April 21, 2012


Pick Four fisnishedI just finished the 12 week Pick Four goals program. Is it right for you? Let’s explore. To start, here is how this program from Zig Ziglar and Seth Godin works.


Overall, I'm relieved. The program works well but was tougher than I expected. I'm not used to working on the same goal each day for 12 weeks. For years, I've been planning by the month/quarter/year and scheduling by the week.

I made progress on all my goals.
  1. Ask for business (3 times a week): I have and the process helped me clarify the need for an Actuarial Insurance Review (AIR). There are now three variations: corporate (CAIR), family (FAIR) and personal (PAIR).
  2. Improve health (daily): I made reasonable progress, especially in eating better. I still need to exercise regularly and sleep earlier [my original goal was too narrow: “Exercise (3 times a week)”]
  3. Declutter (daily): my blue bin was fed well but this remains my biggest struggle. There’s a reason I didn’t include a photo of my desk …
  4. Ship video (once every two weeks): I did. I’ve overcome mental obstacles and now feel comfortable editing video. You’ll see the results here. I have yet to record myself talking directly to the camera but now feel I can.
Four goals may not seem like much, but they are.

The Peers

It's very difficult to find groups without slackers or members with ulterior motives. The other three members in Pick Four were exceptional. They were committed and supportive. We showed up on time. We felt guilty if when we fell behind in a goal.

Even after 12 weeks, I don't feel that I know much about the other members. I don't understand basics such as what they do, how they picked their path or what they want to achieve in their lives. Those details weren't necessary for Pick Four but would have added context.
To use an analogy, think of going to walk-in medical clinic. Your symptoms get treated but are you really get cured? That takes longer and requires deeper probing. Perhaps you need to modify your thinking or priorities. Maybe your goals are too modest. Outside perspectives help.

Success Elements

Even if you're good at setting goals, you'll get better results when you're in a support group.

We met weekly except for a couple of times. Once we had a conference call. That saved time but was less enjoyable.

The meetings were structured and lasted an hour. Each member reported on their progress. The rest of the group asked questions and made suggestions. That’s fine but there was no time for the magic that happens outside a formal meeting.

Areas To Improve

I don't like writing on paper. I would have preferred an app with web-based synchronization (e.g., via Dropbox). An app would allow nifty analytics like graphs and also nagging reminders.

Prior to starting the program, prospective members could meet for a couple of hours to get to know each other. That would help with bonding and could weed out incompatibilities.

Would you travel over an hour to attend an hour-long meeting? I did but would not like to do this indefinitely. A Skype video conference might be a workable solution but in-person is best.

After the meeting dates are set, life will intervene --- sometimes in tragic ways. What if you can’t attend? It’s tempting to reschedule (which is difficult with four busy calendars to address) or cancel (which is easy). The fairest solution is to continue the meetings with whoever can show up. 

The Schedule

We met in downtown Toronto at 6 PM. If you're driving, you get to battle "rush hour" traffic. You also get to pay both the daytime parking rate and the after-6 PM flat rate. The earlier you show up, the greater the penalty.

My monthly mentoring/mastermind groups start at 7 PM and run two hours. That feels more relaxing and allows time to eat before attending. A 7 PM start time wasn't practical for Pick Four because of busy schedules.

The meetings took place on different days and at different locations. This was inevitable because of our schedules. I would have preferred a fixed day of the week but that was impractical, even for me.

Since I plan my weeks Monday through Sunday, I readjusted Day 1 to start on Monday. That may seem minor but was important to me.


Pick Four may work very well for you, especially if you’re in the right group. To start, order the Pick Four workbooks. When they arrive, start looking for participants.

Overall, I prefer monthly peer mentoring with a variable end time. That structure allows deeper discussions. The monthly frequency allows time to meet goals despite the disruptions life hurls our way.


My group is meeting for a wrap-up dinner. We'll give each other a 360 degree evaluation. That will be very valuable since we can't see ourselves. What we do looks unremarkable and routine to us but might awe others. The outside perspectives would help us value ourselves and see areas for improvement.


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