Stepping Out of The Comfort Zone

When stepping out of your comfort zone it's important not to panic.

Doing something for the first time is scary. Especially when you’re doing it on your own. Now, this isn’t going to be some evangelical piece about how ‘nothing grows in the comfort zone’. Let’s save that for the motivational speakers and life gurus. What we have here is the beginning of a journey, where the intention is to document how I’m stepping well outside of my personal comfort zone with a new project.

This is the first chapter in the story of how I met your mother… 

That was too irresistible.

Actually, this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down…

Ok, I’ll stop now.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Opportunity Knocks

To revisit a quote I’ve used before “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If an opportunity presents itself, you’ve got to take it. Otherwise, you risk regretting it. Or, at the very least, you’ll end up always wondering, what if?

Some opportunities are just an extension of what you already do. A promotion at work. Or even a new job for a different organisation, but still within your own field.

These ones are easier to go for because the risk is mitigated. You’re surrounded by people to help and guide you as you find your feet. You already know the lay of the land. It’s just more of the same but in a different place, or with more responsibility.

But what about the ones where you have to go it alone?

Starting your own business, for example.

Or, taking over someone’s already established project.

These are the ones that are both exciting and quite terrifying in equal measure.

This is where you have to break out of your comfort zone.

What’s the Best That Could Happen?

This is the position I found myself in back in July 2020.

Here’s the context. The world was still firmly in the grip of a pandemic. However, lockdown restrictions were starting to ease. That said, many people were still urged to work from home. Many others remained on furlough. In retrospect, these were hardly favourable conditions for embarking on a new project.

Certainly not the ideal circumstances for running a community filmmaking organisation. You know, with all those restrictions and whatnot.

But, would the opportunity still exist once the dust had settled?

I wasn’t about to wait around to find out.

So, I applied to become the Creative Director at North Devon Moving Image CIC (NDMI)

And here we are.

What’s the best that could happen?

So Long, Comfort Zone

This is all very new to me. Uncomfortably new. And it’s exciting.

I’ve never run a Community Interest Company. I’ve never really had to source funding or write bids. Yet I have willingly thrown myself in at the deep end.

Because I’m not worried about the things I have never done. I’ll learn to do them as I go along.

I’m actually focused on what I can bring to the role.

Years of experience teaching media and filmmaking. A passion for creative expression through film, writing and design. And a wealth of digital marketing insight and expertise honed at Social INK.

It certainly helps to put everything in perspective. 

Sure, I’m well outside of my confort zone in many respects. But there’s a lot involved in running NDMI that I should be very comfortable with. And, of course, if there’s anything I’m not sure about, there are plenty of people around me that I can lean on for help, advice and support.

So, in some respects, this is a departure from the comfort zone, with a safety line attached.

I may be running this Community Interest Company alone, but I’m not on my own.

All that’s left to do now is get started.

And see what happens.

Of Course, You Can Grow a Beard

Your business idea is like growing a beard

“Of course, you can grow a beard!” she said. 

“You have stubble all over your face! Ok, maybe not ALL over your face. But at least your cheeks, chin and upper lip. You know. The usual beardy places.”

It’s mid-March 2020, and the topic of conversation has fallen on my face.

“Yes, but I don’t have many follicles. It won’t be a very thick beard.” I retort.

“What are you on about? There aren’t any obvious patches. You can definitely grow a full beard. Just give it a go. In fact, now’s the best time to try. Because you don’t have to see anyone for a very long time. Who knows how long this lockdown is going to last. Whilst you’re stuck at home, you might as well let it grow, let it grow, can’t hold it back any more…”

“Easy there, Elsa. Ok. I’ll give it a go. I shall grow… A beard!

Total Beardo

Fast forward four months.

Lockdown has been eased.

And so have my apprehensions about my ability to grow adequate facial hair.

It pains me to say it. But she was right. 

And it’s not the first time. 

Which pains me even more.

But there’s a lesson in this. Beyond the obvious humility.

So brace yourself for a beard metaphor like no other you have ever experienced before.

You Too Can Grow a Beard!

Yes. You can!

A metaphorical beard.

Let’s suppose you have doubts about your ability to do something. To execute on some idea successfully. Perhaps you fear failure? And because you feel this way, you convince yourself that you can’t do it. Or that there are people better than you at doing it. And, therefore, it’s best not to bother trying.

Imagine your idea, your business, your plans, are a beard.

The only way you’ll ever know if you can grow one successfully is to try. And most importantly, give it time.

Nurture the thing. Trim it, here and there. Adjust it until you’re happy with the outcome. And then work to maintain it.

Just know this. There will be better beards out there. Beards that have been grown, nurtured, carefully groomed and maintained for much longer than yours. And you will experience beard envy. A lot. 

That’s the old Imposter Syndrome kicking in.

Ignore it.

Your beard will get its fair share of compliments too. Which means it must be, at the very least, half-decent.

So, there’s the validation for trying. That’s how you know you’ve been successful in your endeavour.

There will be people out there that like what you’ve done.

And just as you look up to those better beards out there. The ones that are fuller and more expertly groomed. You can be sure that there are many who look up to yours too.

The partial beards. Patchy beards. And no beards.

There’s an audience out there. Tap into it.

We’re Here. We’re Clear. We Don’t Want Any More Beards.

All metaphors aside, whatever it is you’ve been putting off, give it a go.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” (Wayne Gretzky)

Of course, you can grow… You know.

Success: What Does It Look Like And How Can You Be Sure When You’ve Achieved It?

Success: go get it! Written in chalk on a blackboard

Success is such a subjective term. Personal. Context-dependent. Relative.

I was asked recently by a student if I could write something on how to be successful.

This got me thinking.

Success means different things to different people.

What you might think is a success may be something rather ordinary for someone else.

For example: my two-year old son sees peeing in the toilet as a success. Frankly, who doesn’t! But to those of us who have mastered the art of peeing in the toilet, this doesn’t seem like such a big deal (unless you’ve had a few).

So how do you become successful, when success is variable? Subjective? Personal?

I started working backwards.

What are the steps taken towards success?

If you are to be successful you need something specific to aim for. A goal. A target. Something that you aren’t doing now. Something that you can’t do now. Yet!

Man on a mountain top taking in the view.

Make it relevant. There has to be a reason behind your target. A purpose. Something linked to what you already do. Or something that will develop you in another direction and broaden your skillset. Or something that will bring your personal satisfaction. Whatever it is. Make it relevant. You’ll be more inclined to work on it if you see a value and purpose in what you are doing.

Of course, it’s very easy to set yourself the target of turning over £1m a year within the next five years. And for some that is an achievable and realistic goal. But not so much if you’ve just started your A-levels.

And therein lies the crux. Whatever you want to be successful at has to be within the realms of reality. It has to be achievable. By all means be aspirational. But don’t be a fantasist. If you want to be successful, you need to give yourself a chance to succeed. A target that is unrealistic and unachievable is unworkable. Set the bar too high and you’ll end up demoralised, dissatisfied and dejected. Set the bar too low and there’s little value in your success.

Targets need to be in the Goldilocks Zone. Just right.

You need to be able to measure or quantify what success will look like. It makes it easier to judge how far you’ve progressed and whether or not you have ultimately achieved what you set out to do. Say, for instance, being able to complete 50 push-ups without stopping. Or write a blog post every week (yours truly).

These are easily quantifiable targets that you can use to measure your level of success.

Without this, how will you know if you’ve been successful?

How do you know when you’ve achieved?

The next logical step is to decide how long you think it should take you to reach your target. Achieve your goal. Be successful.

Give yourself a manageable timeframe within which to hit your target. As you progress you may find you need to adjust this. You may take less time. Or you may need more time. However, don’t get caught in the trap of procrastinating. Adding time and doing nothing. Try to be strict with yourself and keep to your original timeframe. Making it realistic from the off means that you give yourself a fighting chance to succeed at whatever your goal is.

Once you know your aim and how long you want to take to get there decide on the actions you need to take during the allocated timeframe to get you to the end product. What are the steps? Small increments that you can make on a regular basis to advance you towards success? What little changes can you make? Something that won’t have an immediate big impact on your progress or your current way of life, but if formulated into a routine, if made into a habit, will, over time become second nature. Something you can build upon. The foundations of your success.

No matter what the end product. No matter what the means you go through to achieve it. The process remains the same for anyone wishing to be successful. 

So what’s the secret to success? How do you become successful? 

Be SMART.

Give yourself specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-constrained goals. 

This is the formula. Stick with it.

Success will follow.

Gareth

 

Say “yes” more. Except when you mean “no”!

Yes written in grafitti

I’ve found that my default response when asked if I’d like to do/try something, go somewhere or meet someone new is typically a noncommittal “we’ll see”. Which in fact is a dressed-up “maybe”. But in actuality is an unequivocal “no”. I have decided, upon reflection, that I need to say “yes” more.

How many opportunities have passed me by? How many experiences have I missed out on? How many people have I failed to meet?

What is the total loss to the self, thanks to the unholy trinity of “we’ll see”, “maybe” and “no”?

I need to say “yes” more.

It’s important to say “yes”. But only in response to the right questions.

Only yes is yes written in chalk on a blackboard.

Since realising my love of “no” and disdain for “yes” I’ve started noticing similar patterns of behaviour in other people. It’s like waiting for a bus, and then two come along. Or spotting people glued to their phone screens as they walk down the high street. Or worse still,  scrolling through their feeds whilst out “socialising” with friends down the pub or in a restaurant. Once you notice it, you can’t un-notice it. You start seeing it everywhere!

People say “no” (or any number of the more passive utterances) all too readily. It becomes an instant reaction. Perhaps to buy time to consider what you’re being asked to do. Maybe because it’s become ingrained through habitual use.

I think it’s borne out of the fear of the unknown.

We’re scared to take risks.

New experiences, people, even opportunities, represent risk. And as an unknown quantity our immediate reaction is to shy away from them.

We are afraid of the unknown.

Will Smith described it best, recounting his confrontation with fear when skydiving in Dubai. We’re not actually afraid of the act itself. Once we’re there and experiencing it we commit and enjoy. It is the anticipation that frightens us.

“You realise that the point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear.” – Will Smith

The build-up to an opportunity or new experience is scary. Because we have time to think.

Once we allow ourselves too much time to think, we convince ourselves not to go through with it. We psyche ourselves out. All of a sudden our brain has conjured up an infinite number of reasons why we should not be doing this thing that we will likely benefit from greatly. And that’s when it becomes easier to simply say “no”. That’s when we automatically make up excuses, reasons why “now is not a good time”.

The fact is, “now IS a good time!” If not now, when? This realisation has been a catalyst for me, and something which I’ve written about previously. It’s time to get out of your own way!

Don’t fear the unknown.

Say “yes” more. Unless what you should be saying is “no”.

Come again?

Let me put it differently.

How often have you said “yes” to a request (or a passive “ok”) when what you really ought to have said was “no”?

I do it all the time. Why is it suddenly so hard to say “no” when that’s exactly what you want to say?

How many times have you been asked to do something extra at work, when you’re already up to your eyeballs, and said “yes”?

Don’t be afraid to say “no”. You’re already quite good at it when it comes to opportunities for personal growth and experiential development!

Say what you mean and be clear about it.

Say “no” when you mean “no”.

Don’t be afraid of what the other person might think of you. You don’t need to placate them with “ok”. Be clear. Say “no”.

Similarly, don’t be afraid to take risks. Take opportunities when they present themselves. Don’t fall into the trap of always saying “no” or “maybe” and never doing anything. Say “yes”. And mean it.

The anticipation, the build-up, will be scary… The event itself will be exhilarating.

Say “yes”. Unless you really have to say “no”.

And remember… “No” still means “no”.

Buy try to say “yes” more.

Gareth

Businesses need a One Minute Briefs strategy. These are the top 6 benefits.

One Minute Briefs OMB Live 4 Event Photo

A One Minute Briefs strategy has a multitude of benefits for any business or enterprise. No matter the size or the scale of your operation, involving One Minute Briefs in your marketing strategy guarantees a return on investment.

WWF Logo

 

This is why charities (like WWF and City to Sea), awareness campaigns (such as The Drum’s Do It Day and Lyttle Fight), corporate bodies (including Grant Thornton), and businesses globally (as varied as Twisted Lingerie and BioSure) are choosing One Minute Briefs to enhance their marketing strategies. It’s an easy way to promote your work, business or cause. (See my previous post on the importance of getting noticed and promoting yourself.)

Grant Thornton Logo    The Drum Logo     Twisted Lingerie Logo

These are the top 6 benefits experienced by businesses who’ve engaged with OMB.

1.     One Minute Briefs is a verified account

Twitter Verified TickThat small blue badge is an indicator of influence. One Minute Briefs is officially recognised as an account of public interest on Twitter. And it’s not just because Twitter says so. Businesses who’ve engaged One Minute Briefs in their marketing campaigns will verify this too.

2.     Immediacy

One Minute Briefs is the complete digital agency. It is based entirely online and run via its social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook). This working model harnesses the immediacy, accessibility, portability, connectivity, interactivity and convenience offered by the internet to offer real-time responses to client briefs. This aligns with its founding principles: One Rule. One Minute. Create an Ad.

Immediacy is fundamental to One Minute Briefs. And this is a key benefit to any marketing strategy.

Generating quick responses to global events and developments is what One Minute Briefs prides itself on. It thrives on immediacy. Your business could greatly benefit from this approach.

3.     Reach

At the time of writing, the last 100 tweets by One Minute Briefs had reached an estimated 33,851 accounts along with 93.3k impressions. These figures relate to a Fun Friday brief set purely for creative kicks.

However, when you look at the numbers more closely, there is a much bigger picture to be unearthed. Consider the old ‘chain letter’ concept in the dark ages before digital.

The chain letter idea aims to convince the recipient to make numerous copies of the same letter and then send these on to a predefined number of recipients. This becomes an exponentially growing pyramid. One letter, one message, is spread widely and quickly.

Let’s turn this digital.

If 80 people are tweeting concepts and ideas in response to a brief, One Minute Briefs will retweet them to a potential audience of 15.6k followers every time. Multiply 15.6k by 80 and you’re into the millions.

One Minute Briefs LogoThis is just the start. One Minute Briefs is not the only profile tweeting content. Those 80 people are also sharing their content with their followers. And retweeting content they like or admire made by other contributors to the brief. With each follower having on average 300 followers of their own the reach figures really start stacking up quickly. Each tweeted ad in response to a One Minute Brief is exceptionally far-reaching. Like a chain letter, it becomes an exponentially growing pyramid. Only faster. With a greater, global, reach. And each post is a bit of content to advertise your product, business or cause.

Now that’s based on the premise of 80 people responding to a brief. Imagine the impact a prize or incentive might have?

The increased uptake from One Minute Briefs’ online community at the thought of ‘winning’ more than just kudos would grow the potential reach and exposure your business could enjoy exponentially. After all, this is the platform that got the NHS Choir to Christmas Number One, beating Justin Bieber to the top spot, in 2016.

NHS 4 Xmas No. 1 Logo

4.     Huge talent pool

With 15.6k followers (mostly interested or working in marketing and advertising ), One Minute Briefs has instant access to a significant pool of talent. This includes designers, copywriters, developers, art directors, photographers, videographers, marketers, account managers… The list goes on.

How many agencies can say the same?

5.     Quantity and choice

One Minute Briefs is and ideas generation machine. It’s the very principle behind it. No idea is discounted. Every idea is valid as a step towards the final outcome. And One Minute Briefs’ followers (the OMBLES) feed off this; collaboration, development, improvement.

Every idea, every concept, submitted in response to a brief stimulates new thinking, new ideas, new concepts, amongst the huge talent pool of followers and contributors. This quantity of ideas, the variety and choice of concepts made available by a single brief is a massive benefit to businesses.

You can enjoy witnessing the creative process as it unfolds in real time. Engage with it and enter into conversations and discussions with the creatives as they respond to the brief. Choose which concepts, and indeed how many, you wish to push out across your social media channels. You don’t just get the end product, you get the Full Monty.

6.     Low risk. High Gain.

When all of these benefits combine you experience the optimum success model. The risk is virtually non-existent. The potential gains are huge! The cost of providing prizes as incentives (along with One Minute Briefs’ commission) is nothing in comparison to the coverage, reach, quantity, choice and immediacy of work submitted by the biggest online marketing and advertising talent pool available.

If your business hasn’t considered a One Minute Briefs strategy, it should.

What’s the best that could happen?

Follow @OneMinuteBriefs on Twitter. Send a Direct Message. Start benefitting from everything that One Minute Briefs has to offer.

And whilst you’re at it, give me a follow too: @alvo_muses.

Gareth

 

Other businesses who have benefitted from working with One Minute Briefs include:

(Header image courtesy of Erika Szostak http://www.erikaszostak.com/)