99: Outlines and Painting Outside Lines

Let’s talk about one of the things that I have gotten pretty good at over the years, and that’s outlining what steps go into accomplishing a project.

Now when I say pretty good, I am specifically referring to the utility of these structures and how much they have improved over the years.

When I was in the thick of my agency days, I would often be known for white board sessions where I would put everything that was going on inside of my head on the whiteboard, and cast it as a “vision” for how things would move forward. This was usually referred to as a brain dump, and was exactly that – a dumping of knowledge with some structure, but not a lot of actionability.

Over time, these brain dumps have gone from a liability to a strong outline of what steps need to happen to complete a project. I try to be so thorough that there is no room for interpretation or issues with the tasks assigned.

These outlines have served me well with the podcast, my courses, and even the written/video content we put out several times a week. It’s become one of my biggest strengths over the past two years.

My brain dumps have turned into something that is structured, thoughtful, and thoroughly answers any open questions.

So what has changed? The brain dumps are still there, but alongside them I have added two extremely important skills. 1) Empathy and 2) Resources and resource management.

A vision is useless if you can’t get others to follow. That’s why empathy is so important. Understanding the needs of others and addressing them advance will help you get buy-in much more quickly.

And once you have buy-in, you need to have the resources available to execute on the vision. You need to know how long it takes to accomplish tasks, and how to ensure they will be ready and willing when you need them.

These are skills I’m still developing, but I’m liking the results so far:

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About the Author

Jeff Sauer is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Teacher based out of a suitcase somewhere in the world. Formerly of Minneapolis, MN and San Francisco, CA.