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Scenario: "We have to plan everything out. We'll do this first. Then this. Then that. Then that. Then we make billions. Yay!"

What Everybody (Almost) Does

Traditionally, you build your product in parts. That is, first you'll plan out what you'll do. You think you'll build your widget next. Then, you'll write your marketing materials. Then, you'll write down your sales materials. That's your plan, anyway. And, while being well-intended, you get a freakishly long plan that rarely -- if ever -- works.

Building a big-ass requires something else.

To paraphrase Thomas Edison, completing a complex project requires: Thinking big 1%, and thinking small 99% of the time.

Here's your game plan:

  1. Forget in-depth planning.

    Planning, as our motto goes, sucks. You can't possibly plan everything out. According to consultants Nadim Matta and Ronald Ashkenas: "Managers expect they can plan for all the variables in a complex project in advance, but they can't. Nobody is that smart or has that clear a crystal ball." Trying to be a planning perfectionist kills your time and resources because -- like chasing that bright-spankin' shooting star -- you'll never get there. In the meantime, someone's out there disrupting your plans with their inventions -- which will soon render your plans obsolete, anyway. Instead, quickly plan what's needed in the end -- then start kicking ass (i.e. acting, doing, physically working on something). A side benefit: Strangely, and fortunately, you'll gather more ideas when you're doing actually something.
  2. Focus on small wins.

    Small wins lead to that big-ass win. Great businesses don't become great because of one big swoop. They become great because they achieve a collection of small victories consistently over time. It's the same concept when you're building your big project: Focus on getting small wins. Create clear, focused, mini-milestones. Then start whooping butt.
  3. Get quick results. Then, determine if you'll progress further.

    Peep this scenario: You spend years building your software application; then when you finally develop it, you get absolutely no results from it. You trash the project within two weeks. It's happened numerous times with overly-complex projects to the Web 2.0 community, the aerospace industry, and the software crowd. Not only do big projects with one super long deadline drain resources, but they waste your precious time from doing something super-way-more productive: like getting results now. Instead of setting a long deadline, build something that will get you positive or negative feedback, quickly. That helps you determine if it's wise to progress further, conserving time and resources to focus on profitable projects.

"Blah. Blah. Blah. I want to get started on my big project now. What do I do?"

Here's one plan that we use at Trizzy (for our software, but it'll vary with your industry -- similar concept):

  • Build a "mini" project in 1 week.

    From scratch to finish, build a workable solution. That includes your product, product manuals, marketing materials, and whatever else that you'll include into the project.

And remember: Stick within the one-week deadline. This forces you to stop planning exhaustively, and gets you working on completing your project as quickly as possible. Once you complete your "mini" workable solution, you'll expand further with an "expanded mini" version. Then another "expanded" version. And so on -- until you finally complete that big-ass project. When you're building your next grand masterpiece, remember:

Think big. Build small. Then expand in bites.

Posted on September 06

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Scenario: "Dude, we'll beat Google's new productivity application by incorporating more features in ours. We'll steal their market share, for sure. Yay!" A notable Web 2.0 startup just sold its company on eBay after getting crushed by Google's engineering team. Its competitors are suffering too at the hands of Goliath; yet, they continue their fight thinking persistence will pull them through.

It's a blah attempt.

Recently, we've noticed numerous Web 2.0 startups -- as well as ambitious founders in other sectors -- trying to compete with those big Fortune 500 bastards head-on. It's a fruitless attempt folks, not to mention: a notoriously super-bad business move. Why? Three points:

  • Goliath has more money, more resources, and a viciously stronger client base than your business.

    You add features. They'll add features. You advertise. They'll advertise. You create a nice design. They'll create a nice design. Goliaths scan how their small competitors are doing well, and they'll quickly replicate those results using the ridiculous leverage they have.
  • Goliath has a lock on its customers, who won't switch to you.

    According to Harvard's John T. Gourville, consumers overvalue products they own by a factor of 3 -- while product developers overvalue the products they create by a factor of 3. That results in a 9x mismatch -- meaning you better create a product that's 10 times better than the incumbent product or they won't switch over to you. Normally, that rarely happens. And that's why you won't see a mass movement to your product.
  • Goliath ignores highly-profitable customers, who you carelessly neglect too.

    All widely-distributed, mass-produced products overlook a number of customer segments who according to Harvard's Clayton Christensen:
    1. Find the products too expensive for their needs, and
    2. Find them too difficult to use

    That leaves a tremendous amount of untapped opportunity for some other wise company, who understands fighting Goliath upfront is a useless attempt.

The Solution

What do you do then?

  1. First, admit you can't beat Goliath.

    Admitting you're an alcoholic in Alcoholics Anonymous drives you to seek solutions. In the same vein, admitting Goliath can kick your ass upfront drives you to seek areas where you can win.
  2. Take the back-door approach.

    Marketing dude Christensen call this the disruptive innovation approach. All products leave a certain market segment dazed, confused, and ripped-off. The "biggies" aren't targeting them because these customer segments aren't profitable to them. That leaves a sweet spot for your innovative product. If you can kick-ass, you'll slowly but surely capture more customer segments. Then, more. And, more. (Remember: All sweet, mass-consumed, products start with small niches.)
  3. And remember the key to everything: Just focus on really helping people.

    It's the most ridiculously cool mindset we've ever adopted. When you get into the mindset of helping people, you make some sweet business decisions:
    1. You won't compete against those you can't beat because they provide better solutions for your customers, and
    2. You'll build products that improves people's lives or businesses only -- and in turn, create only those products that people will buy.

The template:

"We can't beat Goliath here: _________. But, because the bastard is ignoring this customer segment who we can really help: _________, we can beat them here: _________. Yay!"

Posted on September 05

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Steve Irwin taught us more than 99% of "business" books ever could. He showed us all how obsessive passion helps us kick major ass in whatever we do. They say a great business, organization, or person leaves the world a tremendous void when it disappears. The Crocodile Hunter just a left big one. We're heartbroken. Thank you for your passionate life, Steve. We love you, dawg.
Posted on September 04

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Common myth: Tired! If you're not tired, you're not working hard enough. That's wrong, folks. If you're feeling too tired, you're pushing yourself too hard. It's your body telling you: "Dawg, you should've quit a long time ago!" Says the fine people at Harvard Medical School (i.e. those nerdy med peeps over in Cambridge):
Except for the first couple of weeks of a new exercise program (when the unaccustomed stress may leave you more fatigued than usual), your workouts should leave you feeling invigorated, not worn out.

One good rule of thumb:

You should finish each workout with the feeling that you could have easily gone a bit longer. An especially bad sign is if you're still tired a day or two after a workout. In that case you're probably over-training, and need to reduce the length and intensity of your exercise sessions.
So if you're a weekend exercise warrior, or not, listen to what you body tells you. Remember:

Tired = bad. Invigorated = Good.

Posted on September 03

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College football season is gearing up, so we're super excited. If most businesses were run like sports teams, we'd have better customer service, faster shipments, and a much more happier workforce. Sports teams let the best play, even if it's just some kid straight out of high school competing against a 17-year veteran. Staying focused on carrying out your mission rocks.

And it says so in the study.

Psychologist Michelle Bryner found that better teams (or athletes in this case) focused on their every move, while those in the back of the pack cluttered their minds with superfluous distractions:
Among elite athletes who endure the intense swim-bike-run race called the Ironman, those leading the pack have a different mind-set than stragglers. Top competitors are more likely to focus on each step of the race than are those who perform poorly. The minds of those who bring up the rear are often cluttered with unfocused thoughts and actions, including high-fiving spectators and fiddling with their clothing.
So when you're out building a rock star business, stay focused.

It's in the details.


Posted on September 02

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It's Friday. You're bracing for the holiday weekend. So are we.

So what do we all do on Friday?

Run naked on the streets of downtown like it ain't no thang but a chicken wing on a string, eating some juicy steak topped with A1 steak sauce, some curly fries, and Mama's salad on the side. Just kidding.

Or somewhat.

Normally on Fridays, we at Trizzy do something strange among the business folks (these folks like to call themselves "elite", so we shall call them "elite business folks"). We ask ourselves:

What do we strip out from our business?

For those still stuck on the no-clothes-naked mode, that means we figure out what to stop doing. Whether that's our processes, or our marketing methods, or our products' features -- whatever it is, we focus on cutting the fat. Stripping it. Slicing it. Throwing it away, so that we get that nice, juicy, tender, irresistibly delicious, mouth-watering steak that waters our deep insides. That steak denotes where we shine, where we excel, where our clients freakishly love us. The fat indicates the distractions obstructing our tender meat.

Cut the fat. You know you want too.

All businesses have fat that's waiting to be cut. Some have more than others. So when you're heading out for your holiday weekend, remember:

Juicy, tender steak is good.


Word. p.s. $5.00 on us for your steakhouse dinner tonight. Ask us for details. It's our way of saying thanks for being the most bad-ass, kick-ass, and ridiculously good-looking subscribers on the web. Thank you. We love you like a fat kid loves cake.
Posted on September 01

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Scenario: "So, listen up maggots. This is how you ignite performance: pay the contractor $50,000. Then you'll get fantastic performance from her. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yay!" Blah. Paying your contractors a fixed amount of cash to ignite performance is a bad move for three reasons:
  1. If they suck, you're out of luck.

    Spend a chunk of change on your contractor, and if they can't accomplish what you need -- you're screwed. Why? (1) You'll have minimal money to restart, (2) you'll lose your motivation to kick-ass, and (3) you'll waste precious time to build your business.
  2. You restrict them from seeking the best approaches.

    It's a "stick-to-the-script-and-I'll-pay-you" approach. Likely, if you're using a contractor, s/he'll know better approaches than you ever will. Yet, a fixed pay won't motivate your contractor to produce the best results that wow you.
  3. You get mediocre results.

    Giving contractors a fixed amount drives them to produce "just enough" to fulfill your requirements. There's no added incentives to do much more. Why would they bother?

Here's how we approach pay at Trizzy.

Instead of paying fixed amounts to our contractors, we use the "cover-our-asses" approach: We give our contractors a conservative base pay (i.e. one that won't kill the project and our motivations), then guarantee them hefty bonus if they Wow! the mutha flucka out of us. That ensures we attract and retain the best, and drive the rest away.

The "cover-our-asses" approach rocks.

The approach works because it sends signals to your contractors that results matter. If you talk to most contractors, they'll typically tell you that the hardest part is finding the client. Once the client signs their contracts, it becomes smooth sailing for them: there's no added incentive for them to kick-ass -- as long as they fulfill the requirements of the contract. To avoid contractors becoming complacent about your projects, incorporate the "cover-our-asses" pay approach. You'll get your contractors to produce results that, how shall we say: Wow! the mutha flucka out of you.

It's in the research.

Delaware psychology Professor Robert Eisenberger and his team conducted a study to explain why the pay-on-rockin'-performance method works:

What

[They] conducted two subsequent surveys among two separate samples of more than 300 employees of a chain of large discount electronics and appliance stores.

Results

The results of the surveys indicated that employees who expected that high job performance would bring increased pay perceived greater control over how they carried out their jobs than employees with lesser performance-reward expectancies.

Why

This perception of autonomy was in turn positively related to employees' belief that the organization valued their contributions and cared about their well being.

Conclusion

Thus, employees who expected that high job performance would bring increased pay reported that they felt more active, enthusiastic, and energetic in a typical day at work.
Try the pay-on-performance approach, and see what results you'll get -- then tell us about it. It'll surprise you how a simple change in pay structure will ignite contractor performance. So when you're deciding how to pay your contractors, remember:

Base pay + "Wow" bonus = Contractors that rock like a mutha flucka.


Posted on August 31

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If you're out fighting vicious fires and need the journal like a mutha flucka (i.e. ASAP), just type in:

trizoko.com


That will forward you to Trizoko easily and quickly. Word.
Posted on August 30

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Scenario: "Dude! We're going to kick ass in our customer service scores, advertising material, and recruiting talent by tomorrow. Those suck now, so we'll overhaul them within 24 hours. Completely. Then we'll watch the money roll into our pockets. Yay! Yay!"

It's the "Blah" mindset.

It's the mindset of the so-called "business star" -- who seeks dozens of highly ambitious goals, overnight. Instead of seeking small and consistent wins that lead to that big victory, he takes the "let's-shoot-bullets-everywhere-everyday, and-see-where-it-takes-us" shenanigan. Unknown to the business star, achieving overnight successes without small wins in-between never happens.

  • Amazon needed years before it became profitable.
  • The typical household never recognized HP until decades later.
  • Sam Walton needed 7 years before people took notice.
  • (Enter any Fortune 500 or Inc 500 here.)

Between that time, those badasses went for small victories to construct that big-ass victory.

Seeking a home run?

Those major successes that you seek -- whether it's a stream of new business sales, kicking butt on your customer service, or recruiting major talent -- require a stream of successive, consistent, and small wins to ultimately build that masterpiece. Instead of hitting home runs, go for singles. Instead of throwing Hail Marys, go for first downs. Tiny victories drive you toward that major success.

Seeking nothing but homers sucks.

Swinging only for the fences kills your business in two ways:

  1. It'll demotivate you and your team like a mutha flucka after a stream of failures.
  2. It'll waste your time from building small victories to get that big-ass one you're seeking.

"Okay, so what do I do now?"

Our three-step-let's-rock plan:

  1. Choose your super-tremendous-ambitious goal.
  2. Choose your end date. (& Stick to it like white on rice.)
  3. Break down the in-between time into small milestones.

The last one is the jewel that will guide your every day. At Trizzy, we like to count the number of victories we achieve daily. That drives us to complete small wins quickly, and consistently. So when you're out kicking butt today, remember:

Small and consistent victories kick ass.

 

Posted on August 30

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Scenario: Dude, just follow how those pyramid/MLM schemes try to freakishly motivate people: Just slap a picture of a big freakin' $50 million yacht on your bedroom mirror, then BAM! You'll be rockin' that $50 million in no time. Yay! Yay!"

  • First: pyramid schemes suck.
  • Second, and more on-topic: motivating yourself with external rewards kills the superstar inside of you.

"But I read a study that said money motivates you!"

Sure, money, status, fame, cars, yachts can motivate you. But there's a problem with that: External motivators drives the "I'll-perform-just-enough, but-not-more" mindset.

  • Instead of building a spectacular business, you'll build a crap shack -- and hope it'll buy you a yacht.
  • Instead of being the most ridiculously awesome marketing guru, you'll write an unoriginal and uninspiring book -- and hope it'll buy you status.
  • Instead of being a sensational World-Cup-caliber soccer player, you'll practice apathetically -- and hope it'll buy you fame.

External motivators leads to mediocrity.

If you're trying to motivate yourself with a sweet Bugatti Veyron, a $50 million yacht, and landing on the cover of Forbes, take heed: mediocrity doesn't produce billionaires. External motivators rarely get you to perform what's necessary to achieve them. Instead, it drives you to become one complacent sucka, who doesn't care about doing the work that's needed to get you the riches you worship.

So, what's the right motivator?

As corny, cheesy, and super-geekish as it may seem: Intrinsic motivation. The love for your craft. The inner reward you get from doing something. What made Sam Walton, Sergey Brin & Larry Page, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, and any other superstar-according-to-the-world successful?

  1. Sam Walton had a passion for building local communities.
  2. The Google founders immersed themselves in web technology.
  3. Michael Jordan love the game of basketball.
  4. Einstein saw a world of unsolved problems.

The love for your craft drives you to do ridiculous things.

Harvard's Teresa Amabile studied the best:

When asked what makes the difference between creative scientists and those who are less creative:
  1. The Nobel-prizewinning physicist Arthur Schawlow said, "The labor-of-love aspect is important. The most successful scientists often are not the most talented, but the ones who are just impelled by curiosity. They've got to know what the answer is."

  2. Albert Einstein talked about intrinsic motivation as "the enjoyment of seeing and searching."

  3. The novelist John Irving, in discussing the very long hours he put into his writing, said, "The unspoken factor is love. The reason I can work so hard at my writing is that it's not work for me."

  4. And Michael Jordan, perhaps the most creative basketball player ever, had a "love of the game" clause inserted into his contract; he insisted that he be free to play pick-up basketball games any time he wished.

Love what you do.

Whether it's your business industry, a client project, or a pickup basketball game, when you seek intrinsic rewards from your craft, you'll rock the shiznit out it.

That Question

It's a simple, sexy question to keep yourself in check: If you removed external rewards (e.g. money, fame, status, etc.) from what you're doing, would you still do it? So when you're out changing the world today, remember:

Love what you do. You'll kick-ass doing it.

Posted on August 29

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