Most businesses fail at some point. That is just a fact. I knew that 5 years ago when I began making plans to launch my own advertising agency. So I bought the book The E-Myth, because a bunch of smart people recommended it as a way of, well, not failing.
The book is great, and I always recommend it to anyone thinking of starting their own business of any size or shape. I also recommend it to any business owner who hasn’t read it yet. In fact, The E-Myth is like my Frank’s Red Hot. I recommend that sh#t to everyone.
But I didn’t just read The E-Myth once. I study it. It has become one of my most important reference books. In fact, I handle this book so much it looks like I don’t know how books work. See the pic below. It looks like I tried to open it on the binding side until someone suggested that the other side might offer less resistance.
One of the key tenants of the book is that there should be a predictable, repeatable process for everything. I fully believe this. From the beginning, I established processes for my team at The Weaponry to follow. I have regularly revisited those processes, modified them, and added new processes.
But I have never been satisfied that our processes are as good as they should be. Which is the point. When people tell you to work on your business, not in your business, they typically mean, improve your processes. Unless those people are roofing consultants. In which case they probably mean you need to do some work up on top of your business.
Back to Business
Today, I am revisiting our processes again. In fact, last night, just before I went to bed, I went all the way back to the beginning, again. I asked myself, ‘What is The Weaponry’s process for establishing processes?’ And here is what I wrote in the notebook on my nightstand. (I translated it into type below so that non-chickens can also read it.)
Process of Processes
Figure out Step 1
Write down Step 1
List each subsequent step to a successful conclusion
Follow established process until it reveals a flaw. Or until a better process is revealed.
Modify process to eliminate the newly discovered problem, or to improve outcomes.
Continuously evaluate each process, looking for flaws, and better ideas that will lead to better results.
Note: Always run the best process you know until you know better.
Note: Even this process process can be constantly improved until a better process process can not be found. At which point the process process will be perfect. (Then check the Vector Victor.)
Note: Run everything the organization does through The Perfect Process Process.
Note: You will be able to do, make, and deliver anything with this process.
Creating a well-run business requires great processes. Creating great processes requires a strong process process. Figure out yours. Then use it. And perfect it until it can’t be improved any more.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Launching your own business sounds fun and exciting. Right up until the moment when you have to find your first paying customer. Because a business without customers is like a kite without wind. It just won’t fly.
A friend of mine wrote to me yesterday about a major challenge his startup is facing. He said that like Carmen Miranda, he has had several fruitful conversations with prospective clients. And he was excited about next steps. However, at some point in each conversation it came out that the prospect would be his organization’s first customer. After hearing that, all of them ghosted like Patrick Swayze.
Which comes first, the business or the customer?
I expect my friend isn’t the only person to ever deal with this issue. In fact, every business ever created has had to transition from fantasy-business to reality-business by acquiring their first customer. If you have had this challenge, or are concerned about it as you begin your entrepreneurial journey, here are some tips for getting over the humpty hump.
9 Ways To Land Your Startup’s First Customer
Give Away Your Product Or Service For Free. This approach doesn’t technically give you your first customer, because customers are those who pay for your offering. But what it does do is give you proof of trial. You can point to someone you have worked with. You can refer to a user who has enjoyed your product or service. It can give you a testimonial to leverage. It can offer an example of where and how you delivered. All of those things help make your prospective customer feel like you have the experience they want.
2. Start With Friends and Family Start by turning to those who are most likely to want to help you succeed. If you are making a relatively low cost consumer good or service, approach your friends and family first. They will want to help. Unless you are one of the Menendez Brothers.
3. Site Examples Of Your Personal Experience. Maybe you haven’t offered this service or product under your own banner, but you have done this sort of thing in the past through a business you worked for.
For instance, if you are a barista, a financial planner or a home cleaner who has worked for someone else, and now want to start offering the same type of service on your own, point to the examples of how you have done this extensively in the past. Now, you are excited to offer your customers what you have spent years perfecting.
Even better, you have fixed all the problems your past employer had when offering such goods or services. In fact, the reason you were inspired to go out on your own was to offer an even better product than you could have when your hands were tied by your prior employer. Then show them the rope burns around your wrist to make the whole hands-tied-thing more believable.
4. Offer A Money Back Guarantee. The reason people avoid working with new businesses is because there is an inherent risk involved with working with a new entity before they get the kinks out.
The key is making yourself a safe choice. You can do that by offering a money back satisfaction guarantee. If wasting money is the customer’s concern, and it often will be, a guarantee helps a great deal. However, losing valuable time is also often a concern. And that you simply won’t be able to give back to them unless you have a Delorean and a flux capacitor. So understand when a prospect’s concern can be alleviated by offering to return their money if they aren’t fully satisfied, and when it can’t.
5. Seek Out Other Entrepreneurs. The people most likely to want to see you succeed, after your friends and family, are other entrepreneurs. They have been where you have been and just needed someone to take a chance on them, like ABBA. Someone who was willing to forgive a little early-in-the-game wonkiness. Entrepreneurs love startups. Startups are nostalgic and inspiring to those of us who have been there before. Use that against us.
6. Partner With Another Company That Already Has Credibility. There are lots of ways to sneak in the backdoor. One great way is to tuck yourself into an already proven entity. It’s how The Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow snuck into the Wicked Witch’s castle. In the beginning, my startup partnered with many respected organizations. Those businesses vouched for us. And that was all we needed for client approval. Everyone wins. And it opens up even more possibilities down the road.
7. Sell Your Prospect’s Role In Your Founding Story Every company magically transforms from dream to reality when they acquire their first customer. And that founding story will be told for eternity. This is your customer’s chance to be part of your history and the story you will tell for years to come. The opportunity will be appealing for many. It’s appealing to me. Practice your pitch until it becomes an irresistible Disney-esque story.
8. Offer Steep Early Bird Discounts There are plenty of services that provide sticker shock to new shoppers. Take weddings for example. The photographer, venue, catering, flowers and dress all cost way more than you would have imagined. If you want to break into the wedding game, offer a cure for the sticker shock by offering a soothing, doable price. This is how you get your foot in the door. You will be solving 2 problems for the happy couple. First, you will be offering the service they need. Second, you will provide room in their budget for the other things they really want. A discount on your first gig is no loss to you. In fact, lowering the barrier to entry to get your first clients can unlock the path to millions of dollars in revenues in the future. And with a little luck, your business will outlast most marriages.
9. Work With Former Clients Or Customers. If you already have a proven track record of success with happy former customers they should be the first clients you approach for your new venture. Customers know that people, not businesses are the key to delivering a great product, service or experience. And if you have delivered for your customers in the past, they will expect that you will do the same for them in the future.
This is how I launched my business. After nearly 20 years of working for other companies I started my own advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry. I talked to 5 former clients about my plans in order to get input, feedback, and hopefully interest in my new business. All 5 of them told me that if I did what I was planning to do they had work for me.
In fact, my Original 5 became my biggest cheerleaders. They wanted to see me succeed, and wanted to be part of that success. I think they felt as if they helped discover The Weaponry, in the same way Clive Davis discovered Whitney Houston. Let those former clients in on the experience. Let them help mold your offering to meet their needs.
Because your former clients have history and trust with you, and they know you are starting something new, they will likely be more forgiving of you as you navigate the process for the first time.
Like so many others, I started The Weaponry as a side hustle. Not because I thought of it as a side hustle, but because I wanted to breathe life into it and gain momentum before I quit my day job. And I knew that my trusted former clients would understand why I needed to meet early, late or over a lunch hour. They wouldn’t expect me to be responsive throughout the day, and they would be forgiving of the various other quirks that came along with a startup side gig. And sometimes an understanding first customer is all you need.
A business is not really a business until you have your first paying customer. But there are multiple ways to find that legitimizing customer. Don’t worry about making a profit on your first client. Simply get the deal done. And you’ll have proof that someone else has trusted you with their hard earned money. That’s often all a prospect needs to hear. Then keep looking for that next customer as if your business depends on it. Because it does. Good luck. And get going!
*If you know someone who could benefit from these ideas, please share this post with them.
Every opportunity has a time constraint. If you don’t jump, you miss out. You have to be ready and willing to act when the chance comes along. Which means that before the opportunity arrives you have to prepare yourself.
The Start-Up Opportunity
I had thought a lot about starting my own business over the course of my career. Then one day an opportunity came my way. A former client called me and encouraged me to start my own advertising agency so that we could work together again. Two hours later another former client called me with the same conversation.
After checking my office for candid cameras and Ashton Kutcher, I realized I wasn’t being punked. The opportunity to start my own business had arrived. I quickly arranged phone calls and meetups with other former-and-potential-future clients. I discovered there was great interest in what I was planning to do. And Morris Day told me this was the time.
So I jumped. I launched The Weaponry. I have been growing and improving it, and preparing for new opportunities ever since. The key was that I was ready to roll when the opportunity pulled up and asked if I wanted to get in.
The Opportunity Party
The COVID-19 crises and the economic fallout have created unprecedented opportunities. Great businesses in many categories have disappeared during these unusual times because they weren’t prepared for this storm. But the storm will pass.
For the vast majority of the businesses that have failed the issue was a short term demand issue. And those ready and willing to step in and fill the demand on the other side will find the opportunity of a lifetime. And I don’t mean television for women.
The health and economic crisis of 2020 has also created amazing new opportunities. Did you own a face mask before this year? Have you ever seen so much plexiglass? Or hand sanitizer? Or stickers on the ground saying stand here?
There are new needs that are not being met yet (like perhaps the 2-Yard Stick). There are also new wants. Like the want to be connected to others. To socialize. To get away from home and still feel safe. To exercise in a non-frightening way. To laugh more. To watch sports with a community. Take on any of these opportunities now before someone else does.
Hot & Cold
Remember that hot coffee and hot chocolate are only hot for a short time. The same holds true for ice-cold beer and ice-cold lemonade. If you don’t drink them quickly the opportunity to enjoy their perfect state passes you by.
Prepare yourself to take action before opportunities come along. Read, train, learn, network, save, and build up your confidence so you are ready to take action when your time comes. Then don’t dilly or dally. Don’t miss your opportunity. Jump. Make things happened. Find your happiness, your money, your purpose, your calling. And do it quickly. Before the opportunity slips away.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Yesterday I talked to a good friend of mine about his entrepreneurial ambitions. He is a rockstar who has held impressive positions with 5 elite brands that everyone in America knows. Thanks to COVID-19 he is now starting the next chapter of his career. This is an exciting opportunity for him to do something new and self-directed. Like a Spike Lee joint.
As he told me about all the things he has in the works right now I was impressed. There were interesting partnerships, licensing opportunities, consulting requests, new product development ideas and brand building thoughts. It was like a Thanksgiving table full of opportunities. And everything looked delicious.
A blessing and a curse
Having many options in front of you is a gift. It is also a recipe for entrepreneurial failure. Because entrepreneurship doesn’t require dabbling and exploring and nibbling at a number of interesting things. It requires you to focus your attention on one thing completely. Like a hitman.
Dreaming Vs Doing
When you have many opportunities available to you, you are still in the dreaming phase. You are considering the possibilities. It is exciting. But it is still fantasy. And there is a big difference between dreaming, dabbling and doing. Which sounds like a Fred Flinstone-ism.
When I started my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I was completely focused on my mission. I threw all other options aside. I put all my eggs in one basket and then focused on the basket as if nothing else mattered. Because it didn’t. That focus made all the difference.
To be successful as an entrepreneur you have to become obsessive. You have to roll a rock up a hill to get started. Which is hard. And it can’t be done while texting. Or with one hand in your pocket. Unless maybe you are Alanis Morrisette.
If you are thinking about starting your own business, pick something you are really excited about and focus on that one thing completely. Think of it as your one nail to drive. Then hammer away at that one nail until the job is done. Don’t touch, tap or tickle another nail until the alpha nail is hammered home.
Once you have the business humming it will afford you new opportunities to do more. You can pour all that you learned bringing the first business to life into the next. A successful first business will also provide additional funds to deploy towards your next venture. You can repeat the process over and over, and make many great things happen. But start with one. Just like Brian McKnight.
If you are thinking of starting your own business, think singular, not plural. One business opportunity should step forward and take all of your attention. Find the one idea among the many that you are most excited about and feed it. Fuel it. Fixate on it. And force it to happen.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Before 1776 there was potential. A lot of potential. The American colonies were full of smart, talented, ambitious men and women who wanted more and better than the old world could provide. We had stars. We had bars. And we had Betsy Ross threaded and ready.
The fuse on this firecracker was lit in the summer of 1776. The best and brightest came together with a vision and a quill pen. And when they finally took action they launched the greatest startup the world has ever seen.
But like any startup, they didn’t get everything right, right out of the gate. However, they created a system that enabled the system itself to get better, stronger and smarter over time.
Using the system itself we have been able to clarify that all men are created equal really means all men and women. Itincludes all colors. It includes all religions. It even includes the New York Yankees.
Today, that cute little Philly startup from 1776 is now the most valuable organization on Earth.
This Independence Day weekend I hope you take a few minutes to consider this amazing organization of ours. An organization that began with just some powdered wigs and a dream.
We must continue using the system to make the system itself better. It is not only our right, as shareholders, but it is also our obligation.
I hope the 4th of July also inspires you to consider your own independence.
If you have been thinking of starting your own business, do it now.
If you have lost your job or your entire industry, start fresh now.
If you are energized and eager, it’s go time!
If you are desperate, you have the most powerful fuel of all.
If you want to start your own business but don’t know where to begin, send me a note. I have started my own business. Today, I want to help others experience the same feeling of independence.
And If I can do it, you can too. I know. Because we are all created equal.
For many years I dreamed of owning my own business. Like Bruce Springsteen, I loved the idea of being my own boss. I liked the idea of making my own money. I thought that starting your own business sounded badass. Because that entrepreneurial leap seemed like Evel Knievel jumping a whole fleet of school buses on his motorcycle. And I wanted to try it myself to see how it felt.
My Leap Year Leap
4 years ago this week I did it. I launched the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry. And the leap certainly has offered an Evel Knievel-type thrill. Yet with very little risk of broken bones. Which is nice.
However, the things I have enjoyed most are not being the boss, making my own money, or feeling like a badass. In fact, I could not have predicted the things I have enjoyed most ahead of time. They are benefits that you have to take the leap to discover. Unless of course someone takes the leap, writes those things down, and shares them with the world in a blog post. Like I am doing right now.
The Top 4 Things I Have Enjoyed Most About My 4 Years of Entrepreneurship
1. Getting To Say Yes To Anything.
People long to get to a position in life where they can say no to things they don’t want to do. But that is small thinking. When you own your own business you get to say yes to anything. Kinda like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. If an opportunity comes along that seems too small, too crazy, or needs too be completed too fast I can say yes to it anyway. In fact, I can decide to work on anything that interests me. The budget can be small, or nonexistent. And I can still say, ‘Yes, we will help.’ In business, that is a super power.
2. Paying People.
I always imagined that making your own money as an entrepreneur would be amazing. What I couldn’t imagine was the feeling of sharing thousands of dollars with others for their hard work. And then tens of thousands of dollars. And then hundreds of thousands of dollars. The first day that I noticed The Weaponry had paid people over a million dollars I just stared at my Quickbooks screen and smiled, like a perv watching online porn. Ironically, the payouts have been the great reward in the adventure. Because I know we are positively impacting many lives. Not just mine.
3. Creating A Valuable Tool.
Early in my career I was in a focus group full of power tool enthusiast. And when asked what his favorite tool was, one Tim Taylor-type said, ‘My favorite tool is the right tool I need right now.’ Then he grunted.
I’ll never forget that. Over the past 4 years we have developed The Weaponry into a valuable problem-solving tool. Our clients turn to us because The Weaponry is the right tool they need right now.
This business is a valuable tool because it helps convert opportunity into reality. It helps make the invisible visible. It opens new paths. And it magnetizes brands and helps draw people to them. When clients call us they are saying, you have the tool our business needs right now to be successful. Which makes building and owning that tool extremely rewarding.
4. Having Wet Clay.
Before I started The Weaponry I thought of a business like an office with people and desks and a logo. But once you create your own company you realize that a business is really wet clay. And as an Entrepreneur you have the ability to shape and reshape the business any way you want. In fact, it is your responsibility to continuously reshape the clay to improve and optimize it. As businesses respond to the COVID-19 crisis, we are all reshaping the clay to make sure we are prepared for what the world needs today, and tomorrow. Because the world needs small businesses.
Entrepreneurship offers one of the greatest adventures on the planet. It is empowering, rewarding and infinitely creative. It offers the opportunity to positively impact others in ways that are hard to imagine before the journey starts. Thank you for sharing in my journey. I can’t wait to see where we go next!
*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.
Four years ago this week I started my entrepreneurial adventure when I launched the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. It truly has been an adventure. Every day presents a new set of opportunities and challenges. Even more so since COVID-19 became the hottest thing on the planet since Gangnam Style.
My self-appointed title at The Weaponry is Founder & CEO. Which means that I have 2 main responsibilities. As Founder, my job is to find the business. As CEO, my job is to not lose the business. The first job is already done. The second will never finish.
It is a significant challenge to make all the decisions that a business leader must make. You are typically working without all the information you would ideally like to have. That’s why I have developed a core set of questions and reminders to help guide my decision making.
Top 4 Sayings I Turn To To Help Make Tough Decisions.
1. Always do what you know is right.
This is always my #1 reminder. It taps into my most basic sense of right and wrong. If I adhere to this I can live with any decision. Even launching New Coke.
2. Don’t worry how much milk you spill as long as you don’t lose your cow.
If you are a business owner you are going to lose money. Sometimes in small ways. Sometimes in big ways. But you can’t live and die with each dollar you make or lose, or you would soon find yourself crying in a puddle of milk on the floor. You have to think big picture. And remember that as long as you are able to earn more money in the future, without taking your clothes off, everything will be alright.
3. We’ll do it this way until we know better.
Developing a great business requires developing great processes and procedures. As we develop The Weaponry Way we don’t set our process and procedures in stone. There is too much pressure on that. Instead, we believe in moving quickly, and establishing rules that guide us today. But we always remain openminded to adjusting and improving our approach as we learn more. My cousin Brooks Albrecht imported this approach from his time at Amazon. And things seem to be working out for that little bookstore.
4. What would I do if I was trying to beat me?
If you really want to make great decisions, think about each issue from your competitor’s point of view. Which is what Mr. Miyagi tried to teach Daniel San in The Karate Kid. It forces you to think of better, more aggressive approaches. It makes you think about meaningful differentiation. Which always elevates your thinking. And leads to better final outcomes. #WhoNeedsABodyBagNow
Good decisions fuel success. Yet we often lack the information we want to make the best choices. So develop your own decision making prompts and reminders to help you focus on what is most important and most valuable to you. It helps speed your decision making process. And leads to greater comfort with uncomfortable decisions.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
This is a big week in my world. On Sunday my family and the rest of the Christian Club celebrated Easter. Which is like Christmas for us sinners. But this week we are also celebrating the 4th birthday of The Weaponry, the advertising and idea agency I founded, on April 12, 2016.
When I first launched The Weaponry I was living in Atlanta. If you would have told me then that 4 years from now The Weaponry is thriving, with offices in both Milwaukee and Columbus I would have been thrilled. But if you would have then told me that no one actually worked in either of those offices I would have given you my best Whatchu-Talk’n-Bout-Willis look.
Celebrating our 4th birthday during COVIDPALOOZA makes for an interesting time. All of the Weapons are working together apart right now. But the business is well positioned during this unusual time. Which provides me an opportunity to reflect on the past 4 years.
Top 4 Lists
This week, to celebrate The Weaponry’s 4th Birthday I will share Top 4 lists. To begin, I am taking a look at what got us to our 4th anniversary and put us in a good position to weather the Corona-Cootie storm.
4 things I did right to help us get to our 4th anniversary.
1. I Took Action.
Everyone has a dream. And I dreamed of starting my own advertising agency for a long time. But to actual start your own business you have to move beyond dreaming to doing. Starting in the fall of 2015 I took an endless series of small actions that led me to today. So if you want to make sure you don’t die with your dream still inside you, take action to make it real.
As a professional creative thinker I take lots of risks with idea exploration. However, I am fiscally conservative. I have been cautious with our expenditures, our office space and our staffing size. I have been conservative about leaving cash in the business, versus taking it home as part of my return. As a result, The Weaponry has strong reserves to outlast this downturn.
3. I Planted Seeds.
Business development is critical to creating a pipeline of opportunities. Over the past 4 years I have stayed in touch with old friends. I’ve made hundreds of new friends. I have had phone conversations, chocolate milk meetings and lunches. I have volunteered my time, I have guest lectured and given talks. I write a blog. I have given interviews and served on committees and boards.
All of those things are like planting seeds. You never know when they will sprout or what they will turn into. But over the past month, since we have been working from home, I have had 5 new seeds sprout into either new business opportunities or actual new clients. So keep planting seeds and watch what happens. #AndyCohen.
4. I delivered
The best source of new business is a happy client. And you develop happy clients by delivering for them. We have grown by keeping our clients happy, and expanding our work with them. We are also expanding by having happy clients leave for new jobs and bringing us with them to their new companies. We have had that happen multiple times already in 2020. I have a really great team. And I appreciate all that they do for our clients. It is why we are still here, and still growing strong.
To develop a successful business you have to take action. Without action you are just a dreamer. You have to save money so that you are prepared to weather the storms that will surely come. You must keep planting seeds by creating and nurturing relationships and providing value to others. Then you must deliver the goods. Nothing grows a business like happy customers. None of it is easy. And none of it is that hard. It is simply the price you have to pay to get what you want in life.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
In 2015, with the enthusiastic support of several former clients, I decided to create my own advertising agency. During the planning process I started this blog to help share my entrepreneurial adventure. I called the blog The Perfect Agency Project. I wanted to write about what I was doing, learning and thinking as I was launching, improving and growing what would become The Weaponry. That way, if I made huge mistakes, and wondered, What was I thinking!?!, I could simply go back and read what I wrote.
I Didn’t See THAT Coming.
However, in an unforeseen turn of events, creating this blog has become as significant to me as creating the business. The simple act of writing about my experiences has taught me even more than I have been able to share with my readers. And the feedback I have received from readers has made it one of the most rewarding elective projects of my life (even better than the 3 inch goatee I grew in college).
When I turned 40 years old I made a commitment to start my own advertising agency. I did it by the time I was 42. And as I continue to build and grow The Weaponry, I have added new goals.
I have another startup business that I would like to launch soon. I want to write a book. Ultimately, I hope to write more than one book. But before you can write many books you have to write one. Kind of like, before you become a porn star you have to first have sex, on camera. #pleasedontdothis
Broadening My Horizons
To share my various business experiences, my book writing adventure, and all of the other life lessons, insights and humorous experiences along the way, it is time to expand the scope of this blog. For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I have regularly wandered far from topics related to The Weaponry. In fact, one of the great things about having a personal blog is writing about whatever you want. Like A strange encounter at the Piggly Wiggly. And I find myself wanting to share my broader experiences, learnings and observations.
As part of the broadening of the blog I am changing the name of the blog too. It will no longer be called The Perfect Agency Project. (#audiblegasps #CallCNN #WeInterruptThisBlogCast) I also want to make my writings easier to find, by humans and search engines alike.
So I am changing my blog title to… wait for it… The Adam Albrecht Blog. I know, this sounds crazy, like rich Asians. And you will never believe the new URL I will be using. So I will tell you. It is… AdamAlbrecht.blog. (However, theperfectagencyproject.com will still direct you to the blog. Because a rose by any other name may not immediately smell as sweet to Google and Bing.)
The rest of the blog will be totally the same. I will still share what I am learning. I am committed to humorous asides and totally random pop culture references that separate insiders from outsiders. (Use Google as your secret decoder ring for random references.) I will keep hashtag-style commentary. And captions will be written to make you giggle.
Thank you to all of you who regularly read my blog. Thank you for the comments, likes, emails, texts, phone calls, proofreading help, and in-person feedback on my writings. I know your time is limited. And I appreciate that you take the time to read my posts. But if you like what I have written in the first 412 posts, you will like what I write over the next 4000. And if you like this blog, I expect you will like the book. Which I look forward to spending more time writing in the year ahead. Thank you for reading all the way to the end of this post. Which is actually not here. Or here. It’s right here.
I love books. They are like fertilizer for your brain. I like to read them and listen to them. I like to collect books and display them throughout my house. I like books that educate, inspire and entertain. And I just finished a great book that did all 3 of those things in one handy-dandy, hard-covered, Amazon-Prime-delivered package.
The 5-Day Turnaround
My great friend, former co-worker and serial (not cereal) entrepreneur, Jeff Hilimire, somehow stole enough time from his crowded calendar to author a book called The 5-Day Turnaround.
I’ll admit that when I first heard the title of the book I was quite skeptical. I mean, who needs 5 days to turn all the way around? I think the Earth itself only needs like 2 or 3 days to turn around, right?
When I dug into the book I realized it wasn’t about slow-turning humans after all. It was about how to inspire established companies to think more like startups. And how to get corporate leaders to think and behave more like entrepreneurs.
I found this book fascinating. And highly relatable. Because 4 years ago I went from a very large, publicly held organization to a startup. My own startup. And as I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I noticed how different the 2 organizations were in their approach to, well, approaching things.
Comparing and Contrasting
The 5-Day Turnaround captures the mindset, speed and aggressiveness embodied in a startup, and contrasts it with the cautious, conservative nature of a well established company. The book is written as a fictional novel. Which means that the reader follows the story, and through ahh-smosis, picks up on all the important lessons learned by the story’s floundering corporate character, Matt.
The Pitch. And The Proposal.
The book really kicks into action after an ad agency pitch, when the potential client (Matt), tells the agency that they didn’t win the pitch because their ideas were so good and innovative that the conservative corporation didn’t have the chutzpah to implement them. Which meant the company was likely to choose a lamer agency instead.
However, the agency’s leader, Will, comes up with a daring plan to help Matt transform from a beaten down corporate dog into a daring, entrepreneurial leader within his large organization.
The story is a bit like the Fairy Godmother turning Cinderella into the belle of the ball. Only Cinderella was a cautious middle manager, who became an aggressive, entrepreneurial executive. And in this story Cinderella kept both of his Allen Edmonds wingtips on as he headed for home, at midnight, in his Tesla.
The book is packed with relatable organization challenges. And Will teaches Matt how to overcome them all in just 5 days. Will does this using foundational fundamentals that help organizations and departments grow at startup speed. Which is only slightly slower than ludicrous speed. #wevegoneplaid
The book challenges the assumption that bad things will happen if you take a risk within a large organization. It walks through a worst case scenario to dispel the myth that bad things happen to people who stick their necks out. It encourages readers to become fearless in their thinking and actions. Which is a lesson that benefits everyone.
You Down With PVTV? (yeah you know me!)
The book walks through the importance of establishing your Purpose, Vision, Tenets and Values (PVTV). Which sounds like the local station in the Portland-Vancouver, WA metro area. It even guides you through a process to determine the PVTV for your organization or department. This alone is worth the read.
The book covers such important topics as:
The Do Or Die Mindset
Identifying the right and and wrong people for your organization, based on the PVTV. (I want my PVTV!)
Who Is It For?
This book is great for any leader interested in thinking and acting more like an entrepreneur, even if you never plan to start your own business. The entrepreneurial mindset is confident, inspired and fast-acting (like Tinactin). Which leads to more success, because it creates more opportunities for success.
The 5-Day Turnaround is not just a book you read once. It becomes an easy-to-use reference book that you can pick up anytime for a quick hit of inspiration. It provides a series of valuable guideposts to keep you on course. Plus, it is a quick, easy and engaging read that flies by, allowing you to digest a lot of new information in a short time.
I found a couple of other fun things in this book. A crazy, risk-taking example Jeff mentions in the book was inspired by a meeting Jeff and I had at Proctor & Gamble, that involved a surprise performance from an opera singer. It was weird, and fun, and memorable. #TakingRisks
One of the really fun surprises at the end of this great read was that I found my name in the acknowledgements section. It was the first time I remember receiving a literary shout out. I think the major contribution I provided was simply encouraging Jeff to write the book in English, and number the pages, in order, starting with the smallest numbers.
Thank for writing The 5-Day Turnaround Jeff. Thanks for sharing your insights, experiences and talent with the world. You have been a positive and motivational, and inspiration force for me and so many others. Now, you have inspired me to want to write my own book. I’m thinking of calling it The 4-Day Turnaround. Or maybe 6-Minute Abs.
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