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The Digital Utopia Podcast Episode #6

Philosophy 5: Commitment and Consistency

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About the podcast

The Digital Utopia Podcast is for SMB Marketers and Business Leaders looking to align their Marketing, Sales, and Service departments so they’re part of one powerhouse growth team.

Each episode will dive into the strategies, philosophies, and tools that will change your approach to organizational growth, give you renewed focus and clarity, and allow you to build a brand that not only helps you stand out—but win.

The Digital Utopia Podcast is produced by Digitopia and hosted by Frank Cowell and Joseph Freeman.

Episode transcription

Frank
If there's commitment and consistency around the fundamentals, and you execute big on the fundamentals, you will make it past this five year. Mark that is this looming, you know, death milestone, if you will.

Joe
You are listening to the digital utopia podcast, a resource dedicated to helping b2b leadership and executives gain clarity and focus in a chaotic marketplace.

Frank
Hey, gang, welcome to episode six of the digital utopia podcast. I'm your host, Frank Co. and I'm joined by my co host,

Joe
Joseph Freeman.

Frank
Good morning.

Joe
Good morning. So Frank, today, we're going to be talking about commitment and consistency. Yes, it's the fifth and final philosophy in the digital utopia methodology, which you know, and, you know, I think we've saved the very best for last. I'm sure it's not a surprise to our listeners, but growing a company consistently driving revenue, it's really it's no small feat. And if we consider a few of these facts, so according to inc, 92% of people don't hit their goals. So that means only 8% of people hit any goal they set

Frank
it that's I have a huge pet peeve with with that, by the way.

Joe
Yeah,

Frank
reason most people don't set hit their goals is because they're sending them wrong. Mm

Joe
hmm.

Frank
Okay, here's the deal, that we're going to go off on a tangent.

Joe
Surprise.

Frank
Yeah, we're gonna go off on a tangent for a second. Look, the business world has largely mixed up what a goal is, right? Like they tell you, you should be creating SMART goals, specific, measurable, agreed, agreed to realistic and time bound, right? Well, the moment you do that, that becomes an objective. And so the business world has goal and objective completely mixed up. Right. So when we talk about goals, goal should be big goal should be daunting. goal should be inspiring goals are almost never fully attained.

Joe
Hmm.

Frank
Right? I prefer to use a word like mission, right? It's something that will drive you for a very, very, very long time. And what people are supposed to be establishing are objectives. Now, that's a bit of semantics. But the reason it plays into this, in my opinion, is because if you don't set a big enough and inspiring goal, then you lose your way.

Joe
Hmm. So give us a quick example of a goal versus an objective in your opinion,

Frank
goal. Goal, I want to be the best dad I can be. That's a goal. That's never ending. Okay, that's

Joe
inspired to measure that,

Frank
right? That's inspiring. You don't you don't directly measure the best goals. Okay, so what's an objective? Well, by the end of 2020, I want to receive the HOA Award for Best data of the year. That's an objective towards the goal of being the best dad humanly possible, right? It's a very simple example. The problem is, is organizations don't set inspiring goals, then it doesn't. It doesn't tell their teams. This is how you live here. This is the mission here. This is what you aspire to just be here.

Joe
Hmm.

Frank
And then you set objectives accordingly.

Joe
Amazing.

Frank
That's my tangent,

Joe
love the tangent. So then wrapping it back to commitment and consistency. You know, we know that 21.5% of businesses fail in the first year 50% in the fifth year, and according to the stats 70% in the 10th year, if

Frank
you want to know why that is,

Joe
I would love to

Frank
a lack of execution.

Joe
Hmm.

Frank
People start businesses, and they end up doing a lot of things that look like business. Okay, we need to get the copier lease, got to get the copier lease. Got to make sure our Microsoft Office licenses are already getting those. Right. What about the cleaning service? Got to get that we got we got to get that? Is anybody on top of that,

Joe
right? All the new MacBook Pros?

Frank
Got it got to make sure you got everybody got the computers? Yeah. Right, people end up doing a lot of things that look like business, but they're not executing. And early on the thing that matters most is selling, selling and being go to market.

Joe
So that's interesting. 21.5% of businesses fail early on. But then as we kind of go down the timeline, we actually have 50%, failing fifth year, as I mentioned, 70% in the 10th year, so something's happening. If you can make it past that initial, you know, playing business and actually doing business, if you get to get past that. What happens later on in that fifth to seventh year that makes people throw in the towel.

Frank
So again, a lack of execution, I said focusing on selling, the other part of that is proposition. Right? Most organizations don't have a strong enough proposition. Okay. And the reason they don't get there is they don't execute enough. And by not executing enough, you can never create what we talked about one of our previous episodes, which is momentum. And if you can't create momentum, you will not stay in business. Yeah. Okay. And so what we're talking about today is what I call philosophy, number five, commitment and consistency. So if you can't execute at a high level, on the right things Consistently day in and day out week after week, month after month, you're going to become part of these statistics where you will fail. And it's a sad state of affairs. There's a lot of people who, you know, broken hearts, because, you know, they started out in this dream to open a business, and then reality smacks them. Hmm. Yeah, this is the stuff they don't teach in school, by the way. They don't teach about these basic fundamentals of what it's going to take to make your business successful. they'll teach you how to do a SWOT, but they won't teach you how to like, focus in and work your tail off on the right things,

Joe
right? Well, and one of those things is actually lead gen, you know, another stat here we know 64% of organizations, either fail or growth will just completely stall out, because they're not promoting. So what happens is a lot of people go through their Rolodex, or they go through the contacts in their phone, and they spend the first few years selling to anyone that they have contact with, or maybe a referral from one of those people. Once that dries up. A lot of businesses don't know what to do next, right? What what got them here is not going to get them there. And that's where they find themselves at your 567 causing that 70% fail rate by your 10.

Frank
Right? Well, what happens is, you know, right around year five, there's just a lot of emotional burnout. It's just too hard to keep doing it that way. Right? And the business hasn't grown enough to make it worthwhile. Right. And when you add in the fact that, you know, business is always in a state of chaos, the degree to which determines how successful it will be. That is the reality. And most people don't know that. And so after dealing with chaos for five years, and stress and turmoil, yeah, there's no shame and like, if you say, Hey, this is not for me. And so that's what ends up happening is the reality ends up hitting a lot of people. But again, I go back to this idea of commitment and consistency. If there's commitment and consistency around the fundamentals, and you execute big on the fundamentals, you will make it past this five year mark, that is this looming, you know, death milestone, if you will,

Joe
right, right. You know, they say that you can't fail what you don't start and so anybody listening today is is likely started something, right. But they also say you can't fail if you don't give up. So when we talk about commitment and consistency, we're talking about pushing through your five, right, pushing through your six pushing through the emotional strain that comes with with charging forward and maybe not making a lot of progress past the initial, you know, getting over the million dollar hump, right. So speaking to our listeners, you know, listeners, I know you're running your own business, or your marketing department, you've likely had questions. And those questions are really universal. It's questions about strategy. It's, it's questions about execution, you know, questioning 90 day outcomes. But we know that everything worth having takes time. Right? So, Frank, you know, what ways have you used this philosophy in your our business? And maybe even give us some examples of how it can span into your personal life?

Frank
Yeah, you know, if you look at our industry, typically, we fall into the category of marketing, right? marketing, agency, marketing, firm, digital marketing, whatever, right? That's kind of a general categorization of where my, our business has fallen for, you know, the better part of 1516 years, okay. And in this industry, it's actually very difficult to grow and sustain and turn it into a real business. And what do I mean by real business, a real business, meaning, you have departments and you have divisions, and you have heads of each of the key areas, and you have, you know, all of those things that a real business would have, rather than, you know, just the owner, trying to scramble and take care of payroll, and finances, and making clients happy, and making sales. And so, to make that happen, to get it to a point returning to a real business, it just requires a high level of commitment every single day. You know, and I'd liken it oftentimes to going to the gym, right? Anybody who's heard me talk has heard me give this analogy, which is, you know, when you first start going to the gym, and you know, let's say you're woefully out of shape, you can't go like sporadically for three months, and then look in the mirror and be pissed off. You know, you can't blame the gym, for your lack of, you know, movement in that area. And even if you did go at a high level consistently, for three months, probably still not going to be anywhere close to what you want to because things take time, right? Especially if you've been neglectful in a given area, whether it's your health, whether it's your business, whether it's your marriage, whether it's your friendships, your with your kids, whatever. It's going to take time in anything great takes time. And the problem we have today is we live in such an instant gratification world, right? And I'm gonna get a little philosophical here. This, I think, is at the heart of, of what is a major problem just in all areas of life, including business. You know, we're so used to like Tap, tap pizza comes to the door. 30 minutes, right, we're so used to tap, tap, you know, text and put in your order and all this other stuff. Right? It's so easy today, we've become very, very spoiled. And so this idea of like, hard work, is not what a lot of people want to sign up for. But that's the reality is, the hard work over a long period of time, is what you want to fall in love with. It's not the fruit. It's the journey. It's the process. You know, Gary Vee talks about this a lot, many people talk about this a lot. I'll give you another example. You know, one of the Buddhist philosophies is about living in the moment. And being aware of the moment you're in and not rejecting it. In so many times, what we do as, as humans, is we reject the current moment. It's not what we want, or washing dishes, we don't want to be washing dishes.

Joe
Right? So we're thinking of something in the future that could be or something we don't want,

Frank
that hasn't been right. And so we create this angst, this tension. Instead, why not find the place where you're actually enjoying washing the dishes, and some people might hear that go like, You're crazy, who enjoys washing the dishes, not on the surface. But if you're just enjoying the fact that you're here, you're breathing, you get to wash the dishes, so that that lack of view on what we're doing, not only in life, but in business, he creates this, this like chasing shiny objects, right? We're not happy with this campaign, it's just not fast enough. So we got to jump to this, we're not happy doing this target audience, you know, thing we're doing, so we got to jump to a different one. And so that's what plagues us is that we're so instant gratification focused, we're not, we're not here for the long term, on on any given initiative. And so when you apply that commitment and consistency to your life, and in your business, you will start to see amazing things happen. But it takes time, that time period, you go through where there isn't, you're not getting the fruit that you want, I call that the triangle of pain. And the reason I call it that is because if you were to graph out over time where your x axis is time and your y axis is effort, and if you were to have high effort over a long period of time, that's going to be a straight line very high at the top of that chart. But if you were to also map on that very same chart, your ROI, your gain, it's going to start at the very bottom left corner, which is negative, and it's the lowest negative possible on this chart. And then it's going to ascend up into the right. And so as you cross that zero line, which is the breakeven line, you see a triangle. And on the right side, you're gonna see a triangle with a left triangle, which is below the breakeven line that I call the triangle of pain. That's the triangle that we all have to go through. If we want greatness, if we want to get past this five year mark, where you go out of business, or maybe you hit you're in business, 15 years, and you start to plateau, you've got to break through that triangle of pain. And the only way to do it is with commitment and consistency.

Joe
So I like that. I like the philosophies of living in the moment. And I think that that's really valuable. And it actually really counter to what a marketer, you know, might feel on the inside right there. They're always looking forward to the next campaign. They're moving quickly. They're trying to be scrappy. And sometimes they're always forward thinking so to the business owner, but

Frank
but I'm going to interrupt you there, there's nothing wrong with being forward thinking,

Joe
Okay, that's where I was gonna go with that,

Frank
when it's time to plan, then sit down and plan,

Joe
Okay,

Frank
sit down and plan to think about the future. But once the planning is done, then focus on the execution. So in any given moment, when it's time to think about the future that is being present, because the task at hand is to plan for the future is to plan that next campaign. You follow me

Joe
so you're still living in the moment while you're planning but then you set that aside and execute in the moment is

Frank
when it's time to execute you can't be thinking about the next thing.

Joe
Yeah,

Frank
you've already laid out your plans.

Joe
Yeah. So I want to bring up something here that I think comes up a lot internally even here you know, in our agency and that is we preach commitment and consistency yet in the ever changing rapidly changing technological you know, and and sociological world. It feels like we actually change directions a lot. Right? Um, so let's speak to that a little bit because I we actually get a lot of questions about that here internally, about what does that mean to be consistent yet you're always kind of changing the tactics.

Frank
Yeah. So I I heard a phrase recently that I really love Which is be bullish on your strategy and loose with your tactics. Okay, because especially, you know, in our business where, you know, we don't fully control one of the major variables in the kind of work that we do. And that variable is the marketplace, that variable is the Facebook, that variable is, excuse me is the Google, we don't control that. Okay. And so in a rapidly changing world where variables are in the mix, where you don't control them, and technology that changes all the time. And by the way, these platforms, they change their interfaces, they change their algorithms, they change their approaches all the time. You have to be ready to shift when it's time to shift tactically, but the strategy doesn't change.

Joe
So this is almost going back to the goals and objectives difference, right?

Frank
Bingo. Bingo. Right? So if you have the right goal, it doesn't need to change ever.

Joe
Right?

Frank
Right, if you have the right goal setup,

Joe
but your milestones to get to it?

Frank
No,

Joe
you have to,

Frank
which is why I'm in the long run business, I'm more and more of a fan of looking at execution plans in 90 day cycles. Right? It actually does, doesn't do a whole lot of good to do a one year plan, you can set one year objectives. Okay, make no mistake, you should set one year objectives, set those and maybe some high level goals for the year, very few. But your actual execution plans 90 days at a time, because stuffs gonna change. Right? especially in today's world,

Joe
right? I mean, I've been in business doing this for what, 14 years in this particular landscape. I can't tell you how many plans we've made that the world has decided won't work right, by new technology. By, by new trends. You make a three to five year plan. And by year two, you already realize like some of the some of the objectives you set are not even available to you anymore. Right. Right. Some of the tactics, some of the platform, some of the approaches you are going to use just aren't even a thing because the world moves that fast. Right?

Frank
Yeah. I mean, that's why again, 90 day cycles are our I'm a huge fan of when it comes to execution.

Joe
Okay. So that kind of change, you are not lumping into going counter to commitment and consistency.

Frank
No. Okay. Now, you're again, bullish on your strategy, right? What's your strategy? What's the mission? What's the goal? And I want to and again, let's be clear, a goal is a driving sentiment that gets you out of bed, and to where the world says, Oh, shit, this guy's up and he's running or she's running, right? Get out of their way.

Joe
Right? Well, so let's talk about the strategy specifically take it away from the tactics backup to the goal planning, the long term vision, what would you say to someone who has been committed and consistent to what might actually be the wrong end game, the wrong goal, and they realize that, I don't know a year, two years in, they realize they're actually marching toward the wrong finish line.

Frank
I would say they probably didn't have a big enough goal. They probably had the wrong goal. So at that moment, do you cut your losses and start over? Of course, at some point, you have to reflect. So when it's time to when you're doing that 90 day cycle that I just mentioned, you have to take a moment as part of that 90 day cycle and look backwards?

Joe
Hmm.

Frank
Okay, what did we think would happen? What actually happened? Were we off? How far will we off? Why were we off? Because in a 90 day cycle, you shouldn't have too many assumptions that were off that short enough timeframes were things shouldn't change enough to where you're like, wow, that was completely wrong. Right? Right. Like it's a short enough timeframe where like, the world around you doesn't change all that much to impact it. Now, we just have gone through a pandemic. And that certainly throws a monkey wrench in that. So aside from a global pandemic, right, generally speaking, the 90 day cycle is not so long that you are going to be upset by things that come in that you didn't expect. Right? And so you have to reflect back and do the review. You have to see what didn't work. What did work. What didn't work. Most importantly, by the way, there's a book called principles by Ray Dalio talks about this idea that you need to learn from the failures more than you learn from the successes, which is another big problem in business, right is like we get we get aspiring entrepreneurs who want to model the successful people. Instead of digging in to the people that failed, and investigating there, we try to follow and mimic what the successful people have done.

Joe
Yeah. You tell a great story.

Frank
Is that a formula for for success, by the way?

Joe
Correct. And you tell a great story about I believe it was wartime aircraft, right?

Frank
Yeah. So this was World War One and World War Two. I apologized For any war, war buffs out there history history buffs if I'm getting this wrong, but it was World War One or World War Two. And what happened was, planes were coming back from a battle. And there were a lot of planes that didn't make it back. Right. They were shot down, the pilots were killed. And, and so they wanted to figure out like, how do we like make sure our planes don't get shot down? And how can they take on more, more fire and still make it back. So what happened was they looked at the planes when they came back, and they examined them. And so if you look at the underbelly of the plane, they'd look, they started mapping out where the bullet holes were to go, Okay, we're seeing a lot of patterns here in these areas. And so we're going to reinforce our planes in these areas. So that way, you know, it won't be as damaging of a hit. So they made these adjustments planes go out. And lo and behold, the survivor rate didn't improve, they still lost a similar amount of planes. And what they didn't realize is they were optimizing for the success. Instead of optimizing for the failure, what they should have done is reinforced the places where they didn't see the bullet holes, because that's where people were getting hit and not making it back. Hmm. And so that born from that was this idea called survivorship bias. Right or success bias. And so we are biased by success. Instead, we should be digging into the failure. What didn't work? Why didn't it work? What data can we glean from that? Again, going back to Ray Dalio, he's got five steps to this process. And part of the process is planned failure. Right, your failure is going to be there. So let's why pretend that it's not going to be there?

Joe
which scientists have known this and practice this forever? Right?

Frank
This is this is why when, you know, one of my big pet peeves regarding science, when people like to use the phrase, you know, but science as their justification to an argument. It doesn't make sense, because, by definition, science is supposed to find failure.

Joe
Right? They try to prove their hypotheses wrong. And if they cannot, they assume it's Correct,

Frank
correct. So that's why if something is validated by science, that's good. But it's not going to necessarily be forever validated. Because Science is going to go on a mission to invalidate it working to disprove it. correctively. So science serves us well. But it's not the be all end all justification to a given answer. It's not the logic necessarily, that is the be all end all. Because Science regularly changes its course and opinions based on the fact that they're doing their work of trying to prove themselves wrong. That's proper science, not trying to prove yourself, right.

Joe
Yeah, so I want to wrap this back around to core philosophy, number five, where we started commitment and consistency. So maybe as one of the last activities here, could you outline for us a good example, maybe in marketing, maybe in sales, where you have seen companies start down a path, and they are just not committed? They are not consistent. And so therefore, failure, and then maybe on the opposite side, somebody who pushed through that and and did see success, and that not necessarily specific company names. But what would be for our listeners, a real tangible example here,

Frank
I think of what I see often is this idea of CEOs, hiring companies to do their marketing, and they say, we're going to give it 90 days and see what happens. Right away, they should like not write that check at all, like we should go to Vegas and have a good time like that money is going to be better spent. Because nothing happens in 90 days. Nothing. Like if you're relying on a campaign, that's gambling. That's just a gamble. campaigns are so hit and miss. It's not even funny. Why? Because the approach to most campaigns is let's sit down and come up with a new idea. Let's get creative. creative ideas are hit and miss. The failure rate on creative ideas is extremely high. It's the reason why nobody can willfully produce a viral video. It's freaking hard. It's happenstance. It's a low percentage. So when a CEO says, we're going to give this 90 days, let's see what happens. Don't do it. Don't do it, spend that money elsewhere, go through a party for your team. It'll be better spent. And so that idea that let's give it 90 days and see what happens is an absolute waste of time and money. And CEOs do this all the time.

Joe
So are you suggesting that a campaign for instance, should be run you should give it the 90 days, but you should maybe expect that it's going to fail and you will learn from that and

Frank
you may be surprised it may be successful when campaigns are strung together as part of a larger program as part of a larger system. And you do them consistently, then they're good But when campaigns are executed as one offs, because we just don't have a lot of leads. all right now let's, let's start a campaign that is absolute garbage,

Joe
right? It's not the silver bullet is the experiment?

Frank
Correct, right. And it has a high rate of failure. And so the way you get success is if you string together those failures, because they build upon each other, you get the momentum we've been talking about, you get a snowball. That's when you initiate from a campaign mentality to a program mentality. What is your program? What is your ongoing strategy? And how do you string those together?

Joe
Gotcha.

Frank
And then specifically, I can think about a company like Airbnb when they got started. You know, a lot of people think like starting an online business, like Airbnb is this really fun, sexy thing, and you need all this great technology. It's so fun and sexy, we're going to be unicorns, we're going to raise billions of dollars from all these investors. But Airbnb, when knocked door to door, they rolled up their sleeves, they pounded the pavement, and they went door to door to get their initial listings. How many of you listening today are willing to do that? That's what we're talking about. Do you have the commitment at a high level, to where you're willing to go? Hi, I'd like to tell you about what I'm doing. Do you have the Do you have the Do you have the commitment to do that? And are you going to be consistent with it?

Joe
Yeah, and that's awesome. So we, you know, in wrapping this up, if you're not going to believe us, if you're not going to believe Frank, you know, maybe you'll believe Tony Robbins. He's quoted as saying, it's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently. So we're not the only ones preaching this. We're not the only ones who've seen success with this methodology.

Frank
Now look, as a as a former martial artist who promises to get back this year, you've made this commitment. Now on our podcast, there's a saying in Chinese martial arts that says, I fear not the man who has practiced 1000 different kicks one time, like fear the man who's practiced one kick 1000 times. Okay. So that, that That, to me is the idea of going back to fundamentals being committed at a high level and being consistent.

Joe
That's awesome.

Frank
So I think we're out of time, right? Yep. Good. This this episode has been super fun. I've really enjoyed this. I'm fired up today. I hope you're fired up to after listening this episode. Go out, be committed. Be consistent. Go kick some ass. We'll see you on the next episode.

 

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