In today’s episode, I have two good friends of mine on the show to talk about utilizing goal planning to get shit done in your business… We talk about long term and short term goal setting.
Tom and Ariana Sylvester are two people who CRUSH IT when it comes to planning and organisation. This was something I definitely needed help with so after we had a chat about my own goal setting I just HAD to bring them on the show.
We dive into how with proper planning, you can achieve incredible things in your business. You won’t we wasting time trying to find the right things to do and will have a roadmap to reaching your goals.
Not only do we talk about how to apply this in your business but also with a family. Tom and Ariana have children and run 3… Yes, 3… Businesses so they have to have shit in check!
I love these guys and like you’ll hear in the episode we talked about getting together in February (our little chinwag was recorded back in January) we actually did! Sexy faces:
Enjoy the episode dudes and dudettes!
IN THIS EPISODE WE COVER:
- Editorial calendars
- How far in advance we like to plan things
- Having big goals
- Using a SCRUM board
- How things are different when you work with a partner/spouse.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED:
Wanna connect with Tom and Ariana?
- Website: SerialStartups.co
- Facebook Community: SSCommunity.co
LT: Okay Tom and Adriana, thank you so much for coming onto the show and agreeing to co-host this episode with me. I did give you guys a little bit of an intro in the beginning but would you guys like to introduce yourselves and then we will jump straight into the topic.
TS: Yeah, absolutely, so first off – so glad to be here. I mean we spent a little time with you out in San Diego a couple of months ago and was pumped when we’d heard you were putting the podcast out so – so happy to be on and looking forward to this show.
LT: Thanks, man, it was good fun in San Diego.
TS: Absolutely. Alright so we are Tom and Ariana Sylvester. Quick overview; we currently own three businesses. We’ve been married – why do I even go there – how many years? Nine?
AS: Is it bad that neither one of us knows?
TS: We’ve been married about nine years – ten?
AS: It’ll be ten next year.
TS: We’ve been married a long time; we love each other a lot. So, married, we have two kids, and you know, it’s been a long journey to kind of build our businesses up, but you know, it’s been interesting because they’re different businesses – and when we talk to people, they’re always surprised about the types of businesses we have and given the fact that this is a travel show – the fact that we can travel while we have three businesses. So the first business is actually real estate investing, so those are physical buildings in locations. Our second business is a wine and liquor store which is also a physical location. And then our third business is actually coaching and training for entrepreneurs which started offline but then shifted online. But even with all three of those businesses we’re still able to, you know, go different places without having to worry about physically being at those businesses.
LT: That’s awesome.
AS: Yeah, it’s been a crazy ride. To say the least.
LT: And I just need to apologise for something really quickly. Ariana, I said Adriana at the very beginning and you didn’t say anything.
AS: Oh, I’m used to it. I don’t even correct people anymore, because it’s my whole life.
LT: Was I saying your name wrong when we were in San Diego?
AS: I don’t think so.
LT: I don’t think I was either. I think I just had a brain fart.
TS: I was going to say was that before or after the drinking?
LT: Yeah, that’s probably a good point. There was a lot of drinking on that first night.
TS: Yes, there was.
LT: Awesome, so you guys are, like, as far as I can say, the conversations as we’ve had – especially Tom – when it comes to goal-setting and planning, you know, you’ve really like pointed out – not some mistakes that I’ve made – but some ways that I can do that better. So I wanted you guys to come on to talk about that, especially because you guys are a couple as well. You know, it’s even more important to make sure that you guys are both on the same page when it comes to business. Especially when you guys are running three businesses at the same time. So yeah, so, the topic today is going to be utilising goal-planning using something called Scrum which is something I want to talk about later as well. You know, to manage everything you need to get done in your business, so, do you guys have anything written down that you’d like to like kick this off with?
TS: Well, you know I guess, talking about goal planning, you know, not going too deep into our story - - -
AS: (Inaudible) blog I just wrote?
TS: Yeah, actually that’s a great way to start things off.
AS: I actually just wrote a blog called How Goal Planning Saved My Marriage because it was a rough start.
AS: Tom kinda started the whole real estate thing and he wanted to do something else and his – for some reason – he had his heart set on doing real estate and I kinda wasn’t into it. We weren’t even married yet, actually, so I guess actually technically goal planning saved our engagement. But he went out and purchased a real estate course without telling me, so then he came home and he had to tell me about that, and it was – it forced us to have a lot of tough conversations that we had had before. It forced him to kinda come out and tell me why he wanted to do real estate so bad. Like why is this so important? Excuse me. And it forced me to see that he wasn’t happy with what we were currently doing, so, that was when the goal-planning came about, was after Tom did that training that he bought and then we started the real estate journey and things were just extremely difficult for us.
TS: Yes, I mean, going back before that – so goal planning for me actually started back when we were in college and, you know, kind of the precursor to that was we graduated college and you know college was awesome. I mean you literally wrote the book on drinking games, and I think we probably wrote the book on drinking games in college too. You know, I was getting towards the end of our college career and I’m looking ahead and I’m like, you know, 45 years? Like I was going to school for software development. And I’m like 45 years of software development working for someone else? I‘m like – that’s not going to cut it. So I actually – when we graduated college – I set a goal, I said 15 years from now, by the time we’re 35, I want to be retired, not working for anyone else, and just doing our own thing. So I set that goal, but to Ariana’s point, a key thing – and this is so critical for people when you’re doing goal-setting – a key thing is understanding why. You know, so many people set goals or have things they want to do but they never stop and think about why, or they never stop and talk about, you know, why they want to do that – especially with a partner. So I was kind of going off doing all this stuff, and I was very clear on my why, but without her my why, it just looked like a whole bunch of random stuff that I was doing.
AS: Yep. Pretty much.
LT: Yeah, I mean, I have like, a big sort of, like, goal for like me and my businesses, like – but I’m already like living the nomad lifestyle. Like mine is more – I would like a little more financial freedom because, like, at the moment, like, even though my business can support my lifestyle, I still feel like that I need to have a little bit of like a safety net in that I’d prefer to travel with work and holiday visas at the moment. So when I went to Australia, when I came here to Canada, you know, just having something to like back up – just in case something was, you know. Just ‘cause you can have a poor month, you know, you can have a small part-time job, you know just to make up the difference. So yeah, I think having sort of, like big goals like that, is extremely important. And especially, like yourselves, you are in a couple – it’s important that you both are on the same page, you know sort of, like, what each of you are striving for in the long-run. But just like going back a little bit – I know you guys, like, work with like clients on this sort of thing. Do you see that there’s like a – a problem that, like, a lot of people have when it comes to goal-setting, or maybe they’re doing something wrong?
AS: Well for my perspective, being the other spouse, there’s a big problem in that the entrepreneur doesn’t talk to the spouse – or whoever they’re with, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife – they don’t talk to them about their why and their goals. Like a lot of people we talk to as entrepreneurs are like, “Oh yeah, my husband doesn’t have anything to do with my business,” or “They don’t know anything about what I’m doing in my business,” and they may not have to be in your business with you but they should still have to at least know what’s going on and hopefully be supportive of you. Because if you’re not on the same page, at some point down the line, there’s going to be a problem. And you don’t want it to be either with your relationship or with your business.
TS: Yeah, you know, another comment along that I see and it’s actually one that you’re running into a little bit, Luke, is a lot of people will put their goals out there but their goals are actually like things or projects that they want to do, but they’re not the actual goals. You know? So you’re goals are the things you want to get to and then once you know your goals, then you can kind of work backwards and say these are the projects or these are the activities that I’m going to do to get to that goal. But a lot of times when we work with people on goal-planning they’re putting out, like, for example, I want to launch a course a next year. So okay, launching a course is the project or the thing you’re going to do but what’s the goal? What’s that going to get you to? You know, is that going to get you so you can be a digital nomad? Is that going to get you - - -
AS: An income goal.
TS: Yeah. You know, but what’s the bigger thing and, you know, why are you doing that?
LT: Yeah, that was like the thing that I sort of, like, had to think about after you pointed that out to me on Facebook, because - - -
AS: He loves to do that to people.
LT: Well it was good, because, I never really thought of it like that. I do have, like, out of the three goals that I listed, you know, I want – one of them was a monetary goal and then the other two were things, and they were like projects that are sort of, like, going to get me to that goal. So it did make me sort of realise that I was, like, goal-setting wrong and that I sort of need to break it down even further into like the steps that I need to take as well rather than just saying – this is the goal – and then leaving it there. Which is sort of what I did, you know.
I’ve got like the board that you guys can see in the background but you guys listening can’t – and you know, I wrote it on there and you guys saw the picture and, you know, that’s what you commented on, Tom. So that’s something that I still need to sort of, like, define better, for 2017. But how far – like – I suppose the question I want to ask is what is sort of, good like, time scales to set goals in? You know is it like a one-year goal, a three-to-five year goal, ten year goal or is it all like personal preference?
TS: Yeah, I mean, you know if you ask ten different people they’ll probably give you ten different answers. Here’s our general thought; you want to look out far enough that when you eventually get to that point, be it five, ten, twenty years out there – you’ve achieved what you’re looking for. But you know another problem do is if you’re only setting one-year goals, or if you’re only setting 90-day goals, you may be effective and you may achieve the goal in the short-term, but that goal isn’t potentially leading you to the longer-term goal or the longer-term thing you want to get to. So for example let’s say that you want to be able to leave your job in five years; if you’re only setting one-year goals and you’re not making sure that you’re tying your one-year goals into the five-year goals and figuring out where you need to be in three years, then you could do really well in one year but then five years from now you miss the mark, because you’re only looking at like those one-year timeframes.
So we generally – we talk about, you know, getting clear on your vision for your life. So what are the key things that you want out of life and that doesn’t really have a time frame, but then what we like to do is start with ten years and work backwards from ten years, five years, three, two, one and then breaking down the current year by quarter. And what that allows us to do is – I mean there’s some big things we want to do but they’re making three years out or maybe five years out or even ten years out. But by putting those things out there, we’re aware that they’re there, and whenever we’re doing our goal-planning we’re always looking at those things, and making sure we’re asking the question ‘are the things we’re doing now going to work us towards or at least in the direction of those bigger goals we want to get to’.
AS: What I think, having done that over the past couple of years, really, it’s forced us to be more logical and more practical with our goal-setting, because when we did it the first time, I remember we had one of our goals is at some point to buy a bigger house – or to build a house. And we had it like really close – and then the next year we went through out goals and were like, “I don’t know if that new house is going to happen in the timeframe that we kind of planned it on.”
So doing this, you know, over and over and really looking at that stuff and thinking about what we have going on currently, the things that we’re planning in the next year and in those four quarters, it really forces you to make better choices almost, with, “Okay, how am I setting my goals and am I being practical with the things that I can reach in these timeframes?” Because if you’re setting goals that are just impossible to reach then goal-setting is not going to work for you.
LT: Yeah and you bring up a good point as well, like, if you do find out that like the goal that you have set is unreachable or it’s like too easily reachable, then you can go back and, you know, modify them and change them. Just because you’ve set yourself a three year goal to be making x amount of money. If you’re almost hitting that after one year then don’t be afraid to go ahead and change it, and that’s something that I – I do have like a five-year goal. I’m 28 years old now and I do have something I would like to achieve by the time I’m 35, but that is constantly changing just because, like, the sort of lifestyle that I like to lead, you know, is sort of, like, spur of the moment.
Like when I decided to come to Canada, that was like – I thought of that idea and then six months later I was here. So now I’m here for two years – I have a visa for two years, so like, that is going to change like some of the goals of maybe like owning property or, you know, deciding that I want to settle down in such-as-such a country or want to backpack around, like, Europe or whatever. You know, you can change your goals, you know, they’re not quite as relevant as when you first set them. And one of the notes that I wrote down is that I prefer to plan stuff one year in advance. Like, I do have like a big five-seven year goal but I don’t like to plan more than one year ahead just because, like, things do change quite quickly in like the lifestyle that I like to live, which is very spur of the moment.
TS: So let me ask you a quick question on that: you do have a vision, right?
TS: You do have a vision, right? So that’s the biggest thing we tell people. It’s not so much the timeframe or the number of years; that vision is essentially like your guiding, like your North Star, right? So regardless of where you are, you should be able to look up and still clearly understand our vision. Your goals are just the stepping stones to get there. So to your point, depending on where you’re at or where you go, and you know, what’s important or what changes, it’s totally fine to shift those goals back and forward or even get rid of them or add new ones in. The biggest thing is you want to make sure it’s all progressing you towards that vision.
TS: Yeah, and like, you used the word visionboard. When we did meet in San Diego we were there for a conference, and this was one of the things we did when we were there. And that was actually the first time that I wrote it down on paper, and it made a massive difference sort of, like, for me. Like in my head. It was something that I always thought about and, you know, the goals that I wrote down were exactly the ones that I had in my head. They hadn’t changed. But yeah, write them down on paper and if you’re going to do a visionboard yourself, then make sure that you do include things like your business goals and then also your lifestyle goals.
Because if you’re listening to this podcast, you are here because you want to create a business that’s going to support a specific lifestyle that you want. So make sure when you do create your visionboard, which is basically your long-term goals whether that’s five, ten, fifteen years into the future. Make sure they do include what you want your lifestyle to look like, and then also what you’d like your business to look like, and then like you said, Tom, you can backtrack from there and figure out the steps you need to take to eventually get there.
TS: Yeah and that’s such an important point, like, we end up working with a lot of business owners and a lot of them are successful but it’s interesting when they come to us – they might have a six or seven figure business, they’re doing really well, but they’re not happy. And almost every time when we talk to them, it’s like, you have this great successful business, that’s what you were looking for, why aren’t you happy – and as we dive into that it’s because they didn’t align their business to what you just said, to their lifestyle.
So even though they may be making a lot of money and built a successful business, it hasn’t really got them to the point of what internally makes them happy, and because they didn’t connect those things when they were doing their goal-planning, they kind of got over here with their business but their lifestyle’s over here and it’s not supporting it. So a lot of what we then do with them is help them align those things and find out what they need to do businesswise in order to get into alignment to support their lifestyle.
TS: And that’s when you hear a lot of people talk about when they say they feel trapped in their business. That’s because they haven’t sort of, like, tied the two together and, you know, built the business around their lifestyle or at least focus on both at the same time.
TS: You read that in a lot of the autobiographies of a lot of big successful entrepreneurs – a lot of their first one or two businesses, whatever one the first one was that skyrocketed and sort of, like, made them, like, the money or gave them their fame and popularity, you know, they’ve always said they felt trapped at some point in that business at some point and you do need to make sure that you do have both of them – preferably written out somewhere – at least personally I’ve noticed a big difference when I did write it out compared to just thinking about it in my head. Do make sure you do cover both of those, for sure.
TS: Yeah, I was going to say – so I’m going to ask Ariana a question quick. So when we started doing goal-planning we just started doing it on the computer or something electronic. But then we actually – and maybe you know Luke will send you a picture for the show notes page – we actually took a giant wall in our office and we built what’s called our goal wall. So we have the vision at the end and then we have all our goals laid out on there. And you know, the first time I built this Ariana was like, “What the heck are you doing?”
AS: He was putting painter’s tape all over the wall, and like - what’re you doing?
TS: So because you’re talking about the importance of writing it down and impact it had on you I want to ask Ariana what the impact was of not only writing our goals down but literally having it on our wall, in our face all the time.
AS: Oh it was huge because it forced us to think about it. I mean just standing there with the post-it notes – the pad of post it notes in my hand. And like write everything down and then we have to figure out where to put it, like, what? So I sat there with a Sharpie marker and had to think about what goals I wanted and it’s funny, I always laugh when we tell people about our goals because if you were to put our sheets side by side when we first started in like the first couple of years, all of my goals were like relationship, life, family-related and all of Tom’s goals were business, job, you know, how can I get out of a job, blah blah blah. So yeah, now they’re a lot more evenly placed I would say, but they started out quite on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
TS: Yeah, but I mean just driving that point home – exactly as you said, Luke – a lot of people say, “Well, you know, I don’t have to write my goals down, I have them in my head and I know what they are.” The problem is when they’re in your head – one, they’re not real and two, it doesn’t force you to focus on them. And when you write it down there’s something in your head where it becomes more real and then, as you’re looking at those – the other thing that we recommend for people is have ways to track that and have milestones along the way because - - -
AS: Well it makes you accountable. It’s just right there.
TS: That’s the biggest thing because if you don’t have a way to kind of track – one, not only how far you’ve come, which is a huge thing because a lot of people forget how far they’re come, they only look at how far they have to go. But if you don’t have a way to track both of those things, you’re going to miss out because you’re looking at this goal that’s way out there and you may lose faith or you may never get there because you’re not actually making progress even though you think you are.
LT: Yeah, like I said, you know, I’ve noticed a massive difference since I wrote it down, but there’s sort of, like, two ways you can go about writing it down. A lot of people turn around and say write it down and put it down somewhere that you’ll see it every day, that way every time you step into your business to do whatever work it is that you need to do, you’ve got that like task or goal sorry in front of you, so you know what you’re working forwards. Now that might be for you. But if you’re sort of, like, a nomad traveller, than you probably not going to have like a big whiteboard or something like that, or a goal wall that you can like put all this stuff on. But you know there are like different programs – you could probably use something like Trello where you could put these goals where you can easily see them if you wanted.
Or what I’ve started to do now is that I have a little notebook as well, where I started to write down lie all of the goals that I want. Like long-term that’s on page one, as soon as you open the first page, there’s your long-term goals. And I do want to like move into sort of, like, planning stuff like you were talking about, like one year and quarterly stuff. I do want to get into some techniques that you can do to sort of plan that sort of stuff out, but you know, you can go in with this book and you can like write down your one year goals, write down your three year goals, and you can sort of almost cross them off as you achieve them and I find that, like, it’s so satisfactory – that’s probably not a word – I mean, it’s a word - - -
AS: No, it is a word.
LT: It’s not the right word to use but it’s so – satisfying – to you know, cross that goal off like – yes, I achieved that.
TS: Luke, you just – You’re not excited enough about crossing your goal off. Like when you cross a goal off you should be crossing that off and being like that is fucking awesome – I just accomplished that goal.
LT: Sorry scratch that, let me say it again. So I cross this off and I’m like fuck yes.
TS: There you go man.
LT: That better?
AS: Much better.
LT: Cool, so you guys are seeing, like the notes of the things that I’d like to jump into now. The first one I want to bring up is sort of, like, an editorial calendar. So now we’re sort of jumping into ways that you can like achieve these goals and I find one of them – a big one for at least content-wise – and no matter what you’re doing in your business whether or not you’re videos, podcasts, blog posts, affiliate promotions or you know whatever it is that you’re doing, you can like structure everything around something called an editorial calendar. Which, for those of you who don’t know what that is, basically you just get like a twelve-month sort of calendar and you block off different portions of each year and you write down – this is what I’m working on there – or this is the project I’m working on here. This is when I want to start it, this is when I want to finish it. Or if it comes to content, you can plan out all of the content you want to do for the year.
So you can say - in March I’m focusing on – well, let’s choose my business as an example – digital nomadding. So for March I could talk about email marketing, how a digital nomad can use email marketing in their business to increase sales of their products, promotions, whatever. And then I can decide, okay, I’m posting one thing a week so I’m going to talk about this on this week, this on this week, this on this week, and that way you know exactly way ahead of time what you’re going to be working on so you can sort of, like, mentally prepare for it rather than like rocking up and, “What the fuck do I do now?” So I like the idea of an editorial calendar. Is that something you guys use yourselves?
AS: We started to a little bit because I kind of took over the email marketing for our online business and it’s just such a struggle to come up with stuff like last minute. Oh I got to write the email for the week, what am I writing, oh I don’t know. So we definitely started doing an editorial content type calendar for that and then because we have the Facebook group we kind of try to do similar type posts, so okay, it’s sort of, like, the theme for the week. My email’s about this so then we’re going to put a post about it and then we might share a relevant blog post that is along the same lines. So we don’t do it all the time but I’m trying to get more towards doing that as often as possible because it does take the stress off of me.
TS: Yeah, well, I mean, so typically in an editorial calendar is around content so people who are creating content should absolutely have one. Like Ariana says it helps a lot. But even if you’re not creating content it’s still good to sort of, like, look at that year. So there was one year – kind of speaking of the goal wall – we literally bought one of those giant desk calendars - - -
AS: Ripped it apart.
TS: Oh yeah. We put them up on the wall and we kind of did the same thing where it was like – okay, what are the major things we’re going to do this year and let’s kind of lay it all out and see when are the busy times, when are the not busy times, and now we’ve shifted all of that into electronic tools but we do the same thing. So we look at what conferences are we going to go to because we have a liquor store there is major holidays where we have to make sure we’re hosting content or we’re preparing our inventory for. So now that we got this calendar laid out, we look out for the year, we can start putting that stuff in there and it makes stuff so much easier to know – oh hey, I just realised this new holiday or there’s this new thing we should create content for. We can go put it out on that month and then I don’t have to worry about it until we get to that month.
LT: Yeah and I think this is definitely something that –well you sort of mentioned it when you talked about planning sort of conferences, you know, that’s – you have to plan travel. You can put all of that, sort of, stuff on there. So for the digital nomads who are travelling around constantly, you can sort of plan ahead – so I’m going to be in this country then so I need to factor in travel days for here, then I know I need to do x amount of work before then so I’m not going to be backlogged for that travel day or that travel week. Whatever it is.
LT: You know you can get so granular with that that you can plan day by day eventually. And like you said, you – it’s very important to sort of plan quarterly as well, but for digital nomads you know, you can plan, like, your travelling there as well. So I think – like you said – even if you’re not using it for content, which most people like you said, that is what they use it for – but you can use it for so many other things that you can sort of plan other things around it when you know what’s coming up ahead of time.
TS: Yeah, and I mean, you know, between – I know we’re going to talk about Scrum and that in a little bit – but between like cold planning, our Scrum board and then our calendars, that’s what runs our lives. So with our calendar, we use google calendar and we have ten of them.
AS: It’s more than ten.
TS: So we have one for each of us individually, we have one for each of our kids, one for joint family and then we have one for each business and I think that’s about it.
AS: Yeah. There might be a couple of - - -
TS: But what it allows us to do is we get a single view of all the stuff that’s going on that week or that month. So we do quarterly planning but then we also do weekly planning. So each week we get an opportunity to kind of look at what went well, what didn’t go well the last week. What do we have coming up this week, and then we can look at our Scrum board and our goals and say okay what’re the most important things for us to do this week, in order to achieve that goal, knowing what we have on our calendar. I mean there’s no way we could manage all this stuff if we didn’t have tools like that that pulled it all together for us.
AS: One thing I will say though as to the content calendars are for scheduling out anything for like a whole year is – to make sure to throw in some like random days of nothing, so that you don’t get thrown off when something happens that you’re not expecting and you can kind of just shift your schedule, because that’s one thing that I see a lot of people is try to schedule everything down to the day, down to the hour, down to the minute even for some people. Like okay I have to do this, and then I’m done, and I have to do this and then I’m done. But when you get sick or your travel plans are changed or when your kid has a snow day or something like, there’s little stuff that can throw you off, so don’t let it throw you off completely by being so rigid in your scheduling that you can’t adjust.
TS: Yeah I was going to say, just a quick tip on that too. The closer something is, the more detailed it should be. So when you’re planning out your day today, I mean you should have every hour, every half-hour or the key tasks you got to do that day. When we get out a month or a quarter it’s going to be a little less detailed and when you get out to the end of the year it might just be some big ideas for what you want to do. So I’ve seen some people where they go crazy where they try to plan the detailed out stuff for like a year from now. And it’s like so much is going to change by then, that just keep those things high level, and that’s why quarterly planning is really helpful because then every quarter you get the opportunity to start breaking it down until more detail rather than trying to do it a year at a time.
LT: Yeah you both bring up really good points – like you said Ariana, plan those days off where you are doing nothing. And I would say make sure you’ve got at least one of those every week at the very least, even though we are hustling and grinding and - - -
AS: You can still work when that day comes, but don’t plan on it.
LT: Exactly, yeah. And you might find out that you’re so sort of, like, over-stressed that you find that you’re burnt out if you do plan too much and, you know, you eventually stress yourself out because you eventually put too much on your plate and then, Tom, like you said, the further out that it is, the more – not vague it is, but you know, the less detail there should be. So you’re still flexible enough to accommodate changes that could happen, you know, whether or not that’s within the business itself or like for me I could up and decide that I want to move to a different country in two months’ time. You still need to – and planning to extreme detail is important up to a point but you still need to allow yourself to be flexible enough to deal with the things that life throws at you.
AS: Yes, life is still going to happen. Doesn’t matter how planned out you are. We can tell you that for sure.
LT: Awesome, so should we jump into what Scrum is now?
TS: We should.
AS: Leave Tom the microphone.
LT: Well why don’t you explain what Scrum is, Tom?
TS: Alright, so, at a very high level, Scrum is a way to organise and focus what you’re doing to be able to get the most important things done faster. So, you know, not going into too much detail or history but the whole reason it’s called Scrum is actually from rugby, so if anyone is familiar with rugby, what the team will do is they’ll kind of get together in this huddle and they’ll plan out the play. So what Scrum traditionally is for is like teams where they get together each day and they kind of plan out that day and then they take a step back and they might plan out two weeks, so they might get together and say, “For the next two weeks we’re going to focus on getting these things done,” and then every day they’re going to have a daily scrum which is basically like fifteen minutes at the beginning of the day where they say what’re we going to do today to get us toward that two-week goal, so that’s traditionally where it came from.
But whether or not you have a team or if you’re an individual, the basic concept is take all the work you have to do and prioritise it, and then move one thing into doing and then don’t move anything else into doing until you get that one thing done, and what this forces you to do is one prioritise things, and two focus and not multitask, because what happens with a lot of people is they sit down for the day and they end up working on five different things or Facebook comes up or they get a Twitter notification and now something that might have only taken them two hours to do ends up taking them the whole day or maybe they don’t even get it done because every time something distracts them, it’s something called a context switch and basically they lose time by jumping back and forth. So being able to have a Scrum board prioritising your work and focusing on the most important things – it’s amazing how much more you can actually get done in your day.
LT: Yeah, man. So if you guys can sort of, like, visualise like a big whiteboard with three columns, so the one on the left is like what you’ve got to do, the middle column is doing, and then the final column is done. So like you said, Tom, we would list all the tasks that we’ve got to do for either that day if that’s your daily Scrum board or tasks over the next two weeks – everything’s in there, sort of on mini post-it notes, all written down what you need to do. And then, yeah, you move one at a time into the doing and then you just crack on with that and do everything that needs to be done to be able to move that post-it note into the done column and then you move onto the next one. And you just work your way through that to-do list which is essentially what it is, but you can sort of, like, see your progression as you go through it and, again, it is so satisfying when you finally move that last post-it note into the done column and you’re like fuck yes. But for - - -
TS: There you go.
LT: Now that I’m sort of, like, here in Canada for a little while and I don’t plan on moving quite so soon, I do have a physical whiteboard now on the room in the apartment that I’m in, but if you can’t do that, then there’s online software that’s completely free to use called Trello which I know you guys definitely use, and I still use it. I use Trello as my like daily Scrum board and then the actual whiteboard for my longer-term maybe week, two week, goals. They go on the white board and then the daily tasks—and it’s exactly like you can imagine, moving post-it notes on a whiteboard. You get little cards that you can create three columns. You get like a little card, write what it is, and then you can literally drag it into each of the columns, like on your computer.
AS: Or your phone.
LT: Or your phone, yeah. Either one. So if you do want to use a Scrum board which, like you said, it gets you sort of laser-focused on the tasks that you should be doing in your business. If you don’t have the availability of a whiteboard then definitely use something like Trello.
TS: Yeah, I mean, I’ve been coaching, you know, small start-ups, fortune 50 companies, anyone you can imagine, on this methodology for like the last ten years. And one of the biggest things I tell people is when you start if you can put it on the wall with post-it notes, do that, because to your point, there’s something about physically moving that post-it note from one thing to another. So I recommend people at least start that way and then, to your point, you can move into a tool like Trello. Trello’s great, we used it for a long time. We’ve actually upgraded to a more advanced version called LeanKit. But I mean there are so many electronic tools out there.
AS: We used Asana as well.
TS: We used Asana for a while - But the biggest thing I recommend with people is - don’t get too caught up on the tool or the process. Don’t make it more complicated than its needs to be. So to your point, when you’re starting out, three columns. What do I have to do, what am I doing, what’s done – prioritise it – and go. You know, don’t get caught up in – should I use this tool or that tool – pick one, get started and then if you want to upgrade or change later, you can.
LT: Just, guys, if you’re listening – well you are listening. Guys, just start off with Trello.
TS: If you’re not listening, wake up.
LT: Yeah, if you’ve fallen asleep, wakey wakey. Just start off with Trello, don’t worry about anything else. That’s something that’s super simple, it’s free to use. If you can’t use a whiteboard, use that. Those are your two options.
AS: Yeah - - -
LT: The thing I want to quickly mention before we wrap this up is the importance of using something like a Scrum board when you are in a couple like yourselves because not only can you sort of write down what you’ve got to do but you can see what your partner’s doing as well so there’s no sort of – conflict – like, “You’re supposed to be doing this.” It’s on the board, you can see what they’re currently doing now and you can see what they’re going to be doing for the rest of the day. And again like we said at the beginning, it’s just another way to make sure that you both are on the same page, going for the same goal – whether that’s daily, weekly, yearly, whatever.
AS: Yeah. And I just want to point out that our boards – we share one so that we can both see our tasks and then we have different – we use all the businesses are on there and our personal life is on there. So that is a very important aspect to add. At least, for me, especially when you have kids and there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on.
TS: It’s funny, when I worked with teams or even – you know, this is (inaudible) – I told them that you know, if you’ve got a team in your business, you might just have one for that team. But I said for managing the business, you’ve got to make sure your personal life’s on there because you’ve got to be able to see it all together and that’s a big part of making sure it’s connected. And a lot of people laughed at me at first and said what did your wife think of that? And I was like, well at first she’s like what’re you doing putting this crazy stuff at home – but now that we use it I mean, I can’t imagine trying to manage everything we do without it.
AS: No. No. It wouldn’t happen.
LT: Well guys, I think we should wrap this up nice and – wrap this up into a nice little bow, because that was perfect. You know, the importance of goal-setting, the importance of, you know, writing down these tasks whether or not it’s on something digitally or something like a book or a whiteboard, and especially if you guys are travelling with a partner, a spouse or whatever. It’s a good way to make sure that you guys are on the same board because, especially if you’re travelling with a partner, you’re going to be around each other all the time. So you know, making sure you’re both on the same page will definitely, definitely create less arguments with one another.
AS: Yep. Much happier. Happier lifestyle.
LT: And Tom can probably agree – happy wife, happy life.
TS: Happy wife, happy life. That’s what it is.
AS: He knows it well.
LT: Awesome, so guys, before we end this call, we have one thing left to do and that is the rapid-fire question session. Are you guys ready?
TS: Let’s do it.
LT: Awesome, so I will read them off one at a time and you guys can take turns and whoever decides to go first, but first answer that comes to your head, throw it at me. So question number one: what is your favourite country that you’ve been to so far?
AS: Ooh. Tom hasn’t been to any others so I’ll answer that one. Portugal.
LT: Nice. How about State, Tom?
TS: State? Probably Colorado. Beautiful out there.
LT: Nice. What is the last YouTube video or movie that you’ve watched?
AS: Oh god. Children – something for children.
TS: I was going to say our daughter’s obsessed with these toy-unboxing videos. It’s ridiculous.
AS: Yeah, they’re very, very boring. Watch me open all these toys.
LT: Could be worse. What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?
AS: That - - -
TS: So Ariana doesn’t eat anything weird.
AS: I’m very picky so I don’t eat a lot of weird things.
TS: Yeah. Pass?
AS: You can’t pass – you have to name something.
TS: I don’t know.
TS: Okay we’ll pass on that one. That’s the first time that’s happened, by the way. What is your favourite drinking game?
AS: Oh. We were just talking about this the other day. I loved Quarters in college.
TS: Oh Quarters was good, yeah. Is that in the book?
LT: Quarters is in the book, yeah.
LT: Why is that one your favourite game?
TS: Cause I’m awesome at it.
AS: That’s one reason. Also it was fun, you know, you sat around a table with like 20 people sometimes we’d have at that table.
TS: Quick tip, you got to have plastic cups though. We went through so many glass cups.
AS: Yeah, when you’re playing Quarters.
LT: If you guys could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be?
TS: I’m going to say Ben Franklin.
AS: Your answer’s so – you’re such a suck-up, man.
TS: Suck up? Sucking up to Luke?
LT: Sucking up to an Englishman, yeah.
AS: My answer is Adam Lambert.
LT: I could go with you on that one.
AS: Thank you. Yes.
LT: What is the one book that you’d recommend everyone should read?
TS: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It will change your life if you truly read it and implement it.
AS: I’m going to go with Harry Potter.
LT: I can definitely see – earlier on you were talking about all-business, all lifestyle. You can see that right now.
AS: What? What do you mean?
LT: What is your go-to song when you need to get into the mood to get shit done?
AS: Oh man, I’m going to answer Tom’s for him. Anything by Rhianna. If I have to hear “work work work” one more time.
TS: What gets you more in the mood than Rhianna yelling “work” at you? Come on.
AS: I like – I like classical but I like the modern-twist classical like Two Cellos. I don’t have one song.
LT: I remember watching them on the talent show. They’re very good.
LT: What is your favourite swearword that you’ve learnt in another language? We need to get that explicit rating.
TS: There we go.
AS: I don’t think I know any swearwords in another - - -
TS: I know some. “Puta”.
AS: Come on, okay. But that’s not my favourite one.
TS: Well if you don’t know any that’s got to be your favourite.
LT: And what does that one mean?
AS: I don’t know if we want to say what that one means.
LT: Go for it.
TS: Go on.
AS: You say it – it’s your favourite swearword.
TS: I actually I don’t even know what it means, to be honest.
AS: Exactly, it’s not a nice word.
LT: We’ll just leave people guessing.
TS: I was going to say – funniest part – which story. I used to think “sacapuntas” was a bad word and it means pencil sharpener.
LT: I have – one of my favourite words in Fijian is “mana” and “maga”. One if brother, and the other one’s cunt.
AS: Oh. Okay, yeah. Don’t get those mixed up.
LT: Very slight difference between the two. One just has an “n” and that’s it.
TS: So many people are going to get into trouble on that one.
LT: Yeah. And number nine: what is your favourite podcast apart from this one?
AS: I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts. Tom listens to a lot, so it’s probably hard for him to pick one.
TS: It’s probably – it’s called The Sustainable Business with Josh Patrick. It’s really good because it covers a lot of different topics but it talks about building a business that’s going to be around for a while.
AS: I have – I like Jaclyn’s podcast Up In Your Lady Business.
LT: That sounds wrong.
AS: That’s what the title is.
TS: That’ll get you your explicit rating.
LT: Yeah, that’s the gynaecologist’s podcast, right? And last question. Can you give me your best travel story that you guys have in under five minutes?
AS: Uh, the cruise?
TS: Oh yeah.
AS: When we almost didn’t make it?
TS: Yeah let’s go with that one.
AS: We were in college and my family was going on a huge family cruise trip, so they offered you know for us to join in and we just had to pay for our tickets, and the crews left the day after Christmas.
AS: And it was going to be a week-long so we were going to be there through New Year’s. And we found out Christmas Day there was like one of those huge - all the flights are cancelled from Delta Airlines - and if you didn’t make it to the cruise was leaving from Puerto Rico, you didn’t get on the cruise, and we had already prepaid and everything and we were like, “Oh my god, what’re we going to do; we have to get on.” So we ended up driving Christmas night. We had to drive at like three in the morning to a different airport like an hour and a half away because one of my aunts worked for a company that had an in with the airline and she got us tickets that next morning somehow at like six in the morning our flight left. It was crazy talk.
TS: Yeah I was going to say - we were calling airports like – I mean we were calling airports in like Canada – and like you know, what are we going to do to get out of here. And thankfully, yeah, she came through for us.
AS: It was an amazing trip, but I could have done without the stress and we are never, ever, ever, ever going on a trip anywhere around the holidays ever again.
LT: Or at least don’t book a cruise that starts off in another country. Pick something that’s a lot closer to home.
TS: Lots of lessons learned from that one.
AS: I don’t even think I want to fly around the holidays – it was nuts.
LT: Oh yeah, I would completely avoid it.
AS: People sleeping all over the airports – it was crazy.
LT: Yeah I would completely avoid it personally as well. Awesome, so guys thank you so much for coming on the show. This was an awesome chat. I think a lot of people are going to be able to take something away from this, either when it comes to long term goal-planning or even just short-term using something like a Scrum board or the editorial calendar. So before you go, can you guys share where people can reach out to you online and like websites and all that sort of cool stuff?
AS: Sure. Our website is SerialStartups.co, but we hang out in our Facebook community a lot which is Serial Starters Community and you can find that at sscommunity.co. But yeah, our website has a ton of great blog posts – we’ve pretty much documented our entire journey as business owners, so you can go on and we wrote like a ten-part series about how we opened our wine and liquor store on there. We used to have our own podcast, so all our own podcast episodes are on there as well. Anything I missed?
TS: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is come and hang out on the Facebook group. I mean, we have over a thousand entrepreneurs and we’re just sitting there kind of sharing our business experience. People are talking about different business topics and, you know, that’s one of the biggest things, you know, especially if you’re a digital nomad. You don’t always have people around you that understand you, understand your business, understand or even care about what you’re talking about, and getting into – whether it’s our group or other groups online – they’re just really good ways to get with other like-minded people and keep you going, and keep you motivated to get to those goals and you know when things get tough.
AS: Yeah, you need your support system.
LT: Definitely, definitely. So all those links that you guys mentioned, I will put those into the show notes, so if you guys listening – if you didn’t catch any of that, you will find that in the show notes page. Guys, thank you so, so much again for coming onto the show and hopefully I will see you guys in the near future.
TS: I was going to say, I think - - -
AS: Yeah, February.
TS: Yeah, I think February.
LT: I’ll see you guys then.
TS: Alright, see you then, thank you Luke.
LT: Fist bump. That looks so weird doing that to the camera.
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