You’re driving hard towards your goal. You’re throwing your energy, your effort and your focus at your leadership role and trying to deliver the impact and outcomes that you seek.
But the results seem elusive. Achieving the goal is uncertain.
Doubt may be creeping in.
Others aren’t helpful, trying to tell you to relax or scale back your expectations.
Are you taking the right path to achieve your goal?
Should you quit and redirect your effort? What would that signal to others?
And what if you’re chasing the wrong thing? What if you’re being unrealistic? What if…gulp…you’re wasting your time?
We need to draw a distinction between your over-arching purpose and your career goals compared to the individual strategies you may employ to achieve short-term goals.
Sure, you’ll have individual goals in the short term. Today. This week. This year. These help you prioritize and allocate your time. But don’t lose sight of your long-term goal and the perspective of achieving God’s plan for your life. Your purpose. Why you’re on this earth.
Michael Jordan was driven to be the best player in the game and to win. Period. He wanted to win everything he tried: basketball, baseball, golf, poker…whatever. Games, practice, cards on the plane after the game. Win.
He famously said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Shots will get missed. He’s human. Games will be lost. He’s playing against the best players in the world.
But his commitment to win championships (and to do whatever was necessary to take him and his teammates there) drove his activities, his schedule, and his priorities.
Similarly, Thomas Edison, who invented the incandescent light bulb, the movie camera, the phonograph, among other things, was asked about all his failures and missteps along the way.
He replied, “I have not failed 10,000 times — I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
He provided perspective in addressing why he had ultimately been successful in these endeavors when others had not. He said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Jordan and Edison both exhibited a relentless pursuit of long-term goals. This allowed them to use their setbacks and missteps along the way, to learn and to motivate them to try one more time. Again. And again. And again.
I’ve identified four people who are not just examples of relentless pursuits, but honestly, these are my personal sources of inspiration to grind. Relentlessly. Every day.
GaryVee — The !@#$% Marketer’s Marketer
Gary Vaynerchuk has built a $100MM media empire and a strong personal brand with equal doses of intentionality and hard work. From humble beginnings (working in his family’s wine retail store), he embraced email marketing and created thousands of hours of YouTube content before it was cool, and established a strong following. Insanely strong. Since then, he has built VaynerMedia into a full-service digital agency with more than 700 employees serving Fortune 100 clients.
GaryVee has written six books and built a social media presence that reinforces the major elements of his brand: high self-awareness, taking responsibility for his actions and his results, and bringing value to others every day and in every interaction.
He maintains a relentless focus on branding and continuing to stay on the leading edge of digital marketing media. He’s transparent about all parts of his business life, but draws the line at his family. He wants to protect his children and wife from his own maniacal commitment to business transparency.
GaryVee’s passion for branding and digital marketing doesn’t just ooze out of him, it leaps out of him with energy and intensity. Too many influencers on social media have created personas, and they’re too airbrushed and perfect in their current state. I believe they manufacture backstories about all they had to overcome to reach this current state of Zen master perfection. That transformation story seems to justify the thousands of dollars they want to suck out of your bank account.
I never get that impression with GaryVee. I get the sense that he hasn’t changed a lot since he was twelve. He hustles. He gives his opinion. He learns. He admits his shortcomings and his mistakes — not just in his past, but maybe last week or even an hour ago.
#1 Disclaimer: He’s not human. He works eighteen-hour days. He personally engages on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and who knows what other social media platforms. He has a daily vlog, where David Rock (known as D-Rock), records his conversations, meetings, strategy sessions, speeches, Uber rides and rants. I’m not asking you to copy his schedule; just listen to his advice on branding and marketing.
#2 Disclaimer: His language is full of f-bombs and pretty colorful language. Get past it. His content is valuable. Other personalities have gone gutter-mouth and they look and sound ridiculous. Once again, I think he’s been like this all his life. It seems natural on him.
Corporations like Nike hire him to get his insights in reaching the next generation of consumers. At the same time, the next generation — kids in their teens and twenties — seek his advice on personal branding, marketing and his opinion on the next big social media platform.
He’s focused on his own brand and helping others build theirs. He wants to stay on the leading edge — or even bleeding edge — in the digital marketing space. Driven by a passion to learn himself and to educate others. With daily focus. And relentless effort.
Pat Flynn — The Crash Test Dummy
Pat Flynn turned the creation of a LEED certification study guide that he developed as an architect into a journey to help others create online income streams. He started to share the lessons he learned, creating a viable revenue stream from his LEED study guide, through a YouTube channel. He then launched a podcast called Smart Passive Income.
As his weekly Smart Passive Income established itself as a leading business podcast for entrepreneurs, and SPI TV gained traction on YouTube, Pat launched a daily podcast called AskPat. This offered his audience the opportunity to get answers to their questions. His website began to regularly post ebook guides and tutorials.
Over time, people began to refer to Pat as The Crash Test Dummy of Online Business. He would try things and risk the mistakes and embarrassment of failure, so that you and I could learn from him. He also had his share of successes and because you were emotionally invested, you celebrated with him. And you learned even more.
During the period of time that I’ve been following Pat, he’s branched out from his podcast, blog, and YouTube channel to include: email marketing, launching a new product, raising money via crowdfunding, selling products through FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), creating online courses, launching webinars, writing books and walking us through their launches…whew…and likely other efforts that I missed.
Pat’s insights aren’t limited to his business ventures. He also discusses the challenges of balancing his entrepreneurial life with continuing to challenge himself as the crash test dummy; as well as trying to be the best father and husband that he can be.
Contrary to GaryVee, Pat Flynn invites his wife April, and his kids, Keoni and Kailani, to participate with him. Given the strong personal connections with his listeners / followers / FlynnFans, it isn’t surprising that April is the most requested guest on SPI. Involving his kids in his podcast, his book launches, etc., gives him perspective and keeps him grounded. He remains conscious of being a role model for keeping success in perspective, how he spends his time, and what is most important in life.
GaryVee’s personality is larger than life. Pat Flynn is the guy next door.
But Pat is equally passionate in his approach to his brand and his audience. He is willing to risk getting a few bruises and some embarrassment so that he can teach you how it is done. To make it safe.
- Hey, here’s something new. Let me try to make money with it.
- Learn with me. Avoid my failures. Copy my successes.
- Then learn from me. I will teach you how to do this.
He has a relentless focus on impacting others who need a nudge or a road map — or maybe just the lessons learned from a crash test dummy.
Kathleen Cannon — The Agent of Hope and Change
Kathleen Cannon is a force of nature. As the CEO of United Way of Broward County, she is part social worker, part strategist, and part evangelist. She encourages. She challenges. She leads. All her effort is directed at impact — helping individuals, involving organizations, improving communities…er, community. Her community.
Kathleen started her career as a licensed clinical social worker. Her experience includes working with populations involving: chronic mental illness, people struggling with substance abuse, runaway teens, adults and children with physical disabilities, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Since becoming CEO of United Way of Broward County in 2012, she has taken on a variety of new causes — veterans re-acclimating to civilian life, the opioid crisis, local homelessness, early childhood literacy, among others.
In 2013 Kathleen, and six local leaders, who were United Way volunteers, launched Mission United. Mission United aided local veterans, and their families, as they came off active duty and tried to re-acclimate to civilian life. Mission United has provided pro bono legal assistance to more than 5,000 veterans and housing support to more than 2,500 veterans. Job counseling, interviewing coaching and other services are provided. This program was so successful that local United Ways in 24 other cities have adopted the program, and United Way Worldwide has adopted it for its national platform.
When you consider the scope of the challenges that United Way of Broward County has pursued — veterans, opioids, homelessness, food insecurity, elementary school reading skills, they’re intimidating. Maybe overwhelming.
But that’s where Kathleen steps in. She treats this community like her family. And she is a fierce, protective mother when it comes to her family.
She approaches her role with energy. With a sense of urgency. With a servant’s heart that is both endearing and galvanizing.
When COVID began to impact the community in March of 2020, Kathleen mobilized her organization and the community to raise $2.2 million for emergency financial relief and food. In the first 90 days.
She has the energy of a five-year-old: attending events, meeting with donors and civic leaders, convening community conversations on sensitive topics, ensuring continued progress on organization initiatives, supporting the fifty-seven programs and agencies in the county (funded by United Way).
The schedule alone would be exhausting, but she approaches each interaction with the same optimistic, indefatigable attitude.
Have there been mistakes along the way? Sure. Programs that didn’t go according to plan? Yep. Embarrassing moments that you’d like to rewind? Lots of them. But she never loses focus on the bigger picture. The needs. The opportunities. The vision for the future.
Most people avoid problems, and some run away from them.
Not Kathleen. She leans in.
But she doesn’t create activity for activity’s sake. Agencies funded by United Way of Broward County have to be able to document positive outcomes. It’s not about pushing money around, so people feel good. It is about creating outcomes that help address the problem.
It is a relentless commitment to communicate hope and create change. To achieve outcomes. To move the needle. Consistently. Every day.
Brett Hagler- The Entrepreneur Building Shelter for the World
Brett Hagler is the role model for so many elements of great leadership that you might think he must be a “been-there, done-that” geriatric. Not hardly.
Only 30-years old, Brett is the CEO of New Story, a charity which crowdfunds homes in areas ravaged by natural disasters and neglect. The organization’s goal is to pioneer housing solutions for the one billion people around the globe who live without adequate shelter.
OK, that’s a big number. One billion? Before you roll your eyes and think he’s crazy, let me tell you, I’m betting on Brett and his team at New Story.
Coming out of college Brett was trying to reconcile a strong entrepreneurial drive, and a desire to do something significant to help mankind. Like a lot of people, I thought Brett had to pick one or the other. Those career paths seemed mutually exclusive.
Brett had a failed attempt at an entrepreneurial venture, but was bit by the bug. He had also visited Haiti on a mission trip and saw widespread homelessness — five years after the devastating earthquake and was appalled at the living conditions. He felt moved to help. To do something.
What began as a brainstormed idea in an Atlanta apartment gave rise to New Story. Initially focused on crowdfunding the funds to build one home in Haiti, the response was significant and the vision grew rapidly.
Brett and his partners, Alexandria Lafci and Matthew Marshall, created a formula that allowed them to partner with in-country agencies to build cement block homes. Each home would cost $6000 and would include electricity and running water.
Soon they weren’t just building homes, but entire communities. Over the last five years, New Story has built 25 communities, comprised of more than 2,300 homes in Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico.
But they were just warming up. Conventional construction methods are costly and time-consuming. New Story partnered with Ikon to build homes with a 3-D printer. The costs were reduced to $4,000 per home, and the home could be built / printed in a day. They plan to give the technology away to help governments and commercial businesses create affordable housing in their own markets.
Brett and his partners launched New Story when they didn’t know what they didn’t know. Friends were encouraging but not necessarily helpful. The team made mistakes. They went against conventional wisdom. They made things up as they went along.
But they persevered. Commitment to one another and to the overall vision got tested and strengthened. Momentum grew and it became powerful.
New Story employees, donors, advisors become tied to the families they help and the communities they build. We’re all in this together.
The organization has created Founder’s Lab, a program designed to coach founders of nonprofit startups on planning, capital, marketing — and creating impact. An incredible group of successful non-profit and for-profit founders, from organizations like Kiva, charity:water and Glassdoor partner with the New Story founders to serve as program leaders and mentors.
The New Story team is committed to reaching more people more economically and in faster time. They are racing against a clock that says the worldwide population without safe and adequate shelter is projected to grow to 3 billion by 2050.
Not if Brett and the New Story team have something to say about it.
They are building awareness. Building homes. With a relentless focus on the message, with an equally relentless focus on continuous innovation.
They’re making it easy for people to participate and partner to impact the world. To address what seems like an impossible problem. And they’re bringing us together — and helping us lift one another in the process.
Pursue it Like Your Life Depends On It
It’s hard to decide when to go all in, and when to cut your losses.
Not every initiative will have a positive outcome, and not every strategy will be successful.
Critics are all too eager to tell you to give up, or that you should do it a different way.
They may help you evaluate your short-term strategies or your next action step.
But don’t let them derail your long-term goal. When you’ve identified a purpose for your life. Your motivation to get out of bed and hustle. Today and every day.
The profiles of GaryVee, Pat Flynn, Kathleen Cannon and Brett Hagler suggest very different personalities, backgrounds and missions in life.
But there are a couple of profound similarities:
Each of them has a significant driver, which motivates them to take relentless action, based on impacting other people. Anything they get out of it personally is a byproduct of helping others.
Their dedicated commitment and sense of urgency to impact other people draws others to their cause and their vision for the future. It creates excitement. It creates momentum. It creates results.
Determine how you want to impact others. It doesn’t need to be shelter for a billion people. It can be a segment of the population, it can be a team, or it can be an individual.
Identify your vision. Then get to work. Pursue it with passion. Relentlessly.