The Compound Effect and a One Year Challenge

If you haven’t read The Compound Effect, pick up a copy. It’s great.

To put it simply, the compound effect is the idea that every little thing matters.

Start eating 100 extra calories a day? Those add up. In a bad way.

Write 100 words a day? That’s 36,500 words a year! That’s no joke.

This works for any metric. From how many times you tell your wife you love her to the number of cold emails you send out to prospects.

This is important to me because it’s something I’ve been very inconsistent with over the last 10 years or so. I can’t tell you how many projects I haven’t completed because I wasn’t putting in a little bit of time regularly.

Likewise, there are things I did complete. Like my MBA and PMP.

We all have successes from the last few years. But if you’re like me, you know you could’ve done better.

  • Put in more time at the gym
  • Given your significant other more kind words
  • Wrote more for your blog/social media/book
  • Invested more money instead of spending it on material things

That’s my goal from this point on. To do a little bit more every day.

That doesn’t mean I’ll have to neglect fun things, like reading or video games. But it does mean I’ll need to be very selective with my time. So instead of playing video games for an hour every day, maybe it’s just 30 minutes.

The same goes with writing. I’m a decent writer – mainly because I’ve done so much freelance writing work. But I’d like to be better. I’d like to publish more content.

That means showing up every day.

Which brings me to another point – the compound effect isn’t necessarily about doing what you want every second of every day. Nobody has that luxury.

Great writers will tell you there were many times they didn’t want to write. They would rather have worked on something else. But they did it anyway.

Whatever it is you’re working on doesn’t have to be your passion. If you’re trying to lose weight, eating a low carb diet and reducing calories don’t have to be your passion. But you still have to do a little bit of it every day.

Build a business? Same thing. Show up every day. Build assets. Build a brand.

So that’s what I’m laying the foundations for right now. This year, I’m slowly building momentum. Spending more time writing every day. More time reaching out to clients. More time with “just in time” learning (instead of “just in case” learning.)

Just because my last 10 years have gone one way doesn’t mean the next 10 years have to be the same.

This is my time. This is my year.

But not just me. It can be yours too! Whatever it is that you’re working on. Any type of project or task. Join me and commit to spending a little time and effort on it every day.

When we reach this point next year, we’ll be happy we did.

Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich has a quote often that he got from his parents. That is “A year from now you’ll be one year older. What are you going to do?”

Sometimes a Lesson Has to Sink In

Sometimes we may hear something, but we aren’t really listening. I’ve been taught things that never really sank in. 

At the time I thought they did. But they never led to fruit. 

Then I hear the same thing 5 years later.

And it finally clicks. 

Or something triggers me to remember it.  It’s funny how that works.

For example, James Altucher has been saying for years to just aim for small improvements every day. 

Tim Ferriss is big on focusing on the small things with the biggest results. 

I would hear their lessons and say “yeah that makes sense!” But here I am a few years later.

And realizing I didn’t actually get it. 

That’s okay though.

As long as I’m growing every day.  How about you?

How many times have you heard something, but felt like you had to let in sink in before you really grasped it? 

What Have I Done?

I’m sure I’m going to forget a few things here.  Actually, a lot of things.

But over the last 10 years I’ve:

  • Gotten married
  • Finished an undergrad degree from Georgia Tech
  • Commissioned as an Air Force officer
  • Got promoted to 1st Lieutenant
  • Got promoted to Captain
  • Worked with experimental special forces parachutes
  • Managed programs to test radars
  • Improved processes at an aircraft maintenance unit
  • Skydived
  • Flown in the back of an Air Force C-17 (cargo plane)
  • Worked as a consultant engineer
  • Completed an MBA at Georgia Tech
  • Made lots of new friends
  • Sold the truck owned for 11 years (I miss you Smokey)
  • Bought a new car (Shadowfax, you were a mistake)
  • Bought a house
  • Worked as a brand manager
  • Written over a hundred articles for small businesses
  • Driven traffic to sites with Facebook ads, Google AdWords, DirectCPV, Traffic Vance, and more
  • Failed lots of times
  • Succeeded a few times
  • Gained weight
  • Lost weight
  • Became a father when my daughter Amelia was born
  • Became a father again (?) when my son Jonathan was born
  • Rescued a dog
  • Moved 7 times (twice across the country)
  • Switched jobs 7 times (5 times in 5 years while in the Air Force)
  • Switched career fields twice (Air Force -> Consulting -> Marketing
  • Played lots of video games (mainly RPGs or shooters)
  • Played lots of books (mainly non-fiction)
  • Watched some TV
  • Watched a few movies
  • Bought lots of furniture (because you “need it” when you have a house to fill)
  • Started/deleted this site like a dozen times

I’m not sure if that’s a lot or not.

But I do know that I’m not deleting this site again.

I first bought this domain a very long time ago. If I had consistently kept writing on it, who knows where it would be. Where I would be.

But that doesn’t matter now.

I am where I am because I’m meant to be here.

Just like you.

College Degrees Aren’t What They Used to Be

There’s one thing I’ve realized over the years that’s hard to accept.

College degrees aren’t what they used to be.

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to learn something without going to school.

Every day I meet someone who is self-taught.

It’s hard for me to accept because I’ve spent a lot of time in college. First getting an undergraduate degree in engineering, then an MBA in marketing.

I’m not saying college degrees are not valuable. They still help with getting jobs or learning new ideas.

But if your eyes have been open the last 15 years, you also realize how much the world has changed.

You don’t need a marketing degree to get a job in search engine optimization. In fact, you’re probably more likely to get the job by NOT going to college, and instead teaching yourself and getting some sites ranked highly in Google.

Dan Henry taught himself Facebook ads to market his own business. Then he started helping small businesses get leads through FB ads. Then he created a course to teach others how to do the same.

Accounting? Sure, you may not be a CPA if you just take online courses through something like Coursera. But you can learn enough to help small businesses with their accounting.

Consulting? Being a good consultant means having frameworks to use. Frameworks can come from the internet or working with more experienced people.

Want to be a data scientist, one of the hottest, most in-demand jobs right now? Take free classes from a site like DataCamp. That’s how a friend of mine landed his job.

Obviously if you want to be a doctor or lawyer or professional engineer, these types of learning methods don’t fly. But everyday the number of career fields that require a college degree gets a little smaller.

As the world opens up and education becomes more accessible for everyone, how are you going to react?

Are you going to take advantage and keep learning new skills?

Or let your career go extinct because you aren’t happy with the current trend?

How to Leave a Legacy

Leaving a legacy is a lot easier now than ever before.

You can publish content online that never really disappears, even if you delete your website.

Videos. eBooks. Blog posts. Infographics. Whatever.

It all stays up.

That’s a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s good if you’re consistent. If you write even when you don’t “feel like it.” If you put up content even if it might suck.

It’s bad if you decide not to do that.

Because then you get drowned out by those who are taking action.

Not every company needs to rely on things like content marketing and inbound marketing.

Not every company needs a website. Or Facebook page.

But if you want to leave a legacy, they certainly help.

Change is Constant

Change is constant.

Right now your competition is coming up with ways to dethrone you. 

A startup is thinking of a way to completely change your industry. 

The government is coming up with tighter (or looser) regulations, which can affect you.

So what are you doing about it?

Are you going through each day coming up with new ideas?

James Altucher says we should come up with at least 10 ideas a day.

That helps your idea muscle get stronger.

Most of your ideas will suck.

Most ideas from your team won’t be worth pursuing.

But it only takes one home run to turn everything around.

Whether you’re in business for yourself, work for a Fortune 10 conglomerate, or searching for a job- keep your eye on growth. If a business isn’t growing, it’s dying.

You’re the same way. 

The Danger of Impostor Syndrome

I’ve struggled with Impostor Syndrome for a long time.

I would think I’m not good enough to do something. Teach something.

Then that would harm my confidence.

Lack of confidence would lead to me not doing my best.

Syndrome is validated.

It’s a nasty cycle.

But… I’m getting better at it.

We have to learn from our past, and use it to improve our futures.

You may be better than you think you are. You may have more value to bring to the table than you realize.

It’s not comfortable. It’s not easy.

But if you take action and (as Seth Godin calls it) ship, you will get results.

And results help you learn.

Learning helps you get better.

Before you know it, you’re world class.