PP 007: Be the Bonsai

I have to give complete credit to my husband for inspiring today’s episode, as he’s the one who coined the phrase, “Be the Bonsai.”

'Be the bonsai, baby!' Listen to hear what these words mean, and how they helped @thekimsutton turn her #smallbusiness around. https://www.thekimsutton.com/pp007 #podcastClick To Tweet

Episode Transcription

Welcome to another episode of Positive Productivity. This is your host, Kim Sutton, and I am thrilled to be sharing this message with you today. Just over a year ago I found out that I married Mr. Miyagi and I did not even know it.

To explain what I mean, we were driving home from visiting family and we were discussing a client of mine, and my husband said,

“Be the Bonsai, baby.”

Now, to clarify what we were talking about, we were talking about a particularly difficult client who would often come up with crazy ideas at 10:00 or 11:00 in the evening, send me a message via Slack, and ask me – yes at 10:00 or 11:00 in the evening – to have a whole new marketing funnel set up and ready to go by the next morning.

I don’t know how your business works, but this is NOT how I want to be running my business.

I never set my business up to work on nights or weekends. But I realized really fast I needed to set some guidelines and standards for my clients to follow so that this didn’t become a common practice.

As I began trying to reinforce these standards and practices with this client they became more and more resistant and more and more difficult to work with.

When my husband and I had the “Be the Bonsai” conversation, what he was referring to was Karate Kid, the movie from the 80s – Yes, I am a child of the 80s – When Mr. Miyagi is explaining to Daniel how to trim the weaker branches to let the stronger branches grow.

Well I don’t remember that actually happening in the movie but I think you get the point.

In all parts of our business and personal lives, we constantly need to be trimming off the weaker branches to let the stronger branches of our lives grow. This can mean our personal relationships, our business relationships, the tools and software that we’re using, the platforms that we are broadcasting our business messages on, and, well, actually the possibilities are endless.

There are so many ways, in our personal and business lives, that we can take more control and “Be the Bonsai” and let ourselves thrive.

I know you may be wondering what I mean when I say in our personal relationships. So I want to give you a little picture.

You’ll hear me discuss my social media usage in a few episodes – If I haven’t already discussed it, I’ll be discussing it in episodes coming up – but I’ve learned to control the amount of time that I spend on my main timeline when I enter Facebook. The reason why I do this is in my community of friends and family – and I mean those people that I know one person not just those that I’ve met online and have connected to – There are some in this community who are prone to posting more drama and more negativity than I’m really comfortable with. And while I could simply unfollow them so I am not seeing all of their messages I really don’t want to do that because if by chance they post something really great or something that really does need to be addressed I don’t want to miss it.

But there have also been people in that same community who are constantly just trying to stir up trouble. I’m sure you know the type of people that I’m talking about. They’re the people who no matter what other people type or share on social media they can always find something to complain about, or to criticize. And those people I just really don’t want in my “circle of sanity” I’m going to call it on social media.

So over time I have been unfriending or on following them on Facebook or on Twitter. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I have been asked why I un-friended or un-followed somebody, and I’ve simply gone back, and I’ve said “Look I’m trying to get myself into a more positive head space, and I’m sorry but you’re not contributing to it. So, if you find yourself able to post messages that are more positive, and you’re able to be more supportive to the community around you, then let me know and maybe we can reconnect. But for right now I’m sorry I need to keep you outside of my happy little circle.”

Hey, I know that I cannot always be looking at the world through rose colored glasses, but if it helps me stay in a happy place through my day where I could be more productive, and more positive in my journey, then that’s really where I want to be.

Another example of being the bonsai – and you will hear about this – is that when I decided to embark on the podcasting journey, I had actually planned on launching two podcasts – Positive Productivity was going to be one, and Influx Academy was going to be the other.

As a digital marketing strategist, I believed that I wanted to start a podcast for people who were launching new products. I wanted to give them stories from other people who had launched. I wanted to give them tips from people who were in the same realm. But as it came closer and closer to launch day, I realized this is not where my passion is. Yes, this is something that I do to make money, but if I put this time into a podcast as well I’m going to quickly fizzle out and I’m going to lose all passion for digital marketing whatsoever.

So that podcast idea was shut down. Now some of those episodes – because I had recorded quite a few – are going to come into the Positive Productivity podcast and be shared with you all because they were filled with great content, but I had to make that decision.

It’s really important, as small business owners, that we take a look at everything that we are doing, and we make sure that it’s in line with our purpose.

The three words that I really want to live my life by are “Positive,” “Purposeful” and “Productive,” and having that extra podcast was not going to help me live those three words.

So I want to ask you what your three words are. And yes! I would really love it if you visit the podcast page at theKimSutton.com/podcast and leave a comment underneath episode 007.

I had to look that up, sorry.

And let me know what your three words are. And then start looking at all the opportunities that come your way; what activities you’re working on and think about them. Are these activities – are these opportunities in line with you living a life that is truly in line with those three words?

This past weekend I read Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – I hope I’m saying those correctly – and this is a book I’d been hearing about a lot especially while listening to podcasts. If you haven’t read it yet, and even if your business has been around for quite some time, I definitely recommend that you pick it up – You can pick it up through Amazon or Audible – I definitely recommend that you pick it up and read it asap.

Now I do want to give you a little disclaimer. At first I thought “Why am I continuing to read this? I’m beyond what they’re talking about.” But as you get further into the book you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

But I picked up a few phenomenal quotes in the book that I just want to share with you because they’re so in-line with the “Be the Bonsai” philosophy. Now you know I don’t really like to cuss a lot on here but I can’t really alter this quote to make it work as well as they said it.

The first quote is…

“Cut your ambition in half you’re better off with a kickass half than a half-assed whole.”

Now I’m not telling you to cut out your ambition whatsoever or to get rid of it even slightly. But don’t try to take on ten thousand things and do each of them mediocre-ly. Is mediocre-ly a word? Anyway, don’t try to do them in a mediocre manner. Cut your task list and your goals list in half, and try to do those items to the best of your ability.

The second quote from the book that really resonated with me – and this really really really goes in line would “Be the Bonsai” was…

“Getting to great starts by chopping out anything that’s merely good.”


If you want to learn more about Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, please just jump over to theKimSutton.com/read-with-Kim – and this is going to be in the show notes – and you can see my review of the book, and there’s a link that you can click through to Amazon.

Again I want to thank you for being here to listen today. No, this isn’t going to be a long episode, but I just wanted to share my… no, I guess it’s my husband’s “Be the Bonsai” message with you, and I hope that you can find a way to work it into your everyday.