October 11, 2019
You'd think you'd need to be someone great or at least do something wonderful. Yet, you're a source of inspiration. How do you inspire? It's remarkably simple —and here's a short piece on how you need to go about it.
October 4, 2019
You've heard that it takes about 21 days to create a habit. But what if that weren't true at all? Could it be possible to create a habit overnight? Or even in the next few minutes? Let's find out.
September 28, 2019
It might seem that it's always up to us to change our habits. And that idea might be quite incorrect. Instead, what if something around us changed and our habits changed with it? Instead of us taking the blame all the time, this series is about how to look at habits differently and achieve lasting goals.
September 21, 2019
Researching an article is so frustrating because it's time-consuming. But there are ways to beat the pressure—and the pain. Believe it or not, there are ways to be productive with zero last minute research. This episode shows you how to make advance research work for you, as well as in situations where you have no research at all. Sounds too good to be true? Well, listen to the episode.
September 14, 2019
(Rerun of episode #220 Coaching Series Part 1 of 3). The toughest part of coaching isn't necessarily coaching itself. Instead, it's the niche, isn't it? How do you go looking for the right niche? And how do you know when you've found one that's rewarding as well as profitable? We go back in time with the British Cycling Team and what turned them into champions, and how their coach played a role. We also look at how Pilates went from being everything to everyone to finding a solid niche. Listen and enjoy.
September 7, 2019
It seems natural to keep an eye, even get obsessive about your competitors. However, it's a poor strategy for many reasons. In this episode we make the case for why the competition doesn't really matter as much as you think. And why focusing on them could possibly cause clients to desert you, instead.
August 31, 2019
How many books do you read in a year? Most people boast about how they read hundreds of books a year. That's what I used to do as well. Until I found that I wasn't really absorbing any information. So is speed reading a bad idea? Well, not entirely, but you need to know when to use it and why. Find out how speed works for you and more importantly, when it fails.
August 24, 2019
We're all told we should start with the end in mind, but we still get lost along the way. Why do we go off track? Could there be some barriers that show up a lot before the end? Let's find out we can stop focusing so much on the end and work on those barriers that blocks our progress.
August 17, 2019
Do you pre-sell if your audience is away on vacation? Should you pre-sell if you're unsure of a full house? These and other questions are what's on this Part 2 of the pre-sell podcast.
August 10, 2019
Which product should you pre-sell? Should it be the $20 product or the $2000 one? And why do silos matter so much? In this episode we not only learn why the $20 product might matter more, but also how you can promote a product almost endlessly without ever promoting it all.
August 3, 2019
Most of us believe that to cope with information, we have to speed up. But we've all tried that, haven't we? And it doesn't seem to work at all. This episode is about why we are so obsessed with trying to keep up. And how you can do quite the opposite and still be a lot smarter. Click here to read this episode:  Information Overload
July 27, 2019
Many coaches and trainers struggle to get precise results for their clients And it's not for want of trying, either. They work very hard, probably too hard, and yet the clients don't get the results they seek. The question is: how we go from mediocrity to excellence? Find out the guidelines to becoming a good coach.
July 20, 2019
Is there a fun way to get unstuck? From all the experiences we've had so far, getting stuck is a real pain. The more we try to get unstuck, the more we seem to dig a deeper hole. But what if there were a few fun ways to get unstuck? And what if they were quite different from what you've tried so far? Let's have a look.
July 13, 2019
Why are some sales pages so confusing? Is it because of the message or rather because there are way too many messages hitting you all at once? A sales page needs a powerful message to get the client not just interested, but to keep reading. And yet sales pages often miss that goal. But there's a way to start the sales page from getting off to a false start. And it's called “isolating the problem”. But how do we go about this isolation process? Let's find out. shall we? Click here to read: Why The Top-Half Of The Sales Page Goes Wrong (And How To Fix It)
July 6, 2019
As writers, we count words when we are creating a book or writing an article. We look at completing a fixed number of words per day—800 words. And yet, that system can be counterproductive to finishing your article. Professional writers seem to follow another method, one that ignores the output and instead focuses on the article writing process. How do they do it? And what have we been doing incorrectly? Let's find out how to fix this problem and finish our articles. Click here to read: Why Writing 800 Words Every Day Could Be Hindering Your Article Writing Progress
June 29, 2019
Luck it seems, is fickle? Or is it? How come some people are lucky (or as the case may be, unlucky) all the while. There is indeed a system and it may be off a bit, like weather forecasting, but by and large it's quite predictable. Let's dump the "hard, hard, hard work" mantra for a while and find out how to make luck stick.
June 26, 2019
If you reached the top of your game, would you credit it to hard work or luck? Most of us quite easily slide into crediting our success to hard work. But what if hard work isn't necessary? What if we've been slogging for no good reason at all? Let's find out more in Episode 1 (yes there are two episodes) in this series on hard work vs luck.
June 15, 2019
Naming a book or info-product is often a royal pain in the neck. And that's because most of us tend to sit down at our desk hoping for inspiration to strike. The weird bit is that inspiration is often in some other place altogether. It's right in front of your nose, but often you may not see it. Let's go on a treasure hunt and find out how to get an enticing book title in next to no time.
June 8, 2019
Timing your presentations are crucial yet all the practice in the world may not help if there's an external issue. An emcee may cause confusion, the sound system might cause delays. And all of these unexpected issues eat up into your time. But some presenters keep to their time, nonetheless? What method can you use to avoid this issue of overruns? Let's find out, shall we?
June 1, 2019
What is the biggest headache with transcription? Well, there are many, aren't there? Errors bug me no end, and they seem to make a lot of them. There's also the cost, the turnaround time and other issues. But what if there were a service that solved all of these problems? Better still, what if there were a service that you could just dictate into, like normal speech and find that it put the right punctuation in place? Here we go into the fantastic world of transcripts. You'll be amazed, because I sure was! Click here to read the article: Coolest Transcription Service  
May 25, 2019
You know how you're told to make lemonade when life hands you lemons? Well, what do you do with overripe bananas? You make Filos! This episode is about the times when we should have given up because the failure seemed so great. But they are also stories that show you what happens when you persist. You'll enjoy these stories about 5000bc and Psychotactics. And it's all about failure, and how things turned out on the other side. Read the transcript here: Failure Through Different Lenses.    
May 18, 2019
Many, if not most of us, have already experienced what it seems like to be a fraud in our mind. Still we can't seem to shake the impostor syndrome. But what if we understood how the psychology works? Find out the twin factors ramming into you and me, and how we can avoid feeling like we're not worthy. Click here to read: How To Overcome The Impostor Syndrome
May 14, 2019
Most of us have probably said something to the effect of "If it weren't for the deadline, I'd get nothing done". Yet, for many of us, a deadline is crushing, if not crippling. We scramble at the last minute and wish there were a better way to get things done on time. We could fool ourselves by having an earlier deadline but that doesn't seem to work either. But have you tried the "second-last-minute-deadline"? And how do you use it to get things done not just well before time but also a lot better? Read more here: How To De-Stress With The Second Last Minute Deadline
May 4, 2019
What makes some courses vastly better than others? The answer lies not in the content, or the instruction, but rather in the set up. But why is setup so crucial? Setup becomes vital because it gets rid of clients that don't follow instructions and gives you the cream of the crop. You get clients that follow through and therefore get better results. The more consistent the results, the less you have to market your course. But the question is: how do you set up a course?Let's find out. The Magic Of Set Up: Why Some Courses Are Better Than Other
April 27, 2019
Fun seems obvious as a concept. But "fun in learning" almost seems like a bit of a paradox. What is "fun" and how can you find it, let alone use it when you're teaching a skill? Let's take a bit of a deep dive into intimidation and find how fun can save the day—yes, yet again.  How To Accelerate Learning
April 20, 2019
Why do we get upset with ourselves when we forget information? Surely we should be able to remember at least 30-40% of a book. But it seems to slide through our brain like semolina in a sieve. Yet, there is a way to remember things—and there's also a big reason to forget. Find out why forgetting is just as important as retaining facts. Find out exactly how to go about it in this episode on memory. How to Accelerate Client Learning
April 13, 2019
If you were asked: What is the uniqueness of this podcast, would you be able to answer the question? The chances are that you might state one of the features, but not what makes it truly unique.   —What do you have to do to make the uniqueness come to life? —And how do you get clients to pass on that uniqueness? Find out in this case study on our own podcast. How To Use Contrast To Create Your Uniqueness In Seconds
April 5, 2019
It's not unusual for clients to say they're perfectionists. This means they take more time, spend more effort and they sound like the ideal client on your course. But as perfectionists know fully well, they're often jeopardising their own success, because all the extra work isn't dramatically improving their work. —How, then should you make them pay attention to what's important? —How can you help them gain the confidence and the skill? If you want your clients to be really skilled, here are three concrete steps to get them away from circling and into results. How to Stop "Perfectionist” Clients From Sabotaging Their Own Success
March 29, 2019
Most courses have huge dropout rates. And yet, that's not the case for some teachers and trainers. What makes some courses so dramatically different? The slightly surprising answer is that the course material itself can doom the course. If that makes no sense, follow along, because there's a method to this madness. Find out how to create a scenario where clients never want to leave.
March 22, 2019
Let's say you come up with what you believe is a great uniqueness for your product or service. How would you know if it's great or not? The answer is deceptively simple: every client needs to echo your uniqueness over and over again. But how are you supposed to hear that echo? Interestingly that echo is located in the testimonial. But not just anywhere in the testimonial, but in one really interesting area. Listen to find out and then do the same for your products and services as well. How to Validate Your Uniqueness
March 15, 2019
Big companies talk a lot about leadership. However you and I may not have that big charisma factor. What do we have to do to get things done when working with freelancers? What if we need to work with several team members? In this episode, we look at how the primary task is to get the right people in, rather than playing leader. And how that frees up a lot of your time and moves your company forward with a momentum that is quite unexpected. Why Staying Small Is Smart
March 8, 2019
Think Big. Really? Studies show us that scaling up is often disastrous for most companies. But what's the alternative? That's what we look at in this book review—well, chapter review—of Company of One by Paul Jarvis. Instead of driving ourselves crazy, we bring in sanity and upper boundaries to our business, while living a very good life. How do we do that? Let's find out.   Why Staying Small Is Probably A Smarter Move
March 1, 2019
People are often amazed at how quickly we fill our workshops and courses. It's almost like we have a separate channel to our clients. Well, as it appears, we do. And it's not quite a Facebook group. It's even cooler. Here's how we filled a big chunk of the Munich workshop. How WhatsApp Helped Fill The Munich Workshop
February 23, 2019
Quick announcement regarding the Frankfurt Meetup coming up in May.
February 22, 2019
Hype works exceedingly well, even when the client knows they're being duped a bit. But what if you can't stand hype? Does that mean you roll over and play dead? Here's how you can avoid hype completely, if you wish to do so. And if the hype is so great, that it can't be ignored, you can use the hype like mental judo to turn the tables and to achieve precise results for your clients.  How to Avoid Hype and Still Get Clients
February 15, 2019
In business the advice we get is to hang in, no matter what happens. Yet, to me that sounds like the wrong advice. You definitely need to hang in a bit when things get slightly tougher than you expected. But there's a time for quitting as well. How do you know if you should quit or soldier on? When Quitting Is the Smarter Option
February 8, 2019
We may often hear ourselves saying, we have a long to-do list. Or things that we still haven't completed. Or worse, we may talk about how we have no time. Often, it's just a matter of issues that can get resolved with a touch of philosophy. There's work to be done as well, but the philosophy needs to come first. In this second part of the series, let's find out how philosophy can come to our rescue and serve our business—even save us time! The Philosophy of Psychotactics
February 1, 2019
When we think of business, marketing tactics and strategy comes to mind, doesn't it? Philosophy does exist but it may be a bit on the back burner. Yet, for us at Psychotactics, philosophy looms large. Here are just a few nuggets that you can ponder over and see how they apply to you—and how you can use them in your life and business. The Psychotactics Marketing Philosophy
January 25, 2019
So much effort goes into the launch of a product, but what happens next? How do you handle the calm after the launch? How do you keep selling products on an ongoing basis? These are the questions we tackle in this episode as we get rid of the "post-launch" blues.   Click here to read the full transcript.
January 18, 2019
When we price a product or service we often use the ending 7 or 9. As in $27 or $29. Is there any basis for using such an ending? Yes, there is, but does it help to sell more products or services? This is the journey we go on, as we explore the crazy world of pricing. How to set prices shouldn't be voodoo and yet it is. Let's go on this trip by first removing the silly myths. Click here to read the full transcript.
January 11, 2019
How many books do you read in a year? Most people boast about how they read hundreds of books a year. That's what I used to do as well. Until I found that I wasn't really absorbing any information. So is speed reading a bad idea? Well, not entirely, but you need to know when to use it and why. Find out how speed works for you and more importantly, when it fails. Click here to read the full transcript.
January 4, 2019
Most of us have grand plans to succeed. Yet, almost the moment we start there are a million distractions in our way. Chaos lurches around in our doorway and there seems to be no way out. At Psychotactics, we had managed to get around most of the chaos but then I was in charge of mentoring my niece. As she moved from Year 6 to Year 7, it seemed like we were hit by an okinami of chaos. What did we do to find our way out? How did we manage to avoid the madness that we had no control over? Find out in this episode of The Three Month Vacation. Click here to read the full transcript.
December 28, 2018
How do you maintain a high productivity level when switching tasks? How do you get the brain and body to handle the transition? And how do you manage the transitions with a minimum amount of fuss?   Click here to read the full transcript.
December 22, 2018
This episode is the first of six re-runs scheduled over the Christmas break... When you create or find your uniqueness, do you need to test it? Incredible as it seems there's little point in doing any testing at all. In this episode you'll find out why testing is practically impossible and how instead of wasting time on research, you should follow three steps to make sure your uniqueness occupies a permanent part of your client's brain. Click here to read the full transcript.    
December 14, 2018
Objections aren't something we necessary think about when writing articles. We're so focused on the main content that we might see no need to contradict ourselves. Yet, it's this very contradiction that makes the article more robust and removes those chunky holes. Let's find out why objections are crucial in our articles. Click here to read the article online:  
December 7, 2018
One of biggest problems with any sort of prospecting is the dead silence right after clients love what you've said or done. You'd think they'd call immediately, but there's not a peep out of them. Is there some flaw in the system? And how can you overcome this obvious glitch? Click here to read online: Coaching Series 3/3: Why Clients Nod But Don't Call ________________________________________ How do you Find Prospects? Red Bull has the highest market share of any energy drink in the world, with 6.302 billion cans sold in a year. However, it almost never got started. Before the launch, part owner, Dietrich Mateschitz hired a market research firm to test Red Bull's acceptance. The result was a complete let down “People didn't believe the taste, the logo, the brand name. “I'd never before experienced such a disaster.” But Mateschitz believed the product would do well if he placed it in the right market. Which is precisely what he did His insight was to target not just students, but trendy students in universities. Instead of selling the brand to them, he'd pay them to throw a party and supplied them with free cases of Red Bull. What Mateschitz was doing, was two masterful acts all at once. He was seeking out the kind of clients he'd want, and instantly demonstrating the application. For someone starting out in coaching it might seem like an uphill task to get clients No one knows you, no one knows your brand, and no one even cares. Sounds pretty much like Red Bull doesn't it? But just like Red Bull, you've got to know how to work your way around such a dismal scenario. The first stage would be for you to decide on a specific audience. Before you get close focus on a single person, namely a profile, it's important first to find an audience. Take Mike Jara's audience for instance Mike deals with the issue of stress management. And that's a pretty broad audience. On any given day, you're likely to run into people who are wound up. Even so, it's not quite the audience you (or Mike) is looking for. Instead, Mike has chosen to talks to teachers. They have a pretty stressful day, not just in the classroom, but with the prep work and the assignments after the last kid has gone home. The stress gets in the way of sleep, causing the teachers to be even more sleep deprivation. When they get back to work, after a restless sleep, they're edgier than ever before. However, without the audience in mind, the message goes quickly off track When Mike started the exercise of getting a message across, his line went like this: Start your mornings with abundant energy. Ditch the coffee and grab yourself a hot cup of habits. Not only was the line a bit confusing, but it instantly brought up objections. Most people drink coffee, because they like the taste, but also because it's a break, and often a social gathering of sorts. They don't see coffee as the enemy. If Mike were to look for prospects with a line like that, he'd be likely to get little or no response, which would be a shame, because there's nothing wrong with Mike's offering. When looking for prospects, it's not enough to have a great product or service. Instead, you have to get started with the target audience, then move to the target profile, and that's when you avoid the noise factor and get a clearer signal. When I started out as a coach/consultant I thought I had a great line I'd say something like this: “Reactivating dormant business clients”. I was so chuffed with my line that I got a designer to design my stationery, which included a thousand business cards. Months later, I found barely little or no interest in what I had to offer. However, I also got lucky because I was introduced to a networking group. This group met on every Friday, which meant I could test out which lines worked best. Even so, I got nowhere in a hurry. What changed everything for me was a live situation As part of the group exercise, I had to visit every member of the group individually. They, in turn, had to explain their product or service to me. I'd listen patiently, while some people took as much as 10-12 minutes to explain their marketing message. I'd then reassemble the concept in my brain, and put it forward to the member. “You explain it better than me,” they'd say in astonishment. Even so, I was not convinced. I was the guy who “reactivated dormant business clients.” Plus I had all these sunk costs in the stationery. I wasn't about to go all nuclear on the existing message. It took over a dozen people to point out what I did before I was cured of my stubbornness. Eventually, I started talking to people about how hard it was to get the attention of a client in a few seconds, and almost immediately those very people would stop what they were doing. They'd look up and pay attention to what I was saying because I'd hit a chord with them. I'd narrowed down my audience, and had managed to craft a message that appealed directly to that very audience. Prospecting may seem like a frustratingly tricky task You're not sure where to get your clients and they, in turn, can't find you. However, the core of prospecting is to figure out where the gold lies in the first place. Your gold is to “find the audience, any audience”. When I started as a coach, I worked with a small business owner group, but I could have easily worked with dentists. Mike Jara is targeting teachers, but dentists are fair game too. It doesn't matter who you start with, because most problems are relatively generic. However, once we get past the first stage, it's the second hurdle that's harder. You somehow need to speak to your audience and find out the most significant barriers they face. As you dig, you'll find something that they're very keen on solving and they'll even tell give you the exact terminology for their problem, and how to articulate the solution. A target profile interview helps tremendously in this regard (and if you're in 5000bc, here's a link). Once you have clarity with your message, it's time to go back to your original audience and see how the message works. Yup, it's time to test. Will they react? Will they get in touch? There are three steps to ensure the prospect takes the next step. Let's see what those three steps happen to be. Why prospects react positively, but don't get in touch You've been there before, haven't you? A client has been excited about your proposition, but then you hear nothing from them. Why do prospects go dead on you? Let's look at three big reasons: They’re hearing the idea for the first time You don’t have a clear next step They’re not sure how to apply your idea to their world One of the biggest problems is definitely “hearing the idea for the first time”. There's a reason why people that follow up do better than others. Even when we're keen to buy into a product or service, unless there's a screaming level of urgency, we move very slowly. We fully intend to solve the problem, but we tend to have other fires to put out. Having an idea in place is wonderful, but how are you going to follow up? When I worked as a cartoonist, I'd send a monthly calendar as a follow-up. Notice the term “monthly calendar”? Most people get a calendar once a year, but I wanted my clients to remember me month after month. With Psychotactics, we send out newsletters; we do podcasts, etc. And granted it's not about coaching and more about products and courses, but let's not sidestep the issue of follow up. Even if you're offering the most powerful product or service, clients take their time to respond. Without the follow-up, your message is like a ship in the night. If clients have listened closely to your message, it means they're interested, and you've got to take the next step and get their details so that you can follow up. However, do these potential clients have the next step? Having a next step is crucial If a potential client is in your space, what can she do next? There's no prescribed answer for every situation. Sometimes the client can get in touch with you, go to your website, or join some newsletter. The better option, wherever available, is for you to get their information and get in touch with them, instead. If that potential client is stressed, not getting enough sleep, etc. she may be motivated to get to you, but other priorities might be greater. Hence it's usually better to get them to give their card, or their details, with one tiny additional step. I used to make the clients write “YES” at the back of the card so that they had a clear memory of opting in. It was less for the opt-in process and more so because they remember their decision to move ahead. Online, it's a good idea to get them to take some action It's one thing to just have a report, white paper etc. but it's easier to get distracted online. You might want them to get to a specific page in the report or a particular set of pages. Yes, the report starts at Page 1 and moves ahead, but there's no rule that doesn't allow you to nudge the prospect to Page 7, where you have something powerful in place. You've gone through the trouble of finding the prospect, have even gotten the prospect's attention, but something that creates action on their part is a powerful tool. If you're an art coach, helping them draw something quickly might help If you're into assisting clients to get work, a quick template might be the answer. If you're into meditation, an active meditation technique that's different is likely to get their attention. Many of us believe that prospects will make their decision and take the next step. It isn't as true as you'd expect. Most of us need that additional nudge. We don't need to be inundated with “this is your last chance, goodbye” newsletters or follow-ups, but a cute little bump in the right direction does wonders. However, this only applies if your client can see the application of your service. We looked at follow up, next step, and it's time to see how the application matters. Let's say you position yourself as a coach in InDesign. Is that likely to get the client to call you? In many cases, you're not going to get the call, because clients aren't necessarily familiar with the term InDesign. They don't necessarily know it's a layout program. And if they do, they don't know what they're supposed to do with it. Which is where applications come into play. Let's say you show a prospect how she can create a gorgeous e-book in InDesign; now they have one type of application. Another set of prospects might open their eyes wide when they see the ability to create stationery and brochures. It's still InDesign, but there are many applications, aren't there? When we started out with The Brain Audit, it seemed like clients would figure out how to apply the book to their own businesses. However, in time we learned they weren't always sure. Which is one of the reasons why I wrote the book, “The Brain Audit Applications”. It showed how to apply the concept of The Brain Audit to marketing messages, to strap lines, websites, etc. In short, if I were a trainer for The Brain Audit (there's no coaching system, but let's say I was a coach), I would need to at least give prospects a glimpse into the possibilities. Don't confuse this advice with a one-stop shop A one-stop shop is where you try and push everything under the nose of the client all at once. That kind of business is quite counterproductive for a small business, as it positions you as an extreme generalist and not a specialist at all. However, if you were to draw the client into your business with a single concept. e.g. Mike Jara's line is: Morning has just started and do you already feel left behind? That's a feeling, an emotion, a real day to day problem that draws in the client. Jara might have a slightly bigger program or coaching system, and he needs to reveal it much later. When the clients are sure of what he's offering, he can then put forward the applications. It might seem that sleep has just one application—to get a restful sleep—but you'd be surprised. People, and in this case, teachers may not be sleeping because of a change in a relationship, death in the family, money issues and a whole raft of issues. These issues can be directly addressed or gently brought up as tiny examples, which in turn gets and keeps the attention of the client. Which in turn brings us right back to Red Bull Red Bull isn't a coaching service, of that we're all quite sure. Even so, the principles of getting a client are relatively similar. They found their audience by hiring the popular kids to throw a party. The problem they solved was one of being cool. Red Bull was and still is considered to be a cool drink by many in that audience. Nobody believed in Red Bull at the start, and it took Dietrich Mateschitz three years to get things going. Even so, as a company they've followed up consistently using sporting and cultural events, creating spaces and parties to make sure they're in the public eye at a relatively low cost. As coaches we need to put similar principles in place to get prospects, so let's go through a quick summary: Work on getting to your target audience—yes, offline and online Meet with clients and run your message past them Watch for something in the message that gets their attention Go back to your audience and state your line and message If they are interested, do they follow up? If not, it’s because you’ve got to follow up, give them a clear next step and show them various applications. Yes, these are a lot of steps, indeed And it's one of the reasons why many coaches don't do so well. The fundamental steps are remarkably similar whether you have a product, training or a service like coaching. Just having a website or just one speaking engagement isn't going to do the trick. You've got to be diligent with the steps, and even a great coaching system takes time to get off the ground. Get started with your plan and execution right away. Next Step: Coaching Series : 1/3 – How to Start Up with a Great Niche  
November 30, 2018
We all struggle to find niches when trying to get into the coaching game. But is it really that hard? Or have we been looking in the wrong places? This episode shows you how you can find dozens of niches, all of which have great power and are profitable now and for years to come. Click here to read online: Coaching Series 2/3: How Niches Can Easily Be Found in Recurring Client Problems ________________________________________ In 2010, Gillette blades dominated the market at 70 per cent. Six years later, they were down to 54% How can Gillette get back into the game? Phil Masiello is one of the reasons why Gillette is losing market share. Masiello founded and sales at his company were up to about $2 million annually before he sold it. However, Masiello is only one among many competitors. Harry's, Dollar Shave and other smaller razor and blade companies are all responsible for the drop in Gillette's market share. It's Phil Masiello, himself who has the best advice for Gillette. “Gillette makes a great shave,” Masiello said. “Nobody has ever complained about the great shave of Gillette and Schick. People only complained about the price. You take the price difference out, all of a sudden they are back in the game.” Notice what Masiello is pointing to? It's the “recurring problem”. If you've ever bought Gillette's blades, the only thought that crosses your mind with every purchase is: how can five pieces of plastic and some metal cost $40 per pack? In New Zealand, each blade is priced at the whopping price of $8. 15 zillion shaves later; you think of the same problem over and over again when buying new blades. The recurring problem exists in every industry, without exception Take for instance the role of a media planner in an advertising agency. What is her recurring problem? It's ROI or a return on investment. A media planner's job is to decide where to spend the client's money. Will it be on social media? On TV adverts? Or some place else? What she decides then trickles down to the copywriters and designers and everyone else in the agency. The teams will need to either need to make more TV commercials or instead, radio spots, depending on where the ROI is best. And the biggest problem with media planning isn't the spending of the budget, but the perception of the clients and the agency. If you were asked: On a scale of 1/10 how high would you rate newspapers with regards to ROI? What about TV? Or radio? Or would social media be a better choice? Perception isn't reality, and when a firm did painstaking research, they found something mind-boggling. See the figures below. What's the recurring problem? Yup, it's perception. And this kind of recurring problem shows up consistently when you're coaching clients. Usually, the same problems turn up again and again. Take, for instance, the Article Writing Course. All of our coaching is done online via a forum and through assignments. It's not what you'd call a traditional system of phone calls, Skype calls or in person. Even so, it's not the medium of coaching that is valid for this discussion. What's important is in identifying the recurring problem. And the recurring problem is that our clients, at least, are keen on getting new clients, and they realise that articles are one of the better ways to create authority and hence, get clients. But they struggle with speed. Writing an article takes so long that they get exhausted. And you know what happens when you get so tired, right? Your output isn't that great. The coaching system we have in place is therefore built around speed. By the end of the coaching program, the goal is to write magazine-quality articles in 90 minutes. If you're training a netball team the recurring problem might be different Nerves and pressure situations on the court is almost endemic among young players. As Leanne Hughes, once a netball player herself, says: “Playing in the circle is tough. You don’t want to miss that goal and lose the game by one point. How do you calm the nerves when you need to deliver that shot? The recurring problem is getting the shot even under extreme pressure. This precise idea is what enables a buyer to lock into whatever it is you're selling as a coach. And in turn, it prevents you from saying something silly like: “Oh, I'm a netball coach” when asked what you do for a living. One more example and then it's time to move on through the series. Joseph Ch'ng runs training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Clients learn to be NLP coaches just like him. But what's the recurring problem that shows up? Joseph has found that coaches aren't always in the right frame of mind to coach others. To get into that state of mind—a meta state—as he calls it, is essential. And that's a recurring problem that he sees with many coaches. As Joseph says: Meta State is a peak performance state. A state of being in-tuned, open, connected. Clients respond well to coaches who are in this state and as a coach you get far more impressive results. You need to learn how to move into, and stay in that meta state when working with clients, no matter how your day has been before that moment.” See those problems cropping up time and time again? Gillette has its price issues; a media planner tends to battle with the perception of clients. On the Article Writing Course, we have to deal with speed, while Leanne works on nerves. And finally, Joseph's client's recurring problem is the “burdens of the day” and “how to switch into meta state right away”. Find your client's recurring problem today. Ask them. They'll tell you. Just like I would tell you why I don't like paying $8 for a single Gillette blade. However, now that we have the recurring problem concept in play, how do we go about the important task of finding prospective clients? Next Step: Coaching Series 1/3: How to Start Up with a Great Niche
November 24, 2018
The toughest part of coaching isn't necessarily coaching itself. Instead, it's the niche, isn't it? How do you go looking for the right niche? And how do you know when you've found one that's rewarding as well as profitable? We go back in time with the British Cycling Team and what turned them into champions, and how their coach played a role. We also look at how Pilates went from being everything to everyone to finding a solid niche. Listen and enjoy. Click here to read online: Coaching Series 1/3: How To Start Up With A Great Niche ________________________________________ Hand washing is not exactly the activity you'd indulge in if you wanted to win the gold medal at the Olympics. Yet, that's exactly what the British Cycling Team did at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They hired a surgeon to teach the athletes to properly wash their hands, in order to avoid illnesses during competition. The team staff were utterly fastidious about food preparation. They even brought their own mattresses and pillows, so that the athletes could sleep in a familiar posture every night. What does all of this have to do with coaching? It might seem totally weird, even slightly crazy, but these were just some of the methods Sir Dave Brailsford, head of British Cycling used to turn his scrappy little bunch into world champions. British Cycling went from a terrible 76 year record of just one gold medal, to 7 out of 10 gold at the Beijing Olympics and then 7 out of 10 at yet again at the London Olympics. They've even won three out of the last Tour de France competitions, with only Italy interrupting their successful run. Surely Britain didn't sprout champions overnight Something else was in play, and that something else is simply the teacher, or a coach. And there's a remarkable difference between being just someone who coaches others, and one that coaches to get precise results. The coach who works with a specific goal in mind takes great performers and transforms makes them unbeatable. If you look at almost any great artist, performer, athlete or professional, it's easy to seduce yourself into believing in inborn talent. In almost every instance, you will find it's the coach and their methods that take the client from a seemingly ordinary level to something quite stupendous. Without a coach, a person has to go through the gruelling method of having to figure out all the mistakes and fix it themselves. When you look at the 10,000 hour principle, what you're seeing is someone who doesn't have an outstanding coach. A coach can not only reduce the learning curve, but can make learning fun and addictive. In this series, we'll take apart not just what makes for good coaching, but the elements of coaching. Let's get started. How do you define your Niche as a Coach? Around the time of the California Gold Rush, one man, Samuel Brannan was known as the richest man in California. Contrary to what we might believe, Brannan didn't quite make his money panning for gold. He'd decided early on that he'd never make much money in the gold mines. Instead, he was reputed to have gone down the streets of San Francisco, shouting, “Gold, there's gold down the American river”. So where did Brannan's riches arise? His fortune arose from a strategic move. He owned the only store between San Francisco and the gold fields. He stocked his store with the picks, shovels and pans he could find paying barely 20 cents for each pan and selling it for $15 each. In scarcely nine weeks, he had made over $36,000 (in today's terms that would be 1,080,077.47). In short, Brannan put himself in a position where it was hard, even impossible for him to fail with his insight. When starting up as a coach, it's not easy to have such clear insight. In many cases, you're in transition yourself. You're often trying to find your own feet, your own space and voice. You do know one thing, though. You know that you can't be like everyone else rushing off with their pans and shovels. You instinctively know you've almost got to swing the other way and find a niche. But how do you go about creating a niche? Let's start with luck, shall we? When I first got to Auckland in 2000, I got thrust into coaching by accident—twice. I wasn't into coaching at all, but instead was drawing cartoons on Photoshop. A client who'd come over watched in awe as I got rid of all the icons on the screen. No tool bar, no colour picker, not even a menu bar. “Where is everything”? He asked, amazed partially at the speed of my method, but more because I seemed to be working almost magically. I explained I was using shortcuts and he was so impressed that he offered me $1000 to train his daughter. And I had my first accidental coaching session “How to use Photoshop faster than graphic designers”—that was my temporary slogan. In a week, his daughter went from never using Photoshop to teaching graphic designers how to use shortcuts as well. With my new found slogan, I managed to pick one more client—yes, another graphic designer. As a result, I was able to do my cartoons in my Superman time and had this little Clark Kent coaching operation on the side. But why was this type of coaching earning me a fair bit of money in a brand new country? I didn't have any testimonials, no referrals, not even a business card and most definitely no website. What I did have was a subset, or what you'd call a niche. Which coincidentally takes us to the second coaching scenario. Around 2001, I had decided I didn't want to draw cartoons for a living anymore and started up a marketing company, instead. At first, I tried to solve every possible marketing problem and got nowhere in a hurry. Then, one day, by sheer fluke I decided to create a presentation on just seven elements. This presentation was called The Brain Audit, and once I was done with the presentation, I was pushed into creating a book, which then sold online and guess what buyers wanted next. They wanted me to coach them on The Brain Audit I wish I knew what I was doing back then, but the reality is I didn't know much at all. I was desperately reading books, buying courses and finding myself spending anywhere between $1500 to $8000 for seminars and workshops. However, at the very same time, clients were happy to pay me as much as $150 an hour to help them through The Brain Audit. If you put the Photoshop and The Brain Audit story together, you should easily see what's happening It's the power of the subset that matters most to clients. Clients don't want to learn how to cook Indian food. They want to learn a subset, like “vegetarian food for special occasions”. They don't want to learn InDesign, but instead “how to create an ebook in under an hour”. In almost every subset, we also find there are both—a specific problem and a corresponding solution. But the moment you get out of the subset, there's a complete lack of clarity. Let's go back to Photoshop, shall we? What problem does it solve? How about marketing? What problem does it solve? And Indian food? See what I mean? The problem with saying “I'm a life coach” or “I'm an NLP coach” or “I'm a boxing coach” is totally pointless. People can't make head or tail of what you're trying to say. But the moment you pick a subset, you almost automatically get a problem and solution. And maybe that's where you ought to start What problems do clients have in Photoshop? Or with guitar playing, watercolours, marketing or NLP? How can you reverse engineer that problem so that you can end up with a solution? Then, it won't matter if you have a fancy card, website or referrals, what you do have is a solution to their problem. And that's how you get started with a niche. You start with the problem It's not going to make you a nine-week millionaire like Samuel Brannan, but it will get you off the ground and started into the world of coaching. How do you know you've found the right niche? If you were asked to go to the supermarket and buy a packet of potato chips, would you make the right choice? There are only two answers here, aren't there? You could pick the right one, or be wildly off the mark. After all, the supermarket loads at least two dozen different brands and then there are the variations. Low fat, full fat, crinkled, plain salted, vinegar, paprika, whisky—who knows what else! The chances of getting it wrong far, far exceed the probability of getting it right. And how do we know if we've got it wrong or right? It depends who you're buying the chips for, doesn't it? If Renuka sends me into the market to get chips, I know I can only get the brand called Proper Crisps, and it won't matter if I get the paprika or the salted versions—because they're both the right choices. When choosing a niche, it might seem like you're stuck in a “nightmare supermarket aisle” Wouldn't it be better, if there were a way to make a correct choice from the very start? Let's find out whether such a task is possible, or if we just have to bludgeon our way through choices. The reality is that the answer lies somewhere in between No matter what niche you pick, you can almost be certain you're off the mark. The good news is that you're partially, not completely off the mark. Which means that a piano coach, life coach, breathing coach—any kind of coach is more or less going to be in the right box. They'll still be in the broad spectrum of piano, life coaching and breathing, just like the chips are still in the broad range of chips. What makes a niche right isn't the broad spectrum that you choose, but instead, the narrow niche you choose to occupy. You might know the story of the coach, Joseph Pilates Pilates wasn't an exercise coach in his early years. Born in Germany in 1883, he'd already dabbled in gymnastics and bodybuilding in his younger years. In 1912 when he moved to England, he moved to professional boxing, was a circus performer and a self-defence trainer. Notice how versatile Pilates seems to be? Well, that's the problem with a lot of businesses. They have the capacity or at least believe they can be a one-size-fits-all-type-of-coach. And it's not like Pilates was destitute. Despite this smorgasbord of doing a bit this and a bit of that, he got by. However, it's only in 1925, that he finds a niche Over the years, and through World War I, he developed an integrated, comprehensive system of physical exercise, which he called “Contrology”. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone who wanted to improve their well being, Pilates set up shop under a dance studio. The dancers needed to be fit at all times, plus have flexibility, strength and stamina. His focus was on reducing injuries, and to the outside world, it looks like he just got lucky to find this profitable niche. Luck has its role to play, but when we examine the unlucky coaching businesses, there's a clear pattern The businesses that struggle are those that stay incredibly generic. You ask the coach what she does, and she says, “I'm a writing coach”. As you can tell, her statement tells you nothing. But if we were to choppitty-chop our way a bit, she might say, “I'm a writing coach that specialises in removing writer's block.” Notice how that specialisation gets your attention? She's possibly good at teaching writers how to create structure, drama, flow, style and a whole bunch of other stuff related to writing. But the moment she goes wide, she loses the power of the niche. We wonder if we've found the right niche, but any niche is the right niche. Pilates could have made a great life for himself as a boxing coach, a self-defence coach, a circus coach. But he instead he chose to focus not just on an audience of dancers, but then to “reduce injuries”. All niches are already niches There's no such thing as the right niche. The moment you get yourself into a category of being a writing coach, you've already cancelled out all the other things you can do. But your audience still won't care, because a client doesn't buy into a coach. Instead, the client buys into a specific problem that needs solving. We waste endless days, weeks and months—even years trying to find the “right niche” when in reality we're already in the right niche, but haven't defined the problem we're solving. But how do you know if the problem is the right problem? There's no such thing as the right problem. But there is such a thing as a recurring problem. Do dancers get injuries? Yes, they do. Did they get injuries during the time of Pilates dance studio? Yes, they did, and they still do today. If you are a fitness coach, all you need to do is specialise in how you can make the dancers get fewer injuries. You don't even have to reinvent the problem. It was done for you back in 1925 by Pilates. You think Writer's Block is a recent problem? Or was snoring invented yesterday? Not one of these things are new, and all you need to do is look for the recurring problem. People have had these problems for centuries and will continue to have the same problems over and over again. Where do you go from here? Your first step is to find yourself a category. e.g. Writing. The second step is to find yourself an audience. e.g. Small business owners who want to write blogs. The third and final step is to find the recurring problem: Writer's block. And there you have it—your niche—the right niche—is yours for the asking. Next Step: How To Make The Mental Leap From a Job into Entrepreneurship
November 16, 2018
One of the biggest hurdles in writing, has nothing to do with writing at all. It doesn't have anything to do with time, either. Instead, it's an understanding of energy. Without a clear view of how energy works, we're likely to start off strong and then find ourselves stranded. Is there a way around this energy hurdle? What causes an energy loss? Let's find out in this episode. Click here to read online: Writer's Block 4/4: How a Lack of Energy, Not Time, Causes Writers to Stall and Crash ________________________________________ If you take an hour to write an 800-word article, how long will it take to write 800 words for a book? One hour, right? After all, 800 words are 800 words, and why would it matter if the words are for a book or an article? Yet, if you're writing a book, you'll find that the very same 800 words might take three hours or even a couple of days. It's true even if you're very confident at writing and know your material inside out. The reason for this strange phenomenon lies in the concept of energy management. Writing 800 words for a book makes your brain go back and forth about how the whole piece sits in the document. The words are not a standalone unit. They have to fit with at least with the information that comes before and what is to follow. Therefore, a simple act of changing the medium will make a massive difference to your speed and efficiency. And of course, your energy. Energy isn't something we think about when writing Instead, we tend to worry about the time we have to do the assignment. However, we tend to run out of energy long before we run out of time. We get stuck, can't get out of our predicament and then we tend to believe we're bad writers, and that others are more talented than us. This concept of talent is a perception, not a reality because most of us don't see how prolific writers tend to split up their writing tasks. Let's take the Psychotactics podcast, for example I have to think up the topic, outline the article, write it, edit it, grammar check, post it for feedback, discuss with Renuka or in 5000bc, record, edit, add music, upload and finally queue it. If I miss or slow down on one stage, it's enough to set the whole sequence in disarray. However, think of the energy and planning required for any of the steps. There have been times when I will think up the topic, outline the article, write it, edit it, grammar check and then nothing happens. I run out of energy because I've tried to do the task in a bunched up manner, hit a wall and can't go on. Of course, a few days later, or a week later, I will pick up the thread of publishing the article, but all of these energy peaks and crashes were driving me insane. Which is why I decided to simply space out articles over a week, instead I'd start the topic on Monday, then do nothing else. I'd outline on Tuesday, then nothing. It might be a week before I get to the point where I'm editing and uploading it. However, I was taking a week anyway, so why not spread the activity over that week? Take this very article that I'm writing. I started this in the middle of last week. Several days later, we've crossed over to the weekend and beyond, and I'm still writing this article. Tomorrow, it's likely that I'll still be writing it. When will it be published? Possibly a couple of weeks from now, when all the steps have been done, bit by bit. If you're working on a single article, this kind of creative procrastination is frustrating It seems like your article is always a work in progress. You don't get the exhilarating feeling of completion. Instead, it seems to drag on and on. Which is why you need to have two or three articles on the go. It's 5:48 AM here on Monday, and I'm working on this article, but for 3:45 pm this evening, I will be inching ahead on yet another article. Tomorrow morning, I have a series on “how coaches grow their business”, which you can tell, is the third article. All of them are work in progress, and as the week advances, there's a constant feeling of completion, as one article after the other gets to the finish line. However, if you write a lot, it's also a good idea to get help Energy is not just about playing a superhero. Despite some pretty robust planning and confidence in writing, you can still run out of energy on a constant basis. This phenomenon plays itself out because we tend to take on more challenges all the time. When I first started out with my articles, 500-800 words were a massive challenge. I barely exceeded the 800 word limit for close to 14 years. Then in 2014, I decided to restart the podcast. A person tends to speak at three words a second, which means a podcast of 30 minutes needs to have approximately 5400 words. The exercise drove me crazy and burned me up for months, even years on end The first problem was just the massive leap between 800 to 5000 words. That was over 500% additional work. Plus as we addressed earlier in this piece, it wasn't just a factor of words. 800 words as a standalone aren't 800 words that are part of the bigger picture. I was slowing down on all fronts, and there was still the issue of adding music, learning software, setting up recording systems etc. I needed help on almost every front, but I also realised that I couldn't do it all. I had to give up one of the most coveted piece of my podcast production I loved putting the music on the podcast, but I realised that I needed energy for conceptualising, writing, editing and recording. Which is why Joe Naughton now creates all of that magical music in the podcast. He also uploads it and queues it, which is a massive relief to me. At this point in the article, you might be wondering why I'm telling you the story of the podcast Whether you write an article for a podcast, or whether it's part of a course or book, the concept is the same. At first, it's pure madness because you're juggling so much all at once. Writing, research, editing, style, formatting, uploading, finding a graphic, and queuing your article. They're all part of every single article progress. If you put it on your website and then in your newsletter as well, you've got even more work to do. All of this energy that you put into getting the article out is the energy you're taking away from your writing and thought process. It's why you're too exhausted to read or listen—and this takes away all forms of input. If you're running into Writer's Block, there's a pretty good reason Planning the topics and fleshing them out is a logical system of going about things. But the emotion and the dread of the various steps involved in getting a single article out can drain you almost entirely. It's not all about skill, or preparation alone. It's also about managing your energy, and you might want to get some help. You might have a student body that is keen to pitch in. A client may want to help. Or even kids are more than capable of doing part of the task if you give them a bit of a monetary incentive. It might seem like writing 800 words is just writing 800 words. Logically your planning should take no more than 30 minutes, and the article should take no more than 90 minutes, from start to finish. That's not how it works in real life. You stagger, you fall, and you get stuck. A big chunk of that blame lies with the way we manage our energy and how we try to do every single step of the activity. Doing it all is unsustainable. Here's what you need to do, instead; —Plan your topics in advance —Get the outlines done on another day —Make sure your research has been stored away ready to use —Finally, write the article —Edit it on another day —If you can, give the rest of the work to a friend, client or someone else. Energy sure matters Outsourcing isn't just fobbing away the parts that are uninteresting. To me, the music was the most exciting bit of all, even more than the narration. However, Joe does a far superior job than I ever did and he keeps getting better all the time. And my writing has gotten better, and so has my narration. You could say I have more energy. And this brings us to the summary: The lack of pre-work: If you don't put in the work in advance, everything becomes painful. The scarcity of input: Input comes from many sources. Your own industry, general knowledge, and through different media as well that includes video, audio and text. Understanding energy requirements of writing: Finally, writing 800 words for an article is not the same as writing 800 words for a book. And the more steps that are required, the more you're going to burn energy. It's important to plan out the steps and take them on bit by bit. Next Step: Writer's Block Series 1/4 – Why the Lack of Outlines Even Stop Professional Writers In Their Tracks
November 9, 2018
How do you speed up your writing process and what causes it to slow down to a crawl? Surprisingly, discussion and feedback play an incredibly powerful role in unblocking Writer's Block. The more you're stuck, the greater the reason to invite discussion and feedback. The moment you do, it causes you to explain the concepts in a way that catches you totally by surprise! Click here to read online: Writer's Block 3/4: Why Discussion and Feedback Are A Writer's Secret Weapon (And How Professionals Use it to Their Advantage) ________________________________________ C) Discussion and Feedback If you drop me in Kyoto or Paris, I'll walk happily for hours. However, the moment I have to exercise, I detest the very concept of walking. And yet, day after day, year after year, we go for a walk. It's healthy of course, and I actually learn stuff or listen to music, but the most crucial part of the walk is the part right up to the traffic lights. It's about a ten-minute walk from our house to the lights, and that's when I talk to Renuka about what I've been reading or watching. And there are days when Renuka is “sleep walking”, so I'll get nods, but some days she's wide awake, and we have a discussion. If I'm lucky, she'll disagree with almost everything I'm saying. Discussion is a great way to get prepared to write an article I remember the author, Malcolm Gladwell drumming home this very point. He tends to find a friend either in person or over the phone, and they discuss the topic. If the friend doesn't respond well, Gladwell knows the idea either needs tuning or needs to be dropped entirely. If the person gets interested or goes off on their version of the story, Gladwell knows the premise is interesting. It struck me that this method is what most writers tend to do instinctively, yet the ones that struggle don't do it at all, and it puts them at a significant disadvantage. If you keep your article under wraps, it's your own secret This secretive nature of ours tends to boil down to one aspect—and it's called insecurity. Sounds harsh, I know, but it's just because we're insecure about our topic, or that we'll be called out in some way. Feedback rocks our boat so much that we feel happier to simply get on with the job of writing, and avoid this discussion bit completely. It's sobering to note that discussion and exposing your ideas to the world is how great science is done. Scientists don't tend to work in a bubble They postulate an idea, or do some research and publish a paper. That paper is examined by others in their field, and they come up with holes in the research or idea. The holes might be so large that the scientist has to go back to almost the starting point if they want to ratify their idea. Is this method frustrating? Is it a big blow to the ego? Of course. It is Renuka is not the only source of feedback and discussion. I'll get on WhatsApp and chatter away with a private group. I'll have discussions via e-mail or Messenger. And often, I'll post a rough idea on the forum in 5000bc. If you're wondering why there are so few holes in a lot of the articles or books from Psychotactics, then wonder no more. Those holes existed. If you look at the courses, e.g. the Sales Page course, it's in Version 3.0. That tells you that the course material of 1.0 and 2.0 had holes. The same applies to the Article Writing Course, or any course, any article—just about everything we do. This article too will have holes in it, and we know this to be true, because the moment I post it, someone will ask further questions or have clarifications needed. Or, as the case may be, they may disagree with some point or the other. But feedback is about holes and the discussion is often just for the sake of clarity When you have an idea or a topic you want to cover, it's a bit premature in your head. When you put it down on paper, on chat, or in a verbal discussion, you have to be more precise in your argument. It forces you to think of analogies. You might say: “You know this topic we're discussing is exactly like the Barbie case study. Remember how…” And that discussion will spur case studies and examples, but it does a lot more. When explaining something to someone else, you also tend to bring up analogies. You say, “It's a lot like a roundabout, instead of a traffic light. Both systems regulate the traffic, but one works without any punishment or and yet is far superior in traffic control.” When you explain yourself, you can't help but try and pull up a series of analogies. The discussion becomes the groundwork for all the analogies, stories, case studies and examples you could insert into your still to be written article. Whether you choose a forum, chat, the phone or a walk in Kyoto the result is similar You're going for a little stroll with your ideas. And along the way, you meet other ideas or even run into that snarly feedback guy from next door. You haven't started to write yet, but you're beginning to percolate, which is far more important. It might be a good idea at this point to reach into your pocket and scribble the ideas down. I tend to dictate them into my phone into Evernote so I can access the ideas on any computer or device, later. You may think you'll remember it all. I promise you it's not a good idea. For one, even if you have a great memory, you have to use energy to remember those points. In doing so, your discussion won't move as quickly as it possibly should. I tend to quickly save whatever I can remember and then continue the discussion even as I'm marching up or down the hill. If you can, it's a good idea to have many articles going at once When I first started writing, I was so pathetic that I could only focus on a single article. I'd spend days over that article, and that was my sole obsession. In time I realised it was better to have many articles all at different levels of progress. You see what's happening, right? It feels chaotic to have many articles all on the go at once, but in fact, they're all percolating over the duration of a week or so. The one that started last Monday might be completed by the following week, or earlier. Or later. But the discussion and the feedback move it backwards and forward. When starting out, it might take all your energy just to focus on a single article, but in time you'll find having many articles inching ahead to be a great way to get discussions going on many fronts. Keeping secrets is mostly a terrible plan in almost all areas of life We get bad advice from well-wishers, parents and guardians. We're told as we're growing up that certain things need to be private. In reality, it's hogwash. In many cases, secrets only seek to make us more insecure. And this kind of “let's keep it private, let's keep it a secret” usually makes work worse, not better. Scientists prove this point, coders prove this point, and great creativity underlines this idea over and over again. If you really want to get your article moving faster, and want it to be more robust, you have to overwrite the nonsensical programming you had in your formative years. Discussion and feedback help you formulate, tear down and rebuild ideas at high speed. It's input Input shows up when you read about your industry's subject matter. It creates a sweet, creamy layer of creativity when you cross-pollinate with different case studies, industries and even different media. And finally, input pushes your ideas to the wall. Your job is to make your work clearer, more robust. The more you accept feedback and discussion as part of your routine, the more volatile the process will seem at first. In time, however, you'll seek out discussion and feedback at every turn, and overwrite the “keep secret” programming that slows you down and keeps you isolated in your own dark, insecure corner. So far We've tackled two main topics of—Why Lack of Pre-Work Almost Guarantees Writer's Block 1) The Lack of Pre-Work 2)The Scarcity of Input It's time to go to the third one: Understanding Energy Management When Writing Next Step: Writer’s Block Series 4/4: How a Lack of Energy, Not Time, Causes Writers to Stall and Crash
November 2, 2018
Most of us are content to learn a great deal about what's happening in our industry, but is that causing a blockage when it comes to writing? When we go into the depths of writer's block, we find that you need cross pollination not only across industry, but across styles as well as media such as video, audio and text. Find out how a lack of cross pollination could be causing your writing to freeze up.
October 26, 2018
If you're already good at writing, do you need an outline? It might seem one more barrier and yet it's the first element that creates this so called Writer's Block. Find out why outlines are a map that quickly get you to your destination. Click here to read online: Writer's Block Series 1/4: Why the Lack of Outlines Even Stops Professional Writers In Their Tracks ________________________________________ If you give employees a bonus, will they work harder? This is the seemingly obvious question that Michael Sturman had to contend with. Sturman, a professor at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, decided to find just how much pay and performance mattered. And as you'd expect, he found the obvious. People who are paid above the market rate, do a much better job. As you'd imagine, he found that even a 1% raise, can tend to boost employee performance to about 2%. However, when the same 1% bonus was linked to a specific task, the job performance spiked as high as 19%. Turn that statistic around, and we can speculate that the employee had been working at 19% lower than their potential. When writing articles, it's easy to work way below your potential as well And most writers feel their potential is reached when they do fancy research or when they sit down for hours to write. However, a lot of potential is wasted long before you sit down to write a single word. A lot of the potential lies in the stages of preparation. Let's look at three critical elements that cause a fair bit of chaos: The Lack of Pre-Work The Scarcity of Input Understanding Energy Management When Writing 1) The Lack of Pre-Work The moment I sat down to write this article, I was a little lost. I'll tell you why. I hadn't done much pre-work. I fully intended to outline it, work out the story that was needed, and add a lot of notes. However, when it came to writing the article, I did what most writers do. I sat down at the computer and hoped I'd get lucky. And luck can be pretty fickle under the best of conditions, but it seems to take special pleasure in taunting the article writer. The problem with article writing is that we don't see it as several tasks Writing an article is more like an expedition than a casual walk in the park. To get a well-written article out, you need the story, or possibly more than one story (just like the pay-performance story above). Then you've got to have at least one point in that story that's exceedingly curious. The opening paragraph can cause enough grief for a writer, but it doesn't stop there. You need to know the points you're going to cover, have case studies and examples, need to understand at least one or two of the main objections, the headline, and yes, the list goes on and on. I've written about 50 articles a year for about 18 years That is roughly 900 articles, and this doesn't take into account course material, books and over 100,000 posts in forums. In short, it's a heck of a lot of writing. You'd think you'd get really good at writing with all of this experience, right? And you do. But we're not talking about writing at all. We're talking about preparation. Without the ingredients, an expert chef can make a dish relatively quickly, but there's a lot of fumbling and bumbling before that meal is ready. However, with the smallest amount of preparation, that dish, even in the hands of a newbie, can be so much better, so much tastier. Easily the most critical pre-work lies in three main areas The first is the outline. I didn't have any outlines to write in school, so I can't share the hatred of outlines. However, on the article writing course, most clients start off with resenting the very thought of outlining. They come around when they realise that the outlines they did at school were terrible and that outlines for article writing are more like a laundry list of what needs to go where. But even among the converted, the additional step of outlining seems like another 10-15 minutes of work that can be avoided. And it can't I did that this morning when I sat down at my computer. And like that expert chef, I can manage to write when I'm half asleep, but I still waste enough time that I could have simply spent with a quick outline on a Post-It. I did outline the points, of course, but failed to make any notes and had to work out what I was saying as I went through the article. And that's just one element we're talking about. The outline, the story, the objections, the headline—they're all work in progress. Yes, even the headline Though it's a spindly one or two lines, having a raggedy working headline in place keeps the article on track. In this very article, I went up to check the headline thrice, to make sure I wasn't wavering. And all of this back and forth is wasted time and wasted energy. If you're good at a task, you can wing your way through it, even on really rough days, but if you're prepared, it's a whole different ball game, isn't it? However, the preparation stage isn't confined to the outline alone. The second point we need to cover is the input. If there's one thing that will derail you every single time, it's the lack of input. When you have input, you have a regular source of information. It's a feed you can't ever do without. If you don't keep that input flow going, your article suffers. And this is long before you even get started. Next Up: The Scarcity of Input Next Step:  Writer’s Block 2/4: Why Cross Pollination of Ideas, Media and Styles Are Crucial (And Avoid Shutdowns When Writing)
October 19, 2018
One of the most mind numbing tasks is to get a client to pay for the job you've completed Clients tend to be slow with payments or just default. But is there a way to avoid such a mess? There's not just one, but three separate ways to go about it. Let's find out how you can get paid without all the bother—and well in advance, too. Click here to read online:  Want to get paid a lot in advance? 3 Methods to get paid earlier than ever before ________________________________________ What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs, And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. Wouldn't it be a bit of shame that we have no time to look at sheep and cows because we're trying to get paid on time? There's no foolproof system to get paid every time, but if you pay attention to how other industries work, you might never have to chase payments again. There are three core methods to use: – The Construction Company Method – The 100% Payment in Advance Method – A Downpayment in Advance Method Let's look at all three to see which one works for you. 1) The Construction Company Method When we were building our office—which is next door to our house—the builders followed a slab system of payment. Every stage of the construction had a pre-payment attached, and it looked a bit like this: Foundation: Pre-payment 1 Rough framing: Pre-payment 2. Rough plumbing and electrical: Payment 3 On and on it went through the insulation, exterior, interior, carpeting and exterior driveways. If we wanted the next stage to proceed, we needed to make the payment to keep our builders “motivated”. This slab system of payment is one of the finest both for the client and the person doing the job. It makes sure that both parties are incredibly motivated to go ahead with the process. As a service provider, this is often an excellent system to follow because it ensures both parties move ahead systematically However, there's also a bit of a downside if one of the parties decides to walk away. Let's say you start working on a client's website and the payments are going well when the client suddenly runs into some sort of difficulty. Maybe she's had a personal problem and can't pay the rest of the sum, or perhaps she's just really slow with sending her text and images across. No matter what the problem, you're stuck because you can't proceed with the job. The happy news is that if you've worked out your payment structure well, you'll won't run into a loss because you've covered what you've done. By no means is this a foolproof system because your project might need to do a lot of core work at the start, and then not a lot in the middle and at the end. It means you'll have put in a lot of effort and not been paid for it. But wait, no one said the slabs had to be equal, right? If the first slab requires about 45% of the work, then that's the first payment the client needs to make before you get started. If the second slab is just 10% of the work, then you get the client to pay accordingly. However you decide to break up the slabs, it's important you get paid for the proportion of work you're putting in, which means you've got to do some groundwork and estimation in advance. However, that's just the first method of getting paid. The second seems harder because it's 100% in advance. But is it really harder? 2) The 100% Payment in Advance Method My father ran a secretarial college for over 25 years and it wasn't an easy life. He'd leave for work before 7 am, to make sure he opened all the doors and windows, turned on all the lights, and had his first cup of masala tea long before the first student showed up an hour later. All day he'd be at work, returning home about 8:30 at night. It was a time-consuming job, but the one thing he didn't spend much time on was collecting money. He'd always get the student's money in advance If you wanted to be on a course, or learn a skill such as typing, you had to pay before you got started. This simple act of payment in advance is incredibly common for schools, colleges and not surprisingly with a lot of the things we buy like electronics and petrol. But will it work for you as a business? It depends on two factors. Your confidence and the demand for your product or service. We may assume, for instance, that a restaurant will charge you once you show up and finish your meal. That's not the case with David Patterson, at San Francisco's restaurant which goes by the name of Coi. If you cancel 48 hours in advance, you won't be charged However, should you tip over into the last 48 hours, your credit card is charged the late cancellation fee of $275 per guest, and that's just for the tasting menu and doesn't include wine. There's also a 20% service charge. Will you be charged the service charge if you don't show up? It's not clear, but what's more than clear is that they treat all sales as final, just like a sporting event or concert. If you think they're alone, they're not! Lazy Bear, another San Francisco restaurant sells each month’s tickets all at once, usually on a Wednesday in the middle of the previous month. They announce ticket sales via Twitter and send an email to their mailing list. Tickets are not refundable and can’t be switched to a different date or time, but they are transferable to other people. The list of restaurants that have this policy in place is growing. In short, it's payment in advance in an industry that has traditionally brought the bill to the table after you've downed your last espresso and Porto. With Psychotactics we take almost all payments in advance If you buy almost any book, any course or workshop, you have to pay in advance. Even if it's consulting, you pay in advance. In several cases, this payment is made by the client several months in advance. The Article Writing Course, for instance, started in August, but clients paid about five months in advance. The Sales Page workshop which is in late October was also sold out four-five months in advance. And you may wonder if this is linked with the demand for Psychotactics workshop and courses and yes, to some extent it's true because the courses, workshops and even self-study products are all sold out quickly. There's a demand factor in place, but there's also the second point, which is confidence. At Psychotactics we always confidently charged in advance Even going back to the earliest days of consulting, we charged in advance. We might not have been 100% confident that the client would be so very co-operative with a 100% payment, but we'd ask anyway. Sometimes we'd have to do a little back and forth discussion, but once we removed the risk, they'd pay. When we sold our products online, we had no choice but to charge in advance, and with every sale that confidence grew stronger. It takes a bit of bravado when you're offline and standing in front of a client. That client might be hiring you as a speaker, buying a product from you or hiring you for your services. You have to bite your lower lip, whistle a happy tune and ask for the amount upfront. You may hear the sound of butterflies whooshing in your tummy, but you need to ask anyway. You'll be surprised how many clients will give in if you just ask. Asking put you in a great position as well Even if you don't get paid 100% in advance, it sets you up nicely for at least 50%. And that's the next possible option to get paid in advance. 3) A Downpayment in Advance Method Is there a big advantage of getting only 50% in advance? It may sound like a negative, seeing how you could have easily been paid in one go. However, there's a definite psychological advantage not to have all the money in your pocket right away. The 50% that's not been paid is a definite form of motivation. You want to make sure the job is done because the remaining 50% is still pending. It's often hard to be motivated when you're paid everything in one lump sum. The 50% motivates you, but it also motivates the client Now they're not just shooting the breeze but have a stake in the process. They know that they've put their money down and they have to do their part as well. You're still going to run into clients that won't give you the information you need, or create needless delays in the project, but this confusion can be reduced if you have clear instructions and deadlines for the client. Either way, you've got three core ways to get paid in advance and what you finally do, depends on your level of confidence and the demand for your product or service. Either way, the worst possible method is to get paid after everything is done. When I moved to New Zealand, I stepped away from that system However, when I lived in India, I didn't set up the right expectations with clients, and I'd spend close to 30% of my time merely chasing payments. At one point I was so upset with the backlog of payments that I had to see a doctor because I had high blood pressure from all the worry. I did have great clients too, who paid on time, but also terrible clients who wouldn't pay and even decided to pay me just half the sum I was owed. All of the payment in advance systems arose from years of frustration, so much so that I vowed that one of the things I'd do when I got to New Zealand was get paid in advance. Summary: How you get payments is up to you. You might have a client who pays promptly on time. In which case this entire article is just advice for something in the future. However, if you've been struggling with payments or expect some struggle, use one of the three ways outlined above. You might still have a life full of care. And may still have not much time to stand and stare. But at least it won't be because you're chasing up payments. Next Step: How To Get Better, Higher-Paying Clients With Testimonials
October 12, 2018
Most of us are quite obsessed with stashing away case studies, examples and stories. However, it's not enough to simply put it away. You have to be reasonably familiar with the story. And how you get to be familiar? You focus on one point in the story. Why does that one point matter? Let's find out.
October 9, 2018
This is not a regular podcast episode but a quick announcement about Fritoon... Your chance to receive a funny cartoon direct to your inbox every Friday. Visit , to sign up! Enjoy
October 5, 2018
Researching an article is so frustrating because it's time-consuming But there are ways to beat the pressure—and the pain. Believe it or not, there are ways to be productive with zero last minute research. This episode shows you how to make advance research work for you, as well as in situations where you have no research at all. Sounds too good to be true? Well, listen to the episode. Click here to read online: How to research an article (without killing your productivity) ________________________________________ Let's assume you have guests coming over in 20 minutes And you've promised them your special Indian onion salad. What ingredients do you need? Let's see: 3 onions. 1/3 cucumber. 2 tomatoes. A handful of coriander leaves. 1 teaspoon of crushed methi leaves (fenugreek leaves) 1 slice of fresh lemon. Ready to go? Of course not. You might have the onions, but there's no cucumber in sight. You're pretty sure you don't have coriander or fenugreek leaves, though you may (or may not) have a lemon. What should you do at this point? The slightly obvious answer is you have to scurry off to the veggie market to get all your ingredients, which means your guests are going to going to be ringing the doorbell soon—and you're completely frazzled. This “frazzled” feeling is what most of us go through when we're dealing with research for an article. We know our topic moderately well, and we're almost ready to write. However, when we get started, we suddenly feel we need more substance to our writing. That's when we scramble to find research, and it's already too late. Which is why this article covers three core points about research: —Why we tend to depend on research —Why advance research is more valuable than you'd expect —How to operate when you have no research at all 1) Let's start with the first point: the dependence on research I remember one of the earliest articles I wrote about the topic of uniqueness. I'd read a book called “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, which was filled with great examples. Notice what I just wrote? It wasn't the Internet I was browsing through. It was just a book filled with a fixed number of pages and a finite number of examples. Even so, the article had so many case studies, and so many points on positioning, that I was quickly lost. An article that should have taken me a few hours took over three days, and it was primarily because of the dependence on research. The reason why we depend on research so much is because we feel a little intimidated by the depth of our knowledge. We rightly assume that others have written about the topic in a fair bit of detail and we can use the details to bolster the authenticity of our article. And especially when we're starting out, we tend to have a sort of impostor syndrome, where we feel others know a lot more. Which is why we end up researching our facts on the Internet, only to end up with frustrating dead ends and little to show for all our hard work. If there's any good news, it's that almost all of us start our writing journey down this painful path only to find there's a slightly better way. It's called research in advance, and it's important for reasons more valuable than you'd imagine. So let's hop along to our second point in this article, shall we? 2) Why is it that advance research matters so much? Two of my favourite activities are drawing and drinking coffee. Which is why I head over to a cafe in the neighbourhood. I get myself my cup of flat white, perch myself near the huge glass window and watch people go by. And then I start to sketch. However, if you were to look into a folder in my iPad, you'd find I don't depend solely on my memory. I've drawn and sketched for close to 40 years now, but I still follow keep references. And if you looked at my reference folder on my iPad you'd find a massive reservoir of photos and illustrations—over 835 stored at this point. The reason for this collection is merely a factor of speed If the reference picture has already been sourced out in advance, I don't have to scramble for it on the Internet. And that ability to instantly pull up a reference is the prime reason for researching in advance. Even with the reference right before you, it's still going to take time and energy. But at least you're not scampering down seventeen thousand rabbit holes on the Internet. You still feel the nervous energy of someone who's got to write an entire article, but at least you're partly in control. And whether it's an onion salad or drawing Pinocchio, having the ingredients in place is already a huge energy saver. However, there are other hidden aspects of advance research that most of us tend to discount The first reason is just the percolation of the idea. When we are prepared, our mind is not only calmer, but it's also able to spend that extra energy looking to enhance or improve the idea. With the ingredients of the onion salad in place, we can decide to experiment with a touch of balsamic vinegar. It might not fall in line with a traditional Indian salad, but this preparation gives us the chance to be more than ourselves. It allows time for creative tinkering. When I have the picture of Pinocchio in my folder, that's a considerable amount of energy I don't need to summon. I can start thinking of nose rings on Pinocchio's nose. And what would happen if the nose went back to its standard size? All of these thoughts bubble up and create a pot of sudden and unexpected creativity. To help this creativity have a chance to wake up, most research needs to be done and stored in advance And it's why I use a program called Evernote. With Evernote, I can take a photo, screenshot or text and store it in the program itself. Evernote and it will instantly pull up the reference as long as I can remember a single word. Therefore if I read some research on how Pinocchio died a gruesome death and was hanged, I can store that and pull that up, on demand, six months or six years from now. That story won't exactly get whisked away from my subconsciousness. It will stay there and will be likely to get better over time. When I'm ready to use the research, I'll not only be able to pull up all the details that I require in a matter of seconds, but my brain will have been working on it, waiting for the exact moment to use the story. And you know this concept to be true because you've experienced it It's almost like arriving at that airport at 4 am and finding a chauffeur standing with a placard and your name on it. That planning enables you to get to the hotel, unpack and fall back into bed. The opposite feeling is one of having to catch a bus, drag your suitcases for three blocks only to find the hotel is fully booked. At some point or the other, you and I are going to need the research. We may need it for our stories, to use as examples or case studies or simply to give our articles a nice dose of much-needed iron. Even so, there are times when you don't have time for all of this elaborate storage method in Evernote. Or you have to crank out something in a hurry. What should you do then? This takes us to the third part of our article: how to write when you have no research? 3) What should you do when you have no research in place? Let's just step back one tiny bit and examine the situation. We have no research; we want to write an article. But do we know what's the main feature of an article? The article is built up structure and flow; there's drama, and there is also information. But all of that is useless without the most vital element of all. That element is called “enthusiasm”. Without an enthusiastic creator, a cartoon looks lifeless, salads seem to wilt, and articles end up being just an endless drone of words. And some days you have no energy to write, let alone research. But you always have enough energy to disagree, don't you? Disagreement is the spark that enables you to write without research Let's say you're writing an article about “how to get new clients”. Look for an article that's already about “getting new clients”. Do you agree with all the methods? Do you nod your head sagely at all the angles of their argument? Of course, you don't. We all have different ways of getting the same thing done. I might add fenugreek leaves to my salad, but you might turn up your nose at it and suggest something else. The moment you get into a “disagreeable mood”, you're officially a critic. Which is precisely the moment to write an article about the subject matter Remember that at this point we don't have any research, are feeling reasonably deflated and yet we can easily pick holes in the other person's argument because of one solid reason. We already have more knowledge than we perceive. We may (or may not) see ourselves as beginners, but when writing the article, we may feel out of depth. Reading the other person's article gets us to realise that we have a totally different angle on several, if not all the points. Once that fire has been lit, it's relatively easy to continue to write from our reservoir of knowledge. And that's just one way to go about things when you don't have the research. The other way is to talk about your own experience Let's say I talk about how we run our membership site at 5000bc. Let's say our three core benchmarks are: A precise onboarding system Answering every marketing or technical question by clients Creating content that's not necessarily found on the Internet. Let's just assume those are the three benchmarks that help us run 5000bc Do you see any problem with those benchmarks at all? No, of course not, because they're our benchmarks. We can then go on to explain every one of those three in great detail and get an absolute cracker of an article as a result. But wait, where's the research? The reason we didn't need an iota of research is because we didn't need an iota of research. It's our story, and we'll tell it like we want to. Which is a method you've got to use as well. Perhaps you make a homemade shampoo, and you follow some steps. Who cares if your steps differ entirely from the rest of the world? Maybe you are a copywriter, and you develop a sales page system where you start from the bottom up, instead of from the headline down. Well, go for it. It's your method, your system, your way of life. You don't need any fancy time-wasting, cell-crunching research to back it up. And this kind of personal experience is what a lot of writers tend to use on a regular basis and for good reasons too. Just finding case studies and exciting stories to fit your article is taxing enough Case studies, examples, stories—all of these are less about the concept of research, and instead, is the “entertainment” factor in your article. When this article briefly swung towards the apparent hanging of Pinocchio, your curiosity was instantly activated. The story of Carlo Collodi, the author of Pinocchio would have mead a great example in an article. These stories and examples provide an excellent garnish for your article, and it's already a fair bit of work. Which is why you may as well write more articles based on what you know, or what you disagree with. Even if the article were to be devoid of all of this additional entertainment, it would still be fascinating to the reader, because of the enthusiasm you're bringing to the piece. Note for example this article is almost free of any research There was this little dart back and forth to pick up the name of the author of Pinocchio, which is when I ran into the whole hanging story. That tiny little nugget got stored away in Evernote for another day, while I slid back into finishing this article. And all of this was achieved with no real need for fancy research. The reality is you can write hundreds of articles without research It isn't to suggest you don't store exciting facts and case studies. It's just that most of our lives are filled with activities, and we don't have the time to go scuttling around in search of an exact fit to our articles. In most cases, if you've done the prep work, you'll have a ton of examples, but even if you haven't, a touch of disagreement or giving an insight into your methods, is enough. And now that we're done with this article on research, I can go back to my onion salad. Has anyone seen the fenugreek leaves yet? Next Step: How To Double Your Writing Speed (And Overcome The Outline-Barrier)
September 29, 2018
Readers often get lost in an article and hence abandon it. However, there are pretty simple, yet powerful methods to let the reader know exactly where they are in the article at all times. Plus when you use these techniques, you push the reader forward as well. Here's how you go about using these "Transition Techniques". Read on the website: Transition Techniques ============== A Russian satellite called Sputnik was inadvertently responsible for the invention of GPS In 1957, Russia sent shock waves through the world when they launched Sputnik. Most Americans were terrified. Even the US president, Dwight Eisenhower declared that the Russians had the decisive upper hand. However, two junior physicists, William Guier and George Wieffenbach rigged up a listening station on the roof of their lab to pick up Sputnik’s signal. And they noticed something quite interesting. Even though it was just a beep, beep, beep, they realised the radio frequency of the satellite’s transmitter kept on changing. Which is why they decide not only to monitor the satellite but to take shifts and find out where the satellite was at all times. But it was their boss, McClure who put the second piece of the puzzle together “If you can find out where the satellite is,” he began, “then you ought to be able to turn that problem upside down and find out where you are.” And that was it—the earliest version of GPS. Today, we can walk out with our phones and know precisely where we are at all times, and where we're headed. However, the reader of your article has no such luck An article is usually a mass of content spanning anywhere from 800-5000 words, or more. Readers have no way of knowing whether you're writing about the first idea, are already in the middle of the second idea or coming to the close of your article. There's a simple way to let the reader know where they are in the article, and where they're going. And it's with a manageable set of tips called “transition techniques”. Let's find out how you can send your own beep, beep, beep to clients when so they never get lost in your article. You can do this in three ways: Technique 1: The hook set up Technique 2: The numbering system Technique 3: Sarah's italics Let's start with Technique 1: The hook set up If you've ever watched a drama-based TV series, you'll notice something quite consistent at the end of the episode. Instead of winding down and coming to a “happily ever after” situation, they seem to put in a hook. The hook is designed to get you moving to the next episode, and the next and the next. When you're writing an article, you have to do something similar with your paragraphs, especially if your article has several ideas. Take, for instance, this article itself. It has three ideas: the setup, the numbering system and Sarah's italics. If we treat each of those ideas as an episode it means we have to create two, possibly three hooks As we come to the end of one idea and we're transitioning to the next, we need to suggest that there's something new coming up. We can set up, by talking about the next section. You can do this by simply referring to the new idea, or you can ask questions. Let's take an example that's not related to this article itself. Let's say we talk about Goldilocks and her break into the house of the Three Bears. The three ideas or stages are “she gobbles their porridge, sits in the chairs, and finally falls asleep on one of the beds”. When you've written about the porridge episode, you end with: But that's not all. Goldilocks wasn't just satisfied with mooching the porridge. She'd decided she was bored and going to wander around the house as well. See the hook set up? You know there's a transition happening, and you know it because of the statement that forms the last line of the section or episode. But you don't have to restrain yourself to statements. You can use questions too. e.g. Goldilocks wasn't satisfied with mooching the porridge. Do you know what she did next? That's a question at the end, instead of a statement Whether you choose to use a statement or question, they both signal a transition, but they also do something more. A hook, by its very nature, bubbles up with curiosity. That tiny little hook at the end of one idea, gently pushes the reader across to the second idea, and from there to the third, and so on. However, that's only one way to get the transition going. The second method is far more overt, and it involves numbers. Technique 2: The numbering system Notice how you knew we'd moved from the first idea to the second? It's pretty apparent when you read it here, because “Technique 2” was mentioned. Obvious it might be when it's pointed out, but many writers are so absorbed in their writing that they fail to consider the reader. You as a writer know precisely when you've transitioned, but the reader sees the text pretty much like a long road. Unless you put signage on that road, they're not going to know they've entered another zone. That signage happens to be a combination of numbers and words For example: Method 2: The numbering system Strategy 2: The move away from retirement Bag 2: The problem The numbering immediately gets the reader to take notice They know you've moved on to a new section and it's also like a “You Are Here” sign, ensuring the reader isn't lost. It might be okay to merely run numbers with a numerical value. e.g. Method 2, Strategy 2 etc. However, you can also use words to signify your movement. You could say: First, second and third. Or first, next and final. It might not sound precisely like a number, but it's doing the same task of signalling. The question that arises here is: should you use the hook set up or the numbering system? It's your choice, really, but if we go back to that analogy of the road, notice what most towns do? They say: You are leaving Auckland, welcome to Bombay Hills. In a quick sequence there's the signal of both the exit and the entry, isn't there? I tend to use both in my articles because it guarantees the readers know where they are in the article. Which of course leaves us with a slightly obscure third way to connect, doesn't it? The final way to connect came up quite by accident. I like to call it “Sarah's Italics”. Technique 3: Sarah's Italics In the 2018 Article Writing Course, I noticed a curious method of connection I'd never noticed before. At the end of the section, Sarah Hamilton would use a visual attention getter to signal change. Let's say the new idea was about Goldilocks heading from the porridge to the chairs. Sarah's technique was not only to mention the chairs but also to use italics. Hence, if she were to move through the article, and get to the end of the section, she'd be likely to write “the chairs” and “the beds” in italics. I'd never seen something quite so subtle at least in the Article Writing Course If you were to put the term in bold, or red or do something over the top, it would be pointless. But italics tend to be used to signal a subtle difference. If you look at most books and you run into a foreign phrase, like “me gustaria cinco cervezas para el desayuno”, that would be italics. Or let's say you run into a book like “The Brain Audit”, that might also be in italics. In short, italics create a contrast. And that contrast tells the reader, “Hey, something is slightly different at this point, so pay close attention”. Italics do that crucial task without bringing too much attention to themselves, which when you think about it, is pretty cool. And there you have it—three ways to transition. The first was the hook at the end of the article, which could be a statement or a question, or a combination of both. The second was the numbering system like Method 2, or Strategy 3 etc. But first, second and third—or start, middle and finale could also be used to determine the location. And finally, we have Sarah's italics, which are incredibly subtle but takes on the conventional role of italics, which is to suggest a change of some sort. You might think that readers don't necessarily need all of this set up As writers, we often second guess the elements we put into our writing. We look at a bank of articles we've written and see the elements as repetitive. There's a technique for writing the headline, the First Fifty Words, the subheads, the outlines—and now even this transition between ideas is being added to the list. Won't this seem super formulaic and completely turn off the reader? No, it doesn't turn off the reader We know this because we have watched those TV serials. They do this over and over and over. And yes, over again. Does it bother you when they have a hook at the end? Yes, we might be a little impatient when we're, and they summarise the last part, but in article writing, there's no summary when you move to the next part. You've moved from one section to the other flawlessly and let the reader know exactly where she is on the road. But that's only one of two reasons. The second reason is that no one is reading your articles back to back Your client will read one article, and before you send out the second, they're going to read about seventeen million e-mails, five reports, finish a quarter of a book and spend sixteen and a half hours on Facebook. There's no way on earth they're going to think about any formula you've been using. And if you're still worried about appearing formulaic, then stop it. Why? Because almost every movie, every book, every story told also follows an almost identical formula. If you haven't noticed it yet, it's because the contents are interesting. You too can make your contents exciting, but more importantly, you can get the reader to move gingerly through your article. They always know where they are and where they're going. It's a small thing, this transition bit. But it's super important to keep the reader going. Beep, beep, beep. Next Step: Article Writing Advice Writers Don't Want To Hear
September 22, 2018
Websites are daunting projects but even the casual listener is astounded to learn that a website took three years to complete. Of course there's a story, so here we go with the tale. Read on the website:  New Psychotactics Website Story ==== Back when I was in university, my friend, Shelly Brown sent me a recording of a rap band called Run DMC I listened to the music patiently, then decided rap had no future. As you can see, I'm a lot worse than most people at predicting the future. Even back in 2008, I had friends in the industry, who were talking about mobile as being the next big thing. But there we were in the middle of 2015 with no intention of creating a mobile-friendly site. I figured mobile had no future, so why bother with a new website when the existing website was doing just fine? However, what prompted me into action was a little chat with a client This client was into some sort of search engine optimisation, and he suggested it would be a good idea to create a new site as well. While we'd designed all the earlier sites, I was clearly out of depth when it came to mobile, which is why I left the entire task of design to the client. The design he produced was so horrific, so hard to describe, that there was no choice but to abandon the project. But now we'd been bitten by the redesign bug. And so, on July 27, 2015, the first website sketch was done. It would be another three years and ten days before the website went live. Planning is priceless but plans are useless I don't think we'd ever decided a fixed date for the release of the website, but shortly after a burst of initial designs, we ran into a whole bunch of barriers. The first was the Headlines Course, that started up in August. In 2015, I decided to add headline trainers to the course as well, which complicated my life a bit. When the course was done, we got an unexpected invitation to go to Nashville. There was no point in making such a long trip just to attend a seminar Which is why we decided to have a workshop of our own on the topic of storytelling. This meant notes needed to be written, slides had to be created, zillions of cartoons needed to be drawn for those slides. And yes, the website went into the first session of deep freeze as we conducted our workshops in Nashville and then Amsterdam. Which brought us right into 2016 and the promise of a renewed resolution to get the website going. However, remember how I wasn't clued into mobile? It had been over six months, but I was still working out how mobile designs worked differently from earlier websites. Which meant that the very pretty looking Photoshop designs looked gorgeous in the program, yet terrible on the site itself. Plus we were so much in love with our sidebars that we wanted them on the new website as well until we saw how messy it all looked on mobile. While I was spending inordinate amounts of time on websites like Squarespace, March came along, which brought about the biggest challenge of 2016. As you're probably aware, we tend to treat our courses like software Every now and then we'll do a major update even if a course is selling extremely well. I'd grown tired of the Article Writing Course and Version 1.0 had to somehow move to Version 2. In theory, this rewrite shouldn't have been a problem. I'm pretty adept at writing, as well as at creating course material. But there's also a factor of laziness. If I can procrastinate, I will, and the only way to get going is to announce that we're rolling out Version 2.0. The challenge was to write the course material while the course was in progress We tend to send course material at least a month in advance, and clients got Version 1 of the audio and notes. While they were working their way through the new course, I moved everything around. And by everything, I really mean everything. Assignments that were in Week 8, were moved to Week 3. Whole sections of the course were chipped away, while others were completely discarded. It may not sound like a lot, but every assignment takes over 3 hours to write because it includes complete step by step instructions as well as detailed examples. Then to add to that workload was the notes and the re-recording of the audio series. All of this was happening while the course was in progress. To say I was fried after all of this activity was putting it mildly I remember a whole week of headaches. My sleep wasn't so good either, and my head felt like Neil Armstrong could take a walk on it. By the time we headed to India in July, on vacation, my blood pressure was up, and so was my cholesterol. To talk about or think about the website was not much of an option, yet that's exactly what we did when we got back from our break. And the website might have still been ready to go by end 2016, but we had two painful technical problems One of those was our broadband connection. The broadband connection and other issues. If you drive around parts of Auckland, you're likely to see signs that say, “fibre connection coming in 2019”. And back in 2016, if there was one thing I wanted more than anything else, it was that fibre connection. All around us, everyone seemed to have broadband. Plus our home, it seemed, was the furthest away from the Phone junction. This meant that like a water pipe, everyone got their water, and we got just a tiny trickle. It was so bad that it would take 4 to 5 minutes to upload 5 MB of data. And just as a matter of comparison, in order to upload the podcast I had to go to the café down the road and stand there for 10 to 12 minutes. If I was brave enough to upload a file from the office, it would take anywhere between 12 to 16 hours. It wasn't until 8th August 2017 that we got a fibre connection Suddenly we were 500% faster and we could actually get around to the website. That didn't mean that our work process improved dramatically. Because of some technical difficulties we had hosted the sandbox website on another server. That server was extremely slow and it took ages to get any of the pages updated. When it's a single problem that you're dealing with, it doesn't seem much more than a bother, but these problems were cumulative. The software, the Internet connection, the server — they all piled upon each other to create a perfect headache. Still, when you're faced with barriers there is no way but to go forward. Anyway, by August 2017 we had our modem, did a little modern dance and got on with the job of completing the website. It was late in the year, and we were a bit exhausted The membership site at 5000 BC had been upgraded and there were the usual pieces of the puzzle that didn't fit in. When all of that had subsided, it was time to head to Australia. I had a speaking engagement in October, but we decided to take a couple of weeks off in Bryon Bay. That was October, and before we knew it December had rolled along and it was time for another New Year's resolution. But it's really 2017 where things got going However, we had this start, stop, start, stop for so long that any progress was frustrating. At times I just wanted to give up, but there was no way of going back. We had to go forward. Here's a note from as late as August 2017. Part of the problem was my own doing I didn't want the website to be a rehash of the earlier one. If we were going to create a new website, we needed a new look, and this included dozens of cartoons. But luck does play a role from time to time. Without putting much thought into it, I bought an iPad Pro. I'd owned iPads before and they were mostly glorified book readers, but this one was different. The software, Procreate, combined with the Apple Pencil, allowed me to do a lot more sketching. Before the iPad Pro, I was chained to my computer and Photoshop. But once I got the iPad Pro, I could go anywhere and draw. In fact, I would lie on the sofa and generate quite a few cartoons. It got to the point where I was creating about a dozen cartoons a week. This was a critical component of the new website and the new look. To have all those fresh cartoons with a style that represented where we were in 2017 was pretty important. In the iPad, Pro played that role in getting me to draw at a furious pace. It's August 2018 as I write this note If you were to ask me what was the most challenging part of the website, I could cite the broadband, the server, the software—lots of little things. What took me by surprise, however, was the testimonials. Of all the elements on the website, the testimonials took the most time to put together. A single testimonial would involve four different sections to be updated. Then there was the size of the photographs. The photos on the previous site were tiny, some weighing in as small as 8 KB. That would not do for the new site, but we had hundreds of testimonials and many of them need photos. That's when my great Facebook and LinkedIn scavenger hunt began. I'd look for the clients first on Facebook, then if I couldn't find them, I'd go to LinkedIn. Some of the testimonials go back in time, so clients had updated their photos. I couldn't tell if they were the same people, so I had to read through the bios just to make sure I wasn't putting the wrong photo alongside the name. The only reason why the website got completed in 2018, was because there was no choice We work for about 12 weeks and then we take a break. This means that any sort of project which is ongoing, like the website, gets put on hold. But not only does it get put on hold, but everything else takes priority. We have to queue the newsletters for when we are gone, and also the podcasts. And then we have to queue a whole bunch of newsletters and podcasts for when we get back. However, looking at my calendar I knew that if we postponed it past August, it would never get done in 2018. This is because the article writing course was due to start in August, and that is extremely demanding. After the course, I knew I had a speaking engagement in Australia, and then a vacation coming up. That would mean we would be tossed straight into 2019. It had to be launched before August rolled out. However, all of this frenetic activity had taken its toll I was pretty exhausted and so was Renuka. We decided to take a week off in Fiji even though the website was ready to go. The web developers, Audrey and Mangesh, from were keen to get going in late July, but Renuka was adamant that the break came first. That meant another ten days or so of waiting. But it was a good move. In Fiji, we did almost nothing. No swimming, or snorkelling—zero activity. It wasn't so much a vacation as a change of scene. We'd have breakfast and Renuka would head back to the room, check e-mail and fall asleep. We'd have lunch and we would nap for another few hours. This was pretty much the routine for a week before getting back and setting the launch date for the 6th of August. Even at that point, there were a few hiccoughs I can't remember what we were waiting for, but the cartoon I drew seemed to reflect my mood. And then on the 7th of August 2018, at 10 am, New Zealand time, we were not quite live. There was a “site soon to be back again” sign on the website and we were told to do a sanity check. But sanity was the last thing on our mind. Renuka wasn't in the mood to go through hundreds of pages, or even the most important pages. If things didn't work, we'd fix it later. An hour later, at 11:17 am, the site was live. Three Years and about a month—that's what it took And this is just Version 1. I'm still working on the pages I really want to do. But first, I need another vacation. Those changes will need to wait until next year. Footnote: Now that the website is live, I have to thank the dozens of volunteers from who have combed through several pages and Renuka's inbox is flooded with suggestions. Some of these suggestions are simple typos, but others reflect the sophisticated nature of our clientele. It's going to take several months of work to get through all the suggestions, but that's what needs to be done. we are extremely grateful to all of those who volunteered in, and especially grateful to Audrey and Mangesh, who put up with a lot of stop and start activity over the years. Their business, is really what kept our stress at bay. Without their technical expertise and without 5000bc, this task would have been infinitely harder and we'd still be working on the website in 2020. Next Step: The Psychotactics Story: The Craziness of The Very First US Workshop
September 15, 2018
It sounds bizarre to make your own products, courses and services redundant, but it's a very sound strategy that's been used by companies such as General Motors, Apple—and oh, we've done it for almost as long as Psychotactics has existed. What's it about? Let's find out in this episode. Read on the website: The Cannibalisation Strategy ======= In 1923, Alfred P. Sloan took over a company that was far behind its closest competitor The company in the first place was the Ford Motor Company with a monstrous 60% of the market. General Motors, in comparison, was lagging far in the distance at just 20%. Part of the reason was Ford's Model T, which was far more affordable than what GM was offering. Sloan decided General Motors could never win a price war and so he rolled out a completely different strategy GM rolled out not one, but five different brands. Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac—these were all from the same company but had their own identity and were pitched at different economic brackets of US clients. When we look at what he did, we see a cannibalisation strategy Let's see: how would we describe a cannibalisation strategy? The concept seems more straightforward to understand when we think of software or a specific software like Photoshop. For the past 25 years or more, Photoshop has been through thousands of changes and had about 27 versions. Each version cannibalises the earlier version. Today the program works through a subscription model and upgrades without fanfare, but until quite recently, a new version of Photoshop would effectively be the death knell for an earlier version. It meant that Version 8, would cannibalise Version 7, which in turn cannibalised Version 6, and so on. What Sara is referring to is a concept called cannibalising your product When we brought out The Brain Audit, it wasn't designed to be a version—as in Version 1.0. We were so new to the business that we were happy just to have a book that clients were buying. Nonetheless, the earliest version of the book needed an update, but we called it an upgrade (just like they do with Photoshop). The Brain Audit went from Version 1 to Version 2. And then to Version 3 and finally sits at Version 3.2. With every iteration or upgrade, existing as well as new clients bought into the product. The Brain Audit was cannibalising the previous versions, and all the time, we were getting newer clients and earning revenue. Which is General Motors did very effectively The strategy to overcome Ford was built around how the client would operate. At least in the case of their cars, they'd come back to buy a higher priced brand as soon as they could afford it. What we'd call the upgrade is essentially a concept of cannibalisation. When Sloan took over as president of GM in 1923, Ford was the dominant player in the U.S. auto market Ford's Model T cost just $260 ($3,700 in today's dollars), and Ford held 60% of the U.S. car market. General Motors had 20%. Sloan realised that GM couldn't compete on price, so GM created multiple brands of cars, each with its own identity targeted at a specific economic bracket of American customers. The company set the prices for each of these brands from lowest to highest (Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac). Within each brand, there were several models at different price points. By 1931, a mere eight years after Sloan took over; he combined some excellent financial management and cannibalisation strategy to turn the tables on, Ford. GM had a 43% stake vs Ford's 20%. What do we learn from this seemingly simple concept? When most of us create a program—whether it is a service, a product or course, we're super happy for a while. Then we tend to get bored and want to create something entirely new. And I do this as well. I'll create an Article Writing Course, and then I'll be itching to create a storytelling course, with the fancy name of “Traffic light storytelling”. No one is suggesting you stick to one product endlessly. However, when you go back and cannibalise your product, you create two markets—new buyers and existing clients. The Article Writing Course is no longer on Version 1.0 And clients have not only bought the new version home study, but they may also come back to do the new course online, as alumni. Take the copywriting course as well. That's going through a metamorphosis as we speak and later this year, Version 2.0 will be available. The storytelling course we talked about earlier? That's been done live in Nashville and Amsterdam, but guess who's keen when I announce a newer version? It doesn't mean we don't create new products, courses or products. But it does mean that the existing products and courses are given a significant upgrade. When you get down to writing your course or even offering a service look at it as Version 1.0 And when Version 2.0 is on its way, offer it to clients. And you'll experience what Apple does with its phones every year, or what Photoshop did for years, and certainly what catapulted GM over Ford. Cannibalisation may sound weird to you. Well, then just call it an upgrade. Next Step: Here are a few marketing strategies that work extremely well for small business.
September 8, 2018
It seems natural to keep an eye, even get obsessive about your competitors. However, it's a poor strategy for many reasons. In this episode we make the case for why the competition doesn't really matter as much as you think. And why focusing on them could possibly cause clients to desert you, instead. Here is the website link: Ignore Competition === There is a story about an author who wrote a book The book was incredibly cheap, and as a result, he was able to sell several thousands of them. The competition looked at the increasing volume of sales and decided they could do the same. However, to their frustration they found themselves losing money. The reason why they had such significant losses, was because the book production cost more than the price that it was being sold for. And in this little tale is the story of competition. Most of us are reasonably obsessed with our competition We don't start out that way. When we start out, we are in awe of the people who have already made it. We don't consider them to be “competition” at all. They seem so far ahead of us that they are more like people we admire. We don't feel we need to compete against them. However, in time we make more significant progress, and we see that we are on par with them in several respects. That's when we decide that they are officially competition. It also makes perfect sense to watch what the competition is doing, so that we are not left behind. Which is precisely the point where things can start to go wrong Let's say you're a competitor of Psychotactics. And you notice that we are selling home study versions of the Article Writing Course, the Sales page course etc. And you decide, “Well, I have the same courses, and let me create some home study sales for myself as well”. All good so far, and let's assume you sell a few home study versions, but your sales are crappy. You're possibly selling 2-3 copies a month, and that's it. You are convinced something is wrong with your system and you keep trying to copy what we're doing. You spend hours trying to tweak your website, trying to track down where we're posting and copying what we're doing. You probably did your due diligence in every area, except one. You possibly forgot to ask: What is our goal? Simply trying to monitor the competition is fine for inspiration, but if you don't know why the competition is doing what they're doing, you are simply creating a nasty scenario for yourself. Remember the author who wrote the book? What was his goal? His competitors assumed it was the profit margin from the book. In reality, the author was also losing money, but his goal was not to earn from the sales but to build a client list. That client list then bought other products and services from the author, which is how he made his real fortune. When it came to the home study versions, we too had a strategy Back in 2016, I decided to write a brand new version of the Article Writing Course. That was Version 2.0, and it was built from the ground up. I didn't refer to the earlier notes or audio. I took what I knew (based on the knowledge we'd gained in the last ten years) and put it in the course. By the time I'd completed creating the new version, I was exhausted. So tired, in fact, that I didn't want to do any courses until 2017 Courses form at least a fourth of our income, and not doing the live courses online meant that we'd have to forego that income. It's at this point, that my wife, Renuka, came up with a strategy to sell home study courses instead. Remember, we were already selling home study courses, but they weren't doing so well. The primary reason for the not-so-great sales was that we were promoting the live courses and had no bandwidth on the newsletter to also promote the home study versions. However, once I got super-tired in 2016, there was little choice. It's at this point, that we also made a radical choice We decided to sell only 35 copies of the course even though it was digital. It may not make sense to restrict a sale of a digital product, but we wanted to create urgency and scarcity (something you should do too). In essence, I got taken off the live course schedule for a whole year, and that was our first move. The second move was to create the waiting lists with the urgency and scarcity Two quick moves that from an outsider point of view are almost impossible to decipher. How are you supposed to know that all these micro decisions were taken along the way? How would you know if we got results or not unless I were to reveal the results to you? But if you're a competitor, how can you know all of this detail? It's impossible to know, and so you copy, but it's a blind copy. You're spending so much time and energy trying to work out what we're doing when in reality you should be working on your own product or services. If you really want to monitor the competition, you have a full-time job Sure you can find gaps in their products and services. And yes, you can find out where they're advertising and who are writing about their offerings. You can also track which podcasts or sites they appear on, thus saving time with your own research. You can also maybe, possibly, work out the threats that are headed your way. However, by and large, all these activities suck up a humungous amount of time. In reality, the best form of defence is attack—or co-operation. When you think about it, every restaurant is almost automatically a competitor for another restaurant, even if it doesn't serve the same food. However, at least at the top level, restaurants will vie for awards, rather than go around poking into the kitchens of other restaurants. To get that Michelin star, they have to up their own game. There's often not much time, let alone any point in trying to worry about other restaurants when you have your hands already full. Which is why your efforts are much better used trying to create your own uniqueness, than worrying about what others are doing in your own space. And if you can't beat them, you join them Almost all of our business over the years hasn't been as a result of an attack, but instead from cooperation. All the websites that we've guest-blogged on, all the podcasts we've appeared on, and every event that we've spoken at—they're all that you'd traditionally called “competition”. We don't see them as competition and instead we've worked with them very successfully. Even two of the biggest rivals—Windows and Apple worked together In 1997, Bill Gates invested $150 million in Apple, for shares of Apple non-voting preferred stock. Microsoft was going to support Microsoft Office for the Mac for five years while Apple agreed to make Internet Explorer the default web browser on the Mac. Apple was desperate for cash that the time and Microsoft was able to shoo away the concern that it was getting to be too much of a monopoly. They just shook hands and worked side by side with each other. Does this mean you never have to look at the competition? In reality, you never do. You just have to focus on your clients, instead. Clients have a problem they want you to solve. If you can solve that problem extremely well, there's more than a chance that clients will choose you. All the information you have about the competition isn't going to change the fact that clients will make their own decision based on the information in front of them. Plus the client sees the world differently than we do as business owners. For example, if you were to run a restaurant, you'd likely see other restaurants as competition. Clients don't see the world the same way as we do. They see the marketplace as a choice. A place where they can pick and choose what they like. In terms of the restaurant analogy, they will eat Japanese food today, Indian food tomorrow and gorge on fish and chips on Friday. And it's the same sort of decision making they do when dealing with us at Psychotactics. They will buy a marketing product from us and buy it from some other marketing company next month. Even if you and I have worked at becoming a unique product or service, in the client's eyes, you're mostly just a commodity. If they don't buy it from you, they just go elsewhere. They may find the competition to be inferior and hence come back, which is what most of our clients do. And that's one of the reasons why we encourage them to go to the competition, instead. And yes, I get it. It does take a lot of guts to send your clients to competition but think about it for a second. Aren't they doing it anyway? For instance, Renuka and I drink coffee at five different cafes. Is it because the coffee isn't good at Cafe No.1 or Cafe No.2? Clients are going to buy from the competition anyway, with or without our help. The more time you spend trying to figure out what the competition is doing, the more likely you are to stay a commodity. In my opinion, trying to pay close attention to the competition is a waste of time Too much changes too quickly and by the time you figure out what the competition is doing, they're well down the track. By the time those wannabe authors figured out the profit-making backend strategy, they'd already lost too much time and money. ˇˇNo one is saying you should stick your head into the ground and not pay attention to what's going on around you. However, other than the cursory knowledge of what's happening in the market, it's really a complete waste of energy and time to bother with the competition. Or as the popular comic, Mad Magazine used to write in their slogan: No.1 in a field of one. That's something worth aspiring for. Next Step: Why selling your secrets to competition is a sound business strategy
September 1, 2018
When it comes to testimonials for our product or service, we assume clients have to get to the end. Or do they? The reality is that it's a mistake to wait until the end because anyway clients aren't giving you a review of the entire product or service, but only a small section. But what structure and system do you follow to get a testimonial—or even to get the client to respond to your request? Let's find out in this episode on pit stop testimonials. Read on the website here: Pit Stop Testimonials -------------------- How do you know if the fruit is ready to be picked? According to monk and philosopher, Matthieu Ricard, here's how you do it. “You reach up to the fruit and touch it. You don’t have to pull and break the branch to get the fruit. You just touch it, and it falls in your hands.” Which is fine when you're dealing with fruit, but what do you do when your course, product, workshop or consulting is still unfinished? One of the most frequent questions I get is one about testimonials And clients ask: How do I get testimonials if my product is new? Or they may make a comment which goes like this: The course I created is so new that no one has completed it yet, so it will be a while before I can get these testimonials done. I have one student who is in part 3 (of 3), so hopefully, she will be ready soon. It's easy to see how you can wait forever to get a testimonial—or do you? Let's take both the situations and deal with them separately. Situation 1: You have a brand new product, course or service Situation 2: The product, service or course is not brand new, but no-one has finished it yet. Situation 1: A brand new product or service When I was young, I'd occasionally get to see a movie before everyone else. Movies were only ever screened in the cinema, and to get to see a movie, days, often a few weeks in advance was a rare treat. However, my father seemed to know people who did these early screenings which got us into the movie theatre in advance. However, there were other people in the same cinema hall. Who were these people, I wondered. My father told me they were movie reviewers. They'd get to see the movie in advance; then they'd critique the movie in their newspaper or magazine columns. Not a lot has changed in terms of advance reviews Movies still run private screenings so that they get reviews as do books, software and pretty much most products you can think of. In most cases, if you have something physical or even digital, someone can go through it and give you a review. You may or may not have a list of clients or subscribers. If you do, you can ask them to review your material. If you don't have the list, you may well be able to ask on social media, in forums, or in your networking group. Some of this review process can start earlier than you'd expect Most of us tend to finish our books, tie up the courses, go through from start to end in a training program. And you don't necessarily have to go to the end. You can get someone—even a friend—to help you while you're still putting that course or book together. They can not only be a source of feedback and information, but they can then give you that testimonial. To give you an example, let's say I was putting a course together on cooking Indian food At this point, if you go to the Psychotactics website, you'll see a recipes page with yummy food photos and recipes, but there's no mention of any recipe book or course. Let's say I wanted to create a course or book. I could invite a friend, or people from my networking group, members from 5000bc, or anyone who was interested. Take my friend, Els Jacobs, for instance. We communicate almost daily through Facebook messenger. And I send her some recipes, and she tries them out and gives me her feedback. Now let's say I wanted to get that book or course going, I could get Els and others like her to be on a sort of beta program where they tested the product and gave their feedback. And here's a question for you: Do you think they'd be likely to provide a testimonial sooner than later, even though the product isn't ready? It's easy to believe that a product needs to be complete before you get your testimonial However, let's assume that your product is ready for the market. In such a case, you have to get some early reviews, so that you can put the product on your site or in your marketing material. In such a situation, you have to reach out to someone you know—or some group that you belong to. However, this is precisely the point where things tend to go wrong. You try to get people to review your product, but no one is interested. Several requests later, you've received no response at all. Why should this be the case? Part of the reason is you're asking for too much When you ask people to review your book, your course, your entire long and winded consulting program, you're asking me to put my life on hold, to meet your deadline. Most people simply ignore such requests, because they're already busy. Even the most helpful people shy away from such a complex task. Which is why you make it easier by breaking it up into pieces. In early August, we launched a new version of the Psychotactics site A week before the launch we asked our members at 5000bc if they'd be keen on reviewing the site. What was the response? It was terrific, but why was this the case? The reason for their enthusiasm was two-fold. We promised we'd get them to review just ONE page. And we had clear guidelines as to what feedback we wanted in return. When you look at most people asking for a review, they do just the opposite. They ask their friends or clients to “review the site”, or “review my book” or “give your critique of my course”. Are you surprised there's little or no response? If you really want to get a response, you have to have both elements in place. You have to give the reviewer a tiny piece to review, and you have to give them guidelines—clear guidelines. And that's when you get reviews in advance. Not surprisingly, if you follow this practice of asking for specific feedback on specific sections, you also solve the second problem. This takes us to the part where we look at: The product, service or course is not brand new, but no-one has finished it yet. Situation 2: The product, service or course is not brand new, but no-one has finished it yet. Early in 2016, we launched a three-day Sales Page course workshop in beautiful Queenstown, New Zealand. And six clients made their way from the US, UK and Australia to be on that course. How can you get a client to give you a testimonial for the course on the first or second day? You almost know the answer, don't you? It's not unlike the website review situation. Instead of the client talking about the entire course, they can talk about a section, instead. Maybe they were surprised to find out that the sales page needs to be written from the bottom up and not top down. Perhaps they learned how to create a uniqueness from the features and benefits. Or let's say they understood how they could create bonuses from the bullets. All these three aha moments come through on the first day of the course. Does the client have to wait until day three to give a testimonial? In our case, the clients had flown in all the way to New Zealand and weren't exactly leaving in a hurry, but it's still exhausting to collect testimonials on the last day when your brain is like a fried potato. If anything, we tend to get clients to give testimonials right through the course itself. Some give their testimonials early on the next morning, some in the lunch break and at other times of the day. You see what's happening? The product, course or service is brand new. No one has finished it yet, but why do they have to get to the end? No single testimonial can cover every single aspect of the course anyway. A client is always going to give you just one or two points that were of value to them. Why not ask which part was of value to them? When you do, people will be happy to volunteer. Or you could change the question. You could say, what did you find in Section A that was useful to you? Or what did you find in Section B? Or Section C. This line of questioning causes the client to review what was important and, if requested, they would be more than happy to give a testimonial. Your product or service may be unfinished Or it might be that clients haven't quite reached the end of your book or course. It doesn't matter, because you can still get testimonials if you structure things well. However, there still might be a problem getting a testimonial, if you don't set things up. Let's say you're quite desperate for a few testimonials You don't have people in a room like in a live workshop, so you are dependent on them getting back. Nonetheless, you can improve the odds right from the start. When a client buys your product or service, you can let them know you're keen for feedback and testimonials. Would it be possible to get their feedback early—long before they finish the product? Would they give their feedback on the first chapter itself? It might seem premature—almost like a fruit that's not ripe—but you'll be surprised at how many people say yes, but provided you don't use the word “testimonial”. Unless they know you well, they're likely to want to give a testimonial only after they get to the very end. But feedback? They can give feedback from the very start. While in this feedback mode, they'll also want to balance things a bit. They may tell you what you can improve (which is great for you) but also what impressed or changed things for them. And that's your moment—ask them whether they can elaborate on that point. They are likely to do so, which in turn gives you your testimonial. And there you have it. You usually have two situations where you struggle to get a testimonial. Situation 1: You have a brand new product, course or service Situation 2: The product, service or course is not brand new, but no-one has finished it yet. In both situations, it's relatively possible to get a testimonial well in advance. And strangely, Matthieu Ricard is right. You reach up to the fruit and touch it. You don’t have to pull and break the branch to get the fruit. It’s just “touch it, and it falls in your hands.” You just have to set up the situation so that the client is ready well in advance. And that's how you get your testimonial. Next Step: Find out—The Six Questions To Get Outstanding Testimonials
August 25, 2018
We're all told we should start with the end in mind, but we still get lost along the way. Why do we go off track? Could there be some barriers that show up a lot before the end? Let's find out how we can stop focusing so much on the end and work on the barriers that block our progress. Click here to read this article on the website. --------- There's something incredibly fascinating about the way chefs work. A chef doesn't tend to cook for one person. In a single night, that chef might need to go whip up anywhere between 50-200 meals. And we're not even necessarily talking about chefs you see in fancy kitchens. You can walk into any food court or even roadside food stall, and it's the same story. There's flavour, taste and texture, despite both the volume and variety of the food. It got me thinking: What makes the chef so very proficient at what she or he does? The answer, strange as it seems, is they don't tend to worry about how the dish will turn out. Instead, they seem to obsess about the preparation—the prep work—instead. Let's say you have to make an Indian dal (dal are split pulses or legumes) You're going to need onions, tomatoes, some chillies, ginger and garlic paste and about five-six spices. It's at this stage that the professional and the wannabe seem to have plans that are diametrically different. Let's take the act of chopping onions How do you chop an onion efficiently? Here's what you do: • You cut the onion from head to toe, not through the belly. • If you follow the first instruction, the peel comes off way faster than if you went through the belly. • You then hold the half of the onion, chopping methodically and evenly (but only three-fourths of the way) • Finally, you cross cut the onion, and you get chopped onion that's precise and cooks evenly. A similar amount of preparation is involved in the skill of article writing, as well A wannabe writer will look far into the future, towards how the article is written. That writer might even spend hours wondering how to start the article. But that's not what professionals tend to do. Professionals head right into the zone of prep work. They know it's the preparation—the onions, the tomatoes and the spices of the writing—that's what matters. They work on getting topics together. They then realise that topics are too broad, so they move to the sub-topic and even to the sub-sub-topic stage. When that phase is complete, they get into the act of outlining. Some scribble outlines in a matter of minutes, some colour their outlines with explicit detail. What is the wannabe writer doing at this stage? The wannabe is doing triple somersaults about what's down the road. They're eager to get past all of this nonsensical planning, outlining, topics and other blah, blah. All of this prep work is somewhat of an obstacle, and the sooner they get over it all, the more likely they are to get to the finished work. But any professional will tell you that the endpoint tends to be the most straightforward bit. All of the energy goes into the prep work. And this brings us to a critical point The prep work can be truly exhausting. Writing an outline can take anywhere between 30-60 minutes. That's on top of the time taken for the topic or sub-topic. And that's not counting the story you're going to need for the First Fifty Words. All of this prep work is truly frustrating at the best of times. Which is why the pros always focus on reducing the energy needed for the prep work. They know that if they can shave off the time taken to write a decent outline, they'll go from 60 minutes to 30, from 30 to 20, from 20 to ten—and even possibly just a few minutes. If they work on getting stunningly fast at their preparation stages, the end product takes care of itself If you want to find someone who struggles with their writing, drawing, cooking—or any skill—look at their preparatory stages. They're slow. They're inefficient. They may still turn out a great product, but it's mind-numbingly energy-dependent. By the time they're done with their project, they have to rest, take long breaks. They dread starting up another project of a similar nature. I was that person If you look at my drawing today, you'll think I was always this good at cartooning. And the thing with cartoons is that it leaves a trail. Even if you don't consider yourself much of a critic, you'll see giant strides all of a sudden. At one point, back in 2000, I was already a good cartoonist, but if you look at the work today, it seems remarkably superior. It's easy to put all of this down to practice because most of us don't see the prep work. But today, I put in more prep work than ever. I'm continually adding reference material to my iPad. There are over 800 images that are like ingredients for when I finally start to draw. I'll have several cartoons in stages of progress, all waiting to see the light of day. I'll toss out ideas to my wife on our walk and see how she reacts, or I'll send it to friends via messenger and wait for their response. And I do the same with my cooking. I cook a new dish for every meal. Unlike in the past, our fridge never seems to have leftovers, because we cook and we eat. The process of prep work has become so energy efficient than having stale, and reheated food makes no sense at all. It's taken years to understand what makes some people so incredibly productive. If we're paying attention, we'll all eventually come to an unmistakable conclusion. Prep work needs to be ruthlessly efficient Take, for instance, the Article Writing Course. In the Article Writing Course, the client has to learn about topics, sub-topics, about outlines and the first fifty words. And yes, as a teacher I'm looking at the assignment every single day. But I also want the daily log of the participants. I want to see how long they took to do the assignment. I want to look at how much time they spent on learning. I am more than slightly keen to read about their state of mind. Are they dreading something? Are they overthinking ahead? Are they getting confused by second-guessing? All of this information in the daily log is more important than the assignment itself. It paints the detail of the prep work and how they're going about it. This isn't to suggest that the end isn't important Having a goal, even a hazy idea where you're headed is definitely the way to go. However, it's easy to place all your attention on the endpoint and forget that it's the tiny components that it's the prep work that makes the journey more fun, instead of more dread and drudgery. To finish, let me tell you a story about John Wooden You may have never heard of John Wooden. He was a coach. An excellent basketball coach. In the space of 12 seasons, he won 10 championships with U.C.L.A, putting him in orbit all of his own. John Wooden holds the fantastic record for national championships in men’s basketball at ten. The next closest “competitors” are a couple of coaches who only managed a “paltry” four championships each. But John Wooden had a strange starting point to his coaching system At the start of every season, he taught every basketball player on his team to tie their shoelaces. Shoelaces? Surely there were better things to learn than tying shoelaces. But Wooden did it every year. And he had a reason why he went through this seemingly mindless routine. “Badly tied laces lead to blisters”, he would say. “And well-tied laces mean you don't easily get sprained ankles”. Notice something? Wooden wasn't focused on the final score. Instead, the prep work mattered. Take care of the prep work and becomes incredibly stunning at it, and the end—mostly the end will take care of itself. Next Up: For too long we've treated teaching and learning as an activity that needs endless slides, pages and work. But what if clients get better results having fun? Find out—How To Speed Up Client Learning With The Incredible Power of Infotainment.
August 18, 2018
It's one thing to get attention, but how do you use it on sales pages? And what about articles? Can we use it there as well? In this second part we see how the power of objections work for sales pages, when creating information products and also with articles. It's real, it's practical and it works. Here we go!
August 11, 2018
Most of us avoid controversy because it brings up too much pushback. But what if you were able to get your very controversial topic across and delight your clients? Let's find out how to ramp up that curiosity and controversy-level without alienating your clients. Click here to read online: Ramp up curiosity. ------- Do you know the exact date the Earth was created? If you lived in the 18th century, you learned that the world was created on Saturday, the 22nd of October, 4004 BC. And not just any moment on 22nd October, but “on the beginning of the night”. This idea of the Earth being just 6000 years old is preposterous to us living in an age of science, but back in those times, the only geology textbook was the word of an Irish bishop and theologian called James Ussher. It was in this world that James Hutton came up with his theory of the Earth James Hutton is called the founding father of geology. In 1747, Hutton had just graduated from medical university. He was a bright young man, but his sexual exploits and drunkenness got him in trouble. He got his lover, Miss Eddington pregnant. This scandal caused her to be rushed away to London to give birth, and Hutton went into self-exile from Edinburgh to a small family farm in Slighhouses, Scotland. It was at this remote, damp, seemingly boring place where he came up with the theory of how the Earth was formed. While observing the side of a hill, he noticed bands in the cliff face. Over time, he realised there were possibly hundreds of bands of sediment laid one on top of the other, compacting itself into rock. Hutton's great insight was that the creation and destruction of land wasn't one day in October, 4000 BC, but instead a remarkably slow build up over time. Today, in the world of science we have a term for this slow build up of land. It's called “sedimentary rock”. He mulled over these ideas for over 15 years, trying to drum up enough courage to put them forward. Then in 1785, he presented his radical idea to the Royal Society of Edinburgh The Society rejected his theory almost immediately. And as if that were not enough, the members of the society branded him an atheist. Hutton was God-fearing, and he must have felt the sheer weight of how his ideas were being rejected out of hand. History is full of instances where ideas were too controversial to be accepted. Ignaz Semmelweis concept that washing hands saves lives was considered to be bizarre, Alfred Wegener came up with the concept of continental drift and was thoroughly rejected. Nicholas Copernicus was sidelined because he stated that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe. And we too are faced with scepticism when we present an idea. While our ideas might not be as earth-shattering as these great scientists, they're still very important to us. The only problem we have is that our concepts are controversial. They're ideas that are very hard for clients to digest, and therefore we tend to stay on the safer, more boring side of life. But what if there were a way to present your controversial idea? And what if you could do it in various media. Would it be possible to create an info-product that went against the grain? What about a webinar or seminar that was a bit different from what clients expect? In this series, we'll look at books, articles, and even sales pages and see how you can take on the biggest and most controversial point and give it the spotlight. And we'll do it by using the power of objections. Let's find out how objections work and how and when to use them to maximum effect. Let's do this in three parts. Part 1: Why you should not discard a controversial idea Part 2: How examples, case studies and practical demonstration reduces pushback Part 3: Three real life applications: article, sales page and info-product. 1: Why you should not discard a controversial idea What caused the slow decline of newspapers? If you were to ask this question to most people today, the answer would likely be quite prompt. Most people are likely to say: It's the Internet. The news online is free and can be accessed at will. It can be tweaked to your taste, has video and other interactive content—plus, it's searchable. It's not hard to see that the Internet was the most dominant factor in the decline of the newspaper industry. Except there's a neat little graph that tells a different story If you started the graph back in 1945, you'd notice how the trend heads south. 1955 has fewer readers per household but is better than 1965, which in turn is better than 1975. As you hurtle through the years, the readership drops precipitously as we get to 1995—and the Internet as we know it today didn't even exist back then. In his book called “The Content Trap”, professor Bharat Anand, brings up a concept that we'd consider to be quite odd, if not outright controversial. However, the very nature of the controversy is what jolts your audience to life If you were to read an article on “how to increase prices”, you'd be likely to be interested, but something that talks about “how to decrease your prices” might seem controversial and ignite a much higher level of curiosity. But is this controversy really necessary? Can't we get our ideas across without having to raise hackles all the time? It really depends on the situation Take for instance the formula that most marketers tended to follow. Marketing strategies comprised of finding an audience, a target audience. Once you knew who you were targeting, you needed to state the features and benefits of that product or service. This sequence of events would get you your desired result, or so it seemed. Which is why we ran into instant pushback the moment we started speaking at small events in Auckland and parts of New Zealand. The earliest version of The Brain Audit did have the concept of Target Audience and Benefit, but it suggested that the most important element was the Problem. Not only was the Problem the most important, but it needed to show up before the Solution or any kind of benefit. Controversial ideas don't always land on fertile ground With The Brain Audit, we did get people saying that they loved the idea of the Problem. However, by and large, people felt the entire concept was negative. Why bother leading with the problem? they asked, especially when the solution has worked so well for so long? What if clients respond badly to the problem? They liked the other parts of The Brain Audit, but the concept of the problem needed to go, or so it seemed. The reality is that controversial concepts need to stay When your audience is saying, “this won't work”, they're simply objecting. They're saying, “we can't see how this will work for me, and could you possibly be so kind as to give us some proof?” Which is exactly what Bharat Anand does in his book—and he does so at many levels. First, he pulls out a graph of newspaper circulation per household over the past 70 years. Then, to bolster his point, he talks about a Norwegian media group called Schibsted. Schibsted published newspapers too, and their costs had spiralled upwards while the returns were horrific. They had a loss of over 200 million kroner. By 2011, Schibsted had turned the ship around. Its operating profits were up to about $220 million—nearly 60% of the entire group. Bharat Anand realised that controversy can be a friend When you introduce a controversial idea, there's instant pushback, but also instant attention. The pushback is merely the objection that needs to be tackled. Once he was able to furnish the proof, that attention level morphs into intense curiosity. The reader, or the audience, want to know more because their worldview has not only been changed, but there's proof to back up the sudden change. When presenting The Brain Audit to a sceptical audience, I had the same aha moment I could start off by being like everyone else or could choose to advance the idea of the Problem being the most critical element of all. Which is why I'd go through a demonstration of picking up a piece of paper and crumpling it into a ball. That would get the audience's attention, but then I'd suddenly throw the ball towards the audience. Instantly people would duck or swing their heads away from the oncoming missile. Without too much fuss, I was able to demonstrate that a ball of paper might get their attention, but when thrown at them, that very paper got far more people to react. It's more than likely that you do things that aren't run of the mill They may well be controversial, and it's easy to believe that it's safer to stick to the well-trodden path. However, all that's missing is the understanding of the objection. When James Hutton came up with his theory of sedimentation, sure he was ridiculed, but part of the problem was merely that he couldn't explain several facets of his theory. Granite was considered to be the Lord's foundation stone—the first part of the Earth to be created. Hutton, on the other hand, claimed that granite was an example of a recent development. And, he suggested, that rock had not so long ago, been almost liquid. See the controversy at hand? Sure you do, but you also are hooked into the excitement that would follow if there were proof. And that's why the controversy concept is so very powerful. You push it towards your audience, and they, in turn, push back. They come up with every reason why your idea is nonsense. As you get more objections, you are quickly able to figure out which one of those objections recur with the most frequency. That's gold for you Now you've got controversy, but you also know what's getting the most attention. And then, you also have proof. However, it's not always easy to overcome the sceptic with one level of proof. How much proof do you need and how do you present it? Part 2: How examples, case studies and practical demonstration reduces pushback What material makes up Saturn's rings? Saturn's rings hadn't been a mystery for quite a while. Galileo discovered Saturn's rings in 1610, and by the mid 19th century, astronomers knew that there were two large concentric circles. However, no one seemed to know what the rings were comprised of. And more importantly, why did they not somehow disappear or float away? Over 200 years had passed since Galileo, and the rings were mostly a mystery until the Cambridge college announced a competition to solve the mystery of the rings. However, they also wanted mathematical proof. It's into this space, that James Clerk Maxwell entered Just 25 years old, this physicist decided to take on the challenge, and he did so by the process of elimination. Saturn's rings could either be solid rock or ice. The second hunch was that they were liquid-based. The final possibility was that there were millions of tiny particles. What Maxwell did was working it out by pure mathematics Through maths, he showed that a solid ring would be bunched on one side of the planet. The liquid explanation didn't work either because they would be quickly broken up by physical forces acting upon them. Which led to the final possibility: that the rings comprised of a large number of independent particles. What Maxwell did was to write an equation to tell you how many—yes, how many—particles would be needed to have the system stable. In short, James Clerk Maxwell used the power of demonstration to get his point across. The fact that he used complex maths to do it is fantastic, but it also underlines that we can overcome objections through three separate methods. The beauty of overcoming objections is that you can do it either using just one, or even all three of the methods. Let's look at the methods, first • Examples • Case studies • Practical demonstration. Let's start with examples and go right back to the presentation of The Brain Audit Faced with an onslaught of objections, it was essential to come up with the “roll the paper into a ball and throw it at the audience” trick. However, that was just the starting point. I'd then come up with an example to get across the point that the brain focuses on a problem, first. I'd talk about how you might go out to dinner and let's say you were wearing a white shirt or white blouse. At dinner, there's a bit of an accident, and the pasta on the plate seems to fly towards you. Fortunately, the disaster is averted, and you get a tiny bit of orangy-red tomato stain on that white shirt. The stain is almost pathetically tiny and will easily disappear when you have that shirt or blouse cleaned. However, the stain represents a problem. Then, you get to the state of obsession to somehow clean or at least minimise the redness on the apparel. However, for some, practical examples are not enough However, you could use a second, if you could, right? Which is precisely what I did as well. Because the most significant objection was that the problem represents a “negative view” of the world, I'd ask if anyone thought that weather forecasts were evil. Let's say the weather forecaster was to tell you that a thunderstorm or hurricane was headed your way. Would that be a bad thing to do? Or let's say you went to a warrant of fitness for your car and you were told you'd need to change the rear tyre or you'd have a nasty accident. Would those instances be negative or positive? In every situation, you realise that the audience shifts from the objection zone to moving across to your side of the fence. And all of this is done by simply taking on practical examples that you encounter in everyday life. However, for some, practical examples are not enough Proof—they want proof—and let's make it something that someone has written a paper on. Luckily there is proof pretty much everywhere, if you go looking for it (I hear there are people who you can pay to research for you as well). To get back to the point, I'd found this interesting experiment by Dr John Cacciopo. The late Cacciopo was a neuroscientist ran a test. He showed his subjects three different sets of pictures. The first was a picture of something positive—like a red Ferrari or a delicious pizza. The second picture would be a picture of something mundane, like a light bulb or a plate. The third would be a picture of a dead cat. I'd tell the story of how Cacciopo would record the electrical activity of each participant's cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex, in turn, reflects the magnitude of the information processing taking place. And then I'd tell the audience what Cacciopo found. The brain reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems problematic. Or to put it another way, when faced with a problem vs solution, the problem gets our attention. This cat vs plate vs Ferrari was a case study that quelled the objection but did so from another angle. Which leaves us with the third method—practical demonstration The crumpled paper was one way to demonstrate the power of the problem, but I'd put chairs between a participant and me. I'd then ask the participant to walk towards me. In every instance, they'd swerve past the chair. Why the swerve? I'd ask the audience. The answer was pretty obvious, wasn't it? If you slam into the chair, you could hurt yourself. “The brain sees the chair as a barrier; a problem”, I'd explain. Slowly, but surely the audience would have enough of examples to hold on to, thus getting to understand that as controversial as the “problem” may be, it's the way we do things in real life. It's the way we make purchasing decisions or just about any decision. However, you have to pick your media In an article, you might use an example and a case study. In a presentation, you might be able to have all three: the case study, the example and the demonstration. And when you read the same concept in a book, you could put in all three elements and have even more than one of each. In The Brain Audit book, there's an example of dog poo and Lisa's laptop before it moves to the Cacciopo case study. On the very next page, we swing back to the flashy car vs your 1980s gas-guzzling sedan. And then for good measure, there's a sort of demonstration where you're comparing between economy and business class. Or business class and first class. It doesn't end there There are examples of a slow computer, the weather report, the timing belt or cam belt in your car, and a coffee break. Yes, indeed, so many instances and that's only half the chapter. If you think it must be tedious to read so many examples slamming in one after another, you'll find to your surprise that it makes for easy reading. If you were to pick up your copy of The Brain Audit today, you're bound to be amazed at how the controversy has been stamped out in a simple, elegant manner, by using a lot of examples, demonstration and one solitary case study. Pushback isn't always permanent In most cases, you have to look at the objections as your guiding light. They're telling you exactly why people get edgy when you bring up your ideas. Instead of trying to evade the objections, hug them tightly. Then take those very objections and find the examples, case studies and demonstrations to drive home your point. In doing so, you've done something quite familiar. You've rolled out the stages of The Brain Audit. The controversy is the problem—and we now know that the problem does get the attention of the audience. And the objection quelling exercise is indeed the solution. This happy moment takes us right into the third part: how to use it for a sales page, an information product or an article. Next Step: Have you read the The Brain Audit?Here is an except: Find out why clients buy and why they don't
August 4, 2018
Why do some books, courses or workshops end up becoming so addictive? Is it the teacher, the system, the information, or is it all of the above? In this podcast we look at why your business needs a bit of movement through three precise stages. Those stages are information, results and elegance. Elegance is hard to resist, but how do we get there and how long does it take? Is there any guaranteed way to get to elegance? Let's find out in this episode.
July 28, 2018
We tend to believe that we're more overwhelmed than ever before. Yet look around you and you see people who are doing twice or thrice as much. It's hard to admit it, but often their work is of a higher standard too. How come they're not overwhelmed? Is it because they're more talented, or is there something that we're not quite seeing? Let's find out in this episode.
July 21, 2018
Is it hard to get a client? Sure it is, but how many of us “lose” the client within minutes or days? We may not realise it, but without a very clear on-boarding system, clients simply get confused and leave. Or they feel unsafe and don't consume your product or service. The question is: how do you get an on-boarding system in place and what does it entail? Let's take a sneak peek into what's possible. Click here to read online: Onboarding is Crucial -------------- There are three distinct stages before we order a meal in a restaurant. The first stage is when you're standing outside the restaurant, deciding whether to go in. The second stage is when you get welcomed into the new space. Finally, it's when you first get acknowledged after sitting down; you get a glass of water, and a menu. All of this happens so quickly that we don't realise that every stage is essential. More so, the very same steps have to play out when you're getting a client into a new space, like a membership site, course, or even an offline store. The first stage is before they enter your site or course. The second is how you greet them and the third and equally crucial stage is how you make them feel within “minutes” of entering that new space. These three sequential steps are what you'd call “on-boarding”. Every stage of on-boarding is vital because if we were to go back to the restaurant, would you be happy if no one received you once you entered? And having been assigned a table, how long would you wait before stalking off when you got no service? All of these ideas and this very sequence seems particularly vivid when we think of restaurants, yet we fail to roll out these systems when clients sign up. The importance of onboarding can be boiled down to a single term: safe zone Standing outside the membership site, course or workshop, you are trying to gauge if you're making the right decision. Once you do get in the door, it's equally important to feel as if you're in a safe space. You need someone real to step up to you and take care of you. Instead, what you get is an automatic e-mail that confirms you're in the membership site and then it's just a bunch of weekly e-mails that don't have the slightest personal touch in place. Now wait a sec, no one is saying you shouldn't use automation What's about to follow is how automation doesn't become a crutch but is a handy companion that allows a small business to keep in touch with clients and prompt them to consume what they've purchased. However, depending on automation alone is a mistake. At some point very early after the client has shown up to your “restaurant”, a real person (that's you) has to make yourself available. If you're surprised at where this article is going, it's only because of how a large part of the internet works. They take a hands-off method and wonder why there's constant churn. Which is why they then have to do constant advertising (which in itself takes time), joint ventures etc. to make sure their membership site doesn't look barren. At 5000bc, we like to see ourselves as a restaurant. And here are some of the things that we do within less than a month of a client joining the site. • Tiny increment autoresponders • Cave Guides • Taking Action • Contact individually • Chocolate • Buddy • Country welcome • Video conference • Tags In this episode, we will look at three things. 1. Tiny increment autoresponders 2. Cave Guides 3. Taking Action 1: Tiny increment autoresponders Have you noticed how there's a lag when you're talking to customer support on chat? Let's say you get to a site. On the right-hand side, you see a little button that signals you can talk to someone. You click on the chat button and almost immediately you get a response. It may say something like, “Hi, I'm Maria”, how can I help? You automatically assume Maria is around and start to type your question. It then seems to stall you for a while, asking for your name and possibly a phone number, just in case you're disconnected. Then, there's a lag after you type in your details. So what just happened? I'll tell you what. You were talking to a machine. All that “Maria bit” of chatter was an automatic back and forth and once you got past a certain point, it handed you over to a real person. And for the most part, no one is wiser, or unhappy, but it allows the transaction to go ahead pretty flawlessly. This is what automation can do well, if used intelligently. Which is why we use autoresponders. It makes sure a client gets into 5000bc and then continues to gain from it. Some clients jump right in, introduce themselves and are off the mark right away. Others may not enter right away, and things go on the back burner. It's easy to buy something these days, fully expecting to use it, but then other distractions take over. Hence the autoresponders. There are seven that show up in the client's inbox, over a period. The welcome Meet others Next step Cave Guide Handy tools Two questions What you expected Every one of these autoresponders is meant to do something similar to what you'd experience in a chat. They're designed to engage with the client. It means that in the early stages, you're giving a sense of what's where (it's mostly information). But as you go down the line, you're called to participate and given many options to do so. At every single stage, Renuka or I respond back to the client. If you've ever gotten an e-mail from us, and replied, we write again and keep conducting a conversation, asking questions, etc. It's not just a “here you go, it's automation, and you're in a funnel”. Instead, the emails are designed to help us help the clients to consume what they've bought; to get use of the resources; to find others just like them. Without the automation, it would be too much for a small business (or any size of business to handle). It's a nightmare keeping track of who's been contacted, what they've been told, etc. The automation allows us to give the pertinent information to the client and then to work with them on an ongoing basis. That's the starting point, and there are a lot more elements in place. The second primary factor is the Cave Guides. Why are Cave Guides essential? Let's find out. 2: Cave Guides When I first visited Paris, I got lost for several hours. I thought I knew my way around, so one morning before Renuka was up, I stepped out for a walk. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere, because I couldn't find my way back. What made it worse was I knew Renuka would be up and getting ready to go out for some croissant and coffee, but she wouldn't know where I was, or how to reach me because we never have any data on our phones. Worse still, though I can read French reasonably well, I can't speak much, if at all. It was nearing 9 am, when I had an idea. I walked into an Internet cafe, and typed in the destination. It worked out where I was, and where I needed to go. With a printed map I was able to make my way back in half an hour or less. Google Maps had calmed me down and helped me get back when lost in a new city. Cave Guides perform a similar function in 5000bc When you get to 5000bc, it's a whole new city, possibly a whole new world. At this point, there are hundreds of articles, vanishing reports, and over 322,000 posts of extremely valuable discussions. When a client signs up to 5000bc, they have a heightened sense of anticipation. However, it's very possible, despite their excitement, that they find themselves on an unexpected road, and get lost. Which is where the Cave Guides come in. The Cave Guides are 5000bc members who volunteer to help those who are new in the membership site. A guide doesn't necessarily give any business advice, but instead merely gives you the chance to familiarise yourself with the city. However, it's the feeling of safety that's more important than just familiarisation When you and I get to a new place, we are apt to be uncertain and tend to make mistakes. Some clients will push through, but others may feel silly when they make a mistake. Others still, may not even attempt to make a move as they think they are guaranteed to make an error and be publicly called out. And this fear could be justified as there have been numerous instances where people are made to feel small and insignificant, in the full glare of a large group. Having to deal with one person, and a person that's specially dedicated to being a guide, brings a tremendous amount of safety to the entire exercise. Even seemingly “trivial” questions are asked—and they seem “trivial” to the person asking the questions, but in fact they're huge barriers to getting comfortable in that new space. It's an integral part of the onboarding process Just like in a restaurant where someone is usually around to receive you, you need to have some guide to help you along. If you walk into an Apple Store, for instance, you'll see this level of guidance occurring as well. When I walked into the Apple store for the first time in 2008, I had been a Windows user for years. Everything about the Mac was weird and unknown, if enticing in some way. However, because I could make a quick appointment with someone at the Genius Bar within the store, enabled me to get my questions out quickly and safely. In a course, we have onboarding of a different kind With the cartooning course, there's a fair bit of posting cartoons and linking to be done, which is why the entire first week is about slowing down the progress. The clients get assignments that enable them to get familiar with the forum and how to get their cartoons to display. With headline course, or any other online course, clients are given extremely tiny instructions so they can get through the first week familiarising themselves with their environment and with each other. At a live, onsite workshop in a city, we have a meet and greet the evening before. The clients are often told what to expect the next day, and wherever possible we take them to the room itself so they're comfortable and can show up having gone through a rehearsal of sorts. Being a guide or having a guide is essential for a company When you're selling a product or service, it might seem like a big bother to take so much trouble to get a guide system in place. It might seem that a guide might be betters suited for a workshop or course instead. However, every entry point is fraught with the chance that the client may get lost, sometimes for a short while, but often for hours, just like I did in Paris. That one mistaken turn might put them off getting back and they've lost the chance to be part of your wonderful enterprise and you've lost a potentially fantastic client. Which is why you need guides or at least a guided system that everyone follows. But that guide is still just one step. What's needed is a sense of comfort. How do you achieve this sense of happiness? We find someone who's familiar. Let's find out how it all works and why it's so imperative. 3. Taking Action Way back in 2009, Mackay Rippey (a founding member of 5000bc) made a suggestion. “How about a Taking Action forum?” he asked. That was the start of a journey that's had a ton of ups and downs, but today is the core of creating a quicker onboarding. Why? Because getting into a new community is always scary. There are far more people than you want to deal with. The Taking Action section forms a tiny little capsule where you (and just one other member) can create a bond and move ahead in tiny steps. You'd think a taking action post would be easy for clients, right? It's not. As Nobel Laureate, Richard Thaler says: It's not that people are dumb. It's that life is hard. And taking action is one of the hardest things that a person can do, but also one of the most critical steps for onboarding. Let's take the example of 5000bc first and experience the journey of a client, before heading out to see how it may work in other cases both online and offline. In 5000bc, a client signs up to become a member They do so for reasons of their own, but primarily are interested in relevant information, access to me, priority for courses—but also to be part of a community. The moment they join, they wander in, may add their details and photograph, look around and leave. Will they come back? Sure they will, but to get value out of their membership, they have to come back more often. They have to not only absorb the information but implement it. This is precisely the point where things start to go off course. The client is often too unsure to ask for advice, and they lurk. The key is to get them out of lurk mode, which is where the Taking Action forum comes in At first, the Taking Action forum was just a place where you went and posted your goals. In time, the instructions got refined because it was easy enough to get started, but then lose track because of a lack of planning. When we look at the Taking Action Forum today, it has seven steps. They read like this: Here are the easy steps to play. Step 1: Name your goal. Step 2: List what you'll do. Keep it restricted to 2-3 things. Step 3: List how you intend to do it. Step 4: List how much time you'll spend on it daily x 21 days (this is very important) Step 5: What resources you have/ What help or information you need. Step 6: Start date/finish date. Let's keep it for 21 days. Step 7: Don't miss this step: Get a buddy: It is always good to have someone nudging you along in case you start slacking off. Sean me an email me, and I will assign you a buddy: All of the steps are important, but there's one that surpasses them all Naming the goal, the list, all of that organisation—that's all crucial to the success of the plan, but the most critical element of all is Step 7: getting a buddy. It's obvious when you think of it, right? What does a buddy do for you? You're in an unknown forum, a new membership site and are bound to get lost. You can't depend on the power of the group, but another person—your buddy—is easy to lean on and learn from. Plus, it's easy enough to lose steam when you're trying to motivate yourself. When you have a buddy to keep you going, the very act of knowing someone is waiting nudges you on. The Taking Action Forum works incredibly well in many cases And the reason why it works so well is because it gives the newcomer a tiny space and a friend. That's usually all we need when we enter a website—or at least a membership site. However, the dynamics may change depending on the business itself. In the courses, like the Article Writing Course or cartooning course, the group size is larger at about 5-7 people. The same applies to the group size in live, on-site workshops. And there's a reason why this is the case. When working on an individual goal, the input, often just the nudge from another person is enough. When it comes to learning a skill like writing or drawing, the higher the contribution, the better. Also when the client is part of a group, they're able to see what the others are doing, and most importantly the mistakes they're making. This in turn, reduces their error rate, and it keeps the group going. However, the moment you start to go beyond 7 people in a group, you're asking for trouble. About 7 is just right to create activity and keep the momentum going. Beyond 7 you merely have anonymity and it's not hard for clients to slip away. No matter whether you have a membership site or something offline, you want to get them involved with a human We get so gung-ho about technology that we forget that we're humans first. And that humans seek humans. But once they're done finding the other person, they also want to contribute. And this contribution needs to be towards their cause (their action plan) but also help the other person. The combination of settling in and getting moving is probably the more natural way for a new client to get going, without being too much in the spotlight. The final question is: does it work? For the most part, it does, but it doesn't work automatically. In our case at 5000bc, we make sure that we pair up clients. In the workshops and courses, it's the same. All of this requires a bit of groundwork on your part. When one of the pairs goes missing—and it happens—there needs to be a mechanism in place so that the client can get in touch with you and you can assign another partner. It's easy enough to dismiss this activity as too much work, but it gets clients in and keeps them coming back. Which in turn means you don't have to spend all that time and money—and energy, I might add—trying to get new clients all the time. Onboarding is crucial, and a big part of this onboarding is getting people to know each other and start working on a project. When we started out the forum back in 2009, based on Mackay's request, we had no idea how useful it would be. However, it's been one of the main areas for us and I suspect it will be for you as well. Start up a Taking Action Post to take action on your membership site. Oh and before I go If you haven't yet subscribed: Here are the links to get all the Psychotactics articles, goodies and podcasts automatically. iTunes | Android | E-mail (and get special goodies) | RSS  
July 14, 2018
Testimonials are extremely powerful in solving problems that range from getting the clients you want, to finding your uniqueness. How do you use testimonials to increase conversion or just change behaviour? Let's find out in this episode and get these mysteries out of the way.
July 7, 2018
We might be generous, but are we rushing the act of giving? Often we give people what we want, instead of what they would like to receive. Can giving be less rushed? How can we improve our generosity? In this episode, we find out how we did things wrong, and how we've tweaked the way we give.  
June 30, 2018
Chaos comes visiting every day. Are we prepared to receive it? The reason for stress is a lack of planning on how to deal with chaos. Let's find out how it's done.
June 23, 2018
What happens when your book finally goes out into the world? Gladwell has been attacked time and time again for his chapter on the 10,000 hour rule. But was the attack justified? Or was it all wrong? How do you defend yourself against something you're innocent of, in the first place? Plus, a bonus on how much time it takes for a book to get traction—and more—in this episode.
June 16, 2018
Choosing the title of a book seems to be an almost impossible task. Is there a method or science behind a title that works vs. a title that's just "meh?" And interestingly, when does a "meh" title work just fine. We go deep, but not too deep into how to create evocative titles. If you've ever struggled with a title, here's a system that will work almost every single time.
June 9, 2018
Most of us aren't really sure how to know if our articles are really good, or even if an idea is good. It gets more complicated when we have a story that we love. Does everyone love it too? Malcolm Gladwell shows us how to get precise feedback and do it in a casual manner. Right click here and ‘save as' to download this episode to your computer. Or read it online: Lessons from Malcolm Gladwell ------------------------ What I learned from Malcolm Gladwell- Part 1 When I was in university, all I wanted to be was like Christopher D'Rozario. Chris was the creative director of an advertising agency called Trikaya Grey. However, I soon wandered away from that dream and then wanted to be like Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. But even that dream went into deep freeze as I transitioned to wanting to be a writer and ran into a book by Malcolm Gladwell called “The Tipping Point”. It was my tipping point in a way I loved the way Gladwell wrote, and for the longest time I yearned to know how he came up with so many cool stories. His research seemed exhaustive and to be like Gladwell was one of my big priorities. Then, like everything in life, you move on, and life pulls you in its own current. Even so, recently I watched a series made by about Gladwell on Writing. I went in expecting to learn interesting stuff. I wasn't disappointed. And here in this series, I would like to share with you, six things that jumped off the screen—so much that I made a note of them, even drew some cartoons for a quick reference later on. What are those six points? Candy vs the main meal How to gauge reader interest with conversation The power of juxtaposed titles Why you need to walk away from drafts What to do when your story enters the world And finally, how to read   1) Candy vs the main meal In 2008, I switched to the Mac after almost 15 years of being on a PC. When people asked me why I'd tell them the story of my presentation I'd been doing a series of presentations for the clients of a radio station. Now, I'm like a helicopter mom when it comes to my presentations, but on this occasion, they wanted the slides in advance. To make sure nothing went wrong, I arrived a whole hour before the event and tested the slides. To my horror, everything looked different. “Who's tweaked my slides?” I asked the technician in charge. “We didn't change anything,” said the guy in charge. “All we did was load your presentation through the Mac software called Keynote. When I looked closer, I realised I was looking in admiration at the slides, rather than frustration. If all they did was run a Powerpoint through Keynote and it improved so much, it sure was my signal to fall head over heels with the Mac. This is akin to what Malcolm Gladwell calls “candy” “There's a difference between the meal and the treat,” he says. “It corresponds to the way people talk about things and think about things”. When people talk about things, they tend to strip it down to something smaller, something enjoyable, even tweetable. The reason, Gladwell continues, “Is because the way you think about something is complex, may have several parts, may or may not be contradictory. Or parts of it may even be remarkably difficult to explain. The things you talk about are those you can talk about. The things that are easy to remember or get across. And usually, they're short—tweetable.” Which is similar to the story of the migration to the Mac I didn't want to move to the Mac. I had a whole suite of programs on the PC, including costly Adobe software and painting software like Painter, which were all purchased for the PC. Moving to the Mac would mean I'd have to ditch all of that software or buy new versions all over again. Plus, there were programs like Corel Draw that at the time (if I remember well) worked solely on the PC. To have to make all of these changes were frustrating. When I explain my story about the Mac, there's a lot more that I'm not even expressing in this piece. Instead, I strip it down to the smallest, most interesting story. The story of how my presentation became went from Cinderella to Princess in glass slippers. In effect, I'm giving you the candy version. The candy version is a snippet, but no ordinary snippet. It's a way for the writer to give you something to talk about as well as something to think about. The information—whoa, that's clearly the cerebral, thinking stuff. The candy, in a story, article, webinar—the candy is the fun stuff. Which is why if you look at The Brain Audit, you'll see loads of candy. Let's say you want to talk to a colleague about The Brain Audit. To get the colleague to read the back page of the book, or even the introduction would be too much. But if you have candy, it allows you to talk about the “seven red bags” story. You're not dragging out all the words from the 180 pages of the book. Instead, all you're telling is a short 3-4 minute story. Instantly, you have the floor and the attention, but you've also neatly communicated something. A book must have the main meal, without losing out on the candy The candy is a tool for engagement and helps people sell the idea to their friends or talk about what they've consumed. It could be an analogy in the book, like what you experience in The Brain Audit with the seven red bags, but it could also be part of a chapter when you're explaining about “dog poo” and how it's relevant to how the brain processes “problems”. If you see the Yes-Yes pricing video which shows you how to raise your prices by 15%, there's an explanation—and a reasonably long one too—about pricing. But there in the middle of it all is a coffee and a muffin. When you're talking to a friend and trying to convince her to raise her prices, there's no way on Earth you're going to explain the entire Yes-Yes pricing. Instead, you're more than likely to reach for the muffin and coffee story. And this got me thinking because I like structure. Does every chapter need candy? Gladwell doesn't go into the details, but he gave me candy, didn't he? I had to switch into “ponder-mode” to work out how every chapter could have its candy. Logically, almost every good analogy is candy. Which means you and I have at least a few places where we can insert the candy. Analogies, case studies, examples, even footnotes. To get this act right, we can't just think of books as Gladwell does. What about podcasts? Or webinars (not the yucky sales pitches, but instructional webinars). Or we could even create our own candy version. For instance, at the Landing Page workshop, it seemed like a good idea to create some postcards that would encapsulate the entire workshop into a single postcard. Cartoons would make the postcard really cute, but the postcard also quickly allows a client to show a friend exactly what they learned, even as the elevator hits the “ding” on the eighth floor. Since around November 2017, I've almost stopped eating sugar, but I'll chew anyway into this candy concept as we head to the next idea: How to test your idea quickly and efficiently. 2) How to test your story idea quickly and efficiently. About two years ago, my friend Luca and I were up late at night drinking a bit of Lagavulin. As the whisky drained itself out of the glass, the topic veered to “talent”. Since at least 2008, I've been threatening to write a book, even three books on talent. But on this particular night, I was, for no particular reason, trying to boil down the concept of talent to an equation. From that moment on I have this equation chat with people I meet, discuss it on the forum at 5000bc, and finally, in Singapore, I presented to the audience. It wasn't a workshop about talent. Instead, it was a sales page workshop, but I found it pertinent to start day three with the “talent equation”. And when the day was done, my wife, Renuka came up to me and said: “That's it. I've heard you talk about talent many, many times before, but for the first time I've heard you explain the concept in a way that's easy to understand and implement.” Finally, it seemed I'd gotten to the core of the story. Gladwell talks about how he tests his stories as well Often at the outset of developing a story, he'll tell it over and over again to different people. You know what he's looking for, right? He's gauging interest. Apparently the story is interesting to Gladwell, but do the others find it interesting as well? Which parts interested his listener? When did they tune out? More importantly, when did they change the subject? It what point do they jump in with questions or objections? And also, what do they say next, once you've finished with your story or concept? The reason why all of these questions are so very important is due to the fact that Gladwell is testing the waters. He sees the person in front of him as a stand-in for his eventual audience. However, at all times, you want honesty with the listener's feedback. Laziness rarely helps in such matters. So what's lazy? Laziness in such a situation is texting someone an idea or sending an e-mail. Yes, there are situations where you're in Auckland, and the other person is in Leiden or Singapore. But even so, a face to face conversation matters. Gladwell prefers the direct, in your face feedback, because it brings out the directness. There's a raw honesty when you're right next to the person, rather than separated by technology. Even reading a draft of a chapter or book doesn't elicit the same level of honesty. And once again, we've done this draft reading before, haven't we? We're usually concerned about someone's feelings; we barely have time, we don't necessarily feel we're the right person to ask—and so on. But when someone's right in front of you, you can only tend to take so much. They ask your opinion, and you give your response. It's not necessarily a brutal response, but even if you say nothing, they can gauge how excited you are. Comedians know this factor of instant response to be true Take for instance some clips from The Daily Show with host Trevor Noah. When the show goes for an ad break, Noah chats with his audience. Noah improvises on the spot with a private audience. If the joke gets a lot of laughs, it could then be taken to a much bigger stage. This randomness in telling a story is what gets you great feedback It feels like a conversation, not an audit. And when you're just riffing in the wind, there's a lot less at stake. In effect, Gladwell is saying, “lower the bar, make it easy for them” Just for good measure, Gladwell will pick friends that he bores to death. He chooses people who he knows aren't awed by his status as a best-selling author. They will cut down his story if needed. Which is why he goes back repeatedly with a different angle to the same story. My battle with the “talent equation” story was similar Since 2008, I've been trying to get this idea across that inborn talent—if it exists—is inconsequential. That if you wanted to learn to draw outstandingly well, cook, dance—you could do so in an incredibly short span of time. So well in fact, that people would think you've been practising it for years or are “born with it” Anyway, it wasn't hard to find people who would say things like “you're so talented, I could never be like that”. They look at my cartoons, and at least 50% of the people say just that. Which was like a red rag in my face, because then I'd get into this two-hour discussion with them. At the end of the two hours, they'd either stick to their point or agree with my point of view. But how do I get this idea across in a shorter amount of time? How do I make it more elegant? The only way to get the story to that point of elegance was to keep pushing it back in different forms, over and over again. When I say forms, what I mean is I try and get the same idea across in different ways, using various examples, and different approaches to see which one is more palatable to the audience. Be aware that you're not watering down your concept, or changing it. You're just approaching the idea from a different perspective. And then it's time to test it out with an audience like Gladwell does. Let's take an example For years, I was trying to prove that talent isn't necessarily inborn. This concept would and continues to meet with massive resistance. Over the years, I changed the approach. I started to talk about how “almost children in all countries” draw when they are three years old. And almost all children in all countries are hopeless at maths and writing when they're three, but then something odd happens when they're ten. Suddenly all the kids who were pretty good at drawing, now become hopeless at drawing. And all who are hopeless at maths and writing are now reasonably proficient at it. That's a different approach, and it's something that all of us tend to agree with. However, there's still doubt because we feel that someone else is better at cooking, drawing, dancing etc. So I had to go back and formulate a system where there was no doubt at all. And that system would mean that I could prove, without question, that everyone in the audience could draw well, or multiply at super speed, or be able to speak in the future tense of a foreign language. And all of this had to be done in the space of 10-20 minutes. The concept is the same: talent is not inborn. The approach is different. When you suddenly see a room of 5000 people drawing, speaking and multiplying (and there's no exception), now the concept is on fire. But let's deviate for a second because most of us don't have easy access to feedback from others Gladwell works in New York; he's a staff writer at The New Yorker. Already, being in a big city is an advantage. But to then have access to other writers in a world-class magazine, that's extremely rare. Sure, there are interesting people everywhere no matter if you're in Cape Town, Liverpool or Dunedin, but it's not easy to find such people, let alone get their attention. Which is often where a forum helps tremendously. When I get an idea I want to test; I might put it on Facebook. But Facebook and even Facebook groups tend not to go in depth. The format is clunky because it's more suited to information that's on the move, rather than an archivable discussion. And in 5000bc, the forum is where I put forward my ideas. This article, for instance, is first being written in 5000bc, in the forum. At which point, the feedback comes in pretty rapidly. People like it, or have objections or have read something and drive you to another reference. Yes, the in-person chat is the best of all, no doubt about it, but barring that option, a well-curated forum is hugely beneficial to test your ideas. Even the validity of your headline can be gauged by how many people click on the link to read your discussion. When you do put it out in the world as an article, podcast or chapter of a book, do you know whether the title was exciting or not? Was it just interesting to you or others as well? This kind of information is part of a forum structure, and it's tiny little giveaways like this that give you a scale of how impressive your article or story happens to be. Gladwell urges you and me to pay attention to a specific phrase as well The moment you write or say something that's even mildly interesting to the other person, they want to jump in. They want to be part of the ongoing conversation, and they will utter something like: “Oh, that reminds me of…” and they will go off on a tangent. Listen, listen, listen. Don't pull back to your own megaphone because that person is giving you a lead into another world that you're not aware of. A world that possibly leads to a dead end, but there's often a chance that it will significantly enhance the depth and clarity of your story. Conversation is a bunch of building blocks that we have with each other. For instance, you may say to your partner: I didn't sleep well last night, and they say something about their sleep. And then you go down what possibly disrupted your sleep. Given some amount of chatter,that conversation may get to a point where you realise that all you need to do is to get that White Noise app out and you'll sleep a lot better. When you have a story, you have to do a lot more listening It's a conversation, yes, but it's a specific type of discussion. It's one where you're testing, but also getting their version of what they hear, what they know, the resources and connections they have, etc. Asking someone: “What does this story remind you of?” is a great way to get a conversation going. Testing a story isn't difficult, but it might involve a bit of Lagavulin and a conversation Or it might be just a walk that you take with friends or a visit to a cafe. But even if you can't go out, find yourself a forum where your ideas could be challenged consistently; where you can get objections and resources. And as far as possible do it casually, because there's a higher chance of the other person responding quickly and without too much fear of offence. And that's the second thing I learned. Let's go to the third: juxtaposed titles and why they matter when you're trying to get attention. Next Up: How To Choose Evocative Titles for your Book (Lessons from Malcolm Gladwell – Part 2)
June 2, 2018
It's very hard for most of us to slow down, but what happens when we slow down to a complete standstill? This little snippet is our story of how we got back and were stuck for two whole weeks. Here's the first little snippet.
May 26, 2018
What happens at 4 am? That's a question I often get at Psychotactics, because I've been up for well over 25 years at 4 am. Well, that's how the question started, but you also get a bit of a peek into how the day unfolds. This isn't a business podcast. Instead, it's a view into the world of the 4 am crazy person (that's me). Hope you enjoy the journey.
May 19, 2018
When a client buys your product or service, they obviously like it at some level, right? So why is it so very hard to get feedback? The answer may not lie in the act of feedback itself, but instead in trust factors, formats and follow up .Find out how the simple act of feedback is quite a bit more complex than it seems. And how to make it easier to get the response you need to grow your business.
May 12, 2018
Finding or creating a uniqueness is hard enough all by itself. But how can your small business create a stunning uniqueness as well as defend it mightily from your competition? Tah, dah, you bring on the power of difficulty, both for you and for them. What's the power of difficulty? Find out in this episode that will immediately give you the chance to get ahead of your competition, especially in a noisy marketplace.
May 5, 2018
  Why would clients trust you when you're new and you goof up? This is an incredibly insightful question as clients can be skeptical. Yet, it's incredible how much enthusiasm and results can play a part. Find out how to get a bad start and still get great results. ========== Thanks for this series. I have a question about the initial story. Why do you think those 10 people bought despite your “not perfect” performance? And why did they show up in the first place? Because repeat customers are great, but you have to sell something for the first time to be able to do a second sale, a third sale, and so on.  The 10 people bought because they knew me. That's the short answer. However, that's an incomplete answer, because it's easy to say: Well, no one knows me. However, bear in mind that I was a new immigrant into New Zealand, so I didn't know anyone. When I joined the networking group, I got to know them all, one by one. And of the twenty people that showed up, ten signed up. They were the ones that knew me best and felt I could help them move forward. In every situation, you're going to get a few people The networking group I was part of, had 35 people. Out of those 35, we got 20 to attend. Out of those 20, about 3-4 might have been friends of friends. Those people didn't sign up for anything. The ones that did sign up were those that knew me. And I went with the first ten. I'm sure if I had another event, I could have gotten another set of people to first attend the session, then to sign up to the recurring class. As I mentioned in another post, this method can be used even with a bunch of strangers For instance, the cafe I go to had “barista classes”. You'd go to one class, they'd then sign you up for several follow up classes. I went to a restaurant in the city and they served pasta, but they also have pasta making classes. And both starter and advanced. In short, the answer is to get the trust, give skill or information, or even get them to eat something, and you're more likely to get clients to come back. But you have to have the system in place, first. When you say “they need enthusiasm and a result”, do you mean a result you obtained or a result you promise? They are very different when you are starting. The former is much harder, because since you are starting, you hadn't had clients yet. To sell something—anything—you first need “enthusiasm”. Why? Because sales is a transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another. Without enthusiasm, you struggle to sell. Which is why if you tend to tell people how difficult things are, they never buy from you. In fact, they avoid you. But if you're really enthusiastic about a product/service, people buy on enthusiasm alone. Most clients can never know what they're buying. I'm not saying “they don't know”. I'm saying “they can never know”. Even when the product is clearly spelt out. Let's say you're buying a phone. Or a car. Or a house. Your brain can only process a few details and a lot of detail is based purely on the enthusiasm of the purchase/ person selling the product. For instance, if you get to the sales page workshop that we're having. You may read the sales page. But what are we really doing? How will it be done? How much do I stick to the syllabus? Who will you be sitting next to? What kind of seating formation will we have? There are more questions than answers and they don't even relate to the workshop contents itself. So you can never know. Clients will buy based on their need of course, but they could easily buy some similar course online at a tinier price. The reason why they make the journey is because of enthusiasm (the enthusiasm that has been transferred to them from me). But there's also the second aspect: results. You can always guarantee results. Even at the most basic level you can guarantee results. For instance, you asked why people came to the follow up events my first presentation of The Brain Audit was not very good. The reason was because they got a result. Before that evening, they didn't realise that there were seven items to tick off the list (the seven red bags of The Brain Audit). They also didn't realise that the problem was more important than the solution. Those changes got them to sit back and pay closer attention. And those are results. When you look at the Headline Report on our site, that also delivers results. In 10 minutes you are able to write 3 types of headlines. It's not a headline course. It's not exactly headline university, but there are results. Starting out is not a barrier to getting results. You have to break down your big topic (e.g. everything I know about headlines) into something small that anyone can get, and deliver results.
April 28, 2018
Smaller lists work amazingly well, but there's a big task at hand You not only have to keep clients coming back, but prevent them from leaving as well. How do you do that? At Psychotactics we have many methods and it should give you some ideas as to where you can begin. If you have some ideas, do send them in. ---------- We'll focus on just three things that we can do with our tiny list 1- The first purchase: why you don't need thousands, or even hundreds of clients on your list. 2- How to willingly get clients to buy a second, third, fourth, even ten times in quick succession. 3- Monitoring the connectedness of your community. What makes a society feasible? No doubt, a lot of elements go into the making of a society, but two of the key components are: Are the rest a lot like me? Are they completely different from me? Our lists are small in comparison to most others in our field Our list now hovers around 25,000 people, and probably 5000 people open their e-mail. The membership site at 5000bc has just 600 members. Our workshops allow for just 35 people at a maximum, but often we'll have boutique workshops like the Landing page workshop, and admit only 15 participants. When you consider the size of other lists, and especially those who've been around as long as we have, you'll see there's a marked difference. But how come we're able to do this whole three-month vacation bit, take weekends off, etc. It's because of our belief in the small list, but there's a greater driving force We have community in the sense that's easier to manage when you're smaller. It wouldn't be over the top to state that we've personally met close to one fourth of our members in person. We've interacted with clients via e-mail several times, and on 5000bc, possibly hundreds of times. Even so, the community aspect only tends to work, if the client is willing to pitch in. And they only tend to pitch in, if their two questions are answered reasonably well. Are the rest a lot like me? Are they completely different from me? If the client feels socially overwhelmed, they will not participate in the community. Social overwhelm doesn't come from abnormally large groups. Instead, as one client told me: “I feel about 15 people is all I can manage”. Which is why you need to keep your clients to smaller groups, and for our workshops and training, we might take 35 people on the course, but split them into groups of 5-7 people. That avoids the social overwhelm. Then, we give them structure to introduce themselves to each other and to get to know each other. They get to know the likes, the dislikes—and this reduces isolation. The reason why a society exists is because the group members don't feel extremely different from each other. This fosters a sense of identity with your tribe. And in doing so, it also answers the question: Are the rest a lot like me? When a group is small, and get to know each other, they tend to stay longer The more the connectedness, the more they're likely to pitch in and help one another. Whether you're in business online, or have an offline service—say a clothing firm, or a bakery—there's always a chance to get your audience together. Lulu Melon, the fitness clothing store, for instance, has yoga classes every weekend. Others like the lawyers I worked with, would have seminars and then cheese, and really good wine. And if you're sitting in a land of 64 million sheep, far away from the rest of the world, you can connect with your audience, as we have over the years. To make this work in small groups, we use a ton of methods. Methods we've used so far: A) Offline meet-ups B) Online meet-ups C) Courses online and workshops (but restricted to groups of 7 people) D) Taking Action forum and Cave Guides E) Chocolate from New Zealand A) Offline meet-ups The toughest bit about workshops is all the preparation involved. It's exhilarating for me, as an extrovert, to conduct a workshop, but it's also a fair bit of work because we promise skill, not just a seminar filled with information. Then, to make it harder for myself (and apologies for the “me, me, me”) is I promise to give the notes a whole month in advance of the event itself. This sudden decision was only half the trouble. A workshop needs a proper venue, it needs catering, and because we're pedantic. We fly in at least three-four days in advance to make sure everything's just right. And yet, workshops are astounding at creating communities. Clients who come to workshops get a greater ability and tend to participate more in the membership site at 5000bc. And yet, as you can tell, workshops are well, a lot of work. Which is why we decided to have offline meet ups. B) Online meet-ups A meetup doesn't need a venue. Any cafe will do, though we go to extra lengths to get a nice venue, where possible. It requires no notes, little or no planning and I can sleep well the night before. Believe it or not, a meet up achieves a similar result as a three or five-day workshop when it comes to community building. The meet-ups are usually about three hours long where everyone (and we restrict the numbers to about 15 people) talks to the others, but then I get asked dozens of questions (and I answer them all). That session moves to a restaurant, where people spend two or three hours more, talking and enjoying the company of other entrepreneurs just like them. And in some cases, some have stuck around until dinner, and as you can see, it's a pretty long day for an introvert, but a glorious day for someone like me. Nonetheless, even if you were just to have a meet-up, as Dorothy does, that alone is worth the trouble. Dorothy who? Dorothy Goudie, who founded Dorothy’s Fashions in 1982, decided not to renew the lease on her Neville Street women's boutique and retired at the age of 78. Even so, when the store was going, Dorothy would have her meet ups. It wasn't anything fancy. She'd personally invite her clients to an afternoon of tea and snacks. And in that tiny little act, she managed to get her clients together and form a community. One of the best ways to get clients together is to have an offline meet-up, yet your clients may not be local. In which case, an online meet up is what's needed for sure. Online meet-ups We live in New Zealand, and yet we travel the world, so it's relatively possible to have meet-ups from time to time. However, the offline meet-ups were so well received that it made perfect sense to take the concept online. That way we could have clients from different countries and varying time zones getting to know each other. Think of a meet up much like a webinar, especially since you're going to be using webinar software anyway. Getting clients together to just talk to each other and interact with you, is slightly different from meeting over beer and coffee, but there's no reason why it can't be fun. Some clients will not turn on their video, some will not show up on audio either, but my guess is that almost everyone will say hello, at least on chat. To straddle east and west, we've had two separate time zones. This takes us to the third method of getting clients together—courses online. Most clients are delighted to meet in small groups. The bigger the group, the more they lurk. It's well worth having several sessions, rather than one big nameless, faceless group. C) Courses online and workshops Courses are a great way to get clients to interact. As explained earlier, we start off with a group of anywhere between 25-35 people, but they're in groups of no larger than 7. Why 7? Because if a couple of people go missing for a few days, you still have a discussion going between 5 people. If you have a smaller group, say of 5 people, and two go missing, it's just down to three. That's a bit too close for comfort, and hence 7 is a good number for a group. However, we've found that this number can then be pared down to as small as two per group. If you have a final couple of weeks, you can pair people off, and they work very well. A similar concept can be used for on-site workshops creating bonding between the group as well as between two specific individuals. Is it possible for someone to request a move to another group? Of course, it is, and it doesn't happen often, but it's easy enough to make a move, if needed. Which takes us to the Taking Action group in 5000bc. D) Taking Action forum and Cave Guides The big reason for joining a membership site like 5000bc is to get a consistent level of progress. Or in many cases, just to be heard and have someone to hear you out. That's what 5000bc's Taking Action forum is all about. Once again, it can become quite isolated, except for the fact that we pair up clients. Just having another person listening to what you've achieved helps you come back and get progress. And yet again, it's a bond that forms between clients. There are also the Cave Guides and the Elves. The Cave Guides are there for those who've just joined and need a helping hand around 5000bc. The elves, on the other hand, come out and volunteer when we go on vacation thrice a year. They keep watch over the place and pitch in if help is needed. E) Chocolate from New Zealand One of the most intimidating aspects of the Internet is the inability to connect with the owner of the site. It almost seems like you're interrupting them at some level when you write in. The chocolate bar sent with a hand written card, all the way from New Zealand makes a huge difference and a connection. Some people suggest we get a service to do this task. And perhaps print a card and send it off. Yes, all that advice is very efficient, but let's focus on why we're doing all of this in the first instance. It's about connection. The moment the client gets a chocolate bar, they usually write in. Clients send photos of their family and of course the chocolate bar (but often just the wrapper). You may sit around and drool at the thought of big groups In reality it's just that the grass looks greener on the other side. You can run a perfectly profitable and sustainable business. You get to stay close to your family, to travel when you need to, have lots of downtime and to run a business like that's not chasing its tail. Best of all you don't need a big group at all. You grow your audience organically and systematically. But most of all, fish at your feet first. Keep the clients you have and they'll help you grow as they grow too. That's pretty much it. Part 3: Why Smaller Lists Work Just As Well As Big Ones
April 21, 2018
Does a big list guarantee success? You know the answer to that one, already, don't you? Your small business isn't going to grow exponentially because you suddenly have a big list. Yet, in many ways, a smaller list has the potential to do better than a big list. Find out how to start ignoring the sound of “big lists” and work with a tiny list, instead. -------------------- Does a big list guarantee success? You know the answer to that one, already, don't you? Your small business isn't going to grow exponentially because you suddenly have a big list. Yet, in many ways a smaller list has the potential to do better than a big list. Find out how to start ignoring the sound of “big lists” and work with a tiny list, instead.
April 14, 2018
Is there really a cure for perfectionism? How can you make your work far superior in a shorter amount of time, often moving ahead of your peers? The answer lies in nature. In this episode we look at two different kind of plants: the monkey puzzle tree and the campion flower. The monkey puzzle tree stands for perfection, but the campion flower is able to make 120 dramatic changes while the monkey puzzle struggles with perfection. Interesting? Find out more in this episode and get rid of your perfection sooner than you think. Read the article online: -------------- You've probably heard of the Monkey Puzzle tree. The Monkey Puzzle tree is a conifer that grows to 40 metres (130 feet) and may live for hundreds of years. Yet, there's a bit of a problem because the tree doesn't reach sexual maturity until it's 40 years old. Compare the Monkey Puzzle tree with a Campion flower and the flower looks puny at just a foot or two. But here's where it all gets very interesting. The Campion flower reproduces within just four months. This means that while the Monkey Puzzle tree goes through a single generation, the Campion flower goes through 120 generations. And with every generation, there's a possibility of a genetic mutation. That mutation that may give it some slight super power to help it survive and thrive. The speed of the lifecycle means one very crucial thing: The species can adapt to rapid changes in the environment. There's a far greater chance of them getting better, hardier, different and possibly superior. Perfection, on the other hand, doesn't allow for speedy turnarounds Many of us like the idea of perfection, toiling away at our work, in order to reach a seemingly impossible goal. And like the Monkey Puzzle tree, we put ourselves at a disadvantage that's may seem hard to measure. But in reality, it's relatively easier to measure, and that's exactly what we've done on our courses like the Article Writing Course; or when training our niece, Marsha. We've seen speed work better when learning to cook or learning to draw cartoons. And yet this isn't a clarion call for shoddiness. In this series we'll explore the importance of speed vs. perfection, while also giving a nod towards really outstanding work. But is it all about speed? Doesn't a lack of speed play its role? All of this information is about to follow, so stay tuned, little Campion flower. How speedy progress reduces drain on energy Marsha, my niece, was struggling in maths in Year 4 and seemed to be almost at the bottom of the class. Four years later, she won a distinction in maths for being among the top performers in the class. This year (five years later), teachers routinely call on her to evaluate and help with corrections of tests, plus she often gets called to the board to demonstrate how she solves a problem. And you might have an inkling how Marsha was able to make this dramatic turnaround Yes, there's hard work, and there's good mentoring. In fact, on IXL alone (which is an app for maths learning), Marsha has solved over 18,000 problems. Staggering as that figure might seem, there are two ways to get anything done. The first way is to be slow and methodical. The second way is to beat the clock. In a Psychotactics course, clients are trained to beat the clock When you're conducting a live course at a venue, it's easy to monitor what clients are doing. However, the moment you conduct a course online, it's impossible to tell how much time and effort is being put into a project. You don't get to see the drafts, the cancellations and the huge volume of edits. All you ever see is the finished work. However, on Psychotactics courses, we have a simple bunch of questions that need to be answered every single day. One of the questions are: how much time did you take to finish this project? In order to answer the question, it's important for the client to monitor the time. Which is why it concerned me deeply when one of the clients wrote her answer, after doing her article writing assignment. “Three hours”. Three hours? Three hours for an article? I'd imagined my instructions were clear enough. That you needed to get the job done as quickly as possible, but I wasn't counting on the perfection monster. It's not hard to imagine the state of that client.—let's call her Candidate No.1. Perhaps she started the assignment at 9 pm, after an incredibly hard day. At midnight, the article is still not perfect, but she's too tired to argue with her drooping eyelids. She hits “publish” and the article is done. On the other hand, we have Candidate No. 2 who rigidly follows instructions and stops typing the moment the clock strikes the 90 minute mark. Whose article will be superior? The article of Candidate No. 1 or No.2? The answer is that they're both not very good. When you're just starting to learn to draw, write, dance or draw cartoons, you know approximately where your ultimate goal lies. As broadcaster, Ira Glass says: You have style. You know what the finished product looks like but there's this gap between what you would like to see, and what you can produce right now. Hence, both the articles are usually very early versions of a good article and nowhere close to amazing. Yet one person has taken three hours while the other has stopped diligently at 90 minutes. Who's going to be more tired? Who's going to make more mistakes as the fatigue sets in? Who's going to be struggling both at work and to complete the assignment the next day? And what about the day after next and the day that follows it? The Campion flower comes to mind, doesn't it? It's all very fine to aspire to be a Monkey Puzzle tree and soar at 100 feet or more. However, the Campion flower concept is what we all need to get there. Which is exactly what Renuka did with Marsha's maths tuition. Instead of considering her situation, which was pretty dire four-five years ago, she simply gave her an assignment and used a timer. Invariably the mistakes would soar at the start, but all the mistakes were made in a precise amount of time, giving Marsha, a chance to recover. The brain learns a lot while doing the task, but the downtime is just as, if not more vital, in the learning and implementation process. Whether it's cooking a meal or completing a project, you should be a Campion flower This goal is important, because it allows you to make a huge number of mistakes. Skill, or talent, is really a reduction of errors, so you need to make the errors and then reduce or eliminate them completely. If you take your time over a project, you can only make a fixed no. of errors. Which is why, on a course, on in a workshop, I encourage clients to do their assignments quickly, rather than perfectly. Which means that if a client were to do their assignment early in the morning, they could get a correction, possibly many corrections within an hour or so. By their break time they could fix their minor errors while having a cup of coffee. Then at noon, another correction later, they could fine tune their errors (after I corrected their third or fourth tweak of the assignment). By tea time they could have gone through four or five drafts, and with every submission, they'd have fewer errors to fix. However, only the first submission would be lengthy. The submissions through the day would be shorter, and we'd be tweaking nuances which don't take too much energy or focus. Now compare this with ol' Monkey Puzzle client The client who waits all day, mulling and toiling over his work. When he finally submits it, late at night, he misses out on all those nuances, but more importantly from an evolutionary point of view, he's barely budged at all. Ironically it's the speed that has created more errors, more genetic modifications to the skill. If you're trying to be perfect, your Monkey Puzzle submission is the worst possible way to go about it. Energy is crucial when working on any project Creating versions, or tiny bits, to a fixed deadline and moving on to the next version might seem like a pretty idiotic method to go about your work. However, the main point of this article is that your work will not improve dramatically if you put 200% more time, or 300% more time. If, on the other hand, you create more versions of the same job, you will almost always see a fairly dramatic improvement. Even when we are struggling to learn or implement something, we are almost always able to come back and do the same thing better, the second time around. Let's say you're recording a YouTube video or a screencast. Not one of us is surprised to find the third or fourth version to be superior. If you're asked to take four different pictures of an object, you'll find yourself composing the picture a tiny bit better in the second, third, or fourth round. Even in the movies, they do many takes, not because they have money and time to blow, but because the versions improve with every take. Instead of trying to labour onwards with your first version, it's almost better to move on to the second and third and fourth—and to a deadline. The problem is we often look at projects as a whole For instance, you see yourself as writing ONE article, doing ONE podcast, writing ONE book. However, the bigger picture is far more important. What if you had to write an article a day? Or a book a month? What would you do differently? The changes you'd make would all be energy-dependent. You'd work in short, intense bursts, improving as you went along. And you'd proceed to create a greater volume of work, and far, far superior work than your peers. Doesn't painstaking work count? Yes it does. You want to do outstanding work and take loads of time over it. However, just working as a perfectionist, means you're going to just manage a single version of your work. If two people: Person A and Person B were to start the same assignment on the same day, the person that lavished more attention to their work would have a much better result. However, that advantage would not stay in place for long. Within a few weeks, Person B would be far ahead of Person A. And just remember one thing. What you consider to be imperfect is often just your own perception. If the client or the person receiving your work is happy with it, there's really not a reason in the world to be a perfectionist. If you truly want to do outstanding work, you have to be Person B most of the time, occasionally slipping back to your Person A perfection level. The greater the output, the better your work is going to be, especially if you take feedback as you move along. Marsha moved at a high speed, but the program always gave her feedback. The students on a course move quickly and they get feedback just as rapidly, thus allowing them to make big changes. The painstaking work is great when you have the luxury of time. Ironically, that time never seems to be on the horizon, so we have to improve even as we battle deadlines. One more point and we're done I really struggled to write this article. I wrote one version, then cancelled it. Then another version, and that too was deleted. In fact, I ditched well over 1000-1500 words including some really nice stories because I realised they didn't fit. However, I had a deadline for this article. And right now, I'm seven minutes over the deadline. Which is why I must stop. In short, you make your revisions, learn from the feedback, but then there's a deadline that you can only overshoot by a tiny margin. After which you have to hit “publish”. And that's exactly what I'm going to do in about three seconds. Three, two, one… Epilogue Let's face it. If you consider yourself to be a perfectionist, well, you'd have spent almost all your life being told, or telling yourself that you're a perfectionist. You're probably trying to shake that habit, but it's easy to see why it's easier to stay in your comfort zone. Well, here's what psychologists suggest If you want to break out of your comfort zone, you stretch yourself ever so slightly. If you're labouring over a single article for several hours, how about spending half the time getting to the same goal? Your work may not be as perfect as you hoped, but it gives you a chance to get feedback and to improve your next article. If you're struggling to do one cartoon (correctly, of course), how about drawing just two, getting feedback and drawing even more in the given time? It's easy for an article like this to suggest that you need to take a big leap That massive jump may not be possible. Instead, take a smaller one—just a slight stretch goal. Set yourself the time in which you'll complete the job, stop, and get feedback. Then, tomorrow, do the same. If you follow this simple formula you'll find yourself less exhausted and with more energy. However, the biggest benefit of all is you'll become far better and far quicker at what you're doing. And that's what you wanted anyway, didn't you? You wanted perfection! So there you go! P.S. Oh, and print a picture of the monkey puzzle tree! Stick it on a prominent place where you can see it, just in case you forget. And don't look for the perfect picture. Any picture will do. Next Up:  How to use procrastination to your advantage
April 7, 2018
Are habits a matter of routine? You'd think so, wouldn't you? Yet, there's a bigger factor in play that goes beyond a cue and routine. It's called the Reward. There's just one problem: how do you put a reward? And how do you know it's the right reward? What should you do if you want to motivate a client, instead? All these answers wait for you in this episode, plus a hidden factor that goes beyond cue, routine and reward. Check it out.
April 1, 2018
How do you make your articles or sales letters more interesting? Analogies and stories always increase the drama and attention span. Yet, it's hard to find and craft interesting stories on a regular basis. Or is it? Find out how you can use three simple and effective ways to craft a ton of great stories and analogies. ======== Writing Salesletters or Articles? How to Ditch The “Tired” Analogy I remember how I always groaned when my father started to tell his story of “how he drew a kingfisher”, when he was just a boy in school. I loved the story, but I'd heard it so many times, that the thought of escape always crossed my mind when he'd start up that story. The reader experiences a similar “groan moment” the minute you start up on an analogy that they've heard before. Analogies like how you learn to ride a bicycle, drive a car—these are tired analogies These analogies are boring for the reader, no matter if you use it in a sales letter or in your article. So how you decide when to ditch the analogy? Or better still, how do you improve it so it's not so “tired” after all? Let's take an example In the book, The Brain Audit, there's an analogy of standing near the airport carousel waiting for your bags to be unloaded from the flight. So what's interesting about that situation? Well, for one it's not something that you hear about a lot. It doesn't have that ring of “when you learned to ride a bicycle”. And so, by merely changing the example, your analogy becomes slightly more interesting. But what if we wanted to make it even more interesting? This is where the power of the personal story comes in. Imagine yourself waiting for the bag. What happens? What happens next? What ups and downs do you go through just waiting for those silly ol' bags? In The Brain Audit, the bags aren't just bags—they're “red” bags. And there aren't just “red” bags, but there are “seven red bags”. And the story rolls out where one of the bags goes missing. As you can tell, this isn't just some tired analogy, but something that's slightly riveting. You want to know what happens next. You want to know how all of this then reconnects to the story. So the key to writing better analogies is to write a personal story first Put yourself at the airport. What did you do? What happened next? And next? And yes, I know I said this already in the last paragraph, but can we have some ups and downs as well as you're relating the analogy? In fact, the moment you dip into a personal story, even a tired story of riding a bicycle comes to life. About the best way to sidestep a boring analogy is to use a personal story. In fact, let's take an example of a personal story. Only an idiot would learn to cycle like me. Most people find the safest, flattest area to learn how to cycle. Not me. I decided to learn on slopes filled with red mud. Every time I fell—and I fell a lot—the mud would graze me badly. And of course, learning on a slope means you're tempting gravity all the time. Yet, long after the wounds have healed, the learning of how to ride the bike has stayed with me. But what if you don't want to tell personal stories? Well, turn the personal story into a “YOU” analogy instead. Tell the personal story but without using “I”. So the story would work like this: Why would anyone be insane enough to find the most difficult cycling course? Most people find the safest, flattest area to learn how to cycle. But imagine you decided to learn on slopes filled with red mud. Every time you fell—and you do fall a lot—the mud would graze you badly. And of course, learning on a slope means you're tempting gravity all the time. Yet, long after the wounds have healed, the learning of how to ride the bike has stayed with you. Notice how the analogy isn't tired, isn't personal and still seems like an amazing analogy? If you're ever reaching for a tired analogy, the first recourse would be to simply find something that's unusual—like the “seven red bags” story. However, an even better strategy is to write a personal story because personal stories have this inbuilt oomph factor. Should you feel shy about revealing the personal story to your audience, all you have to do is simply tweak it a bit. Put in the “you” into the story and you have a great analogy. Analogies can be used not just in articles, but also in books, presentations and sales letters Some of the best writers and marketers know the power of the story and analogy. And they use it very effectively to drive home several points throughout their marketing or editorial material. And they mix it up a lot with analogies and stories, while the amateurs simply write yucky, boring stuff. Tired analogies are for lazy writers. Be not sloppy. Be not boring. Put in the power of story in your analogy and let the “groan” go away, today! Next Up:  The Power of Story Telling Do you know how to put that Zing-Kapow in your articles (with story telling)? Find out right here in this three-part series on Storytelling! .
March 24, 2018
Why do clients leave? It seems odd, doesn't it? When you ask a client why they join, they seem to suggest it is all about information and content, but then they inexplicably leave. They seem to suggest they need either better content, or they need time to implement the content. But that's rarely the case, as we've found out. The need is far greater and we've all experienced it. Clients leave for a very obvious reason that you're never going to find in analytics software or surveys. Listen to find out more. Read the podcast online: Why Clients Leave. --------------------------------- Ok, so it has always bothered me why clients leave. And when that thought crossed my mind, I was sitting in the cafe—the very cafe I'd been avoiding for well over a year or more. So now I had two thoughts: why do clients leave? And why did I return to the cafe? In case you're wondering, the answer is not “coffee”. And if wasn't the coffee, then it had to be something else, right? But let's leave the cafe for a second and go online—say to a membership site, instead Let's say you belong to a membership site and the membership fee comes up for renewal. Why do you stay? Or why do you leave? The obvious answer is: it's the product or the service, right? And yet when we look at membership sites all over the place, there's really no shortage of content. No matter how grotty the site, there's usually way more content than you can browse, let alone consume. Videos, audio, articles, reports—they all swarm around you with increasing intensity. If the content were really the problem, you have no problem, do you? So let's take another angle There's too much content, and you really can't absorb it all. You've had your fill, and you now need to buckle down and focus on your business. Even if you have received advice and answers to your questions; even if your business has indeed gone ahead, you still need some breathing space to implement all of that information. We say it, but we don't mean it, do we? None of us has time. We didn't have time yesterday, or last week, last year, or even in the last decade. Time marches on to the sound of a jiggling rumba beat, and there's no way we can stop that time parade. So it can't be the focus or the time off, because the moment we've left the site, that information will cease to exist, but some other stuff will replace it. And that's when I finished the foam of the coffee, and I got my “bfoto” Yup, that's short for “blinding flash of the obvious”. People, clients—they don't leave because they need time to focus; or because they're not getting enough content. Most of the time they don't even leave because they need the money. Unless the relationship with the site or the coach is just crappy, it makes more sense to get good advice and pay the fee. If it's not the money, or the content, or the time, what is it? It is the “people”. To get back to the cafe story above, we were regulars at the cafe about two years ago. However, back then, we knew a lot of the people at the cafe and by people I mean the staff. Then the manager, Justine, left and took some of the staff with her. Suddenly the place wasn't so appealing, even though nothing much had changed. Two years slipped by, and we avoided the place. One day early this year, the current manager invited us in. She assured us we'd get great service and the coffee we were used to. And suddenly we're home again. We got to know the current staff, they know us, and it's like nothing's changed. The bfoto—or blinding flash of the obvious is just “people” When asked why we buy products or services, we often give a logical reason. We reel out the features or the benefits, but in reality, it's the people. It's the reason you and I have a preference for a particular petrol station, when all petrol stations have the same product, at approximately the same price. It's the reason why we don't care for rotating hairdressers or barbers, choosing as far as possible to go to the same one every single time. I know it's evident that people matter, but how does this play out when you consider the field of marketing? And what are you supposed to do if clients are starting to leave even when you're doing your best? The plot thickens. Stay tuned. We noticed something very odd in the courses we conduct online The online courses, like the Article Writing Course, is remarkably difficult, and rightly so. You're trying to compress a skill that usually takes years, into just 12 weeks. This intensity means you're going to have several sleepless nights, have to do assignments, interact with the group. Wait, interact with the group? Isn't learning about the teacher and the student? What's this group nonsense about? And if you look at the data, the data speaketh plainly. It says: those that interact with the group do two things consistently. The first being they finish the course and show a far higher skill level than those who don't interact with their group. The second point is that clients, having done one course, then show up for a second course; then a third; buy many products and services; come to offline events, and so on. The ones that don't interact with the group, and merely do their assignments don't exactly fall off the face of the Earth, but they're—and I hesitate to say this—less skilled and more likely to leave, or find it harder to go on (for some reason or the other). Africans knew this a long time ago In Africa there's a saying: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a group. However, when you look at the saying, or the course, or the cafe, what you see repeatedly is the interaction with people. We are really like a herd of elephants that want to travel together, as far as possible and not some lonely leopard sitting by itself on a tree in the middle of the Himalayan foothills. We want to be together, or at least to know each other. The blinding flash merely is that if you don't get people to become part of the group, they will get less of a benefit, pick up fewer skills and finally find they need to leave. We've found this phenomenon to play out repeatedly in our business If clients come to a workshop, they meet. And at Psychotactics we don't have this thousand person, 150 session seminar. We have boutique workshops, which means you don't take notes; but instead, you work on your project and the projects of the group (yes, here comes the group again). And in doing so, we find that clients come back repeatedly not just for the workshops, but also for other products and services. They've connected with Renuka and me, that's for sure, but they've also connected with each other. Which is why we started having paid meet ups You noticed the term “paid”, right? We tried having free meet ups, and they just fizzled and died because it's easy to look out the window, see the rain and climb back into paid. A paid meet up leads to commitment, and you get a 90-100% turnout. Anyway, the meet ups had the same effect. The more people met, the more they knew each other and the more they then interacted in 5000bc. The interesting bit is that they didn't just interact with others they'd met, but with the rest of the members in 5000bc. And as you'd expect, a phenomenally large number of those we've met in person are still members of 5000bc. Some have been members for ten years, some have been around for 15, while others are newer. It isn't to suggest that longtime members are people we've met with or interacted with on a live course. If you're looking for a magic trick, it's right in front of your eyes: it's the people. What should we do at Psychotactics to increase this interaction? What are we currently doing? Quite a few things. The first is the chocolate bar, the second are the e-mails, the third is the Taking Action forum, the fourth is the welcomes when you join—but instead of a list, let's find out how it all works. And yes, let's find out what else we can do because there's a real downside when a client leaves or doesn't participate. If you look way back to the tribe, you'll notice that every person in the tribe could bring knowledge to the fireplace. When that elder didn't participate, the group was poorer. Or if a participating elder died, that group's learning and interaction were greatly impoverished. Going alone sounds pretty cool, but it's terrible for the group, and it's crappy for the individual. We're not done yet. I'll be back to explain how we use and how we can use the people interaction for mutual benefit. Oh, and you know how it's frustrating when you don't have examples, lots and lots of examples, well, “don't you worry”, there will be examples galore. Let's move to the next part, shall we? But before we do, let's take a little detour into what makes people happy. Robert Waldinger is the director of a project that should have been abandoned a few decades ago. He's the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is possibly the longest study of adult life that's ever been done. Over the past 75 years, the study tracked the life of over 724 men, year after year, deeply digging into their homes, their lives, their health and one more thing. They were also asked how their life stories would turn out. A study like this is extremely rare, because funding tends to dry up, the researchers get bored or the people involved in the study die. Yet this study is still going and still has about 10% of the original participants still alive and well into their 90s. And what did they learn? The real happiness came from something extremely boring: good relationships. Yup, that was it. 80% of today's millennials, when surveyed, want to be rich and at least 50% want to be famous. Yet, the thing that people figure out over time, is seemingly mundane. It's that we crave relationships most of all. People who are socially connected to each other are physically healthier and live longer and happier lives. Secondly, the quality of those relationships matter. Toxic relationships don't count for much. And the third big lesson that they learned about relationships is that good relationships don't just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. It turns out that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your is protective, that the people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people's memories stay sharper longer. But what has all of this got to do with your business? It's the “bfoto”: the blinding flash of the obvious. We all want stuff, don't we? We want to be rich and famous, but most of all, we want to feel wanted. All those phrases of “no one is an island” or “love me or hate me, but don't ignore me” comes into play. And this feeling of being wanted goes right to the very root of our happiness. UC Berkeley psychologist and author Dacher Keltner. When Pixar was doing research for the movie, Inside Out, they needed guidance from an expert on emotions and they turned to Dacher Keltner. Anyway, here's what Keltner said in an interview with Shane Parrish from Farnam “The connection, you know, happiness, our sense that life is going pretty well, is strongly driven by three things in the vast scientific literature now. One is the positive emotions we’ve been talking about, like mirth and laughter and love and sympathy. Another is how you handle stress and negative emotion. The third is social connection“. We are so focused on adding content, playing with technology and dancing with keywords that we forget to work on the most basic (and most wanted) human emotions of connectedness. Advertising and great salesletters are important to get the client to become part of your clientele or community, but it's what you do next that makes all the difference. Keeping clients is—at least to my mind—the most important part of a function of how you go about connecting them, getting them to talk to each other and help each other. And voilà we are still going to have some people that leave, but by and large, people want to stay. This concept applies to every job most of us have ever held Most of us get into a job for economic or prestigious reasons. Even so, even when the money or prestige is great, we feel like chumps and long to find another job if the company isn't great. We long for the people and the connections and to be treated with dignity and respect. This “bfoto” is something almost all of us have experienced if we've been in a job somewhere. And it applies just as profoundly in your business. But how do we go about creating this community and connectedness? Let's find out what we are doing at Psychotactics and maybe you can add to the list as well. it would be great if you added what you're doing, to the list as well. And why you're doing it. But first, let's check out what we've done so far and how it has helped. Next Step: Have you seen your customer back out of a deal at the very last minute?The Brain Audit  is a complete system that enables you to understand what's going on inside the brain of your customer. It's a system that is based on a deep understanding of how our mind works.
March 17, 2018
The very moment you announce a waiting list, it seems like a nerve-wracking decision. Is it going to drive clients away? Or will it work? The odds are it will fail if you don't consider “segregation” and “creating attraction”.
March 11, 2018
A waiting list seems to be both a barrier and an enticement The problem with waiting lists is that they fail, and fail miserably if you don't get the elements right. So what are the elements that contribute to a really smart waiting list?
March 4, 2018
How do you instantly grow your small business? How do you become “rich” overnight? These are the frustrations we have to deal with, almost every single day as we wade through the temptations of the internet.
February 25, 2018
Is negotiation a skill? How do you win when your back is against the wall? When negotiating will aggression help or should you use something else, like questions? Questions play a role, but nothing does the job quite like calibrated questions. In this second part of negotiation strategy we find out exactly the questions you need to ask to get the information you need to get your negotiation to work out stunningly well. You can read the article online here: ---------------- The three negotiation concepts we'll cover are 1) Going too fast—and why you need to slow down and listen. 2) The power of labelling—and why it validates emotions. 3) Calibrated questions—a way to completely remove the attack mode and get the opposition to give you vital information. If you're a cartoonist and want a job as a copywriter, how do you get that job? This was my dilemma around the age of 20. I'd finished university, and my dream was to become the top copywriter in the city I lived in—which was Mumbai, at the time. There was this peculiar problem, of course: I didn't know much about copywriting. To smoothen my entry into the world of advertising, I did a class, which loosely promised a job in an ad agency, but it was just a hot-air promise. No one got a job, or not at least one with the big agencies. And I was impatient. I can't remember the details, but there I was sitting in front of the creative director who was leafing through my cartoons. She looked up and said: “You know there's a difference between cartoons and copywriting, right? I agreed, but it wasn't a time to be coy. As most negotiators will tell you, there's a way out of any negotiation, if you know what to ask. When FBI and other international negotiators get on a scene, the situation is already way out of control. Their job is to somehow, get a nutter to give up hostages; and to surrender. In short, their job is simply to win in a situation where winning seems implausible or even impossible. Which is why Chris Voss talks about calibrated questions Calibrated questions are easy to dismiss as everyday open-ended questions, but they're pretty precise in how they get the discussion moving forward. They're designed first to acknowledge the other side (that's always super-important). Once that acknowledgement is achieved, calibrated questions get you to introduce ideas and requests that would generally seem pushy. It edges you forward. Instead of getting all riled up, a question that's calibrated swings the problem across to the other person. In the book, “Never Split the Difference”, the author gives a range of questions you can choose from However, most of the questions he recommends you work with, are simply “HOW” and “WHAT” questions. Quite by chance, this is approximately what I did back at that early meeting with the creative director. I asked her: What can I do to be a part of this agency? How about I work for free for a month and then you can decide if you want to pay me, or I can decide if this agency is a good fit? The questions seem pretty mundane, and even silly when you think about them, but they get outstanding results. Voss insists that calibrated questions have the power to educate your counterpart. It brings the problem to the fore and completely defused the conflict. Calibrated questions aren't random at all. Once you have a conversation going, or if you've decided how that conversation should move, you design what and how questions that make the other person think it's their idea. Of course, when I was sitting in front of my potential boss, I had no idea I was asking intelligent, let alone calibrated questions, but they were “how” and “what” questions and I was hired. Without pay for a month, as you'd expect, but I had a job in Leo Burnett, one of the largest agencies in the world. The same kind of questions apply to most negotiations because they get the other side to explain their situation You start with “what” and “how” and completely avoid the “why”. Why is very confrontational so barring rare situations (which Voss describes in the book) you stick closely to “what” and “how” questions. Which is what I did when we were negotiating the fence issue earlier this week. • What about this is important to you? • How can I help to make this better for you? • How would you like me to proceed? • How can we solve this problem? • What are we trying to achieve here? • How can we look at this in a completely different light? What if we could put in a hedge instead of a fence? Notice the tenor of those questions? They're all about the other person and their agenda. And you almost appear subservient. You're not even asking “what can “WE” do to make this better. You're asking what can “I” do? And only once you've moved along do we get to “we” solving the problem. Or “we” trying to achieve a goal. The scene outside my dining area was complicated. The builder didn't want to leave out the space that was owed to his client. The client didn't want the area to become a problem when she developed and sold the property. In short, there wasn't even one person to deal with, but a range of people, some of whom weren't even on the scene until they bought the property somewhere down the line. Even so, being calm and working through the problem got the builder to progress from, “We are sorry, but there's no way out,” to pitching in with a whole bunch of very workable solutions. The trees at the far end weren't going to be touched. The apple and the pear espaliers (which grow on the fence) will be removed in the dormant winter season in June. Even the big tree that's in the way will have a skirting around so that it doesn't have to be cut down. In short, the builder got precisely what he wanted, including every inch that was on his client's property, and we got our trees, our fence and yes, there will be some minor inconvenience, but what a good solution, wouldn't you say? The calibrated questions led the way at all times As we went through the questions, he showed me his plans, explained his situation, worked with me. And though we went for the win, and not the win-win, both of us ended up getting whatever we wanted and without any fuss or aggression. The key to your success is to make sure you stay calm at all times and ask the questions. However, one question did make me a bit queasy. That question was “how am I supposed to do that? “How am I supposed to do that?” seems anything but an open-ended question. It seems like someone who has the upper hand would simply snap back and say: I don't know. You figure it out. However, that's not what happens. Once I went through the above questions, I blurted out the last question too. And I was amazed at the response. Instead of telling me to go take a hike, the entire set up of questions before this one caused the builder to be even more helpful than before. In the end, we shook hands on a decision that we both loved and went our merry ways! The next time you're in a negotiation, use just three of them and see them work like magic, though I'd add the fourth one about creativity too. It helps the other side come up with a slightly different point of view, especially if you give an example. However, here are the three questions and the fourth that I added to the mix. • What about this is important to you? • How can I help to make this better for you? • How would you like me to proceed? • How can we look at this in a completely different light? What if we could put in an “x” instead of “y”? What? How? And no WHY. And on that happy note, let's go to the summary. But here's something even more interesting. “Never Split the Difference” is almost like a layer over The Brain Audit. It handles the conversion issue in almost an identical way. Let's find out how these two books almost match each other, shall we? Negotiation Summary 1) Going too fast—and why you need to slow down and listen. 2) The power of labelling—and why it validates emotions. 3) Calibrated questions—a way to completely remove the attack mode and get the opposition to give you vital information. With The Brain Audit, you're likely to be using it more in written material, whereas negotiations tend to swing to words and situations. I think that's the core difference between these books (from a bird's eye view). However, the book had more than I could chew off, at least after going through it twice. So I worked out three core aspects: 1) Labelling. I moved very quickly to labelling the situation. 2) Calibrated questions: I used only three and a half: important, better, proceed (and the half was: how am I supposed to do that?). 3) Information gathering with two parties: I listened and made mental notes (and Renuka came along). The listening with two parties (and Renuka didn't say a word) meant she picked up stuff that I didn't hear at all. And she also was able to see things from her perspective, because I was too focused on working with the other person. The match with The Brain Audit. Often, when you read or listen to a book, the information either seems old or new. Old, as in, “I already know this stuff, so it's slightly boring, or at least not very groundbreaking”. Or “new” in the sense that you're learning nuances, and you have to pay close attention to what's being said. For instance, there's a tiny nuance in the calibrated questions: e.g. How can “I” make this better for you? which moves to “how can “we” solve the problem? The nuance is so tiny it's easy to miss unless you pay close attention, or someone points it out. Either way, whether you consider the information to be old or new, you're always working out how to implement the information in your own life, your own chat with a client, or when you have to negotiate something like a lease or rent. Which is why, when I listened to this book for the first time, I missed a lot of the information. Then, the whole fence-dispute started up and I was instantly focused on trying to speed up the learning and implementation. I downloaded the Kindle version of the book and marked it up (I have special software for the iPad, which I'll cover in a future series). Even though the negotiations are mostly over, I'm listening to it once more. Even so, I didn't realise how much this book fit with The Brain Audit, until I was being interviewed for a podcast. During the podcast, me being me, I stopped talking about The Brain Audit and went on to talk about “Never Split the Difference”, instead. And I realised something pretty cool. The books are almost identical from a bird's point of view. Let's see what Chris Voss' book really says: • Listen to the person • Ask them calibrated questions • Mirror what they are saying • Slow down and listen • Label their emotions What do you find in The Brain Audit? • Listen to the client (and fix an interview) • Ask them calibrated questions (the questions in the target profile interview) • Mirror what they’re saying by writing down their exact words on your sales page • Slow down and listen (don’t talk, just ask questions in the interview) • Label their emotions. How does it make them feel? Do they feel like hostages, in a way? Why? The Brain Audit, has an almost identical layer as FBI procedure, it seems You have the target profile; you ask them their problems, you listen carefully to their version of the solution. You write it down on your sales page. Mirroring, slowing down, listening all the time. You have now finished the first section of the book, which gets the attention of the client. Then you move to the second part of The Brain Audit, where you're reducing risk. In “Never Split the Difference”, Voss talks about “the objections” and how you need to destroy those objections, thus building trust. Objections equal risk and removing them becomes a crucial part of dealing with people who are not seeing things your way. You may not see the similarity between a kidnapper and a client, but they're both in objection-land and their objections need to be reduced or completely defused if you are to reach a solution. I haven't figured out how testimonials or case studies figure when dealing with terrorists or bank robbers, but they do reduce risk for a client. As I listen to the book for the second time, I'll keep my ears peeled. Finally, you have risk-reversal, which everyone wants. How are you reducing the client's risk? What guarantee will the hostage takers have when they walk out that door? Will the building project go through on time, or will there be a stall because of the fence? The risk-reversal needs to be in place for progress to do its thing. And finally, uniqueness: why you? Why not the other negotiator? Why should the client buy from you, and not from your competition? The similarities hit me like a thunderclap I simply hadn't seen the two overlap in so many ways. I was excited to be on the call, and even more excited to get off the call and listen to the audio as I went for my walk every morning. And that's just what I'm going to do today and tomorrow and for the week to come. And it's what I'd suggest you do too. Listen and read both books. They're really cool, but more than anything they're result-oriented. They get you and your client to a common goal. Negotiation is about information. So is writing sales pages. How cool is that? Special Bonus: The Brain Audit: Why Clients Buy And Why They Don’t Click here to get an excerpt of The Brain Audit.
February 18, 2018
Imagine you're dealing with a terrorist or hijacker who has captives and threatens to blow up everything if you don't agree with his demands. How would that knowledge help when negotiating with a boss, a client or perhaps your own kids? And how are you supposed to remember the negotiation steps? That's exactly what we'll cover in this episode—you'll get to hear how we applied the negotiation skills we learned (and got to a perfectly great settlement). Listen away!
February 10, 2018
Is it really possible to get a surge in sales with products? And are product sales similar or different from services? In this episode, we go exclusively into the sale of products. But more importantly, you get to see where you need to dig to create the power of your headline and how the consequences that follow make a massive difference. Listen and read this episode. You'll enjoy it.
February 4, 2018
So much effort goes into the launch of a product, but what happens next? How do you handle the calm after the launch? How do you keep selling products on an ongoing basis? These are the questions we tackle in this episode as we get rid of the "post-launch" blues. Read the article online: How To Sell A Product When There’s No Scarcity Factor
January 28, 2018
How do you sleep in an exceedingly noisy environment? How do you beat jet lag? These are some of the questions we've had for years. This episode shows you how we've stumbled on a few nifty tricks to make travel so much better. Read online: =========== My friend loves egg curry And though I've learned over the years to make complex Indian dishes like biryani, peeling a humble hard-boiled egg seemed to be beyond my control. So here's what I did. I tapped the egg dozens of times so that it looked pretty much like a parched field. Six eggs probably had six hundred fragments with that insane tapping of mine, and it took me about half an hour to peel six eggs. Then I went on YouTube and found that all you had to do was tap the egg once on the kitchen bench and roll it forward and the entire peel would unfold in a matter of seconds. That's tip. A nifty tip. And since we travel so much every year, we've picked up some of these goodies along the way. Let's take on four of them. Some of them we've been using for years, and some we picked up just on this vacation to Sri Lanka and India. Here are the four, all in a row. 1: How to entirely sidestep jet lag 2: How to sleep soundly in extremely noisy environments (without earplugs) 3: A travel app that sorts out your entire sequence (especially if you have a complex set of journeys) 4: Why travel agents are invaluable (even though you can book everything on the Internet). 1: How to completely sidestep jet lag In 2010, we conducted a series of workshops based on The Brain Audit. It seemed simple enough. The first three- day workshop was in California, the second just outside Washington D.C and the third in Vancouver. There was just one problem. All three workshops were in a span of approximately two weeks. This meant that we had to fly economy (we fly exclusively business now, but back then we flew economy) from Auckland to California. That's a distance 10,492 km and 12 hours. We conducted our first three day workshop in Campbell, California and then flew to Washington D.C. You see the problem unfolding, right? The time difference between Auckland and California can be between 3-5 hours. You land in a different time zone, have little or no time to get used to the difference and you're off to Washington D.C, which is three hours ahead. And Vancouver? Yes, Vancouver is three hours behind. All of this meant that we were zipping back and forth between time zones, and bear in mind we had 3 workshops to conduct and no time to get used to jet lag. Except there's where our first nifty trick comes into play It's called No-Jet-Lag. They're tiny little pills you take every two hours on the flight. So if our flight was 12 hours long, we had to take 6 of those pills for the journey. There's just one problem: homeopathy isn't supposed to work. The dosage is so tiny in any homeopathic prescription that most doctors will tell you that it's a sham. Do we care? Of course not, because for years we've been having these pills on flights, stepping out on the other side and getting right into the time zone. To give you an extreme example, we were speaking at an event in Sweden in 2017 Sweden is the “polar opposite” of time zones for us, because there's about a 12 hour difference. We flew from New Zealand to Copenhagen, Copenhagen to Stockholm and the entire trip, if I recall, was 39 hours door to door. The day after we landed, I was to give an hour-long presentation at around 3 pm. If you do your calculations correctly, that's 3 am New Zealand time (plus you do have to wake up, shower and go through some practice runs). We don't have the time or the energy to argue with whether homeopathy works or not All we know is that we travel a lot every year, crisscrossing the globe for work, but mostly on vacation. International travel is tiring and No Jet Lag won't help you with the tiredness. It's like being in a car. If you travel 12 hours, it feels like 12 hours. However, you don't feel like you've changed so many time zones. For me, especially, this is important, because more often than not, a Psychotactics workshop will be three days long. It's one thing to get on stage and give an hour long speech, but quite another to be on your feet (and awake) for three whole days. There are no doubt, many methods to beat jet lag One ex-air hostess said she doesn't eat or drink anything on the flight. Sorry miss, but we love our champagne and the food helps us pass the time on these very long trips out of New Zealand. We've used No Jet Lag since 2004, and it's worked just fine for us, so we'll stick to our weird little formula. There's one downside, however No, it's not to do with the ingredients. Instead it's more to do with keeping to a plan. Before I leave, I set alarms on my phone to go off every two hours until we reach our destination. That way I can be sure we don't miss the two-hour cycle. Apparently, you can take it every four hours if you're asleep, but not many of us sleep for hours on a flight, hence the alarms keep us on track. The instances where these tablets haven't worked is when we've been sloppy and popped them whenever we feel like it. Like this trip, returning back from India. We didn't keep to an alarm plan and we were waking up at 3 am for about a week. Do your due diligence and you're likely to still be exhausted, but at least nicely ensconced in the new time zone. No Jet Lag is made in New Zealand, so pretty much every medical store and travel store has it on display. If you go to their website at, you can find out where it's available. Try it. And that's it. Our first nifty travel tip. The second one is pretty cool, though because noise is just part of travel. How do you sleep soundly in extremely noisy environments (without earplugs)? Get ready for a story that you're just not expecting. 2: How to sleep soundly in extremely noisy environments (without earplugs) Let's assemble some speakers, shall we? Let's take a speaker, the size of your desk. Then let's add another speaker on top. Then just for good measure, let's add two more huge speakers on the other side and turn them on at full blast. Do you think you'd be able to sleep through the night? When we travelled through Sri Lanka, we ran into some exquisite hotels and villas However, nothing was quite as nice as Apa Villa. A huge mansion-like villa, it seemed to be surrounded by forest. Almost without fail, as you were seated for breakfast, you'd have wildlife of all sorts not more than 50 metres away. Monkeys, peacocks, monitor lizards and the occasional mongoose, they all were part of this jungle scenario. And in the middle of it was Apa Villa, in all its luxury—but mostly, quiet. Quiet that we luxuriated in. Then on the last day something happened that would shatter that quiet The place had been rented out for a big, noisy party that would start at 9 pm and go on until 7:30 am. And those speakers, that wall of speakers, was aimed right towards our room. And where there's a party, there are people drinking, talking and getting louder every minute. Except for the fact that we mostly slept through most of the noise. The secret is white noise The moment this concept is brought up, most people nod and smile. They know what white noise is all about. It's a sound created by say, the hum of an air conditioner. Or the sound of the sea. However, most people don't think of battling noise with more noise. Instead, what they tend to do is try and reach for earplugs. Which, if you're someone like me, is a pointless exercise. Not only am I a light sleeper, but I damaged my right ear, using cotton buds when I was younger. I can't sleep with anything in my ear as it just hurts. Enter the white noise app We turned it on loud, to the sound of rain. At first, it might seem too loud for your ears, but your brain soon adjusts to it. And in doing so it tunes out the rest of the noise almost completely. Think of it as being at a party. Someone across the room mentions your name and your attention is instantly focused on that person, instead of paying attention to the discussion right in front of you. White noise—and yes, there's an app for it—does exactly that function. It helps your brain focus on the rain—or whatever sound you prefer, and tunes out the rest. We slept through the party in Sri Lanka We slept through the noisy clatter of feet in Leiden, in the Netherlands. We even slept with a jackhammer going outside our hotel window in Goa, India. Few hotels in the world have true soundproofing And the more you travel, the more you realise how much you crave silence on your vacation. Well, there you have it. Battle noise with white noise and you'll have a restful sleep. In fact, don't just use it on vacation. You can even use it at home when your neighbour has decided to create his own wall of speakers to party through the night. 3: A travel app that sorts out your entire sequence (especially if you have a complex set of journeys) Many people go on vacation from Point A to Point B. If that's the case, you don't need much help, do you? However, if your travel plans are a bit like ours, you're going to need a bit of help. And incredibly, that help is free in an app called TripIt. The app works like a really efficient secretary. As you book hotels, cars, and other elements on your vacation, you tend to get an e-mail with the confirmation. All you have to do is forward that e-mail to TripIt The moment you forward it, it will collate all the information from that e-mail and order it sequentially in the app. This means if you're headed to Auckland on Thursday, via Air New Zealand, then staying at an Airbnb, and picking up a car at 2 pm, the app will slot all of these activities in chronological sequence. All the details, booking numbers, directions—anything contained in the e-mail will all be put in neat little sections so that you can dig deeper into your reservations as well. If you've forgotten to book a room, TripIt pays attention As soon as you open the app, it nudges you with a paid link. You are likely to ignore the paid link, but it's enough of a red flag to get you book your accommodation for the night. If you choose to opt for their paid service (which isn't much at $45 or so, per year) you'll get a lot more features that all help the frequent traveller. If you're not a frequent traveller and just a complicated traveller like me, then the free version works just as well. But what about your privacy? Obviously all of this information is sitting somewhere in a server. Someone could get all of this information and use it for nefarious purposes. They know where you're going, what you're doing, etc. Isn't that dangerous? Yes, it's dangerous, but if someone really wants to track where you're going; if they're really motivated, there are many ways to get that information. The moment you start booking things online; or rather the moment you went online fifteen or twenty years ago, your privacy was private no more. There's always the option of keeping all the information in a printed format with your passport, but if you're into digital apps, this is the way to go. That's nifty trip no.3. Shall we go onto 4? 4: Why travel agents are invaluable (even though you can book everything on the Internet). Travel agent? Isn't that a profession from the last century? That's what I thought until I ran into a travel agent at a party. We got talking and later when I got in touch with him, I realised that the Internet wasn't the friend I thought it was, after all. For years, Renuka and I have been booking our air tickets and hotels online. Imagine my surprise when I realised I'd been paying a lot more by going online. Granted, our trips can be extremely complex, but even so, I was shocked at how useful the travel agent happened to be. Not only was he able to save us money, but help us avoid a lot of needless arguments A single vacation can involve several hotels, connections etc. And if you're zigzagging, it's not easy to find connecting flights or even airlines that you prefer. These days, all I do is e-mail the travel agent, and a few hours later, with no work whatsoever, on my part, he shows up with all the flights I need. Just to make things easier, he knows we hate to catch early morning flights because it means you've got to wake up even earlier. Many of our flights take off around 11 am or noon, or even later, depending on where we're headed. In short, the travel agent's screen is entirely different from the one you have at home. Instead of burning through an entire evening trying to get the flights and hotels you want, an agent takes over all the hard work for you and gives you a quote. Agents know you have Google They know they can't randomly throw in high quotes. At first, we got some incredibly unintelligent agents, but in time we did run into one who understood our needs and was able to make the bookings quickly, effectively and at the prices that worked well for us. This agent also looks at my schedule and will make suggestions. For instance, he told us to avoid spending more than a couple of days in a city in Europe because the city was boring (it was). It's the little bits and pieces, the little suggestions that make a good travel agent worthwhile. Plus if you get stuck, things change, while the other passengers are lining up, a travel agent can quickly make changes for you. Walk into a travel agency today if you're planning a trip. You might be amazed at how much time and energy you save in the future. And at no extra cost either. And there we have it, our four nifty tips. 1: How to completely sidestep jet lag. You do it with No Jet Lag. Remember to set your alarms before you leave. 2: How to sleep soundly in extremely noisy environments (without ear plugs). Get a white noise app. Most of us would sleep soundly to the sound of falling rain. 3: TripIt is a travel app that sorts out your entire sequence (especially if you have a complex set of journeys). Every single part of your journey is mapped out in handy screen. No need to dig through a dozen e-mails. And you can often use the information on TripIt when checking in at airports. 4: Travel agents are invaluable (even though you can book everything on the Internet). You may never have considered a travel agent recently, but I am totally hooked. Our travel agent has saved us hours of needless searches, gotten us out of boring places, made bookings in places where everything is seemingly full and done it all without any extra charge. I don't know about you, but that's magical. That's pretty much it. Bon Voyage! Next Up: No one thinks running a small business is easy But even so, there are forces that pull you in all directions. These forces almost seem to tear at us as we go through our daily work. Find out the answer here: How do you cope with the forces of small business?
January 19, 2018
What is the hallmark of great content? When you start writing articles, you get advice from all sides. But there's advice you don't want to hear. It's advice that goes against the grain. And yet, it's this advice that forms the hallmark of great writing. So how do you get from average to great? You take the road less-taken. It's harder and yet far more satisfying. Here's advice you probably don't want to hear.
January 12, 2018
The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere This is an elaboration/review of the book by Pico Iyer. How do you slow down? What do you mean by going nowhere? And how can we slow down with our busy business and family life?
January 5, 2018
Why do some landing pages work while others fail? The core of a landing page lies in picking a target profile. Yet, it's incredibly easy to mix up a target profile with a target audience. And worse still, the concept of persona comes into play. How do we find our way out of this mess?
Presenting the target profile mistakes we make and how to get around them quickly and efficiently. And create a landing page that attracts the clients we want.
December 29, 2017
In this episode we look at the relationship between energy management and time management. In the modern age we are expected to be on the go continuously; working while on holiday, being ever available for phone calls and e-mails etc. By the time we get to the end of the working day we often find we have no energy. Is there a way to not only have energy for work but also remain energized during our time outside of work?
December 23, 2017
Listen in to find out how you can receive a surprise Christmas gift!
December 22, 2017
Which is the most frustrating part of an article? Yes, it's the First Fifty Words. We get so stuck at the starting point that it's almost impossible to go ahead. But what if there were not just one, but three ways to get your article going? That would be cool, wouldn't it? Well, here you go. Not one, but three ways to start your article instantly.
December 15, 2017
Many of us believe that smartness comes from learning the skills in our own field. And yet, that's only partially true. We can never be as smart as we want to be, if we only have tunnel vision. So how do we move beyond? And how do we find the time to do all of this learning? Amazingly it all comes from limits. Find out more in this episode.
December 8, 2017
Even if you have the best idea in the world, analysis-paralysis can stop you in your tracks. You feel frozen, not sure what to do. So you research. Then you do some more research and educate yourself even more. But that doesn't get you very far, does it? Even famous people like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo would get stuck in this mode, just like you. But they still went on to create great art. So how do you create great "art" as well? Find out and beat the analysis-paralysis once and for all.
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