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Month: July 2020

Crippled CEO Blog #041: I Exploit Cerebral Palsy for Money

Let’s be real honest for a second: I use having cerebral palsy and being in a wheelchair to make money, whenever possible.

I try to exploit my disability for profit.

I do not feel bad about this.

In fact, I use everything useful, interesting, and unique about me for my gain. (Thank God I don’t have boobs.)

When you talk on the radio, there is a volume sweet spot they tell you to maintain. Not too quiet, not too loud. Just right. Dan Carlin, host of the ridiculously popular and amazing podcast Hardcore History, was terrible at this as a radio host. He was either really quiet or REALLY LOUD. Never in the sweet spot. His producers thought this was a problem. He has gone on to make these “mistakes“ part of his trademark, style, and brand. He owned it. In fact, if you do it now, you are copying him.

Most of us try to downplay our flaws — keep them out of the spotlight. But the only thing that happens when you do that is you give that thing power. Every time it is exposed, it is raw and sensitive like a fresh wound under a bandage.

But if you own it, and even try to use it for your benefit, it can’t hurt you anymore. There’s no way I’m going to be insulted by someone mocking my disability when I call my blog Crippled CEO. With just that one thing, I have sucked all of the power out of what is arguably a massive deficiency, and I’m now using it to promote and brand myself — to stand out in a crowd. Or, in my case, sit out, you know, because I can’t stand. 

There is something about you that society thinks you should be embarrassed about. You are fat. You have messed up teeth. You stutter. You murdered your husband while raising big cats. 👀

You can either shy away from this thing, hide it, and continue to feel shame about it, or you can own it, and try to use it to your benefit. As always, you get to choose the story you tell yourself about yourself. You should make it a good one.

(If you know somebody that can use this, please send it to them. Also, if you share this, I will love you forever. If you want to make sure you never miss a blog post from me, you can make me your servant and retain me to send you a link to the new blog post every single week by texting the word CRIP to the phone number 484848.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #040: My First Business was Magic

The grand finale was called the French Arm Chopper.

That was the big, and rather expensive, magic trick that Casey and I concluded our shows with. It was amazing. But we did not have it when we started.

Casey and I were about 12 years old when we embarked on our magical adventure, which was simultaneously my first ever entrepreneurial endeavor. Casey — my oldest and one of my closest friends, then and now — was obsessed with magic, the beginning of a lifetime of performing for people. I knew nothing about magic beyond watching him do it, but I convinced him that we should turn his act into a business; the beginning of a lifetime of talking people into starting businesses. I created and printed up flyers on my 1994 computer, and then we headed out, going door to door, informing our neighbors that we were available to do magic for birthdays, daycares, special events, and so on.

And, magically, we got hired. Several times.

A daycare, a school, birthday parties — we were doing actual paid gigs. Casey would be the magician, and I would… assist. I didn’t do much on stage. 

Our goal was to raise enough money for our holy grail magic trick, the French Arm Chopper. It was a miniature guillotine that appeared to chop your volunteer’s hand off and drop it into a bag, just like the infamous tool of the French revolution. The bag was a bright red. Casey would joke that it was originally white. 

After a few performances, we secured the glorious French Arm Chopper, and it became the magnificent conclusion to our shows. 

This initial foray into business didn’t go too far beyond that. Magic gave way to other hobbies, and the interest sort of fizzled out. But there were some lessons from that experience that I use to this very day.  

  1. You need somebody who is good at doing the things you are not good at. Whether this is a partner or a first employee, you need a ying to your yang. I wasn’t performing any magic, but Casey would not have been driven to monetize and market it without me.
  2. Do something you love. We had fun doing this business because we liked magic. Casey liked it more than I did, but I had a solid appreciation of it through him. If your business revolves around something you legitimately enjoy or care about, and you are hopefully good at, you greatly increase your odds of success.
  3. Reinvest your profits. I am sure there was some video game or something I would have loved to buy, but instead, we put our earnings back into the company to get bigger and cooler tricks. This sounds easier from far away, but when you’re actually running a business that is having some success, and there is something important to you personally that requires using this cash you’ve earned — that really is yours — it is a difficult thing to choose to abstain and reinvest. Having a clear goal of why you are putting the money back into the business, and what the parameters have to be for you to take out a portion of the profits, makes this much easier. 
  4. Work with people you like. Casey is one of my best friends. We were technically working, but we were doing it because it was fun. This doesn’t have to stop when you grow up. I work with my friends and family to this day.
  5. Don’t be afraid to charge. We were 12-year-old kids, but we were still charging $75 an hour, and places were paying it. You might be surprised what people will say yes to. 
  6. Just start, using what you have. I made flyers on my computer because that was something I could do. And we went knocking on doors because we didn’t have a car. Instead of focusing on what is holding you back, just move forward with what you do you have.

My first business was not a huge financial success. But it was fun. I cherish the memories. And I still use some of the lessons that I learned. Nothing is too small or too silly to try. And if you have a child thinking of embarking on an entrepreneurial adventure, encourage and support them. You never know what they might learn.

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Crippled CEO Blog #039: Rig the Game

I write one blog entry per week.

I could do two. I could probably even do three without the quality dropping off. 

And three would be better, right? I would be getting more words out to all of you. I would be transmitting more ideas. I would be closer to my goal of having enough of these to compile them into a book (would you buy that book?). 

So, why not three? Is it because I’m lazy?

And the answer is… kinda.

Wim Hof is famous for his paradigm flipping views and experimentation with breathing, and the importance of breathing in our lives. He has several breathing exercises which are proven to improve your health, both mentally and physically. He’s also an expert in meditation. He believes that everybody should engage in practiced, thoughtful, intentional breathing. Given how important he believes this daily practice is, how much do you think he recommends that you do? An hour a day? 30 minutes a day?

Not even close. He says to do one deliberate breath per day. Just one.

Similarly, a fitness expert in the Tim Ferriss book Tools of Titans recommends doing one push-up per day. One single, solitary push-up.

Why would people who believe so strongly in the benefits of something recommend that you do so little?

Because everybody can do one breath or one push-up per day. There’s no reason not to. You’re never going to be too busy. It is easy to accomplish that goal.

And that’s important. We are more likely to keep doing things that we are succeeding at. Momentum is powerful. Habits are strong. Rigging the game to set yourself up for success will help you continue to keep playing it.

This is counterintuitive to how we think. It seems like we should try to do as much as possible, and when we embark on a new routine for self-improvement, that is usually what we do. And then we slip up, because it’s hard, and we ran out of time, or energy, or willpower, and now we feel guilty, so we don’t want to think about it. So, then we don’t do it again the next day, and now the habit is broken. 

But if you make it easy for yourself, you build up this winning streak that you don’t want to break. You’ve gotten used to this routine. You have not only developed a habit, but this thing you do is now part of your identity. Now you’re the guy who takes a five minute walk each day, or reads two pages of a book each day, or plays one game of chess, or donates five dollars to a charity every week, or writes a blog that is read by a bunch of awesome weirdos every Sunday. You weren’t a person who did push-ups, but now you are. Because you started. And you started because you made it easy.

What is a daily or weekly habit that would put you on the path to being the person that you want to be? And what is the tiniest, easiest possible version of that thing that you could definitely do no matter what? Tell me in the comments. I want to know.

(I bet you know somebody that might find this blog post useful. Why don’t you send it to them? They will appreciate it, and they will think you are a smart person who reads awesome stuff. You can also guarantee that you never miss my next post by sending a text message using the miraculous device that you are probably reading this on right now to the phone number 484848 with the word CRIP. Doing that will make you a part of the CRIP army, and you will get one, single text message from me personally every Sunday.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #038: Good Bosses Aren’t Bossy

Someone recently asked me advice on telling people what to do. How do I go about it? Am I nice? Am I super blunt? How do I give people orders every day?

“I really don’t,” I said. 

“But aren’t you, like, the boss?”


“So, doesn’t that mean you tell everybody what to do? Isn’t that the job?”

I’ve heard people say that they want to be the boss exactly for that reason, so that they could “just tell other people what to do.“

And I think there are a lot of “bosses“ out there who legitimately feel like this is their responsibility. This includes business owners.

But this really isn’t the case. Beyond asking someone to hand me a pen, it is pretty rare for me to explicitly give someone a command. Rare doesn’t mean never. It does happen. Usually in the form of creating a project for somebody to accomplish. But I certainly don’t spend my day barking out orders. And if you’re in charge, I don’t think you should either.  

Now, before I go further, there are exceptions. In some businesses, you do need a commander on the field actually directing traffic and keeping things moving efficiently. This exists. But I think it’s a lot more rare than most think. And if you are the business owner and this is you, something is wrong.

So, if I’m not telling people what to do, what am I doing? Why aren’t I? How does anything get done?

Instead of explicitly telling people what to do, I hire smart, capable, responsible people, I make sure they know what’s important, I work with them to determine their responsibilities (a process they are a part of), and then I let them do pretty much whatever they think they should. 

That’s it.

Because the people closest to their responsibilities know what is necessary much better than I do, they are infinitely more capable of deciding what needs to be done and when.

They do a far better job of assigning themselves tasks than I ever could.

This ends up being a win-win for everybody. I’m not constantly needed to keep people busy, allowing me the time and mental bandwidth necessary for me to work on the bigger picture. The last 12 months have been a major restructuring at Life Saver. There’s no way that I could have even seen what needed to be done, let alone have the capacity to accomplish it, if all my time and energy was spent feeding people their daily tasks. 

Just as important, my employees are happier and more fulfilled. They have ownership over their responsibilities, and get to structure things in the way that works best for them.

Now, in order for this to work, you need to do a few things. 

1) You need to spend a bit more time and money to get the type of person capable of thinking on their own. It might take trying out a few people before you find the right one. And if you are planning to cheap out on employee pay, you should also plan on having to tell them what to do every minute of every day.

2) You have to be OK with people doing things differently than you might — or maybe even not as well. You can’t give people freedom and then get upset when they use it. Mistakes are inevitably going to happen, as well. Make a conscious choice ahead of time to be fine with all of this so that you can improve your odds of reacting correctly when it happens.

3) You have to keep open the lines of communication. Expectations need to be clear on both sides, and you need to be available to answer questions and offer guidance as needed.

Being a boss doesn’t have to mean bossing people around (and if that’s something you WANT to do, because your ego likes the sound of ordering folks about, you probably should avoid being in charge of anyone until you address that). With a relatively small change in thinking, and a few key steps, you can give your team and yourself the freedom you are looking for.

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