The Difference Between Talkers and Doers

The Boondock SaintsI love The Boondock Saints movies (the first two are awesome and I can’t wait for the third one to come out).  They’re about two Irish brothers who are the baddest vigilantes you’ve ever seen (anyone who says a prayer in Latin before putting a cap in someone is elevated in the vigilante-dom pantheon).  One of their friends and sidekicks, Rocco, shares some words of wisdom at the opening of Boondock Saints II:

Rocco from The Boondock Saints“There’s two kinds of people in this world when you boil it all down. You got your talkers and you got your doers. Most people are just talkers.  All they got is talk.  But when all is said and done, it’s the doers who change this world. And when they do that, they change us, and that’s why we never forget them. So which one are you? Do you just talk about it, or do you stand up and do something about it? Because believe you me, all the rest of it is just coffee house bull$4!+.” – Rocco (that’s him to the left)

Every time I watch that movie (which is pretty often) I ask myself – am I a talker or a doer?

I invite you to ask yourself the same question.

It’s easy to be a talker.  “I’m going to build an awesome company” or “I’m going to give him a piece of my mind” or “I’m going to write a blog and turn it into a book.”  All those things sound great.  They all seem feasible.  For the most part though, most of them will never happen.  Why do I say that?  I’ll tell you why.  It all boils down to three things.


This is at the core of the difference between talkers and doers.  Talkers discuss all the wonderful things they want to do but at heart they’re afraid to take on the risk and challenge that comes with doing those things.  Starting a business means no income for a while along with high prospects for failure.  Telling someone off creates the risk of being told off and embarrassed yourself.  Trying to write a book carries the risk of (multiple) rejections along the way.

Doers understand and accept the risks.  Entrepreneurs who make it happen understand starting a business is fraught with risks but they aren’t afraid to try to manage those risks and recover if things don’t turn out well.  People who speak their mind are willing to listen to and discuss the criticism that might come back their way.  People who write books or blogs face the fear of no one reading their stuff but they keep plugging on in spite of that rejection.

If you want to stop being a talker and start being a doer, begin by defining your goal and listing out all the risks you might face.  Once you have them written down and broken apart, they’re not as scary as they initially seem.  Breaking them down can help you overcome them because you can see them as smaller risks.  Read this post if you want to find out how to take on new opportunities with little to no risk.


Getting stuff done requires setting aside the distractions and making progress every single day.  Talkers find a million reasons to not get things done.  “I didn’t have time” or “it’s not in the budget” or “I had to plant my rutabagas first” become convenient excuses for making progress.  On the face of it, all those excuses for doing other things seem to make sense (I mean – who doesn’t love rutabagas?).  But when you peel it back and look at the excuse, it’s simply unacceptable.

Doers don’t accept excuses.  They say “no” to distractions and get crap done (hence the name “doers”).  Every day they focus on a few objectives that get them closer to their ultimate goal.  It might be writing a business plan, sending 10 emails to prospects, writing a blog post or chapter of a book, or writing some lines of code.  Regardless of what it is, something happens every day.  That kind of focus both on the long term goal and on moving toward it regularly is what differentiates a doer from a talker.

So what’s on your “to do” list for today?  Does everything on that list take you toward your goal?  If not, cross it off and don’t do it.


Moving from focus to execution is key.  At this point, the doers have left the talkers in the dust.  Those guys are still hanging out at the water cooler discussing their next big idea while our intrepid doer is heads-down in “get stuff done” mode.  Execution is more than a few productive days.  Execution is about regular and steady progress every single day for protracted periods of time.  Doers don’t only have “to do” lists – they also have “got done” lists where they track their progress toward that ultimate goal.  Every line of code written, every new blog subscriber signed up, every new customer contacted goes on the list of “got done.”  Momentum matters and doers understand this because success leads to more success.

What have you gotten done today?  This week?  This month?  Do you know how your small accomplishments every day add up to the larger goal?  If not, you might want to begin tracking that progress.

So are you gonna be a talker or a doer?  Would Rocco be proud of you or would he want to give you a kick in the pants?  As my buddies and I like to say: shut up and build something.

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Post script: By the way, the prayer the brothers say before taking care of business goes like this:

And Shepherds we shall be

For thee, my Lord, for thee.

Power hath descended forth from Thy hand

Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.

So we shall flow a river forth to Thee

And teeming with souls shall it ever be.

In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.

Yeah.  those guys are doers.

7 Responses to “The Difference Between Talkers and Doers”

  1. Gail says:

    Thanks for such a great post. My dad used to say something very similar about talkers and do-ers…and doers were worth their weight in gold since most people were just talkers! A great reminder for Election Day, too–be a doer and get out and vote!

  2. Brian says:

    I’ve known you for serveral years now and although you’re never at a loss for words I’d definitely classify you as a doer. Nice post…once again.


  3. Roscoe Bonifituccu says:

    Obama Voters = Talkers…and the natural evolution of constant windage…Takers.
    Romney Voters = Doers. I would add…Romney Voters are Givers…in all terms. They give Charitably, in their personal Time, Talent and Treasure. America needs this kind of Patriotic Selfless Givers and Doers.

    • Mike Figliuolo says:

      While I appreciate the thought being shared, I encourage everyone to see past broad, sweeping generalizations of another part of the electorate. It’s simple to broad-brush folks. It’s harder to talk with folks and jointly solve issues we all face. That’s my challenge to everyone – more problem solving, less bitching and finger-pointing.

  4. Duane Penzien says:

    Great Reminder. I’ve been letting externals steal my focus away too much lately. I need to get back on track, even if I’m not always sure of the next steps. Time to find out – and that means making mistakes in the process. Thanks, Mike!

  5. […] As Mike Figliuolo shares […]

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