9 Actions to Take Before 2024 Drops

Are You Useful?

Several subscribers to this newsletter recommended I read the new book by Arnold Schwarzenegger called Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life.

I absolutely loved Arnold’s Netflix documentary, so I immediately downloaded the audiobook for Be Useful and listened to it on my outdoor runs.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. While the concepts aren’t new (Arnold says this himself), Arnold packages tried-and-true advice around his personal experiences. Having Arnold read this himself is an additional treat.

I had two key takeaways.

The first was about having time to do the things you want to do. There is one book segment where Arnold runs through the average day and makes a point that every person, no matter who they are, can find at least an hour a day to make an impact on a goal.

In one part, Arnold needed to squeeze in additional workout time, so he decided to eat in his car on the way to the gym instead of stopping and eating. In another part, he did massive amounts of research to make sure he was doing all the right bodybuilding workouts and that nothing that was a waste of time. He found that some things were necessary, and others weren’t, so he could move his time around properly.

He also spent a good chunk of the book talking about how people spend too much time on social media. The average American spends two hours and 24 minutes on social media (I think that number is low). Arnold’s advice is to stop looking at what other people are doing and go accomplish something (he’s pretty blunt about it).

My second takeaway was about excuses. He shared example after example about how he meets people from all over the world who make excuse after excuse and accomplish nothing. Even if something isn’t your fault, blaming others makes you powerless to change your life.

Personally, I’ve been making all kinds of excuses about why my next novel isn’t done yet. The truth is, I just haven’t made the time. It’s not that I’m too busy. Or that the creative well has run dry. I just haven’t done the work. It’s on me.

Sure, I’m busy, but who isn’t? If I blame someone or a circumstance for not writing, how can I fix it? I can’t. You can’t.

Arnold’s advice: Own your situation. If something you want doesn’t happen, that’s on you. Decide to do something about it.

If you are someone who could use a little motivation to make your life, or the lives around you, a bit better, I recommend listening to this audiobook.

Where’s the Money?

There is so much talk about how content entrepreneurs need to choose the right niche, a solid content tilt (differentiation area), build a minimum-viable audience, produce consistent content…the list goes on and on.

But what’s most important is rarely talked about:

Is there money to support the content business?

This means, if you build an audience, can they actually buy your products? If you build an audience, are there sponsors out there that would pay to get in front of your audience?

If you want to do this as a hobby, it’s all good. This question doesn’t matter.

But if you want to create a real business, you need to make sure the idea is financially feasible first.

When I left the corporate world, I started a company called Junta42. I thought the idea was brilliant…matching up content providers with brands who needed valuable, compelling content. I dubbed it the “eHarmony for content marketing.”

To succeed, it needed to be funded by (mostly) agencies called custom publishers (now these are called content agencies or content studios). The problem with these agencies is that they almost never spend money on marketing. Shoemaker’s shoes you would say.

So here I am, with what I think is a great idea, targeting a group of people that never spend money.

Luckily, I removed my head out of my behind and took a realistic look at the business model, realizing this truth after more than two years (can you believe that?).

After this profound realization, we renamed the company as Content Marketing Institute, targeting brands that were spending a ton of money on content creation. The rest is history.

The point is, you might have a great idea for your content business, but the most important part is that someone has money to give you when you build the audience.

Oh…and if you are looking for a content strategy that stands out from the crowd, check out my guest appearance on The Food Blogger Pro podcast where I talk about more strategy and less chocolate.

End-of-Year Giving

I’ve talked to many people who are looking to donate to charitable organizations before 2024 comes around. If you would like to donate to a tax-deductible organization, please consider The Orange Effect Foundation.

All proceeds go to children in the United States who need speech therapy or speech technology who otherwise cannot afford it. OEF now supports over 400 children in 39 states.

If you’d like to discuss a large gift from your business or estate, please email me back.

Nine Keys to a Successful 2024

For obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about 2024. My expectation is that 2024 will be my best year on earth, but I generally feel that way about every upcoming year.

Ever since I first watched the Beastie Boys documentary on Apple TV+ I think about Adam Yauch (MCA) during this time of the year.

I was 13 years old when “Fight for Your Right…” was released. MTV literally played that video every hour on the hour for a year. They were everywhere, but I didn’t start following the band until 1994 and their album Ill Communication, with songs like Sabotage and Sure Shot.

The documentary went into great detail about Adam, the most creative member of the Beastie Boys, and his death from cancer in 2012 at the age of 47. Adam accomplished so much in his young life, from music to film making to being a key proponent of the Tibetan independence movement.

It’s funny how sometimes you feel like you’ve accomplished so much in your life or positively changed the lives of others, and then you look at someone like Adam Yauch and know you’ve underachieved. Maybe underachieved is the wrong word…I don’t know.

If you’re reading this, don’t you just feel like you could be doing more?

That’s what this section is about. Preparing for 2024 so that we can change the world for the better.

Here are a number of things that I’m thinking about to make the world a better place in 2024. Of course, some involve others, but most of this is for YOU getting your life in order so you have the time and the focus to make a difference.

1. Decide On Your Goals

I’ve talked many times in this newsletter about Warren Buffett’s 25/5 goal-setting strategy. It works. It also gets your priorities straight and helps you FOCUS.

2. Review Your Goals Every Morning

Part of my personal success formula is writing down and then reviewing what I want to accomplish every morning of every day. Seriously…just take five minutes out of every day and it will change your stars.

3. Donate Something Every Day

We all have too much stuff. Let’s change that in 2024. Let’s start de-cluttering now and then, every day, donating one thing to charity (some place like Goodwill or your church). We know a couple of senior citizens who are doing that right now. I am amazed how purging old things can free up the mind and the spirit. It’s like a weight being lifted.

4. Track Your Habits

If you complete your goals, you’ll start to identify habits. Do you have a health goal in 2024? Then you probably have an exercise, running or eating habit you are determined to learn. Use an app like HabitBull to keep track of your habits, and it will remind you when you need a kick in the pants.

5. Set a Book Goal

The most curious and interesting people I know read A LOT of books. I have a prejudice against people that do not read on a regular basis (sorry). Goodreads is a fantastic place to set your reading goal for 2024 (and be sure to mix up a little fiction with nonfiction). If you need a Goodreads friend just follow me here.

6. Recurring Expenses Cut

A few years ago, my wife and I went through our recurring expenses (like Netflix and news subscriptions) and we were shocked by the results. At the end of the process, we ended up cancelling quite a few services we really didn’t need. This ended up saving us well over $200 (so we could buy more beer).

7. Password Maintenance

I have believed for quite some time that the biggest threat to our personal financial existence is someone hacking into our accounts. Protect yourself by using a service such as Dashlane to create super strong passwords (and ones that you don’t have to remember).

8. Update Your Will or Trust

My wife and I just updated our will. We do so every year. This year, since the kids are 20 and 22, we shared our plans with them.

You’d be surprised how things change in just a short time.

If you have a will or trust, get it updated. If you don’t, get one pronto. You’ll sleep better at night.

9. Time to Update Your Financials

2023 has been another crazy year for investing. The Dow is up 10 percent this year. The NASDAQ is up 40 percent and Bitcoin is up 150 percent.

All this means that your financial allocations are probably out of whack and you need to re-diversify. You may want to do this before the end of the year depending on your tax situation.

When you do this, pick allocations that help you sleep at night. Don’t do anything that will make you want to check your stocks every day.

Here’s Orangeletter #115 where I talk about the 10 things you need to do with your finances today. And, if you didn’t already receive it, here’s a PDF of my perfect investment strategy.

To a most glorious 2024 for all of us!

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