Here’s a powerful thought exercise from Astro Teller, the CEO of X, the semi-secret research and development facility founded by Google.
Let’s visualize a scenario. You’ve been given a wild project: teach a monkey to recite Shakespeare, while standing on a pedestal.
Where does your attention, your resources, and your time go?
The real challenge, the profound work, is in teaching the monkey.
You should spend zero time on the simpler, more visible task – building the pedestal.
Yet most people rush off and immediately start building a really great pedestal. Why do they do that?
Well, we all love a pat on the back for accomplishing something, especially when your boss, a colleague, or your spouse drops by for a check-in.
And what’s easier to show? A list of monkey-teaching trials and errors, or a shiny new stand?
The truth is, we all want that nod of approval, that “killer job on the stand!” recognition. It’s a hell of a lot more comforting than admitting that getting a monkey to recite Hamlet is still a work in progress.
To paraphrase Astro Teller: Don’t spend all your time, money and energy on the easy stuff.
I watch too many coaches spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on the easy stuff. The things that others can see. Like a beautiful website, or a published book, or ten posts a day on 3 different social media platforms.
Nothing wrong with any of those things once you’re oversubscribed.
But if you want clients, you need to do the hard work, first:
- Connect with people. Real people. Daily.
- Serve people. So powerfully they never forget your conversation for the rest of their life.
- Build a community of your very best clients. And build an audience by creating value in a weekly newsletter before you write and publish your book. Otherwise you’ll have a great book that only your mum and your best friend ever buy.
- Practice making proposals. It took me 11 months of telling people that I charged $20,000 a year, before the first person paid me that full amount. Fifteen years later, clients pay me $185,000 a year.
- Implement an audition mindset. It’s deeply attractive when clients can feel that they need you more than you need them.
Seeking likes on social media is the easy work. But likes won’t pay your bills.
Commit to the long haul. Do the hard work.
Stop worrying about what people think of you along the way.
Some people will love you no matter what you do. Others will hate you no matter what you do. What you really get paid for is to not pay attention to either.