Slow and Steady Wins the Race


hamburgerDo a quick Yelp search for hamburgers in your area and you’ll most likely find hundreds of tiny hamburger joints. My search alone came up with over 600 places to get a hamburger. That’s a lot of places to buy a hamburger. No matter how gourmet you try and make it, a hamburger is a hamburger. So how can there be so many restaurants in business that serve hamburgers?

Nearly fourteen years ago Joel Spolsky wrote a very insightful post about business strategy. In his “Strategy Letter I: Ben and Jerry’s vs. Amazon” Spolsky outlines two very distinct strategies that every entrepreneur must make at the beginning of the company’s life; grow slowly, organically, and profitably, or push for a land grab, getting as big as fast as you can. This is a very important determinations for your business.

Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers (Please don't sue me)

Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers (Please don’t sue me)

Unless you’re building a cutting edge software or Internet company, like Amazon, you’re most likely going to be in the Ben and Jerry’s camp. Like the thousands of burger joints in the world, you are one of many, with little to distinguish yourself from your competitors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.

There is a lot of emphasis on building your company fast. Getting as many users/customers as you can, proving you have this hyper, month over month growth. It’s as if your company doesn’t exist if you’re now showing 400% growth month over month. If you get caught up in this strategy when your business doesn’t call for it, then you’re going to fail.

Slow and steady wins the race. Just as in the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, it’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish. Set small goals for yourself and start to achieve them, one by one. If your burger shack has two employees and you try and get 5,000 customers during the first week and 10,000 the next week, you’re going to be overwhelmed. Your customers will be underwhelmed and your business will die. But if you start with 50 customers this week and 70 next week, and 100 the week after, you’re on the right path.

Apply this advice to any aspect of your life. I truly believe it will help you. Think about the tortoise and the hare. Think about how many places serve hamburgers. Whether it’s your health, business, love life, or investments, things take time. Good things happen to those who are patient. Slow and steady growth will get you to where you want to be. Focus on being better than you were yesterday and you will go far.

 



How Can I Become Motivated?


“If you can dream it, you can build it.” – Walt Disney

self-motivationI’ve got a lot going on in my life. I have Prepare.io, consulting projects, I started a podcast, and I’m on the board of the non-profit I started. Someone asked me the other day, “How can I become motivated?”

It’s a question that many people struggle with. I struggle with it.  There is often a gap in between your reality and your desires. The thing that is standing in between these two worlds is often motivation. People who “do” accomplish more because they just go after things. Whereas the rest of the population just sits there and waits. So how can you be one of those people who finds the motivation to jump off the proverbial ledge?

First let me say, it’s not easy. It took me 26 years to take the leap. It’s gotten considerably easier since then. Once daunting things now seem trivial to me. But I still remember how scared I was. Crippled with fear and filled with admiration and a twinge of jealousy of those I looked up to. Here are some of the things that I found, drive me.

moron_ride1. Fear

I am terrified of failure. I’m terrified of being normal. I’m afraid that I’m going to get lost in the sea of mediocrity. I haven’t given up. I have friends in their thirties who tell me things like, “I don’t have dreams anymore. I just want a secure job and live my life. My fantasies are gone.” I’m afraid of that.

2. Ego

This is something that I’m just admitting out loud for the first time. I have a huge ego. I am mild mannered and put my head down to work hard, but that doesn’t mean I want to be in the shadows my whole life. We all have ego, some of our egos are bigger than others, like mine. But some of people are afraid to admit they have ego, like it’s a bad thing. Well, maybe it is, but I have an ego and this is the first time I’ve shared it with the world.

3. Dreams

My dreams also correlate with my fear. I still have dreams. I still envision my dream job, the home with a bustling family, the financial freedom to live my life with flexibility. I haven’t given up on my dreams and they push me everyday.

Image Courtesy of HMA.net.nz

Image Courtesy of HMA.net.nz

Finding your motivation is a personal journey. What motivates you might not motivate me. But you have to figure out what exactly motivates you. Once you know what motivates you, you have to stay motivated.

Every February, I sit down and I complete the same written exercise. I’ve been doing this for four years now. I sit down and I write out my personal and professional goals. Where am I in life? What do I want? What do I not want? Then I map out how I’m going to achieve these goals. Lastly, I list people that I admire and why I admire them.

I keep this all in one Evernote notebook. That way I can look back and see how my goals have changed, how they’re they same, and where my growth has been. It’s a great exercise to do that will really help you identify your goals and fears.

It’s important that everyone discovers what motivates them. Even if your dream isn’t as grandiose as others, there has to be a reason that you get out of bed in the morning. Find it. And when you do, make sure you don’t lose site of this. This is how you’ll fight through the hard times and accomplish your dreams.

Be honest with yourself. Discover what motivates you. Why do you want certain things? Understanding the “why” can help you find the motivation you desire.



How Tucker Max Kickstarted My Writing


Tucker Max is a self-described asshole. An asshole is a New York Times best selling author. If you’ve never heard of Tucker Max, go check out his website. All you need to do is read one story and you’ll know his story. In fact, read this one.

i-hope-they-serve-beer-in-hellNow I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “How did this dickhead inspire you to start writing?” Short answer, he made me laugh. Long answer, well, it’s much longer.

My friend Matt gave me Tucker Max’s book in 2008. I ripped through it in days. I was still in the “Just out of college, I can still party like a rockstar” phase of my young professional life. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew when I read Tucker Max’s stories, that I had many stories that were similar. And because he made me laugh out loud every other page, I thought that I could make other people laugh too. Tucker Max’s outrageous stories made me want to find an audience and tell stories. So I started a blog.

I had been blogging since December 2006 already, so it’s not like I was new to putting pen to paper publicly. But reading Tucker Max’s escapades made me feel free, like I could literally write about anything. In a weird way, he released me from any creative shackles I may have had. Because nothing I could write could be as absurd and profane as any Tucker Max story.

anonymous-mask

Image Courtesy of HDW.

It was then I launched my own anonymous dating blog. Don’t ask me the name, it’s now lost in the Internet archives. But I quickly built a following through this blog. This is how I really learned to build an audience and tailor my writing. What started out as a blog that chronicled my bad, awkward dates, turned into a blog outlining my journey for love. Yes, it sounds super lame and girly, but it’s what my readers wanted. In fact, most of my readers were women. Not the intended audience I had in mind!

While this blog only lasted two years, I learned a lot from it. I learned not to be afraid, I learned that I could write, and I learned how to cater my writing to an audience over a steady period of time. I met a lot of great people through that blog, some who I still speak to today, and that blog has lead to many other writing gigs.

Since then, I’ve not only written posts on my personal blog more or on this blog, but I’ve also been paid to write for different companies. Tucker Max’s writing has literally opened up doors for me and put money in my pocket. All because one asshole felt it was necessary to write about his every sexual conquest.

Whether it your company blog or a personal one, don’t be afraid to just write. For some, it’s such a monumental first step, when in reality, it shouldn’t be. You could Google “how to start a company blog” all you want, but knowing the technical aspects of a company blog won’t help you actually start. Doing it will. Over time, your blog will get better. Who cares if you don’t know what to write about? Just write. That’s what I’m doing right now. This blog will continue to find its voice. But if you go back and look at my archived posts,  you’ll see a huge gap. That’s because I didn’t know what to blog about and through more about what to blog about than actually blogging. Dumb.

Figuring out what to write about is hard for anyone. My advice to you is take a page from Tucker Max’s life and just write. Know one knows how brilliant you are until you write it down.

[Guy Fawkes photo courtesy of HDW]



When to Use Who’s vs Whose


Who's the Boss

Alright, I know this is a lot of grammar lessons, but I ran into this issue today. I couldn’t remember when to use who’s vs whose.  I hate when I’m not 100% sure with a rule of grammar. So I had to look it up so I didn’t look like a high school dropout. Here’s what I found.

Who’s

Who’s is a contraction of “who is.” It can be used for “who has” but that’s not as common.

Examples:

Who’s watching the grill?

Who’s going to the party?

Who’s speaking at the event?

 

Whose

whose-line

Whose is the possessive of “who.” You can use it for “which” but that’s the minority use case.

Examples:

Whose car is this?

Whose dog ate my flowers?

Do you know whose house this is?

So after writing this out, it seems really easy. Which just makes it worse if I were to get it wrong. That’s why I wrote this, to make sure I never forget. But if I forget, who’s going to help me remember? Eh?



The Real Secret to Gaining Twitter Followers


If you do a quick search for “How to Gain Twitter Followers” you’ll find 27,000,000 results. Take a deeper look at those results and you’re going to find the some combination of the following tips:

– Be Personable

– Follow People Back

– Share Interesting Content

– Retweet People

– Have keywords in your bio

Blah, blah, blah, blah bullshit.

I hate these articles so much. I would bet you $100 that if you were to start your Twitter account today and follow “rules” like these, you would not grow your Twitter following beyond 200 followers. I’d wager a guess that you get excited for 2-3 retweets. That’s because following these “secrets” to gaining Twitter followers is a bunch of crap.

Forget Everything You Think You Know About Twitter

Here’s the REAL secret to gaining more Twitter followers.

Be exceptional…outside of Twitter.

That’s right, your Twitter success has nothing to do with your Twitter account. If you really want tens of thousands of Twitter followers that hang on to your every tweet, don’t worry about your avatar, your bio, your Twitter background. None of that matters. People follow success.

Focus on your business, writing, cooking, or whatever it is you do. Because if you excel in your chosen field, you will gain the respect you starve for. You’ll get the follower count you want and the retweets you desire. Most importantly, you’ll have the influence that can make a difference.

Don’t Believe Me? Need Proof?

I’m going to provide you with three examples that reflect my advice to you. The first is my friend John. John is becoming a well-known expert in health, fitness, and wellness in New York. You can see that he’s been tweeting for a while, with nearly 2,000 tweets sent. But his follower total is only at 140.

Johnny-Adamic-Twitter

Now let’s take a look at famed writer, Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is far less active than my friend John with 71 total tweets. But he also has a few New York Times Best Selling titles to his name. Which is why his follower count is over 216,000 despite his limited use.

Gladwell-Twitter

My last example is uber-billionaire, Larry Ellison. Mr. Ellison is one of the richest men in the world, with a fortune over $50 billion. Yes, with a “B.” Despite sending only ONE tweet, Larry Ellison has over 46,000 Twitter followers.

Screen shot 2014-05-01 at 5.05.43 PM

As you can see, it’s your success that makes people follow you on Twitter, not your optimized profile or how often you tweet.

Please stop wasting your time reading these pointless articles about how to gain Twitter followers. Four or five years ago, these tips might have been useful. People were still getting used to Twitter. I even gave people advice like this. But over the years, having witnessed people on Twitter, both first and second hand, I can confidently say that what you do outside of Twitter matters more. Instead of worrying about optimizing your tweets, work your ass off to become the best marketer, entrepreneur, actor, director, writer, you can be. Success breeds success. Twitter included.

 



Increase Your Blog Traffic With StumbleUpon


via SearchEngineJournal.com

via SearchEngineJournal.com

I’ve written about getting more traffic to your site in the past, but web traffic is a never ending battle. I’ve tried many different tactics to generate more blog traffic over the course of the years. Some successful, others not. I want to talk to you today about one of my unsuccessful attempts at traffic…StumbleUpon.

If you do a search for something like, “increase you blog traffic with StumbleUpon” you will find a bunch of articles about how to use StumbleUpon to increase your website’s traffic. They’ll go through how to set up your account and all that jazz. But I’m here to tell you to save yourself the time and energy and skip StumbleUpon.

Why Do People Like StumbleUpon?

As a user, StumbleUpon is great because you’re able to discover a great deal of new content very quickly. When I first learned about StumbleUpon I would just sit there, for what seemed like hours,  “stumbling upon” new sites. There were so many sites that I’d never think to look up pop up on my screen. It was great.

Why Do Marketers Like StumbleUpon?

First of all, understand that there are two aspects of StumbleUpon. There are the free stumbles, where you submit your link for free and StumbleUpon might share your site with people who are interested in your topic. For those that don’t like to leave things to chance, you can use Paid StumbleUpon. Paid StumbleUpon is the same as the free version, except you are paying $.10 a stumble.

So if StumbleUpon shares your site to 10 people, that would cost your a $1.00. For $.18, StumbleUpon will give you even better targeting. If you’re not aware of typical web traffic prices, this is really cheap. A click on Facebook to my site might cost me $1-2 at the very least. That’s a 10-1 ratio. Google would probably be more. I’ve definitely paid $4-5 on both Google and Linkedin. So as far as cost and quantity, Paid StumbleUpon is great.

Caveat Emptor.

Why Do I Hate StumbleUpon for Blog Traffic?

Simple. It’s terrible traffic. The quality of from StumbleUpon, paid or otherwise, is super bad. If for some reason you only have to report on visitors, you’re going to have a huge success. But only an idiot would accept a report like that. If you have any kind of experience, you’re going to look at things like bounce rate, time on site, pages per view, and where she clicked. Basically you want to know what actions the visitor took.

In my experience with StumbleUpon, I’ve found the analytics to resemble something like this: 7 seconds on site, bounce rate of 90%, and 1.1 pages viewed. There is NO way that anyone can read anything worthwhile in 7 seconds. If they actually did, then your content sucks because they didn’t want to get past 7 seconds. But the reality is that these stats reflect the behavior of a StumbleUpon user. Stare blankly at your screen. Mindlessly press “Stumble” and see a new site. Read a headline or two and then click “Stumble” again. Off to a new site. Now does that really do your blog any good?

I really don’t understand why people feel so compelled to use StumbleUpon for blog traffic. I think it’s because the allure of high traffic for pennies. Everything StumbleUpon is selling you want to believe. But like any deal that sounds too good to be true, so is StumbleUpon. Do yourself a favor and skip StumbleUpon when you’re planning your traffic acquisition strategy.



How to Eliminate the Passive Voice


via Daniel Hollister

via Daniel Hollister

My entire life, I’ve written in the passive voice. My Dad always harped on me for writing in the passive voice. I never saw anything wrong with it. Most of this blog will have the passive voice. But, writing in the passive voice is confusing. It weakens the clarity of your writing, which is why your teachers (and parents) want you to eliminate it from your writing. Here’s how to eliminate the passive voice in your writing.

What is the Passive Voice?

First, let’s start by defining the passive voice.

Passive voice is when the noun being acted upon is made the subject of the sentence.

What the shit does that mean? Unless you were an English major and know the English language inside and out, this doesn’t help you.

For me, I get confused on the “subject of the sentence.” Yep, embarrassing, but it’s true. So let’s define what a subject is.

The subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that is doing or being something. You can find the subject of a sentence if you can find the verb. Ask the question, “Who or what ‘verbs’ or ‘verbed’?” and the answer to that question is the subject. (Definition courtesy of Capital Community College Foundation)

Here’s the thing, even knowing what the subject of a sentence is, figuring out the passive voice is tricky. Then I discovered the greatest trick in the book.

The Zombie Rule

via Twitter

via Grammarly 

The Zombie Rule was created by a professor, Rebecca Johnson. Months ago she tweeted out her mind blowing tip. If you can insert, “by zombies” after the verb, you have the passive voice. It’s that simple!

Let’s look at two examples.

1. The school was attacked. 

2. Zombies attacked the school. 

Which sentence was written in the passive voice? Which one is the active voice?

Now let’s add “by zombies”

1. The school was attacked (by zombies).

2. Zombies attacked the school (by zombies).

Adding “by zombies” makes is abundantly clear that sentence #1 is written in the passive voice, while #2 is written in the active voice.

There you have it. You now know what the passive voice is and how to identify it in a sentence. I should note, that the passive voice is usually considered bad. But, that’s not always the case. The passive voice is not preferred because it dilutes clarity, but in certain scenarios it’s perfectly ok to use the passive voice.

[First Image Courtesy of Daniel Hollister]

[Second Image Courtesy of Grammarly/Rebecca Johnson]



What’s the Difference Between Affect vs. Effect?


via Quinn Dombrowski

via Quinn Dombrowski

This is embarrassing, but I still get affect vs. effect wrong. But you know what? So do a lot of people. I know it has something to do with one being a verb and the other one a noun, but I still forget which is which. I end up just changing my sentence instead of looking like an idiot and writing effect instead of affect. So enough of that. Let’s breakdown what the difference between affect vs. effect is.

What’s the Difference Between Affect and Effect?

Affect = Verb

Effect = Noun

See? I told you it had something to do with verbs and nouns. It’s not that easy though. If it was, I’d have remembered it by now. So what’s the trick to remembering this?

When To Use Affect?

Alright, we’ve established that “affect” is a verb, but what does that mean? Affect means to influence. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

The weather affected my decision to wear a coat. 

My poor attitude had an affect on my team’s performance.

When To Use Effect?

For most people, effect is the default word to use. Most of the time they’re right. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the right use of the word. Effect is a noun and its common meaning means “a result.”

I was not effected by the storm. 

Your smell has no effect on me.

Rules to Help You Remember

Everyone has their own rule to remember the difference between affect and effect. Except me that is.  I did some digging and these are a few that I found.

Affect is an verb. Affect starts with “A.” So does action. Affect = action.

Cause and effect. Affect is the cause and effect is, well, effect.

Verb substitution. If you’re unsure, replace affect with a verb to see if the sentence makes sense.

Ex:

As a child, he was affected by his parents.

As a child, he was affected eaten by his parents.

The Aardvark Rule

via Marie Hale

via Marie Hale

 “The arrows affected Aardvark. The effect was eye-popping.” 

Remember these two sentences. The sentence with “affect” has all the “A” words. The sentence with “effect” has the “e” word in it.

Exceptions to the Rule

Just when you think you have the rules down, you find out there’s an exception to the rule. There’s always an exception. I’m hesitant to even include these, because you’re going to use affect as a verb, effect as a noun 95% of the time.

Affect can be used as a noun in reference to psychology – the mood someone appears to have. Psychologists can’t really know how a patient feels, they can only speculate how someone appears to feel.

Effect can be used as a verb and it means “to bring about” or “to accomplish.” Like, “The congressman hopes to effect change in his district.”

How are you feeling about the difference between affect and effect? I’m feeling more confident, but I’m sure I’ll still make some mistakes. I’ll be sure to reference this post when I am unsure. I hope this post helps you in your writing.

[First Image Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski]

[Second Image Courtesy of Marie Hale]



Prepare.io’s New Direction


The idea for Prepare.io originated when I first was working on my first company, Demeter Interactive. I ran into problems creating editorial calendars for clients. I hated emailing spreadsheets and Word documents back and forth for approval. A nicely designed PDF took way too long. Google Calendar/Spreadsheets were useful but when clients didn’t use Google products, it proved to be a breakdown in communication. Any other product that would be helpful to me cost way too money, so I was left piecing together different free solutions. So I decided I needed to figure out a way to build an editorial calendar that would be a better solution.

A Pre-Production Mock Up of Prepare.io

Here’s an early look of Prepare.io, pre-production.

Fast forward three years later and I launched the private beta of Prepare.io. It took me much longer than I had ever anticipated to build the MVP* (minimum viable product), but it was done. I recall reading somewhere, if you’re not embarrassed by your product’s first version, you waited too long. Well, good news (I guess?), I was absolutely embarrassed. The Prepare.io beta version was a poor man’s Google Drive with far less less features/functionality AND a monthly price tag. So you can guess how many people started paying for Prepare.io. Zero.

I fully expected this, because I knew in my mind that the product wasn’t ready. But I wanted to get feedback from my beta testers to see what they liked and what they wanted to see. I got a lot of great feedback. I went back to the drawing board and started mapping out the product changes. I prioritized my roadmap into immediate, short-term, and long-term edits. This is still a LONG work in progress, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s exciting see the product evolve.

Since the launch of Prepare.io’s beta, a lot has changed. I’ve learned so many lessons about designing product and building software. I continue to learn new things, things I never thought of, on a daily basis. Here are three of the major lessons I learned from my first product launch:

1. My First Product Was Confusing To Others

Prepare.io started out as an idea, which turned into handwritten plans on a legal pad, then mapped out on a whiteboard, which turned into proper wireframes, and finally the pre-MVP alpha version (so many buttons didn’t work!), all created by me (except for the coding).

I was too close to the product and assumed people would just know what to do when they signed up. Nope. Originally, it never occurred to me to make an onboarding process (probably because I always skip these and just play with the software until I figure it out). Well, this was the first thing people commented on. Most people stopped here and didn’t even bother to move on to the actual product. No matter how simple I thought the product was, I was wrong.

The First Prepareio Calendar View

The First Prepare.io Calendar View

A Look at the Latest Dashboard

A Look at the Updated Dashboard

2. I Didn’t Choose a Specific Customer

If you think your product is for everyone and you build it for everyone, it’s going to serve no one. That’s what I encountered. I originally built this product for freelancers, agencies, and in-house teams. I wanted everyone to use it, afraid that I’d be losing customers by ignoring a particular market. So it’s no surprise I lost everyone by trying not to neglect anyone.

The reason why my product was confusing because I hadn’t properly picked a customer. So I was building features that would really benefit no-one. That’s how I ended up with all these features that were nice to have, not must have.

3. My “Simple” Product Wasn’t That Simple

I can honestly say I thought I built a simple product when I first launched Prepare.io. No. Fucking. Way. It was really convoluted. As I’ve been taught (and I’ve probably regurgitated this advice to some of you) pick on vertical and dominate that vertical. Grow vertically, not horizontally. By not picking a customer, I was growing horizontally. Wasting time and money in the process.

After adding an onboarding process, I was focused on deleting unneeded features to simplify the product. I was also determined to make the core product (the editorial calendar) more functional for users. My first version of the editorial calendar wasn’t more functional than an Excel spreadsheet. So why on Earth would someone pay for my product? I neglected my core product because I was trying to add a bunch of superficial features.

So What Is Prepare.io Now?

Prepare.io is still an editorial calendar, but now I’m focusing on in-house content teams. My mission is to make planning content and communicating with the writing team easier for an editor.

I've got a lot of work to do.

I’ve got a lot of work to do.

“What Can I Expect from Prepare.io?” 

You can expect Prepare.io to continue iterating. I have three major things on my roadmap. First, I want to make the workflow process between writers and editors to be seamless. I want editors to stop using email and Word docs to manage deadlines and edit drafts. Second, I want to integrate WordPress into the dashboard. The first thing anyone who tries Prepare.io asks is if they can publish directly to WordPress. I’m listening! I’m working on a solution for you! Lastly, I want to add analytics to the dashboard. I hate logging into Google Analytics. I’d rather just look at a specific post and see how well the post performed, within the Prepare.io dashboard.

I should mention that I’m bootstrapping Prepare.io right now. I work with dedicated freelancers to build out new features. But that means progress is slow.

“What Can I Expect From the Prepare.io Blog?”

I plan on blogging here again, on a more regular schedule. There were several reasons why I stopped. One reason is because I had to dedicate more time to the product. But with the new direction for Prepare.io I’m going to start blogging with a new focus.

I’m going back to writing about blogging and writing. Great writing is a never ending quest. Therefore, I am going to write tips on writing, grammar, and blogging. I’ll sprinkle in some tips about management, product, and entrepreneurship.

thank-you-gif-Zach-Galifianaki-LA0p

Thank You

Lastly, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has helped Prepare.io get to where it is today. Yes, there’s a lot of work to left, but I couldn’t have made it this far without many people by my side. Whether you’ve worked on this product directly, tested it, or just asked me about it, I thank you. I’d also like to thank my friends and family who have just loved me throughout this arduous process. It hasn’t been easy and I probably would have crumbled without your support. Thank you.

If you lead a content team, or know someone who does, please sign up for Prepare.io’s free trial and let me know what you think.

*One day I will share with you how I was able to find the money to build Prepare.io’s beta version. It wasn’t cheap and it deserves its own post (or two). 

 

 



How to Deal with Adversity


Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-air

In west Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys, they were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
And said “You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-air”

Adversity. It’s just a fancy word for “shit hitting the fan.” But no matter who you are, you will face adversity in life. It sucks. I’ve faced my share of adversity during my life (specific examples to be shared at later dates). But regardless of what the specific adversity you run into, I’ve found a formula that can teach you how to deal with adversity.

Before I begin, let’s be clear, this is the formula that I’ve found to be successful. I’m sure there’s a bit of Kubler-Ross’ 5 Stages of Grief mixed in here, but that’s not the basis of my advice. Mine is more one part emotional, one part pragmatic.

Step 1: Accept The Depression

Eeyore

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Depression doesn’t have to be a nasty word. We all feel depressed at times and that’s ok. When you deal with adversity you’re going to feel sad. Allow yourself feel sad! Mourn your loss and give yourself time to process what just happened.

How long you feel depressed will be contingent on the severity of your adversity. Losing your job vs. losing a client will require different mourning periods. For some small bouts of adversity, I allow myself a night off from work. For bigger events, I might give myself 72 hours. That’s me. It could be longer/shorter for you. The point being is, accept your sadness, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Step 2: Process The Situation

Image Courtesy of Tomas Sobek via Flickr

Image Courtesy of Tomas Sobek via Flickr*

While you accept the depression and take some time off, start to process the situation at hand. At first you’re going to feel shock and numbness. My first reaction is to brush it off and try to figure out what to do. But the reality is, this is probably the worst thing I could do.

When I take time off, I try and do non-work related activities that don’t require me to think about anything related to what just happened. I often lose myself in movies or books. By escaping mentally, I’m calming down my emotions, which will allow me to be more rational later on. DO NOT under any circumstances make any important decisions during this time. Your judgment is clouded. Spend this time bringing yourself back to normal.

*Bonus tip: Do something that makes you feel like you’re in control. When things in my life seem out of control, I clean. I hate cleaning, but when I clean, I feel in control. I feel like order is being created. Scrubbing dirty dishes and vacuuming really clears my mind.

Step 3: Make a List

To-Do-ListI love making lists. I do this on a daily basis. But the list I make after a big set back is a little different than my day-to-day list. I simply write down things I need to do or want to do. There’s no order or level of importance. And it doesn’t have to be work related either. If you have to take out the garbage or buy apples, put that down on your list.

Making a list helps me decrease the clutter in my mind. Getting it all down on paper eases the temporary mental burden. You’ll start to feel more relaxed and one step closer to getting back on the horse.

Step 4: Devise a Plan

Image Courtesy of Ecotrust Canada via Flickr

Image Courtesy of Ecotrust Canada via Flickr**

Now that you’ve calmed yourself, processed the situation, and written down things you need to do, start creating a plan. What’s your strategy to overcome your adversity? On your To-Do list, what needs to be taken care of now and what is going to take longer than 30 seconds to complete?

The reason why I add simple things like “Buy milk” on my to-do list is because it’s an easy win. Get milk and cross it off your list. It feels good. Crossing a few of these tasks off your list will help you get the blood flowing and allow you to really conquer the bigger issues. And that’s what this 4-Step process is about…getting you mentally prepared to overcome the recent adversity.

Use this plan as a loose blueprint. Everyone is different. Your problems will vary is severity as will the variables surrounding your situation. But I’ve overcome firings, eviction notices, legal notices, breakups, and much more with this plan. This isn’t something I read in a psychology book that I’m regurgitating back to you. This is exactly what I do when I face adversity.

If you’re dealing with some type of adversity, feel free to reach out to me. My email is jesse at prepare dot io. While I can’t solve all your problems, I can lend an empathetic ear and offer some advice. You’re never alone in this world.

*Tomas Sobek Flickr

**Ecotrust Canada Flickr