Year in Review 2016 & Goal Setting for 2017


Further reading: How to Create your 12-month Strategic Plan (and my 2014 Annual Review)

The funny thing about having kids is they make you laser-focused. If you aren’t laser-focused, you’re dead meat.

My wife and I had our 3rd child, another boy, this past April. So for those who keeping score, we now have 3 kids age 6 or younger, two of whom are still in diapers, and any 1 of which is likely to be throwing fistfuls of food across the room in our house at any given moment in time.

What that means is I don’t have as much time to work as I would like.

But big deal, I’ll bet you feel the same way too.

As I write this it’s New year’s eve and I have to be home in 51 minutes but I REALLY want to do a “year in review 2016” / “Goals 2017” blog post so I’ll make this a super quick.

I’m a big believer in the power of setting ambitious and specific goals for yourself.

Four years ago, in November 2012, I wrote a blog post titled My Next Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, where I wrote,

The big goal I am working on now is to build this blog into a platform and a resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to grow their businesses.

I plan to do that by writing about my entrepreneurial successes and failures, interviewing successful entrepreneurs (like this interview) and sharing non-boring legal tips for entrepreneurs. In short: by providing as much value as I can.

I want to diversify my business, to move from a model nearly entirely reliant on one-on-one client-based revenue to one which generates revenue from this blog, and from phenomenally useful, helpful information products like Business Profit Academy.

That’s why I dramatically overhauled Smart Business Revolution in May of 2011. And it’s why I continue to seek out opportunities for learning and developing my abilities so that Smart Business Revolution continues to become more valuable to its readers.

The really cool thing is most of this actually happened – thanks to the power of setting big goals, breaking down those larger goals into achievable smaller goals, and using a group to hold you accountable.

Here’s my philosophy about goal setting in a nutshell. You should start by envisioning the larger goals you want to achieve for yourself and your business. This is best done with the help of others who can give you crucial perspective and feedback.

Next: you break down your larger annual goals into quarterly and monthly goals.

Finally, meet with an accountability partner or small mastermind group and set 3 specific goals each week. Rinse and repeat throughout the year.

That’s it.

For bonus points, tell everyone what your annual goals are and join a community of like-minded people who will hold you accountable to achieving these goals.

Now, in this post, I want to first review my goals from 2016 and reflect on which ones I achieved and which I didn’t, and why. Next, I mention a few other things which went well, and what did not go well in the past year.

Then I move on to setting annual goals for 2017.

By the way, this is similar to a process we run through for our Rise25 Inner Circle members (which I mention below).

2016 year in review 

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A letter to All Veterans on Veterans Day


Today is Veterans Day in the U.S…

It’s a day to stop and be grateful for everything we have.

It’s a time to thank all the Veterans who ever served in uniform for their sacrifice and for making our freedoms possible.

For me, it’s a chance to be grateful to every Veteran who made America a place where people can worship in freedom, live and work where they want, and enjoy liberties unprecedented in the course of human history.

In particular, I want to thank the Veterans in my family. Including my father, who served in the US Air Force, and his father (John Sr.), who was a Captain in the Army Air Corps.

(And generations before them, I thank my great-great-great-great-great Uncle Paul Revere, who must have summoned incredible courage during the Revolutionary War to rise in the middle of the night and alert Americans of British forces’ impending arrival. And yes, I really am related to Paul Revere on my mother’s side.)

During WWII, my grandfather was a Captain and pilot for 35 B-17 missions over Germany and western Europe.

He too summoned the courage to rise in the middle of the night and strap himself inside a flying fortress less high-tech than today’s minivan and fly straight into the heart of darkness.

And he did it with 10 other souls whose lives depended on him executing his job.

At the time my grandfather was doing all of this, my father would have been about a year old, or about the same age as my youngest son today.

It’s not lost on me how much he sacrificed so that I would not have to endure what he did as I raise my son living in a country with abundant riches and freedoms he helped protect.

Now here’s the crazy thing … my business partner, Dr. Jeremy Weisz, also had a grandfather involved in World War II…

Except his grandfather was in a Concentration Camp… at the same time my grandfather was fighting to liberate those camps from overheard. And ultimately Jeremy’s grandfather’s camp was liberated by U.S. soldiers. Soldiers like my grandfather.

It’s amazing to think how we both wouldn’t be here… and wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing now, if it weren’t for their incredible sacrifices.

Now, we can’t all be researching a cure for cancer, fighting on the front lines of faraway wars to protect our freedoms, caring for the sick, or feeding the poor.

We can’t all teach kids in underfunded inner city schools, fight for clean air or clean drinking water, or care for babies born prematurely in the ICU as they fight for survival.

But we can try to improve the lives of the people around us.

We can all be decent to one another, treat one another with respect and honor our differences, especially in this time of deep divisions and disagreements in the U.S.

You honor the legacy of those who came before us by doing your own small part to make others’ lives better.

For Jeremy and I, it’s about doing what we can to help others through the business we founded, and that’s what you can do too.

In our case, we’ve chosen a group we know we can help. Business owners from the professional services who want freedom in their business so they can get back more time to be with their loved ones.

That’s what inspires me.

What inspires you? What lights you up?

Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. I’d like to help you too. If you are a professional services entrepreneur and you want greater freedom, but you feel stuck in your business, perhaps we can help.

Crazy. Irish. Roadtrip.


Have you ever gone on a crazy road trip?

Like the kind in college where you hop in the car with friends and only come back when you’ve run out of money or gas or bail money or all of the above?

Back in the day, before I was an old Dad living with kids in the suburbs, you didn’t need to twist my arm to go on a roadtrip.

Like the time I went on a bachelor party to Whistler, Canada a few years back.

Because we were young and stupid, we decided to save $100 by flying from San Francisco to SEATTLE instead of Vancouver — for a weekend trip.

It turns out Seattle is nowhere near Whistler, so we had to rent a van for 10 of us and drive 8 hours north PAST VANCOUVER to get to Whistler.

Yeah, I know. To save $100.

Guys + bachelor party = stupid.

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3 Books You Need to Read (Plus 1 Free Book)

Can you remember the last time you read a book that blew your mind?

I’m talking about a book that completely shifts your way of thinking.

I love that. Isn’t it incredible when one book can radically change your thoughts or beliefs?

That happened to me this year with a couple of books, and I wanted to share them with you (plus a free book you can grab below).

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

AbundanceFirst, there was Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think (referral link; non-referral link here) by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. If you haven’t read this book, you need to drop everything and rush out and get it.

In Abundance, Diamandis (who founded the XPrize and Silicon Valley’s Singularity University) and Kotler document how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, digital manufacturing, synthetic biology, and other exponentially growing technologies are enabling us to make much greater gains in quality of life today than we have ever before in human history.

Their basic premise is while headlines in mainstream media tend to dwell on the negative, in fact trend lines across multiple areas have moved towards much better quality of life for huge portions of the planet.

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How to Find Your Profitable Business Idea [Free guide + videos]

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 7.40.37 PMQuick question. I want you to be brutally honest with yourself for a sec.

Are you struggling to find a profitable business idea?

A big chunk of my readers and podcast listeners tell me they would like to start a business, but they don’t know where to start. Or they have a business, but it’s not earning the income they would like.

If I’ve just described you, I have a free course that will help.

It’s called “Launch Your Profitable Online Business: How to Find a Profitable Business Idea in 7 Days” (referral link) and, for a limited time, you can join for free.

Now let me explain a few things.

This course was created by my friend Ramit Sethi. Ramit is a bestselling author, an entrepreneur, and I consider him one of my key mentors.

I’ve written about him previously and I will again, for a number of reasons. (If that bothers you, I have some educational videos you can watch here instead.)

It’s because of him that my unprofitable “side business” (this blog + my podcast) went from earning $100 to $200 per month to as much as $25,000 in one 30-day period.

Many of my readers would like to achieve those results, and I want to help you get there.

Also, Ramit and his team churn out some of the best training on the market aimed at a few key business principles, ranging from personal finance to careers to mastering your inner psychology.

What does that have to do with what I teach?

Well, I focus on helping business owners and entrepreneurs to build better relationships with people who engage and inspire them, and to turn those relationships into revenues.

One of the best ways to build those relationships at scale today is by growing an online business, or by building an online presence for an offline business.

Ramit can help you do all of this.

Also, his jokes are funny.

But let’s be totally candid for a minute.

You don’t read my emails because they’re fun. You read them because you want to grow your income and/or attract more clients.

My mission is to help you with that – and I do not have a monopoly on good ideas, which is why I’ll gladly share other people’s content when I think it could benefit you.

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How to Make $4,000 in 1 Hour

NOTE: Don’t miss the special bonus I am offering at the bottom of this post.

Have you missed a day of work recently?

Maybe you were sick, or your kid was sick and you had to watch them.

Or maybe you missed work because your car broke down.

If you work for yourself like I do, then any hour you’re not at work means you’re not making money.

If you’re taking care of a sick loved one, or on vacation, or out marketing to get new clients, you’re not getting paid.

That sucks.

It kind of takes the fun out of working for yourself.

Even if you have a job, you know your boss is not happy when you’re not in the office.

Miss too many days and you’ll find yourself out on the street.

But it turns out there is a much better way.

I remember a few months ago, I had to miss a whole day of work because my younger son Tobey was sick, and we didn’t have backup childcare.

The poor little guy was coughing and wheezing and looked like crap. Here’s his sad face:

2015-03-27 11.59.05

Tobey’s sad face

My wife had to go to work, so that meant I was stuck watching him, which meant no money.

Money going out, no money coming in.

(That’s not a good equation.)

And I was really frustrated because I had work I needed to do.

You know the feeling?

Finally, around 11am, Tobey went down for a nap and I had the first chance to check my email.

I was dreading what I was going to see.

And right there in my email was a receipt for a couple of sales of my online course.

I had made $600 while I was not working.

A year ago, this would have seemed like a fantasy.

Today, it actually has become more and more common.

I actually make thousands of dollars each month from digital products.

I get paid, whether I am in the office or if I need to be out of the office. I can go out to a long lunch or take a trip to New York (like I did recently) and I have the peace of mind of knowing my business is still working even if I’m not.

My visit to New York. My business was still working in the background while I was having fun.

My visit to New York. My business was still working in the background while I was having fun.

If you want to know how all of this became possible, I give a large amount of credit to Zero to Launch (affiliate link), a training program on how to create an online business.

In this post, I want to tell you about how Zero to Launch has changed my business, allowing me to leverage my efforts in a smart way so I earn money while I’m sleeping, on vacation, out at dinner, or at home nursing my son back to health.

I’ve made as much as $4,000 from about an hour’s worth of work – far more than the highest paid lawyer nationwide makes per hour.

How? Because I work smarter, not harder. My efforts snowball.

Is this some crazy pyramid scheme? Absolutely not. Is it a get rich quick scheme? Heck no. It takes time and effort.

But: products I created many months ago continue to bring in revenue to my business, while I’ve moved on to other things. (Like this trip to New York, where I had some great meetings with people who could help my business to advance even further.)

I’ll also share an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of what the Zero to Launch course actually looks like when you log in.

Finally, I give you five reasons why you should sign up for the course if you are serious about growing your reputation and your business online. I also created a special Smart Business Revolution Zero to Launch Bonus Experience at the bottom of this post to make signing up for Zero to Launch even more attractive.

Now, what does all of this have to do with relationships?

On this blog and in my podcast, I share my best advice on how to use the new world of digital tools to build relationships, grow your revenue and advance your career.

Zero to Launch has helped me dramatically in that mission. Within 12 months of investing in it, I had quadrupled my email list, meaning I am building relationships with 4X as many people as I was before. I am helping thousands of people per month through my courses, my writing and my podcasts.

And my income from my blog has gone from $100 to $200 per month before ZTL, to as much as $25,000 in a one-month period now.

For years, I sputtered along trying to build an online business and largely failing. Now I am making progress and it’s picking up steam.

It’s all because I now know how to position my business, where to focus my efforts, and how to master my own psychological barriers.

I have seen Zero to Launch work for other people as well. And I know it can work for you.

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