In today’s episode, we are discussing the importance of goal setting for your leadership team and offering you some insights and tools to help you set and achieve those goals. We are highlighting successes from within our own firm and changes we have made that have allowed us to work toward our long-term goals to see business and personal successes! We are excited to welcome back to the show today, Jami Johnson, CPA, Virtual CFO, and Partner here at PJS & Co CPAs.


What we cover in this episode: 

      • 02:21 – Goal setting tools – Traction®, EOS®, and Level 10 Meetings
      • 09:08 – What exactly are Rocks?
      • 14:34 – How to establish Rocks in your company
      • 19:25 – Tips for writing great Rocks
      • 21:25 – Considerations and overcoming challenge

Goal setting tools – Traction®, EOS®, and Level 10 Meetings™

We want to share with you some of the tools we’ve used here at PJS & Co CPAs that have helped us set goals for our leadership team, allowing us to experience some great successes over the past year. We’ve spoken about these tools in several podcast episodes, Episode #68 Gaining Clarity in Your Business with Traction® & EOS®, featuring CJ DuBe’, and Episode #69 What is a Level 10 Meeting™ & How Can It Help Your Leadership Team?

We are sharing what we have found to be instrumental for us in implementing goal-setting for our team. Using these tools, you can start with your leadership team, and the tactics can trickle down to the rest of your teammates and employees. This helps everyone involved in your company maintain focus, visibility, and accountability. 

Why did we implement these tools in our own business? We’ve found that business owners can get pulled in many different directions at any time. This is especially true when they are in a growth period of their business, and our firm is no different.

What exactly are “Rocks?”

Megan shared, “Rocks are the specific goals that you’re setting for your organization and yourself every 90 days.” The term “Rocks” in the context of goal-setting has its roots in a few business books from various authors. It actually originally came from Verne Harnish, the author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. And Verne actually got this from an analogy in Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

In Traction®, by Gino Wickman, “Rocks” are discussed in further detail as a tool we can use when setting goals. As we discussed earlier, Traction covers EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System), and in episode #68, we talked to CJ DuBe’, a certified EOS® implementer and a global community leader at EOS® Worldwide. She is very knowledgeable and shared great information with us about Traction® and EOS®. She also shared some of the tools available and some great free resources. In addition to that, we talk about Level 10 Meetings, the structure of those weekly meetings, the scorecard, and reporting from Traction®, in Episode #69 which is another great tool we use at our firm.

Megan shared, “We’ve always gotten a lot done, but this past year was exceptional. We were looking through the stuff that we got done by implementing these Rocks, and being very consistent and on point with our Level 10 Meetings™, and it was impressive. I had to stop and we had to take a step back and just really acknowledge the amount that we got done and the importance of those things too. It wasn’t just a bunch of little things. We really came together as a leadership team and as a team as a whole, and really accomplished some great things this last year. So that’s why we want to share that with everybody.” 

In order to explain the concept of rocks in goal setting, Jami walks us through a visualization exercise. First, visualize an empty glass cylinder in your mind. In your glass cylinder, you’ll begin by adding big chunks of rocks. Those rocks represent your main priorities (usually goals that you want to reach in the next 90 days) and the things that are driving the success of your business. Now, add some small pebbles to your cylinder. These represent your day-to-day priorities. These fall around the rocks and begin to fill up your cylinder. Now we are going to take some sand and add that as well to your cylinder. The sand represents your interruptions, and are things that are bound to happen, and will fill up space around your pebbles and rocks. Lastly, we’ll add water to the cylinder, and the water represents all of the unexpected or anything else you may get hit with during your day. Now, remember the order, rocks, pebbles, sand, and water.

importance of goals

Now visualize flipping that order we walked through above and put your water in first, then sand, pebbles, and you’ll find there won’t be any room for your rocks, which are the things that need to be your main priorities. It becomes chaos in a jar, right? It’s a good visualization to keep in mind, and will help you to know why those priorities are so important, and that you keep them on the forefront of your thinking. If you pour your water and sand in first, you’ll never have room for the rocks. It’s important for your growth and success to give room to the things you’re going to prioritize in your business.

How to establish Rocks in your own company

We’ll share our own experiences again and how we started with the ideas in Traction. A great place to start is with a tool Gino Wickman calls a vision traction organizer (V/TO). This offers a place where you collaborate with your leadership team to establish goals for the company, document what needs to be done long term and short term, as well as establish where you would like to be in ten years, three years, and define your one-year goals. Working backward, the leadership team will come up with everything that then needs to be done in the next 90 days to meet your overall business goals. There could be 10 to 20 things on your list, which become your “Rocks.” 

As a leadership team, you then take those Rocks and define which ones will be assigned to each quarter of the year. Traction recommends three to seven Rocks every 90 days, and you can have more in one quarter than another. It all depends on what you want to accomplish. You would then determine as a leadership team what the due dates would be to accomplish those Rocks.

Next, you have to assign ownership to those Rocks in order to establish accountability. One person cannot accomplish all of the Rocks alone. Once the company rocks are set, members of the leadership team each set their own personal Rocks.

All of the Rocks, company, and individual, then go onto one sheet that can be revised regularly during Level 10 Meetings™. This sheet will be used to determine if you are on track as a team, whether something is complete or it’s behind schedule, determine when someone is in need of help, and even revise and move that Rock to another quarter if needed.

You should share all of these Rocks across the organization and then continue on to having each department set their Rocks as a team and follow the same process. You will find over time that each Rock is a baby step to reaching your larger goals, which will help to get more done and become a more efficient and effective team. 

Tips for writing great Rocks

There were many articles on this topic that we came across when putting this episode together, and a few we want to share with you specifically for writing great Rocks for your organization. This article from EOS Worldwide highlights the importance of setting SMART goals, which is a popular acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Check out this resource from EOS Worldwide that gives very specific examples as to how you can write effective rocks. In addition, this article on Rocks: The Secret to Achieving Quarterly Business Goals will be helpful as you navigate this topic in your company and set your goals for your success.

Considerations and overcoming challenges

To get the most out of this process, you’ll have to keep some things in mind when preparing and implementing. Give yourself time to think about what you really want to accomplish, and remember that unexpected things will come up and blindside you at times. If you let those unexpected and short-term challenges become priorities, then you will have a hard time making space for the truly important goals you want to accomplish.

Give Yourself Time

And while you give yourself time to consider what Rocks you want to prioritize, keep in mind that it normally takes two quarters to master Rocks. The first time you work through this process, you will likely find ways to improve.

Most people are rather optimistic about the number of things they’re going to accomplish in the next 90 days. Rocks established during this first time usually tend to be too vague. For example, instead of setting “improve website” as a Rock, perhaps a better Rock would have been centered around a specific part of the website you want to improve, such as “improve the contact page on the website to achieve a 20% conversion rate.” You learn as you work through the process to break things down into smaller goals so that you can really focus on them and achieve the measurable outcome you set out to accomplish.

Do your best to avoid overwhelm

The point of this exercise is to give you clarity in your business and accomplish your goals, not to overwhelm anyone. Do your best to avoid falling into the trap of overwhelming yourself or your team. Learn to give yourself grace and allow the process to be imperfect from the start. It’s a work in progress, and even if you don’t manage to reach all your goals in the first quarter, you are likely still more focused than you had been prior to implementing these steps. The whole point is that this is a learning process and you are progressing forward. 

Beware “Commitment fizzle”

There is a term they refer to in Traction called “commitment fizzle.” We’ve probably all experienced it, in both business and our personal lives. Who hasn’t made a New Years’ resolution, then dropped it after 2 weeks? The same thing can happen with this process. You create all these Rocks, you create the scorecard, you create all these amazing tools that can help you achieve big goals. But then you’re not actually holding the Level 10 Meetings, or you’re ignoring your rocks and scorecard every week.

It’s easy to get commitment fizzle when you’re not actually taking those little baby steps that may not be giving you the biggest payoff today. But when you look back down the road 90 days from now, you’ll see how all those little baby steps added up to create wins. 

Don’t set too many Rocks

One challenge we’ve found that can derail the process is having too many Rocks. Keep in mind that you should limit the number of Rocks you give to people outside of the leadership team to three at most. Going back to what we just mentioned, you don’t want to overwhelm your team. Be very careful in how many Rocks you commit to, and be very intentional in the commitments you do accept. 


There is no doubt that setting goals and having your leadership team and employees trusted with specific goals helps them feel more invested in the success of your business. By building out goals, you can increase your teams’ effectiveness and your business’s reach and revenue. We are proud of the accomplishments we’ve made as a company over the past year here at PJS & Co CPAs, and so pleased to share our experiences in this process with our listeners. We hope the tools we’ve shared today will help other businesses become the very best versions of themselves.


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