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Month: November 2019

Crippled CEO Blog #006: Only Advertise Online

You have a business. You’re ready to grow. And you’re smart, so you want to start ADVERTISING. More specifically, you’re ready to start SPENDING MONEY on advertising. Which, once again, means you’re smart. You’ve figured out that advertising done right isn’t an expense, it’s an investment. You should get more money back than you put in.

But what do you do? There are so many options. It’s hard to know where to start.

I’m going to make it really simple for you.

Only advertise online.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google Ads. That’s it.

“But I put an ad on this park bench once and got jobs out of it.”

That’s great. You would’ve made more on Facebook or Google.

People don’t believe in things that sound too simple or straightforward. But in this case, this is the absolute truth. For every business, in every industry, period.

If you’ve tried Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn/Google (henceforth “online”) before and it didn’t work, it’s not because it’s not the right fit for your business or your industry. You did it wrong.

Why does it work for every business? Because it’s where every businesses’ customers are. Yes, even yours. And it’s the cheapest way to access their eyeballs. And it’s the only way you can take them immediately from your ad to the greatest brochure of all time — your website.

And invest real money. It is bonkers to me that a business owner can be talked into spending $3,000 for a booth at a tradeshow, or for a billboard, or ad in some print publication, but thinks you’re crazy for suggesting you put $2,000 a month online, where you’ll reach vastly more people and have a much better return.

Any time some slick salesman gets you thinking it’s a great idea to do some radio spots or a home show or newspaper ad, let yourself be convinced it’s worth it to spend that money, then immediately turn around and put it into Facebook and Google. You’ll be amazed at how well it works for you.

If you’re doing it yourself, there’s a learning curve. Google it. YouTube it. Audiobook it. Spend a couple hours a day for a few weeks and get a decent handle on it.

If you’re spending more than a couple grand per month, hire my friend Ashley Bissing for social and the fantastic Doug Betensky or for Google Ads. Or Chris Cousins for both. They all do work for us. If you’re spending $50k+ a month, reach out to Travis Chambers of They’ll make you an awesome viral video, like our Amish ad (that’s been viewed tens of millions of times — you can see it below / here:, and help you promote it online.

There is one form of offline advertising I do approve of adding to your marketing strategy: when it’s free. There are tons of free, or virtually free, ways you can promote your business in the real world. If you’re a home service business, I’m a big fan of door hangers left on neighboring homes. Networking with related businesses to trade referrals is always a good idea. Putting up a display/literature in places where your customers might go, in places that will let you do it for free or barter. Anything free like this is excellent.

But if you’re going to spend money, spend it online.

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Crippled CEO Blog #004: Business Cards are Dumb

14 point or 16 point card stock, or maybe 100 lbs thin gloss? Full color or black and white? One-sided or two? What font should you use? Should you include your address?

I’ve seen people debate details on business cards for WEEKS — struggling with each and every decision, from the weight of the paper to the layout to whether or not the logo should be embossed.

It’s important, though, right? Business cards reflect you and your business. They are the memento people will take from your interaction. This stuff matters.



Business cards do not matter. The details DEFINITELY don’t matter. But beyond that, the cards themselves don’t matter. 

Maybe they mattered in the 90’s. I remember using my dad’s old Rolodex to look up numbers for suppliers and vendors all the time when I first started in the office in 1996.

But even then, the details people sweated over like cardstock and font were inconsequential.

When you first start a business, getting your business cards made feels like the most essential first order of business.

But please, repeat after me: Business cards do not matter

Let’s imagine ourselves in the one environment where you might think you really do need business cards — a tradeshow or networking function. This is the type of place business cards get traded like kids today trade Pokemon. Everyone knows you at least need cards for this.

Let’s imagine two scenarios.

In scenario A, you meet a great person you really want to remember you and contact you on Monday. You whip out your business card. It’s 16 point cardstock, double-sided, the logo and text are embossed, it’s full color, there’s an inspirational quote on the back. It’s gorgeous. He takes it, says thank you, puts it in his jacket pocket next to the 37 other cards, shakes your hand, and walks off.

In scenario B, you say, “I left my business cards back in the 90’s with my flannels and jean overalls. Can I text you my info?” If you’re really next level, you ask to take a pic of the two of you so you remember this encounter forever. And right then, you text the photo, who you are, and a few words about why you’re connecting. Now, that text is in his phone, and he can easily save you as a contact.

Come Monday morning, who is he more likely to be able to call: the guy in his phone who sent a text, or the guy who gave him that snazzy business card that he put… it was right here… is it in my pocket?… somewhere?

There is ONE time when printing business cards makes sense. If you promote someone to a new title, and you want to make it seem really official and extra special, handing over a box of cards with the person’s name and title printed on it can have a nice impact, and give them something physical to show-off and be proud of. That’s worth spending a few bucks on. 

But that’s it.

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Crippled CEO Blog #005: Your Memory is Sabotaging You

“The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago. The second best time is right now.” – allegedly a Chinese proverb

We all know that our memories are less reliable the farther back we go. I know what I did this morning. I kind of know what I did Wednesday morning. But I have no idea what I did on the morning of April 2, 1996. Some of us are better than others in this regard; I’m pretty terrible, myself. My memory isn’t so fantastic.

The problem with our flawed human memories is our difficulty in properly attributing our prior actions to our current circumstance, and also our inability to fully comprehend the impact of seemingly small choices. Without conscious effort, it’s easy to think all the current realities of your life, good and bad, just ARE — they just happened, or are a result of things outside your control. “That’s just life.” / “Shit happens.” The problem with this, besides not being true, is it takes you out of the driver’s seat. If you let your human memory hide the path to your current situation, then there’s no way you’ll be able to decide where you’ll be 5 or 10 years from now, either.

But let’s back up. I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself. And this is important, so I want to make sure it’s clear.

We all know that every cause has an effect, that every action has an equal and positive reaction, that if we do a good thing, we get a good result. But it’s actually not that straightforward. When you choose, for instance, to eat a healthy lunch, you don’t just get the nutritional benefits of that meal, you’re also more likely to eat a healthy dinner, and then a good breakfast, and then another healthy lunch, and so on, making it become a habit. Likewise, if you decide to have junk food for lunch, it’s a lot easier to say “screw it” for dinner, too, and then the next day, do it again, and then the week is shot, so you might as well keep going, and so on, until THAT becomes a habit. And this goes for anything: eating well, exercising, reading, studying a new skill, working on a project, etc. Doing the positive thing doesn’t just get you the results of that action, it also puts you on a path of forward momentum. It sparks a chain reaction of other good things.

But what does this have to do with memory? Because when asked how you got such a great spouse, you recall your ingenious proposal. Or how you met. You don’t remember the day you chose to eat salad instead of fried chicken for lunch, which started a habit of healthy eating, which made you want to start exercising, which made you healthier and in shape, which made you more confident, and that confidence allowed you to go say hello to that cute boy/girl/non-binary person who eventually became your spouse. Your limited memory prohibits you from understanding how powerful these small choices are.

And there’s also the reality that these positive things we do don’t yield positive results immediately. I’m fortunate in that I get positive feedback from posting these on Facebook and LinkedIn, but the long-term results I’m seeking — to eventually have a full book, to get hired for more business coaching, to maybe get invited to do speaking — isn’t going to seem like it came from CEO Cripple Blog #001. But doing 1 led to #2, to #3, to #4, and because I’m making sure I do this one, I’ll do next week, too. And the eventual results will be from that first small step.

This works for a negative situation, too. When your life isn’t where you want it, you blame the things happening right now. When you don’t get a job, you cite something wrong in the interview. You blame outside circumstances. You don’t remember all of the small choices and actions that got you to where you are now; that just like getting better, it was a clear, step-by-step process.

It’s easy to fall victim to this, too. Recently, we have had a TON of people coming to us wanting to become new Life Saver Pool Fence dealers. This is great, because getting new dealers in the areas we have open is important for our business and our mission of making every pool on Earth safer for children. I immediately started wondering what we have recently been doing differently to cause all these new dealer inquiries.

And then it dawned on me: it wasn’t anything we have done recently, it’s the years and years of building an excellent reputation, of having a great relationship with the water safety community, of being an educator to the public and businesses on drowning prevention, of working with swim instructors, of supporting water safety non-profits, of producing the best quality products and above and beyond service, and so on. THAT’S why we are getting people wanting to become part of what we are doing — all of those decisions we’ve been making for years.

This is important to understand, because once you do, you start putting the importance they deserve on these seemingly small choices. No, the world won’t end if you call back that customer after you eat lunch, but what precedent does that set? What habit does it create? What will the compounding interest, chain-reaction result be years from now, as opposed to you religiously calling people back as fast as humanly possible? Little things aren’t little things.

And the other half, is once you understand that you can completely change your life, starting with one small decision at a time, you are now in control of your future. Things aren’t just happening to you. You’re not a victim of your circumstance.

You can dictate the path of your life.

Because no one is coming to save you. There’s no Prince Charming in this story. No one is coming to rescue you. No one is going to choose you and lift you up. Stop waiting to be “picked,” scooped up, made better by someone or something else. You need to save yourself. You need to start going on the offensive. You need to start working on the life you want.

And you can. One small choice at a time, that you might not remember once you get there.

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