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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta hire as many Harvard MBAs as we can. Yachts, here we come. Yay!" That's what most blah-businesses do: Hire as many credentialed folks as freakishly possible, then think: "Our company will soar higher than a mutha ^@!$!% eagle! Yay! Yay! Yay!" The likelier outcome: They'll soar into the pits of mediocrity. Businesses that place credentials as their top hiring priority will see a clash of cultures, values, personalities, and egos. (Just watch an episode of Trump's Apprentice.) Instead, great businesses do something else: They hire people who freakishly live and breath their company's values.

Why Hiring Folks on Credentials Suck

You interview two people:
  • Menkes: Credentialed dude. Harvard MBA. 3 years of Hong Kong business experience. Member of prestigious Phi Kappa Phi and Skulls and Bones Society. Self-centered.
  • Bobby: No-credential dude. High school diploma. 3 years of helping disadvantaged youths. Volunteer Firefighter. Loves people.
Say your company exists "to help people live better lives." If you were to hire somebody, who must you hire? If you answered Bobby: Ding! Ding! Mutha Ding! Ding! You're right. Hiring credential-dude Menkes is like placing a virus into your office. Slowly, but surely, he'll corrode the unique values of your entire company:
  1. Day 1: Menkes affects 1 person into thinking "We're going overboard with this 'helping people' crap."
  2. Day 5: The two affect two others.
  3. Day 10: The four affect four others.
  4. Day __: Etc.
  5. Year 1: Your entire company is affected. Employees begin to think, "What do we believe in again?" Uh-oh.
That's how once-rocking start-ups become boring business drones as they grew up. Somewhere along the way, they hired "credentialed folks" with clashing values -- corrupting their culture. Mixing opposing values is akin to blending a martini with meatloaf; the result: crap.

"So, why do I need people who share my company's values?"

A great company needs a clear mission -- whether that's to provide happiness, entertain the world, teach disadvantaged youths, etc. If you recruit people with differing values, you'll see a corrosion to your mission -- alienating customers who believe in it. Try mixing a staunch environmentalist with a Hummer-owner -- and tell them to build a company. One person wants to sell stuff that protects the environment; the other person wants to sell stuff that provides the most extreme off-road excitement. What do you get? A clash of different opinions that stalls their company, until somebody wises up and says: "Hey, let's compromise. We'll just sell kites." You get blah. Blah. Blah. A mix of clashing personalities stops your company from producing something revolutionary. Instead of moving forward with full-freakin'-steam ahead, it tries to satisfy every personality -- producing blah-ness.

A Team With Shared Values Produces Great Things

As two fabulous Stanford researchers concluded from their six-year study of great businesses, there are no "right values" to make a company great. As long as your business lives by some values, you're well on your way. For the Hummer dude above: Tell the staunch environmentalist: "Yo! I don't need yo behind!" -- and then, set out to build a company with people who love off-road excitement. That's how the world gets Subaru, Kawasaki, and Fox Racing. The econ-friendly dude should do the same; build a company with other staunch environmentalists. That's how the world gets Timberland, Starbucks, and Patagonia. Whatever values you hold, the world wants it. Get people who share them with you, and you'll build a ridiculously awesome future.

If the Amazingly Awesome Companies Do It...

Various examples:
  1. Google's mission: to empower people with organized information.
    So, it hires smarty geeks who love dealing with that stuff.
  2. Starbucks mission: to provide a third-place for the world.
    So, it hires people who could be your family member.
  3. Harley Davidson's mission: to fulfill dreams through motorcycling.
    So, it hires people who have an incurable need to fulfill those dreams.
  4. Disney's mission: to make people happy.
    So, it hires happy people who can brighten up a room in seconds.
Hiring for shared values gives you a supreme identity and mission that keeps your business rockin' for ages.

"Dude, but what if my mission is: [enter generic mission statement here]"

If you have a generic mission statement, change the sucka such that it:
  1. freakishly attracts people who share your company's values
  2. viciously repels people who don't share those values
Your business will be that much closer to kicking-major-booty-for-the-world-to-see. When you're looking to hire somebody:

Hire ridiculously awesome people who share your ridiculously awesome values.


Posted on December 05

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Due to popular demand, we're incorporating comments into Trizoko soon. You'll be able to comment on an article, interact with fellow revolutionary business-builders, ping/trackback an article from your blog/site, and do all the other good shizzle. We'll keep you badasses in touch. Have a great day, y'all!
Posted on December 04

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Scenario: "Dude, I've done a million things everyday for the last year. Where are my billions? Ahh!" But dude, peep this: You'll never build kick-ass businesses if you're placing a million items -- most of them tedious/insignificant -- on your to-do lists. Why? Think it this way: Every one item that you complete on your to-do list means you're depleting a portion of your brain's ridiculously-creative capacity. That is: the more things you do, the less creative you become.

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

Reduce/remove are the menial, tedious, trivial stuff that don't boost your brainpower. For instance, these include:
  • checking your email inbox 20 times a day
  • answering the same customer questions 50 days in a row
  • checking ESPN.com 5 times an hour
  • managing employee paychecks every two weeks
  • choose your own: __________________
If you can reduce the number of times you check your email inbox to 2, incorporate a customer FAQs on your website, check ESPN.com once right before bed, and hire a payroll person/firm, your brain will be that much sexier. Rule of thumb: Remove as many trivial items you do to conserve your brainpower. The template to get you on your fabulous way:

"My sexy brain is my Ferrari. I use it where I absolutely need it. I rest it for grocery trips. That's how my badass rolls."


Posted on December 04

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Scenario: "Dude, I suck. Ahh!" Two-second quiz for ya on this lovely Sunday: How should badasses respond to failure?
  • (a.) "I'm pathetic."
  • (b.) "I learned something!"
If you answered (b.): Ding! Ding! Ding! You're correct. And, you'd be a better business-builder.

How Responding Positively to Failure Rocks

People who see silver linings to their failures are more likely to chase down their goals and beat them into submission. They become more resilient, take more risks, and become confident crazy badasses that build great businesses. They won't sit around, thinking: "Oooooh. I'm terrible. The world hates me. I'm so pathetic. Blah. Blah. Blah." People who do that, according to University of Washington psychologist Jonathon Brown, overgeneralize "their failure, rating their intelligence and competence more negatively after a poor performance than a successful one." Don't be one of them. After you've failed at something, keep this template handy:

"Oh-my-mutha-gosh. I learned something good!"


Posted on December 03

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Scenario: "Dude, you just gotta snap out of it. You can do it! Yay!" Getting out of a bad mood doesn't take a magic pill or any other 1-second remedy. Instead, it starts with your everyday mind. If you're making your mind happy daily, you're creating a safety net from those bad moods. If you're feeling lousy constantly, the bad moods will overwhelm you such that it's near-impossible to get escape.

It's In the Research

In a study done by Ohio State University psychologists, a set of students were induced with happy feelings by watching the David Letterman show -- while the other half saw a child being diagnosed with cancer. The researchers then asked the students to choose another video, and rate how they felt about it. The students that watched the David Letterman show maintained their happiness. The second half of students who watch the child with cancer were less concerned with the happiness factor.

How High Self-Esteem People Rock

According to Researcher Richard Petty of Ohio State:
People with high self-esteem in a negative mood do work very hard to retrieve a positive state, while people with low self-esteem do the opposite. They tend to perpetuate their melancholy by staying aboard a negative train of thought.
It's as if the high self-esteemed people told their badasses: "I don't deserve to be in this bad mood!" So if you're looking to get out of your bad moods in the future, use the template daily:

"I feel like a badass today."


Posted on December 02

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Scenario: "Dude, I gotta show them what a badass I am. Yay!"

Instead of trying to be interesting, you could do something 99.94312532% of people don't do:

Be mutha-%^@^! interested in the other person.

"Oh-fo-sheezy?!"

Yes, you betcha.

The ridiculously sexy notion's inspired by the King, Dale Carnegie.

Why Being Interested Rocks

When you're interested in others, you're tapping a person's most cherished/beloved/admired person in the world: "Me."

The moment you ask them about people about their lives, their hobbies, their interests, their histories, the moment you're initiating a crazy-freakin-awesome relationship.

Soon, you'll start noticing they'll want to know as much about you as you do about them.

So this weekend, when 5,943,815,102 people are trying to be interesting, conquer them all:

Be interested.

Posted on December 01

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Scenario: "Dude, the more we pay our employees, the more we boost their performance. Billions and Porsches, here we come! Yay!" It's a common uh-freakin'-oh mindset most well-intentioned business-builders make:

  1. Manager Matty: Dude, we're paying Sally $30/hr. Imagine if we pay her $60/hr!
  2. Manager Megan: Oh-fo-shizzle! That means her performance will double. Double!
  3. Manager Matty: Ding! Ding! Ding! And since we get a +$3 ROI from her, that means we'll increase profits triple-fold.
  4. Manager Megan: We'll make billions!
  5. Manager Matty: Yay! Yay!

You could hand Sally a billion dollars more, and her performance level won't change. Money initially attracts and retains your people; but, it won't dictate their performance.

True-Badass Superstars Will Perform Regardless of Compensation

Peep this phenomenon:

  • Give a mop to the best curb-painter in the world, and you'll see amazingly beautiful floors.
  • Put him in customer service, and you'll see amazingly enthusiastic customers.
  • Place him in front of a math class, and you'll see kids kicking booty.

True badasses have an internal need to kick major ass in everything they touch -- regardless of what they "get." According to business guru Jim Collins's six-year study, if you have the right people on your bus:

They will do everything within their power to build a great company, not because of what they will 'get' for it, but because they simply cannot imagine settling for anything less. The right people will do the right things and deliver the best results they're capable of, regardless of the incentive system.

Fo-shizzle.

Just Think: The Absurdity of Baseball Salaries

Compare the salaries of the Oakland A's roster with the New York Yankees' over the last five years.

  • The Yankees paid their staff: ~ $1 billion.
  • The A's: ~ $350 million.

"Conventional wisdom" says the Yankees probably rocked the A's like crazy mutha-blukkas, ate their kids, and stole their mamas. But, their head-to-head match-ups remained relatively even: 26-28 (A's-Yankees). Further, the batting stats were similar. The post-season appearances were similar. The pitching records saw little deviation. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. (And yes, the Yankees won zero championships during that time.) Skyrocket salaries and production of all-world results have little correlation; the right people will kick ass regardless of compensation.

"What's the Purpose of Money, Then?! Ahh!"

It's just this -- simple and sweet, inspired by Collins's research: to attract and retain your employees/players/partners/vendors/contractors/etc. Yes, if: (1) you're not compensating your people well, or (2) your competitors are upping you on bigger salaries: They'll take off -- faster than Britney Spears's credibility. The two keys then:

  1. Ensure every superstar like what you're paying them.
  2. Drop the notion that paying them more will boost performance.

"So how the %^&@ do I motivate my people?"

You can't. The right people are self-motivated. If you let them, they'll shine higher than a mutha-$@!^%^-eagle. The three-tip step:

  1. Attract as many of those people as you can.
  2. Ensure they're happy with their compensation.
  3. Prepare to see ridiculously sexy results.

Say it with us now:

Money doesn't motivate Sally. Sally motivates Sally.

 

Posted on November 30

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta spend a chunk of cash on our IT systems. We need the latest-and-greatest. Our startup will make billions. Yay!" Or, you could just forget about buying the latest-and-greatest tech products for now, strengthen your cash flow -- and then buy state-of-the-art technology stuff when you viciously need it + can afford it. Why do that sucka?

  • Maintaining a strong cash flow keeps you in business to rock the world for another day, another month, another year, another decade, another century.
  • Going on a buying binge for the latest-and-greatest tech shizzle -- on the other hand -- kills your cash flow; if you don't have any money coming in, you won't be in business for long.

Technology = Overrated

64-bit PCs. ERPs. CRMs. PLMs. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. Most businesses invest a chunk of their resources in technology. For startups with no cash flow, doing that sucks their companies dry. It's how most tech-oriented entrepreneurs fall into the entrepreneurial-technological trap:

  1. Jimmy: "Yo! We need a comprehensive $100,000 web application to manage our entire company."
  2. Steph: "Yes! Let's get a fat loan for the down payment. We need it done in 6 months."
  3. IT tech dude begins project.
  4. Six months later: IT guy says, "It's 30% completed."
  5. One year later: "50% done."
  6. 1.2 years later: "You really need a new technology platform. We'll rebuild."
  7. With no cash flow, Jimmy, Steph, and their mamas go hungry.
  8. Business dies a slow, painful death.

Ouch.

Forget the Joneses

Most entrepreneurs like Jimmy and Step think in the "oh-my-$!%$^@-gosh, we-need-Web-2.0 to-keep-up-with-the-Joneses" way:

  1. Buy sweet technology first.
  2. Sell services/products second.

And who can blame them? Most tech companies hype their products/services like it's some magic pill that will make you billions. "You need the latest-and-greatest, state-of-the-art system -- or you'll be left behind," they tell you. "No, my badass doesn't," you tell yourself. "I can do fine without it, thank-you-very-much." And, you'd be right.

F$@! Technology (For Now)

Remember the most crucial component of a startup = cash flow. If you have no operating capital:

  • You can't pay your employees.
  • You can't fund your marketing initiatives.
  • You can't pay your office bills.
  • You can't pay your rock star lifestyle.
  • You can't feed yourself and your fabulous mama.

Investing what-little-cash-you-have on technology diverts your attention and resources from what matters: strengthening your cash flow to keep your business alive for the next month. "So what do I do? What do I do?"

Start Selling Anything, Now

Sure, you probably went into business with an idea in mind (e.g. "coffee shops for book readers", etc.) But, chances are:

  • that idea could fail and cost you tons of resources;
  • building it will take longer than expected;
  • financing it will cost more than you think;
  • you'll have no money to support yourself for the foreseeable future.

Dream big, yes; but also, be realistic. If your operating capital runs out, that amazingly-awesome-ridiculously-spectacular idea of yours won't happen. HP sold bowling foul-line indicators to keep themselves in business. Sony sold heating pads. Boeing sold furniture. If you can keep your business afloat with good cash flow, you'll boost your chances of making your dream idea come to fruition. Fending off technology purchases + Selling anything you can now = Healthy cash flow that gears your startup to rock the world.

"But dudes, what if I really need technology?"

Yeah, you might need a computer, and maybe a Blackberry, and maybe a ______________. But, if you can absolutely live without something, do it. Ruble of thumb: Spend just enough, but not any more. If you need an accounting application, use Excel. If you need a contact management application, use Excel. If you need a CRM system, use Excel. If you need a payroll application, use Excel. Your business startup is probably small enough that you won't need any mutha-$@!^&^-expensive-software. Just emphatically say "NO!" to over-hyped tech peeps. Your cash flow will thank you.

Be a badass: Sell now. Tech later.


Shoutouts to fabulous Trizoko readers Michael Tavani and Anuj Dutta. Keep on rockin'! If you'd like a shout-out, give us a holla.

Posted on November 29

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Scenario: "Dude, I need to prove to those ridiculously filthy rich suckas that I rock. Yay!" Uh-oh. When you're at your sales presentation, two scenarios likely happen:

  1. You feel totally confident when you sell to people who -- you feel -- have a lower status than you.
  2. You get crazily nervous when you sell to people who -- you feel -- have a higher status than you.

Why is that?

  • Anxiety happens when you start thinking you need to "prove" your self-worth.
  • Confidence happens when you're self-assured about your abilities -- i.e. "I'm already a badass who can help this customer."

We'll explain.

How Your Self-Esteem Drops

Say you're a CEO of a $1 MM business:

If you're selling to a CEO of a $0.5 MM business...

It's like you're a parent of an eight-grader. With more experience, you feel more confident you can help the CEO with your services. So, empowered by sheer confidence, you're able to tap your beautiful, sexy, and amazingly awesome brain -- to help your client.

If you're selling to a CEO of a $500 MM business...

When you're selling to a bigger company, you feel you need to "prove" yourself -- increasing your anxiety and destroying your confidence. Instead of focusing on the client's needs, you become self-conscious of your shortcomings -- while trying to ridiculously "prove" your self-worth. That gets you nervous, befuddles your brain, and makes you look pseudo-blah. Don't trip; the crucial tip:

You Badass Never Needs to Prove Squat to Anybody

The moment you're trying to "impress" that big client, that's the moment you head downhill. Often, our weird mind unfortunately transitions into the cup-half-empty-slippery-slope mindset:

  1. "I need to communicate quicker with the big client."
  2. "I need to use more big vocabulary words for the big client."
  3. "I need to build better rapport with the big client."
  4. "I need to be more professional with the big client."
  5. Etc.

If you ever begin a sentence with those three dreaded words: "I need to..." Slap yourself. When you use the "I need to's...", you hurt your confidence to kick major ass because overcoming your shortcomings becomes more important than satisfying the client. Instead, start adopting this sucka to whoever comes your way:

"You will love me after this meeting."

It's an awesome confidence-builder. If you doubt the statement, just think:

  1. You know you provide amazingly awesome customer service.
  2. You know you build kick-ass products.
  3. You know you're better than your competitors.
  4. You know you're one sexy mutha ^@!%^&.

How can they not love you? When you approach your meetings with the "I'm-gonna-rock-your-world" mindset, you empower yourself with sheer confidence to kick some major booty. More important, that mindset gets you focusing on your client's needs -- increasing your chances of major sales. The template to get you started:

"I'm a badass. You'll see why."

 

Posted on November 28

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Scenario: "Dude, nobody's buying our $2,995 sweet, versatile, detachable, and sexy truck. Our product sucks. Ahh!" Whoa-fa-shizzle. When that product fails to sell, entrepreneurs think: "It's a crappy product." When that product sells -- but, loses the company money, entrepreneurs think: "It's a crappy product." The common theme goes:

  1. "Let's build the next revolutionary widget!"
  2. Spends $$$$ building the widget.
  3. "Judging from (1) how much we invested into the widget and (2) how much money we want to make, the widget's price must be: $___.
  4. Product gets negative return on investment.
  5. "We have a crappy product, folks. Time to dump it."

Uh-oh. Take a chill pill: Likely, it's not the quality of your product that's losing your company money; it's how crappy you're pricing it.

Your Product Probably Isn't So Bad After All

If camouflage sweat skirts for dogs can sell, anything can sell. Someone out there -- out of the 250,000,000 people on the U.S. surface, let alone the 6,500,000,000 in the world, working in 17,000,000 businesses, spanning 20,000 cities, situated on 3 million square miles -- wants what you sell. Your job: Find that person who wants what you sell. Then, provide the right environment that compels that person to buy (e.g. sweet marketing materials, clean floors, clear price tags, quick service, happy employees, etc.) A crucial element to that "right" environment: the product's selling price.

  • A product that you price too high will dissuade buyers.
  • A product that you price too low will leave money on the table -- costing you profits.

Your goal then: Find the best price for your widget that gives you the biggest return on investment (ROI)

.

"What in the mutha do you mean by 'biggest ROI?'"

Say you sell a bicycle that costs you $50 to make and market.

  • A $100 sticker price will net you $100 - $50 = $50 each. You sell 100 at this price point. (Net: 100 * $50 = $5000)
  • A $200 sticker price will net you $200 - $50 = $150 each. You sell 20 at this price point. (Net: 20 * $150 = $3000)

Seeing how the $100 sticker price gives you a bigger ROI, you go with the $100 sticker price.

"So, what do I do?! What in the name of Shiloh-Nouvel-Jolie-Pitt do I do?!"

As with most things in business: experiment! Experiment with your prices until you get a price point that produces an amazingly sweet ROI. With the bicycle example above: you don't know whether a $100 sticker price is the most optimal, so your badass starts experimenting with other price points (e.g. $40, $140, $240, etc.) It's as if you're pruning a tree: cutting tree limbs, removing infected areas, modeling a symmetrical shape one-leaf-at-a-time -- until you get a tree that's healthy, sexy, and beautiful. Two points of advice:

  1. You won't get a solid price point on your first try, second try, third try, or 10th try. It's an ongoing, iterative process.
  2. You'll never get a "just-right" price point because market demands change every second. Choosing the right price is like shooting for the stars: you'll never get there -- but, the closer you get, the happier you'll see your bottom line.

How to Experiment with Your Prices

Your badass might be screaming: "But dawgs, I don't want to confuse my potential customers by changing prices incessantly. I will lose them!" We hear ya. Don't sweat. Confusing your customers about your different prices points is the last thing we want you to do. Instead, take the subtle route to price experimentation:

"How Do I Experiment with Price Reductions?"

You know why most smart businesses put items on "sale"? They're experimenting with different pricing points. Start putting your widget on "sale" at 10%, 20%, 50%, or: __%. Then, measure which pricing point gets you the biggest ROI.

"How Do I Experiment with Price Increases?"

Experimenting with price increases is a little more tricky because people are more sensitive to them. The minute you raise your prices, the minute they're looking for exit doors. So, the trick is to avoid increasing the sticker price. How do you do it? We'll explain.

How to Raise Prices Efficiently

Use our secret sauce -- inspired by Harvard's John Gourville: Reduce your costs of goods sold (COGs), while keeping the sticker price intact. That is, you're selling something at the same price point that costs you less to make.

The Sweet Lemonade Example

Say you're selling 12-ounces of lemonade for $2.00. Now, to experiment with "price increases" for that 12 ounces of lemonade, do two things:

  1. Keep the $2.00 sticker price.
  2. Reduce that 12 ounces to something smaller: say, 8 ounces.

(That would mean 12-ounces of lemonade would theoretically cost: 12/8 * 2 = $3.00.) Start experimenting with different amounts like a mofo, and see what gives you the biggest ROI. To reach that elusive oh-my-$^@%!-gosh-we-be-rollin' ROI:

Experiment with your product's prices like a badass.

 

Posted on November 27

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