… have four things I plan to do.


There are probably 100 things I could do … but only four I consider “must do.”

One of the great things about working for yourself is that there are no schedules or deadlines handed to you.

That’s also a potential problem. It’s easy to just work and work, because the truth is, you’ll never get it all done today and there’s nobody looking over your shoulder.

That’s why I start every workday by writing down the three or four things I plan to accomplish.

Anything else is extra. As long as I get those done, I can feel good about my progress.

One down, three to go.


… found a typo.


I was giving a client newsletter one last read before sending.

And even though I had written it and reread it at least a dozen times since, I didn’t catch a small word that was in the wrong tense.

But, because I always do a final proof out loud, and even though I hadn’t seen it (and both spellcheck and grammar check missed it) I heard it, and it caught my attention.

When you proofread out loud, you involve another sense in the process. (Hmm… maybe I should try tasting what I write too?)


… heard a story about the subway.


Here in Boston, the orange line branch of the “T” was shut down for an entire month so that major repairs could be made.

Yesterday, as scheduled, it reopened.

Commuters being interviewed were happily amazed that the work was completed on time, as promised.

Isn’t that interesting?

We are all so conditioned to disbelieve assurances made by organizations of all kinds – whether that’s a promise that “my supervisor will call you back tomorrow,” “the wait time is under five minutes,” or “the T will be back in service on September 19th” – that when it actually happens, we are astonished.

Which is why I recommend that you always under-promise on client projects, especially when it comes to the time required to deliver.

That gives you some wiggle room in case something blows up. Plus, given how life often goes for your clients as they interact with other companies, you will stand out as the happy exception.


… am one year older.


That’s because I had a birthday last week (not that you bothered to call).

On that day, I received “Happy Birthday” emails from my doctor, my dentist, AAA, the American Red Cross, and two credit card companies.

All of the emails were automated. Three of them wanted me to buy or donate something.

I’m not surprised. When you’re responsible for marketing in a big company, the name of the game is, “What can we do that scales cheaply?” Happy Birthday messages with embedded offers fit the bill.

Which is why for people like us – small professional service firms – the name of the game is, “What can we do that takes time, effort, and a little bit of money?”

Focus over there and your larger competitors won’t even try to stay with you.

P.S. Tell me when your birthday is and I’ll send you a handwritten, hand-addressed, hand-stamped, snail-mailed card when your big day arrives. One birthday per customer.


… read an article about National Potato Month.


Okay, it wasn’t an entire article about NPM.

It was an article about where to find content marketing topic ideas.

Since, as you well know, August is National Potato Month and, the article asserts, “Most people enjoy potatoes and will likely engage with content on that topic,” writing about potatoes would be a good thing.

Please don’t.

Instead, write about your area of expertise, with the goal of teaching a little bit of what you know to those who might have an interest in learning more:

A contract attorney writes about contracts.
A plumber writes about household plumbing fixes.
A recruiter writes about hiring.

Along the way, people read your stuff in order to stay informed and some of them refer you to others or get in touch themselves to talk about hiring you.

Yes, it really is that simple.