Do the ONE thing, improve 1% every day & the law of compound returns

There are three widely recommended business books which I’ve read in the fairly recent past. I’m going to perform an amazing feat of mental agility and summarize ALL three books for you in under 500 words.

The books in question:

The One Thing by Garry Keller and Jay Papasan

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

And here is the summary:

Focus on ONE strategic thing that will move your goal forwards, every single day.


It’s a very simple concept, but when applied correctly can dramatically improve your results.  As I heard in an interview with Steve Blank recently, when asked how people can make a successful startup, he summed it up:

“Just show up.  Showing up gets you 80% of the way there.”

Gary Keller likes the phrase:

What is one thing, that if applied (in my business), would make everything else easier or unnecessary?

In our day to day lives we get sucked into the vortex of unimportant emails, distractions, “putting out fires”. Very little time is spent on productive, strategic work.

This question helps focus your mind on the one strategic thing.  Instead of going out and making 100 sales calls, your “one thing” might be to post a job for a top sales person.  The latter will give you a lot more leverage.

You can apply this “one thing” concept to any goal that you set, whether its in business, relationship, social or self improvement.  If you identify a strategic action to take in each of these areas and do this every single day, you are almost guaranteed to see continual improvements.

While in the short term these improvements might be undetectable, over the long run it generates an exponential compounding effect of improvement so that you can blast through and achieve your goals.

How do I apply it myself?

Every day in my journal, I have a section “The One Thing”.  I think of the one thing that will yield the greatest strategic returns over the long run.

The best thing to do is then the FIRST THING in the day when you start working is to do your “one thing.” Once you have done this you can already consider the day a huge success.

These are often very small steps.

For example, in the journal entry below (excuse the doctor’s hand writing), my one thing was:

“Post job for business book summary biz”


It took me about 10 minutes to do, but is potentially a huge strategic move.

Action Points:

✓ In your journal, write down your “One Thing” for the coming day.

✓ Do the One Thing – preferably first thing in the day.

✓ Wash, rinse, repeat.

There you go – 450 words, 3 books. BOOM!

Author: David Janner

David Janner is a former M.D. and the Editor-in-Chief of MAKE APP Magazine. His passion is app development and app marketing. You should follow him on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ in order to get the most important industry related news, hot off the press. If you would like to arrange a 15 minute app marketing session to discuss your App Store Optimization strategy, contact him here.

1 thought on “Do the ONE thing, improve 1% every day & the law of compound returns”

  1. It's amazing the amount of reading and learning that you are doing. And more so is your ability to retain the information.
    I enjoy reading your blogs and learn about your interests and thoughts.

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