Take it from a die hard sports fan - almost everything in the universe is outside of your control.

This is why I don't follow politics, or even watch the nightly news - EVER.

I'm a highly competitive dude, and if I let my mind stray off into things that I can't control, I'm a mess.

My sole recipe for success has focused around one word - CONTROL. I remember my parents talking to me about it from the time I was a kid. My Detroit Lions had just lost a tough one to the Chicago Bears, likely in 1992 or 1993 - I was 11 or 12 and threw a first class hissy fit.

I remember crying when my beloved Michigan State Spartans lost a tough home game to the Purdue Boilermakers a couple years later when their backcourt was made up of two of my favorite players of all time Shawn Respert and Eric Snow. I mean, this was a regular season game.

If you know me, this probably doesn't surprise you. I'm pretty intense. But mom and dad telling me at an early age - "focus on what you can control," helped me channel my emotions, lower my heart rate a bit, and channel my energy into thoughts like:

"Okay, I may not be able to control how well other grown men play, but I can control how hard I work at my game." This mentality and mindset helped me focus on creating daily workout routines around my two loves growing up - basketball and golf - and the hard work paid off, helping me make the highly competitive teams in high school.

Recently, I've written about choosing reality over fantasy, where this theme has carried through and helped me in my professional career.

"I may not be able to control how much money employers will pay me or offer me, but I can work my ass off, learn new skills, become even more valuable, and make the most out of the 16-18 hours a day I'm awake."

Funny enough, results follow this mentality.

The business world is always changing, and Data Driven Design is working to stay ahead of the curve, but we can't control anything, really. Clients can choose any number of other options over us, and they may or may not have a great experience with our team. We can't control their mindset, and we can't control the decisions they make.

In other words, as an entrepreneur, I can't control how much revenue my company generates.

However, what I do know is that if I focus on the things I can control, like setting up meetings with some amazing people, and always being friendly, accommodating and willing to help, we will be just fine. We will be better than just fine. And more importantly, I'll be happy and so will my team and clients.

Here's what I'm talking about - each day I have a choice. Do I work head's down on exactly what's in front of me, or do I peek up every now and then and spend some extra time reaching out to my contacts, seeing what they're up to, attending local meet-ups and saying hello to everyone in the room, and meeting with folks around me who I may be able to form partnerships with?

Taking the extra meeting and going the extra mile are always things I can control. If I take these actions, I'm more likely to grow my business. There's no telling how much revenue we'll generate, but if we go the extra mile, we're more likely to make things happen.

I'd like to thank those who have taken their time out recently to meet with me, and I look forward to working together and making things happen in the future.

Last week, a couple other agencies, mainly focused on branding - TILT in Michigan - led by Lawrence James - and Design Coup out of Atlanta led by Michael Higgins.

Will Acuff, of Corner To Corner, here in East Nashville - looking forward to making some things happen brother. Will runs, Corner to Corner, a Christian nonprofit that exists to extend hope to every corner of the Nashville community. They attack the cycle of despair often caused by high-rates of incarceration, in a model we call “Connect, Invest, Grow.” In 2016 they launched the Business Entrepreneurship Academy with the help of Launch in Chattanooga. I look forward to helping Will as a guest speaker this year!

I originally met Will at a Nashville Chamber of Commerce event, as well as Daniel McMahan, of DevDigital, another Nashville Software Development shop, who I also met with again this week, looking to hook up together on some opportunities.

Then I skipped over to my buddy Emily Gold's office for this FIRE podcast.

And of course, I had a great meeting with Phil Gibbs and Katie Sulkowski of Disruption Lab, a Lean Start-up and Innovation Program based in Nashville but looking to grow Internationally. We are going to do some great things together.

My point is, I could have just stayed in my office and cranked out more work, then gone to bed early, but as a small business owner and entrepreneur with large aspirations, I decided to focus on what I could control vs. what I can't control. So instead of hoping for things to come my way, I'm going out and making things happen.

Not all efforts will pay off, but I'm big on creating momentum - so instead of getting nervous about what other people think (something I clearly can't control), I'm doing me - focusing on what I can control.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Paul Hickey has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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