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Growth Hacking 101

This article is made of quotes and highlights from the book Growth Hacking: Silicon Valley's Best Kept Secret by Raymond Fong and Chad Riddersen.

Growth Hacker (noun): a highly resourceful and creative marketer singularly focused on high-leverage growth.

There is no shame in swiping a growth hack that has worked for someone else and applying it to your business, Apple built one of the most valuable businesses in the world doing it.

Growth Hacking Your Mind

Comfort is a death sentence to progress, and progress is what you seek.

As a savvy and self-aware business owner, accept that you will never have X extra money or free time. Your competitive advantage will come from your ability to intelligently reallocate your scarce resources to achieve breakthrough growth.

Your first step to fracture the fear of investing more resources on growth is to track your finances on a monthly or quarterly basis

What differentiates the fastest-growing companies from their peers is that they’re not afraid to invest a massive amount of resources on growth.

If you desire growth and have a profitable business, operate at a break-even point and reinvest the profit, or a portion of the profit, back into growth.

If you are running a break-even or unprofitable business, spend some time going through your expenditures looking for redundancies or unnecessary expenses.

The false hope that “if I provide an excellent product and service to the market, everything else will take care of itself.” We call this limiting core belief the “Field of Dreams fallacy”.

The present-day reality is, “if you build it, they won’t just come.”

Establishing an Automated Sales Process (ASP™)

Think of an ASP™ as a digital replica of the perfect salesperson.

The perfect salesperson will naturally attract prospects, set a polished first impression, keep prospects engaged as well as educate them, follow up with them at just the right time and handle any objections with expert salesmanship, skillfully close the sale while simultaneously looking for upsell opportunities, and get referrals while retaining them as customers for life.

The Six ASP™ Components:

1. Attraction 

Attraction is the means of getting attention for your products and services.

While the tactics may vary, the goal remains the same: get attention.

The Attraction component works to eliminate marketing resource waste by quickly parsing through unqualified, cold-market prospects and pulling out prospects that are qualified for your product or service with targeted advertising.

2. First Impression

Once you’ve attracted your qualified prospects, you want to ensure that you make a good first impression by giving your prospects a consistent, personalized, and professional experience.

In an online world, your first impression is established when someone visits your website or stumbles upon your presence on social media.

The aim of the First Impression component is to turn your qualified prospects acquired via the Attraction component into brand-acquainted and intrigued prospects

3. Engage & Educate

The Engage & Educate component transforms brand-acquainted and intrigued prospects into an engaged and educated prospect that is much more likely to trust you, like you, and ultimately do business with you.

4. Follow-Up

The Follow-Up component effortlessly converts engaged and educated prospects into trusting prospects that are ready to buy, whether that’s today or at a later time.

5. Sales Technology

When your prospect is ready to buy, it’s your role to move them through a frictionless sales experience that shepherds them smoothly to the point of purchase.

6. Referrals & Retention

The final step is to ask for referrals and retain that customer for life.

The problem is, you are drinking from the fire hose of isolated tactics without having any framework, mental model, or context to prioritize, organize, and assess the applicability to your situation.

1. Attraction 

Attract thousands of interested people and laser-target your hottest prospects so you aren’t wasting money and time on tire-kickers and looky-loos.

Immediate attribution and feedback loop of online advertising empowers you to know which half of your advertising is wasted so you may eliminate the waste.

When you identify an online ad that is producing buyers, you can quickly scale it up as the ad inventory is available on demand.

Online, you need to optimize for precision, identifying the exact audience you want to market to. This process starts with identifying your “avatar.”

Here are some questions to ask yourself when developing the perfect avatar.

  • What gender is your ideal buyer? 
  • How old is he or she? 
  • What’s his or her profession? 
  • What’s his or her annual income? 
  • Where does he or she live? 
  • Is he or she married? 
  • Does he or she have kids? 
  • What are his or her hobbies? 
  • What are his or her interests?

A free tool you can use to define your avatar is Facebook’s Audience Insights. You can input look-a-like audiences such as people who liked a competitor’s page, liked the page of a specific interest group, or demonstrated interests relevant to your offer. Facebook Audience Insights will then show you that specific audience’s shopping behavior, educational background, relationship status, and a number of intimate details that will help you develop a high-quality avatar.

Regarding when, focus first on when your avatar is in a buying mood or most likely to take a buying action.

One of the clearest indicators of buying action is the keywords the avatar uses when performing an online search.

Once we exhausted the ad inventory with education interest, we expanded to folks who are aware of their problem but may not be in a position to actively solve that problem. For example, we served display ads to homeowners on Facebook touting the benefits of having your roof inspected before the rainy season.

Focus on purchase intent, then education-based interest, and then awareness-based interest when reaching out to your avatar.

Regarding where, focus on where your avatar spends time.

A clever way to determine specifically where your avatar spends time is to use a tool called SimilarWeb. Enter your competitor’s URLs into the tool, and scroll down to see exactly where their website traffic is coming from. This is a great way to discover places to “steal” clients away from your competition.

Regarding how, don’t overcomplicate it. At the most fundamental level, your decision is between text, image, audio, and video.

As a growth hacker, we recommend that you start with something simple, affordable, and quick to implement, such as text, in order to get an understanding of what works.

We developed four primary categories to keep Attraction tactics organized: direct, search platforms, branding platforms, and other.

  1. Direct: Direct attraction is when someone already knows about you and types your website address directly into her browser. Direct traffic is reflection of overall brand awareness: the more brand awareness, the more direct traffic.
  2. Search Platforms: Attraction from search platforms is when somebody finds you from a search engine. Searches come in three varieties: searches for your brand, searches for a service you provide, and searches for information.
  3. Branding Platforms: Attraction from branding platforms is when somebody finds you on social media or other platforms where your company can be reviewed or talked about. We advise being proactive on the branding platform that your avatar spends the most time on, as well as the one that is most likely to lead to a buying action. For all other platforms, we recommend being reactive, responding appropriately but not ignoring them.
  4. Other: Attraction from “other” sources is primarily traffic from news sites and partner sites

What differentiates a growth hacker from the rest is the ability to conceive creative, tech-enabled growth strategies when resources are scarce.

Without spending a dollar more on marketing, how can you acquire the most customers in the least time?

The domino theory of growth hacking states that small wins beget progressively larger wins. Your job as a growth hacker is to identify the lead domino, the first tactic to implement, and line up the subsequent dominoes in ascending level of achievability on a path that leads you to your ultimate goal.

Attraction Takeaways

  • While the initial out-of-pocket expense may be low, advertising inventory scalable, and ad serving automatable for online attraction, there is a certain time when an adept growth hacker should pursue offline opportunities.
  • The growth hack used by Silicon Valley tech companies to parse through the multitude of digital demographic data is to create an avatar, a digital representation of your ideal buyer.
  • When marketing to your avatar, focus first on when the avatar is in a buying mood or likely to take a buying action, where your avatar spends time, and how best to reach the avatar (text, image, audio, or video).
  • The four primary categories to keep Attraction tactics organized are direct, search platforms, branding platforms, and other
  • A framework for identifying high-ROI Attraction opportunities is called advertising arbitrage: seek advertising opportunities where advertising inventory supply outpaces advertiser demand.
  • A strategy for creating cost-efficient advertising opportunities is to marry content creation with commerce.
  • As you start to amplify your Attraction, the filtration process of personalizing and qualifying prospects enables you to reduce wasted marketing dollars.
  • The domino theory of growth hacking states that small wins beget progressively larger wins. Identify the lead domino, the first tactic to implement, and line up the subsequent dominoes in ascending level of achievability on a path that leads you to your ultimate goal.
  • Collaboration opportunities exist where your customer base overlaps with a complementary company and is fertile territory for affiliate, joint venture, comarketing, and other similar types of partnership arrangements.

2. First Impression 

Set a powerful first impression, giving your prospects a consistent, personalized, and professional experience.

The Evolution of the First Impression

The first impression, by definition, is established when someone first comes in contact with your brand or business.

In the present tech-enabled economy, the one constant is change.

Your task is to assess your potential return on investment realized when the technology is implemented and adopt when the benefits outweigh the cost.

As a general rule, a fast-follow technology adoption strategy mitigates the risk of losing money while maximizing the duration of enjoying a return on investment. That being said, at first glance it may appear that the late adopter will reap the largest return because the difference between price to adopt and return on investment will be maximized. 

However, there is a tangible opportunity cost that grows larger as time passes after the intersection between cost and return. Continuing with the website example, the early adopters that spent millions of dollars weren’t local businesses; they were multinational brands like Coca-Cola. If Coca-Cola had waited ten years before they adopted, they would have lost

In the technology hotbed of Silicon Valley, the accrued liability caused by delaying innovation has its own term: “technical debt.”

While Silicon Valley gives the perception that first is best, one of the many secrets is that established companies wait to see how the first movers play out and then adopt when there is a clear return on investment.

First Impression Takeaways 

  • Despite technology leveling the playing field, it also changes rapidly, and you can quickly appear dated or become obsolete in a fraction of the time it takes a physical storefront or office to become obsolete. 
  • A fast-follow technology adoption strategy mitigates the risk of losing money while maximizing the duration of enjoying a return on investment. 
  • Look outside your industry for best practices to follow so you can still benefit from first-mover advantage in your niche. 
  • It’s better to stand on the proverbial shoulders of giants than reinvent the proverbial wheel; the copycat tactic will save you thousands. 
  • The benefits of having a polished first impression may not be 100 percent attributable to sales growth, but that is not to say it doesn’t play a key role.

3. Engage & Educate 

Engage and patiently educate your prospects so they have all the information they need to comfortably buy from you.

Stripped of our fancy tools, there are only three fundamental ways to persuade. The three “rhetorical appeals,” as Aristotle called them, are as follows:

  1. Appeals to ethos are persuasive tactics that build your credibility—for example, a marquee client or an impressive press mention.
  2. Appeals to pathos are persuasive tactics that appeal to your audience’s emotion—for example, a stunning photo or a captivating client testimonial.
  3. Appeals to logos are persuasive tactics that are supported by logic—for example, facts and figures, and features and benefits.

Nine Modern Modalities of Engage & Educate:

  1. Trust Building 
  2. Branding 
  3. Unique Selling Proposition 
  4. Headline 
  5. Feature-Benefits 
  6. Copywriting 
  7. Social Proof 
  8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 
  9. Call-to-Action

1. Trust Building (Ethos / Pathos)

Some elements that affect your ability to gain the trust of your avatar in the first three seconds include:

  • the layout and design of your website
  • the style of writing you use
  • the images you choose to portray.

A few user tests or an examination of the bounce rate and overall time spent on your site will give you a general sense for whether you are passing the three-second test.

2. Branding (Ethos)

The question is less about whether your brand is “good” or “bad”; that is too ambiguous and subjective. The question is whether your brand is consistent or inconsistent.

Brand Basics 
  • Logo: vertical + horizontal + color + black on white + white on black + iconized 
  • Colors: a three- or five-color spectrum 
  • Typography: headline fonts as well as a reading-style font 
  • Voice: a set of rules for writing produced by the brand

As long as you establish the basics, and you use them consistently, you will be fine.

People subconsciously trust and ascribe credibility (ethos) to that which is predictable.

3. Unique Selling Proposition (Pathos / Logos)

“Unique value proposition” (UVP), is a succinct summation of how your company is different from your competitors.

4. Headline (Logos)

A headline should immediately draw attention and be the very first words that people read when visiting your website.

It needs to immediately signal to your visitor that she landed in the right spot.

Instant-Clarity Headline Formulas 

[What You Do] + [What Makes You Unique] + [Geographic Reach] 

Residential & Commercial Roofing Since 1929 Serving Los Angeles and Surrounding Area 

[End Result the Customer Wants] + [Specific Period of Time] + [Address the Objections]

Hot Fresh Pizza Delivered to Your Door in Thirty Minutes or It’s Free


Tagline vs. Slogan vs. Headline 
  • Tagline “Think Different” 
  • Slogan “Change is in the air” 
  • Headline “Our Most Advanced Technology in a Magical and Revolutionary Device at an Unbelievable Price”

As a general rule a tagline represents the company, a slogan represents a product or service, and a headline sells the product or service to a specific audience.

5. Feature-Benefits (Pathos / Logos)

[What Something Is] + [What Something Does]

(Apple’s iPod): 1GB of MP3s that puts 1,000s of Songs in Your Pocket

Feature-benefits often come in sets of three or more and are typically formatted as digestible snippets.

A simple trick to determine whether you’ve crafted a compelling feature-benefit is the “So what?” test. After every feature ask the question, “So what?” If the question is unanswered, you are missing the benefit.

6. Copywriting (Pathos)

It’s less about appealing to your avatar on an intellectual level with technical jargon and more about appealing to your avatar on an emotional level (pathos).

Write as if you were talking to a close friend. 

A simple way to get inside the mind of your avatar and understand the language they use is from review sites. Amazon is an excellent resource for products, and Yelp is great for services. If you don’t have any reviews, look to your direct and indirect competitors and pay particular attention to the words that convey emotion.

When writing customer-centric copy, avoid “we,” “my,” “us,” and “our”; instead, use “you” and “your.”

Imagine talking to a single prospective customer about your business; that is the conversational tone and direct feeling you want to convey when engaging and educating people about your company.

7. Social Proof (Ethos)

Social proof, referred to as “informational social influence” among psychologists, states that we mimic the actions of others when we are unsure what to do.

We are psychologically hardwired to conform to the actions of our “tribe” as a shortcut survival mechanism.

Here are some examples of social proof: 

  • Endorsements (experts, celebrities) 
  • Client mentions (logos, testimonials) 
  • Partner mentions (logos, quotes) 
  • Press mentions (logos, quotes) 
  • Reviews 
  • Ratings 
  • Awards 
  • Social media following / connections / likes / shares 
  • Number of people served

8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (Pathos / Logos)

It may appear counterintuitive to prompt questions that may not even be on the mind of your prospective customers, but the questions can be framed in a way that positions the product or service in a favorable light. 

For example, as opposed to saying, “Does your window-cleaning service kill birds?” you can frame the question as “How does Mr. Clean Window Company help birds steer clear from my sparkling clean windows?”

9. Call-to-Action (Pathos)

The term “call-to-action” is a hyphenated way of saying, “Tell people what to do next.”

It’s important for you to identify the primary, secondary, tertiary, and so on calls-to-action prioritized based on what fits best with your operation and industry.

Here are some examples of different calls-to-action: 

  • Book an appointment online 
  • Call our 1-800 number 
  • Click here to buy 
  • Request a proposal 
  • Submit a contact form 
  • Instant-message us 

The quantity of calls-to-action often depends on the size of your operations and nature of your business.

The primary call-to-action should be visible “above the fold” (the section of the webpage before you start scrolling down).

CTA Tips
  • Button Copy Lead with a familiar verb (e.g., Get, Grab, Download, Start, Apply). 
  • Be specific (avoid only using a generic phrase like “Click Here”). 
  • Be clear about what happens next (you can add copy below the button to add clarity; e.g., “Step 1 of 3”). 
  • Don’t be afraid of long button text; adding pronouns (e.g., “my”), articles (e.g., “the”), and prepositions (e.g., “for”) can make you sound more human and friendly. 
  • Add a benefit. If there is clear benefit that occurs when an action is taken, make that known (e.g., “Protect My Computer”). 
  • Button Design Contrast the color so it’s different than the other colors on the page (don’t worry, there is no “magic” color; just make it different). 
  • Make it “feel” clickable (add mouse hover effects so users are subconsciously swayed to want to click).

In conclusion, as long as you make it clear “what to do next,” you will be fine.

Prioritize your effectiveness improvement based on traffic. Start with your high-traffic homepage, and work your way outward to pages that get incrementally less traffic

Engage & Educate Takeaways 

  • Aristotle’s Rhetoric outlines the ancient modes of persuasion: ethos (credibility), pathos (emotion), logos (logic). 
  • In order to maximize the persuasive effect of your communication, you must make all three rhetorical appeals. 
  • Passing the three-second test is a reflection of your ability to subconsciously convey that you are someone that can be trusted to provide what the visitor is looking for. 
  • The value of having a brand is that people will know it’s you before you tell them it’s you. Your unique selling proposition (USP) is a succinct summation of how your company is different from your competitors. 
  • A tagline represents the company, a slogan represents a product or service, and a headline sells the product or service to a specific audience. 
  • Test your feature-benefit with the, “So what?” test. 
  • Copywriting is the art and skill of writing in a manner that persuades and seduces your reader toward an action, viewpoint, opinion, or sale. When copywriting, use customer-centric words and phrases to describe your product or service, and avoid words like “we,” “my,” “us,” and “our”; instead, use words like “you” and “your.” 
  • Social proof: When people are unsure what to do, they mimic the actions of others. Multiple-source effect: When multiple different sources are cited, each individual source is perceived as having more influence. 
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) are your digital opportunity to handle objections. Putting the primary call-to-action in a button will add the visual queue that indicates “what to do next.” 
  • The most important number to track when assessing the Engage & Educate component is conversion rate. 

4. Follow-Up 

Continue a dialogue with your prospects and politely follow up so that no business slips through the cracks.

Advertising Rule of 7

The question we are often asked is, “How many times should I follow-up?”

The Advertising Rule of 7 states that it takes approximately seven touch points for someone to be able to recall your brand.

In general, the larger the dollar value of your product or service, the longer the sales cycle, particularly for business-to-consumer sales.

For example, you’ve observed it takes an average of four weeks for someone to purchase your service, build your Follow-Up around a four-week period of time

For companies that are interested in maximizing lead flow and are comfortable handling a certain degree of low-quality leads, a low-friction request for information is an appropriate approach.

In general, the more contact information you ask from the prospect, the more “friction” there is and the less likely the prospect will be to comply with your request.

The hybrid approach is generally something companies evolve into after first implementing a simpler solution.

Among the many ways to deliver consumer education, email is the most cost-effective.

If you sell something that does not have a research phase, you can incentivize individuals with a discount.

The Process

Prior to designing the follow-up sequence, it’s important to have a clear articulation of the brand voice. The voice is a set of rules for the writing produced by your brand and is a function of having an intimate understanding of your target audience.

The 4 E’s of Copywriting Engaging: 

  • Is the content compelling and of interest to the reader? 
  • Educational: Is the content teaching the reader something relevant to your product or service? 
  • Entertaining: Would the reader enjoy reading your content? 
  • Emotional: Would your content stir up emotions inside your reader?

Follow-Up Framework Opt-In: Offer a desirable bribe (also called a “hook” or “lead magnet”) in exchange for an email address (at a minimum). 

Hook Delivery: Deliver what was promised for the prospect opting in. Digital delivery can range from digital reports to emails to audio or video content. The benefit of digital delivery is that you can provide immediate gratification to your prospect and it’s free to send. 

Sellucation: Sellucation is selling through education. Each Follow-Up installment is an opportunity to address common questions, handle objections, and amplify the problem while presenting your solution. It’s education with the implicit intent of driving sales. 

Social Proof: Reiterating the social proof you presented in the Engage & Educate phase with testimonials, reviews, awards, partner logos, and case studies will enhance your credibility and build trust. 

Promotions: Offering free consultations, discounts, and other incentives can motivate your prospect to take action. Communicating an expiration associated with the promotion can create a sense of urgency that further persuades prospects to move forward.

The way you stay in front of all your website visitors is with an advertising method called “retargeting” (also called “remarketing”).

The way retargeting works is by identifying and remembering users, through their web browsers, who have visited your website and serving ads to those users as they browse other places on the web

Categorically, we make two main differentiations in retargeting ad units: brand-based and direct-response ad units. Brand-based ad units convey your overall brand or company, and direct-response ad units focus on a specific product or service

One way of cutting down your retargeting ad bill is through “pixel burning.” For websites that have a payment portal online, such as e-commerce sites, you can isolate those who have completed payments and remove those individuals from the retargeting population since they have already completed the desired action.

Follow-Up Takeaways 

  • The Advertising Rule of 7 states that it takes approximately seven touch points for someone to be able to recall your brand. 
  • Map your Follow-Up to your average sales cycle length. 
  • The more information you request from your lead, the more “friction” there is, which leads to the prospect being less likely to provide the requested information. 
  • Apply the 4 E’s of Copywriting framework to craft messages that captivate and motivate: Engaging, Educational, Entertaining, and Emotional. 
  • Retargeting allows you to target your ads specifically to people that have previously visited your website. 
  • Brand-based ad units convey your overall brand or company, and direct-response ad units focus on a specific product or service.

5. Sales Technology 

Use an arsenal of tools that makes it easy for you to close sales while identifying opportunities to upsell your clients when they are in the mood to buy.

To understand the difference between the two, upsells “up” the price by suggesting a more premium product or service, and cross-sells encourage you to reach across the aisle and add a complementary product to your order.

The suite of sales tools you select will depend on your industry and business model, but the process starts with inspecting your current real-world process and asking yourself, “How can I digitize this?”

A regular marketer will hit the wall and wait for sales technology to catch up at some point in the future. A growth hacker will embrace the opportunity to create a technological competitive sales advantage and roll up her sleeves and build the tool herself.

Furthermore, there are plenty of freelance hiring platforms that help you identify and contract a developer with the required expertise

Customer Relationship Management

The modern CRM aggregates data across the multitude of client-acquisition tools and Sales Technology tools and brings the right information to light at the right time in ways that are often fully automated.

CRM switching costs are high as accumulated data may not port over to competing solutions, so choose wisely.

Sales Technology Takeaways 

  • Upsells vs. cross-sells: Upsells “up” the price by suggesting a more premium product or service, and cross-sells encourage you to reach across the aisle and add a complementary product to your order. 
  • The suite of sales tools you select will depend on your industry and business model, but the process starts with inspecting your current real-world process and asking yourself, “How can I digitize this?” 
  • A regular marketer will hit the wall and wait for sales technology to catch up at some point in the future. A growth hacker will embrace the opportunity to create a technological competitive sales advantage and roll up her sleeves and build the tool herself. 
  • The CRM that will work best for you is a highly personal decision that is dependent on what you use it for. Compatibility and usability will be your two core considerations when selecting a CRM. It needs to connect all your current tools in a way that is user-friendly enough for you and your team to understand.

6. Referrals & Retention 

Generate high-value referrals and spread the positive words from your happy clients like wildfire to heat up your cold prospects and send eye-catching signals to your new ones.

For many of the businesses we work with, it’s a better use of resources to sell more goods and services to an existing customer than to go out and acquire a new customer.

Testimonials 

Testimonials are a key piece of social proof that feeds the Engage & Educate and Follow-Up components of the ASP™.


Testimonial Formula 

[Specific End Result or Benefit the Customer Received] + [Specific Period of Time] + [Accompanied Customer Emotion] + [Customer Name with Relevant Stats] 

Example: I was craving a Hawaiian style pizza at one in the morning and was stoked when it arrived just twenty minutes after I called! ~Chad R., Pasadena, CA

Testimonial Questions 

  • What were you looking for when you found [COMPANY]? 
  • What compelled you to choose [COMPANY] over others? 
  • What results did you get from working with [COMPANY]? 
  • When [COMPANY] [COMPLETED SOLUTION], what did you like most about the experience? 
  • Who else would you recommend [COMPANY] to?

If you plan on sending holiday greetings or something similar, send them on an “off” holiday. For example, a “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day” card will be more distinctive and more likely to be read than a New Year “Happy Holidays” card. We worked with one of our clients to send a box of See’s chocolates for Valentine’s Day to their top general contractor clients, and they ended up generating more than fifty thousand dollars of contracts from a two-hundred-dollar investment. They also helped several “forgetful” gentlemen look like wonderfully thoughtful husbands when they brought chocolate to their wives on Valentine’s Day.

The two primary categories of active referral systems are financial and in-kind. To illustrate the difference between the two systems, a financial incentive would be to give a referral source twenty dollars cash, whereas an in-kind incentive would be to give a referral source a product or service of yours that is valued at twenty dollars.

Referrals & Retention Takeaways 

  • The difference between an active referral system and a passive referral system is often the singular difference between a static company and a high-growth company. 
  • Increasing client retention increases Customer Lifetime Value, which in turn allows a business to justify spending more money on customer acquisition. This opens up new customer acquisition channels that are otherwise unaffordable. 
  • Testimonial formula: [Specific End Result or Benefit the Customer Received] + [Specific Period of Time] + [Accompanied Customer Emotion] + [Customer Name with Relevant Stats]. 
  • Preempt negative commentary through satisfaction surveys and other internal feedback forms. Don’t ignore negative commentary on review sites and social media; control the conversation. 
  • How to handle negative commentary: For a negative truth, admit, apologize, and promote the opposite; for a negative lie, state that the comment is inaccurate or invalid, and substantiate your comment. 
  • Retention improvements are particularly potent for early-stage companies and mature companies that have not recently spent time optimizing the retention process. 
  • The two primary categories of active referral systems are financial and in-kind.

ASP™ Summary ATTRACT thousands of interested new leads. Create a powerful FIRST IMPRESSION to set the tone for a consistent, personalized, and professional experience with your company. ENGAGE & EDUCATE your prospects so they have all the information they need to feel comfortable buying from you. Implement a seamless FOLLOW-UP process so that no business slips through the cracks and your company is always top-of-mind. Use SALES TECHNOLOGY to more efficiently close sales, upsell, and cross-sell products and services. Generate high-value REFERRALS while RETAINING existing clients.

How to Turn Your Customers into Heroes and Help Them Buy Your Product

This article is made of quotes and highlights from the book Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller.

Human beings are constantly scanning their environment (even advertising) for information that is going to help them meet their primitive need to survive.

  1. The first mistake brands make is they fail to focus on the aspects of their offer that will help people survive and thrive.
  2. The second mistake brands make is they cause their customers to burn too many calories in an effort to understand their offer.

The key is to make your company’s message about something that helps the customer survive and to do so in such a way that they can understand it without burning too many calories.

Here is nearly every story you see or hear in a nutshell: 

  1. A CHARACTER who wants something 
  2. encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. 
  3. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, 
  4. gives them a PLAN, 
  5. and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. 
  6. That action helps them avoid FAILURE 
  7. and ends in a SUCCESS.

Truly creative and brilliant marketers and screenwriters know how to use the formula while still avoiding cliché.

There are three questions potential customers must answer if we expect them to engage with our brand. They should be able to answer these questions within five seconds of looking at our website or marketing material: 

  1. What do you offer? 
  2. How will it make my life better? 
  3. What do I need to do to buy it?

STORYBRAND PRINCIPLES

1. THE CUSTOMER IS THE HERO, NOT YOUR BRAND.

When giving a speech, position yourself as Yoda and your audience as Luke Skywalker. Once we identify who our customer is, we have to ask ourselves what they want as it relates to our brand.

2. COMPANIES TEND TO SELL SOLUTIONS TO EXTERNAL PROBLEMS, BUT CUSTOMERS BUY SOLUTIONS TO INTERNAL PROBLEMS.

Customers are attracted to us for the same reason heroes are pulled into stories: they want to solve a problem that has, in big or small ways, disrupted their peaceful life.

3. CUSTOMERS AREN’T LOOKING FOR ANOTHER HERO; THEY’RE LOOKING FOR A GUIDE.

4. CUSTOMERS TRUST A GUIDE WHO HAS A PLAN.

    What customers are looking for, then, is a clear path we’ve laid out that takes away any confusion they might have about how to do business with us.

    5. CUSTOMERS DO NOT TAKE ACTION UNLESS THEY ARE CHALLENGED TO TAKE ACTION.

      Characters only take action after they are challenged by an outside force.

      6. EVERY HUMAN BEING IS TRYING TO AVOID A TRAGIC ENDING.

        We must show people the cost of not doing business with us.

        Brands that help customers avoid some kind of negativity in life (and let their customers know what that negativity is) engage customers for the same reason good stories captivate an audience: they define what’s at stake.

        7. NEVER ASSUME PEOPLE UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR BRAND CAN CHANGE THEIR LIVES. TELL THEM.

          If we don’t tell people where we’re taking them, they’ll engage another brand.

          1. The customer is the hero, not your brand.

          Building social networks. 

          If our brand can help us find community, we’ve tapped into yet another survival mechanism. We only think we’re being nice when we bring our coworkers coffee, but what if we’re actually being nice because our primitive brains want to make sure we are connected to a tribe in case the bad guys come knocking at the door? Add this to the fact that human beings have a strong desire to nurture and be nurtured, and we’ve tapped into yet another survival mechanism.

          Gaining status. 

          Luxury brands like Mercedes and Rolex don’t make much practical sense in terms of survival, right? In fact, spending lots of money buying a luxury car when a more common brand would do the trick seems counter to our survival, doesn’t it? Not when you consider the importance of status. Status, in any tribe, is a survival mechanism. It projects a sense of abundance that may attract powerful allies, repel potential foes (like a lion with a loud roar), and if we’re into shallow companions, might even help us secure a mate. Rolex, Mercedes, Louis Vuitton, and other luxury brands are truly selling more than just cars and watches; they’re selling an identity associated with power, prestige, and refinement.

          So how do we offer potential customers a sense of meaning? 

          Not unlike giving our customers the opportunity to be generous, we invite them to participate in something greater than themselves. A movement. A cause to champion. A valiant fight against a real villain, be that villain flesh and blood or a harmful philosophy.

          The goal for our branding should be that every potential customer knows exactly where we want to take them: a luxury resort where they can get some rest, to become the leader everybody loves, or to save money and live better.

          2. Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems.

          If we want our customers’ ears to perk up when we talk about our products and services, we should position those products and services as weapons they can use to defeat a villain.

          1. The villain should be a root source. Frustration, for example, is not a villain; frustration is what a villain makes us feel. High taxes, rather, are a good example of a villain.
          2. The villain should be relatable. When people hear us talk about the villain, they should immediately recognize it as something they disdain.
          3. The villain should be singular. One villain is enough. A story with too many villains falls apart for lack of clarity.
          4. The villain should be real. Never go down the path of being a fearmonger. There are plenty of actual villains out there to fight. Let’s go after them on behalf of our customers.

          In a story, a villain initiates an external problem that causes the character to experience an internal frustration that is, quite simply, philosophically wrong.

          People’s internal desire to resolve a frustration is a greater motivator than their desire to solve an external problem.

          If we can identify that frustration, put it into words, and offer to resolve it along with the original external problem, something special happens. We bond with our customers because we’ve positioned ourselves more deeply into their narrative.

          Framing our products as a resolution to both external and internal problems increases the perceived value of those products.

          A philosophical problem can best be talked about using terms like ought and shouldn’t. “Bad people shouldn’t be allowed to win” or “People ought to be treated fairly.”

          Can your products be positioned as tools your customers can use to fight back against something that ought not be?

          If we really want our business to grow, we should position our products as the resolution to an external, internal, and philosophical problem and frame the “Buy Now” button as the action a customer must take to create closure in their story.

          3. Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a guide.

          A brand that positions itself as the hero is destined to lose. Always position your customer as the hero and your brand as the guide. Always. If you don’t, you will die.

          The two things a brand must communicate to position themselves as the guide are:

          1. Empathy 
          2. Authority 

          When Luke Skywalker meets Yoda, he encounters the perfect guide.

          When we empathize with our customers’ dilemma, we create a bond of trust. People trust those who understand them, and they trust brands that understand them too.

          Empathetic statements start with words like, “We understand how it feels to...” or “Nobody should have to experience...” or “Like you, we are frustrated by...

          Real empathy means letting customers know we see them as we see ourselves. Customers look for brands they have something in common with.

          When I talk about authority, I’m really talking about competence. When looking for a guide, a hero trusts somebody who knows what they’re doing. The guide doesn’t have to be perfect, but the guide needs to have serious experience helping other heroes win the day.

          1. Testimonials

          Let others do the talking for you. If you have satisfied customers, place a few testimonials on your website.

          Testimonials give potential customers the gift of going second. They know others have worked with you and attained success. Avoid stacking ten to twenty testimonials; otherwise you run the risk of positioning yourself as the hero. Three is a great number to start with and will serve the need most customers have to make sure you know what you are doing. Also, avoid rambling testimonials that heap endless praise on your brand. It won’t take long for a customer to trust you, so keep a testimonial brief.

          2. Statistics

          How many satisfied customers have you helped? How much money have you helped them save? By what percentage have their businesses grown since they started working with you?

          4. Customers trust a guide who has a plan.

          All effective plans do one of two things: 

          1. They either clarify how somebody can do business with us, or 
          2. They remove the sense of risk somebody might have if they’re considering investing in our products or services.

          The first kind of plan, and the one we recommend every one of our clients employ, is a process plan. A process plan can describe the steps a customer needs to take to buy our product, or the steps the customer needs to take to use our product after they buy it, or a mixture of both.

          A post-purchase process plan is best used when our customers might have problems imagining how they would use our product after they buy it.

          If doing business with you requires more than six steps, break down those steps into phases and describe the phases.

          The best way to arrive at an agreement plan is to list all the things your customer might be concerned about as it relates to your product or service and then counter that list with agreements that will alleviate their fears.

          5. Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action.

          The reason characters have to be challenged to take action is because everybody sitting in the dark theater knows human beings do not make major life decisions unless something challenges them to do so.

          There should be a “Buy Now” button in the top right corner of your website, and it shouldn’t be cluttered with a bunch of other buttons. The same call to action should be repeated above the fold and in the center of your website, and again and again as people scroll down the page.

          They can’t read our minds and they don’t know what we want, even if it seems obvious. We have to clearly invite customers to take a journey with us or they won’t.

          Most people think they’re overselling when, in truth, their calls to action fall softer than a whisper.

          We recommend two kinds of calls to action: 

          1. direct calls to action
          2. transitional calls to action. 

          They work like two phases of a relationship.

          A direct call to action is something that leads to a sale, or at least is the first step down a path that leads to a sale. Transitional calls to action, however, contain less risk and usually offer a customer something for free.

          As a brand, it’s our job to pursue our customers. We want to get to know them and for them to get to know us, but we are the ones who need to take the initiative.

          Examples of direct calls to action are:

          • Order now
          • Call today
          • Schedule an appointment
          • Register today
          • Buy now

          Samples: If you can give away free samples of your product, do it. Offering a customer the ability to test-drive a car, taste your seasoning, sample your music, or read a few pages of your book are great ways to introduce potential customers to your products.

          6. Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending.

          The benefits of featuring the potential pitfalls of not doing business with us are much easier to include than we may think. Blog subjects, e-mail content, and bullet points on our website can all include elements of potential failure to give our customers a sense of urgency when it comes to our products and services.

          We don’t bring up the negative stakes enough and so the story we’re telling falls flat. Remember, if there are no stakes, there is no story.

          According to Kahneman, in certain situations, people are two to three times more motivated to make a change to avoid a loss than they are to achieve a gain.

          A four-step process called a “fear appeal”:

          1. We must make a reader (or listener) know they are vulnerable to a threat. For example: “Nearly 30 percent of all homes have evidence of termite infestation.” 
          2. We should let the reader know that since they’re vulnerable, they should take action to reduce their vulnerability. “Since nobody wants termites, you should do something about it to protect your home.” 
          3. We should let them know about a specific call to action that protects them from the risk. “We offer a complete home treatment that will insure your house is free of termites.” 
          4. We should challenge people to take this specific action. “Call us today and schedule your home treatment.”

          7. Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.

          In a simple grid, we see how our customers’ lives will look after they engage us, how they will feel, what their average day will look like, and what kind of new status they will enjoy. Filling out this grid for your brand is a terrific exercise.

          We must tell our customers what their lives will look like after they buy our products, or they will have no motivation to do so. We have to talk about the end vision we have for their lives in our keynotes, in our e-mail blasts, on our websites, and everywhere else.

          Images are also important when it comes to casting a vision for our customers.

          Whatever it is you sell, show us people happily engaging with the product.

          The three dominant ways storytellers end a story is by allowing the hero to

          1. Win some sort of power or position.
          2. Be unified with somebody or something that makes them whole.
          3. Experience some kind of self-realization that also makes them whole.

          1. Winning Power and Position (The Need for Status)

          Everybody wants status, which is evidenced by the number of “coming-of-age” stories in which a character realizes they’ve got what it takes to run with the big dogs.

          The primary function of our brain is to help us survive and thrive, and part of survival means gaining status. If our brand can participate in making our customers more esteemed, respected, and appealing in a social context, we’re offering something they want.

          How can our brand offer status? There are many ways:

          • Offer access
          • Create scarcity
          • Offer a premium
          • Offer identity association

          2. Union That Makes the Hero Whole (The Need for Something External to Create Completeness)

          A superhero deficient in a particular way could be helped out by another superhero who reenters the story at the end, for example.

          The controlling idea of this kind of ending is that the character is rescued by somebody or something else that they needed in order for them to be made complete.

          So what are some of the ways we can offer external help for customers looking to become complete or whole? Here are a few examples:

          • Reduced anxiety:
          • Reduced workload
          • More time

          3. Ultimate Self-Realization or Acceptance (The Need to Reach Our Potential)

          Once proven, the heroes realize an inner peace and can finally accept themselves because they’ve reached their potential.

          How can a brand offer a sense of ultimate self-realization or self-acceptance? Here are a few ideas:

          • Inspiration: If an aspect of your brand can offer or be associated with an inspirational feat, open the floodgates.
          • Acceptance: Helping people accept themselves as they are isn’t just a thoughtful thing to do; it’s good marketing.
          • Transcendence: Brands that invite customers to participate in a larger movement offer a greater, more impactful life along with their products and services.

          We need to show repeatedly how our product or service can make somebody’s life better.

          PEOPLE WANT YOUR BRAND TO PARTICIPATE IN THEIR TRANSFORMATION

          Brands that participate in the identity transformation of their customers create passionate brand evangelists.

          Feelings of self-doubt are universal, as is the desire to become somebody competent and courageous. And all of this matters when it comes to branding our products and services.

          The best way to identify an aspirational identity that our customers may be attracted to is to consider how they want their friends to talk about them. Think about it. When others talk about you, what do you want them to say? How we answer that question reveals who it is we’d like to be.

          GREAT BRANDS OBSESS ABOUT THE TRANSFORMATION OF THEIR CUSTOMERS

          A hero needs somebody else to step into the story to tell them they’re different, they’re better. That somebody is the guide. That somebody is you.

          START WITH YOUR WEBSITE

          When they get to our website, their “hopes need to be confirmed,” and they need to be convinced we have a solution to their problem.

          THE FIVE THINGS YOUR WEBSITE SHOULD INCLUDE

          1. An Offer Above the Fold

          Customers need to know what’s in it for them right when they read the text. The text should be bold and the statement should be short. It should be easy to read and not buried under buttons and clutter.

          Above the fold, make sure the images and text you use meet one of the following criteria:

          • They promise an aspirational identity.
          • They promise to solve a problem.
          • They state exactly what they do.

          2. Obvious Calls to Action

          There are two main places we want to place a direct call to action. The first is at the top right of our website and the second is in the center of the screen, above the fold.

          3. Images of Success

          Everybody wants to experience a better life in some way or another, and while it may seem simple, images of people smiling or looking satisfied speak to us. They represent an emotional destination we’d like to head toward.

          4. A Bite-Sized Breakdown of Your Revenue Streams

          The first challenge is to find an overall umbrella message that unifies your various streams.

          Once we have an umbrella message, we can separate the divisions using different web pages and different BrandScripts. The key is clarity.

          5. Very Few Words

          The rule is this: the fewer words you use, the more likely it is that people will read them.


          Five (almost free) things you can do to grow your business

          1. Create a One-liner
          2. Create a Lead Generator and Collect E-mail Addresses.
          3. Create an Automated E-Mail Drip Campaign.
          4. Collect and Tell Stories of Transformation.
          5. Create a System That Generates Referrals.

          1. CREATE A ONE-LINER FOR YOUR COMPANY

          Imagine memorizing a single statement you could repeat after anybody asks what you do. And imagine that statement being relevant to the needs of potential customers.

          If you use the following four components, you’ll craft a powerful one-liner: 

          1. The Character 
          2. The Problem 
          3. The Plan 
          4. The Success

            Let’s say your demographic is soccer moms and you sell a Pilates class. Your one-liner might be, “We help busy mothers get a weekly, meaningful workout so they feel healthy and full of energy.”

            1. The Character: Moms
            2. The Problem: Busy schedules
            3. The Plan: Short, meaningful workouts
            4. The Success: Health and renewed energy

            “We provide busy moms with a short, meaningful workout they can use to stay healthy and have renewed energy.”

            1. The Character: Retired couples
            2. The Problem: A second mortgage
            3. The Plan: A time-share option
            4. The Success: Avoiding those cold, northern winters

            “We help retired couples who want to escape the harsh cold avoid the hassle of a second mortgage while still enjoying the warm, beautiful weather of Florida in the winter.”

              At StoryBrand, our one-liner is “Most business leaders don’t know how to talk about their company, so we created a framework that helps them simplify their message, create great marketing material, connect with customers, and grow their business.”

              Here are a few ways to put it to work:

              1. Memorize your one-liner and repeat it over and over. 
              2. Have your team memorize the one-liner
              3. Include it on your website.
              4. Repeat your one-liner in every piece of marketing collateral possible.

              2. CREATE A LEAD-GENERATOR AND COLLECT E-MAIL ADDRESSES

              E-mail is the most valuable and effective way you can spread the word about your business, especially if your company revenue is under $5 million and you don’t have a large marketing budget.

              So how do we get people to join our e-mail list? We offer them something valuable in return, something more valuable than the vague offer of a newsletter. This “something” is a lead generator, a resource that magnetically attracts people to our businesses and invites them to take action.

              We call this a transitional call to action. A transitional call to action, if you remember, is like asking potential customers out on a date.

              Your lead generator must do two things: 

              1. Provide enormous value for your customer 
              2. Establish you as an authority in your field

              Five Types of Lead Generators for All Types of Businesses

              1. Downloadable Guide
              2. Online Course or Webinar
              3. Software Demos or a Free Trial
              4. Free Samples
              5. Live Events

              There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Leverage these proven examples and create something similar:

              • “5 Mistakes People Make with Their First Million Dollars” — A downloadable PDF guide offered by a financial advisor who wanted to find young, newly wealthy clients to help them with their financial planning. 
              • “Building Your Dream Home: 10 Things to Get Right Before You Build” — A free e-book offered by an architect who wanted to establish herself as a guide to families looking to build a custom home. 
              • “Cocktail Club: Learn to Make One New Cocktail Each Month” — This was a monthly event surprisingly put on by a garden store that taught attendees how to infuse bitters and simple syrups with herbs. The objective for this promotion was to create a community around their store. Business is booming (or should I say blooming) because people want to attend their classes. 
              • “Becoming a Professional Speaker” — A free online course offered by a speaking coach for those who wanted to become professional speakers. This generated leads for long-term subscriptions to his coaching service.

              I recommend creating a pop-up feature on your site that, after ten seconds or so of the browser arriving, offers your resource to the user.

              3. CREATE AN AUTOMATED E-MAIL DRIP CAMPAIGN

              Content is important, but the point is, there is great power in simply reminding our customers we exist.

              If someone unsubscribes from your list, that’s a good thing. That person will probably never buy from you anyway, and it reduces the size of your list so you aren’t paying your e-mail service provider for e-mails that are dead weight.

              The one we recommend starting with is the nurturing campaign. A nurturing campaign is a simple, regular e-mail that offers your subscribers valuable information as it relates to your products or services.

              A typical nurturing campaign may have an e-mail going out once each week, and the order might look like this: 

              1. E-mail #1: Nurturing e-mail 
              2. E-mail #2: Nurturing e-mail 
              3. E-mail #3: Nurturing e-mail 
              4. E-mail #4: Sales e-mail with a call to action

              A good way to craft each nurturing e-mail is to use an effective formula that offers simple, helpful advice to a customer. I’ve been using this formula for years and customers love it. 

              1. Talk about a problem. 
              2. Explain a plan to solve the problem. 
              3. Describe how life can look for the reader once the problem is solved.

              I also recommend including a postscript, or the P.S. Often, the P.S. is the only thing somebody who opens a mass e-mail will actually read.

              Subject: Should We Free Feed Our Dogs?  Dear Name, 

              At Crest Hill Boarding we’re often asked whether it’s okay to free feed our dogs. It’s certainly the easiest way to make sure a dog always has food and never goes hungry. But there are some problems with free feeding. Dogs that are free fed often gain excess fat later in life and health problems can occur without our noticing.

              We recommend feeding your dog a set amount, once or twice per day. After twenty minutes, if your pet hasn’t eaten their food, we recommend discarding the excess and waiting until the next set time to feed them again. By sticking to a set amount and set schedule, you’ll be able to monitor what your dog eats and also be able to diagnose any illness your pet may be suffering from that is making them lose their appetite.

              This will ensure your dog stays healthy and happy long into their life. Here’s to enjoying our pets for a long, long time.

              Sincerely, X

              P.S. As for how much each dog should be fed, it really depends on how old your dog is and how big. Next time you and your dog are in the shop, introduce us to your dog and we’ll tell you everything we know about the breed.

              The Offer and Call to Action E-mail 

              About every third or fourth e-mail in a nurturing campaign should offer a product or service to the customer. The key here is to be direct. You don’t want to be passive, because being passive communicates weakness. In this e-mail you are clearly making an offer. 

              The formula might look like this: 

              1. Talk about a problem. 
              2. Describe a product you offer that solves this problem. 
              3. Describe what life can look like for the reader once the problem is solved. 
              4. Call the customer to a direct action leading to a sale. 

              4. COLLECT AND TELL STORIES OF TRANSFORMATION

              People love movies about characters who transform, and they love businesses that help them experience transformation themselves. One of the best ways we can illustrate how we help our customers transform is through customer testimonials.

              Weaving together a compelling tale of transformation means you have to ask the right questions—you need some raw materials to work with.

              Here are five questions most likely to generate the best response for a customer testimonial: 

              1. What was the problem you were having before you discovered our product? 
              2. What did the frustration feel like as you tried to solve that problem? 
              3. What was different about our product? 
              4. Take us to the moment when you realized our product was actually working to solve your problem. 
              5. Tell us what life looks like now that your problem is solved or being solved.

              5. CREATE A SYSTEM THAT GENERATES REFERRALS

              IDENTIFY YOUR EXISTING, IDEAL CUSTOMERS

              What if creating a special database of existing, passionate customers and communicating with them differently can help you generate referrals?

              GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS A REASON TO SPREAD THE WORD

              Consider creating a PDF or video that you automatically send to existing clients along with an e-mail that goes something like this: 

              Dear Friend,

              Thanks for doing business with us.

              A number of our clients have wanted to tell their friends about how we help customers, but they aren’t sure how to do so. We’ve put together a little video that will help your friends solve X problem.

              If you have any friends with X problem, feel free to send it along. We’d be happy to follow up with any of them, and we’ll be sure to let you know whether we could help.

              We know you value your relationships and so do we. If your friends are experiencing a problem we’ve helped you solve, we’d love to help them too.

              If there’s anything else we can do, please let us know.

              Sincerely,
              Nancy

              P.S. X Problem can be frustrating. If you’d rather introduce us to your friend in person, just let us know. We are more than happy to meet with them in their place of business or at our office.

              OFFER A REWARD

              Another way to offer a reward is to start an affiliate program. You can offer your customers a 10 percent commission on the orders they bring to you.

              Simply include any customer who places one or two orders in an automated campaign that offers them an educational video or PDF they can pass on, an added value for telling their friends about you, or a bonus or even a commission. Make sure the system opts customers out after placing several orders so you don’t hit every customer every time they order with another sales pitch. We don’t want to risk annoying people.

              What You Should Know About Paleo Diet

              This article is made of quotes from the book "Free The Animal: Lose Weight & Fat With The Paleo Diet" by Richard Nikoley.

              Eat real food. This includes meat, fish, fowl; natural fats from animals, coconuts, nuts and olives; and veggies and fruits

              Cut out grains, sugar, and vegetable and seed oils. Cut out all processed food in boxes, bags, and cans derived in large measure from these cheap and nutritionally vapid industrial sources.

              Allow yourself to go hungry every day, at least a little. The first meal of the day is a good time—don't eat until you're truly hungry. Every once in a while, go hungry for a whole day.

              Get sensible sunlight exposure. We evolved outdoors, in the sun. Much like plants need photosynthesis, we need the sun and its vitamin D synthesis on our skin. You should probably get extra vitamin D through supplements. Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin, but a proto-hormone with many functions. It’s generally not available in the diet, with the exception of small amounts in things like fish livers. 

              Run very fast sometimes, play hard when you can, and push and lift heavy things around when you have the urge.

              Always try to work out hungry, just like animals hunt hungry.

              Get lots of sleep.

              Have sex. Evolutionarily, it’s the only reason we’re here, which means it’s integral to our very being. Modernity has afforded us means by which sex can be enjoyed privately in many ways, without fear of societal judgment. Whatever it is you like, go for it and enjoy it.

              Good health is natural. It’s not something that needs to be industrialized or drug-induced. 

              Watch Fat Head documentary (available on NetFlix and Hulu).

              A diet high in grains may also reduce the body’s ability to process vitamin D.

              • Meat (including any organ meats you might like) 
              • Poultry Fish and shellfish 
              • Most vegetables (keep potatoes to minimum) 
              • Some fruits (berries and melons, primarily) 
              • Nuts Fats (lard, tallow, butter, ghee, coconut oil, red palm oil, olive oil) 
              • Dairy (if you aren’t lactose intolerant), such as milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and heavy cream Herbs and spices of all sorts

              Stay away from grain-based products.

              Stay away from all vegetable/grain/seed oils, except olive, sesame, coconut, and palm (no canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, etc).

              Intermittent Fasting (IF) simulates the unavailability of food that our ancestors experienced, stimulating the reprogramming of our ancestral appetites and metabolism.

              Fasting also heightens the senses and stimulates heightened cognitive function.

              When you fast for more extended periods, your cells clean out and recycle your intracellular garbage.

              Imagine living in a time when humans depended on their strength and endurance to meet their basic survival needs. Imagine having a body that could sprint, hunt, and play.

              13 Techniques to Get Luckier

              This article is made of quotes from the book How to Get Lucky: 13 techniques for discovering and taking advantage of life's good breaks by Max Gunther.


              Why do people deny the role of luck? For one thing, we hate to think we are at the mercy of random happenings. Another reason why we prefer not to discuss luck’s role is that it diminishes us and steals our dignity.

              All successful people avoid diminishment in the same way. Business executives do it in explaining how they got to be chairman of the board. Luck isn’t “meaningful” enough. We yearn for life to have meaning. Acknowledging luck’s role takes half the meaning out of it.

              There are thirteen principal ways in which the lucky do this. Not all of them practice the techniques consciously, and very few practice all thirteen. With most it’s six or eight techniques.

              1. Making the Luck/Planning Distinction

              If you want to be a winner, you must stay keenly aware of the role luck plays in your life. When a desired outcome is brought about by luck, you must acknowledge that fact. Don’t try to tell yourself the outcome came about because you were smart.

              The point to be appreciated is that every run of luck must end sooner or later. This is sad but not necessarily dangerous. When you enjoy a winning streak, you are safe as long as you see clearly what part of it was brought about by planning and what part by luck.

              The one thing you cannot expect is the very thing the loser does expect: continuity, a repetition of yesterday’s events.

              The unlucky mental process is the same. The process begins when a good result occurs once or a few times. The loser studies it, ascribes it to planning, and concludes that the same planning will produce the same result in the future. And the loser loses again.

              The lucky personality, entering a situation and perceiving it to be ruled or heavily influenced by luck, deliberately stays light-footed, ready to jump this way or that as events unfold.

              The lucky personality looks outside as well as inside. Admittedly that isn’t always easy to do, for it argues with some of our most cherished old Work Ethic preachments. We are told in school, in church, and in management-training seminars that we are the shapers of our own lives and the authors of our own outcomes. But you should not believe it. It is nonsense. The first step in controlling your luck is to recognize that it exists.

              2. Finding the Fast Flow

              Men and women find good luck by positioning themselves where events are flowing fastest.

              The commandment of the Second Technique is: Go where events flow fastest. Surround yourself with a churning mass of people and things happening.

              The lucky personality gets to know everybody in sight: the rich and the poor, the famous the humble, the sociable and even the friendless and the cranky.

              The worst thing you can do is withdraw from the network of friendships and acquaintanceships at home and at work. If you aren’t in the network, nobody is ever going to steer anything your way.”

              But why is she in the right places at the right times? Because she has made the effort to be in many places at many times. Fate has given her a lucky break, but she has earned it. She has positioned herself for it.

              Go where events flow fastest. Specifically what does that mean? It means, simply, make contact with people. Get involved. Don’t be a sideliner, watching events flow past. Plunge into the events yourself.

              3. Risk Spooning

              Lucky people characteristically avoid both extremes. They cultivate the technique of taking risks in carefully measured spoonfuls.

              The straight-line plodder, shunning risk, also avoids the possibility of lucky breaks. On the whole, plodders are unlucky. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say many of them are luck neutral. Neither good nor bad luck strikes them to any notable degree. Their lives hardly change. Nothing happens.

              Luck: events that influence your life but are not of your making. To secure the best chance that such events will happen to you, you have to invite them to happen; in other words, stick your neck out.

              Many people, especially of the plodder breed, hate a successful gambler. They hate him largely because they hate themselves for not having had the guts to take their own risks. He stands there rich, happy and having a world of fun; a living advertisement for what they might have been. Seeking acceptable reasons to dislike him, they cultivate the notion that gambling is, in some way, impure.

              Thus, antirisk mentality keeps its dominance. Even the very biggest risk takers and the very luckiest gamblers are determined to show they are nothing of the kind.

              It is essential to take risks. Examine the life of any lucky man or woman, and you are all but certain to find that he or she was willing, at some point, to take a risk. Without that willingness, hardly anything interesting is likely to happen to you.

              It is essential to study risk-reward ratios. When a given risk is small and a potential reward large, you might as well take the risk and so position yourself to become a winner.

              You don’t have to be a shrink to guess at the motives of a risk avoider. The risk-shunning syndrome stems from excessive fear of getting hurt, often as the result of being burned in the past or seeing a loved one burned. It’s usually that simple.

              What really seems to drive such a risk craver is not a desire to lose but just the opposite: a desperate yearning for the experience of a big win. It must be a big win: a twenty-to-one shot at the track, a stock market gamble that pays off in six figures. Modest successes aren’t enough for the risk craver.

              Two of these common threads are worth looking at:

              1. The risk accepted as a positive experience. The youngster went to the racetrack with Dad or heard a favorite aunt talk about the fun to be had in Las Vegas. 
              2. The risk craver had a big win early in his or her gambling or speculating career. Thus, perhaps, an exaggerated urge to gamble becomes established.

              If you feel good luck has been avoiding you, it is far more likely that you lean in the direction of too little risk taking rather than too much. What you must do is learn the technique of risk spooning.

              From now on, seek out risks. Start small.

              No matter how you define success, risk is a necessary ingredient of every successful life. Risk puts you in position to win.

              4. Run Cutting

              As nearly all lucky people realize instinctively or learn through experience, runs of luck always end sooner than you wish. Sometimes they are long runs; much more often they are short. Since you can never tell in advance when a given run is going to end, the only sensible thing to do is preserve your gains by jumping off early in the game.

              Always assume the run is going to be short. Never try to ride a run to its very peak. 

              A peculiar characteristic of the genuinely lucky – at least it seems peculiar until you analyze it – is that they so often appear pessimistic. But it isn’t pessimism; it is only run cutting. It is a rational approach to a world of unpredictable, uncontrollable events.

              One thing you can know, however, is that short runs are very much more common than long ones. The sensible thing to do is ride the run until you have a good but not enormous gain, avoid greed, and get out early.

              And don’t fret if the run continues without you. Sometimes it will, and when it does, a few people will end up with very big gains; but in all likelihood they will turn around and lose those gains in short order, for they are not the kind of people who enjoy consistent good luck. The consistently lucky are the run cutters.

              5. Luck Selection

              The lucky reaction is to wait a short time and see if the problems can be fixed or will go away, and then, if the answer is no, bail out. Cut losses short. This is what lucky people habitually do. To put it another way, they have the ability to select their own luck. Hit with bad luck, they discard it, freeing themselves to seek better luck in another venture.

              The unlucky receive no more bad hands, but that usually isn’t the problem. The difference is that the unlucky don’t have the knack of selecting luck. Incapable of discarding a bad hand, they can only sit and suffer while bad luck becomes worse luck.

              In a souring situation, with no compelling reason to think things will get better, you are always right to cut your loss and go. You are right even when, in retrospect, you turn out to have been wrong.

              6. The Zigzag Path

              It turns out that lucky men and women, on the whole are not straight-line strugglers. They not only permit themselves to be distracted, they invite distraction. Their lives are not straight lines but zigzags.

              Goal orientation, as they call it in Psychology 101, is undoubtedly a good thing in moderate doses. But the lives of the lucky seem to say you should be wary of overdoing it.

              The lucky, alert to the luck/planning distinction, are aware that life is always going to be a turbulent sea of opportunities drifting randomly past in all directions. If you put blinders on yourself so that you can see only straight ahead, you will miss nearly everything.

              A plan can be used as a kind of guide into the future but should never be allowed to harden into a law. If something better comes along, you should be ready to abandon your old plan immediately and without regret.

              If a piece of potential good luck drifts your way, you should not summarily reject it simply because it doesn’t fit some predesigned plan.

              Never take long-range plans seriously. Use them for general guidance as long as they seem to be taking you where you want to go, but whatever you do, don’t get stuck with them. Throw them in the trash heap as soon as something better comes along.

              7. Constructive Supernaturalism

              Supernaturalism is defined as any belief in an unseen spirit, force, or agency whose existence hasn’t been proved to everybody’s satisfaction.

              As a breed, lucky people tend to be supernaturalists. Some are devoutly religious, while others harbor the most peculiar superstitions.

              What is the connection? The connection in my opinion is that a supernatural belief helps people get lucky by helping them make otherwise impossible choices.

              Whether the outcome is affected by God, the ‘stars’, or a lucky charm is irrelevant. What counts is that the supernatural belief has enabled the player to get into a potentially winning position.

              So find yourself a supernatural guidance system. It can be serious or humorous, a profoundly held belief or a game. None of that matters. Nor does it matter whether the system, in terms of its pronouncements about itself, is “true” or is pure poppycock. As long as it isn’t malevolent or occultic, all that matters is that you hold it and can use it to help you make choices and take risks.

              8. Worst-Case Analysis

              Good luck involves knowing how you will handle the worst.

              Professional gamblers win because they reject optimism. They apply the Fifth Technique: the trick of selecting luck, of abandoning any venture rapidly when it turns sour. And they apply the Eighth Technique: the trick of worst-case analysis.

              9. The Closed Mouth

              The trouble with too much talk is that it can constrict the valuable freedom and flexibility. Talk can tie you up, lock you into positions that seem right today but may be wrong tomorrow.

              The lesson of this Ninth Technique is that the luckiest people guard against unnecessary talk. They are particularly careful when talking of subjects that have great personal importance to them.

              They reveal no more of their thinking than they have to. They don’t lock themselves into positions where there is no good reason to do so.

              You don’t have to have your mouth going all the time to establish a circle of good friends and a widespread acquaintanceship network. As a matter of fact, in a talky time such as the present, people often find silence pleasantly surprising and refreshing. You can make friends as easily by listening, really listening, as you can by generating great heaps of words.

              By avoiding excessive communication, lucky men and women are freed of the need to explain and justify actions to other people.

              Since life is ruled by luck and you can never predict what actions you will need to take, it is best to say as little as possible about what you are doing and thinking. Then, when action is required, the only person you must argue with is yourself. That is often tough enough.

              When there is no good reason to say something, say nothing.

              10. Recognizing a Nonlesson

              A noteworthy trait of the lucky is that they know what they can’t learn anything from. The habit of deriving false lessons from life’s random happenings is a trait of the unlucky.

              History simply does not repeat itself. Why should it? History is the product of what billions of men and women are doing, thinking, and feeling at a given time. It is in constant flux. It is entirely unpredictable. 

              11. Accepting an Unfair Universe

              The fact is that fairness is a human concept. The rest of the universe knows nothing of it.

              Our lives are filled with random events. If you contract a fatal disease or win a million-dollar lottery prize, therefore, don’t look for the hand of God in the event. God didn’t cause it. Nothing caused it. It just happened.

              The universe isn’t fair and never has been in all the time men and women have been grappling with it. By accepting that truth instead of arguing with it, you take one more step on the road to becoming consistently lucky. Conversely, by arguing with it you buy bad luck.

              You should recognize chaos when you see it. Chaos is not dangerous until it begins to look orderly.

              Never go into a venture thinking it will come out right for you because you “deserve” it. That is a common expectation of the unlucky. The universe has no interest in what you deserve.

              12. The Juggling Act

              The luckier are the busier. Lucky people always seem to have many ventures going on at the same time.

              You never know what seemingly unpromising activity is going to be the one that catches fire for you. All you can know is that the more activities you have going on, the greater is the likelihood that something good will happen.

              This Twelfth Technique is closely allied with the Second: Fast-flow orientation; and the Sixth: the zigzag path. Taken together, they can keep you busy.

              The lucky life is indeed characterized by a degree of hustle and bustle that seems frantic at times especially to the chronically unlucky.

              13. Destiny Pairing

              What differentiates those who stay sober? There are many factors, but one of the most important – perhaps the most important – is the question of who else happens to be at the newcomer’s first one or two meetings.

              How do you meet your destiny partner? It usually happens by blind luck, as it did in the case of Procter and Gamble.

              That being so, the best way to boost your chances of meeting the person who will change your luck is to practice the Second Technique: Put yourself out in the fast flow.

              Getting Lucky: Putting the Thirteen Techniques Together

              If there is any single truth that a luck-seeker should comprehend above all others, it is that life is disorderly and cannot be lived successfully according to a plan.

              One good way to get started on luck improvement is to ask yourself which technique has been most notably lacking in your approach to life.

              No matter how well you practice the thirteen techniques, you can still be brought to your knees by cancer, shot by a burglar, or barbecued by a nuclear bomb.

              21 Lessons I Learned From Jiddu Krishnamurti

              This article is made of quotes from the book "Think on These Things" by Jiddu Krishnamurti.


              1. The Function of Education

              - To understand life is much more important than merely to prepare for examinations.

              - So, while you are young, must you not seek to find what life is all about?

              - Not to imitate but to discover - that is education.

              - To live is to find out for yourself what is true, so that you are able to face the world and understand it, not just conform to it, so that inwardly, deeply, psychologically you are in constant revolt.

              - You cannot inquire, observe, learn, you cannot be deeply aware, if you are afraid.

              - You learn from everything, therefore there is no guide, no philosopher, no guru.

              - Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.

              - Anything truly revolutionary is created by a few who see what is true and are willing to live according to that truth.

              2. The Problem of Freedom

              - The function of education, then, is to help you from childhood not to imitate anybody, but to be yourself all the time.

              - So freedom lies, not in trying to become something different, nor in doing whatever you happen to feel like doing, but in understanding what you are from moment to moment.

              - An intelligent mind is an inquiring mind, a mind that is watching, learning, studying.

              - You do not have to become sensitive. The man who is trying to become something is ugly, insensitive; he is a crude person.

              3. Freedom and Love

              - To be free we have to revolt against all inward dependence, and we cannot revolt if we don't understand why we are dependent.

              - The desire to change yourself breeds envy, jealousy; whereas, in the understanding of what you are, there is a transformation of what you are.

              - You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read.

              4. Listening

              - If you are listening to find out, then your mind is free.

              - There can be no happiness as long as you are afraid of your parents, your teachers, afraid of not passing examinations, afraid of not making progress.

              5. Creative Discontent

              - What is important is to be wholy discontented, for such total discontent is the beginning of the initiative which becomes creative as it matures.

              - One must be wholly discontented, not complainingly, but with joy, with gaiety, with love.

              - Self-knowledge comes when you observe yourself in your relationship with your fellow students, and your teachers, with all the people around you.

              - Education: to learn to stand alone so that you are not caught either in the ill of the many or in the will of one, and therefore capable of discovering for yourself what is true.

              - Don't depend on anybody.

              6. The Wholeness of Life

              - It is very important to leave your little room and perceive the whole expanse of the heavens.

              - If you are inwardly rich, then it does not matter to you whether you are known or unknown, but what happens the next time you paint a picture, or write a poem, or clean a room? You expect someone to come along and say what a wonderful boy you are; and, if no one comes, you no longer bother about painting, or writing, or cleaning.

              - It is only when you know who the poet is that you say the poem is lovely. This is snobbishness, the mere repetition of an opinion.

              7. Ambition

              - It is a basic function of education to help you to find out what you really love to do.

              - The moment you are a student there is no one in particular to teach you, because you are learning from everything.

              - A book can give you only what the author has to tell.

              - To learn through your own self-knowledge is to know how to listen, how to observe, and therefore you learn from everything.

              8. Orderly Thinking

              - To sit quietly without pressure, to eat elegantly without rush, to be leisurely and yet precise, to be clear in one's thinking and yet expansive.

              - To be precise, clear and expansive without effort.

              9. An Open Mind

              - If you can observe alertly, keenly, but without judging, without concluding, you will find that your thinking becomes astonishingly acute. Then you are learning all the time.

              10. Conformity and Revolt

              - If you don't know how your own mind works you cannot actually understand what society is.

              - To be free of that pattern you have to understand the whole content of it, which is to understand your own mind.

              - Meet another human being always with a fresh mind, and not with your prejudices, with your fixed ideas, with your opinions.

              - Wherever there is psychological dependence, there must be frustration; and frustration inevitably breeds anger.

              11. Self Discipline

              - Discipline arises only when there is a contradiction.

              - Our present education is rotten because it teaches us to love success and not what we are doing.

              - It is good to hide you brilliance under a bushel, to be anonymous, to love what you are doing and not to show off. It is good to be kind without a name.

              12. Cooperation and Sharing

              - It is only the unoccupied mind that can be fresh to understand a problem.

              - Without self-knowledge, merely to gather facts or take notes so that you can pass examinations is a stupid way of existence.

              - Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.

              - The moment you are very clear about what you want to do, things happen.

              13. The Attentive Mind

              - Don't just accept if people tell you that you are lazy. Find out yourself what laziness is.

              - Scrapp all ideals, drown them in the river, throw them into the wastepaper basket, and start with what you are.

              - Use your mind to discover why you don't want to study.

              14. Knowledge and Tradition

              - Tradition in mechanical affairs is essential, but when tradition is used as a means of guiding man inwardly, it becomes a hindrance to the discovery of greater things.

              - Don't accept anything, it does not matter who says it, but investigate the matter for yourself.

              - If you think things out for yourself, then you are alive, vital, a creative human being.

              15. To Be Religious

              - To be religious is to be sensitve to reality.

              - One can live in this world anonymously, completely unknown, without being famous, ambitious, cruel.

              - One can live very happily when no importance is given to the self; and this also is part of right education.

              - It is only in a very quiet mind that great things are born.

              - The man who is nobody, who does not want to be a somebody, who is just himself and understands himself - such man is free of arrogance, of pride.

              16. The Purpose of Learning

              - Experience does not free the mind, and learning through experience is only a process of forming new patterns based on one's old conditioning.

              - It is only when the mind is free from the burden of knowledge that it can find out what is true.

              - There may be the state of learning only when there is no motive, no incentive, when you do the thing for the love of itself.

              - Do not pursue what should be, but understand what is.

              17. The Need to Be Alone

              - Distractions of every kind: gurus, religious ceremonies, prayers, or the latest novels.

              - If you are bored and use your job as a means of forgetting yourself, then you will find that your whole life is nothing but an endless search for distractions.

              - Teaching is the greatest vocation in life.

              - A true revolutionary is a man who is free of all inducement, free of ideologies and the entanglements of society which is an expression of the collective will of the many.

              18. The Energy of Life

              - The moment you really want to do something, you have the energy to do it.

              - Man exists for only one purpose, which is to find reality of God.

              - Meditation is the process of understanding your own mind.

              19. To Live Effortlessly

              - The moment you arrive there is always a point further ahead at which you have yet to arrive.

              - If you love to do sometihng with all your being you are then not concerned with success and failure.

              - You want to be loved because you do not love.

              - Real education is understanding the significance of life, not juse cramming to pass examinations.

              - As long as the mind is seeking to fill itself, it will always be empty.

              20. The Mind Is Not Everything

              - Sex, earning a livelihood, laughter, having initiative, being earnest and knowing how to think deeply.

              - Understanding does not come through comparison, it comes only when you examine the thing itself.

              21. To Seek God

              - He is seeking what is true, and that very search has a transforming effect on society.

              - It is the happy man, not the idealist or the miserable escapee, who is revolutionary; and the happy man is not he who has menny possesions.

              - The happy man is the truly religious man, and his very living is social work.

              - To be fearless requires immense insight, an understanding of the whole process of fear and its cause.

              - Ideals are a curse because they prevent you from thinking directly, simply and truly, when you are faced with the facts.