Be Great At Something

Be good at something.

I recently filled out an application and it freshly dawned on me how important to have an area of excellence. Even if you can do other things, it’s good to be very good at something. People will pay for the value in you.

Branding, marketing, business strategy, sales and advertising are kindred disciplines but very different.

Find a skill that will make you indispensable, even if you relocated to another country or city. Salesmen, for example, are essential to most organizations because selling is an important skill.

It could be communication, writing code, math, carpentry, organization, writing, engineering, cooking, crocheting or basic accounting. Whatever it is, just make sure you have something of value that others will pay for!

Find something you can be the best at

As an entrepreneur, it is important to have skills or competencies that make you invaluable to your business. It’s not enough to have a vision alone. I have encountered entrepreneurs whose only value to their business is that they came up with the initial idea.

Many of them are incompetent leaders and this will affect the business in the long run unless they find out what their strengths are and stick to those.

1. Make a list of everyone you know who is an expert or has a high level proficiency in the strength you want to improve upon

2. Make a list of the steps they took to become the best. A lot of this stuff is public information. You may have to spend an hour or two looking for this information online by reading articles they have been featured in or interviews they have participated in.

3. Determine which steps fit your goals and start copying. This could be through reading the books they read or working at specific companies or taking courses they took.

Keep improving your strengths daily

Competence in areas such as communication, sales, goal setting, time management and basic finance can be studied so it is best to improve ourselves in these areas.

Your employees will respect you more if they view you as more than “The Idea Guy”.

How did you find your path in life?


How to do Real-Life Product Placement On TV, Social Media, and Music

Very few of people outside the United States have seen even a quarter of the ads in the States.

This makes it even more impressive that you can find so many brand evangelists and fans outside the States.

Do not underestimate the power of marketing through movies, TV shows, YouTube videos and other media that can be shared with the click of a mouse.

Product placement is very effective because it shows potential customers how to fit your products into their daily lives.

Show users how they can share your products with family, match it with their sneakers, and display it in their living rooms and so on.

Proper product placement in the lives of popular people can also make your brand more visible.

Many brands have seen great success by giving the coolest kids on campus free products.

Note that it is not enough to give your product to a celebrity or famous person unless a lot of your target will get to see it.

A lot of brands give out free samples to celebrities who have little or no web or press presence.

Consider using celebrities or brand evangelists as walking billboards.

We have seen brand ambassadors with no social media account and yet the target is a group who do not read newspapers or magazines.

If your target is spending four hours on YouTube everyday then a magazine ad may not be the best.

KELLOGG Marketing Case Study

Another brilliant idea that employs the product placement in real life idea was executed in Sweden by Kellogg.

A store offered a free box of Special K to customers who would take a photo and tag it with #nyaspecialk (Swedish for ‘new Special K’.

All the customer had to do was show the cashier the pic and they would get a free box.

The marketing director at Kellogg, mentioned that the Instagram app is more popular in Sweden than Twitter so it only made sense to use Instagram.

The brilliance in this campaign is that Kellogg got access to show the customer’s friends what brand of cereal they preferred.
Kellogg could have done this with a million dollar advertising budget as well but they realised it was a cheaper and more remarkable way to generate brand awareness.

I would like to mention that campaigns like these may not yield immediate results but with consistency, the payout can be huge.

Take car companies for example.

They know if they advertise consistently enough, a ten year old who has seen the ads all his life will consider buying car brand X when he or she is 30.

Another thing to remember about advertising is that, it should be measurable now or later.

For TV, it may look attractive for most brands but many do not know how to measure the results they get from TV ads.

Many more do not know if they got any results from their television campaigns.

The lesson here is not to just buy ad space because you can brag to your friends and competitors that you are in this month’s issue of Forbes.

Bragging rights should be birthed from results.

If you have a friend who is a musician, try to get him to put your brand name in one of his songs.

People will pay more for established brands because they presume the company’s brand name has more to lose if it screws up than they do.

Hardly anyone compares the specifications of five different television sets when they can just pick from the top three market leaders.

When you are hungry, you will buy from certain restaurants not because they are the best but because they are the most unlikely to be bad.

Any other product placement tips we have not covered?


What metrics are you using to measure your startup? Competition or Monopoly?

When I left my last startup I started thinking about what we achieved and if we had done our best for our clients.

My philosophy is that the best businesses for me are those where I can provide the most value to the largest number of people.

This kind of thinking advocates that competitors are a nuisance who cannot or will not take care of your target market as well as you can. To adopt this mindset, you have to be committed to providing nothing less than the best value to your clients.

If you were the best surgeon in town, would you want your family to be treated by anyone else? The standard metrics used by other startups did not seem to please me.

After reading both Titan and Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, I realized what we had missed.

We were using the wrong metrics.

Competition versus monopoly metrics

Metrics an entrepreneur and his team to know if they are doing productive work and if they are getting closer to their goals or targets.

This is on the assumption that the business has targets that matter.

Depending on the kind od business you want to have in 5 years, you may either be using what I call competitive metrics or monopoly metrics. I am in favor of the latter.

While reading John D. Rockefeller’s autobiography by Ron Chernow I realized what he set out to do. According to the author, Rockefeller had a sense of entitlement that drove him to think the oil business should be nurtured and preserved by him.

He felt it was only right to protect consumers from all other competitors who would not give them the service they deserved.

This mindset of course led him to control most of the oil production in much of the world for many years.

On the other hand, he could have chosen to compete with others for customers. I’ll explain why I agree with this mindset after I explain what the difference is.

Competitive metrics versus Monopoly metrics

Competitive metrics is when you measure your success according to stuff like sales, number of registered users, foot traffic, visitors to your website, revenue per month or whatever targets your sales people have been assigned.

Monopoly metrics are when you measure your business’ success by what percentage of your market you are providing value.

In contrast to purely competitive metrics, you are focusing of how big of the pie you are serving not just how many sales were made this quarter.

For example, a restaurant can boast of $10,000 in monthly sales from 1000 customers but is that business a success if the gross monthly sales of their market is $100000 from 10,000 customers?

This would mean that they only provided value to ten percent of the market. They allowed 90% of their family to be treated by another surgeon.

Not everyone agrees with me when I say this.

For some, this is being overly ambitious and I was told by one entrepreneur that too many customers would give you headaches. lol.

Facebook decided to track active users when everyone else was tracking registered users.

The latter is vanity while the former has made them the dominant force in social media globally. Focusing on registered users is like having a 100 vegetarians at your grilled pork soiree.

The room may be packed but if no one is eating then it doesn’t really matter.

Check out the books here. I particularly recommend Titan since it has a lot of insights from America’s first billionaire. You can also purchase Peter Thiel’s Zero to One here.