Want to think more like an entrepreneur? I have the book for you.

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?

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Five copies of The 5 Day Turnaround at Five Guys at 5:00 pm.

The Book

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.

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At first I thought this said, ‘Always Lead White Porpoise!’ But it doesn’t.

The Lessons

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:

  1. The Do Or Die Mindset
  2. Identifying the right and and wrong people for your organization, based on the PVTV. (I want my PVTV!)
  3. Moving Faster.
  4. Establishing Trust
  5. Embracing Failure.
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Here’s a great picture of Jeff and a whole pile of books he birthed himself. But I am fixated on the sign in the background that says, ‘Welcome to Igital Elights Anis.’

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.

Personal Experience

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

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Pleasant Surprise

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.

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Don’t bail on this book before page 235. Or page 236 if you want to know what Qaadirah’s full last name is.

Thank You!

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.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this book, please share this post with them.

How to write more in less time.

I talk to people all the time who want to know how write a blog, podcast or book. A major writing project can seem attractive but intimidating. Because it isn’t easy to find time to write. You probably don’t have large empty spaces of time just waiting to be filled. Unless, of course, you live in a penitentiary or a nursing home.

Routine-ager

I have found that writing requires a regular routine. You have to find a time and an approach that work on a daily basis. My regular writing time is in the mornings between 6 and 7am.

Fast Draft Friday

Whether you are a regular writer already, or you are looking to get into a good habit, try adding a Fast Draft Friday to your routine. Fast Draft Friday or FDF helps you pump out several quick drafts to build on later.

person using inspire typewriter
Don’t use a typewriter unless you have too.

How It Works

I give myself a 10 minute max to write on a given topic. Then I save what I have written after 10 minutes, and start a draft of another topic. By the end of an hour I have a minimum of 6 new posts to come back to later.

This is important because publishing blog posts, podcasts, articles or editorials regularly can be hard. (It can also be hard to publish if you are irregular.) It is much easier to polish something you have already started than it is to create a great post from pixel dust. And for clarity, I mean polish, as in polish the silver, or polish off the donuts. Not Polish Sausage, Polish Festival or Lech Welesa.

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Lech Welesa, former President of Poland, endorses Fast Draft Friday.

Also, my writings get better with multiple drafts. The more times I go over them the cleaner and clearer they get. I am more likely to add a relevant quote, an interest-enhancing image and humor. All of which make the final product more enjoyable for the reader. So having a quick first draft of 6 or more posts created on one day has a positive impact on my blog brand for months.

Key Takeaway

The key to great writing is getting started. I currently have 252 drafts of new posts. But I started with zero. I got into a good routine, and now publish 3 posts per week. I get a little bit smarter about it all the time. You can do the same. Make today a Fast Draft Friday. You’ll be surprised by how much progress you can make in 1 hour.

Happy Friday!

*If you know someone who wants to write more, consider sharing this story with them.

What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts.

I always wanted to write a blog. Ok, that’s a total lie. The term weblog wasn’t even born until after I was out of college. But ever since I first heard about blogs I knew I wanted to write one. But like a lame shopping mall, I didn’t have a hot topic to write about.

That all changed when I started planning the launch of my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.  I knew my entrepreneurial journey would make for an interesting story to write about. I just didn’t know if it would be more comedy, tragedy or a bit of both.

TPAP

I launched the blog The Perfect Agency Project to share my entrepreneurial experience, and to serve as a personal journal of the adventure. Since the fall of 2015 I have written regularly. I have also written posts when I was irregular*. (*Not true, but I don’t have an editor to stop me from writing such nonsense. Which is one of my favorite things about blogging.)

It’s A Hard Blog Life

But writing a blog is hard. It is an elective that can take up as much time as your required coursework. Maintaining a blog requires a dedication to writing and editing. It requires a commitment to learning, observing and listening to the feedback you receive.

Mr. 200

This, my readers, is my 200th post. I am extremely thankful for all of you who have taken the time to read any of my writings. This feels like a good time to reflect on the experience so far, and share what I have learned from my first 200 posts.

17 lessons I have learned from writing my first 200 posts.

 

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#1  Starting is the most important step. I talk to people all the time who tell me they want to start a blog. And my response is always, ‘You should.’ And ‘The best way to start a blog is to go to wordpress.com and start writing a blog.’ It is really that easy to get started. Remember in A Social Network with Fake Mark Zuckerberg said, “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented facebook.’?  The same holds true here. If you want to write a blog, start a blog. (And how cute is that little Chariots of Fire Duckling pic above?)

five-706893_960_720#2  Write and publish 5 posts before you share any with others. This 5-post commitment ensures you are serious about blogging. It also offers your first visitors an established base of content to peruse on their first visit. This helps entice them to come back for more. The 5-post commitment also works for building fences.

 

SUPER BOWL XXXIX.  FOX Sports presents Super Bowl XXXIX, live Su

#3  Posts Don’t Have To Be Long.  Seth Godin’s blog posts are often very short. Often a paragraph or so. These are easy to read and easy to write. In our attention-deficit world people like a quick blog hit. If writing shorter keeps you writing, write short. And remember, if you dare wear short shorts, Nair for short shorts.

 

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#4  Make people laugh. One of the most important reasons people look forward to my writings is that I try to sneak funnies, or ridiculouses into my posts. I think humor is key to keeping people coming back, like the Costanza hat. But if you don’t do funny well, try profound, or smart. They offer value too.

 

#5  500-word rule of thumb. I like a 500-word average for my posts. That seems to be a good length that lets me share a full thought, but not so long that it starts to drag. For perspective, we just hit 500 words in this paragraph. And maybe I should stop here. But not today! Today, we’re going Ludacrous Length.

#6  Use the Headline Analyzer.  I often type my headline into the headline analyzer at coschedule.com. It helps me tweak the headline for maximum interest. It will show you what is likely to help your headlines draw more eyes and clicks. It gives each headline a score between 1 and 100. The headline on this post only scored a 69. But I snickered and thought that was good enough. Aim higher than I do.

 

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#7  You never know what topics are going to resonate with readers. Everyone comes to my blog from a different mindset. So different topics, perspectives, and quotes are more relevant to some readers than others. I am often surprised when readers tell me that a recent post was their favorite thing I’ve written so far. So keep writing. You never know who will benefit from it. There are a handful of random blog posts that have had a major impact on my thinking. Your wisdom could have that kind of impact too. Which is better than an impacted wisdom tooth.

 

#8  A photo is important.  The featured image seems to have a significant impact on readership. WordPress has a library of free images to use. Use them. They help. Apparently humans are visually stimulated. Who knew? (#ThePornIndustryKnew)

 

#9  Tuesdays and Thursdays work. Every community has specific days and times that work best for post readership. Although I have published posts on all 31 days of the week, Tuesday and Thursdays get the most love. I don’t know why. Experiment to find days and times that get the best response for your blog.

 

two men using white laptop computer sitting on brown wooden sofa

 

#10  Read your blog out loud before publishing. All of my posts are read out loud (ROL) before I push them live. You should do this too. It helps you find errors and omissions that you may not have found otherwise. For instance, by ROL-ing I might have realized there are 7 days in a week, not 31.

 

#11  6 is the magical monthly number. I talked to a mathematician who did statistical analysis on blog posts and readership. He found that posting 6 posts per month or more had a much greater impact on engagement and memorability. I have found this to be true. As soon as I made a habit of hitting 6 posts or more per month my average monthly readership doubled. Which doubled the pleasure and doubled the fun.

 

#12  Create a writing habit. I start each weekday morning by writing for about an hour from 6am to 7am. This has become a regular routine. It’s a positive habit that allows me to publish 2 posts per week. Establishing the writing habit is the key to making the blog work. My friend Jeff Hilimire, who blogs regularly, said that he frequently uses a 20 minute rule. He writes for 20 minutes, and publishes what he has when the dinger dings. I actually don’t know if there is a dinger. But the point is to find your habit and grab it like a rabbit.

 

#13  Run Spellcheck.  WordPress and other blogging platforms have a spell checking feature. Use them. They will catch things you don’t, like Odell Beckham Jr. You will have the occasional error sneak through. My readers will often shoot me a heads up when I pull a Billy Buckner. I appreciate this. It takes a village to raise a grammatically proper post.

close up of hand over white background

 

#14  Start a draft whenever you get an idea.  Inspiration for posts can come from anywhere. When inspiration strikes, write the basic idea into a quick draft on your phone or computer. I currently have 195 unpublished drafts. In fact, my blog is so drafty it needs weather-stripping. Your ideas are likely to disappear if you don’t write them down. Having several drafts started gives you plenty of options to work with on days when you are less inspired to write something new.

 

#15  Posts are a great way to recognize others.  I have written many posts about the people who have inspired, impressed and supported me. The posts offer a great way to say thanks, or show your appreciation or respect for others. In fact, my most popular post to date is my tribute to my friend Steven Schreibman. I have written about friends, family, clients, coaches, rappers and a strange woman I encountered at the Piggly Wiggly. They have all been popular posts. Granted, some of them had nothing to do with advertising or entrepreneurship. But it’s my blog, I can write what I want to.

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#16  Posting brings good things.  Every time I publish a post something good happens. I get an opportunity or an introduction. I hear from a friend or family member. Or I get a kind, thankful or supportive comment from a reader. Or I get asked to emcee a charitable luncheon by my friend Stacy Sollenberger, where I meet a future employee who helps bring great new opportunities to The Weaponry. Or my friend Tim McKercher forwards a post to Vanilla Ice, who tweets the post out to the world.

 

woman in grey jacket sits on bed uses grey laptop

#17  Don’t get caught up in readership numbers.  I would prefer to have one person read a post and really take something away from it than have a million people read it and forget it. Write for the one person who needs to hear your message that day. Not for the massholes who don’t care. Write good posts that offer value. That is all you should ever care about. Well, that and human rights.

Key Takeaway

The Perfect Agency Project has been the perfect writing project for me. It allows me to write a bit everyday. It forces me to think more about my life, my career and my observations. Nothing I have ever written feels truer to my style of thinking, writing and self-expression.

You have something to share too. We all do. I hope you consider sharing your thoughts, feelings, observations and learnings in your own blog. You never know who you might help along the way. Or who may help you. Life is funny that way. I hope to keep writing about this funny life adventure we are on for another 2000 posts.

**If you read this far (you are 1612 words in) you probably would enjoy subscribing to this blog. Please consider signing up to get each post emailed to you.

How to write my favorite word the way I do it.

Do you have a favorite word to write? I do. I have written a library’s worth of words in my lifetime. But for fun and flair, there is one word that beats them all by a cursive mile.

Attitude

Here’s how to write it the way I do.

  1. Grab your favorite pen.
  2. Prepare to write in your flowiest cursive.
  3. Draw a looping lowercase ‘a’ like you are circling the key point on the page.
  4. Let each of the next letters flow like you are sketching a roller coaster.
  5. After you finish the ‘e’, cross all three of the ‘t’s with one stroke. Do it as if you were crossing the most important task off your to-do list.
  6. Dot the ‘i’ like you are an orchestra conductor hitting the final note in the final song of the final concert of your career.
  7. Look at the word you have just written and realize that it means everything in life.
  8. Write the word again and again and again, until the ink in your pen runs dry.

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