PreneurCast is a business podcast. Author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
Originally planned to be a call from the poolside in Bali, Pete Williams and Dom Goucher discuss how making assumptions can lead to problems (like missing a flight you’ve had booked for months). There’s an update on the book project too.
Pete talks about how making assumptions can lead to problems
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The Bali Edition
Pete Williams: So, how’s things been?
Dom Goucher: Cool. I don’t know about you, but it’s a bit warm here.
Pete: It’s not warm at all here in Melbourne at the moment. I heard it’s very, very warm over your part of the globe. In cold, freezing Melbourne, it’s cold and freezing.
Dom: Yeah, I had a Skype chat with someone yesterday. They fired up their video camera and they sat there with a woolly hat on indoors.
Pete: Yes, that is a Melbourne winter.
Pete: Meanwhile, I had to kind of quickly dash off and go find a shirt to put on before I turn my camera on.
Pete: It’s very, very different from how Bali was last week. So what are we talking about this week? What’s this week’s episode all about?
Dom: Well, I thought we could talk about the Bali trip…
Dom: Because before you went, we raised quite a few issues with that about the kit you were going to take, which we swung backwards and forwards on. And then we were going talk also about how you’re going to handle the work when you’re there. And I also happen to know that something didn’t go quite planned on that trip.
Pete: Yes, yes. We might as well turn this episode into the ‘failure’ episode that we spoke about. It could be a good fit as well. So let me share the story of what was the Bali trip. Friday night, less than 24 hours before we were due to fly out, I decided to start packing the bag as every good traveler does — they get organized the day before they leave. I opened up the old passport and realized that it expired six weeks ago. So there I was on a Friday night, before a weekend, meant to board a plane for my fiancé’s 30th birthday and realized I don’t have a valid passport, which was interesting, and she was having dinner with some girlfriends.
I have to say, seriously, that four to five hours from when I realized that my passport had expired and I wouldn’t be able to hop on a plane the following day, to when she got home was probably one of the worst four and a half, five hours of experience in quite a while. She had been planning this trip for her 30th for about two years. It was a big thing for her. At one point, I was in the corner of the couch in a fetal position, shaking.
So that was interesting. Also, the kicker was as well is that the Monday morning was also a public holiday here on the East Coast of Australia. So to go and get a passport, it was a bit of, “Okay. What the heck am I going to do now?” I don’t know what’s it like in other parts of the world. But in Australia, to get a passport, it’s generally 10 days. You can pay a fee of about $100 and they’ll expedite it and get it back to you two days. So, I’m sitting here on Friday night going, okay, meant to leave on Saturday.
Not going to be able to get to the passport office until Tuesday. If I pay the premium fee, I won’t be able to get it back until Thursday, which means best-case scenario, I get on the flight Thursday night or Friday morning, which means I’m there for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and fly home Tuesday. Kind of, there goes two-thirds of the holiday. But after some thinking and some suggestions from friends, we realized that on the East Coast of Australia in Perth, it was not a public holiday on the Monday and that’s actually halfway to Bali. So I actually flew out. I put the girls on the plane Saturday and flew out to Perth Sunday morning.
Spent a day over there with some family, which is kind of good. I haven’t seen them in a while so that was kind of handy. And then I got to the passport office at 8:30 Monday morning, put on my best sales hat and gave them a few extra dollars — no bribes, for the extra rush job. I gave them a great little sales pitch on why I needed them to do me a huge favor so I could get on the plane that night, and actually got my passport back in about four and a half hours, and was on a 7:30 flight Monday night and arrived in Bali at about 11 o’clock.
So luckily, I just really missed two days of the holiday and it turned out that the girls enjoyed the girlie time together. In a weird way, what could have been a very, very big failure did have a silver lining. But it was definitely a bit of an idiotic move on my behalf planning an overseas trip and not checking the validity of the passport.
Dom: I have to say that’s a pretty cool story. It all worked out well in the end, which is great. I have to say I was completely and utterly shocked. The man who lives by his organization, his diary, his OmniFocus, his this, his that. Clearly a few years ago when you got your passport, you forgot to put the reminder in your diary.
Pete: It was 10 years ago. It’s a 10-year passport. Ten years ago, I was a much lesser man than I am today. And I just didn’t worry about it. It sounds arrogant and it probably actually is, because I traveled so much. I go overseas quite a bit. My passport’s always valid. Every time I got this habitual process and I just go overseas, I don’t think about the passport because I know it is always valid. It’s probably an excuse and it’s an arrogant excuse at that, but I just thought, well, why would I check it this time because every other time I’ve traveled, I never had to check it? But it’s one of those things, a mistake that is never going to happen again, clearly. I was pretty lucky to get a solution pretty quickly.
Dom: You really were.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely.
Dom: It reminds me a little bit of a story from my past. This affected me. We talked a couple of shows ago about how you started and that you were influenced very early on. At 17 or 18 years old, you were going to business conferences and things that put you on the path. I didn’t have that kind of a background, but I have really seen quite a few monumental screw-ups and I’ve done some as well. I always say to people, look, if I’m saying don’t do this, it’s probably because I’ve probably done it and it’s going to go wrong. So don’t waste your time making the same mistake.
I remember one time I was working for a large international photocopier company back in the day. And this guy turned up, he booked this meeting. The meeting’s been booked for a month. It was this revolutionary new piece of software and he was the only guy in the UK that had got the software, could install the software and could demonstrate the software. He’d been over to the States and had the training. He made it out like it was the far side of the moon, he was coming from and he’s gone through all of this. We booked everybody. We booked the conference room and the equipment. We got special equipment in, etc, etc.
Long story short, the guy turns up and we did all the shakey-hand-man stuff and everything else. There was this room full of pocket protector-wearing geeky individuals, all holding themselves back with excitement. And he’s there at the front with his suit, he pulls out his briefcase, he pulls out this case, this CD case. You remember those CDs to install software? He pulls out this CD case.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely.
Dom: And he kind of reverentially opens this CD case and there’s nothing in it. He has left the disc in the machine in the office. The dozy prat has come all this way. We’ve all booked the day out, everything else. Big sales pitch blow, and he left the thing that was important back in the office. He didn’t check his kit before he left. That and many other things have really affected me.
So you say, “Oh my passport is always valid.” I tell you, three times before I book the ticket, I look at my passport and check the date on it. When I’m leaving for the airport, I check my passport and look at the date on it. And my passport runs out next year, get ready for a laugh if I forget.
Pete: Ooh, yeah.
Dom: Both my passport and my driving license are up soon. But yeah, you were very lucky with that one. Very lucky, indeed.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely a failure but it all comes down to how you deal with that. It’s a cliché but it’s about finding the silver lining and when you get knocked down, get back up. We can spend a lot of time talking about other failures. I’ve got a good list of some monumental opportunities I’ve left on that table and things that I’ve stuffed up. It might be worth a conversation now or in another episode. I know we’ve touched on discussing failure at some point. I think it’s worth really getting into in a conversation at some stage through the podcast.
Dom: Yeah, definitely. You’ve kind of just got back from the Bali trip. So we’re planning this one to be a little bit short because the second part of — let’s not call it failure per se. But the reason why we are recording this show after you’ve got back, despite all of our great plans and talk about the kit and everything that you took with you to Bali, when we actually tried to record the call, we’ve got a what? A whole minute into it?
Pete: Well, partly it’s because after that monumental screw-up, I actually suddenly decided to change the approach I was going to take to Bali. Because as we spoke about and people who have listened to the show before would know that the plan was to take my laptop with me so I actually do some work, and we talked about going iPad-laptop, iPad-laptop. The plan was to take my laptop with me because it’s not that much bigger than what I needed to do, what I was going to do — going to get some work done by the pool. And after that screw-up, I kind of reassessed what the holiday was meant to be.
Given that on the Friday night, I felt so bad that I was kind of ruining Fleur’s 30th somewhat that I made the decision, for the first time in our six- year relationship or so, to actually go on a vacation and not do work. It’s a very small gesture to say, ”I’m sorry, sweetie.” I’m actually going to come and make sure I spend time with you. Missing two days of that, and my plan was to spend over 10 days, maybe eight or 12 hours of work time, that ‘Pete Williams time was going to be on holiday’ has been lost by me not being there for the first two days.
Pete: So I basically said, okay, from that, I’m not going to take my laptop, I’m not going to do work, I’m not even going to read a business book by the pool. I’m going to actually have a proper vacation. So I took my iPad with me so I can at least check e-mails and make sure I wasn’t completely off grid, so to speak, because that would make me go insane. I had my iPhone there. We tried to actually record the podcast still through the Wi-Fi in the hotel on my iPhone, which obviously as you mentioned didn’t go to plan.
Dom: Yeah. But again, it’s all about how you deal with it. I have to say, back to the passport thing for a second. If anybody was going to pull that one off from where you started from, it was going to be you. Your approach to things, your approach to business people, networking — the whole thing, is quite a positive way. I can see that you would just roll with it once you got over the initial shock.
Dom: Did you seem that it was one thing after another with that thing? It was like, okay, the passport, fine. Now, you’re there. Well, let’s carry on with that bit of that plan anyway and record the show. I was aware that you decided to leave the work. And I completely agree with you.
Pete: And I feel grateful, to be honest. I feel the best I’ve felt in about two years after having 10 days of proper Zen time. It was great.
Dom: It is one of those things. It is one of the hardest things for me to deal with. I’m one of those people that works. I just keep going. Keep going, get it done. Keep going, get it done. I had to learn pretty much the hard way about diminishing returns. As you start to get more and more tired, more and more fatigued even, you start producing less and less quality work. You start working less and less efficiently. In the end, you are better off taking that time out and doing nothing than working yourself to the bone and just getting worse and worse.
And it’s great. It’s vital to take a time off. Take a break. Get some rest. And sometimes from a creativity point of view as well. We talked a while back about putting things in your head and leaving them there, getting yourself ready for the next day by writing your list of what to do and then leaving it there. And I imagine that your mind relaxed over those days by the pool. A few ideas might have popped in there.
Pete: Absolutely, absolutely. And as you said, I feel great. It’s the best I’ve felt. I feel energized. I feel hungry again. All those beautiful things. I’m excited. Looking forward to the next six months. It’s going to be a very busy six months, but I feel like I’ve got a solid foundation back to run with. Yeah, it should be great
Dom: Cool. Now, it wouldn’t be a PreneurCast without me asking you the all-important question. How’s the book going?
Pete: Good. There has been some progress recently.
Pete: Not as much progress obviously as I wanted to while I was away. But back on deck with that and definitely continuing the writing and the pushing with that. Had some conversations with the publisher and some publicist/marketing people just to keep that side ticking along to ensure that the more people I’m accountable to, the more chance of it getting done basically. I’m just trying to keep the conversation going the best I can with every stakeholder possible. Is that a direct answer or is that a politician’s answer?
Dom: It’s a slightly politician’s answer. But I have to put my hand up now. Right at the beginning, one of the early shows, we talked about the book. We introduced the concept of the book and what was going on with you. We also put me forward and said, look, I am your accountability partner and as we talked away from the show recently, that I haven’t really been living up to my part as your accountability partner. We’ve talked about making sure that there are concrete deliverables talked about, concrete goals.
Whatever you do, you need a concrete goal. Certainly, if you’re working with an accountability partner, you need to say I’m going to do this by then rather than, yeah, I’ll get you something next Wednesday, and vaguely wave your arms and wander off.
Dom: I’ve kind of let you get away with that, so that’s something that you and I need to work on to make sure there’s something a little bit more concrete. As you say, you’re making yourself accountable. One of the things you talked about was the book cover and having the book cover meant that the publishers could start marketing the book and start setting publication dates by submitting it to places like Amazon. Has that happened yet?
Pete: No. All my stakeholders I’m trying to be accountable to are letting me down, that’s my problem. It’s the external world. It’s not me, man. It’s not me. It’s the man. The man’s keeping me down. So, no. You’ve been terrible and the publishers have been terrible as well. They haven’t given me some deadlines of when they want everything done by yet. So that’s still no full excuse, but you can argue and you can debate whether it’s part of the reason we haven’t gotten the book finished yet. But I’m still trying to push forward and we are heading in the right direction.
Dom: You’re staying self-motivated, which is good.
Pete: Yeah. I want to get this done. I’m getting prouder and prouder of the content as we go. So I’m really excited about what’s going to come of the book and where it’s going to go. The conversation’s going to start in the marketplace and people’s reviews. I’m really keen to just get it out there, get people talking about it and start a conversation.
Dom: Everybody has a kind of secret dream or a secret thing they really want to do but not really sure if they’re ever going to get around to it, and writing a book is one of those for a lot people.
Pete: Oh, absolutely.
Dom: Everybody wants to do it and get it out there. Even I do. So I’m slightly envious but I’m very excited for you. I’m very excited for you. It’s a great thing to be involved in and I really think it’s going to do very, very well once it’s out there. I’ve seen a little bit of the content, but also I’ve been involved with the project that it’s based on — The Challenge and things like that which are awesome projects. The people that are involved in it have some great knowledge to transfer; not just yourself, but Ed and Robert and the rest of the gang.
Pete: Absolutely. It’s going to be good. I’m really looking forward to it. So the more I get to the finer end and the crossing of the T’s and dotting the I’s, yeah, it’s going well. We’re just going to have to fine-tune the flow of a couple bits and pieces, but we’re getting there.
Dom: Alright. On that note, as you just got back from your trip and we’re just trying to close up the gap and keep things consistent for the audience, we’re actually going to finish ahead of time today on this call. I think we’ll drop this one off. And on the next show, we are going to pick you up on that failure idea. Alright?
Pete: Speak to you soon.
Dom: Speak to you soon, buddy.
Pete: And the community service note for this week’s episode: for those of you who have a passport, please go and check the expiry date now.
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