Articles from 07/2013
Here's the short answer to how to grow your business: give up control. Let go. Surrender.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard first taught me this truth in his book, Let My People Go Surfing, when he wrote about his M.B.A.—management by absence. Your business's capacity for growth is inextricably bound up in your ability to relinquish control.
If you're a micro-manager and must have the final say-so on everything, you're probably spawning bottlenecks at every stage of every project. On the other hand, if you look for ways to delegate tasks and responsibilities and empower your employees and independent contractors, then you can call forth and capitalize on their creativity, enthusiasm, and initiative.
I've had the privilege of going to several thought-provoking conferences this year: ConvergeSE in Columbia, South Carolina; Trey Smith's App Elite 2 in San Diego; Southland Summit in Nashville, Tennessee; and World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon.
Going to conferences creates whitespace. I can take a step back from client work, app development, and other business pursuits and take stock of how I'm spending my time.
What is my Big Why? What is my definition of success? What do I want?
Yes, I enjoy the exposure to new people, new ideas, and new opportunities, but I also need a chance every once in awhile to take a deep breath, to recalibrate my many projects, and to realign my day-to-day activities with long-term goals.
But any creative professional and entrepreneur with technology- or internet-based businesses runs the risk of missing the forest for the trees. Inspirational speakers stir our imaginations and remind us of our dreams. "Follow your heart," they say. Or, "do what you love." Or, "turn your passion into a seven-figure business.”
"Work" morphs into a synonym for self-actualization, and those of us who live in the U.S. and other wealthy countries quickly lose sight of the hard reality faced by most of the world's workers:
Bringing your heart to work is a luxury.
A wide, one-way street runs between Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. On a Sunday in early July, it fills with sunlight.
Nate, Jon, and I had skipped the morning sessions to wait in a long snake of a line outside of Voodoo Doughnuts, and I'd spent the remaining forty-five minutes before the lunch break trying not to eavesdrop on a conversation about technology, theology, and business that Chris Brogan was having with some friends.
When I walked outside on Southwest Broad, which was blocked off for WDS, I saw something unusual. Keep in mind that unusual sights become usual at the World Domination Summit 2013. But I couldn't help but stare as a man with a shaved head and bushy eyebrows bound together the feet of a younger man in a wheelchair. This scene, which later became an experience and not simply another snapshot or postcard, caused an eddy in the flow of foot traffic.
Benedict, the one in the wheelchair, was pensive. He watched Slade work, and for his part, Slade finished with the string with quiet confidence, as though he were in the regular habit of tying up strangers.
They were strangers, I learned later, and that was significant, considering what happened next.
Today I'm in Portland, Oregon, at the World Domination Summit 2013, and I've got good time management on my mind. Darren Rowse gave the second keynote this morning, and he posed a simple yet profound question:
"What do you want your future to look like?"
The question really pertains to the present because the future doesn't yet exist. I don't think Darren will mind if I qualify his question with two of my own:
What in the present will keep your desired future at bay?
What changes can you make to welcome your desired future?
You'll find that making changes in the present usually involves changing how you budget your time.