October 2014 I started my own business, Serena Dot Ryan. At the time I was incredibly motivated to create my own job. Within 18 months this happened and I started thinking about how I could employ others enabling them to also have the life they want.
Today I’m on a journey to scale my business effectively and help others to do the same.
At the time I underestimated what it would take to turn my business into a company. It wasn’t until I started studying the Blitzmetrics methodology that I realised the value of the many skills I’d acquired by becoming a marathon runner and how that actually put me in good stead.
When you think of running, you will typically get an image of powerful athlete, gliding along naturally without much effort.
When I started running, I was pretty rough round the edges.
My running journey started in June, 2000, the year Sydney hosted the Olympics. I was struggling with my weight and I was out of breath walking just a block. When I was asked out on a date and was unable to fit into my jeans, I decided something had to change. The cliched saying ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ Is so true for good reason. I wanted change and I wanted it now.
At first things went really slow.
From Little Things Big Things Grow
I started changing my diet. Swapping cupcakes for fruit and taking the stairs instead of the lift. Slowly my weight started to shift and my energy levels started to increase. Changing one meal choice doesn’t sound like much, but changing meal choices consistently sure does add up.
Running marathons teaches me to have patience
We live in a world of instant gratification. Yet true value comes from consistent learning and adapting. Running did not come easily. I was walking regularly, and one day decided to see if I could run from one lamp post to the next. However, when you have a lot of weight to lose, like it or not, it takes time. The rewards that came from losing 17 kilos (34 pounds) were immense but they didn’t happen overnight. It took 26 weeks. In 2002, I ran my first half marathon (21.1 kms) and in 2008 I ran my first marathon (42.2 kms). In 2014 after the birth of my 2nd son I lost 31 kilos (68 pounds) and in 2015 I ran the New York Marathon.
So What Does Running Marathons And Marketing Have In Common?
Much the same as content marketing. Do one amazing post, that’s great, but if you don’t follow it up with more amazing posts, nothing really changes.
Go All In
When I first started running I was a shift worker. Some weeks I only got one run in. That one run by itself hurt. I struggled and rarely enjoyed it. I almost completely gave up more than once. When I shifted to working in a 9 – 5 Monday to Friday job, I was able to run more regularly. It was a game changer for me. Realising I needed to create space for change was a key learning for running and my business. Nothing changes, if nothing changes.
Change one thing and you’ll get some success, but it won’t be consistent. Change a few things and you might get more success, but it will still be short lived. Stop, look at the whole picture and then take an holistic approach to shifting your habits and behaviours to match your goals and then see the long term success.
One of the key things I have done with my business has been to create space through changing an ingrained habit of mine. The habit of using my inbox as a to-do list. I have implemented the ‘Do, Delegate, Delete‘ process, also known as #DDD. It is simply this;
Take one of 3 actions as soon as you open an email.
Do – If action is required by you, do it, now.
Delegate – Can you hand it over for someone else to do, great, delegate/- outsource it.
Delete – Is it for informational purposes only? Fine, read, then delete it.
Hand in hand with this process I have added the Boomerang extension to my email. It helps as a time and resource management tool. If someone doesn’t respond to my emails, I can ‘boomerang’ the email to come back to me in a few days.
My inbox is currently at zero. It has been this way for 2 weeks. I still freak out. I’m not quite used to it, yet. But, I’m determined to make this a normal thing. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve been able to consistently work on (not in my business) for at least 2 hours every single day. This in itself motivates me to keep it up.
I’m 100% responsible for my own actions and results
This is a tough one. Something I have learned to love. To reach my potential I am the one who has to put in the work. To be the best I can at running I need to get advice and support from others, who are experienced runners and health professionals (nutritionists, massage therapists, physiotherapists, running coaches, personal trainers), based on their experience I can then create the time and conditions for me to train and eat well, but no one else can actually run for me.
This is actually true when it comes to digital marketing too, even when you have someone else do aspects of your digital marketing for you. The power of setting your SMART goals is immense. Be specific, make sure you can define what success means to you. You then have the ability to measure the outcome, ensure it is attainable, is relevant and timely. Responsible doesn’t mean I have to do everything. The key to being successful is ensuring I do everything in my power to set the right conditions around me for success.
Behind Every Great Man or Woman is a Great Team
I was clueless about running when I started. I had the wrong shoes, I got injured regularly, (shin splints, tendonitis, torn hamstring just to name a few). My running started to improve when I got a running coach. The value of doing this was immense. I increased my speed and distance and became injury free. I learned about nutrition, and for the first time could see the value in fuelling my body to run better. This amazingly helped me to see my relationship with food differently and enable me to see how I could achieve a healthy body that wasn’t focused on diet but rather on the opportunity to perform at my best. This is the same way I view digital marketing. I don’t assume I know all the answers. I listen, read and learn. I check my results (insights) and then adjust accordingly.
Slow And Steady Wins
My first marathon was the 2008 Hunter Valley Marathon. I came 89th. There were 89 runners. The best thing I realised was that I was beating everyone who wanted to, but hadn’t committed to the run. This is the same as my digital marketing. I look back at the activity on my business Facebook page and other Social Media. I realise the work that I am doing in this space whilst not always perfectly polished, it is better than not trying at all. The learning I get that I am then able to teach others is invaluable.
I took small steps towards my goal of being fit and healthy and I’m still stunned that I can call myself a marathon runner. My most important learning with this is it’s constant. If I stop running regularly or eating healthily, I lose momentum and the results reflect this. It’s the same with my business. To create something new, it’s challenging and that’s okay. After all, when was the last time something worthwhile was easy?