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The Mindset You Need to Succeed – OITW 4

This is Part 4 of the JABBED 5-Minute Book club series on the Ryan Holiday book, The Obstacle is the Way. Earlier parts covering “Perception” can be found herehere, and here but are not necessary to read as each post stands on its own. Quotes are from OITW unless otherwise noted.

Not part of the 5-Minute Book Club yet? Read more about it or join here.


We’ve talked in the earlier parts of this series about the importance of our perceptions and our focus. These earlier sections have laid the groundwork for this: Taking Action. Now, that we know how to perceive and think, we are prepared to not just take actions, but, to take the “right” actions.

Take Bold Action

“While you’re sleeping, traveling, attending meetings, or messing around online you’re falling behind. You’re going soft. You’re not aggressive enough. You’re not pressing ahead. You’ve got a million reasons why you can’t move at a faster pace. This all makes the obstacles in your life loom very large.

For some reasons, these days we tend to downplay the importance of aggression, of taking risks, of barreling forward.”

The above passage from Ryan Holiday outlines a lesson I have learned in a big way the last couple of years. The lesson is simply this: 90% of achieving big things is simply taking Action.

Stop complaining about what the incumbents are doing. Stop daydreaming about what you could do one day. If you wanted to. Stop coming up with excuses why you can’t get started now. Most people will waste their lives away doing these things. You don’t want end up like “most” people, right?

So, get in motion. Take the first step. Dare to dream the big dream. Take bold, massive action. Those who created the machine in which you are a cog were no smarter than you. They simply took action.

Creating Momentum

As Holiday continues, “We often assume the world moves at our leisure. We delay when we should initiate. We jog when we should be running… or sprinting. We’re shocked – shocked! – when nothing big ever happens, when opportunities never show up, when new obstacles begin to pile up, or when our enemies finally get their act together.”

“We talk a lot about courage as a society but we forget that at its most basic level it’s really just taking action… If you want momentum, you’ll have to create it yourself, right now, by getting up and getting started.

A final word about the importance of taking Action – a half-hearted “I guess I will give this a shot, but, it probably won’t work” attitude will lead to you taking the kind of actions that get you zero results. You might as well not take action at all if you are going to have that approach to it.

Take big, bold actions. Throw yourself completely into your task with your whole heart. This is the kind of Action that creates greatness. Especially when you pair it with Persistence.

Want to read more about the power of Action and speed? Check out my breakdown of Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on the issue by clicking here.

The Power of Persistence

Will merely taking action solve our problems? No, of course not. This is where persistence comes into play.

Think of Persistence as the twin brother of Action. Action is strong, muscular, and full of energy. He is boisterous, and charges ahead, but, can quickly become discouraged when things go poorly.

Persistence is a smaller, quieter, calmer brother. What he lacks in physical strength, he makes up for in emotional strength. He is confident. When things go poorly, he does not become flustered. Instead, he encourages and points his “big” brother to try again with a new line of attack. Persistence knows that there is one course of action that will crack the puzzle. He knows that each failed action just takes him and his brother one step closer to finding the right action.

You will fail. You will fall down. Your “can’t-miss plan” will miss. You need the persistence &  the willpower to try and try again until you find the action that will work. There is one. You need to have the “I won’t be denied” attitude to try every angle until success is attained.

Usually, if you plan your actions carefully to minimize your downside, the costs of a miss aren’t that great. The failure is temporary. But, the spoils of success could be life-changing and you usually only need one big success in a lifetime to change your life completely. Are you forfeiting the chance at big, long-term success over the fear of small, short-term failures?

The Mindset You Need to Succeed

Holiday describes the mindset we need to succeed as follows: “We will not be stopped by failure, we will not be rushed or distracted by external noise. We will chisel and peg away at the obstacle until it is gone. Resistance is futile.”

“Too many people think that great victories… come from a flash of insight. That they cracked the problem with pure genius. In fact, it was the slow pressure, repeated from many different angles, the elimination of so many other more promising options, that slowly and surely churned the solution to the top of the pile.”

Action and Persistence. It’s secret mixture used by anyone who achieved great things.

You just need the creativity to come up with new lines of attack when your first choice fails. The confidence to know you will fail at some point and that it will be okay. The audacity to try anyway. The persistence to keep trying every possible approach until you find the one approach that works.

These are the attributes that you must cultivate. These are the attitudes that will lead you to successes greater than anything you have ever dreamed possible.

Be sure to come back or join our mailing list so you don’t miss Part 5 of our Obstacle is the Way series. You can find Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the JABBED Obstacle Is The Way series herehere, and here.

Want to skip ahead and read the full book now? Check out The Obstacle is the Way on Amazon by clicking here.

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How One Man Turned $100 into $1,050 in 16 days

In January 2017, 32/10 (a division of entrepreneurial non-profit New Leaf Digital in Huntsville, AL) ran a contest to see who could turn $100 into $1,000 in just 30 days. We called the contest our first 10X Challenge.

Nandish Dayal accomplished the feat in just 16 days.

With all the entrepreneurial talk about apps, Facebook ads, scalability, etc. you would expect Nandish’s methods to have involved something tech-related. But, Nandish 10x’ed his money in just over 2 weeks with some of the oldest, most tried and true entrepreneurial methods imaginable.

Nandish is a native of Fiji. In his words, “We didnt have a lot of resources so you learn to be creative.”

Nandish is not, in his words, a “tech guy”. His career is in healthcare. He just finished becoming a nurse practitioner and relocated to Oregon to work in a healthcare facility where he is negotiating a partnership. Making his hustle even more impressive, he achieved 10X returns while packing up for his big move across the United States.

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Nandish and wife Judith

Nandish’s Strategy

Coming into the competition, Nandish knew he wouldn’t win in some kind of tech or app competition. He decided to focus on something he knew really well. His hobbies have long included working on cars, specifically Subaru vehicles. For most of the last 7 years, Nandish has worked on Subaru’s as a hobby. He also drives them and has bought and sold them for profit.

Nandish found an old Subaru in very bad shape. It needed thousands of dollars worth of work to run properly again. The owner wanted $300 for the car. After a a lot of negotiating, Nandish got the cost for the car down to $100. The engine ran long enough for the car to sputter its way back to Nandish’s garage. The transmission was shot.

But, Nandish knew the value of the parts inside the car. He knew how to remove the parts. He knew that the parts inside the car were worth substantially more than the $100 he paid if they could be removed and if he could find buyers.

As luck would have it, while removing parts from the car, Nandish’s neighbor sees him and says he knows “a fella” looking for a front assembly for a car like that. Nandish ends up selling the complete front bumper assembly (both sets of wheels, hood, both fenders, front bumper) to the “fella” for a whopping $750.

A few days later, he sells the rolling shell that remains for $300 to put him $1,050 in just 16 days.

So, there you have it… a 10.5X return on investment 16 days.

Takeaways from Nandish’s Achievement

  • If you are accustomed to depending on someone to give you a job to make money, that’s not the only way. Our education system largely encourages us to seek careers instead of entrepreneurial opportunities. Nandish’s upbringing taught him to look for opportunities and not to expect anyone to give him an easy path to making money when he needed or wanted cash.
  • Nandish was willing to think of what was possible and be creative, not just what other people were doing.
  • When looking for a way to make money on the side or start a new venture, your best chance of success is to stick close to something you know well.
  • In Tony Robbins’ book Money, he covers a strategy that billionaires use in investment called the 5X Rule. Simply put, the 5X rule means that they must see a likelihood of 500% upside to make any investment. Smart businesspeople know they will be wrong and, if you follow this rule, you only need to right 1 time out of 5 to break even. It’s a low-risk/high-return strategy (what you learned in economics about risk and return being related is completely out of sync with the real world) and so was Nandish’s strategy. He was only risking $100 and felt certain there was at least $500-1000 worth of value in the car. These are the type of business bets you want to make. Too many people risk all their investment in hopes of a 30% return on their investment. This isn’t a good strategy because you will be wrong sometimes.
  • You don’t have to be the world’s foremost expert to be on your own and make money. There are people who know more about cars than Nandish. But, he knows more about cars than most people know. That is usually enough to be able to make some profit.

I asked Nandish for a closing comment to those who might read this article. Here is what he said:

“There are often instituted drawbacks or obstacles that may hold us back. But the important thing to remember is that you are truly the master of your own destiny. It’s okay to have bad days but someone out there would kill to have the access to all the privileges that we have.”

Nandish shared with me that he plans to donate his winnings to a scholarship at his alma mater, the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

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The Productivity Trick Used By Tim Ferriss And Nick Saban – OITW 3

This is Part 3 of the JABBED 5-Minute Book club series on the Ryan Holiday book, The Obstacle is the Way. Earlier parts can be found here and here but are not necessary to read as each post stands on its own. Quotes are from OITW unless otherwise noted.

Not part of the 5-Minute Book Club yet? Read more about it or join here.

If you have been following this series, pay extra close attention to this post. This is the most powerful lesson from The Obstacle is the Way and will change your life if you take it to heart.

Why is that we all have only 24 hours in a day, yet some can achieve so much more than others? We all have a limited amount of time and energy. This means that every time that we choose to spend time or energy on one thing, we are left with less of both to spend on other things.

So, here’s the trick: focus 100% of your time and energy on the things that you can control. Spend 0% of your time & energy on the things that you can’t control.

The default behavior for the average person is to spend the majority of their time and energy worrying over things they can’t control. News, sports, gossip, decisions that are for others to make.

In addition to lost time & energy, these things we can’t control often cause us stress. Stress further damages our ability to be productive and makes us unhappy.

When we focus on things we can control, we feel empowered. When we focus on things we can’t control, we feel powerless.

The lesson that high performers teach us is that those who tune out the distractions and get focused can achieve amazing results. When you dig into high performers and their habits, laser-like focus is maybe the most commonly shared behavior among all different types of high performers.

Why do high performers achieve more in 24 hours than the average person?

  1. They literally “create” time for themselves by not wasting their limited time on things that they can’t control.
  2. Because they are focused 100% on the things that they control, they develop a mindset of confidence. They don’t feel like helpless bystanders watching other people do things.

Diverse Examples

Author Tim Ferriss details this “focus” philosophy in his book, The Four-Hour Work Week. This idea is, in many ways, the core idea in Ferriss’ productivity system.

Ferriss encourages avoidance of media which has no impact on your goals. To have good ideas and to be productive, we must “turn down the noise”, Ferriss warns us.

At the other end of the spectrum from author/entrepreneur Ferriss, we have University of Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban. Focusing only on what you can control is the cornerstone of the system that Saban calls “The Process”. The Process has netted Saban multiple national championships and the most dominant college football dynasty in recent memory.

The only media consumed by Saban is 10 minutes of the Weather Channel each morning while having coffee with this wife. When asked about the 2016 Presidential Election the day after the election, Saban answered that he “didn’t even know that yesterday was Election Day”. He didn’t appear to be joking. Saban is also the same man who, in 2006, famously skipped dinner with President George W. Bush because his Dolphins team had practice (not a game) that night.

Saban continually coaches his players to think only about the current play, the present moment. He tells them not to think about what the score is or what the outcome of the game is. For Saban, it is all about complete and total focus only on what you can control at this very moment.

The Power of Focus

In Ryan Holiday’s words, “Focusing exclusively on what is in our power magnifies and enhances our power. But, every ounce of energy directed at things we can’t actually influence is wasted… So much power – ours and other people’s – is frittered away in this manner”.

What are the things you can can control? “Our emotions, our judgments, our creativity, our attitude, our perspective, our desires, our decisions, our determination”.

The things you can’t control? Who is President, who won the Broncos game, what Kim Kardashian did today. Quit opening the news app. Unfollow those noisy folks on Facebook that are going on and on about these things. Turn off notifications for non-essential apps.

There are less obvious things we can’t control that can sap our time & energy. You can’t control if the customer accepts your proposal. You can only control giving the best proposal possible. If you are part of a team pursuing a goal, you can’t always control if your team achieves the goal or not. But, you can control whether or not you gave your absolute best effort.

Even in your own life, you can only control your end of the deal. Focus your time and energy on that. Focus in on the things that you can control. Leave the rest. Simple, but, by no means easy.

Eliminate Distraction, Focus In

Your career, your family, your friends, your dreams, your happiness and fulfillment are the things that deserve your time and energy.

The events that our society watches from afar and talks endlessly about will only waste your time and energy away. The same goes for worrying over the choices that are up to others to make.

If you tune these things out and focus 100% on what you can control, you will seem unusual to many people. But, those who are the most successful always seem unusual to everyone else.

Be sure to come back or join our mailing list so you don’t miss Part 4 of our Obstacle is the Way series. Parts 1 and 2 of the JABBED Obstacle Is The Way series can be found here and here.

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The above images are used in accordance with the Wikimedia Commons license.

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Perception is Part of Your Problem – OITW 2

This is a continuation of our Virtual Book club series. The first part can be found here. This post derives lessons from Ryan Holiday’s book, The Obstacle is the Way. All quotes are from this book unless otherwise noted. Not part of the Virtual Book Club yet? Read more about it or join here.

How can we turn our obstacles into advantages? Or problems into solutions?

The change must begin with our perception because everything that we think or do begins with perception.

First, we must develop our nerve. Any time that we “aim high, pressure and stress obligingly come along for the ride… The risk of being overwhelmed is always there” Holiday writes.

What is nerve exactly? Nerve is largely about taking the attitude “I refuse to be intimidated” and “I don’t have the luxury of being shaken up about this”. Nerve is about staying calm, or at least in control, when everything else is going sideways.

If our nerve fails, our ability to use all our other skills is greatly diminished. Nerve allows us to “focus (our) energy exclusively on solving problems rather than reacting to them”.

It’s not that we should stop feeling emotions, this is impossible and foolish. But, Holiday says we must “domesticate” our feelings.

How often does getting upset offer us an advantage? Almost never. It narrows our viewpoint, lowering our potential options for dealing with a problem. It clouds our minds and makes us act rashly. Rarely does this lead to better outcomes.

Defiance sticks out as a key attribute to develop – I won’t let this emotion control me. I am in charge, not my “lower self”. 

Cultivating Calm

Nerve is not something we are born with, it can be developed. Holiday recounts the story of astronaut John Glenn whose heart rate never went above 100 during a shuttle launch.

Was Glenn superhuman? No, he simply trained and mentally prepared for that launch for months, going through simulations & mental exercises. In a shuttle launch, losing nerve for even a few seconds can cause a critical mistake resulting in catastrophe.

We also should prepare and fortify our nerves for our daily challenges and for those critical moments when our actions mean so much. If Glenn can control his heart while hurtling into outer space, we can learn to control ours while facing competitors, clients, our children, our spouses, and our family members.

The lesson here is that building nerve is not a matter of a one-time decision. Glenn invested time and sustained effort into building his. It’s a process.

“The observing eye sees what is there. The perceiving eye sees more than what is there.”

Holiday writes that it is our perceptions, not events themselves, that are often our biggest problem. We decide an event is “good” or “bad”. And, sometimes, when we have a perception that an event is “bad”, our perception can lead to a chain reaction of worsening problems.

Events simply “are”, they are not inherently good or bad. It’s our thinking that decides they are one or another.

Ever notice that when your friend shares his or her problems with you, the answers seem crystal clear? We never have this clarity about our own problems.

What’s missing when you talk about someone else’s problems? “The baggage”, writes Holiday, “with other people we can be objective”.

Consider backing up from your problem and pretending it isn’t happening to you. What if this were happening to your friend? How would you perceive it then? What advice would you give if you weren’t so emotionally involved?

Our Perceptions Are the Basis of All Our Actions

We can’t change the obstacle we face, but, we can change how we look at it. The “worst case” explanation that we jump to isn’t necessarily the right one. Consider the alternatives. Backup and look at this problem from someone else’s point of view. Look for alternate points of view of ways to attack the problem.

This quote from Holiday sums up this first section of The Obstacle Is the Way: “Where the head goes, the body follows. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.”

The first step to turning our problem around is to change our perception. Our perception is a domino falling that will cause a chain of thoughts & actions that can either make matters worse or better.

Control your perception, control your life.

Come back for Part 3 of the Obstacle is the Way edition of Virtual Book Club on Monday. In Part 3, we will learn how to focus our thought & energy to achieve optimal results and to overcome our problems.

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The Obstacle Is The Way

Obstacle is The Way 1: Your Problem Might Be the Key to Your Success

Part of the Virtual Book Club yet? Join here.

This is the first of a series of Virtual Book Club posts with lessons derived from Ryan Holiday’s book, The Obstacle is the Way. This book is a favorite of Fortune 500 CEO’s, NFL coaches and players, and comes recommended by college coaches like Alabama’s Nick Saban. This section is derived from the Introduction section of the book.

What if the big problem that you face today could actually be the springboard to your greatest success?

In The Obstacle is the Way, we learn that you can turn any problem into an advantage. But, only if you start thinking about your problem the right way. What you need is a system to reframe your problems.

A New Way of Thinking About Obstacles

Why is having a system of thinking about problems so important? Couldn’t we just focus on solving our current problems? After all, once they are solved, it’s clear sailing, right?

But, this doesn’t work. We tell ourselves things like this but the truth is that problems and obstacles will never go away. No matter how far we progress, how much we accomplish, or how much money we make, we will find and face new problems.

A brief look at human history illustrates this very well. Our ancestors faced far worse problems than we do today and solved them. If you’re reading this, you will probably never worry about having food to eat or a bed to sleep in. Or, if you’re a parent, you can reasonably expect all your children to live to see 18 years old. However, in the year 1800, 43.3% of children would die before their 5th birthday.

Even though humanity has come so far, we still face plenty of problems today – some old and some new. The reality of human existence is that problems are a part of it. It’s a reality of our physical world and our mental and emotional wiring.

So, since problems aren’t going away, we need a new framework for thinking about them. We must no longer shy away from them, sweep them under the rug, or live in denial.

We must find a way of thinking that will keep us calm, composed, and prepared to handle whatever may come. The place to begin is simply realizing this: your current problem contains an advantage specifically for you.

The Advantage Built In to Your Biggest Problems

Intel CEO Andy Grove once stated that: “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.” Holiday says that this quote is equally true of individuals:

All great men and women used their greatest challenges as the fuel to achieve their success.

This is not about “glass half full” platitudes. In Holiday’s words:

The point is not to be “positive” but to be ceaselessly creative and optimistic

Not: This is not so bad.

But: I can make this good.

Examples of Those Who Turned Weakness into Strength

Over 33% of all entrepreneurs are dyslexic, including billionaire Richard Branson. Dyslexia is almost twice as common in entrepreneurs as the general population.  Some estimates put the percentage of entrepreneurs with any learning disability as high as 50%. We will discuss in a later post in this series why learning disability may turn into a strength for some individuals.

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was rejected repeatedly during auditions and told that he could never be an American movie actor due to his accent. The accent has, of course, become the signature of one of the world’s most famous actors.

President Barack Obama turned both his own multi-racial background and the racial issues raised during his 2008 bid into a vision of hope, change, and a speech on race relations still considered to be one of the best in history. Arguably both Obama’s “disadvantages” ultimately made him more remarkable and fueled his meteoric rise to the White House.

President Donald Trump has been widely ridiculed and sometimes despised for the things he has said in his political career. But, this very criticism has only made him stronger with his base. Trump has leaned into the very things he has been criticized for rather than away from them. He turned a disadvantage into the source of his strength.

How?

How do you get start turning your problem into your solution? It is a simple process, but, not an easy one. We will begin digging into specifics in Part II on Friday. Click here to join the JABBED Virtual Book Club mailing list so that you don’t miss any posts from this series.


Want to read more great books but don’t have the time or patience to spend hours on a single book? Click here to join the JABBED Virtual Book Club Mailing List for 5-minute summaries of the most valuable concepts from the best books delivered right to your inbox. No spam, 1-click unsubscribe at any time, the full post is readable right in your email client.

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Cutting the Ends off the Ham

Losing $300 Million By Cutting the Ends off the Ham

A daughter is preparing a big family dinner with her mother. Mom cuts both ends off the ham before putting the ham in their big, spacious oven. The daughter asks, “Mom, why do we cut the ends off the ham?”

Mom says, “It’s the way grandma taught me to do it”. Daughter goes to grandma’s house to ask grandma why we cut the ends off the ham.

Grandma’s reply is, “Oh honey, I only cut the ends off the ham because my oven was so small back then that the ham wouldn’t fit inside it without cutting it”.

We Often Carry Forward Out of Date Ideas and Assumptions

This anecdote is an example of something we all do. We form routines and mental models based on a current reality, or, as in the story, we get them handed down to us. But, sometimes the underlying reality changed and our routines and mental models did not.

Sometimes, these no-longer-correct routines and models can have harmless consequences, like cutting the ends off a literal ham. But, sometimes, these outdated approaches can get us into real trouble.

Failing to See the Possibilities in the New Oven

In 1998 and 1999, investors poured money into new online stores like Pets.com, the “internet pet store”, and eToys.com, the “internet toy store”.

Investors saw the internet going mainstream and believed that online retail would closely mirror traditional retail. Traditional retail was flush with successful niche retailers like Best Buy, PetSmart, and Toys R Us. But, investors were blind to the fact that the world of traditional retail was a world that had been largely shaped by its constraints.

  • Traditional retail requires lots of high quality floor space in expensive “prime locations” plus warehousing and delivery to stores. Online retail only requires bare necessity warehouses with delivery direct to the customer.
  • Due to space constraints, traditional retailers must be selective about what product they carry and specialize in. Online retailers can stock and sell millions of products for not much more effort, relatively speaking, than is required for hundreds.
  • If traditional retail stores get too large and hard to find product in or if retail employees don’t know the products or the store layout, customers can become lost or frustrated. In online retail, customers don’t expect to deal with an employee and any product is one search or click away.

In short, traditional retail has a small oven, online retail has a very large oven.

Having a product niche like toys or electronics makes perfect sense in traditional retail due to the constraints imposed. But, investors still wanted to cut the ham to put the “old world” constraints on the “new world” of online.

A $300 Million Mistake

Pets.com was founded in 1998, promptly raised $300 million from investors, and was completely out of business by the end of 2000. To be fair, Pets.com suffered from a variety of other underlying issues as well that made their fall so sudden and dramatic, but, it’s also now clear that the entire premise was flawed from the beginning.

Very small & inexpensively run niche online retailers are certainly thriving in the Long Tail of the current online economy. But, the rest of online retail is largely owned one internet superstore – Amazon. Amazon finally capitalized on all the “big oven” possibilities and, it turned out, that was what the market craved.

It was a mistake to build a “large scale niche” online store like Pets.com. And, perhaps, there was no way that anyone could have known this. Predicting the consequences of great shifts is complicated and fraught with risk.

But, if we are at least aware of and thinking about this phenomenon, maybe we can give ourselves a chance the next time around.

The next time you see major shifts in any area, ask some of these questions:

  • What old restrictions have been removed?
  • What new possibilities are now open that were not there before?
  • Imagine throwing out the old model completely. You are starting fresh in this new environment. What would the ideal model/routine/way of doing business look like?
  • How could I make something better and not simply mirror the old environment in this new one?
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Don’t Compromise with Your Haters, Double Down with Your Fans

Many were stunned by the surprise announcement of the closing of Ringling Brothers’ “Greatest Show on Earth” Circus. Animal rights activists targeted the circus in the years leading up to its closure for the circus’ treatment of its animals. In 2016, Ringling Brothers’ quit using elephants in its shows after years of legal battles, but, what happened next (according to this Chicago Tribune article) outlines an important principle that will change the way you look at your life and your business:

…when the elephants left, there was a “dramatic drop” in ticket sales. Paradoxically, while many said they didn’t want big animals to perform in circuses, many others refused to attend a circus without them.

I’m going to stay out of taking sides in this animal rights issue, what I want to look is the broader lesson of the unfortunate fate of Ringling Brothers.

The Takeaway

The lesson is a simple one: the people who are criticizing you or your business are almost never going to be your customers or your fans even if you give in to what they want from you.

Appeasing your haters won’t gain you their favor or their business. They don’t like you. They weren’t and aren’t going to do business with you. If you water down yourself or your product to please your haters, it may actually cost you the favor of your fans, the people who actually do really like you.

In the case of Ringling Brothers, the circus was left little choice but to compromise due to legal pressures. But, as long as your haters are not dragging you through court, you have much more freedom in responding to your haters than Ringling Brothers.

You can choose to listen to haters and water down yourself or water down your product. Or, you can double down with your fans.

You can change yourself or your offering to attempt to make fans out of those who don’t like you. Or, you could just try to find more people who are like your fans.

Chasing the Uncatchable

If Alice Cooper had quit biting the heads off of bats would the disgusted parents have begun attending his shows? If N.W.A. had quit using profanity in their songs, would censorship activists have begun purchasing their rap albums? Or, if cigarette companies changed their marketing tactics, would critics begin smoking?

The answers to all these questions are obvious. But, how many times do we do the same thing in our lives or businesses? How often do we kowtow to criticism (or simple fear of criticism) expecting that to make us more appealing? The fact is that appealing to all different groups and interests simultaneously is simply not possible.

In fact, trying to be everything to everyone is the path to being nothing to anyone. Double down with those who already like you and/or your product. Ignore your haters or, alternatively, your fans may even love to see you take a stand and roast your haters on social media. Feel out what is right for you and your circle.

But, be sure to build your future on a solid foundation with your fans, don’t ever make the classic mistake of trying to build a future on the sinking sand of criticism.

george_clooney

Follow the George Clooney Principle to Win at Anything

Actor George Clooney floundered in Hollywood for years before he became a star. He went to audition and after audition, was rejected, and sent away. Like anyone would, he became bitter & frustrated.

But, everything changed when he had an epiphany. He realized that the movie producers had their own problems. He realized that these producers were stressed about their budgets, stressed about finding actors to fill their movie’s roles so that their movies could succeed. They needed somebody special and they were hoping that the next actor to come in would be the one to make their movie a success.

In short, George finally realized that these auditions were not about George Clooney at all. He had been agonizing over how much the producers might like him or if this audition or that audition would make him a star. But, these auditions were actually about the movie producers and their needs. George could succeed by focusing on what they wanted. He needed to offer a solution to their problem, not his problem of wanting to become a star. If George solved the producers’ problem, then George’s problem would solve itself.

George adjusted his mindset, got focused on the movie producers and what they were thinking and feeling, and his luck changed immediately. The rest is, as they say, history.

The Simple, but, Overlooked, Secret

If you want to win big in anything this is the simple secret:

Focus more on who you can help and how you can help them. Focus less on what you want out of the deal. The other person can be a movie producer, a job interviewer, your boss, or the customers of your business or potential business.

When you think about who you can sell, how much you can sell them, and how everyone will look up to you afterward, you have an inward-focused mindset. These types of thoughts are really about you. These thoughts are about what you want, just like George Clooney’s initial approach to movie auditions was about him. This mindset will blind you to the other person’s wants and needs. It’s near impossible to hit a target that you cannot even see.

But, when you think about how you can help the other person, what they might be feeling, what problems they have, how they might feel, and how you could provide solutions to their problems, you have an outward-focused mindset. This will open your eyes to see the clues that were there all along. This will give you the empathy to understand how you can solve their problem.

And as George Clooney learned, the solution to your problem is always on the other side of the other person’s problem.

The featured image for this article was taken by Gary King and is used in accordance with the Wikimedia Commons 3.0 license.
Achieve Goals in 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Your Goals

Interested but don’t have time to read all this right now? I can send you a free ebook of this post if you prefer. Just click here.

Do you have goals that you want to achieve? Have you tried and failed to achieve goals or “New Year’s Resolutions” in the past? Do you want to greatly up your quality of life over the next decade?

Over the past few years, I’ve developed a system that has helped me succeed as a CEO, a business owner, a father, a husband, and now as founder of a startup. This system has been culled from the tips and teachings of famous top performers and productivity experts like Tony Robbins, Peter Drucker & Tim Ferriss and from mentors in my personal life.

And, now, I’m sharing my system with you. The system is completely free, there is no up-sell, there is no catch, just simple, actionable principles that you can start using today.

This guide will show you how to implement a proven system that will help you achieve your personal goals and to achieve success. Investing a few minutes now can lead to years of success by simply making the right high-impact decisions.

By request, I have included several free tools and the entire contents of this post in a free ebook download that you can receive by clicking here to read at your leisure. Or, you can simply continue reading the complete guide right here and now.

The Right Naming System

First things first – if it’s a New Year’s Goal, quit calling it a New Year’s Resolution and start calling it a Goal. New Year’s resolutions are famous for one thing – not being kept. What we call things and our related expectations are far more powerful than most people realize. I touch on this in my Jim Kouzes post if you would like to read more, but, it’s enough to know you should quit calling them resolutions and start calling them goals.

Set the Right Goals

“We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year but underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.” – Tony Robbins

Nothing is more important than setting the right goals in the first place. What you choose to focus on is far more important than the system that you use. Effectively carrying out a goal that you never should have pursued in the first place is a waste of time and energy, so, let’s dig into how to setup the right goals.

Most short-term (1 year or less) Goals are simply too ambitious. Many of our New Year’s “Resolutions” require really big, very sudden life changes that cause a major shock to our daily habits and routines. This causes us to quit within days or weeks of beginning and is the cause of the well-deserved reputation held by resolutions.

However, most of our “big picture” Life Goals (goals that take longer than 1 year to complete) are not ambitious enough. Ask most people what they want from the next 10 years and their answers will generally be modest at best. “More free time”, “be a department manager”, “pay off the house” or “make more money” are pretty common answers.

There is nothing in these answers powerful enough to get you fired up about life. Most of these answers are not goals at all, they are merely made up answers that someone will offer because you put them on the spot.

It’s an interesting bit of irony that most of us think we can accomplish big things in just 1 year, but, we have either modest plans or no plans for the next decade. You need to flip this on its head.

Up your Life Goals

Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go – Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

Many people don’t even have a goal for their next 5-10 years. This is like getting in your car, driving aimlessly, and hoping that you end up somewhere that you want to be. But, if you are reading this, you’re not most people. You have chosen to put some thoughts into your goals which immediately puts you in an elite category. It’s the first step of a broader journey.

You need to set some Life Goals. These can be 3, 5, 10, or even 20 year goals. The length doesn’t matter. But, these are much more significant than a 1-year or 6-month goal.

Pick Life Goals that can radically change your life. Your Life Goals should be grand life projects that help direct all your 1-year or shorter goals. Your Life Goals should give your life direction and purpose. Your Life Goals should be missions that you can look back on fondly when you are much older and be proud that you even attempted.

With a Life Goal, you’re now setting off on a road trip with a destination in mind. Will you reach your destination every time? No. Will you change your mind midway through the trip and pick a different destination? Absolutely. But, simply having a destination in mind will put your life on a vastly different path than aimless wandering.

Your Life Goals should be big enough that first sharing them with others today should be embarrassing. Anything less is too small.

  • Set goals so big that achieving them would radically change your life.
  • Set goals so big that you are pumped to get to work on your goals everyday.
  • Set goals so big that, when the times get tough, you can think back on your “big goals”, how your life could change, and get jazzed up again.

The Problem with “Small” Life Goals

If you take nothing else from this guide, it should be this: Your Life Goals need to be bigger. Here’s what wrong with Small Life Goals:

Small goals usually aren’t enough to get you really fired up. No matter what your goal is, there will be problems and setbacks. You need a goal where the results of a win are big enough that thinking of them will get you motivated to push through problems and setbacks that will occur.

A Life Goal of a 10% annual pay increase isn’t going to keep you up at night working and planning. A Life Goal of building a company that will sell for millions and set you and your loved ones up for life will keep you up at night.

You will face more competition when going for Small Goals. When identical job openings are posted at both $25,000 and $50,000 annual salary, the $25,000 job will get 2 to 3 times more applications. The identical higher paying job is actually easier to land, because it has less competition.

Why don’t more people apply for the $50,000 year job? Many simply don’t believe they are capable of winning big. They incorrectly believe that there must be more competition for that job. They don’t even look at jobs in that pay range. Many believe they deserve little, so they receive little. Many people trap themselves in a prison of their own low expectations.

The truth is that you are capable of much more than you know. And it’s not until you push yourself to the breaking point that you find out what your real capabilities are.

Your First Task

Your first task in Life Goal setting is to begin believing that you deserve to win big. Simply changing this core belief in your heart will put you in a different, much more sparsely populated league of competitors immediately.

Also, set Life Goals that tie into specifically what you really want. Pick goals that, even if you fail, you will have enjoyed the process of trying. Don’t set a goal of having a fitness model body if you really don’t care for fitness or working out. Don’t set a goal of having lots of money if you just think money would be “nice to have”.

Set goals that really tie into your unique wiring as a human being. There is something that has tugged your heart and mind for years. What is it?

More on Life Goals

Set goals that fit your particular interests and not goals that fit what you think other people want you to do. This is very important.

Some people set their goals based on pleasing others or meeting some expectation from society. This is a recipe for failing and for feeling like a failure. Some people say “well, I guess I should lose weight” or “I guess I want a management position” because people around them want them to do these things.

Focus on what you want, not what others want you to want. If you want to know more about overcoming the Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks, see my post on the topic by clicking here.

Set goals that won’t feel like a total waste of time if you fall short. If you set a goal of being a New York Times best-selling author and your book fails to make the best seller list, you might still be pretty happy if you love the process of writing. Maybe you still carved out a career as a paid writer and can be pleased with an “80%” result.

However, if you don’t even really like writing, but, want to be a best-selling author purely for fame or money, then you would probably be extremely upset if you fall short. You would probably feel like you wasted your time because you hated the process, you purely wanted the result.

Pick goals that, even in failure, you can enjoy the process of striving for and/or goals that help you learn valuable skills for your next adventure. Read more in my post on Failing And Still Succeeding.

Once you get clear about what you want, you will start to find ways to get there.

You know how, after you test drive a specific car, you now see that particular type of car everywhere you go? The cars were there all along. But, your brain didn’t know they were important to you before, so, your brain wasn’t paying attention or looking for them.

By simply getting clear about where you want to go in your life, the subconscious horsepower in your brain will kick in and get busy looking for ways to get you there. Get clear on what you want, and make your subconscious your ally.

SMART Goals

Set both your Life Goals and 1-Year Goals using the SMART system. SMART is a well-known framework for goal-setting and its 5 principles for goal-setting are the keys to any successful goal.

Specific – A goal like “be a better person” or “live healthier” is not specific enough. Ask yourself what you really want to accomplish and what is driving you. Instead of “live healthier”, a specific version of your goal might be “lose weight” or “increase strength” or “complete a half-marathon”.

Measurable – Your goal must be objectively measurable. For example, once you have decided that you want to “lose weight”, you now need to refine that you want to “lose 20 pounds” or be able to “run a half-marathon in less than 2 hours”.

Achievable – Is your goal realistic? Start with a goal that is realistic in the timeframe you give yourself. If you want to lose 10 pounds in 6 months, this may be realistic, but, losing 100 pounds is probably not. Short term goals that are not achievable are a waste of time and can actively damage your psychology by making you feel like a failure.

Relevant – Is this goal relevant to your interests and desires for your life? Don’t fall into setting a Life Goal for yourself that you aren’t jazzed up about. Achieving anything big takes hard work. If you aren’t “all in”, you are wasting your time. For more, refer to the Up Your Life Goals heading above.

Time-bound – An old English proverb says, “What can be done at any time is never done at all”. When we tell ourselves that something can be done later, we will put it off. Your goal must have a definite deadline set or you will procrastinate and it won’t get done.

Picking Your Life Goal(s)

Either write on a blank sheet of paper or use the Goal Sheet that I have already setup for you in the free Goal Toolkit (click to download).

Write down your Life Goals and set a number of years for each goal. Again – make sure these goals are BIG and that they tie directly into what gets you excited. Don’t worry a great deal about specific time horizons, for now just take a stab at what sounds right.

Once you have momentum from your first year, you may be able to achieve your goals faster than you expect right now. You will, at a minimum, have a much better sense of how long things will take.

Set as many Life Goals as you like. Most people will likely only have 1 to 3.

Example Goals

  • I will build a company worth $5 million in 10 years
  • I will have a BMI of 12% and weigh 160lbs. in 5 years
  • I will have 1 New York Times best-selling book in the next 10 years
  • I will have $500,000 in my children’s college fund and have my house paid off in 10 years

As you can see above, these goals can be structured anyway that you like, just stick to the SMART framework. Got your Life Goals? Now tie some “dreams” to your Life Goals.

Set Some Life Dreams

A Life Dream is a specific experience that you can have once you achieve your Life Goal. The difference between a Dream and a Goal is that a Dream is an experience, not an achievement. For the highest impact, the dream should be imagined in vivid detail. 

Want to make a lot of money as a Life Goal? Your Life Dream might be buying your mom a house, a car, or sending her on an all-expense paid European vacation. Or, your Dream might be purchasing a luxury car for mom or dad or your best friend.

Sometimes, a Life Dream and a Goal might actually be one and the same. Maybe you want to finish or win a prestigious triathlon as a goal. Your Dream might simply be the experience of finishing or talking to your friends about the race afterward.

The imagining of your Experience in vivid detail is very important. If you want to buy Mom a house then: picture the house, imagine the morning you bring her there, the look on her face when you give her the keys, the feeling you get when the tears roll down her face.

If your Dream is finishing the big race, imagine: what you will feel after you finish, who will be there, what the medal might look like, what the meal afterward may taste like, and what the hotel bed might feel like once you make it back to the hotel.

Again, the more vivid you can make these dreams the better. These Dreams will be your fuel on your darkest days. Make them specific. Imagine the sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, and smells.

These imagined sensations can serve as very powerful anchors in your mind. They are more powerful than mere words for reaching the lowest, most powerful parts of the brain.

Add these Life Dreams to your piece of paper or to the free Goal Sheet in my free Goal Toolkit. In the toolkit, there is also a sheet you can use to write your detailed imagining of the experience.

Set 1-Year Goals

Now, that you have at least one Life Goal and one Life Dream, you need to reverse engineer what year 1 of that journey might look like.

Year 1 is largely about ramping up and getting in motion. If you want to make $10 million in the next 10 years, you don’t need to make $1 million in year 1.

Resist the temptation to ask too much of yourself in the first year. Don’t simply chop up a 10-year or 5-year goal into 1/10th or 1/5th increments. You will have much more momentum and you will be a different person with more resources by years 3, 5, or 8 than you are today. Remember – the days of standing still year after year are over. You will make progress this year and will build on that next year.

Many people fail in New Year’s Resolutions because they attempt sweeping life changes all at once. They say, “Ok, I’m going to start eating 1800 calories per day and I’m going to work out 4 times per week starting the first week of January and I’m going to lose 50 pounds this year”.

They do this coming off a month of no exercise, holiday feasts, and sweets. The change is simply too great and their mind and body reject it. We want to get on the right path, get some momentum, and play the long game of success.

Play the Long Game in 1-Year Goals

Your initial 1-year goals should be fairly modest. You want to “win” year 1, develop confidence, and get in motion in the right direction. If you do this, you will be much better suited to produce in year 2 and beyond. You will be a more capable, better positioned person going into year 2 that can achieve far more next year than you can this year.

If you want to lose 60 pounds in the next 3 to 5 years as a Life Goal, you might set a year 1 goal of losing 10 pounds, working out twice per week, and cutting out most sugary drinks. That’s it. Year 2 you might get more aggressive on diet and exercise and lose more weight.

For big 5+ year Life Goals, year 1 should be more about setting yourself up for future success. If you want to make $5 million in the next 10 years, year one should probably be more about learning, networking, testing ideas, and simply changing your current circumstances to be better positioned in the future. The amount of money you make in year 1 is not relevant. What is relevant is how much better positioned you are going into year 2.

You want to have 1-year goals that you can meet and exceed so that you can grab momentum and confidence. Most people set goals that are not realistic early, fall short of them, feel like a failure, and quit.

You simply want to end your first year by being closer to your Life Goal than you began the year. That’s it. You want to be primed for bigger, better things in Year 2. That’s all you really have to do in Year 1.

But, here’s the thing – as you get momentum and confidence in Year 1, you will probably find that you will get way beyond your Year 1 goals and you will keep pushing. You will find new internal resources that you didn’t know you had. You will find external resources like new friends, books, etc. that you didn’t have before.

Instead of setting a big short-term goal that you can’t meet, you will blow away a modest goal. You will feel like a winner, not someone who can’t meet their goals & expectations. The difference in psychology here is enormous.

All these things will accelerate your new path. But, let this happen naturally.

Most people are impatient. They want the achieve their goals immediately, so, they try to do it all at once.. It doesn’t happen immediately and they get frustrated and quit entirely. Don’t be most people – play the long game.

Write Down Your 1-Year Goals

Using the SMART criteria above, define 1-year goals and write them down on a sheet of paper or download my Goal Sheet from my free Goal Toolkit.

It’s very important that you write your goals down. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey, but, there is something powerful about translating your goals out of your head and onto something tangible like a piece of paper.

If you want to really ratchet up your chances of success, write your goals (both 1-Year and Life Goals) down repeatedly – once a month, once a week, or even once a day. The psychological tuning is profound, the cost is low, the potential upside is great.

Weekly Goals

Once you have your 1-year goals, you want to break them down into Weekly Goals. Anything bigger than weekly goals are not really actionable.

If your 1-Year Goal is to write a book, you may wish to commit to writing 30 pages per week. If your 1-Year Goal is to lose 10 pounds, you may want to commit to 2 workouts per week and no more than 2 sugary drinks per week.

Setting these Weekly Goals is important because this is where you get to think about the part of your goals that are actually actionable. Pick the right Weekly Goals and then take care of these small daily and weekly activities, and your big picture Life Goals will take care of themselves.

You may also break down your Weekly Goals to Daily Goals if you wish. In most cases, however, you aren’t trying to perform a particular activity every single day of the year, so, weekly might make more sense.

Make your Weekly Goals about Actions, not about Results. Some actions have very direct results. You write 30 pages of a book and you have 30 pages of a book. However, some results cannot be guaranteed in fields like sales, sports, or other areas influenced by chance.

As a salesperson, don’t set a goal to “make 2 sales per week”, instead set a goal to “talk with 20 potential customers per week” or similar. Whether the customer chooses to buy or not is up to them, but, how many you talk to and how well you present to them is up to you.

It is very important that your Weekly Goals be completely within your direct control. If you take the right actions repeatedly, the law of averages will work for you in the long run of months and years to reduce the role of chance. But, 1 week is too small of a sample size for this to even out. If you don’t feel that your Weekly Goals are 100% within your control, you will give yourself a psychological “out” to shirk your goals.

Write these goals on your sheet of paper or on the Goal Sheet in the free Toolkit.

Tricks That Will Help You Stay on Course

The Streak Tracker

The problem with most goals is that you start out strong and then slack off as time goes by. The Streak Tracker turns this on its head with a trick of psychology.

Chart out a sheet of paper with 52 boxes, one representing each week of the upcoming year (you can start at any time in the year, just make the current week into Week1), or use the “Streak Tracker” in my free Goal Toolkit.

Post the Streak Tracker where you can see it everyday. Every week that you fulfill your weekly goal, check the box for that week. After several weeks or months, you will have a nice streak of checks going. Your job is simply to “not break the chain”.

You will feel accomplished every time you see the paper. On these weeks that you feel like slacking, the idea of messing up your streak will make you think twice as positive pressure mounts. Over time, your new actions will turn into habits and external tricks will become less important. You can also combine your Streaks with Reward Checkpoints which are covered next.

Reward Checkpoints

Setup “reward checkpoints” or other positive incentives for yourself as you progress toward your goal. Use these rewards in conjunction with streaks to create mounting pressure on yourself to keep going.

For example, you might set a minor reward at every 3 weeks in a row of meeting your Goal. You might have an even bigger reward for yourself for meeting your Goal 10 weeks in a row. You might have a huge reward for 26 or 52 weeks in a row.

What would you be willing to spend if you met your goals every single week for 6 months? Or 1 year? Don’t be afraid to splurge a little here. Similar to Life Goals, we want this reward to be big enough to motivate you.

Set these up checkpoints up in advance and use them to help yourself keep pushing. The rewards must uniquely match what you like and are interested in.

Your reward can be a new gadget you have wanted, a fancy dinner with your spouse, a vacation, anything that revs you up. Use your imagination to setup rewards that will really motivate you.

You can also set a reward for yourself if you exceed your Goals in a given week. Maybe if your goal is writing 30 pages of your book in a week, but, you write 75, you reward yourself.

Use Negative Emotions to Your Advantage

Create punishments if you fail. This may seem hardcore to some, but, it is very powerful and effective. For many of us, negative incentives are the most powerful of all.

Possible “Punishments” to Incentivize You

  • Tell everyone you know what your 1-year goals are, create a building sense of embarrassment if you quit and let them down. Post about it on social media, tell your closest friends, make a big deal out of it.
  • If the people that you tell doubt your goals or think you are crazy, develop a desire to “prove them all wrong”. This alone has fueled a lot of big successes.
  • Join a competition, a class, some kind of peer group that will provide peer pressure to keep you onboard in moving toward your goal.
  • Give your friend (the one who you know will cut you no slack) some embarrassing picture that you don’t want anyone to see. Tell them to post it on social media if you fail.
  • Give away a meaningful sum of money (enough to sting if you lose it ) or one of your favorite possessions to a friend or family member until you “earn it back” through completing your Weekly Goals and by maintaining your Streak. If you fail, they give the item or the cash away.  If they are giving the cash away, consider having it go to something that you don’t like – like the athletic booster fund of your most hated college sports team. We are looking for all the fuel that we can get.

A strange fact of human nature is that seemingly inconsequential factors like embarrassment or competition can sometimes motivate us much more than positive factors of real consequence like income or health. Use this bit of human irrationality (and everything else you can get your hands on) to your advantage.

Conclusion – Stack the Deck to Win

It’s hard to guarantee success in any endeavor. But, if you stick to this proven system, your odds of success are very high. You will have put real thought into where you want to go, rather than drifting along from year to year. You will have setup a system to get you moving. And, you will use psychological tricks to make our human quirks work to your advantage instead of sabotaging you.

Make sure that you post your Goals and Streak Tracker where you can see them every single day. Put them on your refrigerator or over your desk.

Now, it’s just a matter of going out and executing on your plan. You have all the tools you need to blow your next 12 months out.

All the best,

Trey

Toy Packages and Disruption

What Toy Packages Can Teach Us About Disrupting Industries

If you are a parent, you were almost certainly frustrated while opening toy packages for your child over the Christmas holidays.

The Toy Package Problem

Some toys are tied into packages with complex ties that require cutting or unwinding. Some toys are literally screwed into their packaging and require a screwdriver to remove them. Some toys require a hammer and drill to assemble. Some toys even require a level. Some toys require batteries (not included), others ask you to turn an Allen wrench several hundred times to complete assembly.

Aside from the hassle, the time required to open and/or assemble is the real rub.

You’re sacrificing time at the most hectic time of the year to jump through hoops to open a toy. You’re taking a timeout from gift opening time with the family to break into inconvenient packages for eager children. You’re looking for your tools to assemble and/or open the toys. You’re up until the wee hours assembling toys on Christmas Eve. You’re shoehorning assembly of toys into the days leading up to Christmas amid all the wrapping and shopping.

Why The Problem Exists

The toy package exterior is designed to be as attractive as possible. This is to catch your child’s eye, to make them want the toy, and to make the sale.

This is apparently the only part of the toy package where the customer is really a consideration at all. Once you have made the decision to buy the toy and presented the toy to your child, it’s too late to turn around. Your child’s heart is now set on the toy.

The toymaker knows this. Once you reach the package interior, you are faced with an obstacle course to take the toy from package to play-ready.

The toy is broken into many parts to fit the toy into a smaller package, thus allowing more toys to fit on a truck or on a shelf. Often, the decals are not even applied to the toy (seriously?) to save labor at the factory. Sometimes the same decisions that make the toy look nice in the package lead to the very ties and screws that make the toy difficult to remove from the package. Sometimes, you might be away from home and realize you don’t even have the necessary tools to assemble the toy once you open the box.

There is zero consideration given to making for a fun or easy “unboxing” experience like you might find for customers of an Apple product. The process is time-consuming, at best, and disappointing for parents and children, at worst.

This is an industry that has never even considered disruption as a possibility for a long time. But, bad news for toymakers and good news for the rest of us…

The Disruption Opportunity

This is an industry ripe for disruption. The disruption could be purely at the retail level or could be a vertically integrated entity from the manufacturer level to the retail level.

Imagine a toy store that sells only toys that are “play-ready” from the time that the boxes are opened. All the toys that don’t need assembly would be in “easy to open” boxes where – crazy idea – any school age child could open their own toys. The toys that need assembly would be designed to be as quick and painless as possible. The pain and frustration of toy packaging would be a dinosaur of the past. When you buy toys, you get that well-thought out “Apple-like” opening experience.

Yes, the toys will be a little more expensive due to designing the experience around the customer rather than the manufacturer and retailer. Less toys will fit on a shelf. Less will fit on a truck. A little more labor may be required at the factory.

But, would you be more likely to take your child toy shopping at this hypothetical store or at a Toys ‘R Us? Would you gladly pay a little more per toy for a guaranteed better experience? How much more are you already paying for a Mac or iPhone versus similar products in the name of a better experience?

Other Companies That Disrupted Under Similar Situations

When will the disruption happen? I don’t know “when”, but, the disruption seems inevitable. There is one constant in good economic times and bad – people love to spend money on their children. People also love to be “enchanted” by new, innovative companies that fix age-old problems in interesting ways.

In the Western world, most of the “big problems” of modern day life are more or less solved – food, shelter, water, electricity.

At this point, the companies that disrupt industries and become larger than life are companies that fix the remaining annoyances like toy package problems. We sometimes forget how relatively minor the annoyances were that spawned the multi-billion dollar mega-corporations that we take for granted today.

We didn’t like hailing cabs or calling cab companies, so, Uber was born. Often, Uber is cheaper, but, convenience is the real selling point.

We didn’t like paying for shipping or entering purchase information over and over on different websites, so, we now buy everything from Amazon. They made it easy to do business with them and they carry almost everything. Do you even price check them any more?

We didn’t like going to the movie rental store. We didn’t like setting our DVR to record. Heck, we didn’t even like our cable company’s clunky (but free!) on-demand streaming service. None of it was a good experience, so, Netflix grew and grew and grew and, now, has nearly unstoppable momentum.

None of these things changed the human race. But, they made the lives of millions just a little easier and a little better. That created all the massive value reflected in the stock price of these companies.

The toy package disruption is inevitable and I, as a customer, can’t wait.

What’s the Lesson?

You are probably asking – What does all this mean for me? What’s the broader lesson here?

It means that, now, more than ever, you should think about your customer experience.

  • Are you presenting an offer, a “package exterior“, that is just good enough to make a sale?
  • Are you following up the sale with a “package interior” that is frustrating or that falls below customer expectations?
  • Are you continually making decisions that reduce the customer experience to add a little profit to your bottom line?
  • Most importantly – would your customers say they “can’t wait” for you to be disrupted?

If the answers to these questions are “yes”, then you, and possibly your whole industry, will only be relevant as long as your customers have no other option.

Companies and industries that say “yes” to the above questions are the places where the “bean counters” have long since taken control of the executive suite. These are the places where it has ceased being about the customer. These are the places, where a “vision” is non-existent, unless you count “increase revenue by 12% YOY” as a vision.

In these companies & industries, the customer is only a concern when it comes to providing an attractive enough “package exterior” to close a sale. Then, the “package interior” is delivered as cheaply as possible. These are the places where it’s not a question of “if” disruption will occur, only “when”.

If You Want to Be An Innovator

If you want to innovate and are looking for an opportunity, then these are the situations you should have your eyes peeled for. Outside of toys, dozens such opportunities are still out there, look for one that speaks to you and your interest and experience.

Look for the types of industries where you see the below types of behaviors:

  • The “package exterior” makes the sale, but, the “package interior” greatly under-delivers.
  • There is an unspoken code among the current competitors of remaining “just good enough”.
  • The current competitors are blind to the problem or believe their customers have “no other choice”.
  • The current competitors see the problem, but, are unwilling or unable to give up the profits of the “old way” to create a more customer-friendly “new way”.

These are the industries that are just waiting for a visionary to ride in and say, “Enough of this, I see a better way, the customer deserves better”.

Once this happens, nothing in that industry will ever be the same again.

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