Numbers have a profound impact on one’s ability to turn desires and aspirations into goals and outcomes.
Any idea not quantified has very little chance of becoming reality.
However, add a number to an idea and you have a commitment that requires action.
I haven’t always been enchanted with numbers. But the older I get, the more I see the world around me through numbers. My work with leaders and organizations, especially around growth initiatives, requires me to adopt numbers as the primary means by which thoughts, ideas, and strategies are organized and presented.
Numbers Provide Feedback
Through the democratization of data, even my smartphone uses numbers to give me feedback that should inform current and future use decisions. I suspect this trend will only continue as data becomes the spine by which we operate our lives, businesses, and leadership.
We are not lacking in the availability or access to data and numbers, but we are lacking in how we use that information to inform current decision-making and future outcomes.
The list of numbers below is not exhaustive by any means. But it does give you a window into how I use numbers to navigate life, both personally and professionally. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration to be open to the numbers in your life and how they might help you do more and achieve more.
1 - The number of books I read or listen to every week. I find myself listening to more books than reading them. I usually purchase the Kindle version and the Audible version. Amazon has a way of keeping them in sync with each other, so I can read or listen and never lose my place.
3 - The number of shows I watch nearly every week on Sunday: CBS Sunday Morning, Meet the Press, and 60 Minutes. I really enjoy them and feel like they efficiently keep me connected to key commentary and themes in the news and culture that sometimes get lost in the daily headlines.
49 - The average number of podcasts I subscribe to and listen to. I usually adjust to 2xs playback speed to keep up. I’m constantly pruning and adding to this my podcast library. It’s amazing what you can learn while I run or drive.
88 - The average number of RSS feeds I scan across nine categories to hit the high points of the content that’s most interesting to me every day. I’m old enough to still mourn the loss of Google Reader. Feedly became my replacement. RSS technology seems to be growing less and less popular these days, but I still think it’s tremendously efficient.
100 - The number of items I want to own. This is an aspirational goal. It really captures my desire to reduce unnecessary friction and decisions in my life. As of my last inventory check, I had 209 unique clothing items alone. I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me.
2021 - The number of miles I decided to run in 2021. I’m happy to report that I well on my way.
1900 - This is my daily target intake of net calories. I tell people it’s not about health; it’s about math.
$0 - The amount of debt I am striving to achieve. I’m not there yet, but I’ve made substantial progress in the last 12 months. And my projections tell me I’ll be there in less than 48 months (including mortgage!). Every time I get closer to that goal, there is a corresponding effect to my net worth in reduced liabilities and increased margin to repurpose into income and equity-based investment opportunities.
2 - The minimum number of cold calls every day I require of myself. It keeps me humble, honest, and on my toes.
1 - The minimum number of network outreaches I require of myself each day. You are whom you know. Period.
3 - The number of data visualization tools I use regularly. I’m a big fan of Tableau, Microsoft’s PowerBI, and Google Data Studio. I consider them the trifecta of mainstream offerings.
3 - The number of times I open my Inbox throughout the average workday. If you don’t manage your Inbox time, it will manage you. No one pays me to respond to emails; they pay me to deliver results.
29 - The default length of time for any meeting. It forces me to be mindful of my commitments in relation to my outcomes. When necessary, I can negotiate for more time.
Rule of 4 - Whatever my cash flow needs to be in the coming quarter, I want to have four times that amount in the pipeline.
90% - I measure my own utilization. This is how I hold myself accountable to work “on” the business, not just “in” the business
1000 - The number of words I average when developing content for myself or clients. It takes me time to research and outline. But when it’s time to knock it out, I crank it up.
Turn Strategy Into Action
Perhaps the most overlooked and undervalued dimension of numbers is their ability to create alignment between your desires, reality, and outcomes.
When you can communicate an idea, it becomes real. When you can quantify an idea, it becomes achievable.
You need to be able to do both.
It could be that what is standing between your current situation and your preferred future is less a knowledge gap as it is incomplete and unresolved work.
If you’ll identify your most persistent concerns and frustrations, I bet you’ll discover you haven’t yet converted it into a quantitative reality.
When you do, you’ll naturally turn your obstacle into an opportunity for action.
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.