Having just completed the annual launch for Titans Xcelerator, I went back to my blog post from a year ago after completing last year’s launch…and I noticed that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The big difference this year was that we had our first group of third year renewals(in addition to over 40 new members and a huge group of second year renewals).
My post from last year, updated for today, was a premise I accentuated to the renewals over the past two years…and it seemed to resonate with them since most didn’t let too many ideas get in the way of implementation of the ideas that mattered the most.
To give you a visual of this premise, based on last year’s post, they kept their car running (continuously) inside a very special parking lot.
Talking about this premise again today is a way for you to get comfortable in 2022 (and every year following) with having more ideas than you can execute on…and look at that as an asset rather than a liability…and without affecting your productivity in the present.
The second and third year members of Titans Xcelerator, having been flooded with new ideas every month, did just that…and here is how they did it:
During my many years at Boardroom (the iconic publisher and direct marketer) we never met an idea we didn’t like.
That can be a huge burden…you know, “too many ideas, not enough time.”
But looked at another way, “too many ideas” might be the single, most important reason we became so iconic (and so successful).
The problem isn’t the number of good ideas you create but how you deal with them as they surface.
A good idea today that may not be worthy of taking further, may be a good idea tomorrow (especially when it gets combined with a newer idea from that wonderful world of tomorrow).
At Boardroom, whenever we had one of our famous freewheeling creative brainstorming meetings (where, theoretically, there are no bad ideas), there was always a section on the white board which said:
That simple addition made all the difference in those meetings (and to the company):
- It enabled the folks in the room not to get derailed by an idea that was not ready, not cooked enough or needed much more seasoning.
- It freed everyone’s brain to continue the firehose of ideas without reflection on any one idea.
- It gave permission to actually put a bad idea (that can never really be a bad idea…”theoretically”) someplace safe and warm, probably never to be addressed again (which is OK by the way).
- And of course, it is a place to store the best ideas of tomorrow.
The key is to have a parking lot big enough to hold everything and anything that gets captured over time.
And thankfully this parking lot allows for loitering…especially for those uncooked ideas.
Neither are there any cars–or anything else–that takes up real space.
This kind of parking lot will accommodate all ideas and should also never be confused with a junkyard.
Our parking lot of ideas at Boardroom was the single biggest asset we owned (well…maybe second to our 9 million name database) over the 34 years I spent building both.
The lot was always full—but also with room to spare (when does that ever happen without giving the parking attendant a huge tip)? 🙂
Keeping it full–with the option to pull any idea out at any time–led to the biggest and most successful marketing campaigns we ever did.
I’ve written about these previously…for example:
- How we eventually got on TV to the tune of $200 million in sales after the idea was in the parking lot for 15 years…and there wasn’t even any rust on the idea despite all that time in storage.
- How we developed a book division of “other people’s content” which was in the lot for over a decade (but we never paid a dime in overtime parking).
- How we eventually got to work with the most prolific copywriters and marketers when the initial idea to work with them was only a gleam in our eye. Once we pulled them out of the lot, when the time was right, there was no oil leaking from any of them. Their engines started up immediately. And those superstars are still working with me today, whether they are alive or dead.
Despite achieving a 70% renewal rate to date among Titans Xcelerator members (which I’ve been told is decent for a low-priced mastermind/coaching group), I still want to know about “the other 30%.”
Not because I am greedy (in terms of money) …or because I grew up in a house where getting a 98% on an exam triggered the question, “what happened to the other 2%?”
So, if it’s not about the money or pride, what am I after with my follow up to the 30%?
Finding out that the 70% are prepared for the group, and the bounty of ideas coming, because they have at least some kind of parking lot (some even have a 5 story garage)…while most of the 30% do not…was a revelation to me.
I am used to hearing the two standard reasons for not renewing (that you hear all the time too):
Money and time (not enough available of either one).
If they can’t afford it, I try to be creative with pricing and let them know the cost is not an expense, but an investment in their future. It’s an enrollment conversation rather than a sales conversation …but often it’s simply not meant to be.
However, digging deeper on the “time” issue, I often find that there is not enough time because it’s spent frivolously elsewhere. That’s when the parking garage idea comes in.
The one question I ask the non-renewals:
Is there anything I could have done during the year that would have led to a different result for you?
So once we get past whether it’s simply money or time, the one objection that makes me want to scream is a version of this:
I’m spending too much time learning, and not enough time doing. As we both know, all the learning in the world is worthless if not implemented.
That sounds good…but I believe it’s based on a faulty premise that learning and implementation are mutually exclusive.
You can’t implement anything without learning…and you can never take a break from learning to implement.
After all, if you learn something additional (and related) to what you are implementing, even while you are implementing it, might you implement it better? Read that again…I had to after I wrote it 🙂
Or maybe you can even pull out some “learning” from the parking lot that makes it better?
Learning and implementation always work in tandem, not against each other.
And of course learning and implementation needs to lead to successful results…which is the bottom line.
You must create a success path for your members…but they need to prepare for it as well.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Amadeus, which if you haven’t seen it (and you must!), is a fictionalized biography about Wolfgang “Amadeus” Mozart which follows Italian composer Antonio Salieri’s rivalry with Mozart at the court of Emperor Joseph II.
One of my favorite scenes in the film (actually one of dozens that are memorable…I’ve shared this one with you before but it’s that good) is this dialogue after Mozart presents a brand-new piece of work (which is extraordinary of course) to the emperor:
EMPEROR: Well, Herr Mozart! A good effort. Decidedly that. An excellent effort! You’ve shown us something quite new today.
[Mozart bows frantically: he is over-excited.]
MOZART: It is new, it is, isn’t it, Sire?
EMPEROR: Yes, indeed.
MOZART: So then you like it? You really like it, Your Majesty?
EMPEROR: Of course I do. It’s very good. Of course now and then – just now and then – it gets a touch elaborate.
MOZART: What do you mean, Sire?
EMPEROR: Well, I mean occasionally it seems to have, how shall one say? [he stops in difficulty; turning to Orsini-Rosenberg] How shall one say, Director?
ORSINI-ROSENBERG: Too many notes, Your Majesty?
EMPEROR: Exactly. Very well put. Too many notes.
MOZART: I don’t understand. There are just as many notes, Majesty, as are required. Neither more nor less.
EMPEROR: My dear fellow, there are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening. I think I’m right in saying that, aren’t I, Court Composer?
SALIERI: Yes! yes! er, on the whole, yes, Majesty.
MOZART: But this is absurd!
EMPEROR: My dear, young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Cut a few and it will be perfect.
MOZART: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?
EMPEROR: Well. There it is. [Dismissing Mozert completely]
The emperor reminds me of someone who didn’t renew Titans Xcelerator—although I don’t recall Joseph the Second ever enrolling as a member…nor had I launched the program, as far as I recall, in the mid-18th Century.
So it definitely wasn’t him. 🙂
But he might have been one of his relatives centuries later who told me, after not renewing, that there were “too many good ideas” coming out of the group (i.e., “too many notes”).
He didn’t renew because he was frustrated that he couldn’t find the time to work on (or execute on) all the amazing things he was learning.
Yes…that made me scream (but not at him of course).
I was not insulted nor did I try very hard to keep him in the group–and I promised to help him in the future (which I have).
Ironically, the two biggest initiatives he decided to focus on most intently when he left (and now with no distractions from any other good ideas getting in the way—his loss) could be sourced directly to two presentations given by guest speakers at the mastermind.
Who knows what other speakers or ideas could have enhanced what he was doing if he had renewed? But I digress.
My work was done with him since there was no convincing him that he needed ideas now more than ever.
And I couldn’t help but feel I had failed him–and I was a bit glum.
And he ran away just when we were getting cooking on his business…double glum. ☹
I didn’t have the model in my mind at the time (that I have now) to convince him that additional ideas could be additive to what he was currently working on…and if not, I could have shown him a blueprint to begin construction on his very own, sparkling new, parking lot.
As a “quick start” entrepreneur, and I know many of you are, it’s easy to get overwhelmed…and that’s why you must have a system to catalog, store and have at the ready as many new ideas as possible all the time.
For my higher priced masterminds, I do a one-on-one Zoom interview with every prospective member…and I even did that pre-COVID.
Everyone I interview has two things in common:
- They are all best-in-class, multi-channel, direct response marketers.
- They are all incredibly successful at generating excitement (and profit) in a specific area they are passionate about.
Knowing that, I ask the same question of every one of them after spending some time talking about the history and trajectory of their businesses:
“What is holding you back in the growth of your business?”
Almost all of the answers I receive can be put into one (or more) of these three buckets:
1) “I have too many ideas and I don’t know which ones to focus on first.”
2) “I don’t receive enough candid feedback and constructive criticism on my new ideas that I can really trust.”
3) “I don’t receive enough new ideas from others.”
If you want to dive deeper into each of these three areas that block entrepreneurs, read “Meet you in the parking lot,” my post from last year.
Whether you are a rainmaker creating rain (i.e., ideas) yourself, or drinking from the firehose of ideas from others, or just listening to compositions that have too many notes, let me suggest that you stop complaining and work on learning and implementing simultaneously.
Here’s the prescription:
Soak all ideas in.
Drink up and stay hydrated (with ideas) always.
Listen to all notes (ideas) from everywhere (and the more notes the better).
Never meet an idea you don’t like.
Then…after you meet them, get cozy with the ones that make you vibrate the most, never eliminate the “not now” ideas simply because your brain can’t process them at the time.
That’s why we build parking lots.