"Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death." - James F. Byrnes
Last night, I was listening to some music and looking back on the past year of my life. A lot of ups and downs (mostly ups), but a lot of room for improvement, too. First things first, let’s take a look back at 2013. Last December, I wrote a blog post that detailed my goals for 2013. I printed these and I would check myself against them once per month. I do know that I need to be more specific in my goals for 2014.
On a high level, they were as follows
1) Digitize my life
2) Make my health a priority
3) Buy a new wardrobe
4) Build a personal CRM
5) Automate my life more
6) Become more of a minimalist
7) Learn a ton of new marketing skills
8) Get involved with Actively Caring again
So, how did I do?
Let’s break it down……..
1) Digitize my life - SUCCESS
I have done a good job of getting rid of a lot of the paper items in my life. Although I have not sold all of my paperback books, the only paperback book I read this year was Negotiation (The Brian Tracy Success Library), which was only about 100 pages long. I read about 2-3 hours/day, mostly on my computer and iPhone. I use the Pocket app to “save later” and I subscribe to blogs for daily reading, and mostly get content curation website articles via e-mail. I know myself well enough that I never look at bookmarks, and I use my e-mail as my “to-do list.” So, I’ve optimized reading good, quality content for myself. Going all digital has also made me much more efficent with my learning.
Productivity wise, I use:
- Wunderlist for my to do list
- Boomerang for Gmail to help me follow up with e-mails
- Rapportive for Linkedin support within g-mail
- Spotify for all of my music
- Kindle (electronic ink) for all of my book reading
- I’ve become completely dependent on my google calendar, and I rely on it via Tempo app on my iPhone
- I made my truck completely blue tooth. This allows me to stream any song via Spotify at any time. It also allows me to use my phone as a hands-free device.
- I have created a nice system for putting my life in the cloud. I moved all of my files on my computer to my dropbox/google drive. I only use Google Docs to make documents/spreadsheets. And I use Glui to save screenshots automatically in a folder in my Dropbox
I still am thinking of ways to make it all even more streamlined. But, for 2013, I think digitizing my life was a huge success.
2) Make my health a priority - FAILED
My goal was to get back to this look, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. This year has been a bit of a roller coaster. When I was at Heyo, I was working 70 hour weeks, and I have become addicted to learning. So, I sometimes find myself reading late into the night.
And, also, Michael and I have been pulling a lot of all-nighters working on Koofers. And, I’ve learned that I just can’t do that anymore…..my body suffers and I end up become less productive for the long-term.
So, I haven’t truly made it a priority, but I plan on focusing much more on it in 2014. I want to build myself a system with incentives (like I will lose $50/day from Gympact if I don’t go to the gym), focus on group workout sessions (which is how I lost weight while living in Charlotte) , etc.
I’ll get there, and I can tell you that this will be my #1 focus for 2014.
3) Buy a new wardrobe - FAILED
This completely relates to goal #2. I won’t buy a new wardrobe until I reach the ideal weight. And then, I will spend a few g’s on getting some really nice clothes.
4) Build a personal CRM - PARTIAL SUCCESS
I have used tools like Boomerang, Evernote, Google Drive, and Notes on my mac to remember things that are important to me. I have made a conscious effort to keep in touch with people that I care most about.
Living with Shane and Michael has taught me to be more present in my-day-to-day. One thing that Shane does that really resonates with me is he actively listens to people really well. He consciously focuses on the other person during a conversation, nods when they say something interesting, and genuinely is there in that moment, in that conversation.
So, this goal has allowed me to become more offline with my friends, which is great.
I still want to build an actual system….and potentially even pay a developer (via kickstarter or with savings) to develop something basic for me to be more efficient of getting in touch with people. For instance, I’d love to go to NYC one weekend, and then get reminded to reach out to people I care about in NYC and then grab coffee with one/two of them.
And, one of my goals for 2014 will revolve around Evernote (I have a great idea on how to use it the right way), and I will also incorporate Evernote Hello to help me accomplish this completely next year.
5) Automate my life more - SUCCESS
I have done a great job of automating a lot of things in my life. Technology websites such as IFTTT help me automatically backup important files. I also use it to remind me via text to take out the trash on Monday nights. Mike and I bought Wemo to automate some of our lights. For instance, if I come home late, my garage lights will automatically turn on when I open the door (from 6pm-6am) and then turn off 5 minutes later.
Digitizing my life forced me to think about automating my life more. Systems like boomerang for g-mail have helped me not have to devote mindshare to follow up; I don’t have to remember who I sent emails to and then try to remember if they responded.
At Heyo, we did a lot of work with marketing automation so that we could focus on nurturing leads and developing long-term strategies to help fill the top of the funnel.
All in all, I think I did a great job automating my life more in 2013. It’s become a habit. Whenever I read something or do something, I think of a way I can get more time to do things that I enjoy (like travel, leisure time, work for actively caring, talk with people to tell them about Koofers Campus Recruiter, etc)
6) Become more of a minimalist - SUCCESS
Digitizing my life has made me more of a minimalist. I still have a long way to go, and by the end of the year, I plan on selling all my paper book books and scanning all of my old school binders (I still have a bunch of binders from classes at VT) and organize them within Dropbox. I’m almost there 100%
My goal is to be able to pack up and leave to go anywhere, at anytime, with just one pickup load of “stuff.”
7) Learn a ton of new marketing skills - SUCCESS
Wow. I have never learned so much in my life. This year, I worked with Heyo and learned a lot about social media marketing, marketing analytics, and more.
I feel like I can apply my knowledge to almost any industry, which is why I have had some success consulting under the LLC Shane, Joey, and I started called Social Sway, LLC. Here is a link to our marketing model.
My favorite marketers are:
Seth Godin (subscribe to his blog now), Gary Vee, and Andrew Chen
I read a ton of great books like :
…and many more
This chart is all you need to know about marketing in today’s world.
This article is all you need to know about my philosophy when it comes to selling and acquiring customers. As an example, now that Koofers is picking up momentum and employers are paying for our Campus Recruiting software, I am so excited to overwhelm them with value. To under promise and over deliver.
Now, what do I read online:
Inbound.org e-mail subscription
Seth Godin (of course)
NextDraft (more for leisure but still good)
Medium (more for leisure but still good)
All of these come through my e-mail, and I click through to articles I enjoy, based on popularity and my interests (most of it is already curated for me).
Also, I am a part of a Listserv with really smart people called the “Thursday Article Club,” where I consume and share good content on the web every Thursday.
So, I was talking to my buddy Nik Bando the other day. He started a business called BogeyBox, and I advised him to think about the long-term play. He should lose money on every box. Why? Because he can overwhelm with value, hit critical mass, and then upsell or monetize later. Or, maybe his way to make money is to be golf companies “R&D” for new product development. And then he can sell access to his customers (via the bogey box surprise monthly subscription gift) and get a win-win-win-win.
And, he should tell people they get 6 items but give them 7. Tell them it’ll be there in a week, but get it to them in 3 days. Overwhelm with value and then the return will be 100x, even if it is delayed.
All in all, I feel like I have learned a ton and can add a lot of value to companies. There’s a reason I was able to land a client like Lilly Pulitzer while working at Heyo. I know my shit, and I spend a lot of time learning and studying and reflecting and thinking. I understand the psychology of marketing and how to influence behavior (isn’t that every marketer’s goal?). Speaking of that, if you want to hire me to do a comprehensive marketing analysis with recommendations, shoot me an e-mail at brandoncarroll.vt at gmail dot com.
8) Get involved with Actively Caring again - SUCCESS
Moving back to Blacksburg has been one of the best life decisions I have ever made. Not only have I become best friends with Mike Rihani - many fun road trips , a French roommate that we "americanized", and just unbelievable stories - I have also had the opportunity to live with my best friend, Shane, and work on Actively Caring again. As some of you know, making Actively Caring for People the most effective kindness movement and bullying prevention program is a lifelong dream of mine, and it is what truly motivates me. The feeling we get when we see a message like this from a student is what I live for.
We got our bank information together, got a CPA, talked with an attorney, and we are almost to the point where we can run campaigns and raise money. We technically can operate as a 501(c)3 non-profit and people can give us tax-deductible contributions, but we have not officially been granted 501(c)3 status by the IRS.
First and foremost, Thank you, John Kurlak, for hosting our website (for free) and giving us technical guidance along the way. Thanks also to the Consulting Club at VT. They spent a semester helping us.
Actively Caring won a grant from the DOJ for $500,000, and we’ve expanded to many new schools. We are developing the training literature for every school resource officer in the country.
We were featured on the front page of Cleveland’s #1 newspaper (Cleveland.com) which has over 1.2 million monthly readers, where it talked about our relationship with Chardon High School, following their tragedy in 2012.
Following Newtown’s shooting last year, we worked with their school to plan National Kindness Day.
Actively Caring for People seems to be the place where schools and communities turn to following shooting tragedies. We want them to stop. We believe the best way to do that is to create a proactive, prosocial bullying prevention program in schools to empower students to do the right thing, especially when it is inconvenient. We want to create cultures of compassion, and we are headed in the right direction.
I headed up a lot of the marketing and technology initiatives. We saw a new website, where people can now order wristbands and merchandise, as well as, learn about our programs and history.
We paid a local student to develop some videos for us to explain our vision and mission.
We ran a successful Gobblerfest marketing campaign, and our FB likes have grown to over 1,300. We integrated with NationBuilder, and our Phase II part of our website rollout will be coming out soon. It’ll allow people to see all of the stories, similar to GivesMeHope.com .
We are averaging about $100/day in orders/donations and that allows us to invest in technology and to help schools who really need our help, but can’t afford to pay for it.
One thing that I get really frustrated with is organizations that only help people…who don’t really need it. But that’s capitalism to a tee, right? Think about it:
- The people who can’t afford financial planning are the ones who really need it. Or, the people who can get a ton of extra benefits, but are they the ones who really need a personal financial advisor? The entire industry is catered to the people who don’t need it.
- The people who probably need an accountant are the ones who can’t afford it. Or, the people who pay for one get a ton of extra benefits, financially, just because they have money.
- Educational programs mostly work and are catered to “good schools.” They are the ones who get all of the resources and tax dollars. They also get all of the perks (iPads for every kids, etc). Do they really need bullying prevention programs? What about the 70% dropout rate amongst low-income students?
We seek to help change the cultures that need the most help. That’s the only way to really close the education gap in our country — change the hearts of people at the most risk. And our funding (purchases online, donations) have helped us go into more schools and help even more students.
So, thank you to everyone who has contributed. It means the world to me.
I am going to continue to work on the technology side, focus on a marketing funnel, and launch a fundraising campaign in 2014.
Highlights from 2013, from a personal perspective:
Moving back to Blacksburg
Working at Heyo, where I learned a ton. Got to work with some amazing people, and I would have paid for the experience I got.
Meeting Gary Vee at SXSW, talking about personal relationship mgmt. He’s such a great guy. And he truly gets it.
Going to Ocean City on a whim with Mike.
Going Skydiving, which I totally recommend.
The most epic, crazy trip to Vegas. Losing $600 in 10 seconds, and then winning it all back. —> another video from a different angle. Good god. The adrenaline. The best view in the strip, for free. Meeting with mayors at the US Mayor’s Conference. Meeting up with Justin Thorp, one of my closest mentors, and talking about some really interesting stuff, over drinks.
Seeing the MJ show with Mike and Shane
Making it rain at the Salem Fair. I made 4 3 pointers in a row to win that monkey.
A lot of long nights of ChatRoulette at 1619.
Seeing Zebib, my best girl friend, in Blacksburg.
Monthly calls with Adnan. What an inspiration.
Frequent talks with Michael Fischer. Can’t wait to see you out in Indy man. Love ya like a brotha.
Meeting Tim from Tint. We think the same, and they are experiencing hockey-stick growth and crushing it. We talk often and he’s become a great freind.
Getting to know Shereen really well. She has absolutely changed my life and she is my role model. The epitome of actively caring. We always say, “We aim to cultivate cultures of Shereen” instead of “cultures of compassion” because they are interchangable.
Getting these types of notes for Actively Caring stuff…..for people participating in our program. Bobby’s talking about someone else in his class.
Getting a random French roommate for the summer. Teaching him how to lift. We made him a list of things to do in America. His perception of America is so off - he thinks everyone is wild and everyone wears cowboy hats and drinks a lot.
One of the highlights on the road trip was the fact that police loved to tell him that he couldn’t do something. He was constantly told he couldn’t sit somewhere, couldn’t park somewhere, couldn’t sleep somewhere. Hilarious.
Golfing with one of my mentors, John Dooley. Shooting under 100 on 18 consistently now.
All of the family dinners at 1619. A lot of amazing people and new friends.
Meeting my buddy Dan’s baby, Connor, for the first name. Love Dan and Anna. Amazing people.
My mom’s 60th birthday. She doesn’t look a day over 40!
All of the golf get togethers with Kevin Ayoub. What a great man.
My Uncle David’s 60th birthday party celebration. This is a note I wrote to him, thanking him for always being there for me. He is the best Uncle anyone could ever ask for.
Being mentored by Steve Skripak, a man of value and a man who truly leads by example.
Having an article that I wrote go viral
It’s fun to go to meetings like this one.
And still to come is NYC in 2013……with my best friends.
Summary of 2013:
What a year. A bit of a roller coaster at times, and as 2013 comes to a close, I finally feel confident, a sense of purpose , and headed in the right direction
I learned a lot, made my life more efficient, and had a ton of fun.
To end, I will tell a story. This week, I got together with two great people: Devin and Sarah (And Devin, I will never forget the night we played lesbian matchmaker at Lucky’s in Springfield. Good times). Anyway, we had an amazing conversation in Alexandria that ended up lasting around 3 hours. Towards the end of the conversation, Sarah asked me what she could for me….she loves the ambition I have and wants to help me in some way. I thought about it and I said, “Nothing, just be there. Continue to be present and let’s make an effort to stay in touch more.”
Sarah’s a great person, and she has the same love for VTSGA that I do. And Devin is extremely intelligent and we have very good, intellectual conversations.
My point is that it is important to maintain friendships with people who matter the most to you. I’ve worked really hard to reconnect with old friends and to stay in contact with people who I care about.
As I head into 2014, I look forward to continuing my 2013 goals, and focusing my life around measurable goals, just like I did this past year.
And I will leave on the quote that sits atop my blog. It’s my favorite quote.
"Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death." - James F. Brynes. Looking back on 2013, I lived. And, I lived well.
And, I’ve never been happier in my life.