On Metrics of Success

This post was inspired by a podcast with Mark Manson, who wrote a book called the Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck. I don’t read mainstream books unless someone really recommends it to me because I am a hipster. For example, I never read The 7 Habits of Highly Efficient People.

Anyways, part of the talk was about metrics of success, which is a term where you decide on what’s important to just you and this is really important to take away.

In general, we as humans want to become the top dog and use metrics such as likes, engagement, or whatever to give you a serge of dopamine or serotonin or whatever. The most common example is to be in the infinite loop that is the rat race is of course, money. You need that new car, that new house, that new job, don’t you?

I’m not perfect, I fall for this trap all the time. I looked at my stats getting crushed December because my visitors would rather spend Christmas with their loved ones that listen to my podcast. How dare they!

I complained about this with another entrepreneurial friend who lost some business in December. Then of course, January comes along and everything is back to normal, or as I’ve seen, the best it’s ever been.

So this is very volatile behavior and it doesn’t make me happy when metrics go up and down every day. I hate it!

This got me thinking, in terms of life, what are the metrics of success I can use to validate that I’m doing a good job?

As I contemplated, I think of all of the engagement I’ve gotten in the past year or so, and people just popped in my head. People who listen to the podcast, or read my stuff, or eat my stuff, or I message back and forth.

These people who consistently say I’m doing awesome, or that I’ll reply back by calling them on the phone and help them find their path in the food industry.

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I pick out 5 pieces of content from the latest food industry news to the greatest new products and leave my snarky comments every week.

Or the guests I’ve not only met on the internet, but where I’ve taken the time to physically reach out and meet them.

This not only goes out to podcasting, but in my career, it’s not the people trying my products that gets me going, it’s the people who allow me to make great products that I really care about.

And even in my so-called life-that’s-not-work, I’ve realized that it’s not about how many friends you have, but rather, how you spend time with a couple of them. Perhaps just one matters.

Everyone has a metric of success that’s much more important than likes on Instagram. I implore all of you to find it.

How I found my Metric of Success

In moments of despair or jealousy, I’ve always bounced back after I had a chat with a few key people in my life. As I started reflecting on why I got jealous or angry, I always think that the best thing I have is the strong relationships and close connections I’ve formed over the years. You can’t get jealous if people have closer relationships than you do. Does it matter if other people have close relationships with other people? Maybe. But to me, it sounds absurd. Relationships are so unique and vary between person to person, that it’s hard to really compare them, therefore, you don’t feel as jealous.

Let’s put some examples on the table.

Most podcasts need tons of views to get sponsors. Libsyn, the podcast hosting service requires 20,000 downloads a month to hand over sponsorship. My podcast doesn’t have 20,000 views a month, yet I have 3 sponsors who love what I do.

I made millions in bar sales yet it’s not as good as the shake sales. In fact, shake sales are 5-10x more than our bar sales (or something). Yet I had the opportunity to make that much thanks to the people who’ve supported me at work which includes the relationships I have with the CSO, a lot of directors, people from every department, and of course, the ingredient suppliers I work with every day.

Even networking takes into effect. Though overplayed and overtaught, networking isn’t about the race to get the most business cards, but the opportunity to connect with amazing people. Most describe it as casting the net deep instead of wide. So instead of being a member of IFT, I’m the Cactus IFT chair which gives me the opportunity to collaborate with proactive members of IFT, and even have the chance to go to their corporate office and have them listen to what I have to say.

From these examples, you can see a very common theme: close relationships.

But it’s not just saying hi, it’s working your butt off to get people to trust you enough that they will love you as a person. The average person doesn’t launch a podcast every week. The average person doesn’t showcase a new idea every month in their company. The average person doesn’t take on a leadership person at a non-profit.

But that’s what makes me happy. It’s my metric of success.

How to Find Yours

Everyone is different on how they measure success. I’m sure it’s been beaten over your head that a bad metric of success is material goods such as a new car (oops) or even buying a house (oops).

However, if that’s what you want, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Go for it.

Yet if you feel stressed about money or instagram likes, then let’s try to fix that by thinking of philosophy.

Probably the most common philosophy to find your metric of success is to clear the gunk about vanity and ego and there is a common thread between those two: comparing your accomplishments to others.

A philosophy that work in reducing this is a “modern” way of thinking called stoicism. A lot of people I listen to follow this way of thinking which is pretty much accepting the way things are. Like most philosophies, this is confusing to most. The best example is if someone says “you’re stupid”, if doesn’t affect you and you say “yes I am, thanks” and walk away.

Yet other philosophies work too. Minimalism works for some, (an extreme way of purging all of your possessions), Christianity works for many (aren’t we all trying to just be good people and go to heaven?).

So I can’t tell you the ultimate way to find a metric of success, but the first step is to stop focusing on comparing what you have to others. A good book about this topic is Stumbling On Happiness if you’d like to read further on this type of stuff.

If you do find your Metric of Success, I hope you can tell me about it, and help others.


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