Carson Tate is a dynamic teacher, coach and author known for personal transformation and simple, powerful actionable content. She is a nationally renowned expert on productivity, whose views have been included in Bloomberg Business Week, Forbes, Fast Company, and The New York Times. Her first book, Work Simply: Embracing Your Personal Productivity Style, was released in 2015.
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- Carson Tate – Carson’s website
- Work Simply, Embracing Your Personal Productivity Style – Carson’s book
- The Mastery Journal – Master productivity, discipline and focus in 100 days!
- The Freedom Journal – Set and Accomplish your #1 goal in 100 days!
- Who – Geoff Smart’s book about hiring people
- Redbooth – project management platform used by Carson
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – book recommended by Carson
3 Key Points:
- Every person’s productivity style is different—you need to work with what’s natural for you!
- When it comes to hiring a new candidate, make sure to do a background check, interview, and a test of their skills.
- Hire people that are smarter, faster and better than you are.
- Billy Gene Marketing: Visit CopyOurAds.com and if you’re the first 100 to sign up, Billy Gene will mail you his best performing Facebook ad campaigns for FREE. You just cover the shipping!
- City National Bank: Looking for financial resources to help get your business to that next level? Visit CNB.com/fire! City National Bank member FDIC.
Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:18] – The Mastery Journal – Master productivity, discipline and focus in 100 days!
- [01:00] – Carson lives in North Carolina, with her family and dog
- [01:48] – Carson helps people simplify and streamline their workflow by leveraging their productivity style
- [02:58] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: It is important to personalize your productivity
- [03:30] – The Freedom Journal – Set and Accomplish your #1 goal in 100 days!
- [04:12] – If you are having a problem with a particular style, it is more likely that you are having a problem with the tool
- [04:35] – Visual people must use visual tools
- [05:37] – Carson’s worst entrepreneurial moment was hiring the wrong bookkeeper
- [06:48] – JLD shares the importance of reviewing the work of your employees and doing a test phase
- [07:59] – Carson shared that her weakness was in giving feedback and in doing a thorough background check
- [08:36] – Carson now follows a process regarding hiring new people created by Geoff Smart in his book Who
- [10:00] – Carson’s AH-HA moment was when she realized productivity needs to be personal
- [11:25] – “It’s okay to do things differently when it comes to productivity”
- [12:05] – Carson is most fired up about how millennials approach work
- [13:17] – Carson defines millennials
- [14:35] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Fear”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Hire people who are smarter, faster, and better than you are”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Meditation and running”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Redbooth
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- [16:25] – “One size does not fit all”
- [16:41] – Connect with Carson on Twitter and Facebook
Carson Tate: Absolutely.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Carson is a dynamic teacher, coach, and author known for personal transformation and simple, powerful, actionable content. She's a nationally renowned expert on productivity. And her first book, "Work Simply: Embracing Your Personal Productivity Style" was released in 2015. Carson, take a minute. Fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Carson Tate: Sure. So, I actually live in North Carolina with my fearless office mate, Olivia. She's got four legs. You won't be hearing her today. And my husband and my daughter. And I love to run and hang out with friends and drink good wine.
John Lee Dumas: Well, next time you join us, you four-legged friend is very welcome, Olivia. Because we love the dogs and it kind of breaks things up a little bit, you know?
Carson Tate: It does. But she's got a bone. And she's mad that she's not in the office. But she's got a bone outside this office. So, she'll be just fine today.
John Lee Dumas: Okay. Good stuff. Good stuff. Well, Carson, what I'm kind of fired for about today is hearing about your area of expertise. Because this is something that I'm really excited about as well. So, what would you expound upon with your area of expertise? What is your specialty?
Carson Tate: My specialty is helping individuals, teams, and organizations simplify and streamline their workflow. Ultimately so that they can drive revenue, improve profitability, and make a significant impact in and for the world. And we do those in a unique way. We help individuals really identify and leverage their unique productivity style. And the productivity style is nothing more than how you structure and execute on your work.
John Lee Dumas: Structure and execute on your work, Fire Nation. That focus has to be there. Now Carson, tell me something. Tell Fire Nation something that we don't know about that area of expertise you just broke down that we should know.
Carson Tate: Well, I think what has happened is we believe that any productivity tool, or app, or strategy is going to work for us. Well, that is absolutely fundamentally wrong and flawed. One size does not fit all when it comes to your productivity and the impact that you can make in this world.
And so, as entrepreneurs, I think one of the most important things that you can do is personalize your productivity. Because that latest greatest app, that time management strategy your best friend told you on your morning run, or that tool that your friend down the street's using is not going to work if it's not aligned with how you think and process information. It's only going to waste your time and make you really, really frustrated.
John Lee Dumas: See, I love that. Because Fire Nation, so often when we buy things, we assimilate that with actually accomplishing things. And I see this all the time. I mean, I have this thing, Carson, called the Freedom Journal which is accomplishing your number one goal in 100 days. I get people all the time emailing me being like, "John, I bought the Freedom Journal and I haven't accomplished my number one goal yet."
I'm like, "Well, how long ago did you buy it?" They're like, "Oh, a couple weeks ago." I'm like, "Well, it's a 100-day process. How far in the process are you?" They're like, "Oh, well like on day five right now because I'm doing every day." And I'm like, "Why do you think that you're going to accomplish your number one goal in 100 days in five days?" It's just one of these things. And it happens over and over again, Fire Nation. So, you have to execute. You actually have to do the thing. Just buying that thing, that's step number one of sometimes 100 steps. So, great takeaway, Carson. What do you want to add to that?
Carson Tate: I would just say that if you are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, most often it is the tool. It's not you. Because there's a mismatch between the way that you think. I call it your cognitive style. The way you think and process information, it must be aligned to that tool. So, let me give you an example. So, let's say for example, you're a big picture, intuitive, highly visual thinker. Well, for you, your productivity tools need to be visual. So, like mind mapping tools. I love colored post-it notes. Pads with no lines and colored pens so that you can see and really connect ideas. So, if I gave you an Excel spreadsheet and said, "Let's build out a linear to-do list." It would fundamentally not work for you.
See, it's really important to align the tools with the way that you think and process information. And I would also say – and entrepreneurs, we're great at this. Be okay not using the cool gadget if it doesn't work for you. If it doesn't work for you, it's not helping you. You don't have to be cool using that app if everybody else is if it doesn't work for you.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, truer words have never been spoken. Now Carson, let's kind of shift a little bit now into your journey as an entrepreneur. Because you've had the ups. You've had the downs. Take us to your worst entrepreneurial moments. Tell us that story.
Carson Tate: Oh, yes. And this is the first time I've vocalized this story out loud. So, there's still pain in this. So, my worst entrepreneurial moment was when I hired my first controller and bookkeeper. We'll call her Sue. And I did not do a thorough background check. My interview process was sloppy at best. She was referred to me by a colleague of a colleague. And Sue didn't have the skills, the knowledge, the expertise. And she kept making excuses. I mean, our taxes weren't paid on time. Our receivables were sitting out between 45 and 60 days. And cashflow, which is the lifeblood of our businesses as you know, ugh. It was just a complete and total mess.
And so, what I did is I kept trying to overcompensate. I'm like, "Okay. Maybe you weren't being clear, Carson. Maybe you don't have the right systems in place. Maybe there's something that you need to do." Well, that wasn't it. She just fundamentally didn't have the skills nor did she really have the drive and the motivation to do the work. And so ultimately, I did have to let her go. Which was very painful because she was so surprised. She was completely shocked that I was letting her go.
John Lee Dumas: Now, one thing that I'm kind of listening to this story and thinking about is I think one area that it sounds to me, Carson, like you might have failed in. Is sitting down with her on a consistent basis and saying, "Hey, this is where you're coming up short. This is why. This is what we expect of you. And if things don't change in this area, then we are going to have to let you go." Because when you ended by saying she was surprised that she was let go. To me, that says there probably wasn't enough sit-downs and 30-day quarterly reviews that need to be happening as the founder and the actual CEO of every single business.
So, Fire Nation, you're going to hire people that are just not going to be the right fit. So, I totally agree with your first point, Carson. That the background check that you had was lacking and that is so critical. You have to put people through a test phase. Everybody that joins Fire Nation, we've put them through a 90-day test phase where they're just going to be part of the business for those 90-days. We're evaluating them every 30 days knowing that if they don't live up to it on day 91, they're not going to be part of the team. Now this is still not a flawless system. But at least it helps. So, Carson, that's kind of some of my takeaways from areas that you were struggling with. What do you have to say on those points?
Carson Tate: I think you are absolutely spot on around the feedback. The feedback loop was not open and it wasn't consistent enough with her. That I wasn't sitting down regularly. We did meet once a month, but it became much more tactical than really performance-based. And so, I absolutely own that. And the other piece too that I've now – hindsight is always 20/20. The interview process. I didn't do a really good job in understanding her skill set and where the gaps are.
And now, I am as my staffing agency always tells me, "You're one of our most thorough people." Well, that's because I've been burned. But I use this process by ghSMART – those guys are brilliant – and their book called "Who." And what it forces me to do as an entrepreneur is get really clear. You build out a scorecard. And the scorecard has both quantitative and qualitative metrics that this person must possess. And so, it takes some of the emotion out of it in the interview process because you're really clear on the skills that you're looking for. But also, those values, because you're looking for that values alignment as well.
John Lee Dumas: Love that summation. Now Carson, let's kind of shift to another story that you've experienced. This one being one of your greatest ideas that you've had to date. One of your aha moments. Tell us that story.
Carson Tate: Yeah. So, I was on a flight. I'm based in North Carolina. I was on a cross-country flight to California to go work with a financial services firm. And I'd been in my business. I'd owned it for like two years at this point working with individuals and teams. And we were having some success, but we weren't hitting it out of the park. And I couldn't figure out what was missing. We were using proven productivity time management processes, but they just weren't connecting with everyone.
So, I was flipping through a magazine on the flight and there was something in there around personalizing your makeup or something. And I had this insight. I'm like wait a minute. We need to help individuals personalize their productivity. That's the disconnect. These tools aren't connecting with the way that they think and process information. So, I was also in grad school at the time. I was in my first semester. But I came back from the trip. Was in grad school, went to my professor. I was like, "You know, I think I'm on to something. Do you have any thoughts on how I can build out an assessment? And I really want this to be my thesis to graduate."
And it was exactly what I needed. Started looking at cognitive thinking styles. There's a body of research out there why time management doesn't work. And was able then to develop my own productivity style assessment. And then what happened as soon as we helped folks figure out their style, we were able to align specific tools and strategies. We were infinitely more successful because our clients were more successful.
John Lee Dumas: One size does not fit all when it comes to productivity, Fire Nation. This is something that I've learned by studying how to accomplish goals with the Freedom Journal. With how to match your productivity, discipline, and focus while creating the Mastery Journal. I mean, doing the research you realize people succeed in different ways, in different shapes, and in different forms. So, you can't just sit there and say, "Okay. This worked for Albert Einstein. It's definitely going to work for me." Because it's not.
And so, you do have to really make sure that you're doing the right things when it comes to being productive that work for you. So, Carson, that's my big takeaway from what you were just sharing. What do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets?
Carson Tate: That it's okay to do things differently when it comes to productivity. That it's okay to use a paper to-do list if that fundamentally works for you. It's okay not to use every app that's out there. Ultimately, it's about your success and the impact that you're having in this world. And the tools are there to support you, not the other way around. You don't work for your tools.
John Lee Dumas: So, Carson, throughout all of these years, you've had again the ups, you've had the downs. You've learned a lot about yourself. And you've gotten to a point now where you're really rocking and rolling. So specifically, today, what are you most fired up about?
Carson Tate: I am most fired up today about millennials, actually. Millennials entering the workplace. I'm not a millennial myself, but I am so excited because they are challenging us to really rethink why we work and how we work. For them, it's not just about a job. They don't want just a job. They want to feel like they're making a difference.
So, what I see them doing is shifting us from this place of success to significance. Where we're moving from just this output-centric mentality to a place of impact and meaning. And they're pretty powerful. Twenty-five percent of the workforce in the U.S. is millennials. And according to a PWC survey, by 2020, 50 percent of the global workforce will be millennials. And I say in an Inc. article this morning the buying power in the U.S. of this demographic, $500 billion. I think they're so positive and disruptive. And I can't wait to see what they do.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah. That's some cheddar for sure. Now, how would you specifically define millennials? Like what's the age range? What's the makeup? How do you, Carson Tate, define millennials?
Carson Tate: So, 25 to 32 years old. They are constantly seeking feedback. So, if you have one, you know they are always asking you what can they do better. They grew up always receiving performance feedback. They are very mission focused about purpose. They choose organizations not just for the job, but for the values of the organization and what the organization is doing in the world. There's a deep social consciousness. More egalitarian. You see a shift in male and female traditional roles with the millennial set. And very focused on community. They're interested in serving the community and having a holistic, integrated life.
John Lee Dumas: Wow. Love that. And I'm not quite a millennial, I will say, being 36. Almost 37.
Carson Tate: Neither am I. No, so maybe I have a little millennial envy. Because I just think they're dynamic.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah. Yeah. I can say that as well. Now, Fire Nation, I'm going to have a little bit of envy if you leave us before the lightning round. Because Carson's going to be dropping value bombs. So, we're first going to thank our sponsors. Don't go anywhere.
Carson, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Carson Tate: I am prepared. I've got it.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Carson Tate: Fear. Did I have the skills? Could I penetrate an existing market? Was there a need for another productivity effectiveness business?
John Lee Dumas: Can I penetrate an existing market? Fire Nation, that's a question that has to be asked. Because if the answer is no, find a different market. That's okay. Now, what's the best advice you've ever received?
Carson Tate: Well, this relates to my worst experience. Hire people who are smarter, faster, and better than you are. And I now do that religiously.
John Lee Dumas: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Carson Tate: Meditation and running.
John Lee Dumas: Can you share one Internet resource with Fire Nation?
Carson Tate: Red Booth. It is a communications and productivity – well, project management platform that our entire team uses. It's just changed the way that we work.
John Lee Dumas: What exactly does it do?
Carson Tate: We track all of our projects. It also has an instant messaging feature. We're also able to do high video conferencing so we can see each other for our meetings. It stores all of our documents. We can share workspaces with our clients. It's pretty robust. It interfaces with anything. Evernote, Outlook, Box, you name an app, it probably integrates pretty well with it.
John Lee Dumas: If you could recommend one book to join your book, "Work Simply" on our bookshelves, what would it be and why?
Carson Tate: "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. I think that now is the time for us to be thinking more deeply about why we're here, purpose, and significance, and the impact we want to make in and for the world.
John Lee Dumas: Well Carson, I want to end today on fire. So, share with us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say good-bye.
Carson Tate: One size does not fit all. So, the latest app, tool, strategy is not going to work if it's not aligned with the way that you think and process information. Be a rogue. Be a rebel. Choose tools that fundamentally support who you are. And I'd love to connect with you on Twitter @thecarsontate, or LinkedIn, or Facebook. All the same.
John Lee Dumas: Love it. And Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you've been hanging out with C.T. and J.L.D. today. So, keep up the heat. And of course, head over to eofire.com and just type Carson in the search bar. And her show notes page is going to pop-up with everything that we've been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz. Timestamps, links galore. And of course, check her out on the social webs, the Carson Tate. Carson, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you. And we'll catch you on the flip side.
Carson Tate: Thanks so much.
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