Learning Is The Key To Your Business Success

Every episode of Hoarders goes pretty much the same way. The hoarder knows they have a problem, but they resist help. Where loved ones and professionals see garbage and filth, the hoarder sees value. They have a hard time parting with worthless, nasty possessions. They just don’t see things as they are. As each episode progresses we witness the pain of the hoarder. The process of helping the hoarder overcome his problem demands learning. Learning is tough stuff. It demands a shift in thinking.

The team of concerned helpers could just descend on the hoarder’s house and clean it up, but the poor person with the disorder wouldn’t learn anything. They’d likely go right back to behaving as they did before. The hoarder won’t make better decisions unless they see the severity of the problem. When they’re able to shift their thinking we can almost see the lights come on for them. That shift helps them see the solution, but more importantly, it helps them embrace the solution instead of fighting against it.


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Derek Sivers Is Smart, But You’ve Got To Figure It Out For Yourself


Derek Sivers’ book, Anything You Want, has taken the world by storm much like his business did in the early 00’s. He started the business in 1997 after trying to make it as a musician. In 2008 he sold the company for a reported $22 million, but the arrangement was quite unique. Reportedly, Sivers made sure the purchase price went to a charitable trust to promote music education. The financial arrangements have been reported in various financial publications, but it’s commonly reported that Sivers arranged to earn his personal pay out at a rate of about $1 million annually for the rest of his life.

In late June his book was published. Since then he’s been appearing in various blogs and podcasts to promote the book, and his message. I confess that my first exposure to Sivers was his short TED presentation posted in April, 2010.

The man is clearly perceptive, intelligent, creative and wise. Personally, I’m quite fond of how he handled the transaction of selling his company, CD Baby. The insight and wisdom displayed in that transaction reveal quite a lot about him. There’s much to admire.

That’s why I bought the book to read it for myself. I was going to do a video review of the book, but decided to let Derek’s work speak for itself. The book is part of Seth Godin’s Domino Project, which is powered by Amazon. In Anything You Want: 40 Lessons For A New Kind Of Entrepreneur he says he started a company (CD Baby) and accidentally grew it into a big business. Well, I hardly think it was an accident, but I agree with him that it’s his story and what worked for him may not work for the rest of us. See, I told you he was wise. One sentence will tell you this is a book worth buying and reading.

“I’m a student, not a guru.” By the way, he put that sentence in parenthesis. You just have to like a guy like that, don’t you? I do.

Buy his book. Read it. Learn the lessons, but make sure you carve out your own path. Figure it out. Morph. Adapt. Change. Experiment. And keep after it until you find what you’re looking for.

You can also keep up with him by visiting his website.

P.S. Here’s an interview Andrew Warner of Mixergy did with Derek Sivers.


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Special Episode – Does Your Small Business Have Some Systems Worthy Of Death Row?

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Let’s make sure this gate is secure. It sparks the idea that what we need isn’t a better lock, but we need more locks. We implement the system to keep the gate from being opened by strangers and presto! We’ve got ourselves a system.

The system doesn’t work particularly well, but we’ve got one.

This system accomplishes the desired goal. It prevents people from getting in. Of course, the collateral damage of the system is that it requires those of us who need to enter the gate to carry 57 different keys. Oh, and we’ve got to match those keys to their specific lock. A daunting task.

Sometimes we’ve got systems that look every bit as ridiculous. They’re just not this obvious perhaps, but if we’d look more closely at them we might see they look just as stupid as using more locks for security.

You know what’s going to happen with this system, don’t you?

We’re going to hop over the fence and ignore the system all together. All the effort, all the cost, all the time spent implementing and what do we get? Nothing.

Many small businesses launch a system to solve a problem. Time passes and the problem is no longer a problem. Not because the system worked so well to remove it, but because it’s just no longer an issue. The system remains though. Nobody knows why, but they work it. Every day.

Other businesses have systems that help them, but destroy the good will of prospects and customers. The system was crafted to make things easier on us and our business – not the customer. That’s bad system architecture. Don’t implement a system that helps you, but hinders or harms the prospects and customers.

The barometer of a good system is best figured out by asking good questions. Among them:

• What is the purpose of this system? What’s it supposed to accomplish?

• Does it accomplish that purpose in a way that helps or benefits the prospects and customers?

• Do the prospects and customers readily see the value of the system, or do they have to convinced it’s good for them?

• Is this system self-serving, but potentially frustrating for the prospects and customers?

• Is this system still serving the purpose for which it was first designed?

• Do we even need this system (any more)?

• Can we accomplish our desired outcome more effectively (more pleasing to the prospects and customers)?

• Is the system costing us the good will of the people we’re trying to serve?

Put all your systems on trial for their life. Embrace the death penalty for systems that no longer work, or ones that don’t work well.

Today’s special episode show is an unnumbered episode because I’m releasing it on a Tuesday, not the traditional new release day, Thursday.


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Episode 94 – Don’t Leave Your Business Unfinished

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These baby birds are like your business. They expect to be fed. They trust mom to bring them worms.

What does your business expect? As we wind down June, what are the expectations of your business for July?

Sustainability in business isn’t about being green. It’s about building performances that can be replicated. It’s about having a degree of predictable success.

Professionals are able to perform with predictable success. Here in Dallas we’ve got every professional sport represented. These teams have high paid professional athletes. Whether they’re on the roster of an NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB team – these athletes are major league players. Professionals. Their respective teams have an expectation of performance. Their coaches or managers know what to expect from them every time the team competes. Sometimes, they disappoint. Sometimes, they win the game. Consistently, though, they perform at a competitive level. When they fail to perform consistently, in some predictable way, they lose their job. The team will replace them with somebody else who can provide high performance game after game.

Your business must operate in the same way. Too many solopreneurs do not have a predictable performance. They enter a month clueless about what their revenues will be. Some are even clueless about what their costs will be.

Successful business building demands an accurate aim. It takes some hard work, but it’s the most profitable work you’ll do.

Solopreneurs are prone to get so busy doing what they do – they coach, they consult, they write, they speak, they DO – that they neglect the work of building their business. This results in months of agony as they strain to successfully chase cash, revenue. The machine – that is, the systems or processes – to help generate that revenue never gets built. This means the business never gets fully built out.

I’ve known some families who set about to build their house while living in it. They got the foundation laid, the walls and roof built, working electrical and plumbing – and they moved in, figuring they’d finish the house as their budget would allow. Months turned into years as the art of daily living overrode those initial goals of completing the construction. If they’re not careful, the unfinished rooms decay and create increasingly more work than if they’d finished the job sooner. Time is rarely kind to the construction process. The elements can destroy uncompleted work.

Don’t leave your business unfinished. Complete the job. Don’t let life get the way. Get the systems in place. Be a professional. Build sustainability – a predictable expectation – into your enterprise.


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First, Get Millions Of Barrels Of Oil A Day

Simple easy answers for hard success – it’s what we all want.

I’m a Capitalist. I’m also a guy who loves free enterprise. That means, I’m fond of the competitive process. In business, I’m not offended that you’d like to kick my butt. I’d like to kick yours first.

Wild financial success is possible, but it’s not probable for most people. I don’t say that because I’m pessimistic, or because I’m a grumpy old man. Okay, maybe I’m a little grumpy, but that’s beside the point. The truth is, most people are average and live average lives. They earn average incomes. They experience an average degree of happiness, contentment and fulfillment. It’s among the many advantages of being average.

To rise above the average requires more than average ingredients. No, I didn’t say more than average skills or intelligence. The Situation proves that’s not true.

Success requires something above average though. In the case of Mr. Situation, it required above average arrogance, physique, brashness and shamelessness. Those ingredients worked to make him widely known and as we all know, celebrity brings wealth.

Deserved or not. We don’t care. We’ll reward you simply for being famous. And we don’t much care why you’re famous. The Situation reportedly earned in excess of $5 million last year. Yeah, that’s about right.

Does that make you feel like a stupid failure? Of course it does. Don’t lie.

Why are you still asking the same stupid question looking for the secret, or some missing ingredient?

Because you’re human, that’s why. Because like the rest of us mere mortals you’d like to find a short-cut, an easy answer. Because you don’t want to have to do it the hard way if you can help it. You’re smart like that. You and the rest of us.

But we’re not smart enough to realize The Situation doesn’t know anything you don’t. He’s just crazy enough to find a way to get famous – because he knows our society will pay money to fame. Skills? He don’t need no stinkin’ skills. Have you seen his rock hard abs? There’s your skills. Sure there are gyms all over the country with guys who have 6-pack abs, but they’re not as crazy arrogant as The Situation, are they? They are? Well, they didn’t get on MTV, did they? Nope. And there’s the rub. The Situation made it to TV, made the most of it and presto chango – he’s a Star.

Me? I’m no star. I’m sitting in The Yellow Studio listening to crickets chirp. I don’t care. If The Situation can earn over $5 million with those abs…I figure my love handles gotta be worth at least a mil. I’m just waitin’ for the phone to ring and then I’m gonna blow up like the blimp, yo!


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Episode 93 – 3 Things That Can Help You Move Forward (How To Avert The Red Light Conspiracy)

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We’re all wired differently, but we share some common wires. Every wiring harness I’ve ever seen – in electronics, cars, light switches or anything else – has a red wire and a black wire. Red is power. Black is a ground. It’s universally true. I’m not terribly sophisticated so my wiring harness likely has fewer wires than yours, but I’ll bet you we’ve both got a red wire and a black wire.

Doubt, fear, procrastination. These are common wires shared by everybody.

There are switches in our brain connected by these wires. When these switches get flipped, BAM! On comes the RED LIGHT. The tires on our life and our business squeal and smoke as we come to a screeching halt.

There’s a signal light a few blocks from the church building where we worship. (Yeah, we always call them “stop lights,” don’t we? We never give people directions by telling them to go to the third green light or go light.) At any rate, a few weeks ago this light started staying RED a lot longer than it used to. I first thought it was hung. Traffic kept backing up behind me. We waited. We waited some more. No cars were coming from our left. No cars were coming from our right. Frustrated, I was ready to run through the intersection, but the green light appeared.

Sometimes in our lives – and in our businesses – we get stuck on a red light. We remain stopped until it turns green, growing more impatient. We seem to hit one red light after another. No sooner do we get a green light, accelerate up to full speed…until we hit another red light. One red light after another. It’s like all the lights have synchronized in a conspiracy to stall our momentum.

The majority of today’s show is a discussion of three “drop dead, stupid simple” things that I think can help me – and YOU – move forward by giving us a GREEN LIGHT. I’ll end the show addressing that last special episode about the future of this blog, podcast and the videos. Chime in and tell me what you think.

Thank you for listening. Won’t you drop by Apple iTunes and leave me a comment about the show? I wish you would. Or you can leave me some audio feedback at (214) 736-4406. I’d love to hear what you think.

Mentioned in today’s show:

2010/2011 NBA Champion – Dallas Mavericks
2010/2011 NHL Stanley Cup Champion – Boston Bruins
• Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell


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