Every December, I reflect upon what went right, what went wrong, what took me by surprise, what I can learn from these awakenings, and how I’ll change what I’m doing next year. I do this by writing an annual review. The process of spinning thoughts into logic and language is incredibly illuminating. It allows me to see and synthesize on a different level than pure contemplation.
Inspired and humbled by the legendary annual reports of Berkshire Hathaway founder, Warren Buffet, I decided to expand my exploration into a full-blown 2011 Annual Report and give it a theme—”Serve, aspire, transcend.”
2 Table of Contents Welcome letter My Secret Revealed Killer App Exercise Current Business Engines Business Engine #1: Books Business Engine # 2: Tribal Author Business Engine #3: Keynotes, Training & Private Events Business Engine #5: The Team Business Engine #5: Blog - Direct vs. Indirect 2012: Reimagined - Good Life Project 10 Commandments of Biz Wrap Up
3 Dear friend, 2011 was a powerful, inspired, emotional roller-coaster of a year. Incredible highs, triumphs and awaken- ings, along with plenty of opportunities to grow. Every December, I reflect upon what went right, what went wrong, what took me by surprise, what I can learn from these awakenings, and how I’ll change what I’m doing next year. I do this by writing an annual review. The process of spinning thoughts into logic and language is incredibly illuminating. It allows me to see and synthesize on a different level than pure contemplation. This year, my life and my businesses have become much more “interesting.” It’s taken a lot more writing to do the annual review process justice. And as I was writing, I began to wonder if the review might be a powerful insight tool for me to share with my community. Inspired and humbled by the legendary annual reports of Berkshire Hathaway founder, Warren Buffet, I decided to expand my exploration into this 2011 Annual Report and give it a theme: Serve, aspire, tran- scend. In the pages that follow, I’ll bring you deeper into my life and what I call my “business engines.” I’ll also share something that’s more personal than ever before. Not so much because I want to, but because to omit it would leave a gaping hole in the context around many of my recent business and life decisions. It’ll also provide answers to questions I’ve been asked, yet have never answered publicly. So, get yourself a latte and some dark chocolate, this craft is taking flight... Big love, Jona than Fields
5 I occasionally share things about my family and myself in books, blog and beyond. When I do, there is a very clear line I try not to cross. While I drip snippets of my own life out in the public domain though, the vast majority of my days and the peo- ple I play with remain very private. And within that private domain, there’s a secret I’ve been keeping for nearly two years. In part, because for the first six months, it nearly destroyed me. It was very difficult for me to acknowledge, let alone talk about. But, also, because I just didn’t want to reveal a very personal struggle (though the word struggle has ceded to something kinder these days). I didn’t want to have a conversation around it. Truth told, I still don’t. Before anyone freaks out, what I’m about to share has had a huge impact on the way I live in the world, but it’s not life- threatening. In the context of what entire cultures endure around the world, it’s a ridiculously small matter. My purpose in sharing it here is not to complain or seek sympathy (not my style), but rather to share what’s been fueling and, at times, shutting me down. Because it provides necessary context to many of the big decisions I’ve made in business and life for a few years now. Plus, it’s the answer to a lot of questions I’ve been asked over the last year or two, but haven’t been willing to answer. So, it’s time to put some things into the world. Last year, after my friend Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, a number of people sent me messages, wondering why I seemed to vanish for much of the time, while not on stage. Some even confessed to being annoyed at my apparent “aloofness.” At another point, after I gave the closing keynote and a small panel of speakers came on stage to do a live Q&A, someone asked each of the panelists to share what the biggest unknown was in our lives that scared us. My answer to that question would have left me in tears, I still wasn’t ready to talk about it. So I side-stepped it with a joke and moved the question down the line. Here’s what I’ve been keeping private...
6 In March 2009, during SXSW, something went a bit haywire in my brain. I began to hear a variety of sounds and sensations that nobody else can hear. Not voices (though Einstein does occasionally visit me in fuzzy slippers smoking a hookah), but rather sounds, along with changing pressure sensations. All coming from inside my head. After about two months, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a loud, high-pitched electronic ringing sound screaming through my head. That sound has never left me. It’s there 24/7. Even as I write this. For those familiar with the term, it’s something called tinnitus, and it afflicts millions every year with varying levels of inten- sity. Exposure to loud noise can trigger it, along with hearing loss. Many soldiers come home with it. And for many, the genesis of the condition remains unknown. I’m in that camp. Mainstream medicine offers no cure, only masks that work in varying degrees. A battery of scans and an endless stream of tests ruled out much of the big scary stuff, but left me an emotional wreck, largely unable to sleep or focus for months. Many people with less severe tinnitus habituate to it and just keep on keeping on, others end up destroyed. I’ve been through both extremes over the last two years as other neurological symptoms have joined the symphony. And, yes, I’ve explored nearly every mainstream and complimentary therapy available (so please, I appreciate your concern, but no emails on miracle cures). Depending on my physical and emotional state, I can also become hyper-sensitized to loud noise. Which is why you won’t find me at large gatherings for very long. This is why I was conspicuously absent at the big parties at World Domina- tion Summit and deferred the question put to the panel. There’s an odd irony in the idea that this whole thing was unfolding while I was writing a book on embracing uncertainty. That book, in fact, may be the reason I’m not only functional enough to write this annual report, but more empowered than ever to live every moment as fully as possible. Researching practices, tools and strategies to manage and potentially embrace uncertainty as a catalyst for creativ- ity revealed a stunning overlap. The interventions I was discovering weren’t just about fueling the creative process. They
7 were about reclaiming equanimity in the face of a life where disruptive, sometimes disorienting or painful circumstance leads to uncertainty, anxiety, fear and paralysis. They were about awakening to the possibility that my experience of life is less about circumstance, and more about the filters and frames I bring to whatever comes my way. I ended up going deep into many of the practices in the book, not because they helped me embrace uncertainty within a creative process, but because they allowed me reframe what I was and still am living with. For me, mindfulness, work- flow adaptations, environmental optimization, positive psychology and movement aren’t just about peak performance, they are about being okay in my world. They’re the foundation of my ability to deal with not only the ever-present noise in my head, but a variety of evolving physiological learning opportunities, and the possibility that any or all might change or become amplified on any given day. They’ve even opened me to the challenge of embracing a source of potential torment as my teacher. For now, I find myself holding a seemingly bizarre duality in my mind and my heart; at once abandoning hope of a cure (this frees me to build the practices and take the actions that help me live a good life), while also remaining open to the possibility that someday, something may come along. It’s a very Buddhist way of being, balancing presence, practice and acceptance with a sense of non-attached aspiration toward a different state. It’s a dance I’m still very much a stu- dent of, teetering along the fine line between acceptance and complacency, aspiration and desire. So, why am I sharing this now, in the context of what is more of a business-oriented process and tool? Because, what has come out of this experience is a deeply enhanced understanding of the importance of embracing the smallest moments in life. Of honoring, snuggling with and holding space for the people and experiences that allow me to come alive. It’s inspired me to go a lot deeper into what it means to live a good life with the time I have, in whatever state greets me. It’s led me to explore what matters on a purer level. Who matters, who I want to serve, be around and how. It’s required that I become more deliberate with what I choose to bring to life in the world of entrepreneurship, writing, speaking and beyond. And it will continue to create a larger framework that informs the decisions I make moving forward.
8 How I build businesses and earn a living is, within a learning band, an organic extension of who I am. There is no clear de- lineation between the person and the profession (which makes it interesting for my accountant come deduction time). I don’t sell widgets, I build relationships, serve communities and create experiences designed to fuel the aspiration and ability to transcend circumstance. People who live in a world where work is something you suffer numbly through as a way to pay the rent often say “don’t let your work define you.” But when you reverse that, when the essence of who you are defines what you do, that’s not a curse, it’s a gift. That’s why this conversation needs to be here in this 2011 Annual Report. Without the context I’ve just shared, it’s difficult to fully understand what’s been driving (and challenging) me, and what will continue to do so as I make some major shifts in business in the year ahead. It’s also here to help debunk the myth of the perfect moment. So many people wait around for the stars to align to do what they’re here to do. The perfect moment, the perfect state of being, the perfect opportunity does not exist. Your ability to flourish is directly related to your willingness to act in the face of imperfection. One last thing before I deconstruct my 2011 business, and move onto some very exciting things I’ll be focusing on in 2012. I shared this, with much hesitation, because I thought it provided needed context for the conversation to follow. I’m okay writing about it here, but as I’ve hinted, I’m not yet okay turning it into a broader, ongoing conversation quite yet. I appreciate and honor the love and engagement my community shares with me every day. At some point, possibly even later this year, I’ll write a lot more about this and open up a fuller conversation. But, beyond this reveal, for now it’s time to move on.
9 FLY When you find the strength to act in the face of uncertainty, you till the soil of genius
11 Toward the end of 2011, I had a growing sense that certain elements of my public “brand” and the businesses I was build- ing were not entirely aligned with who I am, what I’m good at, how I want to serve and what people most want from me. So, I created something called my “Killer App Exercise.” I emailed about 40 people, all highly-successful, many outright business visionaries who tell it like it is and who know me in different ways. I asked them two questions: 1. From the outside looking in, what do you perceive as my killer app? What do you come to me for or where do you see me offering substantial value to others? 2. What makes me different from others offering similar value, products, experiences or services? Why did I do this? One of the core drivers of success in business is also among the most ignored elements: ALIGNMENT. If you want to own your career, your business, your life, you need to align 4 elements: 1. What makes you come alive (people, process, content, culture, mission & setting) 2. Your preferred mode of service (live, remote, video, text, audio, interactive or transmission, private, small group, mass audience) 3. What you either are good at, or are capable of and interested in becoming good at, and 4. What people will line up to pay you enough to live well in the world for. If there are major gaps in any of the above elements, you will either: • Fail completely • Succeed at making money, but hate your business and maybe even your life, or • Love what you do to earn a living, but hate how it never gives you the money needed to live well in the world or the freedom to do your “art” full-time.
12 If you don’t work with a high-level of alignment, you’ll very likely never come close to your personal or profession- al potential, your businesses will continually cap out and you’ll never understand why. It’s also immensely drain- ing, on a personal level, to live a life where your personal and professional “selves” aren’t well aligned. Presenting as different people in different scenarios is, over the long haul, a gutting experience. Which is why I did this Killer App Exercise. My surface goal was to get a better understanding of my external brand (what people perceive as the strengths I bring to the world), then contrast them with my internal brand (what I believe my strengths and value proposi- tion are) and see if there were gaps that needed to be resolved before expanding or changing my current busi- nesses or launching new ones. But, on a subtler level, because I trust the insights of the people I chose, it was also designed to reveal the possi- bility of a deeper misalignment between what I’ve been building and what I should and could be building. On an intuitive level, I already knew the answer. What came out of this exercise led to some serious rethinking about how I want to build my business engines moving forward. Here is a small sampling of the responses...
13 “Youre able to think both analytically + creatively about business. This is SUCH a rare combination - combining the numbers as well as the heart + art of business. This is a huge asset when youre advising any business or entrepreneur.” “Ferocious ability to cut through the fear and impossibility of any idea, unearth the heart and authenticity of it, and put it on the table for a no-bullshit analysis into what can be grown from it, fresh.” “Masterful vision of the exponential growth potential of a concept, or its de- rivatives. If Idea A isnt going to do it, you see Idea M, when others might have stopped at E.” “Your ability to take that New York, no-bullshit approach to advice is a massive, unique strength. Youre great at cutting through what people are asking and get- ting to the real questions. Ive killed many projects because I couldnt adequately answer your questions.” “Extraordinary writer and copywriter. You have a deep understanding of psychol- ogy and marketing, and manage to write in a way thats fun, accessible and smart. This helps us, your readers, feel smart and well informed - but like were learning from a friend who cares about us!” “You were a successful lawyer. You built successful brick and mortar businesses. You launched two successful books. And you can blog too. I dont know many people who have such a diverse experience in business. You worked for the man, created brick and mortar business, authored two books, and built web businesses too. Oh, and, youre a great speaker! Youre literally someone who can do it all.” “Your calm energy and deep commitment to the spiritual side of life. You help us all remember whats really important in life and that is really beautiful.” “Its the yogi in you that sets you the most apart – and everything being one means. Theres balance there, and it shows in your brand and the things you cre- ate. Bringing that into business is a beautiful thing.” “Your killer app is your PRESENCE....calm, kind, loving, encouraging, authentic, honest. I don’t see you offering a product/service....I see you offering a feeling people are searching for everywhere, whether it be hope, inspiration, that they’re good enough, that they can, that they matter, that they aren’t alone.”
14 That last one was the clincher for me. Added to the others (there were tons more, but I’ve omitted them because there was a lot of similarity, plus this was starting to feel a bit too self-congratulatory, which isn’t the purpose), it triggered some- thing in me. An awakening of sorts. And a need to reclaim elements of what I’m here to do, but have been on a bit of a hiatus from over the last few years since selling my last brick and mortar company. I love building businesses. I love teaching. I love serving others. I’m obsessed with creating companies, products, immersive experiences and services that allow people to transcend their current circumstance. And I love helping others do the same thing. It’s been that way for as long as I can remem- ber. That’s what drove me to start my first real company in college, a mobile disc-jockey, sound and lighting company (along with a love of music, grass skirts and free beer). Even as the company grew and we were sending teams and 10 foot stacks of speakers and lights to different clubs and events, there was nothing I loved more than being behind the DJ tables and co-creating an utterly-absorbing, multi-sensory, transcendant experience. Years later, when I built my next company, a high-end private training facility, I defied everything a traditional, churn-and- burn, low-service health club was supposed to be and instead built something that made you feel like you were walking into a friend’s retreat home in Sedona, Arizona. Within months, we were rocking and rolling, serving the needs of the 85% of adults who were desperate for movement and community, but would never set foot in a big-box club. We generated more personal service revenue in a month than the average club tens times bigger than us generated in a year. And, yes, I still worked with individual clients until the day I sold out to an investor group. When I launched a yoga center in Manhattan a year later, in the shadow of 9-11, even though it rapidly grew into a giant community with a sizable teaching faculty, I kept teaching. Because that’s where the magic happened for me. Even when I had a screaming headache or was dead tired. For those ninety minutes when I taught or 16-hour weekends when I trained teachers, all was right in the world. I was serving, inspiring, aspiring, transcending my own limitations and helping others do the same.
15 Fueled by a mad Jones to create a parade of innovative experiences that married movement and breath with sound and light, the studio vaulted into mainstream media. And while traditionalists blasted me for bastardizing the practice, hordes were lining up to exchange their most precious asset, time, for 90-minutes that made nothing else matter. We were on a quest to leave every person in every class in a different place than when they arrived. This killer app exercise brought all of this, and why I did it, screaming back into my psyche. The reason I love to launch and grow businesses, to teach what I’ve learned about business and life, to master strategy, marketing, sales, operations and community-building is not because they hold any innate pull, but rather because they are immensely powerful tools to serve, to evoke emotion and build community on a level that fuels action and change. Being a part of that process makes me come alive. And it also happens to drive business like nothing else on the planet. Serve. Aspire. Transcend. And help others do the same. That’s been my modus operandi for more than two decades. And it’s also where my story has gone a bit off course over the last few years. I’ve worked to bring much of this personal connection into my writing, online communities, online trainings and keynot- ing over the last few years. But, something’s been missing. The personal connection. The experience of being in the room more often when lightning strikes. The chance to listen to people on a deeply-engaged, face-to-face level. To not only hear their words, but see their bodies and energy as they speak and share where they’ve been and where they want to go. And the opportunity to not only embrace and teach, but create the conditions for moments of awakening and tran- scendence, personal and professional, in a much more tangible, decidely-offline, experiential way. I’ve gone a bit too far down the online and information rabbit hole, and I’m feeling it. It’s time to return to my roots. To where I serve best and come alive most.
16 Over the last two years, I’ve split my business engines into (1) infor- mation and (2) access. The goal was to document, commoditize and sell, for as little as possible, what I know. That’s the information side of the business. And it includes books and courses with no or very minimal access to me. At the same time, direct access to me, be it speaking, facilitating, mentoring or being on retreat, is some- thing I’ve kept closely guarded and, on the rare occasions that I’ve offered it, charged a high premium. Why did I do this? Because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do in the online world. And, for many people, those who don’t share the same jones for face-to-face impact, the model works like a charm. But, my Killer App Exercise reawakened in me a simple truth...I’m not that person. Increasingly I’m realizing there’s the “rationalization,” and the real- ity of building an information-based business, at least for me. The rationalization is that selling information, not access, is the easiest way to scale a business. There is no organic cap. You can lever- age and expand information with almost zero cost and zero limita- tions. Which means my ability to be physically present is no longer a limiting factor in my business and income. My ability to scale and reach the greatest number of people possible is infinite. This aligns well with my desire to serve and impact the greatest number of people possible at the lowest price point possible, while generat- ing enough revenue to live well. Makes perfect sense. But then, there’s the reality...
17 I love the electricity, the exchange of ideas and energy, the revelations, actions and extraordinary bursts of forward movement that come when I work with individuals and groups on “being-to-being” level. I’ve seen this happen with everyone from artists to authors and entrepreneurs to executives and teams in Fortune 100 com- panies. And because I’m fortunate to be well-compensated for this, I don’t need to make scaling information the heart and soul of my business. It can and will remain an element, but not the core. I put all of this into the hopper, and here’s what came out. Over the next 12 months, I will continue to grow the information-based side of my business. But, much of that will be overseen by my partners and collabora- tors, while I focus a lot of my energy on not only building more in-person experiences into current offerings, but launching something very, very cool. Something incredibly close to my heart. A new venture that will allow me to serve people on an entirely different level. I’ll share more about exactly what that is in the last section of this 2011 Annual Report. Take-Aways: 1. Alignment Is the Killer App - When you do the work to understand, then align who you are with what you do, then build solutions in a way others perceive as having extraordinary value, you become magnetized, in business and in life. 2. We All Need People - There’s an African proverb that says, “if you want’ to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a group.” Life and business driven by speed is a vapid pursuit. Life and business driven by depth and impact is where magic hap- pens. But nobody, regardless how smart, exeprienced or accomplished, achieves sustained levels of greatness alone. We all need insanely smart, honest, creative and authentic people to turn to for inspiration, support, information, insight and, when needed, course-correction.
18 Time to open the income kimono, share what my business engines actually are, what’s hap- pened with them over the last year, what I’ve learned and, given all of the above, how I’ll be moving forward with each.
19 Business Engine #1. Books: My Year of Uncertainty I finished writing my second book, Uncertainty, which was published by Penguin/Portfolio on September 29th. My last book was with Random House, so it was interesting working with a new team. When bringing out a book, my philosophy tends to be “go big or go home.” That’s not necessarily right for every author, but it’s how I like to do it. So I put together what ended up being a multi-phase, insanely complex launch campaign designed to drive pre-or- ders, global buzz and also be built around giving, rather than receiving. Every piece of content, from the trailer to the bad-ass illustrations commissioned from Aus- tin artist, Marty Whitmore, was designed to have tremendous standalone value. Whether you bought the book or not, the campaign was built around the desire to create content and experiences that served my community. Ones that inspired action and, even if for a moment, created an experience that hinted on some level at the possibility of transcend- ing limitations. The reception was incredible. The campaign generated more than 2,500 print book pre-sales and strong continued sales and international demand (people send me pics of the book on sale all over the world. My faves have been Johannesburg, South Africa and Bali). We landed features on hundreds of the top blogs and websites in the world, tens of thousands of shares on twitter, face- book, google+ and stumbleupon, numerous syndicated national radio interviews, national and local TV, more than 60 amazon reviews (90% of which are 5 stars) and a landslide of emails, DMs and other messages from readers whose lives
20 and businesses are being impacted by the ideas in the book. That last part, by the way, is the most important metric to me. Still, one of my personal (totally ego-driven) goals has always been to hit the New York Times bestseller list and we came up just a bit short. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen over time via a more organic build or a later coordinated effort, but I missed it out of the gate and I’ve been deconstructing the campaign to learn what we could have and will do better next time. All of this, however, doesn’t come close to the impact of one complete surprise that came out of the launch... Because of a last minute change on my team, I found myself without a project manager I could trust to execute at what I knew would be a completely unreasonable level. So, my wife offered to step in and essentially run all of the back-end logistics. She was amazing, working tirelessly to make sure everything behind the scenes happened the way it needed to while I focused on the front-facing part of the campaign. She has always been my rock, my champion and source of unwaver- ing faith. We are married going on 15 years and I wake up every day more in love, more in awe and more humbled and grateful to have her as my partner in life....and praying she’ll never realize she’s actually married to a middle-aged, bald- ing dude who “works” at cafes around the world in threadbare jeans with blown out knees. This experience took things to a different level. We’ve worked together before. She used to be one of the people on a senior management team that ran one of NYC’s largest restaurant groups and I handled much of their visual branding, design, campaign strategy and copywriting. But to learn that we can work so well together on a much more intimate, high-stakes and personal venture was a real gift. We’re a hell of a team and that realization has opened up conversations about us doing more together in 2012. Moving forward, the big question for me in the bizarre universe that is modern-day publishing, is whether I stay traditionally
21 published. Though it’s hard to get accurate metrics, it looks like sales for Uncertainty are already going 50% digital, which is way ahead of the industry right now. And that number, because of where my platform and relationships lie, is a fast moving train. That’s not a huge surprise. But it makes it clear that, with an industry in the throws of massive disruption and brick and mortar distribution becoming a decreasing part of traditional publishing’s value proposition (at least for me), I need to keep my finger on the pulse of publishing on a daily basis (which, thankfully, is also something I love doing). As I explore which book I’ll be writing next, I’ll need to make a bigger decision about whether to go indie, stay traditional or do some- thing in the middle. The industry is changing so rapidly that it doesn’t actually make sense for me to make that decision until I’m literally ready to pull the trigger on the next book, which should be pretty soon. So stay tuned, this is going to get interesting. Business Engine #2. Tribal Author -- Global Book Marketing Educational Venture. Two years ago, annoyed at the torrent of book marketing misinfor- mation and high-priced services proliferating that were somewhere tribalauthor TM between useless and predatory, I published a 29 page rant/mani- festo called The Truth About Book Marketing. The document caught fire, which led to the launch of a blog and then the launch of a new “plain truth” marketing educational venture at TribalAuthor.com. It also led major NYC publishers to reach out to me to both talk about in-house training and offer me book deals.
22 Under this brand, I launched a series of intimate (15-25 person), high-end live training events in NYC. A blend of authors, aspiring authors and publishing execs flew in from around the world to participate (someone must have told them I’d be channeling Hemingway or something). The response to these live training events was tremendous. People loved the con- tent, the real-world information and tested strategies, the healthy dose of myth-busting (hint: if you ever see the words “instant bestseller,” run for the hills) and the in-depth direct interaction and feedback from both me and the participants. After two live events in NYC, though, I put Tribal Author on hiatus. Two reasons. One, it was never intended to be a core business engine for me and it was taking up a solid chunk of my personal bandwidth. Two, the real cost of the workshops, when you folded in travel, lodging and expenses in NYC, was closer to $2,000-$3,000, and while nobody ever challenged the value, that price-point can be prohibitive for a lot of authors and aspiring authors. Still, the demand remained high. So, I decided to take on a collaborator in early 2011, Jayme Johnson of Worthy market- ing Group, and change the way the training would be delivered. That was one of my best decisions of the year. I’d been working with Jayme for a while on other projects, so I knew her well and trusted her decisions and work ethic. She’s been the engine behind more than 15 New York Times bestsellers and our skills and knowledge sets complimented each other amazingly well. Bringing her into the mix would mean I’d take a smaller percentage of total revenue. But, it would also mean we could build, scale and execute on a level I could never have done alone. And that would not only grow the pie bigger, but al- low me to focus on the part that I enjoy and am best at; ideation, testing, presenting and marketing. We reworked the venture, turning the live events into 9-week online and teleconference trainings to be offered four times a year. We then rebuilt the content twice (we update regularly based on new ideas, tests and market analysis), and I created a new landing page design and wrote all new copy for it. We’ve since run the online program twice and registration continues to grow nicely with almost no marketing effort.
23 That’s likely a reflection of the quality of the training, constant updating based on real-data and live-testing and word-of-mouth generated from thousands of people watching my very public book launch campaign for Uncer- tainty roll-out. Actually, I should comment on this. The reason we did almost nothing to market it was because we launched the new online training at the same time I launched my book. In fact, we launched the first session during my book pre-sale campaign and we opened enrollment for the Fall session the same week the book was published. Do. Not. Ever. Do. Something. Like. That! It all worked out fine, but launching a single endeavor is hard-enough. Launching two at the same time is utter madness. We’re constantly working to raise the bar. So, in late January, we’ll be launching the next generation of Tribal Author, then rolling out a bunch of new experiences as the year progresses. Big changes will include: • Expanding the 9-week program to 12-weeks and making it self-paced with twice-a- month live Q&A calls • Changing from quarterly to rolling enrollment, you’ll be able to start whenever you want. • Creating a monthly strategy-update membership program to keep up with the latest strategies, campaigns and case-studies • Tropical book marketing retreats for small groups of writers and • Reanimating the Tribal Author blog, which has been largely dormant Jayme and I are both incredibly excited about this next phase of the company and the opportunity to serve so many more people on a deeper level. With the need for real-world, tested, constantly-evolving marketing infor- mation, Tribal Author is poised to continue to grow into a leading educational venture, serving thousands of au- thors, aspiring authors and, if they’re open to it, publishers.
24 Business Engine #3. Keynotes, Facilitating & Private Events I’ve spoken a fair amount over the last three years, giv- ing solo presentations, running panels, entire tracks and keynoting at large conferences and private events. In the earlier days, much of that was either free or in ex- change for a modest honorarium and travel expenses. A fair trade, I believed, for the opportunity to build my profile, my reel, my relationships and, more than any of that, develop my voice, message, speaking ability and ideas. In 2011, I began to make the transition to speaking and facilitating for what I’d consider real money. Once Un- certainty was out and selling well, I turned a portion of my energy toward more intentionally growing the paid speaking and training arm of my business. This has led to a growing schedule of keynotes and in-house train- ings with companies that range from small startups to 300 person rapid-growth Internet ventures and industry- leading advertising firms to Fortune 100s. While I speak on a variety of topics, my current focus— leading and innovating in times of mass uncertainty and disruption—has been in high-demand. And it also allows me to bring in many strategies and practices that have a profound impact not only on creativity and growth, but on morale, mindset and loyalty.
25 It is, no doubt, easier it is to scale revenue around sharing similar “information” in a conference-call, webinar, book or in- fo-product format, but I don’t get that same hit when I’m not physically in a room with people. I miss out on the engage- ment, ability to see and respond to people’s facial expressions, body-language and create an experience designed to optimally serve and equip teams to aspire to new levels of performance and transcend current limitations, paradigms and solutions. Funny, I was actually sitting in a meeting with five agents from a major speakers’ bureau in late August 2011. They were asking me all sorts of questions about my story, my message, my experience and beliefs. At one point, one of the agents turned to me and said, “you’ve got a lot going on, it doesn’t seem like you’re driven to speak because of the money, so what’s driving you?” I looked at him, smiled and said, “I want to change the world.” To which the agent behind him let out a “whoop!” My goal over the next 18-24 months is to continue to not only build this business engine into a once-to-twice a month live keynoting and facilitating schedule, but also to refocus on creating my own private events, retreats, mentoring opportu- nities and trainings. In fact, that latter element will become a large focus for me in 2012. I’ll share really exciting news on this toward the end of this report. One of my concerns with this growth goal, of course, is how the increased travel and potential workload will affect my body, my brain, my state of mind and my ability to be present and fully-engaged with my wife and daughter. I have no desire to be a “circuit speaker” who travels and speaks much of the year. There is no place I’d rather be than with my wife and daughter. To handle the potential demand that exceeds what I’m capable of delivering, I’ll be exploring various relationships that will allow me to train facilitators to expand the experiences and knowledge beyond what I’m physically capable of and interested in doing myself. Also, rather than book as many engagements or run as many events as possible, I’ll be selec- tively building a humane schedule and keeping a close eye on how my health, mindset and relationships respond. In an interesting way, my very ability to do what I do is proof of concept that what I teach works.
26 Business Engine #4. The Blog & Where It’s Going A funny thing happens when you meet someone new from the office-job world and you tell them you blog. Of- ten, they’ll look to the sky, having no idea what blogging is or assuming it’s a euphemism for being incapable of keeping a real job. Sometimes, they’ll ask, “so, how do you make money doing that?” Here’s how it works for me. JonathanFields.com is where I focus most of my community-building, thought-lead- ership and conversation-building energies. That’s been evolving, though, as I become more active on google+, Facebook and twitter. While traffic has remained consistently strong and my sub- scriber list continues to grow, I could be building both better. In 2011, I found myself being pulled between too many projects, too many communities and feeling like I was posting so often, I didn’t have the time or energy to create content on the level that makes me proud or is effective enough at driving traffic, social sharing and list-building. That’s a huge problem. After the book launch began to wind down in November, I pulled back and stopped posting for nearly 3 weeks to see what would happen and also just allow myself to pause and reflect. Traffic dropped a notch, but subscrip- tions just kept on keeping on, albeit still at a clip that I know is far below what both could be. I also realized that, while I designed my blog and really loved the original concept, over the years, it’s become loaded up with what we call bread crumbs (images, offers and other distractions) that not only make the whole experience more “frazzled,” but also seriously detract from the core business purpose of the blog--to be an atten- tion asset that builds community, conversation and, yes, grows my list as big and as fast as possible.
27 So many bloggers are afraid to talk about the fact that, while we love what we do, our blogs are fundamentally what my friend Brian Clark of Copyblogger calls “attention assets.” We all have limited personal bandwidth. Blogging takes a lot of time and energy, and if you have a family to support, that means you either need to figure out how to get paid for it, or do something else for money and treat it as a gift. In my own business, this works on two levels, direct and indirect monetization. On the direct side, here the drill: 1. Give a ton of value, build a big community and a wellspring of goodwill and thought-leader- ship. 2. Ask people what they need, research gaps or draw from your own experience 3. Either offer my own solutions in exchange for a fee or others’ solutions in exchange for an affili- ate commission. That’s been my approach all along. Offer extraordinary value, solve a problem or serve a delight, get paid. On the indirect monetization side, the size and engagement of my tribes also contribute to the size of my book advanc- es, for as long as I’m traditionally published, and the number of books I sell if and when I go indie. And the value and exposure that comes from these platforms generates consulting and speaking engagements and joint-venture opportu- nities. The blog does these things pretty well. But, I’ve also known for a while that it could be doing them far more effectively. I’ve just been so busy on other projects and helping clients with their marketing and strategy that, well, let’s just say I’ve become the cobbler’s kid.
28 It’s time to fix some glaring problems in my own blog content-marketing equation. First, I’ll be doing a total visual re- brand. The new visual brand will be all about simplicity, blending a sense of cool calm with a gentler reading experience and far fewer distractions. There’ll be little more to do than read or subscribe. I’ve also already begun posting less frequently, now two to four times a month, instead of a week. That will continue. It allows me to create content at a higher level of value and thoughtfulness (like this annual report), while also giving my “off-blog” business engines what they need to thrive. And I’ll likely be experimenting with a variety of web show formats as well. Business Engine #5. My Team This was an area of big awakening for me in 2011. Though technically not a business engine because it does not directly produce income, my team is a huge enabling factor. And a lack of a great team is a huge impact and income limiting factor. It also stops me from being able to do what I’m best at, what people want most and what is best for the business. Right now, I have a distributed team of people with different expertise that I draw upon on a project or venture basis. For me to do what I want to do, though, it’s becoming increasingly clear that I need to put together a more coherent team. So, as I begin to ramp my current ventures and prepare to launch a major new project in 2012, I am also exploring the various roles I’ll need to fill on a more consistent basis. I’m looking at what I can outsource, contract or turn into collabo- rations and what is so core to my operations that I really need to keep those competencies in-house. And, after the in- credible experience I had launching Uncertainty with my wife, I have no doubt she’ll play a key role in the way the team evolves over the next year.
30 “What inspires you?” That’s what an audience member asked during my keynote at World Domination Summit last summer. Little did she know, I had something hidden... something the audience couldn’t see... a little piece of paper resting on the monitor next to my notes... It was there to remind me what really mattered. I could crash and burn on stage, but this piece of paper would make it all okay. It was a heart. Drawn for me by my 10-year old daughter be- fore I left. No matter how my keynote went, she’d still be there to place her hands on my cheeks when I walked in the door and share a few butterfly kisses and a hug that said “you’re everything I need.” I held up the heart in response to the question and said, “This. My daughter,” then explained what it was. Standing there, with the piece of paper raised high in the air before 500 peo- ple, I nearly burst into tears. So did many in the audience. My daughter doesn’t care if I’m the founder or CEO of a com- pany, a former mega-firm/SEC lawyer (I know, I forgot to men- tion that), a well-known author or speaker or artist. Nor does my wife or anyone else who genuinely matters. And, frankly, beyond ego, neither do I. Fame, money, power and toys don’t drive me.
32 goodlifeproject TM What does drive me is the opportunity to: • Have fun (if you’re not, why bother?) • Earn enough to live well in the world and give to others • Be present in the lives of my wife, daughter, family and friends • Do something that matters, both to me and to the world • Create experiences to teach, lead, nurture and elevate • Play, create, innovate and provoke new ideas • Learn and experience constant growth • Cultivate health and wellbeing • Work in a state of flow. And I’ve realized, it’s not just me... People who build businesses and careers as organic extensions of who they are, master “delight-based” marketing and train their minds to thrive in the face of uncertainty live better lives. They have more control, adapt and evolve with ease, earn more money, laugh more often, leave bigger legacies, grow taller (okay, I made that one up) and embrace life more fully. For some time, I’ve had a vision to build a single venture devoted to equipping a new generation of entrepreneurs and world-changers with the knowledge, tools, mindset and support needed to do amazing things in business and life. That time is now... Next week, I’ll be launching a new venture—Good Life Project™ (GLP). It will have a home at GoodLifeProject.com. The first offering will be revealed shortly. All I can say for now is that it’s going to make a tremendous difference in peoples’ businesses and lives. Other programs and experiences will follow as the year unfolds. For now, I’ll leave you with these 10 Commandments of Biz...
33 10 Commandments of Biz Thou shalt have a STRATEGY but be open to SERENDIPITY Thou shalt magnify results with DELIGHT MARKETING Thou shalt train thy MIND in the ALCHEMY OF FEAR Thou shalt find or purchase a SENSE OF HUMOR Thou shalt embrace the power of MENTORING Thou shalt do EPIC Sh*t that actually matters Thou shalt ALIGN thy actions with thy HEART Thou shalt treat people with COMPASSION Thou shalt exalt LOVE as a business ideal Thou shalt lead with SERVICE & SOUL goodlifeproject TM
34 THE WRAP UP What an extraordinary year on so many levels. It’s my deepest hope that this 2011 Annual Report has been of some value to you, either in the form of inspiration, information, entertainment or may- be even a bit of each. If you’ve enjoyed it, I’d so appreciate if you would do two things: • Share this report with friends by email • Share the link in social media - http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/annual-report/ To the year to come. Time to make it ours. To serve. To aspire. To transcend. Big love, Jonathan Fields Designed by Jonathan Fields. Cover image, pages 4 and 13 - Sharon Bubny. Images on pages 10, 24 and 31 from World Domination Summit by Armosa Studios. Image included on page 16 licensed from istockphoto.com. All other images by Jonathan Fields.