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Month: May 2020

Crippled CEO Blog #033: What Would Ben Franklin Do?

We have become experts at efficiency. In 90 minutes, I can respond to 100 different emails to 100 different people completing, managing, or making progress on 100 different tasks.

We can video conference with half a dozen people from around the world with the click of a button.

We can use a Google Doc, or something similar, to rapidly coordinate on a document in real time.

We can transmit our thoughts via text message or phone call to somebody thousands of miles away almost instantaneously.

We can learn about any topic, at any level of complexity, at any time. The total sum of all human knowledge is available to us in text or video whenever we want it. Any fact, any skill, or any concept is accessible to us, and almost always for free. 

We are really good at getting a lot of stuff done, bolstered with the technology that gives us superhuman capabilities.

And that’s really cool. Actually no, it’s not JUST cool. It’s INCREDIBLE.

Now, with all of those capabilities, with all of this efficiency, have you achieved more than Benjamin Franklin?

You know, Ben Franklin. The guy on the $100 bill.

The guy who accomplished so many amazing things that we often forget some.

Most people likely remember the biggest ones. He helped author the Declaration of Independence. He created, wrote, and published the Poor Richard’s Almanack. He invented the lightning rod. And also the Franklin Stove. 

If you think harder, you might also remember that he invented the bifocal lenses and served as the first Postmaster General. 

But, if you’re like me, without Google, you probably don’t remember that he also invented swim fins, published the first American political cartoon, was the founder of the University of Pennsylvania, was the sixth governor of Pennsylvania, and was the first ever US ambassador.

And even with that extensive list, any ONE of which would be enough of an achievement for a lifetime, I’m sure people in the comments are going to tell me things that I missed.

But it’s not just our friend Benjamin. Have you accomplished more than George Washington, Julius Caesar, or Cleopatra? Do you run your business or division better than Henry Ford or Rockefeller?

These people created and managed wildly successful, massive organizations with thousands and tens of thousands of people, without a single email or Zoom call.

How did they get so many important things accomplished without being even a fraction as efficient as we are?

How have I managed to grow and create multimillion dollar enterprises, write a blog each week, etc. all while having a big chunk of my time and energy sucked away each day by a disability most people don’t have to deal with?

They did it the same way that people who accomplish big things right now do.

They focused, maybe obsessively, on only the things that matter the most. They cared a lot more about being effective than being efficient.

You can become really efficient at loading and firing a musket, but it’s still not going to be as effective as shooting a fully automatic machine gun.

The key to achieving greatness isn’t doing more. It is doing less. It is doing only the most important things they are actually going to move the needle and put you closer to your goal.

How many of the emails that you sent, the work that you do, and the meetings that you have are doing either of the above? Some might be. But I bet most aren’t. Here is a good litmus test: what would happen if I DIDN’T do this thing? What would we miss out on? Would it even matter?

If you can figure out one major, important task per day that really matters, that really moves the ball down the field, that really helps your life in some meaningful way, and make sure that you get that one thing done, even if that means sacrificing some other things that might not even matter, you will be a lot closer to achieving that Ben Franklin status.

How much of your free time are you spending doing the things that you truly love the most, as opposed to unplanned, less satisfying, forgettable recreation (watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, etc.)?  I certainly have my things I waste time on, but I have watched less than one or two hours of television a week since I was 18 years old. The average American watches about 40 hours of TV per week. That extra 38 hours of time each week has allowed me to do even more enjoyable/worthwhile endeavors. That’s 1,976 hours per year, and 39,520 hours over the last 20 years that I got to spend doing cooler stuff.

You don’t have to slave away constantly to do great things. If you focus on only doing the most productive things that matter, and spending your free time only doing the things that you really love the most, you will live a richer, more fulfilling, more successful life. Our boy Benjamin accomplished incredible things, but he was still known for drinking and orgies on the regular. 

If you cut away the fat from your work and from your recreational time, you can do great things in both. You can have it all.

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Crippled CEO Blog #032: Never Have Another Bad Day

Right here, right now, I am going to show you how to never have a bad day again for the rest of your life.

It is up to you to choose to actually do it, to put this into practice, but you definitely can. 

Because I have never had a bad day.

Not one. Not ever.

This isn’t because I have managed to avoid bad things happening to me. Definitely not.

Almost exactly one year ago, I was lying on my back, the asphalt from the parking lot burning me, while blood poured out of my forehead, streamed over my face, and filled up my curly hair. I didn’t know it yet, but my ankle was also broken in two places. Paramedics would soon show up and pick me up from the hot concrete, put me on a stretcher, and take me to the hospital where I got 16 stitches above my brow and a soft cast for my ankle.

That really sucked.

But it wasn’t a bad day.

Other good things happened that day. And I don’t mean the very true, but difficult to sincerely appreciate, platitudes about waking up and breathing and all that. Though those things did happen as well, and I am pretty stoked about it.

Before I did a front flip and smashed my face into the rather sturdy parking lot outside Life Saver, I’d had a rather enjoyable, productive day at work. There was a great meeting with the amazing Alan Korn in the morning, and in the afternoon I worked on an AI bot to automate Life Saver’s Facebook messages — which we still use. 

And after my face exploded, people who loved and cared about me met me at the hospital. Kate Mottram brought milk from my house (without chocolate, but still). Mike made sure my Nexium got picked up. My friend Nicole, who I hadn’t seen in ages, was one of the three bizarrely gorgeous nurses who treated me. The doctor who stitched me up had a sense of humor and appreciated my jokes. When I got home, my girlfriend at the time surprised me by showing up, coddled me, and helped to get some of the blood out of my hair. The experience sucked, but was it a bad day? Not at all. Good stuff happened that I enjoyed and appreciated. 

If you choose to decide that there are good, even great, moments that happen every day, and recognize those, you can then eliminate all future bad days from the rest of your life. You might have bad moments. But an entire bad day? Impossible. How can the whole day be bad when these other good things happened? 

And once you have eliminated bad days, congratulations. You are now free from bad weeks, bad months, and especially bad years. If there is something good in each day, how in Thor’s name can a whole YEAR be bad?! The entire concept just seems so foreign to me. And there is no reason it can’t be foreign to you as well. It just takes a small change in the way you think and talk, a change to the story you tell yourself about your life. I’ve never had a bad day because I am the only person who gets to judge my days, and that was the decision I made.

You can, too. 

Welcome to the #nobaddays club. 

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Crippled CEO Blog #031: Worst Case Scenario

In my old age, I have developed some weird anxieties about taking any kind of new medication. And today, I had to start taking a new antibiotic. Also, because I don’t swallow pills, I have to chew them, which makes the entire experience a bit more traumatic. 

To help myself get over my irrational fear and just take the damn thing, I employed a simple tactic, that works for all kinds of things, that revolves around a well-known phrase:

What’s the worst that could happen?

Really going out of your way to imagine the worst case scenario when embarking on something you’re not sure about has a gang of benefits. 

For one, it creates confidence. When you imagine the worst thing that could happen, you typically realize it is something you could live with. In this silly example, the worst thing that could happen is I get nauseated and puke. And that would suck. But it’s not the end of the world.

I’m in the process of starting up a new business, Life Saver Pool Service. What’s the worst that could happen there? It doesn’t work. I lose some money, some time, and people who I probably don’t care that much about anyways make fun of me behind my back. I can live with that. 

When I started writing this blog, I contemplated what the worst case scenario was: no one reads it. 

In all three cases, the worst thing that could happen is much smaller than the benefits of success. The upside outweighs the downside. Effective risk mitigation. 

Besides creating confidence and managing risk, the last benefit is preparation. If you have thought through all of the worst case scenarios, you are more prepared for how to handle them. You can take the necessary steps to be ready in the event that the worst thing that could happen does actually happen.

When you are getting ready to do something that you’re nervous about, it is easy for the negative ramifications to be mentally overblown. Taking the time to really think through the worst possible outcome can help to bring things back into reality. And if you’re doing something you are excited and optimistic about, taking the time to imagine the worst case scenario can help you avoid being caught off guard, to mitigate risk, and to have proper precautions in place.

But hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

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Crippled CEO Blog #030: The Perfect Job for a Person with a Disability

“Any idiot can walk. But not just any idiot can start a business. It takes a very special kind.” — Me, Just Now

Several years back (or maybe 3 months ago — I can’t do time), I was struck by a story I read about Tim’s Place, a restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico that served breakfast, lunch, dinner… and hugs. It was the only restaurant in the US owned by a person with Down syndrome. 

What struck me about the story wasn’t just the coolness of a person with Down syndrome owning a restaurant — though that is, in itself, cool — it was the brilliant, incredibly self-aware, ego free delegation. Tim Harris was the owner of Tim’s Place. And the job that he gave himself at his restaurant was to hug each and every customer. That was it. That was his job. The administration, the hiring, the firing, the cooking, the accounting… he had people better at those things do them for him — which is EXACTLY what a business owner should do. It was genius. 

And that truth, that the job of a business owner is to figure out her most useful function and to delegate the rest, is the exact reason why entrepreneurship, by FAR, is the best career choice for people with disabilities. 

Like it’s not even close. 

People think of entrepreneurship as the crowning achievement of a career, the final level in a difficult game, that after succeeding at a job for a decade, with nowhere else to ascend, you have no choice but to branch out on your own. And yeah, I am sure that happens. 

But the reality is that starting a business, aka entrepreneurship, is for people who CAN’T do a regular 9-5 job, whether that’s because you can’t stand a boss, you need a flexible schedule, you have this passion for something that you have to express/work on, you feel trapped doing one thing, OR because you need help going pee, you need to go home to poop, you can’t cut up your own lunch, you have a lot of medical appointments, and you need a custom tailored environment and specific assistance in order to be successful. All of those are valid, but the last one, which describes my exact situation, is super tough to get at a regular job. You could just as easily swap out my specific details with those of a quadriplegic, someone with autism, a person with Down syndrome, a deaf person, a blind person, or someone suffering from depression, and the result is the same. 

Because getting that custom tailored environment that can provide the scaffolding for a disabled person to find success at a regular job is virtually impossible, the reasonable assumption then becomes that it is also impossible for that person to work, to earn an income, and they will forever be dependent on financial assistance from others and the government to survive.

And, in some cases, that might be totally true. But I really and truly believe that there are so, so many people out there right now, sitting at home, thinking that they cannot work, who could be successfully owning their own businesses. 

Every business owner must custom tailor their work, their environment, and their staff so they  can be successful, and this recipe, coincidentally, is exactly what every person with a disability also needs. It honestly feels like entrepreneurship what is designed with disabled people in mind. It is hard to articulate just how well it fits. 

And disabled people are already accustomed to having staff, giving instructions, training people, and delegating. Every disabled person getting help with tasks is already a disabled CEO. You’ve been training for this for years, in some cases for your whole life. You just need to take it a step further and also hire employees who are going to make you money.

Just like at Tim’s Place, if the disabled business owner (or any business owner) decides her best role is to just hug every customer, and EVERYTHING else is going to be delegated and outsourced, she can do that (especially now with outsourcing services like Fiverr or low cost virtual assistants through sites like Fiverr again or or (Your Man in India) available). 

If she decides that she needs a break from 11 AM to 3 PM in order to comfortably get through the day, she can do that.

If she needs the employee who packs up orders to also empty her catheter once a day, and they are willing, she can do that.

This works. Tim in Albuquerque is living proof it works. I’M living proof it works. There is almost no way I would be able to hold a regular job, but I think most would say I’m pretty successful doing the one I built for myself. 

If “regular jobs” aren’t working for you, for whatever reason, disability or otherwise, the problem isn’t with you. The problem is that you are trying to succeed at something not meant for you. Fish aren’t good at climbing trees. Create something made specifically for you, set up specifically for you to thrive, stop trying to climb that tree, and get busy swimming. 

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Crippled CEO Blog #029: The First 48

Crippled CEO Blog #029:

As we know from the hit TV show (allegedly — I’ve never actually seen the show; I don’t watch TV), the first 48 hours of a police investigation are the most crucial. After that time frame, potential evidence goes missing; crime scenes become contaminated; witnesses disappear.

If you are in a business that requires talking to a customer to complete a sale — any kind of service business, pool fence installation, real estate, selling weed, car sales, pool construction, plumbing, A/C, prostitution, roofing, massage, anything B2B — then you also have to think about the First 48. For you, the First 48 also means the difference between success and failure.

But for you, it’s not the first 48 hours. Not even close. Homicide detectives have way more time than you do. For you, it’s the first 48 minutes. 

That’s about how long you have to respond to a lead — either through your website form, on your voicemail, on Facebook, on Instagram, via text — before your chances of getting that sale drop by at least half. Responding to inquiries as quickly as possible is one of the single most important aspects of your business (or, if your job involves selling stuff, your job). 

If the lead is coming in by phone, answering it as it’s ringing is your best bet, but regardless of the medium in which the customer chooses to reach out to you, you should be treating this like an emergency, with a clock ticking down, that you need to address.

Because your competitor certainly is. And it’s a race.

I’ve often said that there’s only a few things you need to get right to be successful. You can get a ton of stuff wrong. But getting back to people quickly might not only be the most important, it is often times the one thing you can adjust immediately and inexpensively.

So, there you have it. The first 48. When the lead comes in, the clock starts ticking.

(Do you know somebody that can use this? A sales person this might help out? Maybe someone you work with? Share it with them. If you enjoyed this one, or any of these, get a text message with a link to the latest one as soon as I post it by texting the word CRIP to 484848. I check to see how many people subscribe every week. I love seeing the number go up. It means a lot to me. If you just sent that text, thank you.)

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