283: Looking Forward – How to Make 2021 a TinyBit Better with Bjork Ostrom

Listen to this episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast using the player above or check it out on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

An image of binoculars and the title of Bjork Ostrom's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Looking Forward.'

Welcome to episode 283 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks about five different ways that you can try to make 2021 better than this year.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted about some of the positive takeaways he has from 2020. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Looking Forward 

We’re all probably hoping that 2021 is a lot better than 2020 has been, and in today’s episode, Bjork is covering five different ways that you can try and make that happen.

From partnering with others to leaning into processes to help guide decisions, we’re hoping that you can tuck some of these ideas into your back pocket and pull them out as you strive towards personal and business growth in the new year.

A quote from Bjork Ostrom’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'What could I be doing to help.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to focus on stability
  • How to partner with others
  • Why you should offer help when you can
  • Why processes help guide decisions
  • What it looks like to create unstructured time
  • How to know you’re on the right path


If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

Learn more about joining the Food Blogger Pro community at foodbloggerpro.com/membership

Transcript (click to expand):

Alexa Peduzzi: Hey there friend, Alexa here and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Welcome to the show. We’re really excited to have you here today. This is a solo episode with Bjork again. Last week we had a solo episode with Bjork and he talked about some of his most helpful and impactful takeaways from this year.

Alexa Peduzzi: In this episode, we’re actually going to look forward into 2021. If you saw the title of this episode, you’ll see that there’s a little bit of a pun there. How to make 2021, a one word, TinyBit better. That’s because our parent company is called TinyBit. It’s all based around the idea of getting a tiny bit better or making a tiny bit of progress every day forever. That’s our like 1% infinity philosophy. If you wanted to listen more about 1% infinity and wanted to learn a little bit more about it, we’re going to actually share an episode next week, all about 1% infinity. So be sure to stay tuned for that.

Alexa Peduzzi: In this episode, Bjork will talk about some of the things that can help make 2021 a TinyBit better than this year was. I know we’re hoping that 2021 will be a lot better than this year was, but these are just some things that he’s had on his mind. Like focusing on stability, how to partner with others, and a few other takeaways that can really make 2021 as impactful as possible. It’s a really short and sweet episode, but we think you’re going to get a lot out of it. Without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.

Bjork Ostrom: Hey there friends, Bjork here recording another solo episode. Today it is me sitting in a room wishing that you are here in this room with me having a conversation, but for now, especially as 2020 wraps up, we’re all getting kind of used to sitting in a room by ourselves and using digital media to have a conversation. My hope is, someday somewhere, that you and I are going to be able to connect, have a conversation. Maybe it’s at a conference. Maybe we run into each other at a Twins game if you come and visit Minneapolis, or maybe you live here, who knows, but for now, this will have to do.

Bjork Ostrom: What this solo episode is going to be about today is looking forward. So 2021, I think a lot of us are excited for 2021 to come. We’ve struggled through 2020. For a lot of us it’s been a difficult year and it’s almost you kind of eye-roll now when people talk about 2020 being a hard year because of course it has been and we’re excited about the year to come. I think that’s in general, people get excited. “Hey, the new year’s coming, we’re going to anticipate this. It’s going to be a chance to kind of refresh and reset, but especially this year.”

Bjork Ostrom: Last episode I talked about looking back 2020, what are some of the things that we learned, some of the takeaways that we had, some of the reflections. Today I’m going to be talking about looking forward. What does that look like in 2021? Some of the things that I’m thinking about and that we’re thinking about as a team. My hope with sharing these things is that there’s something within that, that you take away and you say, “Hey, you know what? That’s kind of a concept that I like. I think I might fold that into how I think about things,” or maybe there’s a little nugget that you can tuck in your back pocket and use as you seek to grow individually, or as you seek to grow your business, your blog, your following, a nonprofit, your team, whatever it might be. My hope is that there’s something that you can take away there.

Bjork Ostrom: As a little teaser, that is actually one of the things I’m going to be talking about. It’s number five. It’s the last thing that I’m going to talk about, which is one of the most important things that I want to be reflecting on in 2021. Let’s start at the top.

Bjork Ostrom: Number one, this is a word that I’ve been reflecting on and thinking about, and trying to integrate, especially into the first half of 2021 and the word is stability. I feel like 2020, there’s a lot of moving pieces. There’s a lot of difficult things to navigate and personally, I’m a starter. I love to start things and I love to build things from zero to one. I think there’s a season for that. It’s good to be doing that, especially if that’s where you naturally gravitate towards, but it’s also good to have seasons where you’re not always building, or creating, or thinking of something new, at least for me it’s good.

Bjork Ostrom: For 2021, one of the things I’ve thought about is stability. What does that look like to bring stability into our personal lives? We have a newborn daughter who’s two months old and for any of you who have kids you know that creates some amount of instability or inconsistency in those first few months. That’s a piece of it, but also a big piece of it is within the shifting pieces that we’ve had with this company structure that we have.

Bjork Ostrom: So TinyBit, it’s this new kind of parent company structure that we’ve started. We’re kind of thinking it as like a bootstrap startup studio. We’re going to be working on companies. I talked about Clariti in the last podcast as one that we’re focusing on right now and trying to build those companies out of TinyBit and then spin them out to be their own kind of successful companies running on their own. Pinch of Yum, Food Blogger Pro, WP Tasty, Nutrifox. Those are all companies under TinyBit right now, but there’s a season for not always to be creating and spinning up something new.

Bjork Ostrom: Especially for the first half of 2021, maybe for all of 2021, I’ve been focusing on stability. That might be true for you too. Maybe it’s time to not think about what is the next thing that can be doing, or what is the next thing that I can start, but instead thinking about how can I reinforce and strengthen, make more stable the things that I already have? And that’s going to be true for us as we look at 2021.

Bjork Ostrom: We’re going to be stabilizing. What does it look like to not create something new, start something new, but instead to make what we already have really good, to reinforce it, and to strengthen that? So stability is an important thing that we’re going to be reflecting on that I’m going to be thinking about moving into 2021.

Bjork Ostrom: Number two partner. I’ve been thinking a lot about how things are oftentimes better with groups of people. My guess is that most of us have been thinking about how nice it is to do things with groups of people. Even if you are an introvert who loves being by yourself, in a year, that has been very lonely potentially, isolating potentially, difficult socially potentially. It’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about, but it’s not just in the context of work. I’m also thinking about this in the context of just how can you make things more communal?

Bjork Ostrom: For us, as creators, a lot of what we do is online. It’s behind a phone. It’s behind a computer. It’s maybe at a coffee shop or at a desk, but we’re not doing it in a setting where we’re working on something together, sitting with somebody in the same room, interacting with them. Even if you do have people that you work with, chances are it’s done over email, or Slack, or maybe you’re sending messages back and forth.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things I’ve been thinking about is what does it look like to partner? What does it look like to find people who are doing similar things in my community and meeting up with them when it’s safe to do so? We’re not there yet, but hopefully we will get there in 2021, maybe by the summer. What would it look like to grab lunch with somebody or a group of people and to talk about the things that we’re doing?

Bjork Ostrom: That is something that I’ve realized has been one of the most beneficial things that I’ve done for the work that we’re doing, but also personally. It’s great to be able to connect with people and to say, not only what are you doing, can I learn a little bit from you, but what are the things that I can be doing to help?

Bjork Ostrom: A great challenge that I would like to propose to you is if you’re interacting with people, if you’re having conversations, try asking, what can I be doing to help? It’s a really fun question to ask people. Not just people who are doing similar things, but somebody who is pursuing something new and interesting and exciting. Maybe it’s my sister-in-law, who’s just getting a rescue dog and she was really excited about it and was kind of anticipating it. We’ve had our dog Sage and love our dog Sage for a long time. We were kind of texting back and forth and being excited with her. What would it look like to end that conversation to say, “Hey, we’re so excited for you. What can we be doing to help?”

Bjork Ostrom: I think what you’ll find is that people will be extremely appreciative of that question. I, by no means, am doing that all the time or perfect at doing that, but it’s a fun question to be able to ask because what I’ve found is people will open up, they’ll share new things. They’ll give you a response that they maybe otherwise wouldn’t have just in normal conversation.

Bjork Ostrom: Then from that, it’s great to be able to think, how can you actually move forward on that? How can you help in that situation? Not with an expectation of something in return, but just with an expectation of helping people, of partnering with people, of helping them to do the thing that they are excited to do?

Bjork Ostrom: I think it also means when I think about partnering, it looks at partner partnering in our daily lives. It’s not just business. We talk a lot about building a team. This could be about building a team. We talked about that in the last podcast, how important it is to bring people in who have a subject matter expert when you have the bandwidth and the availability to do so.

Bjork Ostrom: I think what you’ll find is your ability to do more of what’s important to you. You’ll be able to do more of that as you bring in people who are subject matter experts in a certain area, but this could also be partnering in your daily life. It might look like getting together with family members and the partnership there is a partnership of relationship and saying, “Hey, we are committed to connecting and being together and being family,” or it might look like that with friends.

Bjork Ostrom: Maybe the partnership is you commit to helping a friend who’s working on a project. I think of my friend Paul, who’s really excited about this idea of building his kind of dream home. He has this wood that he’s purchased from a cabin that was torn down. What does it look like for me to partner with him to help work on that?

Bjork Ostrom: It can also come the other way. There can be times where you can reach out and ask people to help you. To partner with you on the things that you’re doing and welcoming those people in. I know a lot of recipe bloggers and food bloggers, who partner with their audience by inviting them to help test recipes. Something that if somebody follows along with what you’re doing and they love what you’re doing, it’s a great way to partner.

Bjork Ostrom: The core of what this is about is to be creating something that isn’t just you. It’s not just you creating your thing, but it’s partnering with people to either help them build their thing or inviting people in to help you with what you’re doing. Whether that be personal or business.

Bjork Ostrom: The challenge with this is to think about what are the ways that you can be partnering with people. What are the ways that you can be inviting people in or how can you extend a hand to people who are working on what they’re doing. And to think about collaboration and to not just think about heads down, isolated work, grinding away, but instead inviting people in and doing what you can to help others.

Bjork Ostrom: The first thing that I’m looking at in 2021, this idea of stability, the second thing, partnering. What does it look like to work with people? Whether that be on their thing or on your thing. Number three, reflection that I’ve had as I think about moving into 2021 is processes over decisions.

Bjork Ostrom: As what we’re building, specifically, starting to build kind of a team of teams with TinyBit, but really a cohesive team. As that gets more complex, I’ve been thinking about really the importance of building in processes to help guide decisions. This can be true even in the early stages. As you are working on your own, on your business, as you are being a creative, being creative as a creator, processes will help guide your decisions.

Bjork Ostrom: I remember in the early stages, Lindsay would talk about the images should shoot in a recipe and she knew that she had this set images, these number of images that you wanted to get in certain angles and styles, depending on the type of recipe it was. That was a process that she had created to help reduce the number of decisions that she would make. It doesn’t mean that you’re not being creative. It just means that the things that the most important creative elements are freed up to be your most creative focus, to have the most focus.

Bjork Ostrom: A lot of times what can happen is if we’re not process oriented, we can start to have hundreds of micro decisions that we’re making along the way that drain our creative energy. When instead, if we create a process around that thing, we can be more creative on the things that are more important, the images being an example of that for a post.

Bjork Ostrom: Another example is kind of more on the less creative side, but still important is business finances. With the businesses, one of the decisions that we made is, “Hey, we’re going to make a decision around how much we’re going to be saving in each business and we’re going to create a process around that.” So we know within each business, every month we take the average of the last six months of expenses, we average that out and we use that as the savings target for what we want to have within the business.

Bjork Ostrom: Let’s say we look back and we say, “The last six months, the expenses,” just making this up to make it really easy, “$60,000. On average, we’re spending $10,000 a month. We want to save moving $60,000 within the business, kind of as an emergency fund. Let’s say that increases suddenly the next month where we spend 15,000, that average is going to go up. We need to save an additional $5,000 within the business to make sure that we’re covering the expenses that we have when we don’t have to worry about something happening.” COVID being an example. A global pandemic that has a huge impact on ad rates.

Bjork Ostrom: If we’re running really close on the edge, if we’re running our expenses up to our revenue each month, that would be an issue. We said, “Hey, we’re going to create a process around how much we want to save and then anything above and beyond that, we have the ability to invest back in the business or in other areas if we want to.” That was a decision we made around a process to alleviate other decisions down the line. Now it’s just part of the process. It’s a decision that we make one time.

Bjork Ostrom: Another small example as a team, we’ve used a tool called 15Five, which facilitates Kind of weekly check-ins. The idea is it takes five minutes to fill it out and it takes somebody, a manager, 15 minutes to review it. That was a process that we created around weekly check-ins and this thing that we call one-on-ones, which we do once a month.

Bjork Ostrom: That alleviated some of the decision-making around what do we talk about each month? Now we still have the ability to drop in essentially whatever we want to talk about, but now there’s a system. Every week our team is filling out little questions and responses like, “Hey, what’s one of the things that’s been kind of a struggle lately?” You can write a response in that and that creates if you want it to be a little talking point for us next time that we check in.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s a process around these check-ins that we have. Again, it’s not so they’re suddenly robotic or that we are following this script when we check in, but it just creates a little bit of a framework for us around something that we consider to be really important, which is making sure that we all, as a team, and collaborators, and individuals, are doing okay as it relates to just day-to-day work also how we’re doing in general.

Bjork Ostrom: A tool like 15Five, it could be anything, but it’s a process that allows us to not have to make decisions around like, “Oh, what question should I ask? What should we talk about when we check in today?” There’s a process built in for that and processes a lot of times are about making a harder decision one time to make many decisions later on a little bit easier.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s not that you never change that process or tweak it, but you use that as a framework moving forward and there’s a lot of ways that you can do that. We’re going to be thinking about that in 2021. I know that that is going to be really true for myself at least.

Bjork Ostrom: Number one, stability. We’re going to really be focusing on that. Number two, partnering with people, both in business and in personal life. We’re all feeling that after a year of not being able to have a lot of that, or at least not in the ways that we’re used to. Number three processes over decisions. Freeing our mind up for that creative work, instead of just focusing on these little micro decisions and tasks along the way. Number four, unstructured space or unstructured time.

Bjork Ostrom: I was actually recently watching an interview with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. One of the things I’ve been doing, we have Lena, our newborn daughter. She is really good at sleeping, as long as we’re holding her and bouncing on an exercise ball, which is good exercise and good for freeing up time to watch random content on YouTube.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the interviews that I was watching was with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and Warren talked about how he has five to six hours a day where he just reads and he talked about a lot of his days are unstructured time. For myself, I know that I’m not going to have like five to six hours a day, or even reading five to six hours a day, or even five to six hours a day of unstructured time or unstructured space like Warren does. Especially at this point in his career. It did make me realize how important that unstructured space or unstructured time is.

Bjork Ostrom: I think for a lot of the people who listen to this podcast, I know this is true for me, we are creators. We are creative and some of the most valuable things that we can come up with, isn’t output of tasks and widgets and accomplishments, but it’s ideas and thoughts that have the potential to create an impact. If you can come up with a really good idea, if you can come up with something that has big impact and a lot of times it’s just an idea, then that can have a profound impact.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, the reality is that idea has to be paired with execution. Can’t just be an idea, but sometimes we can get weighted in execution. We can just have time for execution. The only thing that we’re doing is outputting. We’re just accomplishing tasks. We’re doing things, we’re responding to emails and I’m speaking to myself here, as I reflect on this. What I’ve realized is that unstructured time is really important. What that looks like is going to be different for everybody.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things I’ve realized, one of the times I have the most freedom to be creative, as I think about things is, if I’m out on a walk or a run by myself and I don’t have my phone to look at or a computer to sit in front of. It really has to be truly disconnecting. That’s some of the most creative thinking that I do. It’s when I’m moving my body and I’m not sitting in front of a computer or not holding my phone. It’s going to look different for everybody.

Bjork Ostrom: Maybe you’re somebody who paints, maybe you are artistic. Maybe you do music. Maybe it truly is just sitting and reading. I know that’s another time for me when I can block that time out and just sit down with a book and read through it. Books and ideas create and spawn off other ideas and creative thoughts. That unstructured time might be as simple as just sitting down and reading a book.

Bjork Ostrom: Whatever it is for me. I know that I’ve realized that that’s important for the success of what we’re doing and important for me individually moving forward and I’m going to be thinking about how do I do that? What does it look like to create unstructured time in a way that would probably look different moving forward? It’s always going to be shifting. The only thing that’s constant in our lives is this reality. That’s not the only thing, but one of the things that’s constant in our lives is this reality that things are ever shifting, ever changing. Your routines, your day to day is going to look different in two years. My guess is that it looks different today than it did two, three, four years ago. I know that’s really true for me.

Bjork Ostrom: At its core, the takeaway here is realizing that I can’t just be heads down all the time. I can’t just be accomplishing things. I can’t just be checking tasks off the list. If I do, I’m going to be worse off because of it, because the time that I have to create, to think, to explore new ideas and concepts is some of the most valuable time that I have in a week or in a month. That’s number four, unstructured space.

Bjork Ostrom: Another quick review, stability. We’re going to be thinking about that. What does it look like to really reinforce and strengthen the things that we have? Partnering, both with people in our personal lives and within our business. Number three, processes over decisions. How can we make one decision that we can apply moving forward? As to alleviate some of that decision fatigue, which some of you can probably relate to. Number four, unstructured time. Making sure that we have the space to think creatively, to learn, to read, to allow our brain, not just to accomplish things, but also to creative problem solve and number five, reflect on the why.

Bjork Ostrom: I said at the top of the podcast, it’s one of the most important things that we do here. It’s the core of who we are and what we’re about is this idea of getting a tiny bit better over a long period of time. It’s what we named our company. It’s what we talk about often on the podcast, but it’s really the why behind the reason that I set this microphone on the table, I’ll tap it so you can hear that it’s actually here.

Bjork Ostrom: On a random Monday morning, type out this script of sorts, this outline for the podcast. Why Alexa and I plan the schedule for this podcast and talk through it. The core why the reason that we do it, is we want to help people and companies, which is essentially groups of people get a tiny bit better every day, over a long period of time.

Bjork Ostrom: Now there’s also a secondary why. These are businesses and part of what I love about businesses is the idea of growing and building a businesses. There’s revenue, there’s expenses. That’s a part of what facilitates the why. If it’s an engine, train engine moving forward, it is the fuel that moves it, so to speak. That’s important to point out. It’s not like this is just something that we’re doing pro bono. There’s business mechanics behind it, but the core, the foundational element that keeps us going each and every day, or I can speak for myself that keeps myself going and motivates me even during the seasons where I feel like I’m not making a lot of traction, or I feel like I’m not having an impact, or I feel like has been a really bad day or week, or I’m making mistakes. Is the ability to have either a small or a big impact on somebody’s lives to help them get a tiny bit better.

Bjork Ostrom: That could be within their business. It could be a real tactical takeaway, maybe a concept or learning, or it could be substantial. Maybe it’s helping somebody to achieve a type of freedom and flexibility in their life that they’ve wouldn’t have had. If not for some of the concepts from the things that we share on this podcast or from the Food Blogger Pro community, or from some of the conversations from the incredible guests that we get to interview on this podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: I’ve found that it’s freeing to have a clear why because if you can competently say, the thing that you’re doing that day, week, or month, or year is helping you to accomplish your why, then you know you’re on the right path. Some of those things that might be a drag that would otherwise discourage you from going forward, you can acknowledge those, but those don’t have to be the only thing because you can say, “Here’s my why and I’m going to keep moving forward on this.”

Bjork Ostrom: For us, like I said, that why to help people and companies get a TinyBit better every day forever. We talked about that as 1% infinity. I hope that this podcast and the other things that we were doing at Food Blogger Pro have been a part of that for you or could be true for you. That mission that we’re striving to accomplish could be true for you.

Bjork Ostrom: Here’s the thing, we have a deep love and appreciation for this audience and we’re so grateful that we get to do this. So grateful that our why is something that is also a need in the world. I hope that in ways, big or small, that has helped you.

Bjork Ostrom: I also hope that this holiday season is everything you need it to be. It’s complex. It’s difficult, undoubtedly and I know that there are people who are listening to this that are in a really hard season. I want to acknowledge that and say that I hope that this holiday season is what you need it to be. For a lot of people, the holiday season, isn’t something that is joyous, or fun, or uplifting, and it’s actually difficult and maybe especially so this year.

Bjork Ostrom: I feel like it’s important to acknowledge that and to let you know that even though I might not know you, that we want to acknowledge that this season is difficult and hard for a lot of people. For others, it’s going to be a joyous and wonderful season and we want to acknowledge that too.

Bjork Ostrom: We are going to be wrapping up here. We have a couple of podcasts that we’re going to be doing that are kind of replay episodes as we round out the new year or as we round out 2020, and then we’re going to be jumping into our content for 2021. We’re excited about it and as always really grateful that we are able to do this.

Bjork Ostrom: My hope for you is that you can make this next week a great week. You can make the rest of the year, a great year, and we will continue to be here showing up for you and excited to continue to move forward and say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in 2021. That’s a wrap for this episode and that’s a wrap for our content for 2020. We will see you in the new year.

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