Sprinting To Efficiency With Simon Severino  

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TAC Simon Severino | Sprinting To Efficiency

 

How does sprinting to efficiency work for maximum productivity?  Host Robin Colucci introduces Simon Severino, the Business Growth Coach at Strategy Sprints GmbH. Simon focuses on one thing: to help you double your revenue in 90 days. Today, if you run a business based on long-term planning and long analysis, you may not survive because you have to adapt fast. That’s why you need to proceed the sprint way. There are two levels to this method: 80% action, then 20% review of the action. You need to build, measure, learn, repeat. Want more tips on how to sprint to efficiency? Tune in!

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Sprinting To Efficiency With Simon Severino

We are going to talk about some strategies to enhance productivity. If you are an author or want to become an author, being efficient with your time and making the most of the time, you have to not only get your book done but also fulfill all your other obligations in life while you do it can be a real challenge. With this in mind, I am very pleased to introduce our guest, Simon Severino. Simon helps business owners run their company more efficiently, which results in sales that soar.

He created the Strategy Sprints Method that doubles revenue in 90 days by getting owners out of the weeds and into purposeful action. Simon is the CEO and Founder of Strategy Sprints, which is a global team of certified Strategy Sprints coaches that help clients gain market share and work in weekly sprints that ensure fast execution. He is also a Forbes Business Council member, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, and a member of SVBS, Silicon Valley Blockchain Society. Let’s see what Simon has to say.

Simon, welcome to the show.

It’s so cool to be here.

I’m so excited to have you here. I love this concept of Strategy Sprints. I’m so curious about this. I love to get stuff done fast. I’m not patient, but it does not always work out that way. I’m curious to talk with you about Strategy Sprints’ concept. At some point, I’m going to want to know what your thoughts are on how authors might use this idea in completing their books. First of all, why don’t you tell us about what this concept is and a little bit about how you came about discovering it?

It’s for people like you and me, people who want to ship stuff and build faster than they talk. They don’t want committees and long analyses. They want to ship stuff. It was similar to you. I get bored in meetings. I was like, “Let me get out of here and build stuff.” For many years, I thought, “It’s my personality.” There were a lot of people who had a similar personality, and they also wanted to have stuff that ships quickly.

Several years later, where we are right now, it’s even a necessity. If you run a business based on long-term planning and long analysis, you will probably not survive in 2022 because you have to adapt so quickly. Nobody knows what the interest rate will be in 2022. You don’t know how the geopolitical situation will be, your markets and suppliers will be doing, and if you have a supply chain that works. You need now agile and resilient people.

With the rapid pace of innovation, whatever your competitors are innovating, you are going to have to confront that as well or try to be ahead of that.

Write down how you spent your time today so you can do better tomorrow. Click To Tweet

After eighteen years of doing traditional management consulting on how you run a company and dominate the market with a product, I said, “Let’s do this the sprint way.” It’s fully digital. Wherever you are, it works. Nobody has to wait that somebody has time. It has to work wherever the entrepreneur is right now. It’s like Spiderman and his friend who is at home. Spiderman is in action, excited and says, “Should I kick the left door or the right door?” The friend goes, “Give me a second. Kick the left door. Behind the right one, there’s a cactus. I studied the map.” That’s what that entrepreneur needs. They are in action.

There is a second level, a review level, a strategic level where we learn from action, but 80% must be action and a daily 20% review of the action. That’s mainly the sprint method. It’s build, measure and learn. It’s also a much better flow of a day because now nobody has to fly. There are no long workshops. Basically, a day is much more natural. You play with your kids or your dog. You build something, ship it, cook something, tell your coach on the phone, “I shipped these. What do you say? This is the click rate. Is it good enough?” Ten minutes later, your coach goes, “No. Two percent is not a great click rate. We want to add 47%. Here are five variations of a subject line that works. Try it with this subject line and other times.” These are loops that are more action-oriented, and this is what entrepreneurs find supportive.

You are getting out of that analysis paralysis. We are going to talk about doing it and imagine how it might go.

I want to die. Get me out of here.

It seems like a good segue point. One of the biggest challenges when someone is trying to write a book, whether they have a coach or not, is getting themselves to write anything. They see the blank screen and freeze. There is a lot of fear and concern that comes up. What if it does not read well or does not make sense? What if I can’t do it? I imagine this also would cross over to the entrepreneurs that you work with.

I wrote a book. My most influential mentor, who was my first boss, wrote a book that became a best-seller, and the way he wrote it influenced me. It became the leadership book in Europe. The way he crafted it, I was there with him, was a workshop. He was teaching at an MBA in Europe where you would have entrepreneurs and teach them how to run companies. We will hold these lectures and say, “This is the theory. Go apply it, and ask your questions.” He will have a paper binder. It was the ’90s.

With the questions from the audience, he would take some paper out, add some paper, eliminate some paper and change the order of some papers. After 3, 6, 8 months, that folder would not move anymore. He would say, “The book is ready. Let’s give it to the publisher.” It’s a perfect way of writing a book for that context. That was the book on how to run a company, and it was created together life inaction with people who run companies.

There are a couple of nuggets there I want to point out. I think what you are saying applies very well to any instructional book and something that the author teaches to other people. One of the best ways to get your book done is to tell people you are doing a course. If each chapter is a module, you have to have Chapter 2 ready by the time you have taught Chapter 1. You are ready for the next time you are delivering your course.

TAC Simon Severino | Sprinting To Efficiency
Sprinting To Efficiency: If you run a business based on long-term planning and long analysis, you may not survive this year because you have to adapt fast.

 

One of the reasons why that is so fantastic is that you get on the ground feedback from your ideal audience. If they are in your course, they are probably your ideal reader. You can discover different ways of saying what you wrote that maybe you accidentally say something a certain way that lands with people and get it. To get that feedback while you are writing is super powerful.

You need the eyebrow test. Their eyebrow goes up, and you have got the line right there. Eyebrows go down. Try the next one.

I had a ten-year detour from publishing when I built, grew, and sold a personal fitness training business. I remember when I was trying to teach people a triceps extension, and I would try all these different ways, put your hand on top of the bar, tuck your elbows in. It would take five minutes to explain this one move. One day, I said to my client, “Puppy paws,” and they immediately snapped into the correct position. I said, “Put your hands on the bar and push,” and then that was it.

You know when it works. You see it immediately right there.

They got it. From then on, for the next nine years, that’s all I would say.

That’s how you build stuff. That’s the Strategy Sprints Method. I received my own book from my publisher, Strategy Sprints. It’s not a great example of how to write a book because it took me eighteen years to write it. It took me half a year to type it and hand it over to the publisher. Now people are saying, “This is a blueprint for how I run my business.”

It was done puppy style as you did. I was with real people in real situations. We had to solve real stuff. Every time something would work, I would go, “Let me save this on my computer as a template for the next time.” As soon as something would get used ten times, that would become a module in my courses. I have eight courses on sales, marketing, strategy, etc. Those eight courses became the eight chapters of this book. It’s not a great example because you should make 8 books out of 8 courses nowadays. I did it the old school.

Sometimes we do tend to try to overshare because we want to get everything out, but it’s good to remember you can do more than one book. There is such a tendency to want to get all your expertise out and imagine that you have one shot, but that can be difficult. When you talk about sprints, I believe you talked about setting these more limited micro-goals, and this also lit me up and inspired me when I was thinking about ways of helping people get their books done. Would you share a little bit more detail on how you break that down?

Measure your outcomes daily to check if you’re putting in and something’s coming out. Click To Tweet

When we coach high performers, it’s quite a simple set of rules. The Strategy Sprints Method is 3 strategies, 3 habits, and 3 numbers. Ninety days is a quarter. Most people say, “Ninety days, I can’t imagine it. I can feel what 90 days are and imagine building one thing for 90 days. That is big. Let’s do it.” In week zero, we designed together. They get a Sprint coach and have access to it. It’s like Spiderman and his guy in the chair. For the next 90 days, they are a team. That alone gives you a push because you have a team. You are not alone. Most people say, “I don’t want to show up and expect something from me, and I don’t deliver.”

I would never do that. For most people, that alone is a magic moment. The next thing is that the Sprint coach has 274 blueprints copies, everything ready because I did this for eighteen years, and I saved everything that was working. You are not starting from scratch. Whatever the blueprint is, your coach will know, “In 30 minutes, you do this. This is a video where Simon explains to you for seven minutes what to do. This is a template that will help you save a ton of time. You put in 30 minutes and have a first draft ready. With that draft, we move forward quicker.” It’s against this inertia that you have when you start doing something big.

For example, when I started writing the book, I had it posted on my door. It’s still on my door. It says, “Write in the middle.” It’s writing something all the time. If I don’t have that, the picture is, “Is this now Chapter 8 or 11?” I don’t know when I’m writing. That was my nuggets to myself. If you have a coach, they will have this landscape. They know your fear and your obstacles. They see and feel you. They give you exactly what you need in the week so that you get unstuck.

Three strategies, three habits, three numbers, it’s quite simple. The three strategies are based on what your goals are. The three main direct paths to get there. Since we are doing this with 1,600 people, we see the acupuncture points. For you, it’s this. The coach sets that up. You come in. There is a landscape already laid out. You don’t have to think about what to do. It’s already there. This week, this is your task.

When you say three habits, talk more about that.

The daily habit, weekly habits, monthly habits, we have three months together. The daily habit, you will always write down how you spent your time and what you will do better tomorrow. When writing down, you realize, “I was watching two and a half hours of Dexter.” Maybe that’s not moving the book forward.

Do you mean watching television does not help you finish writing your book?

Maybe yes. It depends on what you are watching, but maybe not. That will be the work. Usually, they identify 4 or 4 hours 30 minutes per day of time that they want to use in a different way. That’s the daily habit. How are you spending your time? Is it helping you? What do we change tomorrow? As you can imagine, that is very helpful.

TAC Simon Severino | Sprinting To Efficiency
Strategy Sprints: 12 Ways to Accelerate Growth for an Agile Business

There is a weekly habit of measuring progress. On the tactical level, that’s the progress. How many pages did you write? How many steps did you get forward? On a monthly basis, the bigger picture, is this now one-third of the whole thing or less or more? The goals will never be changed, but the activities will be changed all the time, depending on what you learn about yourself on this journey.

I want to double back on the middle measurement with the habits. This is important because what I heard you say was that the person is measuring the actions they took or how many things they were able to complete in terms of tasks that are required to ultimately get the result. You were not measuring on a weekly basis necessarily the outcomes.

We review the inputs daily. It’s what you put in. We measure the outcomes weekly.

Are you measuring the increase in sales and things like that? Do you measure like I did all these little steps every day, and by the end of this week, I completed this and this? That’s an important distinction.

Typical daily things that people look at are how much time I put into the product, sales, marketing, such as writing, finding a publisher, starting the prelaunch, or reusing it as a course. That’s all inputs. I put three hours into writing. On a weekly, we measure the outcomes. What does that mean? Is it 6,000 words, $4,000 and 6 contracts?

You are measuring both. It’s like, “I wrote three chapters. I signed up two clients.”

On the weekly level, we measure the outcomes. On the daily level, the inputs, because the inputs are the only thing in your control, but every seven days, you want to know if it’s the right thing that you are putting in because there is something coming out. The big monthly picture is let’s look at the 90-day goals. Are they still exciting? What’s our confidence from 1 to 10 that we are getting there? Nine. What do we need from 9 to 10? Let’s do that.

That would be the point where if you needed to adjust anything in the 90-day goal, you would look at that at the end of the month.

The most crucial aspect of your business is solving your client’s problems. Click To Tweet

Every seven days, we would get info if we were moving at the right pace in the right direction. Once a month, we take more time to go deeper into it. It’s also to double-check the direction, the why, the purpose, the confidence level, and the energy level.

I would like to hear your point of view on why this works better than what most people do, which is setting goals for the year.

It’s a pretty simple answer. Look at how many people start all their gym memberships at the end of December. They go with these big goals that they have. “I will lose five kilos and be sexy again.” You will see them in the first week of January. Everybody is in there. In February, you are the only one. It does not work.

When I had my fitness training business, guess what our busiest month was?

Subscription model.

Our busiest month was March because it was after they figured out their gym membership was not going to cut it, and they needed a trainer. A terrible January because everyone was signing up for gym membership. We had private training studios, but I know you are right about that.

TAC Simon Severino | Sprinting To Efficiency
Sprinting To Efficiency: The coach used 24/7 real-time data, so they didn’t have to wait one month to inform the training’s wrong.

 

That’s the difference. My model because I come from management consulting, and let’s say the traditional model is suit and tie workshop, monthly meetings. While I was doing that worldwide, I also had a triathlon coach and, later on, a CrossFit coach, and that would be very different. I have a Garmin watch. They would email me and say, “The Garmin data is telling me that you are running too fast and too short. My Garmin watch says that you are swimming too slow and too short.” I was like, “How do you know that?” They got it from Garmin.

They had 24/7 real-time data about what I was doing and they did not have to wait one month to tell me, “You are training wrong.” They will immediately ping me and say, “Run slower.” I go, “Even slower, come on.” “You have to do Zone 2 and Zone 4 and stop doing Zone 3. I know it feels right, but it’s the wrong thing.” That was helpful coaching. Otherwise, you train a full month the wrong way because it feels right, but it’s wrong. One month later, you have a big surprise, or three months later, a big surprise. Your marathon time is horrible.

You were talking about that accountability piece of having somebody that’s going to be asking you, “Did you do this? How did it go?” You don’t want to have to sit there and say, “No, I did not do anything.”

That’s the Spiderman part. When you do a once-a-month big workshop, you will never ask your coach most of the little questions you have. I had a ton of very small questions like, “How much protein should I take? Is it this spoon or that spoon?” If I had one session per month, I would focus on the big questions like, “Let’s talk training plan.” If I can quickly ask in between, I will say, “Can I send you a picture of my squat? I’m not sure if it’s correct.” That’s helpful, the many small questions. It’s not the one big question, but everyday uncertainty because they compound and can block you.

That’s a good point too. They can block you. Sometimes, too many of those things build up when you are unsure what to do. You freeze and don’t even know what your questions are anymore because there are so many in there.

You don’t want to run a list of all your questions. That will be 200 items there that are de-motivating. You want to quickly tag them and say, “Does the protein must be in that half an hour after a training? I don’t have time for half an hour. Can I do it two hours later?”

I’m curious because I don’t know your process, obviously like you do. Is there anything else in your process, because you have had the experience of writing a book, that you think directly applies to writing a book may be our readers could utilize in their journey?

What’s the most important thing when writing a book? It’s writing, and that’s the same thing for entrepreneurs. What’s the most important thing about your business? It’s solving your client’s problems now. If writing is the most important thing, the same thing every day, ask yourself, how are you going to allocate the writing time and the writing room? Every week measure what’s coming out of it, those activities. Every month ask yourself if it’s still the book proposal or the right book to write at this time for that audience, price, with that publisher, or self-publish or hybrid publish.

Books are not about information but transformation. Click To Tweet

These are the big questions that you should do once a month. Every day, you should think, “Tomorrow, I’m going to write. Before my kids wake up one hour, then after, before lunch, two hours, and then I call it a day or say, “No, tomorrow it’s a full day of writing. I go into the roots. I come back when I have 800 words.

It’s so important too. When you are helping somebody create and launch a product, a coach can’t help you if you have not done anything. If the task is to write a book, if there’s no content to work with, nobody can help you. You have to provide some content so that there’s something to give feedback on. I would imagine there’s something to evaluate, like what you are saying about taking these actions.

There are so many books out there, and I don’t think the world needs more books. I think the world needs more connection, more soul. Please write books, but not like all the books there already. It’s not about the information. It’s about transformation. How deep can you go inside of yourself into the scary part? If you come out alive, come back out of it. That’s a book. Think of Carl Jung’s The Red Book, where you go deep.

While you are reading it, you will be surprised. That’s a good book. That’s the challenge. For that, you need a coach because it’s about jumping into the wild, daring to go one step further. You would usually go whatever the book is. If it’s a business book because business books are so boring. Please write one that is readable if it’s fiction even more. Come on, go places with me.

What you are saying is so on point. I’m grinning ear to ear hearing you say it. There’s so much garbage out there where people are saying, “It’s a big business card or crank out your book in a weekend or 90 days.” It’s missing the point. The point is what makes an author special isn’t the fact that they have something to hold up and show everybody and say, “Look at my book.” What makes them special is they went through a process of transforming themselves in writing it, which should be a period of deep self-inquiry into what you believe and matter to you because that’s where you connect with that audience. That’s how your book becomes a magnet to bringing more people into your business or life, whatever it is you are creating.

There are books that are transformative. I have two books that completely moved me so much. They are so different. One is called Strange the Dreamer. It’s a novel, but from the first sentence, the author catapulted me into another world, into another life. It was better than Netflix and an audiobook. I heard it. Another one is I was listening to Usher, an audiobook. He would tell the New Testament, but in a way that is completely different. If you write a business book, it’s hard to pick a business book. That’s different. Most business books are checklists of something if they are good or they are one big idea, and that’s the boring books.

They turn what could be a blog post into a book with one interesting idea and then a lot of words around it. I see that a lot.

The word and the publisher want exactly that if you get the contract, they will say, “Give me one big idea and now pump it up to 200 pages.”

TAC Simon Severino | Sprinting To Efficiency
Sprinting To Efficiency: Grow your business by focusing on what matters most.

 

If you have a big enough platform and they know that you can sell books, they will publish it. I do think that they are excited when they get a more substantive business book that has multiple layers to it. If they know they can sell it, they will buy it.

I made 8 books into 1 because I hate it, but I knew exactly I could do eight books out of it. You pick one chapter and blow it out. You create suspense in the beginning and use eight cliffhangers from chapter to chapter. You can play with people, but that’s what I mean. Then you have created another book that the world does not need.

You want to give people something they could take some action on, get multiple insights, apply in various aspects of their businesses and maybe even translate into their lives. I would imagine that your Sprint Strategy could also apply to projects at home.

Do you know Nir Eyal, who wrote Hooked and Indistractable, two beautiful books? They are business books but are good. Nir is an amazing writer. He says here on the cover, “Strategy Sprints offers a method for growing your business by helping you focus on what matters most.” This is what the publisher picked, but what he sent me also had five words more, and it was, “It improved my life.” I guess that when writing a chapter, a chapter is done when you have the feeling, “These improved the moment or the life of that person.”

That’s putting the exclamation point on this whole conversation. That is what it’s about. I want to ask you one more question because this has been amazing. What is the question I did not ask you that you wish I had or that I should have?

Who should buy my book?

Give us the answer.

I wrote it for businesspeople, people who are running a business, and there are so many moving parts. I wanted to give them something in hand that they can use like when you go to a new city, but you have one book in your hands that tells you the twelve most important things. You enjoy that city more because you swing through that city in a joyful, effortless way because of the twelve hardest parts of figuring out that’s somebody else did it for you. You enjoy and flow through the city and enjoy every moment. This was my intention in writing the book. I would say for everybody who runs a business or wants to run a business.

From what you shared, I am sure it’s loaded with great insight and actionable ideas that any reader who wants to grow something could benefit from. I hope that our readers who want to write a book will consider looking at Simon’s strategies and how you might apply those to getting your book done. Simon, once again, thank you so much for being on the show.

Thank you, everybody. Keep rolling.

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About Simon Severino

TAC Simon Severino | Sprinting To EfficiencySimon Severino helps business owners of SaaS and Services run their company more efficiently which results in sales that soar. He created the Strategy Sprints® Method that doubles revenue in 90 days by getting owners out of the weeds. Simon is the CEO and founder of Strategy Sprints which is a global team of Certified Strategy Sprints® Coaches that help clients gain market share and work in weekly sprints that ensure fast execution. He is also a Forbes Business Council Member, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, and a member of SVBS Silicon Valley Blockchain Society.

 

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