Episode: Answers to 10 Questions You’ve Been Dying to Ask Us

Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael:  And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. This episode is going to be a little bit different as we dip into the mailbag and answer your questions.

Megan: We get questions all the time at live events and through social media, and I love that, because it helps us keep in touch with your needs and make our products more practical for our users.

Michael: Yeah. I think sometimes we think we know what the questions are, but unless we really have that frontline input and get questions from listeners or read questions from email… As fast as our culture is moving, we could get out of touch very quickly. So it keeps us with our finger on the heartbeat of where people are.

Megan: In fact, we value your input so much we are kicking off a listener survey today where you can provide your feedback. So if you’ll take a couple of minutes (it doesn’t take long) to take this survey, you can do that at

Michael: By the way, what’s in it for them? I think what’s in it for them is that they can influence the direction of this show.

Megan: That’s right. We carefully look over your input, and that guides the direction of the podcast content.

Michael: We want the content to be as relevant and helpful as we can get it, so help us help you.

Megan: That’s right. Larry has gone through a number of your questions and selected a few for us, so let’s get right to it, Larry.

Larry Wilson: Well, one of the things that constantly amazes me about the listenership to this podcast is looking at the metrics and seeing where in the world people are.

Michael: I know.

Larry: We really have listeners all over the world. This first question comes from a gentleman from the United Kingdom. Let’s take a listen to Rob Petrie.

Rob: Hi, Michael. Hi, Megan. I’m Rob Petrie, the headteacher, or principal as you’d call it, of Cockermouth School here in Cumbria in England. Our school has approximately 1,400 students, aged from 11 to 18 years old. We’re situated on the edge of the Lake District National Park, a beautiful place and part of the country to live and work.

In my four years as head, we’ve made huge progress as a school and we’ve moved forward in every area, but there has been a downside to this. I’ve been driving it, and it has required me to really lead from the front. This means my leadership team has become dependent on me and are checking with me about decisions I really think they should just be making.

So my question for you is…What advice do you have on moving from a strong single-leader model to a more empowered team who are comfortable with making high-level decisions? We love the podcast. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and thank you very much.

Michael: I think you have to get clear on what kind of team you want and what kind of role you want to play as a leader. Generally, in my experience, teams are like that because the leader assumes that people are unwilling or unable to step up. In most cases, that’s a bad assumption. So I think you have to decide that you’re going to elevate other people, you’re going to give them challenging assignments, you’re going to hold them accountable, and you’re not going to rescue them or step in and fill the vacuum if they don’t step up.

Sometimes people, especially if you’ve trained them that you’re always going to do everything, are going to kind of wait for a moment, hesitate, and see if you step back into it. I think you have to get really comfortable with letting that vacuum exist for a little bit and then encouraging them to step up and take the responsibility.

Megan: A practical way to do this is when you’re setting your annual goals, make certain department heads or other leaders on your leadership team responsible for specific goals. So at the end of the day, they’re responsible to deliver that goal. I think that’s going to drive empowerment and decision-making, because it’s very clear that everybody is not an owner; there’s one person who’s an owner.

Michael: And I think being clear about your own vision about what your role is. For example, you could say to people, “Look. You have the ball on this particular initiative. I’m expecting you to deliver it across the goal line. I’m here as a resource. I’m not going to be driving the activity, but I’m here as a resource. If you get stuck, I’m here to coach you, I’m here to resource you, but I’m not the one who’s going to carry the ball over the goal line.”

Larry: Our next question comes to us through Instagram. By the way, if you are not following Michael on Instagram, it’s @michaelhyatt. We frequently take questions, and Michael responds to comments often, so be sure to follow Michael on Instagram. Sebastian asks, “What are your recommendations for how to combine the Full Focus Planner and the Getting Things Done system?”

Michael: Okay. I’m a huge fan of David Allen. I’ve loved the Getting Things Done methodology. I’ve promoted that book. I’ve used various applications that incorporate that methodology. There’s nothing wrong with it as far as it goes, but it’s missing one key component in my humble estimation. This is something I talk about in my new book Free to Focus at some length. It’s missing a filter.

Here’s the problem: anytime an idea pops into your head or you think of a task that needs to be done, according to GTD methodology it needs to go on a list. The problem is for most people who are operating without a filter, in other words, some way of challenging whether or not that needs to go on a list or you ought to be doing it, your lists become unmanageable.

It’s not that unusual for me to meet with clients of ours who have literally hundreds of items on their to-do list, and they’re simply overwhelmed and stuck and are not making the progress they need to make. So, what we talk about in the Full Focus Planner and the Free to Focus book is focusing on those things that are in your Desire Zone, the things you love and the things you’re really good at or proficient in, and then distilling that down on the Full Focus Planner daily page to your three most important tasks to do today.

Oftentimes, people will put 20 things on their list for today. They are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it. They go to bed when they’ve only completed half of it, feeling frustrated and defeated, and they basically have set themselves up to lose at a game that can’t be won. So we say isolate that to three top activities. If you get these three done, these are going to move the needle in your business. They’re going to be significant. So, that’s the main thing between us and Getting Things Done. We have a filter and we have a focus for every day.

Larry: Our next question is from Timmy. Timmy is an author and illustrator of children’s books, and he asks, “There are 10 goal slots in the Full Focus Planner. I only have four goals. Do I have too few goals?”

Megan: Yeah, I think you do. We recommend 7 to 10 goals for each year. The reason for that is because we want you to look at the major domains of your life and ask the question…Are you making progress in that area? Are you where you want to be in that area or is there room for improvement? With only four goals, that’s a pretty limited area of focus for an entire year. We do recommend that of your 7 to 10 goals you’re only focusing on 2 to 3 per quarter so you don’t get overwhelmed. So you’re kind of directionally right with your four on a quarterly basis, but that’s really not enough to be exciting and incorporate the larger vision you have for your life on an annual basis.

Michael: One of the things you can do is take our LifeScore Assessment. It’s free, and we’ll drop a link into the show notes. The LifeScore Assessment will help you self-assess in the major domains of your life so you can get a sense of where you have room to grow and where you have room to develop goals.

Larry: Our next question is from Victoria, and let’s listen to Victoria’s question now.

Victoria: Hi. My name is Victoria, and my question is…How would you coach someone to find a career they are passionate about and will pay the bills while providing for their family in a job which drains the life out of them? Thanks.

Michael: I think there’s an ideal that sometimes people have. You know, “Just start doing what you love and the money will come.” I don’t think that’s how it typically works out in regular life. I think what probably every young person coming out of college needs, first and foremost, is to learn to work. Sometimes that means doing things you don’t enjoy. I think there’s real value in that in terms of shaping your character and your ability to persevere and all that.

I certainly had my share of those jobs. I didn’t just come out of college and go right into a job that was amazing that I loved and where I was making a huge impact. We’ve created, perhaps, a generation of people who have that expectation. I think that sometimes, especially at the beginning, you have to be willing to do the hard things, and then transition into those things you love. Frankly, I didn’t know what I loved at first. That took a decade or two to figure out where my sweet spot was, where I could begin to focus in it and begin to make a living in it.

So, I think changing your expectation and realizing it’s not binary. It’s not all or nothing. If you can find aspects of your job… Even if you hate the overall job, if there are aspects of it you really like and can become more proficient at, that’s great. Grab on to those things and develop them, and over time, hopefully that’ll work into a full-time job.

Megan: Another thing I was thinking when you were talking is we talk about this concept of the Desire Zone. That is the area where you’re passionate and proficient. Proficient doesn’t just mean you think you’re good at it. It means the market will financially reward you for the contribution you’re making for that proficiency.

So when you’re thinking about how to move into a career you love, the other part of that is “and that you’re proficient at,” because if you just love it but there’s not a market for it or maybe you’re not as good as you think you are…there’s a lot of competition and your skills aren’t that unique…that’s probably not going to result in a likely transition for you. So that can provide some clarity on what you’re looking for in a particular career.

But then, to your point about expectations, this happens incrementally over time. If you’re in your 50s or 60s or beyond, that would be reasonable to think you’re near 100 percent in your Desire Zone at that point, after having been through 40 years, potentially, of a career. That’s not realistic for someone who is in the first 10 years of their career or even the first 20 years of their career. You’re still learning and growing and maturing and refining that process.

I don’t think we do that well in our culture. We want things right now. Like you said, there’s that expectation that we all kind of have a right to do what we love or that if we identify what we love that should immediately translate into a full-time career, but sometimes it’s about taking incremental steps and being satisfied with that over time, because it does add up over the decades.

Larry: Our next question comes again through Instagram. Before I pose this question, I just want to say to both of you guys we have to keep this show on track. We have a limited amount of time, so let’s not get carried away with the answer here. Okay?

Megan: What are you going to ask us?

Larry: Bill Anderson wants to know, “What bag do you carry to work?”

Megan: Oh my goodness. First of all, that was a wise setup on your part, because this could really go off the rails. Do you want to go first or do you want me to?

Michael: I have to walk across the room and actually get the bag because I don’t know what it’s called.

Megan: All right. The bag I discovered about six or eight months ago is called the Allyn Tote, and it’s from Dagne Dover, which is a handbag/workbag company. It’s a leather tote. I have a couple of them. I have a light gray one and a kind of oxblood red one. It is so beautiful. It has a place that’s insulated for my computer. It has a place for my planner. It has a place for my phone that’s on the outside of the bag. We’ve done a whole episode about our bags, and I talked about it then too. I love this bag. It feels like it’s pretty enough that it can do dual purpose as a purse, but it’s really functional on the inside. So, Dagne Dover, and it’s called the Allyn Tote.

Michael: I’m so impressed you know that level of detail.

Michael: Well, I’m a detail kind of girl.

Michael: I’m going to be less impressive. I actually have two bags.

Larry: Just the two bags, Michael?

Megan: Well, you really have about 30, but you use two.

Michael: I use two currently. The more extensive one, when I go on longer trips, is my eBags Slim Junior. We talked about this on a previous episode too. That basically has a compartment and a zipper for everything. Zippers for days.

Megan: You’re not kidding. It really does.

Michael: My favorite part is the cord garage where I can keep all of my cords organized and in one place. The one I carry back and forth to the office (and I live two and a half blocks from the office, so I can walk back and forth) is a bag that my pal Jeff Goins gave me about three years ago. I complimented him on his bag, and the next thing I knew one showed up at my doorstep. This one is made by Wilsons Leather. The thing I like about this is it’s super low-profile. It has just enough room for my iPad, my Full Focus Planner, a couple of cords, and my reading glasses, and that’s it. They call this a career bag?

Larry: Like a messenger bag concept?

Michael: Yeah, that’s it. Messenger bag is the term I’m looking for. It’s dark brown, kind of a chocolate brown. It’s a little bit beat up. I just like the way it looks, and I like how slim it is.

Larry: And now I have a serious case of bag envy. That’s a beautiful bag. We did do a recent episode on, really, travel tips, but we got heavily into the bags.

Megan: It’s not surprising if you know us.

Larry: We’ll have a link in the show notes to that episode with much more detail on some other bags. This question is from Justin Mathews. Justin wants to know, “When you get in one of those days where you are just blown off course, what do you do to get refocused?”

Megan: That’s such a good question. First of all, it happens to us too. It happens to everybody.

Michael: It happened to me yesterday.

Megan: Justin is our friend, by the way, so shout-out to you. What I like to do in this situation is I approach it maybe a little counterintuitively. I like to get a good night’s sleep, and the reason for that is if I’ve had a day like that, I’m probably discouraged, and if I’m discouraged and tired, it starts to produce what my husband affectionately calls the doom loop. I’m just not very resourceful when I’m in the doom loop and I feel like I’m not being successful. This is just a lesson I’ve learned over the years. Just go to bed. Go to bed at 9:00. Go to bed at 8:30. Start again tomorrow after a full night’s sleep, and that helps.

Then when I wake up in the morning, I would review my Weekly Big 3 that I’ve put in my Full Focus Planner. That would reorient me with the things I intended to focus on and accomplish at the beginning of the week, and I would fill out my day page in the Full Focus Planner. So I would identify my Big 3 for the day, I would put my schedule on that day page so I know what’s happening, and that’s a great reset. If you can just get a little win and get some clarity, you can get back on track usually.

Michael: I love that you started with sleep, because I mentioned I had a similar day yesterday. I was just unfocused. I got to the end of the day, and I kind of started beating myself up, and Gail said to me, “Honey, give yourself some grace and go to bed.” Same advice. Unfortunately, I passed the DNA on to you and you struggle with the same thing. I’m so much more resourceful in the morning. I think just the expectation that you’re going to have days like that… Being a productive person does not mean you don’t have bad days.

I have to share this concept I got from Jeff Walker. Jeff sends out this video every week, and he’s our pal. Jeff said, “I don’t have bad days anymore.” I was kind of intrigued by that, so I listened to it. He said, “What I realized is that it’s very rare that I have an entire day that’s bad. What I typically have is a few bad hours in a day.” I thought, “Wow!” That totally reframed it for me.

Megan: You can really globalize quickly, like it’s the worst day, it’s the worst week, it’s probably going to be the worst year. It’s just a real snowball.

Michael: Like yesterday, I basically had a bad 45 minutes, and it just so happened that it was at the end of the day, and it made me view the entire day through that lens. It really wasn’t a bad day; it was a bad 45 minutes. That kind of helps me keep things in perspective.

Megan: That’s really good.

Larry: We serve high achievers at Michael Hyatt & Company, and we attract high achievers. This next question is from a high achiever, or a would-be high achiever named Philip. His question is, “Any advice for getting started in real estate while chasing a 4.0 in college?”

Megan: Well, I’m not sure we’re experts on real estate in any meaningful way, so we probably couldn’t give you specific advice on that, but I think it all comes down to using your hours that are outside of school intelligently and investing those in the things that matter to you. If that happens to be building your real estate career on the side, then having some goals around that and setting some priorities for the week and for some of your days during the week might be a good way to approach that.

Michael: The other thing I would say… I don’t know your situation financially or what your options are, but I also remember the ancient Chinese proverb that says, “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Your college career is a moment in time. It’ll quickly be behind you. I personally wouldn’t let something else interfere with that.

Megan: Unless you need to, unless that’s financially essential.

Michael: Yeah. If it’s financially essential, that’s fine, but if at all possible, I would focus on one thing and give myself to that and squeeze all the juice out of that lemon, and then go into the real estate thing and really pound it, knowing you gave it your best at college.

Megan: I will say it can be a dangerous thing to start off early in your life and your career thinking that if you don’t always run all the time you’re running behind. You can develop a habit of drivenness that’s unhealthy that you can spend a lot of time undoing the damage of over time.

Michael: Guilty.

Megan: Right. We’ve all been there.

Larry: Our next question is from a woman who has an interesting career, and that impacts her time and her life, and that’s the focus of her question. Let’s hear it.

Sarah: Hi, Michael and Megan. My name is Sarah. I’m a student midwife in Canada, and I am on call most of the time. Occasionally I do shift work as well. My schedule is very inconsistent and unpredictable at times, and I was wondering if you had any advice for me, and others who have schedules like mine, on how to use routines effectively and even how to use the Full Focus Planner. Thanks so much.

Michael: Sarah, you’re basically screwed. Get a different job. So, even in an unpredictable schedule, my guess is that there are patterns of recurring days. Maybe some days are complete chaos and they can’t be predicted, but maybe other days there’s some pattern around it. You may have to have multiple sets of rituals. I know, for me, I have an abbreviated morning ritual I use when I’m traveling, so I don’t put myself under the pressure of having to do my full morning ritual, particularly in a context where it’s just impossible. I’m setting myself up for defeat if I do that.

So there may be a couple of rituals, sort of the minimum effective dose you’re going to use on those days when you really have to be on call and when you go from one emergency to another, and that’s fine. Also just giving yourself grace. For example, let’s just say four out of your seven days were unpredictable but three of them were predictable and things were more settled down. Great. Then let your structure be around those three days, and don’t beat yourself up. That’s just your career. That’s your calling.

Megan: It’s almost like then your structured days become your recovery days from the unstructured ones. That might be an interesting way to think about it. How can you use the rituals on those days that are more structured to really refuel so that when you have another chaotic day you’re prepared for it emotionally, physically, and all the things?

Michael: It’s a little bit like the counsel we give to people who think they don’t have much discretionary time in their job, they’re not in control of what they’re doing. The thing we typically say is you probably have more discretionary time than you think. Stop worrying about what you don’t have control over and focus on what you do have control over, and be intentional about that.

Larry: Next question is from Kim, who is a voice teacher. Kim would like to ask, “What are your tips for successfully working with family…” Do you guys know anything about that?

Megan: We do.

Larry: “…especially when your work talk bleeds into family gatherings?”

Megan: Yeah, we’ve been there.

Michael: We’ve been there. Megan, why don’t you take the lead on this?

Megan: Well, there’s a lot I could say about this, but the first thing (this probably governs all aspects of it) is to have excellent and explicit communication about how things are going to work from the beginning. If you didn’t do it at the beginning, do it now. Usually when you get into trouble it’s because there are expectations that are misaligned that you thought you were aligned on because they were kind of implied, or whatever, and then you find out too late that you were really not on the same page.

One of the fastest ways to make everybody else in your family who’s not involved in your family business mad at you and not supportive of your business is to talk about it in your offstage time, on weekends or at nights when you’re all together at a family dinner or a birthday party or something. We really have made it a rule… Actually, this has gotten even harder for us recently because we hired my youngest sister Marissa as our social media manager. She’s excellent at it, but that just means there are three out of seven of us who are involved in the business on a daily basis. We have made a deal that we just don’t talk about work when we’re all together with the family.

Michael: And it’s hard, because we love our work and we’re interested in our work. We’re curious about our work, so it’s natural to talk about it, but why don’t you talk about the rules we’ve put in place.

Megan: The rules are that when we’re together we don’t talk about work, that it’s about our family, that we’re interested in the other members of our family who are not participating in the business, and that we have more to relate on as a family than our shared business interests. We have to work at that, because probably the most present thing that the three of us who are involved with the business are thinking about is our work.

So it starts with that commitment, and it starts with expectations. When we hired Marissa, I actually came up with a whole document about my expectations for how we would relate to her in a professional way, because those are different than the ways we have related to one another as family members. That enabled everybody to be clear. It enabled her direct supervisor to feel confident that she could perform as an employee and not just someone who is related to the two of us, and it has gone really well.

Michael: One example of where we’ve had to be clear is it would be natural for her, because she relates to me so much because of the social media thing… Like, if she had a grievance or a complaint or an observation, she could just circumvent the entire hierarchy and come straight to me. We realized that would be a problem on the front end, so we said, “Don’t do that. If you have an issue, don’t even go to Megan. You go to your supervisor.”

Megan: Right. She doesn’t report to me. She reports to our director of marketing.

Michael: So we made it very clear the protocol for how you address that, and it absolutely hasn’t been a problem, because I think we headed it off at the pass.

Megan: That’s right.

Larry: Great advice there, guys. I think we have time for one last question, so we’re going to jump to Darren, who wants to know, “What’s your favorite ice cream?”

Megan: Such a good question.

Michael: Well, first of all, that’s a hard one to answer because there are so many options.

Megan: We really love ice cream.

Michael: I love ice cream. I don’t eat it as much anymore, but I’m actually second-guessing that decision as we’re talking about it. I’m going to have to go with pistachio.

Megan: Really? I did not know that about you. I thought you were going to say rum raisin, or what’s the Baskin-Robbins one?

Michael: Jamoca Almond Fudge. Those would be my three top favorites, for sure, but anything chocolate captures my attention.

Megan: But then you picked pistachio, which is not chocolate.

Michael: I know. Well, it’s green.

Megan: Who knew that was a value? Mine would be mint chocolate chip. On the green topic, Baskin-Robbins has my favorite one, and then my second favorite would be Breyers after that. But I will say we have Jeni’s ice cream here in Nashville, and Jeni’s has… You really couldn’t even narrow down the flavors because there are so many weird, different kinds that they have, and they are fantastic.

Michael: Have you tried the horseradish one?

Megan: What?

Michael: I’m just making that up.

Megan: Okay. That sounds gross.

Larry: Well, there are some good tips on ice cream and a lot of other good tips on leadership and growing yourself as a leader and your business. Guys, as we come in for a landing, any final thoughts for our listeners and these questioners today?

Michael: Keep the questions coming. It keeps us sharp. I want to be better at asking questions, and I think staying curious as an individual is the secret to growth.

Larry: Thanks to all of our listeners who submitted questions today, and as a reminder, we do want your feedback, so we invite you to take the listener survey at Thank you, Michael and Megan, for your candid answers today.

Michael: You bet. Thank you, Larry. And thank you guys for joining us today on Lead to Win. Be sure to join us next time when we’ll share a live coaching call with one of our listeners based on our Business Health Assessment tool. Until then, lead to win.