How to Build an Empire with The ONE Thing

Last week, I had tea with my friend Charlene. I was telling her about a book that I’m currently reading called The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller. If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are, you have already read this book, or at least have heard of it. It seems that I was a late discoverer of its glory. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and pick one up. It’s probably one of the best books you’ll ever read.

For the past few Saturday mornings, armed with my precious cappuccino and pancakes, I sat down at the kitchen table and indulge in a few more chapters of Gary’s insight before I am pulled away to play ‘tractor trains’ with a certain 4 yr old.

None of us are homogeneous in our roles in life. As a mom, a wife, a full-time professional, a fitness instructor, a blogger, I wear so many hats. There are so many things that I want to do, I don’t know what to do first. I often end up lost in my ‘Things to Do’ list, which is a full page long, as I attempt to organize all that I want to accomplish for the day. I’m a checklist junkie. I get a little spike of endorphins whenever I cross off one more thing from that Things to Do list. By the end of the day, however, instead of feeling accomplished, I’m often frustrated. Despite all these little tasks being completed, it amounted to little progress overall.

busy-girl

The ONE Thing

Here’s the first big idea I learned from just the initial few chapters. As I mentioned, you may check off as many things as you can, but still it may not amount to any substantial progress in the big scheme of things.  The key is to choose the right task. And I don’t mean a right-wing, conservative task. Getting the right task done, means all other tasks will be made easier, expedited, or even unnecessary.

Gary illustrated a beautiful analogy in the first few chapters. Consider an elaborate array of dominos. It all starts with tipping over the first domino. It knocks over the next domino, which knocks over the next domino, and so on and so on… until a huge, complex pattern of dominos is knocked over.

Photo Credit: http://gyphy.com/dominos

Photo Credit: http://gyphy.com/dominos

Not long after this mesmerizing game of domino knocking was discovered, geophysicist Dr. Stephen Morris performed an experiment where instead of having dominos that were uniform in size as they normally are, he constructed 13 dominos that were each 1.5 times as large as the one before it. The first domino was tiny: only 5mm tall and 1mm thick. The last was about 3 ft tall, and over 100 lbs!

Once aligned, he gently tipped over the first domino. The first had just enough force to tip over the next, which generated just enough force to tip over the one after it. So on and so on, until the very last domino, 3ft high, hit the floor with an explosive bang. This discovery is monumental. The experiment ended with the largest domino being 3ft high. If you were continue doubling the size of dominos, the 29th domino would have been the size of the Empire State Building! Continuing this exercise onwards eventually the size of the dominos would have reached the moon and beyond! If that domino tipped over, it potentially would have taken out a half the planet!

Photo Credit: http://giphy.com/dominos

Photo Credit: http://giphy.com/dominos

It thing that caused this massive crater from the colossal domino tipping over is the mere gentle push of the tiny first domino. That first domino created a chain reaction, pushing over each subsequent domino, generating more and more force until finally that big massive domino the size of the distance to the moon collapsed, taking half our planet with it.

The key is to find the right first domino, the right first task. When that task is complete, would make the next subsequent task easier, expedited, or even unnecessary. It is to find the very task that would make generate just enough force to push over the next subsequent larger task. Repeated over and over again, imagine the magnitude of what you can possibly achieve, just because you did that very first right task.

 

How to Find the Right Task

I’m a checklist junkie. I mean, that’s still better than knowing that you have to do a bunch of stuff, but have no clue what to do. To be honest, I’m still in the checklist junkie mode. In order to find the right task, you still need to identify all the tasks that you need to do. So I do this. I list out everything that I want to accomplish. Then, I start to pair down and organize them.

The 80/20 Rule (The Pareto Principle)

Photo Credit: http://wbdaily.com/8020

Photo Credit: http://wbdaily.com/8020

 

Back in the day, there was a guy named Vilfredo Pareto who concluded that whatever the results, be it a completed task, a sale from customers, returns from investments, generally 80% of the outcome will come from 20% of the input. Equally as important, 80% of what you exert will only amount to 20% of the total results. So, it would make logical sense that if you can identify the chosen 20%, you can likely save a whole bunch of time and money because focusing on that 20% will bring you 80% of the results anyway.

Of course, it’s not a hard, fast rule. Of course, there are exceptions. Of course, your productivity might fare better than 80/20 sometimes. Other times, you’ll be on the short end of the stick. But here is the thing: Finding the right task is often quite elusive. It’s way more easily said than done. How do you know that the task is the right task? What if it’s not? What if you’ve spent a bunch of time and effort executing that one thing, only to find out that it was a complete waste of time? Thanks to Pareto, even if you have trouble identifying that one key task, the ONE thing, you can still get a hell of a lot done if you execute the special 20% of tasks which will give you 80% of the results. So don’t stress out that you haven’t found that perfect first task. If you can narrow the field to the best 20%, you’ll still be miles ahead than if you were to systematically go through your Things to Do checklist. It just takes a little bit of analysis, than to go full on, bulldozer style and kill off the tasks. Here’s what I mean.

 

Sample Project: Starting a Blog

Photo Credit: http://geekybuzz.com/content-strategy-when-starting-a-blog/

Photo Credit: http://geekybuzz.com/content-strategy-when-starting-a-blog/

Say you want to start blogging. Here are all the major tasks that you would need do:

  • Find the right blogging platform.
  • Create a blogging calendar
  • Think of a domain
  • Buy a domain
  • Connect your domain to your blog
  • Create a landing page that you can direct people to in order before your blog is up and running.
  • Start writing
  • Create new social media accounts to market blog
  • Find images for your blog entry
  • Create a lead magnet that would entice people to subscribe to your blog.
  • Create something on your blog in order to allow  people to sign up for your blog.
  • Launch your blog.
  • Create a launching sequence for your blog, and each blog post.
  • Execute the launching sequence every time you publish a post.

There is much more to creating a successful blog. For brevity, we’ll work with the above tasks. Listing everything out would have been the first step, but I ordered them chronologically already, in the interest of time.

Photo Credit: http://www.easitalian.com/blog/2015/06/27/how-do-not-feeling-overwhelmed-learning-a-language/

Photo Credit: http://www.easitalian.com/blog/2015/06/27/how-do-not-feeling-overwhelmed-learning-a-language/

How Can Each be Done

  • Find the right blogging platform.
    • Read and evaluate a few popular blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress, or Tumblr… or
    • Ask what other people use… or
    • Randomly select one… or
    • Take a blogging course and follow it.
  • Create a blogging calendar
    • Take pen to paper, and list out a bunch of posts, relevant to each month’s events.
    • Contemplate if this is even necessary?
    • Take a blogging course and follow it.
  • Think of a domain
    • Brainstorm a list of catchy phrases. Pick one.
  • Buy a domain
    • Shop around at various domain registries to find the best deal
    • Randomly select one.
    • Ask around for what people would recommend.
    • Take a blogging course and follow it.
  • Connect your domain to your blog
    • Google how to do it.
    • Take a blogging course and follow it.
  • Create a landing page that you can direct people to in order before your blog is up and running.
    • Google how to do it, and create it yourself.
    • Hire some guy off Fiverr to do it for you, for $5 (or $7 CAD)
  • Start writing
    • Start writing.
  • Create social media accounts to market blog
    • Create an account yourself.
    • Hire a guy off Fiverr to do it for you for $5.
  • Find images for your blog entry
    • Google images and stick them into your blog post (legally, of course, with the appropriate photo credits!).
    • Hire some guy off Fiverr or a VA to do it for you for $5.
  • Create a lead magnet that would entice people to subscribe to your blog.
    • Figure out what a lead magnet is, and create one yourself.
    • Take a blogging course and follow it. (might not even be necessary)
  • Add a mechanism on your blog in order to allow  people to subscribe.
    • Google how to do this, and try it out yourself
    • Take a blogging course and follow it.
  • Launch your blog.
    • Google how to do this, and execute each step yourself, with different iterations, as you test to find the optimal sequence.
    • Take a blogging course and follow it.
  • Create a launching sequence for your blog, and each blog post.
    • Google how to do this, and execute each step yourself, with different iterations, as you test to find the optimal sequence.
    • Take a blogging course and follow it.
  • Execute the launching sequence every time you publish a post.
    • Execute each step yourself
    • Hire a VA to help you do this.

You may have skimmed over the points above, especially if you’re not really interested in actually starting a blog. Here’s the rub. Notice that in each step, there is one thing that seems to be common to completing many of the tasks: Take a blogging course and follow it, followed closely by “Hire a guy off Fiverr to do it for you.”

Photo Credit: http://images.cryhavok.org/v/Hamster..

Photo Credit: http://images.cryhavok.org/v/Hamster..

That, my friends, is the ONE thing. Taking that blogging course will make most, if not all subsequent tasks easier, expedited, or even unnecessary. And that is the process of how the ONE thing gets discovered.

 

Here it is Spelled out:

  1. Define what you want to achieve (your project)
  2. Create a laundry list of all tasks that need to be done
  3. Organize them, or don’t even… This step is almost optional, as it just helps you to think to ensure you’ve got everything. But identifying that ONE thing would help you organize the tasks anyway.
  4. Identify the ways that each task can be completed.

The ONE thing will emerge magically.

 

One More Example: Going to Brazil (Still on my bucket list!)

Here are all the tasks that I need to do in order to find my butt in Brazil in the near future.

  • Pack my bags
  • Book accommodations
  • Book return flight
  • Book transportation
  • Figure out when the best time to go.
  • Find cool things to do while I’m there
  • Schedule it off work
  • Get visa
  • Buy mosquito spray
  • Save enough money to go
  • Budget how much it costs to go

And here are a few alternatives to complete each:

  • Pack my bags
    • Get out my luggage. Fill it with clothes…or
    • Task nanny to do this
  • Book accommodations
    • Google Tripadvisor, and find the top rated places to stay…or
    • Book on Airbnb…or
    • Find a travel agent to help
  • Book return flight
    • Google Flights for best itinerary and prices…or
    • Find a travel agent to help
  • Book transportation
    • Book it yourself on Expedia…or
    • Find a travel agent to help
  • Figure out when the best time to go.
    • Look on Tripadvisor, or other travel forums…or
    • Find a travel agent to help
  • Find cool things to do while I’m there
    • Look on Tripadvisor, or other travel forums…or
    • Find a travel agent to help
  • Schedule it off work
    • Put it on your work calendar and communicate it to your team.
  • Get visa
    • Google how to do this. Call up the embassy…or
    • Find a travel agent to help
  • Buy mosquito spray
    • Buy mosquito spray…or
    • Task nanny to do this
  • Save enough money to go
    • Set aside a vacation fund and put away money for it
  • Budget how much it costs to go
    • Look on Tripadvisor, or other travel forums. Build a cost model in Excel….or
    • Find a travel agent to help

What’s the ONE thing? Find a travel agent to help, of course. What’s interesting, is that this is the first time I went through this systematic exercise in planning my trip to Brazil. Possibly the reason I hadn’t ever made it to Brazil was because of all the mental effort it took to plan the trip. I hadn’t ever considered finding a travel agent to help at all until I wrote the last paragraph. So it’s as much a discovery to me, as it is to you! Granted, there are some things the travel agent probably won’t do… like booking on Airbnb if I wanted to book an apartment, instead of a hotel. But even if I did that one task myself, the remaining tasks would be greatly expedited by doing that ONE thing of engaging a travel agent to help.

Photo Credit: http://visitmorocco.ma/en/awesome-ways-save-travels/

 

So You See…

Once you get into the process of finding the ONE thing, it’s actually pretty fun. It’s like a revelation. (It is a revelation.) You almost feel a weight being lifted off you. You’ll say to yourself, “Huh. That’s all it takes. Simple. Why didn’t I think of this before?” The ONE thing is the thing that makes that next thing or things easier, expedited, or even unnecessary. Sheer brilliance.

There is a lot more big ideas in that book. I’m still going through it. Keep you posted on what I learn!

One Thing book

2 Comments

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