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get stuff done

Focus at Work – Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing and Get Stuff Done!

In the last post, I wrote about how deep focus might be the key to actually get stuff done in your craft or industry. Focus on the 20% of the effort that makes you the 80% of your income. You simply don’t have the capacity to do everything under the sun.
Since that post, I’ve had a few readers of that post message me and ask why I was going against the traditional advice of building an online business.

And as I thought about it, I realized that while I might be going against the more traditional advice of building a digital business, there are examples in the real world that suggest that less can be more.

So in this post, we’re going to look at just a few such examples.

Is Less Always More?

Now you might be thinking, there are plenty of examples of businesses that have grown after they offered more products and services. One such example is Amazon. Without knowing their history, you might think that they’ve always sold all the products and online services that they offer today.

However, this wasn’t always the case. When the company first started, it was an online book store based out of Jeff Bezos’ garage. Did he know that it was going to become what it is today? Probably not. But as the company offered more products and brought more people on to help manage those products, it is definitely an example of “More is More”.

Sometimes Scaling Doesn’t Always Work as Expected

But for every Amazon who scales correctly from the beginning, there’s also going to be examples where adding more to the menu might not be the best course of action.

Example 1: McDonald’s

Take McDonald’s for example. I remember in the late 00’s when McDonald’s was losing out on customers because people started to get smarter about what they were eating. It was during this time that chains like Panera, Starbucks, and Subway grew like bandits. In fact, it was pretty common to hear about places in large cities that had a couple of Starbucks on the same street.

These companies were eating McDonald’s lunch. So what did the golden arches do in response? They grew their menus and model to include some competitive products to what these other places were offering. By 2013, it had 145 items on its menu.

This was nuts and completely unsustainable. It’s no wonder that they were losing money at this point.

In an attempt to right the ship, they hired their most recent CEO, Steve Easterbrook. What Steve ended up doing was removing the items that weren’t selling as well and went back to the basics of the business. This seems to have worked because in the last year or so, their stock has actually risen.

Example 2: Apple

While this might not be the best recent example, it wasn’t too long ago that Apple was the tech company to watch out for – as an investor and a competitor.

In the Beginning…

Personally, I’ve always been an Apple user. My first computer was one and currently I’m writing this on a Macbook Pro.

During that time, the company has seen its ups and downs. I remember when I was first learning about computers, I found out the hard way that Windows 95 would not work on my Mac. How could this be? I thought everyone was going to be able to use it!

Nope, I was in the minority. Windows based PCs were what everyone else had. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had in high school answering questions about why I had a Mac… even when Steve Jobs came back as the CEO!

As I got involved in the Purdue University Mac Users Group (PUMUG), I started to learn how awesome of a group Mac users actually were. I had found my people! But interestingly, we were still a small group. All the clones had been taken off the market by that point. Those of us who were still users were because we were creatives or simply loved the Mac.

The Epic Growth of Apple

However, it was also during this time that the iPod was released. And interestingly, this was about the same time that I started paying attention to the stock market. I remember in 2001 watching the AAPL stock rise almost 50% until 9-11. 

Of course, stocks were down for just about everyone at that point. But as new and better versions of the iPod came out, their stock rose. And then, the point where everyone became familiar with Apple was in 2007 when the iPhone debuted. Wow… I really should have got some shares then. (Unfortunately, I thought I had already missed the boat. Ha!)

But there’s a point in me telling you this personal story of watching Apple rise. No one would have believed it would happen when I first got my computer – an Apple Performa 575. Had they stuck around trying to compete directly with Microsoft PCs, I think the company would have folded. Even to this day, but especially back then, they were known to jack up the price on products that were matched by less expensive PC options.

But it was because Steve was able to focus on building the next best thing (as he originally did with the original Mac) that they were able to be as great as they did during his time as CEO.

On a Smaller Scale

So, there’s a couple of examples of large companies that righted their ships after bloating to try and be everything to everyone. But it’s not something that just companies that size have to deal with. There are much smaller companies that struggle simply because they don’t focus on keeping the main thing the main thing.

And because they often don’t have the necessary resources or connections to keep going, they tend to not have the time to get their act together in time.

Example 3: Marsh

One such example is a local grocery store chain here in Indiana which was named Marsh. Like many local groceries, it folded in the last couple of years. It couldn’t find its niche in the market. I believe the main reason is that they tried to be everything to everyone. Instead of focusing on having its stores in certain profitable locations, it kept trying to keep open stores that were underperforming due to local competition – no matter what the cost.

Even after the company folded a couple of years ago, there are still locations that have not been bought by other chains. When I see them, I’m reminded of the struggles they had before going belly up. 

Interestingly, though, the places that were bought by other chains seem to be doing pretty well if not better than they did while they were under the Marsh banner. Some were bought by Kroger while others were bought by a regional chain called Needler’s. In fact, the Needler store in downtown Indy is considered by many to be one of the best groceries around!

Had Marsh realized that they should just cut anchor and focus on these stores that were actually making them income, they might be around yet today!

Action Steps

So, hope that gives a little more perspective on why it’s important to focus. If you’re good at building sales funnels, do that until you can outsource it. But don’t try to do that AND build a Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) business AND build a podcast AND build a YouTube channel.

Pick one, get a handful of clients. Once you’ve done that, scale that business using ads on social media. Then from there, you can think about doing something else when the first job is sustainable.

deep focus

Profit or Popularity? How Deep Focus Might be the Key to Your Success

Deep focus and work is a topic which is really popular these days. However, it tends to go against the prevailing advice on how to become an online entrepreneur/personality. Personally, I’ve seen a lot of benefit by incorporating it in my schedule. In this post, I’ll share with you how I learned the hard way about the benefits of deep focus as a creator.

Setting the Stage

If you’ve been following the blog and podcast, you’ve probably realized that I’ve cut back on how many of each I publish. For a few months now, I’ve been on a schedule where I post a blog post one week and then the next week, I publish an interview.


But that wasn’t how I did things when I first started my online journey. In fact, I posted a blog post and an interview each week.

Even though I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do as a new entrepreneur/thought leader, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. But I kept pushing through for two years, believing I was doing what I was supposed to do.

However, towards the end of that two year period, I started hearing and seeing signs that I had to change things up.

And eventually those signs lead to the discovery of the M-6 Business Evolution Plan.

Signs to Change

So what were these signs? Here’s three I can definitely remember:

The Importance of Deep Work and Focus

One of the earliest signs I can recall is hearing Jordan Harbinger’s interview of Cal Newport discussing his book Deep Work. In the interview, they discuss why focusing on your work for long periods of time is the only way to create anything meaningful. The reasoning behind this is because it takes awhile for our brains to snap into the right gear to create. If our days consists a lot of checking email, posting to and checking social media, you’ll never get into this deep work or deep focus state.

I knew I wasn’t getting into that deep state because I was EVERYWHERE!

Profitability vs Popularity

The second sign I remember was when one of our guests mentioned that her coach constantly has to ask her a simple question: Do you want to be profitable or do you want to be popular?

It had never occurred to me that in the online digital space, there was a choice. I thought that the only way to create revenue was to be popular. The more people who knew of you, the more chances you had to make a sale, right?

Apparently, that’s not the total idea.

Even more interesting is that in another interview we had, our guest mentioned how there are plenty of popular people on the web who can barely afford to keep their own business doors open. In fact, there’s way more of them than there are people who have followers and have an income from that following.

Start Where You’re At!

The third big sign was during my research of this whole thing about having a Personal Mission.  This course of interest started when I heard David Anderson share about how important it is to him in his interview in session 92. I knew it was a piece I was missing. Uncover Your Personal Mission is the result of this 6 month study to figure out what my starting point should be. I now fully believe it’s imperative for someone to know where they’re at

Using the Right Road Map

So, it’s interesting how traditional online business advice suggests that you should be everywhere. I think it makes sense in the long run. But the market is so saturated with other entrepreneurs and thought leaders, that we have to realize we don’t have a chance in that game by ourselves. There’s just so much work we can do in a given day.

So what’s that mean for us? What’s our course of action? Well, this is where we need a new road map.

Road maps for entrepreneurs are nothing new. Fizzle has theirs, Pat Flynn has his in Will It Fly?, and then there’s the one featured in the documentary Generation: Freedom.

There’s a lot of good content in each of these. However, I think they get ahead of themselves a little in the beginning stages.

So, let’s look at this new road map:

The M-6 Business Evolution Plan

There are 6 parts of this new plan which can be used simultaneously with the previously mentioned road maps.

However, the main difference is that this particular plan, again, focuses on early growth and sustainability of your business. So, once you get to a certain level of success, then maybe it’s a good time to start “Being Everywhere” as Pat Flynn talked about way back in session 28 of the SPI Podcast. Because, remember, in today’s market, you have to have a team to compete with the other names out there because they probably have teams themselves! 

So, here’s the new plan:

Mastery of Self

The reason that I start with Mastery of Self is because there are a lot of examples of folks who jump into a business idea because the marketing of a specific course said they’d have the potential to make all kinds of money doing that particular business. All they have to do is follow a step by step method.

Problem is, many people get burned out of these half-baked businesses because they didn’t do the inventory on themselves or they didn’t have the right frame of mind starting the business. They might have expected awesome results in a week or month and now it’s way beyond that point.

Mastery of Self is important because not only do we need to figure out who we are, but where we and our skills fit in the world.

From there, as we naturally build on ourselves and our skills, we have the potential for amazing growth.

So, for example, if you didn’t know that you’re good at writing copy, then you wouldn’t know that you should be helping people do that. Without doing what it takes to figure out where you are in relative to everyone else, you might decide that your “calling” is to sell products on Amazon. At that point, any instructions sound like good instructions but they just don’t get you anywhere you want to be.

Monetize Your Natural Talent

Before we even think about hiring anyone else to help, scale in other ways, or saying our expertise is helping people do something, we need to make sure that we can successfully add that value while being paid for it.

If you do the homework on yourself, you already know what you’re naturally inclined to help people do. If you are just starting a business, instead of working for free, start at a monetary number you feel comfortable asking for your services. Then, as you get more clients, you can play with the numbers and find out what’s asking too much or just right for what you’re offering.

Here’s a secret: The longer you do things for free, the more people think you’re A.) Training Perpetually or B.) have a bad service or product.

Also, you’ll want to look into is a book called Win Without Pitching Manifesto. In this book, you’ll learn why it’s important to position yourself in a certain way and how you can successfully do that. If done right, you’ll become the buyer and your clients will have to prove to you why they need your help!

Another thing that makes this whole process even easier is starting to work on a script. It’s ok to use scripts while doing sales meetings/calls/webinars. That’s one of the biggest things that made Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street, as good as he was! His team used the script he used to make calls!

Market for Sustainable Business

Let’s say that you have an awesome product and you just happen to be really great with getting the word out there – say a video of yours went viral.

Is that a good thing when you’re first getting started?

I’d personally say that it’s a “Hard no.”.

Why?

Well, let’s say that your offer goes viral. Sure, that might be great in a Kickstarter situation or with a course (which you shouldn’t have at this point…), but if you’re offering a service or real product, you’re simply not going to have the capacity to keep up.

So, you want to find those first 3-5 clients who are ok with a price point that’s been proven. Once you do that, then it should be time to take it to the big market! You should have enough extra money to put into advertising on social media.

Mechanize Your Process to Scale

There’s something to be said about systems when you’re moving to the big market. The better our systems are when we’re working on scaling, the bigger that scaling can get before we have to hire someone to help us manage it.

So, Facebook ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn ads, Google… wherever your clients are, make sure you keep track of all the work you’re doing. What ads work? Which don’t? What audience works? Which doesn’t? Where should you put in pixels in your funnel? How long should your funnel be? Etc. 

Make sure when you’re doing this work that you’re only changing small parts at a time and you keep track of those changes. Changing everything at once doesn’t get you the experimental data you need. For example, if you’re changing an ad, only change the copy, the audience, or the image – NOT ALL THREE!

Also, don’t go overboard with your systems either. There’s a fine line between being creative and creating chaos.

Make Use of Other’s Talents

There’s going to be a point where we can’t do everything in our business anymore. Eventually we’ll have to either hire someone to help as an employee or bring on a contractor.

This is when we have to do what John Maxwell says all the time: “Play to your strengths, and hire help for your weaknesses.”

Just as you know yourself and how you fit into the world, the ideal people that you bring on your team should have that figured out as well. This means, besides them taking over a job you don’t want to do (or have the time to do) anymore, that they also have similar values and are internally motivated to do the job as well as possible. 

You’re not doing yourself or them a favor if you feel like they’re not committed to the vision and mission of the company.

Multiply Your Business

As we continue to scale, this is when we can go out even further. We can find other ways to market ourselves and our team’s talents. 

There might be products that you couldn’t do on your own, but now that you have a small team, you might be able to start a video series on YouTube or a podcast that goes out 3 times a week.

Also, this might be the time to package your skills into a course if you feel the demand is there. That way you can still get paid for your skills, but don’t have to put in the time factor into it.

There’s all kinds of ways to multiply your business. But just so you know, you can’t expect to start here. You have to actually have a proven system of success. I wish I had known that before I started my podcast, but hey, at least you guys understand why only publish one session every other week now! 🙂

Action Steps

As a lot of my posts go, you fall somewhere into this list. You’ll need to figure out where.

Personally, I thought I was going to be a podcaster and be like Pat in a year or so. Well, that’s not going to happen. For one, even when he started his podcast back in 2010, he already had a fairly good number of people following him on his RSS feed for his blog (check this out for numbers at the top!). I didn’t have that when I started my show. Another thing is that there weren’t nearly as many online entrepreneurs in the market. Nearly 10 years later, the market has been completely saturated.

This plan consists of parts of the more traditional way of doing things, true. But, we have to realize that if we don’t start from the foundation of figuring out where we fit in the world, then we really don’t have much to build our future success on. 

We can’t scale from nothing.
So, put in that foundational work if you haven’t. Find out what interests you and how you can add value to others. Again, you can start with the guide if you need help.

self growth

How Self Growth and Your Filtering Process Affect Your Life and Business

They always say, you attract who you are. When I was at the start of my self growth journey, I really didn’t know what this meant. I remember exactly where I was when I first realized it though. I was in grad school. And, interesting to me, it wasn’t too long before I realized that not everyone is looking to climb a mountain in their career.

Up until that point, I thought just about everyone worked like I did.

I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

What I’ve realized since then is that there are different personalities, different motivators, and even different needs that we have to consider when we’re interacting with other people.

Because of this, we have to be aware of where we are on this personal journey so we can understand how they see us.

The better we can use this power, the easier it is to get what we want in the long run.

Or as Zig Zigler said, “If you help enough people get what they want, then you automatically get what you want”.

Here’s a few things to think about…

You Attract Who You Are

Recently, I was listening to a lesson that fellow John Maxwell Team member and future guest of the AoL Podcast, Jeff Gamble, was talking about on his FB Live show “Going Executive Director”. 

In the video, he was talking about how people tend to attract others like themselves. 

Here’s the thing. Jeff might have been using the MLM world as a reference, but it’s true across the board. And it’s especially true in life and business.

For example, when I was in college 10+ years ago, I was pretty insecure about my future. Like many engineering students, even though I liked having a good time, I learned to prioritize studying. I never had time to party.

Many of the friends I had in college were that same type, especially early on. 

After I changed majors, I felt more at ease and because of that, I started attracting new friends who didn’t fit this previous mold. They were confident in where they were going. And because of this, I started to see that I had decent control over my own future.

It was during this time that I started getting involved in clubs and other organizations on campus. Interestingly, I started to understand that not everyone is wired the same way I am. And like Jeff was talking about, I started to understand that not only are there different personalities, but different people have different needs.

Start with Your Needs

In the video, Jeff talks about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Tony Robbins’ 6 Human Needs. It’s uncanny how similar they are:

self growth

Early on in college, my esteem took a beating. It seemed like no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t be the student I was used to being in high school.

What I later realized is that I just had no idea how to study. And once I figured that out when I changed majors, I’d put in the needed work to fix that. As a result my confidence rose and I allowed myself to venture out and do other things. Interestingly enough, I started trying to connect with other students around me by becoming part of different organizations (that’s the next level of needs!)

So, here’s my question for you. Where do you fall? Do you have the basics figured out? Do you have safety figured out? How significant do you feel?

If you’re still in search of those, as Jeff was saying, you’re going to attract those people into your life – either as friends or as clients.

Setting Up Your Business for Success by Filtering

That being the case, as a business owner, you might not necessarily want to attract those who are in your own situation.

This is where the importance of setting up a filter comes into place. 

A filter is nothing more than a system used to qualify potential matches. Most businesses should use a filter when they’re trying to fit people to certain roles.

Here’s a few examples of where filters could be used:

Recruiting In Direct Sales

For example, if you’re affiliated with an MLM company like Jeff was talking about, then you’ll want to filter the right people in. You’re looking for people who want to learn about the system and how to leverage it properly to grow their own business. What you’re not looking for is people who are naturally not coachable and rebel about everything. You want to surround yourself with other students of the craft.

As a Consultant

Likewise, if you’re a consultant, then you’ll want to use a filter to see if someone really wants to achieve a new version of whatever you’re helping them with. You’ll need to learn how to ask them qualifying questions about themselves, their business, and what they’re looking to achieve.

As a Doctor

Another example, let’s say you’re a doctor. You’d need to filter people based on their needs on whether or not you can help them. If you misdiagnose someone and give them bad advice on their next step, there’s a good chance you might be sued for malpractice.

In an Everyday Situation

Or here’s a final example. Let’s say you’re actually in HR for a company. Do you think you should hire people like yourself to fill in jobs in the company, or should you hire people who fit the characteristics of the role that needs to be filled. Obviously, you want to hire to the role and to do that, you’ll need a filter to find out if they fit. Otherwise, you’ll hire someone and they’ll either quit or be fired.

Action Steps

So, I hope those examples give you a bit of an idea of the importance of a filter in your business and perhaps in your life as well. My trajectory changed completely for the next 10 years after college. If it wasn’t for the input I received those years, I wouldn’t have started on my current path.

And because of that, I wouldn’t have been able to eventually realize that these people had used a filter on me – whether consciously or subconsciously.

So don’t throw people at the wall and see what sticks. Otherwise, you’ll get more people like yourself. If you’re trying to become a new version of yourself, that might not be ok.

Instead, learn to consciously use filters in your day to day life. If someone isn’t going in the direction you are and doesn’t have the same standards that you want, then there’s a good chance they’re going to be a drag on your life and your business.

big picture thinking

How Big Picture Thinking Makes You Good but Small Habits Make You Great

As creatives, we’re taught to start with the end in mind. We’re taught to look at the big picture. If we keep that in front of us, we’ll eventually get to where we’re wanting to get to, no matter where we start.

This thinking process applies to creating just about everything.

In fact, Think Big, Start Small, Keep It Going was the topic of Amplify’s event last week. We had several speakers who have done just that. Here was the lineup:

Special VIP Guest Host: Mr. Richard Samuels

Featured Musician: Icie Marie Hinton

Artist Spotlight: Rebecca Robinson – Artist, Author, Fashion Entrepreneur

Featured Nonprofit: Community Action of Greater Indianapolis (C.A.G.I.) with Val M. Tate

• Keynote Speaker: Colin Martin – Founder of ViceRays

These individuals had incredible talent. Rebecca had some pretty interesting pieces (one of which I’m pretty sure was of Jack Sparrow – she just didn’t know it!). Icie had an impressive singing voice. And Val – wow, the organization she’s a part of (C.A.G.I.), I didn’t even know existed. They’re all about empowering individuals within the community to figure out how they can enrich themselves and their lives.

But then there was Colin. 

Wow. Dude has had the life that many of us in the online entrepreneurs crave. But, interestingly enough (and I’m hearing this more and more), he got burnt out by it. A lot of the building he did was to simply keep an image of success. Always wanting and doing more. 

Once he figured that these actions were what was tearing him up, he reallocated how he works. Today he has much less stress in his life than he did not too long ago.

Between all four speakers, you could see the talent oozing from them. You can see that they’re all headed towards great things.

But here’s the catch, talent or the potential for great things isn’t everything. It’s just that – potential.

We need to figure out what actions we can take now, to eventually get us to where we want.

Until then, we’re not going to get too far.

Football and Business

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to go to an LTD conference in Greensboro, North Carolina. There were lots of great speakers but one that stood out to me was David Cutcliffe, head coach of the Duke football team.

As you guys probably have realized, I love comparing the inner workings of football to business development. So this was a treat for me.

As he was going through his presentation, I thought, this is great stuff! In the past I’ve written about this topic in a little detail, but not as detailed as he was presenting it.

So here’s a little bit of what David knows about thinking big, starting small, and building the right habits to succeed.

Raising Enthusiasm Leads to Successful Results

In the presentation, David started with a quote from Winston Churchill. He said “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”.

If he was to stop there, I’d be like “Yes, that is correct”. Interestingly, David changed it up a little bit. He said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another while gaining enthusiasm and passion”.

While the difference between those two statements might seem small at first, if you think about it, his perspective is powerful.

Let’s say you have two players training for a particular sport. They’re going through drill after drill, honing their skills.

One of the players goes from drill to drill, task to task, with little change of emotion.

The other player gets more emotional after each drill, determined to be better whether he fails or succeeds.

If you took these two individuals and placed them in a competition with each other? Who do you think would win? The first or the second?

For me, I believe the second would have a better chance to win. And that’s what I believe David’s quote is referring to.

Results Speak For Themselves 

With that being an underlying value of David’s beliefs, how does it translate to the field and the team he’s in charge of? How does he put it into action?

Well, before we get there, let’s look at the results of his work with his team. This will give us a bit of perspective when we get to his methods.

From 1997 to 2007, Duke football was horrible. They had:

  • Only 19 wins
  • No bowl appearances
  • Four or fewer wins each season
  • Three no-win seasons
  • A 25-game ACC losing streak
  • And in December of 2007, the cumulative GPA of the team was 2.46

Since David came in 2008, they’ve had:

  • 67 wins (which is more than a 360% of winning)
  • Six bowl appearances
  • Three consecutive bowl victories
  • 31 ACC wins since the beginning of 2008 season
  • ACC Coastal Division Champions in 2013
  • And in May of last year (2018), the cumulative GPA was 3.126

It’s pretty apparent that the program got better.

Focus on the Little Things to Build a Foundation of Success

So what are the things that David changed to help his team find success? In fact, there’s three things he told the audience that he focuses on:

  1. Climate 
  2. Practice Habits
  3. The 55

Here’s what he had to say about each one:

Climate

The atmosphere that a coach and staff create within a program to enable players to develop to their greatest potential. Great attitudes and a positive approach are critical to the proper atmosphere. It’s the nucleus of the program and will dictate the ability to be successful with the rest of the tangible values. It also gives a sense of hope and accomplishment to everyone involved.

In a recent post, we talked about how the new climate and expectation to win is a big reason why the Colts had a successful season last year. 

Practice Habits

These are instrumental in allowing us to compete at the highest level. We must achieve excellent practice habits in order to achieve our goals.

Furthermore, he adds, that Power is equal to Work/Time (P = W/T). Work, then is equal to Our Habits (W=OH). So, in the end that means that the power that we produce is equal to the habits that we have over time.

Practice Makes Permanent!

The 55

Not entirely sure why David called this group of practices The 55. I think he said something about giving it a unique name that stuck. But what it consists of are practices he said were basic fundamental parts that if done right, they can hang with any other football team.

  1. Alignment
  2. Assignment
  3. Effort
  4. Execution
  5. Finish

He mentioned that if he watches film on the next opponent and they don’t do one of these parts perfectly, such as alignment, he knows right away that his team should be able to beat them.

In business and work, we need to realize what it is that we fundamentally have to do right each day, each week, etc. What are our core values? Our core habits? Are they getting us to where we want to be? If not, then we need to figure out what needs to be changed to get there.

Action Steps

So, that’s pretty much it for this post, guys. As I said, it was a good conference. A lot was learned and discussed with those that I went with. Very motivational.

If you’re counting on motivation and talent to get you through, then you’re not going to get far. We have to work our craft regularly whether or not we want to. 

It’s when you can do that, when you know you’re onto something great.

Or as Coach Cutcliffe said, If you focus and follow through with the small stuff, the larger stuff will take care of itself. 

order from chaos

Making Order From Chaos – Understanding the Roles of Containers and Expanders on Your Team

It’s interesting how the universe works. This morning as I was watching the local news, and heard that several people have mysteriously died recently in the Dominican Republic – one of which was Barbara Corcoran’s brother.


If that name doesn’t ring a bell, she’s been one of the more prominent sharks on Shark Tank over the years.

As I was learning more about the loss of her brother, I ran across this tweet:

She goes on to talk about this further in her post on LinkedIn: There are Only Two Kinds of People

What’s ironic is that this is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently.

The Study of People Using Assessments

In my studies over the years regarding human and organizational behavior, I’ve come to appreciate personality tests. And one thing I’ve come to realize is that there are all kinds of ways to explain how a person ticks.

Some use academic means to assess the subject (Reiss Motivation Profile) while others are more widely used simply because they’re more well known and the information seems easier to convey (Myers-Briggs, DISC).

Up until recently, I’ve mainly used variations of the DISC profile to understand where people are coming from. Heck, I know the model so well that, when I’m waiting out in public, I’ll simply pass the time watching people and guessing their personality based on their personal style and how they’re interacting with others.

Here’s the kicker: most personality tests such as DISC are great if you’re checking to see how people react to a certain situation. I can tell what a person’s primary “personality” by how they respond to tasks and people.

If they’re given a task, will they try to do it or pass it off? Likewise, if they’re around others, will they try to be friends with them all or will they chill with a select group that they know well?

However, if you really want to know a person, you need to know what their Why is. Why do they approach certain situations in certain ways? This is what the Reiss Motivation Profile can help us with.

Instead of saying “they act this way around people/tasks” it instead helps us understand  “this is Why they act this way around people/tasks”.

Containers vs Expanders: Order vs Chaos

In conversing with upcoming guest of the AoL Podcast, Andy Dix, about Reiss Profile assessment, I’ve come to a realization. There are people who thrive in chaos and there are those who thrive with order.

Based on the results of my Reiss assessment, I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle. I like to make connections in chaos and help others apply that knowledge to their lives and/or business.

But I’m definitely more on the order side of things than the chaos side.

In other words, I’m more of a Container than an Expander.


Containers are detail oriented, like to keep on top of things, and like to create systems.

Expanders love ideas and action, thrive in chaos, and are 100% all out all the time.

Leveraging this Knowledge as a Leader

Generally speaking birds of a feather, flock together. Containers will naturally gravitate towards other Containers. Expanders will group with other Expanders.

Why?


Well, it’s human nature to see others from our own perspective.

Truth is, if let alone in the workplace, these individuals have the potential to drive each other crazy if made to work together without proper leadership. Containers might think Expanders are careless. Expanders might start believing that Containers aren’t moving forward fast enough.

If you compare them side by side, you might be right.

But as we’ve found out, they’re not the same. We’re comparing apples and oranges. So to avoid that frustration on your team and network, let’s tie this all together.

The Expander Leader

Let’s say that you’re an Expander – you’re constantly taking action. If you’re not making waves and meeting new people, you’re not happy.

That’s great and all, but if all your doing is planting seeds… who’s harvesting them? If all you’re doing is making the meal, who’s cleaning things up?

That’s where the Container comes in. Containers can make sense of the work you’re doing. They can help you be more efficient. And they can clean up after you if needed.

These are the types of individuals you’d want as part of your advisory team – your inner circle.

However, that being the case, you also need other Expanders. You can’t do all the things that need to be done in the field. So having other Expanders around will allow you to take more territory and explore new opportunities twice as fast.

The Container Leader

Likewise, if you’re a Container like myself, you’ll want at least one or two inner circle members to be Expanders.

Why?

If all you have is a group of Containers trying to make sense of things, you might get stuck in a loop of improvement. You’ll overthink things more than you need to.

With the addition of Expanders on your team, you can turn to them and ask “Hey, can you take this idea out to the market and see if this is something people want?”. Or, you can ask them “Hey, who do you know that could help us with…?”.

Because they love taking action, they’ll either find out the information themselves or, better yet, share the task with other Expanders in your network.

Action Steps

So to me, it’s fairly understandable why Barbara is so adamant about this topic. When paired together, Containers and Expanders can do amazing things!

With this knowledge, you can now determine whether you’re a Container or an Expander.

Then, it might be good to do an inventory of your team. What skill sets do your team members currently have? Which do you need?

Is your organization currently lead by Expanders? Then I’d imagine you need some Containers to make sense of things. There’s a good chance you’re making quite a lot of waves!

Is your startup made up of Containers? You’ll need to find some Expanders. You’ll naturally want to work on the product or service, but you need those Expanders to test it out in the market and get that feedback you need to make your company more relative to the outside world.

Either way you look at it, find and leverage those that compliment yourself.

reinvent yourself

Cross the Thinking Gap and Reinvent Yourself!

How do you reinvent yourself? For the longest time, I questioned how this is possible. Aren’t we are who we’ve always been? How do we get another identity than the one we’re so familiar with?

A book that I found during my years at Purdue, called Reinventing Yourself made me start thinking more and more about this. And I realized that I had started on this path early on.

When I was growing up, I understood competition. In fact, I remember the first time I “lost” in the real world. It was in 4H in a shooting sports competition. And frankly, I hadn’t practice – and apparently it showed. I ended up getting 7th out of 10 competitors in my age range.

reinvent yourself

I was pretty upset when I heard the news. Up until that point, I felt that I was good at about just anything I put my mind to. I just couldn’t believe that I didn’t do as well as I thought I was going to do.

I vowed that next year I was going to be better.

That next year, I made it a point to get up super early on Saturdays and go out to the firing range with the club.

That next year, I didn’t do much better. In fact, if I remember right, I got 5th place. Still not nearly as good as the champions and grand champion ribbons I was seeing in my other projects.

However, one thing did stand out to me. Everyone at this event, which was supposed to be highly competitive, got a small trophy.

This was the first time I was exposed to the idea of all participants get a trophy.

I remember being pretty ticked off. Why should they get something for not even placing? I worked at my loss!

So the next year I opted to focus more on Dog Club and left the shooting sports group all together.

Generation Entitlement?

Many argue that Millennials are the most entitled generation. In fact, there are all kinds of books and articles that suggest that the reason for this is because of the rampancy of participation trophies.

Whether that’s truly the case is unknown. However, a lot of Millennials have been told their entire life that they can do anything they want if they put their mind to it.

Well, that’s simply not the case.

What’s worse, is that when things don’t go a certain way, many blame others for their downfalls.

It’s my parents’ fault.

The professor screwed us!

The government needs to do something about that!

Society teaches us that using phrases like this are ok. Unfortunately, they’re only ok if we plan to stay stuck where we’re at in life and in our careers.

Owners Win & Victims Lose

You might have heard the phrase “Own up to it!”. If so, you know that this is slang for taking responsibility for one’s actions.

When you own up to doing something wrong or incorrectly, you’re acting in a space of courage. You say something like “This is my fault. I will do better next time”.  

When we’re denying that we didn’t do something we’re accused of, we’re shedding responsibility. We think “I didn’t do anything wrong. Why should I change?”

Here’s the thing. We can only get better if we acknowledge our failure. If we don’t acknowledge that failure, we’re setting ourselves up for that same failure in the future.

So, really, it’s not much of a stretch to say that what you say on the outside starts with what you think and feel on the inside.

Become an owner and reinvent yourself

If you’re tired of losing, then it’s time to turn things around. But how? How can you reinvent yourself?

Well, here’s a few things that you can become a bit more aware of as you’re living your daily life. Once you break your habit of doing these things and turn it around, you automatically set yourself up to win.

1. Life is Hard! It’s Me vs the Rest of the World!

No, it isn’t. It really isn’t. Life is what you make out of it. 17 years ago, I believed that the world was acting against me and my goal of graduating. It felt like all professors were conspiring against me.

Truth is, engineering is just super tough and I wasn’t putting in enough work to get it done. Once I realized that it wasn’t working out, I switched majors and life started getting better. I got into a study group and started making the grades that I knew I was capable of. Heck, I even had time to do extracurricular activities for once!

2. I’m Not My Fault. They Made Me Do It!

Here’s a phrase that you’ll hear in movies quite a bit. Often times, you’ll hear it from a villain who’s trying to get back at the government or some kind of company.

We as the audience know that while they might have gotten a bad rap, it’s their fault that they’re acting the way they are. They’re making active choices to take the actions that they are.

Soon after, the villain gets what he deserves and the hero rides off into the sunset.

In our own lives, while using this phrase might not involve high stakes as a building exploding or aliens from another dimension being released into our own, it does have the same effect.

It’s our job to realize that we can totally change our perspective of the world at any time.

For example, there are plenty of people out there who have lost a limb and think they can’t be their former selves. That might be true, but it’s also totally possible that they could now be a better version of themselves now.

Also, there are homeless people who are constantly miserable and there are others who are fighting to get out of their funk. I’ve interviewed two people fairly recently who were both homeless in high school and now, years later, are living their dreams.


3. Why Should I Take Responsibility of Something I Didn’t Do?

I’ve mentioned this before, but Andrew Luck is a great example of a leader. In all of his post game interviews, he always takes the responsibility of a loss. And when the team wins, he sheds the glory to his teammates.

We all should try to be this humble in our own lives. Take responsibility even if it’s not our fault. And when we’re awarded, give thanks to those who have supported us.

Action Steps

As far as additional action steps to reinvent yourself, it might be worth your time to listen to a couple of interviews from those who had plenty of reasons to be a victim.
David Anderson, Antonio Smith, Jr., and Kristian Aleixo.

Also, you can learn more about crossing the thinking gap by checking out the newest version of Reinventing Yourself by Steve Chandler.

organic marketing

Organic Marketing Methods for the Artist and Musician

As an artist or musician, should you be using paid or organic marketing? Short answer: it depends. But let’s look at what might work for your situation.

Last night at this month’s Amplify Indy Experience, we showcased 2 speakers and 2 performances. The speakers consisted of an artist who works with steel as a canvas for his paintings and the president of the Indiana Filmmakers Network. We also had a couple of segments of future play performed as well as a band.

It was a pretty fun event!

As I was watching the event unfold, it occured to me that these individuals were very passionate about the work they were doing. Unfortunately, as I looked them up after the event, I realized that some of them weren’t doing much service to their work. They weren’t really getting the word out to the public that they existed!

Getting the Word Out

Since there’s not much difference from a business which fulfills a personal mission to being an artist, there are a lot of transferable skills and ideas that each side can teach each other. And to be frank, in the end, both want to do things they care about and they also want to make a living doing it.

So when it comes to getting the word out on what they’re doing, what can these artists learn from the online business world?

Well, as we know, there’s currently two types of marketing methods being used today. There’s paid and organic marketing. If you use Facebook and Instagram as a creative entrepreneur, you’ll probably see a lot of hype about paid marketing methods. But interestingly, a lot of people that started their online businesses 10 years ago used organic methods to to get the word out.

So which one should you be using to get your work out into the world?

I think it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and what kind of resources you have available to you.

PAID OR ORGANIC marketing? WHICH should You use?

Let’s say that you’re just starting out like some of the artists from last night’s event. You’re going to approach things much different than someone who already has a following and money to spend.

For one, since you’re not pulling in much income from your work, there’s a pretty fair chance that you’ll be frugal about where you’re spending your time and resources. Since that’s the case, paid marketing might not be the best idea.

Another thing to consider is that even if you have a budget to spend on advertising from say a previous company or work, you have to consider if you have the systems in place to deal with a huge influx of interest and leads.

If you’re a painter like our artist, for example, then having this big campaign for your work might not make the most sense.

Why?

For starters, you can only physically produce so many pieces. However, if you were doing prints of this work and had a website set up that automatically took orders, then that might be a better match.

Of course, you’d have to think about how you’re making those prints. Are you physically making each one yourself or is a third party doing it? (Just make sure that third party is up to your standard in quality.)

Something else to consider is exclusivity. Do you want to even have prints and/or copies of your work out there? If not, then you’ll definitely want to work in the organic world vs blasting it out to a million people on Facebook and Instagram.

Types of Organic marketing

So, as we’ve looked at why you probably don’t want to touch paid marketing yet, let’s look at the options you have in organic marketing.

Simple Posts and Videos

You need to start somewhere. But where? Well, that’s a good question. There’s several answers to this, but a common one is start where you can post for free. There’s nothing wrong about posting on your FB personal profile or Instagram account. If you’re an artist, post about your process of creating the piece. Break it down about why you’re creating the piece that you’re creating. It has a story, share it.

Obviously, if you’d prefer to do it in video format, you can do that too on YouTube. There’s plenty of makers who do one project, talk about the process, and then move onto the next project.

Direct Outreach

So maybe, posting all the time on Facebook or Instagram isn’t your thing. Sure you might post something here and there, but you don’t want to run on some “fake” schedule. Maybe you don’t want to document EVERYTHING. Or maybe you’re more introverted and only want to talk about your work with those you think might benefit from it. If any of these sound familiar, then you might want to consider using my personal favorite of marketing, direct outreach.

Just like in the real world, there’s tons of groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. If we’re going with the painter example, search for a handful of groups that interest you. (Make sure you stick to only a handful however, you don’t want oversaturate your feed!!) Start participating in those groups regularly and before you know it, people look at you as an expert in your craft.

Once that’s the case and people are pretty familiar with you and your work, they might actually ask to have a commission done, or if your a musician, buy your album.

Make People Take Notice

When I was growing up, I remember receiving samples of products in the mail. Cereal seemed to have made it through a couple of times. Toothpaste was one we received at one point as well. And if I remember right, bars of soap were sent a couple of times as well.

What’s interesting is that I remember these particular products because they were in the mail. They stood out from everything else.

Back in first half of the 20th century, there used to be all kinds of ads that were placed on the side of the road. One of which I remember in particular was a product called Burma-Shave. They would have multiple red little signs spaced far enough apart that would only make sense if you were going 35 mph or more. These signs would actually spell out a short sentence and at the end of the series of signs there was always one that had the logo on it.

What do these promotions have in common? They were noticeable. They weren’t promoted like other items similar to them.

So, as an artist, how might you stick out from the pack? Perhaps if you’re a painter, you might go to an art fair. But on top of that, why don’t you paint while you’re there? Or if you’re a musician at a music festival, go out and meet the crowd before you play.

Leveraging Pre-Existing Networks, Local TV and Publications

If you’ve been in business before, you might have heard that it’s a good thing to own your own list. This is true for anyone who’s trying to make a living from their work.

For example, when Dane Maxwell started his music career a couple of years ago, he didn’t start from scratch. In fact, he used the list that he had already developed as he was building The Foundation. While on the surface the fans of each not be the same, there was in fact a lot of overlap because people knew Dane and wanted to see what he was up to next.

If you don’t have your own list, then there’s nothing wrong with using those of others. Whether it’s through an appearance on TV, or an editorial in a local magazine, take these opportunities to show your work. You never know who’s going to be in the audience!

Collaborate with other Artists

I’m sure you’ve heard songs over the years that are credit for one singer but are “featuring” someone else. Just like the previous examples, musicians often times partner with people who are more well known than they are. This gets them exposed to a larger audience.

Likewise, perhaps you’re a painter. Remember that thing about being noticed? Perhaps you can collaborate with other painters to make mural in your city or town? Or perhaps you can help host an event?

In the online entrepreneurial space, we would call these doing joint ventures. However, as a real world artist, you have so many more ways of working with others!

Action Steps

So there have it, folks. A few ways to get out into the world as a new artist or musician. If that doesn’t describe you, don’t worry about it! All of these are ideas that can be used in a regular business as well.

Again, I’d use these methods to build up whatever it is you’re doing before you start with the paid methods.

For one, you want to make sure that people want what you’re offering.

But two, you want to make sure that you have the structure (systems) in place that would allow you to benefit from it.

For example, if you were to do a webinar for a list of people who knew you from something else (like Dane), there’s a good chance they won’t buy your new thing. It’s not that they don’t like you, they’re just not interested in your new project. (There’s nothing wrong with that… not all of Dane’s followers from The Foundation days follow his music.)

However, if you were to use that same webinar with a well placed Facebook Ad which targeted the right demographic of people, then you might actually see a good ROI initially. Problem is, if you’re doing things manually on your end, it might be awhile before those folks who raise their hands as interested hear back from you. By the time they do, they might have moved on to something else. So, what looks like it was a great campaign at first, may end up not being as great because you weren’t able to follow through quickly.

Anywho, as usual, I could go on about this topic. But I hope that helps some of you struggling artists out there get your work to those people who need it!