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MICHAEL HYATT: “I tell you, entrepreneurs make a huge mistake with this. They get the strategy before the vision. Vision always—and I mean always—comes first. The vision is the what; the strategy is the how; the how doesn’t make sense until you know where you want to go. And at the beginning, you're probably not going to see the strategy. It’s not going to be clear to you. If you start throttling back your vision, because the only path you can see is the size of the email list you have and you just think, oh, I couldn't do that because I don't have a big enough email list, or I don't have a big enough social–media platform. And forget all that because the right vision will attract the right strategy. It’ll attract the right resources. But until you have the vision, none of that stuff’s going to show up.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and time to focus on growing my small–but–mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step–by–step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.
AMY PORTERFIELD: Let's pretend that you and I are in my kitchen right now, and we're just sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee. That would be really fun, by the way, right? And I looked at you and I asked, what is your vision for your business and your life? What would you tell me? Would you be able to just rattle it off like, boom, here it is? Or would you kind of stumble over your words just a little bit? I ask because when I left my corporate job and I started my online business, I thought that my vision for my business and for my life was crystal clear. In my head, it made sense. But when somebody asked me about my vision, it came out all jumbled. Like, I couldn't make it into words. And then I realized maybe it's not so clear in my head, because every time someone asked me, I wasn't able to communicate it. Now, what if I told you that (a) in order to create the life and business you want, you must have a clear vision that you can communicate, and (b) my guest today will help you find that clarity and give you the tools you need to bring your vision to life? Would you be interested? Well, I sure hope so, because my guest today is Mr. Michael Hyatt.
Michael is not only a bestselling author, but also one of the most successful entrepreneurs I know. His business was featured in Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest–growing private companies after experiencing 300 percent growth in just three years. And he's released yet another phenomenal book called The Vision–Driven Leader. Now, today, Michael is going to talk about creating a vision, and he really maps out the entire process in his book. I highly recommend you get your hands on his book. We're going to talk today about creating a vision, even when you're just starting out, even when it's just you in your business. This is something I wished I did from the beginning, but it was years into my business until I got clear on my vision. So I really want you to pay close attention to how you can use the strategy of creating a vision in your business right now, no matter if you're just starting out or if you've been at it for a while.
I'm most excited about this interview because Michael and Gail, his wife, are dear friends to Hobie and I. And as you guys know, Hobie and I, one of our very favorite vacations is Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. We've been several times, and most of the times that we've been, it's been with Michael and Gail. So we've done just friend vacations together, and they are some of my most–cherished memories. So I love Michael like he is family, and I'm so excited that you all get to hear from him because he's been on the show a few times. But when it comes to vision, this guy has got it down.
So one, go get his book. Two, listen up, because I think you're going to love this episode.
All right. I won't make you wait any longer. Let's get to it.
Michael, as always, I am so thrilled to have you here today to chat all about the vision–driven leader. So first of all, congrats on your book. It must feel so great to have that out there in the world.
MICHAEL: It does. I'm so excited about it. And thank you for having me on again.
AMY: Of course. I love to have you on the show. And I truly feel that every entrepreneur or those dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur need to read this book. So tell me this. What's the story behind this book? What inspired you to write it?
MICHAEL: Well, I think one of the things I've realized in working with entrepreneurs and business owners is that when you don't have a vision, it can have serious practical consequences. You know, you can spend a lot of resources pursuing things, God knows what, and not really have the outcome that you're after. In fact, according to the Department of Commerce, a million businesses will be started this year in the U.S. Of those million, 80 percent of those will fail within the first five years. Of those that survive, the 20 percent that survive, 80 percent of those will fail. Amy, this is what that means. You have a 4 percent chance of your business surviving ten years. And I really think the difference is having clarity of vision so that you've got the ability to filter opportunities, stay focused, consolidate your resources, and accelerate your growth toward that desired future.
AMY: Okay, so I know that you've said that a vision is more than just a mission statement. And I feel that many of my listeners might be thinking that they're actually the same thing. And I just want to make sure that my listeners know the difference and really understand what their vision should look like, because also, Michael, I want you to know I have a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs that listen to the show as well. So can you kind of break down the difference between the two?
MICHAEL: Sure. So a mission is generally a pretty short kind of statement that you can regurgitate from memory. It defines what a business is, while a vision describes where it's going. So a mission is here, but a vision is still out there. A mission is brief, but a vision is robust.
So, for example, at Michael Hyatt & Company, our mission statement, I can quote it from memory, it says that we help successful–but–overwhelmed high achievers focus, get the focus they need, to win at work and succeed at life. That's what gets us up out of bed in the morning. That's what we do every day. That's what kind of shapes our work.
But the vision is a much more robust document. And a lot of people get this confused because they think of a vision about the future as some kind of statement, that some clever, brief thing that they can slap on a coffee mug or put on a T-shirt. No, it's not that. It's going to be more robust than that. A vision's script is what I call it, and this is going to be basically a clear, inspiring, practical, attractive picture of your organization's future, three to five years in the future, and the document itself, the vision script, is going to be three to five pages long.
AMY: Okay. Say your mission statement again.
MICHAEL: We help successful, overwhelmed high achievers get the focus they need to win at work and succeed at life.
AMY: Okay, so if that is your mission statement, without having to, of course, read the whole vision script, how again is that vision? Does that vision pick up for where the mission leaves off, or does it dive deeper?
MICHAEL: Let me give you a concrete example of where I first came up with this. So back in the year 2000, I was given responsibility for one division of Thomas Nelson Publishers’s fourteen book–publishing divisions. What I didn't know at the time when I said yes is this division was dead last in every significant metric. We were the slowest–growing division in the company. In fact, we were shrinking. We were the least–profitable division in the company. In fact, we had lost money the previous year. As you can imagine, staff morale was at an all–time low. So the CEO of the company said to me, he said, how long is it going to take you to turn this division around, because, frankly, it's a drag on the entire company. So I didn't really have a clue, but I just pulled a number out of the air, and I said, I think it's going to take about three years. He thought about it for a minute. He said, well, that sounds reasonable to me. You got it.
So the first thing I did was I booked a complete day to get off site and just think deeply about what I wanted, where I wanted to see this go. And I’d been super influenced by Stephen Covey and his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit number two, he says, begin with the end in mind. So when I got at that off site, I pulled out a piece of paper, and I had my financials with me, and I had the org chart, and I had some other documents, so I knew pretty much where we were. But I said, what do I want to see three years from now? And so I kind of stepped into the future with my imagination, and I began to write down what I imagined. And I did it in the present tense. I'll give you some examples. And at the time, this was pretty rudimentary, but I just wrote down, as a series of bullets, the reality that I wanted to see come to pass.
So, for example, I said, we publish five New York Times’ bestsellers per year, and at that time we didn't have any bestsellers. So this was really a bigger, better future. Then I said I want to publish forty-eight books a year. At the time, we were publishing 120 books a year, which was a tremendous number of books. The staff was worn out, our resources were spread too thin, and we just weren't doing a very good job of marketing. So I said, let's cut the list of books that we publish by more than half and really focus our energy and our effort to make each book as successful as we can.
Then I said, another point I said, is that I want all of our staff people, all of our team, to max out their bonus opportunities, because I knew if they had a financial incentive related to the future, they'd be more engaged in trying to create it. So I had ten of those bullet points. I went back to the team after that.
And here was the conversation. I said, Hey, guys, I've been thinking about the future. I've written some things down in terms of what I want to see. But this is just a rough draft. I need your help to make it better because I've probably missed some things, some things need tweaked, but I need your input to make this really robust so that it can be a future that we can all work collectively towards creating. So they rolled up their sleeves, and this, again, was just my inner circle, not the entire division of the company, just the inner circle, and I was beginning to transfer the ownership. I didn't come down like Moses from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. This was a rough draft.
And so we worked on it. We came up with this vision. We rolled it out to the entire division. Everybody got super excited because nobody likes losing, and we were losing. So everybody got excited about working toward this future. But here's the cool part. It didn't take us three years to turn that division around. When you have clarity about your future, it accelerates your pursuit of the future. We turned that division around. We went from number fourteen to number one, not in three years, but in a year and a half. We were number one in revenue growth. We were the fastest-growing division in the company. We went to number one in our profit margin, and everybody maxed out their bonuses.
If you fast forward nine years later, when I left the company, after we sold it to HarperCollins, that division had been number one every year since that happened back in 2001. So that's the power of having clarity about the future and having it in a vision script.
AMY: Yes. Okay, so, when we think about new entrepreneurs, people that are in their first few years of business and they're just getting started, I know one of the things they're going to tell me is, well, Amy, I don't even know. I don't know what our vision is. We're just getting started. All of this feels so new and overwhelming and so many questions are circling around in their head. So how could a new entrepreneur get clear with a vision when they're just starting out?
MICHAEL: Oh, I so love that question. Well, first of all, clarity is something that's going to grow over time. So as you begin to approach the future, as you get a different vantage point, you're going to get more clear on it. But you wouldn't get in the car without some destination in mind. I mean, it may be vague. You may know the general neighborhood you're headed to, but you'd have some destination in mind. In fact, I would say the essence of leadership, and this is particularly important if you have a team, even if it's a small team, but the essence of leadership is that you are leading people somewhere, and that somewhere is the destination. But here's the cool thing. I've really tried to break it down in the book so that it's a recipe so that anybody can do this. You have to kind of trust the process. But I make this quote all the time. You've probably heard me quote this. I don't know who said it. But thoughts disentangle themselves, passing over the lips and through pencil tips. There's a power in writing that brings you clarity. Again, you don't have to have picture–perfect clarity. You don't have to have 20/20 vision. All you need is an idea of where you're trying to go. It's going to get clearer over time. But you've got to start with something.
AMY: Okay. I love this because my own coach, my weight–loss coach, she has me journaling every day. And I don't necessarily love to journal, but I've been doing it. And you’re right because just putting pen to paper, so much clarity comes from that, just the exercise of doing it regularly.
MICHAEL: I don't know if you've ever experienced this, but I used to have people, they would ask me a question, what do you think about this? And I would say to them, I said, I don't know, because I haven't blogged on that yet. It’s not until I start to write it down that I know what I think.
AMY: Yeah. It’s so true. So, guys, if you get the book and you start to do the exercises and you get stuck at all with your vision, first of all, maybe it might just be for a week or so you were just journaling about what you want and what you see for your business and what it means to you. And I think that just through journaling, some clarity can come around this as you start to put together your vision.
Now, you know I like to make it really tactical, and I think your book 100 percent does that with literally a formula of how to put the vision together. But you talk about these two questions. Does your vision inspire, and is it practical? So once my listeners sit down and they actually create their vision, these are the two questions you want them to ask. So can you kind of give me a little bit further confirmation about these two and what they need to look for?
MICHAEL: Yeah. Well, first of all, let me just say just a little bit more definition, if you don't mind, on the vision script. You're going to write this out based on four components. You're going to talk about the vision, or the future, that you have for your team. What are the kind of people that you want to attract? What's the kind of culture that you want to create? What do you want it to be like inside your company? Because your dream is going to require a team to achieve it. In fact, if your dream doesn't require a team, you're not dreaming big enough. So if you dream and you got a team, that team is going to be the mechanism or the way in which you're going to bring that future into reality.
So you got to think about the future of your team, then the future of your product. And again, you might be at the very beginning. You may just have a vague idea. Maybe it's a course that you want to create, but something. Describe that product that you want to create. And Amy, I encourage people to describe it in terms of the transformation you're trying to create. People don’t buy products per say, a widget or a product or a service. They’re buying a transformation that they hope to get by means of that product. And so describe that in that section.
Then, the marketing. How do you anticipate getting into the market? And you've got to kind of suspend disbelief. Maybe you don't have that big of an email list. Maybe you don't have that much of a social–media platform. But this is just all dreaming. Suspend disbelief and imagine a future that's bigger and better than what you have right now.
And then the fourth component is the future of your impact. What is the size of the revenue? What is the size of your profitability? How big of a web presence do you have? What’s your email list? Anything you can do to objectify that and describe it, there's huge power in putting pen to paper and writing that down and beginning to move towards it. That's a creation process. You have to think it, you have to write it, and then you have to begin to move toward it.
Now, to get back to the two questions you asked. It's got to be inspirational. And the biggest test for that is this: Do you get excited about this future that you’re envisioning? Because if you haven't bought it, you can't sell it, and you're going to need to sell it. You're going to need to sell it to people you're trying to attract to your company. Maybe you need a small–business loan and you have to convince a banker. Maybe you need investors, or maybe you're just trying to convince your customers. But if you're not enthusiastic about it, then you're not going to be able to sell it. And so I talk about a few ways that you can make sure that it's inspirational, in the book. In fact, I think I have four basic ideas there about inspiration. What isn't, not what is. In other words, you’ve got to see what could be, not what is currently. You're not looking for something—and this is the second thing—that's incremental, but something that's exponential. It's got to be—and you know when I talk about goals I talk about them being in the discomfort zone? Same thing here. It's got to be something that's a little bit beyond reach, that stretches you, that ignites your imagination.
Third thing, third characteristic of an inspiring vision, it needs to be risky but not stupid. So when we did the Full Focus Planner—I know you're a fan of that—when we did that, that was risky, but it wasn't stupid. We had a lot of publishing experience inside of my company, but there was a risk. We had to pony up for the inventory, and there was some supply–chain things that we had to work out. It was risky, but it wasn't stupid.
And then finally, the characteristic of an inspiring vision is that you focus on the what, not the how. I tell you, entrepreneurs make a huge mistake with this. They get the strategy before the vision. Vision always—and I mean always—comes first. The vision is the what; the strategy is the how; the how doesn’t make sense until you know where you want to go. And at the beginning, you're probably not going to see the strategy. It’s not going to be clear to you. And I tell the story in the book about the Wright brothers. And these are two guys that basically ran a bicycle-repair shop. They had no training in aviation. They had no college education. They didn’t even graduate from high school. The government had funded a couple of other organizations to invent manned flight. They had failed, but the Wright brothers had this passion. They could see it. They could taste it. They had this vision for manned flight. The rest is history. They did it when others couldn’t.
AMY: So, give me an example of, like, if someone marketing, let's say, a digital course. And how could they recognize that they put the strategy before the vision?
MICHAEL: If you start throttling back your vision, because the only path you can see is the size of the email list you have and you just think, oh, I couldn't do that because I don't have a big enough email list, or I don't have a big enough social–media platform. And forget all that because the right vision will attract the right strategy. It’ll attract the right resources. But until you have the vision, none of that stuff’s going to show up.
AMY: Okay, so, this is great because a lot of my students, when they're just starting out, they are creating digital courses, and they're launching them online with webinars and three–part video series and all that good stuff. And they'll do a launch, and the launch bombs. Whether they follow everything they're supposed to do or not, sometimes it just doesn't work out. And would you say that that could very clearly possibly be tied to the lack of vision?
MICHAEL: It could be.
AMY: Not always, I know. But how might it be tied to that?
MICHAEL: Well, I would say that a vision is a necessary but not sufficient condition of success. Let me say it again. A vision is a necessary but not sufficient condition of success. So you got to have a vision. You got to have a clarity about what you're trying to create out there. But then you've also got to do things like be able to focus, use the right strategy, and execute against that. So I know a lot of entrepreneurs who have clarity about what they want. They just have a difficult time executing. But it does go back to the vision, and I would be clear about the vision, and then you’ve got an opportunity to change strategies. If the strategy doesn’t work, try something else.
I get accused of this. I don’t know if you do as well. But people say, well, gosh, it must be easy for you because everything works. The things that work for me are the part of the iceberg that you can see above the water. I've got tons of stuff that doesn't work. The thing that does work for me is I am bulldog tenacious. If one thing doesn't work, I go to another strategy. If that strategy doesn’t work, I go to another strategy. I just don't give up. But that's the value of a vision. If you have a vision that you're excited about, that you're really compelled to achieve, then that's going to motivate you when you want to quit.
And I tell the story in the book about these guys that founded this company called SwiftKey. And I don't know if you've ever used that app. You can use it on the iPhone. But it basically uses artificial intelligence. It allows you to swipe the keys rather than type them, and it predicts what you're going to type. It's really cool. So when this company was starting, there were three partners. And one of the partners, after two months, sold his stock to the other two partners for the equivalent of what it would cost to buy a bicycle. Five years later, the two partners that were surviving sold SwiftKey to Microsoft for $230 million. And so the partner that got out, he said it was the worst—I mean, talk about understatement—the worst business decision he ever made, but he couldn't see it. He didn't have the vision. He let himself just give up in the messy middle. And we're all going to face that. There's always going to be the resistance. There are going to be the challenges to the vision. But that's why it's got to be inspirational and why it's got to be compelling.
AMY: Yes. Okay, I could see that for sure. And I want to talk about this idea of the vision, is it practical? But before we get there, I do have a question. When you write this vision, I could see how it's the one thing that can keep you going when things aren't going as planned, when the launches don't happen as planned, when you're not hitting the goals. Going back to that vision, I could see that keeping me moving forward. Do you communicate the vision with, of course, your team, but do you communicate it with your audience as well, or is this an internal document?
MICHAEL: It's more of an internal document. This is going to be something, you're going to share parts of this with people that you're trying to recruit, whether it's prospective employees. The right vision will attract the right employees and repel the wrong ones. It also acts as a filter. And this is really important, too. A little bit of a rabbit trail. But the vision acts as a filter. So as you become successful, you start attracting opportunities. I mean, you've got more opportunities today than you did ten years ago. And all of a sudden, you have a deluge of opportunities. But the problem is that distractions often come disguised as opportunities. And unless you have a vision, there's no way to discern the difference between those two. A vision helps you say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things.
So to go back to the ’80s. I started a book–publishing company back in the ’80s with a business partner, and we had some initial success. We published a New York Times’s bestseller that was on the list for about four months. It generated an enormous amount of cash and brought to us a ton of business opportunities. Authors that wanted to be published, publishing projects of various kinds. But we didn't have a vision. So we started publishing not just adult books, which is why we got into business, but we started publishing children's books, reference books, gift books. And pretty soon, our focus was fractured, our attention was diverted, our resources were spread over too many different projects, and we went bankrupt five years after we started, not because we didn't have enough opportunity, but because we didn't have enough vision. And we had no mechanism for saying no to the wrong things. We just said yes to everything. And that can destroy you as fast as anything.
AMY: Yeah. Okay, that's a great example. All right. So that definitely makes sense for me, then.
Okay, so, we now understand that the vision must inspire. Talk to me about the vision must be practical.
MICHAEL: The vision is great. But like I said, it's not a sufficient condition for success. You've got to be able to translate that down. You've got to create linkage between your vision and your daily tasks. So what I encourage people to do in the book is to start with the vision script, but that vision script should inform your annual goals, which should inform your quarterly goals, which should inform your weekly objectives, which should inform your daily tasks.
And because you're a user of the Full Focus Planner, you see a lot of this show up inside of that planner. So we encourage people to list their annual goals at the front of the Planner, then to break that down into quarterly goals—no more than three goals per quarter—and then no more than three objectives per week, and no more than three Big Three daily tasks each day.
And there's a clear line of sight from your daily to–dos to your vision. This has a practical impact of keeping people from getting overwhelmed. There's so many celebrity entrepreneurs out there who are encouraging people to do what I call the hustle fallacy, which is work seventy, eighty hours a week. But the reason they're doing that is that they don't have a vision, because they're just throwing mud on the wall. They’re trying everything. But once you have a vision, all of a sudden you can decide, hey, not everything is of equal weight. I don't have to do everything. I only have to do a few things well, the high–leverage things, focus on those, and I'll drive growth.
This is why our company—and I know your company’s been fast growth, too—but our company this last year grew over 60 percent. I took 162 days off last year. And so I don’t have to work that hard. I hate to admit it. I sound like a little bit of a slacker, but I rarely work more than forty hours a week. And the reason for that is that I’m focused, and the vision gives me a way to stay focused on the high-leverage stuff and say no to everything else.
AMY: Okay, so, I got to tell you guys there’s two people that I talk about a lot. On my podcast and just in my videos, in my Momentum membership, they all know this. I talk about Marie Forleo a lot, and I talk about you, Mr. Michael Hyatt, a lot. Your name comes up as though we’re related.
MICHAEL: We are, aren’t we?
AMY: We are. We are. I always say I want to be your daughter. And I know I'm going to be the oldest. I'll be okay with that. But I want to be in the family. You know I say that every time.
MICHAEL: I know. We've got the adoption papers ready to sign.
AMY: I cannot wait. So with that, the reason, guys, that I choose Michael and Marie to follow as mentors is that both of them—and I didn't realize it until now, now that your book came out and now that I understand this idea of the vision—both of them have a very clear vision because both of them do not hustle. And Marie has this saying, get on the no train. So she's always like get on the no train. You should not be saying yes to everything. And I do believe that. And you two, you've always been against that hustle mentality. And that's really cool that you've come out to say that when we know many people in our industry, they're making lots of money with that message.
MICHAEL: Well, I’ll tell you the thing that is alarming to me is I see a lot of these young entrepreneurs, and some of you are probably listening to this podcast right now, that if you're not careful, you're going to compromise your health, and you're going to end up in a health crisis, or you’re going to compromise your marriage or your most–important relationships, and you're going to end up in a relational crisis. And I’m just going to tell you, it’s just not worth it. I bought into that fallacy early in my career. I almost destroyed my health. I almost destroyed my family. I've been married now for almost—I hate to say this. I hate to say it because it makes me sound old—but I've been married for almost forty-two years. I've got a great relationship with my wife, as you know, Amy.
AMY: Yes, you do.
MICHAEL: But that doesn’t happen by accident. And I had to course correct early in my career, but it was really about the same time that I discovered this vision thing about twenty years ago and said, either I design the future, or I'm going to drift to a destination I would not have chosen. And I see people doing that all the time, just incrementally, little by little, without a vision. They drift to a health crisis or a relational crisis. And no business is worth sacrificing your health or your most–important relationships on the altar of your ambition,
AMY: I mean, amen. Guys, you've got to listen to this. Michael really does walk the talk and one of the major reasons why he's such a mentor of mine. But, Michael, one thing I just realized, watching your business over the last few years, I mean, having 60 percent growth, you have, I feel like, you've always had a vision. But even recently, I feel like your business has changed dramatically, and you guys are doing all these new things. When do you know that your vision can change? Your vision today has to be very different than ten years ago, right?
MICHAEL: Yeah, totally. Well, it's kind of like this. We begin the strategic–planning process, which may sound like a scary thing to a lot of people, but we go through a formal strategic–planning process. It basically takes up a week of our executive time, where we get together and we really think through this. It always begins with the vision. But as we’re considering the vision script that we prepared last year, now all of a sudden, we're a year closer to the realization. We have a different vantage point than we did last year. And sometimes, when you're driving toward the mountains, you see some big mountain and you can't see anything behind it. That's all you can see. But as you get close to it, as you begin to go up in altitude, you realize that that's just the first mountain in the range. There's not only other mountains behind the mountain you originally thought was the mountain, but sometimes there is entire mountain ranges behind that. And that's what it's been for us. As we've moved towards a clearer vision of the future, we've realized there's other things that we want to pursue that we're behind at that we couldn't see before, but now become really important.
So revising, tweaking, adjusting your vision is a necessary part of it. And it happens—strategy, that adjustment happens more often. But vision, at least once a year on a formal basis, is something you really want to reconsider and ask, what's changed in the environment? What's our heart telling us? What seems to be working? Do we want to adjust this in any way? And you can.
AMY: I love that. So just know you can always grow. Your vision can change over time. And I know for some of my aspiring and brand–new entrepreneurs listening, just get it started. Get something on paper, get it going, follow the formula in the book so it can guide you, and then you can always make it better and tweak it and really grow along with your vision. So that part is definitely—it's not set in stone is what I want my audience to hear today.
MICHAEL: That's right.
AMY: Also, there's this idea that your vision has to sell, right?
MICHAEL: That's right.
AMY: Talk to me about this idea that your vision has to sell and what that looks like.
MICHAEL: Well, first, the thing we have to realize is that this isn't a once–and–done process. We don't just come up with a vision, put it on the shelf, and forget about it. No. A vision is a living document. And the only voice that vision has is yours. And if you're not constantly speaking the vision into existence, people lose context. They get disconnected from that vision, and their work becomes just kind of a grind. And it's up to you to connect that vision.
I remember during the Great Recession, when I was so tired of talking about the vision, and I felt a little bit like a phony because I was selling the future that I wasn't even sure I believed in anymore because of the economic downturn. I remember my executive coach said, when you're tired of talking about the vision, you're half done. You need to keep selling it because—and my friend Andy Stanley says this—vision leaks. People constantly have to be reminded why you're doing what you're doing.
We did an annual team–meeting day, which we do every year in early January. And I had one of our newest employees. She'd been with us for three months in customer service. She came up to me. I'm not making this up. She had tears in her eyes. And she said to me, after I'd read the entire vision script to the team, by the way, with enthusiasm, she said to me, thank you so much. Now I get it. You connected the dots for me. I understand why my work matters. And I'd totally gotten lost in all the complaints, all the stuff that I have to deal with in customer service. But you helped me see why it matters.
Well, that's your job as a leader to constantly be selling that vision and getting people to believe in it, because until it happens, the only place it exists is in your head and in the words that you give.
So I think a couple of things are important when it comes to selling the vision. First of all, and I said this earlier, you got to be sold. People are not going to buy what you haven't bought. You've got to buy what you're selling. You're the first and most important customer.
Number two, I think, is to realize—and this is just marketing 101. I probably learned this from you—but everybody on the planet is tuned in to this radio station called WIIFM, what's in it for me? And so you've got to sell the vision in terms of what's in it for them, not you, but what's in it for them. So when you're talking to your contractors or you're talking to your employees or you're talking to your boss, if you're working for somebody else, or you're talking to an investor, you've got to ask yourself the question, what's in this for them? How can I sell the future of my company to them in a way that makes them a stakeholder and makes them buy in? And that's kind of the hard intellectual work before you start selling it.
AMY: So good. So good. What happens when you put together your vision and you start to sell it, whether to yourself or to your team, but you come up against some resistance, which I think is normal, right? Sometimes when you put together that vision somewhere or another, there's going to be some resistance.
MICHAEL: That never has happened to me.
AMY: You big liar.
MICHAEL: That happens. I mean, Steven Pressfield wrote a book called The War of Art, and in it, he talks about this thing called the resistance. And it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I read it once a year just for inspiration. But he says any time you try to make an improvement—I don't care if it's weight loss or you're trying to improve your marriage or you're trying to scale your business—you're going to immediately, once you get the vision, you're going to immediately encounter the resistance. And all I have to think about is weight loss. I didn't really care about cookies until I started going on a weight–loss program, and now that’s all I want to eat.
So you get this resistance. And so the more vivid the vision is and the more concrete it is—and I talk about that in a chapter called “Is It Clear?”—but the more vivid it is, the more concrete it is, the more you can stay the course. And so tenacity is one of the most-important things that has to show up. When you've got a clear vision, you're much less likely to quit. And all of us are going to hit that messy middle, where we've got too much invested to quit, but we're not sure we've got the strength or what it's going to take to finish. But tenacity is usually what you need to get from point A to point B, just to stay in it, trust the process, and keep working toward the vision.
It’s also going to take integrity. And I find that almost every vision that I pursued, there's going to be a temptation to compromise your integrity in some way. And so back, for example, when I was trying to turn that division of Thomas Nelson around, I came back, I shared the vision with everybody. Everybody was pumped.
Thirty days into it, the author of the biggest book that we were going to publish that year flipped out. I mean, basically went crazy, spouting all kinds of nonsense. And so I had to make a decision whether we were going to pull the book or not, because I knew she was going to be a disaster when she was interviewed, because just what she was saying was, I mean, literally, mental problems. And so my boss said to me, he said, well, why don't we just publish the books? Okay. You know, how she is isn't going to matter. I said, no, I think it's bigger than that. This is going to subject us to ridicule and all that. He said, I think you better go home and think about this. I mean, it was kind of threatening. So I went home and talked with Gail and I said, babe, I said, this is my dream job. And if I don't go along with my boss, I really think I stand a big chance of losing my job. And she said, honey, you cannot compromise your integrity. You've got to do the right thing, the right thing for the company overall, even if he can't see it, and the right thing for you, for sure.
So I went back and I told him, I said, look, I'm not trying to grandstand, but this is not in our best interest. We can't publish this book. If you want to, that's your prerogative. But I'm going to have to resign. And I mean, I was scared to death when I said that. He said to me, he said, I think you'd better go back to your office and give this some more thought, because I don't think you're thinking clearly about it. So I went back to my office. I told my executive assistant, I said, you need to get some boxes from the facilities department. We need to pack me up because I think I’m done. I really thought I was done.
So get this. So thirty minutes later, I get a phone call from my boss's boss, who is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He said to me, he said, Your boss just explained to me the situation. But I want to hear your side of the story. Why do you think we need to pull the book? So I explained my reasons. He said, what is this going to cost us financially? I said, well, we have a million–dollar advance, royalty advance, to the author. And we're counting on about three to four million dollars’ worth of revenue. So that's how much we're going to lose.
So he paused for a little bit, and he said, do it. You're doing the right thing. Pull the book. I couldn't believe it. So I was so thrilled. My immediate boss wasn't so excited. But within about thirty days, I was reporting to the CEO anyway, so it didn't matter. But now all of a sudden—now get where we’re at. We have this vision. Now all of a sudden, we're three to four million dollars behind because we had to pull this book. So talk about the resistance.
But this galvanized the team. When they saw this response, when they saw us respond in integrity, stick to our guns, stay on vision, everybody doubled their work. And again, I think it was integral to us turning that division around in half the time that I had told the CEO originally.
But that brings me to a third point, and I'll finish with this. But tenacity, integrity, and then just courage. I think when you encounter the resistance, it's going to require that you do it scared. And one of the things I learned from Dan Sullivan is that courage and confidence look the same on the outside, but they feel very different on the inside. You know, courage means that you're willing to do it even when you're afraid, to step up on that stage, to launch that course, to launch those pre-launch videos, you're thinking to yourself, what if I fail? Or maybe I don't have what it takes. Maybe nobody wants this product. But courage means despite the fact that you have the fear—and everybody feels afraid at that point—you just put one foot in front of another, trust the process, and go ahead and do it.
AMY: I think that's the message that my audience needs to hear the most, this confidence and courage and what that really means. And I really do believe that a vision will help you find first that courage. So, I’m so glad that we've gotten to talk about it. And I was hoping we could talk about vision in a way that would be for even the new entrepreneur. Those that are listening that have been in the business for a while, and they know that their business is growing, they need this book, 100 percent.
But also, I, at first, Michael, when I invited you on, I thought, I wonder if my aspiring entrepreneurs will see the value in it? And I think, if I don't toot our own horns, I think we did a very good job of saying even when you're starting out, where the value of a vision comes into growing your business. Do you think we nailed it?
MICHAEL: I hope so, because I really think there's such huge resistance. You know, it's so easy to fail as an entrepreneur, and I really think the difference maker is a vision. It'll give you a competitive advantage against the people that don't have a vision. It'll give you confidence because when you have clarity, you have confidence. It's going to give you a filter to be able to say no to the things that you don't need to be saying yes to. And it's going to accelerate your momentum because when you're clear on the vision, you don't have to go down cul-de-sacs and detours. It's a straighter line, not a straight line, but it's a straighter line from where you are to where you want to go. It's an easier path. It's not easy, but it's easier with the vision than without one.
AMY: Amen to that. And I will tell you guys, after eleven years in business, I wish—this is one of the things I wish—this book was around when I was first starting out, literally when I first left corporate and started this.
So, Michael, where should everybody go to grab a copy of The Vision-Driven Leader?
MICHAEL: Well, the best place to go, first of all, buy it from any retailer you want, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, your local retailer, doesn't matter. Go to your favorite retailer, then go over to visiondrivenleader.com/amy. This is a landing page that we created for your listeners. On it, you're going to get over $600 in bonuses, free, when you submit your receipt there. You're going to get The Vision-Driven Leader audio book that I read that will be available for sale on Audible, but you're going to get it free. You're going to get the e-book of my previous book, Free to Focus. You're going to get invited into our private Facebook group. We're going to be doing vision coaching calls with individuals so that you can see how it's done and see real-life examples. And here's the coolest part of all. You're going to get access to a free tool called the Vision Scripter. And this is like an online artificial intelligence tool that walks you through the process of creating your vision script. It's going to prompt you, it's going to ask you questions, and if you'll just trust the process and go through that vision–scripter tool, you will end up with a vision script that is 85 to 90 percent done and ready for you to take to your team for further input.
AMY: Oh, my gosh. Okay, this is good stuff. So visiondrivenleader.com/amy, is that right?
MICHAEL: That's it.
AMY: Okay, perfect. Guys, go do this. Grab the book, then go to visiondrivenleader.com/amy, get all the bonuses. I'm going to link to the book in the show notes so you all can go grab your copy.
But Michael, thank you so very much. First of all, congrats on the book. I think it's going to change so many businesses, so many lives. And thank you so much for being a true mentor of mine for so many years.
MICHAEL: Well, thanks, Amy. I appreciate it so much.
AMY: Thanks again. Have a great day.
MICHAEL: Thank you.
AMY: So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I have. I absolutely love Michael Hyatt.
But before I wrap up, a final note about those bonuses that you can find at visiondrivenleader.com/amy when you order the book. These bonuses will only be available through Saturday, April 11, 2020. After that, they disappear. So head on over to visiondrivenleader.com/amy before April 11 to get those wonderful extra bonuses from Michael.
All right, guys, have a wonderful day. Can’t wait to talk to you same time, same place next week. Bye for now.