I’ve been thinking a lot about goal setting recently. As a Christian, I have always liked that Ezra Taft Benson (Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower and later, President of the Mormon Church) explained that all of us should follow the example of Jesus Christ in making progress in four areas of life.
The single biblical verse that describes Jesus’ life from age 12 to 30 says: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
Ezra Taft Benson explained that every person ought to set goals and make personal progress mentally (wisdom), physically (stature), spiritually (favor with God) and socially (favor with man). It is easy to be happy when you are making measurable progress in these four important categories.
So I’ve been contemplating what I want to achieve in 2006 in these four areas.
I have a large reading list of great books and want to devote significant time daily to reading. I read in the Love-is-the-Killer-App way, taking notes every time I come across a big idea. I am also planning to finish reading the Book of Mormon in Russian. I graduated from BYU in Russian 15 years ago, and haven’t kept up the language skills like I want to.
I also want to do more writing. My Connect column always challenges me. I need to write more thoughtful articles for my blog. And I want to prepare to do a national column on entrepreneurship. I also want to make progress on writing my first book. Since I will be internet marketing at BYU again this coming fall I intend to be better prepared with more curriculum material for my students.
I hope to run another half-marathon on my next birthday; but I also hope to do my longest 1-hour run so far. Last year I did 6.83 miles in an hour. (I know that is slow, but it was my personal best.)
I also want to eat a more healthy diet. I’ve studied the diets of Thomas Edison and Buckminster Fuller (very contradictory by the way), and I’ve also recently skimmed the book “Fast Food Nation” which is a real wake up call. I’ve spoken with several vegetarian friends. I watch the statistics about obesity and the predictions about diabetes and Alzheimers for our aging population. I think a healthy diet and regular exercise are the best ways to combat these epidemics, and yet most people don’t seem to adopt them. I did well last year but want to do even better this year.
Spiritual/Social. My goals in these areas are private. But I will say that I admire Mahatma Gandhi, who said in his Autobiography, “”What I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years is to see God face to face.” I admire those who believe that God is our Father and that all men and women are brothers and sisters. I appreciate those who live their lives trying to keep the two great commandments: love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor like yourself. Those two commandments really cover the Spiritual and Social areas well.
Okay, so now for my blog readers, here are the more important goals, the ones that deal with Provo Labs and our various internet businesses.
Here are the main things I hope that we accomplish in 2006.
1. We will acquire and/or build a dozen revenue-generating web sites that will offset the costs of all of our Provo Labs staff. This is our top priority. If we use our fund to pay for headcount, then having ten employees will use up a good deal of our fund. But by building or buying high traffic sites and generating revenue (affiliate or AdSense) from them, we figure that we should be able to support at least a dozen employees without dipping at all into our fund. If we can pull this off, then our success is virtually guaranteed, because our core team will be able to build startup companies with subsidized labor costs, giving each company a chance to get to positive revenue on very little capital.
2. Provo Labs companies will become the #2 player in the genealogy/family space, the #2 player in the history space, and the #2 player in the audio books space. MyFamily.com, The History Channel, and Audible.com are great companies delivering excellent content to millions of customers. But it is hard to think of any brand in the number two position, because all the other players are extremely far behind. We hope to become players in these very interesting categories by delivering unique services to new platforms and integrating text, audio, and video in unique ways. My love of knowledge motivates me to stay involved in genealogy, history, and all kinds of content.
3. Blastyx will become one of the hottest online marketing agencies in the country as it starts using insider audio and video-casting and blogging as online marketing tools. Every Provo Labs startup will be launched with the help of Blastyx.
4. FundingUniverse.com will become a household name among entrepreneurs as its speedpitching events for investors and its regional events start to attract hundreds of serious investors and well-prepared entrepreneurs. Every Provo Labs company that needs outside funding will utilize the growing network of angel investors and venture capital sources in the FundingUniverse.com network.
5. We’ll get back into the political arena with a relaunch of iCount.com. Our mobile commerce technology company (to be announced) will roll out its first product and start attracting a lot of attention. Our SEO technology company will reach profitable after signing up several larger enterprise clients. And I hope we launch an online education company that holds online classes in dozens of subjects like MyFamily.com does in genealogy.
So that might be way too much to bite off for the new year, especially since some of these goals are simply ideas at this point. But if we aim for the sun and hit the moon, we’ll be pretty happy and we’ll end the year 2006 in the words of Cervantes with an oar in every boat and a finger in every pie.
Most importantly of all, I hope Provo Labs helps create a culture of innovation, networking and knowledge sharing in Utah. We need to bring the good parts of the Silicon Valley culture here. We need to think big, and do what it takes to bring world changing ideas to fruition. There are hundreds of great companies that can be formed here and that can succeed here. We have the technical talent, the language skills and the internet marketing skills. But we need more ways for people to meet, share ideas, collaborate, and form partnerships that are win/win.
I am optimistic that this will be the best year ever. As an entrepreneur I have to believe this, or I should go get a real job. As Robert Browning said, “The best is yet to be.” I believe this is true. I believe this will be the best year of my life so far. Here’s to hoping …
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