EIGHT KEY ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT LAUNCH

leading-ideaWe are constantly launching our products/services, and quite often it goes extremely well, but not every launch works, and sometimes we’re left wondering, “Why went wrong?”

A friend recently commented on his product launch fail. He used a good and proven launch tool, one I’ve used myself, but he didn’t get a single order or call, not even a single lead. Most of us in business have been there at one time or another.

After hearing from my friend, I went back through some strategies and came up with a framework to analyze eight different key elements of a successful product launch.

When a launch fails – barring external events we have no control over – it’s usually for one or more of these eight reasons. But the good news is that you don’t have to wait for failure to use this framework. It doubles as a pre-launch checklist to ensure we get things right on the front end.

  1. 03People – Have you targeted the right prospects? It doesn’t matter how good your product is if you’re offering it to the wrong potential customers. If you’re trying to sell snow in Siberia, don’t be surprised if it’s tough sledding.
  2. Problem – Have you clearly articulated the prospect’s problem using the language they would use? Having the right prospect is only part of it. Can you connect your product to their needs, fears, or wants? All the better if you can articulate something they need your help to understand. No one knew their reliance on the Walkman was a problem until Steve Jobs introduced us to the iPod.
  3. Promise – Have you painted a vivid picture of a desired future state – the transformation your product can bring? This is all about connecting the dots. Do the work for the prospect. Will your product solve their problem? Then show them what their life looks like after they’ve used your product.
  4. Position – Have you positioned yourself as an authoritative guide who can help them get to their destination? It doesn’t matter if you’ve communicated the promise to the right people about their problem if they’re unsure you can solve it. Trust is crucial to any product launch. Endorsements can help, but nothing beats winning people’s confidence directly.
  5. Plan – Have you shared a plan they can follow that will lead them to their destination? Sometimes this is simple. Buy product, use it, voila! Other times the transformation is more nebulous. A clearly articulated plan will help the prospect see how your product can help them.
  6. Preparar ano letivo_webdoorPitch – Have you created an irresistible, no-brainer offer? Problem, promise, position, and plan form the content of your offer, but your pitch represent style and approach you take. Some pitches are inappropriate for some audiences and undermine your credibility. Think of it this way: A pitch is not only an offer, it’s a musical note. Hit a sour note, and you might lose the sale.
  7. Price – Is your product priced right for your market? Pricing can be very mysterious. What people won’t buy for $10, they’ll buy for $99. One thing is for sure, nailing the right price is crucial for success. Price communicates more than mere monetary value. Before you go to market it’s critical that you get this right – even if that means relearning everything you think you know about what your product is worth.
  8. Place – Are your marketing efforts reaching prospects at the right place? Nothing is more wasteful than advertising that never connects or affiliates that can’t reach your people. Make sure you’ve got this eighth element working for you or it can undermine all the rest of your efforts.

We can’t predict anything about launch, but my team and I have been hyper engaged at every step, calibrating and recalibrating our messaging, frequency, and more. It is like running with the bowling ball down the lane to make sure we hit all the pins.

Whatever you’re launching next, try them! You ain’t got nothing to lose, only to win!

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RETIREMENT – A WORD THAT BOTHERS

retirement1Retirement has always been used as a way for people in authority to induce behaviors in others for their own purposes.

Augustus Caesar, for instance, gave his former soldiers big pensions to prevent them from becoming disgruntled and overthrowing the government, and Chancellor Otto Von Bismark threw a wet blanket on socialist radicals in Germany by offering payouts to the elderly.

The common denominator in these and other examples is that retirement was a way of buying people off and getting them out of the picture. I think the modern idea of retirement, stemming directly from the industrialized workplace, is the same. The idea is that you can induce someone to do repetitive, soul-killing work with little emotional benefit if you promise a big enough carrot at the end of the stick. For people in my parents’ generation, it was the only way to keep the machine rolling.

Retirement-555799035-750x485This is a terrible and dehumanizing way to think of work. It assumes that workers have no real value beyond output. Once their productive years are over – however that’s determined – then we send them out to pasture. The only way to get workers to play along is to convince them that the pasture is lush and relaxing. Suck it up now because it’s going to be wonderful in a few decades.

The effect is that we’ve now raised a few generations to look for fulfillment in the pasture, not their work. Satisfaction is a future thing, not a present possibility. Joy is for later. Meaning and significance comes from checking out down the road. If you’re looking for a way to murder your heart, then congratulations. That’s it.

The cost of the trade is too high. It encourages alienation from our work. It wrongly assumes those who have lived the longest and experienced the most have the least to offer, and comes with significant health risks, including reduced mental function, heart attack, and stroke. Also, it often comes with feelings of purposelessness and loneliness and deprives our communities of the contributions we still have to give.

For those who look at life from the Christian perspective, think of people like Moses and Caleb. They were productive to the very end. Job’s best days were his last days. We would trade that? Not me.

86494288The best answer to the culture of checking out is to think differently about our calling in midlife and beyond. Here are three steps to doing that:

  1. Eliminate the word “retirement” from our vocabulary It’s an unhealthy concept. If we chose to use late life as an opportunity to change directions in our work, great. But it’s not retirement. Staying meaningfully engaged in the world is essential for a sense of purpose.
  2. Keep the door open to our own contributions If retirement has been a way to get people out of the picture, why do that to yourself? The more you know and grow, the greater potential contribution you have to make. Stay committed to playing full out till the end. How?
  3. Recommit to work we love When Duke Ellington was asked why he didn’t retire and live off his royalties, he responded, “Retire to what?” It wasn’t that home was so empty. It was that his work was so full. He lived his art. Retiring would have been like turning off his own soul.

If you’re doing meaningful work you enjoy, why would you ever want to quit? And if you’re not doing meaningful work you enjoy, it’s probably time to reconsider what you’re doing before your only real option is hoping for some shade in the pasture.

Thankfully some polling I’ve seen shows that people are increasingly retiring retirement. It’s an idea whose time is long over.

How would it change your working life now if you stretched your productive horizon out another decade or more? 

YOUR PEER GROUP MATTERS MORE THAN YOU THINK

mensagens_de_agradecimento_aos_amigos_f_lHave you ever noticed how the people in your life affect you? The impact can be so significant that one of the best things we can do to change our lives for the better is change our peer group.

In the 1930s C.S. Lewis started a small literary circle called the Inklings. The group started with J.R.R. Tolkien, and eventually included others like Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. The influence on works in progress of the different members was huge. Lewis actually scrapped the first draft of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe after his friends heard some chapters. They considered it “so bad that I destroyed it,” he said. It’s impossible to discount the influence of our friends.

That’s why Solomon stressed friendships so much and so often. “Iron sharpens iron,” he says in one place, “and one man sharpens another.” He also warned about negative friendships: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.” Our peers really matter. And we can put that to work for us if we’re intentional about it.

group_selfieUsually we drift into peer groups. They could be associates from work, our kids’ school, church, whatever. The important thing to notice is how often these relationships just happen. They’re not intentional. But if iron sharpens iron, shouldn’t we be careful about the kind of edge others are giving us? Instead of random relationships, what if we could create communities that helped everyone involved achieve their goals together, like Lewis and the Inklings? We can, and this kind of intentional relationships are invaluable in at least three areas:

  1. Learning – Getting connected with a good group can accelerate your learning, provide key insights, help you find important resources, and teach you best practices.
  2. Encouragement – Whether it’s business, family life, or our faith journey, life can be tough. A good peer group can give you the validation and support you need to keep going and rise above the tempests.
  3. Accountability – We need people who can speak into our lives and help us when we’re veering off track. The right peers are essential for this.

And of course, it’s not just about what you get. You can offer the same learning, encouragement, and accountability to others in the group. These peer groups can take different shapes and configurations depending on how intimate we desire them to be.

tmp708601562729021440Examples of different groups could include:

  • Blog or social media communities. I’m proud of the community you’ve helped me build here. It’s source of information and encouragement to many, including me. I feel the same way about the intentional community we’ve built through Platform University.
  • Mastermind groups. These are a key way to learn best practices, insider information, and get feedback for new ideas and projects. These groups work best for sharing among people who are highly accomplished in their fields who feel comfortable sharing with others. Here’s how you can launch one of your own. I’ve greatly benefitted from mastermind groups and am starting my own soon.
  • Mentoring groups. Many of you know that I’ve run my own mentoring group. The idea was to get young professionals together to grow through some of life’s challenging and exciting moments. When all was said and done, I found it as helpful as the others did.
  • Reading or study groups. There is so much to learn about life, faith, family, and business sometimes the best way is get a group of people around a table and study a book on the topic together. The book gives the group a track to run on, and the right chemistry among the members can create conversations that go far beyond the book itself.
  • Accountability groups. There are very formal accountability groups like AA or the Samson Society, but they can be more informal as well. The idea here is that members are invited to speak into each other’s lives to encourage and challenge when needed.
  • séries-1Close friendships. Nothing replaces good friendships. Lewis and Tolkien’s relationship went on for years, and even when it was strained, remained beneficial to them both. I’ve found the same thing among my own friends. It’s easy to place work or family ahead of these sorts of relationships, but good friendships are like supports that hold up other areas of our life. Without strong friendships the quality of our lives can be greatly diminished.

Do your peers get you? Can you contribute and add value to their lives? It’s might be more important than you think to your well being. Intentional relationships make us more productive, creative, and useful than we could ever be on our own.

If you’re like me, building these relationships can be a challenge. Professional and family demands can easily interfere with building and maintaining these sorts of groups, especially the more intimate and intensive ones. But don’t miss out! They can also benefit your professional and family lives in ways so big you may never be able to measure them.

What relationships have you found the most helpful for your professional and private life? Remember: we are the average of the 5 people we deal with at most. Choose them wisely.

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BREAKING FREE FROM YOUR DAY JOB AND LIVING YOUR PASSION

1 (1)You might be familiar with The Shawshank Redemption. Remember the storyline? Andy Dufresne, innocent of any crime, is saddled with a life sentence in Shawshank Prison. The experience nearly kills him and his hope for freedom.

I filtered the movie through my own experience. Stuck in my day job, I felt imprisoned from my potential. Although I loved the people I served and worked with, I felt captive from my creativity. Slowly over the years, I accepted my own life sentence. I thought it was easier to let my dreams die than to keep hoping for freedom. But that’s not what Andy did. He escaped. And eventually I did, too.

Watching Andy’s escape, I saw an interesting three-stage pattern emerge. He went from prison to plan to payoff. Studies show 86 percent of us feel stuck in our day jobs. If we want to go from day job to dream job and turn our passion into a full-time gig, we can learn from this pattern.

Stage 1: Prison

Many of Andy’s friends didn’t want to escape their situation. Initially they hated Shawshank Prison, but they grew to accept it. Similarly, many people accept the harmful side effects of their day jobs. Those side effects, according to Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love, include:

  • Stress – Seventy percent of American workers experience stress-related illnesses.
  • Burnout – Thirty-four percent think they will burn out on the job in the next two years.
  • Heart attacks – There is a 33 percent increase in heart attacks on Monday mornings, according to the Los Angeles Times.
  • Injury – There is a 25 percent increase in work-related injuries on Mondays, according to Entrepreneur magazine.
  • Death – According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people die at 9 a.m. on Monday than at any other time.
  • Suicide – Male suicides are highest on Sunday nights with men realizing their careers are not where they want them.

The lesson of this stage is obvious: Day jobs kill people, and most don’t care. It’s time to get serious about breaking free.

Stage 2: Plan

To break free from prison you need a plan. Andy didn’t just jump over the barbed wire fence. He escaped because he utilized his team, his tools, and his time:

  • Team – Andy didn’t do it alone and neither will you. In my own escape, I relied on a physical team and a virtual one. I found support in people like my wife Kelly and my friend David. I also found wisdom from my colleagues and mentors, many within Platform University.
  • Tools – Andy didn’t simply use his bare hands to break out. Instead, he relied upon a tool, his handy rock hammer. In Day Job to Dream Job, I share the Dream Jobber Plan, the tool I used to escape my day job. This is the same nine-step framework I teach my Dream Job Bootcamp students to help them escape theirs.
  • Time – Andy used time and pressure. Each day he invested a little energy into his dream. Don’t discount a little energy invested over a long period of time.

With the right team, tools, and timeline, the Dream Jobber Plan works.

Stage 3: Payoff

Andy tells his friend, Red, about a little Mexican town right on the Pacific called Zihuatanejo. If he escapes, he says, he’ll buy a worthless old boat and fix it up like new and take guests out charter fishing. At the end of the movie – with Andy and Red embracing – we see his dream come true.

By breaking free from my day job I created my own Zihuatanejo. Though, thankfully, it doesn’t involve charter fishing – I know my limits. Regardless, my wife and kids will tell you we’ve designed a new life, igniting souls full-time.

The benefits can’t be beat:

  • Freedom, to go as we please.
  • Finances, to earn as we wish.
  • Fulfillment, to live as we like.

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really,” Andy tells Red in a classic line from the movie. “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

If you’re one of the 86 percent stuck in your day job, you have that same choice – living or dying. Which will you choose? What could happen in your life if you broke free? Is your team in place? Do you have the tools?

Think about it…

FIVE THINGS YOU MUST AVOID AT WORK

1415903765390Before starting my own business I made a great number of huge mistakes – who never did? – but I did some things right things too, but my missteps were legendary (at least in my own mind). When I look back on my 25 years of working, and the careers of the hundreds of folks I train, coach and teach, five blunders stand out from all the rest as the most negative, damaging, and irreversible in your career and professional life:

1. Speak, behave or quit out of rage or revenge

Most people spend more hours at work than anywhere else, so it’s normal and expected that we will experience the full gamut of emotions while engaged in our work. I’m all for bringing our whole selves to work as well, and being as authentic, honest, and transparent as humanly possible at our jobs. That said, I’ve watched the inevitable destruction of losing control of your emotions and acting out rashly and impulsively from rage or despair.

2. Backstab your colleagues

I’m astounded at how many people today feel completely comfortable ridiculing, disparaging or undermining their colleagues, co-workers and even their friends. I used to be that kind of person, talking behind someone’s back if I felt they were behaving poorly, meanly, or less than professionally – you never did? come on! I learned later that this is called triangulation – telling a third party about something that makes you anxious or upset instead of dealing with it head on with the individual in question. Why do we do that? Because we lack the courage and fortitude to address the problem directly, or we feel it just won’t work out if we do. It relieves our anxiety to share the problem, but it does nothing to resolve it.

You may call this “gossip” (gossip, by the way, is another “must not do” in the workplace). But backstabbing your colleagues is a special brand of negative behavior because it aims to hurt. And when you desire to hurt others, it will be you who suffers. In one job, I backstabbed a colleague because it seemed that he received all the accolades, promotions and perks because of his family name and his obsequiousness to our bosses. All of that might have been true, but trying to take him down behind his back didn’t work. That behavior never will, in the long run. You’ll only embarrass and humiliate yourself and it will come back around to bite you eventually.

3. Lie

We tell lies most often when we think that the truth will hurt us somehow, or when we want to avoid facing the consequences of our truth – this is the corporate world, no matter what you think! The problem with lying is two-fold: 1) When you tell yourself you’re not capable of facing reality or dealing with the consequences, you make yourself right – you’ll grow less powerful, capable, bold, respectable, and trustworthy over time, and 2) the lies you tell must be perpetuated, which is exhausting and drains you from vital energy you need to reach your fullest potential.

Gossip-is-badIf you have told lies at work – I’m sure you have – about your skills and talents, experience and background, about the status of work you’re overseeing, or about who you are and what you are capable of, I’d highly recommend taking a long, hard look at what you’re afraid of, and instead of keeping up the front, get in the cage with those fears and begin working through them.

4. Proclaim that you’re miserable

Just the other day, I was talking to a former client who had marched into her boss’s office that week and shared that she was miserable at work and volunteered for a severance package. I’ve done that myself – been so unhappy at work that I put my hand up for a package. I didn’t get it, and neither did my client. After sharing that news and not receiving the package, you’re stuck in a deeply unsettling situation of the employer knowing you’re a terrible fit for your role. There are a few specific instances where this might be the right move, but in general, sharing that you hate your job is not the way to go.

But what if it’s the truth? My father used to say that there are 10 different ways to say anything, and I think he’s right. Phrases like “miserable,” “unhappy,” “fed up,” “ready to leave,” and “need to go” are not helpful when you’re talking to your colleagues, bosses, or HR staff.

What is the better way? Talk about what you’re great at and love to do, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’re ready for. Share your work highlights and new directions you’re excited and committed to take your career, and discuss your plans and desires for growth and change. Open the door for new opportunities at your current employer that will expand our skills, your resume and your talents. Try to find ways at your current job (where you’re already getting paid) to grow, stretch and build yourself. Explore every option available to you for becoming what you want to without walking out in anger and disgust. Your employer might very well be able to sponsor and support your growth and change, but it won’t happen if you stomp in and say “I’m miserable and it’s your fault.”

5. Burn bridges

Literally the biggest lesson I’ve learned in business is that success is all about relationships. It’s truly about who you know, and how they feel and think about you (and how you make them feel). I’m not saying that your amazing talent and skill aren’t important. Of course they are. I am saying that we don’t thrive and succeed alone. We need other people. And these people are not just our former bosses – they are people who reported to you, teamed with you, shared coffee and drinks with you, took training sessions with you, got yelled at alongside of you, and weathered tough times with you.

Every single one of your relationships is vitally important to you and your future, so craft them with care. Avoid people you don’t trust or like, but don’t burn bridges. After 30 years in business I’ve seen that there are hundreds of people we interact with daily who eventually could become our strongest allies, advocates and fans, if we protect and nurture our relationships as the key, enriching asset they are.

And you? Yes, you! Could you share any of your mistakes?

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WHO SAYS NICE GUYS ALWAYS FINISH LAST?

image001We’ve all read the stories about successful and iconic CEOs with volatile personalities – about leaders who use fear to drive performance, like Mr. Burns in The Simpsons, ruling over the Springfield power plant with an iron fist.

A few of these executives are better known for their bad behavior than their business achievements. And while in some cases their antics may be their downfall, many others go unpunished by their boards and shareholders as long as they’re delivering results.

The theatrics of badly behaved business leaders provide a constant stream of headlines for the media, so you couldn’t blame people for thinking that such aggressive behavior is a routine part of being a successful CEO. Sadly, we seldom read about the many mild-mannered but equally – if not more – effective executives. About those who foster commitment, loyalty, and inspiration. Maybe they’re not as newsworthy, but they’re certainly the ones we should be taking notes from.

So what can they teach us? In my 30 year career, I’ve known many kinds of executives, from the most outrageous to the most gracious and I keep coming back to five traits, which, in my view, are shared by the most inspirational and most effective among them:

1. Inclusive leaders commit to diversity

They use the insights brought by different people from different walks of life to spark discussion and create innovative solutions. They seek to build consensus and commitment, yet they don’t shy away from making the tough decisions.

Forget any notion that inclusion is simply a Human Resource initiative: a survey of executives conducted by Forbes identified workplace diversity as a major driver of internal innovation and business growth.

2. Creative leaders encourage employees to take risksceo

Their companies place a high value on innovation and often lead their industries as a result. Creative leaders cut through hierarchy and empower even the most junior team members to speak their mind. They create a culture which is energizing to be part of.

Innovative businesses are the most sought after by potential recruits. According to a survey of Millennials by Deloitte, 78% consider how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there.

3. Ethical leaders have the highest standards

They lead by example and serve as role models for transparency and openness. The companies they lead have a clear and defined societal purpose beyond profit. Their employees feel they’re making a difference in the world.

Ethical leadership is possibly the most important of all the five traits, as it underpins all the others. A leader can spend decades building their career and reputation only to have it destroyed by one scandal or lapse in judgment.

4. Balanced leaders don’t keep employees chained to their desks

They know long hours don’t necessarily improve productivity and profitability, and in fact can be counterproductive. They embrace the flexibility technology has provided the workplace, despite its ability to keep us connected 24/7. Balanced leaders aren’t afraid to unplug for a few hours or even a few days.

I believe it’s really important for a leader to take time to disconnect. For example, I might travel to three countries in a week, but I’ll block out the weekend to spend time with my two sons and my wife. Or an evening for dinner with friends, or an event for the nonprofits I work with.

5. Grateful leaders are never too busy to say “thank you”

They remain grounded, stay human, and never forget where they came from. These leaders create a culture where people are recognized and valued for their contribution. They don’t just acknowledge the department heads or top sales people, but also those unassuming people behind the scenes, maybe the ones who make their coffee, or deliver their packages, or record their videos.

Gratitude is something that’s very important to me personally. In the past I’ve found many small but meaningful ways to say thank you, including personal letters and company awards.

ceo-and-data-analyticsEvery CEO is different, and none of us are perfect, but the most effective and inspiring fall into one, several, or all of these groupings.

By a wide margin, these leaders will get the least press, even though they far exceed in numbers their peers with volatile personalities. Regardless, through the strong example they’re setting, they’re increasing customer loyalty, attracting the brightest talent to their companies, and inspiring the next generation of leaders.

ARE YOU LETTING HURTFUL WORDS SABOTAGE YOUR SUCCESS?

autojulgamento---um-direito-a-liberdade.htmlWe all know our words are powerful. We can slice someone to pieces with just a few syllables. That’s bad enough, but what happens when we turn that power on ourselves?

As a young writer Peter Leonard showed a short story to his famous father, novelist Elmore Leonard. Instead of encouraging his son, Elmore Leonard wrote a lengthy critique saying his characters were flat and lifeless: “I didn’t write another word of fiction for 27 years,” Peter recalled. But as sad as that story is, we do the same thing to ourselves, don’t we?

How many potential writers, artists, athletes, speakers, and performers have chopped themselves off at the knees with self-criticism? Not long ago, I was playing darts with a friend. Every time he threw one, he berated himself. “Ugh,” he said when he really duffed one, “I’m such an idiot. I never hit it straight.”

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What do you think that did for his game? Exactly! It got worse the longer we played. It got so bad in fact, I started paying more attention to his words than the game. They were: “I can’t hit anything!”, “You idiot!”, “I knew I was going miss that.”...

Thinking about the game now, I’m stuck on this question, and I wish I had stopped things long enough to ask my friend: “Would you ever talk like that to one of your children?” Maybe some, like Peter Leonard’s father, would. But we usually strive to protect our kids. We recognize that words like that are harmful. So why don’t we protect ourselves the same way?

Some self-criticism is useful. But accusatory, abusive, and self-defeating criticism is useless and destructive. If we wouldn’t say it to our kids, it’s best to steer clear of saying it to ourselves. Proverbs says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Our language reveals our thinking, and if it’s the deadly kind, we need to change the way we address ourselves.

There are some pretty deep psychological and spiritual reasons for this, but it also affects practical questions of accomplishing our goals. Our words can set us up to fail if we’re not careful. Here are three steps I’ve found helpful in my own life for controlling my words:

  1. I record disempowering words and sentences I catch myself using. Awareness is crucial to controlling our words. Whenever I catch myself saying something negative, I make a note of it. If there’s a pattern, I can address it.
  2. I craft words and sentences to use in place of negative ones. We all know the best way to eliminate a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. It’s the same here. When I default to a negative thought, I now have phrases and affirmations I can use instead. It makes a huge difference.
  3. I ask an accountability partner to call me on it. I felt odd calling my friend on his words when we were playing. I was’t invited to. Instead of letting that stop someone in my life, I’ve let certain people know I want them to hold me accountable for my words. Sometimes it hurts, but it’s worth it.

how-to-be-a-good-mentorOur success is too important to allow hurtful words – especially our own – to derail us. We have to learn how to do for ourselves what Elmore Leonard was unable in that instance to do for his son: Use the power of words to encourage and give life.

Language shapes our perception of reality. It’s a powerful tool we can use for good or bad. It only makes sense that we would give ourselves the best advantage imaginable with the words we use.

Have you noticed the affect your words have on your performance? What could you do to build yourself up with your words?