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How to Set Goals like John Kennedy

moon_footprint"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." ~ Neil Armstrong

Today we’re celebrating one of the biggest successes of all time. Forty years ago today, on July 20, 1969, three men – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – landed a spacecraft on the moon for the first time.



They had launched their mission 4 days earlier, flying 203,000 miles to get there.

About six-and-a-half hours after they landed, with one-sixth of the people in the world tuned in to watch, Neil Armstrong descended down the ladder of the lunar space module. As he became the first person to walk on the surface of the moon, he uttered those famous words:

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” 

We never get tired of hearing those words. It gives us goose bumps. They are so inspiring.

But we have to remember that it didn’t just happen. It began as a bigg goal over eight years before.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said:

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” 

How to set goals like President Kennedy

President Kennedy’s goal was very well-stated. It was a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym for:

Time- and Resource-Constrained

Let’s look at each of these five components of a well-stated goal using President Kennedy’s goal as an example.

President Kennedy said that we were going to do two things:

  • land a man on the moon
  • return him safely to earth

You can’t get much more specific than that. In this case, it may be easier to think about what wouldn’t be specific. He could have said, “We’re going to land a man somewhere in space.” That’s not specific. He clearly articulated the destination.

President Kennedy’s goal was clearly measurable. We would certainly know if a man had landed on the moon. We could certainly tell if he returned safely to earth.

Note, though, that landing on the moon and then not being able to get back safely would have meant the goal was not reached.

Let’s bring this point on being measurable safely back to earth. Here’s an example of a goal that is not measurable:

“I’m going to increase my income next year.”

What does that mean? If you increase it by $1, did you really accomplish what you set out to do? A well-stated goal would be:

“I’m going to increase my income by 5% next year.
“I’m going to increase my income by $2,000 next year.”

Now you’ll know if you accomplish what you set out to do.

When President Kennedy called for this mission to send man to the moon [PDF], he made clear that it would take a tremendous commitment by the entire nation to reach this goal.

He called for innovation. He called for new money. He said it would take a concentrated effort for an extended period of time. But it would get done.

And get done it did. In a similar vein – with our personal goals or the goals we set for our businesses – we must commit to taking the necessary steps to achieve the goal.


President Kennedy said, “I believe we have all the resources and talent necessary.” 

Your goals can and should be bigg goals. They should stretch you beyond anything you’ve ever accomplished before. But they have to be realistic.

Otherwise, they don’t lead to bigg success. They only lead to discouragement.

Time- and Resource-constrained

This one’s easy. President Kennedy said we would accomplish this goal by the end of the decade. It was 1961. The goal was reached July 20, 1969.

He made it clear that resources would have to be diverted from other good causes if this goal was to be reached.

When you set your goals, be sure to give yourself a due date. When will you accomplish this goal? What resources will be required to do it? Do you have them?

Goal-setting is not goal-getting

John F. Kennedy was able to reduce all of this into a simple goal statement of 31 powerful words that set this course of events into action.

Because he wasn’t just a bigg goal-setter, he was a bigg goal-getter.

Setting goals is just the first step in that process. We have a great tool – the Bigg Goal-Getter’s Workbook – which takes you through the entire six step process to put goal-setting and goal-getting to work for you. It’s free when you subscribe to our free newsletter, The Bigg Success Weekly

Just one final point:

Good goals have a reason behind them. They serve a bigger purpose. Every goal should lead you closer to the bigg success of which you dream. So we’ll close with John F. Kennedy himself explaining why sending a man to the moon was so important:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.


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(Image and quotes in today's post from NASA)

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Apologies – The Bad and the Ugly

sorry.jpgYesterday we talked about how Ramon De Leon, the owner of six Chicago Domino’s franchises, responded to a complaint by Amy Ravit Korin on Twitter and created a video apology promising to “wow” her. You owe it to yourself to see how he did it.

When it comes to apologies, this is the good. Today we want to talk about the bad and the ugly and discuss three steps in the art of the apology.



The bad

Domino’s, the chain, recently found itself making the news when two employees of one store posted a video on YouTube showing them mishandling food, to say the least. Domino’s President, Patrick Doyle, was featured in a video apologizing for the mishap and reassuring customers that this was an isolated incident.

There was backlash to this video because it didn’t seem sincere. We think that the apology itself seemed sincere. However, he wasn’t looking at the camera so it’s obvious he was reading from a script. He should have at least looked squarely at the camera when he said, “We’re sorry.”

The difference between this video and Ramon’s video is striking. Ramon is looking right at the camera and it’s obvious that he’s not reading from a script. There’s no question about his sincerity in the way he delivers his apology.

The ugly

You’ve probably heard about the free grilled chicken promotion by KFC. Unfortunately, KFC was not prepared for the overwhelming response to this promotion. Countless customers were turned away when they arrived at their local KFC to redeem their coupon. KFC’s President, Roger Eaton, issued a video apology.


georgeI’m a positive-thinking person who loves positive-thinking people. But he was too positive in light the situation.



marylynnI agree completely. He seemed happy. If I’m dissatisfied as your customer, I want to see that you’re unhappy about it. Show me that you’re empathetic to my terrible experience.



Show you know I’m as mad as a chicken on a hot tin roof?



No … as mad as a chicken in a frying pan!


The KFC apology focused too much on the success of the promotion and not enough on the debacle that followed. However, we’ll cut them some slack because they’re dealing with a more massive problem than the other two.

The art of the apology

Bigg success is life on your own terms. The five elements of bigg success are money, time, growth, work and play. Sometimes we experience the most growth when we’ve made a mistake.

No matter what medium you use to apologize – video, phone, e-mail, in person or some other way – there’s an art to it.

First, simply apologize.
Get it out of the way right upfront. Ramon, the Domino’s franchisee, gets right to it as does Patrick Doyle, the Domino’s President.

The KFC President, Roger Eaton, completely missed the mark. Instead of apologizing right away, he starts off talking about how successful the promotion was.

Second, talk about what you’re going to do about it.
Once again, Ramon nails this one. He told Amy that he was going to wow her. And wow her he did along with the rest of us. Patrick Doyle got this right too.

Roger Eaton eventually gets to the point – they’re going to honor the coupon and give you a free Pepsi product if you do a whole bunch more work. Instead of talking about how they will remedy the situation, the people who were affected have to follow-up to get what was promised to them in the first place.

Third, look to the future.
There’s nothing wrong with ending an apology on an upbeat note. Look to the future of the relationship. Ramon hit this one out of the park as well. We think the park was Wrigley Field!

Patrick Doyle closes strong. He thanks people for their support and says Domino’s will work to rebuild our trust. However, right before that, he says that “it sickens him that the actions of two individuals” could impact their brand. You could feel his emotion. This is where he should have started.

This is a mistake that’s easy to make – beginning and ending with an apology. Follow the process mapped out here to avoid doing that.

The President of KFC completely struck out. He apologizes right at the end of the video – the best apology in the whole video we might add. Fortunately, he didn’t close on that note; it appeared as if he would. He does end on an encouraging note.

Use this three-step process and deliver your message with sincerity the next time you have to apologize. We all make mistakes. When handled properly, even they can lead to bigg success!


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Please join us next time when we talk about out of this world communication.

Thanks so much for hanging out with us for a bit today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!


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These People Just Do Not Get It

optimists There is a group of people that most people just don’t understand. They face the same problems we all face …

… but they just don’t get it. They don’t get how bad these problems are this time around.



When they listen to the news, it’s the same news we all hear.

But they just don’t get it … how bad the news really is.

They have the same concerns for themselves and their families that we all have. But there is one difference between this group and the majority of people …

They think their lives are going to get better this year! The future is bright. So bright, they probably wear shades! They think the economy will turn around.

And there’s a startling number of Americans who think this way. In fact, according to a recent survey, more than one-third of all Americans are in this group. And only one out of five people said they worry about the economy on a daily basis.

Are they tuning out?

So what do you think? Are these people who think their personal situation will improve this year nuts? Or do you think they’re onto something? Or maybe they’re on something?

Here’s what they may not be on … they may not be reading, watching, or listening to the news! Bad news does seem to be good news to the news media. We’ve spoken with a large number of people over the last month or so who say they’ve tuned out the news.

Sometimes that’s a good coping mechanism. If you’re tired of hearing gloom and doom, it might be more productive to focus on something more positive.

Challenge spells opportunity

We put ourselves in this group of optimistic people. We think things will get better this year. That’s not to say we won’t still see some hiccups, but it appears that there is significant strength just below the surface.

While we face some major challenges right now, that spells opportunity for bigg goal-getters. But don’t expect to win a spelling bee if you spell it that way!

Getting real

The article we mentioned earlier cites some of the benefits of being an optimist. On average, optimists get sick less, live longer, and appear to have a higher quality of life.

This is consistent with other research we’ve seen on the benefits of being an optimist. Seeing the glass half-full does seem to pay off. But while it’s important to look for the silver lining in any dark cloud, and we don’t think it pays to be pessimistic, we also think that we should be realistic.

We have to sort through all the information in front of us to try to determine what the objective reality is. To make sure that our perceptions aren’t creating a bias as we look at a particular situation.

Because we’re more likely to make mistakes if we’re overly optimistic. We’ll see opportunities that aren’t really there. And unfortunately, we must admit that we’re speaking from experience here.

But pessimists miss out on opportunities because they either don’t see it or they don’t act on what they see.

Bigg goal-getters are an optimistic group. While one-third of the people in this survey said they think things will get better this year, we bet that the overwhelming majority of our community would put themselves in that category.

And that’s a good thing … as long as we filter our optimism with a healthy dose of realism. Be positively real. That’s the recipe for bigg success!


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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time when we discuss why you should stop trying to fit into the world. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!


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(Image in today’s post by lusi)