“Just because the tide is out doesn’t mean there is any less water in the ocean.” – Seth Godin
"Life gives to all the choice. You can satisfy yourself with mediocrity if you wish. You can be common, ordinary, dull, colorless, or you can channel your life so that it will be clean, vibrant, useful, progressive, colorful, and rich.”— Spencer W. Kimball
Originally posted on BizNinja.org on April 14, 2011
This picture was taken just over a year ago in the lobby of the hospital where my youngest son had just been born. I was sent to the cafeteria vending machines to find something palatable for the tired mother of my adorable baby boy. My sister, who is so sweet, dropped off a Jamba Juice so I had to put things down in order to figure out how to carry it all.
No Food Allowed
I understand that a hospital is a place where crumbs may not be wanted but the rest of the rest of the lobby was a ‘food ok’ zone. This table, with its free magazines and hospital fliers was apparently worthy of this custom made tent placard.
Break The Rules
There are times when obeying the rules is a good idea. Not smoking at the gas pump is a great rule to obey as is not climbing into the lion exhibit at the zoo but sometimes it’s important to break the rules a bit. Our school systems teach kids that the only way to get a good grade is by memorization and not sharing. The real world is a lot more open and comparing notes during a test in life is usually a great way to get to a better solution.
Don’t go breaking any laws and say that ‘that guy on the internet’ told you to. Instead pay attention to situations where you feel your inhibitions stop you from taking a step towards a worthwhile goal and break the rule you previously made for yourself that said you don’t take risks. Scared of speaking in public? Join Toastmasters. Never tried Sushi? Call me and I’ll take you to my favorite place for the Tyler Roll. Been waiting to apply for that big promotion? Take the leap. Break the rules. It’s your turn.
Originally Posted on BizNinja.org on March 28, 2011
I was reminded of this picture from last year when I went to my mailbox today and found business cards stuffed in the front of each box. Most of the cards had already fallen to the ground and been blown around. The picture above is of a real estate agent’s flier that was designed to be hung on a front door. It was blown down the street in the wind where it landed on my car and got wet in the rain that followed. The flier got stuck to my car, the colors bled and it took a wax and buff in order to get the ink removed from my car.
Littering is NOT Advertising.
I will never call this real estate agent with the desire to do business because he littered my neighborhood. When you’re looking for ways to market your business think of ways that will stand out and be appreciated. Door hangers have a success rate that is high enough that they continue to be a constant tool by real estate agents, gardeners, cleaning services and pizza joints but that doesn’t mean they are the best solution.
Get creative and don’t just do what the guy before you did.
Last week I drove in from the beach to do the radio show. Right before I left I took the above picture of an area in the rocks where the water seemed to be in a constant battle with itself. The wave would come crashing up through the channel and just as it was starting to recede back into the ocean a new wave would come powering through and the two would battle it out until, finally, the incoming wave prevailed and the water came gently washing up to where I was standing.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been immersed in marketing over the past few months out at USC but I saw this as a bit of a parable. In marketing there are, traditionally, two forms of taking a product to market. The first is to “push” it to market through retailers, distributors or other established distribution channels. The second is to “pull” the market to your product through direct advertising. Picture billboards, TV and Radio commercials, mailers and other expensive and flashy marketing hoopla.
Enter The Age of Modern Marketing
Although those two types of product marketing exist today I see a different type of “push” and “pull” happening thanks to the flourishing social media channels. I call social media “The New Pull” and I’ll tell you why.
The social aspect of social media is what makes it so amazingly powerful. The ability to engage a customer and connect with them at an individual level allows a company to deepen customer loyalty to a level that has never existed before. A company opening a Twitter account but then just constantly pushing information out is missing the point. It’s about engaging the consumer.
My favorite good example happened to me a little over a year ago. I went to Home Depot to get a part I needed and was frustrated that they didn’t have it. At the time I was testing out FourSquare (which I opted against using long term) and posted through that site to Twitter a note expressing my frustration. Within an hour a representative from Home Depot contacted me and asked me if there was anything they could do to help me locate the part.
A bad example is PayPal. They have a twitter account but from everything I can gather it is used like a bullhorn, one way, and not a way to engage their customers. I think this happens when a company has dominate market share and isn’t worried about a few people being frustrated that PayPal shut their accounts down without warning and held their funds for 180 days. Sure, it’s in their Terms and Conditions but an explanation would be nice.
The New Pull
If you’re going to be on social media sites, you have to be social. Remember what your Mom always told you and mind your manners. If somebody tweets something good about you say thank you. If you let somebody down say you’re sorry and do better next time. Being polite in business is what social media is all about.
Originally Posted on BizNinja.org on February 24, 2011
Yesterday was my first live radio show and it went. Yes, that’s it… it went. I don’t think it was absolutely horrible but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement. Luckily I have an opportunity to improve next week with episode 2.
I don’t know what I expected with the show and went in a bit more unorganized that planned. There was a lot of ambiguity about how everything would happen with the show engineer and the station manager. In order to figure it out I just jumped in with both feet.
Perhaps the most surprising thing was the amazing support I received from friends by logging on and listening.
I talked about it a little in the show today, but just barely touched on it really. The last couple years have been really tough for me and the support from so many people meant more than I can adequately communicate. If you were one of the people that listened on AM radio, streaming over the internet, texted me before, during or after the show, sent facebook wishes or questions or any other sort of support THANK YOU. It means a lot to me to have so many thoughtful people in my life.
Lessons Learned From Episode 1
1. Wearing the headphones while on air does a great job of muffling out the other sounds in the studio but they also make it so all you hear when you’re talking is your own voice. This took a bit of time to get used to.
2. Sitting at a table with a microphone and talking into space is kind of weird.
3. People liked it more when I spoke off script than when I read. I did too.
4. I could have had a laptop up and running during the show. That would have saved a couple of trees by not printing off a bunch of my old blog posts as backup material.
5. I need to come up with a sign off.
6. Have somebody to talk to, even if it’s the engineer. Just another voice to break up my talking helps.
7. Take questions earlier. I didn’t feel like I’d gotten into a groove until the whole thing felt more like a conversation.
8. Bring water. Talking makes me thirsty.
9. Relax and let the show flow.
If you haven’t already enter for a chance to win $75 in adwords credit. If you win, I’ll even help you set up your first ad campaign.
I’ll have the podcast up soon and of course you can listen next week as we air episode 2.
Originally posted on BizNinja.org February 8, 2011
If you’re older than 25 you probably remember what life was like before the internet became a main part of our lives. Mike Stelzner of the Social Media Examiner shared this video on their facebook page today and I love it for two reasons.
1. It reminds me how far we’ve come in such a short period.
2. The quotes in the video, a. “What is the internet, anyway?” and “Allison, can you explain what internet is?” shows how ambiguous the web was to people in 1994, even supposedly educated and informed news folk.
In the 17-year-old clip former “Today” show hosts Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel and Elizabeth Vargas talk about the new ‘internet address’ that was showing up on the screen.
Every once in a while you still find somebody that puts down an email for a website address but these days terms like URL and ISP are pretty well known.
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan
A friend once lent me a Steven Pressfield book called The War of Art. In the book Pressfield talks about something called Resistance. Resistance is that force that keeps us away from our full potential. Somedays we encounter it as laziness and other times we find Resistance dressed in the clothes of routine. The point is that, if we want to make anything of ourselves, we must fight Resistance in this long battle of personal development.
I look back on this blog and feel a spectrum of emotions wash over me. I feel sadness for not writing more. I feel pride for many of the posts since many of them tell stories of past battles. I feel shame for some of the posts seem silly or condescending through the lens of time. I feel joy for the times I shared about my family. But the emotion I expected least of all, the one that is catching me off guard like a punch in the gut, is that of fear.
I’m scared that Resistance has been winning.
I’m scared that I’m operating below my potential.
What scares me most of all is I’m not sure how long Resistance has been winning.
In the 2013 movie ‘Jobs’ Ashton Kutcher, playing legendary Apple founder Steve Jobs says to a project lead:
Ok Jeff, let’s get a couple of things straight, we don’t do fine, we don’t accept things the way that they are and we don’t stop innovating.
In the movie I was reminded of an old Steve Jobs photo where he’s on his desk and there is a simple black poster with the word THINK written in rainbow colors and block font.
That poster along with the quote I just shared seem to have awoken something within me.
I’m old, I’m white, and I’ve never been good at jumping.
Something happened earlier this year. At the end of January I decided I wasn’t going to be fat and out of shape any longer. I had been looking for something that would give me the right mix of community, competition and variety so that I could actually stick with fitness seeing that I’d given it a 2-3 day go once or twice over the 12 years of general sedentary living and had always ended up going back to the cheese dip and couch surfing rather quickly.
I heard about it at a relatively random business dinner with the creator of FitBook, the affiliate at CrossFit Vibe and the owners of FitnessTown. The dinner was amazing and I noticed that although everybody enjoyed great food they also didn’t eat the bread or mashed potatoes. Just great steak and veggies. I was eating a similar way thanks to Tim Ferriss’ slow carb diet but these guys called it Paleo and they ate this way due to some weird cult called CrossFit. To say that dinner changed my life would not be an exaggeration. It was a couple months later but it was due to that evening that I started CrossFit at the amazingly run and incredibly supportive CrossFit Chino Hills.
I was hooked on CrossFit pretty much right away and a few weeks later got my wife to leave that ‘globo-gym’ and come try it out. She kicked my butt right away and so my first goal was to stop getting beat in workouts by my wife.
I lost 35 lbs in the first few months and my pecs started looking less and less like boobs. This was working and I was actually getting in shape… and enjoying it.
Over the past 3 months I competed in 4 different CrossFit events. Three of them linked in a series called The NLI. My first competition I placed 45th out of 90. Not bad for a recovering couch and cheese dip a holic. 6 weeks later I got 30th and last weekend I somehow pulled off a 9th place finish barely hitting my goal of a top 10 placing. I just pulled up the site while I was typing this and found that I ended up placing 7th out of 158 for the entire series. (full disclaimer, some people didn’t compete in all 3 weekends)
Go out and do something. You’re not too old, too out of shape, too poor, too weak, too anything. Start now, on whatever it is you’ve been putting off for the past 12 years like I did. Go.
“You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.”
Am I the best jumper in the world now? Nope.
Am I the best jumper in a competition of 90 people. Nope.
But, I was better than 60 of them and a heck of a lot better than I was before.
A special shout out to Angela, Dai and Jeffrey. Thank you.
It’s hard to bounce back from adversity. Few people were unaffected by the economic challenges of the past few years and I had my share of battles to fight. The hardest thing for me about the personal economic challenges was the wake that it caused. The effect it had on my family first and foremost and then rippling out to others whom I care about. I let people down, and that is something I can’t adapt to.
In many things I am a level ten ninja chameleon when it comes to adaptation but this time it has taken years for me to get my chin back up. Going back to school helped a lot and my USC EMBA LA XXVI family was a big factor in getting my groove back. Then, earlier this year I started working out again and the CrossFit community helped boost my self confidence a bit more. Finally, I realized that the only thing that was still holding me back was myself. I watched a 2001 TED Talk by the late John Wooden recently and in it he said:
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
I am confident in my character and although it would be nice if my reputation was always great there are limits to what I can control. Coach Wooden caught me again with:
Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
And here I was, stopping myself due to things outside of my control. No more.
A friend posted this video, a cover of the David Guetta song Titanium on his blog a while back and ever since it has been in the back of my mind as the focus of this blog post. On my drive to Las Vegas and back yesterday the song came on multiple times as if calling me to action to let go of my fear of the judgments of others. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about the people, just that I want to rise above the limiting beliefs and perceptions that others have created for me.
I’m criticized, but all your bullets ricochet
You shoot me down, but I’ll get up.
It has been nearly a year since I posted on this blog. It has been a busy and an eventful 356 days full of the usual challenges that life seems to throw at us. I’m considering writing on here again and redoing the whole format of the site. I don’t know exactly why I’m getting the urge to do this. Maybe it’s because the radio show has been going for nearly a year. Maybe it’s because I graduate with my MBA from USC in May. Maybe it’s because I miss having a place to vent my thoughts.
One thing is for sure. I am not the same person I was a year ago. I think this is the reason… I want to share the ‘new’ me. The Tyler Jorgenson that created this blog in 2006 has evolved into whatever it is I am today. I guess it just makes sense my .com is updated too.
Way back on December 28th, 2010 I posted about a big announcement and I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the news. Here it is. Starting Wednesday the 23rd of February I will be hosting a radio show here in Southern California called The BizNinja Radio Hour. It happens to coincide with a new site I’ve been working on www.BizNinja.org which is focused on entrepreneurship and small business. The site is only about half built but you get an advanced notice. Now you finally feel like reading all of the 31 Days of Blog Awesomeness was worth it, right?
While at the studio yesterday the on air host pulled me in for a quick impromptu interview. Here’s a video with the audio of the interview and some comments added.
I’ve delayed writing this post because some technical difficulties have prevented me from announcing one of the projects I’ve been working on. Stay tuned for more info on that.
When I started the 31 Days of Blog Awesomeness I didn’t think much of it. I just figured I’d answer some questions people ask me all the time anyway and share some of my thoughts on motivation, goals and success. It’s been a great journey. At the end of this post I’ll put a link to a summary of all of the 31 Days as a reference.
I ran Cross Country in high school. I wasn’t a terribly gifted runner but I was never the slowest on the team either (if you include the girls). I did Cross Country for two reasons. 1. My older sister ran and since it was the first sport of the season when I entered high school I figured it would be easier to get a ride home with her so I may as well run too. 2. It was a way to get in shape and lose weight for wrestling. Distance running has a lot of opportunity for life metaphors. Let’s explore a few.
One of my coaches taught us that although every race was 3 miles and ended with a finish line it was important to focus on visible goals. Run hard to the farthest tree, then run hard to the light pole, then run hard to the turn, etc. This works for life too. Who doesn’t want to be rich and have millions in the bank. Sometimes it’s good to set your mind on $100, then save hard to $1,000, then save hard to $5,000…
Some courses had a lot of turns and so we were taught to look forward and pick the most direct route through the turns thereby needing to run a lesser distance and conserve energy. I think about how we were taught to ‘apex the turns’ whenever there seem to be a series of obstacles that need to be overcome. Look forward through them all and chart the most direct route.
We all know our bodies need water to function and in running that means avoiding cramps and having better endurance. In life staying hydrated means remembering to take in the things that feed our soul. We have to keep ourselves emotionally hydrated so that when a tough hill comes along we have the stamina to reach the summit.
Never Look Back
My most memorable race was run on a rainy day in the middle of nowhere complete with enough mud to last a lifetime. I got a decent start and after some bumping and elbowing (in self defense of course) I found myself at the front of the pack. I ran hard, but never looked back. I could hear the footsteps of somebody right behind me. From the sound of it they couldn’t have been more than a couple strides behind me. It pushed me harder and I ran my best race that day. When I reached the finish line and finally looked back I was surprised to see nobody remotely close. I had been hearing the sound of my own feet echoing off the walls of the desert hills. When we know our goal, we’re well hydrated and things are working out there’s no need to look back. Push forward. Stay focused. Win the race.
In one of my first distance races in middle school I laid back a bit too much and when it came time to surge I had plenty of energy but not enough time to catch up to the leader. I lost the race only by a few strides but I hadn’t even given it my all. I learned that day that you’ve got to pace yourself just right and avoid going out too hot and burning out or too cold and falling behind.
Sprint to the Finish
If you reach the finish line and you’ve got more left in you then you didn’t do your best. Once you see the finish line in sight it’s time to muster up all you have left and sprint to the finish. I’m always surprised at how often good projects get abandoned so close to completion. If you’ve paced yourself right you should have just enough energy left in you to let lose and finish.
After my great win where I never looked back I got a bit cocky and went out hot in a race with a lot more runners. I forgot the pacing lesson, or at least learned the other half of it, and after leading for the first half of the race I got winded and fell behind. As each runner passed me and I fell farther behind I got more and more discouraged and wanted to quit. My bruised pride fought back and told me to finish. I pushed through to the finish and still placed well. You may not always be first, but if it’s a project worth finishing it’s your duty to get it over the finish line.
Know When to Quit
By my Senior year of high school I had decided I no longer wanted to run. I wasn’t dedicated enough for it to be a successful year for me. Instead I organized an official Men’s Volleyball club for the school and made new friends and great memories. Sometimes it’s time to quit a project. Be strong enough to know when you’re not committed to the success or that the project is no longer viable and be willing to quit. If you chose to quit you must do it because it is right, not because you are tired or lazy or some other lame excuse. To repeat the above line if the project is worth finishing it’s your duty to get it over the finish line. If it’s not worth it anymore, quit now before you waste any more time on it.
As we approach the end of the 31 days of Blog Awesomeness I am filled with mixed emotions. This has been a good exercise for me and a couple people have shared that some posts have helped them. At the same time I have realized that it is hard to produce a high quality post every single day. Today’s post is one that I really wanted to spend a lot of time on. I wanted to actually walk somebody through the process and share the experience. That didn’t happen. But we’re still here and this post is still going to be great.
Back at the beginning of the 31 DoBA Sandy asked: How to take my new business to the next level (How to set up an online store and get into specialty retail stores)
These are two very different questions so I’ll tackle the one I have more experience with first. How can you set up an online store.
Sandy already has an Etsy shop for her cool no slip head bands at www.bicbands.com. She was very smart to use her own URL and point it to Etsy so she can change it later without losing traffic. Etsy isn’t a bad service, but in my opinion it’s limited and since you don’t have full control it can potentially keep your product looking small instead of professional.
Option 1. Shopify. Shopify is a great site that a lot of big companies use like PIXAR and Tesla Motors. It is very user friendly and works as a website, shopping cart and payment processor all in one. There is a monthly fee starting at $29 per month and a per transaction fee as well. If you’re not selling at least a couple hundred dollars of product a month this may be cost prohibitive.
Option 2. WP e-Commerce Plugin by GetShopped.org. If you’ve followed my steps on how to set up a website then you can just install this plugin to your wordpress site and add your paypal email and in a matter of minutes have a fully functioning e-commerce site. I’ve used this for a lot of test sites since it’s so easy to set up.
Option 3. Outsource the design and have them use a shopping cart like phppurchase. If you don’t have much technical know how this may be your best bet. But if you are a bit tech savvy and budget conscience then go with option 2.
The second part of Sandy’s question is something I’ve only done a very little of. If you’re looking to get into retail stores there are a couple of routes. You can hire a broker or network yourself. I recommend starting with some boutique stores where you can meet the owner. Many of them will allow consignment so that they don’t have to buy inventory but you still get your product in. This is a great opportunity to test retail price and get feedback from customers before trying to go big and get into a large retailer.
How is your company doing today? Where do you want it to be? As a friend of mine said to me this weekend. ‘Show me the money. Now, show me more money.’ Think big and then lay out the steps to get there.
One of the responses I got back when I announced the 31 Days of Blog Awesomeness was from Partha.
PARTHA Says: I really want to know how you started your own venture as an entrepreneur. What I am looking for a step by step guide to start up and own a new business.
This is a big topic and and would not fit into a single post. What I will cover is how to look at products and ideas and quickly determine if it’s worth moving forward with. I’ve made the mistake, as I know many have, of moving forward on a project before doing enough testing or having sufficient data to determine viability.
I’ve said before that I’ll work on any product or project where there is a margin and a market. Those are my 2 M’s for a new product.
Step1. Determine if there is sufficient margin in the product to support the beginning phases of growth.
What is the expected cost per unit to manufacture and get to market?
What is the expected retail price?
How many units would I need to sell per month in order to make money? This is the minimum threshold.
Step 2. Determine if there is sufficient market to reach the minimum threshold.
What is my target market?
Can they afford my retail price?
What are they buying now, and how many of those are being sold each month?
Step 3. Determine how I can do it better.
Can I beat their price?
Can I beat their service?
Can I offer more?
Can I market better?
Step 4. Test. If you’re like me you don’t have a large marketing and R&D budget. You need to test your idea first before dumping money into it. It is always better to ask people to buy your product rather than ask them if they would. Allow them to act and measure what your potential cost per acquisition would be. I’ll cover more on how to test in a later post… maybe.
Step 5. Go big, or go home. If the test is big then it’s time to take it up a level and get serious. If the test were not favorable you can either quit the project or test some more variables. Don’t get too emotional at this point. If after a good amount of testing the market isn’t responding to your widgets for left handed people don’t be sad. It’s an opportunity to brainstorm again.
Starting a business is easy. Starting a profitable business is a little harder. Even harder is starting and maintaining a profitable business. Luckily Partha didn’t ask me how to do that, he just wanted to know how I started.