How Small Tasks Can Lead To Huge Results

In this episode, I sat down with Maeve Smith. Maeve is a certified MAPS Business Coach who’s worked in a variety of industries including massive growth retail and fitness in NYC, luxury cruise lines and hospitality internationally, and she even spent the better part of a decade as a musical theatre performer in NY and around the globe. Maeve and I talked about one of our shared favourite books, The ONE Thing. We specifically focused on the concept of “The Domino Effect” and how small tasks can lead to huge results. Please enjoy this conversation with Maeve Smith. 

Episode Summary 

  • What is The Domino Effect? 
  • The focusing question that helps guide you to success 
  • Don’t overthink things and just get started 
  • Record your ideas in a notebook so you can revisit them during your “thinking” time 
  • Work at counterbalancing life instead of trying to have a balanced life 


The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan 

Guest Information 

Website: https://www.mymapscoach.com/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maevekatherine/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maeveksmith/ 

Episode Transcript

Chris Ippolito 01:12 

Hi, Maeve. Welcome to the “Get Coached Podcast,” it’s great to have you on. We’re going to be talking about a book that I’ve made reference to quite a few times, The One Thing. And we’re going to dive into one subject of the book in particular, but everybody who’s listened to this podcast, especially consistently, knows that I’m a big fan of the book. Do you mind sharing why you’re such a big fan of the book and why it’s so important to you? 


Maeve Smith 01:39 

Yeah. First of all, thanks for having me, I’m super excited. And yeah, this is going to be really fun. The One Thing, first of all, I think it’s the only book I’ve read more than twice, I think I’m up to about five times now. And yeah, and that was all in the last year. And when I went to tally up all the books I read last year and looked at them, I’m like, “Oh, I read a lot of books.” And I went, “Oh my god,” I read the one thing like, I don’t know, four or five times. And I’m actually reading it again this week. 


The One Thing, which is by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, it was introduced to me through the company that I coach with, they are called MAPS Business Coaching. And they’re in partnership a little bit with The One Thing, it is one of the foundational books for the platform that we coach from. 


Chris Ippolito 02:32 

Which is awesome because the subjects of that book come up so frequently, in a lot of cases indirectly when I’m having conversations with other coaches. And one in particular that does come up a lot, we’re not talking about that one today, but time blocking, just setting time aside, focused time aside to work on the important thing. What I wanted to talk about, because when we first had our conversation, the one that I got really excited about and I was like, “Yes, let’s talk about that,” because I haven’t had this conversation yet, is the big domino idea. Do you want to share that and just explain what the whole concept of the big domino is? 


Maeve Smith 03:17 

Yeah. And I do have to say it sounds almost trite or silly, but The One Thing book changed my life, for sure, in all aspects of my life. And I can’t really say that about any particular book other than this one, I’m super excited to talk about it. 


Have you defined on here yet what the one thing is, does everyone know what that is? 


Chris Ippolito 03:39 

No, and I’m glad you brought that up because I’ve made mention to the book and some of the concepts in there in passing, but I’ve never really done exactly what you said there. Do you want to do that? 


Maeve Smith 03:50 

Yeah. And it’s just it comes through every single chapter in the book, and that’s the only reason I bring it up. I know we’re going to talk about the domino effect, but the one thing, it’s the focusing question. Whenever you’re lost, it’s what brings you back. And it’s, “What’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?” That’s the one thing. 


Chris Ippolito 04:13 

Yeah. I have that written on my whiteboard right up there. 


Maeve Smith 04:17 

I have it written everywhere, yeah. I think it’s good to know what we’re playing from, and that’s really what the one thing is, and it relates to everything else. 


The domino effect. It’s cool. And I’ll talk a little bit, and then you jump in if you want to add. But the domino effect is the idea that when you have one thing, the right thing is set in motion, it can topple many things. And not just that, it can topple even bigger things. And there’s all these examples in the book of actual science experiments that they’ve done where they take a smaller domino, and then a bigger one, and a bigger one, and a bigger one. And they found that even a single domino can knock another domino 50% larger down, and so on and so on. And it’s this idea of putting things into motion. How does that relate to life? If you’re prioritizing everything that needs to go into motion, you’re creating the domino effect. 


And I’ll stop there because I want to talk about how maybe life isn’t exactly like a domino every single day, but that’s the idea behind it. 


Chris Ippolito 05:35 

No, I think that’s great. Life, business, those are really the two subjects that get brought up. Business a lot, but life always comes into play. 


Maeve Smith 05:46 

Health and fitness. 


Chris Ippolito 05:48 

Yeah, health and fitness. And actually, that’s one that I like to use as an example to illustrate the domino effect. If you’re on this personal journey of getting healthier, and this is part of the one thing question, you’ve just got to really start figuring out, “What’s that one thing that I should start doing that’s going to start making all those other things easier or unnecessary?” And that’s going to be different for everybody. 


And I’ll share a quick story about myself. When I was really getting healthy, trying to lose weight, the one thing for me was actually just not drinking pop. This is years and years and years ago that I made the decision. I didn’t know about The One Thing and all that stuff. In my mind I was just like, “If I stop drinking pop, that means I’m going to reduce the amount of calories I’m taking that are not really adding a lot of value to me, I’m going to reduce my sugar intake, I’m going to stop drinking certain kinds of alcoholic drinks because they have pop in it.” And because of that one decision, I ended up losing like 20 pounds over the period of a few months. And then because of me losing that weight, it got me more motivated to watch other foods I was eating and start working out, and that’s the domino effect. You start with one, and it just all of a sudden leads into these other actions and behaviors because it was that one thing that just set all that other stuff in motion. 


Maeve Smith 07:27 

Absolutely. And that’s really how achieving goals can be successful. If you start on January 1st and you say, “I’m going to stop drinking soda,” well, I’m in the States, we say “soda.” “I’m going to stop drinking soda and I’m not going to drink alcohol and I’m going to eat totally clean and I’m going to go to the gym five times a week.” You’re spiraling and that’s too big of a goal to set for yourself. By just saying, “I’m going to stop drinking soda,” or “pop.” “Okay. Now that I did that, what’s the next thing I can do, and the next thing?” And gosh, it’s almost like taking a weight off your shoulders, to be honest. A lot of the principles in The One Thing made it feel so much easier to achieve much greater success. 


Chris Ippolito 08:16 

Yeah. Because you’ve read the book now quite a few times and you’d mentioned that it’s had such a significant impact on your life. Do you mind sharing a story of where you applied the domino effect personally and the results that ended up coming from it? 


Maeve Smith 08:36 

Yeah. It is interesting, when I was approached about joining MAPS Business Coaching and starting a pseudo new career path. I mean it wasn’t the first time I had been coaching or leading or anything like that, but it was a new endeavor. I signed up to start my certification process when I was at the hospital having my second daughter. 


Chris Ippolito 09:08 



Maeve Smith 09:09 

Yeah. I’m crazy. It was awesome and exhilarating. And I told my husband I would do no new things the first year of our marriage, that didn’t work out. But I had to use the domino effect and time blocking, which I know we’ve touched on, to take the next step, “What’s the next thing I need to do? What’s the next thing, the next thing?” I had to get signed up, then I had to go to a seminar where I got to meet all the people I’d be working with, then I had to start the certification process. Through the certification process, I mean, I was time blocking and creating a domino effect in every minute of my day because my day, the free time that I had was small with a newborn. If anyone is listening who’s had kids before, it’s hard for the mom and the dad, and not very much sleep. 


What I also found was even if I created a domino, I had to sit down almost every single day. And I wanted to talk about this with the domino effect because this is how it applies in real life. But I had to sit down almost every day with my husband and replan the plan. I’d set up my week, because I’m really into time blocking, and I would time block every single thing I was doing and the specific time. But your day goes to crap and you have to re-navigate. 


We’re talking about the domino effect and how you put that domino, and then you flick one of them and just they all fall down. Well, no. Nothing in our life is saying, “Start here, and then this is the next step, and then this is the next step.” The domino effect you have to be using every single day. You have to, every day, line up your priorities like it’s a fresh start, find the lead domino, even if it’s your best guess, and flick it over. And then start again the next day. “Did that domino work? Yes, no?” And so on and so forth. 


Does that make sense? 


Chris Ippolito 11:24 

Yeah. Because it’s about building momentum. Right? 


Maeve Smith 11:29 



Chris Ippolito 11:31 

And every day it’s a new day, the thing that you need to do to get that momentum going might be different. Right? 


Maeve Smith 11:41 



Chris Ippolito 11:42 

For a lot of people. Myself, I like to start every day pretty much the same way as far as I wake up, and then I have a morning routine that I do. And when I get that done, I feel amazing. But my morning routine involves a few things. I’ve actually gone as far as now prioritizing those as far as, “If I could only do one of those things, what’s the one thing that I know that is going to set me up for a great day?” 


And I think that that’s the challenge that everybody tends to have with this concept, is figuring out what is that one thing, what is that lead domino. And we’ll go back and forth a little bit on this, but I think what most people need to understand is what’s important is just picking something and doing it, versus getting all neurotic about, “I need to figure out what that one thing is, what’s that lead domino for me.” Don’t worry about it, just think about it for a little bit. If you’re just struggling, just the first thing that pops to mind, just do it. 


Maeve Smith 12:55 

And any step forward is a good step. 


Chris Ippolito 12:58 



Maeve Smith 12:58 

Even if it’s very tiny. Even if you think your day is lost and you’re not getting anything done, if there’s one tiny thing. And that’s what I tell a lot of my clients because they’re so hard on themselves. And I just say, “This day or this week sounds crazy, this is going to be a crazy week.” And that’s when I always go back to that focusing question, “What’s the one thing you can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?” 


It’s funny you brought up the morning routine, the President of MAPS Business Coaching said for him it’s a glass of water. If he drinks a glass of water right when he gets up in the morning, everything else is his morning routine. And he took a long time to find that out, he was like, “Was it setting out my gym clothes? Was it this, was it that?” But there’s a glass of water by his bed. If he pops out of bed and drinks it, then it’s game on. 


Yeah. It’s simple. It’s not crazy stuff, it’s simple. 


Chris Ippolito 13:55 

I love it because the whole idea behind it is the mindset of you set yourself up to have a winning mindset from the get-go. Right? For him it was water. And really, how difficult is it to wake up, take a glass of water, and drink it? It’s incredibly easy. But in a sense it’s programming your mind that it’s like, “Hey, there’s the first victory of the day,” and you’re starting your day off on such a positive note that that’s when all these other things just start falling into order and just the day goes well for you. But then when something bad does happen, you look at it and you go, “That’s okay because look at all this other awesome stuff that’s happened for me today.” I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed applying that kind of mindset in my life, is just it makes the bad things when they do happen not really as big of a deal. 


Maeve Smith 14:55 

And you can celebrate. Like I said, you just celebrate those simple things a little bit more. I know I feel overwhelmed even when I’m reading about mindset and your morning routine. And it’s like, yes, in a perfect world I’d like to get up and have a massage and meditate and do yoga, and then have my coffee alone. I have two kids, no, none of that is going to happen. Yes, in a perfect world those things all sound lovely, but have a glass of water. Or even if it is meditation for you, 5 minutes, not 45. If you have that luxury, amazing, but for most of us that’s probably not going to happy. 


We were talking about success is sequential. It’s not one thing and it’s not this big thing, and we were talking about one foot in front of the other. And most things that are valuable are built over time with this domino effect. And it was funny because it was in the book and I was just rereading the chapter. And all the things we value, I was reading. It’s knowledge is built over time, skills are built over time, accomplishments are built over time, and in most cases money, unless you win the lottery, is earned over time. 


Chris Ippolito 16:06 



Maeve Smith 16:07 

Relationships. Success is the same. I run into it all the time, we’re going to make up what we think is the path to success until we know. Because people, we don’t know how many things are we going to need to do or what’s going to work or what’s not going to work. We’re just going to track it and put that one foot in front of the other until we know. 


Chris Ippolito 16:36 

Yeah. You mentioned this, but I want to dig into this a little bit more. When a client of yours, or somebody you know, is struggling with focusing, like planning out their day, their weeks, their months, their years, their decade, and then they’ve got to go micro, they’re now having to try and find, “Okay, well, what is my lead domino for me to start putting that right foot forward?” I don’t know if there’s maybe an exercise, but what does that conversation sound like when you’re trying to help? Because I know you don’t pick it for them, but how do you guide them to realizing what it is that they need to do? 


Maeve Smith 17:24 

I mean the best coaches I have had ask lots of questions. And that’s what I try to do. I definitely follow the philosophy that you already know everything you need to know inside of you. That’s really important to me in a coaching relationship. I ask a lot of questions. Even if I might know very well the industry that you’re in, there is no one better than you to explain what your day-to-day is and what your business is, even if I know the industry. I’ve had not so good coaches where they tell me, they tell you what to do. 


I ask a lot of questions. I ask questions like, we’re in February right now, if you were to look up in December and say, “Wow, I really am happy with where I got to this year,” what would that look like? Clients are either coming to you and they’re really good at focusing on the minutiae, on the lead domino, and maybe their dominoes are zigzagging and maybe we can line them up, or they’re coming to you with their big vision and you want to get them down to that lead domino. 


The people that have the big vision, I mean I always start big and work backwards. And then I want them to know every single day when they get their time to work on their most important thing, and that’s in The One Thing, also. They know exactly what they should be doing. There’s no questioning and you’re not sitting there wondering, “What should I do next? I have my time, I have nothing to do.” That’s really important to me. And I use a scorecard, I mean everyone knows exactly what we’re playing from, how we’re winning and losing, and there’s really no questions. And I used that for myself in building my own business. I know when I get my precious time to do my most important work that I am getting down to business. And that changed everything for me because I used to spend a lot of time just wondering what I should be doing. 


Chris Ippolito 19:43 

Do you have a bit of a routine around when you sit down, like is it in the evenings, every evening do you look at, “Okay, what am I going to do the next day?,” or do you figure that out on a weekly basis, monthly basis? What does that look like for you? 


Maeve Smith 19:57 

Yeah, it’s a great question. Not that it matters to anyone listening, my Monday is my Tuesday. I do all my planning on Monday. That doesn’t make any sense. On the front end I set up my whole week the way I want it to go in a perfect world, all my time blocking, when I’m going to work on everything that I’ve set out to do. And then I usually every night or every other night am re-evaluating. And then I do something that I had not done before, before The One Thing, but I have thinking time. And I do that at the end of my week, when I’m wrapping up. Saturday is pretty good family time, in the morning usually I’m like, “What didn’t I do? How did it go? What did I want to work on? What was I think about this week?” And I spend an hour thinking. 


Chris Ippolito 21:00 

Yeah. Do you have a designated location for your thinking? 


Maeve Smith 21:06 

Anywhere I can get some quiet. 


Chris Ippolito 21:07 



Maeve Smith 21:09 

It changes. 


Chris Ippolito 21:10 

With two kids, obviously the household is going to be a little bit chaotic at times, I’m sure. 


Maeve Smith 21:15 

Yeah. Which there’s really great information in The One Thing about the thieves of productivity, and your environment is one of them. In another perfect world I’d love to have just a beautiful office where no one could ever bother me, but I don’t. 


Chris Ippolito 21:32 

I have that on my list for the house that we eventually will move into. I told my wife, I’m like, “I want a study.” She’s like, “Isn’t that just an office?” I was like, “No, no, no. I’ll have an office where I’ll do work, but I want a study where all I do in there is either read or think, and that’s it.” She’s like, “You’re such an old man.” 


Maeve Smith 21:59 

“And no one can come in there ever.” 


Chris Ippolito 22:01 

Well, and that’s what I said, I was like, “If I’m in there and you come in, it’s silent, that is a silent room.” And our son could go in there eventually when he understands the purpose of that room. And I would teach him, “This is the room where you are developing your mind, basically.” And to me that’s the way I look at. And yeah, in an ideal world I would have that. Right now I have a chair that’s in the living room of our condo, as you can see behind me. It’s my office/study. It’s not the ideal situation, but you make do with what you’ve got. And for me I put on headphones and that’s how I focus. And yeah, it’s really interesting because I’ve had to use The One Thing question to get myself to like, “What’s that thing I can do that’s going to make my focus better?” Right? And yeah, that’s why I love the book so much, it’s helped me out immensely in a lot of different ways. 


Maeve Smith 23:14 

And I was definitely someone who spiraled into overwhelm thinking all the time. Knowing that I have thinking time really helps me just take that out of the rest of my day. When I do have time to be productive and it’s not my thinking time, I’m going through. I mean I use a lot of the things in The One Thing, the way that they set out goals and priorities and strategies and everything. I’m opening that up right when I get started and I’m off to work. And it’s changed everything. I mean I’m more productive with less time, for sure. 


Chris Ippolito 23:52 

That’s fantastic. You’d said something there I want to explore a little bit more. Because you’ve got the blocked time for thinking, when you’re doing things throughout the week and you have an idea and you’re like, “Oh.” I don’t know, I have these things where it’s just like, “Oh, that’s a great idea, I want to explore that a little bit more now.” What do you do with that, do you write it down in a notebook, on an app, and then you revisit it during your thinking time? 


Maeve Smith 24:24 

I am someone who likes to write things down. I do have a notebook that is just for my coaching business, it doesn’t have anything else involved in that. And I encourage my clients to do the same thing, that they have one notebook. And if you want to do it on your phone, that’s fine, too. But one area that it’s just related to that. Yes, when you are out and about and you go, “Oh, I wanted to ask my coach about this,” or, “I need to say this,” or something, or, “I want to talk to that person,” write it all down, and then you can leave it. I just like the old-school notebook. 


Chris Ippolito 25:00 

There is something nice about writing it down. I was doing that for a little bit. The challenge I found was then I had multiple notebooks, and then it was like, “I can’t be carrying around multiple notebooks.” When it’s like, “Oh, this is a thought involving the business, I should write that down.” And it’s like, “Oh, that’s the wrong notebook, I’ve got to write it down in this notebook.” And I use an app now for that. Yeah. But then I segregate the notes in the app though, yeah. 


Maeve Smith 25:27 

Yeah. Because I think it’s really good to have somewhere to brain dump, so to speak. But my favorite thing is to get the stuff off the to-do list and into your goals and your strategies as soon as possible because to-do lists are where great things go to die. They’re tough and you don’t feel satisfied. I have places on those scorecards that I track with my clients where you still get to check things off, but there’s strategy behind it. But yeah, just writing anywhere that works for you to write stuff down. If you’re a journal person, great. If you’re an app person, it doesn’t really matter, I don’t think. 


Chris Ippolito 26:11 

Yeah. For idea capture, I personally like the phone a little bit better. And then when I’m in a thinking mode, then I go there, and then I’m sitting at the desk, I can read my notes on the computer, and then I can start writing things out. I tend to think a little bit differently when I’m writing. I don’t know why, I think there’s something to it. Because I’m definitely not the only person who feels that way, who knows if there are some psychological reasons for that. 


Maeve Smith 26:43 

There definitely are. Part of my past career was in theater and I used to write down my lines, there is muscle memory in your fingers going into your brain. And I don’t know why it doesn’t translate to a computer, but I just know for me it doesn’t. I mean if I write it down, I’ll never forget it. But once it’s on a computer. But I use everything on my computer. But I know if I need to really commit it to memory or make it really real, then it’s written down. 


Chris Ippolito 27:16 

Yeah. Well, that was fun. I think anybody listening to this can tell that both of us really, really like the book The One Thing. I like to try and wrap up every episode with a call to action. I don’t know, do you think we should just say go read the book? 


Maeve Smith 27:37 

It’s a really quick read. 


Chris Ippolito 27:39 

Yeah, it is. And there’s so much value in there and it would add a little bit more context to what we were talking about. Yeah, I think that’s what I would recommend. If you’ve not read The One Thing, go and read it. If you have read it, read it again. Yeah. Because it is that good of a book. You’ve read it already, you said, like your fifth time? 


Maeve Smith 28:03 

I think it’s five, yeah. 


Chris Ippolito 28:05 

Yeah. I’ve read it four times. And I purchased it three years ago. It’s one of the books, there are two books that on an annual basis I reread them. Which now that we’re in a new year, I’m going to have to actually start rereading this one again. But yeah, I think that’s what I would suggest. 


Maeve Smith 28:28 

And it’s simple. It is life-changing, but it’s not going to be like, “I’ve never heard of that before.” Can I share one other thing that I thought was just amazing about the book? 


Chris Ippolito 28:39 

Absolutely, yeah. 


Maeve Smith 28:41 

This gave me such a sense of permission to live my life, it changed it for me. There’s a whole chapter on it, it’s this idea of counterbalancing. There is so much going on around “work-life balance, work-life balance,” and it honestly makes me feel like garbage because it’s impossible. And it’s the idea that you’re in an act of balancing your life. There’s no balance, but you’re balancing your life. And when you’re really focused on something really important to you, like if you’re employing the principles of The One Thing and you’re building a business or building a new health habit or building a new relationship or something really important to you, the other things in your life will fall out of balance and it’s okay. 


And that was like, “Wow.” I mean it seems so simple and I can’t believe I didn’t really think about it that way, but that, to me, when I’m feeling really out of balance or there’s laundry or I didn’t talk to my kids enough in the day or something, or I spent so much time with my family I didn’t get to my business, that makes me feel just a sense of relief. 


Chris Ippolito 29:56 

Yeah. That one was a big one for me, too, especially when I get really focused in on something. Where I’m at right now, I am incredibly focused on trying to build a business. It is literally the one thing that I need to figure out because it will start making everything easier or unnecessary. But because of it, I feel like I’m not contributing as much to the household, as far as cleaning, looking after our son, cooking, stuff like that. And my wife and I have had this conversation and she’s reassured me multiple times it’s okay. And this sense of guilt overwhelms me sometimes where I’m like, “But I feel like I should be helping out.” 


And I always have to remind myself I am, I’m just doing it in a different way right now. It’s not going to be like that for life because a big part of the reason why I’m doing this and why a lot of entrepreneurs are building businesses is to have that freedom of time to go and do the other things. Right? For me I’m looking at it like I’m putting in the energy now so that I can have that freedom later on where if I want to spend way more time with my family doing whatever, even if it’s chores, I can do that, right? 


But yeah, that chapter really helped me out because I always had that sense of guilt, right? And I think that’s a really common one. And that guilt, if not addressed properly, can become toxic and what actually prevents you from becoming your better self in life or in business. 


Maeve Smith 31:55 

Yeah. And it’s one of those things, I heard someone say, “You can have it all, but just not all at once.” 


Chris Ippolito 32:03 

Yeah, I like that. I like that. 


Maeve Smith 32:04 

Yeah. But yeah, the act of counterbalancing for me was just life-changing, again. 


Chris Ippolito 32:10 

Yeah, that was a good one. Lots of value in the book. Like we’ve said, go buy it. 


Maeve Smith 32:17 

Go read the book. 


Chris Ippolito 32:18 

Go read it. You’ll take so much value out of it. And yeah, on that note, hey, there you go. Go read the book. 


Maeve Smith 32:29 

I’m reading it this week, you can read it with me. 


Chris Ippolito 32:32 

I really appreciate the conversation, Maeve, that was a lot of fun. 


Maeve Smith 32:34 

Yeah, same. 


Chris Ippolito 32:36 

Yeah, now I actually think I want to start rereading the book again. 


Maeve Smith 32:41 



Chris Ippolito 32:42 

All right. Thanks for being on the show. Maeve, if people wanted to find you, where can they find you online? 


Maeve Smith 32:48 

Yeah, if you want more information about MAPS Business Coaching, you can go to mymapscoach.com. And then you can e-mail me directly, maeve@mymapscoach.com. And I always offer a complimentary session the first session, it’s a business assessment, it gives you some time to sit with your business, I ask you some questions, and we unravel a couple things and it’s pretty cool, and then we take it from there. 


Chris Ippolito 33:12 

Awesome. Well, I really appreciate the conversation, looking forward to chatting some more about The One Thing. 


Maeve Smith 33:19 

Yeah. Thanks, Chris. 


Chris Ippolito 33:20 

You’re welcome, take care. 


Maeve Smith 33:21