LMSM 9 | Small Habits


Do you struggle to set and hit goals consistently? Are you putting off something important because you can’t get started? You’re not alone. One study found that 92% of people surveyed failed to live up to a New Year’s resolution. Ian Mathews and Frank Cava talk about the psychology behind goals and the power of creating simple, achievable habits instead.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How to start with one simple daily habit
  • Why goals aren’t real until you share them with others
  • Goals and written goals are two different things
  • The Seinfeld Strategy
  • Why your Plan B is likely holding you back
  • How to find an accountability group
  • “Don’t turn one error into two errors”
  • The importance of positive streaks and how to break negative streaks
  • A simple process to find a new job

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

Changing Your Life Through Small Habits

How Small Changes Lead To Major Breakthroughs

Frank, we are approaching the end of the year. I don’t know if people are going to read this but this is gold time, reset time and resolution time. We’re going to talk about how to get focused on a goal or something better than a goal.

What we’re going to give Ian a hard time about is this, “Tell me about your incredible midday workout.” Ian is at the office, he’s looking nice, he’s got a little bit of free time. He’s like, “I’m going home, I’m going to use the Peloton tread, and I’m going to sweat. I’m going to burn 700 calories.” What did you end up doing, Ian?

I didn’t do that. I outed myself a little bit on this. That is exactly what happened. I came home a little bit before lunch like 11:30. I thought I was going to do something good for myself. My office is a couple of minutes away from home. I came home with a plan of crushing a workout. When I got home, my wife was already on the treadmill. That was ruined. I could have done 1 of 1 million other workouts but as soon as that happened, my plan was crushed. Instead of a workout, I went with the next best healthy thing. I ate about fifteen cold chocolate chip cakes that were on the counter that my kids hadn’t had for breakfast. I went back to the office and called it a day. I went the opposite direction from my initial goal, I would say.

What’s funny to me about this is Ian made a quote to me. He goes, “Frankie, one of these days, I’m going to write an article on LinkedIn and I’m going to sack about how I’ve lost 15 pounds every January of the last twenty years.”

Starting in 1991, it’s not even an article. I have so much material that it’s a book about how I lost 20 pounds and gained 20 pounds every year of my life, for the most part.

How I lost 20 pounds is going to sell a bunch of books. How I gained it as needs to be in small font.

Whenever I lose 15 pounds, my wife shrugs at me like, “How long is this going to last?” It reminds me of the time when I was in our fraternity, we won twice the most improved grade point average. That’s because we would all go on academic probation for one semester. All of us were threatened with letters from Purdue that, “If you don’t get your act together, we’re kicking you out.” We don’t get good grades and we’d get a trophy that we’d all go back on probation the next semester. We’re doing a lot of it. Getting that trophy was great because that meant next semester, we could cut loose one more time.

This is a great way to start. If you’ve ever met Ian and me, two words that don’t come to mind are open-minded or waifish. Neither of us is anything other than stubborn as hell and relatively large. If we were in the 1,800, we would both be known as portly. Nowadays, we’re both a slim cut of a good 48 jacket. The point of this is Ian and I both have these moments where we drift from the reservation but we have a toggle. We only let ourselves get so far along and then there’s that moment where it stops. Ian gains 15 pounds but then in January, he sets his alarm at 5:00 in the morning.

I’ve been very skinny, which has been a while and I’ve also been super heavy. I have a number of where if my scale starts creeping up towards that number, I stop eating. It’s a red alert. What this show is going to be a lot about is talking about not only resolutions and setting goals, but self-monitoring, and when it’s time to draw a line in the sand. The first one for you is I went out and had 715 pancakes but I didn’t have 716, and I didn’t do it again at dinner.

That’s a good way of saying that we all have a certain amount of willpower that we use up at certain points. For whatever reason, I had none and I do love chocolate chip pancakes. That’s important. When I got home for dinner, I didn’t hang around the kitchen. I went straight upstairs to my bedroom where I’m farthest away from food. I locked myself away from everything because I am not about to go compound the problem with a couple of pizzas for dinner. Where a lot of people get themselves in trouble is one bad thing leads to the next. Coming up on New Year, do you do resolutions?

I set goals that are annual but I don’t specifically do resolutions. I don’t have a January 1st resolution. If there is something I want to start on January 1st, I’ll start on December 17th. I won’t wait until the 1st.

Are your goals largely business-related? Do you set goals that are a whole year out for yourself?

I do a couple of things with goals. I have 4 or 5 very simple goals. One of the goals I have is to prioritize my wife and my son. They’re always number one in everything. If you look at my phone, my first contact is my wife. Little things like that but that’s universal. I have a handful of universals that are in front of me. What I want to do business-wise, debt or savings, it’s like a dashboard in the car. I have 4 or 5 major goals that don’t let me run out of gas or be stranded somewhere but they’re not so specific like on January 1st, I’m going to start losing weight like everybody else in America.

We all have a certain amount of willpower that we use up at certain points. Click To Tweet

I’m a little bit the same way. I’m even less. I used to be real goal-oriented when I’d write them down up on walls and I would have it everywhere I looked. I was always very specific about goals. That’s probably the corporate America piece. I’m working at GE and MBR where everything is measured and there are all these metrics reports. Even my personal goals for myself, I would try to get a little too specific. I don’t do resolutions anymore. I’m not interested in them. I don’t do a lot of long-term goals because my mind doesn’t work that way. Over the years, I’ve learned that in my head, this is something I want to happen. All that matters is what are you doing every day.

The study that’s quoted all the time is 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail. I don’t know where that came from. I think it’s because people overly focus on the goal and they go from smoking three packs a day to, “I’m not going to smoke anymore.” It’s impossible, so they don’t change any habits, they start failing at this resolution immediately. It’s too easy to give up. I’m a bigger fan of what’s something new I can change every day. One thing I can add to my life every day or one thing I can take away from my life every day and not something that would be incredibly hard. For me, the number one thing that if you want some major change in your life is to start small. Find some small things that you can do every single day.

I want to caveat this a little bit. Let’s say we had a time machine. We can get in our DeLorean, go 88 miles an hour, go back and talk to ourselves in 1997, 1998, 1999 when we graduated college. I graduated from college in ‘98, you graduated college in ‘99. We’re getting ready to enter the workforce. We talked about the goals you had on your phone a few days after quitting your job and you had no idea how you were going to get there. Of those goals, you’ve accomplished 8 out of 10, or 8 out of 11 but it sets a course and a direction.

The reason this is relevant to talk about is when you’re in your twenties, you’re young, you’re broke and you’re aspirational, setting some goals that you hold yourself accountable to into the future and thinking about where you want to get is important. Most people don’t have long-term goals like that. They don’t know how to define them and they have no direction in their life. If you do write them down, it’s a big deal. What I pulled up was there’s a 1979 Harvard Survey of MBAs. It’s talking about, “Have you set clear goals?” Here’s what it comes down to.

Three percent of the class had written goals and a plan, 13% had unwritten their goals and 84% had no goals at all. It’s hard to measure all of this stuff. Money isn’t the only measure but money is one of the things that you can account for. Ten years later, 3% of individuals with written goals had a higher net worth than the other 97% combined. That’s a big deal especially if you’re young. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not sure and you’re 22, you’re graduating from college, write some stuff down that gives you a direction. I want it to have you say something about that and I’ll talk about it like, “We’re both at the same age, we’re many years past that so we’re not starting from scratch.” How we set goals now is a little different than how we would have two decades ago.

In my first ever annual employee review, I wrote down the goals like, “In five years, I’ll be a general manager of sales.” I was a trainee. I wasn’t even a commissioned sales rep yet. I didn’t even earn that. In five years I said, “I was going to skip three levels up the organization in a company that’s notoriously slow at promoting people.” I remember that manager was like, “You want to dial that back a bit?” I remember looking at him like, “No, I’m not going to dial that back.” It’s not like I was working to become the general manager of sales.

In my mind I thought, “I can do that job in five years.” It’s powerful to write down some big stuff, put it on paper and think about it because if you write it down and you tell enough people about it, it changes your daily behaviors and it makes you think a little bit. It opens your eyes up a little bit more to the things that come across your desk and it makes you behave a little bit more like someone deserves that. Ultimately, five years later, I was the General Manager of Salesforce. The guy that told me I should have dialed it back, we felt good. It was like, “I didn’t need to dial that back. That was right.” Part of it was I was open and honest about that’s the job I want. If I shoot for five years and it takes me ten, I tried.

In my senior year in college, I was a bartender. I worked at the Outback, which was cool back in the ‘90s. The point is I decided I was moving to Virginia from Florida and some of my regulars were asking me what I was going to do. I was like, “I’m going to work for this home building company.” I graduated from college at 23. When I get out of college, I thought that by the time I was 30, I could be a vice president. I met the kid who was ahead of me. He wasn’t a vice-president yet but he ended up doing it in a little over six years. It took me over seven. I didn’t hit my goal but I was damn close.

I was moving from Florida to Virginia. I had a couple of other goals in front of me but that was the job I moved for. Ian knows this. That’s a lucrative job. On the low end, that’s a couple of $100,000 when you’re making $30,000 a year bartending. That’s a lot of money. If you’re in that seat for 5 to 10 years, that’s $500,000 to a multiple million-dollar a year job. My starting salary out-of-college was $38,000. In seven years’ time, I wanted to go from there to $500,000. That’s a major goal.

There’s a sign that’s in our office somewhere, it says, “Shoot for the stars. Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll be amongst the stars.” Did I hit the exact goal? No. Was I close? Yes. Did it give me something to chase? Yes. I got close enough where it was a sizable jump. As you’re in your younger years, having some of those things in front of you that don’t completely paralyze you but give you an ability to grow, it’s important. You have the same kind of a thing.

The list that you’re referring to was 2018. Every day, I looked at it, that these are some things I would want to do with my life now that I’ve left Corporate America. I wrote it in my little OneNote app and there was, “Acquire two commercial real estate properties.” I didn’t even know what that meant. It was a week after I left NVR. I didn’t even know how I would do it. I financed one of them. I had on their start a professional website which is hilarious. I don’t still know what that means but one of them was a write daily. I thought that was going to be for a blog. What I ended up doing is I wrote for Quora every day.

I did what I said I was going to do. I started writing and that led to a big following, Forbes and a number of other things that happened. By writing that down, after a month I remember looking at it, and I had done nothing to get to any of those, it shamed me a little bit. I felt like, “Why did you even write those down? You’re doing nothing to get yourself closer to that.” That was helpful for me, at least as a North Star, are you making progress towards any of this stuff?

There’s something else I want to point out. When you’re in your twenties, it’s about, “Give me these promotions, these are the things I want, I want the division manager job.” You want to have a regional job. We got those goals. They weren’t easy to get and attain. There was competition. We had to work and make a sacrifice so we got them. When you quit your job and when I quit my job, we did a decade apart, we had some discretion in what we wanted to do next because we already set goals that we had some level of success. Were we top 1% of earners? No. We’re probably at the top 5% but we had a lot of people think is good fortune and a lot of people think is wealth.

LMSM 9 | Small Habits

Small Habits: 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail because people overly focus on the goal.


The second set of goals we’ve got to make were different. The second set of goals is, “I want to write every day.” That’s an aspirational goal for someone that’s looking to pay the bills. If you do set goals in your low twenties or your teens and you can achieve those, that’s awesome because the next set of goals that you set in your life look very different and you’re afforded the ability to do that. I know people that have to still grind every day. They worry about bills and other stuff. It’s very different if you achieve something over time.

We have a number of different examples that we can talk about here but better than a goal, resolution or anything, one way that my mind works is what’s a new streak I can start? Normally, when I want to change something, it’s because I got on a streak of bad habits. I started eating late at night before I went to bed or whatever it is. Instead of a cold brew, I somehow started drinking a cappuccino every morning. Little bad habits start to stack and they tend to get away from you.

One way I like to think about is to start a streak. A good friend of mine lost 40 pounds. He coaches baseball with me. I didn’t even notice it until a year later. I wasn’t paying attention to that stuff then one day I’m like, “You’re skinny. What’s going on?” The only thing on the Peloton, it tracks how many days you worked out that month. You can go see it. He got on this streak where it started with 30, 60, then 90 days. He’s gone something like 400-some days where he’s had some Peloton workout. He says some days he’s not feeling it. He does ten-minute yoga or a stretch or something. The thing that he can point to is he got on a streak. This is the Seinfeld Strategy. Frankie, do you know how he looks at Seinfeld Strategy?

I didn’t know about it until we talked about it. I was looking at it really quick through the MyFitnessPal app. Like your friend, I got chubby during COVID and I was miserable. What I started to do for myself as I’ve logged into MyFitnessPal for 153 days in a row. I don’t work out every day but I’m tracking my food.

Tracking your foods, calories and paying attention to what you’re eating.

You stopped something bad, you realize you’ve got too far and you start a streak. It’s simple to open that app and be mindful of it where when you don’t open it like, “I’ll have 300 chicken wings.” When you open it and you’re like, “I got to enter this. I’m going to stop six.”

Seinfeld Strategy is advice to anyone who wants to become a comic. He says, “To be a good comic, you had to be a good writer. To be a good writer, you have to write every day.” That’s very similar to Stephen King. Stephen King says, “If you want to be a good writer, write every day. Don’t whine to me. Don’t tell me you want to be a good writer if you write once a week.” Seinfeld Strategy to this person was, “Put a year calendar up on your wall. Every day that you wrote jokes, you give yourself a green X and every day that you didn’t write jokes, you give yourself a red X. Your goal is to stack as many green X as you can all year. If you do this, you will become a good comic. If you don’t do it, you have no chance of becoming a good comic.” It’s that streak. Stephen King is big on it. When Stephen King writes a book, he says, “On any given day, I can write about 20 pages to 30 pages. If I do that for 90 days, I have a first draft, no matter how big the book is going to be. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to write a book in a season. It’s not about writing for twelve hours straight, it’s every morning, being consistent and writing.”

I can say for myself, I never set out and said, “I want to write for Forbes. I want to have these many email followers.” I didn’t think about those things. What I’ve done and said, “I’m going to create a habit where I write every morning and I posted before 9:00.” Come hell or high water, every single morning I write. It’s a good habit, a positive habit. The more I write, the better I get at writing. I never wrote before 2000, late 18 or 19. I’ve forced myself to become a writer.

Ian is a writer. The structure makes sense to me but the writing element doesn’t. Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur. What can you do, Ian, to write? What you can do is you can hold yourself accountable for other things. The way that I did, and I’ve talked about this before, is I got office space. I hired employees that made me show up somewhere and accountable to other people. The other thing that I do is I have weekly meetings. I have sales meetings on Mondays. I have construction and property management meetings on Tuesdays. Those are measurables. When you own a company like I do, you don’t do the stuff. You manage the people who do the stuff. We have to set goals for them or put things in front of them.

What ends up happening is Ian showing up and doing his writing every day. It’s my job as a business owner, as a manager, to make sure that if you work with us, you’re doing those things. If you’re falling behind, I’m the one who has to remind you or your manager is the one that has to remind you. Goals are the same whether you’re setting them or you’re enforcing them. That is the process. It’s doing little things day-over-day. Ian and I talked about a story about my best acquisitions manager. He’s been with me for years. He’ll go on streaks where he’ll make insane amounts of money. He’ll close $250,000 in company revenue. That’s a lot of money for a small business, but then he’ll go dry.

He won’t close the deal for five weeks in a row. The first time I saw that, I let it go. After a couple of weeks, I’m like, “We’ve got to go nudge the big guy. Let’s get him back in here. Let’s make sure we don’t go for three weeks.” It’s one of those things we were talking about a little bit with starting small and we are talking about starting streaks. It’s ending the streak. It’s making sure you can start a streak as soon as another streak ends. Those are the little things you’ve got to be mindful of.

Another big thing if you’re trying to get out of a situation and you’re trying to call it a goal called a resolution but you’re trying to improve, be better and get out of a situation. There’s a famous story, Cortez, after a long trip across the ocean with his army, ready to go fight, go and take as much land as he can in South America and worried that his crew was not going to be as motivated and hungry as he was to go fight. His famous order was to burn the boats. Burn them all. They burned all the boats. It was like, “You either can go drown now or you can get your sword out, your gun and let’s go fight.”

It’s the other way of saying the Schwarzenegger famous speech that he gave that you can find about anywhere online where he talks about there’s no plan B. He had no plan B. He was going to be a professional, famous bodybuilder and a movie star. When people would ask what else, he would say, “There’s nothing else because when there’s a plan B, there’s no plan A.” Many people are afraid to put themselves out there and commit that they want to do something. By not committing, not being vocal and not sharing it with people, you end up not doing anything because in general, you’re not burning the boats. Your plan B is like, “I never told anyone, so no one knew that I came up short,” or whatever it is. I’m inspired by your triathlon story. We’ve talked about it before. Talk about how ready you were for a triathlon when you signed up for it.

If you want some major change in your life, start small. Click To Tweet

I’m going to talk about triathlon. The first thing I want to talk about is this. We’re going to get into this when you burned the boats. When Ian and I both quit our jobs, we didn’t have to worry about the mortgage payment for a while. We were friends but we weren’t as good as friends then as we are now. He’s like, “Can you pay your mortgage? Are you going to be okay?” I’m like, “I got it. I have seven years’ worth of savings in the bank.” He’s like, “Good.” I realize that we’re in slightly different positions than a lot of people in this regard. The reason I wanted to bring this up is when I wanted to start my business, I remember going to restaurants, bars or coffee shops.

I used to go to Panera Coffee Shops, I would sit there and I will write my goals. It was impossible to get goals on paper. I struggled with it a lot because you’re holding yourself accountable. You don’t know what it is that you want. You’re like, “Who the hell am I to will accomplish these things? Should I be writing this down?” We’re both humans. We have self-doubt and all of these things. What I learned about me with goals is if I committed it to somebody else, I made it. Whenever I borrowed money, I don’t have 800 credit but I’m 790-something. I carry a lot of debt because I want a lot of real estate but I pay everything on time always. That’s me. I’m not going to miss it. If I borrow money, I’m paying you back.

That’s a commitment to somebody else and I’m going to live up to my commitment. I know that about myself. In 2012, my friends are starting to talk like, “In 2013, let’s do a triathlon together. Let’s not sign up for a sprint. Let’s do a Half IRONMAN.” A Half Iron Man is a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a half marathon, a 13.1-mile run. When I made the commitment to do this, I was heavy. I weighed 250 pounds. I’m not sure the last time you look, there are not a lot of 250-pound triathlon people that are successful. It turns out, that’s the Clydesdale division. I’m not sure if you knew that.

My wife loves the fact that if you’re overdue twenty, you’re a Clydesdale. Frankie C was a Clydesdale. Being heavy and in shape was one thing but having a swim of 1.2 miles was mortifying. I can swim. I grew up in Florida. I had a pool but it turns out I don’t know how to swim. I’m not Michael Phelps. I knew how not to drown. In order to accomplish this triathlon, I had two things. I had my high school buddies who I refuse to let down and I knew that if I did not train for the swim, especially, I could die. It’s not like there are froggers out there to make sure you’re sinking. They’re going to come to pull you up. It was hard for me. I remember doggy paddling because I want to survive the swim. I can stop there and get through the rest of it but why don’t you unpack some things.

By the act of signing up, what habits did that create? The day you signed up and told your friends, “I’m in.” When you paid your registration fee, it was still months away. You had time to prepare. How did that change your daily habits?

A few things happened. I committed to the race to sign up for the race. I went and booked the house that we were going to stay in. I got a financial commitment that’s way above the membership fee. I went and found a training schedule. I signed up for this around Christmas or New Year’s and the race wasn’t until the following October. I found a six-month training program. I didn’t need to start training until June 1st, but I knew damn well that there was no way if I started on June 1st, I was going to make it. I started training a little bit earlier. The other thing we did is we got on our phones and we started a Boxer group. Boxer is an app and it’s like a walkie-talkie app.

We started talking to each other about what we’re doing and getting some momentum around it, “Murph ran five miles. That’s my buddy in Annapolis. If he ran, I better go run. Frankie ran and Murph hears that he’s going to run.” I found an accountability group. The first thing I did is I started moving. I started running, biking a little bit, and the thing I was most scared of was swimming. I started to swim. I got a couple of swim lessons. I started to do little things that made me able to perform. You talked about starting a streak. When I was into tri training, I would work out twice a day. The most important thing to have a good week was to have a good Sunday and a good Monday. Sunday was easy. It’s a weekend but Monday was harder. I made sure I got my workouts in on Monday because if I missed Monday, I was already behind. That’s how you start your week with a streak.

Similar stories with both of us when we left our company. Neither of us had an idea of what we were going to do next. We had some ideas in our heads. What we knew was we weren’t going to go take a comparable job for another company. Our company was fine, it was good, the pay was good, the company was good and you were surrounded by good people. We wanted to do something different. What wasn’t going to happen is we’re going to have to go start that all over again. That burning of the boats and no plan B, what I found is it forced creativity. Everyone knew I was gone. Everyone knew you were gone. It was like, “What is he going to do now?” All the pressure was on me.

How would you start a podcast when you’re working for a big company? I don’t know that I would even think of how to do this or do some of it. I couldn’t have done some of the real estate projects that I’ve done both with you and by myself. I wouldn’t be involved in the tech company. A lot of it forced creativity by not having a safety net that you go through. Similar to you with triathlons, once you signed up, once you agreed to do it, it forced different habits on a daily basis.

It absolutely forced that and you get leverage over yourself. We’re coming back to what we said but it’s not that complicated. If you set a goal and you figure out how you will not let that goal fall apart, you follow through with it.

Frankie, there’s so much power in involving other people in things that you want even by the nature of sharing it. To me in business, if you involve someone, ask them for money. That will get you really serious on whether you’re about to go into a decent venture. I’ve raised money for commercial real estate, projects with you for residential real estate, and a technology startup now. When you go ask someone that you respect and that respects you for $100,000 or $250,000, you get a laser focus quickly on making that work. To the point where it changes your habits on a daily basis of where you’re spending your time, it becomes all you can think about.

Capital raise is a part of my life. It’s constant and awful. Not only does it come down to you having to raise the money and have to ask people for it. You’re making sure that you’re truthful and you’re performing, but there’s another side of it, “What could I do to avoid that call? I don’t want to raise again. Can we self-fund? Can we do something else where I don’t have to go raise money?” Raising money sucks. Even if you’re giving people a good return, there’s the beggars’ quality to it. It’s not how I’m built. It’s not only what you do but it’s what you don’t do.

I want to go back to quitting the job. Ian asked me five years after I left NVR like, “Why didn’t you go to another public builder? Move to California and work for a public builder out there.” I was almost embarrassed. I hadn’t even thought of it. That’s a logical move. That makes a lot of sense but I didn’t let myself even drift into that thought like, “That wasn’t it.” I dated a woman for eight years. He knows this story. We were always on the cusp of breaking up for eight years. When we finally broke up, it was over. There was a moment where it was over and it didn’t change.

LMSM 9 | Small Habits

Small Habits: Set a goal, and figure out how you will not let that goal fall apart, and you follow through with it.


It was that way with me with swimming. I was going to figure it out and accomplish that race. There was no negotiating that. When I quit NVR, I wasn’t doing that again. When I raise money, I’m paying you back. There’s an absolute hard stop. Anything over there, why even think about it? I’m not drowning. I’m not paying that person back. That’s your backstop. When you set that as your backstop, you can move forward. Ian and I both have fitness goals like, “When I get to this weight, I will sow my mouth shut. I’m not going an ounce over that weight. That’s it.” Those are little things that you hold yourself to. All of us can do that. You can involve others. There’s a multitude of ways you can do that if you know where your backstop is.

There’s something that you mentioned that’s important on this of hitting any goal or a streak. You’re not going to be perfect on any streak. It doesn’t matter. In coaching baseball, we have a saying with our little mock dogs which is, “Don’t turn one error into two errors.” If you’ve ever seen a Little League baseball game, a Little League home run, Frankie, is when a kid hits a weak ground ball and three errors later, that weak ground ball turned into a home run.

I didn’t hit for power as a kid. All my home runs were Little League home runs and I’m not terribly fast.

No one is listening to these things that you’ve got all the way around the bases on a ground ball. After all this talk about being Husky, there’s no about buying that. We talk about it all the time. They get flustered, frustrated, boot it and they then make a bad throw or a pitcher hits a kid and they lose their mind. They walk the next three and they make the first error wrong. The important thing is when you come off a streak, you can have that expectation of perfection. It would be sad if my friend, who’s got this 400-day Peloton streak going missed a day, went on a bender for four months, didn’t get back on a treadmill and put on the 40 pounds.

You have to be like, “Let’s start a new streak.” You see that in manufacturing plants. Nine hundred and twenty days since the last safety injury. Sometimes, I’d walk in a plant, it would be four days. I’d be like, “Someone got hurt.” That doesn’t mean that now every three days so much get hurt. That means you should try to go beat the last streak. Don’t turn that one error into two of them. This happens with salespeople all the time where they’re on a hot streak, they have one bad month, and they let it get them to fall apart. How many quotas did you miss in your time as a sales rep?

When I was in sales, I was a quota sales rep for 30 months and I miss the quota twice.

Twice in a row or where they spread out.

They’re spread out, I can remember them. One was in November of 2001. I’ve talked to them about this before. I got promoted on September 10th. September 11th happened that may quota that month and the last day of the month. In October, the world was a little bit more normal. Interest rates came down and I crushed it. I sold five and my boss is like, “Frank is clearly good at this job. Let’s take them out of this cushy community and put them in this community that’s broken.” In my first month in that community, I miss the quota. My quota was two and I got one. I had no prospects. What you want me to get into with this is how do I make sure I didn’t hit two in a row?

I called my boss up, “Boss, our leads suck. I got nobody coming in the door. My phone is slow. What do we need to do to finish this?” What we started to do is we got proactive. We barely made the quota in December. I hit a 2 on a 2, but we decided to write I-95. I went up to my boss and I said, “We got to put a banner off it like a huge banner on the side of I-95.” We started talking about that in December.

I was like, “We need a lower price point home. We need one home a little bit smaller than the other one.” I started getting proactive. We got to have something to call people about and I need something that draws people in. In January, that sign goes off. There are no leaves on the tree. I get six. I get a huge price increase. In February, I get five. I’m crushing because of a few little things. I made a miss but I looked at why I missed it, I analyzed it, I asked for help, we made a few small changes and all of a sudden, things changed.

Instead of you letting that failure and turn into a new streak throwing your hands up and saying, “I don’t know what to do.” That failure forced you to go think differently, to be creative and to push your manager a little. Maybe you’re being a little too political. The month that you missed it, you didn’t want to push your manager too much but after you failed once, you are like, “Screw that. I’m going to go make a lot of noise here because if I keep missing sales, I know who’s to point the finger out if we don’t get a little bit better.”

You can’t let a streak or a habit start to go the other way too long. Frank, it’s important to cut yourself a break. Not everyone is perfect. I don’t write every single day. There are days where I take a day off because I got 4 or 5 other things. What you shouldn’t do is give yourself multiple breaks in a row because that’s where you fall off. Give yourself a break and it fell off, get right back to the healthy habit that was leading to what you were doing.

There’s also something that’s important about pressure. When I go back to that quota story, the first time I missed my quota, I’d been a commission sales rep in September, October, November and December. I missed it in November. I’ve been a commissioned sales rep for 90 days. It wasn’t like I was rolling in money. It wasn’t like my bank account was stout. I wouldn’t say it any other way. I was fucking scared. I started looking at them like, “The leads aren’t here. I’m not going to let this community make me default on my mortgage.” What I’m going to do is I’m going to sit down and come up with a list of things that are broken and what I can fix, I’m going to go fix. What I can’t fix, I’m going to ask for help. I’m going to bitch, bellyache and talk to whoever it takes.

The most important thing to have a good week is to have a good Sunday and a good Monday. Click To Tweet

I will accept nothing other than what it takes to get this done. That’s what a good salesperson or a good employee does. I took that crap community and I turned it into an awesome community. Eight months later, I got moved to another shit community that wasn’t selling. The product was terrible and everything else, the same stuff I heard. This time, when I moved to that new community, I missed my quota again within the first 60 days I was there because it was broken. It wasn’t right. What you do is you realize that if you’re ever in quota sales, when your quota is low is when you can make a fortune.

Your first couple of months, you’ve got to figure stuff out. I’d already done it once. I realized what I needed to do. There was a pattern. I did the same stuff the second time and then I hit quota, I missed quota and then I crushed it. I hit a five on a two, which is $25,000 a month but I wasn’t as freaked out the second time. I’d already done it once but I also saw, “This is what’s coming, I’m not going to kill myself on hitting quota this month because I’m not going to do it.” If I do it, it’s doing myself more damage than good. It’s like the New York Jets win a football game this year, they’re not going to get Trevor Lawrence. They’re doing themselves way more damage by winning. This becomes a bit strategic.

As you were talking about missing quota I went through a slump as a commission sales rep when I was first starting. I started with the developmental package. I went months without sales. It was humiliating and sucked where I had to cold call, I had a prospect and I got good at it. I got to a point where I took a $0 to $4 million. To the point where I was asked to do presentations on prospecting and teach other more seasons reps on how to do it. All of a sudden, I’m busy. I got deals closing. I got customers. I’m running projects. I look at my three-month pipeline and I’ve got no sales. I’m like, “Holy shit.”

Mine wasn’t your situation where it’s like, “I’ve got to get on my manager to fix a bunch of stuff for me.” I knew exactly what happened. While I got busy closing deals, I quit prospecting. Here’s the kid who was teaching everyone what you should be doing and prospecting is doing no cold calling. This goes back to that streak again. This was on me. I saw the slump coming and before it even got there, it was like, “Every morning we’re going back to prospecting. I know you’re busy. It’s not the old days where you could prospect all day. In the mornings, you’re going to do two hours of cold calling. Every day, that’s how you’re going to start it. No one’s going to hold you accountable. You need to do it yourself.”

In both of these, Frank, the last thing that we’re going to talk about is iteration. Yours was pushing the company, add a sign, get your price point lower and find a different product. Mine was changed my habits, changed what I’m doing, but once you get into a habit, then it’s about taking it a little bit more. If someone wants to lose weight, you don’t say I’m going to start running six miles a day. You say, “I’m going to try to exercise every day for a month.” If you can do that, even if it’s ten minutes that’s better than what you were doing, you feel proud then you want to stack it. It’s like, “Ten minutes isn’t going to get it done. I should go to 20 then 25 minutes.” That’s iteration.

It’s that process of, “I have a habit. It’s not the most impressive habit but it’s a habit. Let’s try to take it to a different level from a habitual standpoint.” That’s the final piece that you can’t get content with the habit that you’ve already built. A good example for both of us on this is this show and what we’re doing because it’s new to both of us. Neither of us is the most technologically advanced guys in the world.

I’m better than you by the way. That’s not saying much about it.

First off, for everyone reading, that’s fake news for sure. Frank Cava fake news. Let’s say it this way. It’s clear, you and I had an IT department doing our bidding for decades and not doing it ourselves.

How often does this happen when we were doing something like, “Angelo, I have a couple of Millennials that work for me?”

The fact that you are reading this is magic. It also has a lot to do with other people helping us. This show came to be because we created a habit. The first time I reached out to Frank and said, “Let’s do a show,” was August of 2019. He emails me back the next morning and says, “I love it. Here are my thoughts.” The next correspondence I have is July of the next 2020. We went for eleven months without doing shit. We both agreed we’re doing a show. We’re both excited and then did nothing about it. It was almost embarrassing to the point where we’re going to talk about it.

We talked about it more than that. We talked about a lot when we got drunk.

The only time we talked about it is after wine. In July 2020, we agreed on a very simple habit we were going to start. We agreed that on every Wednesday, we were going to put a standing meeting on our calendars and we are going to zoom it up, we’re going to get there, we’re going to talk about what’s this show is going to be, what’s the name, what’s the agenda, how are we going to record, and what equipment do we need. By putting it on our calendars, it became a habit and real. In very short order, we recorded our first show three weeks later. From the time, we started talking and we had no name and no idea how to do it, we recorded quickly and iteration has happened every single Wednesday. We’ll get a little bit better at what we’re doing.

Before we get into integration, let’s talk about how low the bar was. The first couple of times we did it, our sound sucked, our lights sucked. We said, “Who cares? Let’s start recording.” We’re going to start and hopefully, we do enough of these where we get far enough into the future, where we go back and look, and we will laugh at ourselves on how poor they were.

LMSM 9 | Small Habits

Small Habits: There’s so much power in involving other people in things you want, even by sharing it.


Let’s be real, Frank. If we do 100 of these episodes, we’re going to look back on this number fourteen and be like, “That sucked. There’s a thermostat over Frank’s head. Where is his backdrop? What’s with the lighting? What’s that sweater?” We’re going to come back to the sweater. There’s no way we’re going to have that sweater on episode 100.

This episode is bad as it is, as shitty as it is, it’s better than the first one. If you’re looking at weight loss or fitness, we’re fourteen episodes into that fitness quest. We’re better than we were. We’re building our muscles. Our agendas are tighter. We’re better at this. Ian is going to get this one done in under an hour. Little things that we need to do that we’ve made promises to ourselves about. We do now. Is it great? If we get the 200, this is still going to be looked at as not that incredible from a production standpoint but it’s better than it was thirteen ago. Here’s the other thing it is. We’re doing it. We’ve talked to people who were shocked that we’ve got these many done because everyone says, “I want to have a podcast,” and how many people do? That’s part of it.

Every little episode, we learn something. We get another little hack and another little tweak. Someone gives us some advice. We change our website a little bit. We changed the descriptions. We get a little bit faster and a little bit better. It’s about showing up and it’s putting it on the calendar. For any manager, if you want to fix something, put something recurring on your calendar, invite someone to it, and see how many times you get together. Were you both look at each other and say, “I didn’t do anything?” You start to fill in the clown.

I want to do this to wrap this thing up. Ian and I both had good success in corporate careers but we both quit and many people don’t. What we should talk about is if you’re unhappy in your job and you want to leave, let’s talk about how to do it. We both had done it. I can tell you, and I won’t put words in your mouth, I’m a hell lot happier now than I was when I had a job. It’s after 5:00 on a Friday and I’m thrilled to be in my office doing this. I’m having fun. I’m choosing to do this. It’s a place where many people don’t get.

Let’s go through the list of stuff we talked about. Start small. You don’t leave. You don’t get out of there. You’ve got to think of some things that you can do that are small. What is something small that you can do to get to a different place? If you’re reading this and you hate your job, career or you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s not even about starting a company. Financially, you might not be there.

You might want to find something a little more productive and enjoyable. What’s something small you can do every day? A lot of the themes we talked about, are you telling anyone that you’re interested in doing something else? Your network can’t help you if you don’t tell them that you want to do something different. I told the closest people to me. I told no one at NVR or GE before I left because they would freak out and it might get back up to my boss. I told people that I trusted and I cared about, if you don’t start doing that, no one can help you. Things will not open up for you.

I want to add something too to this. When I have to sit in front of a computer, I hate to type. I’m a terrible typist. I’m slow. My fingers are huge. I’m not a typist. If I want to do something, it’s easier for me to sit on the couch and type it on my phone. It’s the same process but it feels different. To me, it’s heavier if I sit in front of the laptop and it’s lighter if I sit in front of my phone. If you are unhappy with your job, what I recommend you to do is figure out a way to write down a few things, nothing crazy. What are you good at? What are your strengths? Write down 2, 3, 4. What do you want? The third thing I would do is when you start to talk to people. Ian is going to go through a process.

I’m going to have one thing to your list of things that you should write down because I think it’s good that you journal this a little bit. I would add in, “When I am happiest at work, I am doing X. When I am unhappy at work, I am doing why.” Write those two things down and that’ll help you, “What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing? What don’t I like doing?” Those will help you start to be able to talk to people. We talked about creating a habit. While you’re working or someone is paying you, what can you do little every day. Make a list of the most influential people in your network. You start with your LinkedIn connections, but think of anyone and make a phone call a day.

Reach out to people, schedule it, call them in the morning before work or call them after work. Call and tell people where you’re at, what you’re thinking you would like to do and do that every day for 90 days. When you start getting into a rhythm, call two a day. That’s iteration. Take it to a different level. Do that for 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 days while you’re still working. At some point, something good is going to come out of it. A good opportunity or a big opportunity. That’s how better jobs are found. The same jobs are found by submitting a bunch of online applications and resumes. That’s how you find more of the same bullshit you’re dealing with now. To find a great opportunity, you let your network help you.

Let’s role play this a little bit. If I’m in a position and I want to do what you said. What I’m happy when I’m unhappy to me comes into what I want but I understand why you added extra check marks there. Let’s say I’m in the land of home building and real estate development like sales. I could deal with mortgages. I can do all kinds of different things. I would start somewhere where there’s not a lot of high pressure. If I didn’t do my pitch in front of a couple of friends, I would talk to a couple of people who I didn’t think could help me but I knew would keep my secret safe.

This is a funny story. I grew up in Florida, I went to the University of Florida and the first interview I ever did for a job was with an asphalt company in Lakeland, Florida. It’s the middle of the state. There’s nothing to see. It’s the most miserable type of construction in my opinion. It’s asphalt in a place that’s hot. If they offered me $1 million a year, I would’ve said no. I took that interview for one reason. I did not want it. I had no pressure. I went in and told funny stories. They called me for three years, offering me a job because they liked me but I did not want that job so there was no pressure. If you start talking to people, it gives you the chance to prep. Before you start the top of the list of who can help me the most, start the bottom of the list and work on what you want to talk about.

I could have seen you putting the ass on asphalt.

If you start there and you start your talk track where it doesn’t matter, it gives you the momentum. You’re not going to call the most influential people on your phone.

To find a great opportunity, you let your network help you. Click To Tweet

It’s saying, “Don’t say I’m going to go run 10 miles when you got yourself out of shape. Don’t put a CEO on your list for day one, get a bunt. Lay down a bunt. Get some contact.” Put things on your schedule for the first two weeks that are easy. Give yourself a break, make some easy calls, check with some mentors that would love to help you that can bounce things off of you. Do the easy stuff to get into a habit. If you don’t, your situation is not going to change.

Let’s say you work for Ian or me in our NVR careers and you were thinking of leaving. This has happened to me many times. People call me, “I know you left, can I talk to you candidly? What should I think about?”

On a regular basis, people from NVR that are about to leave or thinking about to call me because I’m safe because I’m not going to call people in the company and tell them.

One of three things happens. I listen and give them confidence, I give them an opportunity, or I do both. There’s some combination of both of those two things.

It’s always good. They get a couple of other people they should call you. The lowest common denominator is you learn some things from that person. They give you some thoughts. They help you structure your pitch and you get a couple of names of people that you hadn’t thought of that you should be talking to.

Ian, I answered this question and I’m going to ask it to you as well? I’m busy and I charge people by the hour to talk to me. I have an assistant. It’s hard to get in touch with me. I never don’t take that call.

You would never charge for that.

I’m not even talking about charging. I will stop what I’m doing to talk to you. I’m guessing the two of us, if you have a good relationship with a manager, it’s going to be the same. Of course, they’re going to listen and they want to talk to you, but there are a lot of nerves to reach out to. It’s easier now with LinkedIn or text but to pick up the phone and physically call someone, I would always take that call.

It takes guts but you’ve got to do it if you want to change your life, if you want something different. Frankie, we are going to wrap this up. We’ve done a fair job. One thing I would ask you to do before we close this out, can you rip that Hulk Hogan sweater off? Can you rip it off? It looks like the Hulkster. It looks like you ripped the whole thing off of it.

This is what style looks like. This is a very expensive sweater.

I want you to lay that on the couch when you get home. It’s a new throw blanket. It’s not even a sweater. I don’t know what that is.

My sister bought this for me for Christmas a couple of years ago. This is in 2019. It’s a beautiful sweater.

Your New Year’s resolution is to burn that sweater please.

LMSM 9 | Small Habits

Small Habits: Do the easy stuff to get into a habit. If you don’t, your situation is not going to change.


This is going to encourage me to wear it more.

On episode 100, you’re busting that out. Let’s bring it back.

If you need this sweater, I also have it in blue.

It was great to see you, Frank.

It’s always a pleasure, Ian.

See you.