I'm not taking on any coaching clients at the moment, but I do enjoy providing general advice to ambitious people--especially if they happen to be my nieces and nephews, who want to pursue a career in technology because of me.

My most recent coaching session with my teenage nephew involved a viewing of comedian Kevin Hart's recent interview with LinkedIn's Editor in Chief, Daniel Roth. Hart drew a simple yet powerful analogy to run-on sentences:

Be the person who wants to put punctuations on sentences, not just keep running them on. Run-on sentences are the worst. They just don't stop. It's like, where's your period? You didn't put a period on a single sentence!

That really resonated with my nephew--and I think the broader context of the conversaton can help any entrepreneur across all industries and age groups. If you watch the full video, you'll see Hart encouraging ambitious people to talk about their goals and make active progress toward their goals.

To be sure, Hart has run into his fair share of controversy in recent months--specifically, the homophobic tweets that cost him the Oscars hosting gig. Regardless of your stance on that particular conversation, this is valuable advice for every entrepreneur.

Talking about your goals? That's like a run-on sentence. Making progress toward your goals? That's a complete sentence. With that in mind, here are five tips on how you can help yourself and others complete their sentences.

1. Create goals you can measure.

Making your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) forces you to think critically about them. Here's an example of a SMART goal and a not-so-smart goal:

SMART goal: I want to set aside 15 minutes per day to engage with my LinkedIn feed and send meaningful messages to at least three of my connections.

Not-so-smart goal: I want to network more.

Notice how the first example is simple and clear to measure, whereas the second example makes you wonder what "network more" means. That is the power of making your goals SMART. Remember to write them down in an easily accessible place so you can measure progress.

2. Think big, get small wins.

Most people fail to achieve their ambitious goals because they either never start, or their day-to-day actions don't align with the big picture. The key is to balance "thinking big" and "getting small wins."

Instead of finding reasons not to work on your goals, think of the smallest action you can take today which will get you closer to achieving your goals. These small wins could be as simple as getting a domain name for your new blog or asking a mutual connection for a referral.

3. Openly discuss your goals.

I may be contradicting myself and Hart here, but hear me out. Sharing your ambitious goals with the right people, or with the public, if you dare, can be mutually beneficial. It's the oversharing and not taking action that you want to avoid.

Over the past few years, many people shared their big goals with me. I only recall some of them, however, because the rest were still talking about the same old goals next time I heard from them. They hadn't made much progress, which makes it harder for me to add value to them.

4. Don't overwork yourself.

The best analogy I've ever heard is, "Don't set yourself on fire to make someone else warm." I wish I knew who said this so I can credit them, but this is something that has stayed with me for many years.

Focus on your goals and how you can achieve them. As soon as someone else gets in your way, you need to make a change. This could mean tough decisions like quitting your corporate job to pursue your entrepreneurial calling or firing a difficult client. Remember that saying "no" to something you don't want is saying "yes" to something you do want.

5. Ask for help when you need it.

Even today, many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness. It doesn't have to be that way though. Successful people know when and how to ask for help, and are often also willing to help others in turn.

To be sure, Hart has run into his fair share of controversy in recent months--specifically, the homophobic tweets that cost him the Oscars hosting gig. Regardless of your stance on that particular conversation, this is valuable advice for every entrepreneur.

But you also have to be willing to accept and apply their advice out of respect. Hart recommends first deciding to take action and then seeking out mentors to learn what to do, and equally important, what not to do.

No matter what, don't create run-on sentences. No one likes run-on sentences, not even kids. If my teenage nephew can understand this and apply it toward his career goals, so can you.

Now if you'll excuse me, my nephew has some exciting updates to share since last time we spoke.

How do you plan to punctuate your sentences this year?

Published on: Feb 26, 2019
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