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Month: June 2020

Crippled CEO Blog #037: Seeking Suffering

You’ve heard of Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, the Spartan Race, and so on. That genre of self-inflicted group torture is known as OCR (Obstacle Course Races). Amelia Boone, an attorney, is one of the most accomplished OCR athletes in the history of the sport. She has won both the Spartan Race World Championship (2013) and World’s Toughest Mudder (three times! 2012, 2014 and 2015), beating out thousands of other racers, most of whom are men. In 2014, she won the WTM title eight weeks after major knee surgery.

She’s ridiculous. And probably a crazy person. In maybe the best way possible.

Amelia claims that she’s not the fastest or the strongest. She’s the best at suffering. She says that is why she’s successful. 

In order to become the best at suffering, she did what you do to become better at anything: she practiced. She went out of her way to put herself in terrible, excruciating, uncomfortable scenarios over and over again so that she got better at enduring them. 

Most people avoid going out and training when it’s snowing, or raining, or under the extreme noon day sun at the height of summer, but that’s exactly when she would make sure to go get work in. Day after day, Amelia deliberately put herself in these worst case scenario situations to build up her tolerance, so that she’s ready for anything that might happen.

David Goggins, Navy SEAL and ultra-marathon champion, does the exact same thing. He puts his body in horribly uncomfortable conditions, not just to train his body, but more importantly, to train his mind to be able to push through the agony.

I I have cerebral palsy. I use an electric wheelchair full-time. What do I care about people who run ultramarathons?

If you’re like me and you have a disability, or chronic pain, or an invisible illness, or depression, or anxiety, or anything else that is inescapable and bears down on you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then you know that we don’t have to go out and seek painful, difficult situations to endure. We don’t have to go out running in the snow to find suffering and hardship. We are living in it.

Amelia Boone and David Goggins chose to view enduring suffering as a good thing, as a skill to be improved upon, that helps them achieve incredible things. They know that iron sharpens iron and pressure creates diamonds.

If, like me, life dealt you a hand of cards where suffering and hardship is mandatory and constant, part of the ante you pay just for existing, then you have a couple options, because you get to choose the story you tell yourself about who you are and your situation.

You can choose to view your suffering as pointless, a weight around your neck that makes everything worse and everything hard, absent of any benefit or value. It just sucks. Some days it sucks more than others, and that’s just your life. 

Or you can choose to view it as the training you are going through that is making you capable withstanding things that would break regular people. Amelia Boone and David Goggins might go test the limits of their will a few hours a day, but you’re doing it all the time. You’re becoming something unstoppable. Because if what you’re going through doesn’t break you, then what will? If surviving this is possible, then what else can you do?

You get to choose. You start by choosing once. But after that, you have to choose again every single day. And you might make the wrong choice sometimes. That’s alright. As long as you know that you have the ability to choose how you view your pain, your suffering, and the things that happen to you, you can control the story of your life. You get to make yourself the person you want to be, and use what others would consider pains and weaknesses as the fuel to get there.

(If you know somebody that can turn their suffering into a superpower, please send this to them. And if you’d like to become a CRIP and receive a text message with a link to my latest post every Sunday, send a text with the word CRIP to the phone number 484848 to subscribe.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #036: Your Price is also Marketing

The price you charge is part of your marketing. It is part of the story you tell and the story your customers tell themselves about your product/service.

Recently, I was confused. I did not believe what I was hearing from the voice on the phone.

A Life Saver was telling me that he raised his price — dramatically — to much more than the competition, which made sense given the vastly superior quality, the workmanship, the brand, the skill and experience of the expert that would be doing the installation, and so on. He had been charging roughly the same as the competition previously, or sometimes just slightly more, but had finally decided to stop being scared and get what he deserved. 

That part did not confuse me. That made sense. What he said next was confusing: “I am closing more jobs with the much higher price. And I am closing them easier. And no one is haggling. And I’m getting more reviews and they are referring more of their friends.”


Economics 101 tells us that when we raise the price, we lose volume. That’s the trade-off. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it’s not, but that’s the choice we make.

So, at first, I brushed off this one story as anecdotal. Part of me thought he was maybe full of baloney.

But then I started hearing the same thing, again and again. “I raised my price, and I’m selling more.”

And then it hit me. I figured it out.

The original offer seemed bulletproof from the Life Saver’s perspective: I am going to offer you something much, much better, but you’re going to get it at the same price (or maybe just a little bit more) than the other one. It’s a no brainer. Because the Life Saver really, truly KNOWS how much better it is. He knows what he’s offering is a bargain.

But that’s not with the customer hears. They get all of this explanation on why the Life Saver brand is so much better, in every way, and then they get the price, and it’s about the same. This doesn’t add up. This isn’t how things work. It must not really be that much better. Because price matters. The price is part of the story we tell ourselves about what we buy.

If a Rolex was the exact same watch, but you could buy it for $100, would anyone care about it?

“But my customers, in my area, in my industry, all they care about is price. They just want the cheapest one.”

Really? Look at their house. Is that the cheapest possible house they could find? Are they driving the cheapest possible car? Are they wearing the cheapest possible clothes? Is there a child in the cheapest possible stroller? Of course not. They did not only care about the cheapest price for those things, and they don’t only care about cheapest price for your thing either.

In fact, when price is the only information available, a higher price may make something feel like the better/safer option. 

I offer you a new phone case for your brand new iPhone. One is 50 cents ($0.50). The other is $30. Which do you choose?

You probably picked the $30 one. But I didn’t tell you anything else about them. You didn’t know what they look like, or the quality, or even the name of the brand. All you knew is the price, and you voluntarily chose the more expensive one. Because that one must be better and 50 cents is too cheap for a phone case. 

If you’re going to claim that you are the vastly superior option, you must have the price to go with that, or people won’t believe you. 

Now, what about the better reviews and referrals the Life Saver was getting?

If you are the cheapest, people might tell their friends because they also want them to get that deal. This isn’t the referral you want. You don’t want to be known as the option that’s only worthwhile because it doesn’t cost much.

But these people are less likely to go online and leave you a great review. They didn’t pick you because you were great. They picked you because you were cheap. And nobody is proud of that. Nobody cares about that cheap thing they got.

Because we care more about the things that we are invested in. The more money, the more time, the more energy we have put in to something, the more convinced we are how wonderful it is. We are more proud of it. We are more loyal to it. This is one reason the military puts soldiers through boot camp. That is why people love their alma maters for the rest of their lives. That is why there are such fierce debates between iPhone vs Android, PlayStation vs XBox, Republican vs Democrat, and so on. The more you have put into something, the more you attach it to your identity.

So, if I buy what you are selling for a much higher price than the other options, I am now invested in that thing.  I am going to justify to myself, and to others, how much better this thing is, all the reasons that I bought it, and how smart/savvy/responsible/BETTER I am for having chosen it. I’m going to post about it on Facebook. I’m going to show it to my friends when they come over. I’m going to go leave a review on Google. If I pay the average price, I perceive my purchase as an average experience, I’m less invested, and now I don’t get to tell that story. 

The price is part of the marketing.

Now, an important part of this is that you actually have to be better. That is why so many people just try to be the cheapest. If you are the most expensive, you’re making a promise. You are making a claim that you are special, worth it, and deserve to be talked about. 

That is why these Life Savers have discovered this phenomenon. The Life Saver Pool Fence actually IS better — you can see it, you can feel it, you can read the results of the scientific testing data, you know it’s backed by a lifetime warranty. And if the strength of the product itself isn’t important to you, then you might care about how Life Saver donates free pool fences to families who have had a fatal or non-fatal drowning incident, or how Life Saver gives to every drowning prevention non-profit in the US that we are aware of, or how Life Saver was started in my parents’ garage over 30 years ago and we still make pool fence by hand every day in Delray Beach, FL, sliding sturdy aluminum poles into slots on a long wooden table and stretching the mesh over before screwing everything in place, almost exactly like my dad did more than three decades ago. Depending on who you are, and what you care about, one of those stories, or some combination, might lead you to believe that Life Saver is “better” and worth paying more for. If you are going to rise above and be the one people believe they SHOULD pay more for, what is the promise that you are going to make? Can you keep that promise?

And when you choose to be exceptional, not every customer is your customer. Porsche isn’t for everyone. And neither is Land Rover. And the people who buy Porches aren’t the same people who buy Land Rovers, even though the price on some models might be similar. That’s okay for Porsche and it is okay for you, too. Not everyone will choose a Life Saver Pool Fence. That’s why we also have Pool Corral and Pool Fence DIY. All three of those are removable mesh barriers intended to protect your pool, but each one is intended for a different kind of person, just like Jeep, VW Bug, and Mercedes are all vehicles, but they are all intended for very different people. And just like with those cars, the difference between those people isn’t just what they are willing to spend. It is the very fabric of who they are, what they care about, and the ideas they identify with.

If you really are remarkable, then give people the opportunity to pay you enough that they have a story and devotion that is now worth remarking upon. Give people the chance to invest enough in you that they can be loyal. And then keep the promise you made by charging that price, and generously reward their loyalty. 

(Did you dig that like a dog digs under a fence? Did you at least get what you paid for? I hope so. If you did, could you please share it with people? You might really help someone. Also, some people who read this are CRIPs — Creatures Realizing Infinite Potential. You can also be a CRIP and never miss a blog post. Just text the word CRIP to 484848. What if the next one is the right combination of words that forever changes your life? Weirder things have happened. Some lady eating a bat in China made the NBA stop their season. Life is crazy. You never know. But I promise I will only text you one time per week. Who doesn’t want a nice text on a Sunday?)

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Crippled CEO Blog #035: Success is Built in the Shadows

Often we think that success in life comes in front of an audience: the new job, the big promotion, buying the awesome house, unveiling the new artwork/restored car/song, announcing your early retirement. But as I sit here eating chocolate cake at 9 PM, I think it’s the things you do with no audience that create success (which sometimes leads to those publicly seen symptoms) — the morning work out you do or don’t do before work, the money you do or don’t put into a savings/investment account each month, the chocolate cake you do or do not eat late at night, the self-improving/educational reading you do or don’t read before bed, the extra work you do or don’t put toward your projects and goals.

These things, that we do alone, that nobody can see, I think, are what really create happiness and “success”. Not the spotlight moments. Not the big award on stage. The series of small, daily smart decisions, each a drop in the bucket, until they become a tidal wave of momentum you are surfing on. 

But it’s hard to know that because we don’t see that part. We don’t see the late nights. We don’t see the work squeezed in at any possible moment, between meetings, while getting gas, in the parent pick up line. We don’t see the consistency, even when they didn’t feel like it — ESPECIALLY when they didn’t feel like it. 

And nobody escapes it. By the time you discover someone, chances are, you are learning about them because they are already a master of their craft. It seems like they were born that way. It seems like they are naturally gifted. Michael Jordan, Whitney Houston, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Jobs, J.R.R. Tolkien, Elon Musk, Arnold Schwarzenegger… they all just seem to be imbued with otherworldly talent. And in those cases, those specific cases, there might be some slight predisposition toward their craft that gave them an edge. But far more importantly, they all worked when nobody was watching. The real thing that separates them is a daily, consistent striving to improve. There are no naturals. No one starts off great. It has to be earned. I wish we could have seen Tolkien’s first short story or Jordan’s first time trying to shoot a basketball. I promise you that both were terrible. Nobody starts off writing Lord of the Rings. That’s just the only thing we see.

When Forbes did their article about me, I shared it because I thought it was cool, and I was proud of it, but I was astonished by everyone else’s reaction. Everyone else was a lot more excited about it than I was. Because there was nothing difficult about doing that interview. It felt far less impressive than what I do day after day, night after night, conversation after conversation — the much more difficult things that don’t get any praise. But nobody can see that part. You just see the woman on the podium getting her Olympic medal. You just see the article in Forbes.

If the secret to greatness isn’t natural born talent, but rather consistent dedication, that means greatness is something accessible to all of us. You just need to do the work. But it’s not going to happen on accident. You can’t work toward becoming somebody without first deciding who you want to be. You can’t live up to an ideal without first defining that ideal. You cannot surpass a goal without first setting the goal.

A wise man once said that we are our habits. It only takes two weeks of doing something every day for it to become a habit, good or bad. What good habit do you wish you practiced every day? If you started today, in two weeks, it would be almost automatic. What version of YOU do you want to create? And what specific actions do you need to take, every day, when no one is watching, in order to get there?

(If you know somebody that this can help, send it to them. And if you’re the kind of person who wants to keep on getting better, who is doing the work when no one is watching, join the CRIP fam and text the word CRIP to the phone number 484848.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #034: Trust Total Strangers

Here is a business secret (and regular life, too) that has been huge for me, that I don’t think you will read anywhere else: trust people right off the bat. Trust everyone. Trust strangers. Trust anyone you encounter until they give you a reason not to.

Right now, I can feel your eyebrow raising. Your eyes squinting. Your brow furrowing. Trust everyone? What kind of idiocy is this? Shouldn’t trust be earned?

In my opinion: nope. 

And, spoiler alert, I am going to tell you why. 

Most people are trustworthy. The vast majority of people you encounter are honest and generally looking to do the right thing most of the time. In fact, most people who are going to screw you over in some way are GENERALLY trustworthy otherwise. And then, for some reason, usually a circumstance that created a rock and a hard place, that typically honest person cheated you; e.g., either due to bad luck, bad planning, or incompetence, they are in a position where they can either pay their rent or pay you for services rendered, they choose rent, and you don’t get paid. Most people don’t INTEND to screw you. Some do, most don’t. 

And so, since most people are worthy of being trusted most of the time, if you trust everybody, over the course of your life, you are going to be right more often than not.

That’s just science.

So, why do this? What is the benefit of presuming people are trustworthy?

For one, being the type of person who trusts first is good for you. It makes you kinder, freer, more adventurous, friendlier, more confident, and so on. You will be less paranoid and less anxious. You are more likely to give the benefit of the doubt, which I’ve talked about previously as one of the keys to being a happier person. 

Giving someone your trust feels like something you are doing for THEM. But in reality, it is something you are doing for YOU. 

Second, trusting people can lead to great opportunities. So many times, I have seen people ruin or turn down something that could be fantastic because of the possibility that somebody might screw them or not hold up their end of the bargain. I remember pleading with somebody once, almost yelling, “Why are you assuming he is lying and going to cheat you?!”

The reply, “Why are YOU assuming he isn’t?”

If I was physically capable of doing a face palm, I would have right then.

FYI, I actually did get that deal done. And, surprise surprise, everyone has done what they said they would. 

Trusting people also makes life more convenient and saves time. I was recently at work when the guy showed up to my house to fix my air-conditioning. No one was home. I just went ahead and gave him the security code to my front door. I suppose he could have robbed me, but I was reasonably sure he wouldn’t. My most important belongings are locked up. There is not much there of value that can’t be replaced. His company is probably bonded and has insurance. And it turned out just fine.

I give my employees quite a bit of autonomy and trust that they will act in the best interest of the company, and do the things that need to be done. I don’t micromanage them. I don’t put trackers on their computers to monitor their activity. I don’t block certain websites from their browser. I pick good people and trust that they will do good work. This has  turned out really well for me so far. They are happier, more productive, better able to solve problems, more creative, and I have a lot less stress.

I trust my customers. If they tell me they didn’t receive something, or something is defective, I just trust them and fix it. I’m sure I have been bamboozled at some point, and sent somebody something for free that they didn’t deserve, but the vast majority of the time, doing things this way just results in happier customers and time and energy saved.

A friend of mine just recommended a friend of hers as an employee to work in the warehouse. I told her to tell him he can start on Monday. No application, no resume, no interview, not even a phone conversation, none of it. I trust her. I’ve never met him, but I trust he will likely do a good job. And, worst-case scenario, if he doesn’t, he moves on. No big deal. 

Now, while I do start with a baseline of trust, I do weigh the upside versus the downside. I’m not going to give a stranger the login info to my bank for no reason. I do give that info to my assistant, though, because I’ve known him for 30 years and it makes it easier for him to help me.

I give employees keys to the building and security codes so they can get in, but we also have cameras in the warehouse just in case.

Society tells us not to trust, that people will stab you in the back, that the world is full of cheaters and liars. And that will happen. Trusting people will occasionally come back to chomp your callipygian. If you spent a lifetime believing this, your experiences will have reinforced it to be true, and it is going to be a very hard habit to break. But I promise that it is worth it. You will live a happier, easier, less anxious, reduced drama life. Just try it out, and let yourself be surprised by how good people can be.

(Did this sizzle your fajita? If so, please share it with somebody you care about. Also, if you want to make sure you never miss my next post, you can subscribe for a weekly text message with a link to the post as soon as it is up. Just send a text message with the word CRIP to the phone number 484848. You will get one message directly from me every Sunday with the link to the latest blog post. I really appreciate everybody who does this. Thank you.)

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