Lowering the Bar.

From the first Netflix earnings call of 2020 and MarketWatch:

“What does it mean to “watch” a show on a streaming service? For Netflix Inc., it now means viewing at least two minutes. The streaming service noted in its first quarterly earnings report of 2020 on Tuesday that it has changed the definition of viewership — while Netflix used to consider any customer that streamed 70% or more of a single episode or film as having viewed that property, it now will count a view after viewing two minutes or any offering. The company admitted that it would boost the limited viewership numbers it provides by more than one-third.

“The new metric is about 35% higher on average than the prior metric,” Netflix executives said in their quarterly letter to shareholders. “For example, 45m member households chose to watch ‘Our Planet’ under the new metric vs. 33m under the prior metric.”

This, my friends, is the definition of insanity and a very slippery slope. 

I’ve said for years that the internet is largely an unregulated cesspool when it comes to advertising and false metrics. Does anyone remember Jay-Z’s album selling a million copies in five days? Except it didn’t. His streaming service, Tidal, is under criminal investigation in Europe.

Facebook logs a view for advertisers when a video plays for at least three seconds. YouTube uses better metrics and bills the advertiser when a user watches a complete add that’s 11-30 seconds long or watches at least 30 seconds of an ad that’s more than 30 seconds or interacts with the ad. Instagram has admitted to wasting billions of paid sponsorship dollars on followers that don’t exist. Every year Facebook deletes billions (with a B!) fake accounts.

According to Forbes, “In the six-month period from October 2018 to March 2019, Facebook said it removed 3.39 billion fake accounts. That’s twice the number of fake accounts detected and removed in the previous six-month period and over a billion more than the 2.37 billion people who actively use the social network on a monthly basis.”

Netflix is following Facebook down this insane rabbit hole. It’s one thing to hoodwink investors about the number of actual users and views but advertisers won’t tolerate it and eventually everything comes home to roost. Streaming services will need to significantly increase subscription costs or introduce more advertising, something Netflix has said it will never do. Uh huh, Facebook said the same thing. “We changed our minds,” is the most-common phrase ever uttered by companies that follow the dollar down these rabbit holes.

As a small business owner, not only can you not afford to behave like this (you have to count with dollars in the bank and lifetime customer value and return on investment, etc.) but you must also pay very close attention to any advertising platform or media channel that counts with funky math.

The most transparent and effective online advertising platforms right now, for my businesses, are Amazon and Google, respectively. 

I’m optimistic that Amazon can take over both of these categories (transparency and overall effectiveness). How much juice they will want from the squeeze is the only hurdle that remains for local service providers. But, rest assured, Amazon is coming for your advertising dollars.

I’d leap for joy if they allowed targeted in-package advertising for new movers, grocery deliveries and standard packages. It’s not a far leap for Amazon to allow local service providers to advertise in specific packages and via email footer ads with coupons for furniture assembly, appliance installation or lawn service. They have the best 360 degree view of their 101 million Prime members. Why not leverage those data points and sell to local service providers, after which Amazon could easily acquire or affiliate with the most successful of the bunch?

As a sound business principle, seek out and work with organizations that consistently raise the bar

Google has done this consistently for years and has allowed very smart marketers like Jimmy Marketing to help local service providers make a ton of cashola. Amazon will hopefully do this even better.

Everyone else, unfortunately, is feverishly lowering the bar. There is no excuse to follow them into oblivion.

Expectation.

Indian spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy, explains that peace begins when expectation ends.

Perhaps the most dangerous trait I see in perfectionist doctors and business owners is the attachment to their expectations on how things should be; how a certain result should be achieved. They are attached to a very specific outcome.

You know this sets you up for disappointment, frustration and failure.

Instead, attach to nothing other than your belief that you can be the best at getting better, adapting and solving complex problems that others avoid. When you hit a wall, go around, over or under it. This sounds simple, but how often as a business owner do you throw your hands up and surrender?

“My employees won’t do it, my patients or customers would never appreciate or respond to that, my town is too small, my town is too big, people here just want what is cheapest, the competition is too difficult, etc.” I’ve heard these excuses for years and they tell me everything about the person who makes them and their expectations in life.

I’m not kidding when I say that I wake up every single morning expecting something or someone to massively disappoint me.

This way, everything that goes well is just a bonus. It’s icing on the cake.

Before I learned and honed this skill, employees that quit, referring colleagues that dumped on my practice and even the smallest bump in the road or business disruption used to distract and frustrate me for days. Now, I give myself about 90 seconds to be disappointed and upset and then I get back to work. Literally. 90 seconds.

AuDExperts membership is up 48% year-over-year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have clients call and cancel their membership from time to time. Years ago, this would frustrate me to no end. “How can this doctor be so stupid?” I would say to my team. “Do they have any idea the pile of gold they’re sitting on with access to my best stuff? Do they have any idea how hard and expensive it was for me to create, test and then share such powerful and profitable marketing templates and actual campaigns that work all over the world? What are they smoking?” I would rant.

Now, I operate entirely differently because I’m not attached to a specific outcome. I put my head down and do my work. I create more value than any other advisor or consultant on the planet and I have the results to show for it. If someone cancels, that’s on them. This is still a democracy. They have the right to be wrong.

The same goes for your patients, employees and referring colleagues. How attached are you to achieving your results in a specific way, with a specific outcome in mind? Money doesn’t really care how you acquire it, only that you do it with honesty and integrity; building and delivering more value than your competition, for all stakeholders involved.

Is it time to change your expectations?

It’s fine to keep them high, but don’t be attached to any one particular way of achieving the outcome. If you do, you’ll be perpetually frustrated and disappointed in life. Learn to separate your intentions from your expectations and your results will soar. Be open to all possibilities and have faith in your ability to seek them out, receive them for what they are and always, always move the ball down the field.

Doctors and small business owners who don’t fundamentally grasp and deeply live these principles are going to be steam rolled by the new economy, algorithms, AI and intense competition.

Now is the time to take this seriously.

On Ego and Change.

There’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal today about NFL coach Andy Reid, who is taking the Kansas City Chiefs to Super Bowl LIV in Miami this weekend.

The author, Andrew Beaton, focuses on two of Coach Reid’s unique abilities. He thinks like an outsider and he doesn’t have an ego. He’s been a head coach in the NFL for 21 years and made the playoffs 15 times.

Those familiar with him say the reason he’s successful because “he’s willing to incorporate unusual, often unpopular perspectives.”

I never played football and I know enough to watch and enjoy the game, so I can’t add anything to the conversation about his unique offensive style, how he hired college coaches with playbooks that were not only unconventional but often mocked in the NFL, etc.

Beaton says, “Reid didn’t just tolerate these newfangled ideas. He actively sought them out and learned them better than almost anyone in is position.”

In your professional practice, how willing are you to embrace new ideas and learn them better than anyone else in your niche? How obsessed are you at being the best at getting better?

How much of your practice is about you? Whom do you really serve? It’s inspiring to see other doctors around the world embrace this same philosophy, sometimes word-for-word, and I take no credit for its inception. My team and marketplace helped forge our purpose. Shelfing my ego meant allowing the market and all of the stakeholders in my business to tell me what it wanted.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, isn’t known for having a small ego. This is part of his persona, but he said, and I’m paraphrasing, “It doesn’t matter what I want. It doesn’t matter what the players want. The only thing that matters is what our fans want. Their vote is the only one that counts.”

Cuban shelved his ego when he said this many years ago, and he’s right.

When you consider the top-performers in any industry, profession or niche, they are people who are capable of shelving their ego. They look for new ways to kill off some of their best-loved ideas. They embrace new things and learn faster and better than the competition.

Sure, there are examples of CEOs, athletes and success stories in every niche where larger-than-life personalities make it big and have egos to match. Yet, they almost never sustain a two-decade career at the top and remain liked and respected by others.

Those who are successful don’t become nice people after they’ve achieved some level of success, but rather they achieve and succeed because they are nice; because they don’t have an ego.

Reid illustrates this truth. His players and coaches love working with him. He doesn’t make anything about him, unless it’s taking the blame for something that went wrong.

There are too many sports analogies in life to list here. I could teach a semester-long course in the application of these principles both on and off the field. The big questions for you and your team remain:

  • How resilient are we at overcoming and adapting to change?
  • How often do our egos get in the way?
  • What sunk-cost and status-quo biases need to be set on fire in the business?
  • What obstacles can be turned into opportunities when we embrace change and our reality?