CEO-ing Your Business: The 3 Metrics that Matter (FS212)

CEO-ing Your Business: The 3 Metrics that Matter (FS212)

In the kinds of very small businesses we talk about at Fizzle, with teams of fewer than 5 people, many with just one person, very little of what we do on a day-to-day is CEO-type stuff.

Most of what we do is run around wearing one of dozens of different hats. Marketing, product development, finance, team building, and on and on.

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In a bigger business, a CEO would care about all these things, but they wouldn’t be his or her primary focus. A CEO’s main job in a bigger company should be to own the company’s vision and convince everyone possible of why they should support that vision. Customers, investors, employees, everybody.

Beyond that, a CEO is responsible for making sure the company’s efforts are driving progress toward that vision, and that the business has the resources it needs to succeed (skills, talent, money).

But again, in a tiny business, as we’ve talked about a lot recently, you have to wear a bunch of hats. You have to do the high level CEO stuff, along with a million other things.

And it’s easy to focus so much on DOING the work, that you lose sight of the bigger picture.

So, how do you know if things are going well? How do you assure your CEO self that your “worker bee” selves are doing a good job, in the precious little time you have each month to play CEO?

Why Metrics Matter

This is why metrics can matter so much. By metrics, we simply mean taking measurements of different aspects of your business and monitoring them on a regular basis.

In today’s episode of The Fizzle Show we explain how to play CEO in your business, and the metrics you should follow to keep tabs on everything.

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But first, we should also mention that the metrics that matter will change over time as your business grows.

When you’re just starting out, before you’ve built a product, you should be 100% focused on identifying a need or desire in the marketplace, and on finding evidence that the need is worth trying to fill.

Then, when you get to working on your product, you should care most about: 1) building a product quickly and cheaply (the minimum viable product concept), and 2) growing a following / building buzz.

Finally, after you’ve launched a product, that’s where many of these metrics will come in. At this stage, your job is to make sure 1) your marketing is reaching customers and converting them to customers, and that 2) your product is serving your customers, making them happy, and converting that value into revenue for your business.

Metrics and the Marketing Funnel

So, what should you measure as a business? What report should you provide your CEO self so you can know how the business is doing?

The marketing funnel gives us some excellent guidance. A marketing funnel is simply a model of the theoretical journey a customer takes from learning about your business to purchasing your product and beyond.

One excellent marketing funnel based metrics model (say that three times fast) is Dave McLure’s Product Marketing for Pirates: AARRR! presentation. Dave’s model breaks the funnel into these 5 measurements of user behavior:

  • A: Acquisition – where / what channels do users come from?
  • A: Activation – what % have a “happy” initial experience?
  • R: Retention – do they come back & re-visit over time?
  • R: Referral – do they like it enough to tell their friends?
  • R: Revenue – can you monetize any of this behavior?

Our system at Fizzle (funnel metrics)

Internally on the Fizzle team, we use a similar model, adapted for our specific business. Every month we update a spreadsheet. We do this manually and it takes maybe 90 minutes. I actually like the ritual of doing this manually because it gives me a chance to pay attention to each number.

We’re making our spreadsheet template available to you. Enter your email below and we’ll send it right to you.

Download The Simple CEO Metrics Spreadsheet

This will help you run your business intelligently and find essential insights along the way.

The 3 Metrics That Matter (if you only look at three, use these)

If I had to limit the metrics I tracked to just three, they would include some version of the following:

  • Reach (audience growth): how many people are we reaching (for content-based marketing) through our website, podcasts, social media, etc?
  • Signups (conversions): how many of the people we’re reaching are converting into paying customers?
  • Customer LTV (lifetime value): how much revenue do we earn from the average customer over his or her lifetime? For subscription businesses, this is a function of churn and price. For other businesses, it’s a factor of price and number of products sold.

The beauty of these three metrics is, they form the basis of a calculation that can tell us how much revenue we’re generating for a given timeframe. 10,000 people (reach) X 10% conversion (signups) X $10 (customer LTV) = 10,000 in revenue generated for that period.

To double revenue, you can focus on any one number, or on all three at once. Doubling your reach, doubling your conversion rate, or doubling your customer lifetime value would each double your revenue. Or, increase each by a smaller amount and still reach your goal.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/ceoing-your-business
via My Media Pal NYC

The Inception of a Wildly Successful Lifestyle Business (FS210)

The Inception of a Wildly Successful Lifestyle Business (FS210)

I’d venture to say that most of us, when we think about a “successful business” we’d want to create, it will look like what is known as a lifestyle business.

These are the kinds of businesses where your business serves your life, not the other way around.

And with the tools of the internet and extremely affordable training like Fizzle’s Courses, this kind of business has become a real, viable approach to revenue earning and wealth creation.

BUT — and this is a big but here — it’s still a difficult path.

Becoming a doctor is a viable path for you as well, but we all know it ain’t easy. You don’t just “fall into” becoming a doctor.

Now, though it’s true that many people really have just “fallen into” success of many shapes and sizes online, it’s not a smart strategy to count on it.

Just like becoming a doctor or a skydiving instructor (speaking of “falling in!”), it makes sense with an online business to understand what are the elements necessary for success, what expectations are intelligent to have and how success happens.

It’s that last one we want to dive into today. How does success in lifestyle business actually happen?

What are the steps and stages? What are the red flags to watch for? What are the common mistakes and the truly important things?

So, on the show today we have two very special guests — John and Dana Shultz from Minimalist Baker.

They’re a married couple who have found enormous success running a blog about how to cook “simple, delicious recipes that require 10 ingredients or less, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare.”

John and Dana are close friends of Fizzle. In fact, they teach a course within Fizzle called Exactly How to Build a Great Food Blog.

Because they’re close friends I’m hoping we get a really juicy interview with them, full of the stuff that most people are too afraid to share.

So, please enjoy this interview with founders of a truly successful lifestyle business. It’s our hope that you’ll find amazing insight here to help you as you develop your own path to success.

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Chase: Okay so real quick, how long has Minimalist Baker been around? What are we talking here?

Dana:June of 2012 was our first month.

Chase:All right, so 14 years. That’s a long time for a business. Wait 2012 was how long ago, wait 4 years ago?

Dana:We’re all very old.

John:Coming up on 5.

Chase:Coming up on 5 years. Okay. Coming up on 5 years. Now here’s my first question for you guys. We’re going to dive right in. Are you okay with that?

John:Lets do it.

Chase:Lets do it. I want to know, when did you quit your day jobs to pursue this full time and if you can, like take me back. Was there a conversation? Was there like discussion beforehand, like should we do this or what? I want to know.

Corbett:Jokes on you they didn’t have day jobs.

John:Exactly.

Dana:We’re broke.

John:Yeah.

Chase:Go for it, John!

John:I would like it if we didn’t have any of those conversations, if we just jumped in.

Chase:Yeah, just dived in, yeah.

But what was it like really?

John:Well I feel like the first discloser that we had another site before this one. And so, there were probably 2 years leading up to Minimalist Baker. That was more of just a hobby site.

Dana:It was just a, like basically a personal blog. I talked about what we did and occasionally I would share a recipe, or heres a workout that I did. So it didn’t really have any focus. It was just like, hey this diary?

Chase:Is this blog still around?

Dana:No it’s no longer online so. Don’t … [crosstalk 00:01:18]

Chase:Stripes! I’m really liking stripes these days!

Dana:They’re like really in season. So happy!

Chase:Here’s my fuzzy socks. I want to write about my fuzzy socks.

Dana:Have you guys ever tried planks? They’re like really hard.

Chase:That’s too true! You did that! You did that!

Dana:I did! I said that!

Chase:Hey. Now hold on. I think that’s actually a big point. I don’t know. I’m also from that era where we just started about blogs. We just could start blogs and so we did. And it was like, it seemed like people were being successful, but I’m air quoting successful there by just like writing about whatever and I was like, I don’t know. I was 25 or something like that maybe. And I just started, I had a blog called Write to Mean. Which was just like, I don’t know whatever I feel like. Right? And then it was, the things that I was writing about, fatherhood, that people would really start to click on. And then I started Father Enterprise, which was like my first, Hey I have a thesis with this blog!

Is that similar to how Minimalist Bakers started? Were the recipes themselves getting more traction? Or, if not, what did lead you towards lets do an actual website about food stuff?

John:I think the first thing that happened was a number of conversations and the point in life where we were getting. Dana actually came up with the idea of Minimalist Baker, but that’s kind of the end of the story. Getting into that we [crosstalk 00:02:49]

Chase:What do you mean by, that’s the end of the story?

John:Well that’s like, well that’s the beginning of Minimalist Baker. But getting there, to the point that we started was a whole transition. Probably goes back to when I begrudgingly, not begrudgingly. I chose to go to law school. Stupidest idea ever. Just a side note for listeners, do not go to law school. Oh my God. The most expensive way to figure out you don’t want to be a lawyer. Still so much anger.

I was in law school. I knew pretty quickly I didn’t want to be a lawyer, but we were living in a town where Dana was having trouble getting a job, even though she had a good degree in journalism. At the time when newspapers were shutting down.

Chase:Really so college graduates, both of you. And then you were heading off into law school, John. And you had your degree in journalism. Okay got it. Got it. Keep going. Keep going. She had a degree in journalism [crosstalk 00:03:44]

John:Yeah. I guess it goes even back further. So there was a point in our life when we just realized we didn’t know what we were doing. Or we didn’t know why we were doing what we were doing. And part of that even goes back to when we moved to go law school, we left Portland the first time. It was a terrible ride. We were driving this U-Haul truck of stuff we got from IKEA because IKEA was a luxury compared to [crosstalk 00:04:12]

Dana:Albertson, Kansas or whatever.

Chase:You actually paid to move IKEA stuff across the country.

Dana:Yeah, which as we know is not good quality.

John:I guess that shows you where we were in life.

Chase:Yeah yeah, and by the way, I still do that. So I don’t know. We just bought IKEA lamps yesterday.

John:Oh, I’m all for IKEA.

Chase:Okay thank you! I was feeling a little bit attacked in that. So you were moving.

John:We were moving and it was just terrible. We don’t even talk about this trip very often because it still makes us sick to our stomach.

Dana:I would say that’s the trip John became a man and I lost 10 pounds. From anxiety, basically.

John:It was so bad.

Chase:So hold on, was there anything about why this trip was so difficult, that is some metaphorical way reflects on what your guys strategy or confusion about what you were doing in Minimalist Baker or anything online or career in general? Is there some sort of crossover there?

John:Yeah. I mean I think that’s kind of the joke of the IKEA stuff in the back of this truck. Driving, risking our lives to get this crappy furniture to Kansas.

Dana:Well and to elaborate, it was like the worst ice and snow storm of I don’t know, the last decade or something.

Chase:Yeah.

Dana:And so we really were risking our lives because at one point we were driving on 2 inches of ice. And then we got stranded in Wyoming for 3 days. So and we were towing our car. And we had no chains.

Chase:Nobody told you not to drive across country in January.

John:Apparently not.

Chase:I have one of those trips myself. Yeah from California through the passes and the whole. I’m like, holy crap. It’s harrowing!

John:But we definitely got to that part and we got to the end of it and were like, why did we do that.

Chase:And that was coming to Portland?

John:Going to Kansas to go to law school.

Chase:Okay. Going back to Kansas cause John has decided I’m going to be a lawyer. Still just so upset.

John:So angry.

Chase:So angry. Okay! So this is the early days of Criminalist Baker. This is the scene that Minimalist Baker starts growing out of. Tell me about the moment that you guys decide, at this time it sounds like Minimalist Baker is a thing yet. Is that correct?

John:No. Okay.

Dana:No.

Chase:When does it get like, its inception?

Dana:Well, fast forward a little bit. I had my lifestyle blog during that move and I continued to have it into Johns law school experience. And I had found a couple of side jobs, like being a barista and cleaning houses and that’s, basically we were throwing pennies at a mountain of debt. And we were also really, not happy. John decided he was going to finish law school, but knew he didn’t want to do it. So that was a huge conversation. And I was you know working on this blog that I really enjoyed even though I would get like two comments a day, or three comments there and or our traffic was really low. We weren’t monitoring it or anything. But people did start to resonate more, to answer your question, with the recipes and so that kind of, I feel like in a lot of ways guided where we went with Minimalist Baker.

And so through a series of events, we ended up moving back to our hometown of Wichita, Kansas and[crosstalk 00:07:23]

John:Well, that’s where it cuts in again with all this IKEA crap. We had this really big New Years in Wichita. And that was the like, I don’t want to be a lawyer, you don’t want to be a [crosstalk 00:07:31]

Chase:Hold on. Hold on. I got to know, where are we New Years Eve, a little apartment in Wichita?

John:To pica, Kansas.

Chase:To pica, Kansas. Mom and dads house or something? Or

John:No this is just bad, bad place. To be.

Chase:And this is like, 2011 or?

Dana:Yeah.

John:It was 2011.

Chase:And you are like, I don’t want to be a lawyer.

John:Yeah.

Chase:That sounds like a lot of feelings.

John:Yeah for sure. It’s a lot of money to be spending. [crosstalk 00:07:58]

Chase:If you had to name the feeling, what was it?

John:I don’t know if it was feeling, just like back against the wall.

Chase:Back against the wall.

John:I had no other options. I def don’t want to do this. I think I would be okay at it but I hate it.

Corbett:But then also was there some relief, like getting that out?

John:I think so.

Chase:Yeah.

Dana:Yeah we were both just not, basically the whole talk was, we don’t like anything about our life right now. And we want to change everything about or life right now. And also realizing we had just like mindlessly bought this stuff and moved here and done all these things, and we weren’t happy. And so we just decided, okay, well we need to start making better decisions and stop reacting to life. We need to stop reacting and start making a plan. And so we were like, what are the things that are going to make us happy? And so John was like, well I don’t want to be a lawyer. And we were like, we’ve never left the country. We want to travel more. And I was pretty set on just trying to make us more money, so I was like, well I’m going to get this other job or something. And he’s like, well what do you really want to do? What’s going to going to make you happy. And I was like, well I really like this blogging thing but it’s not making us any money. And so, I feel like that was actually a very pivotal moment because John was like, well what can we do right now to invest in that. And so we ended up selling all of our furniture that we bought [crosstalk 00:09:18]

Chase:The IKEA furniture?

John:The IKEA furniture. The beloved IKEA furniture. And that is the symbolic part. So then we go from having all of this crappy, I mean it wasn’t that bad, it was just like unnecessary. We had this cube system that [crosstalk 00:09:27]

Dana:We had a leather couch that John didn’t even fit on, like when he laid [crosstalk 00:09:37]

John:It hurt! It hurt to sit on. Like it wasn’t a comfortable thing.

Corbett:Oh the frugal poking.

Chase:Clutch in the moment. In the pocket, comes up with a name for IKEA furniture and absolutely nails it. If there’s such a thing as a podcast award that moment deserves it. And that man should get that tattoo.

Corbett:Frugal poker.

Chase:Okay. So this is where the metaphor of the IKEA furniture, it kind of symbolizes where you thought you were going.

John:Yeah, not only symbolizes, we actually sold our couch for about 5/6 hundred bucks. And a couple of other pieces of furniture. And we literally walked downtown to the local camera shop and bought Dana her first good digital camera. So there was like a real, yeah we didn’t have a couch but now I have this digital camera. We are really going to do this. We’re going to start moving in this direction.

Corbett:And was this for the lifestyle blog? Or

Dana:Yeah. Because Minimalist Baker was yet to come.

Corbett:Yep. And so you bought a camera because you wanted to pursue taking better food photography.

Dana:Yeah I knew my photos weren’t [crosstalk 00:10:44]

John:And photography in general.

Chase:And this is symbolic because I would say so much of this symbol of Minimalist Baker, so much of what makes it such a great site is the photography itself. Obviously coming up with all of the ideas and the recipes and all of this stuff. But it preaches so loudly through the photography itself, it almost becomes like aspirational when you see these dishes put out on the plate. Right? And so this idea that you guys sold frugal poking and got your first camera. Early days. How old were you then. Do you remember?

Dana:Like 24.

Chase:24, which is like the beginning of, I’m supposed to know where I’m going.

John:Yeah.

Chase:And you guys are going like back to square 1 in some ways, with just like a, with John asking the question, well what do you really want to do.

Dana:Right.

Chase:Right? So much of that to me sounds so relatable to so many couples, thinking things through. And just like you said, I hate so much about our life right now. There’s like nothing I love about it.

Dana:Yeah literally nothing.

Chase:You know. I don’t know. That is the scene from which Minimalist Baker, I don’t know, that seems like the backdrop where after a little while the idea of Minimalist Baker comes up. I mean these are the places where business ideas come from in our lives. I mean Corbet, when you did your travel around, you were blogging as Corbet Barr, right?

Corbett:Yeah similar. I had a little bit more of a focus. I wasn’t writing any post about planking.

Dana:Its a shame.

John:Regrettably.

Dana:I would so love to see you plank.

Corbett:But, yeah similar thing I think. It was like I knew that blogging was fun, but it felt like the direction I was headed wasn’t leading anywhere specific.

Dana:Right.

Corbett:Right.

Chase:By the way, I’m just.

John:There it is. There it is.

Chase:Pouring Corbet a little more wine berceuse he was out, and just to let you know, the scene here is Portland. And its sunny. It’s the first like sunny Friday afternoon.

Dana:I stared into the sun today and never felt happier.

John:I laid in the sun in my office like a cat, just like stretched out and stuff.

Corbett:By sunny, I’d say we’ve got about 70% cloud coverage but there’s some sun.

Dana:Yeah. I saw the sun today.

Chase:Corbet, you can take that negative attitude somewhere else.

Corbett:Its not negative, I’m just putting the context for people outside of Portland.

Chase:Okay. So. Back to this story at hand. I want to fast forward when we’re deciding to work on Minimalist Baker. Was there a conversation there? Was that like a failry easy, like, I want to put this together and see if that can go. Or was it like, I’m stopping this lifestyle blog, stopping the Dana dot biz blog and I’m doing Minimalist Baker. What was that decision like.

Dana:Wait what?

Corbett:Dana Dot Info?

Dana:That’s to come.

Well I had continued with my lifestyle blog and then we moved on to Wichita and John wrapped up law school and I had.

John:Well. I’m not to take the reigns of this. But I think it’s more for.

Dana:Well you’re a man speaking so.

Chase:Hold on Dana, tell us what you really felt.

John:Yeah yeah.

Chase:Keep going, keep going.

John:Well she was happy but

Chase:No no! This is not going to devolve into a bunch of white people feeling guilty about what some man said. Keep going keep going.

John:No I think it’s interesting because there is a point when we started Minimalist Baker and in hindsight you can look back and see all these little steps we took and it obviously makes sense. But at the time we were just trying to kind of figure out what we were doing and seeing what was next. And so Dana kept doing her personal blog at the time, and she kept getting better at photography. Kept doing more recipes. We saw those were working better. And she ended up getting offered a job in Wichita working at a health and wellness tech site. I think it was largely because she had this blog, she was just putting it out there and kind of seeing what stuck. And so that’s what brought us to Wichita and it was kind of at that point, she’s working at this website so she’s getting a little more experience there. I’ve always been kind of messing around with websites and then comes Criminalist baker.

Dana:Yeah.

Chase:Okay. Tell me more. Like tell me more about this moment, this time in your life. You know where Minimalist Baker went after this. You know how far you’ve come from there. What do you see there, in these early days that ended up being important throughout all the phases.

Corbett:Yeah like which decisions were really important at that time?

Dana:I just, I feel like we started making really unconventional decisions. Like the only thing that ever mattered in any apartment that we were ever going to live in again was, does it have good light? Because otherwise, it’s not working for me. And so like, we found this apartment that was working for us. And I found, you know, I had this job where I was also doing photography and writing and that was building into my skill set.

Corbett:And the light was because of the photos?

Dana:The photos.

Corbett:And you still take mostly natural light photos?

Dana:Like 99.9%. Only when I absolutely have to have to.

And so basically when I was working at this website, I still had my lifestyle blog and then the idea for Minimalist Baker became, I don’t know exactly where it came from. But we.

John:Well, we’ve been living more simply and intentionally. And so the minimalist part is kind of a weird part that can almost be a part of but not. Like I don’t know. We just felt like we were trying to be more intentional and think through our life. And

Dana:And also just I’m a lazy cook and so that was the whole crux of the thing. I would look at recipes online and think, oh my gosh that looks great. But I’m never going to make that. Because it’s this, and too long and too complicated and I don’t know what cardamom is.

And so it really was just, I wanted to make the blog that I would actually cook from because I didn’t think it existed. And I think that’s a really good lesson, hopefully listeners who, like we do get a lot of people asking us questions like, oh I just cannot find my niche, you know. Because everybody says you really have to find your topic and your thing that you’re an expert on. And I don’t even know if I would say that I was an expert on that yet. I just knew that I saw an opportunity and I had an extreme interest in it. And I was really really passionate about cooking. And I was getting better at photography.

And so I just told John, I have this idea for a website called Minimalist Baker. It would be only recipes and it would be just this, like ten ingredients, 30 minutes, one bowl. That would be the focus. Because as we were seeing with my previous blog, if you talk about anything into the void, no one listens. Like I’m just talking about everything, so that was one of the hugest lessons that we learned from the first blog. You cannot just shout and talk about everything, like sure I’m an interesting person. I have much more interests than just vegan cheesecake. But unless you focus then nobody cares.

John:Which was kind of hard because at the time, there were plenty, I mean, there still are, personal lifestyle bloggers that talk about everything. But they’re like, they’re almost legacy at this point.

Chase:They are! Right! They’re legacy, literally.

John:They started way before everyone else.

Chase:Name somebody who started recently and got big, talking about everything. They don’t kind of explicitly call out, here’s what I talk about. Like Corbet always says, once you call out what you are about, you now have freedom to talk about whatever you want. But because I know where to place you in my mind. I think that’s a really big point you just said, I want to restate it. I mean, you called attention to it, like that’s a really big lesson for anybody to learn. I wanted to make the cookbook that I was going to, I would cook from. Right? What is that? Tell me more about that? What was cooking to you then that there was this whole world of cookbooks of cooking teaching of cooking blogs of the Food channel. And every time it’s like someone going, okay just grab your soup strainer and the this that and the other.

Dana:And I’m like, I don’t have that.

Chase:I don’t have that thing.

Dana:I mean, as you can imagine from out backstory, we were obviously on a very very tight budget. I didn’t have, I didn’t have the resources to go out and have a high speed blender. Now, fortunately, now we can afford to have one. But like back then it was like all the things we got from our wedding, and I only had like ten spices. I was just really intimidated by anything from the Food Network, or like Ina Garten is amazing as she is, I don’t think that I could have attempted 90% of her recipes just because, not because I lack the skill. I just felt that they were too complicated.

Chase:Yeah.

Dana:And you know just way too time consuming.

Chase:Some sort of like 30 years in the kitchen as the person before you can like

Corbett:I’m curious when you were at this point, did you think about the audience and what would appeal to people, or were you purely thinking about what you wanted in a food blog?

Dana:I think it was pretty selfish in terms of the focus of the content. I would say. The only time or I guess, in capacity that we were thinking about an audience was, we’re going to tell them exactly what we’re doing here, that’s why we made the parameters. And the John, of course, built the site to be very user friendly and set up and email list and all those things so that from day 1 we could begin forming this community around this concept. But I don’t think it was ever premeditated in the way that, well there’s no good 2 ingredient pancake recipe out there, so since that’s searchable, I’ll do that. Like I didn’t, and I have listened to the episode on reverse engineering content. And I do think that’s valuable in terms of some parts of your content. Like for instance the headline, like that should grab people. But when it comes to the food we post, it really is like, and John has encouraged me in this, what actually sounds good to you. What sounds like the most fun thing that you can wake up and make today. And that’s like very very important to me and to us.

John:But we did throw those parameters on the site. So there was something like, this is what people can expect.

Chase:Okay hold on. I like where this is going and I want us to dive into this place. Can we just dogear that for a second for coming back to in a little bit. Like the content that you guys choose to make. Now what you’ve learned about what content you’ve learned to make. That reverse engineer stuff from thisoleshow dot slash 86 I believe it was.

John:Like a library.

Chase:That was a good one. It’s a really big a really really big concept, this idea, because of what to me its like the skating on, what do I want to make verses what’s already big out there. And this like where all art can choose to get popular or become consumerist bull crap, right? I don’t know. I just love that. It seems like such a powerful bridge to skate.

So, coming back to this story just shortly, lets put a bow on this story of the creation of Minimalist Baker, the inception of the early days. You’re working at this

Dana:Health website.

Chase:Health website. Photos and journalism and you’re doing more of your stuff on the side. Recipes and stuff. You come up with the Minimalist Baker idea in this season

Dana:Yes.

Chase:And you just decide, I’m going to make you, what you said was, ten ingredients, or one bowl, or things like that. Was that a constraint that you put on yourself from the start?

Dana:Yes.

Chase:From the start it was the kind of thing that I want to make for myself.

Dana:Yeah because that really is how I cook. I mean sometimes I do make a recipe and I am like oh shit that has like 12 ingredients. But, and so I try to cut it down. You don’t really need garlic powder.

John:Well we we had those conversations early on, you know she would make a recipe and she was like, well it’s 11 recipes but I really.

Dana:Ingredients.

John:Oh yeah, whatever. Ingredients. And we just did it. Which was kind of hard, it was hard to kind of like yeah they have to modify the recipe. Or,

Corbett:Well its a guideline, not a law. Right?

Dana:Right. Yeah.

Chase:Yeah.

Corbett:Or an expectation. So you came up with those three parameters or whatever, just because that’s how you cook and you were tired of recipes that were complicated, basically.

Dana:Yeah.

Corbett:And it happened to be a great hook. And you know I think that’s the thing that a lot of new bloggers, new podcasters, new YouTube channels whatever they lack. They lack a hook. They lack a way to explain what they do. And forever, you guys have always had on your about page, something to that effect. And whenever I have to explain what you guys do, either i remember it off the top of my head, or I know I can go to your about page and grab that one sentence

Chase:This happened yesterday, or the last time we recorded for the last episode.

Corbett:Yeah.

Chase:Of the show, when Steph, I was talking about Minimalist Baker, its a great idea, a great example of a niche business idea. And Steph, piped in with, well what I love about them is its always been ten ingredients, or one bowl, or ten minutes or whatever. Right? And I mean, I never read your about page.

Dana:Gee thanks.

Chase:Right? No I don’t care

John:Great great.

Chase:I collect pretty people, but I don’t read your website. But like Corbet was saying, that was just like in her. Now Corbet tell me just for a second about hook. You said people don’t come up with a hook enough these days.

Corbett:Well I mean the thing is like if someone comes to your website, you have just a split second to grab their attention, otherwise they are going to bail. And this is why anytime you publish a blog post, it’s so important to get the headline right, because the headlines job is to grab somebody’s attention for few more seconds so they’ll read the first paragraph, and so on and so forth. And when there’s a whole site that’s just unclear, muddy in terms of the focus, it’s really hard to expect people to give their time if they haven’t been prepped. And a lot of people, when we hear them give their pitch for a business, they can do okay if you give them two minutes to explain it, but you don’t have two minutes in the real world. And this is why I just love this idea, you know?

Chase:Yeah. Yeah.

Corbett:For us, with Fizzle, it was always online business training. That was our stitch, it was like none of the full, none of the BS. We’re going to give it to you straight.

Chase:For people who didn’t want to sell their soul to become entrepreneurs, to earn a living online. We’re still figuring out how to really say that, because honest online business, there’s a lot of ways that that can mean things but we always pick that angle. And you felt that was a good enough hook from the start.

Corbett:Yeah.

Chase:I mean obviously we’re here, we’re still a successful, and again, air quotes, business. But when you’re talking about lifestyle businesses, here’s the thing. When you’re doing venture backed, yadda yadda yadda, it’s very clear if you’re succeeding or not. It’s very very clear. It tends to be very very clear and very few of those actually end up succeeding. But when you’re doing lifestyle business, meaning, compared to how many are out there trying to be successful. When you are doing a lifestyle business, when you’re doing a solo entrepreneurial business, when you’re doing these kinds of things, you’re the one who defines if your successful or not. If it’s successful or not.

Corbett:I think it’s the opposite.

Chase:What do you say? Say that again.

Corbett:I think it’s really hard to tell if your succeeding as a VC backed business because there’s vanity metrics that you measure yourself against.

Chase:Got it.

Corbett:When you’re a lifestyle business, you know if people are reading and if they are buying your stuff, basically.

Chase:Yeah yeah yeah yeah. No, so I’ll clarify meaning like, you’re a success at a VC company if your keeping the story going, with your board, with your vestors, with your this that and the other. And then, seasons change, the wind changes and suddenly you’re not a success.

And like the episode we did with Nevel, where it’s just like, that changes without you wanting it to change. Without necessarily your fault

Corbett:Or you thought everything was fine and then the next day it’s not.

Chase:Whereas with the lifestyle business and this is why I will forever love this kind of business. And lifestyle business is probably not the right term because it tends to conte too much. But a solo entrepreneurship business. A by the book small business is succeeding or failing by very clear and simple metrics. And it’s not how many Twitter followers you have. And it’s not how many people are on the email list. And it’s not, you know what I mean. That’s one of the things that I hope to get to in the episodes coming up.

What were you going to say?

Corbett:Yeah and you guys have a tremendous number of followers on all kinds of platforms, Instagram and so on. And I’m sure that feels great. And other people probably measure themselves against you guys. They probably follow your Instagram feed and like, oh if I only have X hundreds of thousands of people following me. But at the end of the day, that means nothing to your business. What really matters is, you’re putting out stuff that people care about, it’s resonating with them, and they want to take it a step further and buy something form you. Buy your book, buy a course from you, advertisers, you know anything like that that really matters at the end of the day.

Chase:Okay to keep our story going here, can we go fast forward to when you like earned your first dollar for Minimalist Baker.

Dana:That would be a John question, I don’t track our.

John:We still haven’t earned a dollar.

Chase:Wait hold on.

John:It’s pretty bad.

Chase:I keep sending my email subscribers to my bank and they keep giving me money and we haven’t figured out how to actually take that bank and make it work. So when was the first sort of dollar made at Minimalist Baker?

John:I think we were actually, I remember trying to make money and being very afraid about it. That would turn people away. They wouldn’t be interested. All that stuff.

And so we did a series of three different things. We first created an e-book that we gave away for free, no email, nothing else, just like here’s an e-book. So okay, we saw, whatever, a thousand people downloaded that.

Chase:That was for free.

John:That one was for free. And so then we partnered with a group of I think 9 or 10 other food bloggers and we did, this was actually right after WDS and got charity water guy comes and talks and gets everybody excited about charity water. And so we did a collaborative e-book for, like you can download for free if you promised to go donate to charity water.

Dana:We’re very good people, is what we’re saying.

Chase:I don’t know if you can tell but we’re very morally upright and we’re really good people so.

John:Probably the best. A little bit better than other people.

Chase:Take me to the first dollar.

John:Yeah so. That was to not be afraid of not charging money and then we created a 2.99 e-book, that we.

Chase:Two dollars and 99 cents.

John:Yeah yeah. This is 2011. [inaudible 00:29:35] got crazy.

And um

Chase:There’s people with 299 dollar e-books that they’re like launching with are like I don’t know why nobody’s buying.

Dana:Yeah right?

Chase:They said I should value my work highly.

John:Yeah.

Corbett:And what was that e-book.

John:I’m trying to remember. I think it was just called 5 ingredients or less. So it was even more restrictive. Does that sounds right?

Dana:That sounds

John:It was either that or a course.

Dana:About right, it’s been awhile.

Chase:2.99 for what, 10 recipes?

Dana:Yeah it was like 10 or 15 or something.

John:10 or 20 or something.

Corbett:And reprints of things that were on the blog.

Dana:No they were new.

John:That’s was something we’ve always tried to do was keep that stuff original. So there was something special about buying it.

Corbett:So you put this together. How did you sell it.

John:Well it was PayPal and ejunkie thing.

Corbett:Okay ejunkie.

John:Just this simplest possible.

Chase:Oh man, ejunkie. When was the last time we heard that?

Dana:You’re welcome.

Chase:It was like a ball of fire. Yes. But there was like a jumping ninja guy.

Corbett:Di anything feel sleezeier than that?

Chase:Yeah.

John:No.

Chase:Seriously. Man.

John:That site still looks like it’s from, you know 98.

Chase:Yeah so for people who don’t know, this is the kind of stuff you had to do, to sell an e-book online at some point. Now it’s really really easy. You could just sign up for gumroad for free and do that thing. And you can pay what you want if you’re really uncomfortable with charging money, right? Or just use Paypal or Shopify has a digital download sort of thing. I don’t know what you would use right away besides Gumroad. It just seems like the quickest easier thing that I know about. I literally stopped learning after I realized you could just do that. But back in the day, it was like

John:It was like coded into your site. It was such a mess. I mean it wasn’t. Ejunkie was easier that most places but still a ton of work compared.

Chase:Okay, so this is our first dollar that we’re making.

John:Yep

Corbett:Do you remember that moment. Like what it felt when you hit publish and sent the email or whatever.

Dana:I don’t actually.

John:I think it was 2.99, we probably sold a couple.

Chase:At this time your traffic was like around, do you remember at all?

John:We actually remember. It was a vanity metrics. We remember the day we hit 1,000 Facebook likes more.

Dana:And John was like, babe we made it. I was like, I don’t think we did.

Chase:She’s like, don’t interrupt me when I am making a one pot pasta.

Dana:Exactly.

Chase:Okay.

Dana:I mean, to his credit, I feel like part of the reason Minimalist Baker exist, is because John kept looking at me like, you can do this.

Chase:Really?

Dana:Yeah because I would be like, honey have you seen my photos are not that great. Or my recipes are not. I don’t know, I just didn’t believe in myself and I feel like having a cheerleader is so so crucial.

Chase:Okay. Hold on.

John:Not really, I’m just like a blind entrepreneur.

Chase:Lets camp out here for a second. Hold on hold on. Pull out your little REI camp chairs. Sit down. Put your beers in the coozy. I want to hear more about this. Why do you think that was so important for you.

Dana:Well, to backtrack when I was telling you that he was in law school, and I was just like, I just need to go get a job. I’ll get 3 jobs. I’ll just go get 3 minimum wage jobs and I’ll just work all the time. It’s fine.

John:That was her solution.

Dana:And he’s like, no well what do you really want to do? I cannot tell you how many times he had to be like, sit me back down in a chair and be like, what do you really want to do? And so I feel like.

John:Which is probably just escaping from my problems.

Dana:Yeah yeah.

John:I don’t want to be an attorney. Lets not worry about me right now.

Dana:But even in the early days of Minimalist Baker, and we were looking at our traffic, and it was like growing but we weren’t, you know, making an ad revenue and we weren’t making that much money. And I was like, look I don’t want to have to live on beans and rice for the rest of our lives. Do you actually think we’re going to make this work? And I cannot tell you how many times John just looked at me with blind confidence and said, I believe in you, you can totally make this work. You are going to be awesome.

And I don’t even know if he was telling me the truth.

Corbett:But it was convincing.

Dana:It was so convincing.

John:I got her to marry me.

Dana:So I feel like when you have someone who tells you that, it just kind of puts you up on cloud 9 and you’re like, I’m making badass content. And people are going to care.

Chase:So tell me about that, because you and I are both 7 on the angiogram.

Dana:I’m either a 3 or a 7. Nobody knows.

Chase:I know.

Dana:Okay thank you.

Chase:A little bit. Not much. But but all that to say, I infer and project way too much of myself on to you. So for the point being, I’m putting your story in my movie, of my life and I’m looking at a boy who’s trying to feel secure, or valued in some way, or like enough, right. Just to feel like I am enough. And to have that cheerleader would have meant a lot, and I didn’t have that cheerleader, thanks a lot dad. But, just kidding! Just kidding. No no I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.

But I think about who are trying to do stuff right now and how much that voice in my head personally, and I’m like an accomplished, skilled person in a lot of things, and still loudest voice in the world, just is like, your stupid why are you even trying this. Nobody going to pay attention. Right? That must have been something akin to the voice that was in your head, before he started filling your head with a bunch of lies about how you are going to succeed, right? But I think of the people who are trying to think about that very same question that John gave to you. But what would you really like to do?

Dana:I think that’s the only question that really matters.

Chase:How do you mean?

Dana:Like in life?

Chase:Tell me more.

Dana:Like having someone give you the freedom to say, putting your bills aside, your whatever else aside. And of course we had the luxury of not having kids at the point, so we weren’t providing for other people.

John:We also still do not have kids.

Chase:Yeah but we do have more IKEA furniture. We can feel like kids.

Dana:But I just think that was the best gift he ever gave, what do you really want to be doing? Like and I really really thought about it. At this point of my life, I really loved taking photos and I really loved cooking, and a blog is the best way to go about that.

Chase:Now I am curious as to how much, it seems like a girl with a wish and a prayer. Right? I love taking photos and I love writing about, I love coming up with ingredients for recipes and things like that. It doesn’t seem incredibly thought out. It doesn’t seem like methodically researched. It doesn’t seem like it was just, I feel like I like this right now.

Dana:Yeah but I will say that I do, I do think that going through journalism school, it kind of changed my thought process in a way that. Basically what I took away from journalism was say what you want to say in as few words as possible and be as loud about it as you possibly can, and get to the freaking point. Because nobody cares. Nobody has time.

And so with the photos, and with the recipes, all I am really trying to do is grab peoples attention. And that’s why the photos are so punchy and vibrant. And that’s like when I describe a recipe there’s like bullet points. Because people don’t really have time. And also with the recipes, people don’t have time. Like not only do they not have time to read your blog post, and maybe I’m just, this is just like a peak into my world. Maybe some people do like reading a novel about someones day. But that’s not what our site is about and I feel that defiantly influences the way that I approach the recipes and that’s, at least in my mind, set us apart. Is like, we had this focus, I was focusing really hard on my photography and I was really driven to get people hooked and get people into the recipes and like if they just made it I knew they would like it, and then keep coming back.

Corbett:So we’ve heard like two really important part of the backbone, I think. One is this hook, in terms of the structure of how you create a recipe. The second one is what you just said, right. Which is, you get to the point. You make things punchy and important and you draw peoples attention and you get into it. The third part of it, to me, is also, how much freaking work you put into the content creation. All the recipes that you make. Tell us about what that process looks like every week, and how often do you publish, and how many times have you missed publishing? One of your deadlines.

Dana:Well we’ve never never missed a publish it line. Because that’s.

Chase:In 14 years?

Dana:Yeah we’re really old. And really damn consistent.

Corbett:But in almost 5 years, you’ve’ never missed a deadline.

Dana:Never missed a deadline.

Chase:What is this publishing schedule.

Dana:Well we used to post every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Now we post every 3 days which, it’s basically, I mean not the same thing, but it’s almost, it’s like 1 or 2 recipes less a month.

John:But then we do other posts so it’s about the same.

Chase:How many posts a month is that?

John:About 11 or 12.

Chase:Okay.

Dana:Yeah.

Chase:All right.

Dana:And that was one of the things that John really, I feel like, in so many ways, where I was the creative voice, he was the business voice. And he did study a lot of your guys writing and Corbet’s writing about how important it is to show up and like continue saying the thing that you’re saying and not change course. And keep getting better at what you are doing. And it was so important to us to keep showing up every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It didn’t mean that every recipe was going to knock it out of the park. But I was going to try, keep trying because I want people to come to our site and like say wow I really didn’t think you could do it again, but you did it again.

Chase:Hold on what is that? Why do you want them to think that.

Dana:I don’t know. It’s probably egotistical or something. But also just the reality that at this point there’s probably a million food blogs in the world and we had to not only set our parameters, this is what we’re doing. We’re ten ingredients, thirty minutes, one bowl, but also we’re the best at that. And we’re going to keep getting better. We’re not going to get stagnant and just post the same thing. We’re going to keep moving forward and I’m going to keep becoming a batter photographer, and I’m going to keep inventing new ways to use dates, and things like that. Like I want to keep raising the bar on why we do otherwise like.

Chase:When you say dates, you’re talking about the large raisin.

Corbett:The large raisin.

Dana:It’s not a raisin. I hate raisins.

John:It’s okay.

Chase:I love dates. They’re such big raisins.

Dana:They’re so good.

Corbett:Nice cockroach sized raisins.

Chase:I really apologize, because you’re in the middle of something so good, but I had to clarify. A new way to use dates, and I was like.

Dana:It’s a fruit.

Corbett:From the middle east

Chase:Oh that is delicious. That is delicious.

Corbett:So I also love, Chase was saying before we started, we could do a whole separate episode just as how you guys work as a couple. Because it’s kind of a unique thing, but it’s really interesting, Dana you just get to focus on content. And when we ask, what was it like making your first dollar, you’re like, I don’t remember.

Dana:I don’t know because John, honestly, I haven’t looked at our blog traffic since 2012, the first month we started. Because we immediately transferred all of that stuff on his shoulders, because I was realizing, oh well if someone like that posts then I’m going to make that post again. And, oh well if someone like that post then I’m going to make that post again. And that really gets in your head. And so that’s why Johns like, you just go over there and you just do you and I’ll be over here, monitoring things, making sure.

Chase:Okay, this is really fascinating. Because a lot of people are trying to do this as one person. They’re trying to be both.

Dana:And so many people do.

Chase:Both the John and the Dana in one person. And so many people do successfully. But there is this skill to being able to do both. And in some ways Corbet and I sort inhabit those different roles as well. I want to know John from you, as you’re watching statistics, as you’re watching the analytics, as you’re watching that you and Corbet watch. And I try

Corbett:Dashboards. So many dashboards.

Chase:So many dashboards. And then you know, you’re probably in some fundamental way, I’m curious. Do you see Dana’s creative drive, almost passion, as a delicate sort of thing that you just want to keep moving? How do you picture that sort of, because I bet you can see that it’s fragile.

John:And if I was to disturb it, it would be off course?

Chase:Either you can move it off course, I bet you can see how much she can get in her own head. Or when she’s really free and just doing her thing. I bet because you guys are married, you can see how that energy works in the household in some ways.

So I’m curious throughout if you’ve seen, hey this kind of thing is working, or hey can you do. What have you learned about how you kind of guide or coach Dana?

John:Sure. I mean she’s always open if I want to bring up some idea. Like hey this might be a post that works. Or this might be something people would really find useful from your perspective. But I don’t really try to push to much. I think part of the separation was letting her kind of be pure with what she’s doing. It’s a little romanticized but I really think, if you’re really just making something good, that you really care about, that you’re putting out there, I mean we’re lucky enough to make money form it, of course, but even if we weren’t, there’s something amazing to be able to do that as a person.

So I like just kind of letting her do that, and run with that. That’s been I think part of where we’ve come from, from the beginning.

Dana:Yeah and sometimes he’ll jump in and say, wow people are really loved that sangria recipe that you made. Do you think you can simplify it? Or do you think you can make it more seasonal? Or do a white version? And I’ll be like, totally, I can do that.

Chase:Yeah so he provides new constraints that are more like invitations. For me, in the design world we used to always say, constraints are creativity. Like when I want to realize in my paternity leave, I’m like a phenomenal chef when there’s just like leftovers. Like I can put together like a bowl of whatever we had and I’ll like get the garnish out and the whole 9 years. From Lisa’s plate I’m like a little bit of salt and 3 olives on the side with some chives, and just like a dollop of yogurt. It’s just like there you go. And I care so much because I’m constrained profoundly that I know now what can i make out of this, instead of, what can I make.

What can I make out of this is so much more of an invitation. So when he says, can you make it like a white sangria, these kind of constraints in my world are invitations to more creativity. Without making it feel daunting in this sort of, oh I don’t think I can do that kind of way. So he can come up with ideas to just sort of, how can we just do that again. And shape it. I don’t know. For some reason, I think that’s brilliant.

Dana:Yeah. And it’s extremely fortunate for us too that I don’t have to worry about like, oh no, our servers down. Or what’s up with our email list. Or how can we do this. Somethings wrong. Basically any time our sites down I like tell John, hey our sites down, I’m making recipes, can you fix it?

I have the luxury of that, whereas so many of our friends are the blogger making the soup and making sure the site is running well. That’s also one of the reasons why we’ve grown quickly is because we brought our skill sets together and he manages all that stuff, keeps it going. More of the business mind, and I can just be floating off on my creative cloud.

Chase:Now, I’m curious from your prescriptive Dana, knowing like at least having a sense of what he does, the roles that he plays, what would you say in your mind, what do you think is like the hard thing about what he does.

Dana:Probably just trusting me in a lot of ways. And that’s been, I wouldn’t say a huge tension or a struggle, because honestly we have a really great marriage relationship and our working relationship is really healthy. We don’t get in each other’s way much, we’re just like, what are you working on? Great. What are you working on?

But I feel like because John has basically hitched his train to mine, he follows me wherever I go, you know. And so that’s extremely challenging I would say. I cannot imagine what that’s like, waking up being like, how does she feel today? What’s she going to do?

Because I’m like, you know.

Corbett:Hopefully you don’t go all Howard Hughes on him one day.

Dana:Yeah.

Chase:I need more milk!

Dana:Right!

Chase:[inaudible 00:47:01]

Dana:Give me red M&M’s. I only want red M&Ms.

Chase:For some reason I only remember milk from that movie.

Dana:Yeah yeah.

Chase:I don’t know what it is.

Corbett:He’s locked in a room.

Chase:That’s terrific. So you think one of the hardest things is for him to kind of go, be like hitch his wagon to the storm of your creativity and your impulses in some way.

Dana:Yeah. Basically he’s trusting my instincts every day and some of that, I would say where that has kind of come up in the past, it’s not even necessarily on the blog, it’s more like something I tweet about. He’s like, is that representing our business. And I’m like, oh man, I guess it’s not.

Chase:Yeah.

Dana:But I want to talk about something else, you know. So honestly that has really been the only place where we’ve had these conversations where I am like, stop censoring me, and he’s like but it’s for business.

It’s very childish for me to be like, no I don’t want to. I want to talk about this. And he’s like, okay but you know people are here for the food. And so.

Chase:There’s a lot that similar between you and me.

Dana:Yeah yeah.

Chase:There just is. That’s a total [inaudible 00:48:01] thing.

Dana:Like I have a million thoughts throughout the day that I can be tweeting but I don’t, and it feels like someone is just choking me.

John:Yeah I’m that someone.

Corbett:You did start your own Instagram channel a while back, so.

Dana:I did I did.

Corbett:For your own outlet.

Dana:I have that. And any time I want to share I can, I think that has been another thing he has really helped with. Like honestly, I don’t know how many emails a day we get where someone is like, hey we want to send you this free shit, can you promote it?

And John’s like, no. But I would be like, well you know. He helps guide and shape all of those things. Basically he’s just saying no.

Corbett:Just say yes and then send it to Chase.

Dana:Yeah yeah, seriously.

Corbett:He loves free shit.

Chase:I do. I’m into free stuff. The boxes of backpacks over here are a signal of that.

Now I’m curious to ask you the same question John, of all the things she does, from your perspective, what do you think is the hard thing about what she does?

John:She’s got a perfect mind. She’s got it all squared away.

Chase:Laky and then?

Corbett:You married guy?

Dana:He’s a little douche.

John:Yeah. I think for people kind of like me, it’s hard to think of something new every day. And to sticking to that deadline. I think a lot times for creative people, it is hard to say, I’m going to post Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. I’m going to stick to that every single week. Dana’s like never given up on that. That’s gotta be daunting.

As well as like, to trust me sometimes. And I mean, we’re not perfect for sure, but there’s sometimes where I say we’re not going to do that, or I don’t think we should do that and she has to, we just have to talk through it, or kind of agree on that.

I feel like that would be hard as an artist to kind of create something and then hear, no we’re not going to completely do it that way. Or we’re going to throttle that in some way. I imagine that’s got to be difficult.

Chase:Yeah, now Corbet in closing here, because we gotta send our show out here. I don’t know, there’s just something about how they individually represent, like your words John, she’s the artist. What would you say you are?

John:The hand model.

Chase:The hand model. She’s the artist and you’re the hand model. Or whatever, the business side. The creative and business. I like how you said, what was the word you said, Dana, was it the intuition or was it your, I think it was intuition.

Dana:Yeah I think so.

Chase:So you’ve got this creative intuition that’s like, I want to make something like a salsa or a watermelon something something. I totally got stuck watching your frozen watermelon thing.

Dana:The slushie?

Chase:Yeah the slushie.

Dana:Oh I love that one.

Chase:I don’t even know how I stop watching it at this point, there’s no sound even.

But you know, you’ve got the creative in Dana and the business in John, probably to over simplify it in some ways. But Corbet, what I’m serious for you, our experience knowing so many entrepreneurs who are trying to do this by themselves, both of you. Right, and when we envision a roadmap, I love the way that we guide people through things. For instance, in stage 8 or something we’re in the growth. The way that we have this spreadsheet, that helps you figure out exactly how to look at your analytics from the past year and to do some insights on where things are going next. You can outsource your business side of you brain into spreadsheets if you know what you’re doing in some ways. All that to set the table for you to set the table on what you see in, I don’t know. What do you see?

Corbett:So one thing I’ll say, is that I think any business that has the luxury of separate creative and business departments or people operates better when each side understands the other well. And you can see the other side and why something is important. I think at Fizzle we’ve grown as you’ve started to understand the business side and I’ve started to understand the creative side more. If you’re operating just as yourself, you have to be able to compartmentalize those things, because you can make yourself crazy if you’re constantly having a battle in your mind between business and creative.

We’ve talked a little bit about in the phycology terms there’s this concept of the elephant and the rider. You know, and you cannot control the elephant, it’s the emotions, that’s the creative side. And the rider’s the intellectual side.

We’ve also talked in one of your courses about this mental framework called the CEO and the worker bee. Sometimes you gotta be the CEO and you got to do the strategy stuff, other times you just have to knuckle down and be the worker bee and get done the thing you need to get done.

I think likewise, you have to do the same thing in terms of business and creative. Sometimes you have to wear the creative hat and just let yourself be the creative person who is thinking solely about the art and the product and how it effects the users. And other times you have to be the business person but you cannot really do both at the exact same time. So if you have the luxury of having two people great, if you don’t, just compartmentalize it and try to do one role at a time.

We appologize for any innacuracies in this transcript. We are still looking for a transcript vendor that can, let us say capture our unique way of doing things 🙂

“How a wildly successful lifestyle business came to be. #inspiring”


Show Notes

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How to Resonate Deeper With Your Customers Using the Science of Personality (FS211)

How to Resonate Deeper With Your Customers Using the Science of Personality (FS211)

Doesn’t matter what surf board you’re riding, if the wave is too small it can’t generate enough lift to catch your board and make it flow. The same is true with your marketing.

If you can’t generate a large enough swell with your website, your emails, your headlines, your social media, your customers WON’T catch your waves.

I call this resonance. The deeper you can resonate with your customers, the more effective everything is.

And today on the show we have, what I call, a resonance expert.

(BTW, Steph is on vacation with her family and will return next week for a proper Fizzle Show episode on how to be CEO of your business… drawing on insights from this conversation as well as the previous one with John and Dana.)

So, back to our resonance expert — Vanessa Van Edwards is like a Malcom Gladwell or Brené Brown, a researcher who can deftly and expertly translate that research into tangible, accessible communication.

Vanessa’s topic of research and training is: cracking the code of interesting human behavior, understanding the hidden dynamics of people.

Basically, she loves to figure people out.

Through her research, her teaching and her writing she helps people, basically, learn how to be the most interesting person in the room.

And today, among other things, we’re going to talk with her about using the science of personality to resonate deeper with our audience online.

Enjoy!

PODSC

Chase: On your website way down hidden in your ‘about’ page, it says “My mission is to help you realize your incredible value, and use your unique voice to positively influence the world.” Now, here’s what I’m curious about. Why does that matter to you personally?

Vanessa: So, I think that in the very beginning of my business especially, I was just like with people, trying to appeal to everyone. I would walk into a room or networking event and I’m like, “How do I make sure that everyone likes me? How do I impress everyone?” And that driving force did not work, right? I was either incredibly anxious, or I didn’t appeal to anyone specifically. And so one of the bit turning points in my business was trying to figure out maybe it’s not appealing to everyone, maybe it’s trying to appeal to the right people. And so, when I talk about interacting with people its not be the bubbly extrovert, that’s the people skills advice we all hear. “Just be friendly with everyone, make friends, be likable.” And I think that that just doesn’t work, especially if you’re like me, I’m an ambivert or an introvert, that advice feels really inauthentic.

Corbett: What’s an ambivert? [crosstalk 00: 01: 04] you can’t just gloss over that.

Vanessa: Sorry. So you’re an ambivert if all your life, people ask you “Are you an extrovert?” “Are you an introvert?” And neither sounded right. So an ambivert is someone who, in different situations, can turn up, or turn on the extroversion, but needs their recharge time, needs their alone time to be able to make it.

Chase: That sounds more like most people that I know than one or the other extreme.

Vanessa: Yes.

Chase: It’s true, it’s true. It’s like, “Are you an extrovert, and introvert, or an ambivert?” I’ll take both please! You know what I mean? That sounds more like what most people are like.

Vanessa: So here’s the thing, I agree with you, and what makes me- it was the year of the introvert a few years ago. Susan Canes amazing book, but I think this is the year if the ambivert. We did a quiz, a little quiz on our website to test if you were an ambivert, it’s really basic. Adapted from some research that Dan Pink did, and we’ve had, I think, 15,000 people take that quiz, and 82% of people who take it are an ambivert. Now, obviously it’s self selecting, people who are taking the quiz are curious, but I think most of us are ambivert but we don’t know how to leverage it. Right? So as entrepreneurs, we’re told the worst piece of advice that entrepreneurs are told is “Say yes to everything.” Especially in the being of your business, you never know when opportunities are going to come. I understand the premise behind it, I get it comes from a good intention, but saying this to everything means that you don’t have the energy to say yes to the really good things.

Chase: Yeah.

Corbett: Yeah.

Vanessa: So it’s about leveraging I think, where and when you come alive.

Corbett: Yeah, I like that.

Chase: I love- can we just talk about the photo in the beginning of the book?

Vanessa: Oh no.

Corbett: What, the cover or the?

Chase: No, not the cover. About four pages in, there’s this photo of Vanessa wearing a smart vest, I think you called it?

Vanessa: Plaid vest, a smart vest, yes. On a tee shirt.

Chase: As a 10 year old or something? How old were you?

Vanessa: That was thirds grade. And the funny thing about that picture, and I really thought hard about putting that picture in the book. I mean, I start the book very vulnerably, you know. Most books start with like, “I’m an expert in all these different ways.” And I think that is a problem with a lot people skills books out there, is if you are naturally charismatic, if you’re naturally extroverted, it very hard to teach to people are not naturally extroverted charismatic. I am not naturally extroverted charismatic. I figured out ways to dial it up in a way that feels good to me, and so I was like, I’m going to start with the book with all the reasons that I’m awkward.

Chase: With your nerdy third grade shirt on.

Vanessa: With my nerdy third grade picture, I have a bowl haircut. So what’s funny about that, is my mom got a galley of the book. Which is …

Chase: Don’t send mom- am I learning not to send moms galleys of books?

Vanessa: So, my mom, love her, she [inaudible 00: 03: 44] the book, and I was really nervous. And she immediately calls me, like right after she gets it. She’s like “Oh, I got your book.” And like 20 minutes later she calls me and she’s like, “How could you?” And I’m thinking to myself, which part? Right? That’s what I’m thinking, I have no idea what she’s referencing. And she’s like, “how could you put that picture in that book? In the very front, in the very front, the first page?” And I was like, “Because that’s real.” And she was like, “But that part of your life was so painful.”

Chase: Oh wow.

Vanessa: And I was like, thanks mom. And I knew what she meant, what she meant was that was an awful, I had no friends, I would get hives from social anxiety, it was really awful. And so she wants to bury it, she’s like “You’ve moved on from that. You’ve learned from it.” And I was like no, that is my foundation. I write every blog post from that bowl hair cut and vest, because it keeps me really real in what I’m doing.

Chase: You basically, you needed to figure people out because it didn’t come naturally to you.

Vanessa: It was a survival- it was either I was going to survive in the business world, or i was not. And I underestimated people skills from the very beginning. I think we all do, where it’s sort of thought of as an after thought. Right? You focus on technical skills, I was focused on my GPA, and I did not learn how to work with a team. I did not learn how to negotiate, or interview, and as an entrepreneur, even if you’re a technical co-founder, you are still having to deal with people all the time. If you cannot do that, you will not succeed.

Chase: Yeah, so, I’m curious. Is this something that you’ve grown to love over time? Cause we talked on the show with people who are trying to figure out what their “thing” is. Like, what are they going to become an expert at? And you’ve carved out this specific place for yourself, which I think is really unique. There are some other people focused on people, but it seems like you’re fairly unique in this way, and the new book is pretty unique. You came with this because you needed the skills, and over the past however many years that you’ve been focused on this, have you come to love it? Is this something that now is part of your fabric?

Vanessa: I would say I’m obsessed with it. I don’t think it’s love, I think I’m obsessed with figuring it out. I think about it constantly, you know, it’s what keeps me up at night, it’s what I roominate on road trips on. Do I love it? No, cause it still sometimes confounds me, but I really am obsessed with it in a very good challenge way. I feel like I have a very complicated math problem- like every human that I meet, and I’m so sorry if I look at humans this way, this is just the way I think, you know.

Chase: I’m ready.

Vanessa: I meet a human, and I think of them like a big formula- like a working matrix. And I’m trying to solve for different parts of their formula. The five personality traits, their value language, and I’m literally plugging in as I talk to them that those are their formulas. So they’re like ‘click, click, click, clicking’ together. There are certain people, of course, that are very hard to figure out. I become obsessed with figuring them out. I become obsessed with figuring them out. So it’s a good and bad thing, I think. But it definitely drives my work, and the amount of content we produce, people are always surprised.

Chase: This is interesting, this is- I do a similar kind of thing, probably from a different angle, cause I think for me there was such a hunger for connection early on, and I just don’t think I had a lot of that, and so I’m always a vacuum of that, and I’m- my shape was always “who do I need to be to connect with-” how do I be a people pleaser type of thing, right? But that translates really well to marketing, you know what I mean? I’ve got a long career of marketing, and I think I’m successful at it because of these intuitions I have about how to connect with people, and how to- and not with everybody, though. I have to figure out exactly who I’m focusing on, and then using those inside jokes, using those cultural references to kind of- to get them. To make it feel like this company’s cool. You know what I mean?

Vanessa: Yeah, and so it’s interesting we talk about marketing in people, cause it’s exactly the same thing. A lot of people talk about marketing personas. You hear a lot about “what are your customer avatars? What are your customer personas?” It’s okay, I found it moderately helpful when I went with that exercise, what I prefer, which I think I a much more scientifically robust way of thinking about marketing to that specific person- is trying to solve for each person. Specifically their big five, so trying to figure out- how can you figure out their matrix, so that you are screaming at them? So it’s very, very obvious to them. And that doesn’t always work with customer personas, you’re kind of- like throwing darts and hoping you’re near the board, I think personalities are more precise way of looking at marketing.

Chase: Yeah, this is a good follow on because just a few weeks ago we were talking about your target market, your ideal customer, and we’re of the same mind that the more you focus on one specific person, and you get to know not just their demographics, not the scratch the surface kind of stuff, but really what drives them. What keeps them up at night, why are they mad at their mom right now? You know, that sort of stuff. So then you can speak to them really directly.

Vanessa: Yes, and one more layer, which is how do they process the world? Right, so what they worry about is actually- not to get too deep, but a symptom of how you think. Right, so for example lets take one of the personality traits, which is neuroticism. Neuroticism gets a bad rap. Whenever I do presentations on corporate personality, whenever I say “Who’s a high neurotic?” No one raises their hand.

Chase: Yeah, you’re not supposed to. We all know you’re not supposed to.

Corbett: Chase would raise his hand in that situation.

Vanessa: Me too, high five for that statement. I am a high neurotic and proud to be so. So neuroticism is a framework of how you process worry and how you see the world. For example, people who are high neurotic often carry a special form of a certain gene. It’s called the serotonin transport gene. So if you carry a different version of this, it means you process serotonin more slowly, which is actually very important, because lets say that you’re driving down the street and you almost get into a car accident. Your adrenaline rushes, your cortisol rushes, your heart pounds, you’re like “whoa! We almost go in an accident.” And then slowly your serotonin rushes, and you feel calm, it stabilizes your mood, you’re like “Phew! I made it.” That serotonin calming down your adrenaline and your cortisol, high neurotics produce serotonin more slowly. So when they almost get into a car accident, they literally feel the effects of that worry for longer. Which means you’re driving to work and they’re still agitated. They come in and they’re like “ugh! Traffic was so bad.” And people are like “Oh, she’s so negative.” It’s not necessarily that she’s negative, its that physiologically she’s had a slower response.

They also worry more about things that are coming because they know they’re going to have a worse response. So as a high neurotic, I am terrified about my book launch, because in my mind I’m thinking about all the bad things that could happen. Not because I’m pessimistic, but because I know that if one of those bad things happen, it will effect me physiologically more than my non-neurotic.

Chase: Yeah, fascinating.

Corbett: Chase is over here taking notes.

Chase: I am- well, what I’m actively doing is- again this is why mindfulness is such a powerful thing for so many of us. You know, because it just gets you- and even and- anyways, I could- part of me really wants to go deep down the psychotherapy of this, and spirituality of it, but I’m going to stop, because this is a podcast for indie entrepreneurs.

So, lets jump back in, I want you to talk about these three modes of playing the game. The varsity, junior varsity, tell me about that.

Vanessa: Yeah, so when Chase asked me about my business and the flow, I think about business a very specific way for myself, and for every entrepreneur that I meet. Whenever I do entrepreneur workshops, this is what I think about. There are three different phases, just like high school sports. There are the, for lack of a better word, want-trepreneur. People who are not playing yet. They’re in learning mode, right? They’re watching a lot, they’re listening to a lot of podcasts, they’re observing and doing a lot of informational interviews looking at mentors, same thing as when you go to the JV or the varsity sports teams, you’re like, “oh, one day. One day I’ll be starter on the basketball team.” And then you have people that get into JV, right? They’re playing. They’re actually actively in business, they’re really trying to learn, and they are practicing the skills on the court.

Chase: And JV means junior varsity for anybody listening outside of the U.S. probably. Na dits just the- I don’t know, it’s the farm league. It’s the pre- before the big game is this level.

Vanessa: But you still play, but you still play your own games, you have your own leagues, you still get time on the schedule, you’re playing, but you’re still actively learning, and things aren’t as natural yet. You’re spending lots of time practicing free throws, you’re doing lots of drills. And you’re working you way up the JV team. You start as a bench warmer, and then you’re like, “Oh hey, I’m going to work my way up to a starter.” And then eventually, if you’re lucky, you flip into varsity. Right? And varsity is when, okay, it’s natural, less learning.

Chase: A little more instinctual at this point.

Vanessa: Exactly. You’re not necessarily doing drills to learn, you’re doing drills to make sure you’ve got it. To calm yourself before games, and now its the fine tuning. You’re fine tuning your skills, you’re building a team, it’s much more about your team communication as opposed to you as a player.

Chase: Yeah, because you’re looking at the effectiveness of the overall, not just am I- like it seems with junior varsity is like, “am I the one? Am I one of the good ones? Can I make it? Can I do it?” And then, it seems like in some ways, varsity- well, at least hopefully, hopefully you realize the point is to take the team to the nationals, or something like that.

Vanessa: Exactly. And it becomes less about you, and more about your impact, and more about the team. I think it’s the same thing in business, where you- I almost can always put someone in that bucket, or I ask them to put themselves in that bucket, is are you watching and getting ready? Are you learning and focusing on your skills? Or are you thinking about the bigger picture in the team? And are you fine tuning? And I think from a goal perspective, all of those are amazing places to be. None of those are bad. But, it’s really helpful if you’re in the early learning- even at the not playing stage, to be like “I want to be a starter!” “I want to be the next Malcolm Gladwell!” That just doesn’t work, if I had started- I was honored by your introduction, that was such- the biggest compliment you could’ve given me, because the beginning before I had even started playing, I looked up to Malcolm Gladwell, and I was like “Maybe one day.” But I wasn’t like, “I better be Malcolm Gladwell tomorrow.” You know, ten years later, someone mentions that I might be in the same sentence as him, and I’m like “Maybe I’m at varsity!”

Chase: And it’s funny- now I think that in it of itself is something that I’m learning- or I guess I’m really surprised by in my own learning of how- I’ve always oriented myself to heroes. Always, for some reason. I’ve always just like- and what’s interesting is how that has changed over time. As I’ve matured, as I’ve been more of a varsity player and less of a JV player, the less I’m- I don’t know, I’ve got Bill Murray, Louis CK, Will Ferrell, and John C. Riley in these little saint-like catholic candles over there. They’re my little prayer candles. And Louis CK is just someone who I realize is just- he’s the- [crosstalk 00: 15: 02]

Vanessa: He’s like the coach at this point, let’s be honest. He’s not even playing mercy.

Chase: He’s not, he’s not even playing.

Vanessa: He owns the league, okay?

Chase: And I think so much of my life I’ve compared myself to him, or the Eddie Murphy’s, or the ones that I really, really saw- it’s amazing what Robin Williams does, you know, they set a high watermark- I know I could never try to compete at that level, like your Malcolm Gladwell, right, but now what I’m doing more and more is focusing- is just seeing them as just these absolute demigods, and really appreciating and loving, but not comparing myself to them as much.

Vanessa: And I think that is the fundamental difference, and that’s why putting yourself in those buckets actually makes it okay to be like yeah, I see that person, I have their baseball card or whatever, but I need to focus on who’s in the next level for me? Right? So who’s the starter on the JV team? Then who’s the starter on the varsity team. That’s a much more digestible, non-imposterous syndrome setting up desire. I have so many readers who are obsessed with their role model, so much so that they’re blinded by who they are, and then they end up feeling like “well I’m not there yet. I’ve been trying for two years and I’m not there.”

Chase: And that’s so toxic.

Corbett: I feel like it’s a natural part of the process, though.

Chase: It really is.

Corbett: That all of us do that in the beginning, we have to try on other peoples shoes mentally, to see, you know.

Chase: So I’m curious, these three modes- actually what I’m going to do, I want to hear your story of- the big points of when you were, you know, in the bleachers, playing JV, and on varsity. But first let me read the ad from Fresh Books.

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All right, so Vanessa, before we switch modes and get into- really want to get into how do we know ourselves part one, and how do we know our customers and the personality traits. Give me a little bit of an overview of your sort of stages of getting into entrepreneurship.

Vanessa: Yeah, so in my very first stage, I was trying to decide the direction, and there was really two choices in front of me. One was secret service, you know, FBI, CIA, I speak a couple of languages, I was very- at that point, burgeoning an interest in micro expressions and lie detection, and body language. And I did an informational interview, which is one of the key parts of that early stage, and someone very honestly, I’m so grateful to them, said to me “If you continue on this path, you will be interrogating terrorists for the rest of your life.” And I was like, ooh. It was very- she told me when you play varsity, that’s what it is.

Chase: You’re going to be in the lunchroom going like, “do you know who that is? She’s the one that got something something-“

Vanessa: Waterboarded.

Chase: Something, something, yeah. You have to wipe peoples faces off from the waterboarding, and then try to see like-

Vanessa: Right, that’s the top of the game in the career track that I was in. And the other decision was try and take these skills, and do something business corporate self development. Which I am a self development junkie, I love self help books. So I was like well, lets try it. Lets see if I can go that route. And so, that’s when I started learning more about passive income, and trying to build an online business, which was very new age at the time.

Chase: At what do you start to- your interest in figuring out people, at what point in your life does that start? Is that a college thing?

Vanessa: College, yep, that 100% started in college with a moment- I think I might of shared this in the book, maybe it didn’t make the cut, there was a moment sitting with a professor, and it was a group project, it was a group writing paper. You know one of those horrible assignments where they make you- each person had to write two pages of a paper. And I was arguing with my professor, I was like “look, I’ll write you double the amount of page- so I’ll write you 20 pages if I can do this by myself.” And he looked at me so kind, and was lie, “Vanessa, this paper is not about the writing skills, it’s about the people skills.”

Corbett: It’s about the working together.

Chase: Yeah, wow.

Vanessa: And I was like, “what?!” Like terror, and he very gently was like “Look, I know you’ve been very focused on the technical skills, but lets beef up this other side.” He was the first person who introduced me to anthropology, sociology, phycology, it’s when I was like oh, there’s this whole other- you can study people. It’s not just like “Make friends.”

Chase: So he had to talk to you in an engineer kind of way to get you to understand why this is important.

Vanessa: Yes, and he said to me, “I want you to study people like you study for chemistry.” And I had never thought of that before, but I was literally making flashcards for conversation starters. Like I would make a flashcard, I could carry them in my purse, use a conversation starter, and then take notes in the bathroom.

Corbett: This must have been so awkward for a while.

Vanessa: Oh, so awkward. Just like JV players, have you ever watched them? When they’re first starting, it’s rough, right? So it was the same thing. I was taking notes in the bathroom, I had notebooks that I would take, just because that’s how I learn, right? I had to break down, and I do this in my book, I had to break down a networking event into a map, like the football field. Because I was so overwhelmed when I would walk into an event, I had no idea what to do. So I was like okay, if I had to break it down into a map, and I move from here to here- that is how I think, and it ended up serving me very well. And I know there’s other people out there who wanted people skills like that.

Corbett: And how did you turn that into a business for yourself?

Vanessa: Okay, so that was when I decided to start doing, and I think the key difference between no playing and playing, is making money. It’s not just setting up a website, it’s not just blogging, it’s actually earning your first dollar, that’s when you start playing. So I was writing, I was blogging, wasn’t making any money, that was not counting as playing, i was just sort of surveying the field, like feeling out my voice. When I finally was- I got asked to come in an do a presentation on the science of people. So before I named my website “the science of people” for a group of engineers. This boss had been reading my blog and he was like, “you know, my engineers- they really have a hard time with people, but I think that they would like your kind of formulas. Do you think you could come in, just do a science of people? They do the science side of engineering.” So I was like “…okay.” Went in, gave this presentation based on my blog post, and they were just like me. They had the same questions as me, and they got my fears and we got each other. And that was the first dollar I earned, teaching this science like this.

Chase: Nice, got it. That feels like a really interesting place to head towards this, cause I’m just picturing you having this experience of “oh, oh wow. They get me. I get them.” That’s the experience I want to try to give fizzlers, right? Cause that changes everything when you’re no longer trying to “What about this face paint? What about this face paint? What about this face paint?” You know? “Now is it working? Now is it working? Now is it working?”

Vanessa: “I changed the color of a button, now is it working?”

Chase: Right, exactly. Or “I’m changing me, I’m changing what the business is about, I’m changing- now is it working?” Because- and I understand that because when we’re in JV mode, we’re trying to earn the fundamentals of the game, right? Where maybe I’ll be the passer person, or maybe I’ll be the-

Vanessa: Point guard.

Chase: Yeah, you know? All the- you just think maybe this is who I am.

Vanessa: You try every position, which you should, which you should, and I think it takes little bit. So very specifically, dialing to specifics. So that moment with those engineers was really important for me, because I met my people for the first time, and I got a very clear picture of who they are. Not just their persona or their avatar, but actually their personality. So they were ambiverts leaning on the introvert side of the spectrum.

Chase: By the way, how long ago was this?

Vanessa: Oh goodness, seven years ago?

Chase: Seven years ago, and you already had awareness of these five traits and the things that- you had this system of a matrix developing.

Vanessa: The system wasn’t perfect yet. I had read the science, I thought it was really interesting, I had not developed The Matrix-

Chase: But you were probably pretty confident in what you did know.

Vanessa: Yeah, right. And I knew that it was helping me, i didn’t have the formula just yet, at that point, which is why the blog was still not 100% there yet. I didn’t have online courses yet at that point, the formula wasn’t there yet. So okay, they’re ambivert introverts, right? So they don’t get a lot of energy from people, but they can be with people and enjoy it in the right situations, okay. Second, they’re highly conscientious. So conscientious is the second personality trait. Detail oriented, loves lists, loves plans, and schedules, and agendas. They loved- they wanted the bullet point breakdown of everything.

Chase: What is conscientious, what is the break down of that word? I’m thinking of- conscious is the wrong way of taking it, it’s almost like concept ness, almost. Is it-

Vanessa: Purposeful thinking, like conse, like thinking, and so conscientiousness is a really important one for your ideal avatar. Because if you have someone who is high in conscientiousness, before they buy anything, before they sign up for anything, they want to see a detailed list of agendas, phases, promises, formulas, scientific studies, they want all the details. Whereas a low conscientious person is a big idea person. They like strategies, big concepts, big ideas, more go with the flow. They like big promises of change-

Corbett: Big picture, not all the little details.

Vanessa: Exactly. And so that was a big change with how I now do my marketing, that completely forms how I write every landing page.

Corbett: For the high conscientious person, or the low?

Vanessa: For the high.

Corbett: Okay.

Vanessa: So I stopped making all these big promises, or I would put the big promise at the very end, because that turned them off at the very beginning. It was too fru-fru, it was too-

Chase: That is one of those- interesting. So conscientiousness is one of these traits?

Vanessa: Yes.

Chase: Of five?

Vanessa: Of the five, yep.

Chase: Cause that- it seems like, are these kind of binary things if I choose, okay, I’m-

Vanessa: You’re either high or low. Of course it’s a spectrum, right? This is the biggest difference between Meyers Brigg and Big Five. So just to be clear on the science, I really like sticking to it if I can. The only personality framework that is actually based in academic research is the Big Five. Disk, enneagram, Meyers Brigg, no. It just hasn’t been repeated in a lab. Is it interesting? For sure. Is it a great conversation? Great.

Corbett: What about that book that has a day for every birthday in the year?

Chase: That’s good, I like that one, that’ll tell you some stuff.

Corbett: There’s some science there, right?

Chase: Well, I don’t know about science, but you might-

Vanessa: I plead the fifth.

Chase: You might learn something about yourself.

Vanessa: You know how I view those kinds of things, same with I just had this discussion about tarot cards, so no. They’re not scientifically based, however, they are very interesting prompts. For example, if you open your birthday and it says you are highly adaptable and love change. That would be an interesting prompt to think about yourself to be like, “Huh, if I’m highly adaptable but I have lived in the same city my whole life, I eat at the same restaurant every day, and I never do anything new, maybe I need to start doing more things.” Now it doesn’t mean that its actually right, that you need change, but its a nice prompt.

Chase: It seems like the ultimate empirical experience, or way of living is to judge everything- i mean, is to filter everything through your own consciousness, right?

Vanessa: If you’re viewing it like that, the problem is, is with astrology and forecasting, and Tarot cards, and birthday-

Chase: They come with voodoo.

Vanessa: They come with voodoo, and people take them as prescriptions. It’s not a prescription, it should be filtered.

Chase: Totally.

Vanessa: It should come in, and then you’re like, “do I like this? Does this feel like me? Do I want to try this?” That’s a very different thing that “Oh, the forecast- the horoscope says today that I’m going to have a bad day. Whelp! Guess I’m going to have a bad day!”

Chase: Yeah, totally.

Vanessa: When we’re talking about placebo affect, horoscopes can be quite dangerous in that way.

Chase: Totally, no, I like that.

Corbett: So the test that you’re saying is based in science, tell us about that again, what’s the name of it?

Vanessa: So it’s called the Big Five.

Chase: The Big Five

Corbett: The Big Five, okay.

Vanessa: Also known as OCEAN, cause it’s a acronym. So Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Chase: Okay, these are the five personality traits.

Vanessa: Everyone has them.

Chase: Now in your world, you talk about getting to know yourself, and then getting to know your customer. And it seems like this ties in- does tie nicely with that whole thing you were just saying before where the point is these are kind of- I don’t know, which one are you? What ar you like? Right? Which to me it’s the great work, it’s the great art of your life is to even- is to go that far, is just to the point where you are, I don’t know, you are present and not necessarily in control, but you as a function of your consciousness are just going “Interesting, what do I think about that? How do I feel about that? Is this me? Is this not me?” You know what I mean? Just that sense of- the world I’m looking for probably is autonomy, or something like that, is a thing that not a lot of people necessarily walk around with.

Vanessa: No, no.

Chase: Right? And I think that’s- if there’s anything that excites me in the world, it’s that in it of itself- I don’t care how you life from there-

Vanessa: As long as you have autonomy.

Chase: I want you to experience your power. It makes you think of that you’re “my mission” is to help everyone see how valuable they are, and how much they can change the world when they use their unique voice, right?

Vanessa: Yeah, and that’s exactly what I say when I say I want you to find yourself first. Right? So yes, you could outline your ideal customer avatar on all five personality traits and be like “Yep, they’re low open, high agreeable, high neurotic, and-” but if you are not those traits, and you’re the one writing those landing pages, and answering their customer questions, there’s always going to be friction. When you’re talking about product market fit, I think that what you’re talking about is also do you have a match of personality traits between your chief marketing person, or your chief com person, or you and your customer? Because you have to be able to translate that fit, and if you’re not writing about it right, I think it’s really hard.

Chase: So what I’m hearing you say is the importance- what this triggers for me, is especially the importance when we’re doing small businesses, solo entrepreneur businesses, the whole idea here is not that you- the whole dream is that your business kind of makes you come alive. That, to me, seems like why to start your own business. Besides “I need to earn revenue, I need to create wealth, and I want to come alive in this thing. I want to enjoy- I want to do more than just enjoy this, I want it to matter.” You know what I mean?

Vanessa: And also, you want to make sure that when you are doing it, you do not feel like a fraud. So what happens is, and I know this more than anyone, I have pivoted my business more times that anyone can count. Now some of those pivots were probably not noticeable to my customers, some of them were. Each time I pivoted, there was risk that I was pivoting aways from my natural orientation to try to meet what I thought was happening. So as you’re growing your business, and you’re pivoting, and you’re adjusting, and you’re fitting, you know “does this work? Does this work?” As you were saying earlier. I think the first question you have to ask yourself is okay, maybe this pivot- this shift is a good thing. But does it match me? Does that feel natural to me? Because even if it’s the perfect thing for your client, if you don’t like talking about it, if you can’t write about it that way, it’s going to be very hard for you to market it and promote it.

Chase: To sustain as well, and I think there’s a parallel here to the life you live yourself, if you’re living a lie, for lack of a better term, in terms of who you present yourself as to the world, you’re going to exhaust yourself over time, right?

Vanessa: Can I give you a really specific example? I’m literally dealing with this right now, so any advice that you have would be great. So we have two sides of our business, B to B and B to C, so our B to B is corporate clients. Big fortune 500 companies, we go in and do a ton of workshops for them, hiring managers, sales, great. B to C, online courses on people skills. So conversation courses, charisma courses, and those two match pretty well.

About two years ago, I noticed that some of my most popular YouTube videos- we have a big YouTube channel, were the ones where I tried to be a little funny. No I am not naturally funny, I do try to be funny, a little bit silly here and there, but it’s not necessarily my natural orientation. I’m quite a serious person, I’m a researcher. I sit and read academic studies all day. So I was like okay, so this is working. My vanity metrics, my views are really up, so I decided to spend more time learning about humor and trying to write funnier videos. So over the last two years, and I was literally looking at all of my teleprompter scripts over the last few years earlier this week. My videos got sillier, and sillier, and sillier, to the point where now I look at my YouTube channel, and I don’t really recognize myself. And it’s me, I’m still saying things that I believe, but I’ve hammed it up too much, and-

Chase: Riding the ham.

Vanessa: Yes, and my consumers like it, my businesses do not like it, and I’ll tell you what, I’ve accidentally turned off my paying consumers. So I have two different types of people who watch me, a couple. You know, you have the- someone who loves my work but will never buy anything, and you have the managers that would buy something, but because I’ve gotten so silly, I think I’ve actually accidentally turned them off. That was a pivot that very slowly, insidiously-

Chase: Right, and that’s because they’re conflicting goals. Right? One goal is how do I get more page views, and then the other goal is how do I stay true to myself and my customers?

Vanessa: And get more big paying customers. Exactly.

Chase: Right, and also it’s that you’re on a medium, YouTube, where the medium wants what it wants, right? And so it’s eating you, you’re not eating it, you know?

Corbett: But YouTube isn’t one mass of the same person a billion times over, there’s a lot of sub segments.

Chase: But there is- if you watch the metrics you can get on youtube, you will be incentivized.

Corbett: And that’s because YouTube has what it wants, the actual business of YouTube- [crosstalk 00: 34: 11]

Chase: Yeah, exactly.

Corbett: So it doesn’t care if you get sales.

Vanessa: It absolutely doesn’t care, especially cause I don’t run ads on my channel, right? Cause that’s not the goal of the channel, the goal of the channel is to get big sales.

Chase: The thing that’s interesting to me now, this is, I mean I think this is a really juicy conversation, right, the same exact thing happened in journalism. And there has been from the beginning, there was never a golden age of journalism. It’s always you know, had this pressure to be what people wanted instead of the real thing or whatever, right? So there’s this thing, it happens in media, probably of all kinds, and this is why Marshal McLuhan’s work on this stuff was so interesting back in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s when he was touting it about, but the thing that’s fascinating to me then, okay, as an awakened sort of person who is wanting to live life on my own terms, not cause any suffering in the world, but rather to earn a living doing something that I care about, and that I think matters in some way, and that probably people out there want. I can look at YouTube and say okay, if I respect YouTube as it is, I have to say okay, who are you, what do you want. You know, to YouTube, then play by YouTube’s- I’m not saying the company YouTube, I’m just saying the-

Vanessa: Consumers.

Chase: Massive ecosystem of YouTube. YouTube likes videos that are certain different kinds of videos, and you noticed that yourself, right? I think there’s a way that you can bring yourself with an aligned sort of spine to that, and go okay, we like a little bit of this, but I’m not compromising on that. So now, you can- Buddha would say find the middle way here. Where it isn’t just not funny at all, it isn’t just silly, you know, and that’s why I think- I don’t know, I think that feels like a great art to me right now. That feels like a really, really- I love exploring that stuff.

Corbett: And it’s true not just of YouTube- [crosstalk 00: 36: 09] but Instagram, or Snapchat, anywhere that you’re going to play.

Chase: Email, anything you’re going to play, because what we’re dealing with is what’s already- what do I expect? Because everything is like, if I’m surprised by you, i’m paying attention. Right? So you have to know this stuff so you can break some of the norms, while you still play by the necessary rules. So knowing the difference between the principles and the tactics so that you can surprise on the tactics and always deliver on the principles. I think that’s, I don’t know. I love- that’s where I spend a lot of my time, probably just back of my brain thinking, because that feels like a real skill that- I don’t know how to teach it, right, that’s the thing.

Vanessa: I think it’s this way, because I didn’t know either, and I was like ugh, if I had actually stuck to who I am and my personality trait, which is- silliness is a facet of extroversion as well as agreeableness, so its cheerfulness- the more extroverted you are, the more talkative you are, the more cheerful and optimistic you are. So its a facet of that, it’s also a facet of agreeableness. Agreeableness is how cooperative you are, if you work on teams, sharing, sort of that sweetness- I’m actually medium-low agreeable, meaning I’m a data head, I like to work alone-

Chase: You find yourself saying things that you’re like “Oh, yes, that’s correct, but it doesn’t serve the purpose of-“

Vanessa: Let me google you. So you know if you’re high or low agreeable by the answer to this question, which is do you default to yes or do you default to no? So typically, I will default to no to do more research, then I’ll come back to you and give you a maybe or a yes.

Chase: I’m high agreeable.

Vanessa: Yes, that’s right.

Chase: But, i do do things- I’m a high agreeable but a lot of that is just smoke and mirrors upfront, for the sake of hey, let’s keep this writing smoothly, and then- cause I’m also like, I want to work alone kind of guy.

Vanessa: And that might be your extroversion or not. I would agree that you’re high agreeable, so on my YouTube channel-

Chase: Notice how I just said “Yeah.”?

Vanessa: Exactly. You know, a low agreeable person would have disagreed with me. They would’ve been like “I don’t think so, and here’s why.” But that’s how we know, and by the way, that works really well with people you’re working with, partners and colleagues.

Corbett: Doesn’t work so well for podcasting or improv.

Chase: No, it doesn’t. “there’s a gun in my pocket!” “no there isn’t.” Okay, so OCEAN, Openness-

Vanessa: Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.

Chase: And neuroticism. Okay, and neuroticism is …

Vanessa: How we worry.

Chase: How we worry. Openness is …

Vanessa: How adventurous we are.

Chase: Adventurous. Conscientiousness is …

Vanessa: How organized we are.

Chase: Wow, I like this. Okay, E for …

Vanessa: Extroversion- how social we are.

Chase: Social. Okay and then what’s the-

Vanessa: Agreeableness, if you say yes or no. How we are in a team.

Chase: How we are in a team. These are the five traits in the big five that- I’m assuming there’s a book on this if people want to learn about the big five.

Vanessa: Yeah, so if you really want to dig deep into it, there’s some really good books on personality. Make sure you get the Big Five one. So for example, Snoop is one one personality and things in your office. And if you want a smaller one, I have one chapter on this topic, which is- this is enough to get you through and kind of figure it out, and I pulled kind of the best things from Snoop.

Chase: Is that in Captivate?

Vanessa: Mm-hmm (affirmative), it’s chapter seven.

Chase: Alright, I’ll put both Snoop and obviously your book in the show notes here. So we have these five personality traits. It sounds like what you’re telling us to take advantage of, is know where we stand on these, and then also identify our ideal customers.

Vanessa: Yes, exactly. And, so the first part is actually relatively easy. Even as I’m talking, you’re probably like oh yeah, that’s me or that’s not me. We’re pretty good at self diagnosis, if you’re worried, we have a free personality quiz you can take on our website, its sciencepeople.com/personality if you want to just test it out, it’s free, you can take it as many times as you want. By the way, bonus challenge, if you really want to test yourself, send that to your partner or your best friend to take as you.

Chase: Oh, that’s good.

Vanessa: A really good conversation afterwards.

Chase: You love quizzes by the way.

Vanessa: I love quizzes.

Chase: Your book has a bunch of quizzes, your website has tons.

Vanessa: Yeah, I love quizzes. Also because-

Chase: They’re fun!

Vanessa: Yeah, and also I don’t always know. I rather you test yourself. This, by the way, is not a quiz that I made, it’s a 44 questionnaire that academics use. So I’d rather you be more accurate than guess, so once you know yourself, you then want to think about how do you quickly indicate to people that this is for them? That’s what you use personality for. So for example, high opens. So high opens, they love trying new things, they’re very curious, very adventurous, they have no problem getting into a rabbit hole on a website, they love to click on unique or interesting buttons. So I have signals on my website for high open people. I do- my ideal customer avatar is very high open. They want to learn a lot, they’re really creative, they like trying new things, cause my challenges are risky in a certain sense, so i indicate to them that I am a high open person, and I want high open person with one of my tabs on my website is “Awesome.” A low open person is going to be turned off by that, in fact, we get low open people who email us and complain about it. I’m like, great, that’s no worries, you’re not our person. You know?

Chase: You passed the filter.

Vanessa: Right, exactly right. But my high open people, they are- they get a dopamine hit when they see that kind of tab. Or on our sidebar we have a ‘do not click here’ button.

Chase: Yeah, I saw that. What’s your-

Vanessa: Did you click it?

Chase: No, I didn’t click it.

Vanessa: What?!

Chase: I had a purpose that I was coming to your website for, and so I didn’t’ end up clicking it.

Vanessa: I don’t want to tell you, people should click it. No I’m just kidding, it’s actually-

Chase: Actually, don’t tell us what it does, tell us- yeah, no, share your secret, share why that’s there.

Vanessa: Okay, so first of all, it’s the indicator. It’s a very quick indicator of you found this on the bottom of my sidebar, which means you’ve gone below the fold. Reward. Right, reward for you high open readers, not skimmers. And second, when you click on it you get a video of me talking and showing baby animals, okay?

Corbett: Oh, I love baby animals.

Chase: I should’ve clicked that button.

Vanessa: Exactly, aren’t you sad you didn’t click it? And I thought very hard about what I was going to put there. I could’ve put a pitch, but I wanted to purely reward the personality of a high open person browsing deeply on my website. And what makes you happy, what instantly gives you dopamine is pictures of baby animals.

Chase: Oh man.

Vanessa: Right. I also wanted to show them-

Chase: Or goats yelling.

Vanessa: I don’t know, that could be rough sometimes.

Chase: Unless you’re high neurotic

Corbett: [yelling]

Vanessa: What is it? What was it?

Corbett: [yelling]

Chase: In my videos, my YouTube bag reviews, they’re like- every title screen it’s just the sound of a goat yelling. It’s my favorite thing.

Vanessa: So you should put a ‘do not click here’ on fizzle, and it should be goats yelling.

Chase: We might, we might, who knows.

Vanessa: It’s also interesting, the data that comes from that, our conversion rates on that page are extremely high. Either people subscribe to the YouTube channel right then and there, or they give us their email. Because it’s a very clear indicator of one, I didn’t sell you. I rewarded you. I’m so happy that you’re here. Yay, you’re here with me! And then I have more that I can teach you if you’re willing. So- indicators. So indicating high openness. All the other personality traits have the same kind of indicators, and these are fairly obvious once you start to think about them. I’ll give you an example with agreeableness since we already talked about it.

So with agreeableness, this is- are you encouraging community with your brand? Or are you not? Fizzle wants to encourage community, that’s a big part of what makes fizzle, fizzle. Whereas someone selling one product, or if they’re a single thought leader, that’s not a goal of theirs. They’re not trying to encourage a community. So, Johnathan Fields, if you look at his home page for Good Life Project, you’ll notice he has the most high agreeable brand I’ve ever seen. So what does he do to indicate that? Every picture on Good Life Project is people hugging, people touching, people holding hands, people doing things together. It’s never a person alone, it’s not really about Johnathan, it’s about the team, the people, the players. That is an indicator, very quickly, as a low agreeable person, me, I don’t like it. It scares me.

Chase: Mm-hmm (affirmative), it’s too much. [crosstalk 00: 44: 31] I had the same exact feeling-

Vanessa: It’s too much touch.

Chase: And I know the people in my life who love the Good Life Project and the camp that he runs and stuff like that, and every one of them-

Corbett: Gleepers.

Vanessa: And they’re touchers, and they’re huggers, and so I- that’s perfect.

Chase: If I could have a business of just those- I mean, that’s brilliant. It’s brilliant to realize. So this is where we’re realizing the intention you can kind of set forth and go this is what I’m like, this is who I want to attract, this is a way for me to, as we’re always encouraging people to do. To focus, get specific, and niche down, doesn’t have to be just, you know, this is for single dads. It can be for single dad’s who like to hug. You know what I mean?

Vanessa: Exactly, exactly. Lets take that example and take it even a step further. So if you’re going to give the kind of advice that’s like snuggle with your kids every night, because it has a lot of oxytocin and a lot of benefits, some people are going to be turned off by that piece of advice, and some people are going to be like “Yes! What a great idea.” You want to almost warn them that that’s coming, because they’re going to be the ones who actually listen to that and then buy your book, or your product or whatever.

Chase: Yeah. You’re establishing bias almost.

Vanessa: Yeah.

Chase: You’re signaling for-

Corbett: Well, really as humans, we’re all just looking to reinforce our own worldviews.

Vanessa: True.

Corbett: Right? So you’re just tapping into that and riding the wave as Chase said at the very beginning of the episode, trying to figure out where that wave’s coming, and how do you have the right wave to ride it?

Chase: Exactly, exactly.

Vanessa: Exactly.

Chase: Okay so we’ve got these five traits, we identify ourselves on these traits, sounds like you were saying relatively simple here, you know the questions that you were saying, like do you normally say yes or no when someone says things like that.

Vanessa: “Are you very adventurous or not?” Right, “Are you very organized, or not?” You know, there’s really simple questions. So the agreeableness one was “do you default to yes, or do you default to no?” For high contentiousness, “do you love alphabetizing?” “do you put stuff on your to-do list for the pleasure of checking them off?”

Chase: Oh my god, I am so high conscientiousness.

Vanessa: Like, I like- it really gives me an adrenaline rush.

Chase: The amount of hours I’ve spent organizing the genres of my iTunes library throughout the course of my life- I’m serious. I’m like hold on, is this Chillout or Downtown Po?

Corbett: I get notifications all the time, because Chase and I share a Dropbox folder, I get notifications everyday saying ‘Chase reorganized something in the folder’ there’s no new file, it’s just that he moves things around.

Chase: How you categorize and you know- what’s the word I’m thinking of? Not topography- taxonomy! The taxonomy is so critical.

Corbett: I guess so.

Vanessa: For a high conscientious person, you are right.

Chase: Dude, if you’re low conscientious and you get involved in my taxonomy, you’re jobs going to get better and easier too. Even if you’re low conscientious.

Vanessa: Okay, but let’s go into this for a second.

Chase: I’m saying it wrong, I’m saying low conscientious.

Corbett: Conscientiousness.

Vanessa: you do.

Corbett: If you’re borderline sleeping, you’re going to get a lot of benefit.

Chase: Yeah, I’m judging, I’m judging.

Corbett: So this is the perfect example of why knowing yourself and then knowing others is that process. So in most corporate settings, and you have someone who’s high conscientious, and they’re like, “How could you not have a taxonomy of your drop box? It makes everything better.” And so you also have agendas for your meetings, you have to-do lists for your calls, you send people very long phased emails with steps. Someone who’s low conscientious is going to feel boxed in by that. They are going to feel like A. It’s a waste of time B. It’s closing in their creativity and C. That you guys are not on the same page.

Chase: So it’s interesting because creativity here- the trope is either you’re- like Corbett and I, it’s really easy for me to go well, he’s the analytical one, I’m the creative one, right? And that line has been- it sounds like these five types are drawing lines, but they’re more informed.

Vanessa: And I should say, it’s really a spectrum. So when I teach this, you’ll see there’s actually kind of a spectrum in the book where you’re high or low, and you place yourself on the spectrum. So if you’re somewhere in the middle range, or medium high, or medium low, you’re pretty- you can kind of sway, you can kind of pick depending on who you’re with. And typically with your partners, for example, you will adapt to where they are, which is very helpful.

Corbett: Or your coworkers.

Chase: Yeah.

Vanessa: Or your coworkers, exactly. So it is a spectrum, it’s not lines.

Chase: Corbett, you’re not my coworker, you’re my partner.

Corbett: Well I was thinking-

Vanessa: Aww, cute.

Corbett: I was thinking of people that meant less to me, you know?

Chase: Like my wife?

Corbett: No, like literal coworkers, back in the day. Partners- that’s a whole different thing.

Chase: That’s a whole different thing.

Vanessa: There was a moment there.

Chase: It was a moment.

Vanessa: I liked it.

Corbett: So the trick, it sounds like to me though, is not just “Okay, I took this test, I know who I am, and I can imagine who I want my customers to be.” The trick is what do I do with that information?

Vanessa: Yes, it’s how do I indicate it? Right, so-

Chase: Well hold on. First and foremost, I just think that there’s a pause to be taken at just the awareness.

Vanessa: True.

Chase: Cause just like we were saying before with the three different buckets on you’re not playing, JV, and you’re Varsity. To be able to be aware that “Oh yeah, you’re right, I’m not playing.” There’s a lot of people listening to the show right now who need to realize, like “Oh, I’m in the bleachers. I’m watching and I’m learning, and I’m not playing.” And in their mind for months they’ve been saying “I’m an entrepreneur.”, “I’m trying to be an entrepreneur.” Or something like that. And I think there’s just a level of awareness, and acceptance, and appreciation, of “Oh.” And then ownership of that, right? Allowing-

Vanessa: I need to be here.

Chase: Yeah, exactly, because-

Vanessa: You have to do that before you do JV.

Chase: Otherwise you’re just- it’s shame, it’s guilt, it’s all sorts of stuff, you know, which doesn’t- so in the similar with these traits things, it’s like “Oh my god, wow, i am a high conscientiousness.” And like you were saying before, one of the real practical things of that is don’t make these big promises up front for these high conscientiousness people. You’re providing the information, the data, the facts, the stories, the things that they need to go “Okay, there’s something here. What are you offering me, pal?” You know? So I don’t know. First and foremost, it just seems like there’s- all I do is call that out. That’s what I mean. Call that out as- identifying where you are might be a little bit of a “Woah, I didn’t’ know that about myself.”

Vanessa: There’s a lot there. You could spend a couple weeks journaling on just that, and I think you should because that will help. But when you get to, and you’ve processed it, and you’ve had the pause, when you’ve explored your own traits, then to turn it into sort of practical markers- indicators on your website, or your brand, or your materials, your pitch, your slide deck, all of these- and the personality traits should be framing every piece of your branding. Cause you want to indicate it to investors, to colleagues, to new hires, to readers, to buyers. Pick two or three that you want to indicate. I don’t think you actually have to indicate all five.

so for example, my most important ones that I try to indicate are high openness, I want them to take chances with me. Second is high conscientious. The reason for this, is because if you are low on conscientious, you’re going to be very frustrated by all my frameworks and formulas. Like, immediately.

Corbett: Quizzes.

Vanessa: Got my quizzes, exactly. And you’re going to ask for refunds more often. I’d rather indicate to you upfront there’s going to be a lot of frameworks.

Chase: I’m thinking about first of all, to restate what you said. Pick two or three to really signal to your audience.

Vanessa: Yes. Not all of them. The ones that really are like “Yes, my person is super low conscientious, they love big ideas, strategizing, they don’t want to be bogged down in the details.” So knowing that about those two to three, and then figuring out where is the most important part of my funnel, or my process, to indicate that? So for example, I mentioned refunds. So there’s lots of different leaky parts of your funnel, it could be conversions up front, it could be getting a freemium people to pay people, it could be paid people asking for refunds. So one of the problems that I wanted to address was this problem of people asking for refunds, which three years ago was a problem with our online courses, because online courses- it’s real easy to ask a refund if you want it, so when we looked at that, I was like, I think what’s happening is I’m looking at all the complaints that come with these refunds- very nice. And they’re like “It’s just so overwhelming. There’s so many steps, there’s so many videos, the work book is 90 pages.” As a complaint, and I went “wait a minute. That’s actually, for a conscientious person, a selling point.”

Corbett: Right.

Chase: Yeah.

Vanessa: So I added in our landing page and our sales page, I reemphasized ‘A 90 page workbook!’ ‘15 exercises!’ ‘32 formulas!’ Because I knew then, if you don’t like that, you won’t buy it.

Chase: Well and at the same time, you’re going to appeal to the people that do want it even more.

Vanessa: And they love you for it.

Chase: Yeah.

Vanessa: Right, so I identified the leaky parts of that process, and when you need to indicate certain things.

Corbett: So then one other layer just to add to this, we’ve talked about figuring out who you are, who your customers are, what to do with that information and how to indicate, the third thing is, to me, if you’re working with a team, it’s not just expressing what you want as the entrepreneur, but what you represent as a company, right? So we probably, Chase and I are probably opposites on some of those things-

Vanessa: Cause you balance.

Corbett: Right, so we balance, so figuring out how to indicate those things and what we stand for as a company, I think a lot of the times when there are arguments between team members, it’s because you’re assuming that we are an organized, conscientious company and someone else is assuming we’re not.

Vanessa: Basically, the biggest miscommunications for teams is that everyone assumes The Golden Rule, which is “Treat others the way I want to be treated.” The Golden Rule does not work.

Corbett: It should be the opposite.

Vanessa: It should be “The Platinum Rule,” which is “Treat others the way they would want to be treated,” right? So it’s not just- if you just do it from your framework as a high conscientious person, you are baffled by people who have a disorganized desktop. So it’s about figuring out in your team A: whattya got? Right? And if you can, hire ideally. So for example, as a high neurotic, I cannot hire low neurotics. I am married to a low neurotic, who keeps me incredibly calm and stable and that is amazing, but I also need other high neurotics on my team because they worry for me. I’m able to export my worry for them and they do it for me.

Corbett: And you know that they’re gonna stay up at night, worried about this thing, and they’re gonna get it done.

Vanessa: Yes! Exactly. Now some people, like if I was gonna hire a sales person specifically, I would hire them as a low neurotic. Because I would want them to be able to push through and not worry and be my rock in the business. So you have to think about what are the rules and what emotional rules are at play behind that. If you’re a low, agreeable boss, do you want to hire other low, agreeable people? You might never get anything done.

We appologize for any innacuracies in this transcript. We are still looking for a transcript vendor that can, let us say capture our unique way of doing things 🙂

“how to resonate deeper with your customers using the science of personality”


Show Notes

Vanessa Van Edwards (@vvanedwards) | Twitter

Vanessa Van Edwards – Science of People – The hidden side of people…

Captivate – new book by Vanessa Van Edwards

Amazon.com: Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You

Test Your Personality – Science of People

Good Life Project

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/resonate-deeper-customers-using-science-personality-fs211
via My Media Pal NYC

10 Excellent Niche Business Examples to Learn From (FS209)

Listen, there is a TON of competition in business today. The internet, which enables all of our personal businesses like never before, also makes it so now you compete with the entire world.

But, we have a powerful tool at our disposal: specialization, focus, narrowing our target market, aiming at a smaller business niche.

Now, if you’re already selling a bunch of product successfully — if your storehouse and bank account is full! — well then, you probably don’t need to specialize any more… it’s working, you’ve got it, well done.

But, for many of us — especially those of us who are still getting our businesses off the ground — specialization, aiming at a smaller niche, focusing on a more precise target market, can make all the difference in getting your business flying, getting found, producing revenue.

A great niche can help you:

  • get that difficult and necessary initial traction because your business is more remarkable to specific group of people.
  • resonate powerfully with visitors when they land on your website, blog, podcast, workshop, etc., because you’re “speaking their language.”
  • resonate, again! It can’t be overstated how important it is to be able to connect deeply with your target customers through your marketing materials; focusing on a more specific niche can make all the difference here.
  • come up with easy and effective marketing ideas because you know exactly who you’re making things for. This is another big one! Especially if you, like most modern businesses, will rely on internet content for finding new customers.

Basically, defining a target market and niche that’s both “specific enough” AND currently underserve in the world will help you with everything… literally.

But it’s a hard thing to get, so we need examples

We teach this process through the following methods:

  • We have a guided roadmap that takes people through every stage of small business. We start it off with a few powerful exercises in finding a topic that won’t burn you out. Then we guide you through more and more exercises to learn exactly who your customer is, what they want, how they struggle, how you can resonate with them.
  • We have an entire course on this topic called Define Your Target Market with excellent training from Chase’s many years working in agencies making websites and sales videos for high paying customers. Tons of great insights in this course.
  • As you continue through the roadmap, the concepts about audience, target market, ideal customer and niche are reinforced throughout, making the learning more and more “second nature” to you.

… and yet questions about niche, target market and ideal customers are among our most popular.

Why? Because this really and truly is a difficult thing to nail down. There’s as much art as there is science here… with a fair amount of luck necessary as well.

And that’s why we need to familiarize ourselves with examples, so we can see how others have done it and learn some things about why those niches worked.

(In case you don’t know it, we teach tens of thousands of entrepreneurs how to get their idea off the ground with a simple, guided roadmap of training alongside community and group coaching. To find out more about Fizzle Membership click here. Please note, this is not for douchebags and assholes — this is for folks who want to earn an independent living doing something they care about.)

So, let’s talk about some examples

When you’re ready, listen to this podcast episode because we share and explain several examples of niche businesses, why they work, and what you can learn from their example.

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“9 excellent niche business examples to learn from”


10 Niche Business Examples:

DESIGN CUTS — TOPIC: Web design resources. AUDIENCE: Professional web/visual designers. PROBLEM: Designers want great resources and tools, but don't want to pay full price for them.

MINIMALIST BAKER — TOPIC: simple cooking. AUDIENCE: vegan and gluten free people. PROBLEM: people think it's hard to make delicious, simple vegan and gluten free foods. MB creates a lifestyle image and then provides recipes so you can live this way too. So maybe the problem REALLY is "I want to live like that, how do I do it?"

THE TINY CANAL COTTAGE — TOPIC: living well in a tiny space. AUDIENCE: modern folks interested in living more inspired lives no matter the size of our homes. PROBLEM: Living well in a tiny space! As she says: “you don’t have to live large to live beautifully.”

NERD FITNESS — TOPIC: fitness, workout, exercise, body image. AUDIENCE: nerds, gamers, people who dress up as gandalf for halloween. PROBLEM: Nerds and gamers don't think like jocks and yoga babes about fitness. They need their own way of talking about and pursuing fitness and exercise. So, this business translates fitness best practices into nerd speak. "I'm a nerd and I want to be fit, i want to touch my toes, I want to enjoy my body."

SHARED PRACTICES — TOPIC: Dental practice ownership. AUDIENCE: Recent dental school graduates. PROBLEM: New dentists want to own their own practice, but don't know how the business side of things work.

ZEN COURSES —  TOPIC: Building online courses. AUDIENCE: Entrepreneurs who want to build an online course. PROBLEM: Planning, organizing, and launching an online course that gets results is difficult and there aren't many good step-by-step guides that show you how to do it.

SISTER MOUNTAIN — TOPIC: knitting patterns, making your own clothes. AUDIENCE: people who knit, people who want to make their own clothes. PROBLEM: It would be cool to knit, but I don’t want to knit just some weird looking stuff I’ll never wear. I love the idea of making my own clothes, the pride of that. How do I make stuff I’ll actually wear?

ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN’S MINISTRY — TOPIC: “Illustrated resources for the church and the home, encouraging creativity and active engagement with faith.” AUDIENCE: people in the Christian church with kids. PROBLEM: it can be challenging to talk to your kids in ways they understand about stories of faith. Help me find activities to do with my kids that are both fun and spiritually educational.

COZY CAMA —  TOPIC: pet beds (pet happiness). AUDIENCE: Dog owners. PROBLEM: Dogs need to feel loved like part of the family. As a dog owner I want my dog to sleep in a place that comforts them by smell, makes them feel at home, and also is sustainable, eco-friendly and easy.

MOTHERBIRTH —  TOPIC: Motherhood. AUDIENCE: Women becoming mothers. PROBLEM: “Not just babies are born” is the tag line of this podcast. This speaks to the fact that you don’t become a mother in an instant, it takes time and transformation. What’s more, this has always been a thing women were assumed to do effortlessly and, hey, guess what, it’s fucking tough! That’s the problem.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/10-excellent-niche-business-examples-learn-fs209
via My Media Pal NYC

You Know You Need to Define Your Ideal Client, Target Market & Niche, Right? (FS208)

We’re willing to bet you’ve heard and read lots of talk about the importance of pinpointing your ideal client, identifying a target market and picking a niche.

Maybe you’re even sick of these concepts? (It’s okay, you can roll your eyes a little!)

You’re probably tired of hearing these buzzwords because they get thrown around way too often without much meaning attached to them.

Rather than simply passing out the same old advice, we’re going to spend this episode breaking down what each one means, and what to actually DO with that info.

So before you skip this one thinking you’ve heard all there is to hear about these topics, hear us out.

Let us guess what you’re thinking right now. It might be something like:

  • I don’t want to say NO to potential customers. Can’t I just work with whoever I can work with?
  • I just want to [make my product/work with people/write what I want to write]. Why do I have to spend time on this when My Favorite Blogger/Podcaster “does it all”?
  • What happens if I pick the wrong thing?

We get it. Today we’re tackling all of these concerns, and we’re laying out what these ideas actually mean — and how you can use them to power your business.

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First Things First: Defining Terms You Need to Know

Inside Fizzle there are two courses that dive deep into this stuff: “Book Yourself Solid” and “Defining Your Audience”.

To learn more about Fizzle courses and membership benefits click here.

In addition to downloadable worksheets designed to guide you through putting these much-hyped concepts into real action, we define all of the terms you need to know.

Ideal Client: the individual you want to work with based on their values, qualities & characteristics

This isn’t about some picking some vague “customer avatar” out of thin air. In our Defining Your Audience course, Chase offers an excellent exercise to help you really nail this.

Imagine a specific human being — seriously, call his or her face to mind and write down a name — who you feel especially well-equipped to help. This person is your ideal client.

Inside our community at Fizzle, we often see that introducing a dose of reality here resolves the uncertainty people feel about who they really want to work with.

So pick a real person, and if you can’t think of anyone you’ve ever met that would benefit from your product or service, that’s a red flag too. Perhaps you aren’t clear on how you can help people, or you haven’t hit on the right idea yet.

Target Market: the specific group of people or businesses you want to serve

So now we have an ideal client, but how do we get to target market?

Once you have that “one person” Chase talks about, you can put pen to paper and understand the broader characteristics of the market.

Where does that person shop? What do they like? Where do they hang out? What kind of language appeals to them? What adjectives describe them?

Now we’re heading towards a group of people we can aim products, services and content toward.

Niche: the specific service you specialize in offering to your target market

Many people get to target market only to fall down at the niche part. Questions like “am I narrow enough?” and “how narrow is too narrow?” pop up and cause confusion.

We know it can feel limiting to think about “picking a niche” since the door closes on so many other ideas you might have. Instead, try to focus your attention towards the service you’ll specialize in for this market.

You can always change course later, but for now we’ll select something specific that we believe will help this group of people.

Needs: Pressing problems and urgencies in their life. Typically things you want to move AWAY from.

Desires: Things you want in the future. Typically things you’d like to move TOWARD.

In this episode, I mention Larabar as a good example of a product that integrates all of these concepts.

Not too long ago, there weren’t many prepared food options for snackers who wanted to eat very simple ingredients. Larabar offered a solution: an extremely simple whole foods snack bar with just a handful of ingredients.

These customers wanted to move toward a tasty quick snack they could feel good about that could also be thrown in a bag on the go. They wanted to move away from snack foods that have a bunch of foreign ingredients.

While Larabar is quite popular these days, plenty of people have tried their bars and hate them. Plenty more people will never try them because healthy food isn’t really a priority or interest for them.

This product is not for everybody … and as a result, it’s very much for a particular kind of person. See how this stuff really works in practice?

So what do we do next?

With our definitions in hand, we can ask ourselves some questions that address, once and for all, the “am I narrow enough?” question. Once again, these questions come from our Book Yourself Solid course, so check that out if you want to go even deeper.

Three questions that reveal whether you have a well-defined target market:

  1. Do you know where to find these people so you can concentrate your marketing efforts?
  2. Do they have existing networks of communication you can use to connect with them?
  3. Will they know you’re committed to serving them?

I’m a big fan of that third question in particular. When your ideal client lands on your website, meets you at a conference or finds you on social media, is “what you do” going to smack them in the face?

Will they know, without a doubt, that you’re the go-to girl or guy for them, or will they be confused about whether someone like you really knows how to help someone like them?

If you’re having trouble coming up with answers to these, chances are you’ve got some more work to do when it comes to zooming in on the right market.

There’s lots more where this came from in the Book Yourself Solid & Defining Your Audience Fizzle courses. To learn more about Fizzle courses and membership benefits click here.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/know-need-define-ideal-client-target-market-niche-right-fs208
via My Media Pal NYC

5 Business Boosters Guaranteed to Give You a Competitive Advantage

Inside Fizzle there’s a course called “Choosing a Topic.” This is one of our most popular courses, and it’s at the beginning of the roadmap.

This course helps people in three different situations starting out on the entrepreneurial path:

  1. “I have too many potential business ideas and don’t know how to choose just one.”
  2. “I don’t have any ideas, how do I come up with a good one.”
  3. “I have my heart set on this one idea, is it any good?”

The course guides people through a series of lessons aimed at helping them choose the best business idea for them, based on several essential criteria.

One of those essential criterion is something we call “business boosters.” A business booster is something that gives you an advantage over the competition.

On today’s episode of The Fizzle Show podcast we discuss five categories of business boosters guaranteed to give you a meaningful competitive advantage. Any business idea you choose should have at least one of these, preferably more than one.

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“5 Business Boosters Guaranteed to Give You a Competitive Advantage”


Here are the 5 business boosters, along with some examples for each. Listen to the episode above for more examples and a full definition for each booster.

1) A new and fast growing topic

When a topic is fresh and fast-growing, it’s much easier to become an expert because there are no true experts yet. The people who know the most about a new topic may only have months or years (not decades) of experience.

Contrast that to a long-established topic. You might have to compete with people who have turned such a topic into their life’s work, literally.

A new topic can be fertile ground for a new business.

Example: when I started blogging, I initially wanted to write about life and career, and the relationship between them. Quickly I stumbled onto new and hot topics including “lifestyle design” and “location independence.” I pursued these topics and wrote about them weekly. Because there were few established experts, I was able to gain recognition easily, and ride the wave of growing demand, which led my new blog to over 500,000 readers it’s the first year.

2) Existing expertise: something you’re already deeply invested in and good at

There’s a tendency among new entrepreneurs to pass over existing expertise in favor of starting over in a completely new field or topic.

This can be a huge mistake. Even though it may be tempting, don’t throw away your expertise and start over. Instead, see if there’s a way to leverage that expertise in a fresh way that is fun for you and the basis for a great business idea.

Example: Scott Devine worked as a professional electric bass player for years, touring with bands and teaching students one on one. When Scott decided to build a business, he leveraged those years of expertise instead of starting over. This led him to Scott’s Bass Lessons, one of the most successful instrument teaching businesses online.

3) Something you love more than most people, something you eat, sleep and breathe

Excitement, curiosity, love for something can be a great motivator that can give you a distinct advantage over other people who don’t care as much. If you eat, sleep and breath a topic, it will be easy to out-effort your competition, simply for the love of it. Your care for what you’re doing will impress potential customers.

Example: Scott Dinsmore was obsessed with helping people find a career that they truly love. He was known as the go-to guy among friends and colleagues who were unhappy with their jobs and careers. He spent hours meeting with and discussing options with people, because he simply loved seeing people transform when they finally found something they loved. This led to creating Live Your Legend, and his passion gave Scott an advantage over so many other career change focused projects.

4) Inside connections: knowing someone or having access to resources that can give you advantages in a particular industry

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know. Well, who do you know? If you have a connection to someone or something that can give your new business a boost, you should consider ways to put that connection to use.

Example: my father-in-law had to change careers at around 50 years old. Imagine how hard that must be, to switch gears completely after spending 30 years building your career. Luckily, one of his best friends was a real estate appraiser. By leveraging this connection, he was able to start up a new business as an appraiser relatively quickly, much faster than if he had chosen a different path without a similar connection.

5) The wild card: anything else that can give you an important advantage over the competition

The best competitive advantages are often not obvious ones. Before you choose a business idea, make a list of every ability, skill, resource, connection, experience and opportunity you have. Consider how each of these could help your new business get off the ground.

Example: Chase has a background as a designer, and I’ve worked as a software developer. This became a huge advantage in starting Fizzle, as we created our community and learning platform quickly and cheaply, building something that no other online community shares.

There are many more examples and details for each of these business boosters in our podcast episode above. Check it out for more ideas on how you can put these and other business boosters to work for you.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/5-business-boosters
via My Media Pal NYC

Current Ideas in Small Business, Q1 2017 (FS206)

We’ve got some articles, some books, some podcasts and some videos that can help you with your vision, motivation, productivity and all the other good stuff you need to succeed in modern indie business.

Give the podcast episode a listen if you’re not already subscribed… the context on each of these is fun, inspiring and meaningful.

Enjoy!

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“Current Events in Small Business, Q1 2017”


Steph’s Stuff:

1. I completed Season One of Courage + Clarity! Lots of people listening know we decided to start another podcast under the Fizzle umbrella called Courage & Clarity, which delivers one part inspiration and one part instruction to go after what you love in business and in life. I set out to create 12 episodes of this show with 6 guests, and the conversations turned out to be much deeper, more meaningful and more helpful than I could have hoped. We’ve made the decision to continue with Season 2, which is already very deep in production as we speak. It feels amazing to connect with so many people who are looking for courage and clarity in their own lives, and I’ve had a blast losing myself in these conversations with amazing women.

2. Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) • Instagram photos and videos —  So Mari Andrew is this amazing illustrator who I found through Brene Brown. Once Brene mentioned her I immediately started following because so much of what Mari publishes literally stops me from scrolling and sometimes I even say, “Oh, wow” aloud. Her illustrations capture concepts like grief and vulnerability almost painfully well, and a few of these have prompted journal entries for me and helped me reframe how I look at things. I’m a conceptual learner, meaning analogies and ideas really help me process, so the way Mari presents her topics visually is super compelling.

3. Netflix: The Minimalists. Okay, so I’ve known about minimalism for a while and have been vaguely interested in it, but hey I’ve got a kid and kids have a lot of stuff! I read the life-changing magic of tidying up by marie kondo a while back and started folding my clothes differently, maybe got rid of a few garbage bags of clothes. I think there’s been a quiet voice in me that’s urged me to explore a more drastic version of this concept. But once you get past all the novelty of all this minimalism buzz, I’m finding a lot of substance: creating simplicity in my home has shown me that I’m actually very adversely affected by clutter and extraneous items. On top of that, thee’s a whole ecological, sustainability, responsibility to the planet side of things that has come to light for me. Like, it’s so easy to just grab whatever off of Amazon. Lately, I’ve found myself trying to source things I need second-hand, giving some items a second life instead of adding to the pile of crap that’s going to sit in landfills. John and I live in a condo in the city and people are constantly asking us when we’re going to move to upgrade and get more space, but the truth is we’re getting really into living in a smaller space and it feels really cool!


Corbett’s Stuff:

1. To Motivate Employees, Show Them How They’re Helping Customers – In one field study, Adam Grant of the Wharton School found that fundraisers who were attempting to secure scholarship donations felt more motivated when they had contact with scholarship recipients. In another study, Grant found that lifeguards were more vigilant after reading stories about people whose lives have been saved by lifeguards. In fact, the words of beneficiaries of one’s assistance can be more motivating than those of inspirational leaders, Grant showed in another series of studies with his colleague Dave Hofmann of the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill. Similarly, when cooks see those who will be eating their food, they feel more motivated and work harder, Harvard Business School’s Ryan Buell and colleagues found.

Across these studies, the key factor that improved worker motivation was a direct connection to those who benefit from one’s work, including customers and clients.

2. Marketers Are Blogging 800% More but Getting Nearly 100% Fewer Shares – TrackMaven’s report shows that between September 2011 and August 2012, brands posted fewer than 10 times on average and saw approximately 3,000 social shares per post. In the most recent period measured, from September 2015 to August 2016, brands posted in excess of 60 times per month with fewer than 500 social shares per post. “Marketers are struggling to be heard across competition. There’s so much content out there, not just from other brands, but you’re competing against Buzzfeed, Vox, The New York Times​ and other major media companies,” she says. “There’s a finite amount of user attention and way too much content to get processed.”

3. Sonos’s Weird-Looking New Speaker Solves A Living Room Design Problem – Like many consumer products, Sonos’s newest smart speaker began with plenty of consumer research. But in studying the way that people live and interact with entertainment technology at home, the company discovered a fact that seemed to undermine its own approach: Most people—a full 70%, by Sonos’s count—do not mount their television sets on the wall, preferring to sit them on top of a piece of furniture instead. It’s a statistic that contradicts the popularity of home theater sound bars like Sonos’s own Playbar, which tend to be designed with the wall-mounted setup in mind. At the same time, it suggested an opportunity.

After countless iterations, testing and retunings, the Sonos Playbase was born. The 58-millimeter-high device doesn’t look much like a speaker, but it packs all the sonic fidelity of other Sonos products like the Playbar and Play:5. The new Wi-Fi-enabled speaker, which starts shipping on April 4th, takes on a somewhat odd, oblong, flat shape designed to sit comfortably and inconspicuously beneath most standard television sets.


Chase’s Stuff:

1. Abraham Hicks Interviewed by Oprah Winfrey About Law of attraction — There’s a lot that’s weird and scandalous in what I can’t help but call new-age spirituality, but I, personally, am experiencing a lot of “sustainable awesome” from what I’m learning from a teacher called Abraham. This video I linked to at the beginning of this paragraph is a good place to get started. Then I’d get the Audible version of this book. The gist is this: I can pay more attention to how I want to feel. You want to be an entrepreneur? How do you want that to feel? I get into this in depth in this training on journaling for vision and motivation if you want to hear more from me on this.

2. Exponential growth devours and corrupts — David Heinemeier Hansson created the programing language Ruby on Rails and co-founded one of my favorite companies (37signals), and in this scathing article he makes a good argument for how "growth" as a motivator corrupts. He pulls the curtain and reframes some central business terms like "engagement" and "fiduciary responsibility." My advice: read this every year.

3. Beyond Success – Ram Dass Full Lecture 1987 – YouTube — Ram Dass on success? Yes please! I've been listening to a lot of Ram Dass the past year and, on a personal note, spending time with this guy's recordings while I go on walks or drive home from my son's school has completely changed my life. This talk in particular is relevant to us business folks because, well, success can bamboozle us and take us off course. I love the way this guy thinks. You just might also.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/current-ideas-in-small-business-q1-2017
via My Media Pal NYC