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Michael Port: What Are You Really Doing? And Why?

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Spotting personal business development expert Michael Port on CNBC’s The Big Idea last week reminded me of my own encounter with him earlier this year, at the first workshops based on Beyond Booked Solid. For two days, about a dozen people—from a mortgage broker to a vocal coach, from a psychic medium to a bookblogger—sat together in a hotel conference room near the Newark airport as Port helped us reconceive our professional lives, while drawing upon our input to refine what was at that time still a presentation in development. (“I do this because I have the same problems you do,” he confessed. “I could be sitting in the same seat as any of you right now, experiencing the same things.”)

“Many of you came here because you’re rebelling against your present state,” Port told us early on, “but it’s very hard to build something great through an act of rebellion.” Instead, he encouraged us to create meticulous visions for our ideal businesses, laying down original foundations rather than simply building by extension. “If you don’t design the business model based on what you really want to do,” he cautioned, you’re going to hate it.” At the same time, he insisted upon the importance of setting firm goals—”if you don’t have a date on a project, it isn’t a project; it’s just some ideas”—and reminded us that this wasn’t a quick fix, but an introduction to a lifetime-spanning approach that trains you to focus on the true essentials.

“Most people doing projects talk about the work they’re doing, not what is getting done,” he said. “We want to train ourselves to discontinue that habit and start talking about what’s getting done—and when it will get done.” Creating work systems that streamline your processes while remaining flexible to changing circumstances was a key part of that training, but before you can do that, he emphasized, you need to adjust your fundamental way of being in order to sustain the actions you’ll need to take to grow your business. It’s a hard discipline—I’m still working through the lessons of that weekend months later—but an inspirational one as well.

During breaks in the training sessions, I shot some interview footage with Michael Port and his collaborator, Liz Marshall, so you could get a more direct feel for his message.


In this clip, Port explains the Beyond Booked Solid concept…

Then his collaborator, Elizabeth Marshall, talks about her work with Port, including a book they’ve co-written called The Contrarian Effect, which was conceived with a more pop-cultural title in mind:

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