going forward…

by vernsanders on December 24, 2009

When we left off yesterday, I had explained how two meetings (plus a third, about social media) had been enormously productive, and put in motion things that changed my life. We started this serial post on Tuesday by talking about new year’s resolutions, and I’ll get to that later in this post. Bear with me…

So here’s what happened first: from no church position to a seamless transition to a new, better situation (I could quote some of the emails I get telling me that, but you’ll just have to take my word for it). It is further away, but the drive is all scenic freeway along the ocean and through wooded hills into farm and vineyard country (it feels like one of those car commercials every time I drive it)…bonus points because my gas mileage is better, I love to drive (it is some of my best thinking time), there are essentially no meetings (yes!), and, in many ways, this is the best group of people I’ve ever been privileged to serve with in over 40 years of church.

But what about that business meeting? Well…in the last twelve months we have:

  • fleshed out a business plan
  • assembled a wonderful board of directors, each with complementary skills
  • raised venture capital
  • built a new website
  • started a business providing a service which didn’t exist in our market segment
  • acquired a number of paying clients
  • established a relationship with a great marketing company to help us extend our reach, especially in the social media arena
  • found (in the last few days!) someone who will take over our sales operation and be great at it
  • launched the new service – the Reverence channel on CLN – to great reviews
  • developed a relationship with more than one partner to enable the launch of similar streaming audio channels to serve different market shares – the first of which is tentatively scheduled to go live in mid January (stay tuned…)

But, as they say, that’s not all, because you will remember that there were three big ideas… We have:

  • Identified strategic partners for the other businesses
  • developed “one sheet” strategic plans for each of what now is more than 5 separate large businesses, all of which inter-relate in a synergistic way
  • set up a strategic planning meeting at which all the plans will be discussed to identify the best opportunities going forward

Along the way I’ve learned that there is truth in the conventional wisdom that the larger the project the longer it takes to put all the pieces in place to achieve it. As a solo entrepreneur, I have long had the advantage of being able to make quick decisions and implement them almost immediately. My original business meeting colleague told me recently that he figured it would take 18 months to 2 years to get the streaming audio business up and running…longer to see cash flow. We did it in 11, and, looking back, it could have been faster if I had been a bit smarter.

In the meantime, over the last year, I have accepted the fact that as a result of the two meetings, I need to

  • learn how to be a CEO, which is different than a solo entrepreneur
  • understand that one of my primary jobs is writing
  • find time for my other primary job which is thinking

One of the best things that has happened as a result of the need to learn how to be a CEO is beginning the process of finding great people to work on our team. It is amazing what happens when you find great people, outline the goals you want to achieve, and then turn them loose to be creative in achieving those goals. For this rather private person, I am finding that the social aspect of leadership cadres is invigorating…even if it comes with more phone meetings…sigh…

All that having been said, I’m now back to my new year’s resolution. With all that I am doing and need to do given the magazine, the streaming audio, the new business development, and the other things (for instance, I’m now scheduled for 5 separate speaking engagements between now and May…more than I’ve done in the last 2 years combined), something has to give. And the only logical thing to go is my loose schedule.

So my new year’s resolution is to keep my newly developed schedule for the next year. I started doing so last Monday, and already my productivity has been phenomenal.

The new schedule was developed as a result of assimilating a lot of ideas from a variety of sources and running it through the filter of my own work style and priority list. I’m going public with it, in part, because it forces accountability upon me…but also because it is a radically different way for me to work. Fortunately, it is an evolutionary step (for me at least…it may not seem so to some of the people who routinely interact with me…) rather than a revolutionary one. At the heart of the schedule are two things:

  • uninterrupted writing time every work day
  • rigorously adhering to a plan to only deal with email, phone messages, and social media posts during the last 90 minutes of my work day

If I can do that, and my history tells me I can, given the status of the decision to make it a new year’s resolution, I can achieve one of my personal goals: to complete 4 ebooks during the course of 2010.

I don’t remember ever being more optimistic. The potential for the new businesses is, to my mind, staggering, because they meet real needs in the marketplace, and I will have the privilege to work with outstanding people who can help make the ideas a reality.

I’m looking forward to 2010. How about you? I’d love to hear what your plans are. Please tell me by leaving a comment below.

Merry Christmas…and Happy New Year!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Glenn Pickett December 24, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Dear Vern,

It’s been a pleasure and inspirational for me to watch your growth and see your optimism about life play itself out. Thanks for being a great example, friend, counselor and showing me that it is possible to maximize your gifts to positively affect a great amount of people.

Shalom and Merry Christmas!


vernsanders December 25, 2009 at 12:12 am

Thanks Glenn…wish you were closer so I could see your concerts again or even better work together…



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