How To Achieve Mastery

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Sunday, 9.53pm

Sheffield, U.K.

I once listened to a Professor of Public Philosophy talk about work.

The whole idea of work is very poorly defined, she said. What exactly is it and how can we tell when we’re doing it?

Work has a few characteristics. First – it’s something we have to do, rather than something we want to do. In other words, there is a reason for doing it and we’re not just playing.

Then, it’s something that we do in exchange for money. If there is no money involved, it’s something other than work.

You may agree or disagree with her definitions and my memory may not be exact – but she said something else that was interesting.

Do you work for the sake of the work you do, or do you work for money?

Some people love what they do – they feel involved and committed and would do it even if they weren’t paid. Although they would then need to do some other work to actually get paid…

But others work for the money, or so they say. What do they want out of work?

Well, the Professor said, if you work for money, then before you can ask what you want out of work, you have to ask what you want out of money.

What is it that money gives you? Is it the ability to go on holiday? To buy nice things? Are you ok working at a job you dislike for the money that gives you the things you want out of money?

But that isn’t really the focus of this piece.

For many of us, we don’t work for money, and we don’t have the perfect job that we would do for free. So what is it we want?

One of the things we crave is mastery. The others, according to Daniel Pink, are autonomy and purpose.

So, how do we achieve mastery?

The author Robert Greene has written a book on the topic and, in this interview, sets out some of his ideas on the topic.

The place to start is with deliberate practice. As Zig Ziglar said, you don’t wander about and find yourself at the top of Mount Everest.

Whatever you do – sport, business, writing – the way to get better is to practice. And that practice needs to be deliberate, breaking down everything you need to do and working to improve each part.

But how do you know what to do?

You need to become a learning machine. There is information out there on everything. There are books, experts, resources.

The question is whether you have a system to take all this knowledge and process it, analyze it and internalise it. Make it your own.

There is a second part to doing anything. It’s easier to do something when you have a deep connection.

If you’ve entered a profession because your parents wanted you do but really don’t like it at all, you can end up living a life that doesn’t fulfil you.

It’s better to work on something that interests you, something that truly makes you happy.

Or you can settle for being happy by taking the money and doing fun stuff. Your choice really.

But how do you stand out?

Some people do that by knowing more and more about less and less. Academics can fall into this trap, where they know everything about something two other people in the world care about.

That’s great from a knowledge point of view – but don’t expect to get rich that way.

A better option is to combine two or three skills and create a niche that no one else is doing.

Scott Adams writes about this. He says he was an average cartoonist, an average storyteller and knew a little about engineering.

When he put all three together, he created one of the most loved comics in the world.

But it also takes time to get started.

We need to be grounded in reality. Realise that when we start we are an unknown, a small cog in a big machine.

We need to pay our dues, do the grunt work needed to be known and trusted enough to be given responsibility and chances.

That’s an apprenticeship we need to go through on the route to mastery.

And along the way we will meet people.

If we can maintain good relations with them, we are more likely to prosper.

We’ll find colleagues who will support and teach us, friends who will be there for us and mentors who will pull us up.

As the saying goes, your network is your net worth.

And what happens at the end of all of this?

At some point, you are so good at something that it’s self sustaining.

You work on something you love, get better every day, work with people you like, admire and trust and make a good living.

You’ve achieved mastery.

What Is The One Thing Most Companies Suck At Doing

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If you’ve guessed training – then you’re on the right track.

What is the point of investing in a training programme?

It might make sense if you have a defined role – perhaps a safety critical one.

We want pilots to be trained. Surgeons. Bus drivers.

There are some roles where you’re putting your life in the hands of someone else – you definitely want them trained to the highest possible standard.

You’ve heard the old joke – why do pilots follow procedures and checklist so much more than surgeons?

Because surgeons are involved while pilots are committed.

As a pilot, you’re on board with the passengers. If you screw up – you don’t get to escape.

Many other professions looks like they also see training as important – lawyers, for example. Financial advisers. Accountants.

These professions have long qualification periods and exams to pass before you’re allowed to practice as one.

But… is the point of all that to protect people?

The unsaid bit is that a big part of it is to protect the profession involved.

Basically, as a professional, you want to limit the number of people who compete with you. Creating a qualification and training requirement that stretches over years is one way of controlling the number of people who enter the profession.

That control over supply means you can keep prices high.

This kind of training doesn’t result in better quality. In fact, it can lead to worse service. Most financial advisers are better at working out what commissions they can make on a client’s portfolio than really growing it.

These kinds of jobs are the ones that the internet will kill off – as low cost self service options make it possible for people to get the same results at a cheaper price.

But then there is all the rest of business – which dwarfs the bit done by professionals.

Here you have workers and managers, doing jobs in industries from manufacturing to mining.

And, in any business, there are a number of things you need to do well to keep clients happy.

Clients – not customers. A customer is someone who buys something from you. A client is someone you advise and have a duty to.

A company is built around a set of products and services – it takes in inputs and sells outputs.

But how many companies have people in charge who think about the people the serve.

Yes – they serve customers or clients. Clearly those are important.

But what about your team – your employees?

How does your company see them? Are they resources, roles that need to be filled? Or are they people that you want to develop?

It’s like martial arts training. Do you want a company filled with white belts or black belts?

What makes the difference between a white belt and a black belt?

Well, usually one knows more moves than the other – but not that many more. Not thousands of moves. Perhaps 20 key ones.

The difference is that the black belt has practiced those moves thousands of times until they are second nature.

Their trainer didn’t just sit them in front of a blackboard and list out the steps or show them a video.

They also practiced, day after day.

And that’s what training should be. Not a one time demonstration or a presentation.

But regular, ongoing practice.

Not training – but practice. Practice is what turns a white belt into a black belt.

And that’s what will make you and your company better as well.

But – think about it. Does your company invest in training and practice?

And, if not, what can you do about that?

How To Optimize Anything In Life And Business

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Friday, 2:57pm

Sheffield, U.K.

We all want to be better – spend less time and achieve more.

But many of us find this hard. The pace and responsibilities of modern life, the distractions and the expectations of others all put pressure on us.

In addition, the perfect lives of more organised people showing up on our social media feeds remind us of how we’re not keeping up as they get ahead.

So, what can we do about this? What do we do – and how can we optimize our lives and businesses?

1. The simplest problems can be solved with process solutions

Some of the problems we have can be solved with simple solutions.

That’s usually where most advice on this matter starts. Map out the process and look at where it breaks down or takes too much time.

A manufacturing plant, for example, is usually a fairly simple set of activities.

By mapping the process and identifying bottlenecks, you can figure out where work is piling up and take steps to reduce this.

For example, if it always takes you time to find cereal and feed your kids in the morning while you’re rushing around trying to find clothes to iron – that is a bottleneck.

You could solve this by setting out everything the night before when it’s not a rush and put less pressure on yourself in the morning.

These are the kinds of problems that can be solved by routines, habits, rules and if-then algorithms.

2. More complex problems require a systems approach

Any problem that involves a person other than yourself quickly turns into a systems problem.

You may be perfectly capable of getting ready and out the door in the morning in 20 minutes, but add your other half and the kids into the mix and everything becomes a mess.

At work, the plans and needs of your coworkers and boss will affect your day – as will the availability of materials, resources and how your suppliers and customers act.

These are complex problems – and the ones that involve people, money and stuff are the most complex ones of all.

Here, simple process optimization doesn’t work most of the time.

This is why. Let’s say you set a target that all emails must be answered within 2 minutes.

You’ll find that people will focus on the target, and anything not directly related to the target will be ignored.

Calls will go unanswered. The doorbell will be ignored.

When it comes to targets – especially when they are linked to bonuses – people will do what is necessary to hit the target.

The problem is that the system as a whole may suffer. It will suffer.

A systems approach needs to look at the whole picture, and see how the object of a target is not to meet the target but usually to improve something – probably something related to your happiness or your customer’s happiness.

Have a look here to check how you might look at systems.

3. It’s important to have a clear idea of where you want to end up

I came across the idea of a transition from a present state to a future state here.

This is a nice model – and the idea is that you know where you are right now. You have a concrete picture of your present state.

Now you need to start thinking. Open your mind, brainstorm – go from what you know to exploring new stuff – learn about something new. Engage in abstract thinking.

Then bring it back down to more concrete, future thinking. Get specific about where you want to get to and how.

While the first two approaches – process and system – dealt with improving what is here now – this approach gets you thinking about where you want to be.

Do you want to have more money, more time with the kids, more travel in your life? Do you want to sell your business, grow it, get new partners, pass it to the next generation?

These are questions of strategy, and the state you want to reach in the future.

4. And know when is the best time to do anything

Another way to think about optimization is about timing.

For example, we know that sleep is important. What we don’t realize is that we can optimize sleep in cycles.

Having a nap during the afternoon or late evening can mean that we need less at night – and given how our days are, this can make the difference between performing well or failing.

There is seasonality in many businesses – what you sell during which part of the year. What time of day is best to reach out to people. When you should plan your creative work time and when you should do management and meeting time.

Breaking the day into periods and working on using each period better is a well known tactic – from the Pomodoro method of working in 20 minute chunks to advice from Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, who said:

You can do so much in ten minutes’ time. Ten minutes, once gone, are gone for good. Divide your life into 10-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity.

5. Make sure you’re not simply pushing aimlessly

The goal of optimization should be to make things better.

Not just one thing – everything.

For example, there is little point exercising to the point where you permanently damage yourself.

Or take supplements to lose weight that end up destroying your liver.

The problem with most approaches that are prescriptive is that other things happen as a result that we didn’t expect or plan for.

Look at each thing you do as an experiment. You’re trying to make things better, but watching out and trying to avoid screw ups at the same time.

You won’t get it right the first time, but if that happens you’ve learned something for the next experiment.

Above all, optimization is really about trying a new way to do something – and adopting it if it’s better.

How To Reprogram Your Wealth Generator

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Tuesday, 9.37pm

Sheffield, U.K

Do you want to be rich?

Few people will say no – so why is it that more people aren’t rich – and what does it take to become rich?

Let’s start at another place.

Many people feel that they don’t get what they are worth.

Or – they feel that they aren’t worth more than they get – which can stop them doing anything.

Paul McKenna, in his book I can make you rich talks about the idea of a wealth thermostat.

Your wealth thermostat is set to a comfortable level for you. Wherever it is right now tells you what you feel you’re worth.

For example, think about how much money you’d be comfortable losing. Is it $5 or $5,000? How much do you have in the bank. How much do you earn?

Ask yourself where you are right now financially, and you will know where your thermostat is set.

You might even be able to assign yourself a net worth. Hopefully it isn’t negative.

Then, you need to understand why you are where you are.

And the chances are it’s because of the relationship you have with money – which you learned from the time you were a child.

The way your parents thought about money and stuff and saving and spending are all going to have an effect on how you think about those things now.

So far so obvious – you think the way you do because of the way you were brought up. And you’re worth exactly what you are have and are getting right now.

So the first job, if you’re not earning as much as you want to and don’t have a good set of habits and relationship with money, is to fix those things.

Imagine being the kind of person that is comfortable earning and having 2, 5, 10 times as much as you have now.

Examine the thoughts you have about money, why you have them – and change your mind!

That’s what McKenna says, anyway, and there are exercises in the book that walk you through how to reprogram your internal thinking.

So far so good.

But here’s the thing – just thinking you’re worth more doesn’t make you worth more.

You also need to do something.

What is your capacity to create value?.

If you’re a public servant, a salaried person, can you relate what you do to monetary value?

You may do things that are more important than money – but if you want to be wealthy – that may mean you have to do something else that creates value.

And value is determined by the person who receives it.

You have to create value for some else – whether that is making them money or saving them money.

What you do has to make a real difference to someone else.

Then, you must make sure you get a share of the value you create.

In the end, as Bryan Tracy says, everyone works on commission. Even if you’re on a salary, you’re on commission.

You will get a share of the value you create. The more value you create, the bigger your share will be.

Raise money and create a billion dollar company and your 7% founder share will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.

Create an agency and solve business problems and your fees will be more than a salary could ever be.

Open a shop and sell people what they want and the pennies you make as a margin will mount up.

In summary – you need to change what is inside your mind – how you see yourself so that you feel like you deserve to be wealthy.

But you also need to change what you do on the outside – how you create value because you will only get a share of the value you bring.

Your wealth generator is the combination of what’s inside your mind and what you do on the outside – reprogram both to go from where you are to 1000x.

Do You Have A Plan For What Happens When You Have Wild Success?

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It’s slow and hard trying to build something.

Whether it’s a career, a business, a side hustle or a project – it can often feel like it takes forever to get anywhere.

Or is that just me?

Others get there much faster – with skill and luck and timing on their side.

Maybe it’s context. If you’re the first on the scene in a hot new market, and you have the skills and sense to see what is going on, you can make it big.

Or, if you’ve come up with a way to transform an existing market, you may find yourself flooded with more business than you ever thought possible.

Many of us know what we’re going to do in the next hour, maybe the rest of the day.

We might have an idea of what’s up tomorrow – perhaps the rest of the week.

We know we’re moving towards something, hopefully.

Perhaps it’s the big three that many dream of – freedom, autonomy and mastery.

For many of us, the perfect role or career or business is one where we are free to set our own hours and work at our own pace, have control over what we do and how we achieve results, and hone our skills and craft at something we like doing.

What most of us think about is what’s happening at the margin.

That means we look at the difference between where we are now and where we are going to be a short time from now.

That dominates most of our waking and thinking time.

What’s the next action, the next meal, the next chore to do.

If we’re busy, we rarely have the time to look around and see what else might be happening.

But perhaps we should prepare for at least one thing.

Imagine wild success.

Imagine that whatever you are doing has succeeded beyond your wildest dreams.

If you have a business, your latest promotion has gone viral and you’ve received thousands of orders.

If you’re raising crowd funding, people have suddenly realised that you’re offering the opportunity of the century at a bargain prices and you’ve got 10,000 emails from people who want to invest.

Like a dog chasing a car – what’s he going to do if he catches it?

It may seem a simple thing – but it takes a different set of skills to keep something than it takes to get it.

Take lottery winners, for example.

You just need to buy a ticket to win millions.

But it seems that many winners spend all the money they get and end up more or less where they were when they started.

They didn’t have a plan for what they would do when they won.

You could win big at any time – so why not think about what you’ll do when that happens.

A 100-Year Old Productivity Hack That Will Change Your Life

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Sunday, 9.10pm

Sheffield, U.K.

I’m reading old sales and marketing books – and one of them is by Frank Bettger called “How I multiplied my income and happiness in selling”.

His writing is to the point – every page has something that you can take away and think about.

For example, he writes about how he was struggling to make it in the life insurance business – after 10 months he was thinking of quitting when he overheard something that had a huge impact on him.

The President of his company said that the business of selling came down to one thing – just one thing. A person of ordinary ability who goes out and earnestly tells their story to four or five people every day just can’t help making good.

Bettger now knew what to do – he had to go out and talk to people.

But that wasn’t enough to keep him going. He was fired up for a while, but then started to get lazy, stop calling – and that showed in his numbers.

Then, he writes, he remembered an article called “A $25,000 idea”.

In the article Ivy Lee, an efficiency expert was trying to sell Charles M. Schwab, the President of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, on how he could teach him to manage better.

Schwab dismissed the idea – he already knew what to do. He didn’t need knowledge but action. What could Lee tell him that would get him and his team to do the things they already knew they ought to do?

Lee gave Schwab a plan.

Start by writing down the six most important tasks you have to do tomorrow.

Now, number them in order of their importance.

Now, first thing tomorrow morning, start on item one and keep working on it till you’re finished.

Then, start on item two the same way, then three.

Keep going until it’s time to quit work.

Here’s the thing – don’t worry if you don’t get finished or do only one or two things.

You’re working on the most important things. The rest can wait.

Do this every day.

If you don’t finish them using this system, you probably won’t with any other system. And without using this method – you probably won’t have decided what is important first anyway.

Now the rest of the story that Bettger recites – which you can read in lots of places – is that the method worked and Schwab gave Lee a big cheque and all was good with the world. Now he knew how to go ahead and be successful.

Except it isn’t the end there really.

There are three more things to think about for you and me to supercharge this system.

The first is that there are things you should always do – every day – that will matter in the long term.

Exercise, for example. Time with your family. Alone time to work on your stuff and projects.

You need to plan those into your day. For the stuff that you need to do on your own, the best time to do them is first thing in the morning and last thing at night – before everyone else is awake and after they’ve gone to sleep.

Next, even though you’re listing the six most important things you need to do tomorrow, there will still be lots of stuff buzzing around in your brain. The 100 other things you need to get done.

Don’t keep them in your brain. Get them on a list – stop what you’re doing if you need to so that you’ve written it down somewhere you know you’ll find it.

Getting it out of your head will let you carry on with the list of important tasks.

And you can get the itty bitty ones done when you’re on a break or need some recharging time.

Finally – most of us have important things to do that are other people’s priorities and important things to do that are our own priorities.

If you have a job – you’re going to have to do things your manager wants you to do. If you have a project, or a side hustle, it’s going to feel like there is never time for that.

Do yourself a favour. Even if items two to six are other people’s priorities, make number one something that is important to you.

It’s like saving. The best way to save is to move the money out of your account as soon as you get paid into a savings account. Then live on what’s left after that.

Pay yourself first.

p.s.

One thing that might have slipped by in the story is that Bettger found out what he had to do (talk to prospects every day) first and then learned from Lee how to do it (make a list and follow it).

It’s important to know what the what is for you.

If you’re a salesperson it’s about making contact with prospects. If you’re a business leader, it’s about managing resources. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s about innovation and marketing.

If you’re clear on what you should do and how to spend each day – you’re on track for the rest of your life.

Is It Important To Find Your Tribe?

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Saturday, 7:01 pm

Sheffield, U.K.

What is a tribe, exactly? Let’s ask the Internet.

a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.

Seth Godin talks a lot about tribes – why they are important, how they form and how you can lead one.

If you really care about something – it’s very like that there are others like you out there.

But, should you give a damn? Or are you better off spending your time working on your own? What is the benefit of belonging to a group?

There seem to be three broad reasons when you look into it.

You can change from what you are now to what you really are

We spend a large part of our lives learning to conform. From being told what to do as kids to signing contracts to do work as adults.

We learn there is a right way to act, to be, to think. The people around us act and behave in this way and anything outside the norm is odd or uncertain.

Along the way, we may have forgotten what we really are at the core.

If you’ve watched Sherlock Holmes, the one with Benedict Cumberbatch, there is a scene where a villain urinates in the fireplace to show that he can ignore any rules that others think is in place.

That’s probably not a wise approach to follow but the principle – one where we start to trust ourselves more and don’t try so hard to fit in – may help us move in the right direction.

And that’s one where you realise that most of the things that stop us from doing things are barriers that we have put up ourselves, barriers in our heads.

We may have stories about why we don’t fit in, why we’re different, why we’re not going to be accepted. We may have issues about gender, race, nationality among others.

But, these are stories we tell ourselves. And, if we want to change, we can find people with similar experiences and stories of change. People like us – and that’s one kind of tribe.

You can be part of a movement for change

If you believe in something – believe enough in it that you’re ready to change the world, then having a tribe will help.

Let’s say you want to stop fracking, change the law on cycling without a helmet or stop parents smacking their children – there is probably a group of people out there working very hard on the issue.

People will have different views – and so you will find multiple groups that will welcome you in. The price of entry, however, is that you have shared values and beliefs.

This kind of tribe is simply an emergent property of human society. It’s not good or bad – it just is.

Climate change activists and far right campaigners are simply different kinds of tribes. Society in general decides whether one tribe is good and another is bad – whether some can be allowed and other s controlled or banned.

If a well-defined tribe doesn’t exist around your area of interest, then you have the chance to be a leader, to bring together scattered people around your vision for a better (in your opinion) future.

You can be part of a group that has a common commercial interest

This final tribe is something that is so common that many of us just don’t realise how important it is.

Business – commerce – is an activity that happens because people trust each other. The easier you make it to trust someone, then more likely it is that your business activity and sector will do well.

That’s why every city has a Chamber of Commerce – a tribe that brings together local businesses. That’s why there are guilds and associations.

Imagine you’re setting up a market – should you put people that do the same thing close together or far away?

Should you group florists, food joints and book sellers close by or mix them up?

It turns out that having your competition close to you is better for customers.

When they can quickly compare between competing offerings, they make decisions more quickly.

When you can see what the competition is doing, you can become better at what you do.

A tribe isn’t a group of people that hang on your every word…

Some people think that finding a tribe is the same as finding a following – a group of people who idolize you and will buy everything you put out.

The people who have that kind of following, however, almost never seem to have set out with that in mind.

It looks like the ones that succeeded cared first – believed first, and the success followed later.

If you want to find your tribe – perhaps you should start by being clear on what you believe in.

How Can You Come Up With Amazing And Workable Ideas?

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably a entrepreneur, founder, CEO or someone with a leadership role in an organisation – even an organisation of one with you as the only employee.

The challenge you have is growing your business – how are you going to go from 0 to 1, from no sales to the first few, from the first few tens of thousands to your first million.

How are you going to change and compete and be efficient in every part of your business?

There are some very important decisions you need to make – about who you work with, what stuff you need and how you do things.

How should you go about things if you want to get it right?

Let’s start with how to do it wrong.

Imagine you’re the CEO of a company that makes bottled vinegar and you think it might be a good idea to go into the ketchup business.

You call in your team and ask them to do a study – work out whether this is a flyer or not.

What is that team going to do?

Warren Buffett wrote in 1989 about the institutional imperative – that force in business that makes smart people do stupid things.

For example, he write that “Any business craving of the leader, however foolish, will be quickly supported by detailed rate-of-return and strategic studies prepared by his troops”.

It happens because organisations and groups of people interacting together have dynamics – and the factors that make us human also cause problems when it comes to making decisions.

You would think that most managers and people that work in businesses are rational and take decisions on a reasoned basis.

It often doesn’t – reminding us of the story of the accountant who, when asked during an interview what he thought the profit from an example set of accounts would be, got up, close the door and, in a hushed voice, asked the interviewer “What do you want it to be?”.

Instead, start by imagining you can have anything you want

Give yourself and your people free rein. Imagine you could do anything – get whatever resources you wanted, go wherever – you could have anything you asked for that you needed to achieve your goals.

Note the point about what you need. Let’s say you want to meet 10 companies. What do you need? Is it lists? Is it telesales people? Is it a website?

What do you need to have in order to hit that goal of meeting 10 companies?

Then – insist that whatever you have pays for itself in a reasonable time

You want to hire 10 people? Fine – as long as they pay for themselves in 12 months.

You want a website? Fine – as long as it brings in enough money to pay for itself in 24 months.

You want to go out and exhibit at conferences? Sure – as long as the sales from the people you meet there pays for the costs.

Make people take responsibility for results

When you do this – the ideas you come up with and those that your team come up with are likely to be more reasonable.

You’ll get a plan from operations that says by investing in new machinery, you’ll cut costs.

Sales will add people, but this time it will be the right ones.

Marketing will create material and content – but this time it will be aimed at informing and educating customer and not stroking the egos of the managers who work here.

People respond to incentives

If you want amazing ideas – put the right incentives in place.

When there are no rewards for success or penalties for failure, people come up with weak and lazy ideas.

When challenged, however, they come up with good ones that they know will work.

Your job as a leader is to create the right conditions for your team to get on and deliver results – and then get out of the way.

What Is The One Thing You Must Wipe Out In Every Sale?

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Thursday 10:05pm

Sheffield, U.K

Are we in a brave new world where technology is all that matters and classic human skills are not going to be needed any more?

Or is human nature going to prevail – as we obstinately cling to our biological ways of doing things?

Take the success of Amazon, for example. What makes it special? Why has Ebay become so popular?

The most obvious answer is that they timed it well – they had the technology and created the systems and processes – the infrastructure – needed to do business in the world of the Internet.

You could buy books on Amazon and sell your old stuff on Ebay.

But – just because you can do something doesn’t mean you will.

The two internet giants (and others) created new markets that were transparent and that you could trust.

Reviews, Ebay seller ratings, guarantees, escalation processes – all these helped reassure people that their money was safe if they used the platform to make a purchase.

Many of us can still remember a period when we didn’t fully trust things online. We might look it up online, but then go into a store to buy it.

Then we went into stores and checked online to see if we were getting a good price.

Now, we use stores like display cabinets – a place to look at things before we place an order from the cheapest place online.

The thing that Amazon and Ebay got right, eventually, was removing all risks for us as buyers of products.

And this is something Facebook is learning, perhaps painfully.

Facebook enables us to be producers and consumers of information – of stories and pictures and memories.

The problem is that they have also allowed their platform to be a seething quagmire of misinformation, propaganda and sleaze.

We don’t trust them or their platform, or feel it’s a safe place for us and our kids – and now they are having to do something about it.

They’re learning something that great marketers have always known – if you want someone to make a decision, take away every barrier, every risk that they could possibly face.

Let them try it out, pay later, offer a guarantee, let them have their money back at any time if they’re not happy.

Bend over backwards to make sure that they can make a decision and be confident that they can back out if they have even an iota of regret.

Some people are scared of doing this – what if they get taken advantage of?

But – back to human nature – more people will do the right thing. There will be some people who take advantage of you, but that will be a small number that is more than offset by people who decide to take a chance on you because of what you say you’ll do to remove any risk for them.

And, if you have a good product or service, you know they’ll be happy.

If we’re not confident that we have something good – then we need to fix that first.

But after that… you know that it will help the customer.

So… wipe out every last little bit of risk and then let them make the choice that is best for them.

The 7 Basic Fundamentals Of Selling Anything

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Wednesday, 8:10pm

Sheffield, U.K.

I’m musing about value – and how to get it across to someone else.

It feels like there are lots of people with many ideas.

There probably always were – if someone looked into it, they’ll probably find that the percentage of people with ideas has stayed the same over time.

It’s just that there are more people to start with, and it’s easier to talk about our ideas, what with social media and email and all that kind of stuff.

But most of us have had no real training in telling the difference between a good idea and a bad one, a profitable idea and a money pit, something worth doing well and something not worth doing at all.

Our brain plays tricks on us as well. It’s well known that people fall in love with things they have done themselves – the IKEA effect – where we regard our amateurish creations as at the same level as professionals.

But then – we also need to remember that experts aren’t always right – amateurs often invent things that go on to revolutionise industries.

For example, the Wright Brothers worked with bicycles but built the world’s first successful aeroplane.

But, on a more down to earth basis, what do you need to know in order to sell something?

There are seven key factors that, according to the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM), are key to selling anything.

1. A product or a service

That seems obvious – and you possibly have one already. Whatever it is, you need to be able to talk about its features, advantages and benefits.

What can it do, why is it better and what will it do for your customer.

2. Aimed at a target audience

You can’t sell to everyone. In fact, there will be a small number of people who need what you have, want it more than they want the money in their pocket and actually want to talk and buy from you.

Everyone else is milling around, getting in the way while you get to that core group of people – your customers.

The better we know and understand our target market, the better we will be at…

3. Creating an offer that they find irresistible

You can sell anything. Cow dung is valuable – it’s a heating fuel, organic fertiliser and floor covering…

It comes down to price – how much, discounts – what percentage will you take off, and terms – how quickly, what quality.

Someone will bite – and you just need to make those terms as attractive as you can.

4. You need to think about how they’ll see it

Are you going face to face, sending letters or reaching out electronically.

The format is simply the way in which you put the information in front of someone but…

5. The creative is how it looks when it’s there

Many people think pretty pictures sell – but the mistake is thinking that’s all you need.

You need something your prospect can read easily, understand quickly. The harder you make it, the more people you’ll lose.

Plus – you need different approaches for different people.

6. And they’ll be ready for it at different times

Fashion is the perfect example of seasonal selling – following the weather and what you need – and helping you make impulse decisions.

But there are other things that matter – budget cycles are important, common renewal dates are worth targeting and there is an overall business cycle in many industries.

7. But nothing matters if people don’t come back to you

The final part of the selling puzzle is making it clear how to come back to you.

The other day I nearly walked away from a purchase I had already decided to make because the person I was talking to explained everything about what they were doing, except how to order.

They talked about the website to the point where I thought that was the only way to order.

It was only as I was about to walk away that the point about signing up now came up – and that rescued the sale.

Customers need to be told what to do to order. In detail.

More is nice… but the basics are essential

These seven steps are crucial when trying to sell anything – and I’m going to keep them in mind when assembling any piece of product or service marketing from now on.