goal setting tips
Project Ignite Podcast by Derek Gehl Goal Setting Tips & Strategies For Entrepreneurs With Tom Ziglar
00:00:00 00:00:00
  • Episode  40
  • Tom Ziglar


This episode of the Project Ignite podcast had to happen right now. It’s the beginning of the year, it’s when all of us are rolling up our sleeves and planning: how will my business grow and change this year? Goal setting is an incredibly important part of every entrepreneur’s life, and in this episode, Tom Ziglar, CEO of the Ziglar Corporation and son of the late Zig Ziglar shares his goal setting tips to create meaningful goals and actually achieving them.

Transcript Of Ziglar’s Goal Setting Tips & Strategies:

Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast–a podcast designed to skip the hype and bring you real, actionable tips and strategies to help you grow your business online. This is your host, Derek Gehl. It’s the time of the year where most entrepreneurs and businesses are turning their attention to planning the coming year. I’ve invited a very special guest to the show today to share some very powerful goal setting tips and strategies to help you prepare for 2016.

He’s a world-renowned authority and expert that coaches business leaders and their teams around the globe. He teaches the systems and strategies that businesses need to accelerate their growth and success. He’s also the CEO of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, and he’s the son of the late Zig Ziglar.

Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Tom Ziglar to the show today.

Tom, thanks for joining us today.
It’s a privilege to be here, Derek. Thanks for having me on.

Absolutely. Now, today, it’s that time of year. We’re all starting to sit down and plan out what’s going to happen over the next year. There’re lots of different goal setting tips, strategies and tools out there, and every year I see a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs try to figure it all out, but they don’t always get it right.

So, let’s start at the beginning. Before we get into your best goal setting tips and strategies, let me ask: What role does goal setting play in running and growing a business? Why is it important?

Well, I love my Dad’s quote. “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

goal setting tips

That’s great.

So the idea is, what’s your aim? What are your goals? What is your company working towards? And then tracking those numbers on a regular basis will tell us where we are in the process. If we’re not making it there, how can we adjust things?

I always say that all dreams take time and money. If you show me a dream that doesn’t take time or money, I’ll tell you it’s not a big enough dream. If we want to live out our dreams, we need a specific plan to get there, and the way to do that is goal setting.

Goal setting is the system that allows you to achieve the things in life that you were meant to achieve.

Let’s dig in, then. A question that I get a lot, and I ask this question too–there’s always the latest and greatest ways to set goals, how do you come up with the right kinds of meaningful goals?

Well, let me preface this. Something profound happened to me this year. I was in Melbourne, Australia, and I was speaking to about 150 business owners in a room. I was there with Steve McKnight, one of your good buddies. It was an all day event. And I love to take questions–audience interactions are the best because otherwise you get really tired of listening to yourself.

So halfway through the morning, I’m taking questions. This guy raises his hand, he’s maybe thirty five or forty–you could see that he had some experience and had been around a bit, but was looking for his next step. He asked, “Tom, what is the fastest way to success?”

No one has ever asked me that question before. I’ve been in this field for fifty years. I was born into this. Usually, the question is, “what are the keys to success?” Or, “how do I set the right kind of goals?” Or, “what do I need to do to be more successful?” But this guy cut straight to the chase.

What a great, honest question. Who wants the slow way?

So I sat there, deer in the headlights, because I had never been asked that before. It’s a great question because it demands such a simple answer. So out of my mouth, I heard what I would consider to be one of my best goal setting tips and that was “the fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits.”
how to set goals
That’s all I said. And then I moved on.

We go to the break, and then Steve comes on and starts to debrief everyone from our session. He says, “hey guys, where you paying attention to Tom’s goal setting tip? Write this down. The fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits.”

I’m standing against the wall, ready to go on stage, and I look around like, “did I say that?” That sounds pretty smart…

So I wrote it down. I finished the day. We wrapped at 5:00, I’m back at my hotel at 6:30, and I beeline to Google. I’ve gotta Google this sucker. I must’ve channeled that quote from somebody.

So I looked it up, and nobody had that quote! There’s all kinds of material out there about habits and success, but nobody put that into play. Then, I was excited and energized. What is the truth behind this? I’ll tell you, I’m kind of a nerd. I always want to know what’s underneath; why does this make sense? Why does it work?

The next day I flew to Darwin, and then back to Sydney, and to Brisbane, and then to Papua New Guinea, and then back to Brisbane, and then to LA, and then to Dallas. I had like 40 hours of flight time and this thought kept going through my head.

I looked at every area of our lives. In terms of your physical body, if you replace a bad habit with a good habit, what would happen? If you have two soft drinks per day, and you replace them with two glasses of water? What would happen over the course of a year? The change would be dramatic.

If you look at your business, and your Monday morning meetings with no agenda–what if you had a specific agenda? A little tiny thing is the only thing that you change. What would happen over 52 weeks, in all of those meetings, each addressing one specific thing?

I started going around the wheel of life. Family, personal, business, financial, mental, spiritual, career–I applied this principle, and I realized, you can change everything with that one simple thought.

Here’s the kicker: if we don’t replace that bad habit with a good habit, as soon as we wind up under pressure, we’re going to revert to our bad habits. If your habit now is to drink a coke whenever you’re stressed, and you stop drinking coke… The next time you’re stressed, you’re going to reach for a coke.

What you’ve got to do is condition yourself to something new. When it comes to goal setting, always remember this quote. It’s one of my Dad’s, it’s great.

“Hurricanes and earthquakes get all the press, but termites do more damage.” And they take such little tiny bites.

So if we think about 2016, it’s great to have massive goals. But it’s the little habits that we put in place that will drive the biggest change.

So I’d like to think about, on a weekly basis, what’s one bad habit I can eliminate and replace with one good habit?

That’s profound. It’s so simple but so powerful.

So, let’s take a step into businesses and your goal setting tips and strategies for entrepreneurs and business teams. You work with a ton of small and large businesses. What are some of the bad habits you see being performed to the detriment of the businesses that they could change?

It’s countless. There are things that we’re unaware of that are bad habits. And then there are things we are aware of, and yet we let them keep on. I love this idea because it echoes what we’ve just talked about.

Gary Keller wrote about, don’t focus on ten things, or four things, focus on one thing. As an entrepreneur, it’s our tendencies to have ten big things on the go. We push them all forward but get nothing done.

So the one thing in your business–what’s the one thing, if you got it done, that would raise all the ships in your business?

If you’re just getting started, it’s as simple as an opt-in on your website. The bad habit is taking on too much, and not prioritizing and focusing on that one thing. That’s a simple idea, but imagine if you implemented one thing per week in your business… What would happen?

I’m familiar with the one thing, but I’ve always struggled with this.

When you’re just getting started, you don’t have much on the go. But once your business starts to mature, you’ve got a lot on the go. So on an annual basis–and I’ve started the year trying to pick a one thing, but I can never choose one. There’s always a list.

You run a business. You have staff to manage and projects on the go. When you look at your year, do you have one thing? Or do you have a few different goals?

You definitely need to have different goals. One thing that really helped me was organizing our business into profit centres. It made everything so much more visible. So let’s say you have five or six products centres that you market. If you make each a profit centre, and you look at your profits and revenues and costs and everything underneath it so you have a clear picture of what it’s doing for your business, then it becomes very clear that most organizations have one thing that makes up forty or 50% of the bottom line, with three or four other centres that make up the rest.

Then they’ve got a whole bunch that don’t really do anything. When you understand what that is, when you’re picking your one weekly thing, if it’s not in your top three, maybe it needs to fall further down the schedule.

I’m a victim of the shiny new toy syndrome.

I think every entrepreneur is. I’m with you, there.
So many times we get this passion for this new thing that we’re going to put out, and we do all the fun work. The landing pages, the products… We get 80% of it done, and then, the new toys show up. We break even on it when the profit is in the last 20% left.
Exactly. Let’s dig in a bit here. So you said you break your company down into profit centres. I assume you have a dashboard of sorts that lets you see everything together. When you’re setting goals, do you set revenue or profit goals, or do you set project goals?

I set all of those. I’m a huge Seth Godin fan, and he has a general focus that’s different than most people. He says he doesn’t set profit goals, he focuses instead on the scalability of trust. That’s a powerful thing for us to understand.

What he means by that, is if he can build trust in every interaction, he’ll never have a problem so long as he’s adding value to the market.

In the 1970s, a book called Secrets of Closing the Sale came out. Zig Ziglar wrote that book. He wrote that there are five reasons people don’t buy: no need, no money, no hurry, no want, or no trust.

The biggest of these is trust. Imagine if in your business process and in your mission, if scaling trust is your number one thing, then you’ve overcome the biggest reason why people won’t do business with you.

So if you say, I need to get this project done at a certain time. I need to generate X amount of revenue to keep my doors open. But to me, the over-riding goal is, are we scaling trust along the way?

Trust isn’t black and white, necessarily. How do you scale trust? What does that look like?

Let me give you an analogy. In the sales process, if I give you an opportunity to purchase, and you say no, the longer you go without saying yes, the more likely it is that you’ll never say yes.

The best chance I ever have of turning you into a paying customer is at that decision making point where I ask you if you want to do business and become a customer. If you don’t say yes, the likelihood of you ever saying yes continues to fall.

Trust is the same way. If I have an interaction with you, via Skype or email or social or face to face, if I have an interaction that builds trust, that’s fantastic. The longer I go without reinforcing the trust between us, the more that trust will go down.

You and I, we’ve talked several times. We met in Australia several years ago. But I can guarantee that the trust between us tomorrow will be greater than it was yesterday, because it had been a long time since we’d spoken.

It’s not because you did anything bad to me, it’s because we’re people. We like to keep up and chat and stay in touch. That’s what scaling trust is about. Little, purposeful interactions that allow us help someone to be, do, or have more.

Right. Okay. That’s a great explanation. Now, let’s go back to our goal setting tips and strategies and talk about process. Obviously you’ve gone through this process numerous times. When you sit down at the beginning of a year, what are the questions you ask yourself? What’s the process you go through to distill down meaningful things into the right goals?

Okay. Well, we had a whole system for that. We have filtering questions that we ask. We write a goal down, and then we ask, “is this fair, and moral, and ethical to everyone involved?” That’s a pretty big question.

I’ll give you an example. This is pretty far out there. So my daughter is twenty-one, she’s a junior in college. When she was a senior in high school, suppose I had set a goal to be a world-class triathlete. That would’ve meant that I needed to train four or five hours a day, four or five days a week. That would mean, that with my travel schedule and everything else, I would’ve been an absentee parent. I wouldn’t have been there for my daughter’s last year at home. That goal wasn’t fair to everyone involved.

So we have a lot of questions that we use to filter. Here’s another we use: is the goal really yours? Are you going to medical school because that’s what you want, or because your parents want you to?

How many professionals are no longer in their field of study because it’s not what they wanted to do in the first place?

You’ve got to walk through these questions. Then, when you know that you have the right goal–it’s fair and moral and ethical, it creates value, it does everything you need it to do–then we walk through what we call our seven steps. It’s our procedure that we go through.

Here’s the great thing about the process: it works as long as you follow it. Doesn’t even matter if you believe it or not. That’s the cool thing.

Let’s do it! I want to hear your seven goal setting tips…

The first step is that you need to identify your goal. You want to buy your dream home. So your goal might be, in 2016, I’m going to purchase my dream home. That’s pretty good. But what would be better is saying, you know, I’m going to purchase my dream home, on a cliff, overlooking the ocean and the sunset. It’ll have five bedrooms and an amazing media room. My office will have a porch and there’ll be a massive pine tree right next to my desk.

See where I’m going? It’s a detailed vision. Don’t say that you want to grow your business from $1M to $2M–talk about what a $2M company will look like. You’re gonna have the coolest Christmas party ever, and a ton of vacation; or your company is going to pay for your kids’ schooling–write that goal down in detail.

If you’ve got a dream house, imagine the smell of chocolate chip cookies wafting in from the kitchen while you sit in your favourite chair. When you can feel it, and smell it, and taste it–that’s when it becomes real.

The second thing you want to do, is identify your benefits from achieving this goal. The reason this is so important is because if you don’t have a long list of benefits, as soon as the obstacles arise, you’re likely to give up.

So let’s say, you want to lose twenty pounds, and the only benefit you can think of is “I’ll look better.” It’s true, you will look better, but you’ll also be healthier. You’ll spend less on healthcare. You’ll be able to play with your grandkids. You’ll have a better life. You’ll have more energy. You can go down that list and come up with a hundred benefits for losing that weight. The more you write down, the more likely you are to stick to it.

The third step is listing out and detailing the major obstacles and mountains you need to climb in order to reach this goal. This is a new business, I don’t know much about it yet. I need to learn more. Or, we’re in debt. That’s a big obstacle. We’ve got to figure that out. Until you understand what you need to overcome, how can you put a plan in place to conquer those obstacles?

Step number four is detailing the skills and knowledge you need to reach this goal. So you start detailing out the things that you don’t know, that you need to know, in order to achieve this. That’s the business we’re in. We’re in the gear business. If you think of a bicycle, a twenty-one speed bike has all of those gears on the outside. Those gears are just outside knowledge or information.

So most businesses are riding down the road of life and you’re pedalling on your bike, and then you hit that mountain that you have to climb. If you have a one speed bike, that’s no fun. You have to get off and push.

If you add outside knowledge or information, like attending a program or workshop, or you get coaching and learn something new… It’s like putting your bike into first gear and then just pedaling up the mountain. That’s why new knowledge and information is so critical.

Step five, who do you need to work with? If you’re losing weight, you’d better work with your spouse. Otherwise, they’ll bring home vanilla ice cream–or for me, it’s popcorn. My body retains it.

So who do you have to work with to achieve these goals? Write their names down and understand how they’ll help.

Number six is the plan of action. This is where most people start. But until you’ve identified those first five steps, the plan never gets filled out correctly. We need a detailed plan of action. And then, we put a completion date on it. When will this goal be realized?

Just to recap, there’re three things that goal achievers do that nobody else does. Goal achievers will number one, write their goal out in detail. If you follow the seven steps that I just gave you, you’ll have that down. Number two, is they work on the goal every day or as often as necessary.

A very powerful thing to do is once every morning, update your goals and procedures to decide what you’re going to work on that day. Then, at night, the last thing you do before bed is review your goal, mark down what you did, and fall asleep thinking about how you’ll achieve your goal.

Each of those things only takes three or four minutes if you’re doing them on a daily basis.

The third thing that goal achievers do is have an accountability partner. I cannot emphasize the importance of this goal setting tips. A mentor, a coach, a spouse; someone that holds them accountable to do what they say they’re going to do. So if you follow those steps, and you have your partner, it’s just a matter of time until you hit it.

Here’s the cool thing–this goes back to our original thought: the fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits. When you have a BHAG, which is what we call a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, like doubling your business this year, you take it and break it down into monthly goals. And then you take little tiny termite steps every day until you hit your monthly goal.

You hit a big goal by breaking it down into tiny goals.

For everyone listening here, I get questions about this kind of thing all the time. How do I get so much done? I’ve been listening here, Tom, while you’ve been sharing, and you’ve essentially just mapped out the goal setting process that I use from the BHAG to the annual goals to the breaking it down and accountability partners… All of that. That system, for me, over the past seventeen years, has allowed me to create multiple companies, and accomplish so much that I can’t emphasize how powerful that system is enough.

When I see entrepreneurs, whether they’re starting their business or growing their business–it’s that old saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That’s why I wanted to do this interview specifically at this time of the year, because it’s so crucial to achieving anything meaningful in business and in life.
goal setting strategies
That said, what you just went through, that took things to a different level for me as well. I love it. I’ve got a page of notes here, packed with goal setting tips and strategies that I can be improving on right now, particularly in the detail. Really spelling out that goal. I don’t think we put enough thought into that sometimes–I don’t think we plan enough to know what things will look like once we’ve achieved our goal.

So, you know, we’re almost out of time here. To wrap things up, do you have any final goal setting tips or thoughts? And if people want to continue learning from you, I know you’ve got a massive archive of information. Where can they go?

The easiest place to go is to Ziglar.com. That’s our website. That’s where we have all of our information. We also have our Ziglar Show podcast, where we discuss things like we did today. I recommend those two things to everyone.

Just to wrap up, I call this the sequence to success. There’s something required for a break through. One of the programs we do is certify coaches. When you’re helping someone to have a breakthrough as a coach, there’s a sequence to these three words, and it’s critical.

Here it is: creativity, optimism, and systems. In order to have a breakthrough, those three words have to happen in the right sequence. You need optimism first, creativity, and then systems. If you have a negative outlook, if you have a sour attitude, your brain is in fight or flight mode. You’re either banging your head against the wall, or you’re ready to scrap the project. But as soon as you turn your attitude to optimism, that unleashes your creativity.

Just think of your mind in a negative mindset. You have two doors: fight, or flight. With an optimistic mindset, you have hundreds of doors open and you can mind map all of these things. When these creative juices go, you take those ideas and put them into the system.

As business owners, we tend to go straight for the system. But if our mindset is off, we don’t put any new ideas into the old system. There’s no wonder we get the same old results.

That’s why, once we identify our goal, once we spend a lot of time on the benefits, it switches our mindset from negative to positive. That’s why it’s so important to take note of those benefits. If I have my dream home, overlooking the ocean, all of my kids and my grandkids and their friends will all come over. So many memories will be made.

Once that optimism turns on, you start formulating ideas as to how that goal can become a reality.

I’ll say this: in a business, we call them systems. In our personal lives, we call them habits. A system is just a habit in your personal life, and a habit is just a system for your business.

Think of it that way. Think of these little things we can do. Termite sized bites that ignites our vision and focus.

Why can’t we do it? We look around and see others succeeding and wonder how they do it. I’m smarter than they are, I’ve done more than he has. Maybe they’re just working a better process. And you can too.

Absolutely. Fantastic.

Tom, thank you so much for sharing everything with us. I kid you not, I’ve been sitting here writing notes. You’ve just added some incredible layers to this goal setting process that I’m going to take with me as I start planning for 2016. I know this system works, because I’ve been doing it for so long.

Thank you so much for sharing all of those steps with us so unconditionally. I really do appreciate it.

Thank you for having me on! It was an honour.

Fantastic. Alright everyone, that was Tom Ziglar. I cannot emphasize this enough. Block off a day, or two. Make sure you build meaningful goals for 2016. Implement all of the power goal setting tips and strategies that Tom shared with us today.

Now, it’s time to add that final ingredient to make all of these goal setting tips and strategies that Tom shared with us today work for you. That ingredient is action. So go ahead, apply what you’ve learned, and stay tuned for more info-packed episodes of the Project Ignite podcast–a podcast designed to simplify online business.

This is your host, Derek Gehl, signing off.

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  1. Thank you Derek. This one was a real booster! I listened to so many podcasts and this is the first time I actually took written notes. 🙂 And from today I have taken the steps to plan my goals.

    Thanks again.


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