The Importance of that One Key Takeaway

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to teach at USC. I was teaching an entrepreneurship class and I spoke for about an hour and a half. It was good. But did they leave the class with a takeaway?

And then I went to an Entrepreneurs’ Organization event the other day where I got to hear this entrepreneur speak about how he’s been through a lot of different things. He talked about how he’s had crazy experiences (like completing five Ironman events)—basically his life story.

Entrepreneurs' Organization

While he was speaking, I was sitting there thinking, “Okay, what am I going to get out of this? What is the big takeaway? How am I going to pick out what’s really important in this overflow of information I’m receiving?”

Take podcasts, for example. I listen to them at 2X speed. Podcasts are sometimes 1-2 hours long and I don’t need all that content. I just want one idea to take away.

And that’s what everything comes down to: that one thing, that one key takeaway.

Related Content: 10 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Stay Productive All Day Long

There’s Only So Much Time in the Day

Of course there is a trade off to this kind of hyper-efficiency: I don’t retain as much information and my comprehension is probably a bit diminished.

But if you can change the way you think about your daily activities and measure what you’re doing in terms of depth rather than breadth, then being able to fully and deeply take away just one thing means you are good to go.

That’s what I think about every time I do my Marketing School and Growth Everywhere podcasts. If I can just give you one thing to do, one idea you’re inspired by, one key takeaway—I know I’ve succeeded.

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A Book Recommendation

There’s a book related to this concept called The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. It’s about productivity and how to prioritize and be really efficient with your time, and it applies to your entire life.

The One Thing

For instance, whether I go to a networking event or a conference, I just want to meet one person. Instead of trying to “spray and pray” by handing cards out to a bunch of people, I want to just meet one great person. That’s it.

In the long run, going deep with any kind of relationship pays off. It’s a lot more rewarding and fulfilling. One key takeaway, one thing—that’s all you need to eventually taste true success.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

Figure Out What Works and Focus On It Until You’ve Mastered It

Let’s dive into the concept of focus. When I look back on my past accomplishments, whenever I’ve been able to do really well, it’s because I’ve been really focused and consistent with just one thing.

What I Did When I Was Most Successful

When I was learning Internet marketing, I had my internship and I was really focused on that even though I had a full-time job at the time as well. That’s how I was able to learn a lot really quickly. I was able to absorb a lot of information. I downloaded a lot of courses. My internship had a lot of courses built into the onboarding process, too.

When I look back at my Treehouse days and my startup days, I was successful because I was able to focus under very strict timeframes in order to hit specific goals for the company. Everything was all-in and it wasn’t just, “Hey, we use paid advertising to succeed.” It was more like, “How do we build up our content marketing strategy, email marketing strategy, perfect our SEO and manage a social team?”

Then, when I look at the times when things weren’t going so well, that was when I was trying to do multiple things at once. For example, when Single Grain was still recovering and we were trying to pivot into multiple new areas, I tried to switch us into a remote work environment even though people were used to being in an office.

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Single Grain digital marketing agency services

Changing all these things at the same time, and starting a podcast (Growth Everywhere), and trying to figure out a way to refer our business out—it was all just too much. I was just doing too many things at once and one person can only do so much before they become inefficient and burn out.

Now with Single Grain, it’s night and day because I’m focused on one major thing at a time. Every time I focus on one specific goal, things start to look up again. 

Some Great Resources on Focus

There’s this fantastic book by Gary Keller called The One Thing. I think it puts you in the right perspective and it’s actually required reading for people who go through our career tree and are trying to advance.

I was also watching an HBO documentary about Warren Buffett called Becoming Warren Buffett (also on YouTube). Someone had Warren Buffett and Bill Gates write out what makes them so successful, and they both independently wrote one word, the same word: “focus.” I think that’s incredible.

Becoming Warren Buffett

It’s the same thing with Apple. They started with desktop computers first. Then they moved on to other things like the iPod, and then the iTouch, and eventually the iPhone and the iPad. They were hyper-focused on one thing at a time. Same thing with Google; they started with search first and now they’re doing all these different things. Now they’re called Alphabet and they’re looking into everything from global Internet to AI.

Neil talks about this too in one of our Marketing School podcasts. When you’re trying out different marketing experiments, you’re basically throwing spaghetti at a wall. You don’t want to keep doing that. Your goal is to see what sticks, and then double down on that. It’s all about focusing on one thing at a time, one thing that really works.

In every case, you have to get the one thing right first and then you move on to the next thing. In practical terms, hire a general manager to take care of that one thing you got right, and then move on to figuring out and mastering the next thing.

Learn More: The Importance of Leveling Up One Day at a Time

Some Food for Thought…

Let’s say you’re eating dinner and steak is the main course. Are you going to focus on the sides before moving onto the main course?

steak dinner

Maybe. Some people actually do that. They like the delayed gratification of eating the main menu item last. But, practically speaking, this isn’t the best idea because you might get full and before you know it, you ended up eating everything except what you really wanted to eat.

A much better strategy is to start with the main course and then pick away at your side dishes. You’ll quickly decide on one side dish to focus on and the cycle repeats itself. That way, you’re prioritizing in the most practical and optimal way possible.

I think that from a marketing perspective, when companies are first starting out, they try to do too many things. It’s more about focusing on that one thing that’s going well.

Let’s say you have Facebook ads working well for you already and you haven’t maxed out that channel yet, and you know you could be doing more with it. Do not give in to the-next-shiny-thing syndrome. You probably shouldn’t be thinking about SEO or other ad channels yet. Try to max out what you have going on with paid advertising first, and then you can start to transition into these other channels and diversify.

Personally, I try to do a lot of different things because I get bored easily, but the older I get and the wiser I become, the more I realize that having a singular focus is the best strategy.

Get one thing right first and then move on to the next thing.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:


Let’s talk about how to juggle multiple projects.

How do you focus on multiple projects while keeping your priorities straight? I think this is something a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with. They always want to go to the next shiny object. I have a couple of shiny objects right now, but I have main projects I need to focus on, too.

The easiest answer is:

Whatever is generating the most revenue right now should be the main priority. 

Try to go full force as much as you can on that project or, if you get bored of it, sell it. But it can be difficult if you have multiple projects up in the air.

For example, I’m working on a software as a service app and a senior living business, as well as writing a book–not to mention I’ve got Single Grain, Growth Everywhere and Marketing School.

So how do you prioritize these? It’s all about blocking out time. Michael Hyatt has a great post on how to put your week together.


At the same time, you have to take into consideration if you have kids, a spouse, or any other “projects,” too. Do you really have the time for all this? Because most people are okay if they have one core thing they focus on, and then the rest of of their obligation is their family. And that’s fine. But for me, since I don’t have those right now, I’m able to focus on all these other work projects, which at the moment is a blessing to have that kind of freedom.

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Everybody has a different situation, but no matter what yours is like, I think it’s really important to look at it. Take a step back and say, “Am I able to take on these additional projects, even though they sound really good?” Maybe friends are reaching out to you, they want you to be partners, co-founders and things like that. Oftentimes, I think we bite off more than we can chew. For me, I try to schedule out time each week.

For example, early in the morning, I will work on my book, Leveling Up, which is about how gamers can change the world by playing the ultimate game of business. I’ve already gotten about 35,000 words written and now I’m reaching out for marketing purposes to see who will endorse the book.

That’s the main focus for me right now, but I’ve realized in the past couple weeks that I’ve let that drop off and need to bring it back because it is important. The book has long-term importance. It’s a “bigger picture” kind of thing because the mission is to continue to educate people, whether through marketing, entrepreneurship or my book.

My other priority is blocking out time for CareSprout, the senior living business that I have with two of my high school friends.

CareSprout_Senior Living Options

We block out time each week to talk on the phone and connect. They’re both working on different projects, but we’ll set aside some time for this to get stuff done. What I do is delegate tasks having to do with development work and, on the marketing side, I’ll take on the work. All these different projects are at different stages. In some stages I’ll have to roll up my sleeves and other stages I’m able to delegate things.

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With Single Grain, the digital marketing agency, we have people on the team so I’m able to use the power of multiple brainstormers, and then also take on things that I need to get off my plate. For the agency, the main thing for me is to just continue bringing on great people, continue pushing forward, and continue making adjustments as necessary, and then other than that it’s cash in the bank. That’s the role of the leader of a company once you have a couple of good people on the team.

Different stages and projects require you to be able to adjust on the fly. If you’re trying to juggle multiple projects, you have to understand that in some scenarios you can delegate work and in other scenarios you cannot delegate work. Different companies, different stages and different resources. Again, I think the most important thing is being able to block out time.

Read the book The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and for each week establish the one thing that you want to be doing for that week. Ask yourself: What’s one thing I can do for this project and that project? But don’t try to take on too many projects. I think I’m pretty maxed out right now. I get asked to come on board new projects all the time, but I know where my limits are.

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller

The older I get, the more realistic I am and the less I’ll probably start to take on, especially by the time I have kids, for example. By the time more responsibilities pile up as a parent, I’m going to have to drop some of these other projects. The idea is that all the time that I’m spending now on all these work projects will pay off down the road so I don’t have to crank as hard. Frankly, I won’t be able to crank as hard work-wise by that time because there will be other priorities.

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I hope this post adds a little more clarity as to how you can go about juggling multiple projects. It’s not easy, and I think you also need to do an audit of what your true responsibilities are at the moment. If you have a baby and a business some other stuff going on, then I think you really need to audit your projects and maybe kill off a couple.

If you do have a lot of free time, then yeah, by all means try to juggle a couple more. But always keep your focus on that one thing that’s working well for you right now.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:


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