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Scenario: "Buddy, you've got to work 100-hour work weeks if you want to be here. I'm the boss, and I make everybody do it. If you don't accept that, get lost loser. Yay!" The Web-2.0/Internet-business world, a good portion of the I-Banking world, the legal fields, the engineering schools, et. al, all promote the "Let's-work-them-like-a-mofo-because-we-have-to-be-best!" mindset. Sure, they mean well.
  • Besides, the longer employees work, the more productive they are, right?
Blah. Blah. Yadda, yadda, blah. That conventional wisdom sucks more than a Milli Vanilli remix.

Why no sleep = super bad.

A lack of sleep kills your employees in three ways:
  1. Productivity decreases dramatically.

    Employee brains work much harder for way smaller results. It's as if you're dragging your feet trying to run a 100-mile marathon. A study explained the phenomenon:

    What

    Researchers expected to find only sluggish activity in the brains of healthy young people who took a simple word test after staying awake for 35 hours.

    Results

    They found instead that while parts of the sleep-deprived brains churned with activity during the test, another part of the brain -- the language center -- shut down.
  2. You ruin employee creativity.

    Have you tried working 10-hours hours straight on some project? Chances are: after the first two hours, your creativity pummeled. When you force employee brains to work continuously without sufficient breaks, they'll use up their brain-tanks. If you don't let them refill those tanks with sleep, you'll exhaust their brainpower to be creative. Says Harvard Med's Dr. Charles A. Czeisler:
    If they average four hours of sleep a night for four or five days, they develop the same level of cognitive impairment as if they'd been awake for 24 hours -- equivalent to legal drunkenness. Within ten days, the level of impairment is the same as you'd have going 48 hours without sleep. This greatly lengthens reaction time, impedes judgment, and interferes with problem solving.
  3. You cause quick burnout.

    The annual turnover rate at a typical investment firm hovers around 25%. We'd safely assume you could double that number for the Silicon Valley start-up community. Lack of sleep serves as the prime ingredient to business burnout. The Kenyans can't run never-ending marathons; what makes you think your employees can?

"So what do I do?"

Use our "radical" one-rule approach:
  • Rule ^1: Turn off the office lights before 7p.m.

    Sure, your company might start its work day at 2 p.m.; if that's the case adjust the 7 p.m. time accordingly. Bottom line: Your business doesn't exist between a chunk of time in a day (e.g. 7 p.m. -- 9 a.m.).
    And no, that's not confined to just the office.
    • Close access to corporate systems.
    • No Blackberrys.
    • No emails.
    • No "business dinner meetings."
    • And whatever else: ___________________.

    This "lights-out-at-7" approach forces your employees to work frantically within the time they're allowed; equally important: it allows them the all-too-important 8 hours of sleep.

Why Rule ^1 Works

Say you're a super hot teacher (since you're already hot), and you assign your class a 10-page paper -- then you tell your bad self: "Should I make the due date 7-months or 7-days?"
  • Scenario 1: With a 7-month assignment, your students won't start working productively until that last week.
  • Scenario 2: A 7-day assignment on the other hand forces your students to work like a crazy, productive mother $^@%^%@ -- or they'll get a bad grade.
You'll likely get the same results regardless of the due date (And we qualify: as long as it's not a super short-ass one). That's why we love Rule ^1: The shorter the deadline (i.e. amount of time you're allowed to work), the more you boost employee productivity. Importantly, Rule ^1 leaves time for the all-too-important-but-horribly-underrated: sleeeeeeeeeeeeep! A good night's sleep in turn increases employee morale, creativity, and longevity. Ahh, life's so sweet, ain't it? The moral:

8-hours-chock-full-of-sleep employees rock the world, like it ain't no thang but a chicken wing on a string.


Posted on September 26

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Scenario: "Dude, I am the best manager in the world. Yay!" There's a reason why over 50% of managers think they're above average:

Most managers are delusional.

Yeah, we said it. How so?
  • They think their God's gift to the universe.
  • They think employees love them.
  • They think customers crave their expertise.
  • They think they're super hot.
Most of us hate criticism, so we live in our little bubbles thinking everything about us rocks. Nothing sucks. And whoever hates us is stupid.

Most of us have developed that "I-am-the-best" mindset since childhood.

  • You know -- when your parents or your relatives said at your fifth birthday:
  • You're the most beautiful person in the world
  • You're the strongest kid ever
  • You have the prettiest eyes
  • You have the greatest sense of humor
  • You move mountains when you talk

Folks, truth be told: You were an ugly kid.

You could've gone to Halloween as yourself. Rice Krispies wouldn't talk to you. A blind man wouldn't hug you. The doctors slapped your parents after delivering you. Doctors then placed you in an incubator with tinted windows. Yes, you were fugly. (Just kidding. You were beautiful!) Going along with that theme...

You're probably not the greatest manager as you think you really are.

With the "I-am-the-best-ever" mindset, you can harm your company in several ways -- including:
  1. You decrease employee morale.

    For instance, you're monitoring your employees like crazy. They hate that. Yet, without uncovering the truth, you continue doing what they hate. They'll start dreading coming into the company. Then, they'll talk behind your back. Then, they'll produce lousy-@ss results to ruin your reputation as a manager.
  2. You diminish performance.

    Without understanding fully what can make their work shine, you suck the potential out of your employees. They need _________, _________, _________ resources; yet, you're the alpha manager who scare the living-$hit out of them. "I'll be fired if I speak up, won't I?" Performance = sucks.
  3. You decrease productivity.

    "Dude, you can make me more productive by just changing this _______ and this _______." Most employees are yearning for you to make them more productive. Yet, without inviting their opinions, you quash the greatest ideas from the best people to improve employee productivity.
The good news: you can improve. How?

Seek the absolute truth about how employees feel about you.

As business guru Jim Collins says, confront the brutal facts -- like it ain't no thang but a chicken wing on a string. You can do so in many ways.

Here's what we do to confront those brutal facts of our employees...

And, it cuts straight to the heart of the matter, without the blah, blah, blah crapola. Use this spectacular, super crazy, and sexy template, and give it to your employees: Name five things that suck about me as a manager. That sucker rocks because it incorporates a sense of humor into a sticky situation. That is, you'll be much more welcoming to accepting brutal feedback from your employees.

Seek the truth frequently.

The above template is something we use constantly. The first time you seek brutal feedback, it'll surprise you. But, as time progresses and you make a conscious effort to improve where you suck, those "five" things that suck will turn into 4, then 3, then 2, etc. (And when you hit 0, don't stop. You're a badass. You don't quit.) You'll see your employees becoming much happier working with you, and that translates into some pretty kick-ass productivity and results. The moral:

Bring out the freakin' truth like you're the baddest mutha flucka on the planet.


Now here's your chance to tell us by emailing us: Name 5 things that suck about our journal, Trizoko.
Posted on September 25

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Scenario: Dude, we just gotta work in our little office boxes with no windows. It limits distractions like a mutha flucka! Yay! Yeah, windowless offices can limit some distractions; but working in them sucks the life out of you, your work, and your business. A windowless office keeps your mind obsessively focused on your work -- instead of allowing it get those required breaks to replenish your mind, body, and energy.

It's in the study.

According to University of Michigan's Rachel Kaplan:
Workers who have offices with a view of nature report more enthusiasm for their jobs, less frustration, more patience, and fewer physical ailments.

What's the cause of that?

"When employees can glance away from their desks or computers and rest their eyes on a natural landscape, no matter how modest, involuntary attention takes over. Workers get a respite that offsets directed attention fatigue, a mental condition that comes with even the best of jobs."
So when you're coming into the office tomorrow, remind your bad self or whoever's in charge:

"I am badass. I need an office window."


Posted on September 24

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Scenario: "Dude, I hate my business abilities. I'm so not confident in that and in my life right now. Like, I'm so not. Yay!"

If you need confidence to build a kick-ass business, how do you get it easily?

The cliche goes: If you don't believe in your business, who will? Sure, when you start, you're that confident bastard who declares from rooftops that you'll change the world overnight. But when that doesn't happen, your confidence starts to dissipate. It happens to all of us.

The confidence phenomenon.

Each setback -- every littly itty single one of 'em -- reduces our confidence levels. So what can you do this relaxin' day to improve your confidence in your business and your life? One sweet lookin', sexy word:

Posture.

That is -- and you can do this in several varying ways:
  1. Just sit up straight.
  2. Or, straighten your spine.
  3. Or, imagine the sky has a string attached to the top of your head.
  4. Or, think you're Superman.
  5. Or, think you're the mother ^@!$^% sexiest person alive known to mother $^@%@^ mankind.

We wouldn't BS you, would we?

Nope, you badasses: we wouldn't. In a study of women between ages 25 and 55 who improved posture (and the study still applies to you men) , Reposturing Dynamics's Researcher Aaron Parnell links posture to confidence (a.k.a. self-esteem):
100% of the participants showed remarkable improvements in their self-esteem. Good posture emanates positive feelings in personal strength and self awareness, which lead to higher self esteem. Conversely, poor posture appears to lock negative emotions in the body, leading to poor body-image and lower self-esteem.

Some More Tidbits:

  • 100% of the women reported they were much more bold and willing to take risks at work.
  • 80% of them said they had more energy and some were even jumping out of bed in the mornings.
  • Each woman also said she is more self-accepting and more comfortable now that she is more in touch with her body.
Yeah, you could read all the 300-page "How-to-Boost-Confidence" books you want, but you could just follow this tip:

To improve confidence -- and take a step closer to becoming a business badass, think posture.

(It'll make you look sexy too. Troof.)
Posted on September 23

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Scenario: "Dude, to keep our superstars, we better pay them more -- or Computers-4-You down the street will snatch them up with higher pay. Yay!" Common sense says that you keep the biggest, brightest, killer-est stars by paying them spectacular bonuses, pay packages, benefits, rock star privileges, etc, etc, etc. Yet, common sense -- like most always -- is crazy wrong. Yes, you'll need money to attract people, but it won't retain and ignite your people.

People want something more.

They want meaning. They want to believe the company's doing something amazingly influential. That's how starving philanthropies keep their superstar players. That's how badass startups to ridiculously purposeful Fortune 500s attract and retain A players, as well. Says Stanford's Jerry Pfeffer:
People do work for money, but even more for creativity, challenge, fun, autonomy or whatever personal factors give their working life meaning. A company cannot buy loyalty and commitment with money alone.
The moral to end your fabulous week:

Just incorporate some gosh-mother-$^@%$@ meaning into your company, and watch your people soar higher than an mother-$@^%^% eagle.


Have a great weekend, y'all!
Posted on September 22

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Scenario: Says Johnny, "Dude, our competitor sells his Wilson basketballs for $39. We'll sell ours for $32. People buy rationally. We'll sell more and become billionaires. Skee-daddy. Porsches. Yay!" Johnny...dude, you're wrong here, buddy. Conventional wisdom, as the continual theme goes, sucks.

Test Your Bizo-coolio-ness in 3 Seconds

The Game: Name the pricing point that sells more -- $81, $83, $85, $87, $89 If you answered the last number, you'd be a sexy b!tch. (For you literal nerds, that means you're right.)

"Why? Why? Why?"

Products that end with the number "9" sell more. The number 9 subconsciously tells customers they're getting bargains on their purchases. We at Trizzy refer to the phenomenon as simply: "The 9." A very sexy study by Northwestern's Kellogg and MIT's Sloan researchers studied this phenomenon:

What

The prices of four dresses were manipulated across catalog versions.

How

The current policy of the catalog was to use a $9 ending and we refer to this as the Control version. In the two treatments, the price was either raised or lowered by $5, which removed the $9 ending from each dress.

Results

A total of 66 dresses were sold in the $9 ending conditions, compared to 46 units in the $5 lower conditions and 45 units in the $5 higher conditions.

The number "9" helps people "evaluate whether they're getting a good deal." Word of caution: Don't go crazy with The 9. If everything and it's mama ends with it in your store, that ruins the whole phenomenon for your customer.

"But dude, aren't we manipulating our customers if we use The 9?"

Manipulating customers means scamming the $^it out of your customers, then running like you stole something. It's this:

  1. Terry wants basketball.
  2. Jim sells basketball: $19.
  3. Terry discovers it's a lemon.
  4. Terry demands refund.
  5. Jim responds, "No refunds."

Here's Why You Might Use The 9

If you genuinely, truly, absolutely believe -- like a mutha flucka -- that your product will improve the customer's life, you'll do whatever you can to get it into the customer's hands. And if the customer hates it, you offer a swift, no-strings attached, money-back guarantee. That's what you call doing beautiful business: asking the customer for one chance to kick-ass for him/her; then, and only then: s/he'll judge if you're a keeper.

"The 9" opens you up for that one shot.

It's akin to hitting on someone attractive with this beauty: "Hey baby. Thieves must be roaming the sky -- 'cause, someone just stole stars from the sky, then placed them...in your eyes." (Never fails.) The moral:

Open up a chance with "The 9." Then shine like the badass we know you are.

 

Posted on September 21

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Scenario: Your bad self just broke up with your significant other. Earlier, you had sold your product to a big-time client. The client still wants to negotiate prices again tomorrow. Do you delay the meeting? Sure...that is, if you want to lose money.

People who feel emotionally distraught significantly undervalue their products and services.

(And, if you're on the other end -- buying -- then you tend to overspend.) Negative emotions then harms your profits by driving you to negotiate less for your products/services. Why?

It's in the study.

Jennifer Lerner's research team discovered how undesirable emotions affects you negatively:
  1. The Study

    [The research team] asked subjects to watch either a sad snippet of The Champ (in which a boy's mentor dies) or a revolting clip from Trainspotting featuring a filthy toilet.
  2. How

    Participants were divided into buyers and sellers, and then asked to name a price for a set of highlighter pens.
  3. Results

    Sadness made subjects so desperate to change their circumstances that they undervalued the pens, while buyers would overspend to get them.

Always be cautious of negative emotions.

So some of you might be saying: "Yeah sucka, but I play Dungeons and Dragons in mama's basement while eating Cheetos. I don't have a girlfriend, so I'm never emotionally distraught!" Peep this: Negative emotions don't just happen outside of meetings somewhere far, far away. Likely, you can very well construct those emotions when you're negotiating. And to be real with you (cuz you're a badass), that happens at most negotiations.

It's the classic negotiating scenario:

  1. Bob's company produces his kick-ass widget for $1500.
  2. Katie needs a kick-ass widget. She only has $1000.
  3. Bob meets with Katie.
  4. Katie's grilling Bob to lower his prices.
  5. Katie starts talking about Bob's mama.
  6. Bob cries.
  7. Bob sells his widget for $500.
That's how the typical negotiation scenario plays out: Person A gets to Person B, then Person A takes serious advantage of Person B. Most entrepreneurs who first start out are prone to those situations. (So be cautious, you new folks!) It's also another reason why keeping yourself positive is so vital if you're building your business.

"So how do I keep my emotions in check when I'm negotiating?"

Use our three of our tips:
  • Have "cooling off" periods if you're feeling those emotions.

    A period to escape from the emotionally-charged situation gets you thinking rationally again, and you'll make much smarter and nerdier decisions as a result.
  • Think positive.

    Confidence gets you thinking how kick-ass your services and products are -- and why people need to pay premiums for them. It readies you for a good and rational fight.
  • Smile inside.

    When you're negotiating -- If you're not genuinely smiling inside, you're having what we call the "super bad and ugly emotional" blues (a.k.a. SBUE; a.k.a. "sboo"). You probably need some cooling off period above before you can smile again, and make smart decisions.
A rule of thumb we use at Trizzy: Unless you're smiling inside, don't make any decisions. Remember: Bad Emotions = Bad Business. The other, more important reminder for your bad self:

"I am a badass who makes decisions when I'm not feeling the negative emotional blues. No sboo!"


Posted on September 20

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Scenario: "Dude, you know how those Big Fortune 500s make more money every year? They just sell more than what they did the previous year. Yay!" It's a common myth among most of us trying to grow our businesses:

"Just sell more next year," we say.

Yet, that's likely how most of us entrepreneurs never sustain ourselves beyond five years: Before we know it, we can't sell any more of our badass services/products -- because, well, we would've run out of potential client targets. Big uh-oh? Doesn't have to be. To build a sustaining business that grows revenue every year, focus on the secret sweet spot we absolutely, totally, and almost-illegally love: Customer retention.

The "How-to-rock-the-world-even-more-in-5-years" Approach

Rock star entrepreneurs focus on something beyond "selling more":

  1. You use your heart, energy, and sweat trying to sell to a Bob.
  2. Bob becomes your customer by buying your widgets.
  3. Bob stays your customer by re-buying/buying-new widgets.

(The "How-to-be-obsolete-in-5-years" Approach ends the customer relationship at Step ^3.)

Why Customer Retention Rocks

Customer retention rocks because instead of restarting your sales efforts, you're building on top of what you already have.

  1. When you can retain a customer's pocketbook the following year, you'll -- guess what -- retain your revenues.
  2. Then, any additional sale will improve your revenues from the previous year.

Some Crazy Analogy to Understand the Concept

To be clearer since we think it's such a vital concept, here's a super weird analogy/scenario (so, please bear with us): Scenario: You're building a stairway. You need a bigger, higher, sexier one the following year, or...you'll die. That is:

  • Year 1: You build a 100 in. flight of stairs.
  • Year 2: You need a 120 in. flight of stairs.

The dilemma: How do you build that 120 in. flight of stairs?

  • How to die (i.e. what most entrepreneurs unfortunately do): "Hey, we'll just use the concepts we learned in Year 1, write down what helped us and what didn't -- then go into year 1 motivated to build an even higher one in Year 2! Yay!"

  • How to live like the badass you were meant to be: "Hey, we'll just retain as much of the 100 feet flight of stairs we've already built -- then try to build more on top of it. Yay!"

To climb your Mount Everest, don't keep on restarting. It's a prime way to shatter your business in five years. Instead, keep climbing. Badass businesses retain as many customer pocketbooks as possible, then build on top of it. (Yeah, you probably won't retain 100% of your customers. But if you're providing value, you'll keep a good majority around, who'll then likely refer you to even more customers.) And hey, it's 80% easier to keep a customer than chase a new one anyway.

"So how do I retain customer pocketbooks?"

We've written bunches of articles on the topic, but three tips to get you started:

  1. You provide a service/product that they buy, repeatedly.

    Regarding your industry, ask yourself: How can I provide products/services that customers will buy repeatedly? Depending on your business, that could range from selling gourmet coffee, to providing updated software, to overlooked items such as monthly maintenance and ongoing support. But what do you provide? Use our next two tips to discover the answer.
  2. You care. Genuinely.

    Sure, you could put up a false front. But chances are: (1) You can't sustain that fake sincerity for more than three weeks, and (2) customers will see right through you. Instead, if you truly care about your customer's success, you'll do something pretty valuable:
  3. You provide value. Repeatedly.

    When you genuinely care about your customers, you start doing whatever it takes to improve their lives/businesses/bottom-lines/etc. (Guess why most customers come back to their favorite businesses?) By seeking ways to provide value first, you'll understand with clarity what your customers will need -- and in turn, what they will buy from you.

"How do I measure my customer retention score?"

You may think you're providing value, but how do you really know? And more importantly, how do you improve to skyrocket your retention? Just ask your customer: "Would you recommend us to a friend?" According to Reicheld's study: "This finding is based on two years of research in which a variety of survey questions were tested by linking the responses with actual customer behavior--purchasing patterns and referrals--and ultimately with company growth."

The Side Benefit to Customer Retention

Though we don't recommend just doing this: To build a sustaining business that grows revenues each year, you probably won't need to do anything but focus on customer retention. If you focus on retaining your customers, you'll provide kick-ass customer service that wows them like it ain't nobody's bid-ness. In turn, like a mutha flucka, that will attract customer referrals for you. As a rule of thumb: people who like you want to share you to their friends. Phew! We'll end with the usual moral. To build a kick-ass sustaining business:

Retain your customers like Vanilla Ice on rice.

Posted on September 19

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Scenario: "Dude, Steve Jobs is the evervecent big honcho who turns everything he touches into gold. To be a great leader as that dude, I have to be perfect in everything I do. Yay!"

Conventional thinking goes....

The best leaders are perfect. To be one of them, you'll need to be perfect too. Blah.

Conventional wisdom sucks again...

Sure, BusinessWeek, Fortune, MacWorld all highlight what a badass Steve Jobs has been. It seems he's hasn't failed. From the iPod, to the iTunes, to the iMac, to Pixar, the Mac nerds and media insist he's superhuman. Of course, they forget his failures: the Apple Lisa, NeXt, the recent G4, and several others. As a result, you get a skewed perspective of becoming a great leader: a perfect badass who's perfect with everything. Yet, the "perfect badass" like Steve Jobs is nothing but: that leader embraces failures like it ain't no thang but a chicken wing on a string.

Why should you embrace failure as a leader?

Three reasons:
  1. Failure drives you to do something.

    The root cause of procrastination is trying to be perfect. Yet, when you embrace failure, you do something. Appreciating the worse-case scenario gets you acting. It's as if you're at the bottom of the totem pole, and you have nowhere to go but up -- so you embrace the "I-have-nothing-to-lose" mentality.
  2. Failure drives you to take big risks.

    Big risks requires having a higher failure rate. Yet, you know one big success will overshadow a thousand failures.
    • Colonel Sanders was rejected from 1000 restaurants before someone accepted his secret recipe.
    • Edison conducted 100s of experiments before he could make his bulb light.
    • Oprah was rejected by numerous television stations before someone took a risk on her.
    If you're shooting for that one big sucess, start experiencing as many failures as you can.
  3. Failure drives you to seek the best answers.

    A success can probably bring you a big smile, but it rarely tells you anything about how you succeeded. Says Duke's William Pierce:
    When a complex system succeeds, that success masks its proximity to failure.

    The Scenario

    Imagine that the Titanic had not struck the iceberg on her maiden voyage.

    How Success Would've Sucked

    The example of that "unsinkable" ship would have emboldened success-based shipbuilders to model larger and larger ocean liners after her. Eventually the Titanic or one of those derivative vessels would probably have encountered an iceberg -- with obvious consequences.

    Why Failure Then Rocks

    Thus, the failure of the Titanic contributed much more to the design of safe ocean liners than would have her success.

How do I sart?

Here's something we do:
  • Strive for 1 failure a day.

    Of course, you'll achieve more success with more you failures. But first, get into the habit of adopting one failure as an everyday activity. It could be anything: selling your wares with a cold call, or as non-business as asking out that hot guy/girl.
As our motto at Trizzy goes:

The more failures you have, the more successes your badass will find.


Posted on September 18

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Oftentimes, we tell ourselves that tomorrow will be a better day. In the meantime, we waste our days like we have a millions years left on this planet. Instead of making the most of it, we procrastine by doing stuff that kills our energy, our time, and our morale. "But tomorrow, I'll do better," we always say. But then tomorrow comes, and we say the same thing. Says Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer:

When "Tomorrow" Rocks

It is fine to want tomorrow to be good and to expect that it will be. When this is what we mean by hope, there is no problem.

When "Tomorrow" Sucks

All too often, however, people offer words of hope when we are feeling bad to help us accept those feelings. In my view, we should not passively give up today.

...and why it sucks

Such giving up follows from the belief that events themselves are good or bad, rather than that our views make them good or bad.
The moral?

"Live today like it's your last" ain't just a clich -- .


Posted on September 17

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