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How Do You Cultivate Work You Love?

Marketing Podcast with Cal Newport

Cal Newport

photo credit: Helal Al-Helal via photopin cc

Common wisdom suggests that if you love what you do you’ll do just fine. I’ve found that while passion for your chosen line of work is certainly important – if you don’t get good and what you do and people don’t value what you do – money will not necessarily follow.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, Cal Newport author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, takes this even farther to suggest that skill, not passion, is the key to successfully finding work your love.

The problem with “Follow your passion” it that it assumes you have preexisting passion and that if you match this passion to your job you’ll enjoy that job.

Newport advocates cultivating your passion as a more realistic approach.

“Cultivate” implies that you work toward building passion for your job. It requires you to approach your work like a crafstman. Honing your ability, and then leveraging your value, once good, to shape your working life toward the type of lifestyle that resonates with you.

Cultivating a passion requires you to try new things in order to discover what you’re good at and then take the time to get so good you come to enjoy it.

This approach is a lot like starting a business. In the beginning you have an idea about who you want to serve and what you want the business to become, but quite often as you experiment with how to build it you find that it naturally evolves into something very different.

Process and Planning in Stories

Marketing Podcast with Kim McDonald

Some people learn by reading, some by doing and some by seeing.

Storytelling4And yet, a great deal of planning and process developed by organizations comes in the form of the dry written word only.

I happen to be one of those visual learners. If given the choice between a map and set of directions, I’ll take the map every time.

If given the choice between a story to illustrate a point and an explanation, I’ll take the story every time.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Kim McDonald, author of Storytelling4 Entrepreneurs Workbook.

Storytelling4 is an innovative, creative approach to planning and communicating your business strategy. The Storytelling4 Entrepreneurs Workbook is a visual planning guide for today’s fast-paced, “no-time-to-read” business environment.

As the name implies the workbook helps entrepreneurs turn strategy into stories and pictures. Stories captivate and images often simplify – simple, captivating strategy is often the missing piece for business owners.

Use this workbook to create your elevator pitch, sales presentation, ad message and overall strategy in the language that attracts customers and employees alike. She even shows you how to turn the numbers into a story.

McDonald’s approach is one that should appeal to entrepreneurs of all stripes.

5 Most Popular Podcasts of 2013

photo credit: Bill Selak via photopin cc

photo credit: Bill Selak via photopin cc

Podcasting saw a huge renaissance in 2013 as major content producers woke up to the ease or production and portability afforded the spoken word. It didn’t hurt that Apple made the podcast app a default app of the iPhone IOS either.

I’ve been podcasting since some time in 2006 and I still find it one of the best ways to gain access to people of influence.

In continuing my year end wrap up I present the most popular podcast episodes throughout 2013. These were judged most popular by virtue of the number of downloads each received.

1. People Don’t Share Brochures, They Share Stories – In this August episode author Jonah Berger talks about what makes something go viral – Contagious: Why Things Catch On

2. Reboot Your Business and Your Life – For this May show I spoke with Mitch Joel about the future of business – Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends

3. How I Podcast and Why I Think You Should – In May I did a solo show talking about how I do my show and why I think others should podcast – great tool for though leadership and sales! (You can hear a replay of this one by clicking the playing above.)

4. Nobody Talks About Boring Businesses – For this March show I spoke with Bernadette Jiwa about how to make your ideas stand out – Make Your Idea Matter: Stand out with a better story

5. How to Play More and Work and Why You Must – For this March show I spoke with Jonathan Fields – check out his The Good Life Project for some real inspiration.

You can find the entire year of podcasts here.

So, who would you love to hear me interview in 2014?

Office Not Required

Marketing podcast with Jason Fried

Remote office

photo credit: Michael W. May via photopin cc

My youngest daughter works for a tech start-up based in San Francisco. Only thing is, she’s never been to San Francisco. She lives in Spokane Washington and arrived home for Christmas this year to spend a full three weeks hanging out with her parents. Oh, and she’s busy working for that San Francisco start-up right now in the other room.

That’s the new world of work we live in and I for one think it’s an amazing time.

My dad still gives me a puzzling look when I quip that my office is anywhere I can get an Internet connection, but the reality is major, major businesses are being build on the backs of a remote workforce.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jason Fried, co-founder of 37 Signals (makers of Basecamp) and author of Remote: Office Not Required.

Fried and his business partner David Heinemeier Hansson have built a wildly successful company with offices in Chicago, but workers strewn about several continents. According to Fried work doesn’t happen at work in the traditional office setting and far too often organizations constrained by geographical hiring must compromise on the talent they can attract.

It’s pretty funny to see people who trek to coffee shops and libraries to get “real” work done because the interruption of meetings and availability in the office make it impossible to actually think about a project of any scope.

Of course, remote work requires a shift in culture, a new set of tools and more than anything, sharp focus.

You’ve got to work harder at staying connected with remote workers. You’ve got to work harder at reinforcing the culture of remote work and remote productivity. Fried talks about developing the ability to pick up when something isn’t quite right with a staff member from the tone of email.

Buffer, a social media start-up with a number of remote workers, posted this great advice on tools for remote work. Zapier, an API integration provider, also with a mostly remote workforce, chronicled their best practices for managing remote teams here.

The office of today just might not be an office at all. I for one would be fine with that little cabin in the Colorado foothills!

Why Audience Development Must Come Before Business Development

Marketing podcast with Jeffrey K. Rohrs

Click here to view a transcript of the podcast interview.  Audio file transcribed by Rev.com

I was recently asked to help a mid sized software company devise a marketing plan.

This organization claims they just don’t get marketing, and no one at the organization really owns it, so they struggle.

Audience

photo credit: marfis75 via photopin cc

Of course struggle is a relative concept. They have a head of sales, head of service and head of product – all of whom do marketing. In fact, I believe that’s the tricky part these days – it’s harder to determine where marketing lives because it’s really everyone’s job.

This organization, as you may have picked up, does not have a head of marketing and that’s an issue that’s starting to cause them some heartburn.

I don’t believe I’ll recommend they create a CMO position, however. They actually have many core marketing functions successfully distributed across the organization. What they don’t have though, is what I might call a head of audience development. They don’t have anyone driving their CEO’s incredible thought leadership. They don’t have anyone in charge of owned, paid and earned media assets. They don’t have anyone who’s primary concern is building an audience drawn to their unique approach to addressing the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jeffrey K. Rohrs. He is the Vice President of Marketing Insights for ExactTarget, a salesforce.com company, and author of AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers

In Audience, Rohrs boldly claims states that, “proprietary audience development is now a core marketing responsibility,” and I concur.

An engaged audience is an essential driver of value. Organizations that build, nurture and serve an audience will outflank and outprofit their competitors every time.

Your clients will likely come from your audience but so will your referrals, partners, shares, mentions and permission to pitch your goods.

An audience can elevate an organization’s brand by pushing their message through industry influencers. An audience can pull business through channels by clamoring for goods and services in social media.

Of course, Rohrs is also quick to point out that an audience is a gift and unless you treat it as such you will lose it.

“We don’t own our audiences. They can leave at any time. We cannot force them to engage in our content. They’ve given us a great gift… we must be sure to thank them every day with epic content marketing.”

Every marketer today must understand this significant shift in thinking and embrace community and audience building as a significant initiative – or perhaps even elevate audience development to a stand alone function.

Is Work Killing Us

Marketing Podcast with Tom Rath

By now you’ve read or heard one or more of the reports about the negative health impact of sitting hunched over a computer all day. No? Here’s one from the Mayo Clinic and here’s another from Lifehacker.

fitbikeWhile many in the medical profession seem content to pass out pills to treat symptoms, there’s growing evidence that many of the most commonly “treated conditions,” such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and even blood sugar related conditions such as diabetes are linked to sitting for long periods of time each day.

This doesn’t even take into consideration the double whammy that being overweight adds to the mix.

Several new business books have been written on the topic, including one by this week’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast Tom Rath. Tom is the author of several incredibly popular business books, such as Strength Finder 2.0 and is also a lifelong sufferer of a rare disorder that led him to fight cancerous tumors his entire life.

Tom decided to write Eat, Move, Sleep – How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes to address many of the practices he has adopted, literally as a way to save his life, and address the epidemic of work related choices that are killing us all.

In Eat, Move, Sleep Rath links the need to move at work (even if you’re a serious workout type), eat like you’re fueling a high performance engine and get sleep like it mattered.

Rath cites the now famous K Anders Ericsson study that found elite performers logged more than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in order to achieve elite status. While some might conclude this simply means working longer and harder the study also found that these elite performers slept on average 8 hours and 36 minutes a night. The average American sleeps about 6 hours.

The book is one of the best collections of somewhat common knowledge packaged in a way that addresses eating right, moving more and sleeping more in the proper context without hype and fad.

Several years ago I was diagnosed with a host of disorders that got my attention. Instead of taking the pill route I changed my eating habits dramatically and made exercise a daily priority.

While these have definately made a big difference in my quality of life and health I still have an ongoing battle with the fact that most days I sit for a living.

Over the last couple of years I’ve added a number of daily practices and tools to combat what I think is one of the greatest health challenges many entrepreneurs and business owners face.

Below are some of my office movement routines and habits.

Timed breaks – I’m a big fan of working by the hour. I plan my day around 45 minute bursts followed by 15 minutes of moving and recharging. I force myself to get up and walk the dog or just stretch. I use the Apimac timer on my computer but if you find this too hard to do consider the TimeOut app that takes over your computer until you take a break.

Phone meetings – I do a fair amount of meeting by phone. When I jump on a call I immediately put on the headphones and pace up and down the office during the entire call.

Different chairs – Since I do a lot of work on the computer I do need to be stationary for long parts of the day. In addition to a pretty ergonomic chair I sit for periods on an Isokinetics exercise ball chair that works glutes, core and lower back automatically and I recently added a FitDesk stationary bike to the mix. That’s the one in the image with this post. By the way I’ve tried several standing options, but I like the bike better for some reason.

Exercise equipment – We keep a few weights and such around the office so that during my hourly breaks or on trips to get more water I’m reminded to do a set of kettleball swings. It’s a amazing what a little burst of exertion does for my creativity.

Foam roller – I’ve really gotten hooked on using a foam roller throughout the day. One of the things I noticed when I started getting back into lifting weights was how hunched over my posture had become. Sitting with your hands glued to a tiny keyboard in front of you all day pretty much forces bad posture. This position creates a lot of stress on the back. I find that rolling around on my back for a minute or two several times a day is great medicine for relieving this kind of stress.

I know all this stuff can get a bit goofy at times but the way I figure it is that being a business owner is demanding work and so staying at peak levels takes doing everything you can to stay sharp and focused. But really, I’m doing this now so that I get an  extra 10 or 20 years of trekking around the planet doing the things I love to do with my family.

Our Success Is Determined Largely by Our Habits

Marketing podcast with Tony Stubblebine

The subject of habits is something I’ve written about often. In past shows with Charles Duhrigg, author of The Power of Habit and Tom Asacker, author of The Business of Belief we hit this topic pretty hard.

lift.do

There’s a reason I talk about the impact of habits on a small business blog – I think to a large degree habits determine the direction and destination of your business.

Everyone uses habits as an operating mechanism. Drug dealers and millionaires are both guided by habits – they’re just different habits.

Habits either guide us in a positive direction or they hold us back. The key to success then in pretty much any area of business and life is to simply identify and adopt the most positive habits possible.

No matter what your goal, there’s a direct correlation between habits and routines and the behavior change they instill and achieving your goals.

My guest for today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Tony Stubblebine, Founder of a new community called Lift.do.

Why did Tony start Lift? “The genesis of Lift was the realization that we could all be super human if we could make willpower obsolete. I dropped everything else I was doing to follow this idea.”

Lift.do is a self improvement community featuring “plans” designed to help you change your habits in just about any area of life – health, productivity, mindfullness, communication.

You simply sign up, create goals, pick a related plan and track your progress either online or through the iPhone or Android app. You can also choose to get support and encouragement from friends or the Lift community at large based on your progress.

Habits are hard to form and hard to break, but in order to make progress towards our goals we often have to shake up our routine and get out doing the same things without though. Using tools like Lift.do and support of like-minded friends is a powerful way to started down the path to establishing behavior that will serve your business and your life in the long run.

Want to thank Tony for being my guest? Click here to say thanks on Twitter. (Stole that idea from Pat Flynn because it’s such a good one.)

Do Entrepreneurs Need College?

Marketing interview with Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman founded the social bookmarking site reddit shortly after graduating from the University of Virginia. They sold it a year later to media giant Condé Nast. You’ve seen the movie, that’s kind of how Facebook got started as well.

Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian

So, to answer the question posed in my title today – yes, college is very important as a vehicle for entrepreneurship, but not because the case studies used in Marketing 101 teach anyone how to launch a product. College for the entrepreneur has always been more about community and connections and learning how to try stuff out.

That’s why coworking spaces, startup villages, mentoring programs and incubators make so much sense for the aspiring entrepreneur.

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast I spent some time with Ohanian to talk about his recent book – Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed.

Ohanian has become a bit of a poster child for the under 30 entrepreneur set. In less than a decade his business accomplishments would make up a pretty solid career.

What I like most about his story though is that he’s thrown himself head first into causes that excite him (Stop SOPA and Mister Splashy Pants) along the way. That, I think, is the real promise of no permission needed. In fact, he describes himself as a start up guy with the aim of making the world suck less!

He’s currently on something like a 150 stop tour that includes a great number of stops at colleges where he is spreading a message of hope and inspiration and advice for how to take advantage of the opportunities present right now.

Today, anyone with an idea and some timing can disrupt an entire industry. Today, anyone can sit at a keyboard or draw stick like figures that incite a movement or create a business where nothing previously existed. Hugh Macleod of Gaping Void takes on the lunacy of work through what some might call doodles and millions join his community.

Allie Brosh shares her simple drawings and amazingly dry sense of humor at Hyperbole and a Half and writes about very real things like her very real battle with depression and routinely draws thousands of comments with each submission. Her book Hyperbole and a Half was an instant best seller!

Like so many other institutions the higher education system in this country is under assault. The same permissionless innovation that allowed Ohanian and Huffman to create reddit is poised to tear down any industry that won’t tear itself down and embrace the fundamental shift in the way people learn, create, build and grow.

I believe we are headed into a generation where entrepreneurship will be the defining attribute of society.