Hey, it’s André (the co-founder of TLB, and author of ARM & SOI):
So glad you’ve stopped by to read this page.
Ever read the book ZAG?
It’s listed as one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time (by 800-CEO-READ).
If you haven’t, you should. It’s brilliant.
In business there are two strategy choices:
- Do (copy) what everyone else is doing, only slightly better, or slightly cheaper, or slightly faster.
- Or do something
DIFFERENTand truly distinctive. Something that stands out. Something that produces exponential, not marginal results.
Disruptive strategies begin with the courage to zag where others zig. If your competitors are all starting to turn left, you look right.
There’s so much more value for you, and the people you seek to serve, when you choose to turn the other way.
And it’s actually not that hard to do.
It takes no brilliant foresight.
It does not require seeing what others don’t.
It simply requires reading the herd.
When your competitors all start running in one direction, you just need to ask:
What if I ran in the opposite direction?
But it’s not a path for everyone.
Because it takes guts.
Guts to stop copying the masses and incumbents, and to move in the opposite (more “risky”) direction.
It’s scary as hell.
But this is a good signal. A signal you should lean into, not seek to avoid.
It’s the only way forward if your desire is to be NOTICED and stand out in our ever crowded online world of distracted masses.
Like 37 Signals (Basecamp), we’ve also chosen to keep our company intentionally small.
We believe “small” (hence the “tiny” in our brand name) is a key to serving and mattering in a world of noise and distractions.
To have the guts to do something that matters.
To create a meaningful impact in the world; even if that impact is small (tiny, even).
We’re okay with small.
This is what truly gets us all excited and hot and sweaty under the collar. Helping people who value creating and shipping awesome shit in order to serve and matter to their tribe.
… not the majority — the “Frank’s” of this word — who just “think about doing something” or “talk about doing something”, yet never
We value intentional practice (the act of doing) over theory (just consuming more information).
“If more information were the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” — Derek Sivers
Our brand (TinyLittleBusinesses) was born 10 years ago (although I’ve been at this online thing full-time for 18 years (since 2003).
If you care to discover a little more, read my origin story below. It’s a fun read. It involves Las Vegas and an asshole boss.
(Fair Warning: Some of the language is a little “colorful”, should that sort of thing offend you.)
We passionately love what we do.
We wake up every day, excited with the possibilities of helping others build, level up, and optimize their businesses and lives.
Our work is our life.
That’s what we choose; it’s purposefully how we’ve rigged our business.
You may be here simply out of curiosity (hey!).
Or you may be here out of need (great; maybe we’ve got something that’s perfect for you).
Or get in touch with us directly, and let’s get a discussion going about helping you solve what you need solving.
ORIGIN STORY: Oh F*ck! How The Hell Could I Have Agreed To It?
I wondered how the hell I could have agreed to it.
A $1,000 product, for God’s sake!
Two months earlier I had promoted another product, which had done really well. But it had cost only 67 bucks.
Not $1K. Not 15 times more expensive!
And if that wasn’t bad enough, I had completely lost my mind, jumped on a plane, and flew across the damn Atlantic, from London to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas, NV
I was on the 23rd floor of the swanky Wynn hotel.
(Anita was working for Party Gaming at the time, so she was in Vegas for PubCon; the leading SEO conference at the time.)
But instead of cruising the casino floor with a long legged bombshell on my arm (the wifey; before you think other things), armed with a $30 cocktail…
… I was staring at a blank screen and flashing cursor in my room by myself, wondering how I got myself into this mess.
The view was ridiculous. Something out of Ocean’s Twelve (love that movie!):
But I wasn’t interested in the frigging view.
I was there to hammer out an affiliate promotion for a $1,000 product I had committed to promote (it was a really great product btw!).
And remember, this was 2006. $1,000 for an info product was expensive as hell back then.
Come on hotshot, write something. It ain’t gonna write itself. Think.
I stabbed at the keyboard of my Apple iBook G4.
After being locked away in that damn room for two days, hammering out email after email, sending them out to my tiny audience, it was time to face the music.
I was emotionally spent.
I Still Remember The Day I Turned My Back On Working For “The Man”, & Embarked on a New Journey At The Age of 30
Some things you just NEVER forget. Ever.
I will always remember that day. And the next day.
I had marched into the basement boardroom office, knowing what was about to come, and (strangely) feeling totally okay about it.
Was even looking forward it to.
I was the only person feeling this way.
The head of HR, Kelly, was already seated, head down, no eye contact. I liked Kelly, she was a friend. So it was understandable that making eye contact with me was a little challenging for her.
It was October 22, 2003.
Boss Man was there too. He had no problem making eye contact. Water off a ducks back for him. Just another day in corporate London.
He had positioned himself with his back to the brick wall. A position of power. He waved me over to a chair across the boardroom table from him.
“Andre, take a seat,” he said.
Kelly was to my right. They had me surrounded.
After the deed had been executed with military precision, I stood up, stabbed my hand out, and thanked Boss Man.
I was finally free.
I must have caught him off guard.
I remember seeing the confusion plastered across his face, as obvious as a flashing neon sign above a Las Vegas Strip Club: Live Nudes, Cold Beer.
People weren’t supposed to be happy when they got fired.
They certainly shouldn’t be grateful and sporting a happy smile.
It was fun leaving Boss Man in a state of confusion. My little going away gift for him. The last laugh.
One hour later — after I’d been escorted from the building armed with nothing more than two months redundancy pay for two and a half years of loyal service — I trotted across the road to the agreed rendezvous point.
That’s where the other dozen or so ex-employees were stationed, perched on bar stools, fortifying themselves at 11am with pints of beer.
It was a surreal situation. I remember it fondly.
I was finally free.
The dominant emotion flowing as freely as the amber liquid was anger at the powers-that-be who would probably all be receiving Christmas bonuses for a “job well done.”
I wasn’t surprised at all tho.
It’s what happened when a startup was acquired by a larger gorilla. It was inevitable that the “deadwood” got cut out.
And what better time than two months before Christmas so they could save themselves having to pony up thousands in bonus pay.
Smart, not dumb. For them, not us.
Three or four pints of beer later, I was bouncing along on a train heading out of London for the last time wearing a suit and tie; the uniform of “the system” I had just been “unplugged” from.
I was finally free.
It felt weird sitting there knowing that I would never have to go back.
Knowing that that next day, October 23, 2003, would be my first day as an (“unemployed”) entrepreneur.
It was a weird feeling once the weight of having jettisoned all that baggage what came with working a fucked up job for an asshole boss had just been lifted off my shoulders.
In that moment I had felt a strange sense of calmness. A feeling I’ve never forgotten.
That next day, October 23 2003, was also the scariest damn day of my “entrepreneurial” life. That “oh fuck!” moment.
I was thirty years old.
I had nowhere to go; I had been unplugged from the matrix and had decided I would never return. I never have. I’m 48 now.
I had no money coming in.
I was on my own having thrown myself in the deep-end, left to fend off the sharks.
It was time to learn how to swim, and damn quickly.
I had no savings (who does when plugged into the umbilical cord of “The Matrix”?) and only two months of buffer money in the bank.
I still remember telling my mother:
Hey mom, I was fired today. And I’m not looking for another job. Ever. I’m working for myself now. Online. It’s awesome, I’m so happy!
But four seconds later we hugged and she told me she knew I could do anything I put my mind to. That’s what mothers say, but she meant it.
Things didn’t start off easy.
For starters I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
I knew nothing.
Back in 2003 there were no online mentors.
Training material was limited to expensive physically shipped stuff. And even that was few and far between.
There was no all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of anything and everything marketing like we have today in 2021.
That didn’t exist back then. Nothing did.
The next three years were EPIC.
… if you can call working stress-fueled 14 hour days epic. But it’s what I had to do. I hustled my ass off. I loved it.
Somehow, slowly, things started to work out for me as a full-time affiliate marketer.
I figured shit out.
I was a zagger from the very beginning, refusing the call to conform to how the status quo operated.
That early decision shaped my trajectory. It became a super power.
In 2006, a few years into my journey, I read a book by the late Paul Arden (the former creative director for Saatchi and Saatchi at the height of their advertising might), Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite.
In it was this page about Decisions:
It’s something I’ve never forgotten. I’m pretty sure it’s what helped guide me to the Wynn Hotel later that same year, in November of 2006.
So Why Did I Choose To Promote a $1,000 Product That Resulted In Me Flying to Las Vegas?
Because it was the only decision I could have made.
After being locked away in that Las Vegas room on the 23rd floor of the Wynn Hotel for two solid days, hammering out email after email, and broadcasting them to my tiny little email list of less than 1,000 subscribers.
… what happened next completely changed the game for me. Forever. At least mentally. It was a turning point.
Finally, it was showtime, baby!
The launch was minutes away.
I had done all I could do. So the wifey and I decided to head downstairs for a quick breakfast.
I treated myself to an Eggs Benedict. My favorite. The Wynn did the best I had ever had. I ended up returning to Las Vegas and the Wynn for the next six years straight. But that’s another story for another time.
Little Mrs Sweet Tooth (Anita) had a waffle with strawberries. Go figure.
About an hour later we were back in our suite on the 23rd floor to check on the promotion.
I haden’t been expecting much.
I would have been over the moon with just two or three sales. At $500 commission a pop, that would have at least paid for my flight to Vegas.
I logging into the affiliate dashboard, then I just stared.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
I had called Anita over, not believe what I was seeing.
I needed a second opinion. Another pair of eyes.
This was her digitally memorializing that moment forever more.
(I only wish I had a higher res image, but phone cameras back then were pretty shitty.)
I still get goosebumps looking at this image.
It was a turning point for me. It demonstrated that there was a lot of value in zagging, going the other way.
In that one hour, it was showing $20,000 in commissions (40 sales).
At the time I was certain this was a monumental mistake in how sales were being credited to me. It had to be.
I ended up pocketing more than $70,000 from that promotion (126 sales plus bonuses).
No mistakes were made. I had earned in one month what I used to earn in 18 months back when I got fired.
Just to add to the clusterfuck of emotions I was feeling after that spell in Sin City back in 2006, I had finished as the #1 affiliate.
I had beaten out a lot of big-name gurus with massive email lists. Names you’d recognize today, like my buddy, Rich Schefren.
… and all from just a tiny email list of less than 1,000 subscribers.
Three years later I ended up codifying my entire email marketing system. In 2009 I released the first edition of AutoResponder Madness (or ARM for short).
A year later Digital Marketer (Ryan Deiss & Perry Belcher) discovered ARM, and integrated much of what I teach directly into their own monster business:12 years later, ARM is still considered by many to be the preeminent go-to training for email marketers who care about wanting to develop (earn) a real long-term relationship (bond) with their audience that has a very high “half-life”.
I’m currently creating the 4th Edition of ARM which should be ready in a few months (end of 2018).
That’s the short version of our origin story.
There’s more, but I’ll write that some other time.