Your Highest Value Activities are The Ones That Nobody Else Could do But You

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A few days ago I was talking to Garret Gunderson, founder of The Wealth Factory. In our conversation, he told me a story about Bill Gates. At the end of each day, he would look at what he had worked on, and asked himself “what is on this list that somebody else could have done?”

Every day we do many things that somebody else could have done, even though time is the most valuable asset at our disposal. We spend a lot of time on tasks that are not only low value, but somebody else could do more effectively.

Your Zone of Genius

Every one of us has what is known as a zone of genius:

  • For my business partner Brian, his zone of genius is sales and marketing
  • My personal zone of genius centers around three activities: writing, interviewing people, and speaking. Basically telling stories.
  • For our copywriter Kingshuk Mukherjee, his zone of genius lies around content strategy
Your zone of genius is usually where your highest leverage activities tend to lie. These tend to be the things that nobody could do but you.

And these activities create a disproportionate amount of value in relation to everything else that you do each day. In a conversation with author Gay Hendricks who is responsible for coining the term Zone of Genius, he said that we should be asking the following questions each day:

  • What’s really important here?
  • How am I using my gifts?
  • What is my genius and how I can I bring it forth to impact my family, culture, and business?
  • What is that I most love about what I do in my work?

1. Writing

In my work, writing is one of the highest value activities. It’s an integral part of my 8-step daily routine that has enabled to write hundreds of articles and multiple books. It drives sales of my books and the growth of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast.

But there are plenty of things tied to my writing that fall out of my zone of genius:

  • Editing books and articles
  • Finding pictures for the pieces
  • Going through the motions of publishing and formatting my articles for Medium.

These are all things that somebody else could do for me. The highest value activity is the writing itself.

2. Conducting Interviews

For the production of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast, the one thing I do that creates a disproportionate amount of value is choosing guests and conducting interviews. We’ve even been pitched on outsourcing our guest selection, but given that I consider this an integral part of what causes us to find so many interesting people, it makes no sense to have someone else do it. But there are a number of things that somebody else could do:

  • Editing the interview
  • Uploading the interview and writing show notes
  • Promoting the interview on social media and emailing the guest

At the moment I’ve only outsourced one of those things. But, the highest value activity is the interview itself.

3. Speaking

Speaking plays a major role in our business. It allows me to share the message of my book, it drives sales of my book and gives me an opportunity to talk about the work that I’m doing on The Unmistakable Creative. It also adds a decent chunk of revenue to our bottom line every month. But there are plenty of things around the speaking that somebody else does

  • My speaker’s bureau finds opportunities and sells me. They also book my travel and organize everything.
  • I could outsource designing my slides, but I actually like doing this because it’s an opportunity to create.

Other than delivering my talks, a significant amount of what happens around my speaking is outsourced. The highest value activity is delivering the speech.

Moving the Needle

Writing, conducting interviews and speaking all move the needle on the most important metrics in our business:

  • Writing = Email Subscribers + Book Sales
  • Interviewing = Podcast Listeners
  • Speaking= Revenue + Book Sales

All three of these activities are interrelated. Each of them impacts the other in a meaningful way.

To move the needle in your own efforts, identify what your key metrics are. Then identify the activities that directly impact those metrics.

There are a very limited number of activities that each of us can do that provide a disproportionate amount of value. By identifying what those activities are, we can spend the majority of our time in our zone of genius. Saying no to everything except our essential priorities creates more value, results in more progress, and allows us to achieve our most ambitious goals.


Before You Go…

If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.

The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.