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December 31, 2010 / tommoradpour

2011, Make It “One Louder”

As 2010 gets to a close and we move into 2011, I am reminded of the words of wisdom from the epic 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.
You see, most live rock bands set their amps to ten. And it’s fine, until they realize they can’t go anywhere from there: they’re already maxed out. This is how a lot of people feel about new year resolutions – they are already at ten.

But Spinal Tap is different: their amps can go to eleven. Yes, that’s one louder.
Absurd? Maybe not.


2010 was already a big year for you, wasn’t it?
Whatever you do, chances are you did it with your amps on ten.  Maybe it still wasn’t loud enough for you, but it had its winning moments, didn’t it?
Now, think about it – where do you go from there? Will you join the mass and make endless lists of “new resolutions” that won’t live past January? Start doing this, start doing that…
Why don’t you focus instead on what worked in 2010, and make that one louder?
Shinny new toys, activities, ideas, resolutions are… well, they’re shinny and new. But truly loud success most often comes from understanding your strenghts, your successes, and doubling down on these, rather than wasting focus on new things you’ll most likely end up dropping anyway.


My first advice for 2011 is to make a list of things you’ll stop doing to create that reserve of “one” in your life, in your day, in your budgets… that helps you get to eleven when it counts. STOP is a much more powerful idea than START – like strategy is about what you don’t do, good planning is often about what you stop doing, to create space for what truly matters. Find those zombie activities or projects that eat up your resources, and put them in the ground. Today.


My second advice is to make a list of things you will CONTINUE doing in 2011, but at setting eleven rather than ten. Not everything: the 20% that drive 80% of your results, value or happiness. Maybe it’s spending a little bit more time on your blog to make each post a bit better. Maybe it’s adding 1 mile to every run. Maybe it’s building on a succesful campaign and taking execution one step further. Maybe it’s spending just a little bit more time with the people that truly matter for you. Focus on what works and make it work harder.


My final advice is to be ready for those moments when playing at eleven could make your success loudest. It’s worth noting that Spinal tap didn’t play at eleven all the time – just when they needed that extra push over the cliff. Don’t make eleven your new everyday ten. Keep some in reserve, to push when you see an opportunity to make a big impact. This can mean stashing 10% of a budget for experiments that could push your work into the stratosphere, or to keep it more reactive and topical. Or more generally keeping some energy to seize unplanned opportunities. Don’t. Plan. Everything.

And as a starting gift… this, is Spinal Tap!

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven…
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.
This Is Spinal Tap – 1984



Leave a Comment
  1. jeremyparnaby / Dec 31 2010 15:18

    Great post. I’m going to be very loud starting now

  2. Ric Dragon / Dec 31 2010 15:35

    “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”
    Marty misses, huh? Yes! Let’s take it to eleven!

  3. Kenny Rose / Dec 31 2010 15:50

    Eleven it is Tom. Your showing your pedigree in this one. This is a great piece. I liked the others but this one resonates not in Echo kind of way hits the core.

  4. Nick Kellet / Dec 31 2010 15:58

    Sound Advice.

    I like going short when others go long. For every trend a counter trend. For every swing a correction. Reverse, invert, flip & twist. Speed up, slow down. Be different, but be consistent being you.

    Go quiet and listen when others shout. And you can only do that by not doing some stuff.

    And by saving some stuff back for that killer idea that will come. And this cool thing will need total focus and it has to be done fast, so not running on max all the time is good advice. Think marathon not sprint.

    Not a big one for resolutions myself. I don’t have a big plan, but I do keep a big picture close to hand because where stuff fits in context matters a lot.

  5. Carol L. Weinfeld / Dec 31 2010 20:17

    Nice tie-in with This is Spinal Tap. “Accentuate the positive,” as the song by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer says.

    Happy new year!

  6. Dane Findley / Jan 1 2011 13:04

    ~ I’m going to stop with social media activities that are less fun and spark little engagement.

    ~ I’m going to continue using productivity systems that help me to get more done, in less time.

    ~ I’m going to start doing more things just for fun in my free time: like play cards, take tai chi classes, and meeting friends for hikes.

    Thanks for this post, Tom! I’m energized!

  7. lefreddie / Jan 1 2011 17:52

    one big upper for your post Tom. I love seeing what works best to push to eleven, and what you’re going to sacrifice for it.

  8. купон атор москва / Nov 12 2011 07:29

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