Abandoned Dreams, Big and Small

This week I was struck by the number of conversations I was part of, where business people (or entrepreneurs-in-waiting) minimized their ideas because they seemed too big, too audacious, or too outrageous. They had things they wanted to do, or to try, but they thought it would be better if “someone else did it first”. They wanted to create lists, and accountability check-boxes to go with them. They also had experienced failure before, or they were nervous about taking a risk, or making a mistake. Reflecting on this, I realized that there were three things that were consistently at the root of the problem.

The first issue was wanting accountability, instead of taking responsibility. I can’t explain this any better than Seth Godin already did in his blog, here.

The second was that even if they did set goals, they weren’t SMART goals. I’ve known about SMART goal-setting for a long time. Such a long time, in fact, that I am consistently surprised when someone fails to use this approach. Simply put, your goal needs to have each of the following elements:

  1. It must be specific – I want to increase sales in my business.
  2. It must be measurable. – I want to increase sales in my business by $1000 a month.
  3. It must be action-oriented – I want to increase sales in my business by $1000 a month by adding two new customers.
  4. It must be realistic – I am able to increase sales in my business by $1000 a month by adding two new customers, and I have already shown that I make an average of $2000 per customer per month, so this is possible.
  5. It must be time bound – I will increase sales in my business by $1000 a month, by adding two new customers, within the next three months. I have already shown that I make an average of $2000 per customer per month, and it takes me 6 weeks to 2 months of selling to acquire a new customer.

See how the language became more focused and positive? This is how we can make things happen.

Lastly, a number the people I interacted with, were willing to let themselves “dream small”, because they could only see the big audacious goal, but didn’t know how to break it into small, manageable, do-able steps. “Every journey begins with a single step” may be a cliché, but in every old adage there is truth. My top tip of the day for this is to begin by imagining you’ve achieved the goal, and work backwards to see the steps you need to get there. It’s much easier to figure out the path, if you have in your mind that the success is already yours.

What’s standing between you and your big, hairy, audacious goals? Would you like more inspiration and accountability for your business? Stay tuned for announcements about upcoming webinars, courses, or coaching programs by subscribing below. 

Is Fear of the Spotlight Holding You (or Your Business) Back?

This post was refreshed in February, 2020

Excellent news! You’ve found the key to your customer’s “job to be done” with your product our service. You’ve focused on only the prospects who have proven they want to invest time, money, and effort in doing the job. So, what could possibly go wrong?

Although we’d all like to believe that our service, gizmo, or gadget is the only choice our customer will ever need or want, the truth is, there are very few cases where that’s true. More often, we have to compete with something, or someone. This is the tricky bit. When it comes to describing why that service, gizmo, or gadget is better, our mindset can be a real barrier. This goes double if wat we’re selling is our own talents and capabilities. Where is the line between confidence, and over-confidence? How do you know the difference between “my way of doing this is better”, or “my product/shop/invention is better”, and “I’m better”? Reconciling the tension between innovator and impostor is often what will make or break the sale.

How can you make sure that tension doesn’t “snap” the sale? First, write down the story you’re planning to tell (whether that’s your pitch to a new boss, or to a new client). What are the advantages you’re describing? Are they real? Are you confident you’re telling the truth? If not, where isn’t it working? Fix the facts, not the adjectives. If the facts are true, but your discomfort has to do with feeling boastful, or bragging, ask yourself whether it would sound true, if your biggest supporter was saying it. If it would, then you’ve got some work to do, because the problem is you.

When you feel like an impostor or a liar when you tell your story, this feeling is transmitted to the person watching or listening, even if you don’t realize that. It’s fine to be humble. It’s not fine to be modest. New business people often confuse the two, especially if they don’t have much selling experience. Humble means unassuming – not taking too much for granted. Modest can mean that, too, but it also means shy, or uncertain. And who would be confident buying something that even the salesperson isn’t not certain of? No one.

​So, the next time you’re preparing to make a sale, give yourself time in advance to practice. Write the story so you’re sure it’s true. Check your facts. Read it in the voice of your biggest supporter. Use the adjectives they would use. Then say it out loud until you’re confident, and make sure your own fear of the spotlight isn’t standing in the way of your success.

I’m Megann Willson, and with my business partner and husband, Steve Willson, we’re PANOPTIKA. He’s my biggest supporter, and I’m his. You can find more insights from us on how to make better decisions for your business, on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. And if you’d like regular insights direct to your inbox, sign up using the button below, and we’ll see you on Friday. 

Are you looking in the wrong place for success?

You made it! You’re on top of the world. But this isn’t where the learning happens.

Think about the most important lessons you’ve learned. Did they happen when at the moment you achieved your goal? More likely, they happened afterward, as you reflected on your struggle. You may have even had a richer learning experience when you didn’t achieve your goal. Think about all those “I’ll never make that mistake again” moments you’ve had. Win or learn, mistakes, failures, and struggles mean you will enter into the next challenge stronger and more able to deal with the difficulties you may face.

What does this tell me? That each roadblock or difficulty prepares you to be even better next time. That the reward for the journey is the journey itself. And that you’ll gain experience and confidence, no matter which path you take, or no matter how everything turns out. Now that’s something to be on top of the world about.

Oooh, Our Spider Sense is Tingling



What does a spider have to do with understanding your customers? No, it’s not a metaphor for entangling them in a sticky web and holding them captive while you make a meal of them. But there is a metaphor involved. Let me explain! 


We like to use metaphor-based serious games like Innovation Games® to help teams become more customer-centric. It’s a fun way to reinforce this important perspective, when your team may have had a nice relaxing summer, and now, in a panic to get sales back on track, they’re focusing too much on features, and not enough on the people the features are for. Or, they may be thinking too much about the competition, and not enough about those same customers. We’re experts at the Innovation Game Spider Web, and we love using it as a tool to get teams back in touch with the thing that should be at the centre of their world. (Hint: it’s not your product). With the customer at the centre of the web, we guide your team in an in-depth exploration of 

  1. The problems customers encounter that could be solved by your product or service
  2. Why those problems are important (and what job they’re trying to do when they encounter them)
  3. How the problems are connected, and
  4. What emotional or personal values are impacted by solving/not solving the problem

If you’d like to connect with us about a custom workshop for your team, we’d love to hear from you. To hear more about the ways we’re helping our customers to see everything and make better decisions, why not sign up for our newsletter? 

Megann and Steve Willson are the Partners and Founders of PANOPTIKA, and the Authors of this blog. If you’d like to learn more about what they’ve got to share, you can follow on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or on Facebook. You can also become part of our inner circle and receive free content direct to your inbox. 


5 Tips to Shut Down the Meeting Room Bully

Stop Bullying Now
​Have you ever been in a meeting, where one person takes over the agenda, commandeers the conversation, and virtually sucks the energy and oxygen out of the room? Sometimes you can be so taken aback, that you don’t even know how to fight. Here are some tips that may come in handy:

  1.  Stare them down. Just like when a two-year-old is throwing a tantrum. Sometimes if everyone simply stops and silently waits, the lack of attention will cut their tirade off at the knees.
  2. Circle the wagons. If they have decided to target an individual and are in attack mode, ignore the bully, but address as many supportive comments as you can to the targeted person.
  3. Keep your buts to yourself. “But” is a signal that you’re not listening, just waiting to interject. It is the same tactic the bully may use. Instead, try “I hear you, and I also think…” 
  4. Take another way home. Sometimes you can’t shut the bully down, but you can work around them and isolate the path to your goal from their negative influence. Eventually they will get the message, or sulk off to their own corner.
  5. The last one, we credit to Megann’s grandfather. Don’t start a fight,  but if they do, stand up for yourself and fight to win. Then walk away.

If you have some boardroom bullies, some negative nitwits, or scared smarties in your office, you may also enlist the help of a professional facilitator. We’d be happy to help.

I’m Megann Willson, and together with my Partner, Steve Willson, we’re PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to see everthing they need to know (and nothing extraneous) about their customers so they can grow their businesses and make more money. You can find us here, or if you like the blog but forget to check in, you can subscribe. You can also find us on Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn. Did you find this useful? We’d be grateful if you’