Top Business & Life Lessons Learned Part 3: Authentic Connections, Mastermind groups & Mentors

Authentic Connections:

Everybody has heard the expression, “It’s not what you know – but who you know – that counts.”

That’s partially true and I’d have to say the ability to create high-level connections has been a big factor in my success over the last 10 years but I’ve never really shared exactly how I think about this.

First off, I really don’t like the word “Networking” to describe a connection. That conjures up the image of somebody walking into a ‘mixer’ and slinging their business cards around like some 2-for-1 Red Lobster coupon. Or going to events that have “speed networking” aspects where you glad-hand 3 dozen people and ask them “What-do-you-do? How-can-I-help-you?”

All of this strikes me as being somewhat cheesy!

So what do you do?

Be genuine: I’ve watched some of my friends, like Joe Polish, who I think are incredible at their connections and it comes from a real genuineness. I see Joe tell really silly jokes and just be himself. That’s really refreshing. Personally, I’ve been known to buy a couple dozen shots and start handing them out at the bar during an event. It totally fits my personality plus it gets people to say ‘Hello’ to me who I wouldn’t normally meet.

When I talk to people I’ve just met I look for any connections we have outside of work. In fact, I purposefully do not ask, “What do you do?” unless they ask me first. Of course, I’m interested but I’d rather find out something unusual about them.

Make Intros: The other thing I consciously think about is who in my existing network can I intro them to or foster a connection with. This is a trait some of the best connectors I know do – they are extremely generous with introductions where it makes sense.

Be distinctive: My friend and business coach, Cameron Herold, former COO of 1-800-Got-Junk, told me about how his team would wear blue logoed vests at seminars and events. People would stop them and ask what 1-800-Got-Junk did or what it was and it was a really good way to stand out. With our metal business cards for Maverick Business Adventures – they stand out and get people showing them around to others around them at a meeting.

Get Diverse: Some of my favorite connections have come out of charities I support or hobbies or different interests. There’s a different connection formed with a common interest first, and business second. What’s more, if you have a shared intense experience you’ll have a much deeper connection. I think that’s one of the reasons Maverick members have done so many deals together and are so eager to help each other. It’s a deeper bond than simply meeting a person at a seminar or event.

Become prolific and prominent: This probably isn’t that big of a secret but it’s worth mentioning. If you can get on stage, write a book, become an expert, etc. – you’ll have people seeking you out.

Follow-up: I admit I don’t do this as well as I could but I shoot quick texts, emails or clippings over to people when I know it’s something they’re interested in.

Get up close and personal: Probably every high-level connection I’ve had has been a result of meeting someone in person. The original intro could have started online or via email – but it was only when you sit down with someone that there’s been a deeper bond. Some of the best ‘in-the-flesh’ connections have come at seminars & events. (ahem…Underground) 😉 Events and seminars are one level of intimacy but I’ve found that having shared experiences really accelerates the level of friendship. That’s why so many deals get done while off-road racing in Baja or paddling a class V river with Maverick Business Adventures.

Another high-level practice I’ve used to make connections and push my business forward is by harnessing the power of Mastermind groups…

MasterMind Groups

“If you can grasp this principle and apply it you may have, for your efforts, whatever you want on this earth!”

Those are the words of Napoleon Hill, who first coined the term “MasterMind” in his widely-regarded “Think & Grow Rich” and “Law of Success” works.

In case you don’t know the story, Hill was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to interview 500 other successful men and women looking for the secret to success. One of the key concepts he discovered was the power of a MasterMind group. Every titan of industry from Henry Ford to Thomas Edison to William Wrigley, Jr. all tapped into this, either “by accident or design” as Hill says.

I’ve been part of multiple MasterMind groups and have run several for the last 4 years. I’ll share the different ways they’ve worked and also how to set-up your own.

Personally, I can count at least $2M+ in revenue that came from ideas generated from my own private MasterMind groups that I never would have figured out on my own. What’s more, my first dream car (Mercedes SL55) was bought and paid for just from one single idea conceived at a MasterMind meeting. Another idea has turned into a $45,000.00+ monthly revenue stream with no end in sight.

And yet another idea (really more of a a tiny tweak) was directly responsible for $290,000.00 in sales during 2 weekends. Those are just a few of the ideas that come to mind immediately – I’m sure if pressed I could recount even more big ideas that came as a direct impact of being part of a MasterMind.

On top of the breakthrough ideas – there are many more reasons a MasterMind can help you reach new levels in your business…

  1. Speed – Imagine the speed that comes from tapping into the collective brain trust of experience and results here. For instance, if you had 12 people in the group testing 1 new thing in their business each month, that’s 12 x 12 = 144 new breakthroughs. It would take you 144 months on your own to be able to get the same information.
  2. Competitiveness – There’s a certain friendly “competitive spirit” among the MasterMind group because nobody wants to show up to a meeting without something to “brag on” or with successes to share. It’s this competitiveness that drives results even further that the group benefits from.
  3. Increased Productivity – A MasterMind group empowers you to become more than you are now. At the meetings you are surrounded by other successful entrepreneurs who spark new ideas and fresh energy!
  4. Accountability – Each MasterMind member gets even more accomplished because they feel accountable to the group for their actions and progress.
  5. Group feeling – When a MasterMind group has been properly selected, each person is cooperating and cheerleading for your best results, efforts and “best-self” to step forward. Quite frankly, it’s pretty lonely being a top performing entrepreneur, so having a group of successful peers who understand you is incredibly important.
  6. New resources and contacts – It’s not unusual to walk away from meetings with a notebook full of new contacts and resources. A MasterMind group lets you tap into shared contacts and unique expertise from other like-minded members.
  7. New perspectives – Each member brings with them a new perspective, model or frame of reference to an issue or idea. It’s exactly these kind of fresh insights that lead to big breakthroughs instead of looking at a situation through the same filter.

I’ve been part of informal and formal Mastermind groups, and typically it works much better when there is some formality to it because that usually increases commitment. If you’re interested in starting your own group you must make sure there are serious commitments and consequences for missing meetings. I’ve been part of groups that meet 1x/month or 1x/quarter and I’ve found that for extremely busy and successful individuals the 3 or 4 times/year in person is ideal.

When I was getting started some of my friends and I started a local group that met 1x/month and that was too much. We then moved to about every other month and that worked better. Then as we got more successful we moved to a quarterly structure and then we slowly dissolved the group.

It’s not to say that monthly can’t work, but normally at the highest level people’s schedules are so hectic that it becomes extremely tough to make happen. Peer-to-peer groups like YPO and EO work have forums (essentially MasterMind groups) which meet once per month. (Silly side note: I guess entrepreneurs don’t grow up because the forum groups have names like Zero Guilt, Suspects Gone Wild, etc.)

These forum groups run monthly since every member does not get a chance to present in depth what they are doing and get advice each meeting. It’s a round-robin. I prefer having each member get advice and give value each meeting.

I’ve also been part of two different Internet MasterMind groups that don’t have a set meeting schedule and simply run via a list-serv. For asking quick questions, getting resources or trading junior high jokes this is a simple format that has benefits. One is still active and I think it has to do with the fact that we were all friends first before we created it.

Now being part of so many different groups – and seeing which ones worked and which ones didn’t – I’ll give you a few pointers:

1) Confidentiality within the group is imperative.

2) Trust among the group (this grows as the group shares more time together).

3) True peer-to-peer with a qualification process (i.e. start-ups and multiple 7-figure business owners don’t typically have the same issues.)

4) Openness and focus on giving – not just taking value.

5) Commitment to the group.

The 2 MasterMind groups I run have a simple (but powerful) format. Each member gets approximately 50 minutes to present something that is working well in their business that other members can use for their own businesses. Then the second half of their presentation time they present a problem or opportunity for the group to help with.

[Note: MasterMind members consist of business owners with a 7-figure business or within ‘striking distance’ of 7-figures. If you’d like to be considered for a spot for 2010/2011 you can download a confidential application here.]

I’m also working on new pilot program for 2010 to combine the deep connections that happen with unique, shared experiences on Maverick trips and the natural evolution of deeper trust between the same group of people over time. It’s going to be called “Maverick Mastermind”. These groups are true Masterminds of elite entrepreneurs ($1M+ businesses) that get together 3 times a year, live, for adventures and business sessions. Essentially a long weekend within a 2 hours drive of their host city. Part of the time will be participating in cool activities like racing, air combat, etc. to create the intense shared experience plus get you out of the office. And the other part of the weekend retreat will be spent getting specific business feedback & brainstorming for each member. The pilot program will take place in the Mid-Atlantic and on the West Coast in early 2010. What’s more, there will also be a chance for the Maverick Mastermind members to have a local young entrepreneurship mentoring opportunity in their community. Contact our office if you’re interested.

Mentors & Thought Provokers

I always believe it’s the people you meet, books you read and experiences you have that influence your life.

As I mentioned in part 1, I learned from Earl Nightingale early on about books/resources/educational material as a “mentorship”. Personally, I still get through a least one book a week for that type of education. But I’ve also been lucky enough to meet & interview many people I look to for their philosophies around life, business and achievement. Here are the ‘Cliff Notes’ versions of what I’ve taken away from just a few.

joseph zilberbaum

My dad, Joseph Zilberbaum – probably my first business hero.

He came to the U.S. with $256 in his pocket for me, my mom and grandmother and built up a small, multiple 7-figure medical equipment company. I learned the immigrant work ethic of starting with nothing and creating. I got marketing/sales experience on the ground that would have taken me 10-15 years somewhere else since I got to succeed or fail based on what I created or produced. I certainly got my entrepreneurial spirit from my father. In fact, one day I’m need to write a post (or book) about the “immigrant success secret” – why American born children are less likely to become millionaires than immigrants.

Aleksandra Silverbaum

My mom, Aleksandra Silverbaum – passion, fun and cheerful attitude. My mom passed away 2 days before my very first Underground Online Seminar in 2003. She had battled breast and ovarian cancer for 11 years but she didn’t let the cancer define who she was. She was always up for a party or a good time in between treatments. When my mom got remarried I made a deal with her. I told her I’d pay for her first-class trip to Vegas if she got married off by Elvis. True to form – she said YES without batting an eye. No doubt, I get a lot of my fun side from my Mom. And the other lasting effect she had on me was the unconditional encouragement for any idea or venture even though she didn’t understand half of them. Unfortunately my mom passed away when Missy was 5 months pregnant and never saw Zak, but his middle name, Aleksandr, is a tribute to her.

[Note: If you caught it my parents had different last names because as Russian immigrants my mom thought the translation was incorrect when we came over. Zilberbaum actually means “Silver Tree” and I legally shortened my family’s name to Silver for simplicity awhile back.]

Earl Nightingale – Helped me to be ok with the fact that I was ‘different’ than many of my friends. Not in an elitist way – but simply something inside of me that said I didn’t want to settle for an ordinary life. And his message of “Extraordinary people do the things ordinary people will not do.” really struck a chord. I really wish I had a chance to meet Earl in person but his message lives on through his recordings.

Yanik Silver and Dan KennedyDan Kennedy
– Dan has certainly been a huge influence in my life. He’s the first person that opened my eyes to the fact you could take information and sell it. Certainly, meeting Dan was one of those big, pivotal turning points in my life. Not only did Dan provide the inspiration, but also the nuts & bolts – a combination rarely found. It’s exciting to see how things come full circle because I’ve spoken at many Dan Kennedy events, I helped them get their affiliate program up & running for Glazer/Kennedy and even had Dan attend the Underground® the first year.

John Harricharan – my friend John is somebody who makes sure I nourish the spiritual side of my being. I remember meeting John in Boulder, CO, at Jonathan Mizel’s seminar back in 2001. I came rollerblading through the lobby and John was having breakfast with my buddy, Rob Olic. John immediately had the feeling that we were going to be friends and I’d have a tremendous impact on the world.  Might sound odd but I’ve come to discover John is a very gifted intuitive reader. Since then I’ve relied on John for his insights and advice. In fact, John’s “Power Pause” book holds a little 3-minute exercise that I still use to this day since discovering it back in ’01. It’s profoundly simple but yet incredibly powerful getting you on track to what you want and opening yourself up to getting it. Frankly – I’m not one of those spiritual ‘walk on hot coals’ type of guys – but his stuff really has had a profound effect on my life

Now in the last few years with Maverick Business Adventures® – it’s been exciting to be able to bring in all sorts of business icons and spend time with them. Here are just a few that shaped my thinking:

Dean Graziosi, Joe Polish and Yanik Silver came together to help raise over $450,000 for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite

Dean Graziosi, Joe Polish and Yanik Silver
came together to help raise over $450,000
for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite

Sir Richard Branson – Certainly my biggest business hero from the way he runs multiple companies to his own sense of adventure. It’s been incredible to spend significant time with Richard on his private island, Necker Island.

Every time I’m with Richard I marvel at how ‘in the moment’ he is. He seems very relaxed and always spends serious one-on-one time with the person he’s speaking to. I also love the way he says “YES” to projects and adventures. While on Necker the second time around, Tellman Knudson, asked him to marry off Jodie and him. The impromptu weeding was set-up with Richard being Tellman’s best man. Or I’ve seen Richard say yes to new business projects pitched his way over a rum punch.

What’s more, I’ve really picked up how Richard’s fingerprints are prominent on so many of his businesses. That culture of being “cheeky” is found throughout. In fact, I had the chance to read a branding manual for Virgin group and that’s exactly what they talk about in there.

Another point I saw in action was his social consciousness. Founding Virgin Unite and using the power of entrepreneurship and innovative thinking to solve societal problems has been inspiring. In fact, the last time we were on Necker I wrote down this quote he said that stuck with me, “If you are going to make a difference you have to work hard at making a difference.”

His latest book, “Business Stripped Bare”, is really worth picking up because it has some real business insights and isn’t quite so fluffy like his other ones.

<i>John Paul DeJoria and Yanik with pink hair to support breast cancer</i>

John Paul DeJoria and Yanik in 80’s gear and pink hair to support breast cancer

John Paul DeJoria – J.P., who holds the rank of #261 on Forbes list of World’s Richest with an estimated $2.5B net worth, came on our “Totally Rad Maverick 80’s Road Rally” and told his story from homeless to billionaire.

One of the things I wrote down that really stood out for me was when he talked about how having no money makes you creative. I firmly believe that.  J.P. talked about how he had a pending deadline to pay his printer for the shampoo bottles they just screened – so he went knocking on doors. And guess what? Even after J.P. was a billionaire and started the Patron tequila company with a friend, he still started small. He didn’t invest millions into the project – they bought 1,000 cases to test it out.

I asked J.P. the question of, “What’s the difference between billionaire thinking and millionaire thinking?” His reply was 3 zeroes. At first, I thought that was a trite response but after reflecting on it – probably not. It’s just like for me today getting to a million is no big deal…I think if you give it a big deal (the billion or million) then it holds dominion over you. But if you reduce it down to just a few more zeros – it’s not that big a deal.

What I really loved about J.P. was this incredible energy about him. It’s almost hard to explain, but the guy truly seemed to so content and happy. Of course, you might think that’s easy as a billionaire – but I don’t think that’s the reason.

tony hsieh

Tony Hsieh, keynoting Underground® 5

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com – Having Tony keynote our Underground® seminar for the past two years and spending time with him socially – he’s impressed me. (btw – don’t play the 5 questions game with Tony over vodka shots!) I used to believe values were complete B.S. for companies until I spent time listening to Tony. One thing he kept stressing to our audience and in private conversations was to create the core values! Over and over and over again. To Tony, it’s never too soon or too early in a company’s creation to do it. That’s part of how our Maverick DNA was born.

yanik frank

Frank McKinney – Frank is hailed as “the Daredevil Developer and Real Estate Rock Czar”. He’s the somewhat crazy guy who builds 8…even 9-figure oceanfront homes on spec (meaning – no buyer before he starts). I’ve been inspired by Frank’s take on life and his philanthropic attitude. (Definitely grab his book “Make it Big”!)

Frank is definitely not someone that blends into the background with his wild rock star clothing, theatrical house openings and long blonde hair. We were walking back from an event together and I asked him a question about personality and “flair” as he calls it in his book. He said he’s naturally shy but will turn up his authentic personality just a bit to stand out. I found that reassuring. It’s not about becoming someone you’re not, but being a little bit bigger version of yourself to create bigger things.

Moreover, Frank is a real inspiration to me with the work he does with his Caring House Project Foundation, building homes for the desperately poor and homeless in Haiti. He likens himself to a modern day Robin Hood by selling to the ultra rich and then providing much of the profits to his work in Haiti.

yanik jesse

Jesse James – Jesse has been with us on 2 Maverick Baja adventures and I have really enjoyed getting to know this motorcycle mogul. From first blush you might write Jesse off with his multiple tattoos and hard-nosed attitude…but the guy is quite business savvy. You might have seen him recently on Celebrity Apprentice – and he really surprised a lot of people.

From Jesse I took away the aspect of saying ‘No’ to opportunities not authentic to your brand. With his popularity came lots and lots of requests to endorse products or license his name or image, and 90% of the time he would decline. Jesse was careful to not simply grow his personal brand for the sake of growing, but made it mean something. Though on the flip side of the coin when the right opportunities come up he’s been very astute to work licensing deals with the right partners. Many people thought it was a mistake to work with Wal-Mart to sell the West Coast Choppers line of t-shirts but from his modest background it was the right move.

Cameron Herold – Cameron has come into my life recently but has already had a really big impact. Cameron helped grow 1-800-Got Junk from a couple million to $100M before leaving as COO. He’s been the impetus for the Painted Picture I created for the Maverick group of companies. And he’s really been someone that has really held me accountable to make sure I’m creating what I say I want to. I big believer in the fact there are no accidents and the way I met Cameron was a funny story because we both appeared in a Canadian newspaper article about entrepreneurship on the same day. And also during that same week 2 people independently mentioned my name to him.

There are probably at least several dozen more people I could mention here. My business buddies are some of the smartest and most giving people around, and I always take something away from simply watching their marketing or during late-night talks in hotel suites. Or the Maverick Business Adventures members who have impressed me with their business savvy, zest for life and giving spirit on each and every trip!

Okay that’s a wrap for Part 3 – please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Also, since this is quite long I’ll bundle everything up into a neat little PDF with a bow when I’m finished. (Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed or provide your email address in the upper right-hand corner to be notified when each new section is up on the blog.)

Look for Part 4 where we’ll move into the “Have More Fun” aspect in life and business. I’m a big believer in having a lot of fun in how you work and how you play. First, I’ll show you some of the ways of creating incredible bonds with your customers and increasing your revenue at the same time.

Then, I’m going to do my best to coax out the inner kid you in to come forward.

*****

** Update**

You can now download this series of blog posts (and the other posts they refer to) here. http://www.surefiremarketing.com/decade/

Top Business & Life Lessons Learned Part 2: Creating the ‘BIG’ idea & Selling at premium prices

So let’s start where we left off, talking about “Making More”…

Maverick Rule #1 says:

It’s got to be a BIG idea that you, your team and your customers can “get” in seconds.

Creating The BIG Idea

Before we get started with the how – let’s talk about the why. Why do we even need to worry about creating some kind of hook, angle or big idea for our product or service? Easy answer is because there is so much frickin competition! There’s just too much noise in the marketplace (in just about every marketplace) that you need some way of sticking out.

If you don’t have a big idea you simply fade into the background like every other ‘me-too’ product or service. Actually it’s not always even about having a proprietary product/service. This is really more about positioning and the immediate reaction a prospect has to your deal the moment they hear it.

That’s on the key elements of the BIG idea – gut reaction. If you want a real interesting insight into this get the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. You’ll see exactly how much our attitudes and perceptions are based on what he calls “thin slicing”. With our world’s being busier than ever – people usually don’t have all the time in the world to explore absolutely everything about a product or service. We’ve got to use shortcuts for our decision-making. And the clearer and more poignant you can make a distinction for your product or service the better you’ll do in the crowded marketplace.

Let me cover some real-world examples and then you’ll have a little better notion of how to create the same kind of hooks and angles for yourself. I’ll start with a couple products from the consumer world and see if you can pick up on it…

“Uncrustables”

“100 Calorie Packs”

“8 Minute Abs”

“Time Shares”

“101 Nights of Grrreat Sex”

“The Real World”

“Club Med”

“24”

All of these consumer products broke out and created serious financial windfalls for companies involved.

  1. Uncrustables are a pretty silly idea but they work. Create a pre-made PB&J sandwich, remove the crust and seal it together so the bread is a little pouch. Then put in your freezer and stick in your kids lunch bag to thaw for lunch.  (Side note: We buy these a lot! Missy absolutely loves uncrustables herself. I’m the one who loves 5-star meals at fancy restaurants with great wine, while she could go for a grilled cheese sandwich any day of the week.)100 calorie ritz
  2. 100 Calorie Packs are from Nabisco and now have grown to a bunch of different varieties. Anything from Ritz crackers to Oreo cookies – but they only have exactly 100 calories per pouch. That’s the big idea – you don’t have to count calories because we’ve done it for you. You know that with each snack pack you can’t eat 18 portions because we’ve put less than 100 calories in there for you.
  3. 8 Minute Abs – the name says it all. That’s all you need to hear to know exactly what you get and how long it’ll take. It’s specific and very powerful – enough that on the strength of this concept hundreds of thousands of copies were sold
  4. Time Shares it’d be almost impossible for someone today not to know what a time share is – but in the late 60’s and early 70’s this was a breakthrough concept. You could simply purchase a week of a hotel/condo instead of buying the whole thing. The concept first debuted in Europe and quickly spread to the US in Florida and Hawaii. 101 nights
  5. 101 Nights of Grrreat Sex – I absolutely loved this concept when I saw in bookstores. It was so different. This is a paperback (mass market, bookstore) book by Laura Corn that has 50 sealed activities for men and 50 for women. You just rip out a page and away you go. You don’t have to think too much because it’s all there for you. The other point that I absolutely love about this book is the curiosity factor. You simply cannot “browse” the book like you typically would in a bookstore. All the pages are sealed and you only get little tantalizing hints like “Sucking the Mango”, etc. Laura is a fabulous marketer and constant promoter – she smartly has charged a premium price on her of $29.95 (way more than most paperbacks).
  6. The Real World is probably the first reality TV show and was a major breakthrough because there were no actors and no script. MTV concocted a recipe to whip up mega drama from a bunch of strangers all living together. Hey, I watched it. I still remember season #1 in NY. This concept is so strong that they are still going years and years later. Of course, reality TV has gone haywire in the past few years and really exploded. TV viewers will watch just about any kind of reality show if Flavor Flav is any indication.
  7. Club Med started the all-inclusive concept for vacations in the 50’s. This was a BIG idea since previously you had to pay for meals, drinks, activities, etc. all separate.
  8. 24 is the TV show that I haven’t seen copied yet. It’s got a unique format of every episode occurring in an hour of real time. And the entire season occurs over exactly 24 hours. Missy and I were totally hooked on it until about Season 5 or 6. If you watch this show – you know what I mean when I say we can’t believe some of the twists and ridiculous turns the writers put in there – but we go along for the ride.

Okay I’m sure many of you picked up on some of these BIG ideas but I want to make sure nothing is glossed over because this is critical and means the difference between a “base hit” or a “home run” product.

There are 5 major things I think about and keep in mind when coming up with a BIG idea or hook for something I’m doing:

#1: Give Them the FISH!

I can’t over emphasis this idea and I can’t remember how long I’ve been telling this to students. People are downright lazy – cater to it! Everyone knows the saying about if you give the man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach him to fish you feed him for life. Let me give it to straight here – that’s complete and total B.S.!

People want the fish handed to them on their plate, grilled perfectly and with some seasonal vegetables on the side. Look at Home Depot – the world’s largest “do it yourself” company in the world. Why did they suddenly start buying up companies left and right and provide the service for consumers? And why does their CEO think the “done for you” services will eclipse their current sales? Hmmmm….

I’ve had big success with giving people the “fish” including the first online product that you’re probably sick of hearing by now Instant Sales Letters. The whole hook behind Instant sales letters is in the headline on the site – “In Only 2 ½ Minutes You Can Quickly and Easily Create A Sales Letter Guaranteed To Sell Your Product Or Service…Without Writing! Looking To Increase Your Business? Just Fill In A Few Blanks And PRESTO… You’ve Just Created A Powerful, Money-Making Sales Letter!”

That hook has been responsible for me generating $1M+ with a little $40 – $50 product.

Another big success story using the “FISH” concept has got to the Public Domain Goldmine package created with my partner, Michael Holland. After the success of my Public Domain Riches product where I covered how to find and profit from public domain works – I realized many people didn’t want to go through the trouble of finding the public domain works and analyzing markets themselves. Here’s the big idea:

I’m going to hand you 35 different public domain works on a silver platter with nearly EVERYTHING done for you and ready to start making you money. We’re talking all the market research, competitive analysis, keyword analysis, locating back-end affiliate revenue sources, finding potential joint venture partners, clearing the copyrights, etc. – All for a TINY fraction of the time and money you would have to spend if you did it all yourself

That hook was enough to make sure all the volumes released so far have instantly sold out. Giving people exactly what they want handed to them in a done-for-them concept is so powerful.

As I look back, I’ve been doing this since I started selling information in ‘98. In fact, one of the very first successful products was a pre-done newsletter for cosmetic surgeons to send to their patients already written for them. Here’s how very simple and straightforward the letter selling this product started:


“How To Write A Patient Newsletter…Without Writing”

Dear Doctor,

Are you too busy to write your own patient newsletter?

You know you need a newsletter, but if you’re like most doctors, you just can’t find the time to ever get one out. Coming up with interesting articles and compelling stories is hard, hard work, and unless you have lots of extra time on your hands, it’s easy to keep putting off publishing a newsletter until “someday”.

But of course, we all know “someday” usually never comes…

Oh sure, there are a couple companies that will do it all for – but they’ll charge you an arm and a leg. And since they don’t really know the first thing about compelling offers and killer copy it probably won’t get too many patients to actually call you (which is the whole point of putting out a newsletter).

Well, all that can change starting now…

Announcing The Pre-Done, Ready-To-Go, Camera-Ready, Just Plug-In Your Name and Phone Number, Patient Newsletters


One of my previous students, Lisa Preston, had been struggling with the information marketing business online until she took the “FISH” concept to heart. She launched “Instant Niche Emails”, which provided an easy way to get 52 weeks of follow-up autoresponders for just about any niche. It’s a great concept and she quickly saw her sales explode because of the big idea. And this isn’t just for info products – if you look back over the examples I originally gave you, I would put “Club Med” into the “FISH” category because they provide you everything you need to gave a wonderful vacation for one price. I’d also put “Uncrustables” in the “Fish” category since Moms and Dads just need to chuck one of those sandwiches into the little tykes lunch bag and they’re all set.

I’d possibly put “101 Nights of Grrreat Sex” in this since each torn out page gives you exact specific instructions but they don’t give you all the props, etc. 😉

Okay on to the second way to develop BIG ideas and hooks…

#2: Make Your Promise Specific

Specifics are so important but usually completely overlooked because it’s much easier to make a generic promise. However, a specific promise or a specific target market makes your marketing that much more powerful.

One of my best selling products (since 2001) has been 33 Days to Online Profitsthat I co-wrote with Jim Edwards. I firmly believe that “brand” has been kept alive because of the very specific claim or hook. Originally when Jim and I first began discussing the idea behind this ebook it was going to 30 Days to Online Profits – but we decided on “33” because it was specific (and credible). The other unique aspect of this product is that each day you are given a homework assignment so it’s a step-by-step, day-by-day course for 33 days.

I have no doubt in my mind if the title was “30 Days to Online Profits” it wouldn’t be as successful.

Here’s another example from an actual critique I gave to a student when they submitted an idea that they wanted to create an info product for Stay-at-home-moms….

Here’s what I told them in the critique: “Stay at home moms are a great category – you need to get specific on it the moneymaking info. How about something like “233 Ways Stay at Home Moms Can Make an Extra $200 Every Month” Now that’s different, specific and has a nice hook to it.”

You can see from my comments how much more powerful this would make the concept. Specifics also apply to things like “1001” compiled resources. However, I don’t like “typical” numbers so I’d use very specific numbers like “233” or “33” as I mentioned.

Looking at the first group of examples I’d obviously put “8-minute abs”, “100 calorie packs” and probably “101 Nights of Grrreat Sex” into the specifics category. Side Note: Notice “101 Nights” is in both categories and I firmly believe you can create bigger and better hooks by having not just one of these factors in your BIG idea. Stack them on top of one another!

Another good example of specifics selling the big idea is the success of “5 Hour Energy”.  I found this a few years back when I needed an energy boost before my Hockey finals. I went to 7-11 and was sitting there trying to decide which energy supplement/drink/powder/doohickey I should buy. I saw this little bottle called “5 Hour Energy”. I read a tiny bit on the back of the bottle and grabbed it. Yeah it tasted like crap but it worked. Not only did it give me more energy (we won the championship) but it worked from their marketing standpoint.

five hour energy

A point-of-purchase product like that really depends on you being able to make a split second decision whether or not you’ll get it. (Fact is, many decisions are made like this from a quick emotional, gut level but we don’t want to admit it to ourselves.) So using #2 – a specific promise of “5 hours of energy” they were able to get my business. Now just recently I saw them advertising their site – www.5hourenergy.com on TV which to me means the product has become pretty successful in a marketplace filled with competitors (like Red Bull, etc).

#3: Go the Opposite Direction

I love this. However, I don’t suggest being different just for the sake of being different – however – there is a lot to be said for ‘zigging’ when others ‘zag’.

My biggest example of this is the “Underground” concept I developed

Don’t you think there are more than enough Internet seminars going on all over the place? Some good. Some not so good. It’s real tough to create a stir in the Internet space unless you have something different. Which is exactly why I didn’t want to do another ‘same-ole’ Internet seminar. Of course, the easy way (and trust me there is nothing easy about putting on seminars) would have been to just gather up all my buddies and have a seminar – but that would be too similar to other established events.

My big hook (which was true) is every year I bring in a lot of unknown speakers who were really making it in the real world online. It wasn’t the same usual suspects you’d see at other events. I took it all the way with making the promotions ‘spy’ themed to stand out. Sure, some people emailed us and said it was silly. But a lot more people got into it because it was different. It really worked! Each year the event has SOLD-OUT weeks before the event took place (just as a comparison most other events will get the bulk of their registrants 2-3 weeks before the seminar and most will take registrants up until the event.)

[Shameless plug: This year’s Underground® 6 event has an incredible line-up of speakers and we’re just about to announce 2 really big keynote additions. The very best bonuses including the VIP networking dinner and lowest ticket prices expire on January 20, 2010. Click here for details!think small

For a broader example of going the opposite direction, think about when VW Beetle first came to the U.S. with their “Think Small” campaign in 1960.

It was the era of big cars and automakers were trying to outdo themselves by building bigger and bigger cars for the American public. But the VW Beetle quickly became a blockbuster because it went in the opposite direction and even highlighted the fact it was small. This campaign was so powerful that AdAge magazine named it the #1 in it’s Top 100 Advertising Campaigns list.

#4: Move to a New Application

Many times you can create a great hook by simply taking one successful hook from one industry or place and moving it somewhere else.

A great example of this is the successful Time Shares concept I already mentioned to you and moving it to other industries. The time share concept has been successfully applied to private jets (think NetJets), exotic cars, luxury second homes, yachts, etc.

Or on a smaller level, one of my friends and former Underground® II speaker is a great example of this. John Alanis’ site is www.WomenApproachYou.com and the whole hook behind his info products is to get women to approach you instead of you having to chase them.

Great concept – however it’s not even close to original!

Both John and I would credit Dan Kennedy with being a tremendous influence in our business. And one of Dan’s most successful products is “Magnetic Marketing” – with the big idea of not chasing business but having it come to you.

See any similarities?

#5: Being First

Sometimes the most important thing you can to is simply be the first. From our example list “Time Shares”, “Club Med” and “Real World” qualify since they were the very first in their category.

If you are moving into a crowded marketplace you can actually “slice” off a piece of that market to be first. For instance, Dan Kennedy talks about his foray into helping dentists and chiropractors with their practice marketing. He would say his company was “the single biggest provider of practice building information for the dental & chiropractic profession”. And that’s because nobody else was serving both. 😉

Or how about this one?

Hedonism (owned by SuperClubs) took the concept behind all-inclusive resorts from ClubMed and geared only towards singles or adventurous singles. But that wasn’t the end because another smart company niched the all-inclusive concept again but only for romantic couples with “Sandals” resorts.

If you start thinking about these points for creating the BIG idea or a hook – you’ll action begin to notice ideas everywhere. Plus, you’ll also see how successful products/services are in many ways take-offs on other successful concepts/ideas that came before them.

Or how about this mega moneymaking example – if you have kids you surely have heard of the Wiggles, right? wiggles

Zak likes their songs and surprisingly (or maybe not) I now know all the words to the songs on his Wiggles CD. The Wiggles have become a huge hit by following BIG idea method #4 and #5. So huge that according to Business Review Weekly magazine, The Wiggles were Australia’s highest grossing entertainers for the year 2005, earning more than AC/DC and Nicole Kidman combined.

2 of the Wiggles started off in a regular rock bank called “The Cockroaches” and had some modest success. It was only after deciding to move to a new application (#4) and being first (#5) did they have their massive success.

For moving to a new application they took their same popular rock sound and moved to kids music. Most kids music pretty much stunk but the Wiggles aren’t bad. Now moving to a new application they didn’t need to compete against tens of thousands of other hopeful musical acts trying to go big and mainstream. They went for kids and cornered the market. According to Wikipedia one of their hit songs came from reworking a few of the old Cockroaches tunes into children’s songs. For example, “Do the Monkey” was originally a Cockroaches song with different lyrics. Another Cockroaches song, “Get Ready To Wiggle”, inspired the new band’s name.

Then the other portion of the BIG idea used her was (#5) Being First. Now, they were not literally the first children’s entertainers but they took this combination of CDs, live performance, videos, and characters to develop a sticking point in the heads of little rug rats everywhere.

The more you can incorporate a BIG idea or hook into your product – the easier it’ll be to write a kick-ass sales promotion for it. It almost writes itself. The times when I’ve struggled writing copy is because I didn’t have enough of a big idea behind it.

Maverick Rule #3: You must charge a premium price so you have a large margin to provide an extraordinary value & experience.

About 2 years ago I conducted a $10,000/person workshop on “How to Sell Super High-Priced Information Products and Services” and I’ll share a few insights here…

If you boil down my biggest profit windfalls in my business (and the most astute marketers I observe) it has come down to selling premium products and services at premium prices. That’s how my business has leapfrogged from 6-figures to 7-figures and now multiple 7-figures a year!

Personally, I’ve sold everything from $5,000 workshops to $14,500.00 “Apprentice Programs” to $20,000 MasterMind groups and even a $40,000+/yr program for cosmetic surgeons.

First, let’s say you want to make an extra $1M this year – then you’d have to sell 20000 copies of your ‘doohickey’ at $50. Or it could be 2000 copies at $500. Or better still 200 copies at $5000. It’s a lot easier dealing with 200 customers than 20,000. Think of all the customer service and infrastructure, etc.

Once again before we get into the “HOW” let’s discuss the “WHY”…

Reason #1: More Profits

Okay no surprise here. When you sell for higher prices you make more profits. Very few companies have been able to sustain a “low price” position in the marketplace. Sears couldn’t. K-Mart couldn’t. And now it remains to be seen what Wal-Mart does with that position. (Actually if you study Wal-Mart you’ll notice they are bringing in some significantly high-priced, high-margin products.)

Reason #2: Better Customers

Price qualifies your customers more than you might realize. The ones that pay $7 for an ebook are going to be the ones that whine and complain the most! They’ll tax and strain your customer support team. But in comparison the customers who spend significant amounts of money are surprisingly easier to deal with and less demanding.

Think about the last time you gave free advice to someone – what happened? That’s right. Nothing. But if you had made them pay you for consulting – they would have taken it to heart.

Reason #3: Psychology of Price Works In Your Favor

This is a big one! We’ve always been taught “You get what you pay for”. It’s not uncommon for a prospective customer to discount a product or offering because it’s “too cheap”. If the price is not in line with what it should be you’d think there is something wrong.

Reason #4: Can Deliver More Value

Ultimately the value you provide will dictate the profits you receive from your customers. Increase the value and your revenues go up. By high-profit products with high-margins you have lots more wiggle room to deliver sensational value. You can really “WOW” your customers and buyers. Not only can you throw in high-value extras but you can afford to deliver truly unique unadvertised bonuses and follow-ups.

Reason #5: Some Buyers Will NOT Buy Low-Priced Items

It sounds crazy but some customers are only premium buyers. If you gave them a discount it would actually decrease the response. Plus, some customers are only comfortable buying in the high-end range. I was shocked when I discovered with my first high-priced offering. My Apprentice program was $14,500 and at the time this was head and shoulders above any other marketer.

I thought my best prospects for this program would be customers who had already bought from me and were happy. Surprisingly about half of the people in this program had *NEVER* bought anything from me before. Their comfort level was for a premium offer.

Reason #6: You Will OWN The Marketplace

I think this is the biggest reason of all…

This means you can afford to pay more to acquire a customer. This is huge! If I’m in the same marketplace and I’m competing against someone who only has $100.00 product at the end of their funnel and I have a $10,000.00 offering – there’s going to be almost no contest.  I can spend more on Pay-per-click, more on advertising, more on affiliate pay-outs, more on offline follow-up, more on testing unusual advertising places, etc..

And I can make bad results work for me. If I’m direct mailing for a high-priced product I only need a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the response for a low-priced product to make me money.

Fact is, the business owner who can spend the most to acquire a customer will WIN.

Period. End of story.

Most people are undercharging for what they provide. My rule of thumb and one of my values I look at it every morning in my planners says “I get rich by enriching others 10x – 100x what they pay me in return”.

That’s a big deal for me. If you pay me $1000 for a product – I want to make sure it delivers $10,000 in value for my customers. I suggest you consider something similar. If your product isn’t good enough for you to raise your price on it – make it better!

And that’s the first step at the “HOW” to double or triple our prices…start brainstorming the value you provide.

Step #1 – Brainstorming Additional Value

Either find a trusted advisor, work with your team (if you have one) or just grab a blank yellow legal pad and start coming up with answers. It doesn’t matter how crazy they are. Just write them all down. In fact, the rules of brainstorming should be used:

  • Rule #1 – No criticism allowed (turn off your left brain)
  • Rule #2 – The wilder the better…everything’s possible
  • Rule #3 – Quantity
  • Rule #4 – Jump off and “Plus” others ideas

You want to start with a blank slate and just “blue sky” questions like these:

  • “How can I provide 10x-100x the value to my customers?”
  • “What can I do that will absolutely amaze them?”
  • “How can I get my customers the end-result they want on a silver platter?”
  • “How can I ‘do it for them’?”

Step #2 – Your thinking

Next, setting higher prices begins inside your head. People are usually too slow to raise prices and it’s more about confidence & self-image than the actual value delivered. Get Maxwell Maltz’s book “Psycho Cybernetics” and consider your self-image. We all have self images in every single area of our life and if you are not charging a premium it’s usually more to do with what’s in-between your ears than the actual marketplace. Which brings me to my next point, never allow your competition to set your prices. Just because someone else charges $x dollars – that does not mean you have to charge similar prices. There will be always a very profitable spot for businesses at the premium scale who deliver what’s perceived as exceptional products and value.

Step #3 – Targeting the right marketplace

Another mistake I see a lot is going after markets who cannot afford to pay premium prices. There’s no reason you cannot have another division of your business go after customers who have already shown they will pay premium prices for products/services. For example, I have a giclee of a painting by Thomas Arvid in our dining room at home. I believe we paid about $2500-$3000 for this work. Now in case you are unfamiliar with the term a giclee is really just a fancy print. This one being on canvas. I can most certainly assure you there is a high margin in this piece.

Why would I and many others pay such a premium for it? Well, the artist’s originals go for $25,000 or more now (if you can even get them) and he chose a subject that buyers would pay a premium for – namely high end wines. Also, it’s a limited edition piece (something we’ll discuss in greater detail shortly.) Arvid only specializes in hyper realistic wines paintings. They are absolutely beautiful and the first time I saw his work in Carmel, CA I was blown away. (You can see for yourself at www.ThomasArvid.com) Arvid paints high-end wines like Opus One, Silver Oak, Caymus, etc.

And the people who are passionate about these high-end wines will pay a premium for wonderful art. He stumbled onto this by accident when he started painting and found that a red wine painting was snapped up immediately. Very astutely Arvid learned more about wine and which ones to paint so that customers would open up their wallets.

And the final aspects of creating a high-priced offer are the psychological ones…

We’ve talked about the psychology of scarcity previously in this post. Human beings have been hard-wired to want what is going away. Many more people are motivated by the thought of potential loss than potential gain. You see this used all the time in marketing and it works *IF* there is truth behind or we perceive there to be truth behind it. Here’s one example from a company I buy a lot of wine from that really illustrates this point (combined with ‘reason why’):

silver oak

If you have trouble reading the text in the email – here’s the main part (underlining is my own):

WINE ALERT: As you probably read in the news, our friends at Silver Oak experienced a terrible fire at their winery earlier this year. At that time, there were rumors that they had lost most of their past and current vintages. Hence, the winery ceased new sales of their prized Silver Oak 2001 Alexander Valley Cabernet – – Robert Parker’s highest rated Silver Oak since renowned 1997 vintage – – to the great disappointment of thirsty collectors across America who have made this wine the #1 selling Collector Cabernet. However, today the big news is our friends at Silver Oak just found 15 more cases of this wine + several BIG bottles including an extremely rare 6L quadruple magnum (details below) safely tucked away in their private cellar and have made an exclusive offer to Porthos Insiders on a “first come, first sell” basis. These are the last cases and only big bottles of this prized vintage that will ever be available for sale so don’t miss this insiders-only offer!

Some of you know I bought the 6L quadruple magnum (that’s equivalent to 8 regular bottles). I really like Silver Oak anyway so I wouldn’t have bought this just because it was so scarce (or at least I tell myself that). I’m planning on popping this bad boy for some big celebration.

With this information the only thing stopping you from raising your price is yourself. But if you want to just try it out – you can always start small by offering a “Deluxe” or “Gold” version of your existing product/service and see what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by adding some of these elements to your marketing how you can easily double or triple your prices and still provide an incredible value.

Okay that wraps up part 2 – part 3 will cover creating your own MasterMind group and authentic connections, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

* * * *

** Update**

You can now download this series of blog posts (and the other posts they refer to) here. http://www.surefiremarketing.com/decade/

Top Business & Life Lessons Learned from the Last Decade

When the clock strikes midnight this New Year’s it’ll mark the 10th year I’ve been in business online. I’ve been taking stock of my accomplishments, lessons learned and what I’ve done in the span of 10 years.

Here’s a glimpse at part of my list…

Personal Accomplishments:

  • 2 incredible kids (Zak & Zoe)
  • Freedom to work at home to see the kids grow up, take them to school any day or go on their field trips or special events without worrying about it.
  • Married to an encouraging, supportive and flexible wife. (Thanks Missy!)
  • Millionaire before the age of 31
  • “Officially” a pro beach volleyball player

Impact:

Adventure:

Business Accomplishments:

Your Own List

Side note: I would strongly suggest you compile your own “Best of the decade” list of how far you’ve come. I’ve also been a big fan of using the power of gratitude but I heard this another way from Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach. He has a theory of people being disappointed because they cannot reach their “ideal”.

Dan gives the example of the horizon. We all know it’s silly to think we can ever reach the horizon because it keeps moving as we move closer to it. Same with an “ideal”. We feel despondent and maybe even depressed in our greatest victories if we attempt to measure them up to our ultimate ideals. But the people who are happiest are the ones of take stock of where they are today (Point B) than when they started (Point A). And we can all look back and gain that confidence and awe of how far we’ve come.

Okay fair warning, this is going to be quite a long post but I promise it’ll be filled with some serious insights for you. (In fact, I think there will be so many prominent and buried lessons here that I’m willing to put up a little bit of a prize for the best ‘lesson detectives’ – more details at the end of the post.)

To set the stage, Jan 1, 2000 when this decade started, I was in a 1-bedroom apartment and was engaged to Missy. I didn’t have a website and I barely had an email address.

That same month was when I got an idea at 3 o’clock in the morning and woke Missy up to tell her about InstantSalesLetters.com. (She wasn’t happy!) And then I did what most people probably wouldn’t: I hopped out of bed, registered the domain and got to work on it. By February 2000, with about $1,500 invested, I made my first $29.95 sale. It was one of the most amazing feelings in the world to take an idea and have it turn into cash. And the sales kept coming – about $1,800 the first month…then $3,400…then approx. $7,800.00 and roughly $9,400.00 the fourth month out of the gate. I was on track to hit six-figures with my very first site – and that’s when things really started exploding.

As people started hearing about my success, I was invited to speak at my first Online marketing conference and I started helping others take their interests, passions, hobbies, etc. and create online oil wells.

The unusual way to ‘stumble’ onto success…

Unintended success

There’s a profound theory I heard from R. Buckminster Fuller that says your true success is found perpendicular along the path to your original perceived goal.  Instant Sales Letters is a perfect example because my original end goal was to sell it for $500k to Stamps.com or someone like that. But on my way to building up that site – I had so many people ask me how I started making money so quickly that I began teaching. And that teaching became part of my “accidental” success path for the last 8 years, opening up one door after another. I would never have got on that track unless I was moving towards the original goal.  And it’s the same thing today – the next chapter in my life is with my Maverick Business Adventures® and Maverick Business Insider companies – which wouldn’t have been formed without the contacts, connections and success delivered from my Internet business.

Starting with the Fundamentals

It’s easy to look back and see my somewhat meteoric rise with Instant Sales Letters and laud it as being an “overnight success”. Not exactly true. Before this decade started I had been preparing and studying direct response fundamentals, inner success laws and psychology.

One of my biggest mentors is Earl Nightingale. He passed away several years ago but you can and need to get everything he recorded at Nightingale.com.  He has a program called “Lead The Field” and “The Strangest Secret”. I learned from Earl Nightingale that if you want to be an expert, you spend an hour a day reading or studying on whatever subject that you’re interested in for 3 years. Or if you want to world-class expert you ready or study for 1-hour a day for 5 years.

So I said, “Well, what would happen if I read for two or three hours a day?”

I just started learning as much as I possibly could around these subjects.  Let’s cover a few here since I really believe the fundamentals never change.

When I first really started this blog I created a series of posts around the 9 ‘inner secrets’ to success. Those are worth re-visiting:

Inner Success Secret #1: Cheerful Expectancy

Inner Success Secret #2: Set your Plan

Inner Success Secret #3: Do One Proactive Thing a Day

Inner Success Secret #4: Deliver Exceptional Value

Inner Success Secret #5: Build on Your Successes

Inner Success Secret #6: Decision

Inner Success Secret #7: Continual Learning

Inner Success Secret #8: Gratitude

Inner Success Secret #9: Giving

Direct response

I would have to say figuring out and learning about direct response has been one of the biggest paradigm shifts for me. Since we’re heading down memory lane, I have to take the story back well beyond this decade to the bi-centennial.

My family is from Russia and immigrated to the U.S. in 1976. My Dad came over with $256 in his pocket for me, my Mom and my Grandmother. Just a year and half later, my Dad started his own company repairing (and then later selling) medical equipment.

I grew up working in the business starting with telemarketing latex gloves at age 14, and then even selling medical equipment to docs in person at age 16 when I got my license. At the time, I thought this totally sucked! My friends were living at the beach having a great time and I was spending my summers pedaling X-ray film and EKG machines. You can definitely look back and see significant turning points in your life, and one of my mine came when a doctor client of mine, Dr. Nathan Wei, gave me a Jay Abraham tape that turned on “the lights” about direct response marketing. I was about 18 or 19 at the time and I basically devoured it.

I loved the fact that I didn’t have to deal with rejection anymore in person and the incredible leverage of ‘knocking’ on tends of thousands of doors and only speaking to interested people. It was endlessly fascinating to me to realize you could write something in an ad or letter (now a website) and have people open up their wallets or raise their hands.

From Jay Abraham I learned to think broadly about how to leverage businesses. From there I found Ted Nicholas. Ted Nicholas is a true gentleman in the direct response world and I found his teachings just as he was transitioning out of his newsletter. I ended up buying all the back issues and previous products. (Actually I remember about 1 or 2 years later writing a note to Ted about our shared immigrant background and how much his teachings had meant to me – Ted responded back to me personally from Switzerland.)

At the same time I was studying Ted, I got a direct mail piece from some guy named “Dan Kennedy”. Dan truly changed my life. He is probably one of 3 people I credit with helping me achieve financial independence at such a young age. I went on to pay a small fortune for his manuals, books, audios, seminars and personal guidance.

I continued learning from direct marketing and copywriting masters who came before me; people like Gary Halbert, John Caples, David Ogilvy, Bob Stone and Joe Sugarman. (BTW – Joe is our business icon guest for the next Maverick Baja adventure.) From there I might find a random reference to someone in a manual or book and immediately look them up, which lead to more influences and original sources. I loved digging through the past to the beginning of mail order since those guys had to truly persuade people without the benefit of instant ordering via phone, fax, online, etc. Their customers had to slog to the post office to place their order. Greats like Claude Hopkins, John E. Kennedy and Maxwell Sackheim. And then I went back even further to find obscure (and extremely rare texts) like “Printed Salesmanship” by Robert Ruxton.

Obviously there is a long history of direct response, but if you boil it all down it comes to:

  • An offer (ideally with a deadline)
  • A way to respond/call to action (fax, phone, online, etc)
  • Measurement of response

A basic example is one I told to a dentist friend of mine. I explained to him a little bit about direct response marketing while playing volleyball together in Turks & Caicos. I told him to mail his patients with an offer; in his case it was raw materials for crowns. The cost had gone up significantly and he would have to raise his price. Because he valued his patients he would give them a window to get any crowns or dental work done at the old price until X date. They had to bring the letter in to get the special. That’s it, pretty basic. And that worked spectacularly, creating his best month ever.

With the web – nearly everything can be measured and quick test results achieved. That’s part of what makes this one of the most incredible times to be around. I definitely believe a true direct response fundamental is a key to understanding the Web. I got my chops by writing ads for my dad’s business, attempting to sell medical equipment that we only previously sold face-to-face and toes-to-toes. My dad would look at the ads I created and say, “Who’s going to read all that?” I had to persuade him to let me try it and see what happened. Quite frankly, it was a revolution in the way we could sell because we had now expanded our reach nation-wide and I only spoke to doctors who were extremely interested in a product (for a demo) or who actually whipped out their credit cards to buy. Here’s one of my original ads:

medical ad

Understanding Marketing Psychology

And then the next fundamental I stress deals with psychology. I was a marketing major and got my B.S. from the University of Maryland (a top 25 business school when I graduated), but I always say I didn’t learn much in college except partying. All my real marketing insights and knowledge came from self-study and trying things myself. In fact, if I had to do it all over again I probably would be a psychology major. To me, it’s fascinating what motivates people to take action or buy.

One of my first exposures to how powerful this could be was a book written by a professor at Arizona State University, Dr. Robert Cialdini. His book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” is definitely a top 10 book for me. I’ve read this book at least 9 times and continue to find amazing insights each time I do. Joe Sugarman also has a great book on psychology called “Triggers” where he has a slightly different take.

I uploaded a special presentation for you on the 11 Hidden Psychological Hot Buttons to Create Maximum Sales for you. (Please use this material and information ethically!)

The final thing I’ll mention about fundamentals came after meeting one of my entrepreneurial heroes, Sir Richard Branson. I was so inspired that on the plane ride home I started jotting down a list of “rules” and got to 34. I called it “34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs” and it received a ton of excitement. And then it became been the catalyst for a lot of things, including a print book by the same title.

34 Rules

“Maverick Entrepreneurial Philosophy” of Make More, Have More Fun and Give More!

Maverick Entrepreneur

I realized this blog post was going to be a really, really long post so I’m breaking this up into several days – plus a lot of people suggested I put into a PDF. So good news – at the end of this series, I’ll bundle it all up into a neat little PDF with a bow. (Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed or provide your email address in the upper right-hand corner to be notified when each new section is up on the blog.)

* Update: We just completed the PDF of all 5 parts. Download it here *

Part 2 will start where a lot of people believe they need the most help in these interconnecting circles… Make More


When the clock strikes midnight this New Year’s it’ll mark the 10th year I’ve been in business online. I’ve been taking stock of my accomplishments, lessons learned and what I’ve done in the span of 10 years.

Here’s a glimpse at part of my list…

Personal Accomplishments:

2 incredible kids (Zak & Zoe)

Freedom to work at home to see the kids grow up, take them to school any day or go on their field trips or special events without worrying about it.

Married to an encouraging, supportive and flexible wife. (Thanks Missy!)

Millionaire before the age of 31

“Officially” a pro beach volleyball player

Impact:

Helped raise over $500,000.00 for Virgin Unite to start a Young Entrepreneurship program in the U.S.

Directly donated another $500,000.00+ to charities including Caring House Foundation, Tony Hawk Foundation, Village Enterprise Fund, etc.

Helped thousands of people get their own Internet business and improve their lives and financial situation.

Adventure:

#144 to go into Space with Virgin Galactic

Ran with the Bulls in Spain

Baja racing 3x

PlayersRun Road Rally dressed as Elvis

HALO Skydive

Scuba diving in between tectonic plates in Iceland

Celebrity hockey game with NHL Pros and Gordie Howe

Rafting the Gauley River

Bungee 440 feet in New Zealand

Drove a Lambo 200mph+ (in a green speedo)

Business Accomplishments:

“Real” book ‘Moonlighting on the Internet’ published by Entrepreneur Press in 3rd printing

Sold out the Underground® Seminar weeks early (for the last 5 years)

Have over 5 different products that have eclipsed $1,000,000 in gross sales.

Run 2 sold-out, high-level MasterMind groups (www.surefiremarketing.com/mastermind)

Spent time with and interviewed Sir Richard Branson, Jesse James, Tony Hawk, John Paul DeJoria, Frank McKinney, Chip Conley, Carl Banks, etc.

Appeared or featured in INC, Business 2.0, Fox Business News, Portfolio.com, TIME, Entrepreneur, Outside’s GO magazine, American Way, TechCrunch, USA Today, Denver Business Journal, Boston Globe, Millionaire Blue Prints, Forbes.com, LA Times, Financial Times, Portfolio.com, etc.

Set the biggest goal of my life of getting 1,000,000 young entrepreneurs (aged 13-23) to start their own businesses by 2020. (www.maverickbusinessadventures.com/vision)

Your Own List

Side note: I would strongly suggest you compile your own “Best of the decade” list of how far you’ve come. I’ve also been a big fan of using the power of gratitude but I heard this another way from Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach. He has a theory of people being disappointed because they cannot reach their “ideal”.

Dan gives the example of the horizon. We all know it’s silly to think we can ever reach the horizon because it keeps moving as we move closer to it. Same with an “ideal”. We feel despondent and maybe even depressed in our greatest victories if we attempt to measure them up to our ultimate ideals. But the people who are happiest are the ones of take stock of where they are today (Point B) than when they started (Point A). And we can all look back and gain that confidence and awe of how far we’ve come.

Okay fair warning, this is going to be quite a long post but I promise it’ll be filled with some serious insights for you. (In fact, I think there will be so many prominent and buried lessons here that I’m willing to put up a little bit of a prize for the best ‘lesson detectives’ – more details at the end of the post.)

To set the stage, Jan 1, 2000 when this decade started, I was in a 1-bedroom apartment engaged Missy. I didn’t have a website and I barely had an email address.

That same month was when I got an idea at 3 o’clock in the morning and woke Missy up to tell her about InstantSalesLetters.com. (She wasn’t happy!) And then I did what most people probably wouldn’t, I hopped out of bed, registered the domain and got to work on it. By February 2000, with about $1,500 invested, I made my first $29.95 sale. It was one of the most amazing feelings in the world to take an idea and have it turn into cash. And the sales kept coming – about $1,800 the first month…then $3,400…then approx. $7,800.00 and roughly $9,400.00 the fourth month out of the gate. I was on track to hit six-figures with my very site and that’s when things really started exploding.

People started hearing about my success, I was invited to speak at my first Online marketing conference and I started helping others take their interests, passions, hobbies, etc. and create online oil wells.

The unusual way to ‘stumble’ onto success…

stumbleonsuccess

There’s a profound theory I heard from R. Buckminster Fuller that says your true success is found perpendicular along the path to your original perceived goal.  Instant Sales Letters is a perfect example because my original end goal was to sell it for $500k to Stamps.com or someone like that. But on my way to building up that site – I had so many people ask me how I started making money so quickly that I began teaching. And that teaching became part of my “accidental” success path for the last 8 years opening up one door after another. I would never have got on that track unless I was moving towards the original goal.  And the same thing today, my next chapter in my life is with my Maverick Business Adventures® and Maverick Business Insider companies – which wouldn’t have been formed without the contacts, connections and success delivered from my Internet business.

Starting with the Fundamentals

It’s easy to look back and see my, somewhat, meteoric rise with Instant Sales Letters and laud it as being an “overnight success”. Not exactly true. Before this decade started I had been preparing and studying direct response fundamentals, inner success laws and psychology.

One of my biggest mentors is Earl Nightingale. He passed away several years ago but you need to get everything he recorded at Nightingale.com.  He has a program called “Lead The Field” and “The Strangest Secret”. I learned from Earl Nightingale that if you want to be an expert, you spend an hour a day reading or studying on whatever subject that you’re interested in for 3 years. Or if you want to world-class expert you ready or study for 1-hour a day for 5 years.

So I said, “Well, what would happen if I read for two or three hours a day?”

I just started learning as much as I possibly around these subjects. Let’s cover a few here since I really believe the fundamentals never change.

When I first really started this blog I created a series of posts around the 9 ‘inner secrets’ to success. Those are worth re-visiting:

Inner Success Secret #1: Cheerful Expectancy

http://www.internetlifestyle.com/blog/financial-independence/9-inner-secrets-of-personal-success/

Inner Success Secret #2: Set your Plan

http://www.internetlifestyle.com/blog/financial-independence/secret-2-of-the-9-inner-secrets-of-personal-success/

Inner Success Secret #3: Do One Proactive Thing a Day

Inner Success Secret #4: Deliver Exceptional Value

http://www.internetlifestyle.com/blog/financial-independence/secrets-3-4-of-the-9-inner-secrets-of-personal-success/

Inner Success Secret #5: Build on Your Successes

Inner Success Secret #6: Decision

http://www.internetlifestyle.com/blog/financial-independence/secrets-5-6-of-the-9-inner-secrets-of-personal-success/

Inner Success Secret #7: Continual Learning

Inner Success Secret #8: Gratitude

http://www.internetlifestyle.com/blog/financial-independence/secrets-7-8-of-the-9-inner-secrets-of-personal-success/

Inner Success Secret #9: Giving

http://www.internetlifestyle.com/blog/financial-independence/secrets-9-of-the-9-inner-secrets-of-personal-success/

Direct response

I would have to say figuring out and learning about direct response has been one of the biggest paradigm shifts for me. Since we’re heading down memory lane, I have to take the story back well beyond this decade to the bi-centennial.

My family is from Russia and immigrated to the U.S. in 1976. My Dad came over with $256 in his pocket for me, my Mom and my Grandmother. Just a year and half later, my Dad started his own company repairing (and then later selling) medical equipment.

I grew up working in the business starting with telemarketing latex gloves at age 14 and then even selling medical equipment to docs in person at age 16 when I got my license. At the time, I thought this totally sucked! My friends were living at the beach having a great time and I was spending my summers pedaling X-ray film and EKG machines. You can definitely look back and see significant turning points in your life and one of my mine came when a doctor client of mine, Dr. Nathan Wei, gave me a Jay Abraham tape that turned on “the lights” about direct response marketing. I was about 18 or 19 at the time and I basically devoured it.

I loved the fact that I didn’t have to deal with rejection anymore in person and the incredible leverage of ‘knocking’ on tends of thousands of doors and only speaking to interested people. It was endlessly fascinating to me to realize you could write something in an ad or letter (now a website) and have people open up their wallets or raise their hands.

From Jay Abraham I learned to think broadly about how to leverage businesses. From there I found Ted Nicholas. Ted Nicholas is a true gentleman in the direct response world and I found his teachings just as he was transitioning out of his newsletter. I ended up buying all the back issues and previous products. (Actually I remember about 1 or 2 years later writing a note to Ted about our shared immigrant background and how much his teachings had meant to me – Ted responded back from personally from Switzerland.)

At the same time I was studying Ted, I got a direct mail piece from some guy named “Dan Kennedy”. Dan truly changed my life. He is probably one of 3 people I credit with helping me achieve financial independence at such a young age. I went on to pay a small fortune for his manuals, books, audios, seminars and personal guidance.

I continued learning from direct marketing and copywriting masters who came before me, people like Gary Halbert, John Caples, David Ogilvy, Bob Stone and Joe Sugarman (Wikipedia links perhaps). From there I might find a random reference to someone in a manual or book and immediately look them up, which lead to more influences and original sources. I loved digging through the past to the beginning of mail order since those guys had to truly persuade people without the benefit of instant ordering via phone, fax, online, etc. Their customers had to slog to the post office to place their order. Greats like Claude Hopkins, John E. Kennedy and Maxwell Sackheim Wikipedia links perhaps).. And then I went back even further to find obscure (and extremely rare texts) like “Printed Salesmanship” by Robert Ruxton.

Obviously there is a long history of direct response but if you boiled it all down it comes down to:

· An offer (ideally with a deadline)

· A way to respond/call to action (fax, phone, online, etc)

· Measurement of response

A basic example is one I told a dentist friend of mine explaining to him a little bit about direct response marketing while playing volleyball together in Turks & Caicos. I told him to mail his patients with an offer, in his case it was raw materials for crowns had gone up significantly and he would have to raise his price. Because he valued his patients he would give them a window to get any crowns or dental work done at the old price until X date. They had to bring the letter in to get the special. That’s it, pretty basic. And that worked spectacularly creating his best month ever.

With the web – nearly everything can be measured and quick test results achieved. That’s part of what makes this one of the most incredible time to be around. I definitely believe a true direct response fundamental is a key to understanding the Web. I got my chops by writing ads for my dad’s business attempting to sell medical equipment that we only previously sold face-to-face and toes-to-toes. My dad would look at the ads I created and say, “Who’s going to read all that?” I had to persuade him to let me try it and see what happens. Quite frankly, it was a revolution in the way we could sell because we now expanded our reach nation-wide and I only spoke to doctors who were extremely interested in a product (for a demo) or who actually whipped out their credit cards to buy. Here’s one of my original ads:

EliteDopplerpdf

And then the next fundamental I stress is around psychology. I was a marketing major and got my B.S. from the University of Maryland (a top 25 business school when I graduated) but I always say I didn’t learn much in college except partying. All my real marketing insights and knowledge came from self-study and trying things myself. In fact, if I had to do it all over again I probably would be a psychologically major. To me, it’s fascinating what motivates people to take action or buy.

One of my first exposures to how powerful this could was a book written by a professor at Arizona State University, Dr. Robert Cialdini. His book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” is definitely a top 10 book for me. (http://www.internetlifestyle.com/blog/?p=235) I read this book at least 9 times and continue to find amazing insights each time I do. Joe Sugarman also has a great book on psychology called “Triggers” where he has a slightly different take.

I uploaded a special presentation for you on the 11 Hidden Psychological Hot Buttons to Create Maximum Sales for you. (Please use this material and information ethically!)

[slideshare id=2776400&doc=psychologicalhotbuttonsspecial-091225114832-phpapp02]

The final thing I’ll mention about fundamentals came after meeting one of my entrepreneurial heroes, Sir Richard Branson. I was so inspired that on the plane ride home I started jotting down a list of “rules” and got to 34. I called it “34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs” and received a ton of excitement. And then it became been the catalyst for a lot of things included a print book by the same title. (www.MaverickBusinessInsider.com)

YS_34Rules_Poster

“Maverick Entrepreneurial Philosophy” of Make More, Have More Fun and Give More!

maverick-entrepreneur

I realized this blog post was going to be a really, really long post so I’m breaking this up into several days plus a lot of people suggested a PDF. So good news at the end of this series I’ll bundle it all up into a neat little PDF with a bow. (Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed or provide your email address in the upper right-hand corner to be notified when each new section is up on the blog.)

Part 2 will start where a lot of people believe they need the most help in these interconnecting circles… Make More

2012: A Maverick Space Odyssey, Painted Picture and Lessons Learned

I’ve been on a bit of a whirlwind West Coast tour. First stop was Vegas for my buddy Andy Jenkins’ bachelor party. It was great to see some of my Internet pals like Jeff Walker, Frank Kern, John Reese and Mike Filsaime for a quick 24 hours. The funny thing is that this wasn’t a wild party like the movie “Hangover”. It was somewhat tame – just hanging in Jenkins’ suite with good friends and telling stories. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone!)

Since I got in pretty early and I knew the other guys would be sleeping – I rented a car and heading off the Agassi Prep Academy out to a pretty rough section of Vegas beyond the strip.

A few weeks before for our Maverick ‘Sky’s the Limit’ adventure we brought in Ben Sayeski, Chief Education Officer and Darian Borowiak, Director of Development for the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. They really go into our “Hook Me Up, Yo” business session, with Ben even wearing the infamous clock when explaining what the school does.

We asked them to compile a list of questions from the kids about entrepreneurship. Then we had Maverick members roundtable the discussion and provide some real-world insights from success business owners. I came bearing the DVD recording and to get an inside glimpse at what the school was doing.

Agassi Prep (www.agassiprep.org) works with children K-12 in an underprivileged area to get them into college. Last year was the very first year they graduated a senior class and I was excited to learn about a 100% success rate for getting into college. I’m a huge advocate of education that’s done in an inspiring way with real results. I popped my head into one classroom taught by Prof Russell Andrews-EL and it was just awesome the way the kids were on the ground spread out learning Trig with whiteboards. He tried to create a similar environment to college, with less structure and without the formal desks.

One of my favorite structures at the school is the bridge that Seniors get to cross after graduation. It symbolizes a transition from high school to college – only graduating seniors have this privilege. At the end of the bridge is a turnabout and that’s where the graduates write notes back to the next class behind them. I love the symbolism this ritual invokes.

I love the symbolism of this bridge
I love the symbolism of this bridge

After touring the school and seeing what is going on there, I’m hoping the Maverick members will come back to do a guest lecture on entrepreneurship in the near future and work to mentor some of the kids there.

Regardless, I still only got about 2 hours sleep before flying out to Park City, UT. That was the site of our Maverick team’s strategic retreat. More on that in a minute because I want to share our “Painted Picture” for 2012 and give you some insights into what I’ve learned this year about creating an exceptional organization.

But before we get there, I want to share some pics from my final West Coast destination, the Mojave desert. Last Monday was a truly historic event with the unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise rocket ship, the first commercial space vehicle.

As you might know, I’m #144 on the list to go into space with Virgin Galactic. This is a significant milestone with flight-testing starting on the rocket immediately. The best estimates are mid to late 2011 for the first flight (and I’ve approximated I’m flight #26 if all goes well).

Rolling into Scaled Composite’s HQ in Mojave I was hoping the weather would cooperate since it had rained for a full 2 hours on the ride up from LA. I thought it was a good sign when I saw SpaceShip 1 with a rainbow behind it. (Note: SpaceShip 1 was the first commercial spacecraft to go into space twice in 2 weeks and win the $10M X Prize. This is the technology Virgin Galactic licensed.)

SpaceShip One with a rainbow behind it
SpaceShip One with a rainbow behind it

Over 800 future astronauts, VIPs, dignitaries and politicians came in for this historic event, including Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor Richardson from New Mexico.

Governor Schwarzenegger opening remarks
Governor Schwarzenegger's opening remarks

Check out the name badge I got – probably one of the coolest ones I’ve seen:

probably one of the coolest name badges ever
Probably one of the coolest name badges ever

They told us it was the coldest day in the Mojave – there were wind gusts of wind 70-80mph. It was a good thing they gave everyone some nice jackets – but that still didn’t really keep up warm enough. But who cares? It was amazing seeing SpaceShip 2 come down the runway. They had a pretty major light show with music going to set the scene.

Here’s the first glimpse I got of the craft:

Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2 unveil
Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2 unveiling

And here I am in front of SpaceShip 2 looking pretty frickin cold!

Freezing my balls off at Spaceship 2 unveil
Freezing my ass off at Spaceship 2 unveil

Here’s a little video of the unveil including Governors Schwarzenegger and Richardson breaking champagne bottles to christen the ship. (I was a tiny bit worried about them breaking bottles on it.)

The party started immediately after the unveiling in some really cool tents and lounges they had set up for the night – they even had an ice bar with glasses made out of ice.

cool lounge tent that later got blown away
Cool lounge tent (that later got blown away)
Absolute Icebar Mojave
Absolut Icebar Mojave
Martinis with “ice diamonds” from the actual Ice Hotel in Sweden. Supposedly it would take 2 days for this ice cube to melt
Martinis with “ice diamonds” from the actual Ice Hotel in Sweden. Supposedly it would take 2 days for this ice cube to melt

Everything was perfectly choreographed – except for the weather. I’m sure they weren’t expecting the hurricane-type winds we got. In fact, they shut the party down early at 7:30 and immediately cleared everyone to the busses to get us back to LA. It’s a good thing too, since I heard later the press tent and the other party tents blew down. Crazy!

I actually ended up sitting on the bus next to Dr. Peter Diamandis, the founder of the X-Prize and one of our previous Maverick Business Adventures® guests. I love talking to Peter and hearing what he’s up to. The guy is such a big-thinker and visionary. He’s involved in creating a NASCAR-like Rocket racing league and was showing me the first version of the iPhone video game they’ve got out.

When we got back to LA, me and about 10 other Virgin Galactic party-goers made the most of it and hung out at the SkyBar at the Mondrian talking about the future of Space flight.

Back to The Future

It’s a pretty amazing time to be alive when you can actually go into space as a tourist and not be limited to a government space program. As I mentioned, I think 2012 is what I’m anticipating for my flight – and that’s a year I’ve been giving a lot of thought around.

No, not because I think the world is coming to an end or anything like that. But because I’ve been working on our company’s “Painted Picture” for 2012 with my business coach Cameron Herold’s help. Cameron is the former COO of 1-800-Got Junk and helped build that company from about $2M – $100M using this concept of the painted picture.

The way this concept started was taking the same methods Olympic athletes use to visualize their performance and applying them to a business being built. Brian Scudamore, the founder of 1-800-Got Junk, sat down on his parents dock when they were a $1.5M company and wrote out what the future would look like.

Cameron was the guy to execute it. I’d been working with Cameron for several months and he kept bugging me to get this done and I kept putting him off – until he finally backed me into a corner to commit. (Side note: Cameron is an amazing coach and speaker. If you have a fast-growing company you owe it to your business to pick-up his DVDs before he realizes what he’s doing and starts marking them up.)

I felt like I’d found my “Cameron” when we made our first major hire in Andrew Way. He’s officially our VP of Operations and has the task of taking our Painted Picture and figuring out the “How”. We’ve got some big plans for the next 3 years to grow the Maverick brand and merge what we’ve been doing with other companies.

Quite frankly, the last 2 years have been a serious transition from simply being essentially a “one-man” band to working on growing an exceptional organization. Many times I’ve felt like I’ve taken 2 steps backwards for every step forward (and maybe more than 2 steps backwards) but we’ve kept pushing – because we’re building something beyond just an info product or two.

In fact, a lot of my thinking has evolved based on the kind of impact we really want to have. I would never have believed 10 years ago that company values or a mission statement mattered. I thought stuff like that was all bullshit.

I mean, look at a company like Enron and their mission statement – including typical phony corporate-speak words like “Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence”. Obviously a crock. But when I started hanging out and learning from Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, I saw there was a difference in what he talked about and that he actually meant it. He keynoted our last 2 Underground seminars. He really harped on values and how they incorporate their 10 core values into everything they do, including hiring, firing and promoting based on those values. (Btw – if you want to check out a free video of Tony keynoting Underground 4 – you can view it here.)

That helped form our “DNA” and core philosophies –

Maverick DNA and core values
Maverick DNA and core values

Or reading books like “Peak” written by Chip Conley, CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality group in San Francisco –  that got me thinking about what we’re doing for our team members and customers/members beyond satisfying normal needs. We’re now moving to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

We’ve also starting using Kolbe profiling to figure what our team’s natural connotative ability is. It helps to figure out how people instinctively approach a project or a problem. I’m a 4-2-10-2, which is “Explain, Adapt, Improvise, Imagine”. My score reveals why I’m quick to jump on a project because I’m a 10 in the “Quick Start” category – that’s off the charts. And it also reveals why I do so many mindmaps and diagrams when trying to get my point across. (That last number – “2” – means I’m high in imagination and don’t need a concrete model of something.) There are no right or wrongs for Kolbe profiles – it’s simply what you are. (It’s worth trying it yourself, and possibly doing it for your whole team.)

That’s also gone hand-in-hand with the work I’ve been doing at Strategic Coach, created by Dan Sullivan. (Btw – his Unique Ability book is one of my favorite books out there.)

As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And that was the case for me, with additional insights formed by the book “Tribal Leadership” by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright, about building incredible company cultures and evolving to a “Stage V” company. One of the biggest shifts from a typical company to an extraordinary one was having a huge mission that everyone on the team knows and can get behind. This leads to a real powerful change of direction, intention and motivation.

One famous example is Microsoft’s original goal of “A computer on every desk and in every home.” When you create a big vision or goal like that – you’ll find people getting on your team to help achieve it. My friend, Tellman Knudson, has set the goal of raising $100M by running across the country barefoot. I think that fits the bill – and he’s partway through right now.

Our company’s 2020 goal is 3-fold:

2020 Goals for Maverick
2020 Goals for Maverick

There’s been lots of thinking, prioritizing and culling from what and where I believe our companies are heading for 2012 and beyond. I created a graphic to represent the big picture of the impact we want to have in each area of an entrepreneur’s lifecycle, from Start-Up to Growth to Legacy.

Maverick Mission
Maverick Mission

I’m really excited to share the Painted Picture with you because, quite frankly, I need all the help I can get to reach our ultimate 2020 goals. You can download the PDF here.

I’ve already shared this with our team and I’ll be sharing it with all of our key suppliers, partners and people I meet. Lots of big things in store for 2010 and beyond. If you’d like to be part of this or have a thought on what we’re doing please leave a comment below!