All you need are these 3 things to build a client magnet

social-media-marketingIn late 2001 I picked up a book that changed my life.

The Well-Fed Writer was written by an accomplished salesman, and the front cover promised “Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in 6 Months or Less.”

The cover offers a clear benefit, financial self-sufficiency. Who doesn’t want this?

But we all expect to get there eventually. It’s called retirement. Some day 89 years from now when my arthritic fingers can’t hold a phone and I dribble half-chewed bagel crumbs at the networking breakfast, I’ll be able to break the piggy bank and cash in on that 10% of my income that’s been compounding away all these years.

I’m not looking forward to it. So why would I want to read a book about financial self-sufficiency?

This book cover also provides a number: 6 months. The number adds credibility and appeal to the benefit. You could be financially self-sufficient this year! That’s a different story.

I’ll buy your book, and 6 months from now I’d better be working from a laptop in southern Italy, with a saucer of green olives on the table and a shot of grappa in my espresso. (It didn’t turn out exactly like that, but I was close)

Benefits and numbers. That’s all you need to attract buyers. But you still need to tell them what to do, or all their enthusiasm will go to waste. Click Here. Buy Now. Enter your best email. Call this number.

Want a few examples?

  • 5 essential tools every blogger should use (a Tweet with a link)
  • Learn public speaking in 3 days. Call this number.
  • When you fill out the form below, we’ll send you our best practices checklist, which cut our operating costs by 17% last year

Here’s mine: Build a lasting presence on all the major social media sites for less than $500.

So, to sum it all up, here are three things you need for a quick, hard-hitting message that will work as a headline, title, or Tweet:

  1. A benefit
  2. A number
  3. A call to action
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Rule the Tube: 7 Useful (and slightly badass) ways to crush it on YouTube

YouTube_video_managementFour billion a day. That’s how many YouTube videos are viewed every 24 hours. (Sources cited below)

That should be almost enough reason to be in on the YouTube game. But that’s not all. Google owns YouTube. YouTube videos consistently come get high page rankings, and 70% of adults have watched videos or listened to music on YouTube.

You probably have some video content somewhere in your business. I’ve talked about ways to use your videos here. Today I want to give you 7 tricks that will help you make the most of your videos, and dominate YouTube.

1. Use “Headlines” as your video titles

Your title should make viewers want to see the video. The secret to writing a magnetic title is the same as writing a headline. Magazine writers have known how to do this for decades–their livelihood depended on getting viewers to read their articles.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Just look at the headlines of any popular magazine at the grocery store and use them as templates. Copyblogger calls this the “Cosmo Technique.” Here’s what I swiped for this post: “12 Brilliant (and Slightly Badass) Ways to ____________________.”

2. Infuse your YouTube videos with frequent visual change

The human eye naturally flicks around. If there is movement and change in your video, you can hold your viewer’s attention longer. If you have a person speaking for more than a few seconds, change the angle of the camera-show the speaker from the front, slightly to the side, up close, from a distance.

If you’re using still photos, try zooming in and out, use varying transitions, and try to change images frequently.

3. Emphasize your core message in every video

I always help my clients come up with one to five key points that are at the core of their business. Every bit of content you produce should include a core message. Your flagship video should emphasize the core above everything else.

Here’s why. Your tweets have a half life of less than an hour. But viewers may still see your video years from now. You’re going to spend a lot of resources to make it, so you should focus on timeless concepts to get the most value.

4. Include unique tags to protect yourself from tag parasites

One of the infuriating things about marketing on YouTube is that when someone watches your video, YouTube will recommend other videos. Often these are your competitor’s videos. I suspect there are “tag parasites” who take advantage of popular, well-made videos by using the same tags to promote their own shoddy work.

If you’ve got multiple videos, you can tag them so they recommend your other videos. I have a is two-step secret to doing this. First, have your company name as a tag in every video you produce. Second, spell your entire company name backwards and use this as a tag in every video as well.

YouTube-social_media_marketing5. Make use of Keywords

You’ve probably done some keyword analysis for your business. Your keywords are just as important for YouTube as they are for your web pages. Make use of keywords in your transcript (see tip #7 below) as well as in your tags and in the video description. SEO applies to your videos just as much as to your website.

6. Include urls in the video, and links in the description

When you first create the video, make sure your company and your website are clearly identified in the video itself (usually at the end). At the very least, have your URL pasted across the screen and have your company name and logo in a prominent place. This will save you if someone embeds your video on another website without the links and description on YouTube.

Once you’ve done this, you should also have some live links. In the description section, the first thing you should have is a link to the page you would like viewers to visit.

You can also annotate the video to have links right in on the screen, although viewers can easily disable these. If you’re going to do this, make sure they don’t cover up any critical elements of the video.

7. Include the entire video transcript in description underneath

By putting the full video transcript in the description section, you get some extra SEO juice out of keywords. This also enables YouTube to put closed captions in your video for the hearing impaired. You’ll get good karma, more views, and an all-around advantage for your efforts.

In fact, fill your description section with explanations, links, key words, and a call to action. Most users just post the video with a few sentences underneath.

 

In 2014 I made 148 videos, most of them for a private homeschooling company. Filming is fun and easy, and the technical work can easily be outsourced if you don’t want to do it yourself.

The great thing about making YouTube videos is the snowballing effect. The more videos you post, the more impact each individual video can have.

Your homework is to make your first video and post it. Just get started if you haven’t already. YouTube is the new press release.



Sources:

By the Numbers: 125+ Amazing YouTube Statistics

http://www.statista.com/statistics/291018/us-users-who-use-youtube-to-watch-or-listen-to-music/

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How to get top-secret insider information about anything

My fingers reached for the sword hilt. A fine mist, almost rain, drizzled down from the oak branches in the cool winter night. My girlfriend and future wife stood at my side as the shadowy figure whipped his steel katana from its scabbard.

“It turns out,” he told us a few minutes later, “that because of the way people wore their swords in that era, the quickest cut you could make was the act of drawing your sword.”

A.D. is passionate about his art. Just because we expressed an interest in Japanese sword fighting, he spent three hours in the rain talking about the history of swords, describing how they were made, demonstrating the techniques and even letting us try out some basic moves.

You probably love something like this. An art form. A style of cooking. Band camp. Maybe (if you’re really lucky) your business or career. If someone asked you about your passion, you would be happy to give them hours of your time to answer their questions.

This is a blessing. While everyone else is getting the same information from the first five sources in Google, you’re getting deeper secrets from an experienced insider. They’ll tell you exactly how to reach a certain demographic. How to save ten hours or a thousand dollars. They’ll fix your problems and be grateful for the privilege of doing so.

There’s an A.D. out there for every topic you can name. The writer Anne Lamott once called up a winery to find out the name given to the wire things that you have to remove when you open a bottle of champagne. She spoke to a thousand-year-old monk (by her own account) who had stayed alive all this time just to talk to her about wine bottles.

Where do you meet these people? It’s not easy. If you’re self employed, especially if you work at home, it’s hard to meet anyone.

If you work a regular job, it’s even tougher, because for eight hours a day you’ll only see talk to those who work in the same place. Or maybe your colleague will turn out to be an A.D.

But you have to get out in the world. Go to mixers, take a class, join a group.

Your A.D. will fill your day with adventure, and more.

A.D. inadvertently cured my back pain. He steeled my wrists and tendons to handle hours at the keyboard. You see, after that misty night he taught me and Johana for the next two years. We both still have all our fingers, which is a good sign.

If someone ever pulls a sword on me in a dark alley, I might be able to hold my own.



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6 Hacks to Upgrade Your Presence on Twitter

There is a reason Twitter’s revenue is almost 11 times what it was six years ago.

According to StatisticBrain.com, 135,000 new users sign up for Twitter every day. (See the end of this article for sources) There are 190 million unique visitors to Twitter.com each month, but that doesn’t begin to give you the full picture. Most followers use the Twitter app from their phone, and don’t even bother going to the website.

It’s not a question of how much business you can gain with an active Twitter presence. Twitter is considered a source of news for 63% of users, so the real question is: how much business will you lose if you’re not active on Twitter?

1. Tweet your posts and product launches

If you have a useful, informative post you should promote it. You’re being followed by fans who are interested in what you say. Some of them are probably buyers for your latest product, so a new product launch is newsworthy.

Use hashtags that are already trending to make sure your post gets the largest possible number of views. (Use hashtags.org or similar service to find trending hashtags)

Invite your fans to tweet and retweet your articles and blog posts

Expanded Ramblings did a survey and found that 38.6% of users will tweet links to blogs and other content that they enjoyed. Make it easy for your fans to do this.

I like to use “Click-to-Tweet” by Cheeky Apps: https://wordpress.org/plugins/easy-click-to-tweet-by-cheeky-apps/

You just have to come up with a tweetable sentence, less than 140 spaces. They do the rest.

2. Make personal contact with an important influencer

When I was a teacher, I Tweeted each of the founders of the Minerva Project, asking them how I could best prepare my students for the future. I got a reply within 5 minutes.

Leaders and celebrities are surprisingly easy to reach through Twitter, especially in business, publishing, and academia. Since it’s quick and painless, they will often respond directly if your Tweet is about something close to their heart.

Try it. You might get personal advice from your favorite guru. You could end up with a great story to tell. Maybe you’ll make a new friend.

3. Follow hashtags related to problems that your business solves

Imagine if several users post the same question or problem, and you personally respond with the solution. You’ll gain a number of followers, goodwill, and probably a new client or two.

If a subject is trending in your area of expertise, you know what to do. If the trend isn’t readily apparent, you could do searches for hashtags relevant to your business: #refi, #ServerMeltdown, #CaliforniaTaxLaws, for example. If you find one with a lot of recent posts, jump in and show off your knowledge.

4. Get ideas for new products, services, or content

James Altucher wants you to write 10 new ideas every day. It’s as important as brushing your teeth. I’ve been doing this for a while, but the ideas are limited to what’s already in my head.

Twitter gives you a constant feed of other people’s thoughts and news. Spend 10 minutes a day following the stream, asking yourself, “How would I help this person? How can I use this? Why does this make me angry? How would this affect my clients? What could my business do about this?”

When you have such a rich mountain of raw material, you’ll surprise yourself with the ideas you get for new inventions, blog posts, products, screenplays, and knock-knock jokes.

 

5. Test the response and reaction to your ideas

Before you spend a lot of time and money on a new idea, run it through your Twitter feed. Your followers might just ignore it, and then you know you have to express your idea in a different way or junk the whole thing. (Or maybe just tweet on a different day or time)

If your idea sparks controversy, you know you’ve found something you can work with. If you get a lot of enthusiastic encouragement, hearts, and retweets, then you know your idea will be popular.

I used to use adwords to test out new ideas. Twitter is faster, and you can’t beat the price!

 

6. Get it done faster and effortlessly

Twitter is not a quick fix. It takes time and effort. But I can get you started. This month I’m offering a bundle of social media services for a low, introductory price. It also comes with a money-back guarantee.

You’ll get ten Tweets that are relevant to your company and optimized to be seen. You’ll also get templates and a calendar so you can keep on tweeting into the future with or without my help. I’ll integrate your tweets with your blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page and more.

Twitter is just a small part of the entire package. You’ll also get content for blogs, YouTube, and Facebook. And if you’re not happy with the final product, you’ve got a month to ask for a full 100% no-questions-asked refund.

Just click on over to this link: http://wp.me/pxhzF-4h

 



Sources:

By The Numbers: 170+ Amazing Twitter Statistics

 

Twitter Statistics

 

 

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Kickstart Your Social Media for $497. Money-Back Guaranteed.

Nobody looks at the Yellow Pages anymore.

If you want your business to thrive, you’ve got to maintain a strong presence on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.

For $497 I’ll build you a personal content management system that gets your business into all the major social media, where everyone can see it. If you don’t like the work I do for you, for the next 30 days I’ll promptly refund every penny you paid, no questions asked.

So what exactly do you get?

  • A 30-minute brainstorming session to uncover the hidden potential in your business. We’ll find the qualities that will make you stand out and attract the best clients and customers
  • Fresh, original content posted on WordPress, FaceBook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. This new content comes straight out of our brainstorming. It’s tailored to sell your services and products, but it is also material your market will actually want to watch, read, and see. We can easily fit it with the online marketing you’ve already done, or I can set everything up for you if you’re starting from scratch.
  • A flagship Youtube video. Google owns Youtube, and those search engines love Youtube videos. We’ll make a video that promotes your core message, embed it on your website, post it on your Facebook page and promote it through Twitter and Instagram. You could potentially reach thousands of viewers.
  • A Facebook Page that really works. There are two common mistakes that prevent your FaceBook page from turning heads and attracting real clients who want to do business with you. If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, we’ll set it up right the first time. If you’ve already got one, we’ll level up your Facebook mojo with new posts and videos that increase “likes,” and leave visitors eager to come back and learn more from you
  • A personalized, easy to follow marketing plan with templates and ideas so you can continue to produce new content in the future.

If you’re unhappy with this service for any reason, for 30 days after we finish I’ll refund your money, all 49,700 pennies of it, no questions asked.

How do we start?

If you’re interested, call or text me or fill out the contact form below. We’ll set up a 30-minute session by phone or Skype, where I’ll ask you 14 questions.

Usually that’s enough to know whether we can work together. There may be a few follow-up questions but usually after the first conversation I’ll have 2-5 key points that will be the basis for most of your social media.

Over the next few days I’ll write up your core content, which tells your story and puts your business in the best possible light. Once you’ve approved this basic content, I’ll have everything I need. My team and I will get to work on your video, and soon your story will light up all the major social media platforms.social_media-marketing-deal-expires-August

All you need to do to get started is text 213-453-1327 or fill out the contact form below:

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14 questions to unleash your secret potential

There is a spark of greatness in you.

You already knew that, of course. The hard part is finding that spark and using it to light a fire. You may not know what your spark is, but it’s already sitting there in plain sight. Or else it’s just underneath the hood.

I’m about to show you how to find it.

Some 50 years ago, a guy named Bud Robbins discovered the power of looking under the hood. He got a job trying to promote the Aeolian Piano Company. Ever heard of them? Neither has anybody else.marketing capo d'astro bar aeolian piano company

Robbins had to persuade the average starving musician to buy an Aeolian piano when they could get a well-known Steinway for the same price.

He took a tour of the Aeolian factory and found out that their piano weighed more than a Steinway because of a metal part known as the capo d’astro bar.

The capo d’astro bar is useless until the piano has been in use for 50 years. After 50 years, the capo d’astro bar prevents the aging instrument from warping.

The manufacturer saw this as a simple engineering fact, but Bud Robbins saw the potential story. A little bit of further research led him to the discovery that the New York Metropolitan Opera was using an Aeolian piano, and the extra longevity was starting to pay off.

When the Met relocated to the Lincoln Center, an opera singer told Robbins, “About the only thing they’re taking with them is the piano.”

Saying the piano was “built to last” wouldn’t be such an extraordinary tagline for an instrument which lasts generations. But the quote about the Metro taking the long-lasting piano with them–well, that became the headline for a full-page ad in the New York Times.

The outcome: Thanks to the story behind a hidden metal bar, the Aeolian Piano Company had a 6-year waiting list for their product.

Bud Robins later wrote about this experience and what it means for every business, every product: “No matter what the account, I promise you, the capo d’astro bar is there.”

Finding your bar

If I opened this post by telling you about the lifespan of a piano, you would have moved on within a few seconds. But you’ll listen to a story. A story about the underdog piano company, and the hero Bud Robbins who has to save the day.

Everyone loves a story. The most popular video games involve a story. We’ve been telling stories around the campfire for thousands of years.

Find your story, and you’ll find your greatness.

When I meet with a new client, one of the first things I do is try to figure out their story. Here are a few of the questions that will help you uncover yours.

  1. What were your dreams as a kid? What did you enjoy doing most in your spare time? What did you worry about?
  2.  What was your first job? What was your first entrepreneurial effort?
  3. What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?
  4. Who was your business’ first client? What was memorable about the experience?
  5. Who was your worst client? Why? If you could teach them one thing, what would it be?
  6. Describe your first year in business.
  7. When did you know you were going to make it? What was the decisive event?
  8. What is the first thing you do when a new client is interested in doing business with you?
  9. What is the last thing you do for your customer or client?
  10. What, if anything, do you do to follow up/keep in touch with past and existing clients?
  11. Why should I do business with you, instead of all the other alternatives, including doing nothing?
  12. Who is your most valuable partner or employee? What makes them so valuable?
  13. If you could put up a billboard anywhere, where would you put it and what would it say?
  14. What habits or outlook do you attribute to your success?

You should try to write out the answers to all of these questions. Better still is to actually talk to someone about these answers. More spontaneous ideas will come up, and you can test their power by the other person’s reactions.

I don’t want to give away my clients’ secrets, but here are some interesting quotes I’ve dragged out by using these questions.

“Many real estate agents are lazy parasites who only do the minimum amount of work for easy money.” (A member of the California Association of Realtors)

“I’m always talking to people who might be five or ten years younger than me, and I’m telling them about some new useful app or software that they’ve never heard of and they don’t want to use. You have to keep learning or you’re toast. I’m always testing out new tech for my clients.” (A 47-year-old video editor)

“I’ve been trying to find out why I’m still alive, what I’m meant to do on this earth. Helping you might be the answer.” (A business owner who nearly died a dramatic death when he was 24)

Any of these quotes could easily lead in to a compelling story that would make eligible clients want to do business with this person.

Now it’s your turn. What is your story?



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What happens when I’m selfish and antisocial?

There is a powerful way to start your morning. I learned about this technique, called priming, from Tony Robbins. But he didn’t mention one of the biggest benefits of priming.

In psychology, priming refers to the effect that a current thought or image will have on future thoughts and images.

For example, if I start talking about the color yellow, and a long narrow fruit, and potassium, I’ve just increased the odds that if I ask you to name a healthy snack you’ll say “banana.”

Tony Robbins takes this phenomenon and shows a way to use it to your advantage. You give your mind images that are related to the outcomes you want to have for the day, and images that will slowly change your mind and body in desirable ways over time.

When I tried priming, I was surprised by a result I hadn’t expected. Here’s the process, so you can understand.

Priming your mind for an awesome day

In a nutshell, you spend the first three minutes feeling gratitude. It’s good to be outside, where you can feel the wind on your face and maybe the grass, sand, or mud between your toes. If you’ve never done this before, these first three minutes alone will change your day and eventually change your life.

But that’s not the biggest part.

The next three minutes are spent sending love and blessings to all the people in your life, and especially the people you’re going to interact with today. You think about them and what they want or need. You think about how you’re going to help them, how much love you’re going to send their way, how blessed they are and how blessed you are to know them.

Finally, for the last three minutes you think about three big goals for the day. Picture them done, and imagine how you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished these goals. If you can really feel this success, you’ll get excited to go out and hit your goals.

Connecting with Other People

When I first read about this practice, I was willing to try it out. I didn’t expect the power of the second step. You see, we are social animals and when you send out blessings to other people you’re really blessing yourself. Here’s what happens.

You’ll start thinking about someone you know, and immediately you’ll think about everyone you know through that one person. Pretty soon you’re sending love and blessings to an extended family, not to mention everyone in your network of clients, colleagues, teachers, vendors, mentors, employees and the list goes on.

This has a profound effect. You’ll start to feel like you’re a river or a fountain, gushing magic blessings on everyone. It’s a huge boost that makes step three, your goals, seem both way more important and far easier to achieve.

Tapping into a New Power

Even if you spend just a second sending blessings to one person, you’ll start to feel like they’re on your team. They have your back. Or at least, they’re cheering for you. When you do that for three minutes, you’ll have a large audience of backers, cheering you on. You start the day stepping up with the whole stadium chanting your name and wishing you well.

Not only that, but you change your focus from what you want to accomplish for yourself to how you can help others.

I’ve always taken time to set goals and visualize success. I don’t usually reach them all, maybe because I’m selfish and antisocial.

I never dedicated a lot of time to gratitude, except when things really were going unexpectedly well. And I never put other people first. What a big mistake!

When you deliberately put other people’s needs above your own, your mindset brings you more happiness than you can ever get from your own empty victories. In fact, you actually become more likely to succeed and accomplish your personal goals and achievements.

How I’ll put you first

I want to put your business, your goals, ahead of my own. This is why I’ve lowered my rates, and why I now offer a money-back guarantee. I’ll visualize you in the morning, your success, and helping you will be one of the big goals I’ll imagine achieving.

When I help you, it will ripple out and boost our economy. Ultimately we’ll multiply the number of people you can help and touch with your blessings.

I am a fountainhead of prosperity, and I’m here to serve you and enrich your life.



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Seven Ways to Let Youtube Promote Your Business

Seven ways that you can dominate the web with fast and simple videos

This might be the most important post I’ve ever written.

Google owns YouTube. If you google almost any subject, you’re going to find videos on the first page, probably within the top 3 results. Many of your prospective clients are already searching YouTube for solutions to their problems. Shouldn’t your company show up in the results?

Most people will only spend a few seconds reading your copy. But they’ll spend 2-3 minutes (or more) watching a video. Your videos have visual and audio information. You can engage more of the brain by making videos about your business.

In 2014 I made over 100 videos. In 2015 I did nothing. Now, in 2016 I’m still reaping the benefits of the work I did two years ago.
Hollywood Sign (Zuschnitt)
I’m preparing a quick, hard-hitting guide that will teach you how to make and use videos. In a few weeks you’ll learn how to make engaging, high quality videos at a low cost.

But today you’re going to get the prequel: How to make the most of your videos. Here are seven ways you can goose your marketing with YouTube videos:

  1. Choose a specific product or service that you want to promote. Make a 30-second video showing all the wonderful things it will do for your clients. Many people will find the video when doing their own search. But just to make sure, email the link to prospects who you think will need it
  2. Videotape testimonials from your clients. You can embed them on your website, and they will also show up when someone does a search for your company or your services.
  3. Announce big changes in your business, awards you’ve won, and upcoming events. It’s a video press release!
  4. Create an online class that educates prospects about a specific product or service you offer. “How to protect your data.” “Seven ways to get the maximum value when you sell your home.” “An employer’s guide to the new health care tax laws” Viewers who are searching for this information will be grateful. You’ll be their go-to expert on the problem. You’re the one they’ll contact when they need the service.
  5. Share casual footage from around the office, parties, and maybe even your personal life. This will put a human face on your company
  6. Showcase a physical product you offer. Demonstrate the product, show someone using it, and highlight the most important features (if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth?)
  7. Do something crazy! Outrageous advertising is an easy way to separate yourself out from your competition. Make a video that maybe has nothing to do with your business but shows a quirky side of you that people don’t usually get to see. One of my most successful videos (of really poor quality) doesn’t even mention my business or marketing, but it has opened doors for me which ultimately put more money in my pocket.

You could probably think of at least seven more ways to use videos. I’ll have a nuts-and-bolts guide for you in a few weeks, but first, here are a few last-minute tips:

      • Invest in good sound quality. Most people won’t mind a jumpy video that you made with your phone, but they’ll be turned off by static, wind, the sound of your breathing or an unclear voiceover. I own a few different microphones but my go-to microphone which won’t force you into bankruptcy is the Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone
      •  Embed your videos on your website. Google owns YouTube, and web pages that contain videos will get higher rankings. Spread them around on relevant pages. Don’t limit yourself to a single page with a dozen videos on it
      • Always include a link to your website
      • Don’t be a bore. Your videos should be genuinely educational, entertaining, or both
      • Pay attention to keywords. Choose your title and description based on the same keywords that drive the content on your website
      • Multiply the effects of your video. Post it on your FaceBook page, and tweet it. Include the link in your emails and newsletters



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The 3 most dangerous words

“It couldn’t hurt.”

That’s what you say right before you commit to something that might help move you along towards your goals, something that might solve a small but nagging problem, something that might help you avert a future catastrophe that may or may not ever happen.

Should you do this extra little thing? Will it actually help you in any way?

“It couldn’t hurt.”

Actually, it could. Every unnecessary or low-priority chore you take on will steal time away from the important, high-priority work you’ve set for yourself.

Add enough of these, and you’ll be overwhelmed by endless busy-ness and disappointed clients.

“It couldn’t hurt” to have lunch with that pushy consultant you met at the mixer. Except you were going to use that hour to work on marketing so you’ll have business next quarter.

“It couldn’t hurt” to try marketing to that other demographic. But you’ve already found a lucrative niche and you have plans to make your products even better and sell more at a higher price.

“It couldn’t hurt” to spend time and resources on developing that new feature. But have you done any testing to find out whether any of your clients want or need that extra feature? Will some of them be turned off by it?

The Never-Ending Room

There is a room in my rental property that we’ll call The Office. It doesn’t fit in with the rest of the building. It’s like the original builder had some leftover space, and didn’t know what to do with it.

A realtor friend of mine referred me to one of his best contractors, who installed a closet and some shelves in this room. “Tenants love to have storage space,” he said.

When the work was almost finished, the contractor made a suggestion. “It couldn’t hurt to put a window in here. Let in a bit of light.”

I agreed, and the lit-up room looked so good that my friend thought we could make it into an office. “Just put in a nice floor and someone could have their desk set up by the window.”

There happened to be several boxes of hardwood laminate flooring that the previous owner left behind, so all I had to pay for was the labor. The Office was born.

The contractor mentioned that he had another client who was trying to sell her washer and dryer. “It couldn’t hurt to offer your tenants laundry.”

The appliances were going for a good price, so I offered to buy them and tried to figure out where to put them.

The only place that made any sense was in The Office.

I know an electrician who does amazing work when he’s not busy in the film industry, so I had him add GFCI outlets to The Office. Ive got decent soldering skills, so I put in the copper plumbing myself. Now we were ready to convert The Office into a laundry room.

Except the dryer runs on gas. So we had to install a gas line.

Then the owner of the washer and dryer decided not to sell.

Now we have a beautiful office with a dark rosewood floor.  But there are gas, water, and sewer lines coming out of the walls. I gave up several business opportunities to work on this quirky place because “It couldn’t hurt.”

Our goal was to have the place finished and rented out by April 1st. If I had stayed with the original plan, offered a storage room instead of The Office/Laundry Room, we would have been right on schedule.

You should really only have two choices

I should have stayed the course, and just had a storage room. Or, I should have been ambitious and decided at the start that we would give our tenants all kinds of great amenities, such as laundry.

“It couldn’t hurt” is a sign that you’re compromising, taking the middle route. You should do something because it is awesome and inspiring, or because it is absolutely necessary. Not because “it couldn’t hurt.” That’s not a good reason to do anything.

The “Battle” of the Caudian Forks

Everyone in business should know the story of the Caudian Forks. I’ll talk about this a lot in my book, but here’s the story in a nutshell:

The bulk of the Roman army was trapped in a narrow gorge. Their enemies, the Samnites, were advised to either kill every single Roman, or to let them all go free with their arms and unharmed.

The first choice would have depleted Rome of her military strength for many years. The second choice would have ensured friendship with the Romans, and possibly ended the war.

But the general did neither of these. He let the Romans go free, but first he had them stripped and humiliated. As a result, the Roman army was angry and eager for revenge, and there were plenty of troops to carry out this vengeance.

The moral of the story is that taking the middle way eliminates all the benefits of the two logical choices, and brings on all the negative consequences of both.

Whenever you find yourself saying, “It couldn’t hurt,” be forewarned that it probably will.

 



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Our Future: What I learned from four years as a public school teacher

If you want to know the future, just look at what fifteen-year-olds are doing today.

–Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad

 

I was going to harness and encourage the natural curiosity and energy of our youth. I was going to show them by example how they could make a life and a living for themselves and others by pursuing their passions.

It didn’t work out that way.

This year I formally resigned from one of the largest school districts in the country. I could share my story in this post, but I’d rather offer you something more valuable: A glimpse at the future. It’s not nearly as bleak as some people say, but you’ll have to be ready for it.

“Dangerous Thinking”

During my first year teaching biology, I tried to help a tenth grader get his GED. This would allow him to leave school a few years early and pursue his idea for a business startup. A few people expressed their shock that I, a teacher, would try to help a student get out of school.

But shouldn’t that be the goal?

A person in a high position told me my thinking was “dangerous.” He reminded me that school was really designed to train people to be punctual and obedient.

Some students would find their way and become successful business owners. Many more would go to college and possibly become professionals. “But,” he told me, “Walmart will always need people to drive the trucks. And we’ll always need people to build the roads.”

The Digital Future

I appreciated this person’s outlook, but we’re in a different world now. Anything I taught my students in an hour-long biology lesson, they could look up on their own in minutes. Even most of the poorest inner-city kids have a smart phone.

This means virtually anyone with ambition and drive has the chance to teach themselves anything they need to know to pursue their dreams.

We’ll always need people to pave the roads, and we’ll always have people to fill that need. But the web has increased everyone’s potential for upward mobility. We have a wealth of young people bubbling over with creativity, and I don’t want to work for an institution that merely slows them down and gets in their way.

Some people say that today’s teens are all video game addicts, that they spend their waking hours mind-melded to an electronic device with a screen. That’s not too far from the truth, but there’s another truth as well.

Many of these kids are amazingly smart and innovative.

The Gamer’s Education

There is a reason digital games are so addictive, and it’s actually good news. When you fail to reach a goal, you almost always get another chance in a game. You can try a different tactic, or finesse your approach until you figure out a way to succeed. Then you get to “level up.”

This is how the human brain naturally learns. It’s how most new things get invented and built. Video games reinforce that pattern, teaching kids to be resilient and persistent.

As a teacher, I got to see kids apply this persistence to the real world. I watched students approach everything like a video game. They would learn which answers would please a particular teacher. They would figure out just how to get the requisite amount of points on a project with the minimum amount of effort.

They would apply this technique to find the best ways to text in class without getting caught, to minimize their homework, to sell snacks to their classmates for extra money, and even to find a date.

None of these skills seem obviously useful in the traditional school classroom. But there are alternative ways of obtaining an education. I got involved in one of them early on, and I’m working on another one myself.

Education is going to become highly personalized and self-directed in the near future. Here are some of the results I think you can look forward to.

Our Future

As a marketer, I’m a little bit scared. Even the best copywriting will only work if it’s added to videos, games, and apps. Even then, you’ better have a great product because the buyers of the future are going to be ruthless in their pursuit of whatever they want.

That said, if you can appeal to the emotions of this next generation, you’ll succeed as a marketer and an employer.

This is an exciting time to be in any kind of business. For myself, it’s an exciting time to be back in business. I’ve already collaborated with some young geniuses, and I look forward to hiring more of them to help you become more successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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