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Crippled CEO Posts

Crippled CEO Blog #010: The Six Million Dollar Man

The entire vessel shook violently. The view out the small window bounced around erratically as the pilot’s jaw clattered.

“Three seconds.”

The tinny voice came through the vessel’s PA, nearly drowned out by the roar of the rocket.

“Two seconds.”

Commander Austin drew in a deep breath under the mask of his flight suit. The sky darkened as the shuttle continued to ascend beyond the horizon.

“One second.”

His hands tightened on the controls. He tried to read the dials in front of him, but the powerful shaking made the attempt pointless.


A loud metallic “CHNK” and the shuttle released from the lifting body that housed the rocket propelling him beyond the atmosphere.

The shaking stopped. Everything stopped. Where there was once deafening noise and jarring vibrations, now there was silence and stillness. Austin looked down at the cross around his neck, hovering in front of him in low gravity. He looked out the small window, marveling at the thin blue line between Earth and the infinite expanse of space.

“Controls are yours. Begin your descent, Commander.”

Commander Austin pulled himself from the magnitude of the moment and began doing what he had been trained to do. The goal: to be the first space shuttle capable of landing intact and being used again.

He pushed forward on the flight stick, the nose of the shuttle tilting back towards the Earth. The shaking started again — subtle at first, then growing into a powerful earthquake trapped in a tiny cockpit. The test pilot maintained control, guiding the shuttle back through the atmosphere, back into the blue skies and white clouds.

CRACK! A sudden, sharp bang shook the cockpit — first sparks, then fire.

“Mayday! MAYDAY!”

The shuttle began spinning wildly out of control, dropping from the sky like a bird shot by a hunter’s bullet.

“Eject, Commander Austin!”

“It’s not working! I can’t!”

The shuttle crashed into the Earth, digging a trench the length of a football field in its wake. Emergency crews descended on the wreckage. Commander Steve Austin was extracted. He was alive, miraculously, but broken. Doctors at the nearby hospital would report that his legs were crushed and amputated, his right arm shorn off, and his left eye was lost.

Typically, the next steps would be to salvage what was possible, to save his life, and cope with this new reality. But a secret government organization had been awaiting this opportunity, the opportunity to create something new — a cyborg.

“We have the technology. We can rebuild him.”

If you are my age or younger, you might not be familiar with the hit 70’s TV show, the Six Million Dollar Man. Astronaut Steve Austin is maimed in a test flight gone wrong. Rather than living the rest of his life as a cripple, the government uses the opportunity to replace his lost limbs and eye with “bionic” robot substitutions, sort of like a precursor to Robocop. With his new enhancements, he gains superhero-like abilities — running 120mph, lifting cars, seeing through walls, and so on. Only by being torn apart, torn down, almost to the brink of death was he able to be rebuilt into something extraordinary. And the cost for this incredible transformation was $6 million, a laughable amount in modern currency, thus the name of the show.

In 2007, I was just 24 years old. I’d only been Life Saver’s chief executive for 3 years. And the economy was crashing. 2006 was our best year ever at the time. 2007 ended with the distinction of being the first year we ever saw revenues DECLINE. 2008 got worse. And then, after a rough summer, on September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch went out of business, and the world stood still. Our office phone didn’t ring a single time for TWO DAYS. I remember calling in to check if it was still working. 2008 ended with revenues down by nearly FIFTY percent.

2009’s sales dropped by half. AGAIN. Dealers were going under. The industrial park we were in was almost empty. I wasn’t paying vendors on time, and there was a stack of my paychecks in a drawer. I wasn’t depositing my salary checks to myself, so there would be enough in the bank to make payroll. And then the bank reduced our line of credit.

When 2010 started, I decided we were either going to adapt and figure it out or go out of business. I decided THE economy wasn’t going to dictate MY economy. And then we got to work. We started focusing on retail advertising on a national level. We developed a lead program. We made the seemingly insane choice to “go high-end,” upgrading the product to a more expensive, premium iteration. We started hosting our annual dealer conference in Florida. We restructured our manufacturing process. And at the end of 2010, we were up. Not a lot, but up.

And the next year the rebuilding continued: further product enhancements, multiple lines, acquired a competitor, a second shipping center in California.

2019 will end with our sales triple what they were in our “best year ever,” 2006, and nearly ten times our revenues in 2009.

Like the Six Million Dollar Man, when we were beaten down, nearly to the brink of death, rather than accept barely surviving and carrying on as a shadow of our former self, we took the opportunity to rebuild into something extraordinary. Because you can’t reconstruct yourself when things are going well. It takes being stripped down, critical pieces torn away.

And if that’s where you are, in life or in business, hanging on, barely alive, congratulations. This is your chance to become something vastly superior to what you were before.

You have the technology. You can rebuild you.

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Crippled CEO Blog #009: Be Funny — hurry up!

I’m fucking hilarious.

It took being told how extra funny I am (and quick, and witty) roughly 6,000 times over several years before I started actually believing that my sense of humor isn’t just like everyone else’s. I always thought most people were funny.

Being funny is good. It’s useful. It makes people like you. It makes giving hard news a bit more bearable. It’s great for public speaking. It’s a secret weapon in sales. And it’s probably responsible for almost every time I’ve seen a lady naked who wasn’t on a stage paying for college. But most importantly, being funny is fun. Making people laugh feels good. And it’s my goal pretty much all the time. I mean, this blog is literally called “Crippled CEO.” I find that funny every time I type it.

I didn’t start this funny, though. Like anything else, you might have a natural propensity towards something, but getting really good at it takes practice. And that’s what I did. I started seeking out chances to throw in a funny line or anecdote. All the time. And now it just happens naturally. In FACT, I have a tough time turning it off, and struggle to hold back jokes in inappropriate situations, like certain meetings or funerals (I definitely made a couple while speaking at my dad’s) or during sexy time with my lady. I consider this a worthwhile sacrifice.

So, how do you go about being funnier? First, just… start. Start learning and telling silly jokes. Start saying the funny thing you keep to yourself. Stop holding back because you think it’ll be bad or dumb — that’s funny, too! My jokes bomb CONSTANTLY. I usually follow a flopped one-liner with, “They can’t all be winners,” because they can’t. You’ll inevitably screw up on the way to comedic gold. Also, start watching funny things — comedic movies, standup specials on Netflix, etc. It’s both instructional and inspirational. Steal and re-tell the jokes you hear. You don’t even have to take credit; tell people about this funny thing you watched.

Possibly most importantly, you have to be fairly happy in order to be funny. It’s hard to be hilarious while angry, bitter, or resentful. And vice versa: it’s hard to stay in a bad mood while being funny. By practicing humor, you’ll improve your baseline level of happiness — truly. Also, you’ll learn not to take yourself so seriously. And that’s always a good thing. For you, your family, and the lady who got your name wrong at Starbucks.

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Crippled CEO Blog #008: Your Name & Logo Don’t Matter

Part of this blog is going to be pointless. I’m going to give 100% accurate advice to anyone about to start a new business, and none of you are going to follow it. You can’t. It’s not your fault. You just have to go through the process. I’m going to, later on, give a version of the same advice to people running established businesses. Some of you MIGHT listen, so that’s why I’m doing this.

I have started… eight? … nine? companies in my lifetime, and I’ve helped people start countless more. When you start a business, there are two HUGE decisions you have to make. These decisions very well could follow the company for its entire existence. And because these two things are so important, it makes sense that they are debated and agonized over for hours, days, weeks, or even months.

I bet you’ve already guessed what they are:

The company name. And the logo.

The name of the business that people will say, hear, and remember, and the visual identity of the organization. What could be bigger, right?

But here’s the thing — they don’t matter — neither one. One aspect of the logo matters, and we’ll get to that in a bit, but it’s not the part you’re stressing about.

So, right now you’re thinking I’m bat shit crazy. How could the NAME and the LOGO not matter?!

And my scientific answer is: because they don’t.

Let’s think of some of the names of the most successful companies on Earth. Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pepsi, Publix, Walgreens, Walmart, Toyota, Microsoft, Sony, Comcast, Hulu, McDonald’s, Target, Verizon… I could keep going, but you’re getting the idea. These company names have practically nothing to do with what they sell. A lot of them aren’t even real words in the English language. By all accounts, they are awful names. I own a pretty snazzy vehicle called a Cadillac Escalade. The company name isn’t a word that means anything in English, and the vehicle model, a wildly popular brand unto itself, also isn’t a word I could define. How about this sentence: “Should I Zelle or Venmo you to Uber us?” Those are three company names so ubiquitous you can use them as verbs, and none of them are words that have anything to do with sending money or getting driven around.

These massive, multibillion-dollar companies are called arbitrary, oftentimes nonsensical words. Your name doesn’t matter. Pick anything you like. It won’t make a difference. The one caveat to this is, since you’re a small business, put what you’re selling/offering in the name. For instance, Apple started as Apple Computers. Life Saver sells pool fences, so we are Life Saver Pool Fence. If you’re starting a car wash, call it Happy Panda (or literally whatever) Car Wash. You get the point. But stop worrying about choosing the wrong thing. It’s perfect.

The same goes for your logo. Just like the way you sign your name, your logo is important to you, should be an idea/concept YOU like, and won’t matter to anyone else. How many giant companies (like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and GM) just use their company name, maybe slightly stylized, as their logo? And others use arbitrary symbols. Your logo design won’t impact the success of your company.

Earlier, though, I did say that one aspect of your logo IS important. WHAT your logo is makes zero difference, but HOW it’s done might. While the content/idea/concept is irrelevant, it does need to be executed in a way that looks professional and competent, which makes you look like a legitimate business.

Here are the few basic things you need to get your logo right:

1) Make sure it has your company name in it, and it’s legible.

2) Don’t make it a weird shape. The whole thing should fit in a horizontal rectangle. Don’t make it super tall, or some other awkward shape.

3) Make sure it looks good real big (like on a billboard) and really small.

4) Make sure it doesn’t only look good in full color, but can be black and white or a single color as well.

5) Try to have it designed so a portion of it can represent the whole thing. For instance, Life Saver has the water drop with the lock. Facebook and Google use the “F” and the “G” from their logos, respectively.

Using those rules, have a professional design it. You can get someone solid on Fiverr inexpensively, or have a contest on 99designs (I love 99designs, myself). Don’t have your 16-year-old cousin who’s pretty good at Photoshop do it. Because WHAT you choose doesn’t matter, but the EXECUTION of it does.

To existing business owners: because the name and logo don’t matter, DON’T CHANGE THEM. Unless you have to legally, keep your name the same. There’s almost no good reason to change. And when I see a business, especially a newer business, changing its name and/or logo, ESPECIALLY more than once, I start seriously doubting its longevity. If you’ve had a logo 25+ years, and it’s looking ancient, or is breaking the rules above, then fine, go ahead. I did it with Life Saver. Our old logo broke literally all five of those rules, AND was looking seriously dated, so it had to be done. But even then, an update is better than an entirely new creation.

TL;dr: stop worrying about your company name and logo. No one cares but you. They won’t make or break your business.

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Crippled CEO Blog #007: Fix Your Mental Diet

We all know that eating healthy food is essential to our physical health. We only consume so many calories each day — sometimes too many! — and if we ingest those calories with junk food, with food that not only lacks nutrition but actually has harmful, unhealthy ingredients, then our body will suffer. Our physical health will deteriorate. And as time goes on, the momentum and habits build, and poisoning ourselves with garbage becomes normal. The bar gets lower. And then we earn the consequences: we get fat, we get diabetes, we have low energy, we get heart disease, and so on. We put ourselves on an inevitable track toward destruction, even though we KNOW it’s bad. We know junk food hurts us, and healthy food helps us, but it’s still hard to do.

How much worse would it be if we didn’t even know there were negative ramifications if it wasn’t so deeply ingrained in the public consciousness like the effects of healthy/unhealthy eating?

Because that is precisely what is happening to many of us, and we don’t even realize the damage being done and the danger being flirted with. We don’t know we are on an evitable track.

But it’s not unhealthy food poisoning our physical bodies. It is the unhealthy diet that we are feeding our brains.

Just like food, you can only take in so much information each day. And just like food, the stuff that’s not good for you feels a lot better short-term — talking shit with your friend about somebody, binging something dumb on Netflix, endless YouTube videos of crack heads fighting, your favorite genre on PornHub for two hours longer than “necessary,” hanging out with crappy people discussing crappy stuff, and so on. We all have our own favorite mental junk food we like to indulge in. Ready for this radical honesty? Here’s mine: researching whether celebrities and quasi-celebrities I encounter have ever been photographed/filmed naked, and watching pundits/journalists/experts discuss MMA/UFC news on YouTube. I can also get dragged into an angry debate on Facebook, which is always inherently negative and pointless. Those are probably my three big ones.

Feeding your brain things that are negative/stressful/angry/untrue, etc. have a very real impact on you as a person. But we can get addicted to it, just like junk food, and the terrible impact had on your mind, spirit, and even your character might be even worse than the bad food. And the dumb/silly/pointless things we consume are just wasted, empty calories. Not as terrible, but definitely not helping you.

We know what healthy food is, and what the benefits are, but what constitutes healthy content for your mind and soul? The MOST important source of quality mental calories will probably surprise you. It’s people. Your friends. Making sure the people you are spending your time talking to share interesting ideas, excellent advice, rational thoughts, and positive encouragement is the most essential step to improving your mental diet. Most of what you absorb comes from the people you talk to.

After that, it’s what you probably expect: books/audiobooks, podcasts, YouTube videos, online courses, etc. about the things you want to be better at, including just being a better person. There’s an interesting side effect that occurs, also, when we choose to spend our time consuming content on a productive topic. I always have an audiobook I’m listening to periodically throughout the day, and they tend to be on marketing, business management, entrepreneurship, and so on. Listening to the book, or the podcast, or the video gets my mind engaged on the topic, so not only am I getting the good info that I’m listening to, but that new information is stimulating that area of my mind, mixing with what I already know, resulting in me having great new ideas, sometimes barely related to the audiobook. Books/audiobooks are invaluable because they are an opportunity to be taught one-on-one by an expert, but this side effect is almost even better. James Altucher talks about “idea sex,” where getting new ideas combine with other new ideas for these epiphanies.

All of this is so powerful, but it never happens unless you consciously monitor and work on improving your mental diet, cutting back the junk. And just like with food, a little bit is fine. There’s no harm in me seeing an ad with Celine Dion, and then finding out if she’s ever been naked (she was once, in a French Canadian TV show in 1989), or watching a clip of Luke Thomas discuss the upcoming fight between Conor McGregor and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in January. That, by itself, isn’t a big deal. It’s when the junk becomes what we exclusively consume, with nothing healthy in our diet, that things start to become a problem. Start seeking out the good stuff, and you’ll find the junk stops being so tasty.

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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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Crippled CEO Blog #003: Stop Focusing on Trivial Shit

REALLY? THAT’S what you’re upset about? That thing your mom said? Your decorations for the party? The wrong shoes Amazon sent you? What that person you don’t even really like thinks? What outfit you’re going to wear? Which color your new car should be? How many likes your last post got? The raise your coworker received? Which new phone to get?

Why are you spending the majority of your time and energy thinking, stressing, talking, and worrying about bullshit that really doesn’t matter?

My mom used to always say, “If it won’t matter in 5 years, it doesn’t matter.”

You have a finite amount of mental energy at your disposal. Every gigawatt you spend thinking about something pointless takes away from something important you COULD be thinking about. And thoughts are important. Thoughts become our actions! It’s critical to monitor and police our own thoughts so they only lead to the right kinds of actions. Because if you genuinely believe that you are a person capable of incredible things, and I promise that you are, then thinking about and doing pointless things becomes an ETHICAL decision. If you know you can change the world for the better, if you can improve lives, and instead, you decide to do dwell on the trivial, you are now making an ETHICAL mistake.

And when you get upset or stressed about shit that really doesn’t matter — about that person you don’t like being at the party or how the lady at Starbucks didn’t tell you thank you (or whatever) — your choice to focus on these trivial things is simultaneously a choice to forfeit your gratitude for just how great you have it. Because you really do have it SO great. If you’re reading this on a magical glowing screen, with functioning eye spheres, that you’re holding in a working hand, in a climate-controlled environment, while not starving, your life is amazing. It just is.

I am so utterly convinced that my life is ridiculously spectacular that other people who know me also take it for granted. Think about that: I know my life is so thoroughly incredible SO HARD that the idea projects on to other people who, in turn, believe it and take it for granted as fact. So much so that I get things like, “Well, of course YOU’RE happy — look how good you have it,” and “Must be nice to you.” And the reason this is totally bonkers is because I have cerebral palsy. I can’t walk. I need help bathing and dressing each morning. I need someone to help me wipe my ass. How many people say, “If I ever end up where I need help using the restroom or can’t care for myself, just kill me”? A lot! It’s really common. And even though that’s the exact state I’m living in every single day, one that many would rather DIE than endure, I know beyond any shred of doubt, down to the core of my soul, that my life is undeniably awesome. And because I know it so strongly, the people who know me cannot help but agree. They overlook all the stuff they think would ruin their lives if it were them because I overlook it. Because it doesn’t bother me.

I live a fantastic life because most the time — not always, but often — I avoid thinking about and getting upset about all the shit that really doesn’t matter. Because I need to focus on what’s important, and because I’m too grateful to give even a single fuck.

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Crippled CEO Blog #002: You Are Following Up Wrong

When you follow up with a customer by phone, email, or text, does it look like this?

“Hi, Mrs. Davis. Thank you so much for allowing me to give you a free quote. Let me know if you have any questions I can answer for you. I would really appreciate the opportunity to serve you.”

Obviously, the phone version of this sounds a bit different, but the same idea: have you decided? Do you have any questions? Will you please freaking buy from me now?

That follow-up looks pretty good, right?


Stop doing this. The follow-up is an amazing opportunity and the above is a waste. Don’t get me wrong; this kind of follow-up is 1,000 times better than NO follow-up, but there’s a far superior strategy.

You should be following up to provide value. You are following up to give the customer something new.

How do you do that? I’m glad you asked.

You should be following up by email, phone, text, and phone again… and email again.

The first email should come the same day as the estimate, or the next day at the latest. It needs to provide something useful to the customer, not mentioning the sale at all. Our Life Saver Pool Fence dealers have a Pool Safety Evaluation form they fill out while at the customer’s home and then email to the customer along with a nice message referencing something specific to the visit so they know it is personalized. I also suggest that they put it in an envelope with a business card and a short note and mail it to them. If you sell carpet cleaning, you could email them on avoiding stains in the first place. If you sell home security, you could send a link to a site that provides info on local crimes. If you’re a web designer, you could send them ten ideas on how they can improve their digital presence on their own, separate from the services you are quoting. Whatever your business, email something interesting or useful and do it right after your meeting.

The day after you email, you call. In the first phone call, I suggest to my Life Saver dealers to say that they are calling to let them know that they’ve looked up their closest ISR (or other swim survival training) instructor, with whom they should be BFF’s, they spoke to the instructor, and as a favor, the instructor is willing to offer XYZ discount/free lesson/extra thing/whatever that they give all their customers, and here is their phone number. If they don’t answer, this is left in a voice mail. And I stress to the dealers to not even bring up the pool fence until they mention it. Again, you’re calling to give something of value. To use the home security example from earlier, you could be calling to give them info on a local self-defense course that gives free lessons to all your customers. It’s not hard to come up with ideas for your business. If you need help, let me know.

A day or two later, you are going to text them. If you’re selling pool safety fence, first Google “free CPR classes in [city name]”. You’ll find a bunch. Send a text saying you don’t know if all the adults and teenagers in the house know CPR, but here is info for a free class coming up soon nearby. Even better, I recommend every Life Saver dealer becomes a certified CPR instructor and hosts a free class once a month or every other month for all their customers and prospective customers. Our home security example could text a link to a YouTube video on personal safety tips or a link to a coupon for a taser and night vision goggles (which is what one special forces soldier recommends having for home defense). The idea is still the same: you are providing value. You are NOT asking about the sale. If they ask/have questions, definitely answer. But don’t bring it up.

A day or two later, you’re going to call again to follow-up and discuss everything you’ve provided. For my Life Saver dealers, that includes the estimate, the evaluation form, the CPR class info. Now you ask if they have any questions. Not just on the quote, but everything you have sent.

And then you just keep this going. For a Life Saver, the next email could have the Pool Safety Guide ebook from attached. The next could be a blog we posted. After that, they could forward them our weekly newsletter. And then text them something you/we shared on Facebook. You keep following up, as you already know to do, but every time you provide something of value.

THAT is the right way to follow-up with a customer. Do this, and watch your close rate double.

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Crippled CEO Blog #001: The Bad Decision Loop

You get fired from your job. Your mom dies. You get dumped. You don’t get the sale. Your offer is rejected. You get a DUI. You think your spouse is cheating on you. You find out you have cancer.

There is a vicious cycle, a terrible downward spiral that far too many people are caught in at this very moment. You might be one of them.

Something terrible happens to you. Something like the list above. You’re hurt, crushed, disappointed, saddened, angry, devastated, or some combination therein. And because this negative thing has happened, you are now required to DO something. Choose something. Decide something. Action is necessary. And because this awful thing is consuming all of our thoughts, down to our core, we want to react NOW.

Scientific studies (and our own anecdotal experiences) tell us that we literally lose IQ points when we are in a negative mood — being sad, angry, disappointed, etc. makes us dumber, by as much as 50%!

We end up in this situation where we need to decide what to do after this awful thing has happened to us, we feel compelled to act immediately, but our minds are functioning at partial capacity. The path forward is challenging, uncertain, and requires us to be at our very best, but we are so far from it. What often happens next is a decision is made, with our incapacitated mind, and we do the wrong thing. We react incorrectly. And then the consequence from that makes us even more upset, cripples our ability to find intelligent, creative, thoughtful solutions, we do something dumb yet again, and the cycle continues. And it can continue for YEARS.

But it doesn’t have to. This entire downward spiral can be avoided by doing one simple thing that is tremendously easy to say, but far more difficult to do.

Wait. And do nothing.

It is absolutely imperative that you avoid making important decisions or reacting to a scenario when you are in this corrupt state of mind. You’re not as smart. You’re not as creative. You’re going to miss solutions that will be obvious later when you’ve had a chance to calm down, sleep, put some time between you and the problem, and improve your mental state.

Don’t skip over that sleep step, either. There’s a reason people suggest “sleeping on it.” Your brain does a fantastic job of coming up with good solutions while you’re sleeping. Sleeping also serves as a natural emotional reset, giving you back some of the IQ points lost by being upset.

So, that’s the lesson here: do everything possible to avoid making important decisions or taking new action when you’re mad or upset, when you are literally 20-50% dumber than normal. In most cases, the consequence for waiting won’t be as catastrophic as the fallout from doing the wrong thing. Give yourself time to get your mind as positive as possible, sleep on it, and then you’ll see the ideas and solutions start to come to you.

And then maybe you’ll realize it’s not so bad after all.

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