Make It Great! – My interview with Phil Gerbyshak

Today I am joined by Phil Gerbyshak of Make It Great!, one of the web’s premier personal development bloggers.Benjamin: How did you get started in the field of Self Improvement?

Phil: About 5 years ago, I decided I wasn’t happy with the path I was on, so I decided to pick up a few good books to try to get motivated and change my life. I was reading about 20 books a year, and over the past 5 years, I’ve turned it up to read 40-50 a year on self-improvement, motivation, business, and the like.

B: Were you always this positive a person?

P: No, I sure haven’t been. I used to be an energy sucker. It pains me to admit it, but I was until about 7 years ago. Most of the people I knew then probably wouldn’t recognize me now, and not because my hair color is different. My attitude has changed that dramatically.

B: How has Self Improvement impacted your business and personal life?

P: The more I learn, the more I grow, and the more I am able to help others. In a personal and professional setting, this has helped me impact more people because I better understand them. Dr. Steven Covey has said that the most basic human need is to be understood, so understanding MYSELF has helped me to understand others.

B: How can we Make It Great every day?

P: Attitude is everything. If you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right. I think that was originally attributed to Walt Disney or Henry Ford, and it sounds a bit trite, but it’s true. Believe you can make it great, and you will. That’s the big picture way to greatness.

B: How have you attracted your success with your blog?

P: I visit as many blogs like Make It Great! as I can (I subscribe to 300+ RSS feeds) and try to continue their conversations on their blogs, and trackback with my own conversation. I’ve asked many more successful people than I what has made them successful, what tips they would share, and most importantly, how I can help them. I pay it forward as much as I can. I try to do an interview a month on Make It Great! featuring a blogger I’ve found interesting, and I offer suggestions for improvement when appropriate.

I also write almost every day on Make It Great!, or at least bookmark some sites for later and add them to my site. I link out as much as possible, as there’s no way I could know everything, so I point people to different places who can help complete the picture.

Last thing I do is I leave my comments wide open, I don’t hide my e-mail address, and I respond to EVERY comment I get on my blog, and EVERY e-mail, even if it’s just with a “thanks for your comment” or “thanks for your e-mail.” I use my blog to build relationships, not just traffic, and that helps out a lot.

B: What “lifehacks” do you try to use to increase your productivity?

P: I am a huge believer in setting goals. I use the SMARTER method for goal setting.

  • S – Goals must be Specific and the more specific the better. State your goal in as exact of terms as possible.
  • M – Targets should be Measurable. That which you measure will be treasured, so think about what will be the measurement of your achievement of your goal.
  • A – Goals should have Accountability. Who or what are you accountable to for the goal?
  • R – Goals must be Realistic. Unrealistic goals will lead to discouragement.
  • T – Targets should be Time based. Decide your time-table for completion, and stick to it.
  • E – Goals should be Exciting. Exciting goals will be met far sooner than boring, bland goals.
  • R – Goals should be Recorded, in a place where you can look at it every day.

Also, I use RSS as much as possible for my blog reading.

I use the 3D method for e-mail: Delete it right away if it’s junk (turn on the preview pane, and please don’t send me an e-mail without a subject line), Delegate it to someone else who can help, or Deal with it (I use chunking where I set aside 30-40 minutes where I am dedicated to e-mail, and I respond to e-mails during this time). I am not perfect at 3D, but when I use it, it works very well.

I blog with Performancing for Firefox, and this makes a HUGE difference for my blogging, as I can do categories, formatting, and copy and paste text right into my posts.

Lastly is I only have a cell phone, no home phone, and I carry it with me always and it’s always turned on. I don’t always answer it, but having it on me at all times means I can often get the call right away instead of having to return calls later.

B: How can I go about writing a book and becoming a Web 2.0 Superstar?

P: Writing a book is not as hard as you’d think. Start by picking a topic you’re interested in, and start a blog. Read as much as you can FIRST, link out to other experts, and write your own ideas. Do this for about 6 months or until you feel you’ve found your voice. Write for another 6 months in your voice, then put your favorite 15 or 20 articles on the topic together in 1 document. Print out the table of contents and see what can be put together, what can be deleted, what needs improvement, and try to have 10-12 chapters. Have friends review it, and refine it. Refine it again, hire a real editor (go to your local English department at a college for an inexpensive one), and keep refining. Give the final decision up to someone else so when they say it’s done, you’re done. Use a service like, or where I used and make it happen!

I don’t think of myself as a Web 2.0 superstar, but I appreciate the endorsement Benjamin. I can share with you the tools I use for my blog, and maybe they will help you. They are all FREE!

  • Gmail – easy filtering and e-mail to track your conversations, and less spam than Hotmail or Yahoo.
  • Feedburner – burn your RSS feed, and GREAT stats for your subscribers to know what RSS reader they use. Plus other tools that are helpful for promotion.
  • Technorati – the mother ship of all blog sites. You must list yourself here to be taken seriously in blogging, and if you put Technorati tags on your blog posts, people can easily find you.
  • – right click, write your blog. Includes automatic Technorati tags, bookmark your post at Del.Icio.Us
  • Del.Icio.Us – social bookmarking, and I can automatically post my bookmarks to my blog.
  • – metrics package you can subscribe to via RSS and has great reporting capabilities.
  • – I put some of my podcasts up here.
  • Not free: Typepad – I host my blog here. If you can use Microsoft Word or Excel, you can use TypePad.

B: Can you describe yourself in less than Five words?

P: I’m here to help! Ask!

B: Can you leave our readers with an Action Plan to Make it Great! ?

P: Sure thing.

  • Think about what you REALLY want to be known for in your life, what you are known for right now, and take the steps needed in order to get to where you want to be.
  • Serve first, and don’t worry about payback. It’ll come around.
  • Find like-minded people who can help you, and don’t be afraid to ask them to help you.
  • Use the 80/20 rule to determine what’s really important and what’s not.
  • Finish what you start…or just get started! Whether you struggle with the beginning or the end of things you do, it’s important that you realize that you need to TAKE ACTION in order to really make it great! Life is not a passive sport, so ACTION is important.
  • Last but not least: Attitude is EVERYTHING, so smile MORE often.

B: Thanks so much Phil!

P: My pleasure Benjamin. I hope your readers enjoy our talk, and I encourage them to stop by Make It Great! and let me know if there’s ever anything I can do for them.


4 responses to “Make It Great! – My interview with Phil Gerbyshak

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