Published or Updated on Jun 02, 2016

At parties, reunions, and in emails, I’ve been getting this question a lot:

“It seems like you just travel, write, and goof off. If you don’t have a job… what are you doing for money? How are you affording this?”

When I’m a little drunk, I like to say “magical internet money” since it sounds mysterious.

But the more honest answer, is: “I built a business called Programming for Marketers that funds my lifestyle with almost no ongoing work.” A “lifestyle business,” for those new to the term.

Most people assume that you can either start a business and be 110% focused on it, or you can have a day job.

They don’t realize that there’s an in-between: businesses and products that keep paying you substantial amounts of money, even after you’re done working on them. A passive income.

And if you want to be a full-time creative, or build a bigger business that will take a long time to start paying you, or travel around the world posting obnoxious Instagrams, then having some sort of passive income is an incredible asset. It frees up your time to focus on the fun work you want to do, even if it’s not paying you yet.

When I explain that this is an option, everyone wants to know how to do it. And despite what some sites will make you think: there’s no silver bullet, no secret tactics, and it’s not easy.

But, with the right model and story to learn from and emulate, it’s certainly possible.

All I can do is tell you exactly how I did it. Every detail, every email, every landing page, every mistake, in the hopes that it gives you what you need to make this happen for yourself.

I don’t pretend to be the expert at passive income or lifestyle businesses. But I did pull it off, and I know you can too.

Heads Up: Massive Bonuses
I’m giving away absolutely everything in this post. If you’re serious about trying to build your own lifestyle business or passive income, then make sure you read to the end where I put the downloads (every email, tool, etc.). Or you can get them now.

Inception: 4-Hour Workweeks, Stubbornness, and Time Constraints
I ended up becoming interested in this idea the same way many people do: by reading The 4-Hour Workweek.

I was extremely interested in the idea of building a self-sustaining lifestyle business and not taking a corporate job but ultimately did little with it for 4 years. I was still in school and there was no pressing need to build a lifestyle business, so why should I bother? (I’m not advocating this reasoning, but that’s what I did).

While I never got serious about building something, I did tinker (screw around) a lot. I started a blog teaching people how to improve their habits, started a subscription site providing customized meal plans (programmatically), did Fratboxes, and half a dozen other little projects and experiments that let me get my feet wet with starting things, experimenting, and picking up some valuable skills.

I’d estimate that I started 20+ projects before Programming for Marketers, with 3-4 of them becoming serious time commitments. But those first projects don’t get big articles written about them since they didn’t last, so if you’re just starting out, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time.

No offense, but you probably won’t. Know when to quit and move on to the next thing, and you’ll get it eventually.

The Turning Point: Having a Time Constraint

That tinkering continued until right before senior Spring in college when I realized that I was graduating with no job lined up and no interest in lining one up either.

After working for myself for a year, I knew I didn’t want to go work for someone else, so I knew I needed to figure something else out. (Granted, I did end up taking a job for 8 months, that story is here).

The time constraint of 6 months until graduation was a blessing in disguise. It pushed me to work extremely hard and fast, taking advantage of Parkinson’s Law on a longer timescale than usual, and build something faster than I otherwise would have.

If you’re trying to do this yourself, I fully believe a time constraint is a key factor. Create some sort of deadline for yourself, by quitting your job, putting money on the line at Go Fucking Do It, or other scary motivator. I hadn’t fully appreciated the power of stakes until starting work on P4M.

Key Takeaways:
If you’re going to do this, set up some sort of time constraint so you get shit done. It’s easy to procrastinate when you have a nice salary and no urgency.
Don’t obsess over getting it right the first time. Tinker a lot, and it’ll work out eventually.
Step 0: Having Useful Skills
Before I get into building the business, there’s an important point that many lifestyle business bloggers ignore because they don’t want to hurt your feelings or scare you off.

If you don’t have some relevant, valuable skills, or the ability to teach yourself new things, you’re not going to have a good time. You’ll be more likely to waste years on something going nowhere, or fail and then blame someone or something else for it.

What skills those are will vary, but I can’t imagine someone succeeding at making a lifestyle business without these skills (or the ability to pick them up quickly, ask a friend about them, etc.):

Website creation (not HTML etc. WordPress is fine)
Marketing (any combo of SEO, social, email, community)
Copywriting (writing compelling sales pages, emails, etc.)
Self-direction (setting goals, staying productive without management, etc.)
If you don’t have some of those skills, here’s the quickest way to start getting familiar with them:

Website creation: Make a site with BlueHost + WordPress and just start messing around. It’ll make sense pretty quickly.

Marketing: Read how to grow a site from 0 to 10,000 visitors a month.

Copywriting: Read the “Boron Letters.”

Self-direction: This one’s a bit harder, but read “How to learn in the real world,” “Subconscious sabotage,” and “Quantitative life goals.”

Now, don’t worry. If you read this section and got freaked out about “not being ready,” you should still go for it.

Collecting tons of information you don’t need is a waste of time and form of procrastination, so don’t go overboard by taking a bunch of courses and reading dozens of books hoping that after enough of them you’ll feel “ready.”

It’s better to learn the bare minimum above, get started, and fill in gaps in your knowledge as they appear.

Key Takeaways
Build some relevant skills, which you can start doing with the resources above.
Collecting information is frequently a form of procrastination. Start doing, then seek answers to the questions you run into.
Step 1: Finding The Idea
When I was trying to grow my startup before Programming for Marketers, I had hacked together a bunch of python scripts to automate pieces of our marketing. Little bits of code that could post to Twitter, manage our email funnel, things like that.

One weekend, I realized that other marketers might want to know how to do that. So I bought the domain, put up a super ugly landing page, then posted to reddit/r/marketing about it.

I collected ~100 emails… then did absolutely nothing with them.

Fast forward 8 months. I was talking to my friend Justin who I’d done some marketing projects with. We wanted to partner on building a lifestyle business, but what?

He’d created SQL for Marketers a while ago, and it had become one of the most popular courses on Udemy. The conversation went something like this:

Justin: “Yeah so with how well SQL for Marketers has done, I’m wondering if there’s a market for video courses teaching marketers other technical skills as well.”

“You mean like… programming for marketers?”

“Yeah exactly!”

“Funny story…”

Agreeing that there was an opportunity here, we got to work.

Key Takeaways
‍Solve your own problem, or share your skills in a new and interesting way.
Step 2: Determining How to Validate the Idea
We knew the end goal was the build a video course that people could buy with an automated sales funnel, but setting all of that up is a huge investment. We didn’t want to spend time making it if we weren’t certain that people would buy it. This is called “validating” the idea.

So we asked ourselves:

What’s a lightweight version of a video course that we could use to test whether people would be interested in the topic of “technical marketing”?

The answer was a free email course. Not only would it test if people were interested in the topic, but while validating it we’d be building the sales funnel at the same time!

To be clear, we didn’t invent this tactic. We looked at other people who had video courses that were selling well (specifically Kopywriting Kourse and Double Your Freelancing), and copied their methods. Both use an email course to upsell the video course.

We’d figured out how to prove that people were interested in the topic; now we just needed to see who would sign up for it.

Key Takeaways
Do not build before you know people are interested. Find the simplest way possible to test interest.
Validate your idea with real potential customers, not just friends.
Look at what similar businesses have done to test their ideas, and copy it.
Step 3: Making the Email Course
We wrote out everything we could conceivably cover related to technical marketing, coming up with ~50 lessons, fitting into 12 broader themes.

But obviously, we couldn’t make a 50 lesson email course. It’d be too long, and then there’d be no reason for someone to buy the paid course, so we picked the 7 that looked the most exciting. We focused on ones that could quickly make someone go “whoa, I can do that?!” and that anyone could use.

For example, a lesson on Twitter automation was extremely popular because almost all marketers use Twitter, and would love to easily automate it. A lesson on Adwords automation would have been less exciting since not everyone uses Adwords.

A very important note: We didn’t write any of the lessons yet. There was no point in putting time into writing them if no one wanted to sign up for the email course.

It was the same principle as making the email course in the first place: prove interest, then build. Don’t build hoping for interest.

All we did was put together good headlines for the 7 lessons and very brief outlines. Then I put together a simple landing page to advertise the free email course.

Designing the Landing Page
Just like we took inspiration from existing video courses for how to validate the idea, we took inspiration from existing email courses for how to design our landing page.

I looked at Email1k and Charge What You’re Worth, and more or less combined their pages into one of our own. For reference, this is what they looked like back then:

And Email1k…

This was my first iteration:

Building it only took a few afternoons. I used BlueHost to host the landing page, installed WordPress on the site, and then used the “Divi 2.0” theme by Elegant Themes.

To be clear, I’m not a designer. I just made two existing designs have web-design sex with each other, and this was their baby. The theme made it stupid easy since all I had to do was drag and drop pieces to make it look the way I wanted, then tweak the CSS a little bit.

We got some feedback on V1 from marketing friends, and eventually landed on this design for the launch:

The only thing that’s changed since then is removing the timer, and it still converts ~25-30% of all visitors.

Setting Up Email Collection, and Building Virality
Last, we needed to setup the site to collect emails, and to build in some virality.

The theme had a built in widget for email collection, so all I had to do was connect that to a MailChimp account that I could send emails from.

Then, I wrote an email that would go out as soon as someone signed up, asking them to refer a friend to the course in exchange for a free PDF of automation hacks that they could do immediately.

This referral bonus was extremely successful, boosting our signups by ~30% (each signup brought in .3 more people). If you’re curious how to do that yourself, we covered it in the first lesson.

With all of this setup, we were ready to roll and see if anyone would sign up.

What I’d Do Differently
First off, we didn’t automate the PDF delivery for referrals. I won’t ruin the surprise but suffice it to say that Justin had to manually send a LOT of PDFs the day we launched. I eventually automated this through Zapier, but there’s a better option.

I later worked with Noah Kagan to build Traffic1m, and in doing so coded a nice little referral system that people who signed up would move through (you can see the pages here, here, and here).

And while you could code that yourself, Bryan Harris built a tool called “Smart Bribe” that does it all for you and drops right into your page, so I’d just use that.

Also, when we launched, there was no exit-intent opt-in in case someone showed up and was about to leave. If I were doing it now, I’d add SumoMe to capture people who don’t sign up right away (we have it set up now, and it gets an additional ~10% of visitors to sign up).

Key Takeaways
Focus on the most interesting core of your product that you can use to test interest.
Make it as easy as possible for people to sign up.
Don’t obsess over perfection in the testing phase, get something out there.
That said, make it good. This should get people excited about what else is to come.
Get feedback from knowledgeable people (like on the landing page).
Make it easy for people to tell their friends about your product.
Step 4: Promoting the Email Course
The moment of truth: would anyone sign up for this email course? If no one was interested, we would have tossed the whole thing. There was no point in putting time into making a video course if no one wanted free written lessons.

We decided to launch it on a Thursday, with the quantitative goal of 1,000 email signups by Monday. Where did the goal come from? We just made one up. Wish I could say it was more scientific than that… but it wasn’t.

On launch day, we posted to Product Hunt, GrowthHackers, Hacker News, Reddit Marketing, and Inbound letting people know about it. These posts drove 90% of the traffic and signups since the audience was hyper-targeted.

During the launch period of Thursday to Sunday, here’s how our traffic broke out across channels (Direct is some combo of GrowthHackers, Inbound, and referrals from signups):

For each place we posted, we asked some of our friends to help us by upvoting our submission. Yeah, you’re not supposed to do that, but everyone else is, so if you don’t do it a little bit you’ll have a hard time getting noticed.

Just don’t overdo it and get penalized like we did with Hacker News. Actually, don’t try to game HN at all, as far as I’ve found it’s impossible. It sent a ton of traffic briefly, but then they caught on and kicked us off the front page after ~30 minutes. Sad Nat.

We also posted to our Facebooks, Twitters, and LinkedIns. These all drove significantly less traffic, though, barely a rounding error as you can see.

By Sunday night, we’d amassed ~2,800 signups, well above our goal of 1,000. This was the validation we needed to go ahead with making the email course.

What I’d Do Differently
These days, Product Hunt isn’t a huge fan of email courses, so it’s hard to get them on the “Featured” page where all the traffic comes from. There are other services popping up to fill in the gap, like Email Course Stash, though, so you can try those as well.

I would have been more careful with Hacker News. I didn’t realize that they were so strict with gaming the system, or rather, how good they are at catching people.

Having an existing audience, like this site, would have helped immensely. The best time to start building an audience is now because you never know when it will come in handy. More on that in another article.

If we had planned some lessons with influencers in the space (highly recommend this), then I would have asked them to email their lists, post to social, etc. That could have driven a ton more traffic and noise that we didn’t get by not having as much market recognition.

Key Takeaways
Figure out where your target customer hangs out, and tactically promote yourself there.
Set a goal to measure your success by, otherwise, you might convince yourself that something worked when it didn’t.
Start building an audience now, it will be your most useful asset.
Step 5: Writing the Email Course
With the interest proven, it was time to write some insanely great lessons.

We launched the landing page on Thursday, promising the course would start on Monday, so we had to immediately start putting the lessons together. We had our outlines to go off of, but for the most part, we were finishing them just in time for the next scheduled release.

It was a bit hacked together and last minute, yes, but it worked and people loved the lessons. We even had people asking us when they could buy the full course… without us ever mentioning a full paid course.

As we were making the lessons, we added virality to them as much as possible by giving people bonus content in exchange for sharing lessons on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

This helped immensely with getting more traffic back to the course without having to constantly promote it, and is a big part of how it’s managed to get 500-1,000 new signups per month since launch with no additional work.

Once all the lessons were done and had been sent out to the first subscribers, we put them into a MailChimp automation campaign which would send them to new people who signed up in 2-day intervals. This way we didn’t have to send any more emails, they would keep going out automatically.

With the interest proven and the email course running on its own, now we needed to see if anyone would pay for more.

Key Takeaways
Build virality into your system so that customers and subscribers can tell their friends about you for bonuses.
Once something works, figure out how to automate it. Don’t do the same thing manually more than a couple times.
Step 6: Proving People Would Pay
Just because people signed up for a free course didn’t mean they’d put money down, so we needed to make sure they would buy it if we made a full paid course.

First, we emailed the list asking what else they’d want to learn about technical marketing. Then we added their responses to our existing outline, giving us a full list of everything we could cover in the course.

From this, we made a super janky landing page describing everything that would be in the paid course. It listed all the lessons, bonuses, how it would be structured, etc. and we emailed it to 300 of our “5-star” students (ones who had opened almost every lesson).

We also put together a landing page for a Technical Marketers “mastermind group,” and emailed that to another 300 students.

The paid course pre-order was for $500, the mastermind group was for $50 a month.

And… no one bought either. We realized that the mastermind group was the wrong move and that we’d set the pre-order price too high.

We emailed everyone back, apologized, and offered the pre-order for $250 instead.

After this email, we pre-sold $10,000 in the course without ever making a lesson, which was the validation we needed that people were willing to pay for it.

With that done, and with the pre-orderers waiting for their lessons, it was time to start recording.

What I Would Do Differently
Our pre-sale page was ugly ugly ugly and the copy was not great. I’d put more time and some money into making that look awesome if I did it again, but hey, it worked!

I’d also have been more tactical on the pricing, using a method I mention later. We just picked a number out of thin air and ran with it.

Key Takeaways
Validate interest before you build! Pre-sell if at all possible, on your own like we did or through Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc.
Recognize when you made a mistake, be honest about it, and try again.
Step 7: Making the Course
When we created the landing page for the preorders, we had to list out what the course was going to have in it, which made it easy for us to direct our efforts with putting the course together.

We started with a marathon weekend in SF. I flew out to Justin’s place and we locked ourselves in his apartment to get as much of the recording done as we possibly could before going back to working on it remotely.

This is where things got tricky. Making the video lessons, between planning, recording, and editing, took 3-10x longer than we’d anticipated. Our original goal had been to overload on caffeine and get everything done that week, but we had to scale that back to just getting 2 of the 8 modules done.

As we completed each module, we loaded it into our course on Teachable. They make it stupidly easy to host video courses like this, so we didn’t have to worry about the backend of making the course.

Then the early buyers would give us feedback, and we’d make tweaks while working on the next unit. We released a new unit every few weeks until we’d filled out the initial ones that we’d planned on, at which point it was time to do the full launch.

What I’d Do Differently
We tried to be way too professional with our production and ended up in this awkward middle between casual and professional, which made some parts a little weird. I wouldn’t focus on trying to make it look like a studio made it; I’d just focus on awesome useful information.

Key Takeaways
Things will take longer than expected, so be ready to adapt your schedule.
Focus on quality of content, not necessarily the quality of appearance. It’s important to look good, but people will forgive roughness around the edges for awesome material.
Use a simple system for hosting your content, like Teachable.
Step 8: Launching the Course
Now that we had the first version of the course done, and some people in it leaving feedback, we had to launch the full thing to our entire list.

Designing the Landing Page
The landing page, or sales page, is the most important point of contact that you’ll have with your potential customers. It needs to convey everything covered in the course, and show them why it’s a good decision to invest in what will likely be a non-trivial purchase.

Justin and I did the copy, and Adil Majid did the design and layout. We had hired another copywriter originally but ended up not being happy with their work and did it ourselves.

Then, once again, we sent the landing page around to some friends for feedback. We tweaked the copy, plugged in prices, and we were good to go.

For pricing… we just made it up. I’d love to say we came up with some crazy formula or method, but we didn’t. We just picked some numbers that sounded good.

Sales Emails
Next up was writing out the sales emails. We used Jeff Walker’s “Launch” strategy from his book by the same name, with a few inspirations from Bryan Harris’s first launch article to round it out.

These emails broke out into (you can get the exact emails we used in the bonus material):

One announcement email, asking people to respond with what they’d want to see in the course
Three pPre-sale emails, with bonus lessons on technical marketing. These were the first video lessons anyone received too, which made them more exciting
One email announcing the sale was about to start, with an early bird discount.
One email at the start of the early bird window
One at the end
One the next day announcing more bonuses for the next few days
One at the end of the few day “extra bonuses” window
Another one announcing the course would stop being for sale in a few days
One last day warning one
One last few hours one
And then we sent an email after it had “closed” to everyone who clicked on the link to buy, but didn’t buy, offering them a special payment plan where they paid over 6 months instead of 4.
Writing these ended up being incredibly difficult. Good sales copy is hard, and I’m not sure we’ve put that much time into writing emails since then. It completely burned both of us out and isn’t something anyone should take lightly.

And, Launch!
Then on the date we’d chosen, we opened the cart, and the emails started going out.

Over the next 10 days, we made $48,150 in sales, some people paying up front and others paying out over 4-6 months.

What I’d Do Differently
For pricing, I would have tested it a lot more, using the method in Bryan Harris’s article. That would have given us a better idea of what was reasonable before doing the pre-sale.

I also wouldn’t have done quite as aggressively long of a sale. Our readers were burned out by the end, and ~15% of our list unsubscribed. I would shorten it to 5-7 days, or just send fewer emails. Most people bought at the deadlines with hardly anyone buying in-between them, so I bet we could have sandwiched the deadlines together.

Key Takeaways

Step 9: Automation
After the cart had been closed for a while, we decided to add some of the sales emails to our drip, and let the paid course promotion happen automatically as well.

I think of all the places we messed up, we messed up most by not doing this sooner. We waited almost 6 months to automate the sales funnel (for not great reasons) and I wish we had done it right away.

This way whenever someone joined the list, they would get the 7 lessons, then 3 bonus lessons and be sold on the course. This now brings in ~$3,000 in non-sale months with 0 work, which is a great small passive income source.

If we want to do a big sale in the future, all we have to do is turn off that part of the funnel for a month. And the people who don’t buy can always be re-engaged, too. I did a one-day sale a couple months ago just to see how engaged the list still was, and it sold over $18,000.

Key Takeaways
Automate your sales funnel sooner rather than later, you can always sell to people again.Occasionally test interest by doing small sales.

Step 10: More than Just the Course
The whole asset of “Programming for Marketers” has provided revenue opportunities beyond just the course, too.

We have affiliate deals with BlueHost and Elegant Themes which pay out $100 and $45 respectively, and we’ve been able to promote other people’s launches, courses, and products that are relevant to the list.

We have a Kindle eBook, a mini course on SQL for Marketers, a couple Udemy courses… There are lots of little ways to get extra monetization from a site and product like this.

If you’re going to build a lifestyle business, think beyond just your main income stream. There will likely be one big one, but there will also be lots of little other ways you can earn revenue from it.

Key Takeaways
Think about other ways you can provide value to your list beyond just sending them more of your own content.
Get creative with your monetization, don’t rely on just one channel.
Your Turn (and epic bonuses)
Going from idea to $58,150 took roughly 5 months for Programming for Marketers, and I didn’t have a resource like this article to help me.

If you’ve kicked around the idea of doing your own lifestyle business, just go for it. Set some stakes, get a partner if you want one, and figure out how you can test whatever idea you have. Once you know there’s interest and have people waiting for more, it only gets easier.

And to make it even easier, make sure you get all the bonus content for this article. I’m giving you:

The 15 emails we used to pre-sell and launch the course
The 16 tools I used to build P4M (and that I’d use now)
The Become a Technical Marketer eBook
The 17 automation hacks you can do today
And a $100 discount on Become a Technical Marketer if you want to take the course
Click here to get it.

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No More “Struggle Porn”

Alan Trapulionis
Aug 19 · 4 min read

Image for post
Tobias Lütke. Wikimedia commons image
As a kid, Tobias Lütke suffered from dyslexia and, possibly, ADHD. He was the type of kid to deconstruct his teachers’ questions instead of giving them a straight answer.
By college, Tobias had learned to skim through courses by attending the minimum number of hours required to pass.
With his authority problems, it’s unsurprising that Tobias’s first professional role model became a programmer named “Jürgen Starr.”
“He would always come to work on his BMW motorcycle and he would have long hair and he wasn’t wearing a suit like he was supposed to. Like a total rebel,” said Lütke.
How does a graduate programmer with rebellious tendencies build a multi-billion dollar empire?
Part of the answer lies in the books he read, which he told about on his Tim Ferriss show appearance. These are the top two books that shaped Tobias’s understanding of business.
“Influence” by Robert Cialdini
Many programmers choose their career path because they’re better off interacting with a logical computer, rather than an emotional human.
It’s not surprising that Influence by Robert Cialdini was one of Tobias’s cornerstone books as a budding entrepreneur. The book explains the science of persuasion as a combination of five elements:
Reciprocation refers to the human need to return the favor. For example, Hare Krishna members always give passers-by a flower before asking for donations — this makes them more likely to donate.
Consistency refers to the human need to “save face” in front of others. In human societies, we respect people who do not change their stance. So, for example, if you build personal rapport with a prospect by genuinely asking how they’re doing, they’re going to feel motivated to consider your offer later — simply because they’ve already been nice to you before.
Social proof is the bread and butter for entrepreneurs. All animal species have largely evolved via imitation — long before articulate human thoughts were born. That’s why TV shows use canned laughter, and why bartenders put a few dollars into the tip jar before the customers walk in.
Liking refers to an old truism that “we do business with people we like.” Here, the author refers to less-revolutionary truths that we often make business decisions based on someone’s looks and familiarity with us.
Lastly, the author reminds us that authority plays a major role in business. Highlighting things like titles and money may seem wrong and inaccurate to a logical person, but they do work on a subconscious level. For example, someone introduced as a professor seems taller than someone introduced as a graduate student. Also, car drivers wait longer before honking on a luxury car than an old car.
Influence may also be called Humans 101 for all the pearls you can find in it. It’s not surprising that Tobias remembers Influence as the most influential (pun intended) book he’d ever read.
Tobias spent his teenage years with “computers, not humans,” and his wife often calls him “an immigrant to the human condition.”
As he said himself, Influence was
“…just the most mind-bending book you can imagine. Because it essentially told you all the ways humans are flawed and easily influenced.”
“High Output Management” by Andrew Grove
Tobias describes High Output Management as the perfect book for non-entrepreneurs. A book that simplifies the world of business into basic principles.
In the book, the author compares being a manager to being a waiter. As a waiter, you constantly have to prioritize tasks. Do you bring the menu to the couple that just walked in, or do you serve the boiled egg that’s been waiting in the kitchen for three minutes already?
He continues with the metaphor, offering five key performance indicators:
Sales forecasts answer the question: how many customers are you expecting to serve today? This has direct implications on how many staff and inventory do you need to keep the customers satisfied.
Inventory levels seem like an obvious parameter to watch but is so often forgotten by inexperienced managers. CEOs who fail to evaluate their inventory levels fail to fulfil orders, and that is about the worst customer experience there is.
Condition of the equipment refers to your production instruments. As a waiter, have you checked whether the toaster is working today? The customers won’t care if “it’s not your fault.” They’ll simply choose another place next time.
Workforce indicators are needed to keep track of your staff. Just like it’s your responsibility as a manager to make sure the toaster is working, you need to check if any of your kitchen staff called in sick today. In that case, you’ll need an urgent replacement.
Quality indicators are often forgotten by managers. Did the customers like the breakfast? Will they come back again? Companies that fail to learn go bankrupt, and Tobias learned this lesson without having to fail himself.
All of these things may seem unimportant before you make your first sale. Once you get a few orders, you’ll run into management problems really quickly.
High Output Management explains core business concepts in rigid logical terms, which is perfect for engineers who want to take their career a decisive step further.
After reading the book, Tobias remembers realizing that
“…basically, at the end of the day, creating a business is an engineering exercise. That made the whole thing about becoming a CEO significantly less scary to me because I understand engineering.”
It’s Not About How Many Books You Read — It’s About What Books You Read
In Tobias’s case, he was highly adept in programming but lacking psychology and business skills. Instead of deepening his coding knowledge, he chose to read about areas of life that he knew nothing about.
The result is Shopify, and it needs no introduction.
Entrepreneur’s Handbook
How to succeed in entrepreneurship; feat.


Thanks to Michael Thompson.
7.9K claps

42 responses

Alan Trapulionis

Alan Trapulionis
In quest of understanding how humans work. I also ghostwrite for my heroes.
Entrepreneur’s Handbook
Entrepreneur’s Handbook
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21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
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Eat That Frog Book Review By Saimadhu Polamuri
[ Start ]
Everything in this world has to be move, or change, or transform to the other state, which was different from the current state.
Even though we are not able to identify or feel the movement of the earth, still earth is rotating to experience different temperature levels from the same source called “Sun”. Early mornings, high temperature afternoons, beautiful sunsets, cooler and the darker nights.
Ideally, In our day to day life we have only two positions/stages to keep any task.
But we are well versed to give “N” reasons to craft the middle stage. Which is decently nearer to the start stage and slightly far away from the end stage.
Below are the “N” reasons.
Not in a mood to work.
Feeling bored to turn the book pages.
Internet speed is too slow or internet is not working.
It’s Friday evening or Monday morning.
Instead of doing this, the other one is quite simpler one.
Keeping something in middle to argue with friends to believe your foolish beliefs in WhatsApp groups.
What ever the reason, its became the blockage to keep us away from the end stage. Funnily we enjoy giving these reasons quite often. If we summarise all the reasons to a single word. It is procrastination.
The dictionary meaning of the word procrastination is “the action of delaying or postponing something”. However, the real meaning is “the creative reason you are showcasing, for not finishing something”.
The quick response from our mind is, if procrastinating is bad thing to do, how can we over come it. That’s where this book “Eat that Frog” which was written by Brain Tracy helps.
[Author introduction]
Brain Tracy is a Canadian-American motivational speaker, who has written 70+ books on self development. His top 3 books are
Earn what you’re really worth.
Eat that frog.
The Psychology of Achievement.
In all his motivational speeches, he addresses with the same question, Why only few people are successful?
When the number of hours in day and the resources to taste the success is equal for all.
[ Book introduction ]
Eat that frog is one of the best book in self-development which address how to overcome procrastination. The book list downs 21 different way to get away from procrastination.
[ Story from the book ]
There is a story of a little girl who goes to her mother and asks, “Mommy, why does daddy bring a briefcase full of work home each night and never spends any time with the family?”
The mother replies sympathetically, “Well honey, you have to understand, daddy can’t get his work done at the office so he has to bring it home and get caught up here.”
The little girl then asks, “If that’s the case, why don’t they put him in a slower class?”
[ Frog rules from the book ]
The first rule of frog-eating is: “If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”
The second rule of frog-eating is: “If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.”
80/20 Rule to everything: Twenty percent of your activities will account for eighty percent of your results. Always concentrate your efforts on that top twenty percent;
10/90 rule: This rule says that the first 10% of time that you spend planning and organizing your work, before you begin, will save you as much as 90% of the time in getting the job done once you get started.
[Quick takeaways from the book]
The book starts with the below quote
“You cannot teach a person something he does not already know; you can only bring what he does know to his awareness.”
The book explains 21 key ways to stop procrastinating. Even though we feel these rules/techniques well know to us, it’s worth revisiting them.
Below are the summary of these 21 key ways.
Set the table: Decide exactly what you want. Clarity is essential. Write out your goals and objectives before you begin.
2. Plan every day in advance: Think on paper. Every minute you spend in planning can save you five or ten minutes in execution.
3. Apply the 80/20 Rule to everything: Twenty percent of your activities will account for eighty percent of your results. Always concentrate your efforts on that top twenty percent.
4. Consider the consequences: Your most important tasks and priorities are those that can have the most serious consequences,positive or negative, on your life or work. Focus on these above all else.
5. Practice creative procrastination: Since you can’t do everything, you must learn to deliberately put off those tasks that are of low value so that you have enough time to do the few things that really count.
6. Use the ABCDE Method continually: Before you begin work on a list of tasks, take a few moments to organize them by value and priority so you can be sure of working on your most important activities.
7. Focus on key result areas: Identify and determine those results that you absolutely, positively have to get to do your job well, and work on them all day long.
8. The Law of Three: Identify the three things you do in your work that account for 90% of your contribution and focus on getting them done before anything else. You will then have more time for your family and personal life.
9. Prepare thoroughly before you begin: have everything you need at hand before you start. Assemble all papers, information, tools, work materials and numbers so that you can get started and keep going.
10. Take it one oil barrel at a time: You can accomplish the biggest and most complicated job if you just complete it one step at a time.
11. Upgrade your key skills: The more knowledgeable and skilled you become at your key tasks, the faster you start them and the sooner you get them done.
12. Leverage your special talents: Determine exactly what it is that you are very good at doing, or could be very good at, and throw your whole heart into doing those specific things very, very well.
13. Identify your key constraints: Determine the bottlenecks or chokepoints, internally or externally, that set the speed at which you achieve your most important goals and focus on alleviating them.
14. Put the pressure on yourself: Imagine that you have to leave town for a month and work as if you had to get all your major tasks completed before you left.
15. Maximize your personal powers: Identify your periods of highest mental and physical energy each day and structure your most important and demanding tasks around these times. Get lots of rest so you can perform at your best.
16. Motivate yourself into action: Be your own cheerleader. Look for the good in every situation. Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Always be optimistic and constructive.
17. Get Out of The Technological Time Sinks: Use technology to improve the quality of your communications, but do not allow yourself to become a slave to. Learn to occasionally turn things off, and leave them off.
18. Slice and dice the task: Break large, complex tasks down into bite sized pieces and then just do one small part of the task to get started.
19. Create large chunks of time: Organize your days around large blocks of time where you can concentrate for extended periods on your most important tasks.
20. Develop a sense of urgency: Make a habit of moving fast on your key tasks. Become known as a person who does things quickly and well.
21. Single handle every task: Set clear priorities, start immediately on your most important task and then work without stopping until the job is 100% complete. This is the real key to high performance and maximum personal productivity.
[ Key points from the book ]
The Three D’s of New Habit Formation
You need three key qualities to develop the habits of focus and concentration. They are all learnable. They are
There is a powerful formula for setting and achieving goals that you can use for the rest of your life. It consists of seven simple steps.
Step One: Decide exactly what you want.
Step Two: Write it down.
Step Three: Set a deadline on your goal. Set sub-deadlines if necessary.
Step Four: Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.
Step Five: Organize the list into a plan.
Step Six: Take action on your plan immediately.
Step Seven: Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal.
Three Questions for Maximum Productivity
The first question is “What are my highest value activities?”
The second question you can ask continually is, “What can I and only I do, that if done well, will make a real difference?”
The third question you can ask is “What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?”
Six “P” Formula. It says,
“Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”
[ Rating & Review ]
My rating for the book is 4. The techniques explained in the book were good enough to motivate, making them great needs, how we apply them in our day to day life 🙂
[ Notes& Highlights ]
“Before you begin scrambling up the ladder of success, make sure that it is leaning against the right building.”
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now.”
“Failures do what istension relieving while winners do what is goal achieving.”
“By the yard it’s hard; but inch by inch, anything’s a cinch!”
“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”
“Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.”
“One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all.”
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now.”
“Getting in requires getting out. Picking up means putting down.”
“There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”
“It is quality of time at work that counts and quantity of time at home that matters.”
“The sad fact is that almost done probably meant not yet started. Don’t let this happen to you.”
“You should never share your problems with others because 80% of people don’t care about them anyway, and the other 20% are kind of glad that you’ve got them in the first place.”
“you become what you think about most of the time. Be sure that you are thinking and talking about the things you want rather than the things you don’t want.”
The book ends with this nice quote.
The world is full of people who are waiting for someone to come along and motivate them to be the kind of people they wish they could be. The problem is that, “No one is coming to the rescue.”
[ End ]