There is always room for growth if we persist in keeping on learning, cultivating, and implementing those we have learned. Ken dives deep into the ways he continues to strive for growth, teaching us how to move to the next level through idea hacking – gathering some great nuggets from other platforms. With idea hacking, you not only read about your industry but others as well, offering you a unique take on the challenges that may have already been solved in a different industry.
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Idea Hacking Growth
Most of the audience know that we are a five-time Inc. 5000 company with 150 employees. A lot of our employees are younger to say the least. We’re in the tech space. I’m approaching 50 and I am literally the grandpa in the room. We’ve done a lot of different trials and these young guys, they beat the pants off me when we’re marketing certain things. I definitely yield to these youngsters because they think faster and they have more hands in the cookie jar when it comes to cutting-edge growth techniques. It’s exciting to talk to them. However, on the macro side, I’m still the lead strategist for every major plan in the company.
We have hit the Inc. 5000 list five times, but what’s interesting is we’ve done it with three different product lines and three completely different sets of management over ten years. You have to do that principle-based. There’s got to be fundamentals of growth that my wife and I understand and that our current management team understands that can take us to the next level. One of the techniques we use is based on the principle that there is always so much we don’t know. We stole this idea from Jeff Hoffman, the Cofounder of Priceline. He speaks at all of our events. He’s a great friend of ours. He has helped our daughter understand that the school she should choose is Pepperdine. That changed the course of my daughter’s life, one text chat back and forth with Jeff and Casey.
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I want to get into something that I thought of while hearing one of Jeff Hoffman’s presentations on info sponging, where he spends fifteen minutes a day just sucking up ideas and thoughts from other people that he would have never thought of. We ended up making our own version of this because our company’s a little different than Jeff’s. What we do is idea hacking. I’d like everybody to do, if you have any access to something to write with and take notes on a computer of any kind, I would like you to write this down. Idea Hacking: Three Different Platforms. The Forbes 30 Under 30, Deloitte’s Fast 50, and the Inc. 500 list. You can go online or get physical magazines, and I would like you to do some idea hacking. You can get this done in about two to three hours in one day, spread it amongst your team.
What you’re looking for is you’re going to read the ten pages of the current Forbes 30 Under 30. They’re going to highlight a few businesses. Do some snippets. There are no real long articles. They’re just snippets. It’s the same with the Deloitte’s Fast 50. They do a couple of paragraphs on about ten to twenty of the companies. They usually highlight one or two in all. It’s the same with the Inc. 500. Inc. goes a little deeper. Here’s the key. You do all three magazines, all three websites and you try to get them all done in one day. You’re looking for five points on three different things. Number one, five marketing techniques, apps or tools you have never heard of. I’ve never done this exercise and not come away with way more than five, and I’m in the marketing space. Marketing techniques, tools and apps change almost as we breathe. You’re going to read these three magazines. You don’t care if they’re in your industry.
If you’re in the tech space, you’re going to still read the 30 people Under 30 in sports that kicked butt, because they’re going to give you little snippets of how did they get an endorsement deal? How did they move more footballs? You might pick up an idea by hacking what other people are doing. What are five marketing techniques, apps or tools companies are using that you’ve never heard of? Number two is huge. What are five hiring or retention techniques, apps, or tools being used today to grow these extremely fast growing companies that you have never heard of?
If you’re going to grow, you need people. You need a great team, and as the world changes, the apps, tools, and techniques change. Number three, what are five management apps, tools or techniques you’ve never heard of? To say that we’re going to manage groups of people today the same way as 100 from now or 200 years ago is crazy. As the world changes, we need different tools to communicate with our team. Just the thought of Slack today, to think of that X amount of years ago would be crazy. People would think, “We’re just going to do email. We’re going to Skype.” Once you try Slack or a version of it, you’re not going back.
What I think is the most important, number four, are five way-out-there ideas that hit you in the gut that you know that worked for them and you know if you applied that to your company, it would help you grow or retain more employees or trim expenses. These ideas or things you read are so way out there. Here’s one for you. I was reading Elon Musk’s story in a newspaper and he is boring a hole between Chicago and O’Hare airport underground so people can commute. Picture a bank. When you go to the drive up teller, you put your money in the tube, and then the tube goes through a vacuum and it just frictionless sucks through this tube. That’s how this is going to work. It’s going to be on a magnetic tube. It’s awesome.
Here’s the thing. It’s not an idea. It’s an idea that started a few short years ago that is in play today. There is one already built in California. There is one coming into Chicago. If they can get one more little minor law passed, it’s going to happen. I took that idea and I’m like, “He was digging a tunnel through physical Earth,” but I said to myself, “That’s so way out there. I would have never thought of that.” I said to myself, “We’ve got 800 money-making websites for our investing partners over here. They put some money in over here. They allowed us to help them buy an asset that is now solely theirs, but we have a management contract. We get to share revenues while we manage that for them.”
I’ve got 800 assets of other people’s that I’m managing in the upper right quadrant. In the upper left quadrant, I’ve got roughly 300 eCommerce assets that people entrusted us with their money to build or buy for them that we’re sharing revenue on. I’ve got dozens, if not a hundred, social media platforms in the bottom right quadrant and eCommerce is in the bottom left. I’ve got all these social platforms in the bottom right. In the upper left, I’ve got a multitude of a thousand-plus domains that dominate the Google search bar. I said to myself, “I look at this physically as if these were sitting on the Earth. Is there a different way I could tunnel traffic from one quadrant to the other?” Indeed, we are split testing ten to twelve different ways that I’ve never heard of, never seen in books or on podcasts or at events that can bridge people from one type of platform to another.
It will take us a few months to flush that out. I would have never thought of thinking of creating that leap if I didn’t idea hack a newspaper article of Elon Musk tunneling in an industry I have nothing to do with, which is physical transportation. When you’re idea hacking, you want to make sure you don’t only read about your industry. As a matter of fact, I would focus more on other industries. I’ve said it a hundred times, most business challenges are already solved in a different industry. You just got to know what industry to look into. I am so excited about idea hacking. I would love anybody that puts this in motion, does all three: Forbes 30 Under 30, Deloitte’s Fast 50, Inc. 500. I would love for anybody to email me the five most important things you pulled from that idea hacking. I would love to talk about what you sent. I would love to do part two of idea hacking based on an actual case study. I hope this helps. Take care.