Productivity Hacks – Hanging Out with Carey Green

Productivity Hacks

The early bird catches the worm, as the old proverb says.

Sometimes I think that’s a rather destructive piece of advice.

Earlier this month, I shared a few of my most useful productivity tips with Carey Green. We were talking about my contribution to his new book Entrepreneur Mind Hacks Part 1. The dual volume series is a compilation of tips from some of the brightest entrepreneurial thinkers in the game today (like Seth Godin and Cal Newport), as well as powerful insights from thinkers of the past (like Winston Churchill).

Somehow I sneaked into the roster.

During this interview, Carey and I talk about:

  • why “early to bed and early to rise” isn’t always best
  • one of the many business lessons I extracted from sermons of an itinerant 18th century preacher
  • generosity versus greed in business
  • why humans need to stop treating their brains and bodies like machines during the workweek
  • how two different Schwartzes (Gene and Tony) forever altered the way I set up my schedule — their advice will revolutionize your productivity if you listen and apply
  • step-by-step instructions to discover your unique rhythms
  • how God made you different — and what you need to do to make the most of that fact.

We also got into copywriting and marketing a little bit. I talked about how important persuasive copy is, but there are two things that have far more impact on the punching power of your sales messages. Most decent copywriters are aware of this. That doesn’t mean they’ll talk about it in public.

Carey was a great host. He’s also a top-notch businessman and MAN. The world could use more like him.

Get more details about Entrepreneur Mind Hacks books. Book 1 addresses productivity and creativity. (That’s the one I contributed to.) Book 2 dives into connections and success.

If you’re in business or thinking about going into business, pick em up. You’ll definitely learn something.


Get Attention With These Not-So-Average Marketing Ideas

Attention Marketing

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.” ~ Steuart Henderson Britt

Marketing your business using the same methods everyone else is using isn’t much better.

One of the biggest problems any business has these days is getting and keeping the attention of their should-be clients and customers. Another problem that many of entrepreneurs and solo professionals have is that they have no idea what to do to stand out from everyone else who’s trying to get attention (not just the competition).

Many also fear doing something they’ve never done before or something that seems risky.

During times like these, being bold enough to take risks and step outside of your normal comfort zone may be what it takes to make your marketing work. A lack of courage may leave you unnoticed and under-appreciated as the expert you are.

In his constant quest to share practical marketing insights, tactics and strategies, Steve Lahey invited me to share a few “outside-the-box” marketing ideas with his audience. Check out the 30-minute interview, Creative Marketing Ideas for Solo Professionals.

In the half hour, Steve and I spoke about 3 proven tactics that are rare enough to be ridiculously effective:

  1. direct mail
  2. “best buyer”/influencer outreach and
  3. a unique kind of live, in-person event.

If an injection of fresh thinking might rekindle the spark in your promotional efforts, I think this is a pretty good investment of your time. Even if you don’t use the techniques mentioned, the thinking behind them and the reasons they’re effective are sure to be thought-provoking and inspiring.

My personal philosophy of business and marketing comes out pretty strongly here, too.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the interview. I’d also love to hear about your favorite outside-the-box marketing ideas in the comments below.



When Is Being Clever Inappropriate in Advertising?

Is it wrong to try to be clever in your marketing?

Most direct marketing experts and teachers will tell you that attempts at humor or cleverness are a bad idea. Most of them have experienced reality firsthand: people work hard to earn their money. Deciding where they’re going to spend or invest it is something they probably take seriously, not playfully.

On the other hand, most multimillion dollar image ad agencies can’t resist conjuring up the slickest ideas possible. Some of them will quote statistics “proving” how effective those 7- and 8-figure campaigns have been. Maybe they’re right, in some cases.

While I can’t state categorically that cleverness will ruin your the effectiveness of your marketing message, know for sure that you’re taking a pretty big risk.


A few days ago I saw a TV commercial advertising what seems to be a major event at Denny’s: Baconalia.

Being the dreadful nerd that I am, I realized that this was a attempted play on the word bacchanalia. Knowing the kind of person who reads this blog, there’s a good chance you noticed it, too. Wikipedia defines bacchanalia as “wild and mystic festivals of the Greco-Roman god Bacchus (or Dionysus), the wine god. The term has since come to describe any form of drunken revelry.” Just replace the wine with bacon and you have a good time waiting for you at Denny’s.

Here’s the problem: How obvious that play on words? What percentage of Denny’s average customers get it?

You know what probably happened. Some bookworm adwriter (who never had the responsibility to actually sell something with his ads) saw a chance to flex his creative muscles and he couldn’t help himself.

Granted, this advertisement may not hurt sales, but does the name Baconalia capture the attention and crystallize the desire for salty pigmeat in the minds of the people who see the commercial? More likely, it causes a moment of confusion. And as I say so frequently, confused people don’t buy.

Maybe I’m more upset about this than I should be. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. But it seems like this happens way too frequently. Marketers and entrepreneurs think puns fill cash registers. They put too much emphasis on being clever.

Like Barefeet Shoes. Does that even make sense as the name of a shoe store?

Kill The Cleverness

Bill Bernbach, widely regarded as one of the 20th centuries most influential advertisers, said this: “Our job is to sell our clients’ merchandise … not ourselves. Our job is to kill the cleverness that makes us shine instead of the product. Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message.

Another of the greats, David Ogilvy said that “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.

This is where so many marketers get it wrong. The advertisement isn’t about the marketer — he shouldn’t be trying to win awards or show off his brilliance. The ad isn’t about the company selling the product, or even about the product itself. In the final analysis, the ad must be about the buyer and how his life will be changed for the better by purchasing the item advertised.

Marketing should be a spotlight in a darkened theater; content to be unseen, focused solely on creating the proper perspective for the product, enabling an audience to see the benefits available to them.

The copy you write should be transparent, invisible. If a potential client reads your copy and says, “Man, that was a great advertisement!” you’ve failed. You succeed when he asks urgently, “Where can I buy this product?

The Most Important Exception

Cleverness is a great characteristic for a copywriter or marketer to have. Coming up with unique ideas and new ways to communicate them is essential. But that quick wit must be subjected to self-control and humility. All of those clever ideas have to take a back seat to selling power.

In your ads, you may need to be clever. But your cleverness must be invisible. Kinda like Seal Team 6, doing its job without being seen and disappearing into the night.

Here’s the short version: don’t sacrifice clear, effective communication in an attempt to be witty. Unless you’re selling tickets to a comedy show.


My Talk with Mark Fox

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mark Fox, CEO of Sly as a Fox, LLC and author of Da Vinci and the 40 Answers. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the subject of purposeful creativity. Oh, and he is former Chief Engineer on the Space Shuttle.

He enlightened me for 35 minutes and let me record the conversation.

Here’s why it matters to you.

We’ve talked about how improving your offer will improve the response you get from your marketing and sales propositions. Mark gives two of the best examples I’ve ever heard of “better than money back” guarantees. One involves a million dollar payout.

You can definitely learn something from these ideas.

The broader context of our discussion was how to become creative on purpose instead of having to wait for your muse to show up. We’re all well-accustomed to accidental creativity. But what if you could reproduce those times of inspiration predictably, on demand?

You’d start to see problems and obstacles dissolve right before your eyes.

On top of all that, I make a total anus out of myself in the first 5 minutes of the recording. I was so embarrassed I almost canceled the rest of the talk. I’m getting over my pride, because there is some really great content that I think you’ll benefit greatly from hearing. It’s worth the shame.

Check out the audio here.

You don’t want to miss this.

P.S. While you’re at it, you should go to Mark’s site. His is one of the only newsletters I haven’t unsubscribed from. He’s also offering the full text of Da Vinci and the 40 Answers in PDF form for free. No opt-in required.