The Three Month Vacation Podcast: Online Small Business|Marketing Strategy Plan| Sean D'Souza | Psychotactics








June 2017
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Most of us know of the concept of the "guardian angel". They come into our lives and they take care of us. The "kicking angel" is quite different. The angel shows up just to push us over the edge and then he/she disappears from our lives. How do we know when we're being kicked? And what "kicks" do we pay attention to and what do we ignore?

Direct download: 145-ReRun-1-Why_Kicking_Angels_Help_Create_Momentum_in_Business.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

Can you really double your sales of a product you've created a while ago? And why are satellite products so very useful to clients and profitable to your info-product business? In this episode we look at info-products as we'd look at a piece of software like Photoshop. Find out the magic that already exists within your info-product and why you don't have to keep crazily searching for newer clients all the time.

It might seem that a client is extremely important when creating an information product. After all, you're getting them to tell you exactly what she needs. However, more often than not, this method is a recipe for disaster. Even so, the client is extremely useful in another phase. So when do you include the client? And when do you leave her out? Let's find out in this two part series on info-product creation.

When you create your business, product  or service uniqueness, do you need to test it?

Incredible as it seems there's little point in doing any testing at all.

In this episode you'll find out why testing is practically impossible and how instead of wasting time on research, you should follow three steps to make sure your uniqueness occupies a permanent part of your client's brain.

In this episode Sean talks about

Step 1: You have to consistently get the word out.
Step 2: You have to state the position of the competition.
Step 3: You have to state your own position.

Read it online: How to Effectively Test Your Uniqueness


When you have settled on your uniqueness, how can you test it?

What is likely to happen to a woman's bikini, when she's surfing?
“If you're a woman, surfing with a bikini was slightly out of the question.You'd be out in the waves, walk out of the water and literally you've lost your bottoms,” said the business owner, Anna Jerstrom. So Jerstrom decided to create sexy, bright bikinis. And the uniqueness? Bikinis that stay on, no matter how rough the surf. And with this single-minded pursuit, investment banker, Anna Jerstrom started a business called Calavera.

Wouldn't she need to test the uniqueness before she began?

In almost every case, testing a uniqueness is completely unnecessary. One of the biggest reasons why you shouldn't be bothered with testing a uniqueness is because you're unlikely to have any competition.

Let's take the uniqueness of Calavera, for example. Why did Jerstrom start the company? Surely she should have been able to find some bikinis that didn't slide off in the surf. Even with the power of the Internet at her disposal, she was still running into dead ends. It means that there will be hundreds, if not thousands of customers who are also finding it hard to get a decent product.

That line of thought may not sound reasonable to you, but let's look at the alternative, shall we?

Let's say you decide to sell a product. Maybe it's an information product that's based on presentations. When you look on, you're likely to find at least 5,000 books on presentations. Do you really want to go through every sales page trying to find out what's unique about the presentation product?

Clients don't care about doing such extensive research either. They just want to show up to your business whether online or offline, and they want you to explicitly tell them why you are different from the rest of the competition. Whether you have a product, training or a service, your uniqueness doesn't need testing, simply because it's impossible to do a test.

But there's another good reason why you shouldn't bother to test

The biggest reason why you should just go ahead and run your uniqueness is because the competition is lazy or confused, or both. Most companies are clearly at sea when asked what makes them unique. If you have a uniqueness factor in place, that puts you way ahead of your competitors. However, there's also another reason why you can go ahead quite happily.

Even if your competition has a uniqueness, it's not much use unless they use it on a frequent basis

A uniqueness itself is not enough for clients to remember what is being said. Volvo is known for their safe cars because they ran endless ads about safety. Dominos made a billion dollars selling pizza because of their “30 minutes or it's free” slogan. Think for a second about your competitors right now. Can you quickly bring up their uniqueness?

It's not enough to have a uniqueness, you have to do so much more

In fact you have to take three steps to make sure the uniqueness does its job properly.

Step 1: You have to consistently get the word out.
Step 2: You have to state the position of the competition.
Step 3: You have to state your own position.

Let's go through the steps—To Getting Your Uniqueness Recognised

Step 1: Get the word out

This means a uniqueness can't just sit around. It has to be repeated in some form or the other, over and over again. If you've listened to the “Three Month Vacation” podcast, for example, when I talk about 5000bc, I will repeat the same thing almost ad nauseam. I will say, “5000bc is a place where introverts meet because they feel safe”.

The same message will be sent out in articles, in books—in just about every medium possible. And the message never changes much, if at all. Keeping that message consistent is what is critical. If you keep changing the message simply because you're bored of it, you've lost more than half the uniqueness battle. You want to make sure you get the uniqueness as simple as possible and then continue to mention it everywhere.

When you consider that you may have more than one product or service, you have to pick your battles

For instance, the uniqueness of Psychotactics is “tiny increments”. But often the overall company uniqueness is of little value to the client, because they are more focused on the product or service, instead. However, at Psychotactics, we have many products, so I pick the uniqueness depending on the medium.

On the podcast, I will consistently end with the uniqueness of 5000bc

However, while I'm explaining something in the podcast or in an article, I will make sure to talk about the uniqueness of Psychotactics courses and how they're not just information, but about skill (see, I did it again). You don't want to bring up the uniqueness of every single product or service. You want to make sure you have a few entry points.

For us at Psychotactics, those entry points that need to be stressed are The Brain Audit, 5000bc and the courses. It's not like the rest of the products and services don't matter. They do, but the uniqueness of those products and services are on the sales page or sales pitch itself.

It's important to have your doorways

Just rattling off a dozen uniquenesses for a dozen products doesn't get any message across to clients. Pick two or three of your services or products—or if you like, the uniqueness of your company. And then keep hammering them home in pre-selected areas of your marketing.

But that's only the first part of making sure your uniqueness is heard. To make sure you get the point across, you have to state the position of the competition.

Step 2: Stating the position of the competition

Ever noticed how shiny Harley Davidson bikes tend to be? The reason for their shiny nature is probably the diligence of the bike owner, but equally, it's how the bike has been positioned in the Harley owner's mind. Harley owners have been known to truck their bikes across and then ride them locally.

After all, the bikes have to be in pristine condition at all times. The BMW bike owners, on the other hand, seem to favour the dust and dirt, pushing their bikes across all sorts of punishing conditions.

Even if the above description of BMW vs. Harley is not 100% accurate, it demonstrates the difference

And uniqueness is a point of difference. To make sure you get the point of difference across, you need to have the competition clearly in your sights. If you have a million-dollar promotion budget, you can continue to mention your slogan, but if you're a small business, you tend to get very few chances. Which is why it's important to bring the competition when you're describing your own point of uniqueness.

So first, you have to pick your “enemy.”

The enemy may not be a company. It could be a way of doing things. So when I say, “other courses give you a money back guarantee, but no guarantee of skill”, I'm not taking on anyone in particular. I'm simply taking on an aspect of online courses. If you were to say, “other yoga classes have a lot of yoga routines, but don't necessarily pay attention to what can injure you long after you've left the yoga class.” Or to take a third example involving microphones: Other microphones pick up unwanted noise and reflections, in a bad-sounding, untreated room.”

Once you've defined the enemy's characteristics you know what you're battling against

No doubt the enemy will have many flaws, but your job is to pick one. Uniqueness is about “one thing”, and the moment you pick the opponent's flaw, you can easily position yourself against them. Which takes us to the third step, doesn't it?

Step 3: You have to state your own position

Your position is the exact opposite of the flaw you've picked.
If they work too slowly, you work quickly.
If they give you 200 pages of information, you give only the ten pages needed.
If they sell ripe bananas, you sell them green, so they don't ripen too quickly.

With the Calavera bikinis, Anna Jerstrom's enemy was “the terribly fitting bikinis”, and her position was “bikinis that stay on, no matter how rough the surf.” You can pick up anything off your desk and ask yourself why you use that particular product. And the same goes for any service as well. Or company for that matter.

When I give a presentation, for example, I want to stand out from the rest of the presenters, so I talk about how businesses make a gazillion dollars, but we make more than enough, and we take three months off every year, not working, but completely on vacation. When you state the competitor's position and contrast it with yours, you can see the lights going off in the prospect's brain.

Which brings us to that testing bit again: how do you know if your uniqueness is truly unique?

It's the nodding of the head. When you state your uniqueness, the clients tend to see the difference between your competitor and you. And you get this smile, this slight nod of the head. You know you've struck a chord with the client. Oh, and there's the echo.

When you ask the client what you do, they should be able to echo your words perfectly

Listen for the echo. Are they missing out important bits? If they are, your uniqueness may not be as simple as you think and you'll need to edit it a bit. If they're totally off tangent, then you haven't made your point as precise as it could be. If you run into your client a month or six months from now and they can echo your uniqueness perfectly, then you've got a uniqueness that has resonated with them, and it's truly a point of difference.

Finally, a lot of uniqueness comes about when you're not expecting it

That line about how our courses are different from every other online course wasn't something I figured out while sitting down and going through this exercise. I probably said it in response to a question on an interview or when trying to explain what makes our courses different. Over times, I made sure to bring it up often so that it got a bit of an edge.

A lot of your uniqueness is going to pop up when you least expect it, so make sure you write it down when you hear yourself saying something interesting about your product or service. Nonetheless, as a starting point, defining the enemy is a very crucial exercise. It's only when you define the enemy that you can clarify your own position in a memorable manner.

To get your uniqueness really charging down the road you need to consider all three points:

Step 1: You have to consistently get the word out.
Step 2: You have to state the position of the competition.
Step 3: You have to state your own position.

And that's how the uniqueness fits—just like a Calavera bikini.

Oh, one more thing: Calavera closed down its business in 2017. They decided they wanted to do something different and after a good five years of running the business, they decided to shut shop.

P.S. What would it be like to stand out from the competition in a way that customers choose you over everyone else?

And what if you were to raise your prices, and they still kept coming? Have you ever wondered what it might feel like to not be me-too?
Here are six goodies on uniqueness
Free Goodie No. 1: Uniqueness: Why We Get It Wrong
Free Goodie No .2: Getting to Uniqueness Part One and Two
Free Goodie No. 3: Uniqueness: The Importance of the Mundane and the Seemingly Uninteresting.
Free Goodie No. 4: Uniqueness mistakes and how to avoid them-video
Free Goodie No. 5: Uniqueness: The Difference (and Resemblance) Between Uniqueness and the Other Red Bags
Free Goodie No. 6: Uniqueness: Do You Need To Carve Out a Uniqueness For ‘Every’ Product or Service?
Get the goodies here: How to get to your uniqueness

Direct download: 142-Do_You_Need_To_Test_Your_Uniqueness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30pm +12

How do you position your products and services?

Finding your uniqueness is incredibly difficult, yet some companies do it consistently well. How do you learn from their ability to position their products and services?

Also, do you really need a uniqueness for every business product and service? The answer is “yes” and this episode will reveal why that's the case.


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: How do you go about finding uniqueness for your business/product/service?
Part 2: Do different products/services need their own uniquenesses?
Part 3: When you have settled on your uniqueness, how can you test it?


Read in online: How To Quickly Create Your Uniqueness


A patch of grass, is a patch of grass, is a patch of grass, right?

Take for instance the patch of grass near the volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania

Every year around February, the wildebeest calves are born, all at the same time. If you look at where the calves seem to graze, it's on one patch of grass—while completely ignoring the rest of the think.

This particular grass, which stretches for miles, has nine times the phosphorus and five times the calcium as the next patch. The enriched grass nourishes the young calves and gets them healthy for the great migration that is to follow. In other words, you could easily call this grass unique, right?

In business we rarely have this luxury of inbuilt uniqueness

Instead we have to go out and find our uniqueness, or create one. And this is where we seem to run into a lot of trouble. When we look at our products or services, they seem remarkably similar to what the competition is offering.

We too could do with a bit of phosphorus and calcium in our offerings, we believe. Contrary to what we think, we all have an incredibly powerful ability to distinguish ourselves from any competitors.

Yet, the moment we decide to work on our uniqueness, we paint ourselves into a corner

We don't know if we're supposed to find a uniqueness or create one. The pressure builds until we convince ourselves that the exercise of uniqueness is much too tedious, and it's better to use our energy in other areas of marketing and sales. Even as we're veering away from uniqueness, we realise that we pick products and services precisely for their uniqueness. Running away from the issue isn't going to help us move ahead. We have to turn and face it head on.

And here's how you do it. Let's cover three elements:

How do you go about finding uniqueness for your business/product/service?
Do different products/services need their own uniquenesses?
When you have settled on your uniqueness, how can you test it?

Element 1: How do you go about finding uniqueness for your business/product/service?

Back in 2003, we started a little membership site called 5000bc.

It wasn't meant to be a membership site, but so many clients wanted to discuss business issues that it made sense to have a site. At first, it had almost no content, and I spent a good few weeks putting in a dozen articles or so. It was the early 2000's, remember? I was able to get in touch with almost anyone on e-mail and get their permission to use their content. So I contacted billionaire, Mark Cuban, best-selling author and speaker, Wayne Dyer and other such personalities. And so, 5000bc began on its journey.

But 5000bc had no clearly-defined uniqueness

When you're starting out a business, it's hard just to figure out what you're doing. You're trying so hard to find yourself that finding the uniqueness for a product or service seems implausible, if not impossible. Nonetheless, over the years, as 5000bc grew, we went through the process of interior design. We'd add something here, something there and soon it became quite distinct in itself. Even so, we couldn't figure out what was unique.

This is the part where you turn to the outside world

We sent out a bunch of e-mails to clients and time, and time again they'd come up with the same response. They'd say something like this—and this is an actual quote: My favourite part about 5000bc is the character of the community. From knowing that you will personally answer my questions to knowing I can post my own answers without getting ridiculed is really nice.

I'm just getting started, but once my business is rolling, I will certainly pay it back to the community. I've never seen anyone put anyone else down in the Cave.

But then they might add something like this

I also like the depth of content. Before I came to 5000bc, I was very confused about the direction I want to go in for starting my business.  Ever since joining 5000bc, and reading the content I've been getting a lot of clarity and confidence.  I'm no longer running in circles, but moving towards my goals.  I really appreciated the members sharing tips and comments on my post about “getting rid of negative thoughts”.

I also like that people hold you accountable to what you have entered in Taking Action Forum.

See the problem yet?

In that answer, there are several points, and seemingly none of them co-relate with each other. Let's go over them in bullet form:
– The character of the community (you can ask questions without getting ridiculed.
– The depth of the content that gives me confidence and clarity.
– Being held accountable.

But if a single e-mail gets three points, we already have three tangents, don't we?

If we were to poll everyone the list would be pretty exhaustive. We'd get a list that's akin to this:
– Kind, helpful community
– Restricted membership
– The philosophy ensures helpfulness

– Vanishing reports on various topics that may not be found elsewhere.
– The critique lounge
– The common language of The Brain Audit.

– The that me, Sean, is always around sometimes 15-20 times a day.
– That a question asked by clients may end up with a series of articles written especially for that client.

The list goes on and on and the longer the list, the bigger the uniqueness headache

Which is when you randomly pick one element from the list. In the case of 5000bc, enough clients mentioned that they sign up for a membership site and the owners of the site are never around. They just dump information but aren't around to clarify any queries and any such clarification has to be done at an additional price. We took that information—the fact that I'm around and answer the questions—as the uniqueness.

If that seemed like a logical uniqueness, it's not

The Vanishing Reports, for one, are extremely well-regarded. Clients consistently like the Vanishing Reports because they consider them to be yummy bites of knowledge, focused on a single topic. As a result, they don't overwhelm you, and as a member, you get it free of cost, until they disappear. Or you could take the fact that the philosophy of the community ensures that there's no trolling, no pitching of their own business, and introverts—especially introverts—feel very safe when asking questions.

Any of the elements in the list above could easily become the unique factor of 5000bc. And yet, the way to go about choosing a uniqueness is to only pick one—any one. And once you've picked you to need to elaborate why that uniqueness is so vital. It's the elaboration that makes it unique, not necessarily the element itself. Without the elaboration, nothing is unique, or rather everything is unique.

I call this concept the “Attenborough Effect.”

The “Attenborough Effect.”

A forest contains thousands of species of plants, animals and insects. To try and cover them all is plainly a waste of time. Which is why naturalist and TV presenter, David Attenborough, does something dramatic. In one particular video, he falls to the floor and focuses on a single plant: the Venus Fly Trap. The act of dropping to the forest floor is a moment of pure drama, but that's not what you should be getting your attention. Instead, notice that he's ignored all the rest of the plants, animals and insects.

All of them, but the Venus Fly Trap.

This is what I call the Attenborough Effect and it's also the lesson as to how you need to choose your own uniqueness

Your current business may do many things well, but trying to cover your own “forest floor” is a waste of time. Clients can't pay attention to many points at the same time. Even two points are far too many as you noticed when we used the 5000bc example. You couldn't have “helpful community” and “Vanishing Reports” at the same time.

A choice has to be made and while it may appear to you like the choice was very precise, it only seems that way because of the way in which it is presented. Walking around in the forest, the Venus Fly Trap may never get your attention, but by focusing the camera on one—to the exclusion of everything else—is how uniqueness is created.

However, all of this assumes that you already have a business, a product or service

And that's a dangerous assumption to make for a specific reason. All of us, without exception, will have new products or services in future. And as we'll learn in the second section of this piece, every one of the products or services will need their own uniqueness. So how are we to create a uniqueness when we don't have the luxury of hindsight? The way forward is to create your uniqueness. The question that arises is “how do you do that?” How do you pick your uniqueness?

The answer lies in a concept we've covered many times before called a “superpower”

Let's say you're conducting a workshop to learn how to acquire “X-Ray vision”. When the clients walk into the room, what are they expecting to learn? And when they leave? The obvious answer is “X-Ray vision”, isn't it? Let's assume 5000bc didn't have Vanishing Reports. Wait, we're not assuming, are we, because 5000bc didn't have Vanishing Reports.

When we started out, we looked at other websites and there was no concept like Vanishing Reports. So we just invented it. However, let's say everyone suddenly decides to create Vanishing Reports. What are you going to do in such a situation?

You add a little bit of extra description to your offering.

Maybe your vanishing reports are “just 10 pages long.”
Maybe they're 50 pages, in-depth reports.
Maybe they're full of cartoons which are fun to read.
Maybe the report is not just a report but a stage by stage how-to document.

You see what's happening here?

You're deciding in advance what superpower you want to bestow upon your client. You are deciding you want to give them X-Ray vision, or vanishing reports, or specially organised groups. You can simply decide what you want to focus on and then go right ahead and invent your uniqueness. Every feature you see in a new phone model, new software, new product or service is merely an invention.

When sitting down to create your product or service, you will need to do some brainstorming

What features and benefits will it have? And the moment you make the list, you have a choice. Simply pick something that's interesting and elaborate upon it. If you've noticed, that's the second time, or possibly the third that the term “elaborate” has been brought up. We'll cover more about “elaboration” and what to elaborate as we work our way through this piece.

For now, either pick something like David Attenborough, or invent something you'd like to see in your product or service. And that will get the ball rolling. That is your first step on the road to creating uniqueness for your products and services.

Element 2: Does Every Product or Service Need Its Own Uniqueness?

When you look at any family on the planet, what you're actually seeing is an example of products and services

Let's take the eldest child. And let's suggest his uniqueness is that he's calm. Let's paint the second child as having a wild nature. The third may well have an inquisitive nature. If the family were to extend almost endlessly, every child in that family would have a different character, attribute or what we'd call uniqueness.

Therefore something similar applies to your family of products and services too. Yes, your company may have a unique character, but it's equally important for every product or service to have a uniqueness as well.

Let’s take an example. Let’s examine The Brain Audit, for instance.

Did The Brain Audit always have a uniqueness?

No, it didn’t. When we started, we had no uniqueness at all. Luckily we got over 800 testimonials, and that became the uniqueness. Now admittedly, once you have 800 testimonials, your product should stand out quite a bit, shouldn't it? And yes, the product will stand out, provided the format doesn't change in any way.

But The Brain Audit went from Version 1.0 to 2.0—and then to Version 3.2

And this is where the problem lies. If a customer has bought Version 1.0, why bother buying Version 2.0? Or for that matter Version 3.2.? And what if we were to bring out Version 4.0?

It's where uniqueness comes waltzing right through the door.  Many, if not most of our clients have bought several versions of The Brain Audit. And the reason is simple: They can see why version differs from the next. And this difference is simply a factor of uniqueness.

When you define the uniqueness, you automatically get clients interested. And not just existing customers, but new ones as well.

It’s more than likely that the new clients haven't run into The Brain Audit

So for them the uniqueness is pitched against other books of a similar nature. Why should they spend their hard-earned money on this product vs. some other marketing-based product?

And that’s not all…

Let’s say we did put out a version of The Brain Audit on And that price is just $9.99. And the product on the Psychotactics website is $119. What causes the client to buy the $119 version? Once again we have the uniqueness come into play. If a client gets a lot more on our website vs. what’s available on Amazon. Then there’s a point of difference.

When a thick, luscious layer of uniqueness is applied, price and reluctance retreat quickly

But you can’t just depend on the client to figure all of this out. So you have to clearly define the uniqueness. You have to be able to tell the difference between an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 4s. The Brain Audit Version 2.0 and The Brain Audit Version 3.2. The Amazon offering and the website offering. Because in reality, every product or every offering needs to really stand out from the “hoi-polloi” even if the “hoi-polloi” is just a different version of your very own product or service.

In short, every product and service needs a uniqueness

Just like a family member, every product or service is different. And even if you have the very same product, but in different formats or versions, you're still going to have to differentiate it so that clients know why they should buy one product over the other.

And this takes us to the third point- When you have settled on your uniqueness, how can you test it?

Element 3: When you have settled on your uniqueness, how can you test it?


Direct download: 141-How_To_Create_Your_Uniqueness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

Information product sales don't always increase with promotions alone

Often they increase by giving away content that you could easily sell.

But shouldn't you stick to giving away tiny reports? What if you were told to give away a big product instead? Would that reap any rewards?

Find out in this episode on giving as a strategy.


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: Small value giveaway
Part 2: Big value giveaway
Part 3: How to structure the giveaway and how often

Click to read online:


n South Africa, there's a flower that only one insect can access.

Orphium flowers don't contain nectar. Instead, they provide bees with pollen. Yet, not every insect can access the pollen. If you look closely at an orphium flower, you'll find the stamens are twisted and this, in turn, prevents the pollen from being stolen by visiting insects. Only one insect has access to the pollen in the Orphium flower. That insect is the female carpenter bee.

When she approaches the Orphium flower, her flapping wings make a particular buzzing sound. Yet that sound won't make a difference to the flower. The stamens remain locked. At which point the bee changes the beat of her wings creating what we'd call the C note. That simple act gets the flower to seemingly unlock and shower the bee with pollen.

In our business, we often seem to be like the other insects.

We don't appear to be able to hit that C note and unlock greater products sales. Yet just like the wing beat of the carpenter bee, you can achieve a consistent level of success. So what's that note that you have to hit? And how often?

Let's find out:

1) Small value giveaway
2) Big value giveaway
3) How to structure the giveaway and how often

1) Why Small Value Giveaways or Products Work

If you were a rooster, would you be able to crow at any time?

You'd think so, wouldn't you? After all, it seems like roosters cock-a-doodle-doo at any given time. In the journal, Scientific Reports, a study showed that roosters crow in order of seniority. First, the top ranking rooster initiates the crowing, followed by subordinates, all in descending order of social rank.

In fact, when the top ranking rooster is removed from the group, the second-ranking rooster initiates the crowing. At all times the social rank has to be adhered to maintain the hierarchy.

Fortunately, such a hierarchy doesn't have to maintained when trying to increase product sales. You can start off with a small value giveaway.

So what's a small or low-value giveaway?

When you get to the website at, you're likely to have run into a giveaway called the “Headline Report”. It's why headlines fail, and how to avoid that failure. To date, over 55,000 copies of that report have been downloaded.

That report isn't a top-ranking, highly complex document. Back in the early 2000s, when we first launched a pre-Psychotactics site, I wrote an article about headlines, which turned out to be very popular.

And by this point you're probably thinking, “Ah, it's a report, there's nothing new about a report.”

You'd be right if you thought that way because the report itself doesn't do much. However, if you take a report that gets a client from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible, then that report becomes pretty magical.

Which is what the Headline Report does. In under 10 minutes and in about as many pages, it takes you from not being very confident with headlines to getting a pretty good understanding of the working and the implementation of the headline.

All over the Psychotactics website there are tiny reports of this nature

They're all small value giveaways, but they do one thing and do it well. They get you from A to B in a big hurry. The hurry part is important because people are swamped with information. If you're able to create change quickly, they're more likely to decide to take the next step and implement what you've shown them.

Once they implement, they're hooked. I remember a client who came to our workshop, spent $3000 for himself and his wife, purely based on the strength of the report.

But it's not just reports that matter; videos or audio can do the same task

Last week I listened to a podcast about a book by Tim Harford. To date, I've read one book and am in the process of going through the other. The podcast isn't high value, is it? It's free, but the same concept of the podcast can be used on your site. The short video, the short audio, the tiny report, even a string of slides that explain a concept. Your starting point should usually be an appetiser, not a full meal.

At Psychotactics we have appetisers all around the place

It might be an excerpt of a book or some reports that are extremely useful. They all serve to get clients to show up, then sign up on a consistent basis. In fact, our goal—and pay close attention—is to have a report that's suited to every type of article. It's a pretty extensive exercise but think about it.

If you're reading an article on resistance, what would you prefer a report on? Resistance, or overcoming resistance, right? The same concept would apply to any page of your website. Which means that if you bundle up even a few of your best Point A to Point B articles, you should be able to have a few reports ready in a few weeks, at best a few months.

The low-value giveaways don't need to be restricted to just the giveaway on your front page

They can be all sorts of little audios, videos, or any information that is of value to the client. And they cut through the hierarchy. We all believe that clients need to read our book or attend a workshop. No, they don't. They just need a tiny bit of stuff that they can consume.

So why is this consumption bit so very important?

When a client can finish and implement something, they usually come back for more. Which is why it then pays to have not just free, but also low-value products. When you look at Psychotactics, you'll notice that we sell The Brain Audit for $9.99.

There are also other products that have a lower value and are priced at $29 or $39. They're not exactly cheap, but when compared with some of the $3000 products they do come across as lower value. In fact, if you look closer, we even have a button that says, “products under $50”. Clients want to test the waters without too much of a risk. When they find value—and by value I mean they can implement everything smoothly and elegantly—they come back for more.

Nonetheless, free or lower value products are not the only way to go. Which is why you need to have something of high value to give away. Give away? Yes, give away. Let's look at how the high-value products work as well.

2) Let's look at how the high-value products work as well. Big Value Giveaway

Did you know that the modern seat belt was invented by an aviation engineer who worked on ejector seats?

In 1959, it's not like cars didn't have seat belts—they did. But the seat belts were two-point waist restraints, which in car crashes, harmed rather than helped the driver and passengers. Which is when Volvo engineer, Nils Bohlin stepped up to the plate and invented the three-point seat belt—the kind we use today. It was such a remarkable safety feature that Volvo would have made a big pile of money on patents alone.

Instead, Volvo gave it away.

We often believe that we should sell high-value products

However, you may find, as we did, that giving away high-value products can be an incredibly powerful way to build trust and get repeat clients.

On the Psychotactics website is a product called The Brain Alchemy Masterclass which is priced around $2300. The product shows you the core of how to start and build your business, and it's easy enough to get to the sales page and buy the product. Yet, from time to time we give away the product to the entire list.

Another product is the Website Masterclass

This product digs deep into not just websites, but the psychology of what creates “religions” to work. In doing so, it takes you on the magic carpet through the major world religions, Harley Davidson, Football and other such “religions”.

You realise why some marketers never have to put crazy countdown clocks or dump pop-ups on their website. That without any fuss or hoopla you can create a business where clients buy because their trust in you is infinite. Would you hold onto such a product? And yet, a few years ago, we gave it away to those who were members of 5000bc—and no, there was no catch involved.

Giving away a big product seems to be a foolhardy exercise

Why give something away when you can sell it? We've found that giving away a chunk of what we have has been beneficial for our business. At Psychotactics, we have over 20 products, and when we give away big chunks, we've found it builds an enormous amount of goodwill, which, believe it or not, turns to greater sales.

Bear in mind that while this article is clearly suggesting that you should use this giveaway as a strategy, our goal was not originally to garner a greater profit. Our goal was to give back since we'd already received so much. And this goal was stated way back in 2004, when the company was just over a year old. Even so, you'd be happy to know that giving away stuff you can sell, does lead to a substantial growth in profits.

In The Brain Alchemy Masterclass, we cover the early version of The Brain Audit

Yet, the moment clients go through the course, they end up buying the new version of The Brain Audit. And they also buy The Brain Audit workshop. They then join 5000bc, our membership site and end up on online courses.

Consider that a Psychotactics course is quite expensive compared with most marketing courses out there. And if you're doing an online, live, guided course, you are promised skill, but no money back guarantee. So what causes clients to sign up in a tearing hurry? Why do the courses fill up in less than an hour? One of the big reasons is the big giveaway.

But what if you don't have any big products?

No one starts off their business with big products, and yet in time you'll be likely to do a series of videos, or possibly a workshop that you record. Maybe you'll do a bunch of seminars on a particular topic. It's likely you don't have that product in place right now, and even when you get to it, you might not be that keen to give it away.

We had waited at least six years before we gave away our product and another three before we gave away the next. You have to be comfortable with giving away a big chunk of product. Nonetheless, bear in mind that the marketplace gets noisier and crazier by the minute and your best bet is to get clients to trust your work earlier than later. The sooner you can give away a big product, the better. It might even be a good idea to create a big product just to give it away.

If you giveaway big products, will clients ever want to pay?

I have an e-mail software that I use to keep my inbox down to zero. It's called Spark (and it's for the Mac). I've used a lot of software to maintain my inbox because unlike most people; I don't outsource e-mails. And right now Spark does an excellent job. There's just one problem. All the e-mail software I've had before has not been free.

It hasn't been expensive, but they've charged me between $20-$40 overall. This one is a pure giveaway. That makes me really nervous because you can't run a business without charging for it. I'm hoping they can take some money off me as soon as possible.

It may sound bizarre to you, but not all clients are not over eager to get free stuff all the time

There are those who will take endlessly, but there are enough clients who want to pay. If you create good info-products, you will always have clients who'll pay good money to get whatever you put out. Take the case of all the free information you see around you on a daily basis. You'll see entire videos on YouTube, or run into books that are priced at a tiny fee, or even free. A book, by the way, is a big info-product. The book or video then directs you to higher priced info-products or consulting.

Which brings up the next question: Should you structure the giveaway? If so, how? And how often should you give something away? Let's find out in the next section.

3) How to structure the giveaway

Have you walked into a store where some of the goods are locked up and not accessible to customers?

Many years ago, we used to do workshops in Campbell, California—primarily it's because that's where Renuka's sister used to live. And while we were in the U.S. it was always a good idea to do some shopping.

On one of the shopping trips, I wanted to buy a rainproof jacket. Not just any old jacket, but something that would keep me super dry on days when it was super-wet. The logical choice for this outdoor gear was REI, the outdoor gear store. And guess where my prized rain jacket was to be found?

Yes, you probably guessed correctly

It was in a glass case, which happened to be locked. The brand I was looking for, Arcteryx, had a high price tag and there it was, sitting where it could be seen, but not touched. And that's approximately how you need to treat your own big value giveaways. It needs to have a barrier between you and the client, wherever possible and there's a good reason why.

The reason? It's easier to sell something expensive than to give it away free of charge

Think about it for a second. Let's say someone drove up to your house, knocked on your door and gave you the keys to a brand new car. What's your reaction? You should be jumping for joy, but this person who just gave you the car is a stranger.

There's absolutely no reason to trust his generosity. Instead of dancing around the room, you're trying to shut the door in his face, aren't you? Without setting up the barrier and anticipation, even a big give-away will fall flat on its face.

At Psychotactics we go through a routine as though we're selling a high-value product

Yes, the product is still free, but that doesn't mean you don't put up the barriers. When we give away a high-value product, we make the client go through a series of actions. This might involve going on a waiting list, then spreading out the sequence of e-mails so that the product is delivered in stages.

And for some giveaways, we've even got members to pitch in and help out with the work. In short, you shouldn't just dole out your high-value product and should take all the care and effort to treat it like a high-end product. It means a lot of work on your part. Lists to set up, e-mails to write—yup, no one said this would be easy. But when you go through the trouble of running a campaign for a “free” product, the client is in a better position to perceive the value.

What you also need to know is that low-value products can have the same intensity of drama

Just because it's not a high-end info-product, doesn't mean you can't roll it out to the sound of drums and bugles. Let's say I were writing a small report on “how to write perfect headlines every time”, there are two options.

You could get the report right away, without any fuss, or you could sign up in anticipation for the information when it is finally released. Which isn't to say that all small value giveaways need to have pomp. Some of them can just be given away, just as you'd do with a YouTube video or an article.

Even so, most of the items on our site have barriers

To get to a specific type of audio or video or report, you have to sign up. This, in turn, enables us to send more goodies to the client or to inform them about related products or services. If you can't get in touch with a client or can't remind them to buy something, there's a likelihood your info-products will sell, but having those contact details and the permission enables you to keep in touch on a fairly constant basis.

Finally, it's the strength of your info-product that really matters

Many clients will use different e-mail addresses and may not see the follow-up e-mails you send. Which is why your info-product itself, whether big or small, has to deliver the goods. It's not always sales, sales and more sales that matter. In many, if not most cases, generosity matters to an even greater extent. Be generous, and kind, and you'll find that clients are very responsive as well.

Oh and be selective in your giving

We give away products from time to time, not all the time. Once or twice a year, or even longer is a good strategy for a large product. For smaller products, it's going to depend on the type of info-product. I'll give away a report at the end of a podcast or maybe something embedded in the middle of an article or right at the end of the article. In short, even when we're giving away something, we're making sure clients invest in reading, watching or listening before finding the treasure.

Giving is a good feeling.

Do it with passion, but also with structure and you'll get rewards.
Best of all, it will lower risk and increase info-product sales. It's a really warm and fuzzy way to run a business, isn't it?

Next Up: Why Free Products Need To Be Better Than Paid Products or Services

Giving away outstanding content is the magic behind what attracts—and keeps clients?When you're giving away bonuses, it's easy to believe you don't need to give away your best product or service. This podcast episode takes an opposite stance. You need to put your best stuff out in front—free. Yes, give away the goodies, no matter whether you're in information products or content marketing; services or running a workshop.


Direct download: 140-How_Giveaways_Increase_Sales_of_InfoProducts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:38am +12

How do you maintain a high productivity level when switching tasks?

How do you get the brain and body to handle the transition?

And how do you manage the transitions with a minimum amount of fuss?

Read online:


I was asked in e-mail:

I am curious to know, since you do so many tasks in a day, how do you deal with context switching? I can do a task for 60 minutes, but doing something different immediately, requires some time for the brain and the body to handle the transition. How do you manage these transitions?

The approximate formula is:

High Intensity > BREAK > Low Intensity

Notice how it goes?

High, BREAK, Low.
Then BREAK > High > BREAK > Low.

When you first see the switching formula, it seems like it's just a transition from high to low.

But as you can tell from the emphasis above, the break is pretty critical. If you just go from high to low or even low to high, the brain doesn't get time to recover. And recovery is what's important when you want to keep your attention and focus.

Without recovery you get a factor of tiredness, that may also spiral downwards to exhaustion

But with recovery, your brain and body get a chance to relax and come back to take on the next battle. It's at this point that the high to low bit also matters. Taking on high-intensity tasks one after the other just wears you out and having the high to low allows your brain to make a decent transition—and relax even more after you've had the break.

But how long are the breaks?

The breaks depend on the time of day. During the day, while at work the breaks are short. However, at around lunch time, it might be about 30 minutes or more. At tea time I will take another 30 minutes. It seems like a lot of down-time, but that's the reason why you can achieve more.
A simple alarm or timer that does a countdown enables you to take that break. But there are days when I'll ignore that timer (as we all do) and that's the day when I get more tired. Instead, at the point of the timer going off, I can give my brain and body a break. I lie on the floor (yes, on the floor) and have two books to rest my head in a semi-supine position. Look it up.

It sounds totally bizarre that taking time off gets you to achieve more, but that's precisely the crux of higher productivity

The more you work, the longer stretches you work for, the less productive you're likely to be. And of course, the more tired you'll get. If you're younger, you may brush this off, because you seem to have boundless energy, but in tests, young tennis players were matched against each other, and the top players were always the ones who recovered better. The recovery period forms the core—if that were not obvious by now already.

And it helps in switching tasks as well.

My day starts with high intensity. I will either be writing a book, or be answering questions on a course, or in 5000bc. A lot of these activities involve not just reading, but analysis and giving precise direction. It's mentally draining and after 90 minutes or so (with rest periods in between), I'll go for a walk. That's a longer break. When I get back, I will make breakfast and watch some comedy on YouTube (while cooking up some yummy dosas).

Then it's time to paint for a while. That's all high to break, and now it's time to get back to low intensity, which would involve something like e-mail or something that doesn't require a tonne of resources. The day moves on from there to writing scripts for the podcast and answering 5000bc posts, before it's time for lunch and another break. The day is filled with breaks, high and low-intensity tasks, which enable me to write, draw, and do many other tasks like recording podcasts or doing interviews, etc.

To be productive pay attention to the formula and do the semi-supine.

If you don't have a great floor, get a yoga mat and relax on the ground. The more you fight your brain and body the harder it is to switch. It also doesn't allow you to reach your highest productivity level.

And that, in a nutshell, is how to go about your day.

Next Step: Read—How High and Low Tasks Apply To Projects (How To Be Productive And Not Burn Out)

Direct download: 139-How_To_Achieve_A_Lot_Even_As_You_Switch_Tasks_All_Day.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:20pm +12

Even if you have the best business idea in the world, analysis-paralysis can stop you in your tracks

You feel frozen, not sure what to do. So you research. Then you do some more research and educate yourself even more. But that doesn't get you very far, does it? Even famous people like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo would get stuck in this mode, just like you. But they still went on to create great art.

So how do you create great “art” as well? Find out and beat the analysis-paralysis once and for all.


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: Two ways to validate your business idea
Part 2: What makes a viable product? And how do you validate it?
Part 3: How to deal with analysis paralysis?

Click here to read online:


How do you go about validating your business idea to give yourself the best chance of success?

Can you think of a TV series that's generated over US$ 3.1 billion so far?

If you answered, Seinfeld, you're perfectly right. Except for one little fact. Seinfeld almost didn't get off the ground. As author Adam Grant mentions in his book, “Originals”, two entertainers got together to create a 90-minute special. Despite their abilities, they couldn't find enough material to fill the 90-minute special, and so they decided to create a half-hour weekly TV show. And that's precisely where all the trouble began.

The TV Network folks looked at the script and thought it was terrible

Undeterred, they went on to create the pilot for the series. A hundred viewers dissected the strengths and weaknesses of the show. The majority of the test audience decided they wouldn't watch such a show. But a test audience in one city may hate the show and others may love it, which is why the pilot got screened at four diverse cities. Six hundred people in all saw the show, and the results were dismal.

They all thought it wasn't something they'd ever watch again. And at that point, Seinfeld should have simply died. And it might have if it wasn't for one network executive who doggedly campaigned for them to make and air four more episodes. The drama didn't stop there, and Seinfeld lurched back and forth, always threatening to tip itself into oblivion.

Johannes Sebastian Bach is considered to be one of classical's virtuosos

He wrote over a thousand pieces of music in his lifetime. Not far behind was Beethoven and Bach who composed 650 and 600 pieces respectively. And yet, despite their voluminous body of work, they were as unsure as you and me about what would work and what wouldn't. Beethoven, for instance, trashed the final movement of his most celebrated work in the Fifth Symphony. Only later did he decide to put it back. Could he not tell right from the start that it was an amazing part of the musical piece?

Throughout history, experts have failed to spot the superstars. J.K. Rowling, the Beatles, Elvis Presley. History has hundreds of examples of bad calls, and it's not as though the crowd does better. Despite what you hear about the wisdom of crowds, the crowds are pretty hopeless at it as well. Which is why Seinfeld's early episodes got panned so badly.

1) If everyone is guessing, how would you ever be able to validate an idea?

There are two ways to validate an idea, and they're both reasonably bizarre.

—The first way is not to do any testing with audiences at all. Instead, there's another group that can help you with greater accuracy.
—The second way is to create whatever you jolly well please, but then link it to an existing problem.

Let's start with the first point and figure out which group tends to be more accurate than others

When we sit down to create a product or service, we instantly realise that we're not alone. If you're in marketing, there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of books on marketing. If you're in health, fitness, nutrition, programming, illustrations—it doesn't matter what you pick—it's all been covered. It's at this point we feel the need to stand out and fit it as well.

There's a reason why we need to fit in

If we go too far away from what everyone else is doing, it might just not be viable. Novelty is hard to cope with because we don't know what to make of it. If you ask an expert, they don't see the world the way you do. Back in the early 2000s as we started an earlier version of Psychotactics, there were already solidly entrenched marketers such as Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy and Brian Tracy.

They were well-established in the field of seminars, delivered their content through massive bookbinders and cassette tapes. If all of these methods of delivery sound archaic to you, it's only because you're looking back in time. Almost no marketer wanted to explore the Internet. It's the very entrenchment that causes you to see something new as a novelty. It's a blind spot. If you were to ask the experts or the audience, you still wouldn't get the validation you seek.

But there's another group that seems to understand the novelty factor a lot better

They're called “fellow creators”. Fellow creators in the very same field have a sense of what's going to work, long before the audience or the experts do. When peers evaluate each other, they are twice as accurate as anyone else. When Justin Berg, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior, studied circus acts he found the ones who best predicted whether a video would be liked, shared or funded were when peers evaluated each other.

As a cartoonist, I know this to be true

When one cartoonist sees another great cartoon, the instant reaction is: “I wish I'd thought of that joke”. The same concept applies across industries. Comedians look to their fellow comedians for approval. One of the greatest tribute you can get isn't from an audience or experts, but from a group—yes a group—of fellow cartoonists.

Cartoonists who have the same calibre or even higher. Peer judgments—when evaluated in groups—are more reliable because they see the very same idea through different eyes. So the first thing you've got to do is seek out peers; people who are in the same field and approximately with a similar mindset.

Yet, that's just one way to handle validation

The other way is not to validate at all but to create what you pretty well please but then match it up to the existing problem. Let's take a company like Tesla. What product are they making? If you think of the cars they're producing, you'll be likely to say: They are building electric cars. Electric cars aren't a new thing. They existed long before the gasoline car and still failed repeatedly.

But apparently CEO, Elon Musk doesn't care about the failure because he's not building “electric” cars.

If you pay close attention to Musk, you'll notice he harps a lot about the speed. It accelerates from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. You see the problem, don't you?

He's not drumming the “save the planet” message, is he? Instead, he's building the car of his dreams, and tackling the problem of speed. And if you happen to sit in a Tesla, notice what the owner tends to drool about—yes, speed. Which tells you that if you build a product, they will not come. But if you link the product to an existing problem, you can instantly attract attention.

If we were to go back to the much-used case study of Domino's Pizza, you'd notice the same thread of creating what the owner wants. They just wanted to create a pizza, using their own method. Is that a feasible or viable way of succeeding?

Of course not. But marry it to a problem and see what happens. The problem was: the client was hungry and hence the pizza needed to get to the customer's place as soon as possible.

You're likely to have read this or heard it before at Psychotactics, but the product on “The Secret life of Testimonials” isn't exactly what you're thinking about, are you? It's got over a hundred pages, but it's a product I wanted to write about. And so I did. But where's the problem?

We found, quite by chance, that better testimonials get us better clients. Clients that respect our work pay in advance, etc. And so the problem is “crappy clients”.

You see what's happening when you launch a product?

You're trying to make the product or service fantastic, and so it should be. The Tesla, Dominos Pizza or the Secret Life of Testimonials has to be a solid product. But that's not enough. What if it doesn't sell? It won't sell if you simply talk about the obvious. In every instance, whether it be the first car, the first plane, the first trip into space—they're all beyond the imagination of the audience. However, the moment you link it to an existing problem, you immediately get their attention.

2) What makes a viable product? And how do you validate it?

If you're into testing, find a group of your peers. Your peers are big fans of the profession. A  group of chefs, evaluating your work individually, are more likely to know more accurately which dish will be a hit than just a group of diners frequenting the restaurant.

However, if you care two hoots about testing, go right ahead and create your product or service and then link it to an existing problem. When clients get excited about the problem, you know you have a winner.

One last word about how this validation bit works

For years I've wanted to write a book about “how to teach more effectively”, and it's called “Teacher vs. Preacher”. But who's interested in such a book? I've done an informal evaluation with others who teach online. Those who do courses, workshops, webinars, etc.

This group are likely to be clients, but they're primarily a group of teachers that really care about their students. They don't just want to sell a course or home study version of their product. They want their clients to be able to get the skill.

They love to sell out their courses, but their bigger focus is to be able to transfer the skill to their students.

And when I bring up “Teacher vs. Preacher”, they love the idea. So on one front, that's validation. But what if I wanted to write the book anyway? In such a scenario, I'll write but then connect it to the problem that we at Psychotactics solve so well.

Though our courses are higher priced than most on the Internet, we can sell them out faster than practically anyone else I know. A $3000 course sells out in less than 30 minutes, and with a single e-mail, while other marketers take weeks of endless e-mails, affiliates and joint ventures just to get any traction. That's the problem the book solves, doesn't it?

Validation can come from two fronts: peers or problem.
Try both if you need to be doubly sure.

But we're still stuck with the concept of analysis-paralysis. How do we get over that major hurdle?

3) How to deal with analysis paralysis?

What trigger played a significant role in human evolution?

If we go back three million years ago to our early ancestors, Australopithecus, we find them to be more like a chimpanzee. Its brain volume is a bare 400cc. If we were to fast forward to 1.8 million years ago, suddenly there's an abundance of hominine species, including Homo erectus. And the brain size is double of Australopithecus.

If we move further to 800,000 years ago, we get Home heidelbergensis and another remarkable growth in brain size from 800cc to 1200cc. And finally, 200,000 years ago, we find a skull called Omo 2, and it has a brain size of approximately 1500cc, which is remarkably close to the brain size we have today.

But what caused those changes in brain sizes?

Each one of those brain sizes occurred when the Earth was at its most elliptical and the climate was horribly harsh and changing. Rivers dried up; food was scarce, temperatures rose and fell in rapid succession. Human evolution is considered to have a direct line to volatile do-or-die situations.

Good times, on the other hand, don't seem to lend themselves to rapid change

Think about your situation on a daily basis. As long as you have enough food in the pantry, it seems perfectly reasonable to lounge on the sofa. The moment you're out of food, there's no analysis-paralysis. In fact, even dwindling supplies causes you to act with increasing focus and rapidity. While there are many reasons why we get into a rut of analysis-paralysis, the biggest reason for the rut is the glut or excess.

So what does this excess look like in real life?

Let's say you walked into an ice-cream parlour and you have to choose between two flavours: mango and strawberry. How long did you take to make that decision?

If we wanted to add confusion, we simply have to add excess. Let's add 18 flavours to that list. Now you have twenty flavours to choose from, and you go, at least partially, into analysis-paralysis. You want the coffee flavour and the mango at the same time. You can't decide whether they are suitable, and so back and forth you go.

In reality, you're going through a series of rejections

To get to your unique flavour, you have to, theoretically, reject 19 flavours to pick one. A similar set of phenomena plays itself out when you're trying to achieve a goal.

You've been told it's important to learn about Facebook advertising, that e-mail is important, storytelling is critical and so on. It's normal to jump from one thing to the other like flavours of ice-cream.

What you really need is a lack of choice

People who get things done are not hampered because they create situations where they can't do everything. They are forced to do just a few things, with usually one thing as the big focus. And if you want to get out of paralysis-analysis, here are three elements you need to consider. They are:

a) Drafts
b) Information
c) Deadline

a) Let's start with drafts

Michael Lewis is a relatively unknown name as authors go, but his projects are well known because they're quickly transformed into Hollywood blockbusters. “Moneyball”, “The Big Short” and the “Blind Side” are reasonably well known. When interviewed about the struggle involved in writing,

Michael gets slightly philosophical. “The writing isn't a problem,” he says. “Instead, it's the drafts that require work”. Lewis talks about the multiple numbers of drafts he has to make to get a project going. And in layman's terms, that's simply an outline.

Yes, the very same outline most people hated to do when in school, and still avoid doing whether it involves writing an article, creating a product or giving a presentation. It's one of the biggest hurdles that get in our way time and time again.

An outline has stages of clarification. When we first begin the draft, we are grasping at straws. With every following outline, the brain has a chance to get a greater level of clarity. Three, four, six, eight—it doesn't matter how many drafts you create, as long as you create drafts.

Drafts seem like such an odd idea when you're dealing with analysis-paralysis

When we think of it as a grocery list, it's easier to understand the concept. Show up at the supermarket randomly, and you either end up buying stuff you don't need or end up totally confused about what you have to buy. But a little prep work goes a long way. When you consider a grocery list, it's a reasonably uncomplex set of items. An article, a project, a book—they're so much more complicated and we merrily walk into these projects without going through a bunch of drafts.

J.K. Rowling had zillions of drafts for Harry Potter. Michael Lewis pretty much works his way forward through drafts.

Pixar, Disney—every animation company will create storyboard after storyboard. The reason why professionals work their way through drafts is for one simple reason. When you start a project, your brain has random sets of ideas. Without the drafts, it's easy to get stuck, and no one; not you or me likes being in that situation. So we move along to something else easier to cope with. And the failure looms large, resulting in almost certain analysis-paralysis.

But drafts are only one of the elements we have to deal with when working on a project. The second super-duper favourite has got to be the lack of information.

Let's look at information, shall we?

b) How information plays a role in analysis-paralysis

Back in 2009, I re-wrote Version 3 of the book, The Brain Audit.

It should have been an easy task, shouldn't it? After all, I'd been through hundreds of examples of clients using The Brain Audit. I'd also spent years refining the concepts over and over again as I implemented them in my own business.

But even as I'm describing the trouble of writing Version 3, you get a feeling of déjà vu, don't you? And it's because most of us have experienced this struggle of having to explain the same thing in a different way. We know too much. We have the curse of knowledge, and it's slowing us down considerably.

Knowing too much means you feel the need to stuff everything into your information

Let's take The Brain Audit itself as an example. The book is pretty comprehensive all by itself. However, if you look at the chapters (and there are about seven main chapters), every one of those chapters can be a book all by itself.

How do we know this to be true? Let's take the chapter on uniqueness. We've conducted a three-day workshop on uniqueness alone with separate audio and notes. If we were to choose the topic of testimonials, we have 100+ pages on testimonials in a product called “The Secret Life of Testimonials”. Any of those chapters in The Brain Audit could be expanded into 100-150 pages each. In reality, The Brain Audit could easily be a 1000 page book.

As a writer there's too much information floating in your head

If you were to take any topic, be it photography or karate or any topic you're familiar with,  you'd find a consistent problem to nail down what you're going to cover. I remember taking on an esoteric topic like feedback, and that generated well over ten chapters.

The more info-product you have in your head, the more you're going to get derailed. Which is why it's a good practice to write down all your ideas, and then just choose three of them. Which three? It doesn't matter. Any three will do. Any three will connect. All of the three are valuable to clients, but more importantly for you, as the creator.

Most software is bloated; most books are loaded with information we can't use. If we just had three topics to focus on, we could get going as creators, and the client would be happy.

A vague topic like feedback can be a monster in itself. But really, can we pick any three? Try it yourself, and you'll see you can match any three together. And just in case you think I wrote this up right now, I didn't. I made this mind map back in early 2016, and because I didn't pick three, I've still not started. The irony is not lost on me.

However, what if you're just starting out?

Back around 2008, a client of mine wrote his first book. In it, he put everything he knew, which wasn't a lot. He was exhausted by the time he finished the book, but he was also scared. He felt he'd given his all and there was nothing left in him.

When I wrote The Brain Audit back in 2002, I felt the same way. I couldn't manage more than 16-20 pages (and that included fillers and cartoons). Today, you can see I have the problem in reverse. If I were to write The Brain Audit like it should be written, I'd struggle to keep it to fewer than 1000 pages.

All of us believe that we either have too much in our heads or too little

But there's also a third factor that comes into play. Take, for instance, the series on pricing called “Dartboard Pricing”. It shows you why people pick your product over others, how to construct the pricing model and get 15% more, as well as the sequential pricing structure. In short, it's a very solid (and entertaining) series that pretty much guarantees you'll get higher prices than whatever you're charging today.

When I sat down to write the book, I wasn't sure it needed to be written. If you head to a search engine and type in the terms “Psychotactics” and “pricing”, you'll get enough content to fill up at least a day of reading and listening.

What else could I write, I wondered

Information stops us in our tracks on multiple fronts. We know too much, seemingly know too little, or we've given away so much that we feel another book or course won't make a difference. Incredibly it does make a massive difference. I could sell the Dartboard Pricing series as it is, and do a webinar series and clients would sign up. If I did a workshop in your city, you're likely to attend.

How do we know this to be true?

Because when I was presenting The Brain Audit workshop in Washington DC for the first time, many years ago, I was going through the same fear-ridden routine.

Most of the attendees in the room had not only read The Brain Audit, but many of them had read Version 1, Version 2 and Version 3. What else could I bring to the table? There's always a new angle, new examples, new insight that you as a creator don't even realise you're putting forth. Even if you've published a lot of the information before, the audience receives it from quite another angle.

To get going, you must start with drafts

Write down all the ideas in draft after draft. Even so, that draft must have a deadline by which you start writing. When you write, put everything down into three categories.

What can you fit in those three categories? You'll see how we've done this on the Dartboard Pricing page and also the ‘Black Belt Presentations' page.

Those topics, like any topic, are vast and the only way I know of getting them down to size is to pick three topics and write about them. If I need to write more, I can just write three more later. Or you can expand the topics all by themselves as we have done with The Brain Audit, where topics like uniqueness or testimonial now have their own books or courses.

Easily the biggest thing that stops us in our tracks is that the information already exists. Either we have put the information out there, or someone else has, and no one really needs our product or service. As alluring as this fact may appear to us, it's patently false. There are many ways to present the very same product or service and clients want to find out all the possible ways.

But even if we were to conquer our fear of drafts and information, we still have one great hurdle to conquer. A barrier called “deadlines”.

c) Why External Deadlines Reduce Paralysis-Analysis

Imagine gong to the supermarket with a list.

Yet it's not a typical list. That list has about 150-200 items which you'll need to purchase. Notice the fact that you're not doing anything overly dramatic. All you're doing is picking the item from the shelf and putting it in your shopping cart. Even so, as you get deeper into the list, there's this overpowering urge to quit the task and do something else.

A decent sized project usually has about 150-200 embedded tasksWe start off most projects with a fair bit of gusto, pretty much like picking items off the shelf. Then for no particular reason, we seem to lose momentum, and we get distracted. The more distraction we run into, the more we seek to do some more research. We somehow feel if we do our homework, things will get better. And they rarely do.

The only consistent way to get things done is to adopt the mindset of a programmer

Any programmer on a project knows there's a date to ship the software. Will the software have bugs? Almost certainly it will have a fair number of bugs. A programmer has little choice. They've promised the software will be ready on a particular date and so it launches more or less on time.

But this deadline isn't restricted to programmers alone

You get to your destination, because planes, trains and buses are mostly based on a non-negotiable deadline. The Olympics don't start one week later than planned. And even those 200 things you had to get off the shelves needed to be put there by someone who was following an external plan.

If you make internal plans, paralysis analysis is the default setting

When I first started out writing articles for Psychotactics, I hated writing with a passion. It would take me two days and would involve an enormous time and energy. However, I'd promised that I'd deliver the article on a twice-monthly basis and so I had to finish the job. I'd battle through the process, hating every fifth word with a passion, but the job would get done.

Almost all of us start off a project with a lot of excitement and then struggle to get to the finish line

When we have nothing to lose, we fill our days with something else. The only way anything can done is to have this external deadline in place. Most of the time it involves a cash transaction. When you sell a course, you have to show up and conduct the course.

When you promise to deliver software you'd better be shipping on the day itself or clients will be on your tail. Is all of this a source of constant pressure? Sure it is, but then great work is usually not done with a lot of leisure in hand.

The advice being given to you isn't particularly new.

You already know that a project is going to have 200 sub-tasks. You have to work out the tasks and go at them with gusto. You also know that if you keep the project to yourself, nothing is going to happen.

Very few people have the ability to finish anything if there isn't a fixed deadline, often with a penalty if the job doesn't get done. And whatever you're shipping is going to have bugs. You can fix those bugs later.

There's just one tiny note

We often underestimate the time we need. We take on too much and we struggle. Over the years, I've had to learn that making space is an important part of getting things done. If you're constantly battling all sorts of deadlines, you're running out of energy on a monumental scale. Without space, you have no recovery period. So I create space and set an external headline. And things get done.

Too simple?

Well just as a parting thought, Michelangelo didn't want to paint the Sistine Chapel. Neither did Leonardo da Vinci wanted to paint the Last Supper. They were made to do it. That's why we have these works of art. Now get your work of art finished.
Epilogue: The Segway Syndrome

One of the most spectacular failures of modern times has been the Segway.

In a world that longs for non-polluting transportation systems, the Segway seemed like the perfect answer to our travel woes. It moved swiftly, quietly and after a bit of practice, was easy to handle.

Even so, Segway sales barely got off the ground and have stayed relatively stagnant

If it's evident that the Segway solves a problem, why should it have failed? Sometimes the problem lies not in the product or service itself, but in the distribution or infrastructure, instead. Take for instance the electric car. In 2017, a Tesla now has the ability to go 335 miles on a single charge (compare that with a gas-burning-fuel car that can only do 300).

That, to many people is the infrastructure part that needs to be taken care of. Superchargers have to be built so that they quickly replace gas stations and these super-chargers need to sit near cafes or stores, or in a parking lot. Without all of these elements in place, the car itself becomes redundant.

The Segway struggled for many reasons, including its high price

However, even if you did own a Segway, you couldn't use it on the road or on the pavement. Without setting all the infrastructure and paperwork in place, it was doomed to failure. And this brings us to an important point: creating a factor of destruction.

When we try to validate an idea, we head in one direction

We list all the reasons why the idea, product or service can and should succeed. But we rarely, if ever, create conditions for failure. If you're about to do a copywriting course, what can you do to cause the course to fail?

What infrastructure would you need to remove so that the course crashes and burns? If you're starting up a website business, what would you need to have in place so that clients show interest but don't do any work with you? These are the elements we have to consider before we put our product or services into the marketplace.

Ideas are super fragile

The creator of the product or service may waffle between fear and reason when in fact everyone who launches a product is fearful. Everyone, without exception, feels the same uncertainty. Then we have the issue of validating the product or service, which for the most part is impossible.

However, your peers review can help and it's a powerful form of feedback. Later, when the product launches, clients will tell you what you need to fix. Instead of pretending like the problems don't exist, we need to roll up our sleeves and fix the problems.

Finally there's the issue of analysis, and yes, paralysis. Those that do endless research and wait for the right moment, almost always fail. Instead you need to set a deadline, get your product or service into the market and fix the glitches later. Preselling the product or service ensures that you keep to a deadline and don't wait forever.

The great works of genius in science, maths, language, arts of business weren't fully formed. They were mostly half-baked and got better as they went along. You may decide to start later, when things are perfect.

It's a decision that almost never has a good ending!


Imagine if you invented a set of tyres and they were ridiculed. They called them pudding tyres”. Would you go ahead? Now you can because of the information we've covered so far. So what did we cover?

-How to distinguish between your own voice of fear, and voice of reason
-How to go about validating your idea to give yourself the best chance of success
-Tips for getting over analysis paralysis

Next Up: How to Make the Mental Leap From a Job into Entrepreneurship

You don't know if it's the right time to jump into being an entrepreneur. What about the mortgage, the family and the bills? And how do you deal with the fear? How do you stay steadfast to your vision? And what about focus? These questions spin in your head over and over again.

Click here to: Understand how to keep true to your vision, stay focus in a distracted world and when to take the leap.

Direct download: 138-Validating_Your_Idea-How_To_Beat_Analysis-Paralysis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34am +12

How do you know whether your business idea is good or bad?

Is there a system of validation for your info-products, courses and workshops, or do you just go with the wisdom of the crowds? This episode shows you exactly what causes one business idea to fail and the other one to succeed.

This series is about the validation of your business ideas. We will explore what  is important when you’re about to embark on a new business idea.


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: How to distinguish between your own voice of fear, and voice of reason
Part 2: Good ideas can't be left on the bench; they need to be consumed right away
Part 3: The big picture is usually the biggest problem

Click here to read online:


Imagine if you invented a set of tyres and they were ridiculed.

That is precisely what happened to a vet from Belfast, Ireland. This vet, named John Boyd Dunlop, watched with a bit of angst as his son, Johnnie, as he bounced madly while riding on a bike on a cobblestone street. The solid rubber tyres were clearly not suitable and he set about inventing the first commercially viable pneumatic tyres.

But then they made fun of him. They called the pneumatics, “pudding tyres”.

What would you do if you were in Dunlop’s place?

We know that Dunlop didn’t give up. He didn’t give into the ridicule, but partnered instead with Irish industrialist W. H. Du Cros to create the Dunlop tyre factory both in Ireland and across the world. But what if Dunlop backed away? What if he wasn’t so sure if his invention would be a success?

This series is about the validation of ideas. And in three parts we explore three chunky bits that are important when you’re about to embark on a “pudding sort of idea”.

And here’s what we’ll cover:
-How to distinguish between your own voice of fear, and voice of reason
-How to go about validating your idea to give yourself the best chance of success
-Tips for getting over analysis paralysis

Part 1: How do you distinguish between your own voice of fear, and voice of reason?

If you buy really well-made bread, it goes through a cycle.

At first, it's delicious. It's likely to be crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. But keep it on your kitchen bench for a few days, and it starts to get hard. In a week, it's likely to get rock-hard and possibly get mouldy. The question to ask yourself at this point is: Did you buy bad bread?

And the answer is self-evident

The bread wasn't bad, was it? But if you take the best loaf of bread, made by the most dedicated baker, and you keep it outside for days, you're going to get an almost identical result. This is true for good ideas as well. No matter how great your idea happens to be at the start, the hardness will set in and so will the fungi.

Good ideas can't be left on the bench; they need to be consumed right away

However, this is where things start to go horribly wrong; only we feel like it's going just right. The way things unfold is through testing, research and working out if the market needs our product. Once we've gone around the research block many times, we then wonder if we have anything new to bring to the table. And as we're doing all of this evaluation, the market marches on. The more we research, the more we get stuck in your own trap to the point where the only thing we can do, is to scout for yet another idea. Fear takes over, and we don't know what to do next.

But why are we fearful in the first place?

We're fearful because we can't see the big picture. When you look at most business owners, they don't look confused and composed. They seem to have all these projects going; they appear to be attending events, speaking, turning out courses and books. In short, they seem to have everything well under control. You, on the other hand, aren't able to see so far into the distance, let alone figure out a way to get there. And this lack of the ability to see way into that future, plus the ongoing intimidation from seemingly successful people, puts you in a position of great angst.

The big picture is usually the biggest problem

Entrepreneurs who succeed rarely see the big picture. They're not entirely clueless, either. They know where they want to go, but it's still, at best, a hazy view of the future. What they tend to look at closely is what's in front of them. To understand the analogy, think of yourself in a car. Let's say you have to drive from Auckland to Wellington, a route of almost 8 hours of hard driving. Do you know what Wellington looks like at this moment? It would hardly hassle you because you're focused on the road right in front of you. Your only piece of research is a sort of GPS system that will more or less ensure you don't get lost along the way.

But wait, you already have your GPS system

You did the research; you read the books, you know how to move forward, so why are you still stuck? If we were to go back to the road analogy, you wouldn't be stuck. And that's because you're not figuring out whether you'll have a puncture 24 km from now. You're not worried that there's other competition; other cars on the road. What you're entirely focused on is the road right in front of you. If you get tired or confused, you stop for a break. If you get hungry, a meal does the trick. All along the way, you're just looking at what's in front of you.

Which is completely the opposite of what you expect when you're getting started with a project

A project somehow needs to have all your ducks lined up in a row, or you simply drive around in circles. But what if there were a way to break up a project into smaller bits? When we think of a business or project let's drop the big, seven-silly-figure plan, shall we? Let's just focus on two core elements. The first point is where we're going to get our clients. The second is where we're going to get them to spend their time.

So where do we get our clients?

If you just build a website, no one will come. Despite being online and having a rock-solid reputation, almost no one comes to our website out of the blue. Instead, they come from somewhere else. When we first started our business, that somewhere else was a portal called “”. We'd publish an article at the portal and clients would head to our website after reading the article. When we'd go to a local, tiny event, and speak for about 30 minutes, prospects would turn into clients and buy an e-book, and then a small percentage would sign up for consulting.

In every instance, what you're doing isn't this big, long range planning. All you're doing is this tiny task.

Successful entrepreneurs are like successful comedians

You only get to see the final one or two-hour show, but you never get to see all the small parts along the way. Comedians painstakingly put forward their jokes, only to see many fall flat. Some make the cut, and they go into the final show. Entrepreneurs do something similar. They make a move here, a move there and they keep going forward. By the time you see that fancy course appearing on Facebook or on their websites, they've made dozens, possibly hundreds of little moves to get to that point. And then, if they're good, as in really good, they keep working on their plans and refining it to the sharpest possible degree.

The road right in front of you isn't that scary

When you consider the entire journey, the possibility of a breakdown, deteriorating weather, and crazy drivers, suddenly it seems like a pretty good idea to put some tea on the boil and stay home. But with every experience you have of staying home, you create a whole new layer of fear. After a while, it seems totally impossible to go ahead with any plan and research and further learning seems to be the only consolation prize.

Let me tell you a personal story I've told many times before

I know how to create an ePub file. How do I know this? Because I've been through many hours of practice. When ePub first came out many years ago, I was keen to learn it, and so I followed the tutorial and made an ePub file. But it was a dummy file because I didn't want it to be anything a client would hold. When InDesign started to dig deeper into ePub, I went through tutorial after tutorial, in version after version of ePub and InDesign. To this day, I haven't created a single Psychotactics document in ePub.

You can see the problem, can't you?

I'm trying to create this perfect book, this perfect product. Instead of simply planning out a simple ePub, I'm looking at the big picture, and it's stifling me. All the information and all the research isn't helping at all. The ePub project is many years old, and it's like a loaf of bread that's been sitting there the whole time. You can barely believe your eyes when you read this information, can you? You'd think, what's the problem with a measly epub file? Why can't you just give it a shot? Who cares if it turns out right or wrong?

Same question is headed your way

Who cares if the idea is right or wrong?
How about taking on this tiny project and conquering the fear?

And if it fails, you'll figure out a way to fix it. But if you don't start, you know that idea will get harder by the minute.

Next Up: How do you go about validating your idea to give yourself the best chance of success?



Direct download: 137-How_To_Validate_Your_Idea_And_Overcome_Self-Doubt-Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30pm +12

How does tolerance play a role in small business?

It might not seem like tolerance is the root for success, but if you dig deeper, you'll find that small businesses struggle without the core concepts of tolerance.

So how does tolerance play a part in something like a successful artwork, or music, or the next product or course you produce? Let's find out in this podcast.


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: The Tolerance for Success and Failure
Part 2: The Tolerance to Learn
Part 3: The Tolerance for the Long Haul

Read it online:


In September 2013, Renuka and I were headed to Cape Town, South Africa.

Whenever we leave, we always ask our nieces, Marsha and Keira what they'd like as gifts. Keira was pretty clear about her gift. “Bring me an elephant”, she said emphatically. Now Keira was just four at the time, and an elephant seemed like a pretty plausible gift.

She wasn't taking no for an answer, even when we told her that the elephant might not fit in her house. But then I brought up a point that stopped her cold in her tracks. After she had heard what I had to say, she wasn't keen on the elephant anymore.

So what did I tell her?

I said, the elephant is a big animal and all animals poo. The larger the animal, the greater the volume of poo.

Keira didn't need much convincing

She wanted nothing to do with the elephant or the poo for that matter. And this is the battle we have to deal with every single day. We all want our businesses to grow bigger than ever before. What we don't always think of, is poo.

The bigger the business, the bigger the poo

And in business terms, you could call the poo, tolerance. You need an enormous amount of tolerance to keep the business going. Which is why people struggle so much when they get into a business. They don't see the factor of tolerance needed to keep the business going.

Let's look at the factor of tolerance in three shades, shall we?

—The Tolerance for Success and Failure
—The Tolerance to Learn
—The Tolerance for the Long Haul

Part 1: The Tolerance for Success and Failure

In August 2015, a musical made its debut on Broadway

It wasn't just any old musical. A few months earlier in February of that year, the off-Broadway engagement was totally sold out. And in 2016 itself, it received 16 Tony nominations and won 11.

That musical goes by the name of Hamilton; a hip-hop musical is about the life of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and the American Revolution. And the musical's producer, Jeffrey Seller is passionate about the need for tolerance.

“People don't have the tolerance”, says Seller who's seen more than his share of failures. “The tolerance for anxiety, fear, bewilderment and pain.

In the book “Originals” by Adam Grant, there's a list of high profile failure

You're likely to have heard about William Shakespeare's work in plays such as Macbeth, King Lear and Othello. But it's normal when you fail to recognise names of plays such as Timon of Athens or All's Well That Ends Well. Those two in particular rank among the worst of his plays and have been considered to be completely underbaked. But that's not unusual, is it? A writer does bad work and then produces better work as time goes on.

What's interesting about these plays is that he produced them in the same five-year window as some of his best plays. Shakespeare is known for his amazing plays, but most people fail to realise that he turned out a grinding 37 plays and 154 sonnets. His tolerance for getting into the heart of failure and getting out of it, was, as it turns out, consistent with any other successful person.

Hamilton basks in incredible success today, but its producer Jeffrey Seller clearly defines success through the eyes of failure.

Success feels good. Success is in its own way easy. It’s easy on my stomach and in my heart. It is also true that failure; the feelings that failure evokes are so much worse than the positive feelings that success evokes. I’ve heard of tennis players who say, “I never feel as good winning as badly I feel when I’m losing.”

“You can't cherry pick”

We must not cherry-pick because it will never get it right. If I lose money in one show and then say, “Oh, I better not do it in the next,” I’m going to be in big trouble if the next one’s the hit. I’ll give you an example. I did an Opera on Broadway in 2002.

We did La Bohème on Broadway in Italian. It was a beautiful production conceived and directed by the filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. I had persuaded this group of Korean investors who I’ve done some other business with, to invest a whopping million dollars. They lose 900 of the million. I asked them to invest in this little show with puppets called Avenue Q. They passed.

Avenue Q goes on to make over $30 million of profit for all of its investors. They cherry-picked. They used the fear that losing money in La bohème generated to guide their next decision.

Picasso didn't cherry pick

We look at Picasso's greatest paintings but what we don't see is the sheer volume that's almost too well hidden. By the time he died in 1973, Pablo Picasso has done over 1800 paintings, 1200 sculptures, 2800 ceramics and a staggering 12,000 drawings. Only fifteen or sixteen of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings are said to exist, yet in his surviving notebooks alone, we have a staggering 7000 detailed drawings.

It's called elephant poo.

If you want to get the elephant you get the poo as well. And success, the success so many of us crave, is just a tonne of fighting through a mountain range of poo. In reality, success is far less frequent that failure. “The tolerance for anxiety, fear, bewilderment and pain.

But what's really happening when we get into this failure zone?

What's happening is we're rooting out the mistakes. Talent, or success, is just a reduction of errors. Mozart is known for a few great works, but he barrelled through 600 of them before his death. Beethoven was no slouch either, producing over 650 in his lifetime. Mahatma Gandhi tried an endless number of ways to get the British out of India when he finally hit upon the “Salt March” in 1930 that would set the momentum for Indian Independence.

The tolerance for fear is the greatest one them all. But it doesn't stop there. We need the tolerance to learn and learn progressively.

Part 2: The Tolerance to Learn

I know, you're probably laughing at me because this system sounds so ridiculous

And it may or may not be ridiculous. It's hard to measure what you can remember, but after years of trying to speed things up, I realised one important fact. I need to slow down. I need to have a higher tolerance for learning.

So what is a higher tolerance for learning?

In my opinion, it's a method of slowing down, rather than speeding up. When I get a book to read, I rarely ever read the book. I'll read a bit, and then dig in my Moleskine bag for my pen and Moleskine diary (yes, I am a Moleskine nut). And then I'll make notes or mind maps.

Not every book makes the cut, but when I get a good book, like “Originals” by Adam Grant, I'll read the book, listen to the audio version, make notes and then write articles and possibly do a podcast too. So why go through all of this trouble? It's the opposite of the TV dinner.

It's like a chef that lavishes time and effort to get a meal ready for dinner. It allows me to get to the very core of what's being stated in the book. Or at least that's what I think.

My memory is like a sieve, sometimes

I remember going back to listen to an audio book after many years. I knew I'd listened to it because it was on my Audible app. I did remember some of the material, but even so, it was like a brand new book. I understood the book at such a great depth, and it astounded me that I hadn't figured out what the author was saying in my earlier reading.

This level of tolerance for reading is not common because it seems so very trendy to say you read many books. To this day if you go to the About Us page on the Psychotactics website, you'll see how I proudly mention that I read 100 books a year. Well, that's hardly possible now, at this slow pace, is it?

Don't get me wrong; I crave books

Just like someone longing for a great meal, I look at all the books I've missed, and there's a definite sense of regret. Even so, it's important to have a tolerance for slow learning. And with slow learning, it's also important to cross-pollinate your learning (which in turn makes it seem even slower). This cross-pollination means you're reading a series of books that often have little resemblance to each other.

At this moment, I'm reading “The Man Who Knew Infinity” a book about Srinivas Ramanujan (we'll get to know him better in the next section). There's a book by Adam Grant about “Originals”. And a book specifically about the David statue sculpted by Michelangelo. While poring through these books at a snail's pace, I'll watch videos about thermohaline currents and ponder over the information I get about high and low entropy in the universe.

All of this learning takes a mind-boggling amount of time

It's easy to feel you always need to be in a hurry. You still could be voracious in your learning. I listen to podcasts and audio almost all the time, while on the move. I'll read when I can, but reading requires you to be focused on what you're doing. And then there's the writing, endless amounts of writing about what I'm learning.

This is what I'd say is the tolerance for learning

To slow down, not speed up. However it's not necessarily about doing less, but instead, abut going deeper into the information and cross pollinating it in a way that makes you far more creative; far more open to seeing things in a way that others simply can't see.

But why go so far?

So many people take the easiest way possible. They say they have no time to read. If you ask them to listen to audio, they say they can't remember anything. And that's not the point of learning. Education comes in layers. I can't remember a lot of what I learn in audio, but if I don't listen to audio, I will miss out on about 300-450 hours of education in a single year (that's because I go for a walk every day and listen to audio).

The tolerance for learning has to be high. Speed is not the answer.
Speed reading is more like a TV dinner—a quick, yet deeply unsatisfying experience. Slow down and absorb the information and that's what leads you to a greater level of understanding and success.

Tolerance to failure is critical.
Tolerance to learning is also extremely vital.
But we still have one factor of tolerance that's needed: the tolerance for the long haul.

Part 3: The tolerance for the long haul

If you could buy Google for US$1.6 million, would you buy it?

Google in April 2017, was worth $560 billion. But back in 1997, Google was still a dream in CEO, Larry Page's brain. While at Stanford University, he created a search engine called BackRub. He tried to sell that search engine to another search engine company called Excite. But Excite's primary investor made a counter offer of $750,000. And Larry Page thought BackRub was worth a lot more. The short story is that today, 20 years later, Google is the most valuable company in the world.

A story that contrasts completely with what you're likely to run into on the Internet.

About a month ago, an ad on Facebook caught my interest. This person was promising you could get hundreds of clients signing up to an e-mail list, per day. And usually that kind of bombastic language just bores me to pieces, but on this morning, I was playing around with my watercolours, and it seemed like a fun idea to sit through this webinar.

The pitch was predictable

The story was about how he struggled to make any income at all. And the rags to riches story went nothing to several hundred million dollars. And before we know it, this person is hobnobbing with big shots including Sir Richard Branson. So why am I giving you the run down of this webinar? I'll tell you why. It's because the webinar talks about hard work as the enemy. How we all work hard and how it never changes our life. And how this person's seemingly magic system will change everything. What he continues to suggest is that you can get the elephant—without the poo.

And that's the reality we know is untrue

But we're often so sick and tired of being tethered to a job, or even feeling like we should be doing so much better in business, that we take the bait. We reject the tolerance for the long haul. We hope somehow there is a magic pill that will solve our troubles. Larry Page almost took that pill back in 1997. He had his reasons, of course, but it's the long haul that has gotten Google to where it is today.

So why is the tolerance for the long haul so critical for success?

The answer is encapsulated in a single word: drudgery. Let's say you are nuts about coffee. You know the beans, you're over obsessed over the roasting process, and you dream of opening a cafe for coffee-snobs. For the first fifty or hundred days, you're probably running on the aroma of the coffee alone, but then one day you feel like sleeping in. Now imagine your client showing up to the cafe only to find closed doors.

Every business has days of drudgery

You may adore your work, and should, but there are days when you simply don't feel like going to work. And ideally someone should and will step in to help, but the core of the issue is that no matter whether you're Google or that guy selling pipe dream webinars, it's all hard work and there are days of pure drudgery.

Days that you'll get over if you take a break. But if you don't have tolerance for the long run, you'll give up. You'll give up that podcast series you started; you'll give up on the blog posts, you'll give up when hardly anyone turns up to your workshop because you think you've failed.

Our membership site at 5000bc started in 2003

I've personally written 49,945 posts so far. Divide that by the number of years we've been running the site, and that's around 3,500 posts per year. It includes answers to clients, articles in response to questions, etc. With the courses, I've also finished over 50,000 posts. Add the podcasts, the books, all the workshops, etc. and you have a long list of stuff that needs to be done, and which I'm happy doing.

But if you think the work stops, it doesn't

William Shakespeare, Pablo Picasso, Hamilton's producer, Jeffrey Seller, Mahatma Gandhi, Leonardo da Vinci—they all realised that they're in the long game. That if you think you're just going to get into a business and the business will run itself, well, that's like buying into a webinar and paying a small fortune to get a magic pill. A magic pill that for the most part, is unlikely to work because it too will involve work.

Which is why you need to get involved in something you love

I love what I do. I love writing; I love making podcasts. I adore answering thousands of posts in the courses and in 5000bc. I didn't get into this business to simply walk away. I will take my weekends off, and I will take three months off every year. That's my way to get rid of the drudgery factor and come back fresh and rested. But I know that I—and you—we both need a tolerance factor for the long haul.

As Keira learned at the tender age of four, you can have your elephant, but it comes with poo. The bigger the elephant the greater the poo. If you want to build a business get the poo tray out because you're going to need the tolerance for failure, learning and most importantly the long haul.

How do you Get Smart (And Stay Smart)?

Many of us believe that smartness comes from learning the skills in our own field. And yet, that's only partially true. We can never be as smart as we want to be, if we only have tunnel vision. So how do we move beyond? Click here to find out: How to find the time to do all of this learning? 

Direct download: 136-Why_Success_Is_Hindered_By_The_Lack_of_the_Tolerance_Effect.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12