Today’s lesson comes from a surprising source. Our guest expert is a man who was expelled from high school, never graduated, and never went to college. When he started his first small business, every company in his industry rejected him.
But he didn’t give up. Like Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, our expert began selling his product from the trunk of his car. And it all paid off because today he’s worth an estimated $560 million. He owns millions of dollars worth of high-end automobiles and watches, including Bentley’s, a Mercedes-Benz Maybach, and custom-designed Audemars Piguet. Today he has children and is married to one of the most successful and acclaimed celebrities on the planet.
His name is Shawn Carter, but you might know him as Jay-Z.
In the late 90’s he was a thug, drug dealer, and barely escaped doing 20 years in prison.
One of his secrets to success, which we can all apply to our own entrepreneurial journeys, is “Controlling the Narrative”— a common tactic amongst the ultra-rich and famous.
Jay-Z controlled the narrative of his past by being open about it… rather than letting others discover his dirty laundry. And in doing so, was able to shape the world’s perspective of his past in relation to his future. He even managed to use this perception molding to HELP his career.
Jay-Z set the expectations for how the world should deal with him, and not the other way around. He established himself as a force.
When you control the narrative, you are in charge. When you don’t control the narrative, putting it in the hands of other people who may want to exploit you or see your demise, you lose control of your future.
That’s the big lesson for you today.
Control the narrative.
Set expectations for the world on how others should deal with you.
For example, if you want to be more productive, if you want to protect your time, and if you want to have more success in life, then you must control the narrative about how people can communicate with you.
Communication is the manifestation of how others see us. Case in point: You don’t talk to a CEO by addressing him as “bro.” No, you address him as “Sir.” And more importantly, you know WHEN to address them.
Many executives and entrepreneurs allow clients, co-workers, and friends to call, ping, and buzz them at any time of day or night. By doing this, you lose control of the narrative and become distracted by these messages. You might get overwhelmed with the obligation to get back to people immediately because you think that if you don’t, the other person will be offended.
If you feel this way, then you are not in control. You have not created a narration of clarity and strength.
My mentor, Mark Ford, founder of EarlyToRise.com, was famous for not checking his email until 5 p.m. “By then,” Mark said, “Everyone had already solved their problems and no longer needed my input.”
That’s the truth about most messages you receive in a day. They don’t really need a response.
You need to re-orient yourself with all modes of communication that lead to your plate.
For example, social media outlets must not be your main mode of communication on important matters. Those conversations must be moved off of Facebook, Instagram, etc. into more traditional communication methods.
You should cultivate a practice of not checking social media at the start or end of the day to see if there are any urgent matters for you. (You can go to sleep without knowing how many likes you got.) That’s because if it’s on any social media, it’s not urgent for YOU to deal with. Even email is not the correct way to communicate an emergency.
Emergencies call for phones.
Recently I read about The 3-B Rule.“If it’s not broken, bleeding, or burning, it can wait until tomorrow,” the author said. And if it is bleeding, broken, or burning, then it gets communicated to on the phone.
This is a rule you need to implement into your life. It’s a simple solution for helping you to protect your time.
You must control the expectations relating to your communication expectations with everyone who wants to communicate with you each day. Think of it as black-and-white as refrigerator instructions. It should not be positioned as personal— it’s just the way you operate.
Now you might be thinking, “But I can’t do that! People need to get a hold of me at all hours or else I might lose a client or my job!”
Is that so?
Here’s an example we can all most likely relate to.
In college, there was at least one professor that set weekly office hours. Any time outside of this scheduled block, nobody could show up at the door and expect the professor to be available. The professor wasn’t trying to futz with anyone’s schedule, they were controlling their own narrative and setting the expectation of when the world could reach them. The result was that students became thrilled to get even a breadcrumb of their time.That’s what you need to do in your business, and even at home.
That’s what you need to do in your business, and even at home.
It can be more difficult to enforce when you have a significant other or child, but communicating expectations has the profound ability to actually make things easier! Instead of a spouse becoming disappointed when you have to work on a Saturday, they will know of these boundaries and how they were set up to promote more business success. Reinforce the notion that everyone is on the same ‘team.’ Because after all, the reason you probably work so hard is to give your family the best lives they can have.
Set your business boundaries and teach those around you to respect them. If people don’t know your plans and purpose, they won’t understand what you do or why you do it. So memorize this equation:
Lack of communication = Poor Expectations
Poor expectations = Stress + Resentment
Success requires a clearly defined vision, concisely created goals, a detailed plan, strong boundaries, and rewards for all the hard work done. And none of that can be accomplished if you lack control over your narrative.
So, how do you take control?
The answer is to flip the script so that people aren’t disappointed that you are not checking Facebook every moment of the day and get them excited to know that you’ll be available for one hour every day from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. It’s like setting a floating meeting. Your open-door hours. If you propose it this way, nobody should get hurt or emotional. It’s your schedule, work, and life. Mold it how you need!
Being in control of when people can contact you and controlling that narrative will allow you to make time for what really matters.
Remember: Life is simple. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Control your narrative today.
Photo courtesy Jay-Z