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Background Information

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


Lean Startup

Launch Strategies

  • Tim Ferris
  • Derek Halpern of Social
  • 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.
  • 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.

Story Telling

Great stories spread. Everyone needs to tell better stories.

The Five Beats of Successful Storytelling & How They Can Help You Land Your Next Job ( – Behance) Here is a good article outlining five key steps in story telling to market yourself.


Network Effects



10 Steps to Gamifying Your Next Project (Peter Diamandis)

Guest Posting

How to Pitch a Guest Post (

Landing Pages

Content Marketing

  • Lean Content Strategy for Businesses ( A strategy approached to researching and testing content that drives results.
  • Website traffic gamification application. Do daily tasks to earn points and grow your business.



A/B Testing





One Off Marketing Projects




  • Wikipedia


  • Car2Go
  • AirBnB






Organizing Conferences


How to sell without selling your soul. (

Job Search Strategies


Evernote – Keeping a Research Database (Josh Kaufman)


Great Social Causes



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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. Analyze. Are our efforts achieving the desired results?
  7. Adjust. 

Here is a modified design brief that might suit our purpose better.

  1. Profile. What is the idea? Why does it matter?
  2. Context. What is happening in the world that makes the idea relevant and compelling.

  3. Positioning. What is similar to the idea? What projects or businesses have a similar purpose?

  4. Audience. Who are we trying to reach? What do they value? Can we create a sample persona to better articulate our message?

  5. Brand Personality. How does our audience perceive the idea and us? How do we come across?

  6. Current Situation. Why is this idea needed in the world?

  7. Budget. What’s it going to cost in time and/or money to do this?

  8. Schedule of development. Deadlines for different phases of the project.

  9. Deliverables. What do we make? Website, social media accounts, landing pages?

  10. Technical and practical requirements. What do we need to make the project happen?

  11. Marketing and Promotion. How do we get the word out?

  12. Is it a Big Idea? Is there a more effective way to reach the end goal?


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