Author: Ben Isakov

Why You Need a “My Crappy Life” Vision and How to Use The Not-To-Do Lists

Give me a few minutes and I’ll explain why you need to have the “My Crappy Life” Vision and as a bonus how your Not-To-Do list can help you in achieving your goals.

So…

The other day I delivered my “Intro to Strat Planning” workshop, I’ve explained the importance of the Big Goal and the Vision. And how they motivate you.

And while they DO give you the energy to keep going, and getting things done, it is not always about this kind of motivation.

You see, your motivation is always fluctuating. It is completely normal. What is not normal is to allow your productivity to fluctuate! At least I think it is not a good idea. Here where the Discipline is coming to help!

Let’s talk a little about the discipline. If you google it, the first definition that you’ll find is:

“Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience”

Interesting, right?

Brings us right to the “Carrot and Stick” argument in team management.

I’ve gone through a lot of leadership and management training, personally, I don’t see a general agreement on when, how, and why we use the Stick and when, how, and why we use the Carrot. But one thing I know for sure:

In certain circumstances, both have their place, and both are working.

So while the majority of the coaches and consultants out there are speaking about the Carrot side, the positive motivation. I want to invite you to the dark side!

Charlie Munger once said that people would be far better served to replace their “What My Ideal Life Would Look Like” picture with the “What My Crappy Life Would Look Like”. I think there is some rationale in this statement.

My idea is to combine the two visions in Strategic Planning. You are going to work on the “My Crappy Life Strat Plan” EXACTLY the same way as you did with your positive Start Plan.

Grab a piece of paper and draw a vision of your “Crappy Life”! How would it look like? What you’d feel?

But hey, don’t get dramatic, because you may end up with something like this:

“I wake up in a flat TV box under the bridge. Drink my morning river water and go to collect garbage for my breakfast”

No… Be realistic… You know what kind of life you want to avoid, right?

Now, when you have it in front of you, start planning the actions you need to take! What do you need to do to get this “Crappy Life” Vision closer?

Do you start to see where I’m going with this?

Here is your Not-To-Do List!

Put it beside your To-Do List and here you go! You’ve got yourself a “Discipline booster”! And now, every time you do something, you know which of the visions is getting closer!

So when you are taking some time off the hard work on getting closer to your “Ideal Life” Vision, put your “Crappy Life” together. Then work on your No-To-Do List. I promise you a few “aha moments” if you approach it seriously.

I hope this little article made you stop and think. Please comment and add questions. Argue! We’ll get it refined!

As always, I’m looking for your questions and comments. Please see my other articles for more ideas and insights.

And if you need a little help with this or any other business-related issue, me and my team are always here to help!

Because at Congruent Clarity – Your Success is My Story

Are You Trapped In Tactical Hell?

Recently I’ve got a response to one of my articles from a reader. And she mentioned that it reminded her of a concept from the book:

“The Laws of Human Nature”, by Robert Green.

I’ve never heard about the book, so I had to look it up…

“Tactical Hell”… Boy, how many times in the past I found myself in it! And how many times I had to grab myself by ears and pull myself out of it!

The concept is applicable to a wide variety of areas. But I wanted to share what resonated with me in the context of business.

“Tactical Hell”, is the inability to accept being in the dead end. When you’ve made a wrong turn, and now stuck in it only because you won’t admit the mistake. Situations, where your attempts to force your way through, are not a matter of “getting closer to your goals”, but asserting your ego. Proving you are right!

When you fall into the “Tactical Hell” you lose the ability of Strategic Thinking. The voice of the ego is so loud… you feel so invested in the situation, that you don’t realize that you waste your energy and time on a tactic that doesn’t work!

One of the questions that should guide your decision making is simple:

  • Does this support me in achieving my goals?

And here the tricky part! You need to be brutally honest with yourself! Because often there is a very fine line between the “giving-up” and “tactically change the direction”.

How do you distinguish one from another? One is leading you toward your goals and the other – doesn’t.

Nothing wrong with persistence! We were not born with all the skills and abilities we need, and it takes time and practice to learn new tactics and strategies. But you also need to know when you grasp into something only because you don’t want to be wrong.

So, next time, when you realize that you struggle in a situation. Fighting the same battle over and over with the same result, ask yourself:

  • Does this support me in achieving my goals?
  • Why do I keep repeating myself? And,
  • Why don’t I use an alternative?

Then use your Strat Plan as a validation tool! A properly made plan will sort out subjects that don’t deserve your attention.
Don’t have a Strat Plan yet? Let me help you draft one to serve YOU and YOUR business better!

Like always, I’m looking forward to your questions in the comments or private messages. Please visit my e-learning system for more insights and strategies you can apply in your business today. Because at Congruent Clarity, “Your Success is My Story”.

Super Power You Can Learn

Have you ever wondered what could it feel like if you had a superpower? What you’d be able to accomplish? How much more could you have? 
All these great opportunities that this superpower would give you! What would you be ready to give up for having one, ah?

Well, I have some bad, and some good news for you. Let me clear the bad one out of the way first: No… You won’t be able to fly like a superman or have the strength of the Wolverine.

Sorry about that.

But the good news is that you still can get a superpower without a need for any creature to bite you! The one that ANY successful person has.

I’m talking about the power of “Self-Control”! The formula is simple:
Control your Attention! Let me show you how you can gain it and get reduced stress levels as a bonus!

In this day and age, we are bombarded and over-flooded with information. Naturally, we are attracted to bad news and this is what media is offering us in abundance! This can be very distracting and drags the attention from where we need it to be.

As a result, things are NOT getting done, your goals are missed and the outcomes are not there. There is a simple trick I’ve learned, that helps me to stay focused on where I want to focus for longer, get more things done, and overall reduce the stress level!

I want to use three circles to illustrate my idea. Let me introduce you the Big Three:

Circles of Concern, Influence, and Control!

“Circle of Concern” is everything that matters to you. All of your interests, things that you care about. Some of them will impact your life, and some don’t.
Your local weather. Results of the elections. Rumors about your favorite and not “that much favorite” celebs.
All this is in the circle of your concerns. The rest existing, but you don’t really care about it. The vast majority of this list is not only out of your control, but also not influenced by you. Like weather or election. Well, maybe the elections are somehow influenced by you, but it is not certain.


It brings us to the next circle: “Circle of Influence”.
It circled around all things that you can influence. I’ve heard that sometimes even your kids are in this circle!

In general, your circle of influence is things that you cannot directly control but can influence through other people who do control it.

Last, but not least is the “Circle of Control”. Here you list all of the things that you can directly control by your choices and actions. There are many things that can be in this circle. And this circle is straight forward.

Why do I speak about these? The circle that you need to focus most of your efforts is your “Circle of Control”. Less attention in “Circle of Influence” and be very selective with the “Circle of Concerns”.

Here where you can see a lot of gains when you start to exercise your power of Self-Control:
The more you control yourself and directing your focus and energy to the inner circles, the better your results will be.

So, how do you learn the Self-Control superpower? Start noticing where your attention is and ask yourself – what circle is it?

If you are out of your “Circle of Control” and even not in the “Circle of Influence”, chances are that you can find something better for your time. Switch your mental channel to the right circle. With time, you’ll get better and better at controlling your attention and directing it where it needs to be.

The first outcome will be more things done and the bonus is reduced stress levels because you’ll feed less and less on all the negative news that are definitely not in your circle of control.

For more tricks on how to get better in your business, please visit our GUIDED TOUR for the state of the art e-learning system at my website. Link in the description.

Good luck superheroes!

Make them YOUR allies!

It is extremely important to build good business relationships with your partners and retailers… It can easily increase your brand exposure, competitiveness, and bring you new leads and clients. So anyone who works with you or touches your products or services deserves attention and focus on their needs.

But it needs to come from the right place…

If you build the relationships based on mutual gain, you will transform your retailers into your strongest allies, so they will be equally interested in your success and work with you on it! Time spent, I’d even say – invested, in getting to know them and their needs will pay back very quickly and open a whole new array of opportunities for both of you.

Search for original and interesting ways to reward your retailers to create true win-win conditions and they will help you build your business. One of the best ways to do it is to create a performance-based incentive plan.

Here how a step-by-step process can look like:

1. Ask your retailers what would be the most lucrative stimulus for them to improve their sales performance.

2. Outline a generous performance incentive plan based on feedback and present it to your retailers.

3. Develop an easy to follow and track performance measuring plan. This will increase the sense of competition between your retailers and push to higher performance.

4. Encourage subsequent sales instead of just focusing on the initial sale. You may give away a higher profit from the initial sale to your retailers but will gain on the larger quantities of the later sales. Always focus on future sales and promote and even train them how to incorporate:

  • Upsell your more profitable products/services.
  • Cross-sell your additional products/services

5. Create an irresistible incentive plan by offering generous and progressing compensation.

Think about each of your retailers and their specialties, their strengths, and unique opportunities and consider it when drafting the plan. If you succeed to utilize their talents, capabilities, and connections, you both will be winners in this game!

Drafting a plan shouldn’t be a complicated process. Use our GUIDED TOUR to come up with some great ideas and roll out your first incentive plan!

Make It Pop

There are 5 major components to good advertising copy: (The order of these is essential to success)

  • Command Attention
  • Showcase Benefits of Products/Services
  • Prove the Benefits
  • Persuade People to Embrace the Benefits
  • Call to Action

Advertising is sales in print. So, you need to think about the unique benefits your products/services offer and showcase that in a persuasive way. You need to emphasize results, not features.

Let’s take a minute to talk about each of these components:

  1. Command Attention: This is usually accomplished with the headline. You need an attention-getter that makes people want to know more about your products/services. The best headlines give a vivid portrayal of the benefits or show how a problem can be avoided with your products/services. The headline is the advertisement for the advertisement.
  2. Showcase Benefits: You have to showcase the benefits of your products and services and, more importantly, show how they will solve or prevent a problem. They need to know what’s in it for them. Include useful, factual and clear information to show precisely what the benefits are and how they are going to help the customer.
  3. Offer Proof: This is where you prove what the advertisement is offering. You need to establish you have a method to deliver. Consider information that establishes credibility and past performance.
  4. Persuade: You need to add compelling reasons for your potential customers to purchase your products/services. Use a hard sell approach and create scarcity. This will enact your potential customers to feel like they have to act now. Which leads into
    the last component.
  5. Call to Action: You need to compel your potential customers to DO something. They need to check out your site, sign up for your newsletter, purchase your products, contact you about services…something.  Offer a freebie-a booklet, sample, product, bonus, demo, consult, limited time price…the list goes on. There are lots of ways to get potential customers excited about ordering and help them feel like they are getting an amazing deal.

Good advertisements include all of these components and are not complete without any of them. You can sit down and think through any one of these components, then figure out how to best place
them together for the most effectiveness. 
We can help you with this too.

Try our GUIDED TOUR to learn how to put together great advertisements from some of the
best in the business.

Kick Start Your Marketing

Today I’d like to teach you about the three most important start up marketing tools you need to get and keep new customers.

  1. In person: It’s essential you meet with customers/clients in person whenever possible. This shows you respect them and take the time to work with your clients to give personal attention to each of them.
  2. Follow up letter: Always take a moment to send a follow up letter about what you talked about, new agreements or partnerships made and to thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Likewise, you should always send thank you letters or small gifts to partners you find success with.
  3. Phone call: Use a telephone call to follow up with them to talk again about the matters you talked about in your meeting and offer any assistance you can to help their business run smoothly and more successfully.

None of these will work if you don’t have a quality product/service to back you up!

Here are the key steps for putting together your start-up marketing tools:

  1. Research potential customers, buyers, competitors and their preferred methods of distribution.
  2. Talk to potential customers. Take a hard look at your product from a customer’s perspective and see what it needs to be successful.
  3. Follow up with your 3-step process from above.
  4. Develop systems for contact follow through, quality control standards and customer service.
  5. Develop post-sale follow up system to keep lines of communication open is customers and build on your current relationship which increases future purchases.

“Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs” Peter Drucker, management consultant

Here’s another one I love from an icon:

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company

This lesson has offered you the tools to put together a start-up marketing plan that can be used over and over again to help your customer base and business grow in a manageable way.

Stop Wasting Your Resources!

Today you’re going to learn how to find a target market of potential customers so you aren’t wasting precious resources on blitz marketing. So, the two questions you have to ask yourself are:
  • What do people really want to buy from me?
  • What related products are they already buying?
Once you figure this out you will know who is more predisposed to purchase your products/services. Then, you find other businesses with the same customer base who you can customer share with. Come up with an incentive and great arrangement to encourage both of your customer bases to shop at both of your stores. The basic concept is this: You want to find existing businesses who have the customer profile that you are looking for to market your products/services to. Then strike up a relationship with those business owners to work out an incentive for customers to purchase from both businesses. As a result, you have an audience to market to and they generate an added value from their current base. So, how do you figure this out? There is a great formula from Jay Abraham you can follow with great success. LV = (P x F) x N – MC Here’s what it all means:
  • LV is the life time value of a customer
  • P is the average profit margin from each sale
  • F is the number of times a customer buys each year
  • N is the number of years customers stay with you
  • MC is the marketing cost per customer (total costs/number of customers)
Once you know how much you need to spend to attract a new customer, you will know how much of an incentive you can offer to a business to help attract new customers. So, here’s your step-by-step process:
  1. Find companies who already have the customer base you are looking for.
  2. Negotiate an incentive for them to share that customer base with you.
  3. Focus your marketing resources to this group of predisposed customers.
If you need help working through this process, please contact us and we’ll set you up with the most comprehensive system of marketing tools and resources.

Educate Your Customers

Educate them about what, you may be thinking. Well, consider this, many businesses focus solely on attracting new customers, but you NEED to spend a good chunk of your time retaining current and former customers. These are people you already know to be a good sales potential…they’ve already bought from you!

Take the time to market and sell new products to your old customers and less time trying to sell old products to new customers and you will see a drastic change in your sales, customer quality and branding position.

Here are a couple of key elements to use to retain your current customers:

  1. Stay in contact: This means by phone, email, e-newsletter, in person-by pigeon if you have too!
  2. Post-Purchase Assurance: This means you need to follow up with customers. Your customers need to feel like they are being supported for their purchase and with the item they purchased. How many times have you purchased a product, then felt completely abandoned? Something as simple as a Thank You note with your contact or customer service information can go along way in retaining a great customer.
  3. Deals & Guarantees: Always offer your current customers the best deals and guarantees you have. Show them you appreciate their business or even come up with a club specifically to reward loyal customers. You can also do this with a preferred pricing option.
  4. Integrity: Using good business practices and simply upholding integrity, dignity and honesty go along way with customers. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of swindling and crap out there and the safer and more confident you make your customers feel, the more they will trust you and that makes for an amazingly supportive and loyal customer.

There are three cornerstone ideas to a successful business:

  • Quality product/service
  • Offering useful products/services that solve a problem for or enhance the life of a customer
  • Offer subjects your customers find interesting

Use this approach of educating your customers and offering them real information and insight and you will be rewarded with loyalty and success.

Stop wasting all your time on new prospects while your current customers fall by the wayside!

As Jay Abraham says, “Your best prospects are your existing customers. If you’ve been putting all your marketing efforts into acquiring new customers, stop and diverts some of your resources into reselling, upselling, cross-selling to those same customers. In every ways possible – through package inserts, regular mailings, special offers – stay in touch with those customers and get them used to buying from you.”

So, there it is! Remember, we can help you put together the resources and tools to do exactly that. We can help you educate your customers and you can watch the benefits pay offer many-fold.

Lessons I Learned from Paris Hilton

Today we’ll talk about shameless self-promotion. That’s right, I said it! Shameless! After all, we are learning from Paris Hilton here.

It’s all about self-promotion! Self-promotion comes in many forms and you can use different tactics to get your name out there. Look at politicians! Talk about self-promotion and in some not so discreet ways, at that. But, seriously, consider some of the major superstars we all know. Madonna, Donald Trump, Howard Stern and Bill Clinton, just to name a few.

We all self promote. Did you raise your hand in class to show the teacher you knew the answer? Of course! That’s self-promotion. This is the kind of self-promotion we are talking about. With dignity, class and the knowledge to back it up. If you self-promote only to prove you don’t really know what you’re talking about, you’re going to lose business.

Natural self-promoters are the former and I want to tell you about the three major traits they have and use to build themselves and their businesses.

  1. The first is position. You need to position yourself around people who can make a difference in your life. You need to do this frequently. You need to wake up every morning and ask yourself “Who can I meet today who will make a difference in my success?” In fact, go a step further, write it in big, bold letters and tape it on your bathroom mirror.

Also consider:

Who can help me meet my goals?

Is it a prospective customer/client? A colleague with contacts? An association with key members who may become prospects?

Don’t settle into interacting with the people who are the easiest to access. You need to reach outside your comfort zone and there you will find a wealth of new connections that will bring you great success.

  1. Now, let’s talk about Style. No, this doesn’t mean you need an Armani suit to bring in more business (though, let’s be honest-it wouldn’t hurt) ☺ What this really means is how are you different from your competitors and others in your industry. What makes you memorable with customers?

If you are meeting a lot of people and they don’t remember you once you leave the room, you have a serious problem! This means you have an opportunity to present yourself in a more memorable way.

There are lots of little subtle changes you can make. Reassess your:

  • Business cards
  • Company message
  • Your picture
  • Your wording

Maybe even, your hairstyle (of course, now we’re back to the expensive suit, but it really works!)

You get the idea. There are lots of little ways you can work on making your image and business more successful. Also, consider how you sound on the phone and how you great people at meetings or other events. Think about your 30-sec elevator speech.

  1. The third trait of natural promoters is repetition. You can’t say it once and leave it at that. Successful self-promoters say it as many times as they need until they get a response. Would you remember a commercial for Coca-Cola if you only saw it once, no! You see it over and over and eventually you head out to the store.

You, also, have to make multiple impressions on those you are networking with in order to build brand awareness. Repetition is in direct connection with positioning. Once you find people to network with, reach out and find hundreds more who can help in your success as well.