Why new pain is better than old pain.

Misery is optional. Pain is not.

The myth – “The pain I know is better than the pain I have yet to experience”. We avoid risk because it might cause pain, and we’re not sure we can handle it. So we just muddle along with the known and tolerable pain of an unremarkable life.

I’m laying in a hospital bed with six rib factures (a couple are broken twice) and a broken scapula (In my delirium I thought the doc said spatula.)

Yesterday I was finishing one of the best long bike rides I’ve done this year and was pushing hard to stay under four hours. Just a half mile from my house I was climbing uphill at a really aggressive 17-18mph and ran into the back of a van parked in the bike lane (I was looking up, but apparently not often enough!) The van didn’t move.

I woke up an hour ago thinking about a taxi driver I had met last year in Charleston, SC on the way to do a keynote address. I asked him what food he liked, and his instant response was surprising – he jumped right to the negative – “I can tell you I do NOT eat shrimp!”, which of course is big in that beautiful coastal town.

Hanging On to Old Pain
“Why?”, I asked. “Because 30 years ago my cousin died in a shrimp boat accident. No sir, won’t touch the stuff.” This old pain was sitting right there on the surface of this guy, controlling his world. It was sad to see. He had never figured out how to get past it, or better yet, to use it to make him stronger.

I had a cousin die twenty years ago at 42 of a massive heart attack while running. If I reacted like my taxi driver, I would have stopped exercising. But life (and business) doesn’t work that way. Pain is meant to make us better, not stop us.

My taxi driver was heavily invested in his old pain. He had focused on it instead of focusing on what he could learn from it, and as a result it had grown like coral and crusted over his whole life. He wasn’t about to take a risk to move forward. While the pain was clearly not something he enjoyed, it was also clear that he was quite willing to live with it simply because it was possible that more pain might follow if he ate shrimp again. The pain he knew was better than the pain he might yet experience. So he just stopped growing.

Should I get back on a bike?

Using the New Pain to Get Somewhere
A couple months ago Dr. Stephen Covey sent me a signed copy of his latest book, The 3rd Alternative, for having quoted me in it. It’s about solving life’s toughest challenges. Read it.

He died last week at 79 riding his bike in Utah, which is what made me think of him. My accident was scary, too – not easy to do the kind of damage I did at 17mph going uphill. Last year I rode with a friend who I thought had died in the accident he had that day – he recovered fully. I’ve seen other scary accidents as well.

The Purpose of Pain
Should I get back on a bike? Seems like a stupid idea. But I believe pain comes into our lives to make us stronger and wiser for the next time, not to keep us from ever eating shrimp again. Pain is pretty much the best way to grow, if we respond to it the right way.

I’ll be back on my bike as quickly as I can safely do it. And I’ll be a wiser and better bike rider, less likely to crash – and a stronger person both mentally and physically for having fought through the rehab.

Use the Beaver Dams to Get Stronger
Life is a stream running to the ocean, and it’s full of beaver dams. Don’t expect to go around them all. It just might be that today’s beaver dam makes you able to blow through a dozen other beaver dams down the road as if they didn’t exist. Don’t go looking for pain – we aren’t made TO struggle, but we are definitely made FOR the struggle. It’s the struggle that makes us stronger.

When the pain comes, embrace it and work through it. Come out the other side a better person and a better business owner.

Live a Remarkable Life
Ray Kroc – “If you don’t want to take a risk, get the hell out of business.” And maybe this applies to life as well. Don’t be afraid to take risks because something happened in the past, and something else might happen in the future. Avoiding risk only ensures that nothing remarkable will happen.

Live a remarkable life. Get back on the bike.


We had dozens of employees quit last week…


To make sure we never hired another employee (employees and resumes are both bad Industrial Age ideas), we created a hiring process that makes employees quit before you hire them.

About 18 months ago I wrote a blog on hiring our Chief Results Officer. She and I are now hiring a Chief Supporting Officer, so she can focus more on growing our national and international speaking opportunities.

The Industrial Age gave us employees. We think the Industrial Age should have kept them; we’re not interested. Why?

Employees are stupid, like an ox
The concept of an “employee” largely came from the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1903. “Employee” and “manager” didn’t much exist before his work. Taylor started with an unbelievable assumption. He said an employee is “so stupid that he more nearly resembles the ox than any other type.” When you’re that stupid, the only hope is to create “managers” who are smart enough to control every movement of the employee. Welcome to modern management theory. Really quite amazing that we’ve created an entire business culture on this nonsense.

Employees vs. Adults
With that backdrop for the whole concept, it is no wonder that employees are essentially children who are to be managed and told exactly what to do, where to be, how to perform, how to think, etc. It’s degrading, but “employee” has become synonymous with “child”. The Industrial Age can keep her children – here’s our process for hiring adults. It makes Industrial Age children/employees quit before we ever hire them. We were able to filter dozens of people out before we even saw a resume and easily a hundred others quit the process right after reading our ad.

Never Get Recommendations
At least not directly. If your best clients/friends/employees/neighbors send you people directly, you end up doing a lot of “courtesy interviews” with people you know aren’t what you’re looking for. We sent an email to everyone we know asking them to refer people directly to our Craigslist ad. If they’re good, they’ll show up at the end of the process and you won’t waste time being political.

Never meet people until you’re down to just a few – meeting people personally up front will color your view of how they might fit. There’s a much better way.

The Five-Step Process
Step One – Culture – Never hire for skills. Skills can be taught, culture (beliefs, principles, view of the world) cannot. We did a five-page ad that focused mostly on who we are and our culture, described the work sufficiently, and asked them to answer seven culture/value based questions. Buried in the middle of the ad was “please do not send us your resume”. We were looking for someone highly detailed, so that was a great way to get started. We deleted dozens of emails with resumes in them without even looking.

Step Two – Talent – After finding a few dozen people we thought were great culture fits, we tested for talent. Like Culture, Talent is largely innate (skills can be taught). Hire for Culture first, then Talent. Talents required for our position are high attention to detail, a sense of urgency, and the ability to work under pressure, so we sent them three assignments to complete in a limited amount of time, including finding errors, solving problems, formatting docs, etc. This caused a few more “employees” to quit and not return the work – they were looking for a job and we had the audacity to see if they wanted to work, too.

Step Three – Skills & Experience (Resume) – Once we had it down to a little over a dozen, we asked them to send us their resumes, which we call obituaries – a highlight reel full of glowing history about the best things people did in the past. We quickly scanned their stated skills & experience for any big issues, then scheduled interviews. Don’t ever look at a resume any earlier than this – it will mess with your judgment.

Step Four – Intangibles (Interview) – Tomorrow we’ll give each of the eight a 15 minute interview and meet them for the first time. We had already formed strong opinions based on the things we’ll actually have them do, and their culture match with us. This first interview is to help us intuitively and quickly see which ones we can enjoy being around daily for years to come.

Step Five – Confirmation Interview(s) – we’ll cut it down to three and have them meet with various people in our business to reconfirm the culture match. It’s the most important thing.

Seven Great Adults for Hire
The eight people we’ve never met are all rock stars. They’ve already proven it. We can’t possibly miss. We’re looking forward to bringing on one for a wild ride and wish we could do it with all eight. If anyone needs seven great adults in their business, please contact us.

Why Nonprofits Will Never Solve Poverty

The unintended consequence – victims

600 million people came out of poverty in China in just 20 years. Nonprofits (and giant corporations) weren’t the reason. It was all ugly, evil, horrible, and very local, capitalism.

Between 1981 and 2004, Chinese poverty dramatically and suddenly fell from 85% to 9%, the majority of it happening long before western companies started building there. And not a single non-profit or giant corporation can take credit. Africa, a hotbed of nonprofits, is quite a different story.

For many decades Africa has been the focus of every major nonprofit and the financial aid of most nations. When China’s poverty was 85% in 1981, Africa’s was 40%. Today it’s still 40%, except that 150+ million more people make up that percentage than in 1981 because of population growth.

We can debate whether free aid and nonprofit money is THE cause, A cause, or not a cause at all, but one thing is sure, it is not a solution. Why?

The Downward Spiral of Victimology
It all starts with a nonprofit “gift”. Gifts are a wonderful thing because they are not expected, and when applied to crises, they can lift the human spirit and get people over the hump, which brings immeasurable value. Nonprofits are great on the front end of short-term crises such as famine, pestilence, natural disasters, epidemics and war. But they stay too long.

A gift given often enough and regularly enough, becomes an expectation. Given more time, an expectation eventually becomes dependency, which eventually becomes an entitlement, which turns me into a victim when it’s no longer there.

The Upward Spiral of Ownership
In 1980 the Household Responsibility System was enacted, allowing the rural Chinese to dissolve the collectives that produced entitlement and victimology, and allowing them once again to own land and businesses, and take responsibility for their lives – to become capitalists. An astonishing 40% of the reduction in Chinese poverty came in the first three years after the HRS created local ownership, and long before giant corporations swooped in or exports started to roll out. It was local, small capitalism, millions of small and local businesses springing up, that took 600 million people out of poverty in the wink of an eye.

Rwanda’s largely corrupt government opened their borders to American and UK business people a couple years ago and have made it extremely easy to start and own a small and local business. Somewhere between 1-2 million people have come out of poverty in that very short time.

The answer isn’t government aid. It isn’t giant corporations pulling the value out and taking it to the west. And it isn’t nonprofits staying in an area for decades creating dependency, entitlement and eventual victimology by their continued presence. The answer for Africa is the same as it has been for China, India, the United States and any other economy – millions of small and local businesses are the only thing that will solve long-term, systemic poverty.

The answer is in the willingness to build businesses in Africa – real businesses, not micro-financed lifestyles, but businesses with 5-50 employees, that can be bought and sold and inherited and expanded. There is enough socially conscious money flowing into Africa right now to do it, it’s just going to things that won’t solve poverty. And when the money starts flowing into businesses, it MUST be accompanied by training. In Africa (and everywhere) training to run a business is even more important than loans to build them. As one African said, “As harsh and counter-productive as it might sound, don’t send us your money; use it, rather, to pay your doctors, engineers, farmers, businessmen and the like to come to Africa for at least a year at a time to teach us how to do things for ourselves.”

I believe there is a whole new wave of business owners coming up who will, instead of giving money to nonprofits, will risk investing $10-$50,000 in building businesses in Africa and, more importantly, invest time there (and on Skype, etc.) training others to run and eventually own those small and local businesses.

600 million people came out of poverty in just 20 years in China through ugly, evil, horrible capitalism, and none of it was intentional. What if we did it intentionally in Africa? I believe with that approach we can do something nonprofits haven’t been able to do for over 100 years, solve systemic poverty among the 500-700 million impoverished Africans. And we can do it in under 20 years.

PurposeWithAProfit.com – coming soon.

How to make more money down the road.

Stop trying to be efficient.

Companies tied to Industrial Age mindsets are addicted to something called “efficiency”. But being efficient is a terrible principle on which to run and grow a business. Efficiency is more likely to drive you to bankruptcy than to success.

The business owner’s main game should be this:

How do I make MORE money in LESS time? If a business owner isn’t playing this game, but is playing the “I’m going to work harder” game, they aren’t acting like a business owner. “More money in less time” sounds like an efficiency game. It is not. It’s an effectiveness game.

Effficiency is about the short-term
Efficiency is focused on figuring out how to spend less time and less money doing something, which again seems like the right thing to do. But the problem is that efficiency always focuses on the present. It is about short-term decisions that save us time or money NOW.

Saving time and money now is not the way to build a business. We can almost never save our way to growing a successful business. I worked for one company in the late 90’s that was addicted to saving money, taking short cuts on everything from equipment to employee benefits. They were focused intensely on being more efficient every day, and the main game was always how do we do things in less time for less money? They went bankrupt in 2008, after years of shrinking sales and ongoing atrophy of the business model.

Effectiveness is about the long-term
A focus on effectiveness is quite different. Effectiveness is most concerned with the long-term health of the company. As a result, it makes long-term decisions that may actually cost us more time and money right now in order to make more money in less time down the road. Amazon.com went in the hole $400+ million a year for a number of years by investing time and money in building a company that could handle a very high percentage of the market.

This should be the mindset of even the smallest plumbing shop or realtor – being willing to invest MORE time and money now to get a bigger return in both time and money later. When I talk with small business owners and especially those with no or just one part-time employee, one of the most debilitating mindsets I run across is short-term decision-making, and it’s almost always explained away by “I’m being efficient.” The conversation goes like this:

Me: “Is there a better way to do stapling than for you to do it?”
Owner: “No. It costs $18 an hour to hire someone to do it, and I am saving $18 an hour doing it myself.”

or this conversation:

Me: “Should your sales person invest more time in building relationship with potential bigger clients?”
Owner: “No, we need money now and their time is better used closing smaller, easier accounts until we get enough revenue to go after the bigger ones.”

These are “efficiency” mindsets – making short-term decisions without proper regard for the long-term impact. They will more likely drive you out of business.

Here’s how the conversations should go:

Me: “Is there a better way to do stapling than for you to do it?”
Owner: “Yes, I’m hiring a virtual admin tomorrow because my time is more effectively used building relationships with key clients (or potential clients).”


Me: “Should your sales person invest more time in building relationship with potential bigger clients?”
Owner” “Yes, we’re carving out a part of their schedule to invest in these relationships because a few bigger clients down the road will solve all the revenue issues we’re facing right now.”

The Efficiency vs. Effectiveness Mindset
The Efficiency Mindset makes decisions based on where they are right now, “We have x amount of money and x amount of time right now, so we can only do x right now.

The Effectiveness Mindset makes decisions an entirely different way, “Even though we only have x amount of time and money right now, we are going to forego some revenue or production time right now in order to invest in things that have the potential of making us more money in less time down the road.”

To decide whether you are being efficient or effective, the key question to ask yourself is this:

Are you making decisions based on where you are, or where you want to be?

Business owners who make decisions based on where they are, can be very efficient, but will always remain where they are. Business owners who make decisions on where they want to be are willing to invest time and money in the future, even sacrificing some present efficiency to do so.

Are you stuck on the treadmill doing the same things you did last year and making the same revenue? A likely big factor is that you are making decisions based on where you are, which will keep you where you are as long as you run your business on that “efficiency” mindset.

Be effective, not efficient – Make decisions based on where you want to be, not on where you are. If you do, you might lose some short-term opportunities or have to work a little longer each day right now, but next year your business will have moved in the direction of where you want to be.

Make more money in less time down the road, by investing more money and more time right now. That’s being effective, not efficient.