" but it makes sense.

Then Pebbles explains that when it came time for everyone at the table to talk about CD #2--CrazySexyCool---she got cut out of the formula.

Which sort of makes sense too because the wheel is spinning from everything above Pebble's company, what do you really need Pebbles for?  She's kept as the wrangler but the girls, very young at the time, start to go a little whackadoo, start screwing around (with Dallas Austin a producer), setting fires, trying drugs, screwing the boss (LA Reid) just a mess of messiness.

The young women to some degree not sticking with Pebbles, who seems sharp enough and tough enough to negotiate nuclear arms treaties, got taken advantage of because suddenly you don't have an intermediary between you and the direct boss (LA Reid).   It's kind of like if you went to court and the Judge was also your lawyer---there's a conflict of interest and capability because LaFace Records in our above scenario has more of vested interest in you're NOT understanding and they also are the only accounting system between TLC and the check handed down by Arista.

 I would think that this would mean:

  • Arista has it's $10 left over as BMG pays out from purchases of CrazySexyCool.
  • LaFace Records only has to answer to itself and it's own accounting for expenses, costs, salaries, loans, etc. 
  • from that $5 they can then turn and hand TLC members 0.25 cents each.  

And what could TLC do?  You don't have Pebbles at the table, in the ring, with razors between her teeth to act as not just a person but a company (Pebbles Inc.?) to say "Nah, you hand me $2.50 and I pay out."

Now an additional word is that Pebbles still had ownership stake in the group and TLC eventually had to purchase the name TLC from her.  So I'm thinking Pebbles/Pebbles Inc. got 25% off the top of whatever came out of LaFace from the get go of her deal with them---which in our exercise would be $1.25 BEFORE anything is handed through to expenses, costumes, travel, salaries etc..
When Pebbles gets shut out, she's fine to stay out because her cut essentially comes off the largest chunk---$1.25 off of the $5.00 from the record company itself.

So Pebbles is like---"BMG, Arista, LaFace AND TLC want to shut me out?  Do you, boo?  I'm still in for 25% though I no longer have control."

Pebbles explained there was a legal maneuver that snatched them away from her---I would think it was essentially TLC was signed with Pebbles, Inc. and then after the first cd they re-signed for a longer deal (multiple cds) with LaFace directly, skipping over Pebbles, Inc..

It probably seemed both cute, smart and bitchy to do it that way to young women who were---I think---at least high school graduates but who's heads got swollen and their heads were already full of lack of education about the music business.

The reason why the music business is such a rough industry is because essentially it takes soooooooooooo many people to make it a success.  All of the involved people---the group, managers, agents, press folk, the production company, the record company, the larger label, the distributor---that's at least 100 people with all kinds of morals and agendas and levels of talent and lack of talent.  And honestly, it looks like a drip down profit system with the closest level to the artist being only a third of the profit revenue stream to divvy up.

What this is indicative of is lack of education from TLC's perspective.

One, if you don't have some college, a hundred books about doing business, a week to read a contract with someone explaining it to you---IN REALITY terms, not souping up young folk terms, that's a full scale lack of education

Two, the artist who can't do business, needs to buy some lube for the screwing.

Sadly, I've had several students who think cute and being able to carry a note mean that you'll be rich.  Probably not.  In fact in the age of lack of development (that Pebbles was providing---and you need a piranha like Pebbles in your corner as an artists---I mean piranha in a wholly appreciative way) you won't have the mentorship and protection to excel.  If you can't read a balance sheet, don't know what EBITDA is, where to put money, compound interest, etc....I guess you end up having financial woes like TLC and Toni Braxton who was also with LaFace.

A question came up---do I fault LaFace?  I think people of color apply an expectation of solidarity to people of color just because we share similar melanin.  No one ever coincides their singing and dancing with stopping into Barnes and Noble every week to buy and read a book on the business they're in.  That lack of knowledge and financial education disparity is only going to grow wider and wider as time goes on.

I want to thank my students for suggesting things in the news to look at through a business lens and be sure to drop me a line or additional questions!  And yes with another business post I'll explain how royalty structures and licensing works!

Thank you for reading and if you liked this check out the other blogs or one my books on Amazon.com,

Kyle Phoenix
Email: kylephoenixshow@gmail.com
Website: http://kylephoenix.com/
Blog: http://kylephoenixshow.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Liberation List of Books, Movies, Etc. by Kyle Phoenix

My students encouraged me to post the below list of books, DVDs, etc. (I will faithfully update it every week) that we use in classes as our master bibliography list and have coined the "Liberation List".  By liberation I mean that it is specifically designed for you to create your own curriculum around history, business, culture, race, sexuality, etc. from it to free yourself and others from thinking that does not serve.  I generally give out the entire list---about 2000 items now to every class because I feel that it's not simply important but necessary that we (by "we" I mean socially concerned, liberated, radical folk) start constructing or adding to our personal libraries.  

In constructing it into a digital list (I'll also include it within all of my digital books) I've attached hyperlinks to the best sales on Amazon.com that include free shipping and such.  Wonderfully enough a lot of these books are from small business people, mainly of color I expect, so it's a full circle sharing/community empowerment cycle.  If you have any you'd like to contribute, email them to me at KylePhoenixShow@gmail.com and we'll add it to the list.  Hopefully the totality of the list will be complete from my personal library/list within a few months of this first posting but I further hope that it's never completed as a community project.  Feel free to forward on the page, web-link to this page or cut and paste the table to give to/email to others.  We tried to make this as simple a table as possible to transfer.

Shakur. A.                                          
Assata: An Autobiography            
Shakur, Tupac                                      
Shakur, Tupac
Joseph, J.
Tupac Shakur Legacy (Hardback)  
Tupac Shakur
Tupac Shakur Pictorial    
Greene, R
Greene, R
Greene, R
Tzu, Sun
Marx, K.
The Communist Manifesto                           
Anderson, J
Behold a Pale Horse        
Dosal, P.
Commandante Che Guevara                         
Mao Tse Tung
The Little Red Book        
Rogers, J.A.          
Rogers, J.A.
The Real Facts About Ethiopia                                   
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition (21st Century Reference)                         
Hannibal: Enemy Of Rome                                          
Dyson, M.
Holler If You Hear Me (2006)                     
Thelwell, M.         
Kambon, K.
The Last Book Part 1       
Urantia Foundation
Blake, D.
Griffin, S.
Chepesiuk, R.       
Drug Lords: The Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel                    
Poppa, T.              
Peers, C.
Souljah, Sister 
Pen Black             
GODS, EARTHS and 85ers                                          
J. Polich
Bames, N.
Mr. Untouchable (Hardback)          
Perkins, J.
Potash, J.
Atem S.
Simmons, R.
Apidta, T.
Greenlee, S.        

Wiser, R.
The Wu-Tang Manual     
Church Pimps    
Johnson, I.
Blood of My Brother                      
Smiley, T.             
The Covenant with Black America             
Lynch, W.