You Can’t Do It All

I haven’t worked the hours I’ve worked this week in a long time. Not since filming the last season of Relative Race (which just started airing this last Sunday! Go team green!)

Similar to last week, it’s a result of taking on too much and having it all catch up to me. I’m behind on editing a course I shot in January, so I worked late on Monday to try and catch up. 

Tuesday I had to run and get set dressing for the course I’m filming in the sound stage that’s in the building I work in, and then I had to build the set that we were going to be filming on starting on Wednesday morning. 

First set build!

We’re filming all day Wednesday through Friday of this week, so there isn’t much progress I can make on the edits or the film I’m producing, which means I’m staying up late doing those things.

How sustainable do you think this is?

Yeah, not very.

I already feel like I can’t keep going like this. And the frustrating part is that I know what the answer is:

You can’t do it all.

You need to leverage other people and build systems so that you don’t get caught in this situation.

I didn’t even mention all of the blogging that I needed to do this week, the time I wanted to spend with my family, the books I wanted to read…

Enough of that though. You get the picture. 

It’s just one of the bonuses that come with my personality where I feel like I need to do everything myself so that it gets done “right”. 

But, as you can see, there’s a limit to how much any of us can do in a given time period, be it an hour, a day, or a week or more. 

If you don’t start thinking about how to leverage other people and systems now, you’ll never get free of that repeating cycle where there’s always too much to do and not enough time to do it in. 

Leveraging other people and building systems:

You’ve probably heard it called delegation, but I prefer the term leverage. It helps me see that I’m not just giving a task to someone else to do instead of me, but that I’m actually accomplishing more by doing less. Leverage. 

What I need to do is find someone to handle the editing for Craftsman Creative. I need to hire a team of people to produce these shoots. That alone would free up a solid 20-30 hours a week of my time so that I can work on all of the other things that are better for me to spend my time on.

(Know anyone who might want to help me with editing? Need to be local to Utah ((closer to Provo the better)) and work in Final Cut Pro…)

Sooner than later I’ll be able to create a course for under $5,000 and about 4 hours of my time, because it will all be leveraged. I’ll keep doing the sales calls (I love those) and managing the system that makes a great course come out the other end, but I’ll have leveraged a bunch of people and tools to get more done than I ever could on my own.

The best part? If you leverage the right people, you get a better result than if you did it all yourself. I’m definitely not the best set builder, or cameraman, or editor, or web designer, or advertising manager. 

I do all those things because I’m stubborn, and because I don’t have enough cash in the business to hire those people right now. But it’s close enough to a breaking point where either something isn’t going to get done on time, or in the right way, and it could end up hurting my business if I don’t fix it now. 

So, if you’re experiencing the same thing, let me know. But the solution that I’ll be working to implement over the next month or so is completely leveraging these courses so that they can be made in the way I outlined.

Find places in your own business where you can leverage a tool or someone else that might even be better than you at that thing, and give it a try. Let me know how it goes!

Daren

PS – would love to hear what you’ve leveraged in your business and why you chose to do it. Let me know in the comments!

What Happens When You Take On Too Many Projects (And What To Do About It)

person holding gray stainless steel pitcher bside window
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

At the end of last year, I found that I’d done something I often do when one or two of my creative projects are in the early stages. It’s the stage when it’s too early to tell if it’s going to work, and so there’s a bit of fear and uncertainty around what the future of that project looks like.

I start stacking

If you were following along, you noticed that in November I started a new blog with the goal of figuring out SEO and being able to publish these newsletters somewhere. I set a goal of writing 60 posts in 60 days…and succeeded only about half the time. 

I started two new podcasts, which I promptly gave up on for a number of reasons, all of which are disappointing because I have written before about the importance of patience and consistency.

I created and launched a coaching program which I’m still pretty hyped about, but haven’t done much with, because the reception wasn’t as great as I’d hoped. That resulted in me severely underdelivering to the two people who signed up to test the program for me. 

By the end of the year I had added all of these things on top of trying to build two businesses – Craftsman Creative and Benchmark App – which when I read that back, is just crazy.

So by this time last month I started realizing what I’d done. I’d added too many projects to my plate. As Craftsman Creative started taking off in January, I felt myself go from trying to fill all the extra time each week with projects to not having enough time to give to the main ones. 

So, I consolidated this newsletter and the other one I was writing because I realized two newsletters a week wasn’t sustainable. Then I stopped writing altogether. 

I paused the coaching program. I stopped producing the podcasts.

And as I sit here now writing all of this, the lesson is that I should have been more patient and more focused. 

You don’t get more done by taking on more projects. You get more done by focusing more on the one or two projects that are the most important.

Had I focused on Craftsman Creative throughout those months when it wasn’t showing the results yet, I would be even further along, and wouldn’t feel the stress of “not having enough time in the day” right now to get everything done. 

We would have made more progress with Benchmark. 

And, I wouldn’t have overloaded my plate with so many projects and would have more room, or “slack”, in my work life to take on any new opportunities that may come my way unexpectedly. 

Like the opportunity to produce a feature film…

15 years ago I started working as a professional in the film industry. 12 years ago I wrote my first script with a business partner, and we tried to get it made by raising money. For nearly a decade we tried and tried but were never able to get a movie into production. 

Now, all these years later, after working as a producer on Relative Race the last few years, and working with two extremely talented and connected women in the Utah film industry, they asked if I’d help produce a feature. 

So, how could I say no?

Luckily, I had the littlest bit of slack in my work life, and felt like I could make it work. 

I’ve been strategically outsourcing parts of the process to make courses on Craftsman Creative, and I have a business partner in Benchmark that can take on more as I go film for a few weeks. 

But as I write this, I wonder if that’s different enough for it to not be repeating the mistakes I made at the end of last year by stacking another project when I “should” be focusing on the two businesses.

What do you think?

I’ve committed, so time will tell. 

The concerns are always around the constraints I don’t have control over:

People – I can’t make people make decisions, or do so in a timely manner. The more people with control over parts of a project, the longer projects tend to take.

Time – there’s a finite number of hours that I can work every day, and I don’t like working and not seeing my family, so I have my own constraint on how much I work. That limits what I can get done in a day/week/month/quarter.

What Does The Creator Economy Look Like In Ten Years?

This came across my feed on Twitter this week and I want to dive into how to apply it to our creator economy:

Jeff Bezos, one of the wealthiest people on the planet, who created one of the most successful and valuable companies on the planet, shared one of the principles he used to achieve those outcomes.

Know what is true, and put a lot of energy into it.

So what does that look like for us in the creator economy?

What things will be true 10 years from now?

Here are a few of my own thoughts as I’ve been mulling over this:

Distribution will become more and more important. Those that can build audiences and platforms – that they own – will have an advantage over those without those assets, even with inferior products or services.

Related, the ability to garner awareness for yourself, your business, or your products and offers will be an increasingly valuable skill.

People love stories. Those who are the best at telling their story will grow their businesses faster and reach more people because the story will resonate and be shared outside of their immediate audience.

More and more of the work we do will be digital in nature. From how we find our audience, to how we sell and deliver our products, those that lean into digital platforms and mediums will grow faster than those who don’t.

Those digital mediums, tools, and platforms will increasingly become cheaper over time, meaning that more and more people will have access to them. In some ways this is good – like the fact that there are still Billions of people who don’t have access to the internet that will get that access in the next few years. But in other ways, like with the low cost of entry to become a photographer, and the way that phones have better and better cameras every year, it means that there will be more competition for the same number of clients. The ability to think about those realities and plan accordingly to stay ahead of the pack will be essential in order to survive.

The thing that is maybe most amazing to me is how anyone, in a very short period of time, can become bigger than institutions the have been around for decades.

Take Jimmy Donaldson, aka Mr. Beast. He started a YouTube channel just under 10 years ago – when he was 13. It took five years to have a viral hit in 2017. Since then, his growth has been incredible, and he currently has the 20th largest channel on YouTube as I write this.

This is the stat that shocked me the most:

Argue the nuances of the tweet if you want (like those replying to the tweet online), but the statistics are undeniably huge. One person, in less than a decade, can reach as many people as the largest sporting event in the US.

The future is much more of the same. Institutions are bleeding influence by the minute. Traditional media like television, the New York Times and others are losing their best writers – one of their main assets – to platforms like Substack as newsletters reaching as many people and the ownership of your own newsletter pays better than a salary at a legacy media company. Creators are choosing YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok rather than pursuing careers as actors and directors.

Just in the last few months, firms like A16Z are stepping out of the traditional flow of media and speaking directly to their audience on Clubhouse, which they are a major stakeholder in, at the dismay of many tech writers at these legacy institutions.

So, with all of this currently happening, what will the next ten years look like? More of the same, for sure, and at an accelerated rate.

The key skillsets that I can see right now are the ability to focus on long-term goals, audience building, story telling, distribution, and being able to adapt when things around us change. The key mindset is the ability to think longterm, and to see the second and third-order effects of everything that is happening now.

Those skills will help you rise above the others in your industry and help you succeed over the long term.

How You Show Up Makes All The Difference

silhouette of man standing
Photo by Jaanus Jagomägi on Unsplash

Last week I wrote about the impact that measuring while planting had on my ability to show up and do the work. Getting some crappy results after just a few days threw me off course, and made it harder to keep the energy and momentum up. 

So today is a follow up. An adjecent lesson learned. 

Don’t Let External Forces Determine Your Emotional State

I’ve learned numerous times over the last year the importance of mastering your emotional state. How you show up throughout the day matters more than I’d ever realized. 

So much so that I have a “ritual” of sorts that I go through when I get home, to transition from work to home life. 

It’s only about 20 steps from my car to the front door, but in those 20 steps I tell myself that it’s time to switch gears, to turn off the business brain, and to be the “hero” that my wife and boys deserve.

I’m not perfect by any means but this one ritual has made this year full of so much fun and gratitude, despite the lockdowns, the quarantines, the pandemic, the economic uncertainty. I knew that I had the ability to “show up” and be a good dad.

There were even a few days where I left work early because I got frustrated and needed a “win”, and there’s nothing like three boys running to hug you first to get your spirits up. 

But that’s a good example of the lesson I learned this week. I was relying on external events in those moments to lift my spirits, rather than the other way around. 

Like I said, I’m not perfect at this.

After last week, I decided to be more consistent at showing up. To not get stuck in a rut, to add in some habits that help me have energy and motivation like drinking more water, exercising, going on walks, and sleeping a full 8 hours.

It all helped, but the biggest shift was my mindset. I told myself on Monday that it’s time to raise my standards, and set a NEW standard for how I want to show up every day. 

I couldn’t have expected what happened next…

Things Happen When You Show Up

I prefer to call it “grace”, but some call it “luck”. But this week, the opportunities started flowing.

Sunday night we had a call with our mentor & business advisor to raise some money for Benchmark. I landed a new, unexpected course partner for Craftsman Creative, and lined up TWO other calls with potential course creators.

It’s the exact opposite of last week. Now, did my emotional state cause these events to happen? NO. But I was able to immediately be present because I was already in that state, and the calls and the opportunities happened in part because of how I chose to show up. 

Your Emotional State Needs To Come From Within

The lesson for me this week, that I’m grateful has been reinforced with such impact – is that your emotional state needs to come from inside you, not determined by external events or forces. 

Don’t let people, events, failures, successes, or situations throw you off your game. Decide how you want to show up every day – at home, at work, everywhere – and set a new standard for yourself. 

With that in mind, I did a live training on Monday about goal setting and yearly planning, and it will help you go deeper on getting into the right emotional state, as well as show you the way that I plan out my year to achieve the goals I want to achieve. 

You can watch it for free here:  

It’s a complimentary lesson for the BUILD coaching program that I have put together for next year. A small group of creatives, artists, and freelancers who want to build a resilient creative business next year. I’d love for you to join us!

You can sign up at build.craftsmancreative.co

The Resilient Creative Business

Here’s the story of how I built a resilient business.

man on edge of cliff
Photo by Sead Dedić on Unsplash

In the fall of 2009, I’d been working in the film industry for a few years. It completely shut down as the economy went through the biggest recession in my lifetime.

A friend and I were in the middle of raising money for a feature film. We were even making some progress, but it all stopped overnight.

I had to take a job selling cars – I couldn’t find anything else. I got married a few months earlier and needed to provide for my new family. It was the only job I could find that would pay me enough for the life we had started together.

So, I did what I always do – I got to work. I figured out what would lead to making more money and more sales. I did months’ worth of training on the cars that I was selling in a matter of weeks. I got Porsche, Audi, and VW certified by Christmas, and became one of the top sellers that month.

I still have the Audi watch that they gave me for selling the most Audis of any salesman in December.

The quick success, it seems, was too much for some of the other salesmen. Rather than working harder, they decided to lie about a sale that I made – they claimed that I stole the customer from another salesman.

I was working at my desk, putting in the info from the sale, when all of a sudden the computer locked me out. Confused, I tried logging back in when the phone at my desk rang. My boss, the general manager upstairs asked me to come up and talk…

He told me that I was being fired for lying and theft of company property.

And just like that, my job was over. Income, gone. It was the only time I’d ever been fired in my entire working life, and still is to this day.

What I learned from that experience is that I never wanted to have a boss again. That way, I could never be fired ever again.

That single point of failure was just too risky for me and my family.

Working For Myself

Fast forward to 2017. I technically have a business, but it’s not great. My business partner and I are making maybe $150k total in a good year – which, after expenses and taxes and overhead, means we’re barely taking home $50k each.

The business isn’t working. The partnership is strained. The clients we have aren’t happy with the work we’re doing and we’re struggling to find new projects.

I end up going over $15k in debt to keep the business afloat and to try and save it, but it doesn’t work.

While I had removed the possibility of getting fired, I found new points of failure in my business. There was no way to save it.

So I need a business where I can work for myself. I need to remove all the constraints and the single points of failure. And, it needs to be a business that pays me enough to have the lifestyle that I want.

It’s not a big ask – low six figures would do it.

No boss that could fire me, no single points of failure…

a resilient business.

Into The Unknown

But I had no idea how to build it.

Who was gonna teach me? Who was gonna help me?

I bought courses. I signed up for seminars. I followed people on Twitter and bought their books and signed up for their email lists.

It was a tough lesson, but I finally realized that more information wasn’t the answer.

I had to build it myself.

So I did what I always do. I got to work.

I started by making sure I had enough money – the first point of failure. I now needed to have enough money to provide for my family of five, our house, everything. Cash flow in a business is like oxygen, it can’t survive without having enough of it.

The first thing I did was find a big client that was going to keep me busy – and paid – while I worked on the other areas of my business. Now I could breathe.

I started adding more clients. This time, however, only clients that I wanted to work with. I removed the single point of failure of only having one client.

If one client represents a huge percentage of your cash flow, it’s no different than the risk of having a boss that could fire you.

Get more clients.

I built systems for the other constraints in the business – sales, marketing, finances, and growth.

I found new partnerships – ones that were beneficial to both of us, rather than dependent on each other. Partnerships where working together wasn’t just 1+1 = 2, but had an exponential possibility, where 1 + 1 could equal 3, or 5, or 20.

I started creating and leveraging assets that I created rather than only trading time for dollars, which diversified the ways that I made money so that the business became even more resilient.

I built a resilient business over the last 3 years, and now I’m building two more this year. Craftsman Creative will be a resilient business in about 12 months from when it started. Benchmark App within a year as well.

Building A Resilient Business For Yourself

It’s a framework that’s built using a process that works.

Now that I’ve figured it out, the only thing I want to do is to help others to do the same: To build their own resilient creative businesses.

The process is straightforward. You start by building a solid foundation and systematically build on top of it, one brick at a time.

If you do the work, it works.

The process inevitably leads to a resilient business that supports your work and the lifestyle you want for yourself and your family

I’m devoting a huge part of my time, focus, and effort to helping other artists, creatives, and freelancers build resilient businesses in 2021.

I’ve created a 12-month, interactive coaching program. It involves monthly training, accountability, a community of peers on the same journey, and one-on-one coaching to give you everything you need to build your own resilient business.

If you’re ready to get to work, I’m excited to join you on the journey ahead.