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Scenario: "Dude, we'll just offer a better solution with our big-juicy specs! Then, we'll steal their customers! Yay!" Answer these for a sec:

  1. Where do you buy your jeans?
  2. Where do you exercise?
  3. Where do you get your haircut?
  4. Where do you buy your grocery?
  5. Where do you eat lunch?

Probably: At the same spot. We humans are a weird, robotic bunch: We stick with familiar experiences. We're afraid of change -- instead, sticking to what we know. When some marketer tries to interrupt our familiar experiences, we usually push back -- telling them:

  • "Yo! I don't know who you! You don't know me! I like my current brand, sucka. Wahoo!"

"Stealing" customers, then, becomes one tough dealio. If you're gunning to gain market share, seek overlooked customer segments. We'll explain why that's smarter and sexier.

The Coke vs. Pepsi Test

You normally choose:

  • a) Coke
  • b) Pepsi

Did'ya answer Coke? You probably drank it when you were a child. What if you chose Pepsi? Similarly, you started drinking it when you were yay-high. The Psych community has a term for our familiar behaviors: "Consistency." The biases of our psychological minds at play:

  1. If we choose Bottle A -- and we don't have some whacko experience with it, then it's likely we'll choose Bottle A again.
  2. Now, if we choose Bottle A a 2nd time, then we boost our chances even higher of choosing Bottle A the 3rd time.
  3. So, if we choose Bottle A the 3rd time, our chances again increase exponentially of choosing Bottle A the 4th time.
  4. Etc.

Our minds love familiar experiences. Anything that breaks that equilibrium scares us. Marketers can rarely break that normality -- and in most cases if they try: waste their resources. If you're marketing your shizzle: Switch your focus from 'stealing established customers' to 'seeking overlooked customers'. It's a concept inspired by one of our superheroes, Harvard's Clayten Christensen.

How to Seek Overlooked Customers

Who are your direct competitors hating on (i.e. overlooking)? Shazam! Your badass just found yourself a sweet target market. If you're still confused, consider:

The Vietnamese Noodle Soup (a.k.a. Pho) Scenario

You tell yourself: "Hey, almost all Pho shops target the Vietnamese community!" So, with your awesome business sense, you tell yourself:

  1. "I can't target the Vietnamese community because it's too hard to steal customers."
  2. "Instead, I'll target my Pho restaurant to the American-born contingent."
  3. "No one directly targets them, so I have a huge advantage."

So, you start building a Pho restaurant that caters to the American-born contingent in your community; features include:

  1. English-friendly company name.
  2. Menus in English-only text (Vietnamese optional).
  3. Waiters/waitresses who have a sexy command of the English language (i.e. English-first speakers).
  4. American-style restaurant layout, with Americanized branding.
  5. Ads in newspapers and magazines targeting the American-born contingent.

In other words -- similar to Panda Express doing it for Chinese food, you build an Americanized Pho restaurant. The Benefits? Instead of "stealing" customers, you target a huge bulk who:

  1. aren't so familiar with Pho restaurants,
  2. aren't so established with particular restaurants, and
  3. dying to find an established place that directly welcomes people like them.

Result? Ka-ching for your badass.

Wise to Steal?

Sure, you could try to "steal" customers from established brands. But, you'll have an easier road targeting those who aren't directly loved by the more established businesses. The awesome side-effect: You'll start building a dedicated bunch passionate about affecting the masses.

  1. Starbucks did it with coffee aficionados.
  2. Nike did it with elite track runners.
  3. Apple did it with designers.
  4. FedEx did it with procrastinating executives.
  5. Google and Digg did it with techies.

Say No! to stealing customers. Instead, ask your badass:

"Who's my industry hating on?"

 

Posted on February 26

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Scenario: "Dude, if we just won that project, we'd be so happy. Yay!" Remember landing some "big" new customer?

  1. Before that occurred: "Gosh dang it. If I only Client Timmy to sign the contract, I'd be so happy. Yay!"
  2. When he signed it, your first five minutes: "Yay! I so happy."
  3. After those five minutes? "Aw shucks. I'm not as happy as I should be right now. Ahh!"

Your happiness level dissipated until you went right back to where you started: "Now, if I only got this other thing ______________, I'd be so happy. Yay!" That vicious cycle continues until you're 85-years old -- on your rocker, wondering what the !@^^% happened. "So how I prevent those fleeting moments of happiness?" Savor each and every little winning moment -- realizing that you're a badass at every juncture of your crazy life. We'll explain.

What Makes You Happy

Quick pop-quiz for ya: If you're like most, what would make you happier?

  • Option A: Winning a one-time $10 million check.
  • Option B: Winning $20 every week, unexpectedly -- in different ways, for the rest of your life.

"Since option (b) won't net me more than $100,000, the rational answer would be (a)!" you tell yourself. Not quite. If you answered (b): Ding! Ding! Mutha Ding! You're right. According to researchers and scholars on happiness at Penn, it's the little things that make you bubbly:

  • Getting out of bed with a sexy smile.
  • Enjoying breakfast like it's your last meal.
  • Hugging your crazy kids/parents/pets every night.
  • Smiling at some creepy stranger.
  • Giving gratitude your kick-booty personnel.
  • Looking up at the sky and affirming what a badass your really are.

Yeah, you could tell yourself today that if you just got: _________, you'd be oh-so-happier. But then -- and we'll be a little philosophical on your behind -- you're letting your ridiculously sexy life pass by you. You could aim for a moment of happiness, or you could jump into the mutha-!@^^%^ ocean of happiness. As our man Benjamin Franklin once said: "Human felicity is produc'd not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day."

Enjoy the little things. They're sexier.

 

Posted on February 23

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Scenario: "Dude, we're selling our Web 2.0 online spreadsheet application software for $5/month. That's our strategy. We're focused. Yay!" Common business sense might tell you:

  • Focus = Good.
  • Stick to Plan = Great.
  • Execute Plan = Genius.

But what if you're like most startups:

  1. You're burning cash like a mofo.
  2. You have no revenue sources aside from your "revolutionary idea" -- that isn't generating cash, "yet!"

"Stick with it. You'll succeed if you never give up!" those pseudo-experts might tell you. But when you do that, you see your cash dwindling like Britney Spears's bald head:

  1. Day 10: $30,000
  2. Day 20: $3,000
  3. Day 30: $30
  4. Day 40: $0

Unless you rob Kevin Federline, your business = done. What do you do? Our recommendation: Generate enough cash to keep the company afloat -- and ready for some sexy action. We'll explain.

Why Most Startups Fail

That dude Billy over there thinks he has a billion-dollar idea. Sally J. in the corner over there thinks she has the revolutionary product that will destroy Billy's. And of course, we can't forget about you: You think you have the idea that kicks all of their booties.

You know the typical entrepreneur's mindset:

  1. Yo, I have this next billion dollar idea.
  2. This can't lose.
  3. Oh, I'll make so much money.
  4. I can see my face on the cover of Fortune already!
  5. Our product is going to gain so much success, fortune, and fame. Yay. Woohoo!

The brutal realities however:

  1. You can't predict a product's success.
  2. 90% of "revolutionary" ideas fail.

And so what normally happens next?

  1. You build the product.
  2. You try selling the product.
  3. Nothing sells.
  4. So, you try to "enhance" the product.
  5. No luck.
  6. (Vicious cycle: Repeat Steps ^4 and ^5.)

"Oh, I just know this product will succeed! I just need to find a way. Never give up!" you tell yourself. And then the cruel reality hits you: With no sales, cash = drainage. With no cash to support your operations, you have to close your business. The humble lesson: The longer you stick with a product that's generating no cash, generating a net-negative cash, or generating viciously ugly looking cash, the likelier you'll find yourself raising the white flag.

"What's the Purpose of the Startup Phase?"

We'll be a little controversial here: Unlike the typical mindset that goes on in the Web 2.0 crowd, the purpose of the startup phase isn't to develop some "super-duper-revolutionary" product. Oh no. The purpose of the Startup Phase: To generate enough cash that keeps your company afloat, and ready for some sexy action. That means:

  1. Get sufficient cash sources consistently that helps you survive monthly.
  2. Have enough leftover cash to fund what you really want to do (i.e. sexy action).

A company without sufficient operating cash is like you living without water: You can only do it for so long, but eventually you'll croak.

"So what do I do? What do I do?!"

If you're still in startup mode, ask your badass: "How can we generate enough cash from month-to-month to keep our business alive - then have some money leftover to fund the sexy stuff?"

  1. If you're building a killer web application, that could mean seeking web development jobs.
  2. If you're building one super gourmet coffee franchise, that could mean selling wholesale coffee to businesses.
  3. If you're building the best choppers brand in town, that could mean repairing motorcycles.
  4. If you're building a mega burrito chain, that could mean catering for parties.

"So do I need to do the 'blah' stuff forever?"

Once the "sexy" stuff generates enough capital such that:

  1. it keeps your business alive monthly, and
  2. it generates more cash to fund more innovative shizzle,

then by all means: Drop the boring stuff. Just remember: Like H2-mutha-0, cash is your source for survival. Your startup needs it like a fat kid needs cake.

Seek some *&^%-!@^^%^ cash. It's delicious.

 

Posted on February 22

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Scenario: "Dude, just offer them our other services after they buy something. We'll make billions. Woohoo. Yay!" The suggested scenario:

  1. Service Rep: Yo! Thanks for purchasing. We also have this other shizzle that you might need: [yadda, yadda, yadda].
  2. Customer: No, thanks. I don't need it.
  3. Service Rep: Oh no! Ahh!

Potential after-sales: Gone. Don't fret. Business "experts" tell you that you're leaving Benjamins on the table if you're not trying to sell something after a customer's purchase. We'll let you in on a secret. Three levels of sellers really exist:

  1. The Noob: Thinks about the first sale. (Leaves money on the table.)
  2. The Advanced Noob: Thinks about both the first-sale and the after-sale. (Misses much more than succeeds. Again, leaves money on the table.)
  3. The Kick-Booty Sales Genie: Thinks about solution-selling. (Almost always has a shot at more sales. Optimal selling genie.)

While Noob and Advanced-Noob are making making $1-2, the kick-booty sales genie is making $10 through fulfilling needs. To upsell like a sexy beast, start selling solutions to your customer's problems. How? We'll explain.

First Step: "Why Did They Buy?"

To first step to understanding how to upsell anything: Know why people buy.

  1. Samantha doesn't buy a lamp. She buys light.
  2. Samantha doesn't buy a book. She buys knowledge.
  3. Samantha doesn't buy a blackberry. She buys productivity.
  4. Samantha doesn't buy ski tickets. She buys fun.
  5. Samantha doesn't buy salad. She buys health.

Your product -- whether that's a sandwich, a storage bin, web design services, or whatever -- does a particular job for the customer.

What are You Really Selling?

Sure, you sell: __________. But really, what you're providing is a solution to their problem. The first step to upselling: "Why did your badass buy our product?" In other words, what need did your product fulfill? Once you have that, move on to the final step. (It's a simple, sexy, two-step process.)

Second Step: Fulfill Those Needs

Say your badass runs a salad restaurant. You sell delicious salad meals. If you were a sucky-suck-seller, here's what you'd probably do to try upselling:

  1. "Yo! Thanks for buying!"
  2. "Do you want to buy more salad for your children?"
  3. "Wait, wait. What about buying some more cro - tons?"
  4. "An extra orange wedge for your salad?"

Chances are: You'd sell nothing. And even more likely: Your company = "Creepy." Don't look creepy. Look sexy.

Looking Sexy by Fulfilling Those Needs

What would a super-badass-super-seller do? First, confront the facts:

  1. "Hey, do our customers really buy our salad meals?"
  2. "No! They buy health."
  3. "Since they buy health, we must find ways to help them fulfill that need even further."
  4. "Yay!"

So your badass ponders, contemplates, and thinks of ways to do that. Eureka! The next customer transaction:

  1. "Yo! Thanks for buying!"
  2. "Here's a complimentary little manual to keep your life buzzing with good health."
  3. "We're also having a special on books that keep your heart in tip-top shape."
  4. "And, if you're looking for a fun experience, we're offering a joint service with the local Curves gym to get your booty lookin' sexy."

Cash register: Ring! Yay for your badass.

So Simple, Yet So Rare

If we could pull a number out from our behind, we'd say not more than 1 out of 5,000 companies actually focus on solution selling. They're:

  1. leaving lots, and lots of money on the table
  2. leaving customers needs unfulfilled
  3. destroying their true-badass potential

If you're looking to increase your sales after a purchase, do this shizzle:

  1. Understand what need your product fulfilled.
  2. Seek ways to fulfill that need even further.
  3. Congratulate-yo-self.

You just doubled-tripled-quadrupled-blabupled your sales, and made your customer super-duper-oh-my-mutha-gosh happier with your business. To start upselling:

Fulfill sexy needs -- further.

 

Posted on February 21

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Scenario: "Dude, we're offering everything -- and selling nothing. What do I do? Ahh!" It's the classic entrepreneur's nightmare:

  1. Throw up all of the products you offer.
  2. Hope for the best.
  3. Get mediocre sales.
  4. Cry.

It happens to all of us.

"Why aren't they buying?"

When you're offering a million products, you'd hope your buyers would be smart enough to analyze each one -- and buy the one they think rocks. But, in a world of a billion offerings:

  1. We get lost in a maze.
  2. Then, we humans go through a twisted phenomenon known as analysis paralysis.
  3. Instead of choosing something among the plethora of offerings, we choose nothing. Nada. Zilch.

What inevitably happens? Lost sales. Lost profits. Lost customers. Lost future sales. Ouch. It doesn't have to happen. An easy way to boost profits this week? Have a top sellers list! Sexy.

Why a Top Sellers List Rocks

Three ways:

  1. Your prospect buys what other people buy.
  2. You limit the ^ of items the prospect rejects.
  3. The prospect leaves with a good first choice.

Let's dive into each one like a dolphin in search of bananas:

Tip ^1: Your prospect buys what other people buy.

The psychological rule: If Bobby B is unfamiliar with a Store S, he bases his buying decision on what other people buy in Store S. Robert Cialdini terms that: "Social Proof." It's akin to running with the herd: If you don't know what you should really do, you unconsciously do what other people do. How can that help you increase sales? It fattens your wallet by transforming first-time lookers into first-time buyers, telling themselves:

  1. "Other people do buy at this store."
  2. "And, they are buying these specific items in abundance."
  3. Unconsciously: "So, I will follow them and buy these things too."

Some bad kats could really abuse this phenomenon, so we do caution: Do it ethically; you'll protect yourself for the long-run.

Tip ^2: You limit the ^ of items the prospect rejects.

The scenario:

  1. You offer 1000 things.
  2. You present them with 999 things they have to reject to make a sale.

The second psychological phenomena: People much prefer to avoid loss, than risk it to win. A top sellers list then helps you limit the number of items they "lose" or reject.

Tip ^3: The prospect leaves with a good first choice.

A cool side benefit to a top seller's list: Your best mutha-!@^^%^ products that have the best mutha-!@^^%^ chance of making the best mutha-!@^^%^ first impression. "Oh-my-shizzle. I just bought such a super sexy product. Woo-mutha-hoo!" they start telling their bad-selves after their smart purchases. How does that benefit you when you get an ecstatic customer? You boost:

  1. Customer morale.
  2. Referral rates.
  3. Sexy sales.

Yay for your badass. The template to get your fabulous self started -- and start increasing your fabulous sales:

"Here's our top sellers, playa: __________________________."

 

Posted on February 20

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Think you're nice? Your people might think otherwise. Humboldt's Greg J. Gold studied how students perceived their superiors:

Target ^1

Gold randomly assigned 133 subjects to high- or low-status positions, then asked them whether they'd employ harsh or soft tactics to influence those at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Target ^2

He also asked 141 college freshmen and seniors which tactics they'd use and which tactics freshmen expected seniors to use, to persuade the opposite group to tend them class notes.

The Results

Subordinates over-predicted supervisors use of "harsh" power tactics, such as coercion, as opposed to "soft" or rewarding incentives.

Gold attributes it to the confirmation bias theory -- "a preconceived notion of what will happen, thus biasing employees against even the most benevolent boss." So when you think you're "nice," don't be too content just yet. Your people might think otherwise. The solution?

Be super-duper nice.


(We'll explain how in a future article.)

Posted on February 17

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Scenario: "Dude, I want to be resilient, but people screw me up all the time. Ahh!" What's one of the key variables that distinguishes resilient people from the quitters? Self-accountability. According to a study by Harvard's Psychiatrist Stuart Hauser, resilient people:

...were really quite talented at taking responsibility. Most people in the world don't take responsibility, they see things as other people's fault. But every one of the resilient kids were very, very clear about their contribution to the mess that they were in. The boy we called Pete was expelled from school a million times, and he could tell each time how he kicked someone in the shin or gave some teacher a hard time, and that got him kicked out. He never blamed the school for kicking him out. They had self-confidence.

Building resilience takes a simple switch in mindset. Instead of blaming ______________, start blaming yourself for whatever predicament you're in. The beauty in that? You'll start seeking solutions to get out of it.

"It's me."

 

Posted on February 16

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Scenario: "Dude, go strategize that widget. Come back when you're done. Yay!" How do you optimize productivity out of someone (and of your business)?

  • a. Encourage seriousness.
  • b. Encourage fun.

If you answered (b), congratulate yo-self. When you encourage your employees/colleagues/yadda to have fun, you boost their productivity like a mofo.

Boosting Fun = Boosting Productivity

According to a recent study by Duke University researchers of wives and their husbands:

People who were exposed to the name of a person who wanted them to work hard performed significantly worse on the anagram task than did participants who were exposed to the name of a person who wanted them to have fun.

Those who restrict their freedom (e.g. not letting them have fun with a task), drive them to rebel:

The main finding of this research is that people with a tendency toward reactance may nonconsciously and quite unintentionally act in a counterproductive manner simply because they are trying to resist someone else's encroachment on their freedom.

And, according to the researchers, that makes them unproductive and a beta playa.

"So do I just give them full freedom?"

Not quite. That's why anarchic systems don't work.

  1. You give them too much freedom, and you let them run wild with your resources.
  2. Yet, if you limit too much freedom, you stifle their creativity and productivity.

Instead, do something else:

What to Do Instead

The key, then: balance. Give them fun, but within a boundary. That boundary ends where it becomes non-productive for your company.

  1. For instance, a soccer coach can pull a fun atmosphere on the pitch (e.g. target goal shots tournament).
  2. But, going beyond a boundary that doesn't do shizzle to help the team (e.g. have the team watch ballet during "practice" time), then productivity drains Paris Hilton's credibility.

And, if you're head of a software team:

  1. Encourage your programmers to experiment with features -- to have fun -- with the project.
  2. Yet, giving fun beyond that boundary (e.g. programming while watching ballet) will cause you to miss those deadlines.

Fun + Within Boundary = Sexy. As you're meeting with your fabulous team, remind those badasses:

"Have fun, playa."

 

Posted on February 15

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Scenario: "Dude, I give up. It wasn't meant to be. I suck. Ahh!" What causes most people to fail?

  • a) They suck.
  • b) They lack skills.

If you answered (b), Ding! Ding! Mutha Ding! You're right. And, a super badass. According to a Dun & Bradstreet study, 90% of businesses fail after five years. On the direct contrary, 90% of businesses succeed when they're guided by experts. If you want to rock your business like it ain't no thang but a chicken wing on a string, start getting fabulous expertise.

How to Get Expertise

You could do it one of three ways (preferably, a combo of all 3 works optimally):

1) Build it over time.

  1. Your business and its industry is a big-giant-learning-lesson.
  2. You don't hear about overnight success stories because they happen 0.000001% of the time.
  3. Instead, those who succeed settle in the long-haul.
  4. They seek small wins, that gradually build up to better and bigger wins.

The drawback to this: It takes time.

  • Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Peyton Manning needed more than 10 years to develop into their professional positions.
  • Jack Welch needed decades of training before he could lead his company.
  • You hear parallel stories with successful business-builders (both small & large).

If you really want to rock the world in your businesses' industry, prepare yourself for the enduring expedition. If you keep a tight hold on your resources, you'll get there.

2) Hire a kick-ass consultant.

  1. Unlike doing it by yourself, you can quicken up your success story by piggy-backing on someone else's expertise.
  2. Yeah, you'll still need to experience it for yourself.
  3. But, getting from Point A to Point B becomes much faster.

The drawback to this:

  1. Benjamins, Benjamins, Bejamins.
  2. A consultant can be ridiculously expensive.
  3. And -- unless you're hiring somebody who knows their stuff, they're likely rehashing stuff that you can pick at the local bookstore.

3) Surround yourself with awesome mentors.

The great thing about mentors: You get customized information on how to rock your individual business -- for mutha-@^^%^& free.

  1. If someone wants to mentor you, you know that awesome person is a true badass with a heart of gold.
  2. Those mensches are the best people to be around.
  3. Unlike some opportunistic consultants you might find, the mentors won't limit the advice they give you.
  4. Instead, expect above-and-beyond custom info that will rock your business.

The drawback to this:

  • If you're in an obscure industry, you might find it difficult to find a mentor for your badass.
  • Further, don't expect non-paid mentors to devote as much time as you want.

But if that happens, here's something you could do: Give them something (e.g. a book, a dinner, a dolphin). Preferably, give those gifts before they give you any advice. By rule of psychology: if you do it sincerely, that opens them up more to you. Don't know where to find a mentor? BAM! (Have fun with that shizzle. They rock.)

Don't Forget the Internet

  1. Tremendous amount of information.
  2. You could almost find whatever you need online.

The downside:

  • The internet's filled with conflicting advice.
  • Most "experts" claim they're experts, but don't take their word as gospel.

If they can't back up their shizzle with hard facts/figures/studies/experiments, start running.

Are You Living Up to Your True Badass Potential?

Take a look at how many people are mentoring/coaching/advancing you, right now. That should give you a clue to how much you're realizing your true-badass-potential-quality-score (a.k.a. TBPQS). The rule of thumb: The more you surround yourself with awesome people, the more successful you'll become. To succed, start asking yourself:

"Where's my mutha-@^^%^& Dream Team?"


Happy Valentine's Day, y'all!

Posted on February 14

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Scenario: "Dude, our results suck. We suck. Ahh!" You're either in one of two camps:

  1. "I focus on results."
  2. "I focus on form, and let results take care of themselves."

Most people fit the former. Besides, focusing solely on results comes naturally because:

  1. It's easy.
  2. It's fast.
  3. It take barely any thinking.

That's why most people would rather buy a lottery ticket, than work hard for the Benjamins. Yet, who builds super-successful startups, play in the NBA, win American Idols, or write bestsellers? Those who focus on form, then let the mutha-@^^%^& results take care of their-mutha-@^^%^&-selves.

How Results Blind You

Focusing solely on results distracts you from achieving those results. Peep this basketball analogy: Say Janie's about to play her first season of organized basketball. Before the season, she makes her goals:

  1. I will be a starter.
  2. I will average 15 points a game.
  3. I will win the team's MVP.

The first game ends. She's not a starter, she scored 5 points, and she's the 7th person on her team's depth chart. What goes through her subconscious brain going into the second game?

  1. I will be a starter.
  2. I will average 15 points a game.
  3. I will win the team's MVP.

That "Just-have-the-faith!" mindset becomes a vicious cycle that lasts until the season ends. Then, the inevitable comes: "Oh, what just did happen?!" Before shes know it, season = over; results = unachieved.

What Badass Baller You Do

Instead thinking "I will score 15 points a game," you tell bad-self:

  1. "I have to work on using my legs more to power my shot."
  2. "I have to keep my elbow in and directly under the ball more."
  3. "I need to start squaring up to the basket when I'm shooting."

What automatically happens? You boost your chances of scoring 15-mutha-@^^%^&-points-a-game. Focusing on form = sexy.

Another Analogy: The Lemonade Stand

Two five-year olds:

  1. Johnny wants $5.
  2. Sally wants to sell lemonade.

At the end of the day:

  1. Johnny makes nothing.
  2. Sally makes $5.

Yes, you need goals to rock. But, when you're focusing solely on them, you're tearing apart your chances to achieve those goals. Instead, do this shizzle:

How to Rock Your Business

  1. Set a goal.
  2. List the means to get there.
  3. Focus on those means.

You'll amplify your chances to rock the world.

Form = Sexy.

 

Posted on February 13

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