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Are there best practices and techniques to achieve disproportionate results from our efforts?
Why do some people consistently achieve more than others? Is it luck, hard work or are there key skills to master?
We live in a time when it’s possible to achieve anything we put our minds to. There are no longer any barriers to success. We can publish books, make movies, record music CDs, start businesses, hold conferences, travel the world and anything else we can imagine. The future is unlimited, for those with the right skills and mindset.
There are short cuts to massive results if people are creative enough and put in focused effort on high leverage activities. I call these high leverage shortcuts BIG IDEAS, compared to small activities that are a daily GRIND without much return on investment.
For example, raising money on a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter is a Big Idea. You can get paid in advance to create a product even before you spend any money on developing it. There are countless examples of people raising tens of thousands of dollars for everything from ebooks to custom made watches.
Identifying successful big ideas and applying those best practices to our own businesses and careers can help us achieve disproportionate results. New business practices like growth hacking, lean startups and creative publicity stunts all offer valuable lessons that we can study and learn from.
Step one of the ActionMBA is to identify the key skills to learn and find examples of people that have successfully achieved Big Ideas. This page is the starting point for collecting links to good articles, books and interviews that can help leverage our energy. The ActionMBA is about doing things, not just studying, so it’s important to take action.
This is not only about creating successful businesses. It’s essential to strive for projects that create a positive impact on the world. There are far too many smart and talented people working on socially useless businesses. We have the power to change the world. Let’s make sure that we maximize our impact.
General Skills to Master
- Unleashing the IdeaVirus (FastCompany) Seth Godin’s summary of is free viral ebook. This is a great primer on how the ability to make ideas spread has become the primary source of wealth.
- How to influence people with your ideas. (HBR)
- The Secret To Getting Picked
- 8 Steps to Getting What You Want… Without Formal Credentials (Four Hour Work Week)
- No rules in this game (Derek Sivers) Examples of people who achieve big results by not following rules.
- The 5 Common Characteristics of Ideas That Spread (99u.com)
- 13 Critically Important Lessons from Over 50 Growth Hackers (KissMetrics)
- Create a Million Dollar Business in a Weekend
- How Udemy Got to a $6 Million Growth Rate (Mixergy) Founder of GrowthHacker Conference.
0 to 1.4 million visitors in 6 Months- A lesson in Building Organic Traffic (SearchEngineWatch)
Charlie Hoehn of Recession Proof Grad Worked with Tim Ferris, Ramit Sethi, Seth Godin. Used delicious bookmarks to approach Ramit.
PersonalMBA – Newsjacked Seth Godin’s post to get worldwide attention
- Key Strategies to acquire 100,000 customers with no money (Noah Kagan on Quora)
- Viral growth through piggy backing – Leveraging other channels (PlatformJunkie)
- How Groupon solved the Critical Mass Problem (Platform Junkie)
- GrowthHacker.TV (Interviews with startups revealing their growth secrets)
- Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking (QuickSprout) Massive resource by a content marketing superstar.
- Idea Modelling for Big Ideas Great blueprint for evaluating ideas.
- Tim Ferris
- Derek Halpern of Social Triggers.com
- Entrepreneur on Fire
- Laura Roeder
- Amy Porterfield
- Marie Forleo
- Laura Roeder
Simple Ideas That Became Big
- 1000AwesomeThings Simple positive observations turned into two book deals
- How to Invest $5 Business school project (reframing the question)
- TinyBuddha Daily Buddhist quotes led to a book deal
- TheStartupDaily Short highlights of business books led to 9000 subscribers in a short time. Now stopped but a good example of less is more.
- GapingVoid Back of business card art led to hugely successful blog and best-selling books.
- An Invocation for Beginnings (ZeFrank) Motivational video with 600,000 views. Used to market a poster.
- OneWeekJob.com Sean Aiken worked 52 jobs in 52 weeks.
- The Beauty Inside Brilliant viral online project to promote Intel and Toshiba while allowing viewers to play roles in an episodic online story.
Great stories spread. Everyone needs to tell better stories.
The Five Beats of Successful Storytelling & How They Can Help You Land Your Next Job (99u.com – Behance) Here is a good article outlining five key steps in story telling to market yourself.
- How to disrupt Craiglist. (Platformed.info) Great post on how AirBnB leveraged Craiglist to grow.
- Own the RaceCourse
- Viral’s secret formula (Jonah Berg)
- Jonah’s Interview with Mitch Joel (Jonah is a rising business author.)
- Pricing for Startups (WSJ)
- Reframing the problems with “Freemium” by charging the marketing department
- $1,000,000 per month with a 6 pack ab product.
- 7000 Subscribers with 1 Video (ThinkTraffic)
- Guest-posting Strategy (Maneesh Sethi on ThinkTraffic)
- Hacking Elance: How I Made Over $20,000 in 4 Weeks Doing Web Design (Lifehack.org) Good article on how to sell high end services.
- 5 Ways to Get Your Infographic to Go Viral (QuickSprout)
- The Easy Way to Learn Online Marketing (QuickSprout)
- Low Hanging Fruit of Social Media (QuickSprout)
- Get Social Media Shares (Mixergy)
10 Steps to Gamifying Your Next Project (Peter Diamandis)
How to Pitch a Guest Post (Location180.com)
- Lean Content Strategy for Businesses (StartupLessonsLearned.com) A strategy approached to researching and testing content that drives results.
- HireJil.com Website traffic gamification application. Do daily tasks to earn points and grow your business.
- On Page SEO Guide (SupremacySEO.com)
- SEO strategies (QuickSprout)
- Beginner’s Guide to SEO (SEO Moz)
- The Advanced Guide to SEO (Quick Sprout)
- SEO – What’s Working Now (SmartPassiveIncome)
- SEO Link Building (Source-Wave)
- Massive article on SEO link building. (MakeMoneyNinja.com)
- The Advanced Guide to Link Building (QuickSprout.com)
- How to Rank: 25 Step SEO Master Blueprint (MOZ.com)
- LinkedGroups (ProBlogger)
- Lewis Howes for Linkedin (SmartPassiveIncome)
- Linkedin Groups (Problogger)
- How to get more Facebook Fans (AmyPorterField.com)
- How to Keep a Forum Extremely Active (SmartPassiveIncome.com)
One Off Marketing Projects
- Startups This is How Design Works
- Unless I hear differently (Great idea for a one-off marketing project.)
- #FitchtheHomeless (Popular video targeting Abercrombie and Fitch’s elitist focus. Great guerilla activism.
- HackDesign.org – Brilliant curated resource.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Anti-Networking: 13 Tools & Articles for Building Real Relationships (LiveYourLegend.net) A great list of articles on how to connect with people.
- How to get the attention of your favorite expert (IwillTeachYoutoBeRich.com)
- FaceWatch Raised $360,000 on IndieGogo. Had a social cause.
- Non-profit guide to crowdfunding
- What successful Kickstarter campaigns have in common.
- Hacking Kickstarter (Four Hour Work Week)
- Art Space Tokyo Kickstarter Campaign (CraigMod.com) Great write up of a successful crowdfunded project.
- CrowdHoster.com – Free opensource crowdfunding platform.
- Soylent – Million dollar crowdfunding succeess on CrowdHoster.com
- 5 Secrets to Unlock Crowd Funding (Peter Diamandis)
- 6 Steps to a Successful Online Fundraising Campaign (WeDid.it)
- 7 Fundamentals of a Killer Kickstarter Campaign (Peter Diamandis)
BOOK PUBLISHING (INCLUDING KINDLE)
- How to Make $1,000,000 selling Ebooks.
- 21 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing (CopyBlogger.com) Great post by James Altucher. Covers platform building as well.
- Great Book Marketing Contest (FearfulAdventurer.com)
- The Right (and Wrong) Way to Market A Book
- 7 self publishing gems from Nathan Barry
- How to Make a Professional Book Cover (CharlieHoehn.com)
- How I Got to Be an Illustrator at Google, with No Qualifications
- How to Play Guitar (Four Hour Work Week
- Hacking Higher Education (PersonalMBA.com)
- MIT Open University – Free University!
- Khan Academy more than 300 free educational videos
- Designing Your Practical Masters Degree: 12 Apprenticeships with 12 Businesses in 12 Months
How to sell without selling your soul. (LateralAction.com)
Job Search Strategies
- Looking for work (Chris Brogan)
Evernote – Keeping a Research Database (Josh Kaufman)
Great Social Causes
- Charity Water
- Antifragile – Good overview of Nassim Taleb’s latest book on the LifestyleBusinessPodcast.
- Antifragile Book Notes – Very comprehensive notes on the book on (FrontierLivin)
- The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?
- The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On Jonah Berger
Big Idea FrameWork
Another key component of this, is developing a framework to evaluate ideas and systematically question assumptions. Old assumptions hold us back, we need a check list to help us evaluate if our beliefs are still accurate in this new economy. For example, do we really need to work for 40 years to save enough money to retire and follow our dreams, or can we do them now? Is blogging the best way to build an audience? Is university the best place to gain skills to succeed in the Idea Economy?
- Purpose. Discover the real goal or purpose. (If making an online income is the primary goal, then starting a blog is probably not the best first course of action.) Why do we want to achieve that goal? Very often, we assume we want the goal when we really want other things. i.e. We may think we want lots of money, when we really just want the freedom and opportunities that money offers.
- Assumptions. What are our assumptions behind this idea? Are they accurate? Are there examples of people who have broken the rules and succeeded? What would it look like to really break the rules?
- Hacks. What are possible short cuts or big ideas to achieve massive results? (It would be great if we could coin our own term for focusing on the highest value added activities.) These are often viewed as publicity stunts, but achieving disproportionate results needn’t be looked at negatively.
- Phases. Break up action items into clear steps. What activities are: critical, not necessary and can be outsourced? What is the least we can do to make progress now?
- Relentlessly execute. It’s essential to have a process to deliver results. The last 10% of a project can be 40% of the work. Will skipping the the last 10% significantly affect the quality of outcomes? If not, get it out of the door faster. Productivity and motivation are big factors here.
- Analyze. Are our efforts achieving the desired results?
Here is a modified design brief that might suit our purpose better.
- Profile. What is the idea? Why does it matter?
Context. What is happening in the world that makes the idea relevant and compelling.
Positioning. What is similar to the idea? What projects or businesses have a similar purpose?
Audience. Who are we trying to reach? What do they value? Can we create a sample persona to better articulate our message?
Brand Personality. How does our audience perceive the idea and us? How do we come across?
Current Situation. Why is this idea needed in the world?
Budget. What’s it going to cost in time and/or money to do this?
Schedule of development. Deadlines for different phases of the project.
Deliverables. What do we make? Website, social media accounts, landing pages?
Technical and practical requirements. What do we need to make the project happen?
Marketing and Promotion. How do we get the word out?
Is it a Big Idea? Is there a more effective way to reach the end goal?