Outcome, Problem, Obstacles, Specific Action

Outcome, Problem, Obstacles, Specific Action


Hey guys. This is James P. Friel of Contract CEO.


Today, I wanted to give you a simple 4-step tool that will allow you to demolish any obstacle that’s standing in your way if you are an entrepreneur trying to grow your business. A lot of people that I’m talking with sometimes just get stuck. Or maybe, they’re not stuck – they just lose their clarity and are not 100% sure what they should be doing or when they should be doing it. And the first thing you need to know if you’re in that camp or you’ve ever been in that camp is that’s okay! Part of the process of growing your business is trying to figure these things out. You don’t have to stay in that place of chaos, or lack of clarity, or feeling of being stuck for very long if you use this 4-step process that I’m going to share with you right now.

It’s an acronym to make it really easy to remember. And the acronym is OPOS. Another way of thinking is O-positives – or moving in a positive direction. If you are trying to figure something out, I’d ask – What’s really important to you? Some people want to grow their business. Some people want to have more free time. Some people want to have systems in place. Some people want to have cash flow, long-term value, exit their business. So, there’s all these different things that you really might want. So, the very first thing in any problem-solving activity that you need to be doing is saying, “Okay. What is my outcome?” And then you might even take it a step further and say, “On a scale of 1 to 10, what does a 10 outcome look like? In worst case scenario, what does a 1 outcome look like?” That way you know what you’re really going for. It’s very, very difficult to hit a goal or a target if you haven’t clearly defined it. Part of the OPOS process is helping you get clarity through defining your target more effectively.

So, the first thing is what is my outcome? Now, just like a lot of other entrepreneurs you might say, “Oh, I wanna make more money.” Okay. Great! Well, let’s start quantifying that. How much is that? How much more money do you wanna make? I was talking with a client last week and he said, “Okay. You know, I wanna make this amount of money in my business.” He wanted to add another million dollars to his business in the next year. And I said, “Okay. Cool.” That is a good outcome, right, because we know the number. We know how long we’re expecting it to take and when we want it. That doesn’t mean we always hit it exactly on, but you need to have an outcome and it needs to be really, really clear. Because as human beings, we are the Greek philosophers called teleological beings, which means that if you give us a target we are designed to go in the direction of that target. So, let’s say your outcome is “I want to get 50 new clients in the next 6 months.” The next thing we have to do is say, “All right. Great. That’s awesome that you want those 50 new clients the next 6 months, but there’s something standing in our way of making that happen and that is a problem.” Right? This is where a lot of people tend to get stuck because they don’t know exactly where they’re going. And what makes it worse is they’re not exactly sure what’s getting in their way. So it’s difficult to make any movement. If we clearly say this is where we want to go, then I would ask you – “What is the big problem that’s getting in your way?” There’s probably a lot of little problems contributing to this, but it’s the big problem we are concerned with. Maybe you have a marketing problem – maybe you don’t have enough leads. Maybe you’re getting plenty of leads, but you’re not able to convert those leads to sales, so that’s a completely different problem. Or maybe you don’t have a problem getting leads. You don’t really have a problem closing them, but you have a really big problem fulfilling it. You have a delivery problem, or a backend problem. So, it’s important to say, “Well, what’s the big area that’s getting in the way?” Right? There’s not that many of them. There’s marketing. There’s sales. There’s delivery. There’s financial and maybe internal and operational type of stuff. So, what’s the big problem? Now, once we’ve identified what we want and the big problem that’s standing in our way, we can actually do some more proactive problem solving.
When I was studying to be an engineer, one of the things that we had to learn was how to take big complicated problems and break them down into smaller problems. And that’s part of what we need to do next in step 3. Okay, we know the outcome. We know the big problems standing in the way. So, what we need to do is to identify what the smaller problems are. And I call these obstacles. That doesn’t sound quite as big and it’s because it’s not. So, if my problem is we’re not getting enough leads, then we’ll say, “All right. Where are the obstacles? Are we running ads? Are our ads being seen by people? Are they not being seen by people? Are people clicking on the ad, but not telling us who they are?” There’s all these little things that go into diagnosing this so that we can say, “All right. What are the things that I can actually control here?” If something hasn’t happened yet, it simply means that whatever needed to happen first hasn’t happened. Right? So, if I’m not getting enough leads, that means that my messages aren’t resonating clearly enough or I’m not getting my message in front of the right audiences. Maybe we don’t have enough ads going. Maybe our message is a little off. And so, we really need to dig in and evaluate this systematically.


If you’re like me and you really enjoy data and looking at data and numbers, it definitely makes this piece a lot easier. So, step 4, once we’ve identified the obstacles (these are the bite-sized chunks of this problem) then we want to say, “Okay, we want to take specific action.” I use the phrase specific action very deliberately. It means what are we going to do to rid ourselves of this obstacle – we are going to overcome this obstacle and hit these off one at a time in bite-sized chunks. But plan it out ahead of time – Okay, so we have obstacle 1 and we need to do this, this, and this to complete that and then we have obstacle 2 and we need to do this, this, and this to complete that.
That’s how this exercise really works so that you start getting very, very clear on what you want. What’s the big area that’s getting in the way so we can identify the direction that we’re trying to focus our effort and what are the obstacles, what are the smaller components of solving this problem? What are the smaller problems that we’re actually looking at? And then finally, once we identify those obstacles, we just say “What are the specific actions that we need to take?” And at this point, you should be feeling really clear. Nothing should be feeling scary. I’ve helped tons of people get just insanely clear. I had people literally hug me after going through this. And I hope that you don’t stalk me down to try and hug me, but I do hope that this is incredibly valuable and useful for you in getting unstuck, getting more clarity, and doing whatever it takes so that you have the focus that you need to just do the simple things necessary to take your business to the next level. If you guys have any questions about this, feel free to reach out to me. If you like some help going through this, I’d be happy to schedule a session with you where we could do that. And I hope this is valuable and I’ll catch you later. Thanks.

3 Things You Must Do Before Scaling Your Business

3 Things You Must Do Before Scaling Your Business

Hey guys! This is James P. Friel of Contract CEO.

Today, I wanna share with you the 3 things you must do if you’re trying to scale your business. My experience working with entrepreneurs is that there’s a certain point you get to where you’ve been, like hustling. You put your heart and soul, and your blood, sweat, and tears into whatever you’re building. Then you get to a certain point and you can’t work any harder to make it grow more. There’s a way past this. The qualities that got you to where you are – pure determination, pure hustle, pure effort – all those things you need to bring that with you. But things have to be channeled, right? We need to get better leverage to go from just pure hustle and grit. And I hope that like me, you love what you do. But to have the right systems in place and the right structure so that all of that energy can be better leveraged to creating more – that’s really what we’re after when we’re trying to scale a business.

Now you’re like “Okay. Cool. We have a proof of concept here. People want what we have. Now – how do we get this out to more people? How do we grow? How do we really increase the value that we’re providing and the value that we’re receiving back from the marketplace and to our business?”
So, I wanna share with you 3 things that I think are absolutely critical for you to do not only for your own sanity, but also for the health of your business that way when you do grow, you’re growing with the right support in place. You already put the right foundation down and that means that you’re going to be able to manage things much more effortlessly – in a lot less time, be more productive, and be more strategic with your thinking. And I think if you’re a high performance entrepreneur, then that’s kind of what you’re going for no matter what the endgame of your business is. So let’s jump right into it.

Number 1: Keep everything in one place. It sounds really obvious, but you would be shocked at how many of you guys aren’t doing these this. What do I mean by this? There are those of you who have notebooks, post-it notes, e-mails, scraps of paper, text messages, Facebook messages, etc. All these things in different places will just bring you and your business productivity right to its knees. You need everything in one place. You need one system to get things done. David Allen referred to this as your Trusted System. There are some really awesome ways to make this slick, fast, fun, and automated. If you’re interested in that, sign up for the case study video that I have in my own page to share with you. Everything needs to be readily accessible. It needs to always be with you because the smaller amount of stuff you have swirling around in your mind, the more you’re able to be focused. And make no mistake about it – your team and the people that are supporting you are going to be led by your example. So, if you’re the type of person that has everything all over the place, guess what? That’s the kind of behavior you can expect from your team. And you need to at least set the standard for how things are going to be.

Number 2: The second thing that you absolutely must do if you wanna scale out your business is to streamline your communication. Back up to when I said you’ve got messages coming from all different directions. It’s one thing to have messages from the outside. But instead your team is where out of all the places where you have more control. And you need to make sure that your team’s communication is crisp. And what I mean by good communication is that people aren’t confused as to what they’re supposed to be doing. They need to know what they’re gonna be working on. It’s important that team members aren’t letting their inboxes accumulate full of messages that still need to be tended to. And so, you need to streamline your communication. My team and I introduced this process within our business and we started sharing it with other people. We reduced our internal communication by about 90%. That has been so amazing for us in terms of our ability to get more done. So, you must keep everything in one place so it’s easy to find, and make sure that the communication is good and people know what’s going on. That will make everything work a lot more productively for you in your company, which is an awesome thing if you’re trying to grow.

Number 3: The last thing that I want to touch on here is that you have to have good reporting. If you have a team and you guys are working on getting things done and you don’t have good reporting, then what’s happening is you’re constantly having to spend time figuring out where things are, because you don’t know where to find them. So, this is all interlocked together. You need good reporting that says where things are with key projects, who’s working on what, and when is it going to be done. As a business owner, what I like to do is at the end of the day, I get a report and I can look at it right on my phone and say, “Okay, here’s where we are with everything.” I can’t tell you how much more effective that has made me in growing my business. And the people that I’ve been working with have also been experiencing this. So, make sure that you’re getting good reporting back from any system that you’re implementing. Because you need to know if it’s working – right? You need to have follow-up systems in place and ways of checking on things.

None of this has to be complicated. A lot of times I think we make it way more complicated than it need to be. If you keep everything in one place, keep your communication crisp and tight, and have good reporting to know when things are getting done or when they’re not, you’ll find it way, way simpler to manage your business. Which then gives you the room to figure out what your next steps are and grow strategically. I hope these 3 steps are helpful for you guys. Shoot me an e-mail and reach out if you have any questions. If you’re interested in hearing how we’ve implemented this, feel free to check out our case study video. Thanks.

3 Productivity Hacks

3 Productivity Hacks

Productivity hacks

It’s always crazy to me when we get to this time of year – many of us look at each other with disbelief as we grapple with the fact that time seems to fly by, totally under the radar, no less.

This year started out just like the next one will. 365 days of possibility…

What did you do?

As for me, I had the privilege of working with over 40 different business  owners at a very deep level this past year. They were generous enough to allow me to see the insides of their businesses – their numbers, customer lists, marketing systems, operations, culture and more. They allowed me to poke and prod while I tried to find the bottlenecks and the things preventing them from predictable and sustainable growth.

There were patterns.

Holy shit there were patterns.

When you see the same things happening over and over, it begins to become so blindingly obvious that there are very certain and specific things that will prevent a business from going from one level to another.

The interesting thing is that the patterns themselves are the same, just usually at a different magnitude. Think fractals.

Because of this, I picked up on a few very critical lessons this year.

I believe when these lessons are understood and acted upon, you will have faster, more predictable business growth. And, chances are, your business will be a hell of a lot more sustainable too. That’s always cool 😉

So, I wanted to share ONE of these key lessons with you today.

Here you go…succinctly put, the lesson is this:

“Those who succeed are those who implement in a calculated, organized and consistent manner.”  

There’s a lot of big talk out there. There’s A LOT LESS execution. BUT, it’s not because people don’t have the right intentions – they usually do, but intentions alone will not produce anything unless there is ACTION.

And, it can’t just be any action – it must be clear, deliberate and organized action.

Basically, on one side of things, you have people who take chaotic action without having clear goals, a plan or a way of measuring progress – these people waste enormous amounts of time and money. On the other side, there are others who are stuck and remain in a constant state of idea generation, paralysis or overwhelm – these people waste an incredible amount of time and money too.

In the end, either of these extremes will get you to the same destination; stress, frustration and lack of cash.

Somewhere in the middle of these extremes are a small group of people walking on a very fine line of planning, calculating, executing and measuring.

These are the people that make nearly ALL of the money.

Perry Marshall recently asked me to present on a webinar for him that he’s holding right after the New Year to talk about some productivity hacks that had helped me in 2015.

I said ok, and then I got to thinking…I honestly don’t think most people really understand productivity. Productivity usually seems to get relegated to discussions on personal time management, efficiency and generally just getting things done.

All of that is a big part of it, but I also feel like it misses the point.

I think it’s way more than that. In strictly business terms, productivity is a measure of how well you can convert time and other assets into MONEY. 

I remember reading ‘Art of the Deal’ years ago. In there, one of the things that Trump said that really stuck with me was that he goes to work and sees the janitor who cleans his office – he works around the same amount of hours and expends similar amounts of energy. Trump makes in one hour what this guy makes in one year.

Trump is more productive. He turns his time into more money.

I’ve been obsessed with this topic this entire year. It’s probably no small consequence that this has been my most productive year yet.

So, without further ado, I’d like to share with you three of the hacks that have massively helped me turn my time into more money. I hope they’re useful for you too.

1. Setup the conditions for success with a consistent, but FLEXIBLE morning routine

Each day is a new opportunity, and most people don’t take the time each morning to realize that. It might seem odd to say that having a morning routine is a productivity hack, but bear with me. It is.

If you’ve ever watched an NBA basketball player shoot a free throw, then you know they have a specific approach that they take to get them ready to make the shot. The same is true for professional golfers. They have a pre shot routine. This gets them into their peak mental state and allows them to set the tone for what happens next.

And, while you may not be a professional athlete, you can get yourself ready for your day by practicing your “pre-game” routine.

Ideally, this routine should allow you to focus not just on work related things, but focus on you as a whole person. We are, after all, human beings not human doings.

A good routine should cover the key areas of your life – Mental, Emotional,

Spiritual, and Physical.

You can have an ideal routine, but don’t let idealism get in the way of consistency. For example, in my ideal routine, I spend 20 minutes meditating.

That said, as hard as I try, sometimes life gets in the way. Maybe I’m traveling or maybe something urgent happens early in the day. In these cases, when I have less time, I will still meditate, but maybe for just 2 minutes. The goal is to keep the consistency of the habit even if it needs to flex to accommodate changing circumstances.

All of the elements of my routine are flexible enough to accommodate change so that I can do it consistently. <== READ THIS AGAIN. It’s REALLY Important.

I can do my entire morning routine whether I have 3 hours or 10 minutes. I can go and lift weights at the gym for an hour or, if I’m short on time, I can do 50 burpees (gotta love those burpees!)…you get the idea.

I shoot for the most ideal version as often as I can, but allow myself to still get the consistency of doing my morning routine no matter what.

Perfection is the enemy of done.

2. Just get started

Each of us have things we procrastinate on, and in many cases, these are our most critical tasks. We want it to be perfect and exactly how we see it in our minds. It’s great that we have an awesome vision, but if that gets in the way of us starting or executing, then our big vision is actually holding us back.

If you have anything on your to-do list that is a big hairy monster, and has just been sitting there, then you can try this hack to see if it helps.

Pick one of the things you’ve been procrastinating on and set a timer for 10 minutes. You can work on ANYTHING for 10 minutes. And, if you can’t stomach working on it for 10 minutes, set the timer to 5. Shut off all email, silence your phone and turn off any type of notification – remember, it’s only for 10 minutes!! You’ll be ok!

Work on whatever you need to do for those 10 minutes with 100% focus. At the end of the 10 minutes, write down all of the other sub tasks that will need to be done to complete this bigger task.

From there, you can decide if you want to keep working on it, or if not, make an appointment with yourself for when you are actually going to work on it again.

Using this hack allows you to do a few things:

*Get moving, which is huge.

*Create a list of all the smaller things that may need to be done to support completing this project. In             many cases, we don’t do things because they’re not broken down into small enough pieces. Also, what           you wrote during your 10 minutes can be the beginning of a more well thought through plan.

*Use deliberate and complete focus to make progress. This is one of my favorite hacks. Any time I feel     stuck, I use this.

3. Have an information triage system

We all have a lot of incoming information and things that we would like to get done. It’s really important that we have a way of processing the incoming information so that we make deliberate decisions about what to do with it.

I used to be one of those people who had hundreds (if not thousands) of unread emails in my inbox, to-do lists in notebooks, notes on my whiteboard and then of course all the exciting ideas still floating around in my head.

When we operate like this, we waste time and let things fall through the cracks because we don’t know where something is supposed to go. The difference between being organized and disorganized is sometimes just having a place to put something.

Think of the utensil drawer in your kitchen…if you have a divider that separates your spoons, forks and knives, it’s way more organized than if everything is just dumped in there.

The key here is setting up the dividers that work for the information coming at you. I really only have a few high level “dividers”, and they are – “personal”, “business” (yes, this includes everything for my company including our clients), “things I want to read or watch in the future” and “shiny pennies” (this is my term for ideas I have that I think are cool but aren’t related to any key projects I’m currently working on).

I use Trello as the base of my system for capturing these things. You can create automation to make this really slick, but at a high level, these basic dividers are what you need to setup.

EVERYTHING that needs to be acted on now, or in the future, goes into one of these dividers.

Just like putting the forks away from the dishwasher – these things always go in the same place even if you’re not going to use it again for a while. After things are in these lists, I create a consistent time each day (or week) to “process” these lists and turn them into actions with due dates.

As an aside, if you want to see how I’ve set this up to be automated and put “Getting Shit Done” on autopilot, just email or message me. In fact, when I showed this to Russell Brunson a few weeks ago he told me he had never seen anything like it. I’m actually flying to Boise next week to implement my system for him!

So, there you have it…a few tips that have been super-useful for me this year.

When these have been applied in my business and in client’s businesses, the results have been profound because we’re able to implement consistently in an organized way.

I hope you’ve gotten a nugget or two out of this that will help you! If you have any questions or want some help applying these ideas in your business, just let me know!


Happy New Year and Best Wishes for an Insanely Profitable 2016!

James P. Friel

Fill in your information below to get the
‘Software Tools Cheat Sheet!’