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7 Keys to Finishing Strong with Veronique James


Over the last few episodes, we’ve discussed how you can set better goals, how you can accelerate your success by thinking resourcefully, and how to make the most of your time; but now we’re focusing on checking that box next to your goal, and the only way that can happen is if you can hold yourself accountable.

To tackle that final piece of the puzzle, I’m joined by Veronique James – the Founder and CEO of The James Agency. Veronique launched The James Agency in 2005 and it has since grown from a one-woman shop into an award-winning, integrated agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, and all things digital marketing. Under her leadership, The James Agency has received honors in the Inc. 5000, Entrepreneur’s Top Company Culture List, and dozens of awards from industry organizations for their work with notable brands including Hotel Valley Ho, Mountain Shadows, Marriott, Fox Restaurant Concepts, and many more.

So, let’s get after it! Listen to the full episode now to learn how you can hold yourself accountable with Veronique’s 7 Keys to Finishing Strong.

You’re always welcome to send your thoughts and feedback to me directly by emailing steven@decisiveleap.com, but now you can leave a review for the show by going to ratethispodcast.com/IgnitionPoint. All of your thoughts, feedback and suggestions are appreciated, but please be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts to be notified every Monday when new episodes drop.


FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller – and this is Ignition Point.

So far this month, my guests and I have discussed how you can set more effective goals, how you can approach those goals with a resourceful mindset, and how you can manage your time and attention with those goals in mind; but before we tackle the final piece of the puzzle today, I’ve just got one little favor to ask.

Grab your phone, go into your favorite Podcast Platform, and make sure you’re following the show; because next month, I’m going to be joined by four local leaders who’re sharing their personal experiences in dealing with struggle and how they’ve overcome adversity. Their stories are going to be totally unfiltered and will give you a leg up when you eventually face an uphill battle, so follow the show and you’ll be notified when those new episodes drop.

By now you’ve got some goals on paper, you’re on the lookout for new resources to accelerate your success, and you’re making the most of your time. What’s next?

Well, you’ve got to check that box that’s next to the goal. You’ve got to cross the finish line and stand behind the proverbial podium to say, “mission accomplished,” but the only way that happens is if you can hold yourself accountable and complete those goals that you’ve been working toward.

It’s all about the way that you follow through, and come to think of it, I only know one self-proclaimed accountability ninja, which is why I’m so excited to welcome the Founder and CEO of The James Agency, Veronique James.

Veronique launched The James Agency out of her living room in ‘05 with the goal of creating an agency focused on open communication and transparency with both clients and employees. Now entering its fifteenth year, The James Agency has kept her original vision alive but has grown from a one-woman shop into an award-winning, integrated agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, and all things digital marketing.

Under her leadership, The James Agency has received honors in the Inc. 5000 and Entrepreneur’s Top Company Culture list, but has also received dozens of awards from industry organizations and national media outlets for their work with notable brands including Hotel Valley Ho, Mountain Shadows, Marriott, Fox Restaurant Concepts, and many more.

Whether at work, at home, or in local leadership, Veronique makes the most of her time and always puts her best foot forward.

So, let’s get after it! Here to share her 7 Keys to Finishing Strong and how you can hold yourself accountable, this is Veronique James.

THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE WITH VERONIQUE JAMES

Coming into a new year, there’s a really great opportunity for a clean slate. There are so many programs to engage with and sometimes it can feel extremely overwhelming to put plans in place for your fitness or maybe healthy eating or religious studies or maybe it’s continuing education.

So, a plan is certainly important. I believe that if you don’t have a plan, it’s very difficult to get to the finish line. And how many times have you found yourself wanting to get somewhere, but really not having the GPS coordinates of how to take each turn by turn, and successfully end up where you want to be?

Having a plan in place and having a roadmap and being tremendously prepared allows us to be aware of the things that fall in our lap unexpectedly. I always tell my team, “this doesn’t need to be hard. Look at the big picture, break it up into small little pieces, tackle each piece one bite at a time, and all of a sudden, you’ve eaten an entire elephant! But if you don’t have a plan in place and something big gets dropped in your lap – which happens every day – it gets really hard.”

If you don’t have a plan in place, then you’re not controlling your life. You’re letting your life control you.

I think it’s incredible to share your plan and your goals with someone. It’s a lot harder to quit – especially in deviating your path – when you’ve got somebody who’s checking in on you. It can be as simple as a text or an email or even a FaceTime message asking, “how are you doing? How are you progressing? How do you feel?”

Sometimes going through a plan and staying accountable and staying within the lanes of that plan can be tremendously difficult but seeing it to the finish line is even more important.

It’s pivotal to have that support and that structure to lean on; and that accountability partner and that coach. Whether it’s unforeseen life changes – which has happened to me – whether it’s death in the family or a financial struggle; it really helps overcome adversity and those roadblocks. So, let’s put that plan in place. Let’s develop some very specific smart goals.

Put in KPIs for yourself that you can measure yourself for progress. KPI means “key performance indicator;” markers in your life that you can track progress against. By putting that on paper and sharing that with your accountability partner, and then creating a milestone or checkpoint every four weeks or every 30 days, is a way to track progress.

I have a personal goal of wanting to compete in a mini triathlon. Not a full triathlon, but 15 miles on the bike, a 5K, and a mile swim. In order for me to accomplish that fitness goal, I had to set some very specific key performance indicators, or KPIs, to show progress.

So, first and foremost, running a mile without stopping and doing that within two weeks. I put it down on paper, I have it visually displayed in my home gym, and I track my progress towards that. So today, not even a month after I’ve started training, I’m up to six miles without stopping and I’m up to 13 miles on the bike, but key performance indicators are benchmarks to show that you’re moving the needle for yourself.

Nothing feels more cathartic then checking something off the list, but you can’t make progress unless you have a plan.

Let me tell you, I’m a mom. I have a four and a five-year-old and I have a C-Suite Executive husband who travels three or four days a week, and it can be so stressful. I find myself sometimes making every excuse in the book to not see my financial or fitness goals to the finish line, and it’s easy for me to be distracted by a shiny penny.

So, here’s a good example for me. I love the experience of breaking bread with people, but in order for me to operate at the velocity that I have to, and to be healthy and take care of this one body that I have, I have to stay a very specific course of restrictive diet. And when I veer off of my restrictive diet, I start to get really sick.

I don’t sleep well. I’m not clear in my thinking. I’m not the best person I could be. My skin looks terrible.

That’s the universe turning the volume up on you, but it all starts to happen very slowly until the point where the universe is so loud, and I have been ignoring it because of all these shiny pennies and squirrels running past me.

And what I really found that works for me, is relieving the stress and creating these non-negotiable moments for myself in the morning that are truly just for me. These devoted hours where I’m not starting my day for somebody else, because the second my kids wake up or when I walk in the door of my business, every minute thereafter is smoked for everybody else’s needs and priorities. So, taking a step back and recognizing that the only way I’m going to progress for myself, is if I truly dedicate those moments to me.

I love progress, but progress doesn’t mean running a 10-mile marathon after the third week that you’ve started training. Or making it up the corporate ladder because you have this professional plan or path in place, it’s the small wins that count so that you can get to the finish line very quickly.

All those little unfinished accomplishments, that really becomes the bigger regret. No one’s ever regretted accomplishing something small, and by the time that you get to the end of that finish line and you look back at all those small accomplishments – all those small bites of that elephant – it is truly rewarding, but you have to take a step forward. You have to start.

So, I love these seven keys to finishing strong, these very important statements. The very first one is having very clear and actionable goals. If your goals are too lofty or overextending yourself or the capabilities of what you’re able to achieve, you’ve already set yourself up for failure. Don’t set goals based on what other people think your goals need to be.

Have you ever seen somebody who’s really, truly committed to one passionate subject in their life, and how they embody that subject? It’s incredible when somebody becomes a subject matter expert about something that they’re passionate about. They embody that to the point of purpose and purpose is an incredible place to be in life.

Having patience in all the challenge – in the highs and the lows – provides the space to think and believe deeply in your successes to finish strong. This is one thing that I experience as a business owner.

I have many young, growing leaders in my organization who want change tomorrow. It’s not going to happen. I often remind my team, “no one’s going to expect you to be able to run a full marathon after training in two days. There’s a plan. You start small. You lead up to a long run, and eventually you can do it.”

The most important thing is we have to love what we do and the people who are truly passionate about what they do are the ones that finish, and they complete, and they cross that stuff off their list, and they feel amazing about it; and they’re super inspirational.

There’s so many leaders and phenomenal authors and keynote speakers that I’ve listened to and I find myself so inspired by their commitment and their passion and their love.

When you’re in a place where you don’t love what you do, and you’re not waking up every day with purpose, and you’re laying your head down and you’re full of regrets because you wished you had done something else; that’s embodying something other than having a grateful heart.

Whether you’re a multimillionaire or you’re just starting out out of college, everybody goes through adversity in life and I think stress is relative to anybody and having the strength to say, “gosh, everything is happening for a reason and I’m going to learn from this and I’m going to fall forward and not deviate from that path,” is incredibly important.

Falling forward versus lamenting in pain builds character. Nobody is perfect because they were perfect their entire life, they are perfect because they have failed over and over again and have learned to perfect! Those life experiences are things that then you can share with others who you love.

Most importantly for me is integrity; doing what you say you’re going to do. So, when you tell someone, “I’ve got a plan to change,” or “to accomplish something,” doing what you say you’re going to do is the embodiment of integrity. It’s that centerpiece of character. The slightest compromise of your integrity will leave your character flawed in some way.

So, do what you say you’re going to do; that’s integrity. Choose your thoughts and your words and your actions carefully because that is the embodiment of strength and character and passion and commitment and most importantly, trust. People are going to trust you either as an accountability partner or that you are going to commit to yourself and see that plan through.

I will be the first one to say I am not perfect. If you surround yourself with people who believe in accountability, share the same moral compass of integrity and character, are vulnerable to share with you that it is hard, and that they’re falling, and they’re asking for help to bring them back up on their path; that’s an incredible community to be around.

Finding that community to help you get to your finish line will be the most important first step to finishing strong.

STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS

I would like to give a big thank you to Veronique James for taking time to come on this week’s show.

Everyone has their own way of getting to the finish line and their own way of articulating it. You might call it follow-through, execution, closing the deal, or finishing strong, but everyone speaks the same language when it comes to the expectation. You have to be able to check that box.

One of the age old sayings you’re probably familiar with is, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” but when it comes to goals, that saying is bullshit. Trying doesn’t get it done, doing does.

The one thing that doesn’t matter to me is how you say it. So go execute, close your rings, and cross the finish line. Don’t go caving to distractions and don’t make excuses, because while you and I are both guilty of trying to justify whatever it was that got in the way, your excuses won’t get you any closer to checking that box.

It has to start with a plan that you can execute against. So, start figuring out what it’s going to take. Envision all the little steps that get you from where you are now to where you want to go.

Use the OKR Framework we discussed last week. Remember that your Objective is the big goal and the data-driven Key Results are the milestones you have to hit along the way to achieving that Objective. Every bit of it is a step by step process. It follows in a sequence, and now that you’ve heard what Veronique had to say about KPIs, you can incorporate Key Performance Indicators into your Key Results so that you can track your progress toward the milestones.

Just by weaving those KPIs into your plan, you’ve got a roadmap for achieving all of your goals; and from my perspective, this is the perfect time to find an accountability partner or amplify that concept and build out an accountability network.

An accountability network is a circle of trust – kind of like a tribe – but it’s specifically built for 4-10 people who share personal and professional goals inside the group. You’d get the same level of support that you’d get out of an accountability partner, but you’d benefit from having access to the resources of every single person that’s in the network.

If you want to start your own accountability network, all you need to do is to bring those like minded, goal-driven people into one room and set the stage for why you’re all there.

Once you’re at that point, you’re ready. You’re primed for success. You’ve got all of the tools you need. You’re designing effective goals, you’re thinking resourcefully, you’re making effective use of your time, you’ve found an accountability partner or you’ve started an accountability network, and you’re using Veronique’s 7 Keys to Finishing Strong,

Honestly, this is exactly how I wanted to cap off this three-part goal series, but I want to challenge you with one final thought in light of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant.

What are your goals pushing you toward? Is there a master plan?

The truth is, you’ve got the right goals in place when they’re constantly pushing you to be the best version of yourself.

Kobe had a term for this that became his brand. He called it Mamba Mentality. He said, “It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit. It’s all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most, because hard work outweighs talent — every time.”

Mamba Mentality is about doing all the hard work. The 4 AM. workouts, doing more than that guy next to you, and then trusting in the all that work you’ve put in when comes time to put it all on the line.

If your goals don’t make you uncomfortable, they’re not pushing you hard enough. When they’re motivating you to be the best you can be, you take that opportunity and step into it.

You say to yourself, “damn! That doesn’t feel like me right now, but if that’s what it’s going to take, I’ve got to embrace that and step out of my comfort zone.”

Take this into your mind, dare to be your best self. That’s what leads to introspection and improvement.

I’ll be the first person to tell you, life is uncomfortable. So, ask yourself if your goals are pushing you to be the best you can be. That right there is what will keep Mamba Mentality alive.

Kobe Bryant was a legend in many ways, and he’s going to live on in the memories of all those he impacted. But when I think about his mindset and what we should never forget, I always come back to this quote:

“The process drives me. I want to see if I can. I don’t know if I can, but I want to find out. I want to see. I’m going to do what I always do: I’m going to break it down to its smallest form, the smallest detail, and go after it. Day by day, one day at a time.”

If you enjoyed hearing from Veronique and want to learn more about her work over at The James Agency, go check out TheJamesAgency.com or follow them on social @TheJamesAgency.

The James Agency offers its clients custom-fit, integrated marketing services like advertising, PR, and digital media; and they already serve nationwide brands in travel, tourism, hospitality, culinary and entertainment. On their site, you can read more about the team, their services, and current job openings. Just visit thejamesagency.com or to see what they’re up to this week, follow them on social @thejamesagency.

And for the easiest way to get all those links, extra resources and more, be sure to check out this episode’s Show Notes up at DecisiveLeap.com/IgnitionPoint.

If you’re fired up about raising the bar for your Personal Brand or you want to develop a comprehensive Brand Strategy for your business, let’s connect! I’d love to find a way to team up with you. To reach me directly and begin your next leap forward, just send an email to steven@decisiveleap.com.

You can also feel free to email me your feedback and suggestions, but if you’d like to help spread the word about Ignition Point, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review for the show. It’s easier than ever, and all you have to do is go up to ratethispodcast.com/IgnitionPoint.

And before I sign off, if something I said really fired you up, now you can support the show by keeping me caffeinated! All you’ve got to do is visit buymeacoffee.com/StevenMiller, where you can buy me one cup of coffee or by setting up monthly donations, you can buy me all the coffee. Either way, if you do, please be sure to leave me a message.

Well, that’s going to do it for this episode, so stay motivated and keep moving forward.

If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.

I’ll look forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.

Now get on out there and win the week!

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