158: Don't be cheap. It all evens out in the end.

"Oh my god. This is a freaking nightmare."

This is the conversation that I was having with my COO over the past few months as we worked to clean up our books. 

For two years, I had hired a cheap bookkeeper. His rates were unbeatably low, so I went with him to save cash. 

In reality, I probably saved $150 per month hiring this guy over the standard bookkeeping rates in the market. So over two years, about $3,300 in total.

For the past 12 months, I knew I needed to fire this guy. But I kept putting it off and avoiding the problem.

And then BOOM! Explosion. 

We finally ended the engagement, and when we looked at what we actually had, it was horrifying. 

3 months of books not even done... And two years of absolute chaos and laziness. 

This resulted in thousands of dollars of consulting to help us get this fixed, along with countless hours of work on behalf of my COO to go in and fix the issues by hand because only he knew the transactions. 

If my COO was charging me hourly, this would have easily cost us $5k of his time to fix. Instead, it's more than $3,300 in consulting costs and a massive opportunity cost of a distracted COO.

Don't be cheap. 
You will end up paying the price in the short-term, or the long-term.
It all evens out in the end. 

157: Become the best

Whenever you seek out to start a business or build a career, there is one thing you should ask yourself.

Am I the best in my area of focus? Am I #1?

Today you probably aren't, but I challenge you to figure out how you can become that. 

When I started Lead Cookie, I set out to create the #1 Done-for-You Linkedin Lead Generation service.

Over time, we succeeded at becoming this.

Now with Content Allies, we are focusing on creating the #1 Linkedin Content service. 

But we aren't close to being #1 yet. In fact, we're kind of amateur still...

So everyday I wake up and learn how to get better. I study the writing and work of others, and document all that I learn.

Then I teach this to my team so they can become better as well, and build processes around producing consistent deliverables.

Over time we will become the #1 Linkedin Content Service in the market. But it starts by first identifying that goal and then improving every day until you get there. 

156: Get to the root of the problem

Whenever we come across a problem in business, we immediately want to jump in and start providing solutions. 

"Problem > Solution"

And while in some cases that may work, that can often miss the mark. Because sometimes what we see as a "problem" is actually a "symptom" of a greater "root problem". 

And so if we just look at the problem in front of us, we may come up with a short-sighted answer that helps a little bit, but doesn't really solve the problem at hand.

Instead, we need to follow a different path. 

"Problem > Identify root cause > Propose solution" 

When we dig one layer deeper, we often find that the problem we are dealing with is often part of a root cause that is much bigger. A cause that may be creating many problems. 

If we just look at the surface, we only make small progress.
But when we look deeper, we can fix the real issues that will move us forward at a rapid pace. 

155: Take care of your mental health

Growing up we are taught about “mental health” like it is some sort of disease like cancer that just “happens to people”. 

Yet, the reality is that mental health is quite different.

Stress, anxiety, compulsive thinking, panic attacks, depression… these aren’t things that just “happen to people”. Instead these are things we let happen to ourselves because we don’t take care of our mental health.

Just like we must workout to take care of our body, we must workout our brains. 

Therapy, meditation, journaling. These are all simple habits that can seem trivial, but are essential to protecting your mental health. 

Because when you let a mental disorder creep in, it starts to impact you.

It impacts your decision making.
It impacts how you show up for your team.
And eventually, if you don’t get it in order, it will impact your bottom line.

Take care of your mental health. It’s essential. 

154: How you do one thing is how you do everything

The other day I was talking with an entrepreneur who has sold multiple companies for tens of millions of dollars. 

On the call, he shared one of his values with me which I loved.

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

From the gym, to business, to your marriage, and your friendships.
They all are tied together.

If you don't push yourself in the gym, then you won't push yourself in business.
If you treat your spouse poorly, you will end up treating your team poorly as well.

Everything in our life is connected and our success in business is much deeper than just the tactics of the business itself.

Our success in business is tied to who we become as a person. 

So the next time you find yourself slacking or cutting corners in any area of your life, just remember this phrase and hold it close.

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

153: Learn every day

"Do you write all of those posts that go out on social?"

I get this question often. The answer...

Every single one. People ask me how I do this, or why I do this, and so let me share a story...

When I was early in my entrepreneurial career, my learning path was ad hoc at best. I would read a full book in a weekend, and then not read for 2 months. Or just consume random podcasts when I had the time.

But I had no ritual of consistent learning.

That all changed when I came across an idea called "Discover & Declare" by Garret J. White. 

Every day, I started to study something new. 
Every day, I would write up something I learned and teach it to others.

Slowly and steadily, I began to evolve.
Not through some single book that changed everything.
But through the compound effect of everything that I learned day after day.

One time, I even remember a small sales tactic I learned that literally helped me bump up my close rate by ~30%.

Small tweaks, day after day, lead to massive changes over time.

Make it a habit to learn something new every day.
It will change your life.

152: To scale, you must advertise

"Paid ads just aren't my thing. I prefer to focus on other growth channels."

This is another one of those stories that I held in my mind for many years. I was really strong at channels such as outbound, content, and thought leadership. 

I had looked at paid ads as just another channel that you can use to grow.

But over time, my mindset around paid customers has changed. 

I've begun to realize that if your intention is to really scale up and build something sizeable, then paid ads are a must.

Why you ask?

Paid ads are the only channel where I can say, "I will put in $1,000 and get out $5,000."

And once you prove success with putting in $1,000, then you can scale that up to $10,000... Or $100,000.

While you can ramp up content, outbound or conferences and put a lot more effort behind them, virtually nothing other than paid traffic can become a lever that you just push on for growth.

This is why all massive startups invest in paid traffic.

Now, I'm not saying that paid traffic is the holy grail or that it's the only way.
I'll admit, I still haven't taken the plunge to start running paid ads because I still have so much to learn.

But I recognize that if I want to scale, then I must learn to advertise. 

151: Customer experience takes intention

Have you ever bought from a company and was left thinking Wow, that was such a great experience?

Well, that kind of experience doesn't happen by luck.
It happens by design. 

It happens by thinking through the entire customer interaction and asking yourself What is each step? And how can we make this better?

Often, improving the experience doesn't actually take a lot of hard work. Small changes can go a long way.

But what it does take is thought and empathy for your customer.

It takes putting yourself in their shoes and interviewing your customers to learn their experience.

And from that place of empathy, you can start to make these subtle tweaks. 
Each tweak in itself may feel small, but over time they add up into an incredible experience.

Building a great customer experience requires intention.
It doesn't take starting from scratch.
But instead small subtle changes that add up into an unforgettable experience. 

150: Be patient

Slow down. Be patient. This is what I constantly have to remind myself. 

It's easy in business to always want to go faster and harder, but that doesn't always produce the results we want.

Sometimes you must slow down.
You must be patient.

While you may want to see a change or difference in your business tomorrow, the reality is that most changes or plans you put in place take months to make a real impact.

And when you try to rush something instead of giving it the time it needs, that is a recipe for disaster.

Slow down. 
Be patient. 

A simple lesson that is worth repeating anytime you find yourself feeling panicked or rushed. 

149: Fake scarcity creates resentment

"I only have one slot left open and after this call I am getting on another call, so it's now or never."

Those were the words someone told me as I was on edge about buying into a group program.

In the moment, I caved and purchased.

Yet within hours after the call, I emailed and said, "I'm out"

I realized the BS that was that tactic, and it turned me off.

The other day, a similar thing happened. I was talking with someone who said, "I only talk with one entrepreneur at a time so I need an answer today."

Bullshit.

When people pull these fake scarcity-based tactics, you can see through them. 

And when you see through them, you know they are lying. 

This may trigger you in the moment to purchase.
But in the long run, it creates resentment and erodes trust. 

Scarcity is powerful, but it must be true. 
Fake scarcity creates resentment. 

148: Embrace Reality

For the longest time, I had a very bad habit of lying to myself.

I didn't mean to lie to myself, but I just couldn't accept reality.
I couldn't accept that my businesses were actually struggling. 
And that I wasn't as good of an entrepreneur as I thought I was.

So I lied to myself.

I blamed the outside world any time something went wrong.
It wasn't me. It was the world that was stopping me.

At some point, I had to open my eyes.
I had to look in the mirror and see the truth of my reality.

Despite how great I thought I was at business, my results were shit.

This was a turning point for me. 
This is when I began to seek outside help and advisers.
This is when I really started to revolutionize my life.

But you can't change your life if you don't see it for what it actually is today. 

You have to stop lying to yourself.
And you must embrace reality. 

147: Direct vs Brand Marketing

There are two types of marketing that constantly battle in my mind. 

Direct marketing - The type of marketing where you put in X inputs, and have a formula to calculate Y outputs. 

This marketing is great because it's clear and measurable. But it fails in that it often optimizes for short-term gains in conversion instead of long-term trust and brand credibility.

The second type of marketing is brand marketing. This is where you care less about the analytics behind every conversion, but instead you focus on telling a compelling story. 

You focus on creating something that is different and unique. You focus on building loyal fans and customers who organically spread your message via word-of-mouth.

Brand marketing is much harder to measure, so some marketers have just thrown it by the wayside.

But I truly believe any successful marketer understands that the brand marketing is actually the most important part. It's also the hardest part.

Yet everyday as a marketer, we are faced with choices to optimize for short-term wins, or invest our time in the long-term brand.

There is no right or wrong answer.

But brand vs direct marketing does heavily impact what you build, and what challenges you face as an entrepreneur. 

146: Study every day

"So what do you think we should do for our marketing?"

I got this question from a friend the other day. 
He was asking like I had the answer that would fix his problems.

What I said shocked him.

"Study every day. Your problem isn't that you don't have the right marketing tactic. Your problem is that you suck at sales & marketing and you have no idea what you are doing. Wake up every day and study material on sales and marketing for 5-10 minutes. That is how you fix your marketing problem." 

You don't have a tactical problem.
You simply lack the skills and knowledge to effectively market and sell.

Don't look outside of you for the answer.

Instead, study sales & marketing every single day.

That is your path to mastery and prosperity. 

145: Live at your edge

Your edge. This is the point where you are pushing yourself to your limits, but not sending your world into chaos.

When you are challenging yourself to think bigger, but not collapsing under pressure.
When you are being true and honest to yourself, and not living for others.

As entrepreneurs, we should seek to consistently live at our edge.

To push ourselves to new limits. 
And not just be content with what is. 

We should take bold risks. 
But not put everything on the line. 

The edge is that place right before complete chaos.
Where we are still in control, but are intensely challenged.

The edge is where we should seek to push ourselves to every day.
Because living at your edge leads a fulfilling life, and a successful life. 

And it is your way to ensure you create your maximum impact.

Live at your edge. 

144: Don't fit people into roles

12 months too long... that is how long it took us to let go of the first employee I ever hired. 

When I had my first agency, our first hire was a video editor. 
The guy was amazing, an awesome part of our culture, and we loved having him around.

When we hired him, we were doing tons of video editing. 

But over time, we pivoted to an animation company.

And slowly we did less, and less video editing.

We started trying to "find work" to keep him busy. 
And we felt guilty for not having work for him to do.

And it took us almost a year longer than it should have to finally let this individual go. 
We eventually moved him to a contractor role and hired him as needed.

This was a hard lesson, and I see entrepreneurs do it all the time.
They make a hire, and then their business no longer needs that role. 

And so they try and "fit the person into a new role"

That's a recipe for disaster.

Instead ask yourself "What role does my business need at this moment, aside from the team we have?"

If that person fits one of the roles, great.
But if they don't fit, don't force it.
Cut ties and it will be best for both of you.

Don't try to fit people into roles. 

143: Follow the voice within

"So do you think this is a good idea?" 

I remember asking that question to my business coach all of the time whenever we started working together. 

I was seeking his approval and not confident in my own choices...

Over time, I saw this pattern resonate through all areas of my life.

Seeking approval of my wife, my parents, my team, and the public... 

It's a dangerous trap to fall into because when you seek the approval of others on your decisions, you aren't showing confidence in what you believe is right.

What I have learned since is that when I slip into a place of seeking approval from others, instead of having confidence in myself, my life slips into chaos.

On the flip side, when I keep a clear head and stop caring what others think...

That is when I have certainty.
That is when I have clarity in life. 

Trying to please others, and turning to the outside of you for a direction in life, is a path for chaos.

Clarity and success comes from following the voice within. 

142: Stop looking for the next "hack"

Everyday, I talk with entrepreneurs who are stuck in their business.
And they all seem to be looking for the "hack" or path that is going to give them the success they desire... 

And while you can learn things and find values in what others share, often people are misled as they try to look for the next "hack" to grow their business.

In reality, no one that succeeds followed some completely proven script. 
If it were that easy, everyone would do it. 

Marketers will try and promise you how easy it is... 
How they have the formula that cures all... 

But that is BS. 

If you want success, you must learn to pave your own path.
You must show up and have confidence and certainty in yourself.
You must become someone more today than you were yesterday.

And in that path of becoming, you might just build something incredible along the way. 

But you will never build something incredible following every hack or system that someone else is teaching you.

Instead, you must follow the voice inside of you and pave your own path. 

141: Marketing is telling stories worth sharing

Word of mouth is the holy grail for any marketer, yet most people think that this is something that just happens. 

But in reality, word of mouth is what happens when one person tells your story to another.

You do great work for a client, and so they tell that story to someone else.
You share your journey online, and someone tells that to a friend. 
You appear on a podcast, and that story resonates with someone. 

Yet most people think that word of mouth is 100% random...

In truth, it can be designed. 

Go out and find any professional author or speaker who is doing a book tour.
Now, listen to the same author do a book tour of 3-4 different podcasts.

What you will hear is the same story, over and over again.
While nuances may differ, they will have a core story that they share.

That core story is by design. 
It is their message and it represents what they believe in.

By putting an intelligent and well thought out story into the world, over and over again, you create a brand and a message worth following.

What is your story? And is it worth sharing?

140: The importance of content

Over 90% of the people who read your content will never buy from you. 

For one reason or another, they may not have the funds or may not be your ideal customer.

BUT, those 90% of people can still get behind your message, and still be advocates to share and promote your message.

They can still become cult followers of your brand and push your message out there to others.

At Lead Cookie, we have audience members who are not a right fit to use our service, yet they actively refer us and share our content with others.

They believe in what we are doing and help spread the word.

This is the power of genuine content. 
It spreads without you even trying.

But when content is forced, its aim is tactical and click baity that... well doesn't spread.
That doesn't build cult-like followers who spread your message.

If you want your brand to have momentum and spread on its own, be authentic.
Put out the best content you can and let the market spread the message for you. 

139: Why we fear paving our own path

"Entrepreneurs look toward frameworks because they don't believe they care creative enough to build their own." - Alex McClafferty

"We believe that if we follow a template and it doesn’t work out, it’s not us who is to blame, but the template... And so we switch from recipe to recipe, hoping that the next one will get us somewhere, but it rarely, if ever, does." - David Sherry

Two people I look up to recently hit me with very similar advice.
Different words, same message.

As entrepreneurs, we are consistently looking for a proven path, a framework, or a recipe for success.

But the truth is that the people we look up to and aspire to be like... they got there because they paved their own path. 

They figured out a path that combined their unique strengths with the opportunities the world presented them and paved a path unique to them. 

When we try to mimic someone else's path, we often fail. 
We don't have the same skill sets, and we often don't have the same opportunities. 

Instead, we need to learn to honor ourselves.
Find certainty in ourselves. 
And become confident paving our own unique path.