Episode 229 - Featuring Lee Matthew Jackson
August 28, 2019
Agency life can frankly be boring, repetitive and stressful. Being an agency owner can be demanding, exhausting and discouraging. How do you stay motiviated and galvanise the team around you? In this episode Lee drops motivation wisdom from our new YouTube series.
Celebrate your accomplishments
In the first of our series we look at a way to turn that frown upside down on a Monday morning.
Learn to celebrate your accomplishments whilst learning from past mistakes rather than dwelling on the negative stuff.
Join the conversation and comments over here.
Get your team motivated
Agency life can seem dull and repetitive at times. Yet when you all get around a shared mission it changes everything.
What are you and your team all about? What change are you creating that you can all catch onto?
Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.
Show you believe in your team
Let’s be honest, we started our own businesses because we couldn’t stand the working environment and micro-managing bosses!
Then what happens? We accidentally become what we despised.
Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.
Why you should take a break
Lee came back from vacation and it was REALLY important that he took some down time!
It allowed him to recharge, refresh and refocus. Also let’s face it, family time and making memories is frankly what it’s all about and they had a WONDERFUL time!
Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.
Learn to embrace laughter
When you are feeling down, stressed and de-motivated… sometimes you just need a good laugh.
Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.
Change systems that fail
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
Or as I like to say:
“The definition of insanity is enforcing broken systems on your team, and expecting them to produce results.” Lee Matthew Jackson 😉
Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.
Gabrielle Treanor’s Calm Mind Club – click here
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Lee Matthew Jackson: Welcome to The Agency Trailblazer Podcast. This is your host Lee and on today’s show it is you and it’s me, yet again. Yes, this is another solo show. In fact, we’re getting a lot of really lovely feedback about these solo shows. Apparently you’d like listening to me chunter on, so well, why don’t we do it again? Sit back, relax, listen to me talking, shooting the breeze, and hopefully today motivating you. That’s a massive topic. Let’s just set the scene as an agency owner, life is stressful let’s face it. There is a lot of work to do. We are often working with a lot of clients. We’ve got loads of emails coming in, so we have the communication nightmare as it were if we’re larger agencies with teams etc, we’ve got teams to motivate. Perhaps they’re doing the same thing over and over again, or perhaps they’re frustrated on a project, perhaps they’re falling out with clients. Perhaps they’re just completely de-motivated.
We need to talk about motivation for the nation and encourage everybody involved in your business and get them back in action. So I first of all want to share with you a resource that we have been making available to you for completely free over on YouTube. If you check out agencytrailblazer.com/youtube we have Motivation Monday. This is a short two to three minute clip every single week with some sort of inspirational quote; message, theme or encouragement to take action in your business and these are all completely achievable. In today’s episode I’m going to be picking up from some of those messages we’ve been sharing on YouTube and just going into a little bit more detail. So by the end of this episode you should have had several motivational messages that you can apply to your business and if you find these useful, I encourage you head on over to youtube that’s agencytrailblazer.com/youtube and hit that subscription button, hit that bell notification icon and go ahead and like all those videos because they are wonderful.
Now before we carry on, we are also pushing out other regular content out there over on YouTube so you can hang in there for our What’s Up Wednesdays. That’s giving you an update on what’s going on in our premium community. And we also share with you some free value. So if you’re not a member, you’re still going to get some benefit from those. What’s Up Wednesdays. So you can check those out every Wednesday. We also have Frank Friday where I left to pick some sort of controversial subject and share my opinion, which is not always right. They are definitely the videos that most people jump in on and have a conversation. So last week, that’s last Friday, I was telling people to stop doing e-commerce because it sucks. So go ahead and watch that video agencytrailblazer.com/youtube and am I right or am I wrong? I’d love to know. So let’s get involved in that conversation as a podcast or I am loving YouTube because we get to have that kind of two way street. Finally on that two way conversation, don’t forget, if you are not part of our Facebook community, you can join us over on agencytrailblazer.com/group and that will redirect you to our vibrant, wonderful, friendly and awesome Facebook group where I hang out and all of our cool friends.
Right, lets jump into some motivation. Like I said, each one of these topics has been covered over on our YouTube channel and I’d first of all, like to start with a celebration. If you’re a Disney fan, that’s an old parade that they used to do on main street. Absolutely love it. Anyway, celebrate your accomplishments. This is super important. Now if you think about it, we have this natural bias to focus on the negatives that’s going on in our lives, so things that we’re dealing with. Perhaps we’ll focus on mistakes that we’ve made. A coulda, woulda, shoulda, all of those sorts of things that keep going through our mind and they can really bog us down. However, what we fail to do as agency owners, as business people, and also with our team is we fail to focus on and celebrate those accomplishments. This is actually something that I think we should be practising on a daily basis. So I have a friend, Gabrielle trainer she runs the calm mind club and she says that we should have a thankfulness journal. That’s the same sort of thing. Either being thankful for what you have each day or celebrating something that’s being really good on that day. Now we do an awful lot every single day and we don’t acknowledge it. Perhaps we finish a website, perhaps we complete an email campaign. All of these different things that we do. I think we should be acknowledging these accomplishments, the small things on a daily basis, and also the big things that you achieve over the weeks and the months. And that stretches beyond just yourself. While you can encourage yourself on a daily basis. But it also is something that you should be applying to your teams. So what’s your team? What are they getting up to? What good things are they doing? And pick them up on that and say, ‘Hey, well done for x, y, and z’. Give them encouragement, share with others as well.
I mean, I remember my old employer many years ago, they would actually hand out awards for accomplishments and that was so encouraging. I worked on a help desk, it was a support desk. It was a very thankless task and we were doing a lot of repeatable sort of work etc and we very much behind the scenes, but very often our management would call us out and say: ‘Hey Lee, you’ve been doing a really good job on these tickets over here, or you’ve done an outstanding job for that person over there’. Those sorts of small celebrations of either small things, or those bigger things are just like rocket fuel to people’s energy and to their motivation. So if you can begin to create that habit of celebrating your accomplishments both personally and with your team, then I think you’re going to see a massive difference in the energy and in the overall happiness of you and all of your team.
Remember if you want to get involved in the conversations on these videos, we’re going to put a link to each one of the videos that match up with these tips and you can go and chat in the comments within YouTube.
Okay, let’s get your team motivated. So this is for agency owners who have a team that could be a team of employees, but also remember it could also be the contractors that you’re working with, so that’s your suppliers, your contractors that you have a regular working relationship with. You don’t have to just have staff. You could have those people out there. Now, what this is, is all about mission. When everybody has a shared mission, a shared vision, when everybody understands what it is you’re doing and who you are doing it for then I believe that that absolutely changes everything. You either have a job where you do maybe repetitive tasks over and over again, and it can be frustrating and boring, but when you’re doing something with a shared outcome, a shared mission, I believe it really does have a massive impact on people’s energy levels.
So let me just give you an example of that. Everybody here at Agency Trailblazer understands what our mission is. Our mission is very clearly to help agency owners love that business again and we understand as well as a team how we do that. That’s through content creation, through education, etc. Learning from our mistakes and helping others avoid the mistakes that we’ve made over the many, many years of agency life that we’ve all been a part of. We want to help agency owners no longer feel trapped in their business, but we want to help them instead to flourish so that they can have time with that family that can have a work life balance as opposed to being trapped by their agency. This is a conversation that we will have internally a lot. How are our activities helping us to achieve this mission and reminding ourselves constantly of what that mission is.
That mission statement is also super helpful because it embeds it in our minds. So no more are we just editing podcast audio. That’s a very repetitive task. It can probably be very boring for the Larissa and other team members who have to do this, but they’re not just editing audio because that’s what they’ve been told to do. Larissa and the different members of our team are actively helping agency owners around the world love their business, again, transform their lives, and that makes this completely different. I imagine if I grabbed her now and said, ‘hey, come and share how you feel about the work that you do’ I imagine she would tell you that she’s excited even by some times what seemingly may be dull because she knows she is playing her important part in this shared mission. As a business, I would encourage you, one of the most effective ways to motivate your team is to have a shared mission, and if you don’t have anything, I encourage you to to to build one together, work with your team, have a conversation. What are your superpowers? Who is it that you’re helping? What are you doing for them? What is your mission? And then everybody stick their stake in the ground and let’s say this is what we’re going after as a team. I’ll tell you, this is one of the most motivational things we ever did within our business. Don’t forget the links to all of these videos will be in the show notes, so if you have thoughts or opinions on this, please do go ahead and share them on YouTube and don’t forget to like and subscribe and hit that bell notification icon.
Next piece of motivation is show that you believe and remember this again applies to the contractors that you have as well as team members that you have. Even if you are on your own, remember that this is something you’re going to want to apply as in when you either start employing people or bringing in third parties into your team and that is show that you believe in your team. So let’s think back to why we own a business. Many of us are running a business because we despised the old working environment. Many of us probably were doing a lot of really, really hard work. It was a lot of pressure and we had bosses that were micro managing everything that we did. We had to go through different people. We had to have things checked. There was this constant cycle of perhaps negativity, people picking apart what we were doing. It was just a horrible environment. You couldn’t even have ideas or if we did have ideas they were poo-pooed or just stolen and a lot of us get to that point, don’t we, where we’re like, forget it. I’m just going to go out there on my own and then what happens to some of us, and I’m putting my hand up for this one, especially when we had our big agency in Bedford, I actually started to become what I despised.
As we were growing the team, I was actually becoming that micro-manager boss. I wasn’t trusting my team. I was actually checking on everything that they were doing and looking over that shoulder and taking over and doing it myself and actually becoming overwhelmed myself with work because I wasn’t actually trusting my team to do what I had tasked them to do. They were actually perfectly capable. But I’d actually come to a point where I wasn’t practising trusting them and giving them that time to learn on the job and to get good at what they’re doing and learn the best ways to do things. I was instead trying to micro manage, trying to protect, trying to take over everything. That was really demotivating for my team members. I mean, you’ve got to get Karthik a round of applause. He has seen the best and the worst of me as a boss. He’s a legend. He’s been with me for many, many years. I don’t know how he’s stuck around and you know, he’s a brother from another mother. Thank you buddy if you’re listening to this because I appreciate the fact that you stuck with me regardless, but seriously we can become like this by accident. I’m not saying that we mean to be like this. We do it from a good place very often. You know, we’re thinking we want to give our clients the best, we want to look after them, etc, etc, etc. But what happens is we accidentally become those micro managers and we accidentally can create a working environment for our employees and for our contractors that is very much like the work environment that we all wanted to run away from. So show you believe in your team means that you will actually give your, your employees or your contractors a brief, give them a clear brief and then trust that they will do the best of their ability.
Remember, if you’ve also got that shared vision and they’re doing it for this shared vision, that shared mission, then yes, you can rely on that person to do their very best to help with the overall mission. If they’ve not done something right, you can certainly say thank you for the work. Here’s what you’ve done wrong, could you redo this, etc and they will learn from that. But don’t stand over their shoulder. Don’t take over and grab things off them. Actually practise on showing that you believe in your team and trusting them to do the work. They are going to make mistakes. This does happen and I still make mistakes. I’m definitely not perfect. But the beauty of letting them go as it were, to go and own the work and get it done means that they’re going to take pride in it. They’re going to slowly learn how to be more and more self sufficient on these projects, which means they cannot rely less on you, which means you’re going to be less stressed because you don’t feel like you’re tied to the office or tied to your email because you have to support your team every step of the way.
A great example is nowadays, I know that very often Larissa and Karthik will be working on stuff that I can just forward to them. Someone needed a site speeding up the other day. I just forwarded the email. I’m like, guys, give them a quote. Can you look after it between you both and they’ve looked after the entire thing. I haven’t touched an email whatsoever. Everything’s happened. The client’s happy and I have not had to worry about it and they’re motivated. They’re happy that they’re being trusted and I’m equally motivated and happy because I’m able to record this episode as a very good example. So show your team, you believe in them, trust them. Practise that trust even when you want to be involved and think, you know what? I’ve got to let them go and let them do this and let them learn and let them grow. So, show your team. Give them that sense of ownership. Show them that you believe. I better not start singing. I don’t know if I’m going to get copyright strikes or something if I start doing stuff like that. So I won’t sing any of these songs.
Our next motivational tip will be to take a break. Can I encourage you to take a break and there’s two different breaks, I guess I would encourage you to make that rhymed. Oh, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it. First one would just be to have a vacation. It is so important that you have some downtime. Again, I am so guilty of this. I’ve sometimes worked for months and months and months, sometimes including weekends and never actually had a proper piece of vacation time, some time away from work where I wasn’t checking email, I wasn’t thinking about work. I was just with my family and focused on them and I would go from months on end just working and working and working and actually what that was doing to me was just putting more and more pressure on me, was pushing me down emotionally, spiritually, everything. I was just feeling the weight and the burden of all of this ongoing work. My family were not encouraged at all because they weren’t getting that quality time with me because again, I was just consistently pushing myself without ever taking a break. The other downside as well to this is because I’m doing this, the actual quality of my output was starting to slip. I’m thinking I’m doing a good job by just constantly pushing myself, constantly doing all of this work because I’ll be able to take a break in the future. I’m doing all this work because in the future I’ll be rich when actually it was slowly, just breaking down my overall effectiveness, my motivation, my happiness, you know, my mental well-being, it was just not a good place to be.
So I would encourage you to actually take a vacation. You don’t have to go somewhere for a vacation. You can actually have a stay cation, especially if finances are not great at the moment. Then take a stay cation where you can take a week off with the family and have some sort of daily activity that you can do with the family. You can also do a house swap with family members as well. So if you have a family member that maybe is going on holiday somewhere and their house will be empty wherever they live, you know, you could go ahead and go and stay in their house as well. That’s what we actually used to do as kids, my parents didn’t really have much money, kind of a poor upbringing. So we would often go to my auntie’s house who lived in a place called Malcolm, which is near the seaside. So that would be a trip for us and we’d go and stay in her house when she wasn’t in it, which was cool.
So there are certainly ways that if you can’t afford to take a break, that you can still take a break and actually have some time away from your business to reset, to recharge, to enjoy the family. Life is so short and it’s way too short to be spent working too much. So that’s my first encouragement with regards to taking a break, have a holiday set that expectation with your clients. I’m gonna be away next week, there’ll be no contact, etc. I’m having some downtime. Then the other thing as well with regards to take a break is that you should be taking regular breaks through out your day.
Now, if you go to an event and you have a one hour speech after one hour speech, after one hour speech, after one hour speech with hardly any break and you’re just constantly having to try and consume all of that information, then it’s going to zap your energy levels. You’re not really going to take much of it in. And I imagine by the end of that session you’re going to be completely the moralised. And I say that because I’ve been to these sorts of events where you just cannot continue to focus and keep your energy directed on the same thing or the same content or the same speaker for loads and loads of times. So that’s exactly what I encourage you to avoid when you’re doing your work. If you are super focused on some work; be that coding, be that writing a document, be that recording, whatever it is you’re doing, I would encourage you to take regular breaks if you’ve not heard of it there’s a technique called the Pomodoro technique that allows you to focus for 25 minutes or 20 minutes and then take a five minute break and then you can come back to either the same task or to whatever your next task is. But instead of focusing in short bursts, helps you to be way more effective at that particular project. For example, this podcast is actually being recorded in a 25 minute Pomodoro technique as it were.
So I know I can get things done. I’m super focused. I did 25 minutes of prep. Larissa did a whole load of prep as well for me earlier on today where she gathered all of the links together, which is phenomenal. And now I’m doing my last 25 minutes sprint to get this podcast recorded in that amount of time it means it’s a good short podcast for you guys to enjoy. But it also means I’ve been super productive and it means I can then take a five minute break at the end of this, relax, chill out, feel like again, I’ve achieved something else in this day, which is amazingly motivational for me. It also means that, you know, in several weeks time, I know this podcast will go out. It’s all been batched. I won’t be having to worry about it then, etc. It is so motivating. It creates that peace of mind. So I would encourage you, take a break where you can, that’s a break with your family as in a vacation and also make breaks a part of your daily routine where you focus, then take arrest away from your computer, away from your emails. Be It reading a book, be it going for a walk, whatever that looks like and I encourage you as well to apply that to everybody in your team. We are very good. Again, Larissa massive shout out to you, Larissa. You’re really good at taking your break when you say you’re going to do it. She makes sure she has her breaks. She’s away from her machine. She’ll sit on the sofa, read comics, she’ll do whatever it takes just to relax. So I would say be like Larissa and take a break.
All right, we are coming into land. This is our last piece of motivational advice and that is learn to embrace laughter. Ha ha ha ha, that was kind of, well a weird laugh, but you get my meaning. It’s contagious. Laughter is a wonderful tonic. It can really lift your spirit. If you’re feeling down, if you’re feeling stressed, if you’re feeling demotivated, discouraged, whatever it is sometimes you just need to have a good laugh. So I will make sure there is a link to this video as well called learn to embrace laughter. In the video notes there are a whole load of links to funny YouTube videos, especially Monty Python stuff because we absolutely love Monty Python here at Agency Trailblazer. But I encourage you to embrace laughter. What we like to do as actually as a community, if you check out the free Facebook group in the community their agencytrailblazercom/group. We tend to chef and he gifs and videos in there. But also as a team here, we love to just send funny videos in our slack. We have a whole channel dedicated to random stuff and we’ll share funny YouTube videos. We’ll watch, watch, funny, tick toks, etc. We’ll just generally find things that we find entertaining and we’ll share them. We’ll have a laugh with them. Maybe we’ll watch some YouTube clips together, etc. We just like to make sure that within our day to day we have a good giggle about something.
It really helps us lift the mood. It’s so simple to be able to do. There is an abundance of content out there. We’re bombarded with it. In fact on Facebook and everywhere else when people share funny stuff. So if you can create that kind of atmosphere where people can share with each funny stuff they found on the internet appropriate stuff, obviously, or even jokes in banter as a team, you might have that sort of atmosphere as well. It just completely changes the atmosphere of a room. I’ve worked in companies where everything is so quote on quote professional and everybody is all suited and booted and it’s very quiet and everyone gets on with their work because basically they’re just scared to talk to each other and it’s just a horrible environment, kind of toxic. You know, I’ve worked in that. I absolutely hate that. So for the flip side, for us, when I created the agencies all those years ago, we were focused on, we have to always make sure that we have an environment where people can laugh, people can have fun, people can have a joke, not at people’s expense. We don’t like that. But we can at least have a good banter. We can at least watch some of the funny content that’s available online just to lift our spirits, to not take life too seriously and to enjoy ourselves because as far as I’m concerned, life is way too short to sit in a an environment where you feel like you can’t express yourself. Heck, we’re in a creative industry so guys, I encourage you embrace laughter today. Remember, go and check out those clips in that video there’s a link in the show notes and please if you have got anything that makes you laugh that you always go to, please please share those as well in the comments of that YouTube video. It will be so much fun to have some more stuff here at Agency Trailblazer HQ for us to be able to laugh at.
Okay, I promise. That was the last motivational tip. There is a motivational tip that you will be able to watch for this week coming. It is change systems that fail. I kind of repurpose Albert Einstein’s comment about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. My version of that is the definition of insanity is enforcing broken systems on your team and expecting them to produce different results. Well that’s a full on one, it doesn’t sound very motivational, but trust me there are some really good advice in that video. So go and check the show notes for that video on changing systems that fail that will help motivate your team, that will change your teams and go ahead watch that one on the YouTube channel.
So thank you so much for your time and listening to this episode. We will be continuing with some interviews as well over the next few weeks and months but you will see an increase in these sorts of episodes as well where it’s you and me and we’re having a conversation from our own experiences here over at Agency Trailblazer. If you have any questions, so if you’ve got anything you would love us to cover, I’ll encourage you head on over to our Facebook group. If you join up with the Facebook group agencytrailblazer.com/group and then share your thoughts on a really good up and coming topic and don’t forget to tag me in so that I am made aware of that because we will more than happily deep dive into some of those topics.
Also, please be aware, we do have a premium group where we have absolutely tonnes of content for agency owners. You’ll be able to find information on protecting yourself legally, learning from the mistakes that we’ve made. We’ve got a whole workshop on receiving and managing and acting upon feedback. We cover version control. We’ve got marketing, marketing activities for agencies. We’ve got workshops on increasing profitability. We have the whole nine yards, a whole slew of workshops and call recordings that we’ve done over the last couple of years. For Agency owners like yourself, be you on your own or be you with a team. Check that out on agencytrailblazer.com there are two options, a yearly membership or a monthly membership and you will get to be on a weekly call with myself or one of the team and we will be tackling some of these sorts of subjects on a weekly basis. You’ll also get to access the content from the Agency Transformation Live event as we feed that out over the rest of this year, and you’ll also get to enjoy our Reset Road map if you are stressed and frustrated with your agency and we’d like to go through a similar reset that I’ve been through twice with two different agencies, then you might want to be checking that out as well. So that’s agency trailblazer.com if you want to be part of our premium community as well as joining in with the premium slack group that we have in there. Right. Well pitches over. I’ve definitely busted through my 25 minute Pomodoro, so maybe I should give myself an extra bit of a break. Thank you for listening. You’re all legends. Have a wonderful day. If we don’t see you in the communities, then we will see you in the next episode.