I’m Brian Scudamore, and my story started in 1989.

I was 19 years old, broke, and looking for a way to pay my college tuition. Inspiration struck while I was waiting in line at a McDonald’s drive-thru, and saw an old junk truck rolling past.

‘I could do that’, I thought. So I did.

30 years later, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is the world’s largest junk removal company, and we’ve launched two more brands: WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, and Shack Shine.

Together, these three companies are O2E Brands – making the ‘ordinary’ business of home services ‘exceptional’!

For all of the hard work we’ve put in, none of our success would have been possible were it not for the Painted Picture, a simple visualization technique I created while sitting on a dock at my parent’s summer cottage one afternoon nearly two decades ago.

It was New Year’s Eve of 1997, and I was depressed. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? was eight years old and had stalled after growing to $1 million in revenue. Nothing I did seemed to make a difference.

My perspective changed when instead of worrying about what wasn’t possible, I painted a picture in my head of what WAS.

I closed my eyes and envisioned how I wanted 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to look, feel, and act by the end of 2002.

For the first time, I went into extreme detail. I turned this ‘painted picture’ into a one-page document, blew it up, and then framed it in our headquarters for everyone to see.

It contained not only tangible business achievements like the number of franchises we would have and the quality of our trucks, but also more sensory details –  like how our employees would describe our company to their family members, and what our customers would say they loved best about us.

In the five years that followed, roughly 96% of what I’d written down came true – even my wildest dream of appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show!

I’ve shared this simple technique with thousands of others; many who have gone on to build large companies. And we still use it religiously.

How Does It Work?

1. Visualize first. Then plan.

By following up your pie-in-the-sky Painted Picture with nuts-and-bolts strategic planning, you’ll have both the inspiration AND the game plan to reach your desired destination.

The key? Do your visualization and strategic planning at different times and in different places – as these two processes require completely different mindsets.

The Painted Picture is best done away from the office so it it’s unencumbered by your current limitations, leaving the x’s and o’s of your business plan for your strategic planning process.

2. Having a vision = growth.

Dozens of academic studies on what successful leaders have in common all point to vision as a core component. The evidence is clear: simply having a vision has a significant impact on the outcomes of your goals.

In a study of 183 entrepreneurs (average revenue: $2.5 million), the average growth of companies with a vision was more than double than the companies without a vision.

3. Stories (told as visions of the future) change the way we think.

Another reason the Painted Picture works is that by visualizing abstract goals as pictures and videos, you’re essentially turning your future into a story that will stick. Human beings are narrative creatures, and according to the research, great stories are not only easy for us to remember, but they also alter our beliefs, reduce our ability to detect inaccuracies, and evoke new emotions in us. Our brains are wired to pay attention to and remember them!

4. Sharing a vision publicly creates (good) pressure to make it reality.

For all of the benefits of visualization, the true benefits come when you share it. This is how we share our Painted Picture with our loved ones, employees, franchise partners, and other stakeholders:

Public commitment is an incredibly effective technique to get people to follow through with what they say.

5. Revisiting it daily makes you like it more.

By revisiting the Painted Picture daily, I get more and more excited and committed to it.

This phenomenon is called the mere exposure effect: the more we see something completely new, the more we develop a preference and have good feelings about it. That’s why we don’t just write ours down and stuff it in a drawer – we hang it somewhere front and center, where it’s visible to all!

How To Create A Painted Picture

Making your own Painted Picture is simple. The three steps are retreat, visualize, and ask.

First, grab a notebook and find a quiet space where you don’t have any distractions from your daily life.

The next step is visualization. Transplant yourself five years into the future. See yourself looking around at your life. Imagine that you’re really in that place where the future HAS already happened.

For example, if you have a five-year old child, imagine your child is now ten. Think about where you are, what you’ve achieved, and how you feel. Think about your emotions around this future version of your life. Then ask yourself some questions that will help you “crystal ball” the future.

Once you’ve written everything down, create a way to DISPLAY your plan. The more visible, the more accountable you will be.

You can get a full rundown of what key questions to ask yourself, and even more guidance on how to create your own Painted Picture, in my book: ‘BYOB: Build Your Own Business, Be Your Own Boss’.

Happy Painting!

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