Working out loud to achieve your goals

File_000Being well into 2017, take a minute to ask yourself:
Which goals would you really want to achieve this year?

I recently had the pleasure of a first-hand introduction to Working Out Loud by John Stepper. As a special guest star at a recent J. Boye group meeting hosted by Deutsche Post DHL in Bonn, John took us through his approach as outlined in the book by the same name and made me realise that we need to think differently about achieving our goals.

Goals comes in all shapes and sizes. From small to big, from simple to complex. Most importantly, a goal needs to be something, you really care about, may it be personal or work related. Something that intrinsically motivates you. Have a goal that comes to mind?

The Working Out Loud approach offers the recipe to successfully pursue your goal.

The five elements of Working Out Loud

The book’s subtitle sets the ambition for improving well-being:  

“For a better life and career”

So here is how Working out Loud (WOL) works:

You work on one individual goal that intrinsically motivates you at the time over a guided simple and structured course of 12 weeks.

You are not alone, but work in small groups – or in WOL terms “circles” – of 4-5 people. Every member works on her or his individual goal and supports the other in weekly meetings over the course of 12 weeks.

The aim of it all is to change the underlying assumption of how we relate to each other and the work we do.

WOL’s has five elements, which all aim to guide and help you regain control over your personal and corporate life:

  1. relationships
  2. visible work
  3. generosity
  4. purposeful discovery
  5. growth mindset

Baby steps, new habits and new mindset

Many challenges can’t be solved alone. The starting point for working out loud is to discover and build a network with people related to the goal that may help you.

Networking is central in WOL: Learning from others by making yourself and your goal visible through social media.

File_003However, this is not a one-way street:  Through generosity, the aim is to establish purposeful relationships that matter. Giving gifts by connecting people in a meaningful way makes you a pillar of support. So instead of asking,

“How can I manipulate my network to accomplish what I want?”


“Which person can help me and if the person can help me, how can I I contribute in return?”

Circles are not of permanent nature. They may and will disperse and reform to start a new cycle with new people pursuing the next goal. The overall result, according to John, is confidence. The more circles are completed and the more goals achieved, enables and motivates to achieve any goal desired.  

In summary, through working in the circles and having the five elements in mind, WOL offers a way how to making change permanent. But isn’t there is more to it?

Taking it to the next level

Sustaining new practices and habits is often is the biggest obstacle to implementing lasting change.

Another key learning for me during my trip to Bonn was that sustainable behavioural change is created by breaking down the goal into smaller parts.

John suggests to take one step at a time by working on the goal over the circle’s 12 weeks with feedback and learning to constantly improve.

Here’s one of my favourite analogies in the book that exemplifies this:

“Can’t go for a run four times a week for an hour? Try once a week. Still too much? Go for five minutes. Not working for you? Walk to the treadmill and touch it everyday.”

The philosophy should be “Don’t do too much too soon and too little too late.”

As for most things in life, balance is the key to success – create the incentive and make sure it keeps going.

File_002At the moment, WOL aims to create circles to achieve individual goals. John is working on an adaption of the circle guides, which would be suitable for teams working collectively towards one goal.

Detailed circle guides are freely available on the WOL website.

WOL is similar to the J. Boye network, in that it builds on collective sharing and learning of new insights, and the mechanics are constantly re-worked and improved, so that we can win together. 

The value of a network: An advisory board of smart friends

Jeff Cram from Connective DX has been a J. Boye group member for the past 5 years

What is the value added of being a member of a network which you have to pay for? It’s a simple question with many different potential answers. That’s why we have asked some our members why they joined the J. Boye network.

In this blog, Jeff Cram explains how he makes use of the network and what he gets out of it. Jeff lives and works in Boston as co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Connective DX, a digital experience agency founded in 1997. He also organizes the annual Delight Conference, and publishes the CMS Myth blog.

How to benefit from your network

I’ve been a J. Boye member for the last three years, participating in the CMS Expert Forum, as well as the annual J. Boye conference in Philadelphia. The relationships I’ve built from J. Boye have played a significant role in my own personal growth and the success of the agency that I own.

Specifically in the CMS space, J. Boye over the years has helped facilitate access and connections to some of the smartest folks I know across analysts, end customers and vendors. I find myself relying on this expertise to grow our business, be better consultants and shape my own perspective.

In growing our own Delight Conference, I’ve also found inspiration for the attendee/member focused environment J. Boye creates which is very different from many events that are simply trying to deliver an audience to sponsors.

I still haven’t managed to use J. Boye to finagle a vacation (I mean, educational experience) to Denmark for their annual European J. Boye conference, but I’m working on that.

The network between meetings: advisory board of smart friends

Being in a forum with the same people over time can feel like you have an advisory board of smart friends to reach out to when you need it.

I regularly keep in touch with many of the members and often reach out informally to compare notes, get advice, or gut check an upcoming decision. Of course, the most valuable conversations with members often happen at the bar over drinks.

What’s the value added of a network?

The value is entirely in the group that is assembled and the relationships that are built over time. It’s a rewarding experience if the network can convene the right people with the right motivations.

My business partner, Paul Williams, is very involved in Entrepreneurs Organization, which has also played a significant role in our agency’s growth.

Give – and take!

Like anything in life, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. It pays much bigger dividends to think about how much you can help others versus just what you want to get out of it.

I’ve seen a lot of people join networks with the goal of getting new leads or consulting gigs. There are better places to spend your time if that’s your goal.