Ryan Langford

How you can gain superhuman powers and predict the future of your business

How you can gain superhuman powers and predict the future of your business

I have historically run my businesses the way most people do;  I set big goals, determine how to track progress towards them, write out detailed action plans, and schedule regular reviews.

It feels pretty stinkin’ good when we hit our goals, but sometimes we don’t.  And by the time we’re fully realized it, the window of opportunity for hitting those goals has already passed.  It’s like navigating with a GPS that only tells you whether you made the right turn or not.

Of course, you can try to compensate for that by breaking your big goals down into smaller goals or milestones (i.e. if my annual revenue goal is $12M, then my monthly goal is $1M), and perhaps reviewing results more frequently.

This gives you the benefit of knowing earlier whether your missing your target, and allows you to adjust your strategy accordingly, but you’re still navigating based on the past instead of the future.  In other words, your measurements lag your desired result.

But what if your measurements could predict your results?

What if, when you’re reviewing your progress towards your goals, you could also tell in advance with reasonable certainty whether or not you’d hit your goal? This has been the missing piece for me, and it’s revolutionizing the way I run my businesses.

“How is this foretelling of the future possible, EntreMerlin?” you ask.  It’s so simple, I’m almost embarrassed it’s taken me this long to get it.  (I owe thanks to my good friend David DeWolf, and “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” for introducing me to this framework.)

Step 1: Identify the specific goal you are trying to hit.
Step 2: Determine the habits or predictive outcomes that have a discernible impact on your goal.
Step 3: Set up a stupid-simple system for measuring these habits or predictive outcomes (i.e. a “scoreboard”)
Step 4: Review frequently

Here’s how we are implementing this in our music school

Step 1:  We decided that our wildly important goal for the school in 2016 is add 200 students to the roster.  Although we have a number of other goals this year, this is the “one goal to rule them all” and is where the majority of our focus will be.  Also, by accomplishing this goal, all of our other goals will be easier to reach.

Step 2:  We know that there are 2 key levers for accomplishing this:

  1. Acquire more students, and
  2. Keep more of the students we already have.

Focusing on these two areas, we identified the habits and predictive outcomes required to make this happen.

Acquire More Students

Predictive Outcomes:
– Generate an average of 28 new leads per month in 2016.
– Maintain our current lead-to-customer conversion rate of 81% or better

– Respond to all leads within 2 business hours
– Schedule new lessons within 1 business day after assessment

Lower Student Attrition Rate

– Follow up with each student within 1 business day of the first lesson.
– Follow up with each student between 4-6 weeks after first lesson.

Each of these habits or predictive outcomes are owned by 1 person on the team, and while they may draw others in to accomplish specific tasks, they are ultimately responsible for achieving the predictive outcomes and establishing the habits that they own.

Step 3:  Then we created a scoreboard to measure these specific habits and outcomes.  This is version 0.1, and we’ll be revising it over the coming weeks so that it clearly communicates whether we’re winning or losing at a glance.  For now, though, it allows us to see where we stand with a little bit of effort.  (You’ll notice a few extra measurements on our dashboard.  We’d like to track these items, but may ultimately decide not to track them here.  We’ll be making that call in a couple of weeks.)

These are updated by the team members responsible for the habit / predictive results weekly.

Our Scoreboard at Resound School of Music

Step 4: We meet every week to review our scoreboard, to make commitments towards achieving our big goal, and to give an account for our previous weeks commitments.  We spend between 15-30 minutes each week, and this is arguably the most valuable 30 minutes of each week.  It builds team work, provides accountability, and keeps us focused on our most important priority.

We’re in the early stages of this at the music school, so results are forthcoming.  But I can say that we’ve never believed in a big goal like this as much as we do now.

The result feels inevitable, and this process is infusing us with a sense of unified purpose.  Although this particular method is new to me, 1,000’s of amazing organizations have used it to become powerhouses and achieve amazing things.

If you want to go deeper on this subject, read Sean Covey’s fabulous “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.”

And if you haven’t joined our EntreFamily Facebook group, jump in with us and let us know how you’re implementing this in your business.

superhuman business powers

Image credits – batman, jumping hero 
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Roots and Wings: How we’re choosing both this year…

I love my life.

I’m frequently in awe at my good “luck”; working with best friend (EntreSteph) every day, homeschooling my kids, and adventuring around the world with them.

When we first started traveling, one of our biggest motivations was that we wanted to give our kids the gift of an open mind. We wanted them to wrestle with new ideas, expand their creative palette, and learn to love other people and the differences they embody.

And while our traveling has definitely shaped them in that way, I’ve come to realize that our children need more than just adventure… they need to belong.

I first came to this realization when I heard this quote somewhere…

“The best gifts we can give our children are roots and wings. Roots to remind them where they are from, and wings to show them what they can become.”
– Hodding Carter… {kind of}

Turning a blind eye to the fact that my version above bears very little resemblance to the original quote, I was still impacted by the truth in it.

I realized that I had been focusing almost entirely on giving my children wings (read: a sense of adventure and possibility), and have been neglecting this deep need of theirs to belong somewhere; to forge deep friendships and shared memories. And if I’m totally honest with myself, EntreSteph and I need that too.

We’ve spent 19 of the last 36 months on the road, visiting 43 countries, and “living” in hundreds of different “homes”.

Throw in a big move to a new city and the start of a couple of new business ventures in the midst of it all, and you can see that our adventure quotient had been achieved with healthy margin. But our new paradigm requires a new schedule.

EntreSteph and I have definitely had “enthusiastic” conversations attempting to figure out exactly what that new schedule should look like, but we’ve come to an agreement on one that we believe will help us to nurture both that sense of belonging and adventure in our family (brace yourself…it’s not rocket science): For every 12 months, we’ll spend 9 months at home and 3 months abroad.

While we’re at home, we’ll intentionally invest in our community through church, EntreEvents, and kids activities.

And when we’re on the road, we’ll fully embrace the adventure; learning new languages, eating new foods, and taking on new challenges.

As simple as that sounds, it’s taken us awhile to be willing to “settle down” for any length of time, and it’s going to take some discipline on our part to stick with it.

I realize and respect that you may not be at a place where you’re able to spend 3 months abroad every year, and am so grateful that we’re even able to consider it as an option.

I’m also keenly aware that there are other ways to develop that sense of adventure and possibility in your family.

How do you find the balance between roots and wings in your family?

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Looking for more community yourself? Maybe with other “EntreFamilies” who get your lifestyle?

Join our brand new Facebook group and find a safe place (no trolls! 🙂 to connect with other entrepreneurial couples, share tips, talk about struggles, ask questions, chat with us, and stay up to date on what’s happening here at EntreFamily. See you there!

When it’s time to ditch your goals

When it’s time to ditch your goals

At the beginning of this year, inspired by Michael Hyatt’s goal planning course, I set out to make 2015 my best year ever.

I set audacious goals, reviewed them regularly (a minimum of once per week), set the big rocks in my calendar and set the tasks needed to achieve them in Omnifocus.

But some time in the last couple of months, I’ve started to feel internal resistance to following through on them.  My friend, David, had the courtesy to poke me with a sharp stick recently, and challenged me to revisit my commitment level to achieving my goals this year.

So I spent some time this week re-evaluating my goals and have come away with a renewed vision and sense of purpose.

I also learned some powerful lessons in the process:

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Why I dropped out of school in grade 2 and want my kids to do the same

When I was in grade 2, I dropped out of school.

Where I lived at that time, I’m pretty sure that was illegal because I had to hide at home all day so the neighbors didn’t report me to the authorities.

Since I couldn’t go out, I kept myself busy by reading a new book or two every day and building a lot of cool things.  Like booby traps, weapons, the best paper-airplane I’ve seen to this day, and Winnie-the-Poo inspired parachutes (which also involved a large tree and a “rounding error” in my pull-of-gravity vs. lift of helium balloon calculations, and ended badly for my right arm, but not for my all consuming desire to fly).

Where were my parents in all of this?

Well, being the awesome parents they were, they were actually quite supportive of my decision. My mom, in particular, made sure I had lots of reading material, and helped me learn the finer points of math, science, writing, etc.

In Canada we were technically outlaws, but should we have lived just south of the Canadian-US border, we would have been called homeschoolers.

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How I stopped letting my past (and what I believed about it) determine my future

Several years ago, I was working 50-60 hours per week in a business I had started a few years before.

I loved being self-employed, but was quickly burning out. Inspired by Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Work Week, I made some drastic changes in my life and in my business and transitioned to working an average of only 4 hours per month.

Although I had to take a 40% pay cut to make this possible, I was making 30x as much per hour, had more free time to spend with my family, and was able to focus my work time on other ventures. With a few exceptions since then where I reinvested my salary in capital expenses, I continue to get paid every month for only a few hours of work.

I know objectively that most people would consider that a huge success.

So why (until recently) did I still feel like a total failure when reflecting on this accomplishment?

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