Gravity

Three months after its public debut, Uber posted a $5.2 billion loss that’s “impressively vast” even for a company whose business model is based on outspending the competition, said The Economist. Since its inception, Uber has lost a total of $14 billion. A few weeks ago it laid off 400 people from its marketing department, representing a third of the entire division, and has placed a hiring feeze on new engineers.

 

Uber’s stock is down 20 percent since their IPO in May. It’s expensive to recruit drivers, there’s more competition and consumers are very price-sensitive. Even the most-promising startups, with billions of dollars in venture capital, must answer to the laws of gravity.

 

Last Wednesday was a private coaching call day. I started early in the morning and took call after call, in 45 minute increments, until late afternoon. In many of the calls, there was a common theme of growth via attempt to ignore gravity. Doubling the size of your business is not as simple as doing twice as much of what you’re doing right now. Growth creates complexity and complexity kills growth. New employees, hours, locations, additional doctors and strategic partners – all of this is complex and it can strangle the very thing you want to achieve.

 

As a recovering stubborn-headed know-it-all who used to do all of this the wrong way, please learn from my mistakes and understand what I get to see working all over the world and also what doesn’t work.

Understand the laws of gravity in your business. Attempt to defy them and you will eventually be pulled back down to earth.

 

First, decide how big you want to get and why. Aimless growth is like a mapless journey. It might turn out great, but the odds are not in your favor. If you can’t write down a revenue goal, you’re highly unlikely to achieve it by accident.

 

Second, determine how much profit you must derive from each unit of time, service or product. Do not violate it. Cut costs at every turn.

Third, know your “enough is enough” number and have people in your life that can hold you accountable to not only achieve it, but also to enjoy the life you’ve created around you before you’re dead and gone.

 

Fourth, realize every successful business is really a marketing and sales business. If you don’t know the money math inside these core competencies, you will never achieve significant growth.*

 

Take total collections and divide it by the number of new patients, clients or total products sold last year. Do the same with total collections and number of full time employees. Know your most-productive hours in the business and your least-productive hours. Set the minimum required revenue per hour or per product line and task managers to maintain or exceed those metrics.

 

Failing to acknowledge the gravity in your business is like ignoring a bad joint sprain and attempting to run a marathon. Most of your peers operate blindly and big dumb companies behave badly all the time, but this is no reason for you to follow in their path.

* You and 39 other clients can join me in 2020, where I will show you best-of-class statistics for each of the metrics (i.e., gravity) in your industry and help you perform in the top 1-5% of your market and field. You can request details for an upcoming discovery call where you will see details of the program. Make your interest known by going to MyCoachingApplication.

 

Ask Better Questions.

Most small business owners are used to giving answers, not asking questions. If you followed around some of the world’s top CEOs and leaders, you would find the exact opposite is true. The best leaders are great at asking questions, so that the best ideas win and the best answers quickly become evident, even if they arise from the least-expected team members.

 

Management expert Peter Drucker was well-known for asking smart questions like, “What changes have recently happened that don’t fit what everyone knows?” Read that question again and let it sink in for a minute.

 

Most leaders start their meetings with assumptions, biases and beliefs about their market. They see any change in the market as something to be dealt with based on their existing talents and tools. They almost never assume the solution is entirely out of their wheelhouse. They simply go about fitting every “nail” to their hammer. Drucker’s question, however, forces you to stop and ask what you don’t know.

 

If revenue and profit are up this quarter, why? Start with what you might not know. Maybe there’s a new employer in your area offering excellent audiology coverage. Might that be the unknown source of your good fortune? Perhaps the referral campaign you did 60 days ago is finally catching up with busy schedules and spouses who want to get their loved ones into the hearing health care provider before their vacation. Maybe consumer confidence has a lot to do with your growth, etc.

 

The list should be long of possible reasons why something different is happening in your business, but you’ll never articulate the actual reason if leadership insists on giving answers instead of asking smart questions. If things aren’t growing as quickly as you would like, here are five of Drucker’s questions to ask of your team at your next meeting:

 

  • What is our mission?
  • Who is our customer?
  • What does our customer value?
  • What are our results?
  • What is our plan?

 

Too many small business owners can’t articulate a powerful and meaningful reason why they exist in the marketplace other than the fact that they want to earn a living and they like what they do. I’m sorry, but the market doesn’t care that you like to boost clarity or perform surgery or help clients with legal problems. The market only cares how much value you can deliver in solving problems for consumers.

 

Too many small business owners are unclear about exactly whom they serve. We were crystal clear years ago when we stopped treating children and cochlear implant candidates. We’ve never looked back and have continued to grow, even by dismissing 25% of our previous new patient flow. We know exactly whom we serve and we know precisely what they value.

 

Finally, what is your plan and how will everyone in your organization know if you’re making progress? Drucker says, “Progress and achievement can be appraised in qualitative and quantitative terms. These two types of measures are interwoven – they shed light on one another – and both are necessary to illuminate in what ways and to what extent lives are being changed.”

 

Know what your results are and how to measure them.

If you need some inspiration in making your next quarter one of your best ever, stop coming to the table with all the answers and instead start asking better questions. Set the framework and keep asking, “What more can we do to delight our patients?”  Your team will have answers. Give them the freedom and motivation to pursue them in service of your mission.

 

What They Want

I returned from a great meeting with clients recently and met my assistant to go over our plans for the coming week. If I’m in one of our offices, I like to go walking around and say hello, let people know I’m still alive and, occasionally, like I observed today, I get to see a new employee or two in training.

At our departure desk today, there was a new smiling face in training and a handful of patients checking out, all under the careful guidance of two administrative employees and their supervisor. If this new employee was paying attention, and it appears she was, then she learned a powerful lesson today about what patients and spouses want when it comes to hearing appointments.

Every single spouse at the checkout area nicely asked for the same thing.

Most of these patients were coming back in 1-2 weeks for prescription changes and two were coming back in three months for a cleaning or observation appointment, I’m not sure, I was only in the area for 20 or 30 seconds. 100% of these patients said some variation of the same thing. When asked which day of the week works best for them, they all said, “The day and time that is least likely to make me wait.”

Steve Jobs has a famous quote about the customer not knowing what they want until you show it to them. This advice is cute and different. It flies in the face of consumer surveys and focus groups, but it assumes you face the same daunting task of inventing the next great technological revolution, like the iPhone.

You need not reinvent the mobile phone. Your job is not that complicated. You simply need to listen to what patients want and give it to them.

Pouring over 20,000 new patient appointment requests from last year alone for our clients and our privately-held practices; reading the transcripts from over 1,000 secret shopper tapes, the data are crystal clear: your patients and their spouses want appointment times that are convenient to them, and don’t make them wait on you.

If you ignore this and fail to provide your new patients with convenient appointment times (think 5pm, 6pm, 7pm or later) within 7-10 days, they will go somewhere else and/or, if you can get them to show up, they are 400% less-likely to start treatment. * Don’t shoot the messenger.

In a new study from researchers at MIT, the journal Marketing Science reports that consumers make much simpler decisions than most marketers assume. Our brains are really good at deploying an “index strategy” or a straightforward ranking of our options. The advantage of making only slightly better decisions wouldn’t be worth it, in most product and service categories, so we quickly rank the options we believe are available to us based on simple factors like price and quality, finalizing our decision when there is a clear winner. However, when consumers are not able to clearly index their options, they get stuck and delay the decision until there is a clear winner, if ever one appears.

As the only practice owner on the planet paying attention to this research, and as someone who fully understands its power and importance in the consumer markets of hearing aids and treatment, I acutely implore you to pay attention as well.

Stop pretending like patients and spouses care about the technology you use or the level of training you received as a specialist. They don’t. That might bother you but it doesn’t make it untrue. Start recording your new patient phone calls and checkout desk. You’ll hear the same thing all day long. “What’s your appointment time that won’t make me wait on your?”

Pay attention and give consumers what they want, or go work for someone who will.

 

Tact and the Sycophant.

At lunch this weekend, my 13-year-old stepdaughter told me “at dad’s house, we keep our opinions to ourselves.” I didn’t even finish swallowing my food before I said, “I completely disagree,” quickly stopping all conversation at the table.

I asked, “When should you freely share your opinion, even if it isn’t well-received?” All three of my kids at the table had good answers. When a friend is being a little too crazy on the trampoline or if you know something that could help someone, like telling them they are going the wrong way to the airport, etc.

We quickly boiled it down to a litmus test: if your opinion can prevent unwanted harm or facilitate something good, share it and don’t be shy. People who don’t have the guts to say what they think, especially when it can help someone or prevent something bad from happening, usually live quiet lives of despair.

“You’ll never get what you deserve in life if you keep all your thoughts and opinions to yourself,” I said, “Plus the conversations are a lot more interesting and you’ll probably learn something about the other person that can help you both in the future.”

I share this story because you own a business and you have a handful or even scores of employees who are afraid to share their opinions with you. The smartest and most-successful amongst us are really good at helping our employees be tactful, yet we do not surround ourselves with sycophants. Brené Brown calls it “getting comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.”

I had private clients in a few weekends ago who are very smart and capable, growing quickly and experiencing the challenges and complexities that come with growth. One of the challenges is stepping aside and letting someone else take the reins on projects and responsibilities inside the practice.

In determining who will step up to the plate and be their team leader, the only question I had for one potential inside hire was whether or not she could be blunt and honest yet tactful with you if someone needed to be fired. Their immediate answer was, “Absolutely not.”

“So, she’s not a leader,” I said. Keep looking and make sure you put people in positions of responsibility who are comfortable having uncomfortable conversations, who are not sycophantic in their approach with you, and yet, can still be tactful with subordinates.

My parents and grandparents taught me this skill when I was a child. I’m now teaching it to my kids. Never assume your employees and team leaders had this taught to them at a young age. Odds are, they didn’t and you must insist that you are surrounded by tactful leaders willing to share their opinions.

Some Things Never Change.

The Smithsonian magazine reported recently that archaeologists uncovered an ancient Roman bathroom, decorated with suggestive mosaics, meaning dirty jokes were built right into the walls. Just like bathroom humor has been around since the dawn of time, there are many things that never change, even in today’s fast-paced, always-on, hyper-connected society.

For example, your patients will always want to know certain things from you before they buy, before they refer, before they pay in full, etc.

Each year, Jeff Bezos and Amazon ask, “What do we know about the consumer that never changes?” This is an extremely telling secret hidden in plain sight. The world’s #1 disrupter of many industries is not asking, “What’s new and always changing?” He has thousands of software engineers and towers filled with experts who can keep up with the day-to-day details of running the world’s biggest online retail firm. Instead of focusing on up-to-the-minute minutiae, Jeff Bezos wants to know what never changes. He wants his eye focused on the horizon. Yours should be too.

Complete and unrecognizable disruption will one day transition the orthodontic industry so that 100% of treatment is delivered direct to the consumer. How orthodontics is paid for and reimbursed by insurance companies will change. How consumers connect with providers and what they demand in return for their investment will change. Those who set the laws, regulating our profession will change.

Set amid all of this disruption, there will be winners and losers. The winners will have asked and provided solutions to the fundamental question, “What do we know about orthodontic consumers that never changes?”

What fascinates people. What makes them laugh. What makes them fearful, jealous, spiteful. How do they behave when they are happy, sad, excited, eager, hungry or tired. What would stimulate their desire to enhance their smile. Why they would come see you, considering all of their options, including the option of doing nothing. These are the things that never change.

Study them, and you hold the keys to human nature that can unlock a lifetime of success, so that everyone around you thrives. Ignore them, and you’re doomed to continuous struggle, inconsistent results and a lifetime of frustration.

Different, Not Better

For many years now, I’ve taught doctors it’s best to position their practices as different not better. Consumers cannot judge whether your treatment is better or not until after the fact, so you might as well get on with the task of showing them how your office is different and solves problems that others are either unwilling or unable to solve.

 

Consumers assume you’re going to provide great quality, otherwise why even show up? Because they’re curious about what goes on in an audiology practice? I think not.

 

Have you ever taken your family out to eat with the premise that you’re all going to get food poisoning. I didn’t think so.

 

Your prospective new patients come to you because they’ve heard about you from a friend or relative, perhaps their doctor recommended you or maybe they just want to know if now is a good time for their to treat hearing loss and you were on the list of insurance providers, close to work came up first in a quick Google search.

 

Whatever the reason why patients find you, understand this: they assume you’re going to take great care of them, so stop talking about all of the things that are important to you and start positioning yourself as different, especially in how consumers will compare you to the competition.

Find something only you can do or something you do better than anyone else and make that your baby, own it, tell everyone about it and make sure your patients are trained to repeat it to friends and family.

We’ve done this for our own practices and in market after market for our coaching clients by adding extended evening hours, membership programs, weekend hours and complete risk removal by offering lifetime satisfaction guarantees and free supplies and service for life.

It’s not some genius idea that I came up with in my sleep. I stole it from other smart companies like Disney, Apple, Nordstrom and The Ritz Carlton. I cherry picked those examples because I particularly like higher margin businesses and the freedom provided to hire the best employees, pay them more than you think they are worth, invest in marketing and technology and generally operate in a world of abundance. That’s just me.

 

I can point to additional examples in lower margin businesses where they are using the same principles, just different strategies and tactics to grow brilliant businesses. Wal-Mart, Amazon, QuickTrip, McDonald’s, Best Value Inn, Dollar General and Domino’s Pizza come to mind.

 

They’re operating on the same principle: what makes our products and services unique in the mind of the consumer and how can we deliver on our promises?

 

I can now add a new example to my list. At the white-coat ceremony for new students last month, New York University announced on Thursday that all current and future medical students will receive 100% free tuition. What previously cost students $55,000 a year is now free. Wow. Talk about a unique differentiator.

 

NYU’s Langone School of Medicine is now the only top-10 rated medical school in the nation to offer its students completely free tuition. They’ve managed to achieve this incredible feat by establishing a $600 million endowment, spear-headed by the billionaire Kenneth Langone, founder of The Home Depot and his $100 million gift towards the initiative.

 

NYU just put themselves in a category of one. They will receive 10X the number of applications for next year’s entering class. If you’re a top-tier applicant and can choose between USC, Harvard, Mayo Clinic and Stanford, you’re definitely now considering NYU, if not placing it at the top of the stack, as it is the only school that is willing to give you a $220,000 gift in free tuition.

 

Is NYU’s medical school any better than the aforementioned institutions? Hard to say. I’m not a medical doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. I do know that overnight they positioned their school as very, very different.

 

You can do the same.

What is no one else offering in your town that could create a new market for you? What are you doing that is amazing but that you’re not sharing with your target market?

My private clients and founders of AUDMA and a practice in Sun City, AZ, Erik Sorenson, donate treatments to the Sound of Life Foundation each year.  They aren’t shy about sharing this amazing accomplishment.   They’ve made their operation very very different through automation. They operate in a category of one.

 

You can do the same.

 

I want you to do a fun exercise this week. I want you to keep a list (ask your spouse or significant other to do the same) of everywhere you spend money, both online and offline. Just keep a little notepad somewhere near the kitchen counter and in your car. When you spend money, jot down the name of the business and category, then quickly, without spending too much time, write down why you spent your money there versus the other alternatives.

 

At the end of the week, sit down with your list of “reasons why” and then go to your website or pick up some of your recent marketing pieces and ask yourself if any of common consumer purchase behavior (emotional, practical or otherwise) appear in your marketing and how you attract new patients.

 

This is a sobering exercise I learned from the world’s top marketers, whom I’ve paid handsomely for their advice. For the first time, when I completed this exercise, I understood how and why I made buying decisions and I quickly realized my patients do the same thing. The myopic problem with small business owners is that we get so attached to our thing, to our baby, that we cannot see how consumers see. This is a dangerous way to run a business.

 

If I go to my grave having only changed the mind of our profession on one simple fact – that what we do and what consumers want from us are often diametrically opposed – I’ll go in peace.

 

Perception and Reality

Geraint Thomas won the 2018 Tour de France, becoming the first Welshman to take the top prize. I stopped watching the Tour several years ago, for the most part, because of the doping scandals that continue to reappear and the wide disparity in the funding of the top one or two teams and everyone else. Chris Froome, last year’s winner and Sky teammate of this year’s winner, tested positive for excessively high amounts of the asthma drug salbutamol last December. Not shocking.

Outside my usual observation of competitive strategy and tactic, I took away one huge gleaming pearl on how the world works and it came in the most unusual and least expected ways while watching the Tour. In the middle of the week, Froome, the same knucklehead who has admitted to doping, was “wearing a dark gray rain jacket over his racing jersey and was yanked off his bike by a police officer who mistook him for a fan riding the course.” Brilliant.

The leader wears a yellow jersey for a reason. Riders don’t wear dark hoodies over their racing gear for a reason. This police officer is tasked with keeping the riders safe. When he saw what he suspected was a common citizen riding along in the race, he immediately yanked that person off his bike.

Think about the profundity of this incident. A garment is all it took. One minute you’re the defending champion of the Tour de France. The next minute, you’re confused as someone breaking the law, riding in a race where you shouldn’t be riding and a police officer tackles you to the ground.

Your mind should instantly leap to how you and your practice are relentlessly judged by new patients, referring doctors, colleagues and community leaders. In how you dress, speak, market and decorate your office, are you wearing a gray rain jacket over your racing gear?

It’s not fair, but it’s how the world operates.

You’re being judged and assumptions are being made about your clinical skills based not on the patient’s final occlusion but on the cleanliness of your restrooms. Your team is being judged about their sincerity, friendliness, education and apathy based not on reality but on the mere appearance of their uniforms.

I once overhead a James Beard Award-Winning Chef explained to a group of young aspiring chefs, “You’ll never be really great in this profession until you’re obsessed with clean restrooms.” The students looked at her in confusion. They wanted to hear about the latest sous-vide cooking techniques, not some boring advice about janitorial services.

No one got the point, but I chuckled out loud. She was exactly right. Of course her meals are faultless. Of course she knows how to prepare insanely-tasty food. But that’s just the start. Her tables and floors are also spotless and the restrooms are always impeccably clean. She was trying to teach these young chefs if they want to be great, they have to find all the “gray rain jackets” and get rid of them. You can be an amazing chef, but to be a James Beard Award Winner, you had to really love and embrace all aspects of delighting the customer, including how clean the restrooms are.

Listen. I’ve boosted the conversion of young doctors simply by putting them in a neatly-pressed shirt and tie with a custom-tailored white lab coat. Before working with me, they looked like teenage tech repair reps, roaming the office, looking for broken computers. After working with me, they look and sound like a doctor. You might think you have this issue covered. Secret shopper data reveal otherwise.

I’ve made millions for my clients and my own practices by fixing what we say on the phone and how we say it. You might think you have the phones covered. Secret shopper recordings reveal otherwise.

The uncomfortable truth about nearly every business on the planet is that delivering exceptional quality results is just the beginning. This earns you nothing in the eye of the public. Consumers expect small businesses to change the oil without breaking the filter, deliver the food without salmonella, file the taxes on time and without gross errors, complete the surgery without killing the patient, etc. If you can’t operate at the highest level of efficiency and quality, get out of the business. That’s the starting point. Everything else is up to the perception that people can trust you and that you are worthy of their referrals. And, perception is reality.

Don’t sleep another night until you find every gray rain jacket with even the slightest possibility that it might be covering over your racing gear. Make a list. Where is perception putting you at risk of being yanked off your racing bike and tackled to the ground? Eradicate these from your practice like the unwelcome viruses that they are. Then, put the yellow jersey on your practice. Never take it off and never look back.

Training

In a large study of over 5,000 workers in Spain, the University of Madeira discovered that employer-provided training has the same effect on job satisfaction as a 17.7% net wage increase.

I’ve been teaching for years that your employees don’t always want more money in order to increase their engagement and overall job satisfaction with your company. The ability to learn something new or achieve mastery of a skill they have already learned but have not yet perfected are both critical components to job satisfaction. Our surveys with top clients after in-office trainings and live seminar boot camps that we provide also support this recommendation.

 

Your best people are just as excited as you are to learn new things and push their boundaries of knowledge into new and unchartered territory. Don’t assume they are happy doing the same thing day after day if the paycheck is good enough. It simply won’t keep your best people engaged. Ask me how I know. I’ve learned this the hard way time after time.

 

If you examine the employee training programs for the Walt Disney Company, the Ritz Carlton and Virgin American airlines, you’ll discover this principle of learning new things is consistently in action. When you have lunch with a Disney Imagineer, a lunch date I highly suggest you take if ever presented with the opportunity, you’ll discover a huge secret to Disney’s success with this highly-competitive and highly-sought- after position within the company (this particular Imagineer had spent over 20 years building her career, interspersed with three separate interview opportunities before she finally landed the job). She explained how they frequently move the Imagineers from project to project, between parks, overseas and through continuous motion Disney basically is forcing their top people to learn new things.

 

The same is true with Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO. When faced with two potential candidates to succeed him in the lead role when he steps down, he had the top executive in finance and the top executive in running the parks switch jobs for two years. Could you imagine? What does a finance executive know about the day-to- day operations of running a theme park and vice versa? It forced them to learn something new.

Think about your own practice. When are you most excited about its future – when you’ve been doing the same thing over and over or when you finally learn something new? Isn’t it time you provided the same exciting opportunities for your employees?

Messy

It’s time to replace the Italian espresso machine in my kitchen. I rarely spend much time researching options. I’d rather make a decision and adjust as I go, but desire quality so I feel a little obligated to replace it with something as durable.

Tasked to my personal assistant, already knee-deep in the process of replacing two other commercial coffee machines in our audiology offices, my only instruction was to make sure it’s durable. “Commercial grade,” I remember saying. Why not kill three birds with one stone?

She came back with options from the distributor that were “much less messy” than my current machine. They all looked like glorified Nespresso machines.

“Messy,” I asked. “What’s messy?”

She explained, “Well, with your current machine you have to grind the beans and then put them in that thing over there and that makes a mess.”

“Yes,” I patiently smiled, “But freshly-ground espresso doesn’t taste like dirt.”

I didn’t ask for a neat little Nespresso, all I asked for was commercial grade, as in real espresso. The options she brought back to me were cheap. The machine I’m looking for costs more than her car. The options she recommended all use cute little pods of coffee that was roasted sometime in the Nixon administration and ground months in advance. The machine I’m looking for requires a separate and very expensive grinder, which I already own, and it requires the operator to know what the hell he is doing, and yes, it can get a little messy.

Effort equals result. There is much to teach this young grasshopper.

I tried to use an analogy that she would understand. She loves to bake and is hell-bent on giving me diabetes and/or 20 extra pounds of cellulose before summer. Every time I turn around, there’s some freshly baked muffin, pie, pastry or cookie in the kitchen. She knows I throw most of it away, but that hasn’t deterred her yet.

“Listen,” I said. “Do you think the best homemade pie crusts come in little Keurig pods, pre-made months in advance in some far away factory?”

The lightbulb clicked on. “Got it,” she said. “So I still need to get fresh coffee beans each week from River Rock Roasters, correct?”

“Correct,” I replied.

She’s coming along slowly. Very slowly, but she illustrates a teaching concept that most multi-millionaires and success stories of any kind assume you know but won’t come right out and say it unless you ask them privately.

Success is cooked up in a messy kitchen.

Sure, the “4-hour-workweek-make-money-in-your-swim-trunks-sitting-on-the-beach-without-any-effort-whatsoever” gurus will have you believe you can enjoy mega success without getting your hands dirty. Just like coffee-pod brewers think you can enjoy the same experience as a well-crafted, perfectly roasted and freshly-ground espresso without getting your hands a little dirty.

As an interesting aside, when I was in Phoenix this weekend visiting a few private clients, I learned of a story about Tim Ferris when his book “4 Hour Workweek” launched and that Mr. Ferris had been sitting in a recording studio for eight hours straight without a lunch break in order to promote a book that had taken him over a year to write. Tim smiled and said, “Yeah, but this isn’t work, it’s fun, so this doesn’t count.” Smart guy, quick on his feet and a decent comeback but don’t miss the lesson:

Watch what people do to become successful, not what they say.

For every high school phenom that catapults straight to the pros, there are tens of thousands that never make it, spend years in the minor leagues or overseas, in and out of physical therapy and surgery, scraping and clawing to get to the main stage. A friend of a friend and major league ball player for nearly 20 years, now retired coach with two World Series rings, saw this up close and personal with his own son, an unbelievably-talented ball player who spent nearly a decade working his way to the top, never quite making it to the big leagues. I was told that even with a signed contract from a professional baseball team, the chances of ever seeing the light of day in the MLB is less than one in one thousand – and that’s with a signed contract. Most stay in the minors for their entire career.

For every high income earner who catapulted straight into the stratosphere based on some algorithm or invention, landing them a multi-million dollar salary or even larger buyout in Silicon Valley, there are tens of thousands who started as an assistant manager, worked their way up to regional manager, vice president and eventually into the C-suite. Bob Iger at Disney, currently one of the world’s smartest businessmen and likely to go down in history as one of the best ever unless he screws something up, started off doing the weather on a local ABC affiliate in Ithaca, NY. That was 1973.

It took 20 years for Iger to claw his way to the top of ABC and another 11 years for him to work his way to President of Walt Disney International, then Chief Operating Officer, then named as replacement for Michael Eisner in 2005. In less than a year, he orchestrated the purchase of Pixar, then Marvel Entertainment, then Lucasfilm including Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. He became a Director on Apple’s board after Jobs’ death and last year acquired 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, making Disney the undisputed powerhouse of all things entertainment.

Iger wasn’t an overnight success and his path was not cooked up in a clean kitchen. Lee Cockerell, President of Walt Disney World in Orlando with over 76,000 employees under his leadership, Lee describes his own path as a bit of a roller coaster. “There are times you don’t think you’re going to survive, then there are times where you can seem to do no wrong,” he said.

A friend of one of my personal coaches, started off as an assistant manager at Wendy’s hamburgers, making less than ten bucks an hour. He clawed, scraped and fought his way to purchase his first franchise. He now owns over 45 Wendy’s restaurants and a dozen Buffalo Wild Wings and other franchises to boot. He has over 900 employees. From the surface, his wild success story might look like a fairytale. I can tell you the countless hours, blood, sweat and tears that went into building that empire.

Here’s the lesson, if you haven’t gleaned it already.

Stop wishing for things to be easy. Stop insisting there be no mess in your life.

I realize you were probably at the top of your class in school. I realize you have been a lifetime student and failure is scary to you. I know you have a big heart. That you are a perfectionist. Think about it. You care for patients everyday. You’re wound tight, don’t like it when things don’t go your way, have a place for everything and everything in its place. Fine. I’m not sure I’d want my grandmother treated by someone who didn’t have most or all of these tendencies. But stop pretending like everything is going to be perfect from today forward.

If you want a mega success story of your own. If you want endless referrals, respect in your community, a net income that puts you in the 0.1% and an exit strategy that leaves you with over $10 million cash in the bank, you must be prepared to get your hands a little dirty. There is no Keurig pod for instant success. Embrace the mess.

 

2018 U.S. Marketing Spending Forecast

According to AdAge and Zenith, the estimated U.S. spending in media and marketing services is $446 billion. In the US, internet ad spending surpassed TV for the first time ever. Market share will increase 13% year-over-year with $1,354 spent per person on marketing and advertising this year.

As more big dumb companies rush into online advertising and pull out of traditional media, a window of opportunity opens for small firms in most local markets. Newspaper, radio, magazine and TV advertising has contracted year-over-year.

Previously unavailable time slots and stations or magazine placements are now available. Many have reduced costs to attract new advertisers. Again, this presents tremendous opportunity for your small business.

Don’t be distracted by the online gold rush with brand advertisers dumping billions of dollars into media that is awfully hard to hold accountable. Microsoft, Facebook and Google spent 67% of their advertising and marketing last year on traditional broadcast television.

If anyone could achieve their goals with 100% online ad spend, I’m fairly certain these tech companies would do it in an instant. They can’t achieve their goals without traditional media, however, and that is worthy of your attention.

In the California goldrush, there were more millionaires made selling shovels to the gold miners than there were millionaries who discovered gold. Pay attention to what these digital companies do and what they say.

Google spent $100 million on direct mail last year. If they could get every advertiser they need to pay attention from Google Adwords alone, don’t you think they would drop the expense of direct mail in an instant?

Luckily for these companies and for smart local firms who pay attention, there’s someone in charge who reminds everyone else in the room that they still can’t achieve their goals yet with online media alone.

The minute Disney stops running TV and radio commercials, magazine advertisements and direct mail, you can rest assured, I won’t be far behind. Until then, it’s our responsibility to pay attention to traditional media trends and there’s never been a better time to start testing many of these channels as big dumb companies exit and pour more of their budgets into online ads.

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