Hey guys, Ken Courtright here, hittin’ a podcast from a pretty different angle than usual. I am going to call this podcast “The Room for Improvement.”
I hinted on something like this a couple weeks ago, but again, I am coming off a two-week tour of CEO Space for a week and Secret Knock for a few days and spending a lot of time with a lot of intelligent people, but more importantly, spending a lot of time with very driven, very aggressive entrepreneurs that are what I believe tilted or slanted a little bit off-center.
What I mean by that is if you take a look at a business owner, an entrepreneur that has successfully launched, maintained, and even sold and started up again, maybe a serial entrepreneur—if you look at them and study them for a period of time, and then you look at an entrepreneur who is just out of the gate, they definitely know their product or service, they know their field, their stuff, but you compare the two. What you are really doing is comparing the continually successful entrepreneur that has been around for 10-20 years, had multiple projects, had an 80% success rate, or they are in the same business that has been succeeding. You put the two under a microscope, and you analyze them. You will notice some very different things.
This podcast is about and dedicated to the people that will take the time to hear this maybe twice, study it, and put it into practice. I am calling this podcast “The Room for Improvement” because I was silently studying some of the people at these last two conferences from a distance. I was in the corner quite a bit, notepad in hand. Some of the people will remember me sitting with a spiral notebook, and I am taking notes. I am studying some of these greats and watching how they react and how they relate. It is fascinating. I want to share some of what I noticed on the podcast.
The Room For Improvement Is Usually The Most Vacant Room In Any Home
I think I will set a goal on this podcast. The room for improvement is usually the most vacant room in anybody’s home. It has a lot of dust on the shelves. A lot of comments you hear when you hear the concept of continual education, constantly studying, going to conferences, reading more books. I read plenty of books in high school. I am an audio studier. I like audio books. I like conferences because of the nuggets you get from stage, but all that time in between, I don’t need to network. I don’t need to socialize. I don’t have a weekend or a whole week to dedicate to an event or conference.
I was at two teaching/networking conferences back to back. I am immersed in a lot of continuing education. As I am sitting back watching some of these young entrepreneurs getting around these established business owners, I witnessed a number of things take place.
What’s The Premature Ask? Read On, It’s Huge.
The first thing I want to cover is a premature ask. If I have covered this before, I am hitting it from a different angle. A premature ask is what I witnessed in the backyard of Greg Reid’s beautiful home in San Diego. There was a very young first-year entrepreneur that got around a very seasoned veteran who had written multiple books. If I heard this correctly, it was their very first encounter. They shook hands, they maybe even hugged. The young guy asked, “Great talk. Great to meet you. Can I ping some questions at ya?”
The veteran was like “No problem. For sure.”
They weren’t 5-10 minutes into this. I’m eavesdropping. Immediately the young man asked the seasoned business owner if he could penetrate the business owner’s database, meaning could you add my product to your email list?
You have to understand there is no relationship here. This veteran does not know who this young person is outside of an enthusiastic entrepreneur. As much as he would love to help this young man, there is a vetting process that happens in a business relationship, and the challenge here is that the young man offered up a premature ask. Had he gotten to know this veteran, met him a couple of times, taken him to lunch, allowed himself to be understood, the veteran probably would have moved that message into this email list, because I know that gentleman. But it isn’t going to happen. I could tell by how they parted friends. It was too much of a premature ask.
I am going to follow this up to an event that happened at my home last summer. Jeff Hoffman, one of the co-founders of Priceline, was in our basement teaching our mastermind group. He mentioned something he calls info-sponging. Every morning, for 10-15 minutes, Jeff Hoffman Googles something different. He might Google knitting or tomatoes. He was info-sponging something he knew nothing about. He wanted to get 10-15 minutes of input on something he knew nothing about. It could be lawn maintenance, preventing moss growth in a pond. It is irrelevant to Jeff. He just wants to learn a new factoid for the day. He calls it info-sponging.
If he learns something creative, he takes a sticky note, writes a few words down, and sticks it on his wall in his home office, which is now filled with hundreds if not thousands of sticky notes. One day, Jeff was info-sponging, and he stumbled on an article about fruit and food that spoils quickly. He started thinking, What do I know as a business owner that could help people move these strawberries and this corn and these green beans faster so they could be sold, given away, given to the homeless, or consumed before they are spoiled?
He got to thinking from info-sponging about his food that spoils quickly. He asked himself, “Is there anything that spoils faster than food?” A couple of weeks later, he was struck with this idea that there is: hotel rooms. Hotel rooms by midnight or two in the morning have spoiled, and they cannot sell it again until the next day. Then he realized there is something that spoils even sooner: seats on an airplane. Seats on an airplane have a finite door that shuts. A couple hours before that plane boards, they do not allow any more tickets to be sold. That info-sponging is what led Jeff Hoffman to create what is now called Priceline.com. It started with gas prices, not airline seats.
Why do I say all that? I am saying all that to set the stage that I want to talk about continually studying. I don’t just mean studying your field or craft, just continually inputting info-sponging material into your brain and why it is mission-critical to your business.
I am going to hit on three things: books, podcasts, and Google alerts. Let’s talk about books first.
I today do a book a week. I was just texting a gentleman that I consider a mentor of mine, David Corbin. David is the author of Illuminate. If you have not read Illuminate, read that book. He just launched Brand Slaughter. David was sharing about Brand Slaughter at Secret Knock. Riveting as usual. David is a machine. I can’t wait to read David Corbin’s next book. Books to me are the gateway to growth because you can read someone’s descriptions of how they are solving problems, but you can apply your own twist to it.
Read a Book A Week To Increase Your IP
When I read David’s first book Illuminate, I went back and said, “What are the things in our business that I really need to shine a light on that I am currently shining darkness on?” It all revolved around our CFO position. I did not hire a CFO; I kept trying to be the CFO. I shined a light in that area and realized, Wow. With the size of our company, we really need a pro in here. This new CFO has been with us 90 days. I read David’s book, changed my company, changed a lot of divisions, and it’s tremendous.
I do a book a week. I just finished Perry Marshall’s 80/20. In the last 30 days, I am about to start Adam Markel’s Pivot. Og Mandino’s University of Success is sitting on my desk. Getting ready to jump in that for the third time. I am in the mindset of, as David Corbin says, you are either green and growing, or ripe and rotting. Again, I don’t do the books for the intellectual property type of education. I do the books because I need to relate to my management team and my staff, and I need to relate to the people I am communicating with in business out in the field. So for books, I do them to relate.
I was mentored by a gentleman named Brad for a period of 4-5 years in the early 2000’s. I remember a talk Brad gave to a group of people. He goes, “Guys, I hate golf. I don’t golf because I like it. I golf to relate. I don’t read books because I like it. I hate reading. I read books to relate. I don’t attend events like this because I like it. I attend events to relate. Guys, you might think I love cars because I have a Porsche and this and that. I don’t like cars. They are inconvenient. I go to auto shows to study all the new cars coming out so whenever there is a conversation at the wedding reception I am at, I can relate. I do things that are uncomfortable and inconvenient so I can relate and grow my business.”
I read books so I can relate. When it comes to podcasts, I don’t listen to people’s podcasts specifically for the relatability. I listen to people’s podcasts because I need to stay on top of what is timely and relevant. These are live communications on what’s happening today. I read books to relate. I listen to podcasts for timely, relevant, and urgent information.
I read and recommend people read Google Alerts to stay abreast on the important. What I recommend you do is you put your own personal name into Google Alerts so you can see who is talking about you; your company’s name to see what competitors and media are saying about you; and I recommend you use tools like SEMrush and Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find out what the top 50-60 things people are typing into Google to find you or people like you in the industry. Put each of those one by one into Google Alerts. If you think you know your space, you do not know your space until you read three months’ worth of the emails Google sends you.
Put Yourself In The Mindset Of Your Potential Clients
When you type in the 50-60 phrases, let’s say you’re a financial advisor. You might type in phrases like “financial advisors in Chicago.” You know people at two in the morning are typing that in. “Top five financial advisors.” “How to interview a financial advisor.” “What questions should I ask a financial advisor?” Put yourself in the mindset of your potential clients. What will they type in? What are they thinking about? What are they doing late at night when nobody is watching to find people like yourself? Those are the phrases you put into Google Alerts.
Google will send you every single piece of content in every newspaper, magazine, major publication that has those phrases in the title of those posts. Now you are reading what is literally written that morning or the night before. It is urgent. It is timely. It is relevant. It is hot, happening, and now. If you want to relate to people and want to be educated and truly want to be an authority in your space, if you go and do a three to six month run reading Google Alerts and then go to a national conference for your industry or a meet-up, you are no question going to sound like the most intellectual person in the space because not only do you know the cutting-edge stuff in your industry, but you are also taught things that you thought you knew that are no longer relevant. You are taught things you didn’t even know existed.
What I catch most often is you’re going to be taught the sister/cousin industries to your industry. What industries are starting to melt into your space? What industries are no longer associated with your space? What vendors are hot? What partnerships can you create? Google Alerts is absolutely incredible. I think it’s one of the greatest business secrets of our time.
This podcast is on the room for improvement. I really think we need to take a good look at where we’re at, what we know, what we don’t know, and if you like this podcast, I think you might want to jump on a podcast I did a few weeks ago called “The Success Wheel.” The two go together. If this type of information might help you or your business, you might want to jump into “The Success Wheel.” It’s kind of similar. It’s good.
For now, I am Ken Courtright from Today’s Growth: Growing Business Today. I hope this helps. See you on the trail.