An earlier post on this topic struck a chord with readers. So, following it up with a more in-depth look at making your artistic ambitions a reality is necessary.
I am a champion of artistic success, and as such, you can think of me as your cheerleader, though you will never see me in tantalizing short skirts. It simply isn’t my style. Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with that.
Before I commit to digital ink anything else I might privately chuckle at and publicly regret, let’s move right into the key steps that will have you effective in reaching your 2022 objectives.
1.Create Your Unfolding Plan
No, not a plan. An unfolding plan.
And while some might argue that’s little more than semantics, I have personally experienced and observed the difference an unfolding plan can make, especially compared to the usual rigmarole of setting New Years Resolutions and hoping and praying they will manifest all on their own. If you’re a proponent of laziness and sloth, this article is not for you, and you would be better served with mainstream spiritual shlock.
The unfolding plan, as you’ve surely inferred already, begins with the end in mind and is unfolded from there.
How to Set Up Your Unfolding Plan
The basic framework is as follows:
Look three months ahead. What will you have accomplished? Envision it in rich detail, including the celebration party that follows, and write it all down as a done deal (e.g., “we have launched a New York Times best-selling book”).
What will you have accomplished in month one (first milestone) to have gotten the outcome defined in the final step? Write that down.
What will you have accomplished in month two (second milestone) to have gotten the outcome defined in the final step? Write that down.
What are the weekly actions that will support you in reaching your milestones and outcome? Create these actions as promises, requests (of others), and conversations to be had.
Create a space to document your accomplishments, update as you go, and review them often. You will be surprised and amazed at what ultimately gets done.
2.Build Your Team
We’re all lone wolves. Only some are willing to admit it.
You will get better results in your endeavors if you allow others to contribute to you and your projects.
Though I’m harping on a point I’ve raised many times already, fundamentally your team can take any form. Not everyone on your team needs to be a paid employee, but ideally, they are personally incentivized.
Hold weekly meetings and ask plenty of questions. Listen to the answers. The ideas you generate together will far surpass anything you can conceivably come up on your own.
Never micromanage. It’s a waste of your time, and it just annoys others when you don’t give them the space and time to fulfill on their promises. Don’t manage people – instead, manage promises and commitments.
And at the risk of sounding trendy, regularly ask “who?” not “how?”
How to Build Your Team
Place a phone call. Be direct in sharing why you’re calling and what the conversation is going to be about. Share your idea and invite them to contribute. Whether you get a “yes” or “no,” accept the answer graciously. The outcome isn’t as important as the action taken. Keep making calls until you have a team of six.
Always take the time to get into their world and ask what’s important to them. There’s a way to help them get what they want through their participation in your project, and it’s your job to identify how that’s going to work.
3. Move Projects Forward with Urgent Concurrency
I’m an adventurer, looking for answers to the questions of creatives in a variety of niches, fields, and industries. This answer must be credited to author Dan Kennedy, and if you can still get in, a subscription to Magnetic Marketing will stimulate viable actions and enrich your creativity prolifically.
“Successful people don’t do one thing, step by step, as we are taught in school,” says Kennedy. “They move multiple projects forward with great urgency.” This discovery was also mentioned in my holiday reflections, and it has been my modus operandi from the moment I heard it.
I run multiple businesses, write daily blog posts, participate in community projects, hold down multiple staff writing and ghostwriting contracts, make music, engage in personal development (I’m currently in a yearlong leadership program), and still have time enough to work out three times per week, keep a social life, and wind down for a couple of hours at the end of each day.
How to Move Projects Forward with Urgency Concurrency
Perfectionism will not serve you well. Learn when something is “good enough” and get used to publishing. The only way to get used to publishing is to publish regularly.
Have a start and end time for every activity in your life. Say, “X project must be done by Y time” and be unreasonable with yourself.
Minimize calls, meetings, and other distractions that might take you away from actioning your plan. Commit to weekly progress with every project.
We often assume complete freedom and crystal clarity in moving forward with next steps in our artistic career when we haven’t done the hard work of reflecting on the year past and identifying where and why we’re constrained.
If this describes you, you will profit from a read of my Start Your Year the Right Way, in which targeted prompts will guide you through exercises to complete years past so you are free and clear to act now in the present.
If you are looking for further guidance on the topic, a perusal of my products and services will serve you. I am always adding new solutions to help creatives just like you, and while I’m not affordable, I am worthwhile. Set yourself up to reach your 2022 objectives with flying colors.
What have you taken on in 2022? What do you intend to accomplish? What structures and systems have you implemented?
These books are helpful. Are any these on your website? Can people find them somewhere?
Why, yes. But you won’t necessarily be able to find them, unless you go looking for them, and to be fair, the list continues to evolve.
So, in no specific order, here are 14 of my favorite books on business, marketing, lifestyle, spirituality, and personal development.
Double Double by Cameron Herold
Cameron Herold’s Double Double relays the story of how 1-800-GOT-JUNK? got off the ground, quickly created a massive, palpable presence everywhere they went, and used vision boarding with their entire staff to focus on their goals and translate them into material reality.
As an entrepreneur, you can’t read a book like Double Double and not come away feeling inspired. It will not give you all the answers as to the pathway you need to follow for your achievement, but it will leave you with more than a few ideas of how to construct the reality you wish to create.
To that end, the concluding section, containing Herold’s succinct reflections about startups and businesses will surely leave you with a few steps you’ll feel excited to action immediately.
Just as there is fluff and hot air in creativity and business, spirituality is no less a fighting concern. There are few books that aren’t built on at least some degree of woo-woo, mysticism, or wishing and hoping.
Wayne Dyer’s The Power of Intention, though, is refreshing in that regard, and when I recommend it, I typically recommend a yearly regimen of picking up and reading from cover to cover with pen and notebook in hand.
Be reminded of the gentle power of intention, of being more than your physical body, and of discovering your personal spiritual path.
With a title like Work Less, Make More, you would likely assume author James Schramko to be a) a scammer, or b) a peddler of inflated value $997 programs containing Googleable information. Of which he is neither.
Working less and making more is counterintuitive, but that is admitted in the book’s subtitle. To have something others don’t have, it stands to scrutiny that you would need to think and act differently.
In this book, Schramko guides us on the often-narrow corridor to reducing your work hours while squeezing ever more out of your daily efforts. And while much of it isn’t easy, and Schramko doesn’t claims that it is, it is the panacea to the overworked, over exhausted, over encumbered entrepreneur.
Quality, serial content accomplishes many things at once – it educates, entertains, and inspires audiences. It builds authority, trust, and credibility. Perhaps most importantly, it helps you grow your email list and turn prospects into customers.
Demand Metric says content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates roughly three times as many leads as traditional marketing. These and other impressive stats demonstrate that content marketing is a force.
At the heart of every YouTuber is content, and though for many the content is the product, smart YouTubers are growing their list while actively promoting new offers to maximize revenue from their reach.
Content Inc. is the definitive playbook for using content to build an audience and profit from it.
How do you ensure a steady flow of new customers and clients? How can you book yourself solid, and stay booked, as the title of this book suggests?
In this volume, author Michael Port sets forth, in detail, a viable plan for attracting and serving an ever-expanding client base. And he does it all while demystifying and simplifying the entire process and setting warning signs in your path to help steer you clear of common but grievous mistakes.
If you have a business, and it’s working, but not working as well as you would like, you would benefit from a read through Port’s Book Yourself Solid.
The 4-Hour Workweek may be controversial. But it has been my observation that – beyond all the hype and criticism – exists a playbook that lays out, step by step, the process to follow if you’ve ever thought about living life on your own terms.
Do you have a job? Great, author Tim Ferriss will show you how to have a better work life. Do you have a business? Great, Ferriss will explain how you can create more freedom for yourself.
The book certainly glosses over what Ferriss perhaps deemed easy, but others find difficult – namely setting up a business vehicle for freedom (does this even exist anymore?) – but it is a thoroughly inspirational read with some solid takeaways regardless.
What if marketing and selling your product or service online were simple? What if there were only a few ways to accomplish these ends, and what if it was all laid out for you in rich clarity in a succinct volume?
Russell Brunson’s Traffic Secrets is exactly that, and it will equip you with all the essentials you need to master traffic. It’s not intended to be read in isolation – especially if you have yet to establish your authority and already have a business vehicle in motion. But if you have that, this book offers the keys to the kingdom.
Traffic is work. Of that there is no doubt. But it’s not complicated, nor does it need to be. Identify the traffic sources available to you, uncover the steps to domination, execute even when uncomfortable, and you will have a horse in the race.
Is there a specific way to run your career or business? Many would argue that there is. Anything You Want author Derek Sivers, though, argues that you can do things the way you want to do them, simply because you want to do them that way. Subscribing to the methodologies created by others, merely because they sound or feel right, ultimately, may cause more harm than good.
Relieve yourself of the dogmatic pressures of doing things “by the books,” “the right way,” “the way they’ve always been done,” or otherwise. Conventional wisdom sometimes isn’t wisdom at all, and there’s nothing conventional about an entrepreneur’s life to begin with.
No B.S. Business Success in The New Economy by Dan Kennedy
To create structures and systems that serve you in business, you first need to navigate through a minefield of shills and charlatans, lofty but ultimately disappointing promises, emotional vampires and timewasters, and perhaps even financial ruin.
With author Dan Kennedy at your side, you can develop the mindset necessary to bypassing the distractions and noise, while developing ideas that work, maximizing business results, finding the right people to work with (and how to manage them), achieve peak productivity, and more.
The economy is always changing. And there will be another new economy to come. But rest assured Kennedy doesn’t subscribe to any rosy pictures of the future, and only deals in concrete facts that will show you how to elevate your performance while circumventing the untested and unproven drivel that gurus spout.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
The shlock that airport newsstands peddle is typically of minimal interest to me. The latest romance novel about some shiny zombies, or charming werewolves, or some other kinky nonsense that serves as little more than momentary escapism and fantasy for the mind that cannot possibly enhance your life.
Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck was different from the outset. The introduction, calling out personal development for all its errors, instantly had me hooked, and carried me rapidly from cover to cover. And it did enhance my life.
The title is to get you to open and read, not what the book is about. The book is about starting from the premise that you are perfect as you are, even if you aren’t a world-renowned guitarist, beloved social media influencer, or even a local cat-saving fireman. And that leaves room for you to live into a space of curiosity and allowing, from which the world can unfold, surprise, and delight.
What is your purpose in life? Your spiritual path? What’s the point of it all, and what are you ultimately working towards? Will your hard work really pay off?
Existential quandaries aren’t anything new, and questions concerning one’s purpose and destiny are certainly as old as language itself.
But what if you could connect to your higher self? What if the path you’re on is perfect, no matter how imperfect it now appears? What if you could get a glimpse into a future where dreams are, in fact, fulfilled?
All this would sound like B.S. and nonsense to me if it wasn’t coming from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Even celebrity actors like Will Smith claim to have seen a reflection of themselves in The Alchemist.
Everything in life is a financial decision, including marriage. To think any less of it is to arrive at key life decisions naively, purposely leaving a drain unplugged when it is preventable.
Gene Simmons’ Sex Money Kiss is instructive. Not necessarily because it highlights the philosophy of the eccentric (although there is that), but because Simmons’ tone in this book is surprisingly humble and fatherly. He is sincere, if controversial.
Those easily offended by misogyny or what they might perceive at that should steer clear of this book. But those who are willing to read with an open mind, especially artists, will discover a viable pathway to getting what they want in life in this astonishingly rich volume.
What if reality wasn’t set it stone? What if the path you’re on was just the path you wound up on, and at any moment, you had the ability to transfer over to a more positive lifeline, while avoiding a more negative one?
Russian mystic Vadim Zeland surprises and astonishes with his deep knowledge of the topic. He explains the iceberg, not just the portion that’s visible (like in The Secret), but everything beneath the surface that’s affecting the direction you’re headed down, and the lifeline you’re headed towards.
No description of this book, though, would ultimately suffice, as it needs to be read to be experienced. And while the setup itself is lengthy, never mind its chapters, if you read with an open mind and stay the course, much will be revealed to you about creating the life you’ve always wanted.
Marketer Russell Brunson’s recently revised DotCom Secrets has the potential to transform how you approach business, how you communicate with your audience, and even shift your priorities. I know because that’s how it impacted me.
Brunson doesn’t shy away from sharing his failures or painting a rosier picture than reality dictates. He’s quick to admit that most sales funnels fail, and he’s never had a funnel that was fully optimized or “working” out of the gate. That honesty is refreshing amid the palpable hype surrounding the funnel hacker culture, of which I do not claim to be a proponent. This read will benefit your artistry or business regardless.
Brunson’s in-between volume, Expert Secrets, did not make this list, but perhaps by the time I’ve completed my re-read of the latest revision, I will have changed my mind.
Read enough “success” books and you will be left with the impression that keeping a positive attitude and working hard for long hours is the definitive recipe for getting everything you want in business and life.
What is a positive attitude? Does repeating affirmations into the mirror every morning make you a more positive person? Isn’t “positivity” ultimately in the eyes and ears of another? How do you quantify your own positivity? What happens when you don’t feel like being positive, or circumstances dictate otherwise?
What does “working hard for long hours” look like? What one considers long and hard might appear a vacation for another, and vice versa. I know that Tom Bilyeu of Quest Nutrition claims to work 18-hour days, but even that will appear a vacation to some, outlandish and draconian to others. There’s no benchmark, standard, or target to hit.
You can see how conventional success philosophy starts to fall apart when you tug on the string of the already unraveling sweater. It doesn’t take much to get a sneak preview of what’s underneath.
So, what do we get when we discard conventional wisdom? Is it worth dismantling the notion that a positive attitude and a work ethic will get you everywhere? What do you get in return?
Ringer says he doesn’t expect most deals to go through. To the contrary, he expects most deals to not go through.
Personally, I’m recognizing that I have bought into the “positive attitude and hard work” philosophy as much as anyone else. And the only thing consistent about it is that I live fast and add one to my age each year.
Ringer has a term for this – he calls it the “Uncle George Theory.” You work hard, and in exchange, you sacrifice your life. We all know someone who has worked hard their entire life (i.e., Uncle George), and still hasn’t gotten the rainbows, unicorns, and endless stores of gold they were promised.
I have accomplished a great deal, and I’m not going to step over any of it, but in the grand scheme of things it has mostly been in the realm of desire adjacent.
When what you really want is X, but you end up with Y, even though Y is close to X (closer than B to X), it’s not the same thing, and that keeps you in perpetual motion for X. It’s literally the difference between a Rolex and an Aventino. They’re both watches, and they’re both great, but one is a luxury brand, and the other a mid-tier. You’re grateful for Y, and you appreciate it, but what you’re really wanting is X, and you continue to work hard for the day you can have it.
Like Ringer, I’m embracing the philosophy that most deals won’t go through. Most things won’t work. That sets me up for the right mindset. I don’t expect any one thing to work out. Instead, I look for the many paths to accomplishment, and execute in urgent concurrency, fully expecting that most things won’t work, and surprised when they do.
The deferred life is unsatisfying. I won’t one day wake up to be exactly where I want to be. I intend to go and get the good things as soon as possible – now. No more waiting. I am creating a list of items to acquire and debts to settle, and I’m putting it all in order of priority and viability. And I will act on the plan.
Living as if life is a dress rehearsal is overrated and boring. What’s the point in getting safely to your grave? Step out of your equally arbitrary “comfort zone,” and take a chance on yourself. Never wait for permission. Choose yourself.