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Scenario: "Dude, we can be millionaires if we build this mega-duper-super-center. Build. Build. Build. Yay!"

Say you need to keep yourself in business, and:

  • You want to avoid debt, so you take financing from nobody.
  • You have one month's worth of money in the bank.
  • You want to eventually build a ridiculously successful business.
If you're gunning to build that mega-duper-super-center with barely any money in the bank, and with no financial support, what do you do? Most of those whacked-out business "experts" would go: "You can do it! Believe in yourself!" We're here to tell you those suckas are wrong. You can certainly be optimistic all you want, but to paraphrase what our main man Jim Collins says: If you don't confront the brutal facts of your current situation, you're in for a disastrous entrepreneurial experience.

Know the Realities of a Cash-strapped Start-up

Your brutal facts:
  • If you don't have enough money next month to keep your business afloat, your business dies.
  • If you can't make a decent living from your business, your business dies.
  • If you can't find customers who will pay you before next month, your business dies.
Now that you know what you're up against, here's how to keep your start-up afloat:

3 Ways to Keep Your Business Start-up Afloat

To keep your business start-up ticking:
  1. Sell things with quick sales cycles.

    If you're a mega-bootstrapper, you'll need enough money to keep food on the table -- then some extra to build your business. Let's say: you need around $2,000 in cash every month to: stay alive + build your business. Once you know that figure, start look for opportunities that can get you that $2,000 quickly (i.e. by the end of the month). For instance, building a mega-center can take months/years; you can start selling wholesale kitchen items from distributors through the phone, now.
  2. Forget selling low-price items.

    Say you have two options:
    • Sell frying pans for $10 profit each.
    • Sell stoves for $1000 profit each.

    To get that $2,000, you'll need convince at least 200 people to purchase your frying pans. Getting one customer to purchase from you is pretty freakishly hard enough. Two-hundred for the first-time entrepreneur is a near-impossibility. Yet, if you're selling a stove, you won't need to convince 200 people: just a tiny 2.
  3. Do: What you love + What you know.

    When you do this, the "doing" part becomes so much easier, more efficient, and boosts productivity. Imagine studying for your favorite subject in school. Now, imagine studying for your worst subject.
    • What went ridiculously quicker?
    • What did you enjoy more?
    • What gave you more confidence?
    • What empowered your badass?

"But dude, I can't see myself selling these things for the next 10 years."

If you don't have money in the bank to keep your business afloat every month, you won't be selling what you ultimately want anyway. The key is to get you enough cash this month to (1) live, and (2) keep your business afloat, and (3) eventually fund what you really want to do. Our tip -- Do it simultaneously:
  1. Sell quick-sales-cycles-stuff to get enough cash for this month.
  2. Build whatever the heck you want to build with the extra cash that you have.
Of course: when you have sufficient cash flowing into the bank each month, where you and your business could very well survive without selling "those things," you can stop offering 'em. The template for ya:

"To keep my kick-ass start-up afloat, I will sell big-ticket items that have quick sales-cycles."

Posted on October 18

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Scenario: "Dude, I don't want to argue with my team members because it'll hurt their feelings. Ahh!" Earlier, we wrote about why a healthy debate uncovers the best decisions and answers to serve your company, your employees, and your clients. In this spankin' fresh article, we'll focus on how to incorporate healthy conflict into your business -- and make the best possible business decisions.

How to Not Debate with Somebody

It's the usual scenario between a manager trying to improve an employee's work:

  1. Manager Billy: "I don't like how you constructed that widget. Do it better!"
  2. Christie: "Umm....okay."
  3. Christie's inner-voice: "Billy's a ^@!$ who's trying to sabotage me."
  4. Manager Billy: "Be careful next time. Thanks."
  5. Christie's inner voice: "That mutha $@!*%$^."
  6. Christie continues doing what she's been doing.

Instead of engaging your employees in a healthy conflict, they put their guards up if you do it incorrectly. They'll start wondering about your ulterior motives. (And: Even if you don't, they'll invent something.) When you start incorporating conflict into your business wrongly, your employees start thinking:

  • "He hates me. He's trying fire me!"
  • "He can't do any better!"
  • "This dude is just trying to look good in front of his boss."
  • "He's just some power-hungry chump."
  • "He's getting his revenge for his nerdy upbringing."

Conflict is good, yes; but importantly, you need to learn how to do it properly -- if you want to influence your team.

3 Steps to Arguing Effectively, and Make the Best Business Decisions

Use the Trizoko 3:

  1. Focus on the ultimate goal.

    You're arguing for one reason: To seek the best possible solution to whatever you're doing -- whether that's a client project, a marketing approach, an employee applicant, or whatever else. Everything else takes a second seat to the ultimate goal. This keeps you fully focused in seeking the best possible answer with your team. Our Tip: When you're debating with your team, let them know why you're doing it (i.e. the ultimate goal). In a study conducted at a Harvard Library, simply using the word "because" dramatically helped a person get what he wanted (94% vs. 60%). So, if you want your team to debate vigorously for the best solution, start using "because". That is:
    • "I want to debate this vigorously because we're seeking the best possible solution for our Client Sammy."
    • "I want both of us to fight for our best applicant because we're trying to build the most kick-ass team."
    • "I want to discuss this openly because we need to find the best way to manage our employees."
  2. Trash personal agendas.

    Facts, facts, facts, facts, and more facts. When you stick to the facts of a situation, you leave your emotions and personal agendas at the door. (e.g. "Health insurance plans boost employee morale as shown in this study: _____" vs. "Health insurance sucks. We'll waste our money. We don't need it.") Stanford's Business Professor Kathleen M. Eisenhardt studied the detrimental effects of avoiding facts when debating:
    In the absence of good data, executives waste time in pointless debate over opinions. Some resort to self-aggrandizement and ill-formed guesses about how the world might be. People -- and not issues -- become the focus of disagreement. The result is interpersonal conflict.
    Often, when we humans argue, it's because we either:
    1. want to keep our pride intact,
    2. are belligerent,
    3. want to feel superior, or have the ever-popular:
    4. "I'm-always-right-so-you're-wrong" mindset.

    Sure, we all have personal agendas. It's been ingrained in us since childbirth when our moms, dads, uncles, grandmothers told us we were the most special person, ever -- so we've felt superior ever since. Yet, great business leaders trash personal agendas for the sake of the ultimate goal.
    • Sam Walton did it by sharing equity in his tiny Five and Dime store that drove his managers to kick ass for his customers.
    • William Hewlett and David Packard did it with their open management style.
    • Howard Schultz did it by offering health plans to his early employees.
    • We could describe countless examples.

    Do what's best for the company. Do what's best for the customer. Then, and only then, you'll start getting the best for you. You'll see a pretty cool trickling effect.
  3. Debate vigorously.

    Seek the ultimate goal. Trash personal agendas. Cool, but what ultimately gets you the best possible answers? Debating vigorously. Peep this:
    1. Bob and Jane argue about colors on a client project.
    2. Bob really feels the color blue sucks.
    3. Jane thinks the color red sucks.
    4. They compromise: They get purple.

    If you avoid debating vigorously, you get answers that try to mesh two differing opinions -- that end up sucking, anyway. You don't want consensus. You want the best possible answer, which you rarely get when you try to seek a consensus. Jim Collins's six-year study on great Fortune 500 companies described those companies making their best decisions through fierce debates:
    What we found in companies that make good decisions is the debate is real. When Colman Mockler at Gillette is trying to decide whether to go with cheaper, disposable plastic razors or more expensive ones, he asks marvelous questions. He's Socratic. He pushes people to defend their points of view. He lets the debate rage.

    What Great Companies Do

    And this is, by the way, not an isolated case. We found this process in all the companies we studied, when they made a leap to greatness. The debate is real. It is real, violent debate in search of understanding. If you're seeking harmony, you know something's wrong with your business.

Phew. Use the spankin' template to get you on your fabulous way:

"We have to debate about what works best because that helps us uncover the best answers to serve Client Sammy."


Posted on October 17

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Scenario: "Dude, just believe that everything will turn out in our favor. Just believe. Because, when you believe, it will happen. Yay!" Sure, being optimistic about stuff rocks; but when you're confronted with situations that you can't control, you need another defensive mechanism.

It's the whole "Good news or bad news?" dilemma.

Some examples:
  • "Will I get this sale?"
  • "Will I get a lower price?"
  • "Will superstar Sally join my business?"
  • "Will the local newspaper write about my business?"

Most of us think we need to be optimistic. That's only partially true.

Sure, you can -- and should; but you also need to brace yourself for the bad news. At Trizzy, when we confront those good/bad news dilemmas, we imagine if the bad stuff occurred:
  1. Could we live with it?
  2. How will we deal with it?
  3. What will we do next?
Always, we'll have those questions answered -- and always, we're okay with whatever happens because we know we'll move on regardless of the outcome. According to University of Florida Psychology Professor James Shepperd: "A bad outcome can actually feel good if you expected something worse, and a good outcome can feel bad if you expected something better." Bracing for the worst maintains your confidence levels to kick ass whenever something bad actually happens. It's cliche, but it's so ridiculously true:

"Hope for the best, but brace for the worst."

Posted on October 15

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Scenario: "Dude, jocks are stupid. If you want to be perceived as stupid, lift weights. If you'd like to be a nerd, read books. Done. Yay!" It's such a warped conventional wisdom. If you want to be a kick-ass CEO/CFO/manager/marketer/etc., you'll need to increase your energy capacity. That helps you do things much faster, more efficiently, and more passionately. Then to boost that energy capacity, you'll need strength training (a.k.a. lifting weights). According to energy guru Jim Loehr:

Physical energy is fundamental to every aspect of our lives. Anything that [you] can do to build and sustain physical energy increases the chance that [you] will perform at [your] best. Increased physical capacity influences the ability to control emotions, to focus attention and even to persevere on a mission.

So how do you do it?

Start by working six of your basic muscle groups: shoulder, biceps, triceps, shoulder, chest, and legs. Then here's what the author of this article does:

  1. First, think "habitual improvement."
  2. For instance, you'll start with 15-pound dumbbells this week.
  3. Then, you'll use 20-pound dumbbells the following week.
  4. Etc.

Dramatic changes don't happen overnight.

It's such a common scenario:

  1. Skinny Bobby wants to be buff.
  2. He tries to lift a million pounds during his first day of workout.
  3. He sees no changes.
  4. Disheartened, he quits.

Forget the overnight thing.

Use what really works: Habitually improve how much you lift. According to the Harvard Medical School:

If you wish to significantly increase a muscle's strength and size, you'll need to do resistance exercises with that muscle on a regular basis (one to three times a week).

The moral:

If you want to be the nerdiest of nerds, habitually lift more weights.


Posted on October 14

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Scenario: "Dude, I haven't received that Eureka moment yet! I'll wait until I get it, then I'll start my kick-ass business. Then, I'll make jillions. Yay!" Uh-oh.

How Innovation Doesn't Happen

Waiting for those Eureka moments never happens. People who wait to get those Eureka moments either:
  • never get them

    That is, they'll wait, wait, and wait for that one idea to pop up in their heads. It won't happen. According to Sir Harold Evans, author of They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Centuries of Innovators:
    The eureka moment is a hugely attractive idea, full of drama. But the act of inventing and improving is far more often a long, hard slog. And the act of capitalizing on invention -- of managing the transition from a brain wave to the bustle of the marketplace -- is the really hard part.
  • get really sad ideas

    "I'm going to build a 100-pound waterproof jacket for single-engine planes. When they crash in the ocean, they'll float. I'll make billions. You know a good venture capital firm?" Sure, we're stretching it a bit -- but you get the point. Trying to transform an entire industry you just discovered two days ago never works.

How to Innovate Successfully

The Trizoko 3:
  1. Learn as much about what you're trying to innovate.

    For instance: If you're trying to:
    • build a kick-ass basketball team: learn as much as you can about basketball, teamwork, human psychology, etc.
    • create innovative pizza toppings: learn as much as possible about food, taste buds, types of tomato sauce and cheeses, Italian dishes, etc.
    • write new children fiction novels: learn as much as you can about children books, children psychology, heroes and villains, etc.
    • build innovative homes: learn as much as possible about lighting, flooring, interior decorating, furnishing psychology, feng shui, etc.

    Whatever that can apply to what you'll innovate: Learn the sucka.

    The difference between crappy innovations and kick-ass innovations is this:
    • one is built on simply, "Hey, I think this will sell!"
    • one is built on in-depth, extensive, thorough knowledge and profound insights

    Guess who influences the marketing power for your innovation? The super-smart early adopters. Of course, learning is useless if you don't do something about it. It should serve as a foundation for what we coin smexperimentation ("smart experimentation"):
  2. Smexperiment as much as you can.

    Peep this fun game: You're put in a complex labyrinth (i.e. garden maze). You're given 20 minutes to get to the other side, or you die. Uh oh. What do you do? Your options:
    • Option A: Sit there and calibrate the air, estimate how fast you need to walk, measure the distance of your walking stride -- then write notes about what you will do upon entering the maze.

    • Option B: Go through the maze by experimenting with as many routes as possible, seeing each experiment as one step closer to getting out to the other side. That is, your badass uses dead-ends as, "Yay! Now, I know I shouldn't go through there anymore. By process of elimination, here's where I will go next" attitude.

    In the real world, an overwhelming majority of businesses employ Option A.

    Kick-ass businesses on the other hand know that the more experiments they can fill in a day, the closer they'll be to that juicy success.
  3. Be patient, but be persistent by embracing failure.

    Our main man Tommy Edison once said: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." Because you'll fail more times than you'll succeed, you'll need to be one persistent mutha flukka. Edison needed 10,000 failures before he could make the electric light. To be persistent, see success as a numbers game. With each failure, you know you're one step closer to a success. That's one of the coolest mindsets we've adopted because it teaches us to embrace failure -- that is: Fail and fail a lot. As the Trizoko motto goes: The more times you fail, the more times you'll succeed.
The moral:

Learn, smexperiment, and persist like the badass you know you are.

Have a great weekend, y'all!
Posted on October 13

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[Editor's Note: We wrote "Part 1" earlier, but we felt it didn't cover what you needed.] Scenario: "Dude, to make our employees kick ass, let's get them reading more books. Then, we'll give them lecture slides. Yay!" Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. You could give Sandy the best basketball manuals, coaches, trainers, and facilities around; but that won't make her a better basketball player. In the same vein, you can teach your employees all you want; but you won't make them kick ass at what they do -- until you expose them repeatedly to what they do.

A Lesson from High School Math

Take a high school mathematics course for instance. You remember the lectures. You remember reading the textbooks. But what prepared you best at for those math tests? It wasn't those:
  • lecture slides,
  • formula handouts,
  • tutors
  • teacher assistants, or even:
  • your teacher
It was just this: doing those many problem sets as possible.

How to Train Your Employees

If you're training your computer programmers to be the kick ass superstars you know they could be, don't give them programming books; give them some challenging application to program. If you're training cooks, don't give them online cookbooks; get them cooking as many times a day as possible. Still a little confused? Peep this:
  • better soccer players --> play soccer as much as possible
  • better programmers --> code programs as much as possible
  • better writers --> write as many stories as possible
  • better salespeople --> sell as many times as possible
  • better ___________ --> do that as many times as possible
Michael Jordan didn't become a kick-ass basketball shooter just because of his talents. Yes, his talents played a big role; but his jillion basketball shots per day transformed him from "potentially great" to "greatest player ever."

How to Build Your Training Programs

The NFL, the NBA, the FA Premier League, the American Ballet Theatre, and any others that demand a high level of performance all do it: On off-days, professional athletes practice what they'll do in real games. Coaches create those training opportunities for them to build their kick-ass skills. So when you're trying to make employees better for the real thing, mirror the real environment as much as possible. For instance, if you're trying to improve your salespeople, create "practice sales zones" where they could practice selling items to each other (or you).

Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly do."

And that dude was so, so right. To help your employees kick ass what they do, let them do it, incessantly. Your employees are begging to become better; they just don't know how to do it. But as the job of kick-ass manager, your badass now does. To really train your workers, use this template:

"I want my employees to kick ass at: ___________________, so I'll get them doing it as many times as I can."

Posted on October 12

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Scenario: "Dude, let's read more business books, learn crazy new innovative practices, so we can be more creative and make billions. Then we'll buy Porsches. Yay!" It's the rage these days: New "exciting, innovative, spectacular" business ideas. The "cutting-edge" manager's typical conversation:

  1. Bob: Kristin, I just learned about something called, "Positioning".
  2. Bob (again): We have to position our products in a way that captures customer's hearts into believing our product's position! Yay!
  3. Kristin: Okay.
  4. Bob: Implement it!
  5. Kristin: How?
  6. Bob: Read the book. You'll figure it out.

And what typically results? Nothing. Not only that, but while "cutting-edge" managers and leaders go looking for a quick-fix to their problems:

  • Customer questions go unanswered.
  • Employee problems go unfixed.
  • Salespeople run out of leads.
  • Senior managers become unfocused.
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

New ideas. Fresh practices. Innovative buzzwords. Uh-oh.

Says the late-great Harvard marketing guru, Theodore Levitt:

Those who extol the liberating virtues of corporate creativity over the somnambulistic vices of corporate conformity may actually be giving advice that in the end will reduce the creative animation of business. This is because they tend to confuse the getting of ideas with their implementation -- that is, confuse creativity in the abstract with practical innovation; not understand the operating executive's day-to-day problems; and underestimate the intricate complexity of business organizations.

The minute you're latching on to a "fabulous new business idea," watch out: that idea will distract you from what you really need to do:

Concentrate on the Frickin' Basics

Go back to the basics. We've filled Trizoko with those basic ideas, but here are some prominent ones:

  1. Know why you exist.

    Peep this:
    • The railroad industry killed itself because most companies thought they were in the railroad industry -- not the transportation industry.
    • The newspaper industry is killing itself now, thinking they're in the newspaper industry instead of the information industry.

    Kick-ass businesses don't define themselves by what they do -- because well, all business ideas eventually become obsolete anyway. Instead, kick-ass businesses define themselves by something that will never become obsolete. And, sure it's mushy, but it's the best advice we've ever received: Your business purpose should be your guiding star; you're continuously striving to reach it, but you'll never get there.
    • Disney did it with their mission to make people happy.
    • Walmart did it with providing luxuries to those disadvantaged financially.
    • And with its recent acquisition of YouTube, Google's doing it with organizing useful information for the world.

    Those companies will keep on kicking ass.
  2. Know where you kick ass.

    Equally important, know where you don't kick ass.
    • Paris Hilton shouldn't teach.
    • Charles Barkley shouldn't act.
    • Tom Cruise shouldn't sing.

    You shouldn't: ________________. Know where you rock the world, and start doing it like the badass we know you are. An inner-Michael-Jordan exists in each and everyone of us and our businesses. If you don't think so, you just need to discover what that is -- 'cause it's there for ya. When you kick ass at what you do, you do it 43242395023523% quicker, you do it ridiculously more passionately, you become obsessively focused, and you build your crazy business that rock the mutha flukka world and its children. You also have much more fun doing it.
  3. Stop thinking. Start doing.

    Flow charts, marketing strategies, business plans, buzz-freakin-words that just waste your time: trash those suckas. When you start thinking, you become stagnant. Nothing moves forward. Why? When you're in the trenches, your plans will change anyway. It's a time-waster doing something that won't be relevant a year from now. The usual entrepreneur's first experience:
    • Day 1: "That author told me to write a comprehensive business plan! He said it'll take at least a year, and I should have fun doing it. Yay!
    • Month 2: Still writing, researching, making flowcharts, making diagrams.
    • Month 6: Making financial projections, talking with "business experts".
    • Year 1: "Oh no! The business plan isn't perfect yet. That $500/hr business consultant said I needed it done perfectly."
    • Year 2: "Still not perfect..."
    • Year 3: "Whatever. Let's just start."
    • Year 3+: Doesn't use the plans, whatsoever: "$!@%!"

    When you start doing, you understand with absolute clarity what your company needs to do next. That's a jillion times better than following the theoretical crapola those business "experts" say "you just need to do." Don't believe us? Ask any successful business person how a business plan made their companies successful. Most either:
    • completely ignored it, or
    • said the business plans did nada to make their companies successful

    A "doing" approach gets you doing what matters for the business now and for the future: answering customer questions, boosting employee morale, drive new sales, and train managers to be the kick-ass people you know they are.

You can read the most fabulous, new, "rocking", ideas of this year; but, if you focus on just the above 3, we promise you you'll be much better off with your business. Rock on. The template:

"My badass will concentrate on the basics."

Posted on October 11

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Scenario: "Dude, let's put out a big frickin' $2 million dollar marketing initiative for our widgets. Then we'll sell millions. We'll be millionaires. Yay!" Uh-oh.

Why Most Marketing "Experts" Suck

It's a crime most entrepreneurs make: the dreaded "Let's-put-all-our-eggs-on-the-table, and-we'll-hit-the-jackpot" mindset. And who can blame them: Marketing "experts" put out books like it ain't no thang but a chicken wing on a string -- promising their readers if they follow their steps, they'll be successful. It's as if those self-described "experts" and authors really believe there's a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. It's lame, it's dangerous, and we're calling them out. (Folks, trust us: We've received tons of hater-ation from the business "expert" community. We don't care. We're willing to stick our necks out, burn bridges, and do whatever it takes -- so you won't see your business fail.) Too bad those authors forget disclaimers:
  • "My writing is based on theory."
  • "It's based on what sounds good."
  • "It's based on my common sense."
  • "Seriously though, I just want to make a quick buck."

The Mistakes People Make on Bad Advice

So, well-intentioned folks -- trying to increase sales -- follow their advice, putting their entire budgets into one marketing campaign. It's as if they're gambling everything at roulette tables in Vegas. That's how most entrepreneurs fail: They eventually run out of money by putting everything on the table.

How to Really Kick-Ass at Marketing

So how do you really produce winning, innovative marketing initiatives?
  1. Experiment freely by embracing failure.

    As the rule of thumb at Trizzy goes: If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough. Better, yet: The more failures you have, the more successes you'll find. You have a wide array of marketing tools at your disposal: AdWords, direct mail, ecommerce, networking, cold calling, MySpace, classifieds, newspapers, et. al. Since your badass embraces failure, you'll experiment with as many tools as possible. Then with the "survival-of-the-fittest" mindset, you'll seek and keep the ones that rock (i.e. the most positive ROIs) -- and drop the ones that don't. And folks, getting those real-world results is the only way to determine if something kicks-ass. Theory, "experts", books, etc, won't do that for you. But what's a smart experiment?
  2. Start really small.

    Use this rule: "If this desired marketing initiative fails, that will cause only a slight dent on my business." Of course, you can't send out two direct mails, and say the campaign's a failure if they don't respond. You'll need a good sample size to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

    "But, how in the name of Jermain Jackson do I determine the sample size?"

    Use this seriously kick-ass free tool by Creative Research Systems to determine your marketing campaign's ideal sample size. (Tip: Leave the "Population" field blank.) We'll go all scientific on your butt: The sample size should act as a microcosm of your desired target market (or as close to it, anyway). For instance, if your sample size contains only coffee shop owners in Dallas, don't think coffee shop owners in New York will react the same way to your marketing campaign.
  3. If a campaign's showing potential, invest more in the sucker.

    And if it's not, dump it. Take a look at this arbitrary ROI table for your fake Company XYZ business:

    ROI Table

    1. Mercury News Classifieds: +35
    2. AdWords: +10
    3. Networking Events: +5
    4. Direct mail: -2
    5. Newspapers: -40

    Looking at the table, you'd want to dump "newspapers" and "direct mail" immediately since you're losing money on every investment dollar. Then comes the badass part: From the ones that do get you a positive return:

    What do you keep?

    At the very tiny Trizzy (so customize to your business size), we keep the top 3, but of course: with one caveat -- we pump more Benjamin$ into those higher on the ROI list. Why? It'll get us more bang for our buck For instance:
    • "Networking Events": $1 return $5
    • "Mercury News Classifieds": $1 returns $35

    The key: The more the positive ROI, the more money the campaign needs.

    "But dude, just pour everything into Mercury News Classifieds and you'll make more money. Yay!"

    Remember the rule: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. If something happens to the classified ads (e.g. suspensions, Mercury News goes belly-up, closures, slow months, etc.), we won't get screwed. We have other sources that will keep customers calling.
The template:

"I use the real world as my testing ground to learn what marketing campaigns kick ass for my business."

Posted on October 10

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Scenario: "Dude, to unite people, we'll tell them they need to get along. Then they will. Yay!" Sure, most teams don't say that -- but from their actions, they promote the concept like a mofo. It's a horrible approach. Why?

Rule: You can't force people to get along.

Different values. Different approaches. Different philosophies on life. It's like you're trying to blend steak meat with whipped cream: It doesn't work. Try putting a staunch NRA member with a PETA activist in a room together, and see how they get along. The key then is not to make/force/coerce people to get along -- but to find and keep people whose values mesh with each other. (Shared values: That's how people really get along.)

"Then, how do I really unite people who share similar values?"

Use the fantab 3-step process:
  1. Know the common goal.

    It's the purpose for creating the team. What's the ultimate goal? For your team to be effective, you must have a clear, concise, one-sentence goal. That keeps team members on track to do only what's necessary, never wasting time and straying from the ultimate goal. Our tip: When you have that goal, write it down somewhere where the entire team will notice it repeatedly.
  2. Put people in positions where they'll kick-ass for the team.

    Every team member plays a vital role to the team's ultimate goal. If they can't kick-ass, they're "dead weight" -- and will only consume the team's limited resources. A team where everybody kick-ass in certain positions gets everybody dependent on each other to accomplish the ultimate goal. Say, you're building a 10-player professional basketball team.
    • You get a tall dude to get rebounds.
    • You get a quick and smart dude to take the ball up-court.
    • You get a dude who can shoot the ball anywhere on the court.
    • You get a powerful dude to score on the low post.
    • You get a versatile dude to do a little of everything.

    To win the game, everybody must work as a team and rely on the supreme talents of others.
  3. Invite healthy debate.

    Healthy conflict is vital to a united team's ultimate goal. John thinks that Model A works, but Tiffany thinks Model B works better. Invite productive discussions, so your team can fully understand differing viewpoints to make the smartest decisions. When you dissuade conflict, people start hiding their true feelings. That starts what we call the "political cycle":
    1. Amber to Bob: "I don't like it."
    2. Bob to Cassie: "She doesn't like it."
    3. Cassie to Davie: "Amber's been talking behind my back. What a %^^!&!"
    4. Turmoil.

    Uh-oh. Instead of having a healthy team that passionately works toward the ultimate goal, you get a team focused on politics and personal agendas. To avoid that, let the team know that productive conflict is absolutely necessary to build a kick-ass team.
So when you're out this week building a business team, remember:

A team united on an ultimate goal kicks ass.

Posted on October 09

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Scenario: "Dude, I'm trying to improve my communication. But, I still suck because my words never come out right. Ahh!" The moment you're self-conscious about yourself, that's the moment your confidence level plummets.
  • Why am I not speaking clearly?
  • Why am is Billy not enjoying my company?
  • Why can't I be more enthusiastic?
  • Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.
That's when you stutter. That's when you're forgetting your words. That's when you're losing control of a situation. And that could happen at the worst possible time: sales meetings, negotiations, presentations, etc. What do you do then?

Use this sucker:

Focus fully on the outside world the moment you start feeling self-conscious. That is, instead of: "Why am I so nervous?" Start asking: "How can I make Johnny more comfortable?" Instead of: "Why can't I say something smart?" Start asking: "How can I educate Johnny?" So the moment you're feeling self-conscious, use this template:

"I will focus on the outside world."

Posted on October 08

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