Contributed Column

Marketing 101

by Christine Miller

Plan Your Success

It’s the home stretch for 2018, with only two months left in the year. How’d you do? Did you make your sales quota? Drive revenue as needed? Most importantly — did you have a plan and did you follow it?

I have a picture tacked on a board in front of my desk. It includes a quote from Erykah Badu (singer, songwriter, and activist) and says, “I planned my success. I knew it was going to happen.” I look at that phrase every day, and every day I ask myself if I am planning my success and the success of my team. It’s a daily reminder to me that where we end up is based on the strategy we developed at the start.

In 1989 Stephen Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a business and self-help book designed to facilitate, for readers, the way to attain their goals. In this book he outlines seven habits that lead to greater results based on personal and professional effectiveness. And although this book was published almost 30 years ago, the basic tenet still rings true.

Habit Number Two is “Begin With End in Mind.” Begin with the end in mind means to have a clear vision of your path and desired end results. This can apply to a project, your workday, or your annual goals. Without this forward thinking, you are unknowingly empowering others and circumstances to determine the outcome of your day, project, year, etc. It’s a scary proposition to think we let outside forces control our destiny, but we do.

Most people don’t board a boat with the plan to end up wherever the wind and waves take them. They know where they want to go and chart a course. Yet so many people in business metaphorically let the wind and waves drive their direction. They float along and deal with what they encounter, good and bad, and end up where they end up. The leaders who chart their course and know their destination are likely to end up where they want to be, not where they randomly land.

Visualize your outcome, and then create the steps needed to attain the goal. Putting pen to paper in order to check the box of having a plan is not the solution, either. And don’t just do it because your boss asked. To be successful you need to be committed to the plan, not merely interested. Being interested means you do something when it’s convenient, easy, or works for you. Being committed means you do it no matter what, to follow your intention without making excuses.

Be honest about where you are starting and what obstacles may come up. When boxer Mike Tyson was asked by a reporter whether he was worried about Evander Holyfield and if he had a fight plan, he responded “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Believe me, you are going to take some punches, but most of your plan should still be intact. Instead of focusing on what’s broken, focus on what’s working and keep moving!

Think about this past year. I’m sure there were economic challenges, weather impacts, and maybe even personal hardships. If you planned for success, you acknowledged the challenges (and knew how to work around them), but didn’t use them as an excuse for poor performance. Define what success looks like for you as an individual or as a company and create a plan.

So — as you look at your results for 2018, what do you see? Are you ending the year as intended? If not, are you ready to plan your success for 2019? •

Christine Miller is the author of Sales Geisha. She can be reached at

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