“Episode 20: Entropic Competition” Transcript
Hey everyone, Ken Courtright here from Today’s Growth: Growing Business Today. This whole week is dedicated to one of my favorite subjects, the subject of competition. We have podcasts roll out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I am splitting up my take on competition into three pieces because there are three different types of competition. I am going to shed some light on two areas of competition that a lot of people who I have bumped into don’t give any thought to, don’t spend any time on, and yet one of the two, the one I am going to cover today, I think is possibly the biggest growth killer in business today.
I am pretty excited. I have done some version of this episode over the last 10-15 years a couple times a year, and I can definitely remember some what I call “Who farted?” looks where I will be going through this and you will get that one eyebrow up, head turned slightly, and your head goes stock-still where they realize, “Whoa, how could we miss this? How come nobody on our team brought this to our attention? How did we not realize this is one of our competitors?” I am very excited about today’s episode, and Wednesday’s and Friday’s are barn-burners as well.
What if I told you that you personally and your company have three different types of competitors? You do. The bottom line is I am going to focus on the first one on this episode, but the three different types of competition are first and foremost entropic. Entropic competition revolves around the law of entropy, and the law of entropy says that anything man-made or God-made is built to go from order to disorder. We are going to go into the two different areas of entropic competition in some quick detail here on this podcast.
Wednesday, we will talk about physical competition. Physical competition is what the average business owner thinks when they hear competition, and that is: Who are my competitors? Who are my competitors online? Who are my brick-and-mortar competitors? If you are in a shoe business and you sell shoes, if you go to a trade show, what other booths will be there selling shoes? Those are your physical competitors.
The third form of competition is your present competition. I want you to imagine the word “present.” Present competition is the what or who is present to a potential customer or client during the sales process. In your company, when there is a customer or client that you are wooing, trying to get them to buy something off your website, or you have to sell them on a product when you walk in the door, what is in the stream of the sale that could potentially block the sale? If somebody walks into your office, does your office admin have terrible BO? That is a terrible start to the situation. You get the idea. It’s what gets in the way. I am going to go super deep this coming Friday on present competition.
But this episode is entropic competition. Let me get started here. The law of entropy says that anything man-made or God-made is built to go from order to disorder. I often say that if you leave a car in a desert and you come back 80 years later, is it still a car? I say it’s not. Cars run. If you leave a car in the desert and you come back 80 years later, you have a chunk of metal. I can pretty much assure there won’t be air in the tires. The erosion on that vehicle, and I’m sure some animal is living in that chunk of rusted metal. The reality is, I think we all agree that that is not a car. That has changed. Entropy has broken that down.
Entropy breaks into two categories in business. One I call the world entropy, and the other I call self entropy.
The world entropy, if you’re in business and you guys go through your own little checklist of whatever business or industry you are in, the world that is pressing against you could be banks. I think we agree on this call that 2006-2014, the banking industry wreaked havoc in the business world: the laws, the changes, the this, the that. It was crushing businesses from the outside.
I think clients and customers have attitudes. I think those attitudes press on businesses and cause change.
How about your vendors? They press on you.
How about your true competition? Remember your physical competitors. I think they are very entropic. They force change, and they force breakdowns all the time.
And then general life. I love the phrase, “Welcome to life on Planet Earth.” Entrepreneurs go face-first into entropy. We as humans realize you live life in three phases only. You are either going into a storm, currently in a storm, or you just came out of a storm. So you’re either going into a storm, facing some big-time challenges—relational challenges, money challenges, health challenges—or you’re in one, or you just came out of one. But let’s get real. That’s it. There are no other options. That is entropy.
This episode is dedicated to self-entropy. I call it self-entropy because it centers around self-sabotage. Self-sabotage became worldly famous in 1936. Dorothea Brande wrote a ground-breaking book in 1936 called Wake Up and Live. In that book, she describes how every person walking has limiting beliefs and personal failure symptoms, triggers that literally shut us down, block us off, stop us from achieving, force us to go backwards. If you can’t get a copy of Wake Up and Live!, you can at least get the Cliffs Notes version in Og Mandino’s famous book, University of Success. If you haven’t read University of Success, that is one of my top five business books of all-time. I think you need to right now open up Amazon and overnight University of Success to yourself because I see it clear as day Chapter 4 is Dorothea’s failure symptoms chapter.
What Og Mandino did, one of the most famous writers of our time, is he said, “I want a legacy book.” He took the best eight to ten pages of the best business books that affected him personally, and he compiled those eight to ten pages in a 52-chapter book. You read one chapter per week. Even if you never graduated high school, if you start in the beginning, the first five chapters lay a foundation. The next five to eight chapters build on it, and so on. When you are finished with that book, you have a university of success that has been poured into you. It is a tremendous book.
But this is on Chapter 4 of that book. More importantly, it’s on Dorothea’s ground-breaking findings that we live every day. Our subconscious every day is in the pursuit of self-sabotage. It is what it is, and we can control it.
Some other greats that came after Dorothea are names like Peter and Marshall. They brought us evidence through books called The Peter Principle or Perry Marshall’s 80/20 book. These slightly newer authors brought evidence to the table that proved in any country, industry, or era, doesn’t matter, 80% of all production—again, this is any industry, it does not matter—comes from 20% or less of all activity. Any industry, any company, any culture. Does not matter.
Most of us listening to this know that deep in our heart, they were given a spiritual gift, an area of strength, a true area of expertise. Call it whatever you want. I think most people can at least acknowledge to themselves they do have an area of strength. However, and I am guilty of this, most people spend 80-99% of their day in areas that are not their area of strength, their gift, their calling if you will. They are doing their daily activities that someone else could do. When you personally know that 20% of your activities that produce the most of your results, you feel very awkward. When you know the 20%, yet are spending your time on the other stuff that you know anybody else in your company could do, it gets ugly.
The reality is when you know what you should be doing, and you are doing something else, sometimes you don’t even realize it. You’re just going through your day. You think you’re busy. You’re crossing things off your to-do list. I accomplished a lot today. Did you really? Or were you possibly ineffective? If you’re crossing things off a list just to say you did something, and your to-do list is less at the end of the day than at the beginning, I’m here to tell you that if the things you crossed off were not in your personal gift or area of expertise, and the things you crossed off could have been done by someone else, you just spent the day in self-sabotage. You just spent the day living in, through, and, by default, the cause of your personal competition.
I love the word self-sabotage. I have hung in some circles where I have heard somewhat famous, well-known, very affluent, hard-charging people have said, “To-do lists are proof that Satan is real.” You hear someone say, “What do you mean?” The reality is, the real successful people only do what they know they were put on this planet to do. They don’t do any other tasks.
Here is a phrase I put together a few years ago that I love, and I am going to say it twice: Entrepreneur to-do lists which slant toward daily mundane activities have held more companies back than bad hires, bad marketing, or a lack of funding.
I am going to repeat this: Entrepreneur to-do lists which slant toward daily mundane activities have held more companies back than bad hires, bad marketing, or a lack of funding.
Let me dig in deep on this one. Let me add a twist to it. Because I believe that self-sabotage is the biggest business killer today, I started tracking not only my own activities, not only my management team’s activities, not only the people we’re consulting with—our 3,100 clients, our partners with 680 revenue-generating websites—but I have started paying close attention and kind of reading between the lines of these time-management books, these self-improvement books. And the undercurrent of what is out there is very much, there is an area of awareness that is really brought to the forefront with Perry Marshall’s 80/20 book.
There is definitely an awareness that each individual in the company has a role, and they were probably brought in to do that role because they have a very strong slant toward something specific. Great salespeople, although you can teach them and build them and train them no question, have an incredible sense of empathy, an incredible listening ear, and they listen themselves into selling the next deal. It is a true gift. Same with people in HR or same with people in management. You know someone is skilled.
The reality is that most people listening to this podcast know that they should be trying at least three to five different advertising/marketing channels each and every year. Here’s a question. Let’s say you sell a single product on a single website. You know you should be trying a Pinterest channel or an Instagram channel. Or let’s say you own a chain of little walk-in stores where you sell vacuums, but mostly what you do is home carpet cleaning. Most people know they should be trying magazines or newspapers or radio or TV or cable. Most entrepreneurs know that their money is mostly tied into one channel that brings in 80% of their bacon. They know they should be trying other things.
Why do those people that know they should be continually testing new channels not do it? Number one reason is no time. The number one reason they don’t do it is they don’t have time, yet they are doing daily activities that other people are qualified to do that are forcing them to state, proclaim, and sort of believe they don’t have time to start a trial marketing campaign in a local magazine. It’s total gibberish.
I am still guilty of this, but entrepreneurs justify a daily to-do list of mundane activities that they have been doing for years that they could outsource 100 times over.
Let me give you the psychological reason behind this, which is so powerful and why I was pumped to do this episode. I want everybody to picture the car you drove to work in. if you are currently sitting at a desk at home or if you’re not in your car, what is your car? What do you have? Do you have a Honda Civic? Do you have a Mercedes GLE? What do you drive? Everybody picture the car you currently drive. Do you or do you not notice that same exact type of car everywhere you go? When you are driving down the highway, if you are driving a S-Class Mercedes, don’t you notice all the S-Class Mercedes? If you drive a Honda Civic, don’t you notice the Honda Civics everywhere?
Let’s say you pull up to a Stop sign. On the right side, someone two lanes over is driving the same exact car you drive. Different color, same car, same year. Your peripheral vision has no choice. It has to physically make you look at it. It’s like a magnet. You notice the type of car you’re currently driving everywhere. It’s not optional. Your head is turning.
Here is a better question. I want you to think of not the last car you had before your current car, but the car before that, five to ten years ago. Pick a car you had a while back. When you’re driving down the road today, do you ever even notice those cars? No. Why? The reality is, subconsciously we are drawn to and only notice and our synapses in our brain are physically wired to point us to the vehicle we are currently driving.
Let me say this again. If you are driving a 2015 Honda Civic, and off to the right in a different lane or direction, there is a 2015 Honda Civic in a different color. Doesn’t matter. You are driving that car. You live and breathe in that car today, and you will notice it everywhere. But if the car before that was a Mustang, and the car before that was a Chevy Nova, you haven’t had a Chevy Nova in ten years, and there is a Chevy Nova off to the right, your peripheral vision in your mind doesn’t draw you there because you’re no longer in the Nova.
I can’t remember the psychological term for this, but it’s incredibly important. The bottom line is your mind is alive and awake to the vehicle you are currently driving. How does this relate to self-sabotage? How does this relate to the biggest business growth killer today? Here’s how.
I spent last Thursday with the legend Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I think he said that worldwide they have sold 240 million copies. It’s very impressive. But it reminded me of the power of visualization.
He was going through the Yale study back in the day where they took 300 students that were not on the basketball team. They took 150 of these students that did not play basketball and for two weeks, every evening at 7:00, Monday through Saturday, for one hour, they practiced free throws. For two weeks, one hour, they physically practiced free throws.
They took another 150 into a room, and the first day someone coached them on how to do a proper free throw. For 30 minutes, for two weeks, they did visualization of the perfect free throw.
Let me blow everybody’s mind. It was a famous study. The first 150 people improved—from their base-line testing before they started—an 18% improvement on free throws. One hour of practice every day for two weeks, they improved by 18%. The other 150 who only did visualization for half the time every day for two weeks, they improved by 17%. It was almost an identical improvement. One group physically shot the ball and improved, and the other never touched a basketball again until it was time to shoot. They improved 17%. This study has been repeated so many times by so many different groups, and it always results in the same thing.
This relates directly to business and business growth, specifically self-sabotage. When we stop and set goals, that’s good. When we stop and set goals to ourselves but then write them down, that’s great. When we write them down, and we sit there and physically visualize ourselves having the goal, tasting the goal, seeing how we would feel after we achieved the goal—watch this, this is the key—if we can do the visualization for at least five minutes, 60 days in a row, it has been proven that it is almost a given lock that we achieve that goal. And here’s why.
We see around us the vehicle we are currently driving. Let me say this again. We see around us the vehicle we are currently driving. If I am driving a dream, a goal, and I am truly all about this goal—I have written it down, I have visualized getting it, I have visualized myself having it—I am driving in the vehicle of this goal.
Watch this. When I live my life and go through life, I am going to clearly notice and see the people and the opportunities that are associated with the like goal. If I am in a goal or a dream of growing 10x, and I am in a room of 300 people, my ears, mind, and body are going to pick up the people on the same wavelength that are going for that type of goal. Or maybe they are in a vehicle. They are in a bank, and they can do the funding for my goal. Or maybe they have a product that I could add to my product mix that could help me get to the goal.
The bottom line is when I am in the vehicle of my goal—and I cannot say this enough—all I can see is the like people that could help me with my vision. All I can see are the people who can help my goal or dream come true.
Watch this. If I am living my life with no dream or written goals, just a central, “Oh yeah we are going to double our business this year,” which is kind of a goal, kind of a mantra, kind of a mission statement, kind of something, but what I am really living in is no visualization of anything.
I am such a freak on visualization that in 1994 I took a Sawzall and carved out the dry wall in my office—two feet high, four feet wide—and I had a company build me an electric sign with four super bright lights in it with a plastic front that I could change and slide in. I wrote “Ten video stores doing X million dollars. International sign company with 40 sales reps doing X millions.” I was a freak. I wanted to visualize where I was going to be in two years, and I knew where I was, but I needed a reminder in blinding lights staring at me. People would come into my office, and they wouldn’t be able to look at me because this blinding light was shining my vision on them. They’d be like, “What is that?” To them, it was nuts. The reality is we ended up having a very nice chain of video stores, a very large sign company, and thus I am a visualizing fanatic.
Watch this. If you don’t live that way, if you don’t believe in written goals, if you don’t practice this stuff and you do the other thing, which is this, you live every day in a to-do list. You live in this checklist. You live in these daily accountability things. If you live in to-dos, that is your vehicle. When you live your life, I’m guessing your goals are checking things off to shorten the list to accomplish things. You’re not understanding that you’re living in a world that all you’re able to physically see or notice are other potential to-do’s or obstacles that need to get added to the list.
I don’t know if anybody out there is feeling suffocated by this incredible to-do list. I have had people come to me and say, “Ken, how do you run 680 different revenue-generating websites and still deal with Skype, email, voicemail, conference calls, etc?”
Well, number one, that’s not what I do. I make sure that I only do what only I can do. I only do what only I can do. I always turn it back to them and say, “Why are you answering those things?” They never understand what I mean. But I always have the same answer: You are supposed to do only your area of genius. You are supposed to do what God put you on this planet to do, not to-do’s. Not to-do’s. Other people do to-do’s. You are an entrepreneur. You are a visionary.
If you are a solopreneur, if you are new in business, that is what the book E-myth is for. E-Myth by Michael Gerber is all about understanding. Everybody starts with a to-do list. You are a new entrepreneur, you are in the beginning, you are just getting your first product launched. Of course you answer the phone and your email. That’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m saying is even from the very beginning, you are going to start noticing things you’re doing repeatedly, things that you could hire an intern to do for free, things that you could hire a virtual assistant in another country to do for next to nothing. That next to nothing is big money for them. Once you notice these, you realize that your job is only to do the things that only you can do, once you notice that, I’m telling you right now that if you don’t make those changes and move them off to someone else, that is self-sabotage. That will keep you stuck in a to-do list, being efficiently ineffective.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, suffocated, depressed, then ask yourself: Is there any possibility that you are possibly overwhelmed, depressed, stressed out because you are living in this zone doing things you know you shouldn’t be doing?
This has been proven by psychologists, sociologists. Some of the first starter questions that psychiatrists ask for depression are: Do you have a dream? Do you have a goal? If not, then they backpedal and ask: Are you doing the same thing over and over again? Are you in the home-to-work rut? While you’re at work, is it add to the to-do list, take off the to-do list, add to the to-do list, meaning you’re going nowhere. You’re on a treadmill, and you’re just rolling.
Let’s get back on track. On the flip side, people with solid dreams and visions for their life and their company seldom get depressed. Napoleon Hill started a very famous chapter in a very famous book. This comes from a man who for 20 years interviewed the wealthiest, most successful people in the world and became very famous at the end of his life. In the beginning, when he was doing his grunt work, he wasn’t making much money. He was in the pursuit of study. Then he writes what is now an incredibly famous phrase that goes, “Isn’t it amazing that a man with definiteness of purpose goes through life and watches as the world steps aside and then comes beside to help him with his aims.”
Let me say it again: “Isn’t it amazing that a man with definiteness of purpose goes through life and watches how the world steps aside and then even comes beside and helps him with his aims.”
Listen, when you are living in the vehicle of your goals and dreams, you are going to watch the world step aside and then even come beside you and help you with your aims. What he is saying in 1926 is if you are living in the vehicle, you’re driving the vehicle of the goal or dream of your company, if you are living in that and visualizing it, the only thing you can physically see is the world stepping aside, clearing away from you. Picture a room of 300 people. They just fade away. But the three to four people in that room that you should be talking to even walk toward you and help you with your aims.
I cannot tell you that in our company, in the 23 years, in the two different segments where we have doubled previous gross sales five years in a row, we are in the middle right now of year six of doing the same thing, doubling again, doubling again. In a meeting every single Monday, I have a prayer/mantra that takes me 25 minutes to say that is very specific to where we are going. I cannot tell you how many times, because of the clear vision we have at this company of where we are going and how set we are on our aims, I have been in a meeting where I barely even notice a guy in the corner, but either someone walks me up to that guy or someone grabs that guy’s hand and says, “You have to meet Ken” or vice versa, or slowly that room just fades away and those 12-14 people go down from 2-3. I end up talking to the very perfect person that can launch a new division of our company. It is amazing.
I am going to wrap it up by saying this. There are three different competitors out there. The first and the most dangerous and deadly competitor you have is the competitor of entropy. Entropy wants to destroy you, your body, and your business. I promise that it wants to destroy you. It is against you. And the biggest part that splits off of entropy is self-sabotage. Go back to that 1936 book by Dorothea and read those four failure symptoms. It really hits you in the gut. But it’s great. It’s painful yet glorious at the same time so you know what to watch out for.
I’m telling you the biggest one of the four is when we go and stay at minutiae and don’t stay in our gift, we are going backwards. We are holding ourselves down. I think we all know what we should all be doing every day. If we could script ourselves, we would tell ourselves, “If we could only do one thing,” and this goes back to Stephen Covey’s statement: What one thing, if done consistently and superbly well, gets you everything you ever wanted in life and takes away all your pain?
Let me say it again. Think about your company. Think about yourself. What one thing, if done consistently and superbly well, gets you everything you have always wanted and takes away all of your pain? Everybody can answer that. Why doesn’t everybody do the one thing consistently and superbly well? I am here to tell you that it’s entropy, it’s self-sabotage because the world doesn’t want us to do that one thing.
My name is Ken Courtright. This podcast is Today’s Growth: Growing Business Today. Thank you for listening. If this hits you in any way, please jump on the desktop version of iTunes and throw me a review. I will talk to you guys soon. Take care.