Welcome to 2020 bold leaders. Before we start racing off into the new year and a new decade, I wanted to get us grounded in what you can expect from me on The Bold Leadership Revolution podcast this year. Today I wanted to do something that feels really bold and share my heart with you. I wanted to strip back some of the layers, and let you into my innermost thoughts where I keep my greatest hopes and dreams. Some of you probably expect that I have my goals all neatly mapped out, tasks on post-its and ready to go. Because you know me, you know I’m a planner, and equal parts strategic and discerning. However, that’s not the complete story, and that is not what I’m going to be sharing with you today. So by sharing my story, and where I am right now sort of in the messy bits of goal setting, it is always my hope that you feel less alone in the pursuit of the more you are looking for.
But first, let me introduce myself in case you are new here, or reintroduce myself to those of you who have been following along for a while. My name is Tara Newman. I am a podcast host, a writer, the CEO of The Bold Leadership Revolution, an experience-based leadership development and consulting company, where we are on a mission to help more people prosper from their most important work. I’m a mom to two amazing teens, and about to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary with my best friend, John. Recently I’ve become a dog mom to two rescue dogs, and I love coffee, CrossFit and cozy things. I also love alliteration. I am a full-on business nerd and human performance junkie. I love all things growth, progress and transformation. Way back when I did some time in academia. I was up to my eyeballs in research while I got my master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology, which is one of the less-common social sciences, and it studies human behavior at work. Some call it business psychology.
Now if you ask me if I credit my success in business to my 20 years developing high-performing organizations and leaders, and my degree in IO psychology, I’d say a big fat, maybe. I mostly credit my success to being human, and doing things that humans do well, overcoming adversity. Like struggling for five years with our first business and eventually going bankrupt, charging $10 per hour for my services when I started this business in 2014. I had no idea how to monetize my 20 years of experience, and I am still so very embarrassed to share that little bit of information with you. $10 an hour. I think I was paying my babysitter more.
I’ve been stuck in resistance for long periods of time, only to realize it was unresolved trauma that I needed to work through so I could be more visible. I suffer with second guessing myself and doubting my capabilities just like everyone else, because if there’s one thing my education has taught me it’s how to be human in business. How to bring the human into work. How to leverage all those parts of me, to make one whole, bold leader who can create a business structure that is deeply rooted and sustainable. Which leads us very nicely into our talk on where I am with goals right now.
Theory and popular opinion would have us think that we have to do everything exactly the way SMART Goals say, that we have to have everything mapped out, tagged, tracked and ready to go. And while I love accomplishing great things, and I love me some big goals, I’m not big on goal setting. I’m just not a big goal setter. I’m way more of a vision holder, a space creator and a catalyst for who we want to become. I’m very present too, when I am in the weeds of tasks, because it’s easy to get sucked out of being and into the doing. I like to hold my vision firmly and my goals lightly. And yet, as we start this decade, I find myself wanting to take a full-on break from any goals whatsoever. This happens. Even the highest of high achievers become fatigued from that high achiever hamster wheel that we get stuck on. Set the pace, put your head down and go, go, go.
YOU SEE, IT’S BEEN A FAST FIVE YEARS SINCE I STARTED THIS COMPANY.
I pride myself on taking it slow, or at least that’s the way it seems to me when I’m deep in comparison to the person with the Instagram feed next to mine. Everyone else seems to be implementing and GSD-ing at a dizzying pace, so I tell myself I go slow. I’m the slow one, the tortoise, and when I see everyone else speeding by me I cling to my reasons. Like I’m a mom of two teens who at the blink of an eye are going to be on their way to college and out of my house, and I want to savor. I want to savor what time we have left in this stage of our lives. My husband also runs a business, and two partners running a business out of the same household comes with a lot, just a lot. I have chronic illness. I crave space, and put more value on my time than I do on my money, and enjoy thinking deeply about specific subjects and topics. I like to go deep and not wide.
And so these are all the reasons why I like to take it slow. But it wasn’t until I took a full break this week between Christmas and New Years, most of which was spent on the couch, with a brief train ride into New York City to see Cirque du Soleil ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. And if you’ve never seen Cirque du Soleil, they are amazing, and ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas was such a fun show. It was excellent.
And taking this break, taking this time off, I let it sink in that we 10Xed this business in less than five years. Five years in business is still a baby business. It’s still the startup phase. And I know that sometimes we see things on the internet that have us thinking that we are in the startup phase for 90 days, or six months, or a year, but I work with businesses that have been around for 20, 30, 40 years. And in comparison to that, five years is just its infancy. I’m still a toddler in my business, and that somehow my desire for slow growth has led to accelerated achievements in that very short timeframe. Small wins in tangible results, micro-moments with a few well-timed leaps, have been the recipe for acceleration. And it had way less to do with the actual goals than one might even think.
More importantly, I have loved this journey, and have never felt more me, which by the way is something that terrifies me, being more me. The progress we have made in the last five years has been staggering. The progress I have made personally, who I’ve become, is staggering. I don’t even recognize myself, and yet I’m still me. The parts of me that now seem very far away are inside of me, reminding me of what’s possible when you improve the quality of your thinking, take bold action, and summon your bravery even when you’re scared. We have built a recognizable brand, have been featured on dozens of podcasts, had features in online publications like Money Magazine and Yahoo Finance. We’ve built an amazing community of women over in The BRAVE Society. We are about to run our fourth Bold Leadership Mastermind this year. We have started running retreats, international retreats. We’ve signed big consulting contracts to help larger organizations improve their strategic planning, culture and communication, through bringing coaching to different layers of the organization.
IN OCTOBER, I SAT DOWN WITH MY TEAM FOR OUR OWN STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION, WHERE I PROJECTED SLOWER GROWTH FOR 2020 AT ABOUT 15% TO 20%.
And my team laughed at me, because they know that this is not how it goes over here, that our growth tends to be far paced beyond the 15% to 20%. And then a funny thing happened. We went into our last sales cycle of the year, which we designed to lay the foundation for the following year. Our booked business in December is an important KPI for us. It allows us to project fairly accurately what our revenue will be for the following year. So when we looked at that KPI about a week and a half ago, we realized we had already exceeded our revenue goal for 2020. This is anything but slow growth.
Sure, there are people who have built their businesses faster, and are bringing in more revenue, but I’m proud of what we’ve built, and I know it’s built to last. I was in serious disbelief, and started to use the word shocked, which I had to nip in the bud because words are important. So I’ve since started to say I’m delighted. I’m delighted by this growth. I’m delighted to be welcoming in the clients and customers that we have for 2020. I’m delighted to be in this space where I have already achieved my 2020 revenue goal. It sounds way better than saying I’m shocked, right? So if you’re taking anything away from this podcast episode, take away how you can be more mindful in your language and how you use your words.
Now, not only have we reached our goal early, as I sat back and reflected this past week – I’m actually recording this on New Year’s Eve day – I had achieved the vision I had for a very long time around the type of women and men I would work with. What these folks are leading and creating in the world is well beyond what I could have ever comprehended five years ago. Five years ago I felt grateful for anyone who was willing to work with me, who was willing to pay me to do my most important work. And today I’m honored and full of hope for the future, knowing these business owners are out there doing their most important work and making a contribution to society. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited and nervous about a year. Meeting our revenue goal early, and seeing my vision not in the future but right here in front of my face, changed things. I found myself wondering now what? Goal met, vision here now, now what?
IT’S EASY TO GET SWEPT UP IN THE MOMENTUM.
If I were to have set goals in December they would have been full steam ahead. In the excitement of achievement and what’s been working, I would have pushed for bigger goals and more of what we currently have. This kind of hustle can be intoxicating. Much of my holiday break was spent in conflict between what my head was telling me – my head was telling me rush ahead, full steam ahead. Push for more goals. You’re here. You’re doing it. Keep going – and my heart and body were telling me something else. They were telling me to press pause and check in, and really get clear on what I wanted for the next 90 days. As I reviewed past CEO debriefs and daily journal entries, through a new lens of what is in front of me right now, I asked myself a question. What would take the pressure off?
We put so much pressure on ourselves to get the entire year mapped out. We bite off more than we can chew. We spread ourselves too thin. We spread ourselves so thin that we can’t even accomplish what is deep and meaningful, and then feel like our lives lack purpose and meaning. The thing I hear most from people is they want it and they want it now. Maybe you’re listening to this and shaking your head, and remember a time when you have said that. And maybe you’ve said it just as we’re leading into the new year. But when you have it now, it gives you little time to refine what it actually is, and we often wind up with something that isn’t quite right for us. We speed right past what is here now to get on with what’s next, which often leaves us feeling frustrated and confused because we haven’t spent time integrating all that we have become. We skip ahead because it’s easier than mastering what’s in front of us now, what’s asking for our attention right in this very moment. Fast-forwarding requires less discernment and presence.
As I navigated this week between Christmas and New Years, I found exactly what I needed in my own work, which is really what inspired me to come on here and share this podcast episode with you today. At The Bold Leadership Revolution we use a framework called SLOW. It stands for a step back and reflect, lower pressure and expectations, own the now, what’s next? SLOW doesn’t negate the desire for accelerated results, nor does it negate you wanting to be your best. How many times have you heard you have to slow down to speed up? And your brain doesn’t quite compute that. It feels incongruent. And let’s face it, you’ve been charging ahead most of your life. You have no lived experience for what it looks like to slow down and get results. What SLOW does is give you a framework for navigating the confusion and frustration you feel when you’re stepping into a new way of being.
HERE’S A CLOSER LOOK AT WHERE I’M AT, AND HOW I’M NAVIGATING A SLOW FRAMEWORK.
There is no right or wrong here. There’s only what is. I’m currently in the space where I need to own the now. What is here for me now? What opportunities are right in front of my face? What goals are naturally revealing themselves? Not from a place from you must achieve this, but from a place of hey it’s wise to be present to this, shine a spotlight on it and explore it.
I like to explore my goals. I like to take time to marinate in them, and I liken it to being how you are with your clothes. You try them on. You look at yourself in the mirror. You maybe walk up and down in the dressing room a little bit. You see if they fit. That’s what this space is for goal setting. We need to see if these goals fit. It’s okay to try them on. It’s okay to set a goal and abandon it. That’s really, for me, what this time of year is about, December into January. We slow down, test out some goals, try them on, see if they fit. Is this the right direction? Let’s explore this.
So as I, myself, am working through my goals and intentions for 2020, I thought I’d share them with you. Because some of them will even impact you as a listener, whether it be from consuming the content that we produce here, or you taking an insight away from this podcast you’re listening to. Whether you call a goal a goal, or an intention or a resolution, I don’t care all that much. I think we spend way too much precious energy fighting over the semantics and the best models for setting a goal, instead of seeing it for what it really is, a commitment. The first thing I’m committing to is a theme for the year. Some call this their word of the year. I’ve actually chosen three words, and I’m going to show you how I’m cascading them, and how my goals are shaping up out of these words.
So my 2020 theme is slow, both the actual definition and by our framework mentioned above. My reasoning for this is a recommitment to my value of slow growth, pacing and incremental steps. If I want to be someone who teaches a framework called SLOW, I best commit to it and ensure I embody that work. Slow is also what I found will help me live into and embody the two words that I have chosen. Personally, my word for the year is heal. I’m looking to continue making my health and my well-being, including my mental health, a priority in my life. For many reasons, including I navigate life with chronic illness, and that requires impeccable habits to keep me feeling good and my energy consistent. And as I looked at the second half of this year I really lost sight of that. I didn’t do the best job maintaining some habits. I let a few things slip, and if I don’t have my health I don’t really have anything. So in order for me to put my health first, it requires me to slow down.
PROFESSIONALLY, MY WORD IS TEACH.
Now that our revenue goal is met, it gives me the time and space to do more teaching. Spend more time with my community and existing clients, and really serve well through more teaching, something I’ve wanted to do more of but would always bump up against my capacity. If I slow down, I can find the time and space to commit to more teaching hours. Teaching includes going deeper with our podcast content, including me looking at where I’m holding back from sharing, where I’m feeling fear around leaning into my edge around my own visibility, and believing there is value in what I have to say. Something that I have always struggled with is seeing the value in what I have to say.
Teaching includes going deeper in my facilitation skills and mastering more in this discipline. Teaching includes a daily writing practice and studying the art of storytelling, and developing more resources for all of you in the process. A simple sentence like teach more this year becomes a filter for where I spend my time, energy and money. As the months evolve, I will define more of what this looks like and feels like for me. I’m trying it on. I’m testing it. I’m being adaptable and flexible. From creating a continual feedback loop like the CEO debrief, which I will link to in the show notes for those of you who are new to this podcast, new to debriefing, I can easily scale up or down my performance, reevaluate what success looks like for me, and adapt this goal as I grow.
This goal to teach more this year is incredibly exciting to me, and I want to share what you can expect in 2020 from this podcast. First, our content is for you. That has always been my commitment. At any time you are free to submit a question via email, via a social channel. We are redoing our website, so hopefully we will have some kind of recording device on the website where you can submit it through the website, and you can have it answered here on this podcast. Second, part of my teaching process is to think things through deeply, so I can well-thought-out, researched-and-vetted topics that fall into three categories. Optimizing you the leader, meaning making things happen with yourself. Optimizing your business operations, which means how can you make money the most efficiently. And optimizing your team, leading through people and making things happen with your team. We are going to take you behind the scenes, or what I am starting to call behind the strategy, to show you real examples of how we’re thinking, navigating decisions and executing, as we continue to grow as a business.
NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT WHO THIS PODCAST IS FOR, SO YOU KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT IF YOU WANT TO COME ALONG FOR THIS JOURNEY.
This podcast is for serious business owners who likely have been in business for more than five years. We know that, based on some polling we’ve done on our Instagram community, that 75% of the people who follow us over on Instagram have worked in a more traditional role before starting their own business. So maybe they’ve worked in academia, or in a larger business or in a corporate setting, before transitioning to their own business. This podcast is for deep thinkers, people who are mission driven and success oriented.
I also find a lot of people come to this podcast and find The Bold Leadership Revolution because they are tired of the shiny objects and the distractions that are presented to them in the online space. And we here at The Bold Leadership Revolution are very committed to keeping things simple, back to basics, business is business, it’s not that hard, it’s not that complicated. And we tend to appeal to people who are tired and fatigued from the internet marketers. You can 100% get value from this show if you’re a leader in someone else’s business, especially if you’re an executive, because you’re responsible for making things happen with yourself, the business and the team.
More than anything, I’m here to help all leaders navigate and normalize the ups and downs of ownership. As a business owner who has had more than their fair share of oh crap moments, I’ve cultivated a certain level of calm, even when faced with the biggest challenges, by leveraging my bold leadership. And I am here to help you do the same. It’s my greatest desire that when the world gets too noisy, too curated, and too much of the doing for doing’s sake, you open your podcast app and tune in for the real, honest and genuine talk about what matters most when it comes to your personal and business performance. I want to invite you over to Instagram, I’m @thetaranewman, so you can share with me your commitments for 2020, and know that all of us here at The Bold Leadership Revolution are wishing you the boldest year yet.
I often share lessons learned on this podcast. It’s one of my favorite things to be able to do, and I’m able to do this because of a strong commitment I have to radical self-reflection. This commitment means that every week I’m looking at what’s happening in my business and in my life. The good, the bad and, yes, occasionally the ugly. Doing this work allows me to look at my months and even my years with real data, even for the less tangible parts of my business and life. I call these weekly meetings CEO Debriefs, and I do them twice per month inside The BRAVE Society. We do them together. I have pulled together some of the highlights from CEO Debriefs that I’ve done inside of Brave, and I’m sharing the best of the best with you.
You might’ve heard a couple of these on the podcast, but I want you to take it a step further and feel what it’s like to do these with us inside of The BRAVE Society. So head on over to my show notes and sign up now to receive ten CEO Debrief questions you will want to ask yourself. Plus, listen in on some of the most popular shares that I’ve made. Listening to someone else’s debrief is a great way to find the language for what you’re experiencing, get a concrete example of radical self-reflection, and learn how to grow your business because it’s oftentimes not what we think.
If you have found this podcast valuable, help us develop more bold leaders in the world by sharing this episode with your friends, colleagues and other bold leaders. Also, if you haven’t done so already, please leave a review. I consider reviews like podcast currency, and it’s the one thing you can do to help us out here at The Bold Leadership Revolution HQ. We would be so grateful for it. Special thanks goes to Stacey Harris from Uncommonly More, who is the producer and editor of this podcast. Go check them out for all your digital marketing and content creation needs. Be sure to tune into the next episode to help you embrace your ambition and leave the grind behind.
Important links to share:
Listen in on CEO Debriefs and Get 10 BOLD Questions for your own debrief.
Help more Bold Leaders find this podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts