We have a lot to cover in today's email, including two announcements we're really excited to share.
Before we do that, however, we want to discuss a powerful idea we've been thinking about a lot lately, so you can put that insight to use immediately.
If you're reading this email, there's a good chance you're in one of three categories:
Category #1 — you have a business that is creating customers and generating revenue.
Category #2 — you're working to get traction as you create a business but something is missing and/or holding you back.
Category #3 — you'd like to create a business but don't know where to start.
Today's email applies to all three categories. In fact, this may be the most actionable, high-leverage advice we've ever given.
Let's start by talking about conventional wisdom as it relates to building a business. Depending on who you listen to, that advice might include:
- Getting very clear about the type of lifestyle you want (that your business needs to pay for).
- Waking up early every morning to visualize your dream life (and dream business).
- Creating S.M.A.R.T. goals and corresponding plans to ensure you reach your dreams.
- Making a digital or analog ‘vision board' that represents everything you want to achieve, acquire, and enjoy.
- (And much, much more…)
Notice what all of those have in common?
Everything starts with what you want.
If you've ever felt the frustration associated with any of these methods, you know that something feels ‘off' when we put ourselves in the center of the universe.
Trying to bend the entire world to our will is a LOT of work!
The good news is that there is a much better way, and it's a quick, easy, powerful shift.
Instead of focusing on what we want, we shift our attention to what our audience wants, and then we apply the same intensity to meeting their needs and desires we've been told to apply to identify and create what we want for ourselves.
Imagine what might happen if you studied your audience so intently that you knew their innermost fears, dreams, and desires as those relate to the value you create in the world?
What if your ‘vision board' represented what your audience wants most, and you organized your time, energy, and attention to create that for them?
But wait, you may say, what about me, what about my needs?
Here's the problem — that's a false choice, a red herring.
We've been led to believe that financial success is a deliberate result of:
- Hard work and ‘hustle'.
- The right (often ‘secret') method.
- Some hidden reality known only to insiders.
- ‘Billionaire habits' and hacks.
The reality is that financial success is an emergent property of effectively meeting the needs and addressing the fears of an audience that values the benefits you're able to create specifically for them.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Everything you want is on the other side of creating value for the audience you serve (or will serve if you're getting started).
That's a sentence (^^) worth copying and displaying where you'll see it every day. It's the essence of creating work that matters for people who care.
Shifting your attention to over-delivering for your audience recognizes the reality of how the world works.
Success for the business owner or creative professional follows value created for an audience, not the other way around.
The late Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, codified this idea as Habit #4: Think Win-Win.
Life is not a zero-sum game where one side ‘winning' means the other side in the exchange has to lose.
Instead, we can guarantee our own success when we focus first on creating wins for our audience.
Both parties in the exchange can win — every time. In fact, business (and life) are much easier, and far more satisfying that way.
Where should you start? …
If you're already a customer of any of our courses, then you have access to our two-part Audience and Offer Masterclass (AOM) in the Academy. Start there.
If you're not a customer (or if you'd like to add to what you've learned in AOM), we recommend the following:
- Empathy Map.
- Jobs to Be Done Theory (by Harvard Business Review).
- The Value Proposition Design Canvas.
Each of those tools will shift your focus to your audience and will help you get past the surface level needs and desires to discover the meaningful nuances that lies beneath.
We know what you're thinking — sure, this seems like a great idea, but does it actually work, in practice, out in the real world?…
There is, after all, an opportunity cost to every endeavor.
Rather than answer that question solely with our own experience (which confirms it does work, every time), we reached out to a mutual friend who has built a seven-figure business, in record time (inside of a year), with a relentless focus on understanding and meeting his customers' needs.
Jonathan Boyd is the founder of Breakthrough Guitar. Originally an in-person guitar school (2014), Breakthrough Guitar moved online (with zero customers) and now serves thousands of students (he exceeded 25,000 customers a few weeks ago).
When Jonathan shifted to online learning, he followed a path that's familiar to many of us…
Countless hours of hard work with mediocre-at-best results to show for his efforts.
Then, something changed — dramatically…
In less than a year Breakthrough Guitar is on track to generate millions of dollars of revenue and change the lives of tens of thousands of guitar enthusiasts.
How'd he do it?
We're glad you asked…
Jonathan's story is so fascinating we're going to interview him and unpack his incredible journey, identify the early mistakes that held him back, and explain how he has created his dream business.
However, in the spirit of full transparency, we need to share a few details first…
Jonathan credits one of our courses — Lean Business for Creators (LBC) — as a key factor in his success.
Originally launched on Black Friday, 2018, we will be re-opening enrollment for LBC for Black Friday 2020 (Fri, Nov 27 — midnight PST Mon, Nov 30).
(And we're also going to announce the curriculum for the all-new LBC, a complete update for the entire course. See P.S. for an interesting backstory.)
We're excited to share Jonathan's story with you. We think it'll be broadly fascinating and valuable to everyone we serve.
In addition to his (many) insights about building an effective, durable business in record time, he's also a wonderful person, dear friend, and amazing, deeply insightful teacher.
(During our initial exploratory call last week Shawn took five pages of notes in his tiny handwriting, which was our opportunity to identify valuable ideas to discuss in the full interview we'll share with you!)
One last note before we wrap up today's email…
If you already own Lean Business for Creators you'll get free upgrades for life (including the forthcoming major update to LBC).
Enjoy your weekend.
André and Shawn
Ten years ago I wrote a 2,654-word report and shared it with my peeps as a PDF. This is a screenshot of the cover:
I know, a bit in your face. For context, the inside cover said this:
Not too long ago a friend and fellow marketer asked me a question that a customer of his had asked him:
“If you only had $1,000 left in the bank, what would you do to make money online?“
It's a really interesting question … and it got me thinking.
Truth is: there are a lot of different ways to generate money online. Most work, in one way or another. Some are effective. Others less so.
So I reflected, what would I do if I had only 1,000 bucks left to make money online. What would I do if I woke up one morning and my bank accounts were all dry. I had no contacts. I had no email list. Just 1,000 bucks on my credit card.
So within that context, this is my story of what I would do to make money online.
A decade is a long time ago, but I still remember writing that report.
It was a fun thought experiment that mirrored the journey I had been on since losing my job on October 22, 2003.
So for Black Friday 2018, I decided to do something audacious…
Something special for our audience…
Something I had wanted to do for a long time but didn't have the time or guts to tackle the undertaking.
The value prop was simple:
I would write the 2018 version of what I would do now if I had to start all over again (no list, no contacts, limited resources).
But not a report, a full course.
I pitched the offer, I had 1,681 raised hands, then over Black Friday 2018 through Cyber Monday I opened enrollment.
Just over 400 students put their trust in me and enrolled as early adopters eager to be part of the journey.
The risk-reversal promise I made was equally ridiculous because the course didn't yet exist, and I knew I would need external motivation (I do not advise anyone do this!).
I had said: if I didn't deliver access to the course by Christmas, I would refund everyone their money, and they would still keep access for life.
$100K was a strong external motivator!
So I wrote for four weeks solid, six days a week. I delivered it a few days early (Fri, Dec 21, 2018). It was 35,340 words.
Since then, I've opened up access to LBC for only eight days over two years. It's never been an officially released course…
It has only ever existed as an unofficial passion project.
We have 767 students in LBC. Jonathan Boyd enrolled on Jul 1, 2019, the last time it was open.
Caption: Thread from a private convo with Jonathan.
(You can read an earlier version of the Lead Magnet 3.0 email here. LBC goes very much deeper.)
Jonathan had been working for an online company doing their marketing, but that job imploded at the end of 2019. That created sudden (significant) external motivation to double-down on building an online version of his original in-person guitar school.
LBC helped Jonathan see a few meaningful marketing principles differently:
To be clear: LBC wasn't the REASON Jonathan has turned Breakthrough Guitar into a success, but LBC helped narrow his path to success.
One final (important) thing before I wrap up my section…
LBC always felt unfinished to me with a narrow-ish scope…
It was, after all, a prescriptive brain-dump of what I would do in 2018 if I had to start over to build a new thriving audience and monetize their attention.
But what “I” would do is by no means the only way, or broadly the best way (hint: there is no single ‘best way' for everyone).
So LBC was never on the docket to be officially released en masse.
That changed when Shawn joined the team.
Together our expertise is broad and deep (from nearly four decades of experience combined).
One of the conversations Shawn and I had a while back went something like this:
ANDRÉ: How are you liking the idea of expanding the scope of LBC so it teaches not just one path but could be broadly useful for anyone who wanted to build a durable business from scratch?
SHAWN: We talk about this all the time — there are many ways up the mountain. Between us, we've seen a lot of them.
ANDRÉ: Right. I don't think a project with this broad scope has ever been done before.
SHAWN: You know me — if it seems like the project is difficult and hasn't been done (well) before, I'm all in.
ANDRÉ: You overachiever. And totally framework-driven, informed by questions, and made durable through the core-principles we've identified that matter most.
SHAWN: Framework before work … I think this is where we can really help our audience. To borrow Bruce Lee's phrase, “hack away at the unessential” — show them the few things that really matter and build frameworks to make sure they know how to execute those few things exceptionally well.
ANDRÉ: You're the questions guy, should be a walk in the park, right? (famous last words)
SHAWN: Challenge accepted.
ANDRÉ: I feel we can shape LBC so that, no matter who goes through it and does the deep introspective work, will create an expression of a durable business that will be unique to them. No other ‘version' of a durable business will sound like it, quack like it, or smell like it.
SHAWN: I think this is the critical insight. Too many courses are prescriptive, one-size-fits-all (which really means one-size-fits-few). If we take a step back and get the perspective right, I think we can identify a variety of paths someone could follow and then they get to choose their own adventure based on what resonates most with them.
ANDRÉ: Exactly. I think Black Friday 2020 also makes sense. It's how the whole thing started in 2018. Thinking out loud: we're suckers for punishment.
SHAWN: That seems like the perfect Christmas gift to ourselves…
… which more of less leads us to this very moment in time.
We plan to completely rewrite LBC (likely sporting a new name) over the next few months.
Black Friday 2020 early adopter enrollment will get you access to the current LBC (which will never be officially rereleased btw), and you'll get access to the new version as we create it.
(The updated curriculum will follow before Black Friday.)