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Scenario: "Dude, we just got to get our software perfectly. Then we'll be oh-so-productive. High-five! Yay!" Software serves as the integral tool to improve business productivity. Yet, a large percentage of companies take forever-and-a-day to implement theirs. Even a bigger percentage never use their custom-built software because -- before they could release, it becomes outdated. So how should approach your product? Release something -- anything -- early. Then, adapt the system to the company's evolving needs. Presto!

"Oh-but-what-if-my-product's-not-done?!"

We'll refer you to a favorite concept: The 80/20 rule. That is, 80% of what you want in your software = crap. That will cut down 80% of your time. You can do that 80% after you launch yo sucka. Concentrate on the core 20%. That's the juice. That's the Filet Mignon. That's the deliciously awesome shizzle. How do you know if you got your 20%? You'll know if you find yourself asking:

  1. "Ahh! I can't live without ______!"
  2. "If I don't incorporate ______, then what's the point of building the software?"
  3. "______ is a top 3 priority."
  4. "I find myself fantasizing about ______. Oh. Yeah."

Why Releasing Late Destroys Your Software

If you have more than a few months under your belt as an entrepreneur -- and you went on a planning-binge before your started, ask your badass: "How useful was my business plan?" Probaby: Not-so-much. Planning sucks because you're planning as if the world were standing still for you to implement it. You could plan all you want with your software, but:

  1. Your company's needs will change.
  2. Your employees' needs will change.
  3. Your customers' needs will change.
  4. Your industry's needs will change.
  5. Yadda. Yadda.

Failing to adapt to changing market conditions will leave you in January 2007 mode...nine months later. Just picture it: Customer A wants "so-and-so-done", but whoops: "We didn't take that into consideration in January 2007!" Uh-oh. The rule of thumb: Everyday You're Building Your Software = Productivity Drainage + Altering Market Conditions = Lost Profits

How Releasing Fast Rocks

When you release your product early, you gather immediate feedback from how the "real world" responds to it. That feedback helps you adapt your product to your company's/customer's/employee's/market's constantly evolving needs. While your weak competitor is planning their software for January 2007, you're adapting your software to the latest needs of your end-users, customers, et. al. That drives you to optimize your resources to ensure you're profiting-to-the-max by getting your employees to serve-customers-to-the-max. Build-fast-release-early: It's in the research. The super awesome business profs at Harvard studied how companies implemented kick-booty software over two years. The finding

:

Getting a low-functionality version of the product into [the end-users'] hands at the earliest opportunity improves quality dramatically.

Oh. yeah.

"So when should I release my product?"

Shoot for a completed custom software application in three months. "Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Three months?!" You betcha-bottom-dollar. Three months gets you trimming down your software to its finest ingredients. That drives you to remove unnecessary crapola always associated with software development, and helps you focus on the juicy-good-stuff. The template to get you started:

"In three months, I will build this sucka: __________________________."

 

Posted on January 23

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Scenario: "Dude, let's sell cheap items under our already-luxurious brand. We'll attack both markets and generate billions. Yay!" Pop-quiz-for-ya: Why does Toyota additionally sell under the Lexus and Scion brands?

  • a) To show-off.
  • b) To experiment.
  • c) To target different customer segments.

If you answered (c): Ding! Ding! Mutha Ding! Ding! You're right.

  1. The Toyota brand goes after the value-conscious car buyers.
  2. The Lexus brand chases the luxury auto buyers.
  3. And, the Scion goes after the youth crowd.

When you're trying to chase everybody under one brand (ala American car companies), you'll leave yourself with nobody. Instead, when you devote a brand to a laser-focus demographic, you capture their total devotion. That keeps them:

  1. coming back
  2. spreading word about your business

How to Lose Customers

The minute you're selling out to other demographics, your totally-devoted-gung-ho customers who-make-up-the-bulk-of-your-profits start running. The typical scenario for most opportunistic entrepreneurs:

  1. Yo! Let's sell Mexican burritos!
  2. Ching. Ching. Ching. We-be-makin'-the-money!
  3. Oh-fo-shizzle. I-gots-a-idea to grow our business.
  4. Let's sell hamburgers! Yay!
  5. Uh-oh. Nobody's buying.

Sure, your rational mind would think: "If I sell American hamburgers at my Mexican burrito place, I'd get generate double the results." But, as you might know, business is anything but rational. Likely, you'll net less customers if you offer hamburgers. Why?

  1. To people who loved your Mexican burritos:
    "These suckas have sold out. They're not devoting themselves to ME anymore."
  2. To new prospects you think might like hamburgers:
    "How good can hamburgers actually be at a Mexican burrito restaurant? Eew. Next!"

Uh-oh. You're diluting your viciously strong brand with every distraction. If you want to keep your loyal customers + capture new customer segments, read on.

How to Keep Your Loyal Customers

The greatest event in mankind's history could happen across the world, and Sammy's number one priority still: His missing shoelace. The more your speak to "Me!" the more you capture "My" attention -- customers subconsciously think. People initially came to your brand because it "spoke to Me!" People started feeling emotionally connected to your brand because it constantly "focused on Me!" The smart to-do item then for a brand:

  1. Don't sell out.
  2. Consistently find more ways to cater to "Me!"
  3. Trash those that don't focus on "Me!"

(Guess who will be the bulk of your brand's profits.)

How to Gain New Customer Segments

People relate Volkswagen with value and simplicity. Yet, when it sold the Phaeton at the pricey $75,000, prospects thought: "Oh-what-the-@^^%? Why would I purchase a $75,000 VW?" What resulted? Oh, about 1,000 sold. To people, Volkswagen didn't mean luxury. What should VW had done? Place it under a different brand so people could place different symbols on it. Some corporate examples:

  1. Gap does it with Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Forth & Towne.
  2. Yum Brands does it with Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Popeye's.

If you're targeting different customer segments, start devoting different brands to each.

"So how do I segment customers?"

Distinct characteristics define a customer segment. For instance, these may include:

  1. age
  2. income
  3. gender
  4. marital status
  5. language
  6. location
  7. tastes
  8. interests

Rule of thumb: the more you devote different brands to different combinations of those characteristics, the more you'll capture them them as loyal customers.

Different brands for different folks.

 

Posted on January 22

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta expose people to money every-freakin-day. That will make them rock for us. Yay! Yay!" But, the more you expose Johnny to money, the less helpful Johnny becomes to your company. Instead of being a team-player, Johnny starts thinking about his own goals. Instead of helping your company rock like a rock star, Johnny seeks ways to make himself the rock star.

El Researcho

According to a research study by University of Minnesota's Kathleen Vohs:

Pictures of money, a tip lying on the table, thinking about your holiday bonus -- all of these would make people behave self-sufficiently.

What's resulted from that?

Results indicate that these people also work longer before asking for help, are less helpful to others, and prefer to play and work alone.

And another thing...

In addition, people who are exposed to the concept of money can even put more physical distance between themselves and a new acquaintance as compared to people who are not reminded of money.

Sure, motivating people with money might create more independent people. But, they'd likely won't be looking out for your behind. And more important, you won't get the win/win situation you're seeking with them. To generate those win/win relationships, here's our little rule of thumb:

The less you expose people to money, the more helpful they become.

 

Posted on January 21

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Scenario: "Dude, you just gotta make up whenever you do something bad happens to your relationship. Yay!" It all sounds fine-and-dandy: Making up whenever there's a relationship downer -- whether that's with your employees, your customers, your vendors, or your personal relationships. But, our brains are more affected by the negatives than the positives, according to researchers. That is, we tend to remember negative experiences much more than positive ones. So if you did something shady to your customer, that means it takes much more than just "making up."

What Does It Take?

According to the researchers, it takes a ratio of 5 positives to make up 1 negative in a relationship:

As long as there was five times as much positive feeling and interaction between husband and wife as there was negative, researchers found, the marriage was likely to be stable over time. Other researchers have found the same results in other spheres of our life.

Frequently Small Positive Acts Rock

It is the frequency of small positive acts that matters most, in a ratio of about five to one. Occasional big positive experiences--say, a birthday bash--are nice. But they don't make the necessary impact on our brain to override the tilt to negativity. It takes frequent small positive experiences to tip the scales toward happiness.

So when you're trying to maintain a kick-booty relationship, remember:

Small positives = sexy.

 

Posted on January 20

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta buy expensive conference room furniture. We'll all be more serious. We'll make more dough. Yay!" It's Friday-fun-day, and for a good portion of you: It's Meetings Day! Yay! Unfortunately, most meetings serve as big time-wasters. They remove you from what you should really be doing: Doing.

How to Make Meetings Super Productive

To quicken up your meetings and make your fabulous day more productive -- and also head out to your fabulous weekend faster, Management Professor and Researcher Allen Bluedorn recommends: Stand up! He found through his research:

Meetings at which all participants stay on their feet are a third shorter than sit-down conferences--and that the decisions made in them are just as sound.

So as you're heading out for your fabulous weekend, keep this template handy in your conference room:

"Stand yo fabulous boo-tays up!"

 

Posted on January 19

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Scenario: "Dude, we just gotta work 20 hours straight everyday. We'll get so many things done. Yay!" Or if you really want to work faster, just do this in combo as recommended by all-world performance psychologists: Rest + Sprint + Rest + Sprint + ... That is, work in intervals:

  1. Work freakishly fast.
  2. Relax.
  3. Repeat process.

Simple, sweet, and sexy.

Why Working 98432758920 Hours Straight Hurts

Imagine a fuel tank in a Formula 1 open-wheel race car. What happens when it races without refilling its tank?

  1. Car drives around 20 laps.
  2. Gas tank empties.
  3. Car stops.
  4. Uh-oh.

Your body has its own fuel tank. It stores the amount of kick-ass-energy-juice you use. You'll close your access to that deliciously good juice when you keep-on-going-and-going-and-going.

How 'Rest' Rocks

Like a race car taking a pit stop after every x amount of laps, your fabulous body needs to refuel after every x amount of work you do. When you rest, you're replenishing fuel to kick some more ass later. Resting fills up your body with deliciously-sweet-rockin' energy juice. The disclaimer: you can fill up your tank only oh-so-much. At a certain point, your body stops creating juicy-good-energy juice. That energy goes stale with too much rest. To prevent that mutha-@^!$%&-deliciously awesome energy juice from dissipating, start sprinting (i.e. work freakishly fast):

How 'Sprint' Rocks

Remember the 80/20 rule about working? You complete 80% of a day's work in 20% of your working hours. Yet, we all hear from the crazy-"oooooh-I-work-so-much" crowd:

  • "I work 120 hours a week!"
  • "I get home at 2 a.m. every night!"
  • "I am always oh-so-busy!"

If that's you, don't fret: We're definitely guilt of doing it as well. But then, we realize why we suck so bad: We're wasting a ridiculous amount of time by working slower than Simon Cowell's revolving wardrobe. If yesterday was a typical day for you, ask your badass: "Could I have completed all of what I did by 1 p.m.?" Chances are for most of you: "Of course!" So, you tell yourself: "If I just spend every working hour like the 20% juicy-productive-goodness I have everyday, I'll complete 9807419897427412 things. Yay!" So, you use the ridiculously awesome method:

  1. Sprint to expend and optimize energy.
  2. Refuel with rest.
  3. Repeat process.

"When will I've emptied my energy tank?"

Depending on your fitness level, your body will tell you when it's relaxation time. That could be after 15, 30, 60, 300, or ___ minutes. Try this:

  1. Pick a project that requires more than a few hours of work.
  2. Start working faster than a juiced-up-bald-ostrich on crack.
  3. Do you feel yourself slowing down? Refuel time by resting for your badass.

Rest + Sprint = La Combinaci - n Sexy

 

Posted on January 18

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta sit around all day and discuss how to be more creative than our competitors. We'll win. Yay!" When you sit in a bubble all-day-every-day-24-7, what happens? You confine your creativity into that vacuum; that gets you generating superficial ideas. If you're gunning to generate super-sweet ideas, venture outside that bubble. We'll explain.

How People Trap Their Creativity

The recent history of the computer industry:

  1. In the 70s, computers came in one color.
  2. Then in the 80s, computers came in one color.
  3. Then in the early-to-middle-90s, computers came in one color.
  4. (Then -- finally -- Apple brought some sweetness into the bland world.)

You look at any industry, and what do you get? Sameness. Blandness. Boringness.

The Web 2.0 crowd?

Gradients. Tag clouds. Huge typefaces. Betas. Blah.

The Real Estate crowd?

Same flyers. Same websites. Same selling propositions.

The car industry?

The same mutha-@^^%^& trucks traveling the same mutha-@^^%^& dirt road. It's as if some marketing geniuses decided: "Hey, let's be creative. Instead of the Colorado mountains, let's shoot our trucks in the California mountains. Yay! We-so-creative." When you confine your creativity into a bubble (e.g. in your industry, office, networking peeps, etc.), you start generating ideas that: Suck. Seeking creativity inside a bubble can only take you so far -- until the public can barely distinguish what's different about you from others in your industry. Instead, here's how to not suck.

How to Spark that Creativity

  • Starbucks founder Howie Schultz didn't scan the American coffee companies to see how he could crush them; instead, he traveled to Italy.
  • Apple dude Stevie Jobs didn't look among the blah computer industry to see how he could innovate; instead, he looked to Picasso.

If you're in your office with your fabulous team discussing ways to spark your company's creativity, we urge you: Step outside. Do something else. Fly a kite. Run a trail. Visit art galleries. Talk to a paleontologist. Whatever you do, venture outside that bubble. What happens when you do that sucka?

  • "Oh-fo-shizzle!" moments come.
  • Creativity "sparks."
  • Subconscious activity that build-up and finally blows up into Eureka! moments.

Venturing Outside = Sparks Associations = Sparks Creativity

Creativity starts by connecting dots. Here's how the scenario works:

  1. Bob runs teddy bear toy business.
  2. Bob ventures outside his bubble.
  3. Bob attends a computer conference.
  4. There, he listens to tha-big-thang: Enabling customers to build their own computers from scratch.
  5. Bob: "Oh-fo-shizzle!"
  6. Bob asks himself: "What if I could do the same thing with our teddy bears?"
  7. Ideas start flowing: "And kids can build their own bears from scratch -- from accessories the bears with shoes, shirts, hats -- to giving it a name, to choosing its occupation!"
  8. Bob wins an award for Most Innovative Business of the Year.

That's probably similar to how Build-a-Bear developed its business in 1997. When you step outside your bubble, you start connecting dots that generate a fresh-flow-of-freakin'-juicy-ideas that rock like a mofo.

Step outside.

 

Posted on January 17

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Scenario: "Dude, our product's not selling. We suck. Our business sucks. We've failed. Ahh!" Look you overreacting crazy baboon: You haven't failed. Like the overused phrase goes: You just haven't tried hard enough. The secret to kicking failure's booty: Keep on experimenting until you find that success you're seeking. (And you will.)

How People Fail

It goes a little something like this:

  1. Gem: Yo boys and girls! Let's build the next million-dollar business.
  2. B&G: Yay!
  3. Gem: Okay, we're going to build the fattest kitchen utensils in the world. Million$ here we come!
  4. Gem's team starts building in a day.
  5. Three months later -- and they still sell nothing.
  6. Gem: Okay, no one's buying. We suck.
  7. Gem: The business sucks. We've failed! Ahh!
  8. Gem goes back to his old job.

We call it the "try-once, see-result, quit" cycle that failed entrepreneurs make. At the first sign of trouble, they quit. To all you crazy people out there thinking about quitting your businesses, here's our tip: Stop! (Oh yeah.) Your badass just haven't found the way to success, yet.

How to Find Success

That Edison dude who discovered that light-bulb-thing needed thousands of experiments to make it work. The supposed world's "greatest inventor" is also its greatest failure. The difference between those who think they've failed and our man Edi lies in this statement from the awesome man himself: "I haven't failed. I've found 10000 ways that don't work." Sweet words. If "failure" ever enters your fabulous mind, just remind your badass: "I haven't experimented enough." For instance:

  • "I haven't tried other ways to market my business."
  • "I haven't tried a different selling approach."
  • "I haven't tried managing differently."
  • "I haven't tried offering a more customized edition."
  • "I haven't tried promotional offers to college students."
  • "I haven't tried hiring a consultant."

Rule of Thumb ^1:

The more you experiment, the more success you see yourself having.

"Never Give Up!" True?

To an extent. The super motivational gurus who pitch their books & audios tell you: "If you want to succeed in life, you have to be persistent! Yay! Yay! Buy my books." We find that advice too vague and super pedestrian.

  • You could be persistent selling an 8-track player, but you'll never succeed profitably with it.
  • You could be persistent selling a remote-control-flying-vacuum, but the next lawsuit will destroy your business.

Yes, persistence is good; but, know what to persist with. Be persistent with seeking success; but, accept failing approaches as a means to get there. (Think of success as the destination point; and failed approaches as giant freakin' buildings that you can't possible go through -- so your badass has to take detours to go around them.) Don't be persistent with a product if it's failing you. Be persistent however with your eventual success.

Rule of Thumb ^2:

  • Persistence with success = good.
  • Means that hold you back from that success = boo.

If your product's not selling, and you've lost hope for it, by all means: trash it. Yet, don't think (for a second, badasses!) -- to give up on that eventual success. You'll find it. (Trust us.)

How to Experiment

Unless you're some multi-billionaire's child or Paris Hilton, you have limited resources. You could spend it all on some whacked invention, and fall completely flat on your face. With debtors running after you, clients suing you, and mommas and poppas screaming at you, you won't get another chance. Remember: the more experimenting you can do, the more you boost your chances at that crazy success you're seeking. So how do you do it? Tiny experiments, of course: tiny experiments such that if you fail at it, you'd be (almost) as good as you were before. That is: you can bounce back, and start experimenting again -- and again -- and again.

Start small. Experiment. Grow big.

The minute you see one of your small experiments succeeding, your badass will seed that success even further by pouring more resources into it. That's how small experiments turn into super-crazy-good-profitable products. That "Start Small. Experiment. Grow Big." process has worked for Disney, Starbucks, Google, and the hundreds of other Fortune 500s. (And really: we think it's the only way to maintain success.) We'll leave you with this:

Finding success is like pruning a tree to make it look sexy.

The process:

  1. At first, you throw your offerings out there; initially, it looks messy.
  2. You get feedback from customers, vendors, and the markets.
  3. You start fine-tuning your offerings: dumping products/services that don't sell, investing more in others that are succeeding, and experimenting with new ones that might rock.
  4. But like a tree that keeps growing its limbs, you continue fine-tuning.
  5. The process becomes a never-ending cycle: the more you work on it, the closer you'll get to that success you're seeking.

The bulletproof way to succeed like a badass:

Experiment like a badass.

 

Posted on January 16

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How you know you've found great people: "If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say: 'Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.'" -Martin Luther King Jr.
Posted on January 15

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Scenario: "Dude, we'll just charge it on our business platinum Visa cards. We be rollin. Yay!" You might be tempted to break out your credit cards or use other non-cash means to buy your shizzle this fabulous weekend. But when you do, you're likely overspending without realizing it. A study concluded how people's brain regions reacted to spending cash versus putting off payments until the future:

The results of this paper support an alternative perspective that views consumers as trading off the immediate pleasure of making a purchase against an immediate pain: The pain of forking out the money for the item. The results can explain the growing tendency of consumers to overspend when purchasing items with credit cards instead of cash, because consumers do not immediately pay for items charged to credit cards and the "pain" of the potential loss is minimized.

So before you break out your credit cards, think cash money. You'll save one mutha bundle. Before you go on some buying binge to support your fabulous lifestyle, tell your bad-self:

"Where's my cash money?"

 

Posted on January 14

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