Episode 41 – Bright Shiny Object Syndrome with Kelly McCausey

Kelly dropped additional nuggets of sales and marketing goodness in the EXTENDED Interview. Be sure to click here to access all of our great extended interviews, transcripts and more within our Insider's Club.

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How Do I Decide What To Focus On Next?

Tied for second place are questions like…

  • Where should I spend my time and money?
  • What activities actually make money?
  • How soon after one project gets under way, can I add another?
  • How do I know if a project is really working?
  • What’s my Target Market?
  • What’s my Unique Selling Proposition?
  • How do I overcome Shiny Object Syndrome?
  • What is Entrepreneurial ADD and why do people keep saying I have it?

There are the questions asked by solopreneurs who sense they lack focus.  They ask them because deep down they crave a better sense of direction!

Podcast Transcription

Brian Basilico: I don't know about you, guys, but I have a problem, and my problem is that I get distracted really easy. I call it, “Squirrel!” Our guest today is really, really good at helping you with that. Her name is Kelly McCausey. Kelly is going to help us learn about Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. Kelly, how are you doing today?

Kelly McCausey: I'm great. How are you?

Brian: I'm awesome. So, tell us who you are and how did you get to going from being a high school drop out to a solopreneur coach? There's got to be something in the middle there.

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Kelly: There's a lot in the middle and it's all exciting to me. Being a high school drop out meant I had trouble with money pretty much from the get-go. Being hard to employ hard to promote, hard to credit, I felt like I always startled with money, never had enough and that pretty much describes the first 25 years of my life. But there was a point where someone suggested that I could make some extra money providing a service, doing some desktop publishing. I created a website to offer those services and no one hired me to desktop publish, but lots have wanted me to build them a website. Just like that.

That brought me into the world of working home moms. My web host was Working Home Moms, my clients were work-at-home moms and as I would work on their websites, I would see all the different ways that they were making money and it made me very curious. [inaudible] but I had a community at the time, internet-based moms and it was a busy forum where I would sign lots of clients and outside became friends and ended up actually creating a membership site together that was launched in 2004. It completely changed my life because I went from being broke, under-employed to making a really exciting income just by shepherding a community and helping them find the information they needed to be successful.

Brian: Awesome. Now that you're doing this stuff, let's talk about “bright shiny objects.” What are bright shiny objects in business and believe me, I understand. But explain to my audience, what do you mean by bright shiny objects?

Kelly: In the internet marketing world and business in general, I'm sure Bright Shiny Object Syndrome is an issue, but in the internet marketing world, it's an epidemic of massive proportions.

How many mailing lists are you on, Brian? How many people are you subscribed to?

Brian: Too many to mention. I'm going to guess there's probably about 25 or 30.

Kelly: Then how many Facebook pages have you liked? How many podcasts have you subscribed to?

Brian: Too many?

Kelly: The input is huge and constant. I just comes in waves – information and offers and they're all so sparkly, they're all so shiny and new. I know when I was first starting to make money on the internet, I knew how to do something, I knew how to create a graphic and sell it, how to create a website and sell it, I knew how to offer my services and get paid to do some things specific. But as I started doing all these, all those people making money with affiliate marketing, all these people with growing mailing list, all these people selling on eBay that was long ago, all look bright shiny gorgeous things.

What would happen to me back then, I had my sure source of income which was design. If I spent an hour in a design, I knew I could make enough – please don't laugh at me – I know I could make $10-$20. I was way undervaluing my time back then.

Brian: Yes, you were.

Kelly: I knew I could make some money if I focused on getting some design work then, but I could so easily chase a rabbit, chase a bright shiny object for hours on and make nothing. So very early, being a single mom responsible for feeding and clothing her son, I learned you can't chase all the bright shinnies. They don't pay. You've got to focus on the actual income-producing activity. I've got to say I have always had a pretty good grip on Bright Shiny Object Syndrome because I want to actually make money. There was never a moment and time for me in my business when money wasn't the most important goal. You've got a full time job that's covering the bills, you're not very hungry. So, you've never learned to just get real serious about expecting some results from the time you spend online.

Brian: You bring up two really, really good points and I've heard this expressed a couple of different ways. First and foremost, when you talk about not hungry or looking at those bright shiny objects, is it like are you running a business or are you doing a hobby? That's one of the differentiators. It's like are you seriously looking at profit and loss statements? Are you doing accounting? Are you hiring assistants? Because if you don't hire assistants or help in anything, then you are the assistant or the help. And then the second piece of this puzzle that I've heard is if you chase two rabbits, catch none; if you chase one rabbit, fight it, cook it, eat it, go chase another rabbit. I think that falls into where we're talking about.

But maybe you could help explain what are some of the different types of those bright shiny objects?

Kelly: Yes. In our world, the Bright Shiny Object Syndrome that I am susceptible to, that I happen as susceptible to from the beginning is taking on new projects. As internetbased business owners, we need to have multiple streams of income. If you don't have multiple streams of income, you don't have security because a stream can dry out, the internet marketing world can change what you're doing today. Let's say you built your business on eBay marketing. You stop making money six or seven years ago and you've been whining about it ever since. Business types of income rise and fall and so multiple streams is good.

I have to start new projects every now and then – everyone does. New projects are my form of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome, but the thing is to approach it as I say to set a budget for time devoted to sparklies. If we think about Bright Shiny Object Syndrome as something that takes hold of us and carries us the way as innocent victims, kind of like you're being swept away by a wave, if we think of it that way, that's how we'll treat it and we'll just lose ourselves in it. But what if we took control of it? What if we said, “I need to consider, evaluate and explore so many new project ideas every year. So let's set a budget, a time to devote to it.” So for me personally, I devote 15% of my working time to checking out, exploring, investigating new projects.

That includes everything to do with that. That includes domain name surfing, which you know can suck you in; it includes checking out competitors and then to include keyword research, it includes chatting one of the friends about this new project idea – all that time, that's how bright shiny object time when it comes to new projects. It can suck you in, so set a budget, “This is how much time I'm going to spend exploring new projects.” For me it's 15%. For someone else who is new to business, it may be for a brief period of time, 80% of their time. But as soon as you identify a project that will work and begin to focus on making money from it, then that shiny object time needs to roll back so that you can focus on getting something done.

Brian: Yes, great point. I love the 15% and 40%.

So how can people manage those bright shiny objects? What are some of the ways that you offer that help people to better get in there and get something productive out of that? Because I mean, it can just purely be a waste of time. Right?

Kelly: Yes, it can. Well, my favorite recommendation for anyone who is caught in those Bright Shiny Object Syndrome is to stop it. Just stop it. Have you ever seen that [inaudible] on Saturday Night Live, “Stop it.” I actually have a little title sign that I joke around with on videos, “Stop it!” Put a sticky note on your desk, “Stop it” when you catch yourself in that. Keep track of the time that you're spending so that you know. Be aware of how you're spending your time. Most people when they're aware of where the time is going, they're going to be smart about how they spend it, but when you're struggling with it, I think everyone needs to have a business coach to help them evaluate their ideas because in the beginning, you don't know what works. You don't know where the greatest potential lies. A coach can help you evaluate.

Another thing about evaluating bright shiny objects is to really know yourself. Offers are coming in all the time. We open up our email, we open up Facebook, someone is promoting a webinar, someone is releasing a product, someone has new software, and it's just everywhere. I have a funny situation where I am a business coach and I sell products and I'm an affiliate marketer so I'm promoting things all the time. I had a client that was working with me who got one of my emails and wanted to buy the product really bad. So, she asked me, “Should I buy this?” Because that's what you should do. You should check the memo, things with your coach. I said, “No. Don't buy it.” She's like, “Well, now you're making me crazy because you're emailing me what?” I said, “In this world, the shiny objects are everywhere.”

I went to a little souvenir store down at the beach the other day and the bright shinnies were everywhere. I got out with just one ring. I don't know how, because I wanted to take home everything. A coach helps you say, “No, not that.” Or, “Yes, this is perfect for you.” The thing is while you're building your business right now, you've been moving at the speed of light in developing this and walking this podcast. You have people you trust. I'm sure that you've gone through your friends and said, “Knowing me and where I am right now, is this the right next move for me?” Because you might not know, but someone else, a good coach, a good community – like their exams, having that community to turn to for help in evaluating those works is everything.

Brian: I agree with you. I actually looked at the three-headed monster and the three-headed monster is having a mentor, having a mastermind and having a coach. Those three things are things that I had to learn in order to get to – I wouldn't be moving nearly as fast if I did not have all three of those things and they evolve and they change. So yes, I thoroughly get that and it's huge. Then of course going to conferences like you're talking about – and these are all things that I've covered in past podcast and I'm going to be covering even more in the future because it's so incredibly important and I think every business really needs that three-headed monster to be successful because it keeps you up to date, it keeps you focused and it also stops you from being stupid, which is really, really important. That's where the masterminds come in.

I'm going to ask you. Do you have any tips that are going to help people – what I call hurting cats – how do you even manage all of those bright shiny objects? What are your tips for managing those things?

Kelly: Yes, well, the first thing is don't feel bad about it. Some people feel guilty about their BSOS. My friend calls it BSOS, Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. Humans are genetically designed to notice new things, so don't feel bad about it. Set that budget and be aware of when you're in that bright shiny time and then – here's the best tip of all, you get to decide what glitters most. At the minute that you get an income-producing project going, that is your bright shiny object. You're going to give a certain amount of time to exploring other possibilities, but that is the shiniest. If you have to drape Christmas lights on that thing [inaudible], do it.

My solo smarts, my blog, my podcast, my products, my membership, it's my community, there are blinking Christmas lights on that [inaudible] and every once in a while when something else catches my eyes and begins to woo me away, I will literally reach into my secret pocket and finally pixie dust and throw it on my business to make it shimmer, and shine, and glow. I get to decide that. We're not helpless victims of shiny objects. You decide that the income-producing projects are sparkliest and you will not be taken away.

Brian: I love that. I've always looked at bright shiny objects as distractions and I've never really thought about the fact that the money-generating things can also be distractions and that you have to bring them to the forefront. That is awesome advice. I really, really love that.

So Kelly, let's talk about what are some of the common solopreneur problems that you're seeing with people? What are some of the things that these bright shiny objects tend to do to them?

Kelly: Sure. So, you open up your email in the morning and you get an email from Brian, and he's recommending a new product that someone has released, and that's a bright shiny object. Then it looks good because Brian is excited about it, you've written your enthusiasm about it. The longer they read the email, the sparklier it gets. It clicks through, they land on the sales page that glitters and glimmers like gold and they're convinced that they need that right now. This is one of the most common forms of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome that literally is like sticking a hoover in your wallet, it's sucking all the money away.

Brian: You say “hoover,” I say or a dice them if you really want to get current.

Kelly: That's the weirdest thing happened. As soon as the money has been spent, the product doesn't sparkle really as much. You get that download email, you download it and this is the one that I don't suffer from as much, because I got started so frugally, I never got into the habit of buying things to solve my problems. But I have done this and I've seen my friends and clients do this. They download it and they'll save it to their desktop because, “This is important” and it's still glimmery. So they put it on their desktop and they're like, “I'm going to look at that today.” Then the next day it doesn't glimmer quite so much, “I got to remember to look at that thing.” Then like a week later, it has no glitter left, so you file it. It's filed in a Dropbox for later when you work on that project. Now it's just a lump of coal. It means nothing. That Bright Shiny Object Syndrome, that particular form of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome sucks a lot of money away.

We're getting real here. I'm single so I have only ever had myself to be responsible to for my choices in business and my sons are all growing out of the house, so I only have myself to worry about. I have friends who are married and this form of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome causes fights and major stress because hubby or wifey gets a look at the credit card bill at the end of the month and says, “What was that $197? What was that $497?” And they're like, “Hmm.” They can't even remember because it's a lump of coal. That is scary from a Bright Shiny Object Syndrome that can clear a lot of stuff in the home that can cause your better half to lose faith in you in what you're trying to do on the internet.

I got my start in the work-at-home mom world where work-at-home moms were at home with their kids and they were often – this kind of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome can suck away the grocery budget and cause problems. So you got to manage this. Just like you set a budget for time, set a budget from the amount of money that you're going to invest. When my business was growing, I actually reinvested 25% of my income into information products, software, domains, coaching. I had a set amount and when that budget was spent, then everything was a no. You could throw fixing a sonnet and it would not sell for me because my budget was fit, but I know a lot of people don't have that budget in mind. They're not treating what they're doing like a business that has to be managed.

Brian: I've seen the same kind of thing happen not only just in business, but I've seen it happen with people that get addicted to the home shopping network where that's the same bright shiny object thing where it's like it looks so great on TV, they're dropping the price, then we'd get it now. All the same techniques work on every one of those kind of things and you could easily get yourself into buying things that you've never opened the box. I've seen that happen where you got a whole bunch of closed boxes you don't even know what's in there. That can happen in real life, it can happen on the internet, it can happen everywhere. I don't think anybody is really immune to that.

Then the next question becomes what are some of the common mistakes with this? I think you've touched on a lot of them. So now we're solopreneurs, what are the mistakes that we're making with these bright shiny objects that are really stopping us from maximizing ourselves in our businesses?

Kelly: There's another form of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome that tricks a lot of people up whether they got a grip on their money or not, and that's shiny new strategies. How many times a year are we faced with the message, “You've got to do this, or you're going to die a slow internet death.” If you don't do Facebook, if you don't do Google+, if you don't do YouTube, if you don't Instagram, if you don't do Pinterest, if you're not on LinkedIn, the strategies that social media – not just social media – if you're not doing videos, if you're not doing podcasting, if you're not running telesummits, you're missing out. No one person can engage in all of those strategies. You just can't. Now this is where a lot of solopreneurs get caught up and overwhelmed, is deciding which things they should invest their time in mastering.

One of the big ones right now is the Google Hangout. I really like it, but I haven't invested a lot of time. I've only dabbled. Bright shiny strategies – do you know I've actually been podcasting since before podcasting was invented?

Brian: Wow.

Kelly: I think everytime, every person I sit down with, I can win the thumb war for the lengths of time that we've been podcasting because I started an internet radio show in 2003 and when the MTV guy invented podcasting, it was just a matter of adding an RSS Feed and boom, I was podcasting. But everyone talks about podcasting being this awesome new thing and I always giggled to just like, “No. It have been around. I've been podcasting for 11 years.” That person was like, “Podcasting is the next new thing.” Then it's, “Podcasting is making good come back.” Again, “No, it never went anywhere.” It was never a bright shiny new thing for me because I've just always been doing it.

But there are other bright shiny things like as video became more plausible as our internet connections got better over time. Now with Google Hangout, everyone is talking how you have to be doing Google Hangouts. This creates a bright shiny problem for a lot of people who don't want to miss out on this opportunity, they don't want to miss out on the Google love, but this Bright Shiny Object Syndrome comes with associated Bright Shiny Object Syndrome like picking out the right web camera, lighting, back draft – I can't. I failed for this one, I did. I lost a lot of time looking for lighting on Amazon.com recently. But you can only manage so many tactics.

You have to know what's right for you. Audio is perfect for me because I love to talk. Video is not my favorite because it takes more time to get set up for and video like this podcast interview, I've overslept, but I could jump on the phone and be ready to go in a heartbeat. If this were a video, it would have gone rescheduled.

Brian: Very true.

Kelly: You have to know which form of marketing works for you so that you can resist the bright shiny stuff.

Brian: Final question I've got with all of this stuff, okay, we're starting to deal with our bright shiny syndrome, we're starting to pick projects over distractions where settling in on our marketing, our medium, our message, all of those things – once we start to hone this in, how do you define or measure success?

Kelly: I saw myself as solopreneur and a solopreneur is an entrepreneur who runs things right and tight on purpose. I don't want to be Walmart. I keep something called the “big tree business philosophy” which is driving your communities, thinking your root seed and serving them everything you can. Whether that's from your hands, heart, or from someone else's doing affiliate link – a strong business tree is going to be lucrative with multiple streams of income flowing with or without you. I am very willing to put in hustle in doses in order to build my income streams, but then I want to have the freedom of choice at how I spend my time.

Like right now, being on the beach for a couple of weeks between events, relaxed, I can do that. That's success for me. I am playing with a few bright shiny objects as I go. Here is an example of a bright shiny object: apps on our smartphone, how many apps do you play with? How many times do you hear about an app is going to change your life? I don't get sucked into too many apps, but one of my business coaches used an app called Voxer. Have you heard of it, Brian?

Brian: No, I haven't heard of Voxer.

Kelly: Voxer is a walkie-talkie app and there's a pro version that let's you share the walkie-talkie messages. You can paste the link on Facebook, or email a link, or something like that. Well, I heard about this Voxer and I have asked a question of my coach and he responded with a Voxer. He sent a link to an audio Voxer. I'm not a, “How do I create an audio and put a link up?” I can do it in my sleep. It's like, “Oh, what's that?” Well, I checked it out and I saw that it's a walkie-talkie app. It became immediately bright and shiny because I had to play with it with all my friends. We could talk to each other. Instead of texting, we can send each other audio messages. Immediate bright shiny thing, but then I thought about exactly how my coach have used it – to answer my question – and I thought about all the travel I'm doing and my eyes lit up and all of a sudden I realized, “This bright sparkly is going to be good for me.”

I immediately quit playing with my friends, but I need to introduce Voxer to my clients. So now I have a couple of different clients who they have a level of coaching where they can ask me something, checking with me everyday. Now they're using Voxer because I get that Voxer message on my smartphone wherever I am, I can listen to it when I'm ready and respond, and it's one-click exchange. You don't have to sum the answer on my phone, I don't have to pull up the iPad, I don't have to be on the computer, I could quickly give a verbal message. It's usually less than a minute that's really needy and useful.

It started out as a bright shiny that could have been dangerous and turns into a tool that's going to be awesome for me and my clients.

Brian: Cool. So it's Voxer. To me it sounds like just instant messaging with voice, which is very cool. Yes, totally cool.

Kelly, you've got a system that's going to help people get their arms around their bright shiny objects and start to wrangle them in and make sure that they're making the most of their business. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Kelly: Yes, I mentioned the “big tree” business philosophy” that I practice. There's an alternative to that which is “[inaudible].” In our world of internet marketing, there are [inaudible] out there who are very good at it. They have multiple niches, sites and multiple niches in there, driving ads and traffic and making money from these different niche communities – but that's not for me. That's bright shiny terror syndrome in my mind. So I have [inaudible] course I created, the power of a focused business where I teach the big tree business philosophy, I compare it and contrast it to [inaudible] so people can see the difference between the two and we talked a lot about Bright Shiny Objects Syndrome projects.

When we're evaluating these new project ideas, when we're testing out new income possibilities, there's a season where this is a bright shiny object, there's no doubt about it, but it's all within our budget of time and money, but there comes a point where you have to evaluate it – is this going to carry through on its promise, or is this going to be a complete time suck and never pay as well as my other income streams? There's a moment of judgment with every project and I teach that in the course.

Along with things like idea brainstorming, I actually seek out sparklies. As I complete projects and finish them, I go looking for something sparkly. Idea brainstorming, dealing with everything from criticism of your ideas to the right next thing. What's the right next thing for you that's going to play on and amplify what you already have.

Brian: Awesome. Sounds great.

Kelly, thanks so much for joining us. If people wanted to get a hold of you, what is the best way for them to do that?

Kelly: Come check me out at Solosmarts.com.

Brian: Fabulous. Thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate it and I know my audience is going to learn a lot from this. So people learned how to deal with their bright shiny object, “squirrel!”

Kelly: Somebody put [inaudible] on that squirrel.

Brian: Yes, they did. Thanks, Kelly for joining us. I appreciate it.

Kelly: Thanks, Brian.

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