Hole-in-One on a Horrible Day

September 27th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

The last three weeks have been a misery-fest on earth. Everything that could wrong has indeed gone wrong. I had to lay one of my teams off. There’s another team that’s been pressing very hard, but they’re on life support and despite doing EVERYTHING right they just cannot get a break. I mean CANNOT get a break in any shape, form, or fashion. We have a third team that’s actually having some good success but we’re not reaching our potential.
Today I reached a breaking point. You see I started out the morning in a board meeting where we had to determine to close one of the businesses that I’d invested in so the entire month has been one difficult conversation after another. I’ve also had multiple individuals the last couple of days coming to me with just completely brain-dead, insane requests and demands upon me and my resources.
I handled these maturely but I knew at the end of the day that if I had even one more slightly delicate conversation I would erupt and would have cleaned all of China in the process. So I checked out ten minutes early and I snuck out by myself, grabbed my new Callaway golf clubs, and went to the golf course. I didn’t care how I played. I was so steamed up all I wanted to do was squish that golf ball.
I got onto Hole 1 of Gladstan, pulled out my driver, and ripped it, and of course I drew it a little bit left, but on the fairway still. The next hit took the ball smack down on the second shot on the green where I overshot the green a little bit but managed to chip back and get my card. I didn’t care about my score at this point quite frankly. It just felt good to squish that ball and get a little frustration out in a positive way.
Got onto the second hole, a par three across the water, one hundred and seventy-eight yards with the pin just a little bit forward. That’s a 7-iron for me. I pull out my 8-iron thinking I am just gonna get after it. I normally hit my 8-iron a hundred and fifty-five yards. I come down on the ball and hit it perfectly. I saw the ball flying directly towards the pin and saw it land right next to the pin. It looked like it came just a little behind and I thought, “Wow. That was a great shot.” But I was frankly still just so ripped at the day that I didn’t give any credibility to it until I pulled up to the green.
My perspective on life and the day changed dramatically when I pulled up and I saw no ball and I knew at that moment it had gone in the hole because I knew I had hit it really close.
Sure enough, some guys came up and said, “You just hit a hole-in-one.” I walked up to the hole. The ball had landed three feet and one foot to the right behind the pin, spun back, and dropped directly into the hole. I’ve been golfing since I was fourteen years old. I’ve hit a lot of great shots but never a hole-in-one.
Indeed, I got my first hole-in-one when I was on the verge of killing half the universe and quite frankly felt like throwing in the towel and giving it all up. This was a glorious opportunity for me individually and it gave me a great life lesson. My hole-in-one was was a turning point for me, my golf game, and I can guarantee that my business life will also flip around and be positive now because I’m going after it to win rather than playing not to lose and not being a victim. Indeed I’ve fallen into victimhood a little bit. Sometimes we all do. I think there are some great life lessons to learn here and in business.
Keep hitting the ball. Try taking the pressure off a little bit. Sometimes we amp it too hard, but you know what? You’ve got to keep striking the ball because the brakes will come and the tide will eventually turn. Then at the very last second when you least expect it to happen is typically when it happens.
The last thing that I had on my mind quite frankly was playing a good golf game. If you want to get a good chuckle watch my righteous indignation in the video below. I was pretty delighted about the hole-in-one but you can see a little bit of the steam coming off in the process.
So stick with it, keep with it, crazy economy and all. All us entrepreneurs are the glue that will hold this economy together and let’s keep after it. Let’s keep the faith and remember that the universe gives us a hand every once in a while.

 

Zig Zagging Mt. Timp

September 24th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Today’s post is brought to you from the top of Mt. Timpanogos. I have a couple of surprise contributors today and here they are without further ado:

My parting advice would be this: When in business don’t be dumb enough to pack a thrity-five pound watermelon and haul it up the mountain. Remember to take the essentials but leave behind the excessive luxury items.

Penguin Killing

September 19th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Several weeks ago my dear friend and trusted ally David McInnis and I met in my office, hunkered down in our war room, and killed penguins. ?
NOT the animal penguins but Google Penguins. ?
As many of you know, Google recently updated their algorithm into two very distinct updates, the first being Panda named after one of the engineers that developed this new protocol and the second was Penguin. This is not so nice of a little animal. Indeed this update was very destructive to many of my websites as well as the websites of my peers. ?This update shifted the focus from link relevance to actual user behavior protocols. ?As David and I went through this there were several major behaviors that became evident that had to be adjusted. I have included a link on a post that David did on this dialog and will not repeat that information but would encourage you to go to David’s link below for more detail. ?However I will summarize the four critical points that will help you effectively kill Penguin.
1. Optimize your copy and all of your on-page meta data for people, not for search engines. Gone are the days of writing content for search engines.
2. Create relationships. You now actually have to focus on creating long-term relationships in your copy and on your pages.
3. Shift focus away from yourself. Don’t be afraid to link to others and actually add value to the user experience. The longer you can get the customer to stay on your site and actually find engaging, good data, the stronger you will be.
4. Diversify. You now need to focus on getting traffic and connections not just from one source but from a variety of sources on the web.

Good luck. I hope you enjoy David’s article and go forward and don’t let the penguins kill you.

Don’t Steal It, Create It

September 17th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

The past 4 months I’ve taken a re-group sabbatical, spent extensive time with my family, and been able to focus on some of my personal life priorities, regrouping for this next surge in business. I always find this incredibly therapeutic and refreshing and also find I have much more success if I back off and collect my thoughts for a bit.
One of the significant events of the summer was a two-week trip that I took with my wife through all of Europe. We were able to go to Barcelona, Spain, France, and all around the coast of Italy including Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples, the Amalfi coast, and over into Venice. We were able to go into Greece and Athens and Izmir as well as my personal favorite Constantinople, or Istanbul, Turkey.

Through the course of this trip I learned a lot of great life lessons and gained some real insights from those who went before but one of the most significant was simply this: Build it don’t steal it.

I was shocked as I learned the history of each of these major cities how frequently the model was to simply steal it. This model is not sustainable. It was crazy. The conquerors would come in and take the most valuable assets and bring it home. Everybody had everybody else’s riches. They called it Spoils of War or Victor’s Gains but the reality is it was just plain robbery.
There were obelisks littered all over Europe, yet these darn obelisks we all know were Egyptian.
I was amazed as I looked at the Hagia Sophia. Christians created this beautiful, amazing dome with gold, rubies, diamonds, and other precious jewels. When the Ottomans came they covered it up with plaster, took it over. The Christians eventually won it back and uncovered part of it, and the next conquerors covered it back up again. We are so lucky it wasn’t completely destroyed. The Byzantines came and took the most prized, valuable golden statues from the Ottomans, took it down into Venice, and put it on top of St. Marks.
Constantine’s mother wanted Christian symbols so what does she do? She orders a Crusade and Constantine marches in Roman armor down to Jerusalem and took many religious relics, including the staff of Moses, the Turban of Job, and supposedly part of the arm and skull of John the Baptist which are encrusted in gold. Those items aren’t in Jerusalem anymore, those are actually in Constantinople. Crazy!

Everywhere I went I found these kinds of examples of people who just stole it. Then I contrast that on the other hand to the great creators. I’m talking about Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, we’re talking about the great architect Botticelli. These were true creators, lasting, enduring, respected, people we know. Here’s the challenge I want to throw down from this life lesson that I learned: Be a creator. Be a creator, not a sacker or a stealer.

This is one reason I’m not really hip on venture capitalists, or corporate raiders but instead love to focus on the very inception of creation and bootstrapping in the early phase. It’s not that I couldn’t do the others but with that creation process, there’s something very hard, but very magical about it. Be a creator in your life. Don’t get tempted to go steal, rob, or cheat the system and you’ll find a lot more lasting joy and also I think that you’ll be more impactful going forward.

Go Ahead and Rank It

September 7th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

The last post that I did communicated the power of a whiteboard and the power of doing a brain dump and then listing all the various options. Today’s post is all about being bold, going ahead, and ranking your priorities.

One of the fun family traditions that we have is we have what we call Epic Family Home Evenings. Every week, or sometimes every other week, I’ll plan a really special fun, crazy family activity. This week we had a progressive dinner where we started with different types of cheeses that we brought back from Europe and we then had a nice dinner followed up with a dessert sampling of all the different chocolates we’d purchased throughout our recent European trip.

We had each participant rank the 16 flavors of chocolate and cheese and we even went as far as building a spreadsheet displaying the results. Not only was it just a hoot and a heck of a lot of fun to sample the dramatic variant differences of the types of chocolates and cheeses it also generates lively discussion and it’s amazing how consistent you end up getting on it.

The exact same thing is true in your business. If you ever get into a situation of, “What should I do first?” or “Wow, look at all these different options!” just do what we talked about last week on the whiteboard and throw it up there. Be bold, live dangerously, and go ahead, rank it. Or, as Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series says, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

There’s no harm, no foul. Go ahead and rank them using whatever system you want. It helps you once again practice that 80/20 rule and get some priority in your life. ?One of my favorite books is called Golf is Not a Game of Perfect and the statement that he makes is that in golf it doesn’t matter what shot you hit, you just have to commit to the shot. Not committing to something is the worst error you can make not only in tasting chocolate but also in business and in life.

Rank it, commit to it, prosper. ?
 

Maybe They’ll Blow You Some Kisses

September 6th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Seasoned business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs alike, I want to share a fun video from one of the teens I work with. Zach Van Pelt made this spot as a creative way to ask a young woman to Homecoming.

This was simply the best date invitation I have ever seen.

Business Advice: If you ask your customers to the dance with the same gusto and creativity as Zach asked his date to the dance, you are certain to get a kiss.

Making Mud Makes Hay

September 3rd, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

I’m now formally back. I’ve spent the last four months on a personal sabbatical. I’ve had an amazing summer with my family and with my loved ones. I’ve hiked in the Grand Canyon, spent a month of service in Guatemala, and spent a couple of weeks with my beautiful wife in Europe. 

As I got back last week there was quite a bit of chaos in my business life. Quite frankly, a number of things were somewhat on the floor. I very specifically attacked these three businesses in the following manner. I’m calling this process, “Making Mud Makes Hay”. I’d like to offer some real simple suggestions for when you find yourself overwhelmed, outta control, or not certain if you’re doing the right thing.

#1. Brain Dump. Take everything you know and just start vomiting all over the table (do that vomit on a white board.)

#2. Categorize everything you’ve written into the following categories:
•    What you know?
•    What you don’t know?
•    What the questions are?
•    What are the key levers? What are the levers that can be pulled that are most impactful in the business.
•    What are all the different actions that you can potentially take?

As you spend a few hours brainstorming through this, amazing things happen. Warning: your white board will look like a mess, but despite the scribbles, you actually start getting clarity on the important areas of the business.

#3. List Potential Actions and Levers. Let me give an example. I’m in front of my board right now, and in one of my website businesses we determined that the levers are:
- To get more traffic
- To be more precise in our measurement
- To get better offers at a higher pay out, or to better flow our conversions

Those are the major levers that would really impact the business. We then graded those levers on how well we are doing currently. Then we went and focused on the most obvious lever, which translated into the following:
-    An action list of what we could do
-    What we need to learn
-    What we know that gives us confidence
-    What we don’t know

Making similar lists allows you to go in and explore key things, while ignoring less important areas. I had a business associate that called this selective negligence. Knowing what to ignore in your business, is just as important as deciding what to focus on. Allowing yourself to say, I choose to neglect that because it’s not of importance, is vital for success.

I speak frequently of the 80/20 rule. Thank you Dr. Steven Covey for this powerful concept. Indeed the 80/20 rule revolves around nearly every bootstrap success. The rule is: Twenty percent of effort yields eighty percent of the results.

In this blog post I have included a picture of three white boards. These indeed were three of the brain dumps (making mud) that we did this week. One is a task list or the white board. The second shows the priorities of the actions to do. The third one is the brain dump of something that is very confusing and has us all up in arms–specifically in the SEO industry.

By following this methodology I was able to:
- Get to real clarity
- Get real focused with the team
- I believe that it will yield results.

I have now been back from my little sabbatical for two weeks. Simply by getting focused and focusing on the big balls I can confidently say that the impact has been marked and significant in the form of dollars.
When you get afraid in your business, when you get discouraged or confused–I challenge you to vomit all over your white board. Follow this process. I commit to you it will work and it will make a significant difference.