How To Set Goals: Seeking Wisdom Podcast Episode #48

“You can’t aim and hit a target that you can’t see. That’s why it’s so important for us to set goals.” – David Cancel [Click To Tweet]

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How To Set Goals For Yourself And Your Business

Here’s a full transcript from this episode.

David: I joined this CEO forum, it’s about seven other CEO’s, local companies here in Boston, all stages of scale, much bigger than where we are as a company and much further along, older. It’s just kind of a closed room, no holds bar. Now you imagine me, DG knows me. Some could say I’m motivated.

Dave: Yeah.

David: You’ve got to be ready. Seven or eight other of those kind of individuals in one room, closed doors, with the sole task of critical feedback.

Dave: Didn’t you have to like, didn’t you have to bring all of our numbers?

David: Yeah, everyone did.

Dave: You had to plan right?

David: Yeah. Each person has a challenge, and we go over, I was a new member so I had to go over where we are as a business all that kind of stuff. It was a perfect time to set apart two days, you know I had to spend overnight, morning eight AM to eleven PM.

Dave: That’s late for you.

David: Late, late, I go to bed at nine o’clock, I tried to warn them. Perfect time to spend offline, no email allowed, no laptops or phones allowed the entire time — and perfect time to be offline and spend thinking about 2017 goals.

Dave: Yeah so that’s what kind of prompted this, you sent, and actually just before this you published a post to share with the whole team. You sent over, you sent your goals on the fly, like you had to sit down and come up with goals on the fly. That reminded me, like this is the time of year we’re planning internally here at Drift for 2017, like let’s talk about goals, personal and professional. This is an obvious question but I want to hear you say it, how important is setting goals?

David “Important man, you cannot, I’m trying to think of a good quote but I can’t think of one off the top of my head. You cannot, oh actually I’ve been listening to Zig Ziglar. Get some Zig Ziglar in your life, he said you cannot hit what you do now know, right? Basically you cannot aim and hit a target that you cannot see, right? We need to set those goals, so critical, most of us skip over the part of actually setting those goals one. Two, making sure you’re accountable and that’s part of the CEO group that I joined. I had to tell them my goals for 2017 and they’re going to hold me accountable for them month over month. I’m scared, both business and personal goals. It’s super important for us to set that goal so that we know what direction we’re aiming in.

Dave: I wanted to ask you because I know that you, I knew that you loved goals, but the thing that you really love…

David: I love doubling goals.

Dave: You love benchmarks though.

David: Yes.

Dave: I feel like there’s a connection between benchmarks and goals right? You always push us and say there’s got to be a metric on this, there’s got to be a benchmark. Why is that so important? To go find a benchmark.

David: Man that, great topic, we should do a whole separate thing. On benchmarks. I think, goals, the thing that I’ve always struggled with goals and most engineering types and OCD people struggle with this, is that goals are mostly, especially in business context but also personal, are largely arbitrary. It’s hard to know if your goals are you stretching or not? You usually don’t have a baseline from what you’re setting a goal.

Dave: I’m shaking my head because I’m feeling this, so I’m having to set goals, like marketing goals right?

David: Yep.

Dave: Talking to Will and he’s helping us out and we’re figuring goals, and I’m sitting there and I’m like we’ve got to set a goal but I can’t possibly sit here and try to back our way week by week into these numbers.

David: Yep.

Dave: I sent an email to a good friend, friend of the podcast Mike Volpe.

David: Friend of the family.

Dave: I said how do you come up with marketing goals? Like I know we have a lead goal and a traffic goal? He’s like you’re thinking about it wrong, right? The point is not to have day by day, week by week math.

David: Yes.

Dave: He’s like, he used a golf example to teach it to me. You’ve got to dumb it down. His example was, he said if I set a goal to shoot 95 even though I can shoot 90 than you’re going to sandbag and you’re not going to promote the right behavior. If you’ve never broken 90 in your life and you set a goal to shoot 89, then throughout the whole year that’s going to promote all the right behavior right? You’re going to go out and do, you’re going to practice a lot, you’re going to take lessons, you’re going to lean on other people. When he said that, that opened it up to me that it’s exactly what you said, right? It is arbitrary, it’s not a line by line here’s how we’re going to get there, it’s more of a here’s a direction that we’re going in, are we on track to get there?

David: Exactly, and this is where benchmarks come in because usually you’re setting an arbitrary goal based on some history some experience what have you. You don’t know if that is high, low, medium, what have you because you don’t have anything to compare it to. I’m a big fan in the business context and also in the personal context with benchmarking. If you’re into golf let’s say or you’re into basketball or you’re into weightlifting or you’re setting business goals, you can look at other people who are like you. Like you and maybe ahead of where you want to be, so they are like, oh that guys looks just a little bit bigger than me from a weightlifting standpoint, I think we’re about the same size, same height, same age, same athletic ability, but he can bench let’s say 30% more.

Dave: You’re like what did he do to get there?

David: Yeah, so you know at least if he shares all these common characteristics with you and where you want to go, you know that it’s possible.

Dave: Right.

David: We know for sure that looking at him he’s probably not super human, so you can probably get there. Same thing with business and why it’s so important on business side for us I’m a fan of benchmarking or modeling as I like to think about it. If we’re a SaaS business or a certain size in a certain type of market, let’s look at all of the SaaS information that we have for companies of when they started, so the same age that we’re at, how they ramped from a sales, marketing, product, cost standpoint and revenue standpoint, and let’s see how they looked in year two, year three, year four, year five. Let’s look at the best in class, let’s look at the worst in class, let’s look at the median, and then understand where are we and kind of use that to help set our goals and trajectory.

Dave: How, okay so this might be specific to us but I’m going to ask it anyway, how formal does goal setting need to be? Like, because you know you look at some people that have like spreadsheets for days and you look at somebody like, I feel like what you sent, if you’re listening you don’t see it but you just basically sent over three bullets.

David: Yep.

Dave: To me that was so clean and simple and had good framework for this.

David: I sent over three areas and then three sub bullets within each area.
The power of three. It’s very simple, I think that’s as detailed as you want to get and I think some people over spreadsheet this and over analyze this and then it’s just going to be hard. More than three goals, like I listed there are going to be hard to achieve.

Dave: Rule of three, power of threes.

David: Power of threes man.

Dave: I don’t know, we can’t elaborate on that.

David: We can’t get into that, that’s a different podcast. That’s top secret, we can’t share all of our secrets here. We share some secrets with you but not all. Some of them we’ve got to hold back.

Dave: We need some advantage here.

David: Yeah.

Dave: Okay so, you’ve been, this is your fifth company, everybody has these different processes for goals right? You have Google and you have OKRs, and Salesforce V2MOM right?

David: Yes. And at HubSpot we had the Mspot, which was absed on V2MOM.

Dave: Is that stuff important? Or is it to each company you kind of figure out what?

David: I think each company creates there own environment that works for them. I think it is important to at some point, once you have teams of teams and you start to get into that post startup phase as we talked about in the last episode, and you start to go into that initial scale phase, it becomes important to start to set goals like that transparently within the organization because now you have managers and you have people who are working within teams that need clarity on where to go. I think that’s one area where we can improve a lot in 2017.

Dave: What’s our takeaway from this? Is it go out and set goals, like start with just sit down and actually right them out?

David: Sit down and write those goals. Try not to go more than three, you can have some sub-bullets, max amount of three under each goal right, that qualify that goal. Find an accountability partner, either in your company or personally and publish those. Better yet, one of you publish them on medium or on your blog post or on Twitter and hit us up, we’ll hold you accountable, I’m good at holding people accountable.

Dave: That’s true.

David: cc dcancel and I’ll make sure you’re accountable.

Dave: I like that.

David: I’ll be your accountability partner free of charge in 2017.

Dave: That’s a great idea.

David: Then once you have those two things, if you can look at benchmarks when you’re setting those goals so that you know that it is possible.

Dave: Will you go like, all right so your personal goals, business goals, is this like a little Evernote thing or are you going to go look at this every now and then as a reminder?

David: Usually I don’t.

Dave: You just know what they are?

David: Yeah, usually. Now that I’ve set these publicly and I set these with my peer group I’m going to be looking at them each quarter and making sure that I’m on track for those goals.

Dave: Cool, so go out there. Before you set those goals we need something though, in exchange.

David: Yeah, just one small thing, okay?

Dave: There’s a meme floating around I’ve actually seen about this.

David: There is?

Dave: Yeah.

David: That’s cool.

Dave: You asking for something.

David: Five stars baby, let’s go, we’re getting there, we’re making a dent, but we need you to come in, stop holding back, it’s the season of giving now. Stop holding back, stop being stingy. My man DG here, he created Blog post, you go over to seekingwisdom.io. You’ll see one of the top Blog post he just created there is how to leave a five star only review on iTunes.

Dave: Actually it was so easy I did it eating a sandwich at lunch.

David: Did you?

Dave: Yeah, I made a video while I was eating a sandwich of how to leave a review. I’m going to put it in the show notes of this and every episode so you don’t have to go find it, you don’t have to go find it it’s there.

David: Five stars only, you can rate us on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud. Five stars only, we have a movement starting. Cmon this is the 2017 — the year of Seeking Wisdom.

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