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Saturday, September 10th, 2011

How I Use This Nerdy “Money-Making Pyramid” To Prioritize Business Activities

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Are you leading a business, new or old?

I’ve done both: I’ve started businesses from scratch and I’ve also taken over leading a business that was already a few years into the game.

Either way, the difference between success and failure is what you and your team are working on…and when!

Caution: If you entrepreneurs out there don’t grasp this, your business is very likely to fail (especially my friend who’s spending a couple of hours a week figuring out Quickbooks instead of focusing on making money!).

My marketing-guru friend and previous business partner Eben Pagan inspired the money-making pyramid (he called it the “productivity pyramid” in his awesome GetAltitude “Top Gun For Entrepreneurs” program — it’s a neat visual using a pyramid to illustrate what’s most important to work on in a business.

I’ve riffed a bit so blame me (not Eben) if you don’t like my “Money-Making Pyramid” version.

The money-making pyramid illustrates that the money-making in your business belongs at the top (most important) with the items below it less important the lower down on the pyramid.

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Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Business Is Like A Decathlon: Be Decent At These 10 Things & You’ll Win The Gold!

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I’d love to see your face on a box of Wheaties.

The Olympic decathlon — a combined event of 10 different track and field races — is a perfect metaphor for business.

Bruce Jenner didn't have to win every one of the 10 races in the Olympic decathlon to win the gold.

You can actually win the decathlon without being the best at any of the 10 races.

In fact, Bruce Jenner (winner of the 1976 Olympic Decathlon and pictured on the Wheaties box) averaged the equivalent of a little better than 3rd place in each race — and he still won the decathlon by a substantial margin.

Inspired by the decathlon metaphor, here is a 10-item checklist for succeeding in business…if you train to place in these 10 business races, you can win the business gold.

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Saturday, August 6th, 2011

10 Easy Tips On How To Write Better Headlines (Warning: Response Rates May Soar 20X)

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The “Dean Of Copywriters” John Caples famously said that an effective marketing piece/ad can have 19.5 times the success of a poorly written ad. And the most important aspect of advertising is the headline.

In fact, 5 times as many people read headlines as read the body copy of an ad, according to David Oglivy in his Oglivy On Advertising (A Top 20 Best Business Book Of All Time).

The headline of this ad is considered one of the most effective in the history of advertising due to its appeal to self-interest and curiousity.

Maybe you’re not directly in marketing/advertising, so should you care?

Big time!

If you do any of the following you will benefit from improving your headline writing skills:

  • Write emails (the subject line is your headline)
  • Name things (whether your product or your business or, in some cases, your child!)
  • Write blog postings
  • Write a description of yourself on your resume or LinkedIn profile

I’m by no means a copywriting expert, but I hang out with some and I’ve studied some of the greats (David Oglivy, Al Ries, Jack Trout, John Caples).

So I am going to share 10 awesome headline-writing tips I’ve learned along the way.

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Saturday, July 30th, 2011

The 7 Unusual Fundraising Lessons I Learned While Raising $1 Million +

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[Warning: This post is geared for high-integrity people; if you're dishonest, please don't bother reading on or raising money from anyone.]

I’ve raised money twice: $1 million for ExpressDoctors (a flop) and $350,000 for Mojam (which got sold and is still around!).

I’m by no means a pro — you’ll find many others with more experience — but I don’t see too many of them writing about their experience.

I enjoy sharing my learnings with others in hopes of creating more awesome businesses, non-profits or other organizations in our Universe!

I’m leaving out the “Fundraising 101″ type tips such as: Define the uses of the money you need; investing takes longer than you think; have a good business plan, have a name-brand/or trustworthy bank and law firm to process paperwork, etc. — you can find those tips anywhere.

My tips are, hopefully, a bit outside the box.

7 Tips On How To Raise Money

1) Create An Investor Pipeline

Crafting an investor pipeline is an easy and effective way to help raise money.

The reason you need to create a pipeline is

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Sunday, July 24th, 2011

These $1Billion+ Brands Began As Something Different

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Some of the most successful products of all time began as something else — I love coaching entrepreneurs on this fact!

The morale of the story is: get started on building your products because the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll know what amazing product you can build!

Here are 10 of my favorites products that began as something else:

Bubble Wrap

Two engineers, Marc Chavannes and Aldred Fielding, sealed two shower curtains together to create a new type of wallpaper (with bubbles in it). It was later marketed as greenhouse insulation.

It wasn’t until years later that Bubble Wrap would be used to help protect IBM computers during shipping.

BubbleWrap is also ranked #22 in my list of The Top 100 Brands Synonomous With Their Product Category.

Coke

It was at first a patent medicine invented in the late 19th century by John Pemberton.

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Saturday, July 16th, 2011

5 Easy Ways To Increase Serendipity

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I love serendipity — who doesn’t? I met a mayoral candidate for San Francisco last year due to some stuff I did to increase serendipity.

We all love serendipity — is it ever even a negative thing?

You never hear someone say:

“That guy really stabbed me in the back — how serendipitous.”

Right?

The layman’s definition of serendipity is “happy accident” — the word serendipity is said to come from author Horace Walpole who riffed on the word Sernedip (an old name for Sri Lanka) used in a fairy tale called “The Three Princes Of Serendip” about making discoveries by accident.

Here are 5 things I do to increase serendipity:

1) Send Out “Beacons” To Let Others Know You Exist

The most effective way to increase serendipity is to send out “beacons” — I first heard this mentioned by entrepreneur Jack Hidary in the book Power of Pull.

Jack — who works on the neat iAmplify.com business with his brother Murray — uses the analogy of a ship at sea that sends out beacons to let others know where it is and where it’s headed.

Beacons — I like that.

Here are some examples of beacons I’ve used to increase serendipity:

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Friday, July 1st, 2011

The 5 Core Skills Every CEO Should Have

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I’ve met with about 75 CEOs since Halloween when I left my CEO role at Hot Topic Media to pursue new ventures.

I’ve begun to notice a pattern of what makes for the best CEO. There are five general CEO skills I believe are most important to being an excellent CEO:

1) Vision…A Clear One

A good CEO must be able to provide a clear vision of what it is the organization is doing.

What makes a good vision statement? As I wrote in 3 Tips On How To Write A Good Vision Statement, it needs to be concise, specific and answer this question for the team:

“Are we working on the right thing?”

Examples of good vision statements include:

“Making the best possible ice cream, in the nicest possible way” (Ben & Jerry’s)

“To provide access to the world’s information in one click.” (Google)

“To provide freedom and independence to people with limited mobility.” (The Scooter Store)

Check out this List Of 50 Awesome Vision Statements I compiled.

2) Mastery Of The Business Model

A good CEO masters the business model of an organization.

A good CEO knows the answers to the 9 questions in the different sections of this "Canvas."

The above image is of a “Canvas” used to master a business model (in this case, Gillette’s) from the book Business Model Generation.

The Canvas pushes you to answer 9 questions that are imperative to mastering how a business should work.

The 9 questions to answer are represented above by a two letter acronym…such as KP for “Who are your Key Partnerships?”).

If found it most effective to answer the 9 questions in this order:

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Sunday, June 26th, 2011

If You’re Building A Startup, Leverage The Data From 650+ Startups Who Went Before You

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I just finished reading the 68-page Startup Genome Report (thanks to David Hassell for telling me about it).

The report is based on data collected from 650+ Web startups and is a must-read for anyone working on starting an Internet business.

Here are some highlights to give you a taste:

The six key stages Internet startups typically go through are:

  1. Discovery
  2. Validation
  3. Efficiency
  4. Scale
  5. Profit Maximization
  6. Renewal

The Startup Genome Report has a bunch of useful data to help you prepare starting a new business.

Internet startups that don’t move through the stages above show less progress.

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