Planning isn't enough: How to turn strategy into action

A few months after I relocated from Dallas to New York City, I got a job as a fashion assistant at a magazine called Lucky.

The gig consisted of A) picking up and checking in samples the editors called in for photo shoots; B) packing the approved samples into big-ass black trunks and C) making sure those big-ass black trunks were delivered to the studio or shoot location.

My favorite part of the process, as you could imagine, was seeing the images for the story.

So much so that a day or two after the shoot, I’d sneak over to the art department – before the big boss Lynette or the biggest boss Eva arrived – to ask Lucky’s art director Coco for a peek at the film.

It was dope to see what could be created from the combined (and complementary) expertise of best-in-class stylists, photographers, makeup artists and hairdressers and prop stylists and a host of other unsung heroes.

Because I recognized and appreciated something: Without execution, all that existed were big-ass black trunks of luxury clothes and inspiration boards of thumb-tacked looks from runway collections.

It was the crew that brought the idea to life. It was the crew who gave the clothes real-world context. Then it was the features team who wrote about those ideas and clothes so readers would get why they should give a damn to begin with.

The same notion applies to business and marketing.

The impact of your big idea isn’t connected to a single brand element or marketing channel. True meaning comes from your ability to translate that idea into a simple solution that solves a specific problem.

What’s too bad is how many recovering perfections obsess over project outlines and quarterly plans, as if that’s the benchmark for profitability and personal freedom.

When it’s not even the strategy alone that counts, it’s what you do with it.

It’s how you use your unique vision, expertise and skills to craft a product or service that people can’t help but pay attention to and pay for.

Just like the fashion crews created images that our readers couldn’t ignore or not find inspiration from.

For a while though, this was a blind spot in my business.

I’ve always been a master at coming up with big ideas and turning them into remarkable strategies. But all those best-laid plans meant nothing until I started packaging them into tangible revenue-generating solutions, my business started to grow.

I discovered something in the process too: The most effective strategies are fluid, evolving to fit the needs of end-user. Which means you won’t truly know how good your plan is unless the market has something to confirm that belief for you.

So if the current you can relate to the old me, here’s my recommendation:

Invest time and/or money into implementing your plans, not just planning itself.

Focus on developing the simplest product or service – powered by your own signature system, packaged into an irresistible offer and dressed up with phenomenal branding – that solves a single problem, fulfills a single desire or relieves a single struggle.

Or hire an expert to do it for you. Then wait – like I used to at Coco’s desk – to be blown away by the results.


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