This transcript is from Episode 3 of The Savvy Event Planner Podcast
To listen to this podcast, please visit: http://SavvyEventPodcast.com/episode3
Tom: Hey, hey. It's time for the Savvy Event Planner Podcast, episode three.
Announcer: Welcome to the Savvy Event Planner Podcast where insightful tips, strategies, tactics, and case studies, can help inspire you to engage and create successful events. And now, here's your host, Tom Crowl.
Tom: Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today. I really appreciate it; I do, because this podcast is nothing but me talking in my studio if you're not there. And the podcast is designed to help you become the savvy event planner. It's not about me; it's not about my guests. It's about offering tips and insights to help you create truly amazing events. I'm excited with this episode for a couple of reasons. First of all, we're now on the iTunes Store, which means if you're listening to this, you can go over to iTunes and subscribe, and it can be downloaded right to your iTunes, so you can listen to it as each new episode comes out.
Also, I'm excited, because we're going to do something a little different today. One of the things that I've experienced, whenever I learn or find out things about event planning, if I'm reading something on it, or a book, they're all talking about the event. And I guess, for a good reason, we're event planning. But they don't always cover the planning side of things, and planning is the work behind the event. The event is the fun part. Oh man, people don't pay me to perform on stage. They pay me for all the work I do around that. But the event, once it's planned, that's the hard part. And it's not easy if you have a lot of things on your plate. So focusing on your planning, and narrowing down on the things that are going to get the planning done, are extremely important. And that's what we're going to talk about today.
I've got a guest by the name of Joshua Seth. Joshua has done a lot of things. I'll talk about those during the interview. But one thing that I want to focus on first is he's the author of three books: one on personal improvement, one of public speaking, and one on productivity. And today, we're going to focus in on the productivity book, which is called “Finding Focus in a Busy world.”
I know you have a lot on your plate, but I think after you listen to Joshua, and find out more about what he has to share, it will give you some insights in the ways you can plan your events better. So without further ado, let me welcome to the podcast, Joshua Seth. Hey Joshua, first of all, I want to thank you for sitting down to talk with me today.
Tom: I want to go over a couple things for our listeners. You are a corporate entertainer, a psychological illusionist to be exact. You're a speaker, an author, and a voice-over artist. You have accomplished a lot of things, my friend. And I'd like you to just tell us a little bit about your background and how you've been led into all these different things.
Joshua: Sure. Well, first of all, I think it's important to stress that I don't do all those things simultaneously. I did write a book on focus, so I did them one at a time at different phases in my life. I suppose that started with completing a four-year university degree in two years just because of the efficiency and the focusing techniques that I'm so passionate about. Not because of super-sized brain or anything just being able to focus the efforts. And then when I went out to Hollywood to become a voice actor, I was able to find quite a bit of success doing that. I am the main voice in a show called “Digimon,” which if any of the listeners have kids, or were kids over the last 20 years, you've probably heard the voice of several Cartoon Network, Saturday morning stuff. I'm on Sponge Bob Square Pants doing lots of voices on the things like that.
But eventually, I burned out. And what happened was I was not building breaks and rest time into my routine. I was doing two careers at once. I would do the voice work during the day, and then I do corporate entertainment at night. Parties around Hollywood or corporate events in Los Angeles, primarily. And I didn't have any time to work on my personal relationships, or on myself, or on my health, or anything. I was so driven to be “successful”, and I hadn't really meditated fully on what that meant, what success really meant. It was all about career success at that time. So what happens when you live life out of balance like that? Eventually, it tips over and everything falls apart.
Actually, before that happened, I made a decision. I knew that's the direction that my life was heading, so I just made the decision to go for the passion, which is Live Event entertainment. And I ended all my commitments on the cartoons out in Hollywood and sold my house and moved to the beach. And I've been on tour for about eight or nine years and loving it, performing all over the world as a psychological illusionist. It's just basically magic of the mind, a magic of the mind show, if you will. I just did an event at Oxford University in England couple of weeks ago. I did a big theater in conjunction with the conference in New Zealand a week before that, Vegas a week before that. So I get a chance to do what I love and be in the same world as your listeners, which is live events.
And then bringing us up to date now, I've got kids, I'm married. I got a couple beautiful kids at home; a little two-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. And I decided I better put everything that I know about how to be successful, down in writing, because I fly around so much. One of these planes could drop out of the sky, and we are not in control of that after all, so I did. So I wrote this book, “Finding Focus in a Busy World“. To my shock, surprise, and delight, it became a bestselling book on Amazon for business skills and time management. And now, I'm speaking at corporate conferences and events on that topic in addition to these shows.
I'm doing speeches on focus and productivity and how to work well under pressure, because it's all the sorts of things that we, you and I, Tom, have to be able to do when we step on stage in front of hundreds of thousands of people or go on television in front of potentially millions of people. We got to lock our minds on the present moment and be able to focus. I really feel that that's the key to my success and everybody's, ultimately.
Tom: Well, fantastic. And I do want to congratulate you on achieving that number one bestseller status on Amazon. I know you worked really hard for that, and the book is incredible.
Joshua: Thank you.
Tom: I do have it on my Kindle. And I have not completed everything, but I did skim over a portion that we're going to talking about today, because I have this thing where I want to start something and follow it in progression. So I was up to a certain chapter, and we said, “Well let's talk about this one.” I was like, “Oh, I haven't read that yet.” But I did go over it, and we're going to talking about that. But based on the number of events you've done and all the places that you performed, there's no doubt that you could share a lot of valuable insights with our listeners. But today, I want to discuss a specific area of event planning, and I'm going to ask you to shed a lot of light on it, because you are, without a doubt, the expert on this.
Event planners are extremely busy people. If you're a professional event planner, you're working on multiple events at the same time. You've got a lot of irons in the fire. A lot of our listeners work for their company. They're either in the executive assistant role. They're in HR or another position in the company. They've got a busy schedule to begin with, and then they're tasked with you've got to plan the company events. You've got to plan the company party. You've got to plan the company dinner. We're going to be going to a conference, we need you to plan on that. So they've got a lot of things, are juggling a lot of things, and it can be difficult to focus.
Now, you are without a doubt an expert on this. You seem to have a laser-like focus on things. So I was hoping you would share some of the tips that you find help you focus.
Joshua: Sure, absolutely. And to be clear, this is something that we all struggle with these days. Certainly, event planners have more than they can possibly accomplish shoved in their direction and put on their computer screens and on their desks, and everybody is piling work on them far in excess of what any human could endure. But everybody, to some degree, has this issue of you just finished clearing out your email inbox yesterday, and today, there's another hundred emails that came in. Or you've got a desk full of paperwork, and just looking at it starts to make you feel overwhelmed.
So I would say, my number one tip is determine what actions are going to give you the greatest bang for the buck, the biggest value, move your current project forward, create the most value for the company in which you're working, focus on that and let go of the rest. Because if we just focus on our highest value tasks at any given moment, a lot of the other tasks will not need to be done ultimately. It's easy to do the reverse, right? We want small wins. We want to just do the things that are easy to accomplish first thing in the morning. That's human nature, so that we feel that we got something done.
But if you actually force yourself and train yourself to do the reverse and let all those easy small potentially unimportant tasks just sit at the side, or get outsourced, or delegated, or eliminated ultimately, because you're doing such a great job of the main tasks, just leave them alone, and instead, say “Hey, what is the number one thing that I can do today that will create the greatest value for my clients, my organization, my business, myself?” Whatever that is, just focus on that, and simply doing that will give you a clarity of purpose that will achieve much greater results with far less effort.
Tom: Okay. You had a story in the book about the rocks and a jar. And I thought that was a very visual representation. Would you mind sharing that with us?
Joshua: Sure. This is an old parable, if you will, about a teacher comes in front of a class with a mason jar and fills it full with large rocks and asks the class if it's full. They say yes, because you can't put any more large rocks in it. They framed the conversation in their minds in terms of large rocks in mason jar. But ultimately, solutions come in many sizes, so he takes out a bag of pebbles and dumps the pebbles in between the large rocks. Aha, point proven. And he asks the class again, “Is the jar full?” And they say yes, because you can't put any more pebbles in. But, lo and behold, he's hiding a little bag of sand there in his desk, and he pours the sand in it and fills in all the crevices between the pebbles that are already in between the big rocks.
“And now, certainly it is full, right?” And the crowd says, “Of course, but.” Now, depending on our audience, I think we can do it this way. I wouldn't usually in a corporate environment. But the way it's traditionally told is some smart and eloquent at the back of the class pops open a bottle of beer and pours the beer in. And the moral of the story is you may think that you've got no room for anything else, but there's always time for beer.
Either reason, I wanted to finish it that way, though, is because my next point that I wanted to make about being more productive and getting more things done is to always schedule in break time. That rest time is just as important to productivity as the doing time. As I found out in my experience in Hollywood when I didn't give myself any break time, eventually, what happens is you get diminishing returns. You start spinning your wheels, working harder and harder, and producing fewer and fewer results. So it is important to allow yourself the opportunity to step away from your desk, step away from the phone, the emails, other people's problems and concerns, and just take a little bit of time for yourself. Rest, relax, meditate what have you.
Tom: We're going on. Obviously, in part three of your book, you focus on productivity, and productivity is so important to the event planners. You started out with the 21 tips to increase your productivity, and some of them are standards, I've heard many times before, which had to be included, because they're incredible information, and they're needed. But you took things differently than I expected. You took them in some different directions and things that I hadn't seen elsewhere. And one of them, which I found that I do, but I never thought of it as a productivity tip, was 10 minutes early is on time.
Joshua: Oh, yeah. Sure, it's a productivity tip, because if you're racing out the door because you're going to be late for that important meeting, and you're imperiling yourself on the freeway because you're speeding, and you're looking down at your phone to text to say, “I'm just running five minutes late,” or whatever, and we know how dangerous that can be. And then you're racing into the office and trying to get your notes in order and your thoughts in order and everything, how are you supposed to deliver the best and highest version of yourself and your work?
So if you simply plan to be everywhere 10 minutes early, and consider that that is on time, this is just the habitual thing. It's not a trick. It's not a matter of setting your watch ahead 10 minutes to trick yourself into getting places 10 minutes early, because your subconscious mind will catch you on to the fact that you're doing this, and then you'll just end up being on time at best. Again, not really convince yourself that 10 minutes early isn't on time, you'll always have that breathing room, that space, that ability to get your thoughts in order, and it will make you more productive and more effective, more centered, more focused person, as a result. And by the way, we know that as entertainers, right?
Tom: Oh, definitely.
Joshua: The call time for the show or the rehearsal is never the time that we show up. Because if we show up then, by that point, the client is stressing out, and they've already called the event planner, and everybody is making a phone call, and everybody is stressing out. Because the show is at 8:00, and the tech is at 6:30, and it's 6:30 on the dot, and they know that the they're going to open for the cocktail hour at 7:00, and they're stressing out that you're not going to have enough time to do a mike check. That only takes you five minutes anyway, but they don't know that. So yeah, you get there 10 minutes before that, and everybody breathes a sigh of relief.
Tom: I have a tendency to get there an hour early. I'm habitually early, because I'm afraid I'm going to be late.
Joshua: Hey, that beats the alternative, right? It's better to be an hour early than an hour late.
Tom: One of your other tips was on being a perfecting-ist. Talk to us about that.
Joshua: Yeah. I think it's important to always want to improve the quality of your work. But what tends to happen then, especially type A personalities or achievement-minded people, is that they want everything to be perfect, right? They don't simply want to improve on the last time they did the job. They want the proposal to be perfect, the website to be perfect. Whatever it is that you're working on is never going to be perfect, ultimately, because there's always new software, new information, new insights that come along. So my feeling is if you simply seek to always do the thing that you're doing better than the last time that you did it, what's happening is that you are perfecting or moving closer toward perfection with your endeavors. And that will make you better and better each time that you do it.
That's the best that we can hope for, because ultimately, we are flawed creatures. We're human beings, and that's part of our design, if you will. Nature is perfect. Perfection is to be beholden within a flower, or a snowflake; not an email, or a proposal, or a website. Or in my case, even a speech or show. I just seek to do it better and better each time. And now, honestly, having given a couple of thousand presentations over the last decade or so, it's gotten pretty darn good. But also, the other thing, too, is if you never think that your work is done, you never think that it's perfect, that always drives you forward to seek innovation and refinements, and that just makes us better.
Tom: Now, I know you have some pretty strong feelings on multitasking. And I hear a lot of people say, “Well, I'm a multitasker.” So tell us a little bit about your opinion of multitasking.
Joshua: It's a damn lie. It's a myth; it is. There's no such thing, okay? Our brain is the most amazing computer in the world. So what happens on your computer if you've got lots of programs open, lots of websites that you're looking at, lots of things? It slows down the processor, and ultimately, it crashes. Well, the same thing happens with us. We're only really focusing on one thing at a time. When we say or claim that we are multitasking, what we're doing is more akin to fast app switching. Switching very quickly from one task, or idea, or conversation, or concept to another, and then back again in rotation. And by splitting our focus like that, well, it doesn't allow us to do our best work and nothing really gets done well.
Sure, things will get done, but I just feel . . . One of my core principles is it's better to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly or just good enough. It's better to do one thing well than a lot of things just good enough. Let's say that you're applying for a job, all right? I'm just making this up off the top of my head.
You're applying for a job. Is it better to spend your day sending out 20 proposals that are all canned to everybody, or identifying who the absolute best prospect is, going into LinkedIn finding out everything about them, going on the company website, finding out everything about them, and creating one killer proposal for that dream job that lands, and that person looks at and thinks, “Wow, this is a perfect match.”? Of course. Of course it's better to just put all your focus on the one thing, and then do it again, and again, and again like that, and spread our efforts and our focus and our attention in everywhere.
So there really is no such thing as multitasking. And recently, I had to hire a personal assistant, because you can't do everything yourself. Ultimately, you have to let go of a little of that perceived control. So in reviewing the applications, almost everybody put right up in front and center on their skill sets that they are great at multitasking.
And immediately, I realized, “Oh, well, then you're emails are not going to be very thoughtful, then your phone conversations are going to be . . . you're not really going to be listening to the client on the other end of the call, because you're also going to be checking your texts and whatever else is going. That's really not what I want. And the person that I interviewed and ultimately hired was the person that did exactly what I'm suggesting. It had a really thoughtful proposal for me that indicated that she had researched who I am and what she would be doing for me in the things that I would need specifically, and she didn't mention multitasking anywhere in there.
Tom: Okay. Now, before we go any further, you started out or you talked about focusing on the major tasks of the day. If there was one other piece of information you could give our listeners on how they could focus on their events to make them better, what would it be?
Joshua: Surround yourself with a great team, and trust them to do their jobs. That gets back to that control thing that I alluded to earlier. We all want to pretend that we are in control, but we're only in control of ourselves and the things that we do and the way in which we respond to others. So I feel like ultimate success is to realize that, and surround yourself with great people that also realize that, and let everybody do a great job. I'm sure you've had this experience as well where people attempt to micromanage you all the way up to the event and including in the tech rehearsal, and the moment before you go on stage whispering things in your ear. You've had that happen right, Tom?
Tom: Oh, yeah.
Joshua: And is that helpful? Does that really help you do your best work?
Tom: Not at all.
Joshua: No, not at all. And I know it comes from a good place, because we all want these events to be successful. But ultimately, if they've hired you, if they've hired me, if you hired the right caterer and the right support staff at the venue, and the right entertainer, and the right lighting designer, then you can just sit back and enjoy the fact that we're going to do our jobs, and you do your job, and there's less headaches for everybody that way.
Tom: Communication is the key; that is truly at. And you nailed that. That's fantastic. Now, Joshua, I understand you have a special gift for our listeners if they go to your website.
Joshua: Yeah, absolutely. Normally, this is where I'm going to point you guys. Here it is, it's findingfocusbook.com. The name of my book is “Finding Focus In A Busy World: How To Tune Out The Noise And Work Well Under Pressure.” And if you're so inclined, then like what you heard on this. Then by all means, pick it up on Amazon, or you can get the audio book version that I narrated on iTunes or Audible. But for me. it's not really so much about making a few bucks off a book. I want to get the information out there. I want to share this message. I really think it's important.
And I'd like you to have those bonuses that come along with the book, regardless, so you get those bonuses at findingfocusbook.com, and what you'll get there are the top five tools that I use every single day to increase my own focus and productivity, including a morning systematization form to get your day started in the right direction, an app to help you sequence your events and schedule in periods of productivity and periods of rest. A bunch of resources, resources that will help you to meditate for stress reduction. We didn't get into that, but I think that's very important for balancing and centering and focusing, and ultimately, producing great results, as well as a game that will allow you to get to email, to inbox zero in your email quickly, and in a fun way, and stay there. So it's all at findingfocusbook.com.
And then finally, if you would like to find out what I do for my speeches, and shows, at the events that you produced, my personal website is joshuaseth.com.
Tom: Joshua, I do appreciate your time today. It has been a pleasure talking to you.
Joshua: Pleasure is all mine.
Tom: Next time, I'm down in Florida. If you're in town, we'll have to get together.
Joshua: Yeah, absolutely.
Tom: Today, we only began to touch on the topics and productivity methods and focusing methods. Were in the book, “Finding Focus In A Busy World” by Joshua Seth. If you're interested in the five tools to increase your productivity, they are absolutely free. They're on Joshua's website. And all the links from today's episode, along with the transcript and all the show notes, are available over on the savvyeventpodcast.com website. To get there, it's just savvy, S-A-V-V-Y, eventpodcast.com And to get the show notes for today's episode, go to savvyeventpodcast.com/episode3.
If you have any thoughts or anything you'd like to share on today's episode, please make sure to use the comment section on our website, or you can connect with us on Facebook. Just search for the savvy event podcast group. We're there. We welcome you in, and please comment. Because the more you share, and the more ideas and questions you ask, the better the community is going to grow, and that's what this is all about. Plus you can also connect with me on Twitter, @tomcrowl. It's just tomcrowl, T-O-M-C-R-O-W-L. So go ahead, tweet me, and I'll say ‘hi' back to you.
Thanks so much for tuning in. Next week, oh, don't want to forget this. Next week, we've got a really special guest. We've got a guy who's worked for the world's largest mouse for 25 years. He's a facilitator and a trainer, and he's going to talk to us about the way the mouse creates their experiences. And hopefully, that will light your fire to create amazing experiences for your own guests at your events. So until next week, thanks for tuning in to The Savvy Event Planner Podcast. My name is Tom Crowl, and I'll see you then.
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