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Scenario: "Dude, either you're born productive or you're not. You can't change that. Yay!" Oh, sure your badass can. Here's the secret: Set some goals. When you set some goals, you automatically make yourself more productive. According to Psychologist Hara Estroff Marano:
Goals provide focus. With no guiding vision or plan, people tend to drift. Goals provide a measuring stick for progress. Goals enhance productivity. They bolster self-esteem. And most of all, goals increase commitment, so you're more likely to achieve whatever you set out to conquer.
Set some sweet goals.
Posted on December 15

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Scenario: "Our competitors are losers. We gotta kick their booties and grab big freakin' market share. Yay!" What do great companies do?

  • a) Look for ways to destroy, annihilate, and crush competitors.
  • b) See how competitors can help them.

If you answered (b), good job: You're a correct badass. Conventional wisdom drives most entrepreneurs to scan for competitors, and see who they can annihilate. Great businesses instead trash that wisdom. They see themselves as their greatest competitors -- so, they scan the playing field, and see what they can learn from their competitors to better themselves.

Who should be your biggest competitor?

You think Google, Starbucks, Berkshire, Coca-Cola, and IKEA -- and you tell your bad self: "What do these amazingly awesome companies have in common?" Their biggest competitors: their-freakin'-selves. When was the last time you heard them disparaging their competitors, or directly gunning for them? Yes, focusing on competitors is important; but, competitors should primarily serve as sources for ideas to rock your company like a badass that it should be.

How Not to Deal With Outside Competitors

Most entrepreneurs go through the vision-tunnel syndrome when dealing with competitors. That is, their biases lead them into thinking their competitors suck at everything -- and they themselves totally, absolutely rock at everything. So, they ignore the vicious facts of reality; for instance ignoring competitors':

  • Highly profitable practices.
  • Emotionally-driven marketing initiatives.
  • Customer acquisition processes.
  • Product cycles.
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Hey, because if "they suck at everything, why would we need to learn anything from them?" they tell themselves. So, instead of using sweet real-world practices, they resort to doing their "theoretical" crapola that they're sure will "beat competitors!" Blah. If you want to improve your company everyday, your competitors have a tremendous source of ideas for you to do so.

Learn Why Your Outside Competitors Rock

If you're gunning for competitors, chances are: They're better at you in something. That could mean they have ridiculously better marketing than you. They have higher profit margins. Or, their customers irresistibly love them. So, instead of brushing them off with "They suck! We can do it totally better!" tactics -- learn how they rock. You'll improve your business that much more. The template to get you started:

"My competitors are freakishly resourceful allies."


Posted on December 14

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Scenario: "Dude, it's all in the pitching. It's how you present yourself. Wear sexy suits. You'll keep them, forever. F-o-r-e-v-e-r. Yay!" Oh-no-izzle. To keep customers forever, just do this: Provide them value. That's it. Sweet, simple, and much sexier.

How Most Companies Go Wrong with Customers

Yes, customer retention rocks because it provides a much greater bang for your buck. Yet, when companies from sea-to-shining-sea try to retain their customers, what do they do?
  • "Let's pitch this product!"
  • "Dude, you gotta buy this shizzle!"
  • "You cannot live properly without purchasing!"
  • "Even your mama wants it!"
Look well-intentioned-but-misguided-freaks: People don't care about you, your business, or your mama. The ^1 person in Johnny's world is Johnny. He'd much prefer a story about his high-school-football-playing glory years than your billion-dollar invention. He'd much rather you fetch him his coat than picking up your million-dollar check. With every interaction with you, he's thinking: "Why should my badass talk to you? How are you helping me, sucka?" So if you're trying to keep him as a customer for life, know how to influence him -- personally. That is, provide him value -- repeatedly.

How to Provide Johnny Value

Say Johnny runs a potato warehouse. You're selling his company your sweet-mutha-good-gosh tea. Your company's purpose: to make the world freakishly healthy.

So, if some incompetent CEO ran your business, what would he/she do?

  1. Sell tea.
  2. End transaction.

But since you're the bigger badass who's driven to make the world healthy, what do you do?

  1. Sell tea.
  2. Give him yoga/meditation/health books.
  3. Provide him deliciously healthy recipes.
  4. Send articles about keeping his employees healthy.
  5. Look for other ways to provide more value.
Remember: if you're providing real value that helps Johnny's business or his personal life in some way, he'll want you to stick around. You're tapping Johnny's ^1 interest: Johnny.

How Providing Value Rocks

Give first. Receive second. That's how the human interaction cycle fundamentally works -- and according to famed psychologist Robert Cialdini, makes relationships beneficial. Cialdini calls it the "reciprocity" factor. Unless your mama dropped you on your head when you were a baby: We as freakishly awesome humans want to repay acts of kindness. So, if you're providing amazingly awesome value to their lives, they'll provide amazingly awesome value to yours.

"It seems time-consuming! So, I just provide value to every single customer?!"

Not quite. Here's what we'd do: Take your top 20% most profitable customers, then focus squarely on them. Now, "profitable" could mean past transactions -- but, we'd rather focus on future profit potential. Now, "profit potential" could mean:
  1. They have a vast network of personal/business connections.
  2. They're aiming for freakishly gigantic goals.
  3. They have a filthy big budget.
  4. They're around people who absolutely, irresistibly love them.
Of course, the other 80% could provide tremendous value to your business as well. Biggest secret tip we could offer you: Send them your email newsletter that's filled with weekly juicy-good tips. The next time you're looking for a sweet, simple, and sexy way to keep your customers, remember:

Provide freakishly good-and-juicy value.

Posted on December 13

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta round up as many people as we can to complete this project. Yay!"

Pop-Quiz Time!

You've decided to enter the lemonade-stand business. You "hire" a team of eight kids: Annie, Bobby, Chrissy, Davey, Ernie, Freddy, Gabby, and Henry.

Now, what's the best way to use your people?

  • a) Build one team of eight:

    "Make some money selling lemonade. Here's the money. Go!"
  • b) Divide them into 2 teams of four.

    "You four get the supplies. The rest of you: find customers for tomorrow! Yay!"
  • c) Divide them into 4 teams of two:

    "You two: Find fabulous lemons, water, and sugar. You two: Get the lemonade cups, napkins, and stand. You two: Find customers. You two: Build some kick-booty marketing materials."
If you answered (c): Ding! Ding! Mutha Ding! Ding! You're right. If you answered (a) or (b), ohhhhhhhhhh-nooooooooooooo!

Large Teams = Blah

You know what happens when you round up 479157328952 troops to work on your project? You reduce:
  1. individual productivity
  2. overall productivity
  3. your company's kick-ass results
Ouch. The next time you're building your revolutionary project, remember: Build small teams to kick major booty.

How Large Teams Suck

If you went with scenario (a) above -- and decided to use one team of eight to get your lemonade-stand up-and-running -- what would happen? Not much. You'd go through the crazy "Who'd-done-it?!" scenario:
  1. Annie: "Bobby must have found those customers for tomorrow."
  2. Bobby: "Not me. Chrissy probably did."
  3. Chrissy: "No! I thought it was Davey."
  4. Davey: "No, I'm not working on it. Ask Ernie."
  5. Ernie: "Not me. Freddy?"
  6. Freddy: "Nope. I didn't do it. Gabby?"
  7. Henry: "Nope, you sons-of-biatches."
The larger the team, the less responsibility and accountability people take for the integral tasks of a project. The results? Sucky.

Why Small Teams Rock

Compared to humongous firms like Fortune 500s, small teams like little startups or 1-person companies rock the shizzle out of their productivity. Why? They're more agile, they respond faster to whatever conditions they have, and each and every soul on the team works like a mofo -- and is a mad contributor to the company's overall health. There's no "Who'd-done-it?!" here because sad results can be traced back directly to individuals. That makes people more accountable to their jobs, and to the overall results -- and keeps them rockin'.

How Small Teams Boost Results

When you break down your team of eight into four teams of two -- and give them clearly defined roles, you optimize every part of that team. It's like your building a soccer team. Instead of just setting a bunch of players free, you're building mini-teams of (1) attackers, (2) midfielders, and (3) defenders. That ensures you strengthen every important part of your organization to achieve the sweet results you desire.

The 3-Step Process to Rocking with Small Teams

Here's what we recommend in building small teams:
  1. Define your ultimate destination.

    "We want to bike to Las Vegas by next week!"
  2. Break the ultimate destination into clear, small tasks.

    "We need to get to San Jose first. Then, Bakersfield. Then, Apple Valley. Then Henderson. Then, Vegas!"
  3. Assign those tasks to small teams.

    "Annie/Bobby, find the route to San Jose. Chrissy/Davy, know the way from San Jose to Bakersfield. Ernie/Freddy, connect Bakersfield to Apple Valley. Henry, you and I will find the path from Apple Valley to Vegas. We'll meet tomorrow to patch everything together."
Rule of thumb: The more "mini-teams with clearly-defined-tasks" you can build, the more productive you'll see your business. And yes: a team, within a team, within a team works fabulously.

Small teams rock booty.

Posted on December 12

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta do a bunch of market research to see what the market wants. Billions. Yay!" It's how most entrepreneurs build faulty products: thinking intensive market research breeds successful products. It won't. That's how product-builders go bankrupt: speculating what people want, building it, then finding nobody wants to buy it. Sure, a small percentage will succeed; but, most end up failing. So, trash the overused, over-hyped, over-blah market research. Instead, if you're looking to build a successful product:
  1. Understand just what one person/business needs and will buy now.
  2. Get the customer to sign a contract.
  3. Start building it.
You'll soon notice several others needing the same solution.

Why Market Research Sucks

The problem with doing market research? It goes a little something like this:
  1. You: "Have you ever wanted [yadda, yadda, yadda]?"
  2. Bob: "Yes, I'll want something like that."
  3. You take nine months to build it.
  4. Bob: "Oh, I won't buy it, though."
You could interview a thousand people, and a good portion will scream: "Yes, I'll want that sucka!" But, when it comes to handing over their hard-earned dollars to you, they won't do it. It's called the: "I'm-just-trying-to-be-nice" syndrome. Badass business product-builders instead do something beyond market research. We affectionately call that secret sauce:

The "Do-You-Want-To-Buy-This-Sucka-Now?!" Approach

(Or for short: DYWTBTSN.) People could be the most successful, the wealthiest, the most athletic, the gosh-dang sexiest; yet, they'll still want/need something to make their lives that much better. That could be a:
  1. Computer designed specifically for Bakery CEOs
  2. Inspirational posters for hospitals
  3. Calorie Tracker for football players
  4. Philly Cheese Steak melted with pizza toppings
  5. etc., etc., etc.
The hard part to this whole process? It's quite easy: Just ask.
  • Jimmy, what do you need?
  • Susie, what does your business need?
  • Hendy, how can we help your team?
You could ask it a million ways; but, it simply boils down to understanding:
  1. what they want
  2. what they'll buy now
And, yes: if you can provide the solution and they're not (1) handing over their money now, (2) entering into serious negotiations, or (3) signing a contract to buy your future product, they're not a customer -- and likely, they'll never buy from you. They're just trying to be nice. "Wait! But, I'll just sell my product to one person. Ahh!" Not quite. Here's why:


Think of your most "unique" habit. Now, if you haven't talked with people about your "unique" habit, you'd figure: "I'm the only badass who has this habit." Yet, when you announce that "unique" habit to the world, you'll notice several others have the same, exact, "unique" habit. (Don't believe us? Go to some crowded message board like YouTube or Craigslist, and ask around. We'll give you money if we're wrong.) Or, try this:

List your interests.

Based on that, do you think at least 10,000 people share each interest? Likely. Probably, even a million. Or, ten million.

The Point

In a world filled with 6,000,000,000 people, we share similar mindsets to several (several) others. So if you're selling something to somebody, you know that a bunch more people want that same thing.

"Yo! Show me an example of the whole process!"

Consider Farm Dude Billy Bob Bobby. The scenario:
  1. You: "Yo Billy! What does your farm need?"
  2. Billy: "I need a software that keeps track of my farm's cows. Fo shizzle!"
  3. You: "I can build it! Let's sign a contract, Billy Boy."
  4. Billy: "Done!"
So what happens next?
  1. You and your amazingly awesome team build the product that helps Bobby track his cows.
  2. When you're done, you hand it over to Bobby; and, Bobby makes good on the contract by sending you the cash.
  3. You call other farm owners to pitch your product. 3214729815721508219 reside in rural America; some of them are bound to need the same product. You know they're out there; you just need to find them.
  4. What happens next? Ring! Ring! Ring! (Yes, that's the cash register ringing for your badass.)
Sell to one; sell to several. So when you're out trying to build the next great product, start with this sucka:

"Billy Bob Bobby, what can I build for your badass?"

Posted on December 11

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Scenario: "You can't change it. Ahh!" Oh, but you can. To live a longer life, fill your life with sunny thoughts, happy feelings, and amazingly awesome smiles. A study of elderly nuns by a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, Deborah Danner, found that:
Nuns who'd expressed the most positive emotions in early adulthood -- using words like "thankful" and "joy" in diary entries -- lived about ten years longer than those who'd shown the fewest good feelings.
So when you're out changing the world this Sunday, remember this sucka:

"My life is freakishly good."

Posted on December 10

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Scenario: "Dude, we always boost our brain. Yay!" Not when you're watching television. When you're watching TV, your brain goes into a passive state. It's like you're putting your brain in the refrigerator for later use. Remember: your brain is like a muscle. The more you train it, the more you'll boost your brainpower juice. The less you use it, the weaker it gets. In one study:
People watching television had increased alpha brain waves -- their brains were in a passive state, as if they were just sitting in the dark. No wonder TV watching has been tied to low achievement.
And no, we're not saying don't watch TV. We're saying this: If you want a sexier brain, limit your daily TV intake consumption.

Limit TV. Boost brainpower.

Posted on December 09

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Like many of you, we sat glued to our television sets, logged onto various news sites, and listened to radio stations checking the latest status report on James Kim. Last Saturday, James ventured into the frigid Oregon mountains to save his lost family. Two days ago, we heard the heartbreaking news. We were crushed. Yet, to let his life leave in vain is to ignore the awesome lesson he taught us: Absolute resilience in the face of insurmountable odds. James fought over a week without adequate water and warmth. He swam across cold creeks with temps hovering in the low 20s. He climbed over vicious fallen trees. He traveled 16 miles through thick terrain, muddy rocks. He did all that going 11 days without food. He fought for his wife and two girls with every fiber of his being. He fought like a mutha-^^!&*@ until the very end. And yet, all of us are guilty of it at some point in our businesses: Giving up at the first sign of some trivial problem. We lose an employee: "I'm a bad manager." We lose a deal: "I'll never be good doing sales." We lose a customer: "I'm bad at business." James redefined -- for us -- what it means to fight until the end. We're grateful for that. This week, business became such a minuscule thing to us. We didn't know James, but his plight captivated us. His dedication enthralled us. His persistence dazzled us. There are badasses; then, there are true badasses. James showed us what the latter meant. And for that, we thank him.
Posted on December 08

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta focus on finding new customers. Jillions, here we come. Jillions! Yay!" Or, you could just do something easier and a little sexier:

  1. Focus on serving the customers you already have.
  2. Find new customers when you've optimized your customer retention.

Why Focusing on Previous Customers Rocks

Imagine a humongous-freakin' wine bucket:

  • Day 1: You pour 8-oz. of sweet-mutha-gosh Chateau Petrus wine into the bucket.
  • Day 2: You pour another 8-oz. (i.e. 16-oz. total).
  • Day 3: And then, you pour another 8-oz. (i.e. 24-oz. total)

Now, imagine Scenario Two with the same humongous-freakin' wine bucket:

  • Day 1: You pour 8-oz. of sweet-mutha-gosh Chateau Petrus wine into the bucket.
  • Day 2: You empty the bucket. Then, you pour another 8-oz.
  • Day 3: You empty the bucket again. Then again, you pour another 8-oz.

You go on a hot date. Which wine bucket would you rather have with you?

If you answered the first scenario: Ding! Ding! Mutha Ding! Ding! -- you'd be one right mutha-badass.

Businesses that focus on the first sale, then dump their customers, are doing what we call:

The-dump-and-find, whacked-out-way-of-doing-business.

As soon as those businesses are finding customers, they're dumping them -- then working just as hard as to find another customer.

Awesome-kick-butt business on the other hand focus retaining customers, then building on top of what they already have.

That helps them in several ways, which we'll explain in two seconds.

Why Retaining Customers Rocks

According to a research study by Bain & Company consultants, an increase of 5% in customer retention can increase your profits by 100%. Why?

  1. Your past customers are more receptive to your offerings.
  2. You reduce your operating profit margins.
  3. You increase your word-of-mouth referrals.
  4. You increase profits from every successive transaction.

"But, I sell: ________. I can't figure out how to retain customers. How in the $!%^ do I do it?"

Just ask your bad-self this: "What job does my product do for my customers?" People buy your stuff because they want it to provide some-sort-of-solution for them.

  • If you sell tires, that could be to keep your customer's car riding like a sexy thang that it was meant to be.
  • If you're in the tea business, that could be to keep them healthy, and peaceful, and all the other good shizzle.

"Dude, show me a demonstration!"

You + Logo Design Business

Say your company sells "Logo Designs" for businesses. 99.9% of your customers buy a logo design once.

  1. You're running out of cash flow. You need business quickly.
  2. You ask your customers: "Why did you buy my logo design?"
  3. They tell you: "to increase sales."
  4. "Eureka!" You fulfills that job: "increasing sales" -- by improving the credibility of the customer's company.
  5. You start selling other stuff to improve a business's credibility: business card design, stationery design, apparel design, corporate identity consulting, etc.
  6. More transactions from previous customers, here we come!

Whatever business you're in, remember:

  • People don't buy a plane ticket; they buy transportation.
  • People don't buy a movie ticket, they buy entertainment.
  • People don't buy a newspaper; they buy information.
  • People don't buy a book; they buy knowledge.

The key: You're not in the "what you sell" business; you're in the "what job your product provides" business. (And if you need some ideas on what that is, don't hesitate to contact us.) Think of your business as a lifestyle brand for your customers, and you'll start finding innovative ideas to retain your them.

Retain Customers + Adding New Customers = Kick-Ass Recipe to Growing Your Business

Posted on December 07

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta market our services to the world. Blue Mercedes, here we come! Yay!" What do Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Starbucks, Wells Fargo, Wal-mart, and Oprah have in common? They all started locally.
  • Google and Yahoo started with Stanford.
  • Facebook started with Harvard.
  • Starbucks started with Seattle.
  • Wells Fargo started with San Francisco.
  • Wal-mart started with Bentonville.
  • Oprah started with Chicago.
Yet, you log onto most any Web 2.0 site, interact with any "growth-ambitious" company, or read the submissions of those seeking venture funding -- and what do you get?
  1. You get people trying to push their wares onto the world overnight.
  2. You get people trying to fight Goliath with a freakin' toothpick.
  3. You get people fighting a million wars with a million other me-too companies.
They're not going to win. What do you do then? Think local. Think customizing your solution to a distinct group of people within your area. You'll boost your chances of building a rockin' product that attracts the key to the masses: evangelists.

How Evangelists Attracts the Masses

Peep this:
  • You know why 50-year old suburbia dudes wear Air Jordans?
  • Or, why grandmothers use MySpace?
  • Or, why masculine men wear Gucci?
  • Or, why rich preppy kids sport hip-hop fashion?
  • Or, why Harley-Davidson riders watch Oprah?
It's the same reason why college kids in California use Facebook, a social networking website started 3000 miles away. It started with an enthusiastic core of customers (a.k.a. evangelists), who soon attracted others, who themselves attracted others, who [yadda, yadda, yadda]. Remember: the masses use/buy what other people use/buy. Evangelists then initiate those transactions. More often than not, you'll find those evangelists within your local area because you know them to a T.

What Produces Evangelists

Understand how people think: A tornado could wipe out the entire town across the world, and what would worry most people? Their flat tire. (Yes, it's a messed-up human phenomenon.) A device could be the most spectacular thing to the world, but Sandy would still prefer something more specifically suited to her lifestyle. If she finds it, she'll evangelize it. Check this scenario:
  1. Student Sandy uses Facebook big-time to track her college classmates.
  2. Opportunist Oscar builds a social networking called "Osky."
  3. Osky's catered specifically, perfectly, and crazily catered to Sandy's college. Among the local features include professor reviews, party notifications, dining grades, past exams, etc.
  4. Sandy gets invited to Osky.
  5. Sandy uses Osky as her primary social networking tool.
  6. Sandy becomes an evangelist.
Rule of thumb: The closer you can get to the following reaction: "That's product is talking to me! Me! Me!" The closer you'll get to generating an evangelist. That's why starting locally rocks: you can cater your stuff like a mofo.

How Starting Local Rocks

Starting local gives you a giant head start to capturing those evangelists. Why?
  • You know their wants.
  • You know their motivations.
  • You know their heroes.
  • You know their lifestyles.
Bottom line: You know more about that local group than any multi-billion dollar company, or the millions of other competitors, ever will. Any other company that decides to capture your evangelists better check itself before it wrecks itself. Word.

"So what do you mean by 'local?'"

"Local" doesn't need to be geographic. MySpace started with bands. Nike started with elite athletes. Rachael Ray started with busy women. We define "local" by a core group of people who share a similar lifestyle and values. Likely you'll find it geographically, but you know your potential evangelists better than we do.

Don't be loco. Do local. Fo shizzle.

Posted on December 06

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