This month's issue: Diving into our obsession with lists. 
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #121

 
Big News




Well,  our big news this month is that we have finalized a relationship with  publisher Simon and Schuster and its Touchstone division to publish my book based on our program Repeatable Successful Acts: The Power Behaviors of Million Dollar Sales Professionals. That’s not going to be the name of the book, as we are still playing around with that.  Though the name will change, the content will be from two years of research, almost 200 interviews, and the analysis of 1,750 narrative answers.  For all of you who have been through this platform, the 21 RSA’s will all be found in one place!  The book is scheduled for publishing in September of 2017.


All of this was made possible by a fantastic team.  My literary agent, Lynn Johnston, believed in the content and positioned it in the market so that a small bidding war resulted.  Lauren Lipton is my brilliant editor who makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about and, as a stern task-master, keeps me on schedule.  Colin, through his hard work, has given me the gift of time to write.  Then of course there is the incomparable Laura, who lets me spend a lot of extra hours in the office researching and writing.
 
In addition to the book process, 2016 has rapidly grown into one of the busiest years in Creative Ventures history.  We have 20 projects in one form or other with over 15 separate clients!  I am learning to write on airplanes and in hotel rooms.
 
Here is the latest OVER COFFEE VIDEO highlighting a strategy from our story and marketing platform The Once Upon a Time Project: The Importance of Scale. These videos are getting more and more fun to make!





 
 


IDEA



 

 



"The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists." 


- H. Allen Smith



We are creatures of lists.  We love lists:  The Top 10 Small Cities to Live In,  The Top 10 Tacos in Austin,  The Top 10 TV Shows of All Time…  Lists! Here are a couple of great lists:
  1. The Hundred Best Lists of All Time
  2. The Best of 2015's Best of Lists
  3. 57 Fascinating Business Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
  4. 19 Best New Business Ideas for 2016

We discover the list thing early in life when we learn that Santa keeps a list, and it’s a list he refers to all the time.  It must be important because he’s “checkin’ it twice.” 
 
Perhaps the most famous list of all time was carried by Moses as he descended Mt. Sinai. He needed something to provide some proof, and also, though he might not have admitted it, to help his memory.  It would have been embarrassing telling everyone about the 10 commandments and  being able to remember only eight.
 
Paul Simon made a list of the 50 ways to leave your lover…and then only gave us FIVE in the song! 
 
We make lists to go to the store.  We make lists to figure out whom to invite to the party.  We make lists of all the things we want from the aforementioned Santa, presuming we are on the “nice” side of Santa’s big list.  Face it, we not only love lists, we would find it nearly impossible to live without them. 
 
Don’t believe me? The various app stores for your mobile devices are bulging with tools to help you become constantly connected to your lists.  They don’t even call them list apps; instead, they are christened “productivity” apps!  Lists make us more productive.

 

So the big question is probably why, when we have anything to do, we immediately slip into list mode.

The late author Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose) said, “Lists make the infinite comprehensible.”    He’s right.  We are overwhelmed in just about everything we do from the simple social aspects of our lives to just getting in the car and getting stuck in an endless traffic jam.   It’s not just us in the modern world.  There are lists from ancient Egypt, the most important being a list of what makes a good beer.   Lists give us a sense of control.  In a world in which the relationship between time, tasks, and stuff is in a state of constant flux, lists allow us to see what we would actually want to happen.  In fact, in a recent study of list makers, guess what the top item on most lists was?  Yep, MAKE A LIST!
 
So, a list gives us a sense of order.  It allows us to “see” stuff.  It provides us with the ultimate satisfaction of putting a big red line through something done…and the extreme frustration of that damn item that moves over from list to list, never getting done.  But perhaps its main purpose is to help us in our ability to make decisions.

One of the most fundamental aspects of our lives is our ability to make decisions, and yet we are poorly trained in how to do this.  Hardly any of us ever took a class in decision-making anywhere in our educational journey.  In fact, this critical skill set is basically a learn-as-you-go kind of thing.
 
Lists are essential decision-making tools.  Since they present themselves visually we can choose what to do and what gets postponed by putting them in an order of priority.  Lists are a simple decision-making aid.

Let me encourage you, get your lists out!

 

 

Do This!

                                               



THE MASTER LIST: 
:  Here’s an idea:  start with EVERYTHING!  If the purpose of lists is to help you gain a sense of control and become foundational in your decision-making process, make sure you begin the process by creating a master list, a list of everything associated with the project.  We teach the Master List concept in our Elegant Simplicity platform.  I don’t care how big the master list is.  It can fill pages and it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that you capture as much information and as many activities as you can.  You see, the master list is never the working list.  The master list is the catch-all and forms the foundation of prioritization and simply getting a handle on how big the picture really is.



TIME: Our life is divided by time.  We measure our years with months, our months with weeks our weeks with days, our days with hours.  This provides a variety of frameworks for our lists.  At Creative Ventures we use our lists in simple time increments.  We have our annual goal list, our monthly list, and our daily list.  These are task-driven:  what we need to get done.  The best part of these time pieces is that they don’t require the same level of energy or attention.  Our annual list gets reviewed from time to time to be sure we are on track, while our daily lists are under constant scrutiny.  (We have developed our own in-house forms and would be happy to share them.  Just send us a note.)  Time is the natural driver of priority, and by creating blocks of focus your list becomes an even better tool for your decision-making.






THE HIGHEST USE: 
Now that you have the master list and have classified those items using a filter of time, you then have to choose what to actually do.  A list is only as good as the action it instills in you to take.  Here is a way to help your list(s) become functional with regard to accomplishment:
 
  1. Language:  You would be surprised how important the words are that identify the things on your list.  Get in the habit of using action words and verbs.  The more precise the language, the more likely it is to get done, which is your goal.  What does “touch base with Mary R” mean?  Change that to “call Mary R.”  Add more specificity to the language of your list.  Include behaviors and outcomes.
  2. O.C.T.:  This is one of the secrets to getting the most out of our daily lists.  Every evening we end our day with everyone identifying the One Critical Thing that HAS to be done the next day.  On our daily to-do list it is always highlighted by a red line and sits in the first position on our list.  No matter what happens, this gets done!  It takes discipline and the controlling of distractions, but nothing makes your list more powerful than your ability to know—and do--what’s really important.


 


News







WHAT ARE YOU SELLING?: 
Domino’s Pizza now has two stores in Milan, Italy, and Starbucks will open their first Italian location in the near future.  Domino’s in the land that invented pizza?  Starbucks in the country that sips expresso and cappuccino over three times a day?  What’s the deal?  Massimiliano Rossi, a Rome-based market consultant, explains that these companies are not selling pizza or coffee, but instead are selling the idea of America.  The goal will be to fight beyond the curiosity factor and develop a bona fide market.  Being challenged by the assumption that these products will not fit into a culture that already has a deep commitment to a historical basis of the products will drive the American companies to expand their marketing through innovation and creativity.
   
                   

 


SPACE, THE FINAL ECONOMIC FRONTIER: 
Private contractors are turning space into a money making environment.  Entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk’s SpaceX program just received a contract renewal from NASA for their orbital transport service.  SpaceX will continue to deliver provisions to the International Space Station through 2024; however, their attempts at a vertical landing of a rocket on a barge failed in a widely-covered explosion,  which opened the door to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin aerospace company’s orbital launch vehicle.  There are lots of things going on in the private sector regarding low earth orbit vehicles.




FRONT DESK, WHAT CHANNEL IS ESPN ON?: 
I am always amazed at hotel rooms that have no channel guide for their TV’s.  Without a guide, you perform a zombie-like ritual of holding the “up” button while mindlessly surfing through the channels.  You become bored until you just say, “To hell with it!  I’ll watch Hillbilly Hand Fishin.”  In my hotel mornings I look for ESPN to hook into the only non-depressing news out there, but my time for the holy home of sports might be short-lived.  Although ESPN carries everything from The X-Games to Wimbledon, they have been struggling as of late.  Despite accounting for 32% of parent Disney Company’s revenue, ESPN has lost 7 million cable subscribers within the past two years.  Now the network is in negotiations with a couple of major TV providers and may lose some of their hotel clients!  I hope not, I could not get by with the only source of news that’s not depressing!
 
 

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"At the IBM Leadership Excellency University we have the highest expectations for our instructors and speakers. Steve is the first present to ever kick-off our program and then return to be the honored speaker at our graduation."
 

-IBM

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