Troy Carter of Lady Gaga and Atom Factory Kept Learning and Unlearning

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I like spending the weekends thinking, learning and relaxing. The weeks are such a grind and intensive with deal making and doing business. Today, I was having some reflections on the NPR podcast, How I Build This: Lady Gaga & Atom Factory: Troy Carter. I embedded it above and you can find the transcript here.

Troy Carter managed hip-hop and pop superstars as well as built a venture fund. He is remarkably honest, humble and sober. I respect him as a businessman and how he kept integrating what he learned and unlearned. He kept parlaying his skills and exploring avenues to create opportunities from hip-hop to pop music to social media to investing in startups. Even with his heartaches and successes, as many an entrepreneur goes through, he self-actualized, as he shared,

And just to be honest with you, the thing was I just said I want to wake up every day and do cool [expletive]. That was the mantra for me personally.

I can relate. We have to keep true to our inner compass and find fresh, relevant ways that we fit, apply our value and create opportunities in this fast-changing world.

In sharing this podcast, my friend Joseph over at InDev Capital and I were having some takes on Troy Carter’s podcast. I like what he said based on his work with emerging market real estate and the inherent skill and push it takes in his business,

Most everyone goes through “The Dip” and that is where the learnings are.

Well stated, for sure. Entrepreneurs understand this too well. They do pay the price for everyone else. Those learnings become cash flow, empires and job creation.

If you get a chance, listen to the podcast while driving or hanging out. Share some of your insights in the comments below. I would enjoy hearing your take. Enjoy and keep growing.

Schedule Working Meetings

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am a big fan of working meetings. They cut through the back and forth of getting something done. It actually creates time and space to get real work done in real-time with another person or group.

Too often, we talk about the secondary stuff:

What we are going to do.

When we are going to do something.

Who should be a part of the work.

What resources are required.

In actuality, you can save a lot of time and get things moving by simply working.

So, when I see a thread going back and forth too often, my need for closure kicks in. Open loops drive me nuts after a while.

It’s inefficient to hide behind the chatter. Instead, lead. Make working meetings a part of your execution process. It’s energizing to bring together short, focused meetings to accomplish one thing. Here’s a simple way:

  1. Stop. Move an email and conversation that is going back and forth to a meeting instead. “I’m going to get us together to get this done.”
  2. Schedule. I have an article sharing best practices on putting a meeting together using your Google or Outlook calendar.
  3. Work. Open the call, online meeting or in-face time with one goal and let everyone know. “We are here to get this proposal created and emailed.”

In the meeting, simply facilitate and work. Ultimately, this is a process of leadership. You have to lead. Get the decision. Send out what you promised. Write up the new standard operating procedure.

When you find yourself procrastinating, perhaps the task feels undefined and overwhelming. A working meeting can increase the energy and motivation with other people to get clear and move bottlenecks through your pipeline of tasks.

That ability to move from talking to action is critical in an overly competitive and inattentive world. Cut through it with the determination to work with your team and customers. It’s efficient and fits the times.

How to Game Opportunities Your Way

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It really is enticing to buy into some fad, secret sauce or crowd hype especially when it comes to deal making and opportunities. It feels secure to do the “right things” and rely on determinism.

That kind of thinking may have been true before the floodgates of access were opened and anyone and everyone could participate with their voice, ideas or projects. On the one hand I’m excited and root heavily for all the new participants in the marketplace. I like being able to think of something, look it up and implement it quickly if it is worthwhile. I like that I can connect with everyone and anyone quickly.

However, getting through all that noise to get attention and being someone that stands out becomes even more challenging. You get mixed in with the noise hitting everyone’s phones.

Business is a game of probabilities. You can increase your chances to make a connection, entertain an opportunity and get a deal done from habits and consistency. Here are some strategies that game opportunities your way with your consistent commitment:

  • Get on the radar. Connecting consistently and daily goes a long way to expanding touch points and opportunities. Business, ultimately, comes down to people. Make daily connections and start fanning the flame of awareness. You have so many channels – social media, email, texting, etc.
  • Show up. Share your journey, your struggles, your celebrations and your thinking. It gives people a feel for who you are, what you do and attaches a brand, a synonym to you.
  • Act first. I like to think about people I like and listen and observe what is going on in their lives. There are all these problems that everyone is trying to solve in their life. Caring enough is the start. Then sharing the resources and ideas that will help them becomes pretty fun, creative and easy. But you do have to care first.
  • Outlearn everyone. It’s hypercompetitive. There’s a lot of garbage ideas out there. Having better ideas that are specific and can be used in context for someone’s pursuits makes you stand out. Of course, you have to keep learning and make it part of your own habits. Then you have to share your learning personally.
  • Make the ask. Most people are waiting around for something to happen. You have to take the risk of proposing something that can be an immense benefit. You have to move people from their status quo to something that is worthwhile to expend the energy to meet, discuss or act on.

Gaming opportunities in a world of ridiculous noise has to come from your convictions and leadership. Nothing is stopping you from taking initiative or leading. In a sense, those that are choosing to initiate and lead have all the opportunities that their endless reach can afford. You have to stay fresh, be observant, care and put yourself and your ideas in front of your network consistently.

What new habit can you implement to create opportunities for yourself?

In a World of Too Much

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We live in a world of too many options, not too little. Solving your business problems is less about innovating and developing something new, and it is much more about putting together the pieces that are available in our democratized tech and knowledge world.

Consider all the options you have at your fingertips these days:

  • Talent. You can access and evaluate technical, managerial and clerical talent on LinkedIn, Upwork and Fiverr. It’s not hard.
  • Tools. Everything is either free or has a low monthly subscription. Extremely powerful collaboration for project management, CRM for selling, email marketing to stay in touch or website building sites to put your presence out there.
  • Messages. Everyone can post, publish and comment these days. It’s not hard. Any thought, valuable or wasteful, can be put out there instantly for the whole world to access and see.
  • Knowledge. What can’t you learn? Education via Khan Academy is available. Universities are putting their courses online. You can ask Siri or Google for answers and you get access to everything that is out there to learn.

We live in a hyper-efficient economy where you can navigate a day in a strange city simply with your phone and get rides, book meetings, find places to live and get a Meetup going.

And everyone has the same access.

However, everyone does not have the same motivation, creativity, or guts. Most people are waiting around for something to happen. Most people are wanting to be told what to do even though there’s a universe of building blocks available to start something or build a useful project.

If you moved from entertainment to trying to make one strategy work that would bring value to other people, you can move from a net consumer to a net producer.

If you did this on a single platform for a year, studied it inside and out, and built expertise to the point you could execute on your ideas that flow in and out, imagine the possibilities with very little risk you could gain.

Living in a world of too many options and access opens up opportunities that are limited by your imagination and determination.

Being Little and Thinking Big

I can remember when I was a kid playing with my legos having an overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start when I saw all those legos on the floor. The mass amount of colored bricks caused me to pause. I did not know where to start. Looking at the sheer number of pieces created some anxiety.

But, I would sit and pick up a brick. Then I would grab a second one. I let my mind start to wander and my hands start to grab and try fitting pieces together.

I was sitting in a pool of infinite choices. And I simply started. Putting pieces together, seeing how they fit and arriving at some kind of car, structure or device emerged after playing.

The world still looks the same. We have this vast amount of information, technology, access and connections. We can stare and stay in our corner. Or we can explore and start putting pieces together having fun and seeing what we can build from the pieces.

What can you start?

Watch People’s Faces to See What They Value

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I’m glad I get to do business in the connected economy rather than times past such as the industrial age. You can make your ideas happen so quickly without a ton of gatekeepers that had to give you access and permission to create, distribute or sell something.

If you want to put a book out, you can do it by getting to work and publishing on Amazon.

If you want to launch a business, you can put an idea out there by getting a new customer and refining your product.

The hard part is about how you approach testing your ideas. There’s such a temptation to be narcistic and think about what you want. The idea has to start with your own assumptions, creativity and zeal.

However, whether people want to pay for your idea or value what you are selling is entirely up to them. And it’s hard to break through the noise when everyone has access to any goods, content or information from their iPhone. You are competing for attention as well as quality presented by every major brand out there.

I don’t like to assume anything. At the end of the day, people want what they want and it’s our job in business and selling to figure out what resonates.

I like to come up with ideas all the time. That creative process is critical. Furthermore, what is valuable today becomes old news and stale in a short time. So that idea machine has to be continually running.

I think the critical part is dialing in on what people want and one of the best ways to approach making money is to watch people’s faces closely. That’s right, look for their reactions. When you have something you are presenting the world, the ultimate question is not the intrinsic value you believe exists in your idea, product or service. It’s the value perception and reaction your customer carries in their mind.

There are 3 outcomes when you risk presenting your idea:

  1. Your customer perceives immense value.
  2. Your customer is indifferent and does not perceive value.
  3. You are close, but something is missing.

The first reaction is the home run. You can expand and repeat. Great job.

The second means you have to pivot. People vote with their wallets. Either the idea is majorly flawed and you have no hope. Or your idea needs refinement, thus number 3. More work and engagement is required to see what is missing. It’s an exercise in filling in the gaps.

This is why you have to watch people’s faces. See how they react. Probe and find out where you need to tweak or whether you need to abandon the idea altogether to put your energy into a better concept.

If you miss the reaction and refinement then you lose opportunity to delight, connect and make money. You don’t get to be the judge. The customer is the judge and is incapable of being wrong when it comes to determining value.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs get too married to their idea and miss that value perception is the key thing that matters.

You can affect your own revenue and loyalty by taking heed and watching people’s faces closely. See what they truly value and keep coming back with positioning, framing and enhancements to your offering.

How are people perceiving your value? How can you increase it 100%?

Indiscriminate Business

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The illusion we have today in the marketplace is the buffet trap. We see everything that is available to us. This includes apps, freemium software, business ideas, low-cost labor and new growth hacking strategies.

It’s all available and cheaper and more accessible than ever. But if we gorge with indiscriminate adoption, we underestimate the mess which comes from having too much on our plates.

Think about the costs which you will eventually have to deal with by approaching business with abandon and indiscriminate selection:

  • Management. Every new shiny platform is something to login to and manage. Poorly used technology creates drag on your productivity and psyche.
  • Exiting. When you want to undo the work, you have to figure out how to get your team to pivot, move data and even stop working with a service provider. These all take cycles. You have to deal with the inertia.
  • Mediocrity. Trying to manage too many fronts is far less efficient than doing a few things that matter well. The opportunity cost is hard to measure, but it’s real.
  • Disappointment. If you kill a project that has an audience or users that depend on your service, you damage your credibility. You created dependency and now have let people down. Sure, you didn’t want to limp along, but what about those that got used to your system?

We don’t feel like there’s a cost because it’s easy to start something. I do think it’s important to constantly be testing and examining new ways of doing things. That’s the real-time R&D we can all drive in the midst of our speed economy. However, when we pick things to commit to and miss the cost of discontinuing something, you expend money, time, attention and credibility that could have been avoided with a little thought on how things might play out.

How can you be more discriminate in choosing tools and projects to take on?

Growth Hacking with Extreme Networking

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It is expensive and difficult to market your business with advertising and low conversion strategies.

If you believe that business is ultimately people, then consider growing your business by paying attention to the connections you make. One growth hacking habit that can pay extreme dividends over time is to focus on the personal connections you do make and work hard at being a person of extreme value. It’s today’s networking and it requires you to pay attention and care.

Consider this growth hacking habit when you meet people:

  1. Get the person’s email and mobile number. Immediately send a text thanking them for something you liked about them.
  2. Enter their contact information into your address book.
  3. Research the person on Google and find out a few things.
  4. Send a powerful packed email with ideas and ways to help them from someone you may know in your network or strategies that they have not considered.
  5. Stay in touch.

Imagine if you did this with 5 people a day. As you are meeting people, you are looking for convergence points. And you are seeking to become a person of value. This distinguishes you from the many people out there that are only seeking to get something rather than be relevant and valuable.

Consider Wallace D. Wattles words of wisdom:

“And, in so far as your business consists in dealing with other people…the key thought of all your efforts must be to convey to their minds the impression of increase…convey the impression of advancement with everything you do, so that all people shall receive the impression that you are an advancing man and that you advance all who deal with you…You can convey this impression by holding the unshakable faith that you are in the way of increase and by letting this faith inspire, fill, and permeate every action. Do everything that you do in the firm conviction that you are an advancing personality, and that you are giving advancement to everybody…feel that you are conferring benefits on all.”

If you are habitual and regular, then you can become this person of increase by reputation and deed. Your gestures, connections and ideas will have context and impact. And that’s a growth hacking strategy that pays off as you get entree into new deals.

What do you think you can do to adopt this approach?

Growth Hacking with Testing in These 6 Sales Channels

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Selling your products or services today in an overcrowded, inattentive marketplace has a high degree of difficulty for sure. You may have the best offering, but what does that mean if you can’t connect and get people to pay attention?

If you break down sales into channels and testing, you can create a growth hacking strategy which helps you pick the best option for going to market.

You have a limited set of ways to sell:

  1. Direct selling. You may need to build a sales team, manage them, pay them and get them to use a CRM to track what is going on. Very difficult but may be worth it for control and engagement.
  2. Social media selling. Consistency is the key here. You don’t just show up and simply sell. You have to get people to tune in by subscribing or liking. Your posts and tweets have a half life so being continuous and consistent is critical.
  3. Affiliate networks. Sharing commissions and incentivizing using the carrot are your tools. You have to spread your net wide knowing most people are good for a deal here or there because of the lack of control and commitment.
  4. Paid advertising. You can immediately post ads on Facebook, Twitter and Google Adwords. But you have to set up process, analyze conversions and refine the sales funnel continuously to find the optimum points.
  5. Networking. Business is people and developing relationships works. But it takes time and attention. It doesn’t fit with all products but it does fit with a large amount. People are so busy they don’t want to stop and meet for lunch, coffee or networking events. Time is precious. Networking in a way that respects time is what works today.
  6. Organic sales conversion.  Knowing your numbers, getting found and converting on each step in a sales funnel to create predictability is a long game but has payoff. You have to use predictive analytics and understand behaviors.

If you break your business model down to these six options for selling, assess how people could buy your product and service naturally, then you can start testing a model on a small scale and take it to its logical end.

Your growth hacking strategy is to design a good test for the selling strategy you think applies to come to a conclusion on where to go big in your selling approach.

What sales strategy can you test on a small scale to find out what to commit to?

Growth Hacking With Your Learning

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As you are growing your business, ultimately it comes down to how much value you gain and add to other people. The more value you add by being valuable, the more your business grows.

Unfortunately, most people are just looking for the money without realizing it is a correlation to how much value they can add. It’s why business is so awesome. You win by figuring out how to add the most value to a customer in comparison to the next person. It’s a game of adding value.

And every day, if you are in the game, you are continually learning new information and gathering new ideas. Your inbox is filled with content. Your social media feeds are full of content, happenings and what’s new.

One growth hacking approach to becoming more valuable and driving more business is by using a strategy of repurposing. As you are ingesting immense amount of information you can drive these 2 strategies into your workflow:

  1. Immediately share your content by email or by social media with people you are thinking it connects with.
  2. Tell them how the content matters to what they are pursuing.

The first step may be a bit easier. The hard part is actually thinking about other people rather than yourself.

The second part is harder. You have to really care about what other people are pursuing and think relevantly about how the information you are sharing is not just added work. It has to have meaningful context. You can answer questions such as:

  • How does this content drive your bottom line?
  • What ideas from this content should your recipient care about and why?
  • What are some steps they can take to make it actionable now?

Many times people simply share content leaving the interpretation up to others. But if you can take that extra step, then you can create a growth hacking strategy that is continuous and creates opportunities as your ideas make an impact for your recipients. You become more valuable and invited into deals that might otherwise be dormant and without form.

How can you take something you read today and share it in a way with a bit more thoughtfulness for a person to win?

Implement This Critical Growth Hacking Technique

Buzzword Bingo: Big Data = Collection of large and complex data sets

You may not have big data as the likes of Wal-Mart online or Amazon. However, if you don’t understand your data set from how customers buy and engage with you, then your selling efforts can be highly wasteful. You could be working on things that don’t matter and waste money in the wrong areas trying to attract customers.

If you want an edge with insights, then understanding how to shape your sales funnel and convert becomes paramount. It’s why implementing a feedback loop where you can understand the data feeding your business pipeline is a critical growth hacking technique.

The strategy requires that you stop guessing and use statistical analysis tools or talent to gain a clear picture of how your customers find you, what they are looking for and what causes them to engage.

Furthermore, you can use data analysis as a core part of figuring out what is working and what is not performing in your business. If you have a dashboard of KPI’s then you can get ahead of things like:

  • Selling the right product or product mix in the right way
  • Connecting with customers before they discontinue their service
  • Position with the highest probability keywords and triggers for buyers
  • Choose a better market segment
  • Build an audience that is attracted to your sales proposition
  • Create content that connects and will be evergreen

These are strategies that don’t come with guessing. It comes with knowledge supported by testing and quantitative insights that help you bet with an informed approach.

It is hard to decipher what works. There are so many bold claims in the market and so-called experts. However, your business is full of information that flows in and out.

What if you became predictive in your selling approach?

What if you are doing the wrong things from a lack of data and insights? Want to change it?