Bernie Wilson Special on time, your offering, facts and worthwhile thoughts

sent by Nick Grantham | 30th March 2021

"It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."

Sarah Connor

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She's talking about the Terminator, but it can't just be me who thinks this sounds like the rat race we're all getting pretty tired of. A cultural shift is underway with businesses allowing more and more people to work from home and mutterings in the press about a four-day workweek. Whilst most of us want to work less, we don't want to earn less, so we need to work more efficiently. How can we make that happen? One way which is probably relevant to everyone is described well by Tim Ferris with his Antelope/Field Mice analogy. The idea is that we are all lions, and we can hunt Antelope or hunt mice. For many of us, we assume that the mice will be an easier win, but whilst it takes nearly the same amount of energy to hunt, the mice don't feed us anywhere near as long. As a result, the yield and ROI are abysmal. A more efficient strategy is to aim for Antelope - higher value and often less hassle clients where there's less competition (because everyone else is hunting mice). Another way to look at it is this: segment your customer base by cost and contact. How many clients pay for one hour but take up four because their briefs aren't well defined or need too much support? How many clients pay for one hour and take up one? If you haven't been lucky enough to experience the latter, they are a delight - the key to your flexi week and fewer headaches. Stop wasting your time on mice. Spend the three hours you're working for free on getting more Antelope in. You'll be glad you did when you're chilling on Fridays.

Source: Terminator, Sarah Connor

"You've always been the same, even at school. Nothing but books, learning, education - that's why you're no good at snooker."

Del Boy Trotter

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Most of us get to an age when it becomes pretty clear what our skill set is. Our pool of skills might have blurrier parameters for potential and current clients because they don't understand our industry or assume (hope) we can cover every area in our field. Using myself as an example, I'm a capable copywriter and marketing strategist. This in the past has made customers want me to be good at all things to do with marketing and ask that I do jobs I'm mediocre at, at best. Whenever I've obliged to help out, I can almost set my clock by the point at which I'll start to feel imposter syndrome. Why? Because I am an imposter in the speciality. It took a while to start ignoring those idiotic memes which say: "Say yes and learn how to do it later." but since I have, life's been far less stressful and more rewarding. You don't have to be good at everything, just good at one thing. Get comfortable saying: 'sorry I'm rubbish at that, but I can put you in touch with someone who isn't'. The referrals make their way back one way or another. In case I forget, I have a little sign on my wall that says 'I write things. That's it.' Don't dilute your offering. Trust your niche.

Source: Only Fools and Horses, Del Boy Trotter

"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true."

Homer Simpson

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This is one for my socially awkward friends: Data is a magical thing. Nothing levels the playing field for introverts or perspiring types than a wealth of data backing up their point. It doesn't matter how charismatic the person delivering the opposing argument is. If you've got the data, you win the debate, seal the deal and drive the strategy, even if you do look crap, sweaty and nervous doing it. Trust the science. The charismatic people think they don't need it. Their confidence is your gain. (Apologies, charismatic people I know and love. Yes - we are anxiously plotting against you.)  If you want to read some extra interesting info on this sort of thing, detailing the types of characteristics most prevalent in successful entrepreneurs, check out Originals by Adam Grant. It's an eye-opener (and full of data).

Source: The Simpsons, Homer Simpson

"I have spent my whole life scared, frightened of things that could happen, might happen, might not happen, 50 years I spent like that. Finding myself awake at three in the morning. But you know what? Ever since my diagnosis, I sleep just fine. What I came to realise is that fear, that's the worst of it. That's the real enemy. So, get up, get out in the real world and you kick that bastard as hard you can right in the teeth."

Walter White

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I've been given a lot of great advice from many wise and kind people over the years. I wish I'd realised how wise and kind some of them were when I was a teenager, nodding away and planning to ignore them promptly. The one that resonated most with me, which I heard about eight years ago in my 30s, was: 'only think worthwhile thoughts'. I embraced it immediately. If I found myself thinking of something negative, I'd ask myself: 'is this worthwhile?' Does it offer ROI? Some did. It's pretty negative to believe you will fail an assignment, but worthwhile if it makes you revise etc. Other negative thoughts were ruminating over rubbish or beating myself up over irrelevant crap and not helpful. Regrets, once thought about and learnt from, are also rarely worthwhile. If you've learnt your lesson, give yourself a break and move on. Worthwhile thoughts aren't just good for mental health; they are good for focusing your attention. There's real ROI in wondering what you are having for dinner, for example, just not when you are supposed to be concentrating on squats, projects or Teams meetings. Getting good at saying I'll think about that later means getting good at focussing your attention. James Clear says: 'You don't need more time; you need fewer distractions.' He also says loads of other cool stuff in his newsletter or book: Atomic Habits.

Source: Breaking Bad, Walter White

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