Mon, 28 September 2015
I know it’s only October, but I’m already thinking about how to boost my business in 2016. And one of my biggest goals is to do more video.
Video is a complex issue for a lot of entrepreneurs. You know that it could help you make an amazing connection with your audience. But all the tinkering that goes into it--the lighting, the camera setup, the script--is a surefire way to fry your brain.
Now, you actually may be killing it with video right now. Maybe you have a natural eye for what looks good on camera, you’re a master of improvising quick, witty nuggets of wisdom on the fly, and talking into a lens brings out all the warmth and sparkle of your personality (instead of turning you into a cardboard cutout like…um…some people I know).
If that’s you, my hat is off to you. But if not, maybe you're more like me —you’ve made some videos, it went okay, you know you can do better…but it's easier to just save it for another day. (Or year.)
My good friend James Wedmore dropped by the other day, and we started chatting about video, and before long I had to ask him if we could turn the conversation into a podcast interview. He has so much great stuff to share about why video is important, and how to make it really practical for your business.
James says that learning to connect with his audience on video changed his business and his life.
Our interview was OUTSTANDING video tips and tricks. I want you to listen to the whole thing so you don't miss any of it. I also want you to make sure to access the three-part FREE series he put together just for you on how to make great videos for your business.
Get James' Free Video Series About the Videos You Must Include in Your Business
Here’s just a tease of what we covered:
Five Video Marketing Mistakes
Shoddy camera work
You don’t have to be Martin Scorsese or anything, but you do have to avoid those black bars on either side of your video—they’re a huge turnoff to your audience. (Easy fix: record video with your camera or phone held lengthwise, not up-and-down.) Other no-no’s include shaky camera action, bad framing, and fuzzy focus.
(If these no-no’s are already breaking you out in hives, relax. All of these are easy, one-step fixes that James spells out.)
Newer cameras and phones can correct for this, but it’s worth it for everyone to learn how to set up quality lighting. The bedroom lamp is just not going to cut it. Nothing makes your video (and your brand) look instantly amateurish like bad DIY lighting. James gives the name of his favorite lighting kit that's cheap and reliable. Click to listen.
James says stop using your in-camera microphone. Doesn’t matter if you have the fanciest phone or DSLR out there…the onboard microphones will not pick up quality audio and your beautifully shot video will either sound like it’s coming from the bottom of a well OR sound like your grandmother shouting over a long-distance call.
Again, just a little bit of cash outlay will get you a great-quality lapel microphone that connects into your camera or phone. Your audio will get instantly synched, and you’ll be able to talk in your normal tone of voice without worrying that the mic isn’t picking you up.
Don’t Be Boring
A lot of people protest that they can’t do video because they aren’t funny, they aren’t loud, they can’t talk fast, they aren’t an extrovert.
Well, guess what? You don’t have to be any of those things to have an engaging video. As James puts it,
What you do have to be, James says, is passionate. And…well, just listen to what else he says. You’ll have no reason to doubt your “interestingness” ever again.
Not Doing Video
It’s not a rule that “he or she who has the most video wins.” (In fact, it’s definitely possible to do too much video, especially if you have no strategy.) That said, there are five types of video everyone should be doing in their business.
Learn more about what each of these videos accomplishes, and how you can pull them off seamlessly by signing up to get the free three-part video series James created on how to do videos.
Get James' Free Video Series About the Videos You Must Include in Your Business
Thu, 24 September 2015
My guest today is a New York Times bestselling author, as well as a speaker, blogger, and recognized expert on the topic of happiness.
A happiness expert? Oh yes, there is such a thing. Gretchen Rubin takes the topic very, very seriously. She put her Yale education to work with the goal of finding out systematic ways that people can cultivate, achieve and maintain happiness in any facet of their lives.
The book that came out of her study, The Happiness Project, took the world by storm. Book clubs adopted it, college professors assigned it, psychiatrists recommended it to their clients. This topic really resonated with everyone who read it. It’s an amazing title and I strongly recommend you give it a read.
Not surprisingly, my talk with Gretchen turned out to be one of my favorite interviews ever. It went in some surprising directions, offered tremendous food for thought, and really hit home for me in terms of how to define success.
Honestly, this interview is so rich that I don’t want to summarize it too much here. You really should listen to the whole thing.
In the meantime, you can download our free giveaway for this week, which Gretchen herself designed. It’s a PDF guide called “Working Better Than Before,” and it’s meant to help you understand your work habits and gain insight into how you can maximize your creativity and productivity. (You can also use it to help your clients!)
Get Gretchen's PDF "Working Better Than Before"
If you just can’t wait to find out what Gretchen and I talked about in the interview, I’ll give you a few teaser points of what we covered:
As soon as you can, click here to listen to the full episode. Gretchen’s insights will help you set a foundation that makes every aspect of your business stronger…and makes you a lot happier in it!
And don’t forget to download the freebie for this week, “Working Better Than Before". It helped me a ton (which I talk more about in the podcast) and I know it will do the same for you.
Get Gretchen's PDF "Working Better Than Before"
Wed, 16 September 2015
If you’ve been listening for a while, you've heard me mention the word Scrum. When you hear this word, you do one of two things:
Listeners in both these camps are going to love today’s episode, because I’m going to talk about this amazing project management method and how it has revolutionized the way I get my business done.
To start off, Scrum is not my own made-up word—I got it from a book called Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. (Sounds pretty good, right?)
And basically, the concept of Scrum is just that: managing a team of employees and contractors in the smartest way possible.
I used Scrum throughout the process of creating my newest product, “Webinars That Convert.” Basically, I set up a checklist of every single thing that needed to get done on this product—from creation to promotion to sales to management—and my team and I “Scrummed” our way through it!
Not coincidentally, it’s the same checklist I used for promoting the Profit Lab last spring. That’s why I’m offering the same giveaway this week—the step-by-step project plan checklist that puts all the chaos of a new product launch into sanity-saving order.
Click Here to Get The Project Plan Checklist
This checklist goes hand-in-hand with today’s topic—download it and you’ll be well on your way to Scrumming your first project.
There are the four main ways that Scrum really helps my business reach its productive sweet spot:
It increases your team’s speed to completion.
It highlights performance.
It creates cross-functional teams.
It fosters consistent communication.
Scrum for Small Businesses
The book about Scrum was written with big corporations in mind, so I had to do a little tweaking to make it work for my small business.
For instance, the Scrum team is made up of the product owner, the team, and the Scrum master.
The product owner (that’s me) takes the vision of the project and translates it into a backlog (that’s the project plan checklist I put together).
In a giant company, the product owner would handle the backlog all by herself. But I’m lucky enough to have a small team of awesome employees that can help me develop the backlog. They’re going to see things that I miss and have valuable input. And because it’s a small team, it’s a manageable number of voices contributing to the project vision.
Next, the team develops the product or completes the project envisioned by the product owner. For me, that means delegating tasks to a couple of part-time employees and a slew of awesome contractors.
Finally, there’s the scrum master. That is the project manager. It can be a designated employee on your team, it can be a contractor, or it can even be one of your team who serves as scrum master temporarily for a particular project.
Note: I do not think the project owner should be the scrum master. This is a surefire way to end up burned out. I definitely fell victim to burn-out in the past, whenever I tried to fill both of those roles.
Hiring the role out is going to be better for you and for your team. Yes, you won’t necessarily know what’s going on at every minute of the day with your project, but take it from me: that is a beautiful thing. Do yourself and everyone on your team a favor, and delegate the scrum master role to someone else.
(If the idea of delegating this role to someone else sounds too hard, too expensive, too time-consuming, I get it. Listen to the full episode—I’ll give you some ideas to creatively enlist a scrum master, no matter how big or small your business is.)
How Scrum Works
#1: The Project Backlog
The project owner creates a list of all the tasks you can think of that will go into the project you are putting together.
#2: The Sprint
You decide what you are going to focus on inside the backlog during a small sprint—a week or so of focused work. These small increments save people from getting lost in the weeds. They also keep the product owner on the pulse of what’s happening.
You work as a team on the sprint, with daily scrums—15-minute check-in calls with the team.
#3: The Sprint Review
Once the week is over, you do a sprint review. What worked? What didn’t work? What needs to be tweaked? And then you are off to your next sprint.
These small increments of focused work are the real beauty of scrum. Just look at that project plan checklist I gave you—it would have totally overwhelmed my team if we had looked at the backlog and said everyone should just dive in and get it done!
The Daily Scrum
This daily check-in is the most powerful part of the Scrum method.
It’s me, my VA and my project manager (or scrum master). We never go over 15 minutes (unless we get a little too chatty!).
We focus on three words during a daily scrum: done, plan, and problems. Basically it’s me asking “What have you gotten done, what are you planning to get done, and where are you having problems?” As the scrum master reports on this and my VA chimes in with her feedback, we all end up with a total understanding of where the sprint is at.
The same thing happens when we’re doing a sprint review, just in the past tense. And we take notes on every part of the process—what worked and what didn’t work—so that when the next project comes up, we can adjust the backlog as necessary.
What Scrum Reveals
Along with helping you manage the potential chaos of a big project, Scrum is really helpful for bringing to light the patterns in your work that need…well, that need work.
One of the biggest things the Scrum approach has shown me is that I need to give myself more time in every project I do. More time to plan, more time to create content, more time to brief my team on their tasks…you get the idea.
To be honest, I kind of knew this already in my gut. (I mean, that’s why we feel stressed, right? Because we don’t have enough time to get everything done!) If I feel pressed for time, it’s going to trickle down to my team and they’re not going to have the time they need to do the work I’m assigning them. It’s that simple. But I didn’t realize it until I started implementing Scrum.
The bottom line is, if you don’t take the time to communicate well with your team, it will cost you money because they will do it wrong. And Scrum is an amazing way to keep that communication alive.
Best of all, the Scrum method gets easier and more efficient every time you use it! It’s kind of intense, it’s all-consuming, but when it’s over, it’s completely done and you’ve got a completed project.
Grab the free PDF project backlog (if you haven’t already) and start warming up to Scrum in your business. And let me know how it works for you!
Get The Project Plan Checklist