Are you at cruising altitude?

A little interruption may not seem like a problem, but the time sunk into getting back up to your “cruise altitude” is a huge loss of productivity.

You may not think that a minute here, or there, is a problem, but when you have to reset and find your bearings again you lose focus, energy, and time.

When you have a steady cruise with minimal interruptions, you will find that you feel more rested, get more done, and even have time to focus on yourself, and personal hobbies as a result.

There is nothing wrong with stepping in to help, as long as it’s worth the time, and doesn’t become a time vampire.

Learn when, and when not to take that call, or answer that text because it may be the difference between an important project getting done on time, or not.

6 things you should NOT ask me

I like to consider myself a generous guy and am always delighted to help others however I can. But there are 6 major fouls in my book that happen more often than I’d like, such as:

Asking for money.

I will “loan” money only to friends, which means I don’t expect it back, but am delighted if repaid. Earn my trust, or else learn from the guys on the sidewalk holding cardboard signs. At least they are clever about it and have a higher conversion rate than you do.

Asking for Warriors tickets.

People I’ve never met expect me to jump through hoops to hook them up with tickets, ahead of our team members that work hard to earn their way to a game. Some of these strangers even specify where they want to sit and how many friends they would like to bring along.

For my time to “pick” my brain.

I’ve said enough about this. Whatever you do for a living, do you do it for free all day? The exception is young adults that have earned their way to progressively unlock training and work opportunities. Same for university partners, since they’re part of our core mission.

A “quick” favor.

It’s never just 5 minutes, as I’ve learned from the thousands of these sessions that I’ve done. I appreciate the hustle. If it’s someone I know well, I’m glad to help. My friends understand and practice the rule of giving first before asking.

Verification on Facebook / An Introduction to Mark Zuckerberg.

For the record: I DO NOT work for Facebook! I can’t make these two requests happen.

That blue check mark next to your name or business is cool to show off to your friends. But you have to earn it. We have articles on how and even offer packages to help you get those components in place.

For 20 minutes pitch me your marketing or IT services.

The fact that you’re cold emailing or calling me without an appointment means you already don’t understand inbound marketing, which leads by expertise as opposed to spamming me to death.

If you want something from me, first demonstrate you know I’m a human and get to know what I care about. Show you have done your homework by making one-minute videos on these topics, so I can get to know you, too.

Outside of my actual friends and family (being a Facebook friend doesn’t count, unless you’re someone I’d actually want to hang out with), you’re either a student, client, or partner. We have qualifications for each.

And you should, too, so you can control your time. You don’t have to say yes to every single person that wants your precious time, even though it “might” be something. Gamble with your money, not with your time. One of these you can make more of, while the other you cannot.

When you say yes to one thing, consider what you’re saying no to your family, your God, your teammates, and whatever is your priority.

Kill interruptions, which trade the important for the urgent. Hint: don’t fall for the urgent, non-important things. Focus on the important, non-urgent things.

As the great Nancy Reagan said, “Just Say NO!” And you can do it politely, yet firmly.

The people who respect your time, outside of actual friends and family, gladly pay for it. Don’t be afraid to charge for it and don’t fall for the trick of free consulting sessions with the lure that they “might” hire you.

If they’re not actually a friend, don’t be guilt-tripped into helping them, as mean as they make you seem. The reason the airlines have you put your life vest on first before helping others is that you can’t help them if you’ve already passed out from lack of oxygen.

Are you struggling with your business, your time management, and other issues? You can politely decline requests by saying you, yourself, are trying to get things in order and to learn. Point to someone who is better.

Don’t confuse this with the abundance vs. scarcity mentality. TIME is what’s limited- protect that.

Give money and knowledge instead. Share those freely for all to benefit via your blogs, Facebook videos, and whatnot.

You can impact thousands or even millions, but time you cannot scale.

Starting from how much money you want to make is one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard

I won’t name him, but a well-known marketer said that the way you should evaluate what business to go into should be based on an exercise that goes like this:

If you want to make $150,000 per year, then find something you can sell for $1,000 every other day. 150 sales per year and you’re there.

Or you could find a product that’s $10 and sell 15,000 of them per year. That’s only 1,200 sales per month or about 40 per day, not counting the margins you have to make.

I’m not saying don’t do basic budgeting and forecasting—of course, you’ll do this each month to see where you’re at and make adjustments.

What I am saying is not to base what products or services you offer on this exercise.

Do it based on where you have expertise and passion?

I know a lot of folks who have become doctors, lawyers, and bankers because those professions can make good money. And they make good money but are less fulfilled than those who do stuff they enjoy.

Before you dismiss me as one of those “do what you love and the riches will follow” sorts of people, let me say this.

I know dozens, if not hundreds, of get-rich-quick, motivational speaker-type people. They come to me for help with digital marketing, so I get to see how much money they actually make.

No surprise, most of them can’t even afford $500 a month for some simple FB ads management—ironically, to sell their course on how you can become a millionaire in just 90 days doing X, where X is something faddishly hot right now.

Just because there are a ridiculous number of shysters peddling their wares—as self-proclaimed authors, speakers, and coaches—doesn’t mean there isn’t a legitimate path here for you.

Perhaps the fact that there are so many parasites is evidence that there actually is something here.

Listen to the people who have actually run a business selling products other than how to get rich on the Internet. But don’t let me stop you from buying their stuff if your objective is to get rich teaching other people how to get rich selling courses on how to get rich.

Back to the original point, using what’s called the “top-down” approach in finance is nearly always flawed.  It sounds reasonable—to work your way backward from your income goal to hit your product volume and price numbers.

But the reality is that the human mind has a tendency to overestimate how much you can sell and underestimate how much time and effort it will take.  After all,  if you can generate just $12 per hour in residual income, you’ll make $100,000 per year, right?

Another common top-down lie is this—If we can capture just 1% of the small biz market, then we’ll make $1 billion per year in X industry.   Only 1%– that’s all we need to do. I can do that in my sleep.

Rather, start from your knowledge.  “Follow your effort”, as Mark Cuban says, is a more reliable indicator than “Follow your passion”.

That’s where you’ll most likely be able to put in the necessary time into something to grow it.

  • And growing sales usually means growing an audience.
  • And growing your audience means crafting content that hard-core enthusiasts will appreciate and share— videos that if you cut up into one-minute segments to boost on Facebook to the right audience, will create a powerful multiplier.
  • And being able to bootstrap your earnings to reinvest in more ads to drive more sales—as opposed to “investing” your time into more Excel spreadsheets to keep dreaming.

Are you dreaming of an entrepreneur fantasy, like my buddy who religiously watches cooking shows but has never gotten his pots and pans dirty?

Or are you actively quantifying where you have expertise, a network, and some sort of competitive advantage so good that you’re basically cheating?

Because that’s how you’ll win—not because you’ll “hustle” harder than the next guy, who also listens to [insert the name of your favorite motivational speaker].

I left Yahoo! with an unfair advantage knowing most of the people who matter in the digital marketing space plus having inside knowledge of how to drive traffic and revenue.

There are many who are way smarter than me and work harder, but they don’t have an unfair advantage.

You don’t have an unfair advantage?

I’d suggest you get deep in a couple of areas first unless you like blowing money and feeling good listening to Gary Vaynerchuck.  He’ll gladly take your money, just like the lottery sells tickets to dreamers who fantasize about Italian sports cars and how they’re helping their local school district.

Why most people make only $12.48 an hour: Do you want ROI with that?

Restaurant pay is up 3% the year, according to the Labor Department, outpacing the 2% growth in wages in the private sector over the last 5 years.
Food service workers made an average of $12.48 per hour in 2014, including tips.

Does that seem like a lot or a little to you?
I’m going to explain why it’s not what you think it is.

Driving this bump are a number of factors: higher state minimum wages, Wal-Mart raising their minimums, a stronger economy, and general inflation.
While they drive short-term gains, none of these factors will pan out in the long run.

You’ve probably heard of groups lobbying to make $15 the minimum wage for fast food workers.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Think of all the things you do with $15 an hour– pay off your bills, live nicer, or buy some things you’ve been eyeing.

Assuming you work full-time, $15 an hour works out to $30,000 a year.

Fifty years ago (in 1964), the average salary in the United States was $4,576.
And that amount had the same purchasing power as $30,000 today.
Economists like myself will say that “real wages” have not gone up.


What happens is that if you jack up the price of one item in the economy by X%, everyone else will increase their prices by X%, too.
They have to– since the relative value of items must remain the same.
If an orange is worth as much as two lemons, doubling the price of lemons will cause a doubling of the price of oranges.

Let’s say Uncle Sam decided to instantly double the amount of money in everyone’s pockets and bank accounts overnight.

Poof.  Magically now you have twice as much money.

Would you be twice as rich?


Since what would happen is that all stores would double their prices the next morning.
Nothing really happened to create more economic value– a wage increase was merely artificial.

So raising the price of labor (called a wage) does the same thing.
Behind it are good intentions, but the effect is political and political.
The worker is fooled into thinking they’re winning, but the gains are not real.

If you want to raise real wages for people in a sector (whether restaurant workers, teachers, mechanics, or whatever), increase productivity.
When we invest in education, automation, and smarter process, the output of our people increases.

Unlike lemons and oranges (or guns and butter, for the economists reading this), the value of people is easily increased.

We call this “people, process, and training“– the three factors to troubleshooting productivity.

A lemon is a lemon, but the value of an hour of your time can go from $10/hour to $50/hour if you can produce 5 times the value.

If we build software that automates 80% of the work (which we’re doing), then a worker is 5 times as productive.
If we create a process for completing projects that is 5 times faster, same thing.
And if we train folks to be able to do tasks that are 5 times as valuable, then ditto.

So the key to making more money is not by demanding more pay or relying upon artificial government price controls.
It’s investing in yourself, as Warren Buffett recommends— the ultimate non-taxable investment, one which nobody can steal.

That doesn’t mean you should get a degree since a diploma by itself is no guarantee of having practical skills.
Criticize Obama’s community college program if you like, but some degree of education, especially vocational, is critical.

I view people not as interchangeable parts or cogs in the greater machine.
They are the most important part of a company, yet aren’t found anywhere on a balance sheet.

I do have a degree in finance– and I’m puzzled that we’re examining assets, liabilities, and equity.
We have a false sense of control over these line items, but ignore that people are not owned in the same way.

Do you ever think about what you’re “worth”?

Perhaps tying that to what you’re paid?

Each of us is a wonderfully and fearfully made creature that is uniquely valuable.
But it’s so easy to put a financial price tag on a human– to say they’re worth $15 an hour.

The vision I have of personal branding is that we are not faceless, generic robots driving Ubers or running errands.
Let the robots do commoditized tasks for the price of electricity and parts– zero, basically.

We need to help people find their passion, tie that to a related commercial interest, and build unique value.
The supply and demand sides of the labor market must be connected– the analysts and the businesses.
We must turn the commodities market into more of a– to stop trading pork barrels and start connecting people.

By helping young adults find their passion, creating content that signals their expertise, and giving them job experience directly in that area, we increase their value from $10/hour to five times that or more.  $50 an hour is $100,000 a year.


The schools alone are not able to increase a student’s value in the marketplace.
They provide basic education, but not on-the-job training.

The businesses have the dollars to hire these workers, but only if they’re properly skilled.
They’re not equipped to train up students– they have a business to run.

Students themselves can read blogs and polish their resumes all day long.
But they don’t have the connections with commerce to know exactly how to bridge from school to work.

So most students, despite being awesomely talented and willing to work hard, end up working retail jobs.

We need to all work together to change this from “Do you want fries with that?” to “Do you want ROI with that?”