March 27, 2021

Shawn Blanc on Building Margin Into Your Life So You Can Win More

Shawn Blanc on Building Margin Into Your Life So You Can Win More

Shawn Blanc shares how margin impacts every area of your life, and why every professional who is serious about building authentic business relationships needs margin to do it. Learn how margin allows you to say yes to the most important things, how to...

Shawn Blanc shares how margin impacts every area of your life, and why every professional who is serious about building authentic business relationships needs margin to do it. Learn how margin allows you to say yes to the most important things, how to create genuine relationships, and why slowing down and planning can save not just your business, but also your life.


Mo asks Shawn Blanc: What big idea do you have that professionals can use to do a better job at business development?

  • Margin, also known as breathing room, is the space in our lives between the stuff that we do and the limit where we fall off the cliff. It’s very easy, especially in the world of business, for people to push their energy to the absolute limits where there is zero margin in our lives.
  • Margin can apply to more than just business, it can apply to all areas and relationships in your life.
  • Having breathing room in Shawn’s life helps him lean into his strength as a Yellow thinker. Shawn feels the constant need to fill every moment in his life with something productive, so the reminder of building in the margins is critical to doing his best work.
  • Working on projects that are due weeks ahead instead of the next morning allows you to work more effectively with less stress.
  • For business and your personal life, margin exists to benefit your relationships. When you have no margin in your life you are tapped out in your schedule and physically, and this leaves little strength left over for your relationships, including business development.


Mo asks Shawn Blanc: How do we use margin to grow our book of business and get more opportunities?

  • Shawn shares the parable of the good samaritan and how margin relates to opportunities.
  • The ability to say no to certain opportunities is as important as the ability to say yes. When we are not clear around our priorities or have no margin within our schedule, it can be easy to say yes to everything and become overwhelmed. This puts strain on your work when truly great opportunities come your way.
  • Margin can enable us to say yes to the most important stuff. It also helps us know when to say no to certain things so that we can show up with our greatest strength during times of opportunity.
  • Evaluating opportunities is not binary, it’s an organic process. The first step is knowing your values and understanding how you work within your daily schedule. Does the opportunity align with what you care about? If it does, what are the most important things on your schedule, and do you have enough resources and time to say yes to the opportunity? Lastly, if it is important and time is tight, is there something you can give up on to take the opportunity on?
  • Business development is probably one of the most important things you can do for your career, yet it’s one of the first areas the professionals let slide when time gets tough. Great rainmakers have a roadmap for what they are going to do in terms of business development.
  • You have to be proactive with your time and have the clarity to know what the most important things are so they don’t get pushed aside.
  • Shawn’s team works in eight-week cycles which have been transformative for his business. The first six weeks are focused work time for clearly defined projects and the following week is a buffer for review. The eighth week is time off for the entire team.
  • This work cycle structure allows Shawn’s team to accomplish more in less time while also building in time to recover and celebrate what they have achieved.


Mo asks Shawn Blanc: How can we use margin and apply it to long-term relationships?

  • Margin exists for relationships. We need to have breathing room in our time, in our money, and in our energy to be able to build relationships. Margin allows us to build and strengthen and grow long-term relationships as well as new ones.
  • People often view the business of business development and sales as an impossible environment to build authentic relationships but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can build the relationship first and it can result in additional business, but if not that’s okay too.
  • Margin is the foundation for being truly authentic in a relationship. Without it, you will find yourself in meetings because you need the business and it will come across in the conversation.
  • Margin helps us with perspective and allows you to create relationships in the long term.
  • Great business development is about creating a better future for other people. Your core expertise is how you impact people in a positive way and relationship-oriented business development is how you do that.
  • In Shawn’s experience, providing a lot of value upfront and being clear about the nature of the relationship is what leads to long-term success. The idea of serving is paramount instead of converting each user to a customer immediately.
  • Having confidence in your ability to help people is the key to turning them into a customer. The imposter syndrome is what prevents people from understanding the value they can actually add to their customer’s lives. Pulling people from one side of complexity to the other is immensely valuable.
  • For some people, you need to charge enough money just to get their attention. A big part of your pricing is who your target customer is, and what price you need to charge to deliver your best work. For Shawn, the number is high enough so that the client will take it as seriously as he will.


Mo asks Shawn Blanc: How do we apply margin to better manage ourselves and get more done?

  • There are five components of a focused life. The final section is on margin and maintaining breathing room in your life, because that’s the make or break it for your life.
  • Margin is the space between your load and your breaking point. Finances are the only area of your life that can be lived beyond your means, every other area has a hard limit.
  • Having breathing room within your schedule, relationships, and emotions allows you to continue doing the things that matter the most to you.
  • You hack your habits by giving yourself the healthy breathing room you need to sustain it without getting burned out.
  • It sometimes feels impossible to create this margin in your life, but burnout is impossible to sustain as well. You can either recognize it and make the choice to create margin in your life, or your circumstances will make those choices for you.
  • The two most dangerous years of your life are the year you are born and the year after you retire. We run our lives near the redline all the way to retirement which often results in an untimely demise when we abruptly stop.
  • Where in your life are you redlining that you need some breathing room in? What can you do now to reduce your load in that area?
  • Shawn has a simple process that he uses to assess the tasks in his life and figure out what can be eliminated to either reduce his load or increase his limits. If you don’t think you have time to start planning, the first thing you need to do is eliminate something from your schedule.
  • If you’re already on the edge of burnout, it’s not the time to take on new things. When you have no flexibility in your schedule, you have no time for anyone.


Mo shares his insights from the habits of Shawn Blanc.

  • You need to have a plan around business development. A great business developer has a roadmap and knows what they are focused on over time.
  • Great rainmakers not only have an annual plan, but they also have it broken down into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks.
  • When everything is mapped out, you can evaluate opportunities accurately against your plan and understand what is worth your time. Without the plan, you are probably just saying yes to everything that comes your way.
  • Margin can be applied to the four areas of how we think. If you’re feeling stressed about your metrics, you need to expand your pipeline. If you feel stressed about deadlines, you need to pull back and create space to do your best work. If you don’t feel like you have any goodwill left in your relationships, you need to add margin by giving back. For strategy, you need to get down to three main focuses and measure against them.
  • If you feel like you don’t have the time to make a plan, that’s the signal that you need a plan. Start with looking at what you can delegate or eliminate to free up time so you can come up with a plan and create margin in your strategy.
  • If you don’t take the time to slow down and breathe, your body will force you to eventually.


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